Old boys the firm favorites as Premier League clubs play it safe
Sam Allardyce and Alan Pardew are favorites to take over the managerial vacancies at Everton and West Bromwich Albion, appointments that would reinforce the cautious culture that exists in the English Premier League.
Allardyce, the 63-year-old former England boss, has managed six clubs in the league, gaining a reputation as Fireman Sam who arrives in times of crisis and always keeps his teams up.
Pardew also has a fine track record of avoiding the drop and West Brom would be his fifth EPL club, putting the 56-year-old joint second on the list behind Allardyce.
If confirmed, the appointments mean that eight of the past 15 jobs will have gone to British managers over 50, a surprising statistic given that Allardyce, who will have taken two of these positions, last month bemoaned a tendency for British coaches to be treated as "second class" and get overlooked.
"The Premier League is a foreign league in England," he said. "When you look across the owners, the managers and players, that is exactly what it is now."
Yet the imminent appointments suggest the traditional networks influencing English football's job market remain strong.
Pardew has been recommended by West Brom's technical director, Nicky Hammond, with whom he played at Crystal Palace.
Allardyce has reportedly been championed by Steve Walsh, Everton's director of football, who worked alongside Craig Shakespeare, Allardyce's assistant at England, at Leicester City. Shakespeare is tipped to fill a similar role at Everton.
The recycling of a small number of managers around EPL jobs is an ongoing trend.
Both Allardyce (2016-17) and Pardew (2015-16) formerly managed Palace, as did 59-year-old Tony Pulis who Pardew would succeed at Albion. One of Pulis's predecessors at West Brom was Roy Hodgson, who has completed the circle by taking over at Palace this season aged 70.
Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe is the only one of the seven British managers in the EPL aged under 40. With only two under 50, the opportunities to dislodge the experienced elite are limited.
The attraction of managers with proven EPL credentials is clear, particularly given the huge cost of relegation.
Sunderland, which received close to 100 million pounds (US$132.9 million) prize money last season despite finishing bottom, is now facing another relegation fight from the Championship alongside another demoted team, Hull City.
Both Pardew and Allardyce are expert defensive organizers, a quality Everton clearly need given that it has conceded more goals than any other EPL team this season.
Last season Allardyce took Palace from bottom in December to a 14th-place finish while Sunderland, whom he had saved from the drop the previous season, went down under David Moyes, another member of the managerial over-50 club who once oversaw Everton and has just been called on to save West Ham United.
Recognized managers who lose their jobs are given an instant platform to secure further employment by the EPL's chief broadcaster Sky Sports, for whom Pardew has been working this season.
On Tuesday the channel highlighted Pardew's virtues as it discussed who should succeed Pulis at the Hawthorns.
"I hope he gets the job," said former Arsenal former Paul Merson. "I can't see what he has done wrong in his managerial career.
"He will have to go in there and make it very tight. As one of the lesser teams you open up nowadays and you get ripped to shreds."
That logic probably explained Frank de Boer's sacking by Palace after five games and 77 days in charge this season, even though the Dutchman had presumably been employed to offer a different approach from the Pulis/Pardew/Allardyce brand.
And it probably governs Everton's thinking in reactivating contact with Allardyce after five defeats in seven games under caretaker boss David Unsworth.