Last weekend’s Premier League results (see below) acted as the catalyst for a further two managerial dismissals, the most prominent of which was that of former Brazil and Portugal boss Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Suspicions that ‘Big Phil’s’ heart was not really in his new job voiced, following last summer’s shock Stamford Bridge announcement, were confirmed as the 60-year-old looked increasingly helpless at the helm of a team expected to win everything. The Blues increasingly lost touch with leaders Manchester United at the top of the division in recent weeks, and the latest goalless home draw with Hull on the back of a 2-0 Anfield defeat the previous weekend proved the breaking point. Scolari, who may be succeeded by Russia coach Guus Hiddink as assistant Ray Wilkins holds the fort, now walks away with 17 million euros in compensation only six months into his London engagement.
The sacking overshadowed the prior Monday parting of ways between Portsmouth and last October Harry Redknapp replacement Tony Adams- again an unfortunate last-gasp 3-2 home defeat to Liverpool on Saturday forced the club’s hand, who are said to be interested in appointing Avram Grant, Alan Curbishley or Mexico’s Sven Goran Eriksson in an attempt to resolve the Fratton Park crisis.
Meanwhile the men still holding their jobs made hay while the sun shone, Liverpool’s aforementioned success lifting Rafa Benitez’s men back into a clear second place, two points behind 1-0 West Ham conquerors Manchester United. Surprise third are Aston Villa following a 2-0 away win at Blackburn while Arsenal slipped into fifth, five points outside the top four, after only drawing at North London rivals Tottenham. Two-thirds of the table is still only covered by 12 points, seventh-placed Wigan looking down anxiously on currently bottom West Bromwich Albion.
There now follows a weekend mainly dominated by FA Cup fifth round action, of which Everton, Blackburn, Aston Villa, Derby and Burnley became the latest participants following fourth round replays earlier last week.