Every Premier League manager’s greatest excuse for failure in 2023/24

Will Ford
Pochettino, Arteta, Klopp
Every Premier League manager has an excuse for their failure in 2023/24.

We put it to you that by the end of the season just four teams – one of Arsenal and Manchester City, along with Aston Villa, Bournemouth and Wolves – possibly five if either Luton or Burnley escape relegation, will be happy with the way it’s gone.

With that in mind, we’ve come up with every Premier League manager’s excuse for failure this term, including the ones who haven’t actually failed, because they would have of course done even better were it not for the limitations.


Mikel Arteta – Manchester City
As excuses for not winning the Premier League go, this is an excellent one. If Arsenal win their remaining games they will finish with 89 points, which was enough to win the title last season and a fair few times before 90-plus campaigns became the norm. And Pep Guardiola’s City have been responsible for most of those.


Unai Emery – None
“As tempting as it can be to think of the injuries and setbacks as an excuse, we have a no excuse culture at this football club: we must be ready to win.” Looks like it’s a culture that works seeing as Aston Villa are set to qualify for the Champions League and are in their first European semi-final in 42 years.


Andoni Iraola – Adaptation
A man who needs no excuses, but Iraola could viably use his players’ early-season struggles to adapt to his methods as one way to explain why Bournemouth aren’t currently vying for a place in Europe. Only Arsenal (59), Manchester City (58), Liverpool (55) and Aston Villa (48) have picked up more points than Bournemouth (45) since they claimed their first win of the season at the tenth attempt.


Thomas Frank – Ivan Toney
Brentford didn’t have their best player and top scorer from last season for the first half of the campaign. But actually, if anything their form has dipped since Toney returned to the side. Only Zanka (0.63) has won fewer points per game in Frank’s squad than Toney (0.71).


Roberto De Zerbi – Himself
Only he will know if his head has been turned, but De Zerbi is well aware of the interest in his services for various managerial posts, open or otherwise, and has effectively ruled himself out of the running for those positions through a combination of his side’s poor results and throwing his players under the bus in the aftermath of them. In fairness, he could also blame injuries, European commitments and losing his £150m midfield in the summer.


Vincent Kompany – Philosophy
Sticking to his guns could yet reap the reward of a second season in the Premier League, and we will never know if they got it launched more often rather than p*ssing around with the ball in their penalty area whether they would have done better. There’s always been the sense that Kompany’s persistence is more about his future than Burnley’s, with his heart understandably set on bigger and better things.


Mauricio Pochettino – Inexperience
Ah yes, The Project. Inexperience is an entirely reasonable, undoubted barrier to success in football, but we all knew about the age of the Chelsea squad before the season started and no one – not Pochettino, the Chelsea fans, rivals and obviously least of all the clueless owners – could have imagined the season going quite so terribly.

In the pre-season predictions one foolish F365 dreamer, when asked who would be in the top four wrote: ‘Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United. A proper battle though – Chelsea not far behind.’ Nineteen points is far.


Oliver Glasner – Mid-season appointment
One of just three mid-season appointments in a hugely underwhelming Premier League season for sackings, Glasner now looks the business after Crystal Palace picked up ten points from their last four games, but a bedding-in period saw them collect just five points from his first six in charge.

READ MORE: Premier League sack race: Ten Hag back in top spot but everyone seems safe for now


Sean Dyche – Points deductions
A belter of an excuse this one. They literally have eight points less than they’ve won.


Marco Silva – Aleksandar Mitrovic
They got £50m for him and probably should have spent more than £5m of that on a replacement, particularly as Raul Jimenez had scored six Premier League goals in the previous two seasons combined. But they would have been better with Mitrovic, even given Rodrigo Muniz’s excellent form of late.


Jurgen Klopp – Energy
Poor baby’s tired. It’s not been obvious for most of the time since Klopp’s announcement that he will leave Liverpool as he’s “running out of energy”, but that lack of verve has certainly been apparent in his side’s performances in the last month, and has perhaps filtered down from the top.


Rob Edwards – Budget
Comfortably the lowest wage bill which stands at £20.9m, roughly a tenth of Manchester City’s, and comfortably the lowest transfer spend at £22.1m.


Pep Guardiola – ‘Unacceptable’ schedule
“It’s unacceptable. It’s really unacceptable,” Guardiola said of the FA scheduling which saw his side play an FA Cup semi-final three days after their Champions League quarter-final defeat to Real Madrid, rejecting suggestions that he could have used some of the other extraordinarily talented and expensive members of his squad.


Erik ten Hag – Psychosis
The Manchester United manager has slowly been losing his grip on reality this season, taking aim at some very trivial targets including the Fulham TikToker and Jamie Carragher, but his psychosis came to a head after their draw with Burnley at Old Trafford, after which he claimed: “We are one of the most dynamic and entertaining teams in the league at this moment.” Seek help, Erik.


Eddie Howe – Injuries
No Premier League team has had players miss more days through injury than Newcastle (1,757) this season.

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Nuno Espirito Santo – Luton fans
Nottingham Forest have had some rotten VAR luck, largely – we’ve learned via social media – because of the club allegiances of the officials at Stockley Park.


Chris Wilder – Sandwich-eating assistant referees
“One of his assistants was eating a sandwich at the time, which I thought was a complete lack of respect.” How can we assume that linesmen who eat sandwiches in the presence of a Premier League manager are up to the task of officiating Sheffield United games? We can’t, and won’t.


Ange Postecoglou – Identity
We were all full of admiration when Big Ange dismissed pragmatism in the wake of Tottenham’s 4-1 defeat to Chelsea: “It’s just who we are, mate.” They had won 2.6 points per game before that and have 1.5 PPG since. Who you are hasn’t been working, mate.


David Moyes – The fans
“Maybe they’ve had managers who excite them more, possibly, but the one who’s sitting here wins more.” Not really an excuse because Moyes quite clearly doesn’t give a shiny sh*t about what they think of his football, but he would presumably rather they were on his side.


Gary O’Neil – VAR
“Maybe tonight has finally turned me against VAR,” O’Neil said after Wolves’ 3-2 defeat to Fulham in November having “always been for” it previously. He is now head of the anti-VAR brigade after, in fairness, a string of very strange decisions against his side.