20) Kompany, 19) Ten Hag, 15) Howe, 8) Arteta – it’s the latest F365 Premier League Manager Rankings

Dave Tickner
Unai Emery, Erik ten Hag and Mikel Arteta
Unai Emery, Erik ten Hag and Mikel Arteta

Outrageously, it is now mid November and still not one Premier League manager has lost his job since the season began. It is now, though, the third international break of the season and that is a time when trigger fingers get itchy. It’s the last pause to make any kind of considered decision on the direction of your football club if you want to make any meaningful use of the January window and at almost one-third distance no manager can now really claim not to have been given a chance.

And yet there are very few managers really in extreme peril. Partly because most of the clubs you’d expect to be doing well are, and because most of the clubs you’d expect to be doing badly are also obliging. A very clear current bottom four provides a buffer for those in mid-table, with a repeat of last season’s nine-team relegation fight appearing sadly unlikely. There just isn’t the same overbearing pressure on managers and by extension chairmen.

There are still a couple of exceptions, though, and given the aforementioned content-desert interlull it still seems like a useful moment to pause and update the very important and hugely influential F365 Premier League Manager Rankings. September’s rankings can be read here, and are reflected below in brackets.


20) Vincent Kompany, Burnley (17)
Going tits up, isn’t it? Didn’t expect it, did we? Probably, though… maybe we should have a little bit? Teams that play their way out of the Championship and into the Premier League with flowing, possession-based football are likely to be the ones in line for a culture shock when they get a taste of the Barclays, and doing all that under a rookie manager should have sounded more alarm bells than it did.

The widespread delusion – of which we must admit to being an enthusiastic contributor – was that Kompany knew Our League and thus Burnley would be fine. But he had no managerial experience of the Premier League and – this bit has turned out to be absolutely crucial – none of his extensive and impressive playing experience was in the relevant area of Barclays for a newly promoted team that likes to play its football The Right Way.

Charitably you’d call Burnley’s start naive. A harsher judge might settle on arrogant. Whatever it is, it’s not working and while they’ve avoided the right kickings Sheffield United have suffered, they’ve also had far fewer games where they’ve been truly competitive as they try to go toe to toe with better teams with better players.

Kompany’s side have already lost by three goals on five occasions this season, to Man City (fine), Spurs (okay), Chelsea (hmm), Brentford (not sure) and Everton (get out). A team that rinsed the Championship sits bottom of the Premier League, already five points from safety having scored fewer goals than anyone else and conceded only one fewer than the lads who shipped eight in one game.

And unlike their fellow promoted sides who currently make up the bottom three, Burnley were the ones for whom it wasn’t meant to be like this. Burnley are the ones who were meant to be better. And it all puts Kompany under serious pressure if he can’t crack the code soon.

READ: Man Utd, Vicario, O’Neil and Burnley: Five things we got completely wrong in the summer


19) Erik Ten Hag, Manchester United (20)
He can’t, in the immortal words of Jesse Pinkman, keep getting away with this. Manchester United are rubbish. They are a rubbish team playing rubbish football by almost any reasonable measure for anyone. And that’s before we even get to the fact that This Is Manchester United Football Club We’re Talking About. Ten Hag has even spent much of his time this season pointing out to anyone who’ll listen that he can’t be expected to play his Ajax-style football here in this league with these players, which was presumably news to the club that hired him to do just that.

United’s Champions League campaign lies in ruins after a chaotic defeat in Copenhagen that leaves qualification for the knockout stage unlikely and the very real prospect of United’s pratfall being so extreme it misses even the Europa League safety net.

And yet… they’ve won four of their last five in the league and have somehow amassed a Premier League points total (21) bordering on the respectable. It looks and feels unsustainable and probably is, and would in any case represent underachievement: none of United’s seven wins have been by more than a single goal, while four of their five defeats have been by two.

It’s barely an exaggeration to argue they haven’t deserved to win a single game in the league all season. When they’re bad they get pumped and when they’re slightly less bad they burgle wins by the skin of their arses. Off-field mess hasn’t helped United this season, but Ten Hag isn’t blameless there. Probably not entirely his fault that Casemiro has aged several decades over the summer, which has also definitely been unhelpful.

MAILBOX: Time to change the narrative around Ten Hag. Manchester United are the Prem’s form team, FFS…


18) Andoni Iraola, Bournemouth (12)
Two wins out of three, including a Trippier-upsetting turn against Newcastle, does the necessary in keeping wolves from doors because it really was starting to look like there was a very reasonable chance he’s actually not a better football manager than Gary O’Neil after all. Which would have been embarrassing for all but especially us.

Still not in the realms of a good start with nine points from 12 games but out of the bottom three now and should feel confident of that remaining the case. Couple of big games coming up before Christmas against Sheffield United and Luton that could still make or break everything for Iraola.


17) Marco Silva, Fulham (11)
Feels to us like Silva and Fulham are both a touch fortunate not to be getting more attention for what has been a pretty ropey start to the season. Losing Aleksandar Mitrovic was obviously a major pisser, but there’s not really a great deal of excuse for  your only wins to be over early-season (i.e. real shit) Everton plus Luton and Sheffield United.

Draws against your Arsenals and Brightons are admirable, but it still doesn’t really feel quite enough for a team that spent last season almost entirely in the top half. The fact they are Fulham and the fact there are enough teams conspicuously worse means there’s just not going to be any heat because one of the perks of being Fulham is that if you’re not going to get relegated, everybody just lets you get on with whatever it is you’re doing, even if what you are doing is really quite bad.


16) Roy Hodgson, Crystal Palace (10)
Of all the teams in the middle of the Premier League pack, Crystal Palace are certainly one of them.

Doing this feature, it strikes us there are an awful lot of teams set for really quite dull seasons this year. There is no meaningful prospect of Europe for anyone outside the top eight other than perhaps a newly competent Chelsea, but equally the threat of relegation for those outside the current bottom four also appears minimal. Any repeat of last year’s nine-team Royal Rumble Relegation Bunfight already appears non-existent. This perhaps explains the total absence of any sackings thus far. It is a season short of peril.

Broadly, the teams you’d expect to be challenging for the top one/two/four/six are doing so, and the teams at the bottom are mainly those you might have expected to see down in the dumps.

And in the middle a great morass of teams ranging from the quite good to their barely average. Can be a very pleasant experience being one of those sides, not approaching every weekend with dread fear or having the following week spoiled by its inevitable unpleasantness. But what you don’t want to be as one of those teams is a bit dull. Hodgson’s Palace are a bit dull. No other team’s games have featured fewer than Palace’s 28 goals. The only other team still under 30 for goals scored and conceded are Manchester United, and they’re in crisis.


15) Eddie Howe, Newcastle (9)
At least he finally has an opinion on Saudi Arabia, having abandoned his policy on not discussing these things to talk about how marvellous their World Cup will be. He has been entirely bought and paid for. The content of that little advertising pitch for his bosses was obviously abhorrent enough, but there was something more about it that was boiling my piss and I couldn’t quite work out why. Then somebody on social media hellscape Xwitter pointed out that he was talking with the exact cadence and supercilious self-satisfied tone of a guest or host on the High Performance Podcast. Now we can’t listen to him talk about anything without hearing it.

There’s an eerie calm about the way he talks that is deeply troubling. It’s not a reassuring calm. It’s not particularly a menacing calm. It’s a dead calm. We’ve got absolutely no evidence for it, but are increasingly confident that the skins of his many victims are on display in a kill room beneath his house.

His football team are also much patchier than they were last season and notably less secure at the back. Having lost just five games last season they’ve already been turned over four times in 12 games this season, so the good news is we might not have to listen to him for a bit. Until a few weeks after his sacking when he inevitably turns up on that f***ing podcast to talk about his learnings and how he invented selling your soul for coin or something. We will hate-listen to it, because we are damaged.

READ: Eddie Howe odds plummet in sack race after back-to-back 2-0 defeats


14) Paul Heckingbottom, Sheffield United (18)
They’ve won a game and Sheffield United now find themselves on a two-game unbeaten run having left Brighton with a De Zerbi-bothering point. While their start was record-breakingly bad, Heckingbottom and the Blades were probably a touch unlucky for things to look quite as shit as they did.

Before picking up what currently accounts for 80 per cent of their season points tally in the last two games they had worried the ever-living shit out of both Manchester clubs and Spurs in 2-1 defeats, while the two conspicuous twattings off Newcastle and Arsenal can both be written off as an occupational hazard of Premier League life at the lower end. Certainly, neither of those are teams it is particularly mortified to get stuffed by, even if 8-0 at home is slightly pushing the absolute limits of These Things Happen.

Sheffield United will probably get relegated; this remains the case whether they bin off Heckingbottom or not. With the risk that change could make things much, much worse it seems not particularly worth it. They’re doing okay by the standards of a team with five points from 12 games, which isn’t meant to sound as much of a dig as it does.


13) Mauricio Pochettino, Chelsea (19)
He’s gradually working it out. Slowly but surely, Chelsea are getting there. Four goals against Spurs had more than an air of the freakish, but backing that up with four more against Manchester City was undeniably impressive. He still hasn’t quite got this wildly expensive Chelsea squad looking anything much like a proper Poch team, but there has been enough measurable improvement now to suggest he’ll at least have time to give it a proper go.

There’s surely a lesson for all of us buried somewhere in the fact that for all Chelsea’s transfer largesse by far their most significant summer signing has been Cole Palmer, while Conor Gallagher appears a player reborn under Pochettino’s tutelage. The success of those players isn’t particularly Chelsea, but it is very on brand for Pochettino.


12) Rob Edwards, Luton (16)
Would probably have taken six points from 12 games in truth, and the really encouraging thing for Edwards and Luton is that they really are growing into the season and improving all the time. Have lost by two goals only once since August – a 3-1 defeat at Villa which hardly shames them – and could easily have had far more than a single point and patronising respect to show for a trio of games against Spurs, Liverpool and Manchester United.

Very much like Sheffield United, Luton are probably going to go down no matter what they do but have a manager who really is getting something out of the team. That said, could really do with having something reasonably tangible – a couple of draws, or a cheeky win – to show from games against Palace and Brentford straight after the international break because after that it’s Arsenal and City back-to-back which is unlikely to be much fun.


11) Thomas Frank, Brentford (14)
Have Brentford even played any games this season? Yeah? You sure about that? Okay, name one. See? You can’t do it. Somehow perfect that this not so much under-the-radar as entirely invisible season has yielded four wins, four draws and four defeats, none of which can be remembered even by the players involved, but a slight disappointment that they haven’t quite managed to do it with a level goal difference too. It’s an overall record that, quite correctly, places them firmly in mid-table and as we have notes neither positive nor negative here for Frank or his side we guess we’d better do the same.


10) David Moyes, West Ham (6)
Moyes’ Hammers have fallen away a touch after a really bright start – the juggling of European commitments presumably a factor here – but it’s still going broadly fine for a man who somehow engineered a relegation battle for his upper mid-table squad last season and started this one right at the top of the Sack Race lists despite ending the club’s 42-year trophy drought. There is at the very least going to be no repeat of the former unpleasantness this year, and still opportunity to end a one-year trophy drought.

West Ham boss Moyes
West Ham head coach David Moyes.


9) Roberto De Zerbi, Brighton (1)
It’s a season of two halves so far for Brighton. After five wins in their first six, it’s been no wins in their next six including a chastening 6-1 thumping at fellow overachievers Aston Villa. Easy, obvious and also probably fair to point out this sticky run has coincided with De Zerbi and Brighton learning in real time how to juggle Barclays and Europa commitments as well as fixtures against three of the current top five.

Victories home and away against Ajax in the Europa League absolutely cannot be glossed over. These are the magical nights that make football fandom worthwhile but nor can we ignore that taking three points from a possible nine in games against Fulham, Everton and Sheffield United is wildly sub-optimal if De Zerbi has ideas on further such European adventures next season.

Disappointingly, De Zerbi’s frustration has also seen him join the referee-bashing game, albeit in trademark entertaining style with a troublingly specific claim that 80% of English refs are bad bells. Knowing De Zerbi, that number will be based on painstaking research and not one plucked directly from his anus on the spur of the moment, and as such we would like very much to study his spreadsheets.

Premier League winners and losers: Van Dijk, Villa and Man Utd in form as De Zerbi spouts nonsense


8) Mikel Arteta, Arsenal (8)
You know that game where you talk about what the most Tory thing that you believe in or agree with is and everyone with kids says ‘grammar schools’? The football equivalent is surely ‘What’s the most Richard Keys opinion you agree with?’ Mine is definitely that Mikel Arteta should keep his feet and fool Lego head inside his damn technical area and stop clowning around like a chop. Irritating. I know he’s not the only manager who does it, but he is the worst offender and he is the only one who shapes up to actually tackle people on the touchline.

Of course, we mustn’t be too harsh. If anything it’s hugely impressive that a man who has so little spatial awareness that he can’t help but wander out of quite a large box marked on the floor, and who after a lifetime in the game is still blissfully ignorant of the physical properties of a sphere, has risen so far and so fast.

He’s a fine football manager, but he is also incredibly irritating. The hypocritical, theatrical, self-serving meltdown after the Newcastle defeat was embarrassing. It was a clear attempt to piggyback Liverpool’s rage after the Spurs game, but while Liverpool’s rage was disingenuous and directionless and not really much more than lashing out it was at least righteous. They had been badly let down by the officials in an indisputable manner.

Arsenal had made a series of calamitous defensive errors that ended up with the ball in their net but might on another day possibly have got away with it had VAR seen any of a few things differently. It wasn’t the same. Arteta knew it, but he also knew he could weaponise it. That his club backed him in a statement apparently specifically designed to embolden and encourage crank fans who think there genuinely is a conspiracy against the club to have been awarded the most penalties this season was even worse.

The really stupid thing is that it’s all so unnecessary. Arsenal are really good. They’ve strengthened well in the summer and have every chance of once again finishing second to City, which is really as much as anyone can ask of anyone in the current climate. But Arteta is in danger of becoming a distraction. He’s already created a situation where there was no situation over his goalkeepers, and he’s in seemingly very real danger of going full tinfoil hat at any moment. If nothing else, that can’t be good for his magnificent hair.


7) Sean Dyche, Everton (13)
The wily old gravel-voiced disc-bearded schemer has got Everton ticking, hasn’t he? Bastard, knew he would. The start to the season suggested yet another campaign of abject proud-record-protecting misery but that’s now given way to the prospect of several months engaged in some humdrum mid-tablery. You couldn’t live on it forever but my word it’s a delicious relief after what’s gone before. The football isn’t exactly Total Football but since they started scoring the odd goal here and there it’s been absolutely fine.

Premier League lore dictates that one club will hang on to its obviously f***ed manager too long and end up binning them just as the January transfer window ends. For the first time in too long, this season that club will not be Everton. Take your wins where you find them, people.


6) Steve Cooper, Nottingham Forest (7)
Turns out yer da was right all this time. All those years of including Forest in his Proper Premier League despite them being in League One at the time have paid off. Their return to the top flight has been a most welcome and entertaining one. Cooper probably deserves more credit for that than he receives outside the midlands.

Forest had to sign a whole new squad when they came up in 2022, but didn’t really need to repeat that trick in January or last summer. They did it anyway and it is now clearly their thing. Everyone has to have a niche, and Forest have carved out ‘signing all the players’ as theirs. Fair play, it’s a fun niche. But only if you’ve got an understated, diligent manager who can knit all these disparate and very often apparently random parts into a vaguely passable and coherent whole. Cooper has done that and more.

What’s good about Forest is that unlike some of the other clubs in the cavernous mid-table, it does retain an air of jeopardy. At Forest it really does feel like it could all fall apart and they could go 20 games without a win or something. They won’t, though. Because Cooper. Our prediction for Forest is a season spent in pretty secure safety but never more than two games from finding themselves in a pickle. Which is much better and much more fun than we’re expecting from roughly half the teams in the league this year.


5) Pep Guardiola, Manchester City (5)
Sold another bunch of players in the summer due to his apparent desire to try and make winning the league some kind of challenge but will never truly test himself while he continues to pick Erling Haaland every week like a big coward. Win the title with Big Josko Gvardiol up front, you massive bald fraud.


4) Gary O’Neil, Wolves (15)
We were wrong about Wolves and wrong about O’Neil. It takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong. That, or someone who is absolutely bang to rights and has absolutely nowhere to go. Thought they’d be dreadful, thought he’d taken a hospital pass in taking over when Julen Lopetegui huffed off on New Season’s Eve but O’Neil has Wolves cosily in mid-table having inflicted half of the defeats Man City and Spurs have suffered all season between them.

More important than any of that, O’Neil has also joined the all-important club of current Premier League managers who have Spoke Well, I Thought on Monday Night Football. He’s in the gang now, the ranging party for the next generation of British firefighter managers to be brought in when Jonny Foreigner can’t handle the Barclays heat.


3) Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool (3)
Rebuilt an entire midfield in the space of one transfer window. Not what anyone would choose to do, but it’s pretty bloody impressive. Potentially faces the even bigger task of rebuilding an attack sans Mo Salah if the Saudis get their way, because even in this Klopp Liverpool 2.0 the Egyptian remains imperious and seemingly irreplaceable. The problem with that is further highlighted by the fact he – and Dominik Szoboszlai – are starting to show some signs of weariness having been called upon more often than would be ideal to keep the Europa League campaign ticking over.

There have been a couple of stumbles but after a disappointing season last time out Liverpool do once again look the likeliest challengers to Manchester City at the top of the table. Their only defeat was entirely absurd in nature and the likelihood is that, like last season, they will only improve as the campaign progresses. The difference this year is that they’re doing so from a far sturdier base.

As long as he’s stopped talking about replays and as long as Liverpool don’t cash in on Salah, Klopp is all good for another big season. And they really ought to win the Europa League, which would be nice for completeness as the biggest pot to have currently and understandably eluded Klopp during his time at Anfield.


2) Ange Postecoglou, Tottenham (2)
Mate. Spurs are an extraordinary football club, really, one that has now so perfected and honed its brand that the entire experience can be packed into three months rather than the rigmarole of having it take entire seasons or even longer. Efficient, is what it is. ‘Big’ Ange ‘Breath Of Fresh Air’ Postecoglou has clearly been a wonderful addition to the league, even if we must take care to avoid it getting too silly when he gets praise for the most basic of things. The most obvious example of this came after the 4-1 defeat to Chelsea in which Postecoglou drew fawning praise from across Football Medialand for refusing to blame his side’s woes on the officials. That he had absolutely no cause to do so after a game in which not one single controversial decision went against his side was apparently irrelevant to the quest to paint him as the noble and honest hero to Arteta’s tantrumming villain. Cricket fans among you will also no doubt have enjoyed the idea that an Australian might be taking a moral win from a crushing home defeat.

Spurs have been very, very good this season – far better than anyone could have expected – but it was still all built on sand and that sand has now shifted dramatically.

We’ve never really been convinced about the idea of the manager of the month curse, but we now know for sure that there definitely is such a thing if you win it three times in a row. Since that point, Postecoglou’s previously unbeaten side have lost two out of two, suffered injuries to their two least replaceable players to long-term injury, watched Cristian Romero regress from responsible vice-captain to mad and maddening liability, allowed Nicolas Jackson to score a hat-trick and conceded two goals in injury time at goalshy Wolves to turn victory that would have taken them back to the top of the table to defeat that sees them plummet to fourth.

Postecoglou has been brilliant, but what Spurs do over the next couple of months until January will really give us a true idea of his powers. With Villa and City to come after the interlull, that 10-game unbeaten start could very conceivably now give way to a four-match losing run. West Ham after that as well. Postecoglou has a reliably usable player pool of about 14 and he’s going to have to keep this season afloat for a bit without at least three of them. He’s either going to be first or eighth in the next rankings. These are also the two possibilities for Spurs’ league position at that time. Leave you to decide which is more likely.


1) Unai Emery, Aston Villa (4)
Just doing a brilliant job. Perhaps the most compelling part is how quickly he’s normalised Villa once again being this good. It’s true you don’t have to go all that far back into ancient Barclays folklore to find some very decent Villa teams, but it’s also true that they were quite shit for quite a long time since then. Now they’re in Europe which seems perfectly fine and sitting, almost a third of the way through the season, just a point outside the top four without anyone thinking this particularly odd or even noteworthy any more.

It’s just a very good manager doing a very good job with what he has turned into a very good team. We should cherish it, really, because this sort of thing doesn’t happen all that often. The concern on the horizon will be that Emery’s work at Villa means that he’ll be right at the top of the list for any Big Six side other than Arsenal that decides their manager has sufficiently f***ed it and a change needs to be made, but it doesn’t feel like an imminent threat.

The first game after the international break feels like a hugely significant one for the season as a whole, with Emery’s Villa travelling to a suddenly weak and vulnerable Spurs. Win that – and they probably should – and Villa are in the top four.

As we’ve said before, it’s also genuinely pleasing to see Emery prove himself in Our League after what was realistically the impossible task of attempting to follow Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

READ: How Premier League teams qualify for Champions League and Europa competitions for 24/25