FourFourTwo.com editor Gary Parkinson on the managerial fun and games at the foot of the Premier League...
This season's Premier League relegation battle has veered into an It's a Knockout of competitive misery.
Welcoming Wigan to the Reebok Stadium and noting that visiting boss Bob Martin's inflexible insistence on "playing proper football" had gathered more plaudits than points, Bolton's Owen Coyle rushed to embrace the ideology. Reverting from the 4-5-1 with which his team had lost one game in seven to the 4-4-2 that had served them so badly hitherto, Bolton surrendered possession and the points in a hapless home hammering.
Having spent a wedge of wodge to keep QPR in the division by assembling a squad containing enough strikers to make even Bob Crow cringe, Mark Hughes promptly watched his new charges lose successive six-pointers to Wolves and Blackburn, to find themselves right in it.
Having won that match at QPR to escape the drop zone, Wolves had the chance to drag their freefalling local rivals West Brom into the mire. Instead, they capitulated 5-1 in a defeat so dire that owner Steve Morgan felt compelled to fire Mick McCarthy.
Whatever the merits of that decision, it can't be denied that Wolves have created a succession crisis. Laying out a precise set of criteria (specifically Premier League experience) which precluded all but a few candidates, Morgan and camera-happy chief exec Jez Moxey found their field considerably narrowed when the fans rejected the very idea of Steve Bruce and willing interviewee Alan Curbishley apparently rejected the job Ã¢ÂÂ twice.
In between those Curbed approaches, the club flip-flopped by chasing young Football League bosses with no top-flight managerial experience Ã¢ÂÂ Brighton's Gus Poyet and Reading's Brian McDermott. Poyet shrugged off the idea, McDermott signed a new contract.
And so, after a quick lurch to the opposite extreme by approaching retired sexagenarian Walter Smith, Wolves have ended up at the usual destination of desperation by appointing the assistant-turned-caretaker Terry Connor until the end of the season.
That's not to say promoting caretakers never works Ã¢ÂÂ Chris Hughton did a much better job at Newcastle than either of the messiahs he replaced, Keegan and Shearer. However, Connor is obviously so far from first choice as to have already been undermined by his club.
At least in that respect Venky's didn't get it wrong at Ewood Park. True, many a Rover would revoke the decision to sack Sam Allardyce and elevate his assistant Steve Kean to the top job, but at least the Scotsman seems to have the backing of his players.
Well, most of them. Not to be outdone by the calamities around them, Blackburn now appear to be determinedly ostracising their most effective player, Chris Samba, who seems set to leave for Russia today in exchange for ÃÂ£7.5m which will do Kean's squad no good at all.
Economists talk about a "race to the bottom". It seems we've got our very own in England's top flight.
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