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THE FIRING LINE: Carlo Ancelotti continues to struggle but Chris Hughton is first to cop the chop

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10 Dec 2010 01:10:52

THE FIRING LINE: Carlo Ancelotti continues to struggle but Chris Hughton is first to cop the chop

Carlo Ancelotti must have been saying his last prayers when he heard the axe was being sharpened for a Premier League manager's job - but it wasn't for him as Newcastle stunned everyone by giving Chris Hughton the chop. A patchy spell hit a new low after a poor performance in the 3-1 defeat to West Brom, but short of a virtually impossible Champions League challenge, it's hard to see what else Hughton could have done to save his position. It will be interesting is to see if Alan Pardew can justify the boards trigger happy policy by improving the Toon Army. Begging to stay: Chelsea have won just once in their last six games Despite antics in the north east, questions still remain overAncelotti's future which have not been helped by a continued run of badform in the league. Judging by his body language in recent games, does the Italian already know his Chelsea days are numbered? Each week we bring you our latest chart of the managers underpressure, and those on Easy Street. Here's Sportsmail's sack-racerankings - otherwise known as the Firing Line... 1Chelsea- Carlo AncelottiAnd still he can't buy a win. Worse still Chelsea are slipping behind in the title race. Crucially for Ancelotti the holy grail of the Champions League looks good but that's about it. NON-MOVER 2West Ham - Avram Grant Back to the usual stuff for Grant as his side never really got going against Sunderland, were those wins against Wigan and Manchester United fortunate anomalies? NON-MOVER 3ManCity - Roberto Mancini Heaven knows what Mancini's targets are (his predecessor Mark Hughes' seemingly changed by the day), but if a title charge is one of them he remains on course (just). NON-MOVER 4Wigan- Roberto Martinez Draw against Stoke had reasons for optimism but also pessimism. Unlucky to only get a point but it's hard to see where Martinez is going to pick up other wins. NON-MOVER 5Wolves- Mick McCarthyClaims he has the backing of the board despite sitting second from bottom. But Wolves need to start picking up points before McCarthy spends in January, otherwise who will join them? UP ONE 6Liverpool- Roy Hodgson Very comfortable victory over Villa on Monday suggests at Anfield, Hodgson has his team very difficult to beat. Now just that laughable away form to sort out, Newcastle next. DOWN ONE 7Fulham - Mark Hughes Just three draws in their last six games makes Fulham the most out of form team in the league and Hughes' side only sit outside the relegation zone on goal difference. UP ONE 8BirminghamCity - Alex McLeish No doubt gave his side the hairdryer treatment as they battled back to snatch a point from Spurs. Unbeaten in last four as they attempt to escape a relegation fight. UP ONE 9Blackburn- Sam Allardyce Slightly flattered to beat Wolves 3-0 but it was a terrific response after getting hammered by Manchester United the week before. Rovers sitting comfortable mid-table. UP TWO 10Aston Villa - Gerard Houllier Houllier needs a transfer window and fast, his side are too inexperienced for a relegation battle but judging by his purchases in his Liverpool days, are Villa better off with the kids? UP THREE 11WestBromwich - Roberto Di Matteo After a wobbly spell, Di Matteo has got his side playing again with successive Premier League victories, that at this stage of the season puts the Baggies well on course to stay up. DOWN ONE 12Sunderland- Steve BruceAsamoah Gyan, Darren Bent and Danny Welbeck started against West Ham but failed to get a goal between them in the 1-0 win. A tactical conundrum Bruce will earn his pay to get around. NON-MOVER 13Newcastle - Alan Pardew Some may say anybody who takes the Newcastle job is the maddest man in football. If Hughton was sacked mid-table what will happen to Pardew if they get involved in a relegation battle? NEW ENTRY 14Blackpool - Ian Holloway Postponed game may be a blessing for Blackpool who have had a mini-break since their 2-2 draw at Bolton. Tough fixture against Stoke next which they will do well to avoid defeat. NON-MOVER 15Bolton - Owen Coyle Losing track of fifth spot and current final Europa League place, but not many Trotters fan will have rejected sixth place at the start of the season, slight wobble of late but Coyle's on course. UP ONE 16Everton - David Moyes Just two points above the drop but the performance at Stamford Bridge shows what they can achieve. Europe is still possible if they can hit a run of form Moyes is capable of producing. DOWN ONE 17Stoke City - Tony Pulis Despite draw at Wigan it could be argued Stoke's away form has cost them ground in challenging for Europe, which says everything you need to know about fortress Britannia. NON-MOVER 18Tottenham- Harry RedknappSigns that not just the league title but a top four place is slipping away from Spurs. Even so Spurs are flying in the Champions League as they avoid most of the big guns in the last 16. NON-MOVER 19Arsenal- Arsene Wenger Last 16 place in the Champions League is secured, but all eyes will be on the huge game against Manchester United next which Wenger will be desperate to win. NON-MOVER 20Man United - Sir Alex FergusonValencia may have been a non-event but the clash against Arsenal next, may just play a big role in deciding where the title goes. Unbeaten record will be seriously put to the test. NON-MOVER  The Firing Line: Will Carlo cop it? Carlo's is our favourite for the axeThe Firing Line: Avram's aggro - Grant continues to top our list for the chopThe Firing Line: Hammer time? Grant continues to struggle in the hot seatThe Firing Line: Grant me more time! West Ham boss running out of games to lift Hammers off the bottom  Explore more:People: Alex Ferguson, Chris Hughton, Ian Holloway, Steve Bruce, David Moyes, Mark Hughes, Harry Redknapp, Roberto Di Matteo, Mick McCarthy, Sam Allardyce, Tony Pulis, Darren Bent, Danny Welbeck, Alex McLeish, Roy Hodgson, Roberto Mancini, Owen Coyle, Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto Martinez Places: Liverpool, Newcastle, Birmingham, Europe


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