Gianfranco Zola needs an Italian Job - the West Ham boss is hot for the chop THE FIRING LINE

22 April 2010 10:36
Three is the magic number. Oh yes it is, because that's the number of games the teams scrabbling around at the bottom of the table have to save their Premier League skins.

The ignominy of dropping down into the Championship, the heartache for the fans, not to mention the huge dent put into the bank balances hangs by a thread for a number of clubs.

And yet there are several sub-plots developing at the other end of the table - four clubs are fighting for one Champions League spot.

Speechless: Zola is lost for words as he watches his Hammers knocked out of sight during the midweek defeat at Anfield

Each week we bring you our latest chart of the managersunder pressure, and those on Easy Street.

Here'sSportsmail's sack-race rankings - otherwise known asThe Firing Line.

1West Ham - Gianfranco Zola

The performance at Liverpool more than Davids Goldand Sullivan could take. Word is Zola will depart at the end of theseason - whether they avoid the drop or not. Wigan next. UP TWO

2Burnley - Brian Laws

Form at Turf Moor gave all Clarets fans hope of survival earlier this season. But now even that has abandoned them. One win in their last seven at home and face Liverpool next. DOWN ONE

3HullCity - Iain Dowie

You wonder if the Tigers have the fight in them tostay up? The defeat to Villa was abject: the fans were heading for theexits early - instead of roaring on their team. Sunderland next. UP TWO

4Aston Villa - Martin O'NeillVilla's Champions League hopes have been rekindled after two wins. But speculation has forced O'Neill to hit back: 'I'd really hope to be here next season. I've earned the right.' DOWN TWO

5Liverpool- Rafa Benitez

Rafa will look at the result in Madrid as reversible but he still has much to do to convince us he was right to promise fourth place. Three points away at Burnley will make it interesting. DOWN ONE

6Bolton Wanderers - Owen Coyle

Oh for a team of Matty Taylors. The lateTaylor-inspired comeback away at Stoke may yet prove to be the savingof the Trotters' Premier League lives, But they're not safe - Pompeynext. UP TWO

7ManCity - Roberto ManciniAll eyes on Adebayor this weekend as he returns to the Emirates butMancini's future remains anything but settled. Fourth is the minimumrequirement - which is far from being secured. UP TWO

8Wigan- Roberto Martinez

Martinez will know his side still have an outside chance of relegation but the spectre of the drop diminished greatly with that incredible 11 minutes against Arsenal. West Ham next. DOWN FOUR 

9Portsmouth- Avram GrantSo there won't be an adventure in Europe for Pompey fans next season, but there is Championship football to, ahem, look forward to. And the FA Cup of course. Bolton next. DOWN TWO

10Wolves- Mick McCarthy

Wolves may stay up but McCarthy will know thathis current group of players will be relegation fodder next season. Heneeds someone to score some goals. Anybody? Blackburn next. UP TWO

11Sunderland- Steve Bruce

Technically, they're safe but Bruce watchedhis side collapse in Autumn and only just recover to avoid relegation.Still, they've beaten last season's points total. Strugglers Hull next. NON-MOVER

12Blackburn- Sam Allardyce

Allardyce moaned that his club scored two of thebest goals of the season against Everton but ended with nothing. However, it was only their third home defeat this season. Wolves next. UP THREE

13StokeCity - Tony Pulis

Pulis's side is safe - but where next after twoyears in the top flight? He said: 'There has to be changes if we are tomove on. If you stand still you're dead.' Sounds like Beattie's out.Chelsea next. UP ONE

14BirminghamCity - Alex McLeishMcLeish is sitting very pretty at St Andrew's. Hehas achieved miracles with a squad that cost less than £10m. He willwant money in the summer to build on their great start. Villa next. DOWN FOUR

15Fulham- Roy HodgsonA hard-fought battle away in Germany hands the Cottagers pole-position in Europa League. But why can't they do that away in the Premier League? Winless away in 16 and Everton next. NON-MOVER

16Everton- David MoyesAll Moyes needs in the summer is a huge roll of bubble wrap. He should wrap it around Mikel Arteta to keep him injury free. They'd be fighting for fourth if he'd seen more of the Spaniard. NON-MOVER

17Tottenham- Harry RedknappWhat week it has been for Redknapp - beating London rivals, taking great strides to achieving fourth place. To Old Trafford next - where they have never won in the Premier League. NON-MOVER

18Arsenal - Arsene WengerAnother trophyless season for Arsene who must be wondering what he has to do to prove to us all that his system works. Overly confident or stubborn? We'll let you choose. Man City next. NON-MOVER

19Chelsea- Carlo AncelottiThe defeat to Tottenham was a blow, the performance of his captain worrying. But the main thing is his club remain one point in front. Surely they won't choke against Stoke? NON-MOVER 

20Man United - Sir Alex FergusonYou could argue that Sir Alex has already benefited from two miracles this week - Scholes's last minute winner and Tottenham beating Chelsea. But he still needs more. Spurs next. NON-MOVER



Source: Daily_Mail