The Sack Race - Steve Kean, Owen Coyle, Steve Bruce or Arsene Wenger ?

Will the manager of Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Sunderland, or Arsenal become the first Premier League boss to get the chop?

The season is eight games old, or seven for fans of Everton and Tottenham, but already it is beginning to take shape. After the upcoming international break it will become crunch time for bosses who have not had the most desiring of starts.

Previous early casualties of trigger-happy chairman have included Paul Ince, Sam Allardyce and Juande Ramos. The bookies know the first sacking can't be far off, and already fans have begun the protests to add to the booing. takes a look at the four bosses most at risk from their team's dodgy starts...

Steve Kean

The pressure is building on the Blackburn Rovers manager and it may be all too much for him to take.

To be fair to the Scotsman, when he was installed as caretaker boss after Sam Allardyce's unjustified sacking last autumn, nobody expected him to be here almost a year on. But the club's Indian owners the Venkys have shown so far they are nothing short of unpredictable.

Kean has had some memorable wins, 3-0 against Liverpool last season, and 4-3 against Arsenal last month, but these are few and far between, and the Arsenal victory was followed up by successive defeats.

Kean was a relative unknown prior to his management stint, and if he does move on, the last 12 months have no doubt been a reputation enhancer, but the job of taking Blackburn to the next level is a near impossible task. He seems to have forgotten about signing unrealistic targets such as Ronaldinho, but his main problem is that his bargain buys such as David Goodwillie are yet to do the business.

Off the field there are fan protests, he has been convicted of drink driving, and the latest accusation is that he is alleged to have verbally attacked a Sky Sports reporter.

All the signs are there that he is coming to the boil, and the new owners may choose to cut their losses sooner rather than later.

Owen Coyle

The season started off so rosy for Bolton, with a 4-0 demolition of QPR, many would have thought Neil Warnock would be a name more likely to feature in this list. But, Bolton are currently in freefall, with a run of successive defeats and look shot of confidence. It is not just away from home they are struggling, but at home they have been squashed 5-0 by Manchester United and 5-1 by Chelsea.

In Coyle's defence they have had a horrific run of fixtures, playing all of the 'big six' apart from Tottenham, but defeat at home to Norwich in a game they desperately needed to win was hard to take, and emphasised how their lack of form has taken it out of them.

Ivan Klasnic who began the season in red-hot form has been serving a suspension for a red card, and his comeback may help the Trotters, but Coyle needs the clubs fortunes to turn around quickly.

The Gary Cahill saga has no doubt been a distraction off the field, and this weekend at home to Chelsea the fans were booing after 25 minutes at 4-0 down.

If Coyle cannot get the club's season up and running soon, with relatively easy fixtures ahead, he may well find himself on his bike.

Steve Bruce

The re-organisation in the Sunderland boardroom spells trouble for Steve Bruce.

Ellis Short has spent over £100 million on the club, and has now taken a hands on role as club chairman, as he seeks signs of progress to match his investment.

Sunderland brought in 10 new players this summer, many of who are yet to gel or find their form. The loss of record signing Asamoah Gyan was of course a big blow, but Bruce has to take responsiblity for not being able to sell his vision for the club to his star striker.

The fans are already beginning to turn, the loss at Norwich was galling, while at 2-0 down at home to West Brom, it seemed like Bruce's world was caving in, before they fought back to 2-2.

Fans have been criticising Bruce for signing 'rejects' from other big clubs and relegated sides, which is a bit harsh on both manager and players, but if the results don't go the clubs way, the fans are entitled to vent their anger.

If Sunderland are in the bottom five by December, then expect the club to make a change, and attempt to bring in Martin O'Neill.

Arsene Wenger

Wenger leaving Arsenal is the biggest longshot of the bunch, but after a horrific start to the season, the Frenchman has already received two dreaded votes of confidence from the club's biggest investors.

Could the unthinkable happen?

It is most unlikely, but if Arsenal lose their next home game to Sunderland, or even draw it, fan anger will be at an all time high.

The club needs time to rebuild after a disastrous summer transfer window, which can be blamed squarely on Wenger, but the problem is Arsenal have no time. They need to finish in the top four, but this looks a struggle, which is a sharp fall from grace for a side which ambitiously pledged in February they were chasing the quadruple.

If Arsenal do not finish in the top four, they face another summer of being surrounded by vultures after their star players, with prize asset Robin van Persie at the top of most big spending club's most wanted list.

With their future at stake, the various faces in the Gunner boardroom could well snap if their run of results gets worse, and make the momentous decision to make a change.

Image: © supermoving

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