Championship sack race: Wayne Rooney tops names likely to be feeling the pressure

We take a look at the managers who need to wake up fast if they are to avoid becoming the first Championship boss to be dumped.

The Championship is perhaps the most unforgiving division in European soccer and it is a veritable graveyard for ambitious managers dreaming of the Premier League.

Financial pressures of the COVID pandemic has increased the urgency clubs feel to reach the Premier League, and that could mean some very itchy trigger fingers in boardrooms.

So, who among the Championship's contingent of managers should be most worried?

Wayne Rooney

The records show that Wayne Rooney 'kept' Derby in the Championship last season. The reality is that Derby had very little to do with them not getting relegated.

It wasn't some valiant Leicester/Sunderland style great escape or a heartwarming story of a plucky underdog scrapping their way to safety. Rooney guided Derby to just one point in their last seven matches, with that coming in a final-day relegation shootout with Sheffield Wednesday.

Things have only really got worse since for Derby, with them being investigated by the Football League for financial irregularities and banned from buying players. That has landed them with a mini transfer embargo.

In fact, Derby's squad is so paper-thin right now that the Football League do not consider it 'up to professional standard', so they have been given permission to make four signings - as long as they are loans or free agents on one-year deals - to bring the numbers up to 23.

All of this doesn't bode well, and that puts Wayne Rooney right in the firing line. Throw more controversy from his private life into the mix and the water gets even choppier for the former England star.

Darren Ferguson

On the surface of it, Ferguson looks pretty untouchable right now at Peterborough United. He delivered promotion to the Posh last season and they did it with a degree of style too.

However, it's worth remembering that he has already been sacked - sorry, left by mutual consent - by Peterborough twice before in his career, so there is little to suggest they will resist pulling the trigger if they don't get off to a stirring start.

The Posh have recruited okay this summer, with the capture of Jorge Grant from Lincoln particularly interesting.

That said, a Championship survival bid is likely to rely on a healthy does of post-promotion momentum, and if that doesn't materialise the Peterborough board may start looking for alternatives.

Grant McCann

McCann led Hull City to the League One title last season and they were good value for it. The Tigers were the best team in the division and McCann deserves plenty of credit for his role in making sure their stay in the third tier only lasted for a single campaign.

That was then, though, and things are looking a lot less promising for Hull going into the Championship season.

Hull took out a substantial loan from the EFL last season to help with running costs, and the consequences of that are starting to bite. One of those is an embargo preventing them from paying any transfer fees for players.

That's one hurdle that they have to overcome, and it doesn't appear they are handling it all that well either.

They have already loaned out two players who, due to the terms of the transfer restrictions, count towards their 25-man maximum squad.

"We didn't realise Callum Jones and Jordan Flores counted, otherwise we wouldn't have loaned them out," McCann explained.

It's not exactly something that will fill Hull fans with a great deal of confidence, and neither will be McCann's record in the Championship in 2019/20 - the Tigers won just one of their final 20 games to slip from ninth to rock-bottom at the close of the campaign.

Carlos Corberan

It's fair to say that Huddersfield's rebuild since relegation from the Premier League has not gone all that well.

As is usually the case when that happens, it is the manager who tends to get the bullet.

Former Leeds under-23s coach Carlos Corberan is the latest man to try to reverse the Terriers' fortunes and the first season didn't go all that well, with Huddersfield finishing 20th, just six points above the relegation zone.

The Spaniard received plenty of patience from the Huddersfield board during his first season, but you wonder how long that will last if they don't make a strong start to the season.

Michael O'Neill

To give Stoke and O'Neill their due, they are doing okay. However, you have to wonder whether 'okay' in the Championship is even remotely good enough for a Stoke side that has always looked pretty well-funded and strong on paper.

O'Neill can't be blamed for that underachievement, and he has definitely stabilised the Potters after inheriting what looked like a pretty precarious position.

The former Northern Ireland boss doesn't appear to be making too much headway in terms of getting them going in the right direction, though.

Although Gary Rowett and Nathan Jones may say different, the Stoke board tend to show more patience with their managers than most. A rocky start to the campaign could see O'Neill coming under some serious pressure, however.

Chris Hughton

Nottingham Forest seem to have a right good go at promotion in every transfer window yet never seem to get any closer than nearly men.

That expectation has seen a quite staggering managerial turnover, with Forest having had a staggering 19 different men in charge in the last 10 years.

The latest pick to try and get them out of the Championship is Chris Hughton, and he has a real pedigree at this level.

Hughton has guided both Newcastle and Brighton to the promised land and he will certainly be backing himself to do that at the City Ground, too.

Whether the Forest board will back him, though… well that's another question entirely and history suggests they are not the most patient or loyal.

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