London - Christmas is still a few days away but already Premier League managers are piling up on the scrapheap like unloved toys.
Less than a week after Tottenham Hotspur axed Andre Villas-Boas and West Bromwich Albion sent Steve Clarke packing, Cardiff City's Malky Mackay had on Friday reportedly been told by Malaysian owner Vincent Tan to resign or be sacked.
Tottenham's stand-in manager Tim Sherwood described events at White Hart Lane as “madness” after taking charge of the team for the 2-1 League Cup defeat by West Ham United on Wednesday.
The truth is, however, that wisdom and logic do not seem to apply in the modern football world where the expectations of club owners are often out of kilter with reality.
Even with Mackay still technically in his job, a quarter of managers who began the Premier League season have gone, with Villas-Boas the highest-profile casualty despite his side being only five points off the top four.
The three clubs in the relegation zone, Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Fulham have all hit the panic button with Paolo di Canio, Ian Holloway and Martin Jol all gone.
West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce is also under intense pressure with his side perched just above the bottom three and games against Manchester United and Arsenal coming next.
It is a grim picture and a contrast to last season when only three Premier League managers were sacked mid-campaign and Manchester City got rid of Roberto Mancini in May, a year after he took the club to the title.
Trigger-happy chairman are not just a by-product of the cash-rich Premier League either.
Gianfranco Zola last week became the seventh Championship (second division) manager to go since July, while in the division below, League One, eight have left their posts.
Being a manager in England has never been so precarious, according to Hull City boss Steve Bruce.
“Oh my gosh - Merry Christmas... But nothing surprises me any more because of the way football has gone,” was Bruce's reaction when told of Mackay's predicament.
“From the outside they should be really thanking Malky, he has done a wonderful job.
“I think all of us in this job think it seems to be getting worse, 25 per cent of the clubs in the Premier League have changed managers already.
“When you look at the lower divisions too the fall-out rate of managers is quite ridiculous and I think we are going to deter people from coming into management, especially up-and-coming young ones, as managers simply do not get time now.”
The Cardiff situation is even more puzzling as the Scot led the Welsh club into the top flight for the first time in 51 years this year and his side are currently 15th.
“I am pretty appalled and dismayed by the last 48 hours and it certainly appears that Malky has been treated shamefully,” MP for Cardiff Stephen Doughty told the BBC.
Should Mackay leave, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will have been in charge of the north London club longer than the other 19 Premier League managers put together.
“In some countries the instability of managers is chronic,” Wenger, who took charge in 1996, told reporters. “Stability is important for the quality of the game.”
Harry Redknapp, who parted company with Tottenham in 2012 despite finishing fourth, fifth and fourth in his three full season in charge at White Hart Lane, said he was shocked by the latest turn of events at Cardiff and across the Premier League.
“Malky has done a fantastic job there,” Redknapp, now trying to get Queens Park Rangers promoted, told a news conference.
“It is beyond belief. It is a shock the way things are unfolding and it does not seem right that someone could do what he has done and be under pressure.”
On his old club, Redknapp said chairman Daniel Levy should give Sherwood, the club's development squad coach, a chance.
“Tottenham do change managers an awful lot,” he said.
“Owners think it is about names but it is not. Maybe we should give Sherwood a foreign name or a more sexy name and he might get the job.” – Reuters