Johannesburg - When Southampton play West Ham United on Saturday, manager Mark Hughes will make his sixth bow at the helm of an English Premier League (EPL) club.
Although the Welshman made an impression at Blackburn Rovers, he has struggled to find a home since he was unceremoniously sacked by Manchester City in 2009. His axing was followed by spells at Fulham, Queens Park Rangers and Stoke City.
Hughes is not the only seasoned traveller with survival on his mind – Hammers boss David Moyes is managing his fourth EPL club, while Stoke City’s Paul Lambert is at his third team.
Meanwhile, West Bromwich Albion manager Alan Pardew and his Crystal Palace counterpart Roy Hodgson’s tallies are sitting at five. This means the men in charge of the bottom five have had a combined total of 23 EPL managerial jobs.
To put this into perspective, Pep Guardiola, José Mourinho, Jürgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino, Antonio Conte and Arsène Wenger – managers of the league’s top six teams – have a combined total of eight managerial jobs.
Clearly, the Premier League’s bottom feeders have opted for managers with experience. This is completely understandable, given that stability matters more than ever to clubs that are fighting to survive.
Palace took a risk by appointing Frank de Boer ahead of the 2017/18 season and it backfired catastrophically, with the former Ajax boss being sacked after just 77 days.
However, one can’t help but wonder whether the bottom five, who have all appointed new managers during the course of the season, intend to keep them for long.
Hughes and Moyes are both on short-term contracts that will expire at the end of the season. Lambert, Hodgson and Pardew’s job security is also far from guaranteed.
All five are British managers who know the league and have had some success in the past. However, none of them have truly upset the Premier League’s routine order since Pardew’s fifth-place finish with Newcastle United in 2011/12.
By and large, the managers who have done so were risky, often unpopular, foreign appointments.
A loud outcry was raised when Mauricio Pochettino replaced Nigel Adkins at Southampton, but few complained when he led them to eighth place in the 2013/14 season. This also earned him a job at Tottenham Hotspur, who he has led to back-to-back second-place finishes.
Similarly, few believed Claudio Ranieri would survive when he replaced Nigel Pearson at Leicester City, let alone win the 2015/16 title.
After arguably the greatest season in EPL history, experts and fans alike were humbled.
More recently, Marco Silva turned heads at Watford before he was approached by Everton.
His brief stint at the Hornets showcased all that could possibly go right and wrong when a club hires an ambitious manager.
Once the season is over, it will be interesting to see whether the bottom five will ditch their tried and tested formulas and end the managerial merry-go-round.