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1
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1
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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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Martinez's woe at wretched Everton

Everton
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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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Managing expectations

Although one of the most successful managers of the modern era, Arsene Wenger has come under fire from the press and even Arsenal fans in recent months amid poor results and the failure to strengthen the squad. Here, ESPNsoccernet looks at some of the other managers to have come under fire despite previous success with their teams.

Sir Alf Ramsey (England)

Ramsey was the first, and as yet only, man to take England to summit of the sport his nation created. England had fallen behind the times, and it was only after the appointment of Ramsey in 1963 that they began to catch up. Results and performances slowly but surely improved, and England, of course, won the World Cup on home soil in 1966.

Ramsey was knighted soon afterwards but, without further success, his star began to wane. England were considered serious contenders for the 1970 World Cup, but exited to West Germany in the second round. After the failure to qualify for the 1972 European Championships, the Daily Mirror referred to Ramsey as "the most criticised man in England". When England did not reach the 1974 World Cup, the Daily Express urged Ramsey to accept that his "time and credibility have run dry".

His eventual successor, Don Revie, failed to revive the team's fortunes.

Jock Stein (Celtic)

Stein has gone down in history as Celtic's finest ever manager, having secured nine successive title triumphs from 1966 as well as the European Cup in 1967.

In 1975, Celtic failed to complete a decade of dominance as they finished 11 points behind Rangers in the league, and in July that year Stein was involved in a car crash in which he nearly lost his life. It was to be a year before he could return to the club and, after Sean Fallon had taken the side to second in 1975-76, Stein pieced together a new team that regained the title in 1976-77.

That was to be his final triumph with the club. Kenny Dalglish departed for Liverpool in the summer, and with injuries further restricting the side, they began in dismal fashion with just one point from their opening five league games. A European Cup exit to Wacker Innsbrook followed in November and Brian Wilson wrote in The Guardian in the aftermath: "There is much justifiable discontent among supporters as manager Jock Stein pulls one incomprehensible signing after another out of the bag."

Celtic finished fifth in what was expected to be a two-horse race and, at the end of the season, Aberdeen manager Billy McNeill stepped in. Stein briefly moved upstairs before leaving to manage Leeds United.

Bertie Mee (Arsenal)

When Arsenal dismissed Billy Wright in the summer of 1966, it was a surprise when they turned to Mee, their physiotherapist and trainer of six years. "It is fair to interpret this move as a gamble by the club," Mee told journalists upon his appointment. "I'm as interested as everyone else to see how this turns out."

It turned out to be a good move. After moderate success in his first three years, Mee established a defensively-strong Arsenal side and claimed victory in the Fairs Cup in 1970 - ending a 17-year trophy drought - and then their first ever league and FA Cup double the following year.

Though Arsenal finished runners-up in the FA Cup in 1972 and in the league in 1973, the success of 1971 was to be Mee's last as a manager. Don Howe, one of his able assistants, moved on take charge of West Brom, and over the coming seasons key players like George Graham, Frank McLintock and Charlie George departed.

In 1974-75, Arsenal finished 16th and, in March 1976, with Arsenal hovering above the relegation zone, the Daily Express broke the news that Mee was to depart at the end of the season. "The pressure on Bertie through the years must have been tremendous," Arsenal chairman Denis Hill-Wood said. "People must realise that Arsenal managers are never right - they are always wrong in the public eye. Bertie's been in the job for ten years and that's a long time to take the brunt of the criticism aimed at the club."

Jupp Derwall (West Germany)

Ahead of Euro 1980, Derwall's first tournament as West Germany manager, he had expressed doubt: "We are no longer producing players with personality." Even so, they were to emerge as champions in Italy, and Argentina boss Cesar Luis Menotti praised the manager's work in the aftermath: "Since the 1978 World Cup, European football has been on a downward spiral. Only Derwall's Germany have progressed."

Derwall's journey from hero to villain was relatively swift. His team were humiliated in their opening game of the 1982 World Cup, losing 2-1 to Algeria, before the hugely controversial 1-0 victory over Austria that enabled both teams to progress from the group. West Germany went on to reach the final, where they lost 3-1 to Italy.

Derwall's standing was plummeting as he fell out with key players, and in qualification for Euro 1984 they only finished ahead of Northern Ireland by virtue of their goal difference. At the tournament itself, they failed to emerge from the group stage. Derwall returned home to angry scenes and soon afterwards was out of a job.

Brian Clough (Nottingham Forest)

His achievements at the City Ground were outstanding: Nottingham Forest had been mid-table in the Second Division when Clough took charge in 1975 but, in 1978, he took the club to their first ever league title and, by the summer of 1980, had added back-to-back European Cup successes. Not unexpectedly, given the stature of the club, Clough was unable to maintain that level of success - particularly as his long-time assistant Peter Taylor left the club in 1982 - but Forest finished third in 1984, 1988 and 1989 and had success in the League Cup.

There were to be two further cup finals at the start of the '90s, but Clough by this stage had become gripped by alcoholism. This was not an entirely new phenomenon - during his time at Derby, Taylor said he and Clough had been "drinking to excess", and the directors had taken to locking the drinks cabinet - but things were spiralling out of control.

Some have argued that, when the Premier League era began in 1992, Clough's methodology had become outdated, but what became clear was that his personal problems held significance over any professional defects. He sold Des Walker and Teddy Sheringham in the summer of 1992 - the latter deal the subject of bung allegations in the High Court - and failed to bring in adequate replacements; Forest crashed to the foot of the table by early September.

Matters barely improved throughout the season and, at the end of April when relegation was all but certain, two Sunday tabloids featured stories that ultimately triggered his retirement. One paper revealed that Clough had recently slept in a field - he later told a Sun journalist that he had "slept in fields 20 or 25 times and no one said owt about it" - while Forest director Chris Wootton made a series of allegations of heavy drinking, including the claim that he was regularly drunk by 10am and once collapsed in front of his players.

The extent of Clough's alcoholism was, at the time, not generally accepted, but the publication of the stories brought the announcement of his retirement the following day. "I'm delighted to get out, to make the break," he said.

Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)

"Three or four years ago, people thought my shelf life was up and I was out of the door," Ferguson said in January 2011. "That's the way it is today."

Though it seems scarcely credible now, there were for a time genuine doubts over Ferguson's future, with the embittered departure of Roy Keane in November 2005 seeming to signal the end of an era. "Roy Keane was right," Danny Fullbrook wrote in the Daily Star at the time. "Sir Alex Ferguson IS losing his grip. If fans thought a crisis was just around the corner after Keane's exit, it is now looking them full in the face. United are standing on a precipice, looking dangerously like they might fall over the edge. And most of that can be traced back to Ferguson."

Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney were already at the club, but so were the likes of Liam Miller and Alan Smith and, in December, United finished bottom of their Champions League group. The mid-season signings of Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic then made inauspicious starts, and a rift between Ferguson and Ruud van Nistelrooy grew.

Just as Ferguson had found a solution during those difficult early years, though, he oversaw an abrupt improvement in the 2006-07 season. Michael Carrick came in while Evra and Vidic found their feet, and, in attack, Rooney, Ronaldo and Louis Saha began the season in blistering form. United won the title, and a new era began.

Thomas Schaaf (Werder Bremen)

When Felix Magath left Bremen in a precarious position in the final weeks of the 1998-99 season, Schaaf was handed the role of firefighter. Despite having no experience of top-level management, he led the team to two victories in their final three games and, having ensured their safety, secured victory over Bayern Munich in the DFB-Pokal final that June.

While Schaaf had been thrown into the deep end, his background made him unusually well prepared for the role. He joined Bremen as a ten-year-old, had spent the entirety of his playing career there and then progressed through the managerial ranks with the youth and reserve teams.

Over the longer term, he proved he was more than a mere quick-fix: Bremen made constant progress under his leadership until, in 2003-04, he won a league and cup double. For the next four seasons, they did not finish outside the top three.

Over the years, Schaaf has had to cope with the loss of key stars like Miroslav Klose and Diego, but the sale of Mesut Ozil to Real Madrid in the summer of 2010 hit them hard. After years of overachievement, 2010-11 brought underachievement as they finished 13th and struggled to keep their heads above water.

Beloved by the fans for years, Schaaf now faces a battle to keep them onside, with many taking the view that a rebuilding project is needed with a new man at the helm.

Sir Bobby Robson (Newcastle United)

Newcastle were a club in turmoil at the start of the 1999-2000 season. They took just one point from their opening seven games, and during that run manager Ruud Gullit had been forced out after his public fall-out with Alan Shearer.

Robson, having spent the previous decade managing various clubs in Europe, was ready to return home at the age of 66. "I am a local lad," he said, "so to be put in charge really would be a dream come true for me." In a Newcastle Evening Chronicle poll, 87% of fans called for Robson to be appointed.

He instantly set about turning things around, beginning with an 8-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday before guiding them to mid-table security. In 2001-02, he steered Newcastle into the Champions League by finishing fourth, and the seasons that followed ended with the club in third and fifth.

Unfortunately, there had been murmurings of discontent from the players - Kieron Dyer, notably, had refused to play out of position - and the 2003-04 campaign ended with a run of four games without a win. When Newcastle failed to win any of their first four games of the 2004-05 season, Robson was sacked. Dominic Utton wrote in the Daily Express: "How could they do it? The most successful England manager since Sir Alf Ramsey had taken charge of the Toon Army in September, 1999, and quickly re-established the ailing giant into a major English footballing force. Yesterday, he was sacked."

Marcello Lippi (Italy)

A Champions League-winning coach with Juventus, Lippi reached the apex of his managerial career when he led Italy to World Cup glory in 2006. "It was like a dream," he said in October that year. "Everybody played at 100%. If I made a change, the player coming on played even better than the player going off. Everything worked perfectly. Everything went our way. We lived for two months in a state of grace. It was magical."

When Roberto Donadoni replaced Lippi after the tournament and lost two of his first three games, La Nazione wrote an editorial under the heading 'How to reduce Lippi's masterwork to pieces in just three weeks'. After Donadoni's reign ended in disappointment, Lippi was charged with re-energising an old side for the 2010 World Cup.

It ended disastrously, with the same body of players failing to emerge from one of the tournament's weakest groups in what La Stampa labelled 'The blackest page of our footballing history'. Its headline blamed the 'failure of Lippi in South Africa', while La Repubblica wrote: "Getting Lippi back was a mistake. He had no intention, after two years of doing nothing, to work on building a new national side."

Phil Brown (Hull City)

When Brown decided to go it alone as a manager after working as Sam Allardyce's assistant, he was sacked by Derby County in January 2006 after just seven months. He described his subsequent unemployment as a "dark hole" but, in late October 2006, he was made first-team coach at Hull City.

The team was sitting rock-bottom of the Championship, and when Phil Parkinson was sacked in December, Brown was named caretaker manager. They avoided relegation by seven points that year and, in 2007-08, reached the play-offs before securing promotion to the top-flight for the first time in the club's history.

In October 2008, two years after Brown's arrival at the club, they were sitting third in the Premier League after victories over teams including Arsenal and Tottenham. "Management, I just love it," he told the Daily Star at the time. "You never know what's next." As it turned out, it was a dramatic collapse in which Hull recorded just two victories in their next 28 league games.

They clung on to their Premier League status by just one point and then continued to struggle the following season. With the team in the relegation zone in March 2010, Brown was placed on gardening leave. His successor, Iain Dowie, was unable to inspire a revival and Hull were relegated.

Kim Jong-Hun (North Korea)

That Kim led North Korea to the 2010 World Cup was a remarkable achievement. To that point, the country's sole experience of the tournament had come in 1966, and to qualify ahead of Iran and Saudi Arabia with a squad of minimal global experience was some feat.

With an extremely well-drilled side that proved strong at the back, Kim would ordinarily have taken the acclaim, but instead the credit was bestowed upon Kim Jong-Il. "I think it is the result of our Great Leader's care for our players," the coach told ESPNsoccernet in January 2010, while goalkeeper Ri Myong-Guk had earlier said: "Our most valuable player was the Dear Leader, who has struck fear in the hearts of our terrified opponents, and provided greater defence than a thousand full-backs and ten million goalkeepers."

Their Dear Leader had, they said, been in contact with the team during games using mobile phones invisible to the naked eye as they were fitted inside the inner ear canals.

What involvement the Supreme Leader of North Korea had at the finals in South Africa is not clear, but after a credible 2-1 defeat to Brazil in their opener, they were defeated 7-0 and 3-0 by Portugal and Ivory Coast respectively.

What happened to the coach upon his return to his homeland is unclear. Radio Free Asia, in a report picked up by the international media, cited sources claiming the team and manager faced "harsh ideological criticism" before 400 people, with Kim accused of a betrayal of Kim Jong Il's anointed heir, Kim Jong Un. Most alarmingly, it cited rumours he had been "sent to perform forced labour at a residential building construction site in Pyongyang". However, Radio Free Asia had stressed it would be "hard to verify", and The Daily NK - an online paper opposed to the North Korean government - believed the punishment may have been as light as to strip Kim of his 'People's Athlete' title.

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