Owen Coyle fired as Wigan Athletic manager, sacking season in full flow

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After less than six months in the job, Owen Coyle left Wigan Athletic by ‘mutual agreement’on Monday as the Championship club struggle to mount a promotion charge back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

Coyle took charge of just 23 games for Wigan since replacing Roberto Martinez in the summer and becomes the seventh manager in the last eight days to lost his job in the English leagues, as owners and chairman display their ruthless streaks.

According to a statement on their website, Wigan said that the agreement to terminate Coyle’s deal was mutual and that both parties felt things weren’t working out. Coyle was particularly disappointed that the FA Cup holders were struggling with life in England’s second-tier after being relegated from the PL last season.

“It is with great sadness that we have made this decision,” Coyle said. “I would like to thank all my football staff and the staff at the club, who have been very supportive of me in my time here. I am confident that with this set of players, the team can keep moving in the right direction.”

What next for the Latics? Well, they have a strong squad that still has a chance or progressing to the knockout stages of the Europa League, sit six points off the playoffs in the Championship with a game in hand and have a solid financial grounding thanks to Dave Whelan’s shrewd business model.

Coyle wasn’t doing a bad job but it wasn’t that great either. Whoever comes in at Wigan next will likely reap the benefits of a rejuvenated squad ready to prove they can make it back to the PL. Replacing Martinez was always going to be a tough task and Coyle couldn’t live up to the expectations.

Who will the new boss be?

Ian Holloway is the 5/4 favorite to be the next Wigan manager, Sir Alex Ferguson’s former assistant Mike Phelan is at 3/1, former Wigan manager Paul Jewell 10-1, while some interesting names such as Roberto Di Matteo, 14-1, and Paolo Di Canio, 25-1, suggest the race to become the Latics new managers is wide open.

This trend of firing managers has heated up in the last week or so, as seven managers have lost their job in the last eight days.

With the intense festive period coming up and teams eager to give themselves a change of staying up, going up or consolidating, directors across the English Football League are getting trigger happy and have cut the chords with plenty of managers.

Fulham got rid of Martin Jol on Sunday after the Cottagers were hammered 3-0 by West Ham, Sheffield Wednesday fired Dave Jones after a poor run of form in the Championship, David Flitcroft was fired by Championship strugglers Barnsley on Saturday, Sean O’Driscoll left League One Bristol City and Guy Whittingham was fired by League Two Portsmouth.

Most of these clubs have gone through plenty of managers in an extremely short space of time, when will they learn that good results will likely come from continuity? Too often, especially in English soccer, the need to ‘freshen things up’ stunts the growth of teams and throws them backwards as they aim to move forward.

The ruthless and cold world of soccer management is not for the faint-hearted. Job security, especially at this time of year, is at a premium.

So, who is next on the chopping block?

Sanchez, Mkhitaryan transfer still up in the air

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The player-swap/trade/transfer between Arsenal and Manchester United still appears to be heading towards completion, but it was further delayed Friday.

Multiple reports in England state that while Alexis Sanchez seems set to move to Manchester United, Henrik Mkhitaryan has yet to agree to move the other way, as talks between the player’s agent and Arsenal continue. Mkhitaryan was seen training at Manchester United’s practice facility on Friday, and because the latest delay, both players would be unable to debut for their new teams this weekend after missing the Premier League registration deadline.

[MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks]

Arsenal hosts Crystal Palace Manchester United travels to Burnley, both on Saturday at 10 a.m. (Watch Arsenal live on CNBC, Manchester United live on NBCSN, and both live on NBCSports.com)

The London Evening Standard reports that Mkhitaryan would command a $242,000-per-week salary but that as of Friday morning he had yet to undergo a medical for the transfer. Arsenal reportedly still wants a transfer fee included for Sanchez, while Manchester United would prefer to just swap the two players.

It’s also looking as if that won’t be Arsenal’s only business in the transfer market. While it seemed like a far-fetched rumor at first, the links between Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Arsenal have only grown stronger in the past few days, and the Gabon international appears to be in the Gunners sights. It appears that Bordeaux’s young striker Malcolm is now off the table.

Vancouver adds versatile Juarez, formerly of Monterrey, Celtic

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Efrain Juarez is bringing his game to Major League Soccer.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 39-times capped Mexico veteran has inked a deal with the Vancouver Whitecaps, joining a strengthened unit which came within a point of winning the West last season.

Juarez, 29, was unveiled as a midfielder by the ‘Caps, though he’s primarily played right back in his club career. He’s played at Celtic, Real Zaragoza, Club America, Monterrey, and Pumas.

Last capped by El Tri in 2012, Juarez has played every position except goal, center attacking mid, and center forward in his career (picture a ‘U’ on the pitch).

“I’m so happy and excited for this new stage in my career,” Juarez said. “It’s an opportunity for me to keep growing in a new league and to be a part of an amazing club in Vancouver. From the moment they showed interest me, Carl Robinson and the Whitecaps staff have made me feel very important. I promise to put all my effort into this club and do my best to help us achieve our goals.”

VIDEO: Asensio goal ends Real Madrid’s winless run

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Marco Asensio’s eighth goal of the season and second of this Copa del Rey put an end to an unlikely Real Madrid winless run in a 1-0 victory at Leganes.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 21-year-old darted in front of a defender to volley home from in-tight, giving Real Madrid a first leg lead in the tournament quarterfinals.

More importantly, perhaps, it gives struggling Real a boost in morale after draws with Celta Vigo and Numancia, and a loss to Villarreal.

Real is home to Deportivo de la Coruna in La Liga before hosting Leganes in the second leg.

Hopeful Newcastle buyer Staveley: Offer still on the table

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is probably happy that his for-sale club is away this weekend, even though his side’s up against Manchester City.

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That’s because hopeful buyer Amanda Staveley has responded to claims that her hopeful takeover of the team won’t be happening any time soon.

Talks had stalled, said Tuesday reports, much to the chagrin of an #AshleyOut brigade that at times can make Arsenal’s #WengerOut brigade look like a yard full of happy puppies.

A “source” had said, “Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time,” but Staveley shot back on Thursday to reignite the fire. From the BBC, taken from The Times:

“Our bid remains on the table. This is an investment, but it has to be a long-term investment. Newcastle would be run as a business, but we want it to be a successful, thriving business that is an absolutely integral part of the city.”

She also said that popular manager Rafa Benitez is integral to her interest in the team, and that fact combined with her insistence that an offer remains on the table will have many Newcastle fans seething with current ownership (and there have been protests for years). It’s Ashley’s move now.