Manager shake-up in the summer?

The end of the season might still be four months away, but transfers speculations are already flowing. Interestingly enough, this summer might see the managers take over the role of main characters in the transfer window.

Four of Europe’s top teams might part way with the men at the helm. For three of them – Andre Villas Boas, Arsene Wenger and Claudio Ranieri – the decision will hinge on their teams’ form from now until the end of the season, while for the fourth one – the all conquering Pep Guardiola – a lack of a long-term future could be the reason to step down.

Of the three strugglers, Ranieri seems to be the one more at risk. The Inter coach replaced Gasperini in October and looked to have steadied the ship – a winning streak of seven games boosted the Nerazzurri over Christmas – but two consecutive defeats at home against relegation candidates have sparked anger and protest by Inter fans.

Ranieri’s task is not an easy one. Inter have waved goodbye to many of the treble winning stars of 2010 and the rest of the squad is either ageing, too raw or, simply, not good enough.

Inter fans feel the club hasn’t done enough to replace Jose Mourinho and that they’re no longer interested in challenging at the top level, pointing at president Moratti’s unusual parsimony in the last two seasons.

The man that, at least according to Porto chairman Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa, is the current Chelsea manager, Andres Villas Boas.

The young Portuguese joined the West London club in the summer, following a season in which he guided Porto to Europa League glory as well as a domestic double.

Life in the Premier Legaue has proved tougher than AVB could have expected though, an ageing squad and failing to grasp the manager’s philosophy and a couple of mis-firing players have the Blues sitting fifth on the table, 17 points adrift of the top.

Off-field controversy have marred AVB’s short stint at Stamford Bridge with John Terry involved in a racism case and Villas Boas publicly declaring that he had lost the players’ backing.

With Chelsea’s supreme Roman Abramovich a trigger-happy figure, it’s hard to imagine Villas Boas in charge next year.

Across London, at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger is facing his darkest hour in the 15 years he has spent in charge of the Gunners.

Fourth-placed Arsenal have enduring a nightmare season, suffering humiliating defeats at Old Trafford and in Milan and, after being knocked out from the FA Cup, face a seventh consecutive season without silverware.

The departure of Fabregas and Nasri last summer left voids that were never appropriately filled and if it wasn’t for the extraordinary Robin Van Persie Arsenal would be sitting further back on the table.

Fans are growing disillusioned with Le Professeur and he faces a difficult, possibly pivotal, summer. Changing his rigid financial policies to keep Van Persie and bring in a few world class players or letting the club continue down the current path?

Much will depend on whether Arsenal will secure a Champions League spot.

Who’s sure to clinch a Champions League spot is Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona.

Barca, hailed as the greatest football team of the last 30 years, might be forced to relinquish their domestic crown to hated rivals Real Madrid and Guardiola hasn’t signed a new deal yet, which means he’ll be a free agent in the summer.

Guardiola expressed his desire for a “long-term plan” to be put decided as a condition for him to sign.

Speculations have linked him with both, Inter and Arsenal, but it’s difficult to imagine him away from the Camp Nou but so is the prospect of a Wenger-less Arsenal.

This summer promises to be one of the busiest of the last decade.

Daniele Cancian @MUFC_dan87

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