Weekend Wanderings: managerial misery and blockbuster fixtures

As another round of Champions League, Europa League and EFL fixtures roll on past, the weekend has arrived.

There are plenty of beleaguered bosses who need a boost (see the most recent case study in Manchester) and for some it’s a case of starting fresh after the manager got the chop.

Here are the fixtures you should be keeping an eye on this weekend.

1. More Mourinho misery in Manchester?

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Last week, Manchester United and their difficulties were highlighted in this piece ahead of their trip to West Ham United as a potential banana skin for things to get worse, And they did get worse.

Manchester United’s lacklustre display in their defeat to West Ham, followed by their draw against Valencia in midweek – plus the fact that everything is seemingly being aired in public – means things are far from happy at Old Trafford.

This weekend, points are desperately needed to quieten some of the critics for Jose Mourinho and this Saturday he faces an old nemesis who has problems of his own.

Despite Rafael Benitez’s talent as a boss, Newcastle United look like they will struggle again this season and are yet to win in the league.

Fingers, as ever, are pointed in the direction of the owner, but the squad currently turning out in black and white aren’t the most talented. Lose at Old Trafford and it will surely create more worry on Tyneside.

A Win for Manchester United, and suddenly Jose Mourinho’s position looks as if it will be teetering ever closer to the brink.

2. What will life be like post-Steve Bruce for Aston Villa?

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No one would have predicted that a cabbage would be the final straw for Steve Bruce at Aston Villa. Yet, following one win in nine games, Bruce was axed as manager on Thursday.

Kevin MacDonald is in temporary charge as the club search for a successor, but in the immediate future all eyes are on this weekend’s away trip.

The Birmingham side travel to relegation-troubled Millwall, but will their players be revitalised after Bruce’s sacking? Time will tell.

3. Will Bayern retake top spot in the Bundesliga?

Bayern Munich, under Niko Kovac, had started this season swimmingly, but a draw and defeat in their last two games has seen Borussia Dortmund sit top of the table.

This Saturday, they will hope to grab all three points – and keep their fingers crossed that Dortmund slip up – but their opponents are a stern test.

Borussia Monchengladbach, a club just two points and two places behind the reigning champions, visit the Allianz Arena this weekend.

4. Will Hearts continue to plough on ahead of the pack?

Hearts fans are more than enjoying the start to the season – six wins and one draw in seven games leaves them top of the pile.

However, such has been the dominance of the Old Firm in Scotland, a match up with the traditional giants was always sure to ring extra scrutiny on Hearts’ title credentials.

They have already beaten Celtic this season, but this Sunday Craig Levein’s men travel to play Steven Gerrard’s Rangers, who will be hoping to bounce back from defeat against Livingston in their last league outing.

However, the Blues’ European exploits – as they currently sit top of their Europa League group – could give them a welcome boost.

If Hearts are to remain unbeaten they will have to work hard.

5. Will Manchester City get over their Liverpool kryptonite?

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For all of Manchester City’s dominance last season, their one Achilles heel was Liverpool – the team who inflicted their first Premier League defeat and knocked them out of the Champions League.

Manchester City have continued to impress, though not quite as high as their previous standards, whilst Liverpool’s squad is arguably the best they’ve had for years.

Considering recent results, Liverpool’s invincible aura this season has somewhat diminished, thanks to a Carabao Cup exit and defeat to Napoli, but Jurgen Klopp’s men do remain unbeaten.

With some potential help from former City man Daniel Sturridge there could well be some more super-sub action this weekend at the Etihad.

This is the must-watch game of the weekend.

You can follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992

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