Is the Premier League's Top Six Preparing For Another Managerial Merry-Go-Round?

A game of musical chairs among the Premier League's elite clubs may be upon us once again. Rumor has it that four of the so-called "top six" teams in England could have a new manager in place by the time the 2018/19 season begins.

Listen carefully and you can almost hear the melody of the carnival carousel rising. The managerial merry-go-round is being dusted off and cranked into gear once again.

The hot seats that could potentially be available in the summer include Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham. Frustrations, failings and fears have led to Antonio Conte, Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger and Mauricio Pochettino's futures being thrown into considerable doubt.

Mourinho, the only member of the group to have been on this ride before, has frequently been linked with the manager's job at Paris Saint-Germain. Publicly, the prickly Portuguese insists he wants to remain at Manchester United until his services are no longer needed, but the success his nemesis Pep Guardiola is enjoying down the road is taking its toll.

Guardiola's effect on English football is coming to fruition in his second season in the Premier League. His team are the runaway leaders in the division, already being regarded by some as the greatest the country has ever seen, as they canter toward the finish line, 15 points ahead of United.

For Mourinho, the gap—or gulf—is down to financial reasons. Despite spending £150 million in the summer, the former Chelsea manager pointed to City's deep pockets. Rumors linking him with a move to the Parc des Princes, where £199 million was spent on just one player last summer, seem apt. Mourinho has even learnt French.

Antonio Conte and Arsene Wenger
Antonio Conte, left, at Goodison Park, Liverpool, England, April 30, 2017, and Arsene Wenger, right, at the Bet365 Stadium, Stoke on Trent, England, August 19, 2017. Conte and Wenger are two of the top Premier League managers rumored to be replaced at the end of the season. Laurence Griffiths/Alex Livesey/Getty

An escape to the safety of France's Ligue 1 would also relieve Mourinho of his war-of-words with Conte, his successor at Chelsea. The two men have been engaged in a slugging match through the media over the past few weeks as frustrations boil over for both.

Just like Mourinho, however, Conte's stay at Chelsea looks likely to be short. The Italian won the Premier League title in his first year in English football but has been irritated by the West London club's transfer policy. So now Chelsea are looking for potential replacements—and possibly another Italian.

According to Corriere dello Sport, Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri is on Chelsea's shortlist to replace Conte at the end of the season. Allegri has previously expressed his desire to work in the Premier League but his current contract at Juventus runs until 2020 and the Turin club has no intention of allowing him to go.

Less than 10 miles north, at the Emirates Stadium, results this season have left some members of the Arsenal board speculating over whether Wenger would leave his post early. Despite many fans calling for his 22-year reign to come to an end in the summer, the 68-year-old Frenchman signed a new two-year contract. Arsenal, though, are sixth in the Premier League and out of the FA Cup, with only the League Cup and Europa League to compete.

While no final decision has been made, the London Evening Standard claim former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti is being lined up as Wenger's successor. The three-time European champion has the pedigree for Arsenal, having managed at Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Real Madrid. And it is the Santiago Bernabeu that plays a role in our final possible move.

Pochettino's work at Tottenham over the past three years has caught the eye of those in the Spanish capital. With Real falling 15 points behind Barcelona in the La Liga title race, the Argentine could well be the man to take his place.

For Liverpool, optimism remains. Jurgen Klopp's project is exciting, and the addition of Virgil van Dijk promises to propel them towards title contention next season. And, at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester City will want Guardiola to stay for as long as possible. Guardiola and Klopp won't be jumping on the merry-go-round this time, anyway.

Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho
Mauricio Pochettino, left, and Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford, Manchester, England, October 28, 2017. Pochettino and Mourinho have both been links with moves abroad. OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty