Seven Chamionship managers have already bitten the dust, including five clubs with newcomers who lasted just a matter of months in charge.
QPR, Aston Villa, Cardiff City, Derby County, Rotherham United and Wolves all pulled the trigger, with Rs Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink the latest casualty.
So, as we hit the halfway point in the latest two-week interval, we are looking back at how each and every one of the second-tier surviving managers has fared in 2016/17 to date.
We’ve spoken to our network of reporters across the country and collected their views to come up with a comprehensive assessment of this year’s Championship managers - and you can have your say on who is the best boss in the league.
Why Roberto Di Matteo failed at Villa - and how Steve Bruce has started
“He’s helped bring a feel-good factor back to the club.”
Gregg Evans, Birmingham Mail
What a start Steve Bruce has made since moving back to the Midlands to take over at Aston Villa.
The 55-year-old never actually left his permanent home in the region after leaving bitter rivals Birmingham City nine years ago.
But, still, wearing the claret and blue of Villa was never high in his thought process until recent times.
With the recently-relegated club struggling in the lower reaches of the Championship, a decision was made to sack Roberto Di Matteo last month.
And what a clever move it has been appointing Bruce. Five games in and he’s unbeaten.
Villa have picked up eleven points from those encounters to distance themselves from the drop zone.
More importantly they’re closing in on the top-six - a position they aimed to finish in at the start of the season.
Villa’s away-day hoodoo is now well and truly behind them following a first win in 15 months on the road at Reading.
They’ve also recorded back-to-back wins for the first time in 18 months under Bruce’s leadership and came back from a losing position to win a game for the first time since the FA Cup semi-final in 2015 last weekend.
That’s a sign of how bad things have been at the club in recent years, but like many predicted, the only way is up with Bruce at the helm.
Demanding 100 per-cent effort and enthusiasm, the ex-Hull, Sunderland and Wigan boss wiped the slate clean with any previously under-performing players.
The Holte End are now on his side for the first time in 20 years and he’s helped bring a feel-good factor back to a club who haven’t been able to smile for what feels like an eternity.
Paul Heckingbottom verdict
“He is working wonders with far less resources than most of our rivals.”
Simon Gaskell, Sports journalist and Barnsley fan
After winning two Wembley finals in your first few months in the job, you could say Paul
Heckingbottom was on a bit of a hiding to nothing this season.
As Heckingbottom himself has alluded to, the job of staying competitive and regularly picking up points in the Championship is an even harder one than having taken us on that late surge into the League One play-offs and securing promotion.
To sit 13th and above Aston Villa after more than a third of the season says it all; he has continued his superb start to life in management and is working wonders with far less resources than most of our rivals.
He has done it all against the backdrop of upheaval on and off the pitch and faced with new tests of his management.
Chief Executive Ben Manson left for Leeds United in the close season, assistant Tommy Wright was dismissed after Telegraph revelations over alleged corruption in football and defensive lynchpin Alfie Mawson was sold to Swansea City.
Heckingbottom continues to promote young players too, with Josh Kay and Jacob Brown both getting first-team debuts this season.
His popularity remains as strong as ever, with the ‘Paul Heckingbottom, he’s one of our own’ chant a regular refrain on the terraces.
My favourite Heckingbottom moment this season came from his pre-Leeds presser where he explained that in Royston, the area of the town he is from, you tended to be a Leeds fan or Barnsley fan because of its geographical location.
Asked whether he had Leeds United-supporting friends wanting tickets for the match,
Heckingbottom jokingly responded: “They weren’t my friends if they were Leeds United supporters.”
Gary Rowett verdict
“The task is breaking through that glass ceiling of consecutive tenth-place finishes.”
Brian Dick, Birmingham Mail
Gary Rowett has definitely entered a new phase of his Birmingham City rebuild - and the fact they are seventh in the table suggests he’s managing that transition successfully.
In his first season there was the original salvage job and in his second it was about how many points he could wring out of the squad he was bequeathed.
And now he’s into his third campaign at St Andrew’s the task is breaking through that glass ceiling of consecutive tenth-place finishes.
He is doing that against a backdrop of a more settled ownership situation, which means he has more options in the transfer market.
But he’s also had to remodel the side that served him so well too and Blues have moved away from the 4-2-3-1 system that relied on a No.10 creating something and a solid core to the defence.
That transition - to a 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 - and sometimes even a 4-3-3 - is ongoing. When Blues have clicked they have been excellent. They did a proper job on Norwich and Sheffield Wednesday.
But one issue remains, when his players aren’t on full throttle, chasing, harrying and making life uncomfortable for opponents, they still come undone. The defeat at Burton, almost without throwing a punch, was illuminating.
Blues are still in a situation where virtually every game seems to be tight and settled by the odd goal - but then most of the Championship are too.
And while Rowett might still be looking for the right balance between attack and defence - the signs are a good young manager learning his trade will find it.
Owen Coyle verdict
“Coyle is just the latest below par performer to join the Ewood circus.”
Sam Jones, City University of London journalism student and Blackburn fan
You would have to go a long way to find a Blackburn fan who is happy with Owen Coyle’s appointment. Not only do they consider his connections to arch-rivals Burnley a bone of contention, his dismal recent record as a manager compounds their anger.
He left Bolton and Wigan on the cusp of relegation to the second and third tiers and his career in England looked to be over when a stint at Houston Dynamo ended prematurely, with the MLS side languishing at the bottom of the Western Conference. Admittedly there were few other viable options to take the hotseat at Rovers, but the vast majority of fans take the view that just about anyone else would have been a better choice.
But in fairness, Coyle has not been helped by the off-field situation. Rovers received over £10million in transfer fees this summer and despite 13 new faces, only £250,000 was spent, on just one player. Losing both of last season’s first choice centre-halves, Grant Hanley and Shane Duffy, was not ideal. And Rovers are still yet to replace the goals and firepower of Jordan Rhodes and Rudy Gestede, or the creativity of Tom Cairney and Josh King – all high profile departures over the last two seasons.
It is rumoured that Coyle was appointed on the back of assuring the owners that he could get the club out of the Championship, by adding to the squad using loanees and free transfers. He appears to be fulfilling the promise, but not in the right direction. It seems that the only way is down and Coyle is just the latest below par performer to join the Ewood circus.
Dean Smith verdict
“He has proven himself more than capable of guiding the club to a top half finish.”
Tom Moore, Get West London
Dean Smith had his doubters at the start of the season with many questioning whether he could cope with a full season in the Championship.
Having taken charge in November last year, he oversaw a decent start before suffering a difficult February and March before ending the season well.
This season has seen some excellent displays such as against Brighton and QPR but also with some below-par ones, such as against Newcastle and Barnsley.
He worked the transfer market well in the summer as Brentford went back to doing what they do best – signing the best talent from the lower divisions with the likes of John Egan, Dan Bentley, Romaine Sawyers and Rico Henry coming through the door at Griffin Park while supplementing the squad with young talent from the Premier League like Sullay Kaikai and Callum Elder.
The Bees are much more defensively solid this season compared to the last two campaigns with captain Harlee Dean and Egan forming an excellent partnership in defence.
With Scott Hogan fit and firing, Brentford also now have a threat up front that they lacked at times last term.
Smith’s tactics are straightforward and the Bees set up in a consistent shape each week and, while he could be more proactive with his substitutions at times, the former Walsall manager has proven himself more than capable of guiding the club to a top half finish.
Chris Hughton verdict
“Hughton goes about his business with quiet effectiveness.”
Lee Wilmot, Croydon Advertiser
Chris Hughton and Brighton could have been forgiven for not quite being at the top of their game this season.
The Seagulls missed out on promotion to the Premier League last season by just two goals with the race for the two automatic promotion spots wide open until the final day of the 2015-16 campaign.
It was tough to take for a team desperate to win their way into the Premier League for the first time, but rather than licking their wounds, they have got on with the task at hand – finishing what they started.
Hughton has been there, done it and got the t-shirt when it comes to managing in the Championship. After leaving Tottenham, where he is regarded as a club legend, Hughton was handed a coaching role at Newcastle and then became their permanent manager.
He guided them to the Championship title in 2009/10 and was probably not given enough time to make his mark with the Magpies in the Premier League before he was sacked.
Not to mention he took Birmingham to the play-offs in 2012 and, as mentioned already did likewise with Brighton last season.
He likes his defenders to be comfortable on the ball and to play out from the back and as a defender in his playing days, it is the backline from which he builds his teams.
The Seagulls have kept 11 clean sheets in 16 games, conceding just nine goals this season. But they’re not exactly 1-0 win merchants, they’ve scored 25 too.
Unassuming, Hughton goes about his business with quiet effectiveness and his defensive mindset, coupled with the creativity of Anthony Knockeart and the goals of Glenn Murray should keep Brighton in the hunt for promotion all the way through to the end of the season.
Lee Johnson verdict
“There is no denying the underlying positivity of the bigger picture.”
Andy Stockhausen, Bristol Post
Lee Johnson insists there are two ways in which to view Bristol City’s season so far, dependent upon whether your glass is half empty or half full.
Recourse to bare statistics reveals a record of seven wins, three draws and six defeats in the Championship, a return that has yielded ninth place and deposited the Robins and their young head coach within touching distance of the play-off positions a third of the way through the campaign.
When looked at in terms of the overall picture, that represents a significant improvement upon where City were at this stage last season. But there is invariably another way in which statistics can be interpreted and those of a less sanguine disposition may prefer to read more than they should into a recent record of one win in five games and argue that Johnson’s newly-assembled team has been found out.
Certainly, the head coach’s outlook was overwhelmingly positive before Brighton arrived in town and administered a 2-0 defeat that suggested City are not quite as good as some supporters and pundits might have thought they were. It was not so much the defeat itself, but the nature of it, that served as a reality check upon City’s young players as well.
Johnson’s charges have bounced back from setbacks previously this season, notably when winning four games on the bounce in response to losing at Sheffield Wednesday and being held to draws by Rotherham and Derby.
But one suspects they might find it more difficult to recover from this latest setback, one that will persuade players and supporters alike to reassess City’s current standing in the Championship.
Johnson is enough of a realist to acknowledge and appreciate the reasons behind the existence of these two schools of thought.
Despite the events of the past month, there is no denying the underlying positivity of the bigger picture and Johnson, his staff and his players deserve immense credit for the job they have done in transforming City from relegation candidates to a side with aspirations to make the end-of-season play-offs in the space of just eight months.
Nigel Clough verdict
“Clough has been keen for his Albion side to surprise and attack the division this term.”
Ashley Wilkinson, Burton Mail
Having steered Burton Albion to second in League One after succeeding Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and securing automatic promotion, Nigel Clough had something of a thankless task on his hands this summer.
No stranger to working with tight budgets, Clough was required to assemble a squad capable of competing in the Championship on a fraction of the budget of their new contemporaries.
Albion’s annual expenditure will be comfortably less than the 23 other clubs in the division and yet Clough had the scope to bring in several players with Championship experience – the first being former Cardiff City centre-half Ben Turner.
Kyle McFadzean soon followed. Lee Williamson and Lloyd Dyer were given one-year deals – players with great experience of the second tier.
Not only that, Clough has got the best out of several players who have been at the club since the days of Gary Rowett in League Two – the likes of Lucas Akins, John Mousinho and Jon McLaughlin have adapted well to Championship life.
Employing a trendy new 3-5-2 system long before Antonio Conte employed it at Chelsea – the Brewers showing the way for the former Premier League champions, no doubt – Clough has been keen for his Albion side to surprise and attack the division this term.
Though the Brewers sit 18th in this international break, more than one opposing journalist has remarked to me after matches this season that “your team will be fine this season”.
That is arguably the biggest compliment you could pay to the job Clough has done thus far.
What went wrong for Paul Trollope - and how Neil Warnock has started
“His very presence at the club leads some fans to feel they can even eye the play-off spots, rather than be worried about relegation."
Paul Abbandonato, Wales Online
Cardiff have had two managers this season and are still stuck down by the relegation spots.
But in terms of fans’ optimism, it’s chalk and cheese.
Paul Trollope, never a popular choice amongst the Bluebirds’ fan base, lasted just 11 games before the inevitable parting of the ways occurred.
Under him, Cardiff were doomed to League One. Enter Championship manager maestro Neil Warnock… and suddenly the whole mood has changed.
Under the wily old veteran, Cardiff still stand just one place and one point off the bottom three, but his very presence at the club leads some fans to feel they can even eye the play-off spots, rather than be worried about relegation.
What a difference a manager can make.
Warnock’s first game saw Cardiff beat Bristol City 2-1. Suddenly there was passion, purpose, commitment and a feelgood factor back in the team, probably for the first time since Cardiff were in the Premier League under Malky Mackay, and it filtered through to the fans.
Warnock says and does the right things. He feels he and Cardiff City’s fans are a perfect fit, given the incredible passion they have for the game and insists this will be his last hurrah as manager.
Warnock is seeking a record eighth promotion and believes he can get it with the Bluebirds. Whether this season or next. More importantly, Cardiff’s fans have started to believe again.
It may be somewhat naive, given the team’s perilous position down in 21st spot. But given what they have gone through in recent years, if one set of football supporters are entitled to dream, then it is Cardiff’s.
That is the impact Neil Warnock has already made. He has got Cardiff City fans smiling once more.
Nigel Pearson verdict - and Steve McClaren’s arrival
“Many fans are glad McClaren is back.”
Steve Nicholson, Derby Telegraph
Nigel Pearson was seen as the missing piece in the Derby County jigsaw when appointed at the end of May - a battle-hardened manager with promotions on his CV put in charge of a squad that had fallen short of the finish line in the previous three seasons.
Derby and Pearson parted company only four months later.
In a shock move, the Rams turned to Steve McClaren, somebody they had sacked 17 months earlier.
McClaren's previous spell in charge had ended sourly.
Derby entered March of the 2014-15 season in top spot but they crumbled and finished eighth. A season of much promise had ended in crushing disappointment and McClaren was sacked in May 2015.
Fans still remember the constant speculation that linked McClaren with the Newcastle United job in the second half of that season. Many felt he could have handled that better and so he had bridges to build on his return.
He apologised to the fans. "My mistake was in not quashing that [the Newcastle speculation and rumour], not dampening that, and not committing. That is my fault," he said.
He admits he is a "very, very lucky person" to be given a second chance at Derby, but many fans are glad he is back.
They remember with fondness the exciting brand of football played by McClaren's team in the 2013-14 season when he took over a good squad from Nigel Clough and guided Derby to the Championship play-off final.
His job is tougher this time round and progress might not be as instant, but he is relishing the challenge and has made a good start with 10 points from five games.
Slovan Jokanovic verdict
“It looks as if he’s on the right track.”
Paul Warburton, Get West London
Fulham’s boss won’t thank me for saying his work on the pitch has a lot more going for it than his inventive use of English.
‘Preparate’ anyone? It’s Slavisa Jokanovic’s way of detailing how he gears up for a match, and more recently, it looks as if he’s on the right track in anybody’s language.
After a very real flirt with relegation last term, the manager was determined to make wholesale changes.
Jokanovic ‘preparated’ the side to be more robust in defence than last season – and they are.
After all, they couldn’t be any worse. As the side with the third-worst goals conceded only the ball hitting the back of the net kept them in the division.
This time the cigarette smoking Jokanovic is lighting up with a clearer view to the end of the tunnel.
Verdict? Fulham look far better drilled than this time last year, and if the evidence of the last two games is anything to go by, the manager could be headed for a second Championship success to follow up what he did for Watford in 2014-15.
David Wagner verdict
“The German has cultivated a strong bond between the club and the fans.”
Rory Benson, Huddersfield Examiner
It's hard to undersell just how much David Wagner has changed the ethos around the John Smith's Stadium in his year in charge.
Coming in as a relative newcomer to football management last November - after a four-year stint at Borussia Dortmund II - their was a cautious optimism from Town fans.
And that optimism has grown exponentially in the last 367 days.
Wagner's gegenpressing style of football - as seen at Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp - has made for an exciting brand of football not seen in Huddersfield for many a year.
The flowing, counter-pressing football Wagner has brought could not be further away from the philosophy of Chris Powell during his time at the helm and the Terriers have not looked back.
The head coach has gained many plaudits, not only for his football on the pitch, but his celebrations, man-management and general demeanour off it.
In his press conferences he comes across calm and composed and totally confident in the brand of football he believes in.
Wagner has also kept his side's feet on the ground over their incredible start to the season and, when the going has got tough, he sees to always get a positive response from his side.
The German has cultivated a strong bond between the club and the fans and the supporters completely trust his decision-making.
The backing Wagner has had from Dean Hoyle must also get a mention as the chairman is fully committed to the club and, with Wagner, he took a step into the unknown which has most certainly paid off.
For Town fans now, eyes are focused on top six and not a relegation battle as of seasons before, and a large part of that is down to David Wagner.
Mick McCarthy verdict
“Support for him is fading considerably because of the entertainment - or rather lack of it.”
Darren Campbell, Ipswich Town fan at the Birmingham Mail
One of the problems for Mick McCarthy is that, to a point, he has become a victim of his own success. Arriving in East Anglia at this time in 2012, he took a club that was five points adrift of safety at the bottom of the Championship and hoisted them to a respectable 14th-placed finish.
That was followed by a first top-ten finish in six years in 2014 before a thrilling campaign the next year ended Town’s long absence from the Championship playoffs. But 18 months on from the semi-final defeat to rivals Norwich, a frustrating 7th-placed finish last season means
the near miss of 2014/15 remains the peak of McCarthy’s time in charge - and questions are being raised as to whether he can reach it again. The problem for McCarthy is that in spite of his past achievements, support for him is fading considerably because of the entertainment - or rather lack of it - on offer at Portman Road.
Mick’s well-known dogged, defensively organised and direct approach could (albeit rather harshly) be deemed a necessary evil during his earlier years at the club as Town looked for a foundation on which to build, not least because of greatly limited finances.
Yet the suggestion had always been there that the 57-year- old’s true preference would be to adopt a more attacking, goal-getting style with flying wingers, similar to the Wolves and Sunderland sides he had previously guided to the Championship title.
But four years on, progress towards that goal has been very slow, and questions have risen as to whether this is a result of McCarthy’s own decision-making rather than the circumstances under which he is working.
In fairness to McCarthy, his squad has yet again been hampered by injury and fitness problems this season, all too frequently affecting his most creative players. And recent performances have suggested that he is working to make more effective use of attacking personnel. The problem is whether this change can be sustained without losing that famous solidity at the back, with balance proving hard to come by.
It’s a balance he will need to find quickly though. Not only to prevent a further step back in the club’s progress, but also to win back a crowd that is probably more sceptical of him now than it has ever been before.
Garry Monk verdict
“After a rocky start Leeds are looking transformed under Monk.”
David Dubas-Fisher, Trinity Mirror Data Unit
On September 10, earlier this season, Leeds lost 1-0 to local rivals Huddersfield - at home. The result put Leeds in the relegation zone with just one win and one draw in their opening six matches.
The fact that that win was an impressive 2-0 victory away to Sheffield Wednesday is probably the only thing that kept Garry Monk in his job.
Massimo Cellino - Leeds’ owner - is after all Il mangia-allenatori - the Manager Eater.
Monk’s side bounced back from the Terriers loss though and won their next four matches in all competitions.
In fact, Leeds have now won nine of the 12 matches that followed the Huddersfield game, booking a place in the EFL Cup quarter-finals and getting into the play-off spots for the first time in almost three years.
After a rocky start Leeds are looking transformed under Monk.
They look solid at the back for the first time in years and look good going forward.
Monk certainly seems to be getting the best out of his players too.
Take Chris Wood.
Last season Wood scored 13 goals in 37 appearances in all competitions - hardly prolific. This season though he’s found a rich vein of goalscoring form and has grabbed 11 from just 19 appearances.
Under Monk Leeds have finally started to look like promotion candidates, and it’s been a long time since anyone has said that.
Rafael Benitez verdict
“Even the dropped players seem to love him.”
Lee Ryder, Newcastle Chronicle
Rafa Benitez has transformed life at Newcastle United by keeping it simple and making some common sense decisions.
What has been impressive from Benitez is the way he told United chiefs he would only manage the Magpies if they let him run it like a proper football club.
And what he meant by that was giving him full control of football affairs.
The hopeless head coach model Newcastle tried to operate with was scrapped and so was the football board.
Under Benitez, the club are no longer effectively allowing the chief scout to pick the first team squad.
Newcastle’s season kicked off in early August but by that time Benitez had spent the summer researching the division thoroughly and identifying the men he felt could take the club back to the Premier League at the first attempt.
There were some claims that Benitez would struggle because he hadn’t managed in the Championship before.
But Benitez is everything Newcastle fans could dream of.
He is a tracksuit manager in terms of his work on the training field, he is a tactical manager in terms of sticking to his principles and devising a strategy to treat each game differently and he’s also an excellent motivator.
Even the dropped players seem to love him.
On top of that, Benitez’s transfer acumen is bringing the players to Newcastle that can make the difference in the here and now, not have potential for the future.
In the past bringing in players from France who have shown promise but can’t handle life in England effectively resulted in relegation.
Despite the fact there’s a long way to go, there is optimism in the air again on Tyneside.
Alex Neil verdict
“It illustrates the cut-throat nature of this job that Neil faces a fight to keep his job.”
Tom Marshall-Bailey, Trinity Mirror Regionals
This is probably the most difficult spell yet of Alex Neil’s tenure at Carrow Road.
The Canaries were heavily tipped to secure an instant return to the Premier League but have found the going a lot tougher this year than they would have anticipated and find themselves fifth in the Championship having lost their last three league games.
Rumours surfaced this week suggesting Neil may not even make it through the international break, with a list of possible successors said to have already been compiled.
It illustrates the cut-throat nature of this job that Neil, who managed to guide this group to promotion via the play-offs two seasons ago, now faces a fight to keep his job despite still being well-placed for a top-two finish.
A 5-0 humbling at promotion rivals Brighton stung, as did the home reverse to Leeds United last time out but it appears as if there is no way back for the Scot in the eyes of a growing section of disgruntled supporters.
Chief executive Jex Moxey has also applied pressure in recent weeks and unless Neil can not so much stem the tide, but turn it completely, his future appears bleak.
Philippe Montanier verdict
“He will know that patience in football is often in short supply.”
Paul Taylor, Nottingham Post
Let’s not pussyfoot around – Philippe Montanier is a man under serious pressure; a man who knows he needs to deliver more positive results if he is going to enjoy a long relationship with Nottingham Forest.
A run of one win in 11 Championship outings has left Montanier already facing some calls for his head from a minority of Reds fans, even with the former Rennes, Real Sociedad and Boulogne boss barely five months into his role.
But the well of patience has not yet run dry among all supporters, many of whom can see what the Frenchman is trying to bring to the City Ground.
Forest have played a more attractive brand of football this season even if they have, at times, seemingly been trying to evoke the spirit of Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle, by attempting to win every game 4-3.
That defensive fragility is something Montanier has tried to address with a new three-man central defence – but the fact that Forest are yet to keep a Championship clean sheet tells a significant tale.
Montanier is a driven, hardworking and likable character who seemingly retains the backing of the dressing room, if recent comments from players are anything to judge by.
But he is not naïve and, while he repeatedly insists he cannot waste energy worrying about the security of his own position, he will know that patience in football is often in short supply.
That has been particularly true at Forest under Fawaz Al Hasawi where, even if you do not include caretaker managers, the average lifespan of the permanent managers under his tenure has been just 246 days.
In the meantime, the continued takeover bid by an American consortium lead by former San Diego Padres franchise owner John Jay Moores, is likely to afford Montanier more time. It is up to him to make full use of it. But there are still plenty of people who hope he can turn things around.
Simon Grayson verdict
“It's time he got the credit he deserves.”
Oliver Dawes, Sports Journalist and Preston North End fan
Simon Grayson was handed the reins at Deepdale back in February 2013, with North End sitting 17th in League One, just eight points clear of the relegation zone. The Lilywhites now lie in mid-table of the Championship, and yet still, fans get on Grayson's back.
Grayson has worked on a shoestring budget throughout his time in charge of North End, and having led the club to a top half finish in the Championship last season, it's time he got the credit he deserves.
The 46-year-old has turned Preston from the shambles they were under Graham Westley into a solid, hard-to-beat Championship club whilst being surrounding by clubs whose budgets dwarf North End's, though it's fair to say that he has endured his ups and downs already this season.
Grayson saw his side lost five of their first six Championship games to open the season, and Preston were then embarrassed with a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Brentford in September, which ultimately led many fans to call for Grayson to go.
Since that defeat though, Grayson has steadied the ship. North End have lost just twice in all competitions since that disastrous day at Griffin Park – both came against Newcastle United – and has masterminded wins over Aston Villa, high-flying Huddersfield Town and Norwich City, as well as an away win at Bournemouth in the EFL Cup.
His style of football often leaves him open to criticism; Grayson's tactics can be quite pragmatic or overly-defensive, regularly using a five-man defence as well as a target man, meaning North End play a direct, physical brand of football that, when it doesn't get results, frustrates fans who want a free-flowing, attacking style.
Grayson understands the limitations of his squad, and has not only shown – again – that he can compete with some of the biggest clubs in the Championship, but also that he can deal with adversity, having turned North End around after that 5-0 defeat to Brentford, and Preston fans should appreciate the job he has done and the stability at Deepdale in an era of trigger-happy chairmen.
Queens Park Rangers
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
“Fans complained long and loud that his football was dull.”
Paul Warburton, Get West London
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was sacked seconds after the 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest last Saturday.
It had been coming for a while, and although outsiders expressed surprise, maybe they didn’t see the previous week’s debacle that really did for JFH.
His team had already been caned 6-0 by Newcastle at home, but they are champions elect.
To be comprehensively beaten by Brentford, on live TV, by a side with more modest aspirations who on the night looked like Barcelona in comparison to a sorry Hoops, sounded the death knell for the Dutchman.
But even before that, fans complained long and loud that his football was dull, and for a previous striker, surprisingly defensive minded above all else.
In his year at the club, Hasselbaink notched up a stultifying 18 draws that trumpeted his conservative approach.
A faint clamour for his head had turned into a deafening roar on social media.
Even so, the irony of sacking their second manager in exactly the same week as last year, and after a defeat to Brentford followed by a visit to an east Midlands side, Derby did for Chris Ramsey, appears lost on the board.
Did Hasselbaink deserve to go?
Probably not. The club may sit 17th, but are only two wins off the play-offs, so tight is the Championship.
It says something for the lure of the Premier League that even the sniff of failure, and with a modest squad, gets you the boot.
Jaap Stam verdict
“He’s been a breath of fresh air and is exactly what the club needed.”
Charles Watts, Get Reading
When he arrived in the summer there was a big question mark hovering above Jaap Stam.
A wonderful player, no doubt, but could he cut it as a manager? And was the Championship the right place for him to cut his teeth as a senior boss for the first time?
So far, however, those concerns have been answered in the best way possible. As we stand right now Reading sit fourth in the table and lost just three games in their last 15 in all competitions - one of those was at Arsenal in the EFL Cup.
Stam, along with technical director Brian Tevreden, has overseen a huge amount of change in a short space of time and has done a remarkable job so far.
He’s brought a completely new style of play with him, with Reading now the possession kings of the Championship.
It’s taken some getting used to and there have been some bumps in the road, the awful performance during a 2-0 defeat at Wolves comes to mind, but there have also been plenty of positives.
The players have slowly adapted to the way Stam wants to play and in recent weeks we’ve seen signs that suggest they are really beginning to click into gear.
Three wins on the spin see them sitting fourth in the table, something no-one would have predicted at the start of the season, and there is still plenty of room for improvement.
The fact that Stam has managed to guide his side into the play-off places without a prolific frontman is impressive.
If that is rectified during the January transfer window then Reading could have a real shot of making a surprise push for promotion this season.
To even say something like that is testament to the work Stam has done. He’s been a breath of fresh air and is exactly what the club needed after successive seasons of disappointment.
The fans have bought into his philosophy - although there were some murmurings of discontent at first - and more important the players have as well.
The place is buoyant, vibrant and exciting - and you have to say that Stam has been the architect of all of that.
Where it went wrong for Alan Stubbs and Kenny Jackett’s challenge
“Jackett undoubtedly has good credentials, and he will certainly need to call on all of those.”
Richard Sharpe, Rotherham United fan at The Sentinel
While Kenny Jackett is only a few games in, and yet to add to the Millers’ solitary win this season, there is a least some hope going forward, with thoughts for some already turning to life in League One next season, with Jackett viewed as the right man to bring the Millers back up to the second tier should what currently looks like an inevitable relegation happen.
He faces a tough job on his hands, not least because while he has a large squad to work with, many of them don’t have the necessary qualities, particularly mental ones, that would suggest they have the stomach for the fight they’ll need.
Jackett undoubtedly has good credentials, and he will certainly need to call on all of those if his side are to stand any chance of getting out of the bottom three, though at the minute it looks hard to see where the next win will come from.
He speaks well, and comes across as someone who commands the respect of the players, but he may just be realising what a task he has on his hands.
One thing he has tried to do is bring some experience back into the squad, such as the return of defender Richard Wood, frozen out under Stubbs, but used heavily by Neil Warnock during the miracle escape last year.
Warnock said when he signed up to the job earlier this year that he was the only man that could’ve saved them from relegation. It may take a similar miracle from Jackett if they’re to defy the odds once again.
Carlos Carvalhal verdict
“While most fans trust, there are those who are starting to question the Portuguese coach.”
Matt Harris, Essex Live
It was always going to be tough following on from last season, where reaching the play-off final was totally unexpected.
Now the expectation is there and while most fans are more than happy to trust in Carlos, there are those who are starting to question the Portuguese coach.
Firstly on the transfer business in the summer. Carlos stated after the Wembley defeat to Hull that the key word would be evolution not revolution.
The midfield was strengthened with Almen Abdi and David Jones, while in the wide areas Will Buckley was brought in on loan from Sunderland and Adam Reach signed for a club record £5m from Middlesbrough.
Up front experienced striker Steven Fletcher was snapped up on a free, but it was at the back where it seemed Carlos missed a trick. With two of last season’s four centre-backs on loan, half would need replacing.
One spot was filled by Sam Hutchinson, who looked good when he dropped back from midfield on a few occasions last season, and this campaign, he has run Kieran Lee close for the player of the season so far.
However, the other centre-back role was taken by the permanent return of French defender Vincent Sasso, who was on loan from Braga last season.
While Sasso, a ball playing centre-back did well, at times he didn’t seem to cope with the physicality of the Championship, and Wednesdayites were probably hoping for a centre-back with more experience of the league to add that extra depth.
Carlos’ handling of the Forestieri saga was superb. When the striker refused to get on the coach to go to Norwich amid interest from Derby and Newcastle, many pundits thought the only way the situation would end would be with the talismanic front man leaving.
But the way Carlos addressed the media, about the situation, coupled with the fact Forestieri still has three years to run on his contract, meant the striker soon issued an apology, and after being placed on the bench for the next match against Burton Albion, he was back in the team.
Gary Caldwell’s start to the season - and the test facing Warren Joyce
“Joyce has some serious flaws to iron out in this squad in the immediate future.”
Tom Marshall-Bailey, Trinity Mirror Regionals
Confidence was restored at the DW Stadium last season, with Gary Caldwell managing to lead the Latics to the League One title and ensure their stay outside the second tier would last just the one season.
But things turned sour very quickly upon returning to the Championship and the momentum they had built up in securing promotion came to a shuddering halt.
Caldwell may feel slightly unfortunate to lose his job in a division where back-to-back wins can propel you from one end of the table to the other, but the current position of 22nd forced chairman David Sharpe to pull the trigger.
Sharpe admitted after Caldwell’s departure that the Latics were earmarking a manager who could deliver both in the short term and long term.
In Warren Joyce, they would appear to have met the latter requirement. He has a proven track record in bringing on and developing young players following his excellent work with the Manchester United U23 side.
But if last weekend’s 3-0 defeat to Reading was anything to go by, Joyce has some serious flaws to iron out in this squad in the immediate future.
Walter Zenga verdict
“The naivety in terms of tactics and understanding of the Championship proved his downfall.”
Steve Wollaston, Birmingham Mail
When the fiery Italian was installed as head coach of Wolves it is fair to say it was met with bemusement by the footballing world.
Nobody could have predicted the appointment by the new Molineux owners, Fosun.
Essentially a journeyman manager with a managerial career that wasn’t as decorated as his playing days.
With an arrival of continental signings, expectation was high regardless of the manager.
That expectation ultimately wasn’t met by Zenga who fell on his sword after just 4 wins in the first 14 Championship fixtures.
The constant tinkering with the playing staff led to an erratic run of results and despite the coach being popular with some players, the board decided he had gone as far as he could.
The decision was a surprise to many and wasn’t accepted by some fans who felt that Zenga and the players needed more time to settle.
It was definitely a learning curve for both club and coach, the charismatic and passionate Zenga had a warmth and determination that many fans felt endearing.
Ultimately it was the naivety in terms of tactics and understanding of the Championship which proved to be his downfall.
His demise showed a brutal and shrewd edge to the new owners and a reminder to all club’s under new ownership that this game we all love is a business.
The investment from China in particular is a strategy aimed at clubs with a big infrastructure and possible quick routes back to where the money is in the Premier League.
Fosun want to get there yesterday, and they weren’t going to take the risk of Zenga standing in the way.