Are the New Batch of Premiership Managers Faring So Far?
DATE: 01.02.2016 - SOCCERVOICE - NEWS - SEASON 2016-17
We’re just about to
reach the halfway point in this year’s Premier League, one of the
most hotly anticipated seasons in recent memory. With Leicester out
to protect their unlikely crown, it was always going to be an
interesting couple of months, especially as most of the bigger clubs
reinforced their squad in the summer transfer window to meet the
challenge head on.
Funnily enough though, despite the big-name
transfers of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, N’Golo Kante and Sadio
Mane, 2016/17 must be the only Premier League season so far where
our focus has been drawn more towards the dugout than the pitch.
Why? Simply put, the EPL now boasts the best array of football
managers to be found anywhere in the world – there is absolutely no
doubt about it. Even if you look beyond the recent appointments of
Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, Antonio Conte at Chelsea, or the
return of ‘The Special One’, there’s also the undeniable talent of
Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs, Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool or, dare we
say, Arsene Wenger.
With unique tactical forces pitted against each
other week after week, it’s no surprise that the opening three
months of this season have lived up to all expectation. Each clash
of footballing philosophies has been a gripping affair, with every
big team jockeying for a leg up on each other at every turn.
Now that the January transfer window is upon us,
let’s take this opportunity for a quick look at just how well each
new manager is faring so far, and what we can expect as we head
towards the business end of the season.
Antonio Conte, Chelsea
With Chelsea recently coasting to 12 straight
league wins on the trot, it’s probably no surprise that they are
many bookmakers’ favourites for the title. As always around this
time of year, there are plenty of
online bookies offering free bets, so it might be worth a punt
in that respect.
That said, there’s still a while to go just yet and some excellent
contenders still in the race.
Following on from a fairly successful Euro 2016
run with Italy in the summer, Antonio Conte really didn’t take long
to get into the swing of things at Stamford Bridge. Despite an
inauspicious start, he has gone on to pick up the Premier League
‘Manager of the Month’ award for two consecutive months in October
and November (and most likely December too).
What’s even more impressive about the job that
Conte has done is when you consider how woeful Chelsea were last
season. This time last year, they sat a meagre 14th position in the
table and had only won four games. There is no doubt that his
presence has turned a hugely under-performing squad into the
strongest contenders for top spot come May, which is also boosted by
the fact that Chelsea don’t have to devote any energy to the
The very thought of tika-taka
football at the Etihad Stadium got Manchester City fans salivating
as soon as they heard Pep Guardiola would be taking the reins from
Manuel Pellegrini this year. In fact, Guardiola’s managerial prowess
started showing earlier than many had expected, with
City winning their first six games of the new season.
However, a tough run of
results followed, starting with a 2-0 loss to Tottenham at White
Hart Lane and quickly followed by a couple of drab score draws at
home. That’s not counting the miserable 4-0 defeat that Guardiola
suffered on his return to the Camp Nou.
In many people's eyes, this
sticky patch has left a considerable dent in City’s chances for the
Premier League title. We shouldn’t forget that they have since come
away with a couple of notable scalps themselves – namely when they
exacted revenge on Barcelona in their second group tie.
The attacking potential of
Guardiola’s side is beyond question; it’s just the defensive mishaps
that need to be ironed out. Even still, if City kept firing on all
cylinders (as they did in that 3-1 victory over Barcelona) then they
would likely have the title wrapped up long before May.
potential is there, but the trouble is that level of performance is
incredibly difficult to sustain, nigh on impossible. It might take
another year for Guardiola to reach the kind of
consistency he had at Barcelona and Bayern
Munich, but there are certainly promising signs in his first three
months in England.
Jose Mourinho, Manchester United
Even though he's no stranger
to EPL football, you'd have to say that Mourinho's appointment at
Manchester United is a certainly a fresh start. And after his dismal
season with Chelsea last year, it’s probably no surprise that as
soon as United started dropping points this year the critics would
To be honest, some of that
criticism was definitely warranted, but the problem is when people
start jumping to the conclusion that a poor run of results (or even
a poor year of results) means that any manager, or indeed any
player, has completely lost their touch and will never be able to
regain it. That’s often when the quality starts shining through once
Although Mourinho’s brand of football isn’t as appealing to the
senses as the likes of Klopp, Conte or Guardiola, it is starting to
pull Manchester United above the level they reached with Louis Van
Gaal last season. With
Ibrahimovic and Pogba starting to return to their best form,
you’d be surprised if Mourinho & Co don’t secure a Champions League
spot by the end of the year, even if a genuine title challenge is
out of their reach.
All in all, you'd have to say that the latest batch of Premier
League superstar managers are performing quite well, and way better
than expected in some cases. It remains to be see how they will fare
when the pressure starts mounting as we head towards February and
March but, if one thing is certain, it's that these managers will
ultimately be responsible for the evolution of the league as we know
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