Some of the world’s best managers have tried their hand in the Premier League in recent years and have been swallowed up by its pressures. The Premier League is renowned for its unpredictability and high expectations and for some managers, it’s proved too much. The British media are ruthless, the fans are demanding and the league is dramatic – all of which contribute to the rise and fall of the world’s managers. Pep Guardiola is the latest ‘genius’ to put forward his name as a candidate for the Premier League and it’s easy to see why. If you can succeed in England, you can succeed almost anywhere and if Pep can transform his side into a Spanish-style team, he will undoubtedly be one of the best managers of his generation.
Andre Villas Boas is one of the most recent flops to make the unsuccesful transformation from European management to the English league. Currently, there are several managers in the league’s top 10 who have made the switch including recent additions, Louis Van Gaal, Ronald Koeman and Jurgen Klopp. Guus Hiddink has returned to England and Chelsea for another stint as interim manager and will see out the rest of the season with the Blues whilst Claudio Ranerio has also returned with promoted side Leicester City and is enjoying time at the top of the table. Arsene Wenger also remains at the Arsenal helm after over a decade of success in charge of the London club. But how are the newer additions fairing?
Mauricio Pochettino – Tottenham (previously Southampton,) joined the Premier League 18th January 2013
Tottenham’s Argentine manager couldn’t speak a word of English when he first joined the Premier League with Southampton in January 2013. It was a strange appointment, naming a manager who had little previous managerial experience aside from his time with Espanyol in La Liga. However, a 15-month stint with Southampton, in which they finished 7th in their second season in the top flight, the highest position in the club’s history, proved his ability as a manger.
Since his arrival at Tottenham in May 2015, Pochettino has guided the London club into the top four, five points clear of Manchester United in fifth position. He’s overseen a team with one of the league’s best defensive records and has witnessed his side produce impressive winning performances against Manchester City, Leicester City and former club, Southampton.
The rise of youngster Alli, and the continuining success of Harry Kane has added to a fairly positive season for Tottenham so far under Pochettino. Despite a slow start which saw no wins in August, the first month of the season, the Argentine manager has yet to face a real challenge this season but the recent injury to centre-back Jan Vertonghen could prove his toughest battle yet.
Manuel Pellegrini – Manchester City, joined the Premier League 14th June 2013
Pellegrini took over from Mancini at Manchester City in the summer of 2013 after his predecessor led the team to their first Premier League title in 44 years in 2012. The Chillean had enjoyed a highly succesful nine years in Spain as manager of Villareal, Real Madrid and Malaga before being named as the Manchester City boss.
A quarter-final Champions League loss to eventual winners, Borussia Dortmund, with his side Malaga, attracted the Manchester side to their manager’s ability. He delivered during his first season, guiding the Blues to their second Premier League title in three years and a Capital One Cup victory – to make the most succesful start to a managerial campaign in the club’s history.
His second season saw City lose their title to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea as they finished in second place, and ended the campaign without any silverware. It’s not started as brightly this season either, with the Manchester side crashing out of the Champions League yet again. However, they’ve lined up a Capital One Cup final clash against Liverpool in February and currently sit second in the Premier League, just three points off leaders Leicester City. However, it appears the Chillean will have to create heroics to keep his job at the end of the season with Pep Guardiola lined up as his successor.
All-in-all, Pellegrini’s time in the Premier League has been quite content but for a club with Manchester City’s expectations, he’s not been an overwhelming success and he enjoyed better days in Spain.
Louis Van Gaal – Manchester United, joined the Premier League 19th May 2014
Compared to Pochettino and Pellegrini’s time in the Premier League, Van Gaal’s has been far less succesful and he’s currently under a lot of pressure from the media and Manchester United’s fans. His job has come under question after another disappointing season for the Reds and recent performances which have been described as ‘boring.’
Van Gaal joined the Premier League with a mighty challenge ahead of him, taking over from David Moyes who had sent United crashing down the league standings and out of Champions League action. Van Gaal managed to get his side back in the top four during his first season, an improvement from Moyes’ 7th place standing. However, they’ve struggled again in the 2015-16 campaign and currently sit in fifth place, five points off the top four. With the FA Cup their only real chance of silverware, a top four finish is crucial for Van Gaal if he wants to continue management in the Premier League.
Manchester United’s cup record under Van Gaal has been just as bad – they lost to Arsenal in the quarter finals of the FA Cup during the 2014-15 season, they were bumped out of the Capital One Cup by League One side MK Dons in a 4-0 thrashing in August 2014 and this season failed to go further than the fourth round after Championship side Middlesborough swept them away. To add further wounds, Manchester United failed to make it past the group stages of this year’s Champions League and unless their league performances improve in the coming months, they’ll spend next year competing in the Europa League.
With a total spend of over £250m on new signings, many of which have failed to make much of an impact, Van Gaal’s time in the Premier League has been far less impressive than his experiences elsewhere in Europe.
Ronald Koeman – Southampton, joined the Premier League 16th June 2014
The departure of Mauricio Pochettino to Tottenham saw the appointment of Ronald Koeman in the summer of 2014. The Saints, who enjoyed back-to-back promotions to the Premier League, had enjoyed a highly succesful first few seasons in the top flight and their stars had enjoyed success on the international stage, with many breaking into Roy Hodgsons World Cup squad.
However, when Koeman arrived in the summer, Southampton had already lost their captain, Adam Lallana, defenders Dejan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne as well as top goal-scorer Rickie Lambert to Liverpool. Koeman was immediately thrust into a rebuilding battle and he was entrusted with bringing in new signings who could replace their lost stars. He did this very succesfully, bringing in Tadic and Pelle to provide goals for the Saints.
Alderweireld was another great signing to the Southampton defence and Koeman’s stubbornness to not let Morgan Schneiderlin leave the club has proved invaluable to the squad. In his first season, he improved on Southampton’s highest ever league finish, guiding the squad to seventh place and has continued that success, with the club currently sitting in eigth place, just nine points off the top four and Pochettino’s Tottenham. Koeman’s arrival in the Premier League has been very succesful and it seems Southampton have employed two of Europe’s most impressive managers in recent seasons.
Jurgen Klopp – Liverpool, joined the Premier League 8th October 2015
The emphatic German is the latest European to join the Premier League and it was one of the most anticipated appontments in recent years. Liverpool, a squad who have struggled for consistency since their European days under Rafa Benitez and Gerard Houllier, chose the German maestro ahead of former AC Milan boss, Carlo Ancelotti.
Under Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool enjoyed one of the most exciting seasons in over 20 years, finishing as runners-up in the 2013-14 season, narrowly missing out on Premier League success. Rodgers, who was voted Manager of the Year, was unable to inspire his side the following year however and after a highly disappointing start to this campaign, he was sacked in 2015. Klopp has since attempted to turn things around in Merseyside.
Though his squad still remain highly inconsistent, Liverpool’s intense pressing and exciting performances have brought fans and players together once again. Klopp’s child-like personality is admirable and played a huge part in his team’s recent road to the Capital One Cup final which will be Klopp’s first attempt of securing silverware. After securing qualification to the knock-out stages of the Europa League and maintaining a place within the FA Cup, Klopp’s managed to create some stability at Liverpool.
They currently sit in 7th place in the Premier League, eight points off the top four but only three behind rivals Manchester United. If Klopp can secure European qualification, and inspire his side to a Capital One Cup victory againt Manchester City in February, it’ll be a succesful start to his time in the Premier League.