The three promoted teams Norwich, Watford and Bournemouth have kept their head above water in the first eight games with 8pts, 10pts and 8pts respectively. Leicester are doing well though, on 16pts from nine games.
Sanchez-Flores and Claudio Ranieri deserve extra praise as they have come into a new team, a new country, and a new league a mere five months ago and galvanised them overnight (although, of course, Ranieri did manage Chelsea before Mourinho took over the first time). Equally Neil at Norwich and Howe at Bournemouth have created a resilience in the face of the huge challenges facing them of retaining Premier League status.
The defensive record of Watford, seven goals conceded in eight games, is astonishing given the squad Flores has.
The most famous Leicester fan Gary Lineker famously tweeted “Really?” when Claudio Ranieri was appointed, and Ranieri has responded to that handsomely. It can’t be much fun taking on a job to that type of reception from the clubs’ biggest fan, which inevitably sets the tone for the rest of the fans.
Ranieri has made Riyadh Mahrez and Jamie Vardy (9 goals in 7) a revelation. Coming from two goals behind vs Aston Villa to win 3-2 and two down to 2-2 versus Southampton. To engender that team spirit in five months is phenomenal.
Fans of the Premier League are so infatuated with the managers at the top of the league, the managers elsewhere get hardly any praise. Roberto Martinez winning the FA Cup with Wigan versus the giants of Man City never got the credit he deserved. Keeping Wigan in the league on a pittance for numerous years was also an achievement worthy of note. Martinez created the foundations of the Swansea style of play (for 3 years) which is also rarely mentioned.
Refreshingly Eddie Howe has made no excuses even though he has lost two of his most important squad members prolific goal scorer Callum Wilson and £9m Tyrone Mears (bought from Ipswich) to long term injury. On his very first match day Sam Allardyce (managing Sunderland) is blaming the ref for the WBA goal, so it’s completely refreshing none of the new managers have blamed officials. Bournemouth harshly lost to an off-side goal to Liverpool at Anfield, but Eddie Howe took his defeat nobly without mentioning it in the post match interview.
Slaven Bilic is also showing that intricate knowledge of the Premier League is not always necessary, as has Ronald Koeman. Both have unearthed superb talent in Tadic, Pelle, Mane, and Payet (at West Ham.)
All managers new to the Premier League: Bilic, Sanchez-Flores, Ranieri, Neil and Howe have undertaken their tasks with fresh ideas, and fresh players many of whom are new to the Premier League.
It’s certainly more refreshing than the cliches we get from Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce with their “mustn’t lose” mentality. All of the new managers have got their teams to express themselves and to play expansive “non-cynical” football and it has been a revelation.
Even the likes of Mourinho have had a predisposed reliance on set pieces and these new managers have relied on good old fashion values of width, pace and trickery. There is clear faith in their creative play unlike so many in the Premier League at the bottom of the table.
This year we are seeing creative play as a game-plan, out-flanking the set play agendas of managers like Allardyce and Pulis.
Cynicism has taken a back seat for some romanticism and good old fashioned wing play, with pace and trickery.
Given the gargantuan task ahead of Ranieri, Neil, Howe and Sanchez-Flores they deserve the most utmost praise. Open flowing football, not taking any easy excuses in the post game post-mortem’s has been very refreshing. They are taking the challenge head on and sticking to their football ethics.
Whatever happens to these teams at the end of the season the “modus operandi” of Bournemouth, Watford, Norwich and Leicester has been very refreshing.