This season could be the beginning of a short, but exciting era in the Premier League which welcomes some of the world’s most prized managers. Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte, Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho will all be battling it out in the English top flight, joining the likes of Arsene Wenger, Mauricio Pochettino and Claudio Raneiri who have already proven themselves. It could be one of the greatest season’s of management battles since the turn of the millennium but at least one of these stars will be guaranteed disappointment. But what will that mean for the unlucky boss?
All seven clubs will be fighting for a European place, with Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United hoping for a return to Champions League football. However, there’s likely to be just six spots available and at least one of these managers will miss out. For Conte and Mourinho, Chelsea and United fans will accept nothing less than a top four finish and failure to deliver could have repercussions for the popular Europeans. Mourinho’s achievements with the Blues during his last two spells in the Premier League were nothing short of brilliant and he’s been brought to Old Trafford to deliver success, and quickly.
United are a team in transition, struggling to find their way after the departure of Ferguson and some of their senior players. Klopp is constructing a similar development at their rivals Liverpool and the excitement surrounding his involvement has been a catalyst for early signs of hope and expectation. Whereas fans are aware of their club’s situation and know it could be an uphill battle, European qualification is a must.
In comparison to United, Liverpool’s project seems to be more long-term and Klopp’s work is clearly focused on the future and development. Much like his work with Dortmund and Mainz, the German boss has been given the backing of the Liverpool board and patience will be granted simply due to his reputation and the success of his philosophy in the past. However, there’s only so much time he can be given and the Liverpool boss must demonstrate progression this season otherwise things could turn negative at Anfield. Out of all the managers, Klopp and Raneiri could be up against it the most, as Leicester City and Liverpool look likely to be two of the teams battling it out for the Europa League spots and the one who fails will be heavily criticised.
Mourinho’s summer transfer business in Manchester has been excellent so far. United have secured the services of top European stars, Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan and haven’t been afraid to splash the cash. Eric Bailly is another shrewd signing from Villarreal and Paul Pogba has yet to write off a return to Manchester, potentially providing the most expensive transfer of the summer. With so much invested into the squad this year, Mourinho will be expecting to deliver and United should be aiming to reach the top four. However, across the pond, Manchester City’s best signing so far has been their manager and Guardiola, tipped as the one of the world’s greatest, will be expecting to deliver title glory as well as development in Europe.
Manchester City’s Champions League semi-final defeat was a sad but impressive end for Pellegrini, whose departure had been announced months before the end of the season. City’s disappointing end to the Premier League campaign could’ve been influenced by this but they had a difficult season from the start and some of their big players didn’t deliver. Guardiola’s arrival signifies intent from the Manchester side who, since becoming one of England’s biggest clubs, are starting to demand attention across Europe. The Catalan boss has achieved greatness at Barcelona and Bayern Munich but he has never been seriously challenged and the squad he’s inherited at City is far less spectacular than his previous ones. There’s no Alonso to dictate the midfield or a Lewandowski to score regular goals and there’s certainly no Messi. He’ll have his work cut out but if Manchester City don’t lift a big trophy at the end of the season (FA Cup, Premier League or the Champions League,) then Guardiola’s reputation may be dented for the first time in his impressive career.
Expectations are high in Manchester but in London, two Premier League managers who have settled into the league, will have to face further pressures this season. Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham side narrowly missed out on league glory last season as their title chase faltered and their failure to deliver any silverware hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Argentine’s style of play has caught the eye and Tottenham have becoming an exiting squad, full of youthful talent and energy and they’ve managed to keep all their stars so far in the transfer window. However, with fresh faces coming into the league, Tottenham’s lack of business could come back to haunt them as teams around them look to strengthen so Spurs fans will be hoping Tottenham don’t get over-taken.
Spurs’ arch rivals Arsenal have qualified for the Champions League every year under Arsene Wenger but fans are becoming impatient with the apparent stagnation and are demanding progression from their club. It’s clear that Arsenal have hit a stand-still under the Frenchman and although his achievements for the Gunners have been superb at times in the past, a decade involving a serious lack of silverware has dented what would’ve been a terrific management career. The Arsenal boss needs to deliver soon otherwise there could be changes seen at the Emirates.
Elsewhere in London, Chelsea welcome the arrival of former Juventus boss, Antonio Conte. The Italian coach is an exciting addition to the Premier League this season and he has the potential of lifting the Blues back to their previous heights. He’s got international and European football experience and he turned Juventus into a world-beating side. Chelsea fans therefore have the right to demand success and with the nation’s eyes upon him, Conte will be under huge expectations.
The Premier League champions, Leicester City, achieved what appeared to be the impossible last season but after taking the league by storm, they risk losing some of their top players. Kante completed his big-money move to Chelsea on Saturday morning and reports on Mahrez’s departure have evolved. One of last season’s most prolific strikers, Jamie Vardy, has already snubbed a move to Arsenal. Raneiri will have to fight hard to keep hold of his stars but even with them, this season doesn’t promise to be as easy as last season. Only Manchester United and Chelsea have defended their title in the Premier League era and as the saying goes ‘it’s harder to stay at the top than to reach it.’
Whatever the season brings, some of these managers will be plastered in glory whilst others will risk losing everything. Not only will it be a battle of rivalries but each man is for himself and the dangers of not succeeding are clear to see. Who will prevail and who will falter? Only time will tell…