The Premier League is reaching a golden age when it comes to managerial talent. The managers of the top six sides are Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp, Antonio Conte, Arsene Wenger and Mauricio Pochettino. They would all be contenders for any top job in world football and to have them all competing in the same league is incredible. Barring Pochettino, they have all already had successful careers with lots of trophies between them. Although it was once true, there is no hiding from tactics in the English top flight and every coach needs to be well versed in the strategic side to the game. This summer shows that that transition continues to take place.
Crystal Palace, Watford and Southampton have all had to hire new managers this summer. Mauricio Pellegrino has arrived on the South Coast; Marco Silva has taken over at Vicarage Road; while Frank de Boer is expected to be the new manager at Crystal Palace. These may not be the household names that are managing in the top six, but they are all well respected young coaches and they will be eyeing their current positions as a stepping stone to greater things. It is impossible to say whether they will be successes in England as not everyone can transfer their success in this country. However, their appointments show a change in thinking at boardroom level as they are open to new ideas and embracing the tactical revolution taking place in England.
Alan Pardew has been out of a job since getting sacked by Palace towards the end of 2016 and he hasn’t been given a sniff of a job since then. In previous years, he would have been the favourite for every post that came up and it would have been likely that he would be in charge of a team heading into the new season. There always seemed a hesitancy about trying new things and there were a select group of managers that were always given the opportunities.
Aside from the managers mentioned already in this piece, there will also be Rafa Benitez and Ronald Koeman taking charge of teams when the Premier League kicks off in August. They are both well respected in the game and would be leading contenders if a top job did come up. There will be no hiding when the season starts in a few months time and it will be fascinating which managers can live up to expectation. The best example of how difficult the Premier League can be is Pep Guardiola. Many expected Manchester City to run away with the league, but it wasn’t as easy as the Spaniard expected. It is too soon to write him off, as he has proven himself to be a genius, but his first season showed that even the best can struggle in England.
It remains to be seen whether this trend in managerial appointments will continue for the foreseeable future. The law of averages suggests that some of the managers mentioned in this article will have to fail. Six doesn’t go into four at the top of the division, but it is the competitiveness that attracts coaches to these shores. If they can thrive in England and achieve success, that increases their profile significantly. Conte was well respected in Europe before taking over at Chelsea, but he is now seen as one of the best coaches in the world. The Premier League may be suffering a crisis when it comes to European competition, but in terms of managerial talent and tactics, this is a golden age.