New Managers, New League Look

August 7, 2013 1:37 pm

You have to be excited about the forthcoming season – in which order are the the same top four clubs going to finish in the top four? Some big managerial changes have shaken it all up, on a scale never before seen. Every season this league, the Rupert Murdoch and Russian Oil Joint Partnership League, the now-shadow of the reigning Bundesliga, manages, some way, to create fresh intrigue and fascination. Nothing is left in the middle now – no ground at all – it only remains for a manager to be an ace or a worthless failure, so let’s see which new chief is going to do what. In no particular order:

Manuel Pellegrini – Manchester City

Manuel+Pellegrini+has+been+heavily+linked+with+the+Manchester+City+vacancyI can’t shake the feeling that City must be unhappy with their summer, it won’t leave my head. Pellegrini is the latest continental flavour that the Sheikh Mansour has such expensive taste for. Say what you want about him, the unavoidable fact remains: Pellegrini has not won nothing since the Intertoto Cup in 2004. Nothing. Yes, he was unlucky to be dismissed by Real Madrid that time, and, yes, Malaga did reach the same stage as Galatasaray in the big leagues last year. Granted, the Chilean is an able and amiable coach – but this is a club reaching for world domination striving for stellar, not able. The signings, too, when closely regarded, should concern ‘Citeh’ fans worldwide. Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas, both 27, both from Seville, one a box fox with a one-in-two record and the other a rapid winger, fall a fairly long way short of the marquee signings that other super-powers have been busy making. Compare said names to Neymar, Cavani and Falcao. Fernandinho brings some of the previously lacking grace to midfield, but is somebody who played an Eastern European league into their late 20’s actually going to help win a haul of trophies? It didn’t work with Arshavin, and he even played for his national side. If I sound negative, sorry. City still have probably, when written onto paper, the classiest, most well balanced squad in the division. On the condition that last year was written-off and out of mind, City didn’t even need new signings to improve the team – just a new boss to get them playing better, together, fluidly. Which, allegedly, is what Pellegrini is good at. Still though, the sense remains – everything new at the club is good, excellent in fact, but not on stage with the super-clubs that City want to hold company with and even steam past. This season, second place, fine, but they probably won’t really do anything major- after all,  they haven’t actually enticed anybody who has ever done anything.

Mark Hughes – Stoke City

The Welshman is shaky, drinking in the last saloon, drunk, and with a dizzy head from QPR. He shouldn’t actually be in such a state, but modern day football, with its merciless, short-term memory, says that he is. So, of course, go somewhere things couldn’t conceivably get any worse, or, at least, any less boring. The man is a good manager. Up to QPR, he had tidy record, and, after he left QPR, even Harry failed to keep them up. The mistakes at Rangers – the problems – were his childishly naive moves in the transfer market. Clearly, the thinking was that by signing as many players with Champions League medals as possible, a side can only become good. Ironically, it’s exactly what caused their relegation. Forgive him this and remember before. Mark Hughes should have sufficient fuel left, he can still save himself. Stale and rank under Tony Pulis, Stoke were begging to be cleared out, which has been done, and started again. A team that only scored 34 goals last term has to – is certain to – improve. If they don’t, ‘Sparky’ surely will be out of it, forever. A good beginning is essential from calm, defensively assured, cruise to mid table will restore man and clubs reputation. Then he will be back at City.

Jose Mourinho – Chelsea

Never, ever, go back. Hoddle. Kinnear. Keegan. Dalglish. That’s what ‘they’ say. Ordinarily, I would agree, but the coach, the human being, is not ordinary. He is the closest thing in sport to a guaranteed winning ticket. He could even go back to Madrid tomorrow and succeed, if he had to. The ridiculous, poisonous, Real Madrid gave it their best in trying to dirty Mourinho’s career, and, judging by the trash some people have spoken about his time there since, perhaps the club managed it some. Any doubters of the coaches record – he spent three seasons competing against the greatest club side ever. First season: Spanish Cup. Second season: highest points tally in the history of the Spanish league + league title. Third season: not great, not helped by whining, pathetic, unprofessional players. One bad season in three and he is forced out. Madrid’s loss; back to changing manager every three months because none of them repeat the run of European Cups, from circa 50 years ago, that the club bases it’s supposed greatness on. So, he was good at Madrid, and once he was better than any man had ever been. Brute personality and sheer coaching skill will improve Chelsea. They will solidify, and players will have the best got out of them – imagine, maybe even Torres could click again. If the Portuguese doesn’t revive him then there is truly no hope. New and youthful, lads like Schurrle and Van Ginkel will make a difference. Romelu Lukaku is precisely the type of striker Mourinho would manufacture if he was able to so, and, considering the pre-season of the young forward, he is primed to make another upwards career move.  The pre-existing squad members contain the potential for far superior results to last year. Juan Mata and Eden Hazard are two of the most outstanding attackers on the globe, each still with better days ahead, and expect David Luiz will improve on his improvement, and. The age of some of Chelsea’s older furniture will soon be a problem, but, for now, the returning ‘loved one’ and his playing staff, allied with the impending falling away of the Manchester Clubs, mean Chelsea will win the league this season. Comfortably.

David Moyes – Manchester United

‘Even Sandra could have won that’, I paraphrased to myself when United jogged to the title, even looking a little bored whilst they did so. On reflection, I quickly realised that I was wrong, that no, they did it only because of Sir Alex Ferguson’s unmitigated brilliance at forcing a team to play better than they should. Fergie has gone, very sadly, and the consequence of this is that David Moyes is in charge of a club that doesn’t have a very nice team. A league title merely delayed heavy reconstructive surgery. Summarily, if Moyes doesn’t purchase world-class players , which he apparently won’t, and he doesn’t extract the same level of performance from his troops as Ferguson did – which he cannot – then they won’t win as many games as last year; so Chelsea win the Premiership. An irritating trend of fantastic footballers, perfectly suited to United, joining rivals should be of alarm. Thiago chose Munich, and that is a big loss to Moyes, as his barren midfield quickly needs the fizz, bite and energy that the Spaniard would have provided. A make-things-happen player; just what they need. Fabregas may suffice (different type) but it seems he wants to stay where he is, unless Barcelona tell him they don’t any more want him where he is. Even Rooney’s exit is not disastrous, provided he can be replaced. There exists, by this time, many better players than Rooney – Suarez, notably – but they apparently don’t want to come. Moyes’ other thorn, the existing players, is painful for him. Ferdinand, Carrick and Evra all gave what have become now, at their ages, exceptional performances, surely not to be oft-repeated. Hernandez and Evans and other bit-parters gave their bits . All of this at once, it mixed together – winningly – with perfect timing. With the new man surely unable to repeat Ferguson’s master-class, United are set to slide behind the teams around them. Third, possible even fourth, run over by Arsenal or Liverpool.

Roberto Martinez – Everton

Martinez-3568782Question: who is the most overrated manager in top-level football? Answer: Roberto Martinez. Question: Who has a worse record than Steve Bruce and Paul Jewell, never finished higher than 16th, recently enjoyed relegation and always has a line of low-grade Spanish midfielders following him around. Martinez: slick haired, white-tooth-smiling, friend-of-the-media, bright young thing. His appointment at Everton – note his appointment, not the geezer himself – shows much wrong with football now. He’s just so fashionable and European, I’m surprised Manchester City or Chelsea didn’t snare him. But, at the end of the day, when all is said and done, he may just do something with Everton. A guy has got to be gifted a chance. The football Wigan played was pleasing and silky, and taking that to Everton it may do better, with the already hard defence propping it up. Until, however, he proves otherwise, Martinez to date is all suave and no substance. Bringing a band of men who relegated his last club may not be a bright idea, though, and the Merseysiders need to retain Fellaini if they want to stay in their customary top six slot. I see nothing to suggest Martinez will manage this – perhaps harsh, but what could you present to convince me otherwise?  Predicting a 9th place finish, before losing all of his best players next summer, leading to a sequence of events that sees him sacked before Christmas 2014.

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