Manager Merry Go-Round incoming..

Well that Premier League is well underway and whilst it looks like it could be ‘Liverpool’s Year’, there is plenty to talk about with the stuttering teams behind them. With some very strange results and some concerning defeats for the so called ‘Big 6’ in the Premier League, question marks are being to arise around the management at the clubs not just in the Premier League but also abroad, especially in La Liga too.

Something is happening at Spurs which nobody is quite sure about. The way the players are performing and acting resonates with me as a Chelsea fan who has seen players down tools under managers such as Mourinho or Conte etc.. But how can a team who reached the heights of last season become so lacklustre and poor this season? Investment (or lack of) in the summer is probably the main issue but keeping players such as Vertonghen, Erikson and Alderwiereld at the club and allowing them to run down there contract and leave for free when they probably wanted a move anyway just seems an absolute nightmare decision. Other clubs usually cash in and take the offers for players entering the last 12 months so they can start to build for the future without them rather than wait and wait to see if they may sign. Pochettino is a top manager, he has transformed Spurs on limited budget and I’m sure he will have many clubs wanting him if he leaves Spurs – mainly Real Madrid or Man Utd. But Levy would have to spend £32million to sack him (and Levy rarely gives away cash if he doesn’t have too) so ultimately could end up hoping Poch resigns or another club approaches for him – this could all take a very sour turn.

 

‘Ole’s at the Wheel’ – or as I said in April – ‘Sacked By Christmas’. All jokes aside, Manchester United as a club are in dire straits. From owners taking Billions out of them whilst also putting hundreds of millions in debt. Ed Woodward supposedly being the businessman but also somehow landed himself the transfer kitty too. I’m of the opinion that Managers must have a say in who they want to sign or atleast what type of player who will fit into your vision. You can’t expect a manager to turn up one day and work with a piece of kit that they have no interest in or wanted something different – ultimately if it’s your team it should be your players but this is seemingly not happening as much anymore, especially not in the elite clubs who are more commercially invested in sponsorship deals and big names.

Ole has never proven himself as a manager and that lack of knowledge/experience mixed with the current squad was never going to work in my opinion. The Squad is not Manchester United and not even close and to make matters worse, the youth academy and prospects coming through are nowhere near up to standard of a Top 6 team now. I’m all for sentiment and hoping that Ole as a legend would do something special and maybe if they give him 4 windows to prove he can do something then it will change but honestly can’t see the club being able to afford a couple seasons out of European Football (which is what is going to happen) and the Owners/Board settling for mediocrity and giving Ole a £500m war chest without proven experience of knowing how to use it.. Someone like Allegri may be an attractive proposition to the United Board. The former Juventus manager who won so much with the club, would have a good relationship with key player Paul Pogba and also would turn United into a hard team to beat.

Unai Emery up until about 2 weeks ago was being touted for the sack but Arsenal have won a few games and find themselves back in the Top 4 again but I wouldn’t be surprised when Arsenal go on their standard Feb/March drought and they begin to call for his head again. Tactically I don’t think we will see Arsenal challenging again but they could take advantage of other teams transition seasons and get back into Champions League football. With some promising youngsters coming through such as Willock, Martinelli and Baka – the future looks bright for them!

Zinedine Zidane must be on his last chance by now at Real Madrid, those white handkerchiefs have been out in force at the Bernabeu already and with the world’s most fickle fans seemingly not pleased with recent performances, especially in the Champions League and star names like Hazard and Jovic not setting the world alight, the potential for Zidane to go is mounting. Maybe as long time admirers of Pochettino, Madrid will made a bold move to sack (or Zidane resign due to the negativity) and replace ZZ with Poch in the hot seat but Mourinho was also being touted in the Summer for a return? Zidane may step away from management all together after this latest stint in charge but if PSG or Juventus come calling for him, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him in the French Capital.

One thing is for certain, Jurgen Klopp isn’t going anywhere and Pep Guardiola has to stay at City until he brings them a Champions League or he’s failed in my opinion.

Managerial Predictions for beginning for the 2020 season:

 

Tottenham Hotspur – Eddie Howe (personally think it would be a class appointment, plays unreal football and deserves a chance)

Manchester United – Massimo Allegri

Real Madrid  – Mauricio Pochettino

PSG – Zinedine Zidane

Arsenal – Unai Emery

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In or Out of the Top 6?

The chase for Top 6 will be closer than ever this year. Whether that be the downfall of 3 of the supposed ‘Big 6’ but also the improvement and potential from a handful of teams waiting in the wings with a huge opportunity during the 2019/2020 season.

So who is that handful? Without a doubt, Leicester City. The potential in that squad, nurtured by Brendan Rogers and transfers of Tielemans and Perez with more rumoured to be incoming should they get a World Record Fee (for a defender) for Harry Maguire. Wolverhampton Wanderers were very strong last year and caused a number of ‘upsets’ especially at Molineux against the big boys – so with more consistency, bit more investment and now more experience in the PL, why not? Everton have a huge chance this year but they still haven’t filled the most important position on the pitch, the striker, the 20+ goals a season needed to be up there and pushing to break into the top 6.

Who else? Outsiders would be West Ham – after all the moaning from the fans, demonstrations on the pitch, embarrassing scenes really, David Gold and David Sullivan are HEAVILY investing into the club with some huge signings. It will be interesting to see how they do now without the excuses of the new stadium, lack of investment and management not being good enough (under Moyes). Lastly, I think Bournemouth will be a very solid team this season – if they keep the core together for this transfer window and make some more savvy investments.

In all seriousness, I don’t think the 5 above teams will have a better chance in breaking into the Top 6 for years to come.

Man United, Arsenal and Chelsea are all in disarray. Whether that be due to bad management from the top down, lack of transfer budget or just having a transfer ban altogether, these teams are going to be struggling big time to win week in, week out as expected to be able to get a top 4 spot but also Top 6 too.

 

Manchester United

The situation at Man United is precarious. The club is more divided than ever and the general atmosphere stinks at the moment. The Glazer Family have angered the majority of fans by taking billions out of the club but failing to reinvest or pump money in to keep the biggest club in the world competing on the highest stage. Ed Woodward, the businessman, has somehow ended up running the transfer business and as previous managers have stated, the whole structure of the club is toxic. Unfortunately for Ole, his hands are tied and in my opinion, he is walking the plank in this current position.. why? He has this ‘vision’ or the ‘United way’ as many like to think it.. invest in youth and get players that want to play for the shirt. I get that philosophy, this is something I want at Chelsea BUT the players they are currently attracting aren’t of the world class nature that will enable them to compete against the big boys and after last season’s calamity, they find themselves back in the Europa League.

I could be wrong and Dan James, Aaron Wan Bissaka and Harry Maguire for about £150m could be incredible business in the future, it’s certainly an investment in players that could play for United for the next 10 years and then the fees paid would be justified.

However, these players aren’t going to transform what I and others would consider to be a terrible aging squad but also one that seems to be low on confidence and a strange atmosphere from within. Players such as Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Alexis Sanchez, Rojo etc should not be in a Manchester United squad that wants to move forward and transform. Mix that with Players who seem to want to be elsewhere – Paul Pogba publicly getting his agent to try and force through a move, Sanchez looking to move on, David De Gea unable to force a move but stalling on a new HUGE contract – nothing shouts out to me that this team are going to go and have a good season. I don’t want to exaggerate too much but I can see United 8/9th by Christmas and people may slowly begin to turn on Solskjaer who’s managerial experience will start to become questioned.

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Arsenal

Banter FC as some may call them. When their biggest game for a decade was against Chelsea in the Europa League Final and they turned up and lost 4-1 it was never going to signal good things.. and since then they have failed to properly investment and signify any intent that they are going to try and compete. The fans are protesting against the owners, they’ve lost their best player to Juventus and they offered £45m for Wilfred Zaha’s left foot and got laughed out of the door. Club Captain Laurent Koscielny has refused to go on the pre-season tour to try and get out of the Emirates. How are they going to transform this? One positive Arsenal have is that they have kept Lacazette and Aubameyang together and that means goals.. but the core of the team behind that? Still terrible. Why have they not bought a top class Centre Back? Why haven’t they got a world class CM? Relying on Granit Xhaka or Sokratis in defence means that they are settling for being average in my opinion. Rumours coming out of the club is that Emery only has £45m to play with.. yet teams such as Leicester are spending that on players like Tielemans who will go into that midfield and run the show.

If Kroenke really wants to be at Arsenal then they need to stop using the excuse of this new stadium (which opened 13 years ago now) and balancing the books. Arsenal got nearly £200m in TV money last season.. that on top of huge sponsorship deals for the stadium, kit, shirt sponsors.. so where is this money going? They have lost players and never replaced them but also, the youngsters that have come through are yet to set the world alight. I am excited to see what Reiss Nelson can offer this season after his loan, Maitland-Niles needs to push on and cement his spot too. But with a squad still consisting of average players such as Bellerin, Monreal, Mustafi, Jenkinson, Elneny and OZIL – best thing they could do is get rid of him. Poor relationship with the manager, the fans and his wage bill is a drain for his return on Investment.

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Chelsea

Ultimately this season is going to be a rollercoaster for Chelsea and the fans. I may be a Chelsea fan but I am also a pessimist and I am not going to expect a lot to come from this season. This transfer ban couldn’t have come at a worse time for Chelsea with the current state of the squad and also the transition between managers. The appointment of Frank Lampard has already sparked some life back into the club. The positivity is back and the connection between players and fans has improved HOWEVER living in the past off Frank’s playing legacy will not mean much if we are losing games more weeks than not.

As I said earlier with United, the youth policy is about to change at the club and the saying of ‘this transfer ban may be a blessing in disguise’ could be true or these players may still not be ready for top level Premier League football.. Mason Mount looks like a player who will benefit automatically from the ban. Reece James will slowly be transitioned into the team, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will become HUGE members of the team when back from Injury. All this is good but with Champions League football, all the Cups and an aging squad then we still need to aim to knick that Top 4 spot to ensure when we do get our transfer ban out of the way, we will be able to attract the top talent in Europe by having CL football readily available..

Players such as Willian, Pedro, Giroud, Alonso and even going as far as saying Azpilicueta are possibly not good enough to be in a Chelsea team now but these are likely to be regular starters throughout this season and I am worried that many teams will find them out and without that piece of magic that we relied on last season from Eden Hazard then we may struggle to break teams down.

The fans will back Frank and Jody 100% but I hope we can sneak 4th for the long term ambition of their project.

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Best of the rest??

My favourite to break into the top 6 would have to be Leicester. The way they ended last season under Brendan Rodgers was a little sneak peek into what is potentially about to come out of the King Power stadium this season. Buying Tielemans who was huge for them last year was a great signing, keeping Maddison and allowing him to grow in the Premier League playing week in, week out and then also keeping Chilwell would be a great bit of business too.

If they let Harry Maguire go, they will do so reluctantly but I think £80m for a centre back who is good but not amazing is a great bit of business. With that money they could potentially reinvest in 2 £40m+ players who can push them again to the next level and allow them to catch up and possibly overtake teams like the above.

 

Early season prediction

  1. Manchester City
  2. Liverpool
  3. Tottenham Hotspurs
  4. Chelsea
  5. Manchester United
  6. Leicester City