When the richest and arguably the best football league in the world — the English Premier League — begins, the focus is usually on the big-money transfers, be it buying or selling. After all, to maintain a fan base you need to sign inspiring or sometimes eccentric players.
Over the last decade, critics have often said that the Premier League is cash-rich, but lacks quality. The UEFA Champions League is taken as a litmus test and the English clubs’ abysmal performance doesn’t help their cause either. But this season though, there’s a breath of fresh air and the reason has just a little to do with the arrival of star players. Well, it’s the clash of the managers.
You’ll be forgiven for not being excited about Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s debut at ManUnited because never before has the English top-flight played host to the top tactical minds in the world. If Jose Mourinho is set to renew his rivalry with Pep Guardiola as managers of the Manchester clubs, then Antonio Conte’s arrival at Chelsea has set pulses racing, too.
Old war horse Arsene Wenger enters the final year of his current contract with Arsenal and he’ll definitely be wanting to extend his time with the Gunners by winning the title. The very meticulous Jurgen Klopp is set to take charge of his first full season at Liverpool. Of course, one cannot ignore Premier League-winning boss Claudio Ranieri. Nobody gave his team even an outside chance last season, and we all know what happened. There’s also Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino who posed a threat to Leicester City till the very end. They have wilted to some extent and wouldn’t want to repeat the same.
Let’s see what each manager has to offer.
He was kicked out by Chelsea last season after the team’s poor run of form, but Mourinho isn’t one to be bogged down by that. He comes to a club which has the largest fanbase in the world and is ready to take on, in his words, “the biggest challenge of my career.”
United was very severely criticized for playing boring football under Louis van Gaal last season, but with Mourinho’s arrival, fans finally have something to cheer about.
With Mourinho, controversies aren’t far behind either. The Portuguese has had various high-profile spats which have somewhat damaged his reputation, be it his touchline argument with former club doctor Eva Carneiro at Chelsea or resting No. 1 goalkeeper Iker Casillas during his time at Real Madrid.
He’s already won the hearts of the fans by bringing in big-name players. Zlatan Ibrahimovic coming to Manchester United would have been impossible to say the least if it weren’t for his good friendship with Mourinho. He’s spent big money in getting the player any team would want to have — Paul Pogba. Of course, he had to break the bank by making the Frenchman the most expensive signing ever, but Mourinho gets what he wants. And he wouldn’t want it any other way.
One word that comes to mind when describing Guardiola is tactical, and that’s how the Premier League will have to be with his arrival from Bayern Munich. After enjoying great success with the Munich Giants and previously with Barcelona, Guardiola is looking for a new challenge.
And a challenge he will have at Manchester City, especially with Mourinho in the arch-rivals camp. The two have had a long, unfriendly history and nothing less than that is expected. The Spaniard’s tiki-taka style of football is set to light up the Etihad this season as Manchester City bid to finally win the Champions League under Guardiola’s stewardship. The Spaniard loves to win, and he doesn’t mind making a few enemies along the way. A pragmatic person, he’s not afraid to tell the players how he feels, even though he seems shy when talking to the press. Guardiola has been consistent in using holding formations with an emphasis on maintaining possession. His basic gameplay revolves around the simple technique of passing. It worked in the Spanish and German league, but it’s still to be seen if his holding style of play will fetch him any silverware with City.
- Claudio Ranieri
- Antonio Conte
- Jurgen Klopp
- Arsene Wenger