I cannot wait for the 2016/2017 English Premiership League (EPL) season to start. Indeed, the season has already taken off with the game of the coaches.
Coaches have assumed a pedestal amongst football followers that places them almost as high up as the players themselves on the issue of who determines winning and losing.
The scramble for Europe’s ‘best’ coaches in the EPL has, therefore, begun.At no time in the history of the EPL has there been such an array of some of Europe’s best coaches as is happening now.In the past, three or four big coaches in the EPL were enough to light up the league and to create the competition, the side shows and media exchanges that made it a talking-point for football fans around the world.
In the new season there could be as many as six or even more – Claudio Raneiri, Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Arsene Wenger, Mauricio Pochettino, and possibly more to come during the pre-season!
A manager’s role in winning matches is being increasingly escalated even as everyone knows that coaches do not play the matches themselves but depend on the players to carry out their instructions.
So, a coach is really only as good as the players he has to deliver the ‘goods’ of his expectations.It’s a simple success formula, therefore that is adopted and that has been working for the most successful teams, most of the time. They buy the best players available and top it with a reputable coach.
It is the big spending teams that often become champions.Every once in a while a team pops up on the horizon to upturn the apple cart and to provide an ending that enriches football with amazing drama such was witnessed in the EPL through Leicester City FC’s most remarkable emergence as deserving champions this past season.
Wherever you find a celebrated successful coach, therefore, watch out for huge financial investment in buying the best players.
Into the new season, the big teams are already jostling for the signatures of the coaches that can attract the best players around the world.
The EPL will have an unprecedented assembly of some of Europe’s best and most renowned. The leagues’ top five clubs have already started the buying spree. Until the dust from the wheeling and dealing settles to reveal who has gone where we can only guarantee the prospect of an exciting 2016/2017 season ignited substantially by the coaches.
Claudio Raneiri will lead the pack by facing an uphill task sustaining Leicester City’s level of performance from last season. With the element of unknown factor gone and the team’s tactics now laid bare what Raneiri will do next to sustain Leicester City’s high performance streak and this, however, will be of tremendous interest to the entire world that hailed and celebrated them at the end of last season.
For Pep Guardiola, heading to Manchester City FC will be his biggest test yet as a manager. Manchester City are not near as big or as rich as FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich FC that he handled before now. On their own, both clubs could attract the best players in the world. Not so with Manchester City.
He is a brave man indeed to have agreed to come to a much lesser club as Manchester City, which lost steam and failed to lift their game last season.
Many people believe Guardiola will only succeed if he succeeds in bringing in enough of the kind of players that can quickly adopt his brand of possession football.
He will find the rough and tumble of the EPL a different ball game from the more tactically savvy Spanish and technically clinical German styles of football that he has worked in.
Coming to the EPL could also bring him back to earth, that without the best players in the world in a club no coach can become the best in the world!
Manchester United FC have a serious situation in their hands. The power of United’s football is a rich and well-established football tradition that has British history, aristocracy, class and fighting spirit written all over it. It is like the vestige of the old but powerful British Empire.
Whereas Sir Alex Ferguson, in looks, style, and temperament, epitomised a perfect fit for United, Luis Van Gaal fell short. He lacked charisma and was way too dour!
Jose Mourinho is definitely not like that. His own challenge would be how his charm, charisma, temperament, arrogance, conservative strategies, and his sponsoring motivation for joining Manchester United (to shame his critics and restore his reputation lost in the manner of his sack in Chelsea) would not conflict with Manchester United’s singular mission to re-establish its old winning ways and restore its image and lost glory!
The next EPL season will surely be defined by Pep and Jose. Their confrontations will be epic!
Of course, Jurgen Klopp in Liverpool FC will continue to add his un-daunting spirit and enthusiasm to the excitement of the EPL, but unless he is given the funds to match the buying spree of the two Manchester teams, he will be providing sideline drama only once again.
I do not even want to comment on Arsene Wenger. Many of my friends who were once fanatical supporters of the man have jumped ship following successive disappointing performances by his Arsenal FC in the past 15 seasons. Without the threat of losing his job to drive him, he is wallowing in past glory and losing the winning edge.
I believe psychologically he cannot match Guardiola and Mourinho in the battle of wits that winning the EPL demands.
As for Pellegrini, I do not know where he will end up in the new season after his ignominious ‘disengagement’ when he was still on course to winning the EPL title.
He will add a new dimension to the battle of the coaches should any of the EPL teams decide to hire him. He is an angry man rearing to vent his anger on Manchester City and prove his worth again in football.
The vast majority of the other managers in the EPL will continue to play their usual cameo roles, managing whatever is left of left-over players to make up the other teams that serve as regular stepping-stones upon which one of the very few regular teams at the top with money to invest in the best players will march and eventually become champion.
The new EPL season will be a battle of the coaches, surely!
Credit: Segun Odegbami of guardian.ng