The coach factor
It can often be heard, that modern football has turned into the coaches duel, with gifted players becoming rare and staginess falling victim to money. True or not, but the fans keep waiting for new seasons, new shows and new transfer deals not only for the players, but for the numerous outstanding coaches as well, who mastermind the game nowadays. Manchester United, Real Madrid or Manchester City buying new players is not as exciting to follow, as the coaches changing the clubs.
The English Premier League this year grabbed the show having invited the coaches, who made everybody forget Paul Pogba returning to United for E106 million, or Zlatan Ibrahimovich, who might be playing the last season in his career for United, or the tireless United rival Manchester City spending E176 million on the transfer campaign. The question for the fans is: with the grand duel between Mourinho and Guardiola back, what it will look like? Guardiola has already won the first fight, leaving no doubts about his supremacy.
The experts expect the matches between Jose and Pep teams to be the most exciting show this year, but looking at the list of other coaches in the league makes one realize, that the intrigue is alive.
Chelsea is being coached by the former Italian national team coach Antonio Conte, one of the best in modern football, who has led Juventus to rebirth.
Reckless Jurgen Klopp, who came to coach Liverpool last winter, told the public this year, that this is “his team. Transfers of Sadio Mane and Jorginho Vinaldum have strengthened Liverpool. The team made an impressive start, having won in grand style against Arsenal and Lester, the last year English wonder. The Klopp squad notably lacks stability though, having lost to Barnley, a Premier Legue newcomer.
Tottenham under Mauricio Pachettino is also visible in the Premier Legue. The team is young and progressing, rich with top players. Everton under Ronald Koeman has made a quick start. Claude Puel, a well known French specialist, came to coach Southhamton, Koeman`s previous team. Francesco Guidolin stayed with Swansea he had helped to save from leaving the Premier League last season: he is a typical Italian coach, excellent in tactics. Former Napoli and Inter manager Walter Mazzarri will lead Watford this year, which is a serious bid to turn a mediocre club into a hard nut. The same goes for Middlesbrough, another Premier League replenishment, under Jose Maurinho former assistant Aitor Karanka. Tony Pulis has remained in England too: he has become a legend for the bleak and unattractive football his teams play, but the opponents never having easy time against them. It is West Bromwich Albion this year to play the role.
The Premier League has been changing profoundly in recent years. Except for Arsenal. Everything remains the same – injuries, senseless transfers, and Arsen Wenger – late for his own retirement despite the fans open protests.
The Championship has become a highly contested tournament as well, an equal rival to senior European leagues, that are being left behind in some cases. Just look at the list of coaches: Rafael Benitez in Newcastle, Philippe Montanier in Nottingham Forest (many still remember Real Sociedad under him with Antoine Griezmann and Carlos Vela), Harry Monk in Leeds, Alex Neal in Norwich, Walter Zenga in Wolverhampton, and others. The Championship is likely to be tense and unpredictable as usual, with quality coaches to add new energy to the show.
Other countries have performed poorly, with Carlo Anchelotti being probably the only famous coach left outside the Premier League. He came to coach Bavaria, which under him has made the start that left the rivals on the sidelines. Bavaria is not likely to be contested in Germany this year. All 5 matches won, 20 goals scored, zero missed – that is how Papa Carlo made his debut. Dortmund under Thomas Tuchel and with Mario Goetze back has the best chances to finish second.
Nothing has changed in Spain, except for some unintelligible Barcelona transfers: Paco Alcasar and Andre Gomes from Valencia, Samuel Umtiti from Lyonnais, Lucas Digne from Roma, Denis Suarez, the Barcelona Academy graduate, from Villareal. This is all. Perhaps, the transfers are meant for the future, but at the moment Barca is still to rely on Messi, Neimar and Suarez.
Not much news have come from Real Madrid under Zizu as well. Morata, who is back from Juventus, and Acensio from Espanol have joined the club, the latter having already scored some wonderful goals.
Unai Emery has left Sevilla for PSG. Under Jorge Sampaoli, an eccentric Argentinian, Sevilla made a strange start with the 6:4 victory against Espanol and the last second victory over Las-Palmas, highly impressive this year.
Leandro Jardim and Monaco are worth mentioning, for they are obviously set to contest PSG, left without Zlatan Ibrahimovich.
It is autumn, and all major tournaments – the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A (no substantial news from there, except for Juventus paying E93 million for Higuain, and Montanella becoming the Milan coach) – are gaining momentum, for us to watch who will be the Special One this year.