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The new Sir, rebuilding and the Special one: What the 2020/2021 season means to the managers

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Jurgen Klopp, after guiding Liverpool Football Club to its first Premier League trophy in 30 years, has brushed aside the notion of defending the Premier League title.

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The man who won the Premier League manager award for the 2019-2020 season has, instead, insisted that his team will attack the Premier League trophy and potentially set more records in the new term.

Pep Guardiola after losing out on the Premier League title and the Champions League trophy will be eager to prove a point that he is still one of the best managers around.

From the other side of Manchester, Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjær will be relishing the prospect of becoming the new Sir of the club while Jose Mourinho will be expecting his Tottenham side to challenge for the Premier League trophy to reemphasize his status as the special one.

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In London, both Frank Lampard and Mikel Arteta have also been assigned the task of rebuilding and bringing back silverware to Stamford Bridge and Emirates Stadium respectively.

So what does the 2020/2021 Premier League season really mean to the top six Premier League managers? We take a detailed look at the tasks that lie before the managers and what success or failure will mean to them and their respective clubs.

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Solskjær: The heir to the Sir?

It will be an understatement to state that Manchester United enjoyed so much success under Sir Alex Fergusson. The club, in fact, enjoyed its most successful period under the Scot.

Between 1986 and 2013, United’s favourite manager won 38 trophies for the Football Club including 13 Premier League titles, 2 Champions League trophies, and one FIFA Club world cup trophy.

But unfortunately for the club, their dominance in England and Europe has reduced as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successors have all failed to continue the legacy that put Manchester United among the greatest clubs in the world.

Fergusson’s immediate successor, David Moyes who was labelled as the Chosen One was sacked after just 10 months into his 6 year contract and was replaced by Loius Van Gaal the following season. The Dutchman who achieved success with Barcelona, Ajax and Bayern Munich was also unable to bring the desired results although he won the FA cup in 2016.

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The responsibility then fell to the Special One who immediately won the Community Shield, the League Cup and the Europa League trophy in his first season. But that wouldn’t help him sustain his position as the performances of his team dropped in the seasons that followed.

Former club favourite, Ole Gunnar Solskjær was then appointed on an interim basis and guided the team to sixth place in the 2018/2019 season. He then took charge fully of the 2019/2020 season, leading the club to their second top 3 finish since the retirement of Sir Alex Fergusson.

With an impressive first two seasons at the club, Ole Gunnar Solskjær will hope that he is on his way to becoming the new heir of the Sir and he definitely has reason to have such high hopes.

Manchester United have the potential of rivalling Liverpool and Manchester City for the Premier League title if Bruno Fernades continues his incredible form and the front three of Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial continue to terrorise defenders in the opposition half.

The signing of Donny van de Beek from Ajax together with Pogba, Matic and Fred in midfield and the return of Dean Henderson to the club will give the team a massive lift and it could be the beginning of something special under Manchester United’s new manager and heir.

Mourinho: Still the Special one? 

Jose Mourinho may have been unable to succeed Sir Alex Fergusson as Manchester United’s new Sir but that will do no harm to his confidence and determination as he readies his Tottenham side for a Premier League title challenge.

The Portuguese was appointed last season after the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino and managed to place sixth with the Londoners and is already looking forward to achieving a higher and better position than last season’s as well as securing silverware for the club.

With an impressive CV of back to back Premier League trophies with Chelsea in 2005/2006 and 2006/2007 and another Premier League trophy in 2015 with Chelsea, Mourinho is seen as the perfect candidate to lead Spurs to Premier League glory.

Luckily for him, he has one of the best strikers in the Premier League in Harry Kane and a plethora of attacking options including Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura, Steven Bergwijn, Dele Alli, Giovani Lo Celso and Erik Lamela to help him achieve that feat.

He also has in midfield Moussa Sissoko, Harry Winks, Eric Dier and Tanguy Ndombele who he can count on for success this term. The onus then lies on Mourinho to provide his boys with the winning mentality that they lacked under Pochettino when they lost the title to Leicester in the 2015-2016 season.

This is a defining season for Jose Mourinho and one that he needs to take advantage of. Mourinho needs to prove that he is still the Special One and anything less than a challenge for the Premier League title will all but confirm his degrading influence in the game.

Arteta: Road to Champions League glory 

Mikel Arteta has returned to Arsenal Football Club and has brought back the passion, enthusiasm and optimism that the supporters of the club desperately needed. There is the belief now that Arsenal is on its way to glory again.

He needed just half a season to win his first two trophies, defeating Chelsea for the FA Cup trophy last season and edging out Liverpool on penalties for the Community Shield a few weeks ago. A new era seems to be on the cards.

For Mikel Arteta, the goal is to win the Champions League for Arsenal in the next three years as confirmed by their new signing, Willian.

“When I talked with the manager he told me why he needed me for three years. It was that he first wanted to qualify for the Champions League and win it by the time I left. That was what I wanted to hear,” Willian said after signing for Arsenal.

“I was at Chelsea for seven years and won everything except the Champions League. Hopefully, this move will give me the trophy I haven’t got as well as another Premier League title.”

Whether that vision is too ambitious to achieve is for another discussion but what is certain is that this season will determine whether or not Arsenal and Mikel Arteta can win the Champions League trophy in the next three years.

With Aubameyang staying at the club and with the likes of Dani Ceballos, Gabriel Magalhães and Willian joining the club, Arteta will have to do better than secure a Europa League spot for the Gunners.

Probably, a top four finish and a qualification to next season’s Champions League, another trophy and an extended run in the Europa League this season will be the perfect foundation to build on. But anything less than that will, unfortunately, cast doubts over whether Arteta is capable of fulfilling his own promise and the right manager for the Arsenal job.

Lampard: This is where I belong

After enjoying a good spell with Derby County in the Championship last two seasons and with Chelsea in the 2019/2020 season, Frank Lampard will be looking forward to his third season in top football management. And it is a season that could determine where he really belongs.

The former Chelsea legend has already shown glimpses of his managerial prowess in big matches during his at spells Derby County and at Chelsea. In his stint in the Championship, he managed to defeat Manchester United in the Carabao Cup, beating Jose Mourinho’s men 8-7 on penalties.

He followed it up with back to back wins over his former manager in the League last year while securing victories over Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.

However, there were unconvincing displays against some of the teams outside the top 10 which raised questions over his potential to rub shoulders with the best coaches in the Premier League and in the world.

With club owner Roman Abramovich backing him this season, it remains to be seen whether he can truly deliver and make a claim of belonging at the top. The likes of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech have joined to help solve the goalscoring problems that cost the team so much last season.

At the other end of the field, Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell have been brought in to tighten up things up at the back while there is talk of the club signing another goalkeeper to replace the error-ridden Kepa.

There are indeed no excuses for Lampard this term especially with the squad at his disposal and Chelsea fans will expect nothing but a challenge for the Premier League trophy, an achievement that might confirm his place as one of the best.

Klopp: Time for some more records

Liverpool didn’t only break their 30 year record of never winning the Premier League trophy when they won the league last season; they smashed a whole lot of records including the most number of wins in a Premier League season.

The champions’ 3-1 victory against Newcastle United was their 32nd win of the season, equalling City’s record for the most victories in a Premier League campaign.

Their victory over West Ham United in February was also their 18th consecutive league win, a record which was again held by Manchester City.

Liverpool again beat Southampton 4-0 on 1 February to move 22 points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table for the biggest lead in Premier League history. That grew to 25 points after a 1-0 victory against Norwich City later that month.

All these records were achieved and were made possible with one man at the heart of things: Jurgen Klopp. The German since his appointment in 2016 has become a fan favourite after the winning of the Uefa Champions League and the Premier League trophy for the club in the last two seasons.

But Klopp will put all those successes behind him and attempt to set some more records for the club. Fortunately, for him, there are several records for him to target including becoming the fourth club to win the Premier League on a back to back basis.

Manchester United achieved the feat in the 1992/93 and 1993/94 seasons; 1999/2000 and 2000/01 seasons and the 2006/07and 2007/08 seasons while Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea joined the list by winning the League in the 2004/05 and 2005/06 seasons. The last team to win the title back to back in the Premier League era was Guardiola’s Manchester City in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons.

After failing to match up to Arsenal’s 49 unbeaten run, Jurgen Klopp will also be hoping to begin that run this season and hopefully finish it up in the subsequent season. Such a run will also see them equal Arsenal’s invincible record.

For Liverpool’s manager, then, this season is about setting more records and enjoying more success at Anfield.

Guardiola: Still here, although I might leave 

Manchester City since the appointment of Pep Guardiola in the 2016/2017 season have become a formidable force in the Premier League and a consistent representative of the English League in the Champions League.

Guardiola who won 14 trophies within 4 years at Barcelona managed to win back to back Premier League trophies for Manchester City in the 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 seasons, smashing a host of records in the process.

But Liverpool’s extraordinary performance in the league last season coupled with City’s failure in the Champions League has almost made Guardiola a forgotten man. But the Catalan will be eager to prove that he is still one of the world’s best.

The club has already backed him in the transfer window by signing Nathan Ake from relegated side Bournemouth and Ferran Torres from Valencia while it has been confirmed that the club are in talks to sign highly-rated Napoli defender, Kalidou Koulibaly.

The additions will help strengthen Guardiola’s defence and eliminate the defensive woes the club faced in major parts of last season. It also means Fernandinho can return to his preferred defensive midfield position to help the club challenge for the title this term.

But Guardiola’s inability to win the Premier League could make an extension for a new contract complicated. With his contract expiring at the end of the season, Guardiola is yet to extend his deal and another season without the Premier League trophy could compel him to seek another challenge elsewhere.

 

 

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6 Comments

  1. It would not amaze me if one of these highly rated coaches gets a sack. But if they compete toe-to-toe with each other, then the Premier league title would go down to the wire.

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