Before a Premier League ball is kicked, we’ve already seen several managerial shake ups. Alongside the additions of Chris Hughton, David Wagner and Rafa Benitez who all managed to secure promotion, Marco Silva, Mauricio Pellegrino and Frank De Boer have also switched clubs during the off-season, moving to Watford, Southampton and Crystal Palace respectively.
Whilst the managerial roundabout is safe for now, it will take only a matter of games before the pressure is piled on. Slaven Bilic was thought to be under the cosh during last season at the Olympic Stadium, and the expensive additions of Marco Arnautovic, Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and the expected arrival of Javier Hernandez is likely to add strain to the wage bill. West Ham’s start of Manchester United, Southampton and then Newcastle all away from home is likely to cause some early off-field drama for the Hammers.
Elsewhere, there were rumours of discontent at Chelsea after Antonio Conte missed out on signing Romelu Lukaku. Although he later signed Alvaro Morata and also his own new two-year deal, eyebrows were raised over the fact that he didn’t extend his stay at the club, only improved his pay packet. Likewise, Benitez is said to be frustrated with the lack of transfer activity happening at Newcastle in the North East and the media reported that he had rejected a mega-offer from China. But Mike Ashley would be silly to let Benitez leave the club after he’s finally got the fans on his side, so we can expect to see this situation resolved.
An interesting situation to watch will be in North London, where despite signing a new two-year deal after the end of last season, the Arsenal fans’ stance on Arsene Wenger is unlikely to have changed dramatically. The longest serving manager in the Premier League might have the backing of the board, but it will be interesting to see what the atmosphere will be like at the Emirates if Wenger’s side are to hit a rough patch of form.
Behind Wenger, Eddie Howe, Sean Dyche, Mark Hughes and Mauricio Pochettino are the longest serving Premier League bosses. Of those five bosses, if one were to bet or play online casino one would put it on Mark Hughes to face some level of intense scrutiny next season.
In his four seasons at the club, he has taken them to 9th on 3 occasions, and last season they finished 13th. There was a lack of consistency in the form of the Potters’, and albeit they have rebranded their football, the chairman might feel that the time is right to kick on and challenge for a top eight spot. Signings like Kurt Zouma, Ibrahim Affllay and Bojan are all terrific high-profile signings, but Stoke could challenge for a Europa League spot or at least put up a greater fight in cup competitions. Nonetheless, one expects to see more from a Stoke side who have enough quality and creativity to do more week in and week out.
One managerial change that has turned into a large gamble is Frank De Boer at Crystal Palace. Having previously overseen a very strong period in Ajax’s recent years, and developing players such as Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen, the former Barcelona player was lined up with big moves across Europe only to fail at Inter Milan in a matter of months. Taking over from the retired Sam Allardyce, De Boer could be a genius appointment and could really help players such as Benteke and Zaha, but this move is too big for a manager who isn’t ready to handle the intense task of keeping a relegation threatened team in the Premier League.
It would be a surprise to see Bilic at West Ham come Christmas time, as his long-term security has never truly been guaranteed. With a hard start to come for the Hammers which is likely to have their backs against the wall, it will be an uphill battle to get the East London side back in form before any real pressure mounts. For this reason, Bilic would be my winner of the sack race.
At the other end of the table, Pep Guardiola looks set to land his first Premier League trophy. With the intense spending spree that Manchester City have been on, purchasing Kyle Walker and Bernardo Silva to name only two, it will be hard to see them falling away like they did last year. Having had time to adjust to the Guardiola philosophy and to plug the holes in the squad that the Spaniard thought was lacking, Man City are set up for a terrific campaign. Who knows, maybe only Jose Mourinho could spoil the party, but they have work to do in the transfer window before any decisions are changed.