Thursday, September 28

As ever, the managerial merry-go-round is a hot topic in the Premier League. Oli Coates jumps on for a ride, and asks whether it’s better to stick or twist.

Not much has changed at the top of the Premier League table on the managerial front, with all of the clubs who finished in the top six last season sticking with their men in the dugout. Pep Guardiola begins his sixth season in English football at Manchester City, while Jurgen Klopp is into his seventh campaign in charge of Liverpool.

Those two men are likely to be at the forefront of the title race, although Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is also hoping to join the party. The Red Devils looked as though they were going to mount a serious title challenge for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson retired last season, only to falter in the second half of the campaign in failing to win 10 of their final 19 matches.

Solskjaer has been given the time and resources to build at Old Trafford. Chelsea managers are usually afforded the latter but not the former, and Thomas Tuchel will be no exception despite guiding the Blues to Champions League glory just four months after arriving at the club. The German tactician targeted a proven goalscorer in the form of Romelu Lukaku, and his defensive organisation gives him a great shot at securing the Premier League title in his first full season at Stamford Bridge.

Tottenham are the highest-placed team from last season to hire a new boss. Nuno Espirito Santo has been tasked with improving on last season’s seventh place, with his chances of doing so likely hinging on Harry Kane’s future. Even so, this is a huge opportunity for the Portuguese coach to prove his credentials at a big club following the wonderful job he did at Wolves.

New Everton manager Rafael Benitez has a big job on his hands to convince the entirety of the Goodison Park faithful that he’s worth their affection following his time across Stanley Park. Crystal Palace also have a new boss in the shape of Patrick Vieira, who is short on top-level management experience, in a far cry from his predecessor at Selhurst Park, Roy Hodgson.

Marcelo Bielsa will draw plenty of attention once again after committing to another year at Leeds United, with the Argentine’s defensive organisation once again under the microscope from the off. Brentford’s Thomas Frank could also find himself getting lots of attention for all the right reasons, with the Bees coming into the Premier League with the potential to set the division alight.

Frank is now in his fourth season at Brentford, after the club stuck with the Dane following their defeat in the play-off final in 2020. Sticking with your manager often pays dividends, as we can see with the likes of Frank, Guardiola, Klopp and Solskjaer, not to mention Sean Dyche at Burnley, Dean Smith at Aston Villa and even Steve Bruce at Newcastle United.

However, as Tuchel proved last season, there can also be huge rewards when clubs take the decision to twist. It’s a high-stakes gamble which can always go either way. Most clubs desire stability, with managers increasingly judged on their philosophies and the way they build and impose their style of play. Projects are tough to stick with when results are poor though, as we wait to see who blinks first this time round.

This article was from a past issue of Soccer 360 magazine. Click here to subscribe to future issues.

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