A trio of Football League Managers to keep an eye on this seasonby Jack Kitson / 26 July 2017, 13:38Tweet
The upcoming 2017/18 Football League season is so close you can almost taste it. As we venture closer and closer to the landmark kick-off we’ve decided to pluck out three managers from each of the three divisions with whom we believe are worth keeping a very close eye on over the course of the upcoming campaign.
Nuno Santo (Wolves)
- Championship title: 13/1 (Paddy Power)
- Championship promotion: 4/1 (Paddy Power)
- Prediction: Play-offs
Wolves arguably secured the managerial coup of the summer after they remarkably lured Nuno Santo over to Molineux back in May. It was a staggering statement of intent from the Midlands club, who now have a manager at the helm whose last two jobs were with Portuguese giants Porto and Spanish outfit Valencia. Not bad that.
Of course the ultra-competitive Championship whips up a completely different challenge, but one in which Santo, who played under Jose Mourinho’s Champions League winning Porto side, will look to grasp with both hands as he bids to lead the club into the Premier League for the first time since 2011/12.
The surprise arrival of Santo has in turn resulted in a raft of stunning deals in the summer transfer market, including the in-demand Ruben Neves from Porto for a club record £15m, defender Willy Boly, and most recently Atletico Madrid winger Diogo Jota. Wow.
It’s certainly set to be an intriguing season at the Fosun International owned club, but while this exciting new project is likely to need time to bear fruit, there’s no hiding from the fact that expectations have suddenly soared, meaning the target is a serious push for promotion up to the Premier League.
However, a slow start to the season could see the trigger-happy owners wield that dreaded axe once again, which would unfortunately not be a surprise considering they’ve already disposed of the likes of Kenny Jackett, Walter Zenga and Paul Lambert since taking over the club last summer.
Pep Clotet (Oxford)
- League One title: 16/1 (Bet365)
- League One promotion: 11/2 (bet365)
- Prediction: Play-offs
Oxford were left gutted in June when muscle-man Michael Appleton decided to leave the club in order to become Craig Shakespeare’s assistant at Premier League side Leicester City. The popular Appleton had previously led the Yellows into League One in 2016, before securing a very impressive 8th place finish last term.
But, after snapping up the highly-rated Pep Clotet Oxford have numerous reasons to be optimistic ahead of the upcoming season. The tactically astute Spaniard is a well travelled coach who spent last term working under Garry Monk at Leeds, and following the latter’s departure he was hotly linked with the manager’s job, but ventured off in pursuit of a new challenge.
That has subsequently come at third-tier outfit Oxford, a progressive club who will look to continue their upward curve under the promising 40-year-old, who has previously worked at Swansea. But, while a League One title challenge may just be out of reach, a top-6 finish is definitely achievable at the Kassam.
The man himself is certainly excited about the upcoming campaign:
“I was very attracted to the way Oxford have been developing over the last three years and I believe in the plans they have and the idea and culture that runs through all of the club and is built into the squad; the idea of a young talented squad to develop and be better at the end than at the beginning and eventually get success from it."
Nathan Jones (Luton)
- League Two title: 7/1 (Sky Bet)
- League Two promotion: 7/4 (Boylesports)
- Prediction: Top-3
Nathan Jones could be considered an obvious pick given his continued improvement with Luton, but after missing out on promotion last season, we’re backing The Hatters boss to go one step better and bag a place in League One.
When Jones, who back in March said he wants to become the best manager in the world (see below), first took charge of Luton in January 2016 the club finished 11th, which was followed by 4th spot last term, but now the target has now simply got to be one of the three automatic promotion spots at 9/4 with Sky Bet.
Luton have been busy in the transfer market, but while they’ve lost the likes of Jack Marriott and Cameron McGeehan, they’ve brought in striker James Collins, who bagged 20 goals for Crawley last season. They’ve also managed to keep hold of Danny Hylton (27 goals last season), and fans will be hoping that the duo form a mouth-watering partnership next season.
With this in mind there’s every chance for a glut of goals, with Luton likely to breach the 70 they scored last season, while it’s worth remember that they registered the league’s second best defence last term, and Jones will once again look to build from the back as he attempts to lead his troops up to League One.
“I want to be the best manager in the world, and until I get there I won't stop trying. I may never get there, I might not get anywhere near. But until I exhaust every resource then that's what I want to do. It's ambitious, but you have to have ambition.”