2019/20 Premier League: How are the top-six managers shaping up?

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 30 July 2019, 09:56

Andy Dillon looks at how the top-six managers are shaping up ahead of the rapidly approaching 2019/20 Premier League season, complete with his predictions...

Pep Guardiola, Man City

Another summer and another spending record goes. The arrival of £62.8 million midfielder Rodri would normally set most clubs alight with excitement.

The fact this defensive midfielder is known as ‘the fire extinguisher’ indicates how he likes to play football. Either that or with the vast array of talent at manager Pep Guardiola’s disposal, the new man will live up to his name by being used only in emergencies.

For Guardiola it is a case of cherry picking to add to Britain’s first ever Galacticos.Teenager Phil Foden will get much more exposure, Riyad Mahrez is a year wiser and Rodri will build the wall in front of goal.

Most worrying for the opposition is that the brilliant Kevin de Bruyne has had a first proper rest for two years, expelling no more energy than chasing his kids round the garden.

The trouble for City is that they won the Premier League last season and the only way up is to win the Champions League. If Guardiola can’t do it with this lot in his dressing room he may as well pack it in.

Verdict: Second.

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool

The acquisition of teenager Harvey Elliott says so much about Liverpool’s long-term plan.

Clubs don’t risk millions of quid on teenagers unless they think the player is good enough but more importantly if they don’t see themselves continuing to challenge at the highest level.

Elliott is the youngest player in Premier League history at 16 years and three days but his move from Fulham says so much about manager Jurgen Klopp’s grand vision to build a dynasty. And that he does not fear the sack anytime soon. That is remarkable in itself in this modern hire-and-fire age.

The results have been below par in pre-season but with so many of his squad only just returning to training it’s no surprise and no real worry.

Liverpool lost only once in the league last season but still only managed second place. They simply cannot afford to be half asleep at kick off - and they won’t.

Verdict: Champions.

Frank Lampard, Chelsea

Manager leaves and new manager arrives is a familiar scenario. But this time it’s radical even by Chelsea’s volatile standards.

There is now an English coach and backroom staff at the club which once epitomised the foreign invasion of the Premier League. Frank Lampard is also overseeing a club which once symbolised rabid spending during a transfer ban. And all this after selling their best player Eden Hazard to Real Madrid.

There’s no doubt Lampard will put the hours in but whether getting the best out of a raft of returning loanees and invoking the ‘proper Chels’ spirit as they call it will be enough is a huge debate. The strike force alone looks either too raw, too old or simply not up to it.

Goals from midfield will be the key area. Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Christian Pulisic will be key men next year. Defensive midfielder N’Golo Kante is arguably their only world class name. A testing year ahead.

Verdict: fifth.

Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham

The drought is over and chairman Daniel Levy has finally allowed some spending on new players with a club-record deal for Tanguy Ndombele. But the weirdest transfer of the whole summer has been full back Kieran Trippier joining Atletico Madrid - then hinting at trouble behind the scenes.

That will only lead to further speculation that boss Mauricio Pochettino is running out of steam with Spurs. It will take a massive effort to repeat the achievements of last season that were spectacular but ultimately fruitless.

Pochettino talking of the despair following that Champions League final defeat to Liverpool risks spreading to the dressing room. If the players feel the manager has taken them as far as he can, energy levels may wane.

Pochettino needs to get his mojo back and get Dele Alli back to his best. Then it could be a truly seismic season.

Verdict: third.

Unai Emery, Arsenal

A tough year for Unai Emery. New players in but for him the honeymoon period is over. Arsenal is his team now. Arsene Wenger cannot be blamed anymore for future failings.

The move for £72 million Nicolas Pepe is refreshing and suggests a change in the wind. After years of under-investment, money is being pumped into the team.

Following an open letter to owner Stan Kroenke claiming he doesn’t care about the club, the purchase of Pepe may just stave off the sight of empty seats at the Emirates Stadium. Lots of pressure on the lad though.

Emery also needs to work on the defence which leaked more than 50 goals last season.

Verdict: Fourth.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Man Utd

Harry Maguire is the sort of name a club like this demands. But is he really worth more than Liverpool played for Virgil van Dijk?

Man Utd missed the boat on the Dutchman but after such a disastrous end to last season there is a feeling that spending big is the only option for boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Ole is under huge pressure now. He started well then his impetus quickly faded to make the end of the campaign an embarrassment. Paul Pogba now wants out as does striker Romelu Lukaku.

They kick off at home to Chelsea in less than two weeks’ time. The biggest club in the land seems unprepared and unsettled still. Centre half Maguire needs to sign soon to steady the ship.

Verdict: sixth.

Managers Departed

Last man down

Michael Jolley
Michael Jolley
(Grimsby Town)
15th November
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