The next bank of four managers features: the Premier League’s oldest ever gaffer, a three-time Champions League winner, the division’s biggest-ever spender in a single transfer market, and his former teammate who has a promotion to his name from his one and only full season in management.
Let’s take a look...
Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
Not even the seismic-spending duo of Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho have ever been trusted with the amount of wedge that Frank Lampard has been allocated this summer - a soon-to-be Premier League record for a single transfer window.
How the Englishman handles a new type of pressure, juggles egos and maintains squad balance is set to be one of the fascinating narratives of the season.
Lampard began the previous campaign with zero Premier League experience and no cash to splash due to Chelsea’s transfer ban.
The target was a top-four finish which was secured on the final day, and if it wasn’t for the excellence of Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang he may well have won the FA Cup.
Lampard is the epitome of a young modern manager. He’s emotionally intelligent, smart-thinking, personable and possesses a stylish wardrobe. He’s also not been shy in venting his displeasure when he deems fit - his spat with Jurgen Klopp a pertinent example.
There is, of course, more to being a manager than just looking and sounding the part but, while Lampard is still learning the ropes, he’ll be full of confidence after securing a prized Champions League spot.
Chelsea were fun to watch last season, especially going forward, as you’d expect. Stand-out results included a 5-2 win at Wolves, doing the double over former boss Jose Mourinho, a 3-0 FA Cup success against Man Utd, and that thrilling 2-1 victory against Pep Guardiola’s Man City.
Areas of Improvement
Lampard won praise for blooding the youngsters last season, work that hopefully won’t be undone this term following his gargantuan spending-spree. Being bankrolled by a Russian oligarch certainly has its benefits, with Lampard trusted with £230m - to date - on Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz (imminent), and Ben Chilwell.
How he moulds together this assortment of talent will be another task entirely, and one that could make or break his Chelsea tenure.
Lampard’s attacking options are stunning but he’s yet to convince defensively. It’s an area he desperately needs to rectify given the alarming frequency in which his side were torn to shreds on the break last term. One of the league’s best full-backs and one of the planet’s most successful centre-backs will go some way to ironing out the errors, however the keeper saga is likely to ramble on.
Due to said fragile defence, Chelsea suffered a whopping 12 defeats, five of which came at Stamford Bridge. Home performances therefore need to be raised especially against teams that are happy to sit back and counter.
Chelsea’s staggering spending means Lampard needs to produce. But while expectations have significantly soared, a proper title-charge may have to wait until 2021/22. Patience was key in his first season, and it’s important to remember that Jurgen Klopp was allowed time to build at Liverpool, with whom he’s since turned into a juggernaut.
Top-four is an absolute minimum. If another season goes by without a trophy he could well be toast so targeting a domestic cup is a must - Lampard won the FA Cup four times as a player - and the Blues will be expected to venture into the latter-stages of the Champions League.
- Title: 12/1
- FA Cup: 8/1
- First Manager To Leave: 25/1
It's all set to be a fascinating season at Chelsea
Roy Hodgson (Crystal Palace)
No one in their right mind can question Roy Hodgson’s passion for the game, his intelligence or work ethic, yet Crystal Palace’s worrying post-lockdown slump has placed his future under the microscope.
An inconsistent season, which is not something you usually say about one of Hodgson’s club sides.
There was a superb early win at Man Utd, a dramatic draw at Man City and a four game winning streak which propelled the club to within six points of the top-four.
Only for Palace to then completely collapse as they scraped only one point from their final 24 available. It was a truly miserable end to what had been a promising season in which a European spot was within reach.
At their best Palace are solid and organised in a well structured set-up.
Hodgson, who boasts strong communication skills, has transformed Palace into an effective and dangerous team on the counter-attack, in which they hurt teams through the individual brilliance of Wilfried Zaha and mobility of Jordan Ayew.
The way they play means they are never going to score a truck load of goals, however in the past it’s helped them frustrate many an opposition manager.
Areas of Improvement
Their run-in aside, Palace don’t tend to concede too many goals - Hodgson prides himself on clean sheets - yet they struggle to burst the back of the opposition net, with shots on target at a premium - their inability to consistently threaten in the final third is the downside of what could be termed a cautious approach.
They remarkably failed to score more than two goals in a single one of their 38 league games last season. The arrival of exciting playmaker Eberechi Eze should add some more flair to the side.
Palace’s torrid finish to last season has seen bookmakers install the club as the fourth favourites to go down, while Hodgson tops the first manager to leave market.
An injection of youth is needed in an ageing squad and while the addition of Eze is cracking business, it may take another manager for Palace to unleash their true attacking potential.
But, underestimate Hodgson at your peril.
- Top-10: 6/1
- Relegation: 9/4
- First Manager To Leave: 9/2
Roy Hodgson is under the microscope following a poor end to last season
Carlo Ancelotti (Everton)
Many Everton fans will still be pinching themselves that they’ve got a manager of Carlo Ancelotti’s calibre orchestrating affairs from the dugout. The Italian has temporarily traded in his quest for titles and European honours for an underperforming club living well in the shadow of their Merseyside neighbours.
His task is simple: to create an exciting team that the fans can be proud of.
Ancelotti was a Christmas present no Everton fan expected after the failure of Marco Silva’s tenure. In the end the Toffees stumbled to 12th, although there were signs of progress.
In Ancelotti Everton have one of the most successful coaches of the last 20 years. He’s tactically flexible, adaptable and an astute man-manager who isn’t pinned to a distinct style or philosophy, preferring a more flexible and pragmatic approach.
Ancelotti has a charm, elegance and sophistication to him, with the title of his book ‘Quiet Leadership’ very fitting.
His ability to provide the right environment for superstars to thrive in is well known, however he’ll now need to adapt to a different to an altogether different habitat at Everton.
He’s already lifted the mood, now it’s time for the football to flow.
Areas of Improvement
Recent seasons have hurt Everton’s confidence. An injection of self-belief is needed, especially when facing the top teams in the league.
The midfield lacks both quality and purpose. The players in this pivotal area of the field just seem to make up the numbers, instead of directing proceedings. The talented forward duo of Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin deserve more creativity behind them.
With that said, the expected triple-signings of Allan, James Rodriguez and Abdoulaye Doucoure could be just what they need.
With a manager like Ancelotti at the helm, combined with the aforementioned imminent new faces coming to town, an exciting new chapter may soon be written - Everton fans have heard a similar tune before.
Top-8 will be the target but Ancelotti’s patience will be tested should his players fail to perform on a consistent basis.
- Without Big-6: 11/2
- Top-10: 8/11
- First Manager To Leave: 25/1
This is brilliant. 👏🏻— thesportsman (@TheSportsman) August 6, 2020
Dry Your Eyes Mate - Ft Scott Parkerpic.twitter.com/W1SSOiRUhA
Scott Parker (Fulham)
Scott Parker already has a few months of Premier League managerial experience to his name, but after the mess of Fulham’s 2018/19 season the young boss returns to the top-flight with renewed optimism.
Fulham were among the cluster of favourites for promotion but conjuring up an instant return to the Premier League is often harder said than done.
In his first full season Parker handled the pressure and expectation admirably, with his emotion eventually spilling out after he led his troops to play-off glory at Wembley.
Parker will be the first to admit that he’s still learning his trade as a manager. He will make mistakes but it’s a case of so far so good, with his tactical ability shining through in the play-offs.
Excitement levels may have reached fever pitch two years ago following Fulham’s colossal spending spree, but Parker’s more cautious and level-headed approach means the club head into this Premier League season in a better position.
He’s fostered a terrific team spirit, with a group of lads ready to dig deep in times of difficulty - in stark contrast to 2018/19. He also deserves credit for the work he’s done with Josh Onomah.
Areas of Improvement
Both Parker and the club will look to learn from the hard lessons of two years ago, a season which was a complete shambles. Adopting a more sensible approach to transfers is a good starting block, as is identifying players who fit his system.
Goals are always on the cards when it comes to Aleksandar Mitrovic - who is key to their chances of survival - but if Fulham are to avoid the dreaded drop then they need goals from elsewhere.
The Cottagers are likely to be on the wrong end of a hammering at some point, but it’s how they respond which will be key. Surely they won’t leak in a whopping 81 goals again…
To stay up this time, or at least make a fight of it.
- Stay Up: 4/5
- To Finish Bottom: 10/3
- First Manager To Leave: 14/1