Due to popular demand - sort of - we are back for the 2020/21 edition of Premier League Predictions.
Once again, our team of well-respected writers pick a top-flight manager in the following three categories:
- Title Winner
- First Manager To Leave
- Surprise Package
Let’s see what they’ve had to say for themselves...
Jack Kitson (@jack_kitson): Jurgen Klopp
196 points across two seasons is simply phenomenal, so the challenge for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool will be maintaining their almost absurdly consistent standards.
They have the best defence by a country mile, which includes a playmaker, while their front-three is amongst the most feared in Europe. Perhaps more spark and goals are needed in midfield, while it would have been good to see some high-class acquisitions come in to increase competitiveness, but apart from that there’s little to find fault with.
Meanwhile, as exceptional as Pep Guardiola’s Man City can be, consistency and at times their mentality have been a thorn in the side in recent times, while they’re likely to need to go through a mini-rebuild of sorts, whereas Liverpool are at their peak.
Matt Crist (@matthewjcrist): Jurgen Klopp
To be honest, I'm amazed that Man City are regarded by many as favourites of the Premier League this season. They finished 18 points behind Liverpool last season and it could have been more had the Reds not taken their foot off the gas.
Jurgen Klopp's side had the title won by Christmas and I don't see any reason why they can't be just as dominant this time around as they look to defend the crown they waited so long for.
Ste Tudor (@SteTudor123): Pep Guardiola
For all the positivity surrounding Chelsea’s impressive summer business it is hard to look past Liverpool or Man City again for the title.
In a purely motivational sense we can expect a small drop-off from the Reds having finally secured a league crown and more substantially their lack of new recruits is worrying given the mileage put in by Salah, Mane and company.
By way of contrast, the Catalan Grandmaster will be a man on a mission and significantly he is being furnished with the funds to renovate. Should Kalidou Koulibaly and Houssem Aouar arrive the Blues will rightly begin as favourites.
Simon Lillicrap (@EmptySeats_): Pep Guardiola
Jurgen Kloop's Liverpool side may have proved they have the stronger starting XI last season but in a shorter season, with more games per week than ever, squad depth is going to play a massive part this season. Chelsea are looking strong but Pep will be more determined than ever to win back the title and the addition of Nathan Ake looks a sensible one. I'm going for City.
Charlie Zazzera (@CZazzera): Jurgen Klopp
I'm going for Mr Jurgen Norbert Klopp once again! Now Mr Messi will stay at Barcelona and despite Ferran Torres and Nathan Ake signing, I can't see Pep Guardiola galvanising Man City to challenge Liverpool who I still think won the title at a canter last season in third gear. Should they sign the world class, serial winner Thiago Alcantara, that would give them a massive boost and the extra creativity in midfield to feed the frightening front three.
Last season's title win despite being emphatic, felt very underwhelming thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. I feel Liverpool and Klopp will still have the drive to go again and regain the trophy to give some of their fans something to celebrate properly in May 2021 (hopefully.)
Callum Pragnell (@CPragnell): Pep Guardiola
I can envisage Man City and Pep Guardiola taking the Premier League by storm once again this season.
After missing out on the title to a rampant Liverpool outfit during a bizarre campaign last time out - where the Cityzens were poor by their usually exceptionally high standards - Pep & Co. will be determined to reclaim their position as the kingpins of English football.
Having added Nathan Ake to their ranks I feel as though City have added a key element of strength defensively, and if Raheem Sterling can demonstrate the kind of form he ended 2019-20 with alongside Kevin de Bruyne pulling the strings in the middle, I can't see many sides beating City this season.
Adam Scotson (@WhatAdam_said): Frank Lampard
After the fantastic transfer window that Chelsea have had, I’m going with the Blues to win the Premier League. Should Frank Lampard find his best eleven early on, and if they gel as they were assembled to do, I feel like they could go on and win it.
That being said, they need to sharpen up at the back and concede less goals. That would mean Kepa pulling his finger out and the defence, strengthened with the additions of Chilwell and Silva, working well together. It is clear that the hierarchy believe in Lampard with his licence to spend, I think history could repeat itself with the title returning to the Bridge.
Pete Marsden (@PeteMarsden97): Pep Guardiola
After a season in which some may call underwhelming, I for one am fully expecting the return of Pep Guardiola's all-star Man City to return to the top of the league. I can't see Liverpool having the motivation or drive to repeat last season's stunning successes, and I still believe that one or two key injuries can seriously derail them, with the lack of squad depth.
I feel a key factor, as strange as it may sound, is the quick turnaround of games that this season will provide, meaning Mr Guardiola won't have the chance to do his legendary overthinking going into important games, and hopefully brings the title back to the Etihad.
- Pep Guardiola: 4
- Jurgen Klopp: 3
- Frank Lampard: 1
Who will be crowned the title winner this season?
First Managerial Casualty
Jack Kitson: Scott Parker
It’s tempting to be flash and select an outsider for the chop. Frank Lampard is priced at a tasty 25/1, while his former boss Jose Mourinho at 16s. Or even opt for the early favourite Roy Hodgson, who made a mockery of my dodgy pick last season. However, it’s Scott Parker who looks decent value at 14/1.
Firstly, I’m fond of Parker and the way he juggled expectations to win promotion in his first season. He also pulled on my heartstrings with his emotional interview at Wembley. But, The Sack Race Predictions simply have no place for emotion, and neither have Fulham in the past with the club sacking both Slavisa Jokanovic and Claudio Ranieri last time they were in the Premier League. A slow start could see the hierarchy get twitchy once again, and unfortunately that could see them replace the young boss with a more experienced head - not that it worked last time.
Matt Crist: Roy Hodgson
Last season’s form usually counts for nothing but with such a short gap between campaigns, the Crystal Palace manager is already under pressure before a ball has even been kicked. The Eagles took four points after the restart and lost seven of their last eight, meaning another poor start this time around could spell the end for the former England boss with the locals already appearing to have lost patience.
Ste Tudor: David Moyes
The managerial equivalent of roughage set himself up for a fall last season, returning to a club perennially in crisis and self-aggrandising about being a winner.
With an uninspiring win percentage of 28% the dour Scot ultimately did just enough to keep the Hammers safe but doing just enough will not cut it with a pre-season and transfer window under his belt. What must be factored in too is the club’s bizarre propensity to self-harm as evidenced by their recent moving on of England Under-21 star Grady Diangan, a sale that so angered captain Mark Noble that he took to social media in protest.
It's tempting to suggest that Moyes might be given some leeway due to the club’s owners being worse than he is. Then you remember how inept boards usually tend to deflect blame at the earliest opportunity.
Simon Lillicrap: David Moyes
All clubs look in relatively safe hands heading into the season, which is strange. I think the first sacking may take a little longer than usual but will go with poor old Moyesy at West Ham. He's done a good job but their transfer decisions seem poor this term and he could pay the price.
Charlie Zazzera: David Moyes
I fancy poor Davey Moyes to be the first Premier League manager to leave their post this season because of the chaos that is subsiding in East London ahead of the new campaign. Despite promising Champions League football in the new stadium the owners have failed to deliver and have made many bad decisions to see the Hammers put in average seasons year in and year out.
Premier League teams similar to West Ham's stature have been splashing the cash but their owners are refusing to put their hand in their pockets and have recently sold exciting, young England prospect Grady Diangana to (who will be) rivals West Brom to the dismay of their fans and club captain Mark Noble who publicly slammed the decision with the support of many of the first team squad.
They recently put in a pathetic pre-season performance losing 5-3 to Bournemouth and have Arsenal, Wolves, Leicester, Tottenham, Man City, Liverpool in their first seven games. Mr Moyes will be the fall guy and I fancy him to be first to leave at 6/1.
What will the new campaign have in store for David Moyes?
Callum Pragnell: David Moyes
This is a tough one as I feel as though a number of managers could find themselves sprawled out across the chopping block in the early stages of the campaign. Football is a results-driven game and a few poor performances could signal the end for the man on the sidelines.
For me, I'm going to pluck for David Moyes at West Ham; last season the Hammers massively struggled and came within a whisper of relegation, which is unacceptable when you consider the amount of money the board have invested in new signings of late.
The east London outfit should easily be challenging for a top-half finish and potentially even pushing for a spot in the Europa League, so if they fail to start heading in that direction right away I think a change of management will be required.
Adam Scotson: Scott Parker
Personally, I feel that Scott Parker is not ready to manage in the Premier League and be successful. The likes of Lampard, who has had a fantastic first season in charge at Chelsea, had it easier with better players and backroom staff. However, Parker hasn’t had that start, and lacks experience at the top level. I can’t see Fulham getting out of the traps quickly, and will need to change for a more experienced gaffer to steer them away from relegation, at the cost of the former midfielder’s job.
Pete Marsden: Dean Smith
An unfortunate choice, as I think there could be a few contenders for this. David Moyes could struggle with the toxicity around West Ham at the minute, and looks a decent shout at 6/1, and Scott Parker could be worried with Fulham's notorious form in terms of getting rid of managers in a new Premier League season.
Towards the end of last season, it felt like there were always rumours surrounding Dean Smith, and Villa just scraping staying in the league may have saved his job. I think the romanticism of him taking his boyhood club to the top flight will have faded by now, and currently just having the signing of Matty Cash doesn't look like the club will solve all their problems of last season. I think 8/1 with BetVictor, and 10/1 with Paddy Power is a great shout.
- David Moyes: 4
- Scott Parker: 2
- Roy Hodgson: 1
- Dean Smith: 1
Today Steve Bruce will join an exclusive group of men to have managed 400 Premier League games... 🍷 pic.twitter.com/aXnUkttA9Q— The Sack Race (@thesackrace) October 6, 2019
Jack Kitson: Steve Bruce
Steve Bruce may not hold much support from his own fans and while it’s true that the football is at times lacklustre, I think he can successfully build on what proved to be a steady opening campaign, and one that many predicted would be woeful.
He’s listened to what the fans have had to say and in turn brought in a creative talent (Ryan Fraser) and a striker who actually scores (Callum Wilson). Both players will help inject some inventiveness and goals into the Toon attack, and should neatly complement the exhilarating Allan Saint-Maximin and improving Miguel Almirón. Usher it quietly but Newcastle could actually be quite exciting to watch this season, it’s the least their devoted fans deserve.
They are priced at 5/1 to finish in the top-10, while the real optimists can back the club at 66/1 to be in the top-four at Christmas!
Matt Crist: Marcelo Bielsa
Many people will be delighted to see Leeds back in the top-flight after an absence of 16 years and that's not all based on sentimentality. They've have been great to watch the past couple of seasons under Marcelo Bielsa and became the entertainers of the Championship as they strived to get back into the big time.
While I'm not predicting they will win the league for the first time since 1992 under Howard Wilkinson, I can certainly see them ruffling a few feathers.
Ste Tudor: Slaven Bilic
The Croatian is proven at this level and appears to have everything in place at the Hawthorns to mount a sustainable season away from the clutches of relegation.
The Baggies are hard to beat, possess impactful playmakers who work hard for the cause and with the addition of one or two shrewd signings they look in great shape. It matters also that Bilic has rediscovered his managerial mojo in the Midlands, thriving off the challenges his job presents.
Can West Brom be this season’s Sheffield United? That’s a tall order but don’t be surprised if an early charge for the top six sees one of the most under-rated coaches around rightfully lauded.
Simon Lillicrap: Carlo Ancelotti
Can I say Everton? Great transfer business and a top manager. Not too sure what to expect from the Toffee but top 6 is within reach. For the promoted sides, Fulham will have a much better shot at staying up this time around under Scott Parker when many may write them off.
Charlie Zazzera: Steve Bruce
Newcastle's manager Steven Bruce... now, here me out.
Bruce worked miracles last season seeing the club avoid relegation comfortably and earning big wins against Spurs, Man Utd and Chelsea. I think he can build on last season and with the business they're doing in the window, getting Matty Longstaff to sign a new deal, Jamal Lewis signing from Norwich and buying proven goalscorer Callum Wilson, they are building a decent team around the exciting and productive Allan Saint-Maximin.
Newcastle not having fans in the stadium could be an advantage, with the Geordie fans notorious for getting on the team and the managers back when it doesn't go well. Boy-hood Toon fan Steve Bruce has had a season under his belt and I really believe they can surpass what they achieved under Rafa and make the top 10 which I think would be a massive success. Who knows this could see a billionaire owner takeover at St James Park to help get Newcastle back to challenging for trophies.
Callum Pragnell: Steve Bruce
If Newcastle do as expected and complete the signings of Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser in the coming days, I think they will have a really strong side next term. The Magpies displayed some good resilience defensively last season but lacked firepower in front of goal, however with the aforementioned additions these issues should be rectified, and then some.
I expect Newcastle to be challenging for the top-eight this season, with a Europa League finish not beyond the realms of possibility.
Adam Scotson: Marcelo Bielsa
Bielsa just breathes success, discipline and the desire to win football matches. The signing of Rodrigo is a statement of intent if ever I’ve seen one, and I think that given a few more signings of this quality, Leeds could potentially push for a top half finish. It’ll be tough for the Yorkshire side, but I think they’ll have the defiance against teams higher up, and make Elland Road a fortress when fans are allowed to return.
Pete Marsden: Ralph Hassenhuttl
Southampton had an interesting season last time out, losing to Burnley, Bournemouth and West Ham at home, as well as that abysmal 9-0 loss to Leicester.
However, they had a strong end to the season, losing just once in their last nine league games, and coming out with victories over ManCity and Sheffield United, and drawing with Manchester United.
With players such as Danny Ings, and backed up with the likes of Nathan Redmond, Stuart Armstrong and Moussa Djenepo, I feel with their counter pressing style of football - along with the signings of Kyle Walker Peters and Mohammed Salisu - the Saints could be one of the surprising clubs pushing the top eight this season.
- Steve Bruce: 3
- Marcelo Bielsa: 2
- Slaven Bilic: 1
- Carlo Ancelotti: 1
- Ralph Hasenhuttl: 1