A wind of change has blown through the Premier League managers offices in the North West of England recently. In fact, it’s been more a hurricane than a gentle breeze, with more changes than a Lady Gaga concert.
The M62 corridor was shocked to the core with the surprising retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. However surprising the announcement was, it had to come sometime of course. He is going to turn 72 in December, an OAP in ‘normal’ life, so he wasn’t going to continue forever despite the hopes and dreams of United fans.
Old Trafford will be a strange place without him. He was at the helm for 26 years and some younger supporters had only known him and the sustained success he eventually brought to the club.
Inevitably his selected staff around him has started to leave the club, ending the clubs spell of stability. Ferguson’s right hand man Mike Phelan, along with goalkeeping coach Eric Steele were the first to depart.
Then highly rated first team coach Rene Meulensteen decided to jump ship with fears that he would have been demoted back to his former role as head of youth when the incoming David Moyes brings his own men with him.
Italian departs City
Across the city, the ‘noisy’ neighbours in blue decided to give the boot to their manager by saying arrivederci to Roberto Mancini. A relative disappointing campaign, especially in the Champions League, saw the Italian depart even before the season had ended.
Rumours of dressing room unrest throughout his last campaign hastened his departure, with the deafening silence from the dressing room since spelling a thousand words.
Unlike United, City can hardly be classed as a stable unit. Since Ferguson’s appointment at their bitter rivals City have had (including caretakers) an astonishing 19 managers.
Mancini delivered the clubs first major trophy since 1976 with the FA Cup and followed that up with their first league title since 1968. But that never saved him from the ruthless chop that angered some of the clubs supporters.
Toffees manager gets sticky feet
The merry-go-round continued with the news that David Moyes announced that he was leaving Everton and travelling along the East Lancashire Road to succeed Ferguson at Old Trafford.
Moyes was at the Goodison helm for 11 years, flirting with relegation in his early years and then building an impressive side in the top half of the Premier League.
Moyes’ biggest regret will be not giving the Blues a trophy during his tenure. They lost the 2009 FA Cup Final to Chelsea despite leading in the first minute with a Louis Saha strike and then lost in the 2012 FA Cup semi-final at Wembley to arch rivals Liverpool.
Moyes will obviously take his own back room staff with him to Old Trafford with the likes of Steve Round, Chris Woods and possibly Phil Neville all relocating with the Scot.
Spaniard departs cup winners
Next on the move was Roberto Martinez with the announcement that he was to leave Wigan Athletic, much to Dave Whelan’s disappointment.
Martinez had successfully guided the Latics clear from relegation during his time at the DW and he led them to their first ever major trophy when they beat disappointing Man City at Wembley Stadium. However, just days later Wigan finally failed to dodge the drop when their relegation to The Championship was confirmed with a defeat at Arsenal.
Whelan held a number of talks with Martinez and tried to persuade him that his future was in Wigan but the young Spaniard decided his future was to elsewhere.
Martinez had been previously linked to both Aston Villa and Liverpool in the two summers gone but had remained faithful to Whelan when turning down their overtures.
In the end it was probably a few factors that made his mind up. The Championship is not an easy division to get out of, so bouncing back at the first attempt is never guaranteed. If Martinez hadn’t got Wigan back in the Premier League, his stock may well have dropped and a ‘bigger’ job may have passed him by. Also, the vultures will probably be hovering over the DW Stadium to try and tempt their better players away, leading to a further weakening of the squad.
What does the future hold?
Over at Old Trafford a few eyebrows were raised by the supporters with the decision to bring in David Moyes from Everton. Moyes, though highly rated, had brought the sum total of no trophies to Goodison Park during his reign on Merseyside. So his CV is relatively average when compared with the candidates who would have jumped at the chance to succeed Ferguson.
United have chosen someone who is very much in the same vain as Ferguson. He’s Scottish of course but he’ll bring a further period of stability after the initial furore disappears. Like Ferguson, Moyes is his own man and will not be dictated to by internal or external forces. Finally, despite a lack of silverware, Moyes has that will to win attitude that he had as a player at Celtic.
The obvious risks are that he is inexperienced in Europe and has never dealt with the high profile players that United demand to pull on the shirt. The biggest hurdle Moyes will have to deal with is the weight of expectation. He’s going to a club that have seen a period of unrivaled success and if that dries up, the demanding supporters will start to turn against the fiery Scot.
The wind turns Chile
Despite reports saying nothing is official, Manuel Pellegrini will become the next Manchester City manager in the coming weeks. The Chilean will leave sunny Malaga for the not so sunny Manchester and become City’s 20th manager since 1986.
Like Moyes, Pellegrini (outside of South America) has never won anything as manager. This includes a season at Spanish giants Real Madrid, finishing second behind a brilliant Barcelona side. However, he did wonders at little Villarreal getting them to the Champions League semi-final before narrowly getting beat by Arsenal.
At troubled Malaga, and initially with money to spend, took them into a top four finish in La Liga before being defeated at the death in Dortmund. Borussia scored two injury time goals to knock Malaga out of the Champions League at the quarter final stage.
At the Spanish clubs he has managed, he’s employed a mixture of South American flair with a European twist. He asks the full backs to hold their positions, plays two plays in a midfield role, with one being the playmaker (David Silva maybe) and demands flexibility in his system. He will be hoping the likes of Isco and a top centre forward will join him at The Etihad.
Kenwright’s got the blues
Over at Goodison Park, Bill Kenwright has got a huge decision on his hands, with who will replace Moyes in the hot seat. Kenwright got it right to a certain extent when he made the decision to employ the then inexperienced Scot but this choice is arguably much bigger.
The bookmakers favourite since leaving Wigan has been Roberto Martinez. Yes, Martinez will bring a brand of football that differs from Moyes but despite that FA Cup success he actually made Wigan statistically worse points wise.
One thing Martinez has over Moyes at the same stage is that Martinez has more Premier League experience. Like at Wigan, Martinez will be tied to some tight financial restraints with very little money to spend unless players leave for big money.
Fascinating Premier League
It will be a fascinating start to the next Premier League season and I for one can’t wait to see which of the clubs adapt best to the changes.
The problem with football at the top level these days is that the managers rarely get time to build like Ferguson did at United. It may be in the long term that whichever owners hold their nerve the longest, they may be the club to reap the rewards.
Results on the pitch and financial results off the pitch will dictate how long each club stands by their man. The likes of Liverpool and their long serving (sarcastic) boss Brendan Rodgers will see this coming season has an opportunity to gain further ground.
Elsewhere, Arsene Wenger will be hoping the purse strings are opened with Champions League football clinched (depending on qualification). Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, another ‘newcomer’, will be building on Rafa Benitez’s success at Stamford Bridge. Down the Lane, AVB will be praying Gareth Bale stays and he can build on a promising first season.
Roll on the middle of August I say, I’m missing it all ready.