When it ended in May, Sir Alex Ferguson was taking charge of his last Manchester United game. Who would have thought that day will come? Roberto Mancini was probably plotting how to overthrow their fierce rivals again. Arsene Wenger was thankful for Laurent Koscielny’s priceless winner against Newcastle, which secured fourth spot over their North London rivals again, while somewhere across London, Roman Abramovich drew up a list of managers to replace Rafa Benitez.
And the managerial merry go-round this summer has been unprecedented. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, PSG, Inter Milan, etc are some of the big clubs that will begin the new campaign with a new man in charge. The trend has not changed in England. Manuel Pellegrini has replaced Mancini, David Moyes is United’s new coach and Jose Mourinho is back at Stamford Bridge. Infact, not only is Wenger the longest serving manager in the league, Pardew, who comes closest to him, has only been in charge for three years.
That would make Arsenal the most stable club in the EPL and strong favourites to win it right? Apparently not. After Ivan Gazidis’ big speech about how much they now had in the bank and were willing to splash on marquee signings, only Auxerre’s Yaya Sanogo has arrived at the Emirates. On the flip side, about 27 players have left the club, leaving the squad threadbare for the visit of Aston Villa this weekend. One has to think that if the Frenchman does not add to his squad by September 2, it will be another season of mediocrity for the Gunners.
Manchester City do not have problems opening the cheque books. Pellegrini is eager to make a solid impression in his first season and has brought in Jesus Navas, Stevan Jovetic, Alvaro Negredo and Fernadinho. On paper, they are joint favourites with Chelsea to win the league. There is no way anyone can play down Mourinho’s return to the Bridge. It might not be a smooth sailing ride for the maverick Portuguese this time around, but he knows the Blues like the back of his palms and knows how to instill the right mentality into his players.
It will be a difficult season for United. David has evidently struggled with this Goliath, judging from pre-season performance and his first five fixtures are straight from hell. As if that was not enough, he is having to deal with a disgruntled player in Wayne Rooney and bringing his big names. Strootman, Fabregas and Thiago have also snubbed a move to Old Trafford. You can’t help but wonder if Ferguson would have waved his magic wand. But then again, Eden Hazard and Lucas Moura spurned the chance to work with the Scot.
Although Spurs have spent on several new additions, Bale leaving might push them back to square one. It’s same scenario with Liverpool and Suarez, who is clearly not keen on the Anfield’s club failure to play in the Champions League. However, expect these teams along with Everton to compete close to the top.
The stage is set. By 12.45pm today, when Liverpool face Stoke City, we have officially jumped into the Bermuda Triangle, but what do we care?
The Premier League is back!