Even though two European leagues have commenced, the appetite of most football fans is still left intact as they eagerly await August 17. There’s no price for guessing right, it marks the commencement of the most watched league in the world, which some refer to as mankind’s greatest obsession – the English Premier League.
This season’s wait is aided by the return of the spotlight monger, “the special one”, Jose Felix Mourinho to Chelsea after six years. It must be said that this move suits all parties – the coach, the owner, the players, the fans and even the media. For the opponents, it only leaves them with worries as they are now up against a manger who managed a 67% win percentage (124 win of 185 games) in his first stint. Still in London, this time the North, the world would expect Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger to finally break the deadlock of eight trophyless seasons as the current longest serving manager in the English top flight (17 years). In the red side of Manchester, it would be fascinating to see how former Preston and Everton manager, David Moyes, settles in and maybe fill his compatriot’s peerless shoes in the dug out of Manchester United.
With these teasers, I could not help but do an expose on favourite teams in terms of their strength, weaknesses and consequently, give my advice. In no particular order:
Manchester United, coached by David Moyes
Strength: Matchless winning mentality, excellent character and concentration, fear factor and defending champion’s status.
Weaknesses: seemingly weak midfield, an uninspiring bench, lack of European experience for Coach David Moyes, and a perpetual average/ poor start to the season which may prove costly.
Advice: Keep Wayne Rooney, acquire a good midfielder as well as left back in the shape of Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines, and of course, start well.
Chelsea, coached by Jose Felix Mourinho
Strength: Charismatic and go-getter manager as well as a decent squad in terms of quality and quantity, hungry for success.
Weaknesses: lack in-form strikers, a technically new terrain and challenge for the coach (Manchester city are the new transfer bully, and he could not do a team clear out as he did in 2004), a huge task of surmounting a psychological wall of ending the last three league campaign with a cumulative 48 points behind the eventual winners, finishing 2nd, 6th and 3rd in the process. The inability to manage media pressure in difficult times which sometimes forces the board’s (only Abrahamovic) hand in sacking managers.
Advice: Mourinho needs to keep a low profile at least for a start and defend his players in difficult times. His master piece in managing high profile players’ ego as he did at Inter Milan is equally much needed.
Manchester City coached by Manuel Pellegrini
Strength: Apparently, this is the best squad in the league with players who are at their peak and as such, have a lot to prove. The Chilean is the first manager to take two debutants to the UEFA Champions League (UCL) semi- final and quarter finals (Villarreal in 2005/2006 and Malaga in 20012/2013 season respectively).
Weaknesses: Coincidentally, Manuel Pellegrini’s heroics in the UCL was not without consequences which makes some see it as a pyrrhic victory because Villarreal and Malaga ended the league season in 7th and 6th position in those seasons. In City’s recent title challenge, they sometimes lack concentration and fail to pay attention to little details which makes smaller teams shock them. Of importance is the new manager and new players-syndrome which might be a hindrance. Also, the habit of producing at least one heady player each season (as seen with Kolo Toure, Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli, and Vincent Kompany) must be arrested.
Advice: Manuel Pellegrini must stamp his feet and at the same time, keep the large squad happy. Good start is key and they must be mindful of the press. Also, he must balance European and league ambition.
Arsenal coached by Arsene Wenger
Strength: For the first time in a while, they have survived hand picking of their better players by other clubs. Also, Wenger is the current longest serving manager in the league. They have managerial balance and stability.
Weaknesses: For all the talk of the gunners not having quality players, I believe they have more pressing problems. They have bad mental strength leading to complacency and accommodation of mediocrity. Also, they lack concentration and ability to manage bad form. All these cumulate to inconsistency and lack of fear factor to smaller teams.
Advice: Wenger needs to adjust his approach by enforcing mental discipline in the squad.
Tottenham Hotspurs coached by Andres Villas Boas
Strength: They had their best ever finish in terms of points accumulated (71 points) without consistent strikers last season. With Roberto Soldado in the mix, they can only aim higher. With Paulinho in the midfield, it looks like there’s no stopping them.
Weaknesses: They lack grit, perseverance, consistency and ability to win “dirty”.
Advice: Keep Gareth Bale and be mindful of the month of April (where they have they highest number of losses among clubs in English Premier League history with about 35 losses)
Liverpool coached by Brendan Rogers
Strength: Good pre-season form and a good collection of decent young attackers. They are somewhat unpredictable.
Weaknesses: They now seem to be used to settling for less (having finished outside the top four for four seasons running), no fear factor, young and inexperienced players.
Advice: Keep Luis Suarez. Also, aim for the league title from the onset and hopefully, fall in the top five or even four.
Note: The above analysis was done as at August 16, 2013 and is subject to changes according to further transaction made by clubs in the remaining 16 days of the summer transfer window as well as that of winter.
Written by Larry Eghosa