Top 5 Managers To Give Pep A Rough Ride
Pep Guardiola isn’t likely to have it all his own way in England next season.
With a new TV deal on the horizon, it will be a busy summer on the transfer market, but with both Manchester United and Chelsea likely to have new faces at the helm, the Premier League looks set to start the 2016/17 with a whole new look. Today we scour the world of football to identify the managers we expect to be eyeing new clubs and crossing swords with Pep next season.
5. Marcelo Bielsa (Unemployed)
The elder statesman of the group, Bielsa has experience as boss of the Chiliean and Argentine national teams, as well as Athletic Bilbao and Marseille at club level.
He was the subject of significant interest from Swansea in the run up to Christmas in the wake of Garry Monk’s exit from the Liberty stadium. He is regarded as the father of the pressing game but more telling is his nickname of ‘El Loco’, the crazy one! That’s on account of a history of confrontations and bust ups, including allegations that he once held a grenade in front of angry fans at Newell’s Old Boys who presented themselves at his property.
Bielsa has yet to win a trophy at club level so there’s a want on his CV. He was last seen in England when his Bilbao side knocked Manchester United out of the Europa League 5-3 on aggregate and his aggressive style may suit some mid table clubs. Swansea’s failed attempt to get his signature might not be the last attempt to lure the fiery Argentine to England.
4. Brendan Rodgers (Unemployed)
Don’t forget Brendan. Recent stints in the studio with Keys and Gray won’t be enough to satisfy the former Liverpool manager’s craving for football. Things didn’t go his way at Anfield but many will point to suggestions that he didn’t have a full say over recruits who later flattered to deceive, as well as the elusive title he was a Steven Gerrard slip away from securing in 2014.
It all depends on where the vacancy arises, but expect Carnlough’s most famous son to return to a Premier League dugout near you sooner rather than later, probably to revive the fortunes of an ailing side or a mid-table team with sights set on European football.
3. Diego Simeone (Atletico Madrid)
Forget the rascal who provoked David Beckham in 1998, this beast on the pitch has become one of the hottest properties in the dugouts of European football.
So let’s have a look at the CV. Back in his native Argentina, a brief spell at Racing was followed by his first taste of success with Estudiantes. Four points behind Boca Juniors with two games to go, he caught them and won the play-off. Then at River Plate, he won yet another title before an embarrassing defeat in the Copa Libertadores quarter finals despite a two man advantage over his opponents.
He since adopted a more defensive strategy and eventually arrived at an Atletico Madrid side sitting just four points above the relegation zone.
Since then he’s bagged five trophies, including one Europa League crown as well as a league title at the expense of Spain’s big two.
Success has followed him and you can see why Premier League clubs are having a peek.
Chelsea seems the most likely destination, but there were rumours of Man United having a sniff around Christmas. Reports suggest his English will have to improve, but he is learning, allegedly.
2. Massimiliano Allegri (Juventus)
This man is currently overseeing a form guide that reads WWWWWWWWWWWWWW. Impressive eh? Well it doesn’t end there with the 48 year old Italian who is reportedly another mature student devoting a chunk of his free time to the classroom practising his English tenses.
Recent tabloid gossip columns have him down as the next underling to Roman Abramovich at Stamford Bridge, and it’s no surprise given his recent track record of success in Italy. In 2011, he ended run of five successive titles at Inter Milan by winning the Scudetto with their bitter city rivals AC. That year they only shipped a measly 24 goals throughout the whole campaign.
Incredibly he matched the impressive defensive statistic with Juventus last season, another 24 goals in the against column and another championship medal round his neck.
This season he’s on for a Serie A hat-trick, and although his Juve side are still two points behind high-flying Napoli, guess what – they have the best defensive record in the league yet again, with only 15 goals conceded to date.
So much talk about defence won’t exactly be music to the ears of Man United fans who are craving a focus on the opposite, but if the papers are to be believed he’ll feature right alongside Diego Simeone on Roman’s list of candidates to replace Guus Hiddink this summer.
1. Jose Mourinho (Unemployed)
Let’s end with the obvious. The Special One’s sycophantic flirting with Manchester United began as far back as his quarter final slaying of the Red Devils back in the day when Alex Ferguson was still bemoaning referees for harsh treatment of Nani and co. Rumours of a pre-Valentines love letter to the Old Trafford board have been denied, but there’s no doubt Mourinho has a fondness of the stature of the club.
Louis van Gaal on the other hand seems to think he’s bigger than the club itself. His stubborn approach and cagey tactics have been less than a hit with fans, despite his canny knack of finding three points just when it looks like he is about to receive the boot.
What’s happening across the city is sure to have shook the corridors of power in the Old Trafford boardroom, be it situated in the hallways of Old Trafford or in an office block somewhere Tampa Bay Florida. United need a response and Jose fits the bill. Don’t be surprised to see him face off against Pep in the Manchester derby next season, should he convince the hierarchy at United that he has the maturity for the role. If the red tops are to be believed, he’s done that already.