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Can big name bosses make the Premier League great once again?

Image courtesy of Francisco Javier Fernandez via Flickr

Image courtesy of Francisco Javier Fernandez via Flickr

The phrase gets thrown around all the time; the Premier League is the best league in the world. There was certainly a time when this was undeniable – between 2004/05 and 2011/12, eight English sides reached the Champions League final in an eight year period. Premier League sides dominated Europe and attracted all the world’s best players. But with no appearances in the Champions League final since Chelsea’s unlikely victory in 2012, that dominance has long gone. Instead it is La Liga which has had the most success, with Spanish sides winning both European competitions for the third consecutive year this May. On top of this, the two greatest footballers on the planet, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, play for Spain’s top two sides in Barcelona and Real Madrid.

This summer, however, has seen three managerial appointments that could see the resurgence of the Premier League to the force that it once was. The three most successful English sides in recent years – Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea – all had disappointing seasons by their very high standards. City finished fourth, and while just about qualifying for the Champions League, they probably had the best squad in the league last season and should have challenged for the title. United finished fifth and in doing so missed out on a Champions League spot for the second time in three seasons, something that would have been unthinkable during the Fergie era. Chelsea were the worst of the lot, and finished 10th after their worst season for well over a decade.

The London club were quick to make their managerial announcement back in April, and they opted for the former Italy and Juventus boss Antonio Conte. During his three years at Juventus Conte’s side won Serie A each season, the first of which an unprecedented unbeaten season. Conte then took up the role of manager of the Italian national side and led them to Euro 2016 where they performed well and were unlucky to be knocked out by Germany on penalties in the quarter-final. Conte’s sides are often built on defensive stability, and if Chelsea can sure up at the back then they certainly have the firepower up front to do well, especially after the signing of Michy Batshuayi. Their other big money signing of the summer, N’Golo Kante, should give Conte the stability he’ll be looking for.

After weeks of speculation in the media, Jose Mourinho was finally announced Manchester United’s new manager at the end of May. Despite the Portuguese’s disastrous start to last season with Chelsea which saw him lose his job, he is still thought of as one of the best coaches on the planet. Mourinho has won everything there is to win in Europe, and after a poor three years under David Moyes and then Louis van Gaal, he may be exactly what United need to become a European powerhouse once more. The new boss has already made some marquee signings, specifically Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and will also be hoping to complete the signing of Paul Pogba from Juventus for a world record fee.

Perhaps the most exciting managerial appointment of all, however, comes from the blue half of Manchester. Pep Guardiola has had an extremely successful eight years at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, and has now decided to try his luck in the Premier League. His Barcelona side dominated both Spain and Europe with their tiki-taka style of play, and while he couldn’t win the coveted Champions League trophy while at Bayern, domestically he won the lot. Manchester City already have a squad of vast quality and Guardiola could be the man to get the best out of them. Another thing City are not short of is money, and Pep will be hoping he can coax some of his old players to the Premier League to join the already impressive signings of Nolito and Ilkay Gundogan.

These three clubs are not the only ones with great coaches at the helm. Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp has character and quality in abundance and despite an average performance in the Premier League, did manage to lead Liverpool to the Europa League final. Slaven Bilic mightily impressed in his first year at West Ham, and with a new stadium and money to spend on players they are bound to go from strength to strength. Mauricio Pochettino is quickly becoming one of the best young coaches in the world with his young Tottenham side, and Claudio Ranieri’s achievement at Leicester City last season speaks for itself. All these men will be hoping to make the Premier League the best league in the world once again.

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