When Crystal Palace began celebrating a return to the Premier League for the first time in eight years, it signaled that slightly depressive thought – a world without soccer. Only this summer brings an air of intrigue unlike previous off-seasons, triggered by a series of managerial changes at the three leading clubs.
Former Everton stalwart David Moyes has replaced the irreplaceable, Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. During Moyes’ 11-year tenure at Goodison Park he was regularly praised for achieving results with a limited budget.
With a mega transfer kitty at a powerhouse outfit, his transfer moves will be magnified like never before. In fact, every decision the Scot makes will be dissected and debated incessantly.
Without a trophy at Everton it gives the club’s fans reason to be cautious, rather than embrace their new man immediately. Ferguson will leave behind a legacy that has little chance of being replicated, but Moyes has an opportunity to prolong it, all the while proving his credentials as a top manager.
It’s a fascinating situation for the illustrious club.
Just over 6km across town the Red Devils’ fierce neighbours and title challengers Manchester City also enter a new era.
The club’s Italian boss Roberto Mancini was given his marching orders, and if reports are true, Malaga manager Manuel Pellegrini will fill the vacant post. If it does happen, it is somewhat of a risky choice to employ a manager at such a powerful club without any experience in English football.
The club’s owner Sheikh Mansour could be drafting in the Chilean due to his success in the Champions League. The 59-year-old guided Villarreal to the last eight twice, and also took Malaga agonizingly close to the last four in this season’s competition.
If City allow the former Real Madrid boss the freedom to add more quality to the squad then he’ll have a strong chance of resurrecting their hopes in Europe, and domestically too.
Their London counterparts Chelsea look set to announce the return of Jose Mourinho, who spent almost three-and-a-half seasons at Stamford Bridge between 2004 and 2007. Affectionately known as “The Special One,” the Blues fans will be delighted to have the Portuguese tactician back in the dugout.
The 50-year-old masterminded the side’s first league triumph in 50 years in 2004-05, and repeated the dosage the next season. He won six trophies in three years for the Blues and is the club’s most successful manager. Whilst they reigned supreme on the domestic stage, capturing success in the Champions League could not be achieved.
Luis Garcia’s infamous “ghost goal” saw Chelsea bow out in the semi-finals and again two years later after some contentious referring, followed by a last-gasp stunner from Barcelona’s Andreas Iniesta that thwarted the manager’s hopes of delivering what the club so dearly craved.
For the man with a 67.03% winning ratio with the Blues, it is little surprise the club would welcome back the charismatic figure with open arms. Ever since Roman Abramovich’s takeover in June 2003, the west London team’s expectations rose astronomically.
With one of the most talented squads in world football, Mourinho will be spoilt for choice when he begins pre-season training. Although they missed out on arguably the world’s best striker Ramadel Falcao, one can still expect the club to continue splashing the cash, and in doing so give their manager the best opportunity to recapture their first title since 2009-10.
Three of the leading club’s will undergo a period of transformation this off-season – a truly unprecedented situation.
Thankfully it will alleviate some of that nostalgia we all suffer from in late May.