The Early Season Roller Coaster Ride for Premier League Managers Continues
The Barclay’s Premier League season kicked off on Saturday August 17, 2013. Each club has now played six matches and one manager has been fired (Sunderland’s Paolo Di Canio). Even after just six matches, some Premier League managers have been riding one hell of a roller coaster ride. And you can bet there will be plenty more ups and downs over the course of the next thirty-two matches.
It didn’t take long for one group of supporters to start screaming for the head of their manager. Shortly after their opening day loss at home to Aston Villa, an irate Arsenal supporter was seen voicing his opinion on the Internet and that rant immediately went viral. “Either the board or Wenger must go” pronounced the emotional and visibly agitated Arsenal fan.
There were calls from the media and on soccer talk shows demanding for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s head. Wenger is a man who, over the course of his career, has won the Premier League (three times), the FA Cup (four times), and guided his club to fifteen straight Champions League qualifications.
Fast forward to today and Arsenal Football Club have won ten straight matches in all competitions while sitting on top of the Premier League as well as their Champions League group.
Maybe the supporters lit a fire under their manager by voicing their displeasure so early in the season? Maybe Arsene Wenger knew to keep doing what he believed in because he has a proven track record? Maybe he just knew the results would come? Maybe Wenger is aware that the Premier League season is a marathon, not a sprint.
After demolishing Newcastle at the Etihad by four goals, Manchester City traveled to Cardiff City and lost one of the more entertaining matches of the early season, 3-2. Although many football experts have stated that Cardiff’s home ground will be a tough place for any Premier League club to take maximum points, very few people expected Manchester City to leave Wales without a single point.
Manchester City is one of the stronger preseason contenders for the Premier League title. They were universally applauded for hiring one of the most respected and qualified managers in Europe, Manuel Pellegrini. “The Professor” has won two titles at separate clubs in Argentina (San Lorenzo and River Plate) and has guided three Spanish clubs deep into the Champions League (Real Madrid, Villarreal, Málaga).
City have also added more talent to their squad with the signings of Álvaro Negredo, Jesús Navas, Fernandinho, Stevan Jovetic, and Martín Demichelis.
After the loss to Cardiff, a section of Manchester City supporters began to lose faith in their new manager. They felt City was not a club that should have lost to newly promoted team. The warning bells were sounded. Media and City supporters were now wondering if Pellegrini would be able to adapt to the English game quick enough for Manchester City to win the league this year.
Heading into this weekend, Manchester City are in seventh place in the league, five points behind league leading Arsenal and two points off of the final Champions League spot. Although City have also yet to win a road match in the league (a draw at Stoke City, with losses to Cardiff City and Aston Villa), they did turn in the performance of the early season with their home demolition of Manchester United, 4-1.
Should City fans be worried about their club? Can Pellegrini adjust to the physical, well-balanced Premier League schedule and lift the trophy in May? How will his team react to their Champions League defeat at home to Bayern München on Wednesday? Will Pellegrini ever get his tactics correct?
Tighten your grip on the roller coaster’s guard rails, City fans.
With the exception of Di Canio’s continuous downward plunge at Sunderland, this was a week where Premier League managers got a chance to breathe. For some managers the roller coaster had either reached the top of its climb or had rushed to the bottom and was now cruising at a comfortable pace. Time for managers to gather themselves.
Jose Mourinho’s triumphant return to Chelsea Football Club was now showing signs of being a failure. “The Happy One” was starting to face questions regarding his benching of Juan Mata and for Chelsea’s early results.
Questions were now being raised by fans and media because during the second week of the season Chelsea had fielded a weak squad and looked to be playing for a draw on the road at Manchester United. They followed that up by barely escaping a home match against Aston Villa, 2-1. That match was marred by controversy because many felt that Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic should have been sent off for an elbow prior to what ended up being his match-winning goal. Aston Villa was also denied a late penalty while replays showed Chelsea defender John Terry possibly handling a ball in front of his own goal.
Now (during Week Four), Chelsea had lost on the road to Everton, 1-0. Mourinho’s team selection was in constant question and his team’s ability to score goals was another concern.
The cry from supporters was: “Chelsea should be playing Mata.” “Chelsea needs another striker.” “Mourinho plays too defensively.” “He should be called ‘The Boring One’.”
After six matches, Chelsea currently have 11 points. They are four points behind Arsenal and one behind a Champions League spot. More recently they put in a strong effort at Tottenham, while winning a Champions League match and League Cup ties by convincing score lines.
Mourinho has still been facing criticism from the press. This week the constant questioning apparently reached a boiling point for Mourinho as he walked out of his pre-match press conference prior to Chelsea’s Champions League match versus Steaua Bucharest.
Perhaps the media and Chelsea supporters should have more faith in a manager whose CV boasts two European titles.
This was the week Paolo Di Canio was kicked off the roller coaster and removed from the carnival grounds. Every reader should know the details of his demise. You will be spared a rehashing of that story.
“Come on David Moyes! Play like Fergie’s Boys! We’ll go wild, wild, wild! We’ll go wild, wild, wild!” are the words to the latest song by Manchester United supporters. It rings throughout the stands at Old Trafford.
United started off their season with a convincing road win at Swansea City, 4-1. A later 0-0 home draw with Chelsea was more to do with Mourinho’s squad selection, although many considered that United actually played well against the defense-minded club from London. The Red Devils followed that match with an uninspiring home win against Crystal Palace, 2-0.
United were then thrashed on the road by Manchester City. The score line was not indicative of the beating the Red Devils were given by their rivals. United fans were upset. But more people around football had just come to the conclusion that City were the better club that day. There was little United or David Moyes could have done about it.
Then the roller coaster took a huge dive.
After the week six home loss to West Bromwich Albion, a new song being sung by some United supporters is “Moyes Out!’.
The loss at Old Trafford has some supporters worried and media experts starting to backtrack on earlier statements. Before the loss to WBA, it was inconceivable for United to finish outside of the Top Four. Now questions were being raised and people weren’t so fast to back the club or manager. But the focus has really heated up on David Moyes.
“Did United hire the right guy?” “He doesn’t have what it takes to manage a club the size of Manchester United.” “His tactics are predictable.”
David Moyes doesn’t have the résumé to match some of the other managers listed in this article. But he does have the backing of the greatest manager in the history of Premier League football, Sir Alex Ferguson.
It is safe to say “The Chosen One” isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.
United are currently in 12th place in the Premier League. They are five points off of Champions League qualification and eight points behind Arsenal.
They have already played three strong teams (Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester City) during the first six matches of the season. Chelsea and Tottenham are the only other clubs who have played two teams in the Top Four.
Chelsea have played United and Tottenham, while Tottenham have played Arsenal and Chelsea. That means there will still be points dropped amongst the top teams over the course of the next 32 matches.
So at the start of week seven in the Premier League schedule, Newcastle United is in 16th place in the league…and they are eight points behind Arsenal.
Two years ago, Manchester United were eight points clear of Manchester City with six matches remaining. But City found a way to win the league on the final match of the season.
It’s still early. But which manager will be next to feel the effects of the Premier League roller coaster? Will it be Brendan Rodgers? Alan Pardew? Roberto Martinez? Martin Jol? Ian Holloway?
Week Seven of the Premier League awaits.