Thursday 14 December 2017

Battle of bosses is stealing the show

Weird Wide World of Sport

Dave Devereux

Jurgen Klopp on the sideline during Liverpool’s win over Swansea City
Jurgen Klopp on the sideline during Liverpool’s win over Swansea City

Never before has there been a season across the water where managers are more talked about than the pampered players.

Whether it's the immense stupidity of Sam Allardyce, who hadn't even enough time to dent the England hot seat with his arse, or the longevity of Arsene Wenger, who one minute is flavour of the month and the next is as past his sell by date as a mouldy wedge of brie, the gaffers are certainly stealing all the headlines.

Jurgen Klopp has the best part of a couple of decades to go before matching Wenger's incredible spell in the job, but he will be a year at the helm at Anfield on Saturday and he's certainly been one of the more praiseworthy managers in the Premier League this season.

Last weekend's game, when they overturned a 1-0 deficit to edge out Swansea 2-1, was the sort of match Liverpool supporters have become well accustomed to seeing their side losing in recent seasons, but Klopp has added a real steely determination to his team.

Whisper it quietly, but this just might be their year.

They're certainly in a much better place than arch-rivals Manchester United, who are more hit and miss than sugared-up, blindfolded kids trying to whack a pinata at a five-year-old's birthday party.

Jose Mourinho has definitely lost that air of invincibility that he once had and his mind games have become more pathetic than cunning, and at the moment you'd almost feel sorry for him (I said almost).

Apart from Klopp, Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino would be the other manager that has really impressed with his tactics and approach so far this term.

Admittedly, you could argue that Spurs missed out on the best opportunity to win the Premier League that they could have possibly asked for last season, but Pochettino seems to have learned the lessons and has them primed for another title tilt this time around.

Spurs are improving with every game, and Man City had no answer to their lightning pace and tempo on Sunday, as they firmly laid down a marker for the rest of the season.

Pep Guardiola is undoubtedly a talented manager and his instant impact was there for all to see as Manchester City simply sauntered through their opening games of the season.

However, after being held to a draw by a limited Celtic side and being dismantled by a fired-up Spurs, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich supremo faces the first real test of his managerial career.

With the galaxy of stars at his disposal at Barcelona, even I could have coaxed a few trophies out of them by manically waving my hands like a crazed conductor on the sideline.

As for his stint at Bayern Munich, winning the league was pretty much a foregone conclusion so the fact that he didn't lead them to Champions League success could be seen as somewhat of a failure.

How he copes with his first mini blip as Man City boss will certainly tell a lot. Everything went pear-shaped for Pep's predecessor Manuel Pellegrini last season with the enforced absence of Kevin de Bruyne through injury and his loss was also evident on Sunday, so the Spaniard will have to make moves to curb the over-reliance on one player.

However, Guardiola has shown his ability to learn quickly in the past, although he will definitely need another transfer window or two to stamp his true identity on the team.

Ronald Koeman is another that has made a gargantuan impact in the English game, and having worked wonders with unfashionable Southampton he now has Everton mixing it with the big boys in the upper echelons of the league.

Of course you can't forget Claudio Ranieri. Leicester City may be struggling slightly in the league, but it was always going to be impossible to replicate the heroics of last season.

However, they have made a decent transition to Champions League football and may still have the element of surprise when it comes to European competition.

As long as the players can match the deep thinkers, astute tacticians, massive egos and heart-pounding passion in the dugout we're in for a thrilling ride for the rest of the season.

Wexford People

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