2016 has marked the year for change among Premier League managers. Six of the seven viable candidates to win the league next season all have (or will have) managers who have been there for less than a year.
I am taking this opportunity to assess each new hiring and establish who is currently in poll position to win the Barclays Premier League next season.
It only seems right that we first take a look at the new champions, who have the tinkerman Claudio Ranieri at the helm. Although, despite this nickname, Leicester City actually used less players than any other club last season and it could be argued that having a consistent team out every week played a huge role in their stunning season.
Ranieri has had an exceptional year and his biggest difficulty will be holding onto the stars that he has moulded. Jamie Vardy and Wes Morgan seem likely to stay but the biggest worry for the humble manager will be holding onto the likes of Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante, both of which have attracted huge attention.
Overall, I cannot see them pulling off another miracle, however, I do think that they will have another great season. It is too early to have an accurate guess of where they will finish but if you had to ask me right now I would guess 7th.
The arrival of Pep Guardiola may have been a burden on Manchester City’s season and in the end they were actually quite lucky to finish with a Champions League spot. However, under Pep’s calm and collected nature, I could see Manchester City soaring to the top next year.
Guardiola will have to make a lot of changes to an aging side if he wants to have any hope of winning the league next year, so the real question will be whether they can gel fast enough to have any real success.
City should be a force to be reckoned with if they sacrifice the deadwood and hold onto their solid leaders. For me, they’re the team to beat next season and it’s going to take a lot of doing to knock them off the top of the perch.
Jose Mourinho seems to have left Chelsea in a bit of a state. Their leaders have not played like leaders this season and Antonio Conte is going to have to bring out the best of the youth talent coming through if he wants to win the league next year.
Not only that but they need to replace the leaders and star players that they seem to have lost in John Terry and Eden Hazard. They have had a few shining lights this season such as Willian and Thibaut Courtois but for the most part, this Chelsea side look wounded.
Antonio Conte has not had a great deal of experience in club football and I think it’s going to take him at least a season to adapt after a long stint as Italy boss. Chelsea won’t come in the top four and out of this seven I think they will finish 6th.
Mauricio Pochettino has done a fantastic job at Spurs and he has done it the right way. He did not go out and spend hundreds of millions on players that he did not need, instead he has moulded his squad into one of the best young sides in Europe.
Eric Dier and Dele Alli’s emergence is almost solely down to Poch’s incredible man management skills. He seems to have solidified the previously vulnerable full-back positions that are held by more England stars in Danny Rose and Kyle Walker. Plus, Harry Kane winning the golden boot shows just how good Spurs have been in front of goal. The centre back partnership of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld also deserve their plaudits.
I think Spurs will hold onto all of their key men and if they can find a little bit of extra fire power and maybe one more game-changer, they’ll be on for another very good season. I think they will be in another title race next season but will bottle it at the end just like they did this year and end up finishing 3rd.
The only club listed in this seven that has not gone out and tinkered with their manager in the past year is Arsenal. Despite some fans calling for change, I think Arsene Wenger deserves one last season to prove that he can still go with the best of them. A second place finish and no trophy was not a good season for the gunners in a year when the league was theirs for the taking.
It seems as though Arsenal will be looking to build this summer and they have already binned some of their aging players in Mathieu Flamini, Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta. Providing they bring in the right talent, they will be a force to be reckoned with next year. A new centre back and a world class striker is what Wenger needs if he wants to make a go of this league campaign. Further, they’ll need to hold onto Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in order to have the depth to compete in Europe.
Arsenal just feel like they will inevitably bottle it every year and I think 2016/2017 will be no different. They will take an early lead but ultimately end up finishing 2nd, it feels like destiny.
I feel like these northern juggernauts may rue the day they hired Jose Mourinho – if they do indeed hire him in the days to come. Short term success is always a possibility with the special one but Manchester United has always been a club that relies on its youth – Mourinho does not trust young players.
Mourinho is likely to overhaul the majority of the squad and be given a cheque book to go and spend as much as he wants in the summer. However, I think this will actually lead to his downfall. Marcus Rashford has been just one of the young starlets that Louis Van Gaal produced but I worry he will fade into nothing with Jose at the helm. It is likely he will be farmed off along with the rest of the young talent before they are given a chance at Manchester United.
This hiring can go one of two ways and I may look like an idiot for doubting Mourinho but I don’t think he’s going to have as much success as he has in the past. I see Manchester United and Liverpool both vying for the final top four spot and I think Manchester United will just miss out, leaving them in 5th.
This leads me to Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp was a breath of fresh air for the Merseyside club who had begun to grow stagnant under Brendan Rodgers. A European cup final is a pretty big deal, but Liverpool have missed out on Europe this season – something that actually could end up benefitting them in the long run.
No European football to distract them means that the league can be Liverpool’s focus. Klopp will attract some bigger names to one of the world’s biggest clubs and he’s also already began to get the best out of his current stars such as Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge. A new defender is essential if Liverpool want to push for the title next year.
I think Liverpool could have a go at joining the title race but ultimately I see them finishing in 4th, just ahead of bitter rivals Manchester United.
It feels almost impossible to call right now, so take these predictions with a pinch of salt. The league is certain to be an exciting one next year, who do you think will end up victorious?
Comment below or tweet me @DanTempz on your thoughts!