Manager Battle Royale 2016/17

By: Veselin Trajkovic

Veselin Trajkovic


The upcoming season in the Barclay’s Premier League is a very hot topic within the world of football, and one of the main reasons for that is the abundance of star managers it will be boasting. With Pep Guardiola taking over at Manchester City, Jose Mourinho returning to work with Manchester United, Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham and Claudio Ranieri at Leicester needing to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke, Arsene Wenger trying to show the world he’s still got what it takes, Antonio Conte attempting to return Chelsea to the top, and of course, Jurgen Klopp continuing the rebuilding of Liverpool, the attention is no surprise at all. Slaven Bilić at West Ham with their new stadium and Ronald Koeman making the switch from Southampton to Everton also need to be taken into consideration.

They will be competing against each other with similar ambitions and the same drives, but starting from different points in terms of the need for change within their respective teams. So, what is it that each of them will need to do in order to outdo the others? What have they done so far? And most importantly, what are the expectations that are put before them and who will succeed in fulfilling them? Those questions are burning the minds of every fan of English football and football experts around the world alike. We all have our views, but fortunately (or not, whichever way you see it), the last of the questions above is impossible to answer at this moment.

Guardiola is a manager that has won everything at two of the biggest clubs in Europe. At Barcelona, he inherited a strong squad, full of world-class players and heavy with top youthful talent. He chose to go with the pacey youngsters in a setup that provided quick and creative attacking football, and with a little bit of luck he reached the top. At Bayern, he succeeded a team perfectly set up by Jupp Heynckess, that had just won the treble. He added the likes of Mario Goetze and Robert Lewandowski on top, thus effectively weakening the only team that provided any serious competition in the Bundesliga – Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund. At Manchester City however, the situation is quite different. The team is in shambles, with two players that had provided most of the flair David Silva and Yaya Toure well past their prime. Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany, their star striker and defender, are heavily damaged by injuries. His new star signing in midfield, Ilkay Gundogan took his first tour of the training ground on crutches. Kevin De Bruyne seems like the only player that can do anything significant when it matters. So, for the first time in his managerial career, Pep will have to build a team. With he himself being new to English football and its uniqueness, we’ll see how it goes.

On the other hand, his old enemy is an old dog when it comes to the Premier League, having won it several times already with Chelsea. Manchester United are in a slightly better situation than their city rivals it seems, and Jose is doing his business in the market. The signing of Zlatan Ibrahimović makes perfect sense for him. What they needed was a short-term top quality striker whose goals will help bridge the gap ‘til Marcus Rashford is ready to lead the line for them. And Zlatan seems to be exactly that. With the likes of Anthony Martial, Memphis Depay, Wayne Rooney, and the other star signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan playing around him, they will have a very formidable front line. The possibility of Paul Pogba also heading to Old Trafford is also worrying for us, because he would add the much needed quality and steel to their midfield. A top goalkeeper they already have, while Luke Shaw has come back from injury eager to perform. If they sign a quality central defender to partner Chris Smalling, Jose will have a very strong team indeed.

Despite the relatively poor season Chelsea had, Antonio Conte arrived to lead a team that seems perhaps the most complete of the lot. He had very little to do in terms of first-team players, and yet he wasted no time in securing the much sought after pair of Mitchu Batshuayi and N’golo Kante. The rest of the team is well known to us all, so no need to go into details.

Arsenal probably need to start with a new manager. I have huge respect for what Wenger has done for them over the years, trophies he’s won and players he created during his time there, currently the longest in the league. The team looks fine more or less (they need a top centre-back and centre-forward), and Granit Xhaka is certainly a good signing, but it seems Wenger has lost his ability to keep them motivated throughout the length of the season some time ago. They start every campaign with top ambitions, they are constantly seen as being among the favourites, and somewhere along the line they lose themselves and eventually fall short, both domestically and in Europe. Year after year. A fresh strong face at the helm would help them a lot.

Pochettino’s Tottenham looks a well oiled machine, a compact unit of a team where everybody does their job well, despite having no real world-class players. The addition of Victor Vanyama will certainly make it stronger, adding depth to the central midfield already containing Eric Dier, Moussa Dembele, Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb. Vincent Janssen will provide some much needed cover for their star striker Harry Kane.

It would be very brave to predict anything concerning Leicester. Against all odds, they shocked the world and won the title last time around. However, they have lost Kante, while the fate of the Premier League’s Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez remains in the air. Should he leave too, it will be very difficult for Claudio Ranieri to keep them up. The signature on Jamie Vardy’s new contract will hardly be enough.

West Ham, Everton and Crystal Palace seem willing to spend big to sign quality players, but the lack of pulling power will probably be holding their managers back for a while yet.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are going through the process of forming a team suitable for Jurgen Klopp’s plans to restore the club to its proper place in English football. The German is addressing the right issues in a due order, having boosted his squad with the acquisition of Sadio Mane, Georginio Wijnaldum, Joel Matip, Ragnar Klavan, Marko Grujić, Loris Karius. Some believe a proper defensive midfielder should also be on the agenda, though perhaps two hard-working  box-to-box midfielders alternating in going forward and sitting deep suit Klopp’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation better. And while that particular issue remains up for debate, nobody is disputing the need for another full-back, preferably left. Alberto Moreno is still the obvious first choice for the starting XI, but he has come under heavy scrutiny following a poor end to the 2015/16 campaign. The club have had a bid for Leicester’s Ben Chilwell rejected, and with the youngster signing a new contract with the Foxes, it seems certain another option will have to be found. But the attempt itself reveals Klopp’s thinking on the subject, by making it apparent that the boss is looking to provide cover and competition for the Spaniard, rather than immediate replacement. It looks like Klopp still believes Alberto Moreno can be a better player, and with the likes of Lallana and Lovren (among others) hitting a whole new level represent good examples of what a good manager can do, and the fact that Moreno himself is still a very young player, the fans should perhaps have a bit more belief in the German. Real belief, rather than just saying they do.

Whatever happens for the remainder of the summer, it’s an indisputable fact that the squad looks much stronger than last season. One of the most important things we’ll need is for our main players to go up a level, and for the rest to follow. Consistency is another important issue, as well as defending set-pieces. It would make a very long analysis indeed to list all the problems Klopp will need to work on, but there are very few who doubt his abilities.

There  are two things he needs from us, fans – patience and support. So I would urge you all, especially those that continually grace our glorious stadium with their presence – make it loud. Let’s do our bit for the cause.

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211 thoughts on “Manager Battle Royale 2016/17”

  1. Good read! i agree on everything but im not sure united can challenge for title, its gonna be a really tough season nobodys afraid of nobody and they still dont have a real character, with thursday night travelin its realy hard if they will take EL seriously! maybe this is what im hoping…Conte seems really good tactician i mean he took some unknown players and made a good italian side with a system! Chelsea will def make top4 and they also like CITY need ti replace some imp aging players..talking so easy means that we do have a chance at title i think Klopp is gona be ready for 1 game/week we wijn and mane will add goals and much needed competition because coutinio/lalana/firminio have a problem with inconsistency.. IF arsenal sign a decent defender or 2 they will have a good chance, Giroud and sanches are a v good partnership, ppl say giroud is shit, its not true hes not worldclass but hes good and will score 10-15 goals..theyr main prob is defense and set pieaces like us!… hopefully we challenge arsenal for the league and wenger puts all his priorities on C/L quarter final/semi final and we win the league 🙂 btw the players neeed to beleive really.. with klopp with a decent squad and some luck.. leicster did it, we have a chnace!

  2. Great read Veselin! This season is going to be epic. I believe the trigger to all these world class managers coming in was Lfc signing Klopp. It sent warning signals around the league that if Lfc could attract someone of this calibre, why can’t we?

    I have a sneaky feeling that Wenger might win it this time (if he signs a striker). Everyone is underestimating Arsenal this time, but they have a great squad. Maureen already has championship winning experience and Zlatan has that special spark in hi which makes everyone around him better. Conte is really going to surprise a lot of people this year. I believe Pep is going to struggle this year. He will be found out this season as the city squad looks good on paper but a couple of injuries could finish them.
    Kloppo will have to do something miraculous this season to win the title. I am expecting a breakout season from Origi though, strong feeling he is going to be the next big thing.

    My top 4 predictions
    1. Arsenal (if wenger signs a striker and that is a big if)
    2. Scum
    3. Liverpool
    4. Rentboys

      1. Haha one can only hope Keith. We need everyone from our team to put in 150% percent, but not impossible.

    1. Really Arsenal on top? He hasn’t been able to do it the past 10-11 years now, what makes you think that’s about to change?

      And btw, City have just bought Sane, another Brazilian wonderkid winger called Jesus and are probably going to dip in the market to get Stones. Not that Stones is expected to be their savior but with the kind of squad they have and with Pep leading these boys, you can never rule them out to challenge for the title, much less not even be part of top 4.

      1. Arsenal have a great squad, their complete team is intact, they have a manager who has seen it all. Inspite of their usual meltdowns and and injuries, they still managed to finish 2nd last season. Xhaka – Ozil – Sanchez spine is quite good. The big IF against arsenal is whether they sign a striker or not. If somehow wenger loosens the purse strings and gets someone like Lacazette and a defender like Mustafi; that team is going places.

        The thing with city is that, I really believe Pep had it easy till now. The city squad is aging and injury prone. I don’t buy the John Stones hype, he is okay. Not as good as people make him out to be. Sane and the Brazilian guy are unknown quantities, so i’m assuming a 50-50 chance of them flourishing in their first season.

        Again, there are a lot of ifs and buts here. I think this season could have been perfect for us if we could have landed a couple of big-hitters. I know that is against Klopp philosophy but I feel we could have really pushed on for a title. We still can. Let’s hope everything falls in place for us.

        1. Sane is not exactly an unknown quantity. Gabriel Jesus was supposed to have been scouted/pursued by Barca as well…reports have been saying that City have beaten out Barca for both Nolito and Jesus. Plus there’s Gundogan signed already.

          With John Stones that’ll be 5 prominent players signed this window. 2 wingers, a center forward, a central MF and a center back. I just can’t find myself to underestimate Pep and City to the extent of placing them outside the top 4.

          As for Arsenal, you’re placing big ifs on them and even there it’s that they’re just a signing or two away. Meanwhile clubs like Chelsea, City and United have been spending a lot more money on their squads. Hasn’t done it for 10 years and they don’t look like favorites now either.

  3. Echoing Northstars comments inciteful article. Think Utd will be up there, I also fancy Contes Chelsea. He will have them playing compact football and they might get Lukaku who will have a point to prove

    Im not sure about us. I’ve not watched any of our preseason games but read the reports. We have a few injuries early doors. Anyhow I’ll be supporting us through thick and thin.

    The premier league may lack a bit of quality sometimes but it’s always exciting. After footballs about enter.

    Great new site, good articles and sensible comments from the readers. TIA was getting childish

    1. Welcome Daryl!!! Mate, I’ve been trying ways and means to send messages to people since I was banned from TIA. But I didn’t give up! 🙂

      I created FOAR as a more diverse platform for discussion on all things Liverpool as opposed to curated content from TIA’s school of junior writers. Here we discuss stories from the sources directly instead of having to reply on someone else’s shallow rewriting or rehashing.

      We also work harder to foster a more open Moderation environment and deal with trolls quicker and with bullies swiftly.

      TIA doesn’t appreciate their own Disqus section. They have said it on several occasions that it’s a chore for them to manage and would rather close it down. Not here. We value and foster the Disqus community.

      Join us mate. You’ll find that we’re better than a mere alternative. We are home. 🙂

      P. S. I only go to TIA now to fish. Which I just did! 😉

      P.S.S Also check out our FOARum where anyone can start a discussion on anything. See the Menu option above!

      1. 🙂 pleased to be a part where I can talk about my Liverpool obsession with like minded people

  4. Good article and a great discussion to have. Can’t call any team outright favorites from the list but my head says the 2 Manchester clubs look very strong on paper. Guardiola will be sure to tighten the screws and get them playing kind of football that pretty much most clubs in the world want to. No denying though that the quality he had in Barcelona and Bayern was far greater than than this City side. So will be interesting to watch but you can’t rule them out.

    As for United – Zlatan, Bailly, Mkhitaryan and Pogba – with Maureen managing the club – can’t rule them out either. Yes Zlatan is 34 years old now turning 35 in a couple months and yes 110-120mil is a ridiculous amount of money and represents nearly 6-7 signings for a club like Liverpool even but I can’t deny the talent of Pogba either. Questioning these 2 would make me a hypocrite. Plus Martial and Rashford have had good seasons, especially the second half of the season when they’ve linked up together. Add De Gea and look at the rest of their squad and they really do look like favorites on paper.

    As for Chelsea, let’s wait and see. They’ve done some good business with Kante and Batshuyai and have even bid 38mil for Koulibally I think his name is…which means that they mean business..but last season was supposed to be their poorest in a long long time. Let’s see how quickly they can recover from it all.

    I would place LFC, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal in the dark horse category personally.

    1. Should not overlook the European involvement as a factor that simply will cost them points. Something Uberdefensive Chelsea and uberpressing us don’t have.

  5. What would you take Sane at 37 of Mane at 35? I think we have by far the better deal. I think we will surprise a few of the doubters along the way. Yes Chelsea will be defensively sound, as probably ManU will be. But Costa?, Ibra? I think we tend to sell ourselves very short.

    1. Lots of people are careful not to allow themselves to dream. Or they have some issues talking ourselves down.

      Sturridge, Origi and Ings is a luxury not a lot of clubs have. All over the pitch we’ve pretty much covered a good first option and a good backup. Except for the fullbacks of course.

      Matip, Lovren, Sakho and Klavan are four very food defenders, not a lot of clubs have that backup.

      Hendo/Can/Wijnaldum/Grujic are very decent with Stewart and Milner as backup.

      Up front we’re simply very good. It’s allright what we’ve got.

      1. I’m very confident about our attack and attacking MF. Coutinho, Firmino, Mane, Sturridge, Origi and Ings. These are all goal getters. Mane’s got a super goals to minute ratio of 207 minutes per goal from last season…a massive upgrade from Lallana who’s rate was 510 minutes per goal.

      2. im not confident abt our defense, we added new defenders but still committing same silly mistakes, we lost two games in preseason both due to our defensive errors. now karius will miss almost 2 months of the season makes it even worse. my only hope is that our strikers score insane amount of goals like that dream run.

        1. Well, we have conceded 3 in 7 games with just 1 with a reasonable lineup. The English and Belgium players are still only in their 2nd week of preseason. It looks a lot better with Klavan and Matip over Skrtel and Kolo and Karius and Migs vs Migs and Bogdan.

          1. Nope, goals from midfield is an issue. Let’s hope Hendo and Wijnaldum can step up. Although the number is a bit skewered as Stevie scored about 10 penalties.

          2. 4 free kicks and 2 goals from open play I think. That’s perfect. He got around 14 assists aswell.

        2. bit harsh on the defensive line. 2 goals conceded, one a corner – agree, need more training for corners, and for the other our CB’s were Stewart & Wisdom.. so if we get a LB and Karius comes back soon enough, I ll be Happy!! 🙂

    2. Leroy Sané is a great talent. He MIGHT become a great player in the PL.
      Schalke has been full of great talents, they are famous for their academy work over here. But – just talents. Sané has warmed the bench most of the time during the Euros – Löw surely had his reasons for that.
      Mané has already shown what a beast he can be under Klopp/Buvac.
      What a great team player – ideal for LFC.
      Hopefully Gini – who arrived much later – can shine as well quickly.

    3. Why do you feel we have the far better deal though? Sane’s supposed to be a high quality prospect for the future. Been hearing very good things about him. I think for 37mil it’s not a bad deal on paper but will need to see more of him now.

      1. Not saying its a bad deal, i was saying I thought Mane was a better buy for us for now. We have plenty of quality youngsters for the future, Woodburn?

        1. Sure but you can’t compare Woodburn to Sane at the moment. Sane’s been playing in Schalke for a while now. I remember his performance against Real Madrid in Champions League the season before last. One of the best players in the Bernabeau I felt.

          1. No I was pointing out one for the future with Mane for now, probably Ojo is a more realistic comparison if still a little behind in development.

          2. “A little behind in development ” HAHAHA,mate sane is probably 3 times the player at the moment. Crazy talent. Already played for Germany .

    4. Sane is a good player with plenty of upside potential. They just need to give him time and space. Figures like this don’t help. He’s still a young man. Doesn’t need all that pressure of a big league and a big name team with big manager.

      Unfortunately, it’s all part of the package deal.

      1. What’s 37mil in today’s market though? I mean is anyone even surprised or shocked he cost that much? Considering nearly the entire City starting XI cost figures nearly around that figure he shouldn’t really be under any pressure to perform.

      2. Hopefully he can kick on. Without regular Champs League we can’t cream off the established talent. Until then we are going to be buying potential. It worked with Shared bombed with Carroll. Sometimes you pay over the odds for potential

        But we have a manager with a proven track record of polishing off diamonds. Fingers crossed guys!!!!!

      1. Yes but hes far from the finished product and we will talk at the end of the season. I would rather have Mane than Sterling as well.

      1. ha ha, go to the top of the page and then scroll down to Wenger’s picture, at first glance it looks like his head is on fire.

          1. I will stay clear of everything that doesn’t involve me, hopefully you guys can get it resolved 🙂

          2. Don’t even need to hear it from mate. Just ask Keith, Ian, Brighton Red, nico, AP etc etc etc
            They all know the truth of what’s going on.

            After that, it will be clear what is truth and what is falsehood.

        1. So no change there at this time of year. I think they’ll be top 4. Us? I think we’ve got a reasonable squad, but I just see lots of teams playing defensively and well organised this season. Still not sure we’ve got the ability to break through that sort of tactic with enough frequency. Hope I’m wrong.

    1. Huh? If you meant Tottenham then I agree. I think it will be the scum,city,arsenal and chelski in top 4

      1. That’s a far cry from doubters to believers, so no news there.

        On the way to the promised land.

  6. Reading the article topic reminds me of WWE where each wrestler tries to topple the other wrestler out of the ring, and so much is that similar to this! Making predictions here is a bit tough! But as Brolin said, I also have a feeling that we may fall short this time. I fully expect Man city and Chelsea go for the top spot. Tottenham will be on the rise. Now only spot remaining is Wengers 4th! But you know, how many seasons people expect them to fall down the pecking order but still he manages to keep them atleast in the top 4. So you never know. We need a very good LB for sure and god help us when Mingo starts the season! In my opinion, If we try this season to keep the defense leaks to minimum that would give us a good head start for the next season.
    P.S: Nice read!

      1. Hehe got confused with the WWE. Lots of years so forgot the names 😛
        I honestly think that Manu will not make it in top 4. They are depending too much on big names. And somehwere I think there will be something that will disturb the harmony of the team.

        1. I personally can’t rule them out. If anything I feel they’re favorites alongwith Man City for the title, on paper atleast. Zlatan was main man for PSG all these years and with Rashford and Martial, Mkhitaryan and Pogba with Mou managing these guys, I think they look pretty formidable. Plus, chances are they’ll still have De Gea?

          I’m not saying that IS the way things will go since these are just predictions and anything is possible but atleast on paper they look like one of the strong 3.

          Oh and WWE and Royal Rumble aren’t 2 different entities exactly…RR is part of WWE after all 🙂

          1. I know. I meant I got confused between royal rumble and battle royal.
            I know where you are coming from on Manu. I May be totally wrong here but zlatan Nd henrikh have failed against physical opponents. Terribly as well. Zlatan has been a success in a French league! We never know he would be here. Also, historically, mou looses his team when a big ego starts to question him. In Manu, there is too much ego now. So he may not take his typical three Yeats to destroy the team from within. It may be a bit quicker this time:)

  7. It’s a battle I think klopp will fell short in tbh.
    Firstly,yes the squad might look a little stronger,but the fact remains that we are still starting the PL season with mignolet and moreno,two of our reliabilities of last season,in our xi. Our midfield still looks a shambles,with gaping holes in it for players to run in to. Wijnaldum is not going to solve our midfield problems by the looks of things. He doesn’t seem comfortable in a 2 man midfield,and a 3 would just be a waste as it means we will use Wijnaldum in the place of either of the brazilians,which is a clear downgrade in quality. You are also way to harsh on city. Aguero might be injured now and again but he garentees you 20 goals a season in the PL,kompany won’t start probably as pep is looking for another centre half,and they have just confirmed Sane.

    1. First of all, I appreciate your opinion, regardless of the fact that I disagree completely. I’ll start from back to front.
      So they’ve signed Sane. Do you honestly believe that kid will make much difference? For all the talent he possesses, he is extremely unproven as a player in general, and hasn’t played a single match in the PL. I sometimes wonder whether he’ll survive the first sliding tackle a West Brom player aims at him. To me, 37m for such a player is a waste. Aguero is a terrific striker, but all those injuries will take their toll. The fact that he failed to touch the ball inside the box vs Madrid is unacceptable for a player of such class. The centre-back they supposedly want is Stones. Stones of Everton. Stones that got repeatedly humiliated by our strikers a few months ago. And don’t forget, last season we scored 8 goals vs City in three games and conceded 2.
      As for our team and the role of Wijnaldum, Klopp certainly knows what he wants from him or he wouldn’t have signed him. What we’ve seen in two pre-season games cannot serve as a yardstick. We’re starting the season with Mignolet due to the injury of Karius. Doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way.

      1. I mentioned sane becuase he is an improvement on what they had last season on the right hand side. It’s all about improving their squad. Sane,de bruyne and sterling behind aguero with gundogan and fernandino in midfield seems very promising if you ask me. Stones would actually do quite well alongside kompany I think. He had a bad season last year yes but if he has his confidence back he is better then what we have. As for mignolet,I garentee you he would cost us atleast 5 points in the 2 months he is first choice.

        1. Do you really believe that City will start with the four attacking players up front aand play with a midfield two. I hope Guardiola does line up like that, because then they really will be run over. A 4-2-3-1 like that has no balance at all. Sane will maybe replace Sterling, but I am not sure how much game time the young lad will get in his first year. I think and hope city did another Sterling.

          On the way to the promised land.

          1. “A 4-2-3-1 like that has no balance” yet that’s the formation we are most likely going to play.

          2. Yep, we will probably play such a formation, but not with two lightweight wingers like Sane and Sterling, add to that a De Bryne with very limited defensive skills.

          3. Isn’t couthino “lightweight”?? Sane is a tall winger. Very much the same as mane in strength. So we will aswell have a lightweight lineup as firmino is equally poor defensively

          4. think Sane will start on bench with nolito as winger.. and for this season anyway, I prefer mane over sane. but do get ur point over MF and LB issues. I also expect 1-2 signings this window 🙂

      2. Fully agree on that. Sané is a huge talent but no more, will be a great player in 1 or 2 years. There were reasons why he was rarely used during the Euros. Furthermore, Gündogan will not be fit before October or later, and is injury-prone.
        Regarding our team, I am only concerned about supporters’ impatience, since it will surely take a few months before everything has been fixed by Klopp.

          1. I read what you wrote, and i agree with it but the doubt in my mind is, does klopp think moreno is good enough or if he thinks he doesn’t have better option right now in market for a fair price and he has to do with moreno .. either ways I am sure he must have something on his mind, so I am optimistic…

    2. Midfield has been a shambles for so long. Cant fathom why we are not signing a dm with lucas set to leave as well

      1. We don’t need an out and out defensive middle. But wijnaldum definitely isn’t the answer if we are playing a 2 man midfield. Neves would be the perfect klopp midfielder imo

  8. Haven’t read the whole article, Ves. Will do it later and I’m sure it’s a good piece. One thing struck me when I scrolled down: Wenger seems to be on fire this season. Or maybe fired? Looking forward to reading it later 🙂

      1. Haha! Good piece. Also I find that the way you write without fancy and difficult words makes it very easy to read and understand, especially for a foreigner like myself. The use of pictures in this article was also very good. I first scrolled through the pictures and after reading the text, I found that the photos almost told the whole story.
        Guardiola: “Hola, FA, Jose issa making jokes onna me”
        Mourinho: “Peps wife tolda me zhat hissa junior is zhis bigg”
        Conte: “This is how I look when I’m really happy. Right now I’m applauding that Pep and Jose are destroying each other. Hmm, maybe I don’t need help from the mafia after all?”
        Wenger: “The thought of being fired never seems to slip away from the back of my head”
        Ranieri: “For the first and last time in my career I’m so happy that I just have to kiss myself”
        Pochettino: “You will run, run and run, or you finished”
        Only one word to describe Klopp: Determination!

  9. Great read and thanks for the effort well worth it. You summed it up perfectly. One thing I would like to add is that MOU will have to decide whether to play against his best instincts to please the toilet crowd. it will be interesting to see if a couple of results go against him if he reverts to like. If he does will the crowd get on his back. It will be a very open prem this season and everyone will be in the nnt.

    1. I would imagine the answer to your question relies on whether or not his brand of football brings the sort of success (or atleast looks to be bringing the success) that he had at Inter/Real/Chelsea. If they are playing awful football but still within touching distance of the title then I cant see many complaining. The problem with LVG was that a title win never looked likely making the football even harder to watch

    2. “toilet crowd” – lmao!
      But seriously, exactly my thoughts. He will be under huge pressure from minute one, he seems not to be the guy who can handle setbacks. Big money spent, big names put in, expectations will be extremely high there.”..attack, attack, attack” and the like…

  10. Well- written article, Veselin! It is hard to predict anything – but our team will require at least a couple of months more to perform at its peak level. I just hope we do not drop too many points in the meantime to be still in a good position to challenge for top four.

    1. Why do you think we need months? Last time we kept the group together and we had no European games was 13/14 and we started really well back then.

      1. IMO months is the minimum since Klopps typical attacking style requires a lot of fine tuning – one of Klopps’ most used terms over here in pressers was “creating opportunities ” (to score). It is about running into open spaces in the right moments w/o the ball, precise through-balls, knowing where your teammate will be in for the final pass into the box to tap it in.
        The two first Dortmund goals against us at Anfield were exactly that style of play I have known from his time here in Germany, but it takes a lot of time to get this system put in. In their best days BVB created 10-15 great chances, usually taking 2 to 4 of them.
        I expect a difficult start into the season this time, but steady improvements and a good run by spring.

        1. Since we’ll likely start with Clyne, Moreno, Hendo, can, coutinho, firmino and Sturridge from last season we can pretty much carry on and come out swinging.

          1. Would be great if it went that way, and I have noticed Klopp being highly optimistic these days, which is a good sign, since he knows his business. But I still feel our new signings need more time to mould with the team.

          2. Oh no doubt they’ll need to blend in. But the two center backs are hardly involved in the positional attacking sense. So whether it’s Klavan/Matip or Sakho/Lovren it’s less important. And even so, both Matip, Klavan and Wijnaldum have learned their trades in tactical leagues in possession based teams. All of them well over 200+ games.

            So it’s only Mané who needs to adapt and from him we want his natural style: direct play, run at defenses and create something.

            Karius will blend in gradually with the injury. And he knows the England game and the possession based football at Mainz. Manninger is a backup who knows both the EPL and the tactical game and Grujic knows the tactical part of possession based football.

            They’ll all have less steps to take to adapt. Come to think of their profiles it does make sense 🙂

          3. I agree with you “100%” (English à la Jürgen ;-). ) regarding GKs and CBs, no problem there from my point of view. Gini will be very much involved going forward – that is his strength, otherwise Klopp would not have signed him. Same wirh Grujic. Clyne as RB is nearly perfect. Moreno as LB is great going forward, too, but needs to improve his positioning, i.e. when to move back. That also applies to the midfielder next to him, somebody has to fall back when a LB or RB rushes forward.
            The whole AM and forward department incl the “veterans” still have to learn the passing game I mentioned earlier. And drop selfish shots on goal for intelligent assists.
            Just my opinion build from watching LFC since October….

          4. Agreed we’re not there yet, but they made huge strides allready in that departement. Coutinho is the mos lot notable of the lot. From always cutting inside and shooting he looks for the overlap or pass a lot more. Not there yet, but because it’s since october there’s allready been worked a lot on that.

          5. Yeah, you are right on that. Let us hope we get a good start imto the season and rhen confidence boost will add extra momentum to it.
            I am fully convinced the team will play and rank much better than last year.

          6. No distraction of European games, room and time to train, where both Pep and conte will have issues combining. Poch had an injury free season, that’s not a given this season.

          7. Very good point – and possibly decisive in our favour – see Leicester last season. I just hope we will remain relatively low on injuries – good to see we have more depth in the squad to cover that.

          8. aye, and obviously this team is only now coming of age. Hendo, Clyne, Lovren, Sakho, Sturridge, Coutinho, Firmino are all around 25. Can, Origi, Mané, Karius and Moreno even younger. And allready capable of reaching finals.

          9. It has lifted my spirits when Jürgen made his statements yesterday about the improved quality wirhin the team and – moreover – about his ambitions for this season (“no excuses – this is my team”).
            He has always been quite cautious about those things, now he seems to be – like you – highly optimistic.
            No offence against you, but I highly HIS judgement – so I am even more positive now, since I have always thought the development would be positive – but not that quick. When he believes one or more titles are possible this season, they are!

          10. Hehe, I’d love it if more people listened to Klopp 🙂

            And no offense taken, I take his word over mine as well 😀

          11. Yes, more people should listen to him, especially the “doubters”.
            I found the negativity of some guys at TIA forums disgusting, good to see Joe keeps this blog clean.
            Was a pleasure to chat with you and Tazz – need to catch some sleep now, Good night!

          12. Liked ur “intelligent assists” which we are lacking a bit since the Suarez/Gerrard days.. But i think Klopp shd be able to rectify it. 🙂

          13. Tbh, I am afraid it will take at least one year. All those perfectly-timed moves took apparently 2 years of training at Dortmund. But once it works, it will give our team exactly that advantage over mediocre PL teams to soundly beat them, as well as a good chance to beat the best competitors (who will have improved as well by then, no doubt about that).

        1. With Aguero scoring 20 goals a season,De bruyne getting at least 10 goals and 10 assists and gundogan,Fernando, silva,Fernando and toure their midfield options,aswell as wingers like sane,nolito and sterling I doubt they will be outside the top 4. Their also targeting a top quality centre half,and with the money they poses,they’re definitely going to get it. Kompany and otamendi isn’t bad options ether tbh.

          1. I actually see city in the top 2 never mind behind the “top 4 ” contenders. City have a much better squad then us.

          2. They also had a better squad than Leicester last year, but I guess that doesn’t count.

            On the way to the promised land.

          3. Didn’t say that, and be a good lad and address me directly next time, with some arguments instead of this weak stuff.

          4. Saying you’re theory was crazy in a conversation you could clearly see? Man up for God’s sake. Next you’ll be crying to Joe claiming I’m a bully.

          5. No, I’ll be calling you weak to your face. No biggie

            And you didn’t call my theory crazy, just me, without some reasonable arguments. Just plain and childish namecalling.

            That’s weak.

          6. I reckon they’ll struggle for “to 2” like you predict, mostly for the reasons stated in the article plus few others. De Bruyne is top-class quality! And, so is Ageuro & I think they’ll be the primary source of their goals. Silva is a class of his own, however has been struggling for fitness in the past few seasons & his influence has waned. Nolito, I suspect will take time to adapt like Pedro & so will Sane who’s a still a prospect, not a finished article. Fernando – Emre Can’s better, Fernandino – doesn’t contribute in goals, & if Hendo stays fit, I see both offering equally. Sterling – don’t have an opinion on him, I believe he’ll be gone within next 2 seasons. Gundogan – good player but injury-prone again. All in all, I don’t see the top 2 as a cakewalk for City. Next season, they might come into full force though. This season, Guardiola might even struggle to implement his possession based football. There were already concerns in their pre-season games when the CB’s & mids hoofed the ball as opposed to Pep’s ball-on-the -ground strategy.

          7. If city will struggle to get to top 2 we wouldn’t stand a chance. People need to be realistic, our squad is still showing the same problems from last season ala Moreno,mignolet,weak midfield and shambolic finishing.

          8. For sure. If a better squad than ours can finish outside top 4, we’ll probably end up at 10 by this logic

          9. City will struggle to get top two, but there is room behind Liverpool and Arsenal. They will maybe be in contention for third or fourth, but I fear that Tottenham, Chelsea and Manu will have something to say about that.

            On the way to the promised land.

          10. I think spurs,city,Chelsea and the scum will have something to say about us finishing in the top 2 considering they have all better squads then us

          11. I love to be optimistic, but he is right about the similar problems being reflected ..but I am sure with few months of games things will become smoother than they seem right now …. I have full faith in Klopp.

    1. They have both a better squad than ours as well as the better manager (as much as I love Klopp). He might not win the League in his first season but rest assured he will be in the running.

      1. We have different ideas about the best manager. He hasn’t faced any difficulties, took two top teams and kept them there. Both Barca and Bayern had declined from where he took the team to leaving it.

        The fact he won stuff with Messi/Xavi and winning the league with Bayern is not something that’s never been done. The fact he’s got to leave after 3 seasons says enough as well.

        Klopp has had a bigger impact for both Mainz and Dortmund. Staying 7 years at both and being welcomed back any day of the week says it all.

        And while City’s first team has a few more stars than our first team the depth of our squad is better compared to them.

        1. He showed tremendous balls in cutting previous aging superstars with big egos loose and create his own system at Barca without any experience. He won 6 trophies his first year, and another treble later on with numerous other accolades in between. Yes Barcelona may have declined slightly but that squad was still better than Klopp’s Dortmund at its peak. Bayern have won only 1 champions league in like 10 or 15 years. Very difficult to win it every year. Still continually made it to the CLs and was very unlucky not to go through this year.

          And he moved after 3 seasons because it was his choice. None of his employers wanted him to leave. You’re being ridiculous now. He’s much younger than Klopp and has won a lot more.

          Unlike us, City aren’t done with their transfer business so they’ll address squad depth. I think you’re the only one who thinks Klopp is the better manager but at least that is an argument that can reasonable be made. But to say that he’ll fall short of the other managers as well is nothing but sheer stupidity, forgive me for saying that. Guardiola has routinely outsmarted Mourinho and Wenger. No reason why he won’t do it again.

          1. In middlemanagement it’s smart to move jobs every two years. If you stay longer your own vision becomes visible. The same goes for footballmanagers albeit the period seems to be 3 years. It’s not just Pep who does it. Wasn’t saying he was wanted out.

            And whether Dortmund was worse compared to the Barca Pep left behind is quite irrelevant. It’s about the fact he hasn’t built anything and needs to prove that. Klopp did that twice. And Klopp outsmarted Wenger and Mourinho on several occasions as well.

            I didn’t say Pep will fall short. I’m saying City will, this season.

            So far Pep has won, with teams built by others. Not with his teams.

          2. I would not say Pep did not create anything. He implemented his – utterly boring, but highly effective – ball-possession playing style into Bayern, making them dominating the – less physical – Bundesliga. It went that far, that many weaker sides seemed to cheaply give away wins to Munich to save energy for winnable matches thereafter.
            I just hope he fails on that with ManCity, otherwise PL becomes as boring as Bundesliga has been recently…snooze…..

          3. It’s not like Bayern never won the Bundesliga or were dominant in it. At times there have been challengers, Dortmund a couple of stints, Gladbach and Schalke. But only short spells where they had a special manager or group of players.

          4. Boring? Behave yourself, Barca played some of the best attacking football Europe had seen in a long time and that Bayern team were unstoppable at times. Give yer head a good shake.

          5. It got less interesting by the year. At first it was great,
            Possession with a purpose. But with each season it was more about having the ball than what to do with it.

          6. You should probably read my comment again – it was neither about “best” or “unstoppable”, I said “boring”. And I respect your different opinion on that. But I would like you to respect my opinion as well. Head shake….

          7. Come on, mate. That was some of the most beautiful football I’ve ever seen play. And Guardiola’s influence is not just on football but in other sports as well. The Golden State Warriors (who’re dominating the NBA with their style), adopted his approach and publicly acknowledged it. The dude is a genius.

            Klopp’s Dortmund in 2012 was beautiful to watch as well. I preferred that to tiki taka overall but unfortunately we couldn’t get to see more of that once Bayern started snatching their players

          8. For me, it has been – and always will be – painful to watch 28 sideway passes before the through-ball is delivered. But it is just a matter of taste, and surely there have been more exciting moves played by Munich.
            I liked Heynckes’ style much more, was great to watch being neutral (which I was not), and he was hugely successful im the end, more than Pep.
            Guardiola is not a genius IMO, but a both highly-skilled and hard-working coach, who – like Klopp – is bound to a certain football philosophy. IF he is given enough time by his employers, he could make a huge impact on the PL (Klopp himself hinted at that when Pep’s move to the UK had been made official).

          9. You’re contradicting yourself. You say he’s not a genius but a highly skilled coach. Since the latter is not a physical job, the main talent is the manager’s brain. So if a coach is good, they are probably a genius. I mean you can argue that coaches like Mourinho and Simeone use aggression and other tactics to gain an advantage, and are not otherwise particular geniuses but Guardiola doesn’t play negative football. He doesn’t play mind games. He simply does his job and does it better than anyone else can. He’s a genius for sure

          10. To be perfectly honest with you……I do not understand the sense of your comment at all, except “Guardiola is a genius for sure”.
            But I respect your opinion.

          11. It was not “easy”, it seemed confused.
            No offence intended, just explaining my impression. I still can not find any relation or connection between, or sense in several of your sentences. All I could read from your post was you were somehow trying to explain why Guardiola was a genius.

          12. You were contradicting yourself. You said you don’t think Guardiola’s a genius but then you said he’s a skilled coach. Being a skilled coach requires intelligence and so if you think he’s a good coach you can’t deny he’s a genius.

          13. Thanks for your clarification.
            For me, a genius is someone on a much higher intelligence level than a “just” highly-skilled person.
            There are many good, skilled coaches in the top leagues, but none of them I see being a genius.
            Not even Mourinho, Simeone, or Klopp and Guardiola with their unique football philosophies.
            Therefore, no contradicting, just a different evaluation of a person.
            Anyhow, I fully respect you rating Guardiola higher than all others.

          14. Would like to know more about how Golden State Warriors adopted his approach…like how does that happen from one sport to another?

          15. Basically the Warriors adopted possession play and fast, precise passes in the attacking area of the court, just like Guardiola’s tiki taka. Their MVP Steph Curry takes inspiration from Messi- both players are of smaller size compared to their counterparts but rely on their pace and technique to surpass the rest.

          16. bundesliga is boring because its one horse team.. PL- especially these days, there are no easy matches.. and even managers like Bilic & Koeman are proving their worth. Disappointed that Benitez is missing the fun, would have definitely added to the fun quotient!! 🙂

          17. Yes Klopp did. I never said he isn’t world class. Klopp is better than both imo but I think Mourinho has the edge because he’s willing to play dirty while Klopp would never think of that. Guardiola is simply a genius. And you can see the moves he’s making in the transfer market are sensible as well. The only player he has overpaid for is Sane who cost them just as much as Mane (and there goes my dream of Sane-Kane-Mane :/). I think Guardiola is perfectly capable of building teams. I hope he falls short but I don’t see it happening.

          18. Well, Pep is also a very one trick pony so far. So, while I think he’ll succeed in the end I don’t think he’ll be that fast up to speed.

            He’s used to playing weaker teams, winning on 80% intensity, seeing a game out after 70 minutes. I’d say welcome to England 🙂

            The European hangovers, the weather, wind, intensity and the Tony Pulis’ of this world.

            I just wish with all my cells Mou will fail. In no way the football Gods should allow him to win with his spending and parking busses.

          19. Guardiola ok I understand you can say that but Mourinho I don’t think so , i didn’t watch their pre season games(its really difficult to watch them play ,they are so shit ..) but i watched the highlights and I think the scums are going to have identity crisis this season… they cant defend like Mourinho would want them to.. lets see how it turns out ..

          20. Obviously they are all World Class managers.. but Pep is definitely in for a Challenge this time around, more than he has ever had..

          1. Come on now, that is really unfair. When Bayern legends like Neuer are saying that Guardiola changed them for the better, I don’t think any of us have a right to say otherwise.

          2. Fair enough, but I just think they are in a better position to judge than us and if they say they’ve improved, contrary to the opinion many people hold that they’ve digressed, then I’d rather listen to them

          3. Most of it is just PR stuff though. I can see why neuer would like him more because he has a bigger role in guardiola’s system..and its more in sync with how he likes to play. Bit I think usually players are not in the business of saying negative things about managers unless absolutely they don’t get along.

      2. I disagree. He did a great job at both Barca and Bayern, no doubt about that (like Klopp at both Mainz and Dortmund), but he did not fully match expectations at Bayern (to make them no.1 in Europe).
        Man City may have the best individual players, but who will have the best team remains to be seen.
        Klopp exceeded expectations at both clubs, we will know next spring if he can at least match them at LFC.
        I would say Guardiola is the better fit for ManCity, whilst Klopp is better for Liverpool, IMO.

        1. I agree wholeheartedly that Klopp is the best for us. There simply wasn’t a better choice. We’re both a great fit for each other. Just saying that given two equal teams, I can see Guardiola outsmarting any manager in European football right now

    2. United will be relegated.
      Still sleeping, still having pleasant dreams.

    3. Upvoted for the great read part but I wouldn’t underestimate City just yet…though they certainly do have certain weaknesses Pep’s a master motivator and they have the money to get the players they want.

      1. Who all need to adapt, sane is young and unproven, Gündogan still injured, pep doesn’t know the intensity of the League with the Tony Pulis’ of the world.

        And Kompany, Aguero and Yaya are all very injury prone.

        I don’t rule them out, but that team is really all over the place and they need more than one window to fix it.

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