The merry-go-round stops for now
As of last week, all the twenty Premier League clubs finally had a manager (or head coach) in place to prepare for the oncoming season with Crystal Palace’s search concluding with the appointment of Patrick Vieira who is taking his first managerial role in England.
I’ve become a little obsessed in recent years with the number of managerial changes in the leagues as clubs constantly search for quick fixes when things don’t seem to be working. The numbers are incredible and since last season kicked off no fewer than 48 of the 92 clubs have changed manager; that includes the two clubs relegated from the league, Grimsby and Southend.
An incredible twenty clubs have made more than once change and Bournemouth, for whom Eddie Howe had been in charge since October 2012, have made three changes since the 2019/20 season ended with both Jason Tindall and Jonathan Woodgate following Howe out of the Dean Court hot seat.
All the three relegated clubs have made changes. The appointments of Slaviša Jokanović and Marco Silva at Sheffield United and Fulham were hardly problematic but not so at West Brom. They tried to appoint Chris Wilder and it looked a done deal until owner Guochuan Lai blocked it because of Wilder’s fall out with Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, his previous owner at Sheffield United. They turned to David Wagner who looked all set to accept until he realised he’d got his geography wrong and it wasn’t close enough to his home in Germany. Eventually they appointed Barnsley boss Valérien Ismaël.
That left four Premier League clubs chasing new managers. I had some sympathy with Everton who could never have expected to be in the position of needing a new boss. Not for one minute do I suspect they ever thought Carlo Ancelotti might have been offered and then wanted a return to Real Madrid.
It was Wolves though who triggered the fun. They decided it was time to part company with Nuno Espirito Santo. It was no problem to them; they’d already decided on Bruno Lage as his replacement, but we were left almost wondering whether Nuno was going to start managing most of the league.
Almost immediately he was named as favourite for Palace. Talks with them were supposedly advanced. By 8th June it was reported that he was on the verge of being announced as Roy Hodgson’s replacement but then things changed when he suddenly became favourite for Everton. That became a concern for us; Sean Dyche became the Palace favourite for a short while before it seemed they turned their attentions towards Swansea boss Steve Cooper.
Over at Everton, Nuno, who had been on the verge of the Palace job was now ready to be appointed at Goodison. Palace? Steve Cooper’s compensation was proving a problem, but they had a new man lined up with former Borussia Dortmund boss Lucien Favre having accepted.
Meanwhile, Conte didn’t think Spurs matched his ambitions and so they moved to bring back Maurico Pochettino. When that didn’t happen, they turned their attentions to Gennaro Gattuso and Paulo Fonseca. At least the Spurs fans must have been comforted in the knowledge that Daniel Levy was on top of things.
The Everton fans weren’t happy either. Nuno fell beside the wayside there too and they turned their attentions to former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez. They couldn’t, could they? This was the Benitez who, when in charge at Anfield, said of Everton: “Everton put eight or nine men behind the ball and defended deep, but that’s what small clubs do. When a team comes to Anfield and only want a point what else can you call them but a small club?”
The only thing we knew with any certainty was that Nuno had seemingly missed out on an instant return to the Premier League, or so we thought,
Finally, a week ago yesterday, Palace got their man with the appointment of former Arsenal and Manchester City midfielder Patrick Vieira.
The merry-go-round has finally come to a stop but for how long? It won’t be long, that’s for sure.
What is interesting is the reduced number of English managers in the Premier League compared to a year ago. When the 2020/21 season kicked off there were eight, namely Dean Smith (Aston Villa), Graham Potter (Brighton), Sean Dyche (Burnley), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Roy Hodgson (Crystal Palace), Scott Parker (Fulham), Steve Bruce (Newcastle) and Chris Wilder (Sheffield United). When Sam Allardyce replaced Slaven Bilic at West Brom it went up to nine.
With relegations and departures, that is now down to four and that’s matched with four from Spain. There are also three from Germany, two from Portugal and one each from Argentina, Austria, Denmark, France, Northern Ireland, Norway and Scotland.
The season will start, or, to be safe, is expected to start, with the following twenty in place, listed, quite rightly, in order of longevity, and I wonder which of them will be the first to be thrown off when the merry-go-round starts moving again.
Sean Dyche (Burnley)
Jürgen Klopp (Liverpool)
Pep Guardiola (Manchester City)
Daniel Farke (Norwich)
Marcelo Bielsa (Leeds)
Thomas Frank (Brentford)
Dean Smith (Aston Villa)
Ralph Hasenhüttl (Southampton)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Manchester United)
Brendan Rodgers (Leicester)
Graham Potter (Brighton)
Steve Bruce (Newcastle)
Mikel Arteta (Arsenal)
David Moyes (West Ham)
Xisco Muñoz (Watford)
Thomas Tuchel (Chelsea)
Bruno Lage (Wolves)
Rafael Benitez (Everton)
Nuno Espirito Santo (Tottenham)
Patrick Vieira (Crystal Palace)