Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Greatest League

Go back 10 years ago, the English league was the best league in Europe. The money, the mangers, the big names, it had it all. The teams were dominant in the Champions League and it was one of the toughest leagues in the world but then something happened. Not quite sure what it was but it lost it's dominance, players were attracted to other leagues such as the German, Italian and Spanish, the English teams that did make it to Europe often faded away early in the competition and overall it fell behind the likes of LaLiga, Bundesliga and Serie-A. 

Has all of that changed now? This season see's probably the best line up of managers ever seen in a league and they're all managing English teams. Mourinho, Conte, Klopp, Wenger, Guardiola and Ranieri (I had to slip in ol Claudio there) take on each other in the English Premier League in whats set to be one of the most anticipated one yet! Most of the managers will have their first test this weekend seeing that they have been brought in during the summer with the exception of Klopp, Wenger and Ranieri. While Jose has managed in the league before at Chelsea, it will be a different kettle of fish for him as he tries to exorcise the demons that has plagued Old Trafford for the past 2 seasons. 

While on the subject of Jose, he's causing quite a stir so far and even though he's at the team I love to hate, I'm rather loving it. He's known for shit talking and to be honest, the league needs that. Whether or not his demons of last season at Chelsea have followed him to United remains to be seen but one things for sure, he's certainly doing things his way. Firstly the signings, Bailly, Miktarian, Ibrahimovic and the signing everyone is talking about, Paul Pogba. Jose literally broke the bank to bring in the French International and while the spot light has been on him for the past month, I don't think he will be their key signing for United. Bailly for me will be of more significance to the team as their defence seems to be in tatters after the departure of their famed brick wall of Vidic and Ferdinand. 

Last season saw a complete outside take the title and for that, we now don't know what to expect. Many are scared to make any predictions, can Leicester do it again? I doubt it but there's always a chance that they were not one season wonders. They've made some good signings and managed to hang on to star striker Jamie Vardy but they still need to keep the others that played a pivotal role in last seasons success. 

Coming back to the battle of the managers, many seem to think Jurgen Klopp has the upper hand. He came in almost midway through last season so he's had some time to assess the players and see which individuals will be key to his revamp of the squad. He's made a number of good signings, nothing record breaking but from what we've seen in the preseason, it was money put to good use. The stand out for me has been Sadio Mane, yes we've got a habit of poaching players from Southampton and whilst most of them haven't shined as they did at the Saints, I believe Klopp is spot on with this one. He's got the pace, he's strong and he has knowledge of the English game and while he didn't cost 89 million pounds, he didn't come in cheap at just over 30 million pounds. Many argued that it was a bit much for him but I rate him being a better buy than Pogba, so come the end of the 16/17 season I'd love to see a head to head stats between the two of them. I still don't thnk Klopp has the end product and the injuries don't help him either. He isn't far off from that and we've seen glimpses of the team he wants, the demolition of Barcelona at Wembley was simply breathtaking so lets hope we can see more of that come the start of the league this weekend. 

Liverpool have the toughest opening fixture list from any of the other top teams with most of their matches being away from home, some of them by choice as Anfield see's their new mainstand take shape and increase the overall capacity of the stadium. Arsenal away is first up and while many bemoan the lack of activity from the Frenchman, I don't doubt his tactics. He's the longest running manager in the league of our decade, he's been through it all, seen it all and he's proven that he doesn't need a lot of cash or big name players to do the job. The board are happy with him as he makes them profits and the fans, well the fans of Arsenal will never be happy regardless. They normally don't hit the ground running in the league so Sunday's encounter will be a tricky one.

Overall this season is going to be one of the greats and everyone in the world will be keeping an eye on it. From world class managers to the most expensive player in the world, it has it all. Entertainment? You bet it will be, with even the smaller teams wanting to prove a point. Everyone is going to go out there and try to be a Leicester City, whether or not they can achieve it remains to be seen. One things for sure, it's going to be great viewing pleasure and will reaffirm the English Premier League as the Greatest League, once again. 

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