Three of the top Premier League football clubs begin the season with new managers taking up residence.
David Moyes has taken over the office that was for so long the second home of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Manuel Pellegrini is relishing his first job in English football.
Jose Mourinho is back where he belongs.
Their bosses will tell you they will be given plenty of financial support and lots of time to succeed. There may be 50% truth in what they say.
I do not envy David Moyes.
Far in the past I once took over a role vacated by someone who was very good at his job and, crucially, very popular with his colleagues.
The job spec is very different, but the problem is the same. How do you follow that?
Fergie knew when to go. He didn’t want to rebuild yet again. Not at his age.
Long ago I told friends and strangers that David Moyes was, as far as Ferguson was concerned, the chosen one. The only question was if Fergie would get to choose. He did.
Now Moyes faces the task of proving he was worthy of such confidence. He must rebuild a side that can no longer rely on the likes of Scholes and Giggs. And then there is the Rooney problem.
A player who has wanted out of Old Trafford for many months and wanted away immediately after learning that a) Fergie would stay on in an influential role at the club and b) the man who successfully sued Rooney in court, would be his new manager.
A double whammy for the unsettled Wayne Rooney who told his foul mouthed, greedy agent to… GET ME OUT OF HERE!For many years, Everton fans did not appreciate what they had in Moyes. A miracle worker.
I recall many a season when the phone in shows were awash with Everton fans spouting cliches such as “he’s taken us as far as he can.”
The truth is that Moyes took Everton further than any manager could have done. And for longer.
If he doesn’t win the League title in his first season (and I doubt that he will) then Man Utd fans will be restless.
But, short of attracting Ronaldo back to Old Trafford (and Fergie has been calling him constantly); it is the case that the United squad looks shallow. Robin Van Persie had better stay match fit if United are to win the title this season.
It may be that Manchester United face a short transitional period.
Moyes would be right to sign Leighton Baines, truly a quality player. But is Marouane Fellaini good enough to wear a shirt once worn by Bobby Charlton and Denis Law? I don’t think he is.
What Moyes needs is time and for as long as the voice of Sir Alex Ferguson has influence with the rarely seen owners, he will get it. So Moyes had better hope Fergie lives long for then he, Moyes, will prosper.Moyes will not get the level of cash to splash that is available across the city. But, at Manchester City, I doubt the classy Pellegrini will spend money like a lottery winner. Not like his predecessor.
I am glad Pellegrini has made it to English football. He has proven himself time and time again in the Spanish league, La Liga.
But whether he will be appreciated in England is in doubt.
Will the influential sports press appreciate what a class act this man is? The broadsheet writers may do so. The tabloid hacks may not.
Not for Pellegrini the footballing cliche that leads to easy copy. He is a thoughtful man who will not pander to pressure from the press or, come to that, from the terraces.
Will the Man City fans appreciate him? Will they even get the time to?
For them the scarf wearing Roberto Mancini was a darling. Like Moyes over the road, Manuel Pellegrini has a popular manager to follow. Even though Mancini, in my book at least, was wasteful with money and was found wanting when it came to man management.
His end was assured the day he backed down on his press conference pledge that the troublesome Carlos Tevez would never again play for City while he was manager.
He may have been foolish to say that. But he was an even bigger fool for giving in and going back on that pledge.Pellegrini has sent that poison packing. But I did expect him to get rid of other bad influences in the Man City dressing room. The big time charlies who, like Tevez, think they are a whole lot better than they actually are.
Pellegrini is likely to get the best out of the more professional players.
People like David Silva and Alvaro Negredo. I expect he will sign other Spanish players in the coming season. Speak to players who played for him at Malaga, Real Madrid or Villareal and you will struggle to find a bad word said about the Chilean born manager.
What Manuel Pellegrini achieved at Malaga, under increasingly impossible working conditions, was nothing short of miraculous.
He has earned the right to manage a big club in the Premier League and he has an open cheque book to dip into when he feels the need. My money is on him not doing so as often as the fans would like.
If Manchester City give Manuel Pellegrini the time to build something long term, he could construct the best side since the Joe Mercer/Malcolm Allison squad of Bell, Lee and Summerbee.
Manuel Pellegrini has the ability, shrewdness and know how to create a Manchester City that is stronger than Manchester United. At least for a while.
But I doubt the owners will stick to their promise to “develop a holistic approach to all aspects of football at the club.”
If they mean what they say then they have appointed the right man. But if they do not allow Pellegrini the time and space to develop something that looks to the long term, then they will, like Real Madrid before them, regret letting the man go.
A bit like Chelsea regretted letting Jose Mourinho leave his natural home.
It wasn’t only owner Roman Abramovich who didn’t fully appreciate Mourinho first time around. Many fans didn’t. They rang radio stations in his last couple of seasons bemoaning how boring and predictable the football was. Hard to believe now, but true.
That’s the trouble with us football fans. We don’t always appreciate what we have until it is gone.Now the special one is back and he is sure to get a warm welcome from Blues fans when they open their season with what should be a comfortable home win against Hull City.
My money was on Chelsea to win the Premier League before it was confirmed that Jose was coming back. I took the 3/1 then on offer. Not because I am 100% convinced they will win the title. I don’t think you can be so sure about any of the big clubs this season.
But fully expecting he would return to Stamford Bridge, I took advantage of that price knowing it would vanish once the messiah returned.
Some managers fit certain clubs perfectly. Jose Mourinho and Chelsea were ideally suited to each other the first time around.
I do worry that there may be an element of what I call ‘second cup of tea syndrome’ . The first cup always tastes better than the second.
I am glad Jose Mourinho is back at Chelsea.
I hope he has learned some humility from his experience trying to succeed in the impossible job of keeping everyone happy at Real Madrid.
His boast that he “ended the dominance of Barcelona in Spanish football” is utter nonsense. Take a look at the La Liga table at the end of last season.
But, until he lost his sense of perspective, he did a good job at Real Madrid.
His personality was never going to suit the conservative minded folk who run that club.
The moment Mourinho poked Barcelona’s Tito Vilanova in the eye, his bosses at the Bernabéu wanted him out of the door. They put one thing above winning titles at Real Madrid. It is the overall image of the club.Mourinho made mistakes at Real Madrid but they did not compare to the biggest mistake of all. The club appointing in the first place a man whose personality was always likely to upset his bosses, some fans (but not those occupying the ‘cheap’ seats) and the Spanish press.
And there by was the big difference between the ride Jose got in Spain as compared to his first incarnation at Chelsea.
The English footballing press, by and large, love him. I saw former Fleet Street colleagues salivate at his feet. It was embarrassing to watch. In their rush to be Jose’s best mate, they forgot about journalistic balance.
As did much of the Spanish press. Only they were not in love with Jose.
The football correspondents for some Spanish newspapers didn’t so much dislike Mourinho. They loathed him.
They found his manner to be as disagreeable as their English counterparts found it to be entertaining.
I do wonder if Jose will be as loved by the English football writers this time around.But he will not care too much either way. He will get on doing what he does best. He is one of the best footballing coaches in the world and, for players who take to him, one of the best man managers in the game.
As I write that, I can almost hear Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos choking on their gazpacho.
But dealing with long established players at Real Madrid has been a problem for many managers. Player power saw off Fabio Capello (though they were right to dislike him).
Back at his spiritual home, Jose Mourinho can get back to working with footballers who are happy to do things his way. Or they will be out.
Wayne Rooney will, sooner or later, sign for Chelsea. That is sure to help the player who badly needs a manager to put his arm around him and tell him he’s the best thing since sliced bread.
Chelsea would offer Wayne Rooney a new lease of life and Mourinho is just the man to put fresh fire in the belly of a striker who has lost his way.
Mourinho needs a Didier Drogba. A focal point in attack. Someone who can be his ambassador on the pitch.
The Chelsea squad right now doesn’t look the strongest. It’s not as good as the one Jose left behind. But he is superb at getting the best from what he has.
It will be how he spends the Ambramovich cash that will dictate how long he gets before, in true Russian fashion, he receives a bullet to the back of the head. In keeping with the President of his own country, that is the Roman way.
In truth we all suspect that Russian-Portuguese relations will one day end in tears. But we are hoping that it will be fun in the meantime.
Chelsea are my tentative tip for the Premier League title, with Manchester City and United fighting out second place.
All three managers deserve to be given a minimum of three years in their new jobs.
But, in the English Premier League, time waits for no man.