The football off season is known as “the crazy time”. Every team evaluates their season and they all try to adjust and tweak things and in some cases overhaul their teams. This summer for the first time in a long time the movement of players has been overshadowed by the movement of managers. We’re not just talking about any old managers. We’re talking about world class managers moving between world class teams. This truly is crazy stuff. Yes it’s all a bit nuts, but it will make for the most exciting and unpredictable European football campaign you will ever see.
Let’s dive right into it and there’s no better place to start than at the White House.
Carlo Ancelotti: To Real Madrid
There’s not much more we can say about Carlo Ancelotti. He has won league titles everywhere he has been and played great football in the process. It seems that this is a win-win situation with very little risk involved. He will definitely win trophies but in order to do so he will need to spend some money on new players and do it wisely. Real Madrid are a team built around Cristiano Ronaldo and managing the 2nd best player in the world will appeal to Ancelotti. Ancelotti managed Kaka when he was at the height of his powers so we expect he knows what to do. He will need to convince Ronaldo that Madrid is the best place for him to be. He will also need to convince Ronaldo and the fans that he can bring them the 10th Champions League title also known as La Decima. Many supporters of Jose Mourinho are at odds with those who opposed his methods and Ancelotti will need to bring the troops together and he’ll need to do it quickly.
Pressing needs: Winger, striker
My picks: Isco – €30m (completed), Suarez/Lewandowski -€45m , KEEP RONALDO.
Prediction – 2nd in La Liga, Copa Del Rey winners, Champions League Winners (LA DECIMA!)
David Moyes: To Manchester United
Of all the managers we will discuss in this article, perhaps Moyes will have the most pressure on his shoulders. After 12 very good years at Everton, Moyes still has to prove he can handle a locker room full of quality players, large egos and he finally needs to win a trophy. Sir Alex has set the bar so high that even a third of his achievements might be accepted by the Old Trafford faithful. Moyes needs to prove to the fans that he is every inch as good a tactician as Sir Alex to win a major trophy with this squad. Or he must go to the transfer market and strengthen the squad. First things first, he needs to sort out the future of Wayne Rooney. There are a lot of doubters but as Moyes was handpicked by Ferguson himself, perhaps this is the final masterstroke by Sir Alex.
Pressing Needs: Ball playing centre midfielder (CM), Central Defensive midfielder (CDM), Striker (if Rooney leaves)
My picks: Thiago Alcantara – €22m, Marouane Fellaini – €30m, Robert Lewandowski – €45m
Prediction: 2nd in EPL, FA Cup winners, Champions League Qtr Final
Manuel Pellegrini: To Manchester City
Ever since it became clear that Manchester City would not win the English Premier League, Roberto Mancini was a dead man walking. Pellegrini has the been the front runner for the job ever since.
Manuel Pellegrini has worked wonders with a Malaga team that wasn’t able to pay him on time or any of the players for that matter. He took Malaga to the Champions League Quarter Finals where if not for poor refereeing they would have faced his old club Real Madrid in the semi-final. At his time as Madrid manager he broke the La Liga points total. Unfortunately for him Barcelona broke it too and pipped Madrid to the title and he was let go because of that and the team’s failure to get out of the Champions League 2nd round.
Pellegrini’s task now is to use the money he’s going to be given by the ever rich City owners to strengthen the team. City is a team of individuals and Pellegrini is a team builder and this is what he will need to do. It’s clear that this will need to happen very quickly because when money is flowing as freely as it does at Manchester City, patience doesn’t flow as easily.
Pressing needs: Backup Centre Back, striker
My picks: Fernandino and Navas (completed) , Adel Rami – €10m , Edinson Cavani – €50m
Prediction – 1st in English Premier League, Champions League Qtr Final, FA Cup Semi-Final
Walter Mazzarri: To Inter Milan
Mazzarri was manager of Napoli from 2009 until his departure at the end of last season. Napoli were a team on the rise but it’s Mazzari who has been directly responsible for turning a team that were outsiders into genuine Scudetto contenders. He has done so with a brilliant attacking style, making use of the flexible 3-4-3 formation. His task now will be to return Inter Milan to its past glories of the season when Jose Mourinho was in charge of the team. Inter’s team is aging, slow and lacks ideas. The blame for this should solely be placed at owner Massimo Moratti’s feet. Mazzarri’s task will be difficult and he will need to be given time for his philosophy to sink in. Whether Moratti affords him the necessary time remains to be seen.
Pressing needs: Two new strikers, Centre midfielder, winger and at lease one center back
My picks: Pablo Osvaldo – €10m, Loic Remy – €5m, Keisuke Honda – €8m, Nani – €8.5m, Douglas (Twente) – Free
My prediction: 4th in Serie A, Coppa D’Italia Semi-Finals
Rafa Benitez:To Napoli
Benitez is a man on a mission. His stock dropped to unthinkable lows after his final season in Liverpool and his 6 month stint at Inter Milan following the departure of Jose Mourinho. Benitez was not pursued by any of the big European clubs after that and he would not settle. Then came the opportunity to take over Chelsea, albeit in an interim position which Rafa was unhappy about. Throughout his short tenure in the Chelsea dug out the fans did not take to him, to put it mildly. However, Benitez battled through and was able to steady the ship. Chelsea finished 3rd in the premier league, got to an FA Cup Semi-Final and finally, beat Benfica to take the Europa League trophy. Rafa’s redemption campaign is well and truly on the way.
Now Benitez has taken over as manager of Napoli. He is tasked with taking the team a step beyond where Walter Mazzarri left them. It will be no easy task especially with the future of Edinson Cavani hanging in the balance. If Cavani goes Benitez will need to show transfer market creativity to fill the gap. De Sanctis’ form has also dipped so a goalkeeper to challenge him should also be valued. Benitez desperately needs to show he can play an attractive attacking style as I don’t believe the locals will accept anything less from their beloved Napoli.
Pressing needs: Striker, Winger, Goalkeeper
My picks: Mario Gomez – €15m, Dries Maartens – €9.5m (completed), Julio Cesar – €3m
Prediction: Serie A – 3rd in Serie A, Coppa D’Italia winners, Champions League Qtr Finals
Jose Mourinho: Chelsea
We’ve already dedicated a whole article to the Special one so not too much detail needed here. It is clear that this is not the same Chelsea that Mourinho walked into in 2004. He will have money to spend but he definitely won’t have as much at his disposal as he did back then. The team is solid as it is but needs a few tweaks here and there for it to work the way Jose would like it to. Mourinho will need to re-establish Chelsea as a force in the premier league. The team has fallen off the pace a little bit in recent years but I’m sure Jose is the man to bring Chelsea back to challenge for the title. After Chelsea’s failure in the champions league he will also need to use his experience to get the 2012 winners back to the top of Europe. Chelsea won the Europa League but we all know that’s not where they really wanted to be. Squad wise, Chelsea need to bring in a striker as Torres has been woeful and Chelsea might just be a step too far for Demba Ba. Mourinho may decide to put all his eggs in the Lukaku basket or he might well ask Roman Abramovich to sanction the transfer of long term target Edinson Cavani. It’s going to be exciting at Stanford Bridge this summer that’s for sure.
Pressing needs: Striker, Holding Midfielder, Centre back
My picks: Edinson Cavani -€50m, Sami Khedira – €25m – Ezequiel Garay – €18m
Prediction: 3rd in Premier League, FA Cup Finalists, Champions League Semi-finals
Pep Guardiola: To Bayern Munich
When Pep Guardiola went off on his sabbatical he was without doubt the hottest property in football. Chelsea, Man City, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint Germain and to a lesser extent Manchester United were all trying to persuade Pep to join their respective clubs. Pep decided the best move for him would be to join Bayern Munich. Juup Henyckes was told he would be out at the end of the season as a result of Guardiola’s appointment. What Pep didn’t know was that Heynckes would lead Bayern to one of the most successful periods in their entire history. Bayern won the league title by 25 points, smashed Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate en route to winning the Champions League against rivals Borussia Dortmund. A few days later they completed the treble by winning the DFB Pokal cup against Stuttgart.
Guardiola brought the tiki-taka philosophy to the mainstream and won everything in his path at Barcelona. This Bayern team isn’t built for that type of play and it wouldn’t make sense to overthrow a team that currently is the best in Europe. Can Guardiola build on what Heynckes has started? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Pressing needs: Centre back, striker
My picks: Laurent Koscielny – €20m, Luis Suarez – £45m
Prediction: 1st in Bundesliga, DFB Pokal winners, Champions League Semi-Finals
Images credit to Omar Momani goal.com