Why the Barclays Premier League will be the world’s best watched league in the 2016/17 season

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A host of Premier League managers eyeing silverware come May 2017

The 2015/16 Barclays Premier League season was the most entertaining and unpredictable season yet. With teams battling it out to stay in the league ahead of the new television deal that will see Premier League teams pocket a £40 million incentive and the race for European football places at its most fierce.

What unfolded was a dramatic season which saw a number of managerial casualties, an absolute meltdown from defending champions Chelsea FC and the sheer brilliance of the most unlikely and eventual champions Leicester City. With everything that unfolded in the season past from managerial appointments with the likes of Jürgen Klopp at Liverpool FC, Pep Guardiola at Manchester City FC, Antonio Conté at Chelsea FC and more recently José Mourinho at Manchester United FC, next season is already shaping up to be quite the humdinger!

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Image source: Football Wiki

For starters, Leicester City will be looking to defend their Premier League crown which they worked so incredibly hard for. The most overwhelming, underdog story in Premier League history unfolded as Claudio Ranieri guided The Foxes to their first ever league success – not bad for a team that were tipped to fight relegation. Next season Ranieri’s men will be looking to prove that they weren’t ‘just a flash in the pan’ and maintain their ‘top four’ status and, hopefully, retain their Premier League title.

Runners-up Arsenal, frustrated with their constant buckling finishes to the league campaign will hope that next season they can go one better and claim the trophy they last won back in 2004. With the club’s fans growing impatient with Arsene Wenger’s lack of silverware over the past few seasons accompanied by the lack of success in Europe, next season could very well be Wenger’s last at the Emirates Stadium.

Manchester City will be under the guidance of flamboyant Spaniard Pep Guardiola who will get his first taste of managing in the English league. Guardiola has made waves in his short managerial career, winning the league title in his first seasons with both FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively. At both his previous clubs, the stylish Spaniard inherited squads consisting of the world’s best footballers in their prime. This time however, Pep may not have it all that easy with the Man City squad a mixture of exciting, world class talent and players coming towards their successful spells. It is going to be very interesting to see how Guardiola fares in his first outing as an English football manager.

Tottenham Hotspur will have a tough act to follow after last season’s third place finish. Mauricio Pochettino’s men came within touching distance of lifting the Premier League crown but fell well short of the mark. Spurs will be encouraged by the dazzling season experienced last term by their stars, Christian Eriksen, Harry Kane and the sensational Dele Alli all stealing the show while pushing Spurs up the table in the process.

Manchester United had the pleasure lifting the FA Cup and equalling Arsenal’s record of 12 FA Cup successes but had a season to forget after finishing fifth behind neighbours Man City in fourth. With the majority of former Old Trafford players (and fans alike) voicing their displeasure at the style of football under Louis Van Gaal, the Dutchman saw his time at the helm come to an end soon after guiding the club to the FA Cup. The Red Devils are determined to step out of the shadows of their noisy neighbours Man City and reclaim their place as the dominant force in Manchester and England. The appointment of new manager and ex-Chelsea boss José Mourinho gives the Old Trafford faithful hope that the glory days will soon return while providing the league with a new and potentially ‘special’ dynamic.

Liverpool were among the big guns that failed to fire last term with a disappointing eighth place finish. The Reds suffered in the opening stages of the campaign under then manager, Brendan Rodgers who was eventually sacked in October. Jürgen Klopp, formerly of Borussia Dortmund, had taken over the Anfield hot-seat and aimed on building for the upcoming season. With the German at the helm, Liverpool were somewhat inconsistent for the remainder of campaign with a number of injuries to key players. Something Liverpool and their fans can take from the past season is the fact that Klopp guided the Anfield club to two finals, The Capital One Cup and Europa League respectively, in his short seven month spell in charge. The future looks bright for Liverpool under the guidance of the passionate German.

Defending champions Chelsea were dismal in their attempts to retain the title they had won under previous manager Mourinho. A fallout between Mourinho and the club’s hierarchy and players lead to Chelsea’s demolition and the eventual sacking of Mourinho. Caretaker manager Guus Hiddink stepped in to steady the sinking Chelsea ship and help ensure that The Blues finished as high as possible. Antonio Conté takes over the reins at Stamford Bridge next season and will be determined to give a good showing of himself and his footballing philosophy.

Apart from the so called ‘big guns’ of the English game, the rest of the top flight will be sure to follow from Leicester’s miraculous feat last season and reach for the proverbial brass ring that is the Premier League crown. With the new season well over a month away and Euro 2016 on the horizon, the 2016/17 season is shaping up to be a mouth-watering affair.

Anfield Time Running Out For Rodgers As Klopp is Ticking

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Could Brendan Rodgers’ time at Anfield be up?

Under-fire Liverpool Football Club manager Brendan Rodgers is feeling the pressure after a stuttering start to Liverpool’s 2015/16 campaign. After a seemingly good start to the season claiming 7 points from a possible 9, the cracks began to show after a dismal home display as they lost 3-0 to West Ham at Anfield. Since then the Reds have lost out 3-1 to Manchester United at Old Trafford, claimed a 1-1 draw away to Bordeaux and settled for an unconvincing 1-1 draw at home to Norwich. With the Anfield faithful losing their trust in Rodgers week in and out, the Northern Irishman’s time on Merseyside could very well be up.

Rodgers is currently in his fourth season in the Anfield hot seat and has spent an excess of over £200m to build his own squad after the sales of star players such as Luis Suarez (to Barcelona) and Raheem Sterling (to Manchester City). He recently described this season to be a ‘process of rebuilding’ however after four seasons in charge of one of the world’s biggest football clubs and England’s most successful club one would think that Rodgers would and should be challenging for silverware on all fronts. The key target for Liverpool Football Club is getting back into the UEFA Champions League and featuring in Europe’s most elite football competition consistently. In Rodgers’ time in charge of Liverpool, he’s only delivered on that target once in which they were knocked out in the group stage of the competition.

The demands and expectations at Liverpool Football Club are very high with a large fan base worldwide. At first the supporters were patient with Rodgers’ approach considering the fact that he needed to find his feet at a new, bigger club with his only other managerial experience coming from clubs like Reading and Swansea with all due respect. He inherited a squad that did not fit his philosophy and style while having a major squad overhaul during his time. In his first season, his Liverpool side ended in a modest 7th position, with many promising signs of improvement. In his second season he pushed Liverpool to what would have been their first league trophy in over 23 years but fell just short of the mark, losing out to Manchester City in the final weeks. His Liverpool side were a force to be reckoned with dispatching a team like Arsenal 5-1 by scoring the four inside the first 20 minutes. In the summer after the 2014 FIFA World Cup the club sold their best player in Luis Suarez for a hefty fee of £75m to Barcelona and Rodgers made the decision to build up his squad instead of finding a suitable replacement for the talismanic Uruguayan striker.

That move proved costly as Liverpool struggled for goals in the 2014/15 campaign, looking like a shell of the side that scored over 100 goals in the Barclays Premier League the season before. That campaign started off with a lot of optimism with a bigger and improved squad playing in the Champions League. The new-look vibrant Liverpool side went on a three month unbeaten run in the Premier League which was ended by rivals Manchester United back in March in a 2-1 home defeat. That result seemed to take the wind out of the Reds’ sails as they lost their grip on the top four, got knocked out of both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League and lost out in two domestic cup semi-finals to Chelsea and Aston Villa respectively. Add to the mix, the news of long-standing club captain and legend Steven Gerrard’s departure at the end of the season there was a very dark cloud hanging over the Merseysiders.

Gerrard’s last home game at Anfield ended in a disappointing 3-1 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace. To add insult to injury, Gerrard’s final appearance in the Premier League ended in a dismal 6-1 defeat away at Stoke City on the final day of last season. That result meant that Rodgers made history for all the wrong reasons as the Reds recorded their worst defeat for half a century on a day that was supposed to be scripted as the perfect send off for Steven Gerrard. On a day when Liverpool were poised to end in 5th position in the league they had slumped to their worst defeat in 50 years and ended up in 6th place in a disappointing season overall.

The club and its supporters were not impressed to say the least with nothing to show for Rodgers’ three seasons in charge at Liverpool after he himself said, “Judge me after 3 years”. The club’s owners Fenway Sports Group held a meeting with the Northern Irishman in July which resulted in them allowing him to stay on as Liverpool manager, however his coaching staff from the previous three seasons had paid the price.

Before the start of the new season Rodgers had assembled himself a new coaching staff and gone out and brought in 7 new players to the club following the departure of club legend Steven Gerrard and pacey forward Raheem Sterling.

The new season started off with the Reds putting to bed that awful display against Stoke City on the final day of last season by defeating them 1-0 on the same ground where they last conceded six. Although it was not a very convincing win, to start the season off with a win is always ideal especially when you put your own demons to rest. That result was followed up by an unconvincing 1-0 home victory against newly promoted Bournemouth on August 17th.

Those results were followed up by a decent away draw at Arsenal and two defeats to West Ham and Manchester United respectively, while recording 1-1 draws against Bordeaux in the Europa League and Norwich in the Premier League. The fact of the matter is that Liverpool have not won a single game since beating Bournemouth back in August and the fans are starting to rally up against the Liverpool manager. To add to the Reds’ woes is that they have not been able to score more than one goal in a game so far this season which is unacceptable by the club’s standards. Fans are flocking in to Anfield very anxious and as the games drag on, they become restless due to the Reds’ poor run of form.

The fans are clearly unhappy with the current manager and the number of dissatisfied ‘customers’ keep growing as they feel that Rodgers has had more than enough time to put things right and help the club move forward. At the minute, it seems like a two steps forward one step back type of atmosphere at the club which needs to change and fast.

There are however two possible replacements that the fans have identified and sounded out as favourites to take over from Rodgers, Carlo Ancelotti and Jürgen Klopp, both of whom are currently out of work. Both managers are very experienced in world football and have been successful at their previous clubs. Ancelotti and Klopp both fit the profile of what it takes to be the manager of Liverpool Football Club with both previously managing Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund respectively.

Klopp

The fans would be pleased with the appointment of either of these world class managers with Klopp being the more favoured of the two. Liverpool fans have even gone as far as arranging that a large group of the supporters dress up like Klopp at Liverpool’s next home game in an attempt to ‘fill the Kop with Klopp’ in an attempt to appeal to the club’s owners to sack Rodgers. Klopp’s authoritative figure and high tempo of pressing and attacking play would suit the current crop of players at Liverpool and the Anfield faithful would welcome him with open arms.

Ancelotti on the other hand is a proven manager in the Premier League after a successful stint with Chelsea Football Club in which he won the Premier League and FA Cup double. He is also the second manager in history to win the UEFA Champions League thrice following in the footsteps of ‘the father of Liverpool Football Club’ Bob Paisley which really hits home for the Liverpool fans.

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It is no secret that current Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is on thin ice at Anfield and his time could very well be up. With the supporters getting on his back and calling for a new manager it’s only a matter of time before the owners of Liverpool Football Club start looking at replacements and end the Rodgers reign at Anfield.