Why Did Manchester United, Manchester City And Chelsea Really Change Managers? What Was Wrong With The Ones They Had?

Posted: September 4, 2016 in Arsenal, Chelsea, European Football, Football, Managers, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion, Premier League
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Manchester City finished fourth last season and won the Capital One Cup. That relative failure saw them having to play a Champion’s League qualifier against Steaua Bucharest this time out, a tie they won comfortably.

To many fans of many clubs Manchester City’s season would have been considered a resounding success but, when you have the kind of players, and therefore, the kind of financial outlay that they have, success is deemed to be finishing in the top two in the Premier League and reaching the final of the Champion’s League.

Manuel Pellegrini, for all his decency and polite ways, ultimately proved that he was not the right man for the job. His biggest mistake, however, was not in selections made or tactics employed, (although some of these were questionable), but in announcing, before the end of the season, that Pep Guardiola would be replacing him.

As soon as this statement was made the players appeared to switch off. The most frustrating aspect of this was not their finish in the league, where they had been inconsistent, at best, for most of the season. No, it was their failure to progress to the Champion’s League final having given themselves their best ever chance to do so. Real Madrid, over the two games, were no better than average. City were worse and went out surely with thoughts of “if only……” going through the player’s minds.

There is no guarantee, of course, that City would have performed any better had the announcement about Guardiola not been made when it was, but the likelihood is that they would have done.

Since arriving at The Etihad Pep has ruthlessly discarded Joe Hart and spent more than £160 million on new players. His message is simple: you play football his way or you don’t play. The difference between his methods and those of say, Louis Van Gaal, is that Guardiola’s tends to work. He seems to have all the players behind him and they are already seeing subtle changes around the place, all of which are designed to improve them as players. This is why City will finish in the top three this season.

Manchester United finished fifth, losing out on the top four on goal difference to Manchester City, they also won the FA Cup. Failure in the previous season’s Champion’s League and failure to qualify for the competition this season were two factors in the early departure of Louis van Gaal. His dictatorial management style and outdated methods were others. Players struggled to come to terms with his tactics and he managed to turn Manchester United into one of the most boring teams in the Premier League.

The only surprise with him was that he lasted as long as he did and there was a massive sigh of relief when Ed Woodward finally decided not to offer the Dutchman a third year and dispensed with his services instead.

Jose Mourinho arrived with something to prove. Reports that he had “lost the dressing room” at Chelsea may have been true and his team were struggling in mid table at the time he was sacked, but he didn’t become a bad manager or a loser overnight.

Many said that his mistake was going back to Chelsea, citing the “never go back” theory as a reason for his failure. There may be some truth in that. Trying to relive past glories, whatever the field of endeavour, is sometimes nigh on impossible. Mourinho needed a fresh start and he hasn’t done too badly since being presented with one.

In contrast to Guardiola at City, where things have been tightened up, Mourinho appears to have relaxed a few of the draconian rules imposed by van Gaal. He has the players playing with a little more freedom and certainly in a more attacking style. They still have to do as they are told but at least they seem to be enjoying doing it! Three wins out of three games tends to suggest, early though it may be, that Mourinho is getting it right. Another club who will finish in the top three.

Chelsea, having sacked Mourinho and replaced him with their favourite “go-to-guy-in-times-of-trouble,” finished the season in tenth position. Reasonably respectable considering their poor start but, in actual fact, awful! They missed out on everything including persuading Guus Hiddink to stay on as manager, (he preferred to go fishing in Holland), so their need for a new man at the helm was glaringly obvious.

Having seen Pep Guardiola go to City and resisting the temptation to approach Mourinho for a third time, probably thinking it was too soon, they turned to Antonio Conte. He has certainly enjoyed a quieter introduction to the Premier League because of the attention focused on Manchester and this has been to his advantage.

As with the other two, he has spent some money and made a few small changes but nothing meteoric. It seems that his very presence has been enough for some of the players to rediscover their desire, form and, in some cases, fitness. Another of the 100% clubs having won three from three he will add to the sense of intrigue which is sure to surround the title race this season. Chelsea will be the final member of the top three.

Meanwhile, over at the Emirates Arsene Wenger will discover that football is no game for old men. They are the only one of the “big four” not to trade in their manager for a newer model and it will prove to be their downfall. Here is an article from earlier this year about that very subject.

So United, City and Chelsea changed their managers in order to finish in the top three. Arsenal didn’t and, therefore, won’t.

  1. RedMe says:

    Please don’t use the word “philosophy” it brings back too many bad memories.


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