It has only been a week and a half since the Premier League season ended, and we are turning our attention to the Champions League Final and the World Cup. But although the spotlight has shifted away from them, EPL clubs have been busily preparing for the upcoming league season (which is already less than three months away!).
The transfer window is open, and there have been some deals for players, but the biggest moves so far have been for the managers (who better to make player deals?). West Brom have officially made Darren Moore’s appointment permanent, which removes him from consideration for vacant EPL jobs. West Ham have officially announced that Manuel Pellegrini will take over from David Moyes as their new manager. And Arsenal have unofficially hired Unai Emery to replace the legendary Arséne Wenger at the Emirates.
These clubs have wisely chosen to resolve their manager issues quickly, so that the new gaffers will have all summer to supplement and reshape their squads to fit their visions. Let’s run through the list of new bosses.
Moore jumped onto a sinking ship when he stepped in to replace Alan Pardew. With just six games remaining, West Brom were firmly glued to the bottom of the table and ten points from safety. Amazingly, the caretaker went 3-1-2 down the stretch, defeating Manchester United, Newcastle, and Tottenham, and drawing with Liverpool and Swansea before falling to Crystal Palace on the final day.
The former Baggies center back very nearly pulled off the impossible, but in the end even his improbable turnaround couldn’t save West Brom, and they were relegated to the Championship. Nevertheless, Moore’s results earned him EPL Manager of the Month for April, and his club waited less than a week after the season ended to convert him from caretaker to permanent boss, much to the delight of the Baggies fan base.
With WBA now set to spend at least a season in the Championship, his appointment as permanent manager isn’t EPL news, per se. But it does take him off the table as a candidate for other openings with EPL clubs, where his name was being included in some of the conversations.
Those of us who watched as Moore galvanized and inspired a nearly hopeless team to fight a valiant but unsuccessful comeback will wish him success, and will hope to see him back in the Prem in 2019.
After the departure of David Moyes at the end of the season, West Ham have today named Manuel Pellegrini their new manager on a three year deal said to be worth as much as £21M.
The Chilean brings with him a coaching resumé that spans 30 years and includes managerial experience on three continents. He led Malaga into the Champions League and amassed a whopping 96 points in the 2009/2010 season with Real Madrid, despite finishing second to Barcelona.
Most recently he has been laboring in the Chinese Super League, where his Hebei China Fortune team currently sit mid-table. But prior to that, Pellegrini was boss at Manchester City, whom he led to the Premier League title and the League Cup in 2014, and to the League Cup and the Champions League semi-finals in 2016.
Hammers fans have made no secret of their displeasure with the style of football their club has played for the last few years, so they’ll be happy that the owners have not only hired a proven gaffer with a track record of winning at the highest level, but also one who will play entertaining football. The 64 year-old’s 2014 Manchester City team set a Premier League record for goals in all competitions, and Pellegrini had this to say upon his appointment at West Ham:
“I think that West Ham had a difficult season last season and I hope that next season we are going to play football that will delight the fans. I always play attacking football and we must try to reach important targets in the season.”
Pellegrini’s style seems to have been an important factor in his hiring, with owner David Sullivan saying:
“We have listened to fans who asked us to be ambitious. We hope they agree it is an exciting appointment. Manuel brings a reputation for attacking football and getting the best out of his players. We believe he will attract new talent to the London Stadium as well as improving the current squad.”
As far as attracting new talent, Pellegrini has been given full control of the biggest transfer budget in the club’s history, reportedly £75M, with much of it to be made available through sales of players who do not fit his blueprint. He has said that he wants to bring in “four or five” players to strengthen the squad over the summer, and rumors are already flying about who those players might be.
Yaya Toure’s name was immediately raised, since Pellegrini worked with him at City and the Ivorian is available for free, having been released by the Sky Blues. But Pellegrini is said to be looking for pace and youth in West Ham’s midfield, and Toure would not fit that bill. Salomon Rondon makes more sense; Pellegrini managed him at Malaga, and the West Brom striker is available for £16M thanks to a relegation clause in his contract.
But Pellegrini will first have to begin by reconstituting West Ham’s coaching staff, who were all excused along with Moyes when the Scot’s contract was allowed to expire. Naming a director of recruitment will be a top priority, and Malaga’s Mario Husillos and Leicester’s Eduardo Macia are believed to be the frontrunners.
While it is doubtful that next season will see Pellegrini’s side contending for the league title or playing in cup finals, for West Ham to land a manager of Pellegrini’s caliber and pedigree seems a genuine coup. And after the uninspiring days of David Moyes and Sam Allardyce, Pellegrini’s front-footed style will be a welcome change for fans who are desperate for a return to the West Ham Way.
Arsenal FC has announced that Unai Emery will be Arséne Wenger’s replacement. Emery’s hire comes as a bit of a surprise, as Mikel Arteta was believed to have the inside track for the job. The former Gunner and current apprentice of Pep Guardiola was reportedly far enough down the path to appointment that his backroom staff and contract terms were under negotiation. But Arsenal apparently awakened to the reality that Arteta has zero experience as a head coach. Rather than succeeding a legendary figure who led the club for 22 years with a man who would be learning on the job, Arsenal instead shifted its focus to Emery.
Emery will take the helm for Arsenal after two seasons managing French behemoth Paris Saint-Germain, where he won the treble this season: The Ligue 1 title, the Coupe de France, and the Coupe de la Ligue. He also collected the Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue last season (his first with the club), and won the Trophée des Champions in 2016 and 2017. Prior to that, he won the Europa League in each of his three seasons at Sevilla. Saying that Emery is more experienced than the 36 year-old Arteta is like saying that Eric Clapton has more experience playing guitar than I have.
Emery will inherit a squad that often seemed languid and lackadaisical, one that is in serious need of upgrades in the midfield and defense and in goal. But Arsenal do not spend money the way PSG did, and Emery will be expected to contend for titles on a budget that is dwarfed by Arsenal’s rivals. He has experience with miserly owners though: He was on a relative shoestring at Valencia and Sevilla, and he succeeded anyway.
He will also have to instill mental and tactical discipline into his players while simultaneously inspiring and motivating them. Arsenal have been adrift this season, often losing focus and coasting their way through games. This will end under Emery, who is a detail-oriented tactician who demands intense preparation from his players ahead of each game. He has his own team of video analysts and is famous for spending hours putting together videos that he gives to players on thumb drives.
There are rumors that he plans to build the club around Aaron Ramsey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. This could spell trouble for Mesut Ozil, who has surely grown accustomed to his role as the squad’s talisman. The German also may bristle under Emery’s high demands and tight leash, and his team-high wages could make him a sales target for his new manager.
And Like Pellegrini at West Ham, Emery will also have to unite a fractured and disgruntled fan base by achieving results through attractive football. He favors a very organized 4-2-3-1 with midfield fluidity and high pressing. As he says in his book Winning Mentality: The Emery Method —
“Fans want their emotions to come to the surface and the only way to make that happen is to give them a team who transmit emotion: Intensity, attacking, scoring goals, competing, fighting. That awakens them.”
So Gunners fans should be able to count on Unai Emery to deliver the brand of football they demand. Whether he can win that way, and prove himself worthy of the legacy he will inherit, remains to be seen.
What do you think of these new managers? Does Darren Moore deserve the permanent appointment? Is Manuel Pellegrini the right man for West Ham? Will Unai Emery be able to fill the French shoes of his iconic predecessor? Let us know what you think below.