English clubs have struggled for a while now to make an impact on the biggest stage of them all – the UEFA Champions League. Teams from Spain, Germany, Italy and even France have upstaged them, and the dominance that the Premier League sides had a decade or so ago is not well and truly in the past.
A revival is on the cards, and it needs the best minds in the game to be present. In 2004, Jose Mourinho’s arrival at Chelsea kick-started an adoption of a whole new style of football, with the 4-4-2 becoming obsolete and teams concentrating on winning midfield. In the following seasons, the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea themselves found themselves being serious contenders for the Champions League. Three of those four teams won the competition in the next eight years.
Some of the biggest and most successful names in the game are in line to take over Premier League teams next season. Pep Guardiola is set to join Manchester City, Mourinho is expected to go to Old Trafford to take over at United, while Antonio Conte has officially been announced as the next Chelsea manager. This trio, along with Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, represents a revival of sorts in the English top-flight, and is sure to take the world of football by storm in the coming years.
A different kind of test
There is though, an interesting situation developing. There is a very real possibility of all the above-mentioned sides missing out on the Champions League next season. In all likeliness, at least two of them will most certainly do.
Manchester City are currently in 4th place, but their recent form has been marred by inconsistency. Manager Manuel Pellegrini knows his game is up, and it is therefore no surprise that motivation levels are hardly at an all-time high.
Neighbours United are only a point behind, and even though their own form hasn’t been anything to be too proud about, they have slowly but surely been catching up on their fierce city rivals. It would, of course, be interesting to see if the club stick with current manager Louis van Gaal rather than going for Mourinho if the Dutchman ends up securing Champions League football for next season.
Hot on the heels of the two Manchester clubs are surprise packages West Ham. With the top 3 all being new entrants from last season in Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, there’s only one spot up for grabs. The Hammers are currently 2 points behind United and 3 behind City, and are the most in-form team among the trio.
The prospect of old foes Guardiola and Mourinho going at it in the Manchester derby with the biggest prize in the Premier League on the line is absolutely mouth-watering.
Liverpool and Chelsea are in 9th and 10th respectively and look all but out of the race.
Well, in some cases, it looks like you have to lose in order to win. Klopp took over from Brendan Rodgers earlier on in the season, and the upcoming summer transfer window will be his first (not including the one in January) at the club. He’ll have the money and freedom to bring in and kick out the players of his choice, and the team we see next season will very much be Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. With just the league to concentrate on, the squad will be able to concentrate on getting back into the top 4.
The same goes for Conte and Chelsea. After a turbulent campaign this year, which saw the Blues go from Champions to a mid-table side, a season without the hassle of the Champions League will be the perfect opportunity to re-group. The Italian will be able to establish his ways and means at Stamford Bridge, whilst building his own squad.
With that, there’s only one thing left to say – The Premier League is going to be one hell of a spectacle next season.