Managers, it’s over to you
The buying has been done so what now, asks
NOW that the transfer window has closed, it merely opens up another challenge for the clubs, and one that is really much more fascinating in proper football terms than the facile sensationalism of the market.
The men in charge actually have to “manage”, in the truest sense of the word. They have to make do with what they’ve got, try to maximise the resources available to them. How they tackle that may be much more decisive this season than how much they’ve spent.
That alone also reflects one of the contradictions of this window and one of the underlying woes of overbearing wealth. The Premier League has never spent so much money, but there are very few managers completely content with their business, and none of the richest six are. All of the latter have issues to solve and problems to fix through their own hands-on management if they are to really progress and over-perform this season.
Antonio Conte, pictured, has already proven he can handle that supremely. The Italian also led the way in showing that such tactical innovation is the true strength in the megamoney modern Premier League, by mostly winning the title through that kind of influence last season.
It is no exaggeration to say that his late September switch to three at the back may be the most influential mid-season coaching decision the league has seen. The frustration for Conte now is that the rewards were not resounding, at
up their campaign against Venezuela. least in terms of bolstering his side.
He could have justifiably thought one of the extra benefits of winning the league like that in his first season would be full backing in the transfer market, to get as close to everything he wanted as was realistic.
That did not come close to happening, so for the second season in a row Conte will have to make do, but if the fundamental challenge is the same, the specifics of it are different.
Whereas last season’s problems were having the personnel for the desired system, he now has the system for the personnel but just doesn’t have enough of them. The difficulty is with depth. He must ensure Chelsea maintain the same momentum in a more demanding season, where he won’t be able to get the same use out of the same key players.
It feels a particular issue up front and at wing-back, and he is going to have to be just as creative for the games when he can’t play Alvaro Morata or one of his three main wide men.
Jurgen Klopp must overcome the same problem, but the addition of Mohamed Salah means the loss of even two of his attackers won’t be as crippling as it was last term. He has not added to that defence, though, so is staking a lot on his team’s fundamental in that it means he
needed a win to continue to aspire to first place in Group G, leading to automatic qualification.
Italy still have a remote chance of finishing first as they are three points behind Spain with two games left, but the play-offs look increasingly likely.
Spain top the table after routing Liechtenstein 8-0.
The three points in the Mapei Stadium helped Italy consolidate second place in Group G, six points clear of third-placed Albania, who were held 1-1 is banking on the side continuing to score more than they concede.Jose Mourinho must just keep his team scoring. While United have been impressively free-flowing in their three games so far, it shouldn’t be overlooked that, bar the victory over an atrocious West Ham, that was largely when they’d gone ahead and games had open up. Pep Guardiola’s problem is the opposite in that he could do with a defensive midfield that tightens games, while Mauricio Pochettino needs to add a bit more poise to Tottenham’s power. Arsene Wenger has a range of issues, as well as the root question of his own struggles to adapt despite the recent move to three at the back. It goes right through the league, from Frank De Boer looking to impose a system on players unused to it, to Rafa Benitez having to deal with what he’s been left with.
Now that no one can spend until January, all of these issues have to be solved on the training pitch or in the manager’s office.
For the next few months it is no longer about who can spend the most but who can innovate the most. As with last season, that will say a lot more about the managers than just going out and buying the best player. – The Independent
Italy, without injured Giorgio Chiellini and suspended Leonardo Bonucci, were far from convincing after their demolition by Spain.
Israel, playing without captain Eran Zahavi who quit international football in disgust after his side were jeered by home fans in Haifa on Saturday in a shock loss to Macedonia, suffered their fifth defeat of the campaign.
Italy next have games against Macedonia in Turin and Albania away
The last time Italy had to go through play-offs was in 1997 on the road to the 1998 World Cup in France. Omar Al Soma’s stoppage-time equaliser took war-torn Syria into Asia’s World Cup play-offs on Tuesday, as South Korea and Saudi