BATTLE OF THE BOSSES How did Mourinho, Klopp, Conte and company rate on first weekend of Premier League season?
THE first full weekend of the Premier League underlined why this is being billed as the year of the Galactico managers. From Jurgen Klopp giving goalscorer Sadio Mane a piggyback ride to Antonio Conte jumping into the crowd at Stamford Bridge, you couldn’t take your eyes out of the technical area.
Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola made the big decisions you would expect of the world’s best, while for Arsene Wenger it was a familiar story after 20 years.
Sportsmail looks at how all the leading managers fared in various aspects of their performance. Antonio Conte (Chelsea 2-1 West Ham) Tactics: The Italian is renowned for playing 4-2-4 or with wing-backs but adapted to 4-3-3 with Oscar chosen ahead of Cesc Fabregas in the engine room. Also, with Eden Hazard and Willian — neither natural wingers — either side of centre-forward Diego Costa, there was a need for the full-backs to provide width, which leftback Cesar Azpilucueta did particularly well.
Touchline antics: Diego Simeone and Jurgen Klopp rolled into one. Raged and hollered his way through the first 89 minutes and then celebrated Diego Costa’s late winning goal by running towards the fans and giving out spontaneous bearhugs. Looked like an Italian manager should, sharp suit with slimline black tie. Everything he did was intense, and that was mirrored by the team’s performance.
Fan reaction: Already a cult hero at Stamford Bridge judging by social media reaction. Not only has he got Eden Hazard to say the team are playing like ‘tigers’, his emotional approach to the game has played well with the supporters who felt bereft for much of last season after Jose Mourinho left. His charisma and piercing eyes will make him one of the must-watch personalities of the season.
Rating: 7/10. The players kept going for their new manager and got their rewards Jose Mourinho (Bournemouth 1-3
Manchester United) Tactics: Has said he will play two systems this season; 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3. Without the suspended Paul Pogba, he opted for 4-2-3-1 with holders Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini helping to snuff out Bournemouth in the early stages before Juan Mata scored and United expressed themselves. Winning football first, and entertainment second.
Touchline antics: Made a point from his very first pre-season friendly that he won’t be staying in his seat scribbling notes like Louis van Gaal. Stayed up close and personal but didn’t express too much emotion apart from showing clear delight when Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his debut goal. After his Chelsea experience last season, Mourinho will be on best behaviour for the time being, the question is how long it will last?
Fan reaction: United fans have turned 180 degrees on their view of Mourinho having won only one trophy in three seasons post-Sir Alex Ferguson. Instead of being derided for dull football, the former Chelsea manager had his name chanted by United fans alongside that of Eric Cantona. The signing of Ibrahimovic has been a masterstroke, he is the type of maverick star United supporters love and Mourinho delivered him. Once ahead, there was enough panache about United’s play to represent the club’s traditions.
Rating: 7/10: to come Pep Guardiola (Manchester City 2-1
Sunderland) Tactics: Pep will bring his methods to English football rather the other way round. Fullbacks Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy were pushed farther forward than we’ve seen in the Premier Three points with Paul Pogba League. Willy Caballero was selected ahead of Joe Hart because he’s a better footballer rather than shot-stopper. Debutant John Stones was encouraged to pass, pass, pass.
Touchline antics: Immaculately turned out in a snappy two-piece suit and trademark V-neck jumper, Guardiola was ever-present in his technical area, cajoling and gesticulating to his players at all times. Even managed to look cool when Sunderland equalised, nonchalantly taking a swig of his water as if he knew City would go onto win.
Fan reaction: Made a big call by dropping Hart, something that hasn’t gone down well with a section of City fans who view the goalkeeper as the soul of the dressing-room alongside Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta. But Guardiola will be given time by City’s supporters, they have chased him for three years.
Rating: 6/10: Saved by Paddy McNair’s late own goal.
Jurgen Klopp (Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool) Tactics: Opted for a false No 9 in Robert Firmino with Daniel Sturridge injured and Christian Benteke and Mario Balotelli for sale. It worked, particularly in the second half, because of the fantastic movement around him with Sadio Mane, two-goal Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana. But couldn’t get going for 45 minutes.
Touchline antics: Klopp is one of the new generation of super-pumped up managers. Can’t keep still, lost his glasses twice and giving Mane a piggyback ride to celebrate Liverpool’s fourth goal was pure theatre. Don’t expect to see Jose Mourinho being able to do that for Zlatan Ibrahimovic! Klopp’s exuberance nearly backfired with Arsenal coming back from 4-1 down to 4-3.
Fan reaction: Has the charisma and personality to be the natural successor to Shankly, Dalglish and Benitez and true Kop icons. Even the song ‘Jurgen Klopp, la la la’ has a kind of anarchic feel that suits the manager. With no European football, Liverpool fans will feel they can be the dark horses in this season’s title race as they were in the Luis Suarez season 2013/14
Rating: 8/10: Important win as first three games are away from Anfield
Arsene Wenger (Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool) Tactics: Obliterated by injuries and Euro 2016 fatigue, Wenger played Alexis Sanchez up top but missed his energy playing between the lines. Every decision Wenger made seemed to backfire. He rested his Euro 2016 players opting for rookie defenders Calum Chambers and Rob Holding ahead of Laurent Koscielny, yet played Aaron Ramsey, who then pulled a hamstring. Why £35 million signing Granit Xhaka didn’t start is a mystery.
Touchline antics: Irritable and agitated as Arsenal’s 1-0 lead was lost by Coutinho’s freekick on the stroke of half-time followed by a dramatic second-half collapse. The chemistry between Wenger and his assistant Steve Bould doesn’t feel like one that provides answers, they spent a lot of time sitting glum and bemused. His mood can’t be helped though by the atmosphere at The Emirates which is ready to turn on the team and manager at any moment.
Fan reaction: Instead of looking forward to the manager’s upcoming 20th anniversary, there is outright hostility to Wenger from large sections of the crowd. The boos were never louder when Arsenal relied on a Petr Cech save to stop going 4-1 down. In fact, they did soon after and if Alex OxladeChamberlain hadn’t hit back with a goal almost immediately, the atmosphere could have turned nasty.
Rating: 4/10: Nightmare opening leaves Arsenal playing catch-up again. — SportsMail