Like millions of fans around the world, Roy Hodgson would surely have been eagerly anticipating the beginning of the Premier League campaign.
But while the England manager’s main focus would undoubtedly have been the English players on show, it is not just the home grown players that are going to be on the minds of English supporters this season.
With Hodgson under pressure to deliver a positive tournament at next year’s European Championships in France, attention this season will surely start to turn to identifying the 68-year-old’s potential successor should things go wrong again for England across the channel.
Although only 9 of the 20 Premier League teams this season are currently managed by a British coach (5 of them are English), there is still a sense that a serious contender could emerge during this campaign.
The disillusionment that grew under the reigns of Sven-Goran Eriksson and Fabio Capello has made the appointment of a third foreign manager unlikely, leaving the door wide open for some of the top British coaches to stake their claim.
Pardew is one manager who is developing into a strong candidate, despite a topsy-turvy managerial career thus far.
He guided Crystal Palace to a notable 10th place finish last season after taking over in early January, and also impressed during previous jobs at West Ham and Newcastle.
Pardew led the Irons to promotion back to the Premier League in 2004-05 before guiding them to their first FA Cup final in nearly 30 years the following season.
During his spell on Tyneside, Newcastle finished fifth in the Premier League in Pardew’s first full season in charge, an achievement which saw Pardew named Premier League Manager of the Year.
However, his time at West Ham did not end well as just seven months after leading them to the Cup final he was sacked after a poor run of results saw them slide down the Premier League table.
He also had a strained relationship with the Newcastle supporters during his time in the North East, and endured a tough season during the 2012/13 campaign as Newcastle finished just two places above the relegation zone.
Nevertheless, there is plenty to be optimistic about when it comes Pardew’s recent record. Bar the disappointing 2012/13 season, Pardew helped bring stability on the pitch at St James’ Park following Newcastle’s shock relegation to the Championship in May 2009, helping them secure mid-table finishes in 2010/11 and 2013/14.
His impact at Selhurst Park so far should also not be under-estimated. The Eagles were in the relegation zone when Pardew was appointed in January. However, Palace went on to win ten of their remaining league fixtures to finish the season in 10th position, bettering their eleventh-placed finish in 2013/14. That impressive run under Pardew included notable victories over Manchester City and Liverpool.
Despite being the subject of some ridicule following Liverpool’s disappointing showing during the 2014/15 campaign, Rodgers remains a strong candidate to succeed Hodgson.
Rodgers has orchestrated a dramatic turnaround of his managerial career after an underwhelming six month spell as Reading manager came to an end in December 2009. He enjoyed a dream first season in charge of Swansea, going on to win promotion to the top flight via the play-offs, becoming the first Welsh side in history to reach the Premier League in the process.
After helping consolidate Swansea in the top flight in his first season as a Premier League manager, Rodgers took on the biggest challenge of his career in June 2012 when he was appointed Liverpool manager, replacing club legend Kenny Dalglish.
The 2013/14 campaign saw Rodgers come close to achieving one of the most memorable feats in modern times as, spurred on by the scoring exploits of Luis Suarez, Liverpool looked set to secure their first ever Premier League title. However, the Merseyside club eventually missed out on top spot to Manchester City by two points, but Liverpool and Rodgers won great praise for their style of play throughout the season.
There was also much excitement at the presence of several young English players in Rodgers’ team, such as Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson, who Rodgers has since appointed his new captain at Anfield. This could count in Rodgers’ favour should he be considered as a serious candidate for the England job.
The fact that Rodgers has experience managing one of Britain and Europe’s most famous clubs could also give him an advantage over fellow candidates.
A potential stumbling block could be Rodgers’ own desire to take the job, and how much his Northern Irish roots play in his decision should the offer from the FA be made.
Although it would be a risky appointment, the Manchester United legend has emerged as a popular candidate. Neville’s reputation has soared since entering the word of punditry, and England’s strong defensive displays at Euro 2012 were also pinpointed as an example of the positive effects of his input after he joined the coaching staff in May 2012.
A major argument against Neville will of course be that he has never held a managerial post, and therefore handing him one of the most pressured and scrutinised roles in the sport in those circumstances would simply be asking far too much of him.
However, as Neville’s backers will undoubtedly point out, an appointment of this calibre is not unheard of. One of England’s great adversaries, Diego Maradona, was unveiled as the new head coach of Argentina in 2008 despite having very little managerial experience. Despite this, Maradona was able to lead his national side to qualification for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where they went on to reach the quarter-finals.
However, it could also be argued that Maradona’s time in charge of Argentina also exposes the limitations of this type of appointment. Though Argentina comfortably progressed to the last eight, when they finally came up against one of the heavyweights of World football in Germany, they were outclassed and comfortably beaten 4-0.
Neville’s prospects may also hinge on England’s performance at Euro 2016. If England fail to meet expectations and this brings about Hodgson’s departure, promoting someone from Hodgson’s own coaching staff may not seem the most attractive option.
Yet Neville’s appointment would undoubtedly arouse interest, and while Hodgson’s appointment three years ago was viewed by some as the FA taking the safety-first option, promoting Neville would indeed be the polar opposite approach.
After helping bring about one if the most dramatic transformations of a club ever seen, Howe’s CV will be one that is hard to ignore.
Bournemouth’s promotion to the Premier League was one of the stories of last season given that just six years previously they had finished 21st in the League Two table – just two places above the relegation zone – following a points deduction.
But after achieving automatic promotion in his first full season in charge, this set in motion a chain of events that would revolutionise the fortunes of the south coast club.
After spending nearly two years at Burnley after leaving Bournemouth in January 2011, Howe returned to the Cherries towards the beginning of the 2012-13 season and once again helped instigate an astounding turnaround.
Despite a difficult start to the season, Bournemouth went on to win promotion to the Championship in Howe’s first season back in charge, narrowly missing out on the title to Doncaster Rovers. Last season’s success – their third automatic promotion in six years – completed Bournemouth’s incredible rise to the top flight and made Howe one of the most respected coaches in the country.
His achievements were recognised earlier in the year when he was name ‘Football League manager of the decade’ at the 10th annual Football League awards ceremony.
Howe’s lack of experience of managing in the top flight may mean he will not quite be on the FA’s radar should they be seeking a replacement for Hodgson next summer. But Howe has responded magnificently to every challenge put in front of him so far in his managerial career, and should the FA look to take a radical, new approach with their next appointment, the 37-year-old would be a tempting choice.
The environment in which Garry Monk began his managerial career could not have been much different to Eddie Howe’s.
While Howe inherited a team struggling towards the bottom of Football League’s basement division, Monk took the reins of an established Premier League side in Swansea when he was appointed manager in May 2014, three months after being placed in temporary charge.
36-year-old Monk, who spent over ten years as a player at the Liberty Stadium before taking the top job, has very quietly gone about solidifying the Swans’ position in the top flight after inheriting a side that was in the midst of a mini-crisis.
His predecessor, Michael Laudrup, was dismissed after a disappointing run of form which left Swansea in danger of being sucked into a relegation battle. Monk began his temporary reign in style, defeating South Welsh rivals Cardiff 3-0 in his first game in charge as he led them to a respectable 12th place finish in 2013-14.
He continued his impressive work by leading Swansea to their best finish since returning to the top flight in 2011, as they ended the season in 8th place in the Premier League. This was achieved despite Monk losing star striker Wilfred Bony in January following his transfer to then-champions Manchester City. Their campaign included some memorable results including a home win against Manchester United and two victories against Arsenal, as they completed a memorable double over the Gunners.
Monk would be seen as a surprising candidate for England by many due to his age and because he is still in the very early years of his management career, but he is hardly the only candidate in this situation.
He would require a big season during the 2014-15 campaign to really throw his hat into the ring, but after beginning the season with a hard fought draw at Chelsea, he has made a promising start.