With all the furore surrounding the arrivals of Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho at Manchester rivals City and United respectively, the appointment of Antonio Conte at Chelsea has gone somewhat unnoticed by many.
All three went into this weekend’s Premier League fixtures with 100% records, but only one has come out the other side with that record intact. So how have the three settled in at their new clubs?
All three sides have spent big this summer, with City bringing in Claudio Bravo from Barcelona to controversially replace Joe Hart, John Stones from Everton and Nolito from Celta Vigo, as well as Leroy Sane from Schalke and Ilkay Gundogan from Borussia Dortmund. Their signings have totalled approximately £170m.
Meanwhile, cross-city rivals United have entered their new era under Mourinho with a series of marquee signings, despite missing out on Champions League qualification last season. Zlatan Ibrahimovic looked like being the stand out signing of the summer when he signed on a free from Paris Saint-Germain. However, the club then broke the world transfer record by re-signing former youth academy player Paul Pogba from Juventus for a reported £93m. Add in the signings of Eric Bailly from Villareal and Henrikh Mkhitaryan for over £30m each and United have made a huge statement of intent themselves.
Chelsea haven’t been quiet though, with the arrivals of Michy Batshuayi from Marseille, N’Golo Kante from Premier League champions Leicester, Marcos Alonso from Fiorentina and the return of David Luiz from PSG taking their spending beyond £120m this summer – all without the prospect of European football.
Guardiola has been successful wherever he has gone in world football, taking Barcelona to their most successful spell as he won two Champions League trophies in three years, and 14 major trophies in four years at the club. He was pivotal in the emergence of Lionel Messi as a key figure at the club and implemented a superb style of play involving Xavi and Andres Iniesta. He moved on to Bayern Munich, where he enjoyed a 75% win rate in his three years at the club, winning the league in every season.
Up to now at Manchester City, he has led the side to a 100% record in the league and delivered a major blow to old foe Mourinho with a 2-1 win against United in the Manchester derby. He has revitalised Raheem Sterling – one of the standout players this season so far – and his style of play has seamlessly been adopted by the squad. There are many that say Guardiola has been ‘lucky’ in his career so far in terms of adopting world class sides full of proven winners. They say that the Spaniard will have to prove he is as good as the hype suggests if he is to be successful in the most competitive league in the world. So far, he is fulfilling his duty.
Mourinho may have lost the Manchester derby, but he has restored the pride at United that has been missing for the best part of three seasons since the retirement of legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson. The Scot led the side to 13 league titles in 20 years, yet the club fell to seventh under David Moyes in 2013-14, and despite finishing 4th and 5th in 2014-15 and 2015-16 respectively, Louis Van Gaal faced criticism over his style of football and the lack of attacking quality in the side. The arrival of Mourinho has seen the side win the Community Shield and win three of their opening four league games. As the only coach between himself, Guardiola and Conte with any experience in the Premier League – he won three Premier League titles in two spells at Chelsea – there is a large amount of confidence in his ability to bring success back to United, but the derby defeat will have hurt him.
Ex-Juventus and Italy manager Conte arguably has the toughest task. He has taken over at Chelsea, who finished 10th last season despite winning the league the year before. The squad was in disarray and has no European football to offer fans and players this season, but Conte has transformed attitudes at the club, seemingly restoring Diego Costa and Eden Hazard back to their very best and – despite Chelsea dropping points this weekend with a 2-2 draw at Swansea – his side have picked up 10 points from four games.
Chelsea look solid and are playing some very exciting football, and may be able to use the lack of European football to their advantage under the stewardship of the meticulous and passionate Conte.
So, four games in to the new Premier League season and Guardiola, Conte and Mourinho are all living up to their billing, with Man City coach Guardiola the most successful so far. The league now undoubtedly has many of the best managers in world football to go with the extraordinary amount of funds available to them. It will be a great battle between a number of sides this season, and the managerial mind games may take centre stage like never before.