Let the Premier League tactical battle ground begin

There can have been few, if any seasons, certainly not in the EPL, where the overwhelming majority of interest and anticipation has been centred around the technical areas rather than the players.

EPL Coaches

Source: Getty Images

This season’s Premier League hits a new high in this regard.

Since Arsene Wenger’s arrival in 1996, which ushered is a new era of foreign players, the globalisation of the English league, with the percentage of English and British coaches in steady decline.

To start season 2016-2017, there will be just three: Sean Dyche, Alan Pardew (he of the FA Cup Final jig) and Eddie Howe.

A global audience has attracted wells of money that is now creating a vortex for not just players, but some of the planet’s finest young technicians as well.

Exactly 20 years later, the trickle of Wenger’s early days has become an almighty torrent as clubs chase either safety and an ongoing presence in the financial stratosphere of the league, seek to re-enter the UEFA Champions League positions that is a necessity for any club aiming for greatness or aim for titles.

As Manchester United have shown so devastatingly clearly, success is only as constant as the quality of decisions made at board level, and the need for the very best leaders of incredibly expensively assembled groups of talent has become more evident than ever before.

Regarding England, this should be in some ways a positive, albeit the German, Italian and Spanish experiences, the last three World Cup winners, is that ensuring a superior representation of domestic players and coaches is critical to international success, nevertheless the new generation English player is to be trained by the best.

Kids will be coming out of teams under Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola, Ronald Koeman, Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte, Mauricio Pocchetino and Wenger himself, used to the highest levels of methodology, capable of playing in multiple styles and systems.

England obviously needed a coach able to synthesise this into a coherent style that leverages the work being done underneath, to build on the weekly tactical education, as did Vicente Del Bosque, Joachim Low and Marcelo Lippi.

Sam Allardyce would not be the most obvious solution to that opportunity.

Anyway, for those interested in the ways of playing, in the evolution of the game, in how the game will progress after the Spanish era, in how the Premier League will try to catch the dominance of La Liga, who own the Champions League and Europa League in recent years, the new season is singularly enticing.

Not to mention the numerous sub plots already in place.

Guardiola v Mourinho, the eye gouger extraordinaire.

Mourinho inheriting the Ferguson legacy and whether, or how we will ultimately mistreat it. And whether, as usual, he will experience success before he inevitably does so.

Klopp v Guardiola, from Bundesliga days.

Conte v Mourinho (you just know Mourinho will bring up the titles he won with Chelsea and ensure Conte knows that the Mou considers himself superior in every way).

Conte’s football progression from Serie A to England top flight. How he changes, adapts.

Whether Guardiola can achieve success in season one, needing to recruit, train and inculcate a style with the most intense scrutiny afforded any coach, probably in history, given his reputation.

Is Pochettino at his limit, or can he continue to improve the group under him at Tottenham to challenge again for the title?

And Leicester, can they do it again? Of course not. Last season lightning struck in that the major clubs faltered, all at once and, predictably, Arsenal failed to show the ability to take advantage when the moment appeared.

With the coaches who have arrived this season, mistakes will not be made. Margins will be smaller. Tensions higher. Rivalries reignited.

Get used to it because the unbelievable amounts of money in the Premier League, and the need for shareholder value to be maintained and protected means less time to work, greater pressure on results and an intense, global market driven need to have the best coaches in charge.

Season 2016-2017 is the almighty technical area battle. And it’s going to be intense.

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4 min read
Published 8 August 2016 at 2:01pm
By Craig Foster