The managerial merry-go-round was a slow burner this summer, with Tottenham in particular seemingly struggling to appoint a new boss, but new Premier League managers are now finally in post.
Two are newcomers to Premier League management but both of them have prior experience of English football. Crystal Palace’s new manager Patrick Vieira is an Arsenal legend and Bruno Lage, now in charge at Wolves, previously spent time on Swansea City’s coaching staff.
The other duo measuring up a new office are comparatively experienced with Nuno Espirito Santo swapping Wolves for Spurs and Rafa Benitez controversially returning to Merseyside. Here are the main challenges facing the four new managers in the Premier League this term.
Challenges facing the new Premier League managers
Patrick Vieira (Crystal Palace)
Palace looked at Nuno among various other managers but they eventually plumped for Vieira, who has led Nice in Ligue 1 and New York City FC in MLS so far in his coaching career.
Overhauling an ageing squad is top of Vieira’s agenda – some 10 players were out of contract at same time Roy Hodgson left the club earlier in the summer – and he has already brought in some fresh blood with the signing of Chelsea’s talented young centre-back Marc Guehi as well as the highly-rated Michael Olise.
Decisions still need to be made over the futures of various experienced professionals like Gary Cahill, while this summer seems set to be another where Wilfried Zaha makes lots of headlines.
The Ivory Coast international has continually pushed for a move away from Selhurst Park but if Vieira can convince the 28-year-old his future is at Palace he will have a natural match-winner. Keeping Zaha would potentially be one of the biggest wins of any of the new Premier League managers.
Rafa Benitez (Everton)
A small minority of Everton fans made their feelings clear when Benitez was first linked with succeeding Carlo Ancelotti, but the Spaniard opted to return to the north-west anyway.
Everton failed to make any real progress under Ancelotti despite the Italian’s lavish wages and heavy spending on his squad, with Benitez expected to take a more pragmatic approach. The mooted signings of Asmir Begovic and Andros Townsend suggest a desire to add more Premier League experience to a squad that has plenty of bright talent coming through.
Ultimately, Benitez has gradually won fans over at previous clubs with Chelsea among those where he has thrived despite being given an initially cold welcome from supporters.
The football served up by Benitez is unlikely to thrill fans but if he can push Everton towards European qualification as work on their new stadium continues, he will have done his job.
Nuno Espirito Santo (Tottenham)
Spurs appeared to make a mess of replacing Jose Mourinho – who was sacked back in April – before eventually opting for Nuno, who should be a relatively safe pair of hands.
Like Vieira at Palace, much will depend on Nuno’s ability to keep his star player at the club. Harry Kane has made it clear he wants a new challenge with champions Manchester City ready to test Spurs’ resolve, though there is no doubt a transfer would be very expensive to complete.
City could end up being priced out of buying Kane and Nuno’s challenge would be managing the England captain’s disappointment at missing out on a move he feels he was promised.
Selling Kane could fund a much-needed squad rebuild and it is unclear how much money there will be for Nuno to spend if the 27-year-old remains in north London. Nuno would surely prefer to have Kane available, but would it be better for Spurs long-term if the striker was to leave?
Bruno Lage (Wolves)
Replacing the Portuguese at Wolves is another of the new Premier League managers and a fellow countryman with ex-Benfica boss Lage having been quickly identified as the man to follow Nuno into the Molineux hotseat.
Nuno took Wolves from the Championship to the Europa League but his leadership had grown stale by the end of his four-year spell, with Lage needing to breathe fresh life into the club.
He will be boosted by the return of Raul Jimenez after a horrendous head injury meant the Mexico striker sat out the majority of last season. But breaching the gap between Wolves and the so-called ‘Big Six’ could be beyond Lage unless Wolves are willing to finance a major investment in a squad that looks to be in severe need of significant additions.
The influence of agent Jorge Mendes at Wolves is also something Lage will have to manage. Lage is a Mendes client at the Gestifute agency but the expected introduction of proposed new regulations regarding agents’ influence at clubs may force a rethink from Wolves owners Fosun.
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