Following Euro 2020’s conclusion (click here for our team of the tournament), the 2021/22 season is already on the horizon with transfer flying in left, right and centre. Not only are there players on the move though, in Germany and Italy particularly there have been a whole host of managerial comings and goings. Here are my managers to keep an eye on this season…
Thomas Frank, Brentford
Starting in the Premier League with one of the three managers to have guided their side into the top-flight. Whilst Watford and Norwich are fairly familiar to the division, Brentford have been absent for more than seventy years and having just built a new stadium, there is a lot of positivity surrounding the Londoners. Danish manager Thomas Frank is well heralded for his style of play and rightly so, not only are they exceptional on the pitch but their transfer policy is second to none too. It will be fascinating to see if Frank sticks to his way of playing if and when the going gets tough, this has been the undoing for Fulham and Norwich for example.
Peter Bosz, Lyon
Sticking with new managers and whilst Thomas Frank and Brentford are new to the Premier League, Peter Bosz is new to French football. The Dutchman has done a great job at the helm of Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, developing some excellent young talents including Kai Havertz and Florian Wirtz. He enters a troublesome scene at Lyon which has seen Memphis Depay leave for a free, Barcelona as the destination, and with the league in general trouble following the failure of a TV deal. Nice, Monaco and Marseille are amongst the sides who can survive such a plight given their ownership but Lille and Lyon may face a drop off, Bosz’s work with young players needing to come to the fore once again.
Maurizio Sarri, Lazio
Moving on to Italy and Maurizio Sarri who has been managing in his whole country for three decades now, a brief spell at Stamford Bridge being his only other job. Napoli under Sarri were again known for their style of play and they pushed Juve close, but then his time with the latter in the season just gone was unsuccessful. He may have lost his job with the Bianconeri but he has been given another Serie A chance, one of the many managers to be part of a huge merry-go-round. Lazio suffered a rather average season just gone with their only saving grace being that they finished above their Stadio Olimpico rivals, so Sarri has some work on his hands.
Jesse Marsch, Leipzig
Whereas the previous names may be fairly well known to most, Jesse Marsch is a relative unknown unless you’re familiar with MLS and/or the RB setup. Julian Nagelsmann has departed Leipzig and taken the step up to manage Bayern, this being a big part in the Bundesliga’s managers merry-go round too. Marsch has been brought in as Nagelsmann’s replacement from Salzburg in Austria, he has worked his way up from New York Red Bulls and it is fascinating how he has handled each rung on the ladder. Starting centre back duo Konate and Upamecano have joined Liverpool and Bayern respectively whilst Andre Silva has arrived from Frankfurt so there is a lot of turnover this year, Marsch will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders. With USMNT star Tyler Adams already at the club and young superstar Caden Clark on his way in too, there is a clear appreciation of MLS and its’ players that is growing year on year.
Xisco Munoz, Watford
Going back to English shores and another newly promoted side. As is the case with Thomas Frank, Watford’s Xisco Munoz is another of those managers who has progressed onto unfamiliar territory and will have eyes burning into the back of his head from the off. The Spaniard is very young for a manager at 40 and whilst the Watford hierarchy has no qualms with dismissing managers quickly, he seems to have the backing of the board. Ismaila Sarr was subject to rumoured bids of £30-40 million when the Hornets were first relegated but after a good season in the Championship, his relationship with the talented Joao Pedro excites me greatly under Xisco.
Veljko Paunovic, Reading
One of the clubs who Watford pipped to promotion is Reading and although they were the team to beat in the early stages of the season, they were unable to maintain this. The sale of Michael Olise to Crystal Palace is a blow, especially given that the price is fairly low when you consider Emi Buendia joined Aston Villa for roughly 5x as much. Even in Olise’s absence though, they have a young and upcoming manager like Xisco, Veljko Paunovic. The Royals’ boss was with MLS side Chicago Fire for four years and he is a rare breed of managers in that he has gone both sides of the pond. Paunovic has some interesting ideas and with Yakou Meite, Lucas Joao and Ovie Ejaria in the attack, they may well challenge for promotion again.
Mark van Bommel, Wolfsburg
Next to a famous name both on and off the football pitch, one of those managers who was a truly elite player, Mark van Bommel. He represented the likes of Barcelona, Bayern and AC Milan and he is in the early managerial stages. He is only non- assistant role was a brief stint with his beloved PSV so Van Bommel’s move to Germany, where he’ll manage Wolfsburg, has risen a few eyebrows. Oliver Glasner sacrificing UCL football that he had earned at Wolfsburg for Europa League with Frankfurt is an odd one. There were fears that some of their big players might get picked off but instead they’ve splashed a bit of cash, the likes of Baku, Lacroix and Steffen still being there at the time of writing.
Imanol Alguacil, Real Sociedad
Whilst Germany, Italy and to some extent England have experienced mass managerial changes, Spain has stayed relatively settled in the top half. Barring Carlo Ancelotti’s return to the Bernabeu, there isn’t much of note but Imanol Alguacil could have another exciting year in store with Real Sociedad. La Real were great to watch with Mikel Oyarzabal and Swedish striker Alexander Isak being at the fore of this, not to mention Alguacil has seemingly worked well with Adnan Januzaj. The El Clasico duo are experiencing a whole host of issues and so I don’t think a Champions League push for La Real is out of the question.
Simone Inzaghi, Inter
Finally to the Serie A champions themselves Inter Milan. Normally a title win would be a positive sign of things going in the direction but the Nerazzurri hierarchy don’t do normal. They demanded that Antonio Conte free up a large amount of the wage budget whilst raking in up to £100 million in transfers which, when trying to challenge the dominance of Juventus is obviously the wrong way to go. There weren’t too many managers who threw their hat in the ring due to these bizarre restrictions so in the nicest way possible, rather than for his managerial nous, I can’t wait to see what former Lazio man Simone Inzaghi brings to the table in the blue half of Milan.