LONDON (Reuters) - Manuel Pellegrini’s appointment by Manchester City on Friday completed the biggest ever managerial shake-up among the Premier League’s elite clubs with four of last season’s top six ready to begin new eras when the starting gun is fired in mid-August.
Jose Mourinho heads the cast hoping to prove on his second coming at Chelsea that he is still the ‘Special One’, David Moyes has accepted what many regard as “mission impossible” by following retired Alex Ferguson at champions Manchester United and Pellegrini’s task is to overhaul runners-up City.
Spaniard Roberto Martinez, who won the FA Cup for relegated Wigan Athletic in May, finally gets his chance to practise his refined style of football at a big club having been chosen to replace Moyes at Everton.
Only in north London will there be a sense of familiarity with Arsene Wenger, now the longest-serving manager in the top flight, bidding to end Arsenal’s eight-year barren run and Tottenham Hotspur’s Andre Villas-Boas trying to build on a solid first season.
Mourinho, Chilean Pellegrini and Moyes will all come under the spotlight for a variety of reasons.
After launching his first coaching career in England by claiming to be the “Special One” at Chelsea in 2004, Mourinho more than lived up to the hype by winning the club’s first league title in 50 years in his first season.
Another league title, two League Cups and the FA Cup followed but Mourinho fell out with owner Roman Abramovich and he left the London club in 2007.
Appearing to be mellowed by the passing years, the 50-year-old Mourinho cut a more humble figure when officially unveiled by Chelsea earlier this week, lowering expectations by declaring that Chelsea would win the Premier League in his second season back.
“We don’t do it (win the Premier League next season), but (if we) show an evolution in the season, show we are moving in the right direction, (then) I think we will be champions in the second season and it is not a drama,” he said.
Chelsea are already being heavily tipped as favourites to win the title next season and despite his low-key comments so far, fans will be waiting expectantly for the first “Mourinho moment”.
Mourinho has the advantage of walking into the training ground full of familiar faces such as John Terry and Frank Lampard, his trusty lieutenants during his first spell, and with an aura that Moyes and Pellegrini will have to work harder to achieve at their respective clubs.
Moyes, who never won a trophy in 11 years at Everton, is replacing a man who won 13 Premier League titles in a trophy-laden 26-year reign at Old Trafford and whose influence will be felt for years to come at every level of the club.
The bare minimum for Moyes is to keep the silverware conveyor belt oiled but stamping his own personality on the club and displaying a Ferguson-type ability to make marquee signings will be equally challenging.
He will have to hit the ground running, especially if Mourinho clicks back into the old groove at Chelsea who, like City, will be probing for any weaknesses and ramping up the pressure with a rash of close-season recruits.
Arsenal’s hierarchy are also threatening to loosen the purse strings at the Emirates.
While Mourinho’s challenge is to make sure the sequel is as good as the original, Moyes’s is to prove himself capable of keeping the United machine rolling forwards. Pellegrini arrives with City at something of a crossroads and with license to really build a team in his image.
Under previous manager Roberto Mancini, City put up a feeble defence of their title, flopped in Europe and ended the season with a spirit-sapping FA Cup final defeat by Wigan.
Mancini struggled at times to keep all of his expensively-assembled squad on board at The Etihad and paid the price for below-standard transfer dealings last summer when Robin van Persie slipped through their fingers and took his appetite for goals to Old Trafford instead.
Even before officially being named as City’s new boss, Pellegrini oversaw the 14.9 million pounds ($23.36 million)purchase of Sevilla winger Jesus Navas and the reported 30 million paid out for Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazil midfielder Fernandinho.
Pellegrini’s man management and motivational skills are well-known in Spain where he enjoyed success with Villarreal and Malaga and both will be severely tested at City who were found wanting last season.
($1 = 0.6379 British pounds)
Editing by Pritha Sarkar