Change of Managers Leaves 2014 Champions League Wide Open
The upcoming UEFA Champions League season is sure to be an interesting one. While the vast majority of top European soccer clubs are loaded with the world’s best soccer players, and should feature in the pre-Champions League contenders discussion, a mass changing of club managers sees every major club bringing in a new boss, and will surely throw any discussions of Champions League favorites for a questionable loop. Who will win the Champions League this year? It’s quite evident that the answer to that question is anyone’s guess.
The following clubs are entering this season with a new manager: Manchester United, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, PSG, Barcelona, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Napoli. Any betting man would normally presume that the winner of the Champions League would be in that list. In fact, 5 of the past 6 champions of the tournament are in that group.
Winning this tournament is no easy feat, and teams rarely assemble the right squad of players to challenge each year. Surely, several of these teams simply won’t click under their new managers. Adopting to a new system often takes time, and each of these new teams will be expected to do big things. What this all means for the Champions League is that there may be a new team, with a more stable managerial position, that could rise up to win the tournament.
A team like Arsenal or Borussia Dortmund usually does well in the tournament but very rarely ever wins the Champions League. Both clubs will sometimes make a strong run and reach the final, though it seems that the stage then becomes too big for them to complete the feat. However, with stable management and a belief in their system, a lesser force of soccer will have a bigger opportunity to take this year’s Champions League trophy.
As the traditional superpower clubs struggle to adapt to their new manager’s systems, the weaker teams could prevail. Several of these top clubs will no doubt fall in the group stage of the tournament, likely ending their manager’s short tenure with the club. My money is on Chelsea stumbling out of the gates and Jose Mourinho being fired before Christmas!
Meanwhile, I suspect several of these second tier clubs like Galatasaray or Shaktar Donetsk could emerge as surprise group winners, making an easier path deep into the tournament.
Although the fact remains that players are the ones on the field and the manager shouldn’t have too big of an impact, I feel that having a managerial change certainly threatens the chances of any team, no matter who they have bought this summer.
Therefore, I feel that this season presents the best opportunity for a non-traditional super power club to claim the Champions League. Yes, the games will certainly be a test for these clubs, and yes the favorites will still be among Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich, but for the first time in a decade every single one of these teams is going to have to experience a transition, and this leaves the door wide open for everyone else. Here’s to hoping for an exciting a dramatic Champions League season filled with upsets and enticing matches!