Managers are the backbone of a team, a good manager is worth an extra 5-7 points and they help the club achieve success as they have never won before like Pep or Cruyff with Barca, Sir Alex with United or the most recent- Jurgen Klopp with Liverpool. So let us look at 2 managers who might have a career-defining season.This will be a series and I hope to write more pieces about it.
Unai Emery returns to Spain after 4 bad seasons overseas. He returns to a rejuvenating Villarreal who finished 6th last season and were much better than the previous season where they finished 14th and at one point were in the relegation battle.
The Yellow Submarine at least expect Emery to finish in the Europa League spots especially after the players they have bought in, Emery’s transition would be easy for the players because they already played a 4-2-3-1/ 4-4-2 which is suited to Unai.
Villarreal has also made a lot of moves this summer and all have been good. They have effectively replaced the likes of Cazorla and Zambo-Anguissa.
A lot of Arsenal fans hate Unai Emery but I don’t think he is a lousy manager. He had a language problem at Arsenal, he also undertook a big job replacing Arsene Wenger. At Villarreal, he has an opportunity to build a team of his own. They have spent money on the likes of Francis Coquelin, Dani Parejo and José Callejon who all are seasoned pros providing experience. The signing of Takefusa Kubo provides creativity and flair to an attack which was already pretty good. They scored the 3rd most goals in La Liga last season will look to replicate that this season.
I think Emery would play direct, would look to play quickly and want to lead with counters. They have lost a very creative midfield and would have to tactically adapt.
It would be interesting how Emery manages all the attackers in the squad- Gerard Moreno, their top scorer with 18 goals and 5 assists in league with a combined with an XG and XA combined of 20, Emery also has Samuel Chukwueze who is a special player and can be converted into La Liga’s best wingers, Moi Gómez, Jose Callejon and Paco Alcácer are all useful players.
Emery has to improve the defence, they conceded 49 goals with their defence being the 11th best. He also has to phase out the 34-year-old Raúl Albiol.
Expectations- with all their new signings Villarreal will hope a decent Europa League run and a shout for champions league places.
Lucien Favre will start his third season at BVB this year. This will probably be his last season at the helm. In the first season, they secured 76 points, just 2 less than Bayern and mainly lost out because of a lack of experience in the squad, they then sold Diallo to PSG and bought Hummels to replace him- that added experience but ultimately they were worse last season finishing at 69 points 13 points behind Bayern.
Favre has preferred a 3-4-3 but has also played a 4-2-3-1 at times. They have started with Lukasz Piszczek who is very old, Mats Hummels who is also old and Manuel Akanji who is 25 and has his prime ahead of him, Dan-Axel Zagadou is also an option but he has had recurring injury problems,
They have got an amazing attack, to say the least. They scored one less goal than Liverpool in 4 fewer games, the XG massively disagrees but Favre and XG are not friends.
Jadon Sancho can still move to United but it seems unlikely to me.
Even if they sell Sancho, they are linked to the likes of Milot Rashica and Memphis Depay. They will help in the attack.
Note- Milot Rashica played in a worse team and would improve drastically while playing with a better team.
The Black and Yellows still have Haaland, Brandt and Hazard in the team. They have also got Reinier from Madrid who will be a useful prospect, Jude Bellingham will also contribute a bit. I am excited about Gio Reyna the most next season, he might be the next big thing coming out of BVB in a few years. The key will be keeping their captain Marco Reus fit- they are a different team when he is fit. I also feel like Halland will drop a bit but would still be elite.
Dortmund plays a 2 man midfield, Emre Can and Axel Witsel will start, Delany and Dahoud provide cover and Brandt also drops in there some games. That looks fine to me. They have good full-backs in Thomas Meunier and Raphael Guerreiro, Schulz provides good cover on the left side but I am skeptical about Lukasz Piszczek’s quality as a backup.
Expectations- BVB would like to compete for the league but I think Bayern and RB are just better than them, a cup win and a good Champions League run is all the 62 years old Swiss manager would get. If they do anything like the past 2 years, Favre will not get a new contract. He needs something radical.
Thanks for reading this piece, the next piece on this comes next week.