2014-15 Premier League season review: The managers

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All week at ProSoccerTalk we are reviewing the dramatic 2014-15 Premier League season. From dishing out awards to looking back at the highs and lows in the 380 games as 20 teams battled it out, we’ll have every angle covered.

[ MORE: PST’s Premier League season review ]

For the full archive of our review content, just hit the link above. Now, it’s time to take a look back at the managers that helped make the Premier League season a memorable one.

One of the most intriguing facets of the Premier League is its managers. Sure, the play on the field is perhaps second to none in the world, but the Premier League’s managers often times take on a storyline of their own and provide ample entertainment and fodder for debate. Here are a few of the PL’s managers that made 2014-15 just that much more interesting.

Jose Mourinho, the champion

Manipulator. Tactician. Twister of words. Protector of men. So many titles could be used to describe Chelsea’s enigmatic boss, but the one he will prefer the most is that of “champion.” As in, 2014-15 Premier League champion.

Mourinho used his every last one of his old tricks — diverting attention/blame from his players upon their rare slip-ups; “parking the bus” defensively; and controlling the narrative surrounding his team all season long — en route to returning the Blues back to Premier League glory for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

source: Getty ImagesTim Sherwood, the prodigal son, returns

His win percentage is the thing of legends at Tottenham Hotspur, and yet the 46-year-old was fired by Tottenham Hotspur following the 2013-14 season. On Valentine’s Day 2015, Sherwood was hired as the new Aston Villa boss and tasked with keeping the Birmingham club, which sat in 18th place at the time of his appointment, in the Premier League.

Stunning results followed. Horrid results followed. A run to this weekend’s FA Cup final followed. More of Sherwood’s proud, boastful, king-of-the-world personality ensued. In the end, Villa finished 17th, three points clear of the drop. Now Sherwood will be given his first summer transfer window in which to buy his own players and build his own team. 2015-16 prediction: Villa either win the league next season, or Sherwood will be out of a job by the New Year. Either way, he’ll continue to make the club must-see TV on a weekly basis.

[ MORE: 10 biggest storylines of the Premier League season that was ]

Nigel Pearson, the nuclear reactor (and survivor)

Is there a bigger jerk in the Premier League? The answer to that question is very likely “not a chance.” (Remember this?) Now, with that established, Pearson did a masterful job of keeping PL new boys Leicester City in England’s top flight for another season, thanks to the Foxes’ unlikely rise from last place on Christmas Day, to safety from relegation (a feat only ever achieved once before in the Premier League era) with one game left.

Pearson’s players obviously believe in him, otherwise they’d have folded when the going got tough. His shock-and-awe style with regards to handling the media can definitely be questioned and criticized, but one thing is for certain: players love managers that stick up for them and deflect the attention away from them in the bad times, and give them all the credit in the good times.

source: Getty Images

Brendan Rodgers and Manuel Pellegrini, dangling in the wind

Will they stay or will they go before August arrives? Are the Liverpool and Manchester City boards, respectively, even right to be expecting title challenges, given the obvious, gaping holes in their squads? How many of each manager’s best players will leave this summer, and how many new recruits will arrive?

Short answer: No one knows, but it’s likely to be an absolute circus either way.

Even if one or both stay at their respective through the summer, the questions will return at the first sign of trouble next season (i.e. the first loss). There’s a reason managers are paid handsomely as they are, because you’d have to be mad to take up the line of work for anything short of a king’s ransom.

[ MORE: How the Americans in the Premier League fared in 2014-15 ]

Alan Pardew, the Big Pardiola

We’ve finally reach everyone’s favorite managerial character of the 2014-15 Premier League season: Alan Pardew, formerly of Newcastle United and now the head genius in charge at Crystal Palace.

Newcastle fans seemed to genuinely hate the man, and wanted him out of their club, like, yesterday. In January, the Geordie nation got their wish, and came oh so close to realizing their greatest nightmare: Premier League relegation. Meanwhile, Pardew’s new club, Crystal Palace (then in 18th place), quickly ascended the league table and finished the season in 10th. Palace passed Newcastle on March 21, two months and 19 days after Pardew changed jobs.

John Carver, the lover of club

Poor John Carver, right? After Pardew skipped town, Carver was named interim manager by an owner, Mike Ashely, who on the whole refuses to invest funds back into the team despite selling a number of the club’s best players in recent years, and Carver struggled, in part, due to this.

I mean, he struggled badly. Just three wins in his 16 games in charge (including eight successive losses from March to May) dragged Newcastle United right down into the relegation battle. Carver loves the club dearly (he was born in Newcastle, is a product of the club’s youth academy and has said “yes” to everything they’ve ever asked of him), of which we were reminded to begin any discussion about the future of Newcastle United and Carver alike. In the end, his love for the club was just enough to keep them up, but will it keep him in the manager’s job next season? Probably not.

source: Getty ImagesHarry Redknapp, the ship jumper

Oh, you thought we’d forgotten about Harry? Of course we didn’t. The ol’ wheeler-dealer gets all his full, deserved share of credit for Queens Park Rangers being relegated from the Premier League this season.

Upon his departure for “health reasons” (he said he needed a knee operation), QPR sat second from bottom in the league with 19 points from 23 games. Not great! In the weeks and months following his resignation, Redknapp continuously appeared in the media, saying things like, “I could have kept QPR up,” “QPR fans deserves better,” and my personal favorite, “I wasn’t given enough money to build the team,” despite out-spending the entire Championship last season and tossing another $50 million worth of players on top of that this past summer.

It shouldn’t be long until he’s recklessly angling for his next job — Bournemouth? Watford? Norwich City? Sunderland? Newcastle United? Chelsea? Who knows! — and spending them into crippling debt once hired, before up and leaving again at the first sign of trouble. It’s the Redknapp way.

FIFA sees no obstacles for women to attend games in Iran

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ZURICH — Soccer’s governing body FIFA says an inspection visit to Iran has shown “no noteworthy operational obstacles” to lifting the country’s 40-year ban and letting women attend a World Cup qualifying game next month.

After meeting government and soccer officials in Tehran this week, FIFA says it will work with Iran’s soccer body to also open domestic league games to female fans.

FIFA wants Iran to end its ban on women entering stadiums which breaches international soccer statutes prohibiting discrimination.

Global attention on the ban followed the death this month of a 29-year-old activist, Sahar Khodayari, who set herself on fire outside a courthouse. She had been detained for dressing as a man to enter a soccer stadium in Tehran and faced six months in prison.

Ahead of Iran hosting Cambodia at the 78,000-capacity Azadi Stadium on Oct. 10, FIFA says the visit on Thursday focused on “international relations, security and ticketing matters.”

Iranian officials were told of FIFA’s “firm and clear position that women need to be allowed to enter football matches freely” with tickets sold to as many who wanted to attend.

FOLLOW LIVE: Atlanta v. Quakes, Galaxy v. Impact on a busy MLS Saturday

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Eight games in seven hours, now that’s a jam-packed MLS Saturday.

[ FOLLOW: MLS scoreboard, for the next 7 hours ]

Things kickoff with Matias Almeyda’s San Jose Earthquakes visiting red-hot Josef Martinez’s Atlanta United, and comes to a close in Los Angeles, where league leaders LAFC host Toronto FC and LA Galaxy, who look to continue moving up in the Western Conference standings, host Montreal Impact.

In between, the New England Revolution look to remain in the Eastern Conference playoff picture as they welcome Kyle Beckerman and Real Salt Lake, while the Chicago Fire hope to jump level with the Revs in the standings as they take on FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium.

Saturday’s full MLS schedule

Atlanta United v. San Jose Earthquakes — 3:30 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps v. Columbus Crew — 5 p.m. ET

New England Revolution v. Real Salt Lake — 7:30 p.m. ET

FC Cincinnati v. Chicago Fire — 7:30 p.m. ET

Sporting Kansas City v. Colorado Rapids — 8:30 p.m. ET

Houston Dynamo v. Orlando City — 8:30 p.m. ET

LAFC v. Toronto FC — 10:30 p.m. ET

LA Galaxy v. Montreal Impact — 10:30 p.m. ET

Bundesliga wrap: Lewandowski’s Bayern keeps rolling, Leipzig stays top

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Week 5 of the Bundesliga season looked a lot like so many others since Robert Lewandowski arrived in the country from Lech Poznan in 2010.

He scored, and his team won.

[ MORE: Man City hangs 8 on Watford ]

It wasn’t enough to put Bayern Munich atop the league, as the Bavarian side also saw RB Leipzig get a win and could sit third once Lewandowski’s first German team, Borussia Dortmund, plays on Sunday.

Bayern Munich 4-0 Koln

Robert Lewandowski is humming along, scoring two more goals to give him nine in Bayern’s first five matches of the Bundesliga season. The 31-year-old Polish superstar scored at midweek in the Champions League, and has scored in all seven matches he’s played since being skunked in the DFL SuperCup loss to Borussia Dortmund.

Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Perisic also scored for Bayern, who will finish the weekend no lower than third on the table. A 59th minute red card to Koln’s Kingsley Ehizibue came with Bayern already leading 2-0, so it was a bit snoozy in terms of drama at the Allianz Arena.

Werder Bremen 0-3 RB Leipzig

A 64th minute red card to Konrad Laimer couldn’t slow down the table leaders, as Leipzig added a goal after going down to 10-men in the win.

Willi Orban and Marcelo Saracchi scored for the visitors, and Marcel Sabitzer scored a terrific free kick in the win.

American teenager Josh Sargent started and played 80 minutes for the hosts, covering 9.63 kilometers and getting a lone shot on goal.

Elsewhere
Schalke 2-1 Mainz — Friday
Freiburg 1-1 Augsburg
Hertha Berlin 2-1 Paderborn
Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Union Berlin
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Fortuna Dusseldorf — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Borussia Dortmund — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 RB Leipzig 5 4 1 0 13 3 10 1-1-0 3-0-0 13
 Bayern Munich 5 3 2 0 16 4 12 2-1-0 1-1-0 11
 SC Freiburg 5 3 1 1 11 4 7 1-1-1 2-0-0 10
 FC Schalke 04 5 3 1 1 10 5 5 2-0-1 1-1-0 10
 Bayer Leverkusen 5 3 1 1 8 7 1 2-1-0 1-0-1 10
 Borussia Dortmund 4 3 0 1 13 5 8 2-0-0 1-0-1 9
 VfL Wolfsburg 4 2 2 0 7 3 4 1-1-0 1-1-0 8
 Mönchengladbach 4 2 1 1 5 4 1 0-1-1 2-0-0 7
 Eintracht Frankfurt 4 2 0 2 5 5 0 2-0-0 0-0-2 6
 Werder Bremen 5 2 0 3 8 12 -4 1-0-2 1-0-1 6
 FC Augsburg 5 1 2 2 7 11 -4 1-1-0 0-1-2 5
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 4 1 1 2 6 7 -1 0-1-1 1-0-1 4
 1899 Hoffenheim 4 1 1 2 3 6 -3 1-0-1 0-1-1 4
 1. FC Union Berlin 5 1 1 3 5 10 -5 1-0-2 0-1-1 4
 Hertha BSC Berlin 5 1 1 3 5 11 -6 1-0-1 0-1-2 4
 1. FC Köln 5 1 0 4 4 11 -7 0-0-2 1-0-2 3
 FSV Mainz 05 5 1 0 4 5 15 -10 1-0-1 0-0-3 3
 SC Paderborn 5 0 1 4 6 14 -8 0-0-2 0-1-2 1

Nothing to separate Newcastle, Brighton at St. James’ Park

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A bright performance from the visitors produced nothing, as Newcastle United and Brighton played to a scoreless draw at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Brighton had more than 70 percent of the ball and an advantage in shots, but couldn’t get a goal over the line. Newcastle only arrived late after the introduction of Allan Saint-Maximin and Andy Carroll, and would not truly challenge Mathew Ryan.

The Seagulls rise 15th with six points, two spots and one point ahead of the hosts.


Three things we learned

1. Relegation candidates for sure: Both Graham Potter and Steve Bruce are new managers of their sides, but neither looks much better than their predecessor. Maybe Brighton is on a slightly better trajectory than the Gulls side that survived by two points last season, but the Magpies looked very poor over two formations in the first half. Maybe that’s a symptom of the sick, but a winner of this game might’ve ended up pointing to the points as what kept it up come May.

2. Brighton cannot capitalize vs. awful Newcastle midfield: The match was screaming out for Glenn Murray as Brighton was the brighter side but oh-so-wasteful in the 18. The Seagulls press befuddled Newcastle’s midfield and kept the back line on edge, but every chance was wasted.

There was a gulf between the Magpies’ back line and center forward Joelinton, who himself struggled to assert himself on the game. It’s telling that Steve Bruce’s 73rd minute subs were Allan Saint-Maximin and Ki Sung-yeung for Miguel Almiron and Jonjo Shelvey, as the Magpies had little possession and less threat.

3. Carroll back in black (and white): Hometown hero Andy Carroll last played for the Magpies in a Premier League game on Dec. 29, 2010, against Spurs before being sold to Liverpool for a massive fee. The oft-injured but powerful striker came on for the final 10 minutes to a rousing “One of our own” chant from St. James’ Park, and cued Allan Saint-Maximin up for a chance during his cameo.

Man of the Match: Schar — It just has to be. Martin Dubravka was beaten by Neal Maupay, but his dink could not cross the goal line before Schar leapt to clobber the ball to safety with an overhead clearance. What a play, and indicative of how often the Swiss centerpiece has saved Newcastle at either end of the pitch over the last two years.


 [ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Martin Dubravka was tasked with making the match’s first save after Pascal Gross blazed down the right and toward the six-yard box.

Almiron came close to getting his first goal with a well-timed run and shot which was saved by Mat Ryan in the 22nd minute.

The Magpies’ season record of wobbly starts continued, and Dubravka and Jamaal Lascelles needed to make borderline heroic plays to keep it 0-0 by the half-hour mark.

Joelinton came very close to nodding a corner kick home as Lewis Dunk forgot to mark the Brazilian. His free header just missed the far post.

Steven Alzate had the ball in the back of the goal, as Newcastle was at sixes and sevens at the back, but was offside in the 34th.

The Magpies were booed off the pitch at halftime, and started brightly with a 46th minute shot punched wide by Christian Atsu.

Almiron made a delightful turn on the right side before dribbling into the 18 for a low shot saved by Ryan. Closer, but still not enough. The ex-Atlanta United man two more extremely bad giveaways on the day, and isn’t offering too much hope.