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.

UEFA Champions League wrap: Dybala leads Juve back with stunner

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While a pair of Premier League sides were thumping visitors, two other UEFA Champions League mainstays had to work harder for their results on Tuesday.

Bayern Munich and Juventus overcame poor starts to record wins, while Real Madrid struggled to a win at stingy Turkish powers Galatasaray.

PSG, however, had zero problems in Belgium.


 [ MORE: Man City 5-1 Atalanta | Spurs 5-0 Red Star ]


Juventus 2-1 Lokomotiv Moscow

Dominayed Lokomotiv took the lead against all odds when Aleksei Miranchuk gave the Russian visitors a lead despite Juve’s 12-2 shot advantage, but Paulo Dybala scored twice in three minutes to send the visitors home sad.

And this one was absurd:

Olympiacos 2-3 Bayern Munich

Youssef El-Arabi gave the hosts a lead, but Robert Lewandowski scored for the 12th-straight game and 17th time this season to level the line and it was mostly Bayern after that (Olympiacos’ second goal came quite late). Lewandowski added another, his 18th, while Corentin Tolisso also scored for Bayern.

Club Brugge 0-5 PSG

Kylian Mbappe is unfair, scoring a hat trick as PSG waxed Simon Mignolet and the Belgian hosts.

Elsewhere
Shakhtarr Donetsk 2-2 Dinamo Zagreb
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen
Galatasaray 0-1 Real Madrid

Five-star Spurs thump Red Star Belgrade

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Erik Lamela set up two early goals and later scored as Tottenham Hotspur broke out of its funk to record a 5-0 win over Red Star Belgrade in UEFA Champions League play on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Heung-Min Son scored twice and Harry Kane also scored as Spurs earned their first win of the group stage. Tanguy Ndombele joined Lamela with two assists.

Red Star is now 1W-12L ahead of the return fixture in Serbia.


Three things

1. Sweet release for Harry Kane: Tottenham’s talisman was ready from the first minute, and delivered a perfect header off a ninth minute corner kick for 1-0. There wasn’t much to worry about the rest of the way as Kane scored twice while taking six shots against a team which won’t be pleased to have to do it again come two weeks time in Serbia.

2. Well, actually, for almost everyone: Considering Spurs were an absolute shambles against Bayern Munich and have not impressed in domestic play, the win could be a welcome and positive kick in the pants for many Tottenham men. Serge Aurier‘s day against Bayern was possibly the worst performance of any Spurs player this year, and the Frenchman had an assist and was better versus Red Star (the right opponent at the right time, we might add). Dele Alli had one of his better games in a while, and Tanguy Ndombele hasn’t been poor but his two-assist night is a welcome sign.

3. Lamela helps pulls the strings: The Argentine was simply sensational early (and pretty good late, as he scored in the second half). Kane will get the love for the corner kick goal. but the second assist was all about Lamela.

Look…

at this…

ball.

 

Man of the Match: Lamela

 


The basics provided Tottenham’s opener, with Kane running off the near post to meet a corner kick and turning a header across goal and inside the far post. Pretty stuff, and good timing. Nerves settled after nine minutes.

Son made it 2-0 seven minutes later, getting on the end of a bouncing Erik Lamela cross to volley home.

Spurs’ third first-half goal was Son again, as the South Korean raced 60 yards to become a back post option after Tanguy Ndombele caused a turnover at midfield.

If anyone deserved Spurs next marker, it was Lamela. The Argentine made it so after Harry Kane’s classy long pass to Serge Aurier was turned onto his path in the 57th.

Sterling runs riot as Man City clobbers Atalanta

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Raheem Sterling scored three goals and set up two others as Manchester City came back from an early deficit to clobber Atalanta 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Sergio Aguero scored City’s other two goals, but the Premier League champions face an anxious wait after Rodri limped off before halftime.

Phil Foden was sent off in the 82nd minute after picking up his second yellow card.

Ruslan Malinovskiy’s early penalty was all Atalanta could muster, as the Serie A side remains winless in the group stage.


Three things

1. Sterling’s star show: Stymied on an opening dribble, Sterling took over once City went behind on Fernandinho‘s conceded penalty.

He was everywhere.

The English winger set up Aguero’s first goal was a stylish cross from the inside of his boot, then drew a penalty with a quick dribble toward the spot. He then showed clinical finishing in a second-half hat trick which took less than 11 minutes but missed wide with a bid for a fourth goal on a Phil Foden-inspired breakaway in the 75th.

2. Rodri injury breaks up new partnership: Pep Guardiola again deployed Fernandinho and Rodri as his center back pair, the former notably conceding a penalty on the edge of the 18 before the latter left the match after 40 minutes with injury. It looked to be a muscle injury, though there wasn’t a terrible limp from the Spaniard. If he’s out for any long period of time, City’s ambitions will be heavily taxed.

3. One win for an easier December: Man City’s 3-0 start to the group stage means it can be choosy with its lineup for the return fixture in Italy, which comes three days before a massive visit to Liverpool in the Premier League. By the same rationale, City’s visit from Chelsea on Nov. 23 comes four days before Shakhtar Donetsk comes to town. Neither Liverpool nor Chelsea will be in better UCL shape than City in both cases, guaranteed.

Man of the Match: Sterling.


A cutting ball down the left allowed Atalanta a cross to Timothy Castagne, who had an edge on Benjamin Mendy but was bothered enough to head his over the goal.

Ilicic then came from the right to drive a low shot that Ederson collected before it could roll inside the near post.

City found its footing in the second 20 minutes, though Raheem Sterling’s seeing eye pass through the six was a yard behind a stretching Sergio Aguero.

Pierluigi Gollini that made a fantastic save on a longer Aguero drive before the Argentine had another chance and lashed it over the goal. Closer.

Fernandinho conceded a penalty to the Serie A visitors against Ilicic on a dribble into the 18. Ederson went the wrong way as Malinovskiy hammered home from the spot.

Aguero got his breakthrough in the 34th, reaching his right leg out to push a well-chopped Sterling cross past Gollini.

Sterling then won a penalty with a mazy dribble toward the spot, and Aguero beat Gollini to the far post.

Rodri was injured before halftime, and Guardiola brought on John Stones.

The second half started with another injury, as Marten De Roon raked Aguero near his right achilles. The Argentine stayed on.

De Bruyne then tried his luck off another play inspired by Sterling and Aguero, but fired wide from outside the 18.

Sterling wound up with his two goals thanks to sensational team play. The first came when Riyad Mahrez spotted Kevin De Bruyne, who passed to Phil Foden. The youngster took the extra pass and Sterling smashed home.

Then Sterling held up play inside Atalanta’s half before zipping onto an inch-perfect Gundogan through ball and slamming past Gollini.

A missed breakaway, cued by Foden, was the only sour note for Sterling as he missed a bid for four.

UCL AT HALF: Rodri injured; Spurs, Man City lead

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We’ve got goals in the UEFA Champions League!

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

All six 3 p.m. ET kickoffs have seen at least one marker, with five between the two Premier League sides in action.

Juventus 0-1 Lokomotiv Moscow

Turin has been hushed for the moment, as Aleksei Miranchuk gave the Russian visitors a lead despite Juve’s 12-2 shot advantage.

Man City 2-1 Atalanta

Influential midfielder Rodri has left Manchester City’s match against Atalanta with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

Partnered with Fernandinho at center back again, Rodri, 23, has played in every match save one for City, and had gone 90 minutes in the last five prior to Tuesday’s 40-minute performance.

City went behind when Fernandinho conceded a penalty, but Raheem Sterling has sent Sergio Aguero up for two goals as the hosts have a lead at the Etihad Stadium.

Spurs 3-0 Red Star Belgrade

Tottenham didn’t have any problems dispatching its tepid league form for its Serbian visitors, as Erik Lamela set up Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son for early goals before the South Korean completed a brace before halftime.

Look at the industry on his third:

Galatasaray 0-1 Real Madrid

Some nerves settled for Zinedine Zidane as Toni Kroos’ deflected strike gives Real a halftime lead.

Olympiacos 1-1 Bayern Munich

Youssef El-Arabi gave the hosts a lead, but Robert Lewandowski scored for the 12th-straight game and 17th time this season to level the line.

Club Brugge 0-1 PSG

Mauro Icardi the lone goal scorer in Belgium.