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What’s the thing that you hate the most about football? The reply to this question will invariably include its breaks — definitely the international ones during the season, but especially the two-month summer lulls, which seem to last an eternity. Though the latest transfer window might have had us springing out of our chairs many a time, we’re glad that the month of August will finally witness the return of European football in our otherwise barren lives. This time, we’re previewing the season from the perspective of the brains behind each team – the managers.

English Premier League

ANTONIO CONTE, CHELSEA

Where will they pick up from?

From being 10th placed to Champions, the highlight of Chelsea’s season was their 13-match winning streak. They won the title comfortably, with only Tottenham Hotspur threatening their top spot for a brief moment.

How different is this season?

Champions League football will mean more matches, and Conte might have to make some tough decisions about resting players from his squad, which has been bolstered by signings like Alvaro Morata and Antonio Rudiger.

What will they want to change?

The previous manager failed miserably at defending the title, so can Conte do a fair job? Also, a roaring return to Champions League football will be high on the Italian’s wishlist.

JÜRGEN KLOPP, LIVERPOOL

Where will they pick up from?

Like a meteor, Liverpool’s season shone bright for a while and fizzled out into a disappointing fourth place. Champions League qualification could mean a further test of the squad’s depth. 

How different is this season?

The German manager has brought in Mohammad Salah and Dominic Solanke to bolster the attack, which relied heavily on Sadio Mane last season. His absence spelt doom. 

What will they want to change?

After being neck-and-neck with Chelsea before the winter break, the Anfield outfit won only one game in all of January and February. The former Borussia Dortmund man would also want to be more flexible with his strategies, unlike last season.

PEP GUARDIOLA, MANCHESTER CITY

Where will they pick up from?

The Blue side of Manchester looked like champions on paper last season, but their new Spanish manager underwhelmed in his debut season, with no silverware and a third-place finish in the league.

How different is this season?

The Etihad side have splurged during the transfer window, especially on full backs (read Kyle Walker). With a few more likely additions on the other side of the field, they look like a champion team again. 

What will they want to change?

Pep’s men won only one match against the other four top teams in the league. Over-reliance on players like Kevin de Bruyne and better performances in Europe will also be on the agenda.

JOSE MOURINHO, MANCHESTER UNITED

Where will they pick up from?

The Red Devils might have finished sixth in the league, but they collected two trophies and, more importantly, secured a Champions League slot for 2017/18. 

How different is this season?

At the time of writing this article, Old Trafford had gazumped the services of Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelof, with Ivan Perisic’s move also looking imminent. Anything less than a top three league finish and the UCL quarter finals would be unacceptable.

What will they want to change?

Mourinho seems to be accepting the Mancunian way of doing things, and would definitely like to improve on the miserly returns from his attackers in front of goal.

MAURICIO POCHETTINO, TOTTENHAM HOTSPURS

Where will they pick up from?

Finishing second is a great result for the Spurs, and they proved that they have the league’s best attacking force by scoring 86 goals in 38 matches. Harry Kane established himself as one of the best strikers on the continent.

How different is this season?

Spurs will miss playing at White Hart Lane, given their phenomenal home record. We look forward to their games at Wembley, their foster home for a while.

What will they want to change?

The former Southampton manager will look to add more depth to his squad, since they may have to rest the likes of Delle Alli and Kane for the midweek Champions League fixtures.

La Liga

ZINEDINE ZIDANE, REAL MADRID

Where will they pick up from?

The fact that not winning a European treble was considered a disappointment sums up the phenomenal 2016/17 season for Zizou’s Bernabeu side. 

How different is this season?

Having transferred out players like Pepe, James Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata, the Los Blancos squad could assume a very different shape with a bunch of young signings, and the possible arrival of Kylian Mbappe.  

What will they want to change?

Having scripted the most successful season in the history of a glorious club like Real, Zidane can hardly do better. Maybe he can add a Copa del Rey trophy.

ERNESTO VALVERDE, FC BARCELONA

Where will they pick up from?

Finishing second in La Liga and reaching just the quarterfinals of the Champions League is not acceptable for a team that has Messi, Suarez and Neymar.

How different is this season?

With Luis Enrique gone, a lot will depend on their new manager, who will look to achieve nothing less than the La Liga + Champions League double. The former Athletic Bilbao boss has big expectations to fulfil, right from his first season at Camp Nou. Neymar was heavily linked with PSG at the time of writing this article, which Valverde will be keen to prevent.

What will they want to change?

They will want their defenders to step up their game, especially in the Champions League, where they conceded far too many against PSG and Juventus.

DIEGO SIMEONE, ATLETICO MADRID

Where will they pick up from?

Atletico Madrid finished a distant third (12 points behind second placed Barcelona) in the La Liga, and reached the semi-finals of Champions League last season.

How different is this season?

Atletico are suffering from a transfer ban, but will be happy that their star striker Antoine Griezmann’s move to Manchester United didn’t take place. With the curtain falling on the Vicente Calderon, playing at home at Wanda Metropolitano could also prove to be a challenge initially.

What will they want to change?

Definitely their performance in the Champions League against Real Madrid (if they meet them this year too). They’ll also want to ensure CL football next season, given the transfer ban.

KEEP AN EYE ON THESE GUYS

CRAIG SHAKESPEARE, LEICESTER CITY

Where will they pick up from?

The Foxes’ story is too strange to be fiction. They were title winners and the very next season, they were fighting relegation. A change of manager worked wonders, and Shakespeare resurrected the team to help them finish 12th.

How different is this season?

They will not have any European football this season, so they can concentrate on EPL. Given their unpredictability, a top four finish isn’t out of the question.

What will they want to change?

They would like to forget last season, and look at the one to regain some confidence. And Shakespeare looks the right man for the job.

RALPH HASENHÜTTL, RB LEIPZIG

Where will they pick up from?

If the EPL had Leicester City in 2015/16, the Bundesliga had a little fairytale of its own, when the Red Bull owned club finished second in their first ever outing in the German top-tier.

How different is this season?

Their performance last season will mean the debut of Champions League football at the Red Bull Arena for the first time. It would present a serious test of character for the former Austrian international Hasenhüttl and his team, which features several Confederations Cup winners with Germany.

What will they want to change?

No doubt it’s a tall order, but if Leipzig manage to repeat their heroics from last season, despite European football, they will establish themselves as a force to reckon with in the coming years.

RAFA BENITEZ, NEWCASTLE UNITED

Where will they pick up from?

After dropping down to the Championship for the first time in their 123-year history, the Magpies bounced back under Rafa, by topping the second-tier league.

How different is this season?

Following promotion, the St Mary’s think-tank didn’t waste much time in making additions like the young Ghanian forward, Christian Atsu, and would be looking to keep pace in the fiercely-contested Premier League now.

What will they want to change?

Avoiding relegation would be the bare minimum ask expected of Rafa’s men this season. With a mix of youth and experience at his disposal, the Spaniard could easily do much more.

Serie A

MASSIMILIANO ALLEGRI, JUVENTUS

Where will they pick up from?

Losing out in the finals of the Champions League is a bitter pill to swallow for any team, but Juventus will look back at the 2016-17 season with pride, since they won the Serie A and developed a reputation for having the best defence in the world.

How different is this season?

Nothing much changes for Max Allegri, except for the fact that this is probably Gianluigi Buffon’s last chance to win a Champions League trophy. Medhi Benatia and Douglas Costa could prove to be smart pieces of business, as is so often the case with the Old Lady.

What will they want to change?

“Juventus’ defence is great when it comes to crosses, but not so on low return passes,” Luka Modric told Croatian daily Sportske Novosti after the Champions League final. Certainly, they would like to fill up that gap, especially after Bonucci’s departure to the capital.

EUSEBIO DI FRANCESCO, AS ROMA

Where will they pick up from?

A strong showing in the Serie A saw them finish a close second to league leaders Juventus, with just four points separating the two teams.

How different is this season?

Roma will be without the services of Francesco Totti, a legend who said goodbye to the game. So the onus will be on Edin Dzeko to repeat his performance from the 2016/17 season, where he finished as Serie A’s top goalscorer, with 29 goals.

What will they want to change?

Their performance in the Champions League was abysmal — they were knocked out in the playoffs stage by FC Porto. We wouldn’t mind seeing a new Serie A winner for a change, either.

VINCENZO MONTELLA, AC MILAN

Where will they pick up from?

In his first season in charge, the former Roma footballer led the Rossoneri to their first title since 2011, in the form of the Supercoppa Italiana, but he was expected to do better than a sixth-place finish in the Serie A.

How different is this season?

With Chinese investors Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux taking over the club, the red and black stripes have witnessed the most startling transfer activity across all of Europe — Leonardo Bonucci, Hakan Çalhanoğlu and Andre Silva lead the arrivals. Depth would definitely be required if they are to do well in the Europa League.

What will they want to change?

With the club owners investing so heavily during the transfer window, Champions League football should be a minimum at San Siro next season.

CARLO ANCELOTTI, BAYERN MUNICH

Where will they pick up from?

The former Madrid manager’s debut season at the Allianz Arena brought a record-setting fifth consecutive Bundesliga title. The cabinet was expected to be heavier with one more piece of silverware, though.

How different is this season?

With veterans Xabi Alonso and Philipp Lahm retiring, and youngsters Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman going back to Juventus after their loan spells, the dressing room looks completely different, with the arrival of a whole pack of young Germans. 

What will they want to change?

It’s been four years since the German champions last laid their hands on a Champions League trophy, and that will be the biggest objective for Ancelotti this season.

THOMAS TUCHEL, BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Where will they pick up from?

10 draws and six losses do not bode well for a talented bunch of players and a clever manager like Tuchel. At third in the league and no significant silverware, the Westfalonstadian boss has a lot to prove this time. 

How different is this season?

Tuchel will be expected to bring the best out of an attack that looks likely to retain the services of star-striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The stage is also set for Christian Pulisic to make the most of his potential.  

What will they want to change?

Almost half a dozen new faces in the side and no injury concerns could mean a fresh start. It’s time that someone dethrones Bayern from the top of the pile. 

Ligue 1

UNAI EMERY, PARIS ST. GERMAIN

Where will they pick up from?

AS Monaco’s unbelievable run, spearheaded by Kylian Mbappe, saw PSG finish a distant second in Ligue 1. It ended their run of four consecutive Ligue 1 titles, so Emery will definitely look to get back to winning ways.

How different is this season?

Apart from domestic ambitions, PSG will also consider themselves title contenders for the Champions League, especially considering their performance against Barcelona in the Round of 16 last season. What will they want to change? They’ll hope that the referee isn’t as harsh on them in key Champions League games. Jokes apart, the defense needs to be bolstered, and Neymar’s possible addition to the attack could seriously rake up a European challenge.

LEONARDO JARDIM, AS MONACO

Where will they pick up from?

AS Monaco’s unbelievable run, spearheaded by Kylian Mbappe, saw PSG finish a distant second in Ligue 1. It ended their run of four consecutive Ligue 1 titles, so Emery will definitely look to get back to winning ways.

How different is this season?

Jardim might lose out on the services of several key players like Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva and Fabinho this season. If that is the case, it could be difficult to repeat their heroics from last season.

What will they want to change?

The club could certainly do with more fans, as the lowest attendance at their stadium last season was 2,000, which is tragic to say the least. Wake up, Principality folks!

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

DAVID MOYES

It was the ultimate dream job when the former Celtic man became ‘The Chosen One’ to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United — by the man himself. However, it didn’t even take 12 months for things to go so far downhill that the former Everton manager was shown the door before the end of his first season at the helm. A stint in the La Liga ended with another sacking, this time before the end of his 18-month-contract. His last professional commitment was with Sunderland, who got relegated, and got Moyes sacked for the third consecutive occasion in as many years. As things stand now, he was rumoured to be have been rehired by his first managerial club, Preston, until Alex Neil got the job; the Glaswegian remains the ‘Unwanted One.’

CLAUDIO RANIERI

Anyone who placed 10 pounds on Leicester City winning the Premier League before the 2015-16 season would have raked in a mammoth 50,000 pounds at the end of it. A poor showing next season, which led to him being sacked, is something that can be forgotten, but his triumph cannot. Currently, 65-yearold Ranieri is plying his trade at Ligue 1 club Nantes. “I arrive at a club that has won eight titles in France, a historic club with very beautiful facilities, so I am honoured,” Ranieri said in a press conference after his appointment.

BRENDAN RODGERS

In 2012-13, Liverpool almost won the title under Brendan Rodgers, after enjoying a scintillating 11-match winning streak. Unfortunately, Rodgers was unable to maintain the same intensity in the next couple of seasons, and was sacked. His next job, at Celtic FC, saw Rodgers find more success, and he currently sits at the top of Scottish football after winning a domestic treble (Scottish League Cup, Scottish Premiership and Scottish Cup) in the 2016-17 season.

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