The Narratives: The Reason Why the Premier League is in for a Monumental Season
By Nick Chafey
The 10-month campaign is under a week away from kickoff, and the Champions, Leicester City, perhaps the most unlikely of Champions in the modern sport era, have the honor of putting together a title defense for a season that has proven to be England’s most anticipated. Leicester City, under the leadership of the Italian Claudio Ranneri, took 5000 to 1 odds and spat in the face of experts and billionaires alike to lead Leicester through a grueling 38-match season to their first Premier League Championship. The story, which Leicester has written, forever graces English Football as the greatest football fairytale. But as the new season surfaces, the drama will only continue to climax.
The summer of 2016 has added to the saga. The city of Manchester has introduced two of football’s most relevant managers; Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, to manage the cities two prolific squads, Manchester United and Manchester City. Mourinho, the former Chelsea boss, took the position at United at the onset of the summer. Guardiola similarly was introduced at City once the season concluded in May and his career in management is beyond immaculate.
In Pep’s 7-year management career at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Guardiola collected over 20 trophies and accolades, including numerous European Championships and Domestic League Trophies. When analyzing his 446-match career, his percentages speak of his success. Pep wins 73% of his matches. In the 38-match Premier League season, this would translate into 27 matches in which he was the victor. That is 91 points! (In the league, wins generate 3 points) Pep, from a statistical perspective last season would have finished 10 points beyond Leicester’s 81 and it must be noted that Leicester’s closest adversaries, Arsenal finished 10 points off the pace at 71. The analytic that happens to be a City fan should find himself looking at these numbers with great enthusiasm. Ghastly, when scrolling the Premier League record for points generated in a winning league campaign we find by no irony this accolade belongs to Guardiola’s arch nemesis, Jose Mourinho and his 04-05 Chelsea squad (Perhaps the greatest Premier League side) finishing the season with 95 points.
For Mourinho, his rise to the throne at United is just another narrative for this League campaign. His role as the antagonist will surely surface as he finds himself at the center of many storylines for the season. His spats with Arsene Wenger and Arsenal will surely invigorate this derby, which has somewhat lost its viciousness since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. Mourinho's next headline will be his encounter with his former employers at Chelsea. After two stints at the Bridge, both of which were filled with glory and disappointment, which past will he be identified with as he faces his old allies? Last of all is somewhat a ghost story. The ghost of Sir Alex’s past, which does exist, has doomed the managers following in his succession. Mourinho will fill a vacancy that has haunted the past two managers (Moyes and Van Gaal). Mourinho, the more prolific an egotist of the past candidates, will surely be held in account to Fergie's past. He is after all, innocuously hailed as “The Special One” by the English Media.
Beyond those narratives, now add his greatest adversary, Pep Guardiola down the road at the Etihad, and instantaneously the Manchester Derby becomes the most anticipated clash of the season. Still, more must be mentioned because Mourinho has done what every English football critic has wanted to see. The great Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Swedish superstar, has signed on with Mourinho at United, and with the latest addition of the French phenom Paul Pogba, Mourinho finds himself in a similar position when he first arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2004 - with an array of talent.
To the Premier League purist, the additions of Mourinho, Guardiola and Ibrahimovic may mask the traditional essence of the league. Arsenal, under Arsene Wenger, is always credible to mount a legitimate title pursuit. Tottenham, with the golden boot winner Harry Kane, have proven they are in title contention after realistically finishing behind Leicester this past season (In points they finished 3rd but were always the team considered in fighting contention). Jürgen Klopp at Liverpool is another prolific European manager and begins his 2nd season at Anfield. Finally, Chelsea. After the poorest season in recent club history, they will have the opportunity to clean the slate under the Italian Antonio Conte. Conte will at his disposal have a squad capable of title contention with the names of Hazard, Costa, Fabregas and John Terry, the likely captain.
The Premier League, notorious for its popularity and following, has created a narrative for the upcoming season that has fans and critics alike on edge, counting down the hours until kickoff. Leicester City will have the privilege of being known as the “Champions” for a season that will likely be England’s greatest and most anticipated yet. The Premier League commences this Saturday, as the Champions journey up to the city of Hull to mount their title defense against Steve Bruce’s side. Kickoff is set for 6:30am on NBC Sports or likely an NBC affiliate. If not, download the app or open up the browser at NBC Live to catch the match and the others, as the 10-month league campaign sets off. Every match is available online and a list of the first week of fixtures and kickoff times is below.
Nickolas Brooks Chafey, a graduate from Southern Nazarene University is currently pursuing a masters degree from the University of Central Oklahoma. He is a former collegiate soccer player and is entering his 4th year as a School Bus Driver for the Putnam City School District. In his spare time he just loves being active and can be found riding his bike throughout the OKC metro area, often times on the way to the local coffee shop to read, write or just to hang out. Nick enjoys staying up with global affairs, learning, traveling, playing soccer and loves watching the English Premier League. You can find him on Facebook or email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org