Last week, we spoke to The Secret Coach about the bottom half of the Premier League and how each of the 10 teams that occupy the lower half positions are struggling.
This week, it’s the turn of those lucky ten teams who sit in the upper echelons of the English Premier League.
The Secret Coach is a professional football coach in English football… who will remain anonymous. The Secret Coach has worked with some of the biggest names in the game, been through the coaching badges and is currently part of the coaching team at an English league side… and that’s all we’re telling you. As ever, this week, The Secret Coach pulls no punches!
Who is doing well and why? Let’s delve into The Secret Coach’s half-term report, with some A-grade action along the way.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: “Wolves haven’t started for me so far. They’re playing more reserved and look like they have the handbrake on. Last season they blew people away with their free-flowing attacking play and good defensive displays, but now they look restricted in their play. They’ve had few departures including the dynamic Diogo Jota, but there’s still a good squad left that I think will get better as the season unfolds.”
West Ham United: “A very stop-start team, West Ham. Moyes is showing as he did at Everton, that if you give him time, he will mould a group of players into a solid unit that will win more points than they lose as they have shown recently. My concern is if they don’t take their chances, they always look like conceding.”
West Ham certainly fell apart in Monday’s late defeat to Chelsea.
Everton: “They’ve got a massive manager and had a great start to the season but then they have stuttered. They have a good squad, but can Dominic Calvert-Lewin keep them firing? I can’t see where any other goals coming from if he dries up. Top six finish though.”
Southampton: “The Saints are proof that if a smaller club backs a manager and doesn’t get their expectations wrong, it works out. Southampton are playing lovely football and look defensively sound. They have young hungry players playing football that when you’re watching it, you know they know what’s expected of them in each situation… they could end up in the top six!”
Manchester City: “It’s been a surprising start from City. To me, they look more defensively sound, and are still creating lots of chances, but their midfield are not scoring this year. Before, it’s been Aguero with 20+ goals and the rest come from midfield. With the Argentinian missing and Gabriel Jesus not firing, if the midfield have an off-day in front of goal, The Citizens could draw or lose. However, if the midfield find the net, look out – it could be four or five!”
This was what happened when City hosted Liverpool at The Etihad Stadium earlier this season.
Tottenham Hotspur: “Love him or hate him, Jose Mourinho has his defensive team set up this season like so many before. He has built Spurs on the maxim ‘Break us down if you can and if not, I’ll take my chances’. Seeing Kane and Son’s work-rate is amazing, and they deserve to be there. The only problem is like when Klopp first came in and the work-rate and style changed for Liverpool, whether they could keep it up. Maybe they won’t win the title this year but like Jose did at Chelsea, the next season might be a different story.”
Chelsea: “Talking of The Blues, Lampard’s side have spent big money on big players, exciting players that are starting to find their feet but are a little too inconsistent. If Chelsea want to challenge, they need the big players to play consistently well especially in big games. Maybe not this year but watch out next season.”
Manchester United: “A little similarly to Arsenal, the big names are not doing it for me and stealing a living. If United stick with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – and I hope they do – he has got to pick a settled side. For me it’s a bit Football Manager. After every bad game, they change the team and there’s no continuity at the moment; the fans, the players and Ole probably don’t know what to expect game to game! This means they are dangerous, however, and they’re not to be ruled out.”
Leicester City: “I love watching them. Brendan Rodgers has got The Foxes playing attractive free-flowing football and the evergreen Jamie Vardy is still scoring plenty – they are a match for anyone. That said, in some of the bigger games they have been a bit like a rabbit in headlights such as in the Liverpool game, and I feel if they don’t start quickly they can’t get back onto the front foot and that’s where I see them losing points.”
Liverpool: “The Reds aren’t playing to the level they are capable of with a lot of injuries, yet they are still at the top on Christmas Day. Jurgen Klopp has them organized, including the youngsters coming in knowing what is expected of them, but the big thing is the never-say-die attitude. They don’t want to get beaten and you have to defend a lead against them until the referee is in his car and the floodlights are off, because Klopp’s team show no sign of giving up their long-awaited trophy.
There you have it – as The Secret Coach sees it, Liverpool are still very much the team to beat. The Secret Coach will return in 2021, exclusively here at Calvin Ayre.