The 2018 World Cup has not yet finished, with the semi-finals and final taking place later this week, but it is now exactly a month to the closing of the Premier League transfer window, which is ending early this year ahead of the first round of league fixtures to help avoid the disruption that has routinely blighted the new campaign for club managers.
These are some of the main issues that are still to be resolved:
Antonio Conte’s future
The Italian has long been expected to be relieved of his job as Chelsea manager after falling out with the club’s hierarchy last summer following poor investment after their title win in 2016/17 – his first season – but hiring Maurizio Sarri from Napoli has been far from straightforward, even though the 59-year-old has already been replaced by Carlo Ancelotti.
Conte’s situation has been muddled even further by his return to pre-season training yesterday when he was pictured with his coaching staff. The longer this situation remains unresolved, the more difficult it will be for the Blues to have a strong start to the campaign – they are yet to make a signing.
Loris Karius will have had a dreadful summer break following his two howlers in the Champions League final which cost Liverpool against Real Madrid. It was later revealed that he was suffering from concussion, though, after a blow to the head from Sergio Ramos and with a replacement yet to be signed it appears increasingly likely that the German will remain Jurgen Klopp’s No1 heading into a season when they are among the favourites to win the Premier League.
Manchester United in the transfer market
Manchester City completely dominated the division last season, finishing on 100 points and losing just twice. Manchester United were 19 points behind, and rarely looked like being serious challengers from December onwards, but in second still recorded their best finish since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Jose Mourinho has added Diogo Dalot, Fred and back-up Lee Grant but is likely to need to spend substantially more to see his side become major trophy challengers, even if it is unlikely that City can dominate to the same extent.
The Marco Silva effect
Marco Silva had long been Everton’s choice to replace Ronald Koeman, and after Sam Allardyce’s forgettable spell in charge they now finally have their man. The Portuguese is held in high regard for his work at Sporting CP, Olympiacos and Hull City, while he was doing a splendid job at Watford until he was approached by the Toffees initially; he was later sacked after Allardyce had taken over.
The 40-year-old is yet to make a signing despite losing Wayne Rooney and Ramiro Funes Mori and he is likely to have serious money to spend in the coming weeks with a proven goalscorer of upmost importance if Everton are to build on their eighth-place finish and challenge for a European berth.
New boys bridging the gap
With last season’s newly-promoted teams – Brighton, Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town – all keeping their Premier League status for just the third time, the pressure is on the latest three to have competitive seasons. Wolverhampton Wanderers, with their extravagant spending, have long looked a top-flight outfit and can be confident of challenging for a top-10 place, particularly as they have already added Rui Patrício, Portugal’s first choice goalkeeper, to their ranks.
Fulham and Cardiff City are not as prepared for the big jump in quality, though the latter have been busy and Josh Murphy – signed from Norwich City – will be an interesting addition.
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