All Eyes on the Managers - Who Will Win the Game of Dugouts?

02/06/2016 16:36 | Updated 02 June 2016

Slowly but surely, the world's best managerial talent is all being drawn towards the Premier League. For the first time in a long while - if ever - there's almost as much anticipation surrounding the battle between half a dozen different managers next season as there is around the players.

Part of that's the circus surrounding the 'big clubs' this season - with four of the traditional 'big five' changing the man at the helm within the last nine months - and part of it's the cult of personality which has formed around more than one of the bosses, naming no Jurgen Klopps that we could name.

It's... well, it's all gone a bit Game of Thrones, hasn't it? Fractured followings, disputed kings, all vying for one ultimate prize - which they all know they can't hold forever.

Most eyes will instinctively flick to the North, with Pep Guardiola arriving at Manchester City over the summer and Jose Mourinho finally plonking his backside down on the seat of power at fortress Old Trafford.

The pair have famously clashed in the past while in Spain, but Mourinho has insisted that things will be different in England, saying that "in the Premier League, if I focus on him and Manchester City, and he on me and Manchester United, someone else is going to win the league."

An unlikely truce perhaps - but one which will be strained to its very limits by the combustible natures of both men as well as the long-term tensions between the two clubs. Niceties with the noisy neighbours don't tend to sit comfortably in Manchester; be sure to look for fireworks here before the end of the season if both are challenging for the title.

In the south, Antonio Conte has been handed the unfathomable riches of Stamford Bridge after conquering overseas, but his men turned quickly on their last long-term boss. His tactical nous will be tested to its limits in an unfamiliar setting, and all the while he'll have a gargantuan man-management job on his hands too.

For all that, the wise old figure of Arsene Wenger may actually have a trickier task on his hands over the river. The crowds are becoming - slowly but surely - more hostile towards the Frenchman, while his charges remain comfortably second-best. At everything. Every single time.

An insistence on clinging to the old ways hasn't served him well over the past decade, slowly sliding into mediocrity while he clings jealously to his small corner of the Premier League empire. The decisive, early, enthusiastic move for Granit Xhaka has given the slightest hint of a changing attitude though; this could be the year that things change at the Emirates.

Over the Mersey, away from the prying eyes of his rivals, sits a charismatic leader who inspires near-dogmatic devotion in those who follow him, surrounded by - in Jordan Williams, Danny Ward and Harry Wilson - a trio of young dragons who could one day win matches single-handedly.

Klopp's Liverpool are the true wildcards next season; with a little more time to bring in his own philosophies than most of his rivals, added to a swathe of personnel changes and the true trump card - a complete lack of European football.

His team were run ragged at the end of the season just finished, with at least 20 more games on their schedule than eventual league winners Leicester City. With an improved side and fresher legs, all things are possible.

Speaking of Leicester City - they and Tottenham Hotspur both have a chance to throw a real spanner in the works with their no-fear approaches and exciting lineups.

Their managers are both very different men, Claudio Ranieri's irrepressible energy counterbalanced by Mauricio Pochettino's analytical brain and bursts of passion - positive or otherwise. However, they both appear to value on thing above almost all others. Faith in their men.

Ranieri and Leicester won the league with one of the smallest squads to achieve the feat in the modern era, the Tinkerman reinvented, while Pochettino's horde of bright young things were given free rein to prove themselves by the Argentine.

Who will sit atop the league come next May? Only time will tell - but it's going to be fascinating to watch.

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