A new team taking on their manager’s identity

by Robbie Dunne

Koeman SouthamptonWith a host of new managers getting ready to lead their charges into a new Premier League season with new signings, the memories of departed players and plenty of new tactics and ambition, the hope is that each club selected their new leader wisely. From Ronald Koeman at Southampton to Louis van Gaal at Manchester United, these coaches will be looking to stamp their authority as soon as possible, and some already have.

What many will also be hoping is that the team takes on the personality of their new head coach. The same way that Manchester United under Alex Ferguson were a prickly, gutsy, and demanding side, and how under Pep Guardiola, Barcelona became a pensive, thinking man’s side capable of out thinking you before they outplayed you, and the same way the Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund will beat you with passion, energy and innovation. While the winning and losing of games ultimately comes down to the players, the way in which a club is perceived is set early doors by the manager.

While the three aforementioned are positive examples, it also happens in the negative, with Manchester United under David Moyes becoming a meek, confused version of their once great selves. It is a mentality that attaches itself to the club based on how the manager handles himself and it had far-reaching effects for the Moyes era, from the handling of contract negotiations with current players, Nani’s standing out in particular, to the way the team was dealt with by prospective selling clubs in the transfer market, Athletic Bilbao and the Ander Herrera deal stand out in this instance.

Manchester United have already reversed that trend in the first few weeks of Louis van Gaal’s term as manager. They purchased Herrera from Club Athletic de Bilbao with little aplomb and landed the highly-rated Luke Shaw in another hassle-free transfer. The demanding van Gaal has already attached his lack of patience and ambition to the club.

Louis van Gaal is considered a tactical genius, but nobody can be sure how the Red Devils will respond after last season’s utter failings. They will and have already, however, started playing with van Gaal’s mentality, and opposition teams have become aware of this and will not expect anything easy from games against the Dutchman and his team this season.

They are confident, brash and undaunted heading in to the new season and for this Van Gaal and his personality must take some early credit. The team is not entirely different from Moyes’ first choice and Van Gaal can’t have transformed the tactics that quickly, it is simply boils down to the way the players now view themselves and where they stand in the order of things, and it bodes well for Manchester United, its fans and everyone involved in the club.

Another beneficiary of such a concept are Tottenham Hotspur. The reserved Mauricio Pochettino has gone about his business as Spurs’ manager in his usual, unassuming manner since taking over this summer. Exactly what the club have been looking for after the circus that was Tim Sherwood and his coaching staff departed at the end of last season, and perhaps even before that.

You can expect Spurs’ to grace the field this season with a quite air of confidence, with little or no pre-match talk and straight-edged interviews to follow. There will be no confetti on the pitch, or celebrations from the manager after meaningless goals. It will be a no-nonsense, result and performance driven season with Pochettino at the helm.

Mourinho’s stubborn Chelsea, Pellegrini’s free-flowing Manchester City and Wenger’s advanced Arsenal all display traits that their manager possesses, it is now time for the likes of Manchester United to carry themselves as Van Gaal does, and for Spurs’ to do their talking by performing at the level many presumed they would be at long before now.

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