With the fixtures for this upcoming season now published it will be interesting to see which Scottish manager shows the greatest stomach for the English Premier League fight. As it stands when the season kicks off on Saturday, August 13 there will be no fewer than seven Scots managing their respective clubs.
From the wily old fox that is Sir Alex Ferguson right down to the young rookie in Paul Lambert, Scottish bosses will lock horns nearly every weekend in an EPL campaign which is looking increasingly intriguing with each passing day.
Sir Alex himself is bidding for his 20th league title after securing an historic 19th championship last season. But with Kenny Dalglish set to stamp his authority all over Man United’s biggest rivals Liverpool in the coming weeks and months, the outcome of that old battle could indeed be the most exciting aspect in the EPL.
After the announcement earlier this week, Alex McLeish just might be the Scottish manager with the biggest job on his hands. The city of Birmingham seems to be baying for his blood after McLeish made the switch from Birmingham City to bitter rivals Aston Villa. That move alone has seen both the blue AND the claret halves of the city vent their anger at the flame haired Scot with rumours that around 8,000 or so Villa fans are threatening not to return to Villa Park over the appointment.
Across at Bolton Wanderers it couldn’t be any more different. Although in footballing terms he is technically Irish after picking up a solitary cap for the Republic of Ireland, Scots-born Owen Coyle will simply be trying to build on his success of last season. However, the former St Johnstone manager will have a tough job on his hands in trying to replicate the free-flowing football that has become his trademark, particularly following the departure of striker Johan Elmander and the imminent sale of centre half Gary Cahill.
Then there’s Steve Kean. Narrowly escaping relegation on the last day of the season, Kean is still a rookie in terms of being an out-and-out football manager having only secured a four-year contract last season. The biggest test for Kean this campaign is if, as expected, things don’t go right on the pitch, will Rovers’ Indian owners lose patience quickly with the Scotsman?
At Everton, Davie Moyes enters another season hoping to over achieve despite having one hand tied behind his back financially. Traditional slow starters, Moyes’ side on their day are more than a match for any team in the Premiership. If Everton keep stars such as Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill and Belgian Marouane Fellaini, Everton and Moyes could be in with a shout of Europe, another major achievement by Moyes and his team.
Last, but by no means least, is the likeable Paul Lambert. A vital cog as a player in the Celtic juggernaut under Martin O’Neill, Lambert is actually beginning to look more like the Northern Irishman as a manager with each game. Since being brought to Norwich after leading minnows Colchester to a 7-1 win over the Canaries in 2009, Lambert led them to back-to-back promotions on their way to the Premiership for the first time in six years. Under Lambert they haven’t looked back, winning the League One title before finishing as runners-up to QPR last season in the Championship. In short, Lambert has been a revelation in his two years at the club.
However, he will be under no illusions during his first season managing in the Premiership. Now, instead of Scunthorpe, Barnsley and Crystal Palace he’ll be trying to outwit Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool. The fight in the stomach has never been in question with Lambert – a European Cup winner with Borussia Dortmund. But we’ll soon find out whether he has the players at his disposal to ensure his dream debut Premiership season doesn’t turn into a nightmare.
Written by Joseph O’Brien