Premier League Opening Day 2013: Predicting How New Managers Will Fare in Debuts
There has been quite a managerial flux in the English Premier League in the offseason, and three of the notable changes at the helm of clubs will be on display in opening-day action on Saturday.
David Moyes officially took over defending EPL champion Manchester United from the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson on July 1, and on the same date Roberto Martinez began his tenure at Everton—Moyes' former club.
That development will be intriguing to monitor as the day progress, as will the form of Stoke City under new boss Mark Hughes. The former Queens Park Rangers manager couldn't spark his squad in his only season at Loftus Road, as QPR were relegated to the Championship and he was sacked after just 12 EPL games.
Below is a look at how each of these three new managers will fare as the Premier League's opening day action gets underway on Saturday.
Note: Statistics and information are courtesy of PremierLeague.com.
David Moyes, Manchester United
The going won't be easy for Moyes in his maiden EPL appearance in the Red Devils' dugout, as the reigning league trophy bearers begin the 2013/14 campaign with a testing trip to Swansea City.
Star striker Wayne Rooney encompasses the first big personnel decision Moyes will have to make. Rooney hasn't been a part of United's preseason, though he did recently start and play significant time in England's international friendly win over Scotland.
As reported by Henry Winter of The Telegraph, Moyes is projecting the notion that EPL fixtures have been rigged to make his inaugural campaign particularly difficult:
I think it’s the hardest start Manchester United have had for 20 years and I hope it’s not because Man United won the league quite comfortably last year (that) the fixtures have been made much more difficult...I find it hard to believe that's the way the balls came out of the bag, that's for sure. But if it is a hard start for Manchester United, it is a hard start for everyone else because they have to play us.
That's not exactly the type of message a new manager should be projecting, no matter how unfair the schedule may seem in terms of difficulty.
In light of that development—and considering the Red Devils do indeed need some momentum before facing the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City early on—look for United to come out strong and steal a road victory.
Robin van Persie will spearhead a still-potent attack by notching a goal and get the Red Devils moving in the right direction early in defense of the trophy.
Prediction: Manchester United 2, Swansea City 1
Roberto Martinez, Everton
The top five teams in the EPL last season were playing at a different level to the rest of the league. Everton finished nine points behind Tottenham Hotspur in sixth, though, so they were the best of the rest.
Martinez was brought in with hopes to get the team to the next level after Moyes had built the club well before taking an absolute dream job.
That journey to be more competitive with the elite clubs begins with a trip to Norwich City. It promises to be a demanding opener at Carrow Road for Martinez's bunch.
The Toffees have not won away in the league since January 2, which will be a tough trend to reverse even against a modest opponent. That eight-game slide could be halted due to the lack of firepower in the Canaries' attack.
New striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel will be expected to produce early form, but the 24-year-old won't have much help, particularly as his fellow Dutch newcomer, midfielder Leroy Fer, is suspended.
It won't be a convincing win, but Everton should get a "W" for Martinez in his debut due to stout defense against a club that tied for the third fewest goals scored last season.
Prediction: Everton 1, Norwich City 0
Mark Hughes, Stoke City
Speaking of struggling offensive clubs, that is something which Hughes is familiar with. His QPR squad scored a league-low 30 goals in 2012/13, and Stoke City wasn't much better with only 34.
Which manager would be most affected by an opening loss?
The fact that the Potters aren't hosting this contest definitely hurts the cause, but their reputation as a "rugby team" built under prior manager Tony Pulis should make Liverpool work for a bid at three points.
Also in Stoke's favor is the fact that temperamental Liverpool star striker Luis Suarez is still suspended from a biting incident last season.
That takes away the Reds' primary scoring threat, who ranked second in league goals last year with 23, trailing Van Persie by three despite playing five fewer games.
Even with Suarez out, the Reds are the better club. However, the scrappy Potters will emerge with a point thanks to their trademark grit and a revitalized attack under Hughes.
Prediction: Stoke City 1, Liverpool 1
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