World Football

Hot-Seat Watch for World Football Players and Coaches Entering New Season

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistAugust 13, 2014

Hot-Seat Watch for World Football Players and Coaches Entering New Season

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    The 2014-15 season is upon us and managers and players alike are heading into the new campaign hoping to emulate their successes of last year...or in some cases, right the wrongs they happened to cause along the way.

    Either way, there are enormous amounts of pressure and spotlight on certain individuals throughout the game, big-name coaches of whom much is expected and star players who have to reach the peak of their game each week or be cast off as flops.

    Here are our biggest names in the game who are in the hot seat already and will need to hit the ground running this season to dispel any lingering doubters.

Iker Casillas

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    Real Madrid's first-choice goalkeeper from the cup competitions last season might have ended the campaign with the European Cup in his hands, but that doesn't excuse his rather poor performances along the way.

    That continued into the World Cup and, more recently, in pre-season, prompting Real to sign up Keylor Navas as a new challenger to Casillas.

    Casillas has started the new season by lifting the UEFA Super Cup but he has no assurances about being the No. 1 going forward.

Jack Wilshere

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    Jack Wilshere's star rose and shone early in his career, but there have been more than a few people willing to speak out that he has not progressed enough yet to be the dominant midfielder he was expected to be.

    Last season he mainly put injuries behind him, bar one or two smaller issues, but was usurped from the centre of the park by the excellent Aaron Ramsey.

    An indifferent-at-best World Cup and more big additions to the squad means he really needs to step up quickly and show he can be a world beater, rather than become a squad option for Arsenal as others continue to shine.

Sam Allardyce

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    Managers aren't going to escape early questioning either.

    Sam Allardyce has been instructed to play more entertaining, attack-minded football this season at West Ham United and he'll know that his job is on the line.

    Signings this summer such as Enner Valencia and Mauro Zarate might have been made with that in mind, but Allardyce needs to get results along the way too. Can he combine his orders with his usual team solidity?

Carlo Ancelotti

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    Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti could win every competition going—he'd still be under pressure going into the next season. That's the nature of being boss of one of the biggest sides, perhaps the biggest, in the world.

    He'll be expected to bring La Liga to the other half of Madrid this season, as well as go again for European glory.

    Huge signings to fill out the squad give him great resources, which he needs to manage to their full potential. Every non-win will come with scathing comments and intense critique.

Gerard Pique

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    Gerard Pique has been an established centre-back for Barcelona for a number of seasons, but his performances of 2013-14 were criticised at times and he was one of the big scapegoats for Spain's failure to do well at the World Cup this summer too.

    New signings for Barcelona in the form of centre-backs Jeremy Mathieu and Thomas Vermaelen will provide big competition for places, too.

    Pique will no doubt start the season in the side, but needs to be significantly improved with performances and consistency to maintain his place for club and country.

Sergio Ramos

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    Alongside Pique, Sergio Ramos was fairly hammered too by the press in his home country, especially after the mauling at the hands of Netherlands.

    It certainly wasn't just the two centre-backs who performed below their level, but as they were clearly poor themselves and the goals went in, it's natural that accusations fell their way.

    Ramos was, however, imperious for Real Madrid last season and will be confident of starting this season the same way.

Ronald Koeman

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    Southampton have enjoyed several years of linear progression from League One to the top half of the Premier League, but it all looked in danger of unravelling this summer after a slew of key-name exits, on and off the field.

    Ronald Koeman is the new man in charge after he has previously worked at the likes of Benfica, Valencia and PSV Eindhoven and, though he has plenty of money to spend, the club seems to be failing to attract all the players they want to replace those who have left.

    Southampton will be one of the most-watched sides in the top flight to see how they fare without their star names of last season, and Koeman will have to come up with the goods.

Luis Suarez

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    Former Liverpool forward Luis Suarez will have the eyes of the world upon him...when he eventually returns to playing.

    A four-month ban didn't stop him transferring to Barcelona this summer, though that could be reduced if the Court of Arbitration for Sport decide to reduce the length of the sentence.

    He'll be expected to continue his form of being one of the best in the world once he resumes, but he'll now have to do it alongside Neymar, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi. And, without any more transgressions.

Mass Allegri

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    Juventus steamrollered Serie A when Antonio Conte was boss, but his departure led to the arrival of former AC Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri taking over.

    Having been alternately excellent and dreadful in his previous roles, all eyes will be on the Italian with a minimum expectation of retaining the Serie A title, as well as faring better in Europe than they managed last season.

    Can Allegri restore his reputation and take Juve another step on too?

Pippo Inzaghi

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    Allegri's place at Milan was initially filled by Clarence Seedorf, but now he has departed too and Milan have placed their faith in former striker Pippo Inzaghi.

    It is Inzaghi's first job in senior management, having been a youth coach beforehand, and quite frankly he inherits a Milan team in a complete mess.

    All of Italy will be watching to see if he can restore order, good form and consistency to the giant club, while simultaneously honing his own skills and preferences for the tactical side of the game. It's a big ask of a novice coach.

Cesc Fabregas

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    Cesc Fabregas no doubt enjoyed his time at Barcelona, but he never truly established himself as an undisputed starter or had a permanent, reliable position in the side. He played off to the flank, as a false forward, a central or attacking midfielder...anywhere he could get in the side, basically, and the same was true at international level.

    Now at Chelsea, he not only will have a fixed place and a near-certain start every game, he's also going to replace the legs, the mind and the goals of a club legend in Frank Lampard.

    He has to do the business in a league he has already excelled in and essentially be the leader of a team which is expected to win the league.

Lionel Messi

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    It seems unlikely and unthinkable that Leo Messi could be classed as "out of form" when he still managed very nearly a goal every game in the league last season and reached a World Cup final, but that's the underlying feeling for many anyway, such are the heights expected of him.

    Messi never quite hit his very best form last term and, despite playing a pivotal role to get Argentina out of the group stage, was quieter than usual in the knockout stages and didn't impact the final.

    That's the level of expectation Messi has created for himself and the level he'll be expected to find again this season.

Pep Guardiola

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    Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich walked the Bundesliga title last season but his team was ruthlessly undone in Europe by Real Madrid.

    Much like Messi, Guardiola has created an aura of expectancy around himself; expectancy of success and entertainment which nothing less than trophies will sate.

    His Bayern team will have to repeat their domestic feat but look a more potent continental challenger this term to avoid talk of the side having regressed under his leadership.

David Luiz

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    Our final player is PSG's new signing David Luiz, who endured a horror finish to the World Cup after signing for the Ligue 1 champions.

    His positional play was questioned again, as was his lack of leadership when the team was falling apart in the semi-finals. On the ball he remains a talent, but more is expected of a centre-back leader.

    With PSG and Brazil captain Thiago Silva injured, all eyes will be on Luiz and how he fares without his compatriot alongside him.

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