Managing Barcelona is one of the greatest jobs in the world of football coaching but Ernesto Valverde could be forgiven for thinking that his job is more of a curse than a gift right now. The former Athletic Bilbao manager has been tasked with turning the fortunes of the club around after a poor season by their standards saw the end of Luis Enrique’s spell in charge. Unfortunately, things got off to the worst possible start with a 3-1 defeat at home against Real Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup.
We get a glimpse into the future of racing at the Curragh this weekend. The Keeneland Phoenix Stakes gives some of the most promising flat horses around the chance to shine and over the years some high quality sprinters have set the pulses racing in this Group 1 race. Last year’s winner, Caravaggio, has gone on to big things as a three-year-old and connections of all those taking part on Sunday will be hoping against hope that their charge can kick on like he has.
It was a tough first season for Jose Mourinho at Man Utd but the Portuguese manager showed his class to come through the challenges and take the club back into the Champions League thanks to their Europa League triumph. Having spent more big money over the summer, Mourinho knows that his team must make a push for the title. That push begins on Sunday afternoon when West Ham are the visitors to Old Trafford for their first game of the season. West Ham manager, Slaven Bilic, is arguably under even more pressure than Mourinho. The Croatian doesn’t quite have the same level of scrutiny but after a poor last season and some good signings over the summer, Bilic desperately needs a better campaign this time around to keep his job.
It’s been a long time coming but finally Brighton get to start their first season in the Premier League. The Seagulls deservedly won promotion automatically last season after some near misses and there will be a full house at the Amex Stadium for the visit of Manchester City on Saturday evening. Chris Hughton has been working very hard to prepare his team for the coming season but even a manager as talented as him may be surprised by the quality of Pep Guardiola’s City side. Can Brighton pick up a massive result in front of their home fans or will Man City send out a message to the rest of the Premier League that they are the team to stop in the title race?
Watford and Liverpool get their Premier League season underway at Vicarage Road early on Saturday afternoon. Every team in the league have hopes and goals for the coming campaign but you get the feeling it is a particularly important season for Watford and Liverpool. After a shocking final few months of last season, Watford need to regroup under new manager, Marco Silva, while Liverpool are looking to kick on under Jurgen Klopp and put together a title challenge.