- Which coaches have had a great calendar year so far?
- We pick five, from four different leagues
Football may have temporarily paused due to the Coronavirus outbreak, but we’ve already had two and a bit months of action in 2020 and many interesting storylines have already emerged. Some coaches have turned in some masterclasses already this calendar year and we take a look at five of them here.
Peter Bosz (Bayer Leverkusen)
Things are really starting to click at Bayer Leverkusen for coach Peter Bosz. After taking over at the BayArena in December of 2018, the Dutchman has now been in charge for over a year and his side returned from German football’s winter break really strong.
They’ve played 13 matches in all competitions this calendar year and have won 11 of them, losing one and drawing one. And some of the football has been brilliant to watch, with 34 goals scored across those 13 matches, an average of 2.62 per game.
They’ve knocked out Porto from the Europa League and earned a commanding 3-1 win in their last 16 first leg away at Rangers, while they’ve put themselves in a good position to challenge right to the end in the Bundesliga table. Anyone who doubted Bosz should now be impressed with what he has done so far in 2020.
Bundesliga form table in 2020
Diego Simeone (Atlético Madrid)
Diego Simeone has been questioned like never before this season. In a way, that’s quite unfair considering that he lost six of his starters in the summer, leading the Argentine to label this a “transition season”.
Even with it being a transition year, Atleti have still managed to make it to the Champions League quarter-finals and they did so by beating a team many thought couldn’t be beaten. They overcame Liverpool for a result that will live on in the memory for some time, not just because it’s the most recent Champions League game that took place.
While Jan Oblak did have to be spectacular in that second leg at Anfield, it should be remembered that he faced zero shots on target in the first leg and Simeone should be given credit for the match-winning substitution when he brought on Marcos Llorente for Diego Costa, with the midfielder going on to score twice.
That wasn’t the only big win Simeone has had in 2020 as his Atleti side also defeated Barcelona 3-2 in the semi-finals of the Spanish Super Cup and took Real Madrid to penalties in the final. Had the shootout gone the other way, then Simeone would even have had another trophy to add to the club’s cabinet this year. It didn’t go that way, but he has still done a tremendous job.
Gian Piero Gasperini (Atalanta)
Atalanta have reached their first ever European Cup quarter-final. Their tie against Valencia in the last 16 was sadly affected by the Coronavirus and the second leg in Spain had to be played behind closed doors, while the first leg was held at the San Siro and not at their Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia home in Bergamo, but this 8-4 aggregate win was still such a moment for the club to remember.
They’ve been a strong team for some time now and they’ve been an entertaining team too. This season they’ve now scored seven goals in a game on three separate occasions, while they’ve had some other big victories too. They’re impressing in Italy and on the continent and deserve even more praise than they’re receiving.
Atalanta’s big-margin 2019/20 victories
Atalanta 7-1 Udinese
Atalanta 5-0 AC Milan
Atalanta 5-0 Parma
Torino 0-7 Atalanta
Lecce 2-7 Atalanta
Imanol Alguacil (Real Sociedad)
Before the pause in football, this was becoming more and more of a historic season for Imanol Alguacil and his Real Sociedad team. They’ve been good all year, but especially so since the turn of the year, with 11 wins and four defeats from their 15 matches played.
That includes a special Copa del Rey run, with La Real having reached the final of that competition for the first time since 1988. They’ll take on Basque rivals Athletic Club whenever that showpiece event is played and they’ll be full of confidence as they do so, considering how well they’ve been playing.
Imanol Alguacil has constructed a really impressive unit, one that has youth graduates as a foundation, some experienced heads like Nacho Monreal and Portu and then some young and up-and-coming summer recruits such as Alexander Isak and Martin Ødegaard. Real Sociedad have the youngest squad in LaLiga and the coach deserves tremendous credit for getting this group to win now.
LaLiga’s youngest squads in 2019/20
1. Real Sociedad. Average age of 25.8.
2. Celta Vigo. Average age of 26.3.
3. Real Madrid. Average age of 26.8.
Chris Wilder (Sheffield United)
Newly promoted Sheffield United have had a great 2019/20 season overall and they’ve kept up their good form in 2020. So far in 2020, the Blades have taken 14 points from eight matches, a rate of 1.75 per game. Only Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City have a better return so far this calendar year.
Arsenal will actually play Sheffield United in the next round of the FA Cup, where Chris Wilder’s team have been doing well too by reaching the quarter-finals. This has been quite a season so far and all those at Bramall Lane will feel confident of it continuing when football resumes. That’s thanks to Wilder.
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