We are seven games in domestically in the English Premier League, and there is already a pattern emerging.
We have lost one top-line manager, seen mixed fortunes among the big names on the touchline and some unexpected figures thrive.
Gulf News assesses how the key coaches have fared so far as the European leagues take a breather with the international break this week:
Manchester City — Position: 1st
A manager much-maligned for his lack of defensive options last season seems to have to right this time around. The way they dominated champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge without scoring their routine five or six goals put a rubber stamp on Pep’s chances to pick up the title. Sterling, Silva, Delph … Guardiola’s rotation of a talented bench and his ability to see when and how to play fringe men shows how he excels.
Manchester United — 2nd
Arrogant, maybe. Talented, definitely. After a poor first term, Mourinho has United firing. When they were meant to make up the numbers behind City and Chelsea (and Spurs), he has a squad that clicks. His acquisition of Romelu Lukaku from Everton looks like a masterstroke after missing out on some top summer-signing targets. The Belgian is scoring for fun and will be key in the title run-in. Marouane Fellaini seems to be gelling well in midfield after a year of animosity.
Tottenham Hotspur — 3rd
Where would you be without Harry Kane? Squad rotation means Pochettino has an abundance of average players at his disposal in Dele Alli, Danny Rose, Eric Lamela and Eric Dier, but only one super star in Kane. His Plan B has yet to be tested and that will be their undoing in the title race. With no title ambitions, Pochettino will be lucky to hold on to Kane past July and therefore his job will go soon after.
Chelsea — 4th
Hmmm. They are the defending champions but after the star signing limps off with an apparent hamstring injury, you need a backup plan. Chelsea had nothing against City and were played off the park at home for 90 minutes. Big questions will be asked as to why Willian came on while Michy Batshuayi, the last-minute winner against Atletico Madrid on Champions League duty, sat on the bench. Conte has only one win at home this season.
Liverpool — 5th
We love to love him, but frustrating results in Europe and domestically cannot disguise that 0-0 or 1-1 — or 2-2 — is unacceptable for what a very demanding support at Anfield expect. Already seven points off the lead and out of answers. Maybe Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger is happy to have the heat off him, and on to his German counterpart.
Watford — 6th
This year’s surprise entry. No Leicester-style charge for the title but an impressive push by a team expected to be cannon fodder. There are so many striker-heavy teams in the Premier League it is almost a pleasure to watch an old-school side grinding out the results. Silva knows his limitations and is excelling. However the demolition by City illustrates the gap they have to span if Watford want to ever really contend. Sadly, they never will.
Newcastle United — 9th
The Champions League-winner with Liverpool raised some eyebrows when he decided to persist with Newcastle following their relegation in 2016. He brought them back up straight away and, despite having a quiet transfer window over the summer, they look comfortable and should easily make the top 10 by May. The Spaniard has shown he still has the magic touch that made him a hero at Anfield.
Everton — 16th
Now this one is a surprise. Having spent a small fortune on new recruits and luring Wayne Rooney back to Goodison Park from Old Trafford, Koeman looked ready to take a tilt at a top-four spot. However, number of defeats in the league and in Europe have many critics tipping the Dutchman to be the next manager to head for the exit door.
Crystal Palace — 20th
Oh dear. It looks like a step too far for the former England manager to try to salvage this club after the sacking of Frank De Boer. Poor in defence, worse in midfield and yet to score a league goal after seven games, they look doomed to relegation already. Week on week, unwanted records are being broken and, with star striker Christian Benteke sidelined and Chelsea up next, it is likely to only get worse.