Five managers in European football whose season could be determined in the remaining half
The European football scenario has taken some important stronghold across the continent and as the 2014-15 season has reached its midway, the race for positions, performances, title run-in, and revival are heating up.
Both domestically and in the UEFA Champions League, some top clubs have registered their supremacy as some have failed to get in a strong position. With the increasing pressures for managers to mete out to the demands of modern day football, here is a look at five managers whose season could be determined in the remaining half.
1) Carlo Ancelotti: The Italian has continued from where he had left after last season's famous La Decima triumph with Real Madrid. As the season started, the Madrid giants won the UEFA Super Cup and soon their game intensified with some excellent performances across several competitions.
Under Ancelotti, Real have already qualified for the round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League as they look to defend the coveted title. They maintained a 100% record in the Group stages and are the team to beat this term.
In La Liga, the Los Blancos have already defeated Barcelona in the El Clasico and to sweeten their dominance domestically, they lead the proceedings in Spain. This will be a source of delight to the former PSG manager who has expressed satisfaction in Real's domination game.
Real Madrid have set a new Spanish record of 20 consecutive wins across all competitions. Ancelotti has been brilliant in his squad rotation and has handled the absence of key players down with injuries in a fitting manner. This season, he also has a lot to thank Cristiano Ronaldo who has been his side's front-man in giving them the venom to kill down any team.
Real are looking to win four titles under Ancelotti this term and with half of the season gone, the manager is on the right track to get his targets.
2) Jurgen Klopp: The Borussia Dortmund manager is in a state of shock as the German giants wander in the relegation zone in their domestic campaign. Klopp's season has gone awry with listless performances and an injury ridden side hasn't helped him come out from the rot.
Dortmund's only real satisfaction has come in the Champions League where they have qualified for the knock-out round going on to secure top position ahead of Arsenal. In the Bundesliga they have failed to repeat their European performances and Klopp needs to address the issue quickly with the winter break coming soon in Germany.
Missing out on Europe altogether seems a real possibility and with relegation danger looming, the Yellow Submarine camp is in shambles. They recorded their ninth loss of the domestic season after going down to Hertha Berlin last Saturday.
Klopp has been linked with a future move to Arsenal, insisted he would not quit after his team made their worst start to a top-flight season. Klopp, who steered Dortmund to back-to-back German titles in 2011 and 2012, is under serious pressure to change the tide of his team's form.
3) Jose Mourinho: The 'Happy One' will indeed be a happy person after Chelsea have performed exceptionally well this season. The former Inter Milan and Real Madrid manager had stated last term that he needs a team of his choice to provide a challenge to top teams and after a successful and wise summer transfer window, he finds himself in the peak of things.
Chelsea's had a 23-match unbeaten run across all competitions before going down to Newcastle United in the Premier League. But after that, they again won two consecutive matches to keep their track on top form.
Their dominance has been centering around Mourinho's tactical brilliance and his squad decisions which have been worth watching. The Londoners who are on top of the Premier League, have also qualified for the knock-out stages of the Champions League as Group leaders.
Mourinho's team looks a big threat to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich as the trio have dominated European football in both domestic and continental presence. Mourinho's decision to bring back former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba back to the club has been his major highlight of the season as the Blues look to achieve something special just like their 'Special One'.
4) Diego Simeone: The Atletico Madrid manager had a dream season last term and this year too he looks to get his working class heroes get to the top. The Madrid giants started the year well after beating rivals Real in the Spanish Super Cup.
The domestic champions currently lie third in La Liga, seven points behind Real, and Sunday's loss to Villarreal will hurt Simeone. Simeone can catch Real and will be eager to close the gap soon.
In the Champions League, Atletico have secured top position in its Group ahead of Juventus, and will go for a shot at the title once again after ending runners-up in May. The good thing for Simeone is that his team has not been under the same spotlight as Real and Barca. But the manager has all the class to come out from the shadows like he did last term.
Simeone's ability to demand the best from his limited squad will again be the highlight as the three-way La Liga race, coupled with Kings Cup and Champions League action can see the successful manager have a good season by the end.
5) Brendan Rodgers: The Liverpool manager's season has gone awry so far and Sunday's 0-3 loss against Manchester United was heart-breaking for the Northern Irishman. With the mid-term report card approaching to its end, Rodgers has a mountain to climb in finding solace.
After a magical 2013-14 season domestically, Liverpool find themselves in a similar mid-table position that has been familiar with them since few years. Rodgers's fate looks to hang in balance as further dents in his armour could see him get sacked well before the season ends.
The transfer window has proven to be a failure despite the influx of many players and the loss of Luis Suarez and the unavailability of Daniel Sturridge to injury has rocked his team. Rodgers finds himself out of Champions League and also a chase for the EPL title looks gone.
Rodgers' team selection and squad rotation haven't been impressive and the plucky defence alongside a proven finisher has hurt his cause. With an important spell coming up, Rodgers doesn't have much time to reflect on his team's play but needs a desperate way to start winning matches and find the rhythm.