After three tedious months, with Euro 2016 the only respite from the weeks of waiting, the weekend that football supporters across the world were waiting for finally came along: the Premier League is back. And it was back with a bang; one of the most eagerly awaited Premier League seasons yet pulling some sensational results out of the hat throughout the opening weekend.
Some of the best highlights included an opening win in the Mourinho era for Manchester United at Bournemouth, defending champions Leicester City coming crashing back to earth after a 2-1 defeat to newly promoted Hull at the KC Stadium whilst Arsenal’s lack of transfer activity this summer proved costly, Liverpool snatching the points on the opening weekend after a 4-3 thriller at the Emirates. There were plenty of new signings on show across the division, new managers in the dugouts and there was even a Zlatan for good measure. But, who impressed the most to make the cut for the first Team of the Week for the 2016/17 Premier League season?
Coach: Mike Phelan (Hull City)
Sir Alex Ferguson’s former assistant at Manchester United was given his opportunity in the hotseat of a Premier League club after Steve Bruce’s resignation near to the start of the season. Unto the breach Phelan went to take over as Interim boss at Hull, and he had a difficult opening examination as manager with the visit of Claudio Ranieri and Premier League champions Leicester City.
With no signings of note made, only 13 senior players fit, the bookies’ favourites for relegation and rife fan protests against the owner, the writing seemed on the wall that Phelan would be in for a baptism of fire against the defending champions.
The objective would always be to stay in the game, and stay in it they did; Phelan’s tactics were spot on down to the tee and Hull executed the gameplan to perfection. The home side were at their most effective sitting deep and inviting the Foxes to break them down, which they attempted to no avail, and they were deadly on the counter, with two brilliantly taken goals including an emphatic Robert Snodgross winner which punished the champions and gave Ranieri’s team a real wake-up call on the first day of their title defence.
Phelan’s tactical set-up, and how he managed to ensure his team were well drilled even amidst the turmoil of Bruce’s resignation renders him a deserved contender to lead the team from the dugout for Matchday I.