The Premier League is at the mid point of the season (roughly) and while the title chase is over, the top 4 and the relegation teams are far from set. We are seeing teams change managers and installing any of the boring fraternity of managers seen as fit to keep the clubs up. Some of them are horrible for fantasy, though some, like Big Sam, provide tangible, consistent value, if unexciting. Watford sit 10th in the table but only 5 points clear of the drop. The second half of the season could provide just about anything. Let’s take a look at some of the teams that have recently changed managers.
We are dealing with rumours only at this stage, but Martin O’Neill is an intriguing prospect. His reign as Republic of Ireland’s manager seems destined to end after failing to reach the World Cup. He is known as a fairly hands off manager, at least at the international level, which could be a blessing for players like Shaqiri to have free reign in attack. The Club of Barcelona Failures certainly have the players to be a bit more exciting in attack, though their defence was the real problem the first half of the season. We do not expect them to end up in a sustained relegation battle based on ability, but at this point ability is all they’ve got.
Pivoting away from the safety of Pulis is like cutting a parachute from a low hanging drone. They weren’t particularly high in the first place but there is certainly room to fall. West Brom seem lost now without an identity and with the proven failure Pardew at the helm. From a fantasy perspective they have been delivering an abundance of wayward crosses and we’ve seen a number of players flash some potential if they were to take hold of a role (Brunt, Phillips, Jay Rodriguez, Krychowiak, Nyom, Field, for example).
Palace appear to have righted the ship under Hodgson and do not appear at risk of relegation. Among the back half of the table they may have the most sheer talent which should allow them to bubble up to safety so long as they can maintain a modicum of defence. A fit Zaha would do wonders and may even sneak onto our radar for daily fantasy from time to time. Some clarity with Townsend and Cabaye would also prove useful. A popular punt lately is Milivojevic who takes pens, though he did miss his last. He made up for that with an open play goal, however. If his price heads north it becomes an even larger gamble.
They were never really much of a doubt to stay up, but the disappointment after a significant outlay of money was enough to chase Koeman. The team was not gelling under him and changing to the unimaginative Big Sam was likely necessary. They won’t challenge for a direct Europa spot but could see themselves sneaking in to the qualifying rounds if the cups break the right way and give them a chance. Gylfi is the hub of their attack but has been a far cry from his Swansea days (or even Iceland). The return of Bolasie could be a nice floor attacker due to his crossing, but his usefulness tends to run it’s course fairly quickly. Seamus Coleman will be one to keep an eye on, as well as Baines when they each return from injury.
The Hammers under Moyes have shown more attacking prowess, with Marko Arnautovic flashing real fantasy potential in particular. Cresswell and Masuaku have been playable defenders and Lanzini is still the most technically gifted player in the side. They shouldn’t have too much trouble scoring but it’s their defence that will decide whether they end up in a prolonged relegation battle. For matches with the lower half of the table we’ll want to load up on Hammers and hope they can continue to outscore their foes.
Things came and went fairly quickly for Paul Clement, though the Swans haven’t had much time for any managers since the moderate stability of Garry Monk. There’s not a lot to like in the Swansea side and barring some fortunate transfer acquisitions they are pretty well doomed. Renato Sanches is expected to take on more of the attacking burden under Carvahal and could be a solid fantasy pick during the second half were he able to stay healthy. There’s also the very real consideration that his run for Portugal at the Euro was a bit of a blip.