#1 Antonio Conte
I do like how an Italian mind works, I really do. I have images of Antonio sitting in his office pondering, planning, plotting. “How can I get the message through to this Michy Batshuayi that his future is not at this football club? What will send a clear message?” If you say that in an Italian accent it won’t be long before you are Marlon Brando and Michy is getting a horses head. But Antonio is even more cunning. “Enquiries” about Andy Carroll and Peter Crouch send out a far clearer signal than sending Dobby’s mug to Michy’s luxury pad. Being made to feel like even an injury-prone striker who got ruled out for three months when he fell out of his chair after hearing he was off to Chelsea is a better option than you hurts. Being told a 38-year-old who can’t really run anymore is a more mobile striker than you also hurts. Take Antonio’s hint, Michy.
#2 Paul Lambert
You have managers who, when returning to the game after quite a spell away, give off the impression of “well, I can’t believe it took this long, what were clubs thinking?” Then you have Paul Lambert who looks like a Scot who has just won a lifetime supply of IrnBru having been appointed Stoke City manager. And guess what? Asking some of his squad to a bit of that defending malarky worked as he got off to a winning start against Huddersfield that was defensively sound and still had a touch of creative magic.
#3 Alexis Sanchez
I don’t believe for a second that he would rather play for Jose Mourinho ahead of Pep Guardiola again, but I am sure that the rumoured £400k+ a week makes it easier to deliver that party line pokerfaced. 10/10 to Alexis for engineering this pay rise and he is probably even more proud that he finally had the opportunity to share his piano skills to the world.
#4 Marco Silva
Not a lot says a manager living on a different planet than being sacked in the same hour of saying “my job is not under threat”.
#5 Virgil van Dijk
Granted, it is hard to find value in the January window but what about Virgil, eh? In just under a game and a half for Liverpool he’d registered a goal and an assist. £75m? Bargain if he can keep that up.
#6 Guillem Balague
There is a rule for life here folks. Whatever ever Guillem suggests is going to happen, go and stick a tenner on the opposite. “Alexis will only move for a reunion with Pep” spouted Balague in the not too distant past. No sir, no. Alexis will only move for about £200k a week more than he is getting right now.
#7 Arsenal fans
Ah, here they are again. Look, Gooners. Getting Henrikh in return for Alexis isn’t a bad outcome, I accept. But let’s not suggest you have got the better deal here. You’ve got a “well that could have been a lot worse” situation. And, in fairness, at least you won’t have to go through the farce of pretending to buy someone on the last day of the window only for it to conveniently fall through again. Oh, wait hang on. Aubameyang, anyone?