Neil Humphreys: The good, the bad and the Hodgson
TNP continues our EPL countdown, with our columnist looking at what's in store for some of the managers this term
MANAGER WHO'LL PLAY BEST FOOTBALL - LIVERPOOL'S JUERGEN KLOPP
The indefatigable German allowed himself six days to enjoy the Reds' title triumph before dropping his mission statement. "Next season we will not defend anything… we will attack," he said.
Well, that's a relief. For a moment there, we thought the guru of gegenpressing might reject a lifelong faith in intense attacking in favour of a fleet of gleaming buses.
Two seasons that delivered 196 points and only four defeats - two of which came about in the post-title lull - was a ringing endorsement for Klopp's swashbuckling tactics. Liverpool succeeded with the league's tightest defence - a statistic often unfairly overlooked.
At 26, Andy Robertson continues to turn into Benjamin Button as his reverse ageing makes him better each year. On the other flank, Trent Alexander-Arnold bends it like Beckham as he quietly transforms into the greatest playmaker, quarterback and No.10 to ever play at right-back.
Statistically, there's always a chance that Klopp may suddenly pull back and park a bus. But there's most chance of Britain pulling back on Brexit.
MANAGER WHO'LL OVERACHIEVE - ARSENAL'S MIKEL ARTETA
Such a prediction depends on three words: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Should the striker dramatically leave, then the Gunners will be left firing more blanks than impotent, drunken sailors. Should the Gabonese forward stay, as expected, then a red renaissance looks a distinct possibility.
Arsenal's FA Cup win against Chelsea, along with that memorable victory against Manchester City, highlighted Arteta's tactical ability to unpick superior sides.
He cannot play the plucky underdog indefinitely, of course, and has strengthened his defence to accommodate plans to dominate possession.
Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba finally give the Gunners the kind of youthful, muscular centre-backs that once defined the archetypal Arsenal back four.
A hole remains in central midfield and Arteta must extricate himself from the Mesut Oezil mess.
But, like Klopp and Pep Guardiola, Arteta is a manager willing to impose a tactical template first and then pick up the additional pieces required later.
A place in the top four would be an overachievement. If the Gunners keep Aubameyang, they'll get there.
MANAGER WHO'LL UNDERACHIEVE - LEICESTER CITY'S BRENDAN RODGERS
The Northern Irishman was poached from Celtic and handed a clear remit: Get the Foxes into the Champions League.
A shocking loss of form during Project Restart - thanks to a small squad and a couple of key injuries - saw Rodgers miss his target.
Just four victories in their last 17 league games highlighted the scale of Rodgers' task.
The economic downturn has hit the Foxes particularly hard, contributing to the sale of left-back Ben Chilwell to Chelsea.
With attacking right-back Ricardo Pereira still injured, Leicester's current line-up looks a little static (which risks leaving Jamie Vardy isolated).
The form of anchorman Wilfred Ndidi will be pivotal, as the Foxes need to kick off with aplomb before fatigue and injuries take a toll on a limited squad.
Another season without Champions League football is not something the owners will want to contemplate.
The Foxes were drifting in the wilderness of mediocrity when Rodgers arrived. He cannot leave them there.
MANAGER WITH MOST TO PROVE - MANCHESTER UNITED'S OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER
Bruno Fernandes' transformative impact left the Red Devils with a strange sensation.
They dared to dream.
The smart acquisition of Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek only adds to the expectations.
Where there was despair, there is now hope and that's an unusual state of being for Solskjaer. Qualifying for the Champions League was a fine achievement, but it also removed the safety net that comes with underdog status.
United are expected to win now. Mason Greenwood's rapid progress, Anthony Martial's improvement and Paul Pogba's decision to stay leaves Solskjaer in a unique position. He has no more excuses.
He no longer presides over a dysfunctional basket case. He manages a half-decent United side.
Now he must finally prove that he is a half-decent United manager.
MANAGER WHO'LL GET SACKED FIRST - CRYSTAL PALACE'S ROY HODGSON
This one always has stiff competition.
A case could be made for Tottenham's Jose Mourinho, Newcastle United's Steve Bruce and West Ham United's David Moyes.
All three face hazardous, unpredictable journeys. But Hodgson edges the contest for his overwhelming blandness.
Like the philosophical tree falling in the forest, if Hodgson falls at Crystal Palace and no one is around to hear it, does anyone actually notice?
As he prepares for his 45th season of a spectacularly mediocre managerial career, the 73-year-old's current tenure depends on the status and form of Wilfried Zaha. Last season, Palace secured their EPL status and then celebrated with seven defeats in a row.
Apart from the comedy value, no one particularly noticed. It's a common theme with Hodgson. Some managers come in with a bang and go out with a whimper.
As always, Hodgson will come and go with a whimper.