Southampton –Nigel Adkins guided Southampton to back-to-back promotions to get them back into the Premier League, but got probably the hardest fixture going to open the season, travelling to the Etihad to face defending champions Manchester City. They were fortunate to go in only 1-0 down at half-time after City missed a penalty, but they fought back in the second half, and took the lead after substitutes Rickie Lambert and Steve Davis smashed home first time shots. It wasn’t a surprise that City stormed back to win 3-2, but Adkins will be delighted by his team’s spirited performance in such a tough match.
Michael Laudrup/Michu –Swansea surprised everyone last season by not only surviving in the Premier League, but doing so while playing attractive possession football. After Brendan Rodgers left for Liverpool, there was concern that Swansea would struggle without him. But chairman Huw Jenkins made a smart move by appointing Michael Laudrup as manager, and his first competitive match was a stunner, as Swansea hammered QPR 5-0 at Loftus Road. Most impressive was the debut of Spanish midfielder Michu, a £2million summer signing from Rayo Vallecano. He scored twice and set up the fifth goal to suggest he may be one of the transfer bargains of the summer window.
Steve Clarke – After 14 years as an assistant at Newcastle, Chelsea, West Ham and Liverpool, Steve Clarke was finally given the chance to be the boss, as West Brom picked him to replace Roy Hodgson in June. He faced a tough debut with the visit of Liverpool, but after a Zoltan Gera belter just before half-time gave Albion the lead, Liverpool collapsed in the second half. Daniel Agger was sent off and they conceded two penalties, with Peter Odemwingie scoring the second (Shane Long missed the first) before Romelu Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, scored to give WBA an impressive 3-0 win.
Eden Hazard – It took Eden Hazard less than ten minutes to show why Chelsea paid £32million to bring him to Stamford Bridge. In that time he skinned Wigan’s Ivan Ramis (more on him later) before supplying an inch perfect pass to that well known clinical goalscorer, uh, Branislav Ivanovic, who fired the ball into the net to give Chelsea the lead. He was then fouled by Ramis in the box to win a penalty, which Frank Lampard converted. Hazard has come to England with a big reputation and an even bigger price-tag, but this was an impressive introduction to the Premier League.
Brendan Rodgers – Rodgers replaced Kenny Dalglish as Liverpool manager after an impressive spell with Swansea, which saw the unfancied Welsh team win promotion to the Premier League and stay there while playing some attractive football. He inherited a flawed team and faces a long-term job to turn Liverpool around, something that was highlighted by a disastrous opening fixture. Liverpool conceded two penalties and ended the game with 10 men as West Brom won 3-0. Rodgers will get time to fix Liverpool, but this was the worst possible start.
Michael Turner – Turner spent the last three seasons at Sunderland after joining from Hull City in 2009, but fell out of favour under Martin O’Neill and joined Norwich in the summer. But he had a debut to forget on Saturday as part of a defence that was ripped apart by Fulham. He was at fault for two of the goals, lazily turning his back on Mladen Petric’s shot which deflected off him into the net, and then slipping to concede possession before desperately lunging in to foul Hugo Rodallega and give Fulham a penalty.
Ivan Ramis – Spaniard Ramis came to Wigan this summer with plenty of experience, having played most of his career in La Liga with Mallorca. But he had a nightmare debut against Chelsea, being skinned easily by Eden Hazard in the build up to Chelsea’s opening goal, and then fouling Hazard in the penalty area to gift Chelsea the chance to double their lead. That all happened in the first 10 minutes, and although Wigan managed to stop Chelsea scoring more, it was certainly not the best start for Ramis.
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