Manuel Veth –
Over the life of the English Premier League, there have been ten Mexicans who have graced what one of the most exciting leagues on the planet. It is certainly the most popular league and therefore, the EPL is an incredible place to showcase your talents, perfect your craft and become a world star. The 2018/19 season sees two Mexican players, Chicharito and Raúl Jiménez in the English Premier League, so here we will look at how their two respective clubs are likely to fare.
Chicharito – West Ham United
After several years that have swung from turbulent to forgettable and back again, this season could very well be a defining one for the famous East London club. It appears that the owners may finally be making the correct decisions to move the team in the right direction. They have put their money in their pockets and invested to the tune of almost £100 million, bringing in nine players, including Corinthians’ captain Fabian Balbuena.
The most significant addition to the club, however, is in the managers’ office. Manuel Pellegrini is not only a very good manager but he also crucially has experience in the top tier of English football. He managed Manchester City from June 2013 until June 2016, lifting the Premier League title in his first season on the job.
No one is predicting similar things at West Ham, but it is crucial they have someone at the helm who can hit the ground running. If they were to drop down into the Championship, there is no guessing what might happen to the club. The opening day’s fixture could not have been harder, and they got what everyone was expecting at a resurgent Anfield. At home against Bournemouth, however, it should be a different matter altogether, with BetStars currently having the Hammers as narrow favourites to get their first 3 points on Saturday.
The influx of new talent may mean that game time for Chicharito is reduced, but there is no doubt that the talismanic centre-forward will have a major role to play throughout the long, gruelling campaign ahead.
Raúl Jiménez – Wolverhampton Wanderers
For teams coming up into the EPL, the overriding ambition has always been survival. However, that is certainly not the case with Wolves (and, to a certain extent, fellow promoted team Fulham). They have spent more than £65 million, almost £3million of which being a loan fee to Benfica for Mexican centre-forward Raúl Jiménez. The 27-year-old opened his account with an equalizer in an enthralling 2 – 2 draw on the opening weekend of the season—a season where much is expected of the Nuno Espirito Santo-led outfit.
They won the Championship last season in style and already had a squad of talented players, including the mercurial Rúben Neves. How they have gone about assembling that squad has been the cause of endless debate, one that is for another time and another place. But largely due to the influence of Nuno and so-called super agent Jorge Mendes, they have a large proportion of the Portuguese national side.
It is an encouraging development in the league to see newly-promoted teams give it a go and have as their first principle a desire to go out and score goals and win games. Too many times in the past, the fear of losing their position in the hallowed arena that is the EPL has forced players, managers and chairmen alike into a “safety first” mindset. Last season all three promoted teams stayed up (although that may well not have been the case had the season gone on another two weeks). They may not have been particularly offense-minded, but that statistic alone will give Wolves, Fulham—and even Cardiff—hope.
Wolves are planning for the future, a future that involves them being in the EPL long term. Extensions to their iconic Molineux grounds are in the pipeline, and they certainly have a squad on paper that looks like it belongs in the top tier. Jiménez’ part of that future will most likely come down to both his and his team’s performances over the next nine months, but if the early signs are anything to go by, it is an exciting time to be at the famous West Midlands club.
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.