FOUR games in and already a pause for thought: who is smiling and which manager is feeling the hot breath of a chairman as he reaches for the revolver in the office drawer?
When China’s former Premier Chou en Lai was asked if the French Revolution had been a success, he replied: “It is too early to tell”. And so it is with the new Premier League season. But it has the makings of a cracker.
So, after they waved off battalions of players to play in the new Nations League, just what, apart from possible casualties, is keeping the managers awake at night?
Not even the loss of his biggest star appears to have fazed Pep Guardiola. And this week’s news suggests Kevin de Bruyne may be back sooner than feared anyway.
A bigger blow was when Jorginho diverted to Chelsea as City had been so sure of getting him they had no Plan B for the holding role.
Now they will depend on Fernandinho staying fit and avoiding cards or a major re-jig will be necessary. But they have to find someone in January if this season’s ambitions are to be realised.
You feel they’ll settle for winning the league with fewer points than last time but will focus on the Champions League.
Liverpool would be ecstatic with either but now have the depth to pursue both. Jurgen Klopp says he would have taken a 100% start even though the Fab Three have yet to hit the dizzy heights of last season.
And on those minor Kopite quibbles – Alisson’s aberration and Fabinho’s non-appearance – he is commendably relaxed.
The Brazilian keeper looks good at the day job while keeping a new player under wraps is what he did with Andy Robertson last season and look how he turned out.
The Reds are picking up the sort of points they might have lost last season and things still look very positive.
Predictably, Jose Mourinho is scowling as he scrambles to protect a diminishing legacy. This could be the greatest test of his career and if he does not have all the players he wanted, he has enough talent in the squad to turn it around. But his reliance on Maraouane Fellaini tells you how far United have fallen.
For once the Portuguese might have got his timing badly wrong. Not only does he have Guardiola and Klopp to contend with but there’s Mauricio Pochettino, a potential successor.
As the Portuguese bemoans his lot and whinges about being denied the signings he wants, he should spare a thought for the Spurs boss. Pochettino has no money and no ground.
Hamstrung by the double whammy the new stadium is delivering – deadline missed and budget blown, Mourinho would have thrown his toys out of the pram long ago. But what does Poch do? Gets on with life with the utmost grace and positivity.
You have to feel the manager’s attitude has to rub off on his players. Offsetting the bad news, Spurs have been rewarded for letting Heung min Son play in the Asian Games and can welcome him back to bolster a thin squad.
Biggest worry? Harry Kane. He may have scored in August but he doesn’t look the player he was before his latest injury.
By hanging on to Eden Hazard, Chelsea have given themselves a chance – and who’s better in the “dark horse” role?
It’s so far so bene for Maurizio Sarri but the Europa League’s daunting schedule may take its toll – something predecessor Antonio Conte was spared of.
Arsenal are interesting and it will be fascinating to see what Unai Emery makes of taking over from Arsene Wenger. Nowhere near as daunting as following Fergie, but still not a simple task.
He has firepower in Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and no shortage of creativity but Mesut Ozil needs careful handling and Aaron Ramsey must be played in the right role.
Lucas Torreira looks to be the tough defensive midfielder the Gunners have long needed, but the fullbacks and keeper are a worry.
Only Liverpool, Watford and Chelsea have maximum points with West Ham alone on what is not even minimum and it could be a long winter at the London Stadium.
Manuel Pellegrini was a curious choice to lead a revival just as are some of the £100 million (RM534.97 million) worth of new signings.
You know the likes of Cardiff, Huddersfield and Brighton will fight all the way to stay up – but you wonder whether the Hammers’ hierarchy and their unhappy fans will have the stomach for it.