The English Premier League, arguably the world's most popular sporting league, kicks off its new season on Saturday. Last year, WorldViews framed the soccer competition in world-historic context. This time, we're getting a bit more personal. Here are each of the EPL's 20 top managers -- and the world leaders who best represent them.
Jose Mourinho (Chelsea) is... Russian President Vladimir Putin
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images); Russian President Vladimir Putin (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
He is the consummate schemer, known for his ruthlessness, steeliness and cynicism. The press almost eat out of his hands at times, both out of fear and adoration. His rise and continued power is inseparable from the clout and fortunes of Russian oligarchs.
Manuel Pellegrini (Manchester City) is... German Chancellor Angela Merkel
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Manchester City head coach Manuel Pellegrini (EPA/JOE CASTRO); German Chancellor Angela Merkel (REUTERS/Axel Schmidt)
They are sometimes vilified for the financial muscle they wield, and are not given enough credit for the real, solid successes of their tenure.
Arsene Wenger (Arsenal) is... U.S. President Barack Obama
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (EPA/ANDY RAIN);
President Barack Obama (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
His early moments were all hope and joy. Change, his supporters cried, was on the way. In later years, though, disappointment set in and the howls of his detractors grew. He has persevered and is hoping to end his term on a high note.
Louis van Gaal (Manchester United) is... Xi Jinping
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Manager Louis van Gaal of Manchester United (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Bongarts/Getty Images); Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (REUTERS)
He doesn't seem that interested in talking to journalists and has more than a bit of an authoritarian streak. Not long after taking the reins, he embarked on a systematic purge of the ranks. His domain sees itself as the historic "Middle Kingdom," the preeminent player, but the facts on the ground prove otherwise.
Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham Hotspur) is... Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Head coach Mauricio Pochettino of Tottenham Hotspur (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images); Italy's Prime minister Matteo Renzi (ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
He's a fresh-faced, charismatic fellow, but the systemic problems and willful delusions that surround his daily task may prove too great a challenge.
Brendan Rogers (Liverpool) is... Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
From left to right: Brendan Rodgers; Benjamin Netanyahu. (Getty Images)
While not lacking in self-belief, he is sometimes prone to hyperbole and overstatement. His fans want him to take them to the Promised Land. But the patience of some of his American backers may be wearing thin.
Ronald Koeman (Southampton) is... Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
From left to right: Ronald Koeman and Shinzo Abe. (Getty Images)
Observers weren't expecting much from his tenure, but the boldness of his vision has proven an interesting surprise. He has an awkward relationship with Xi Jinping.
Garry Monk (Swansea) is... Indonesian President Joko Widodo
From left to right: Garry Monk and Joko Widodo. (Getty Images)
From a more modest background than those who could have taken his post, he started his tenure with a lot of outside goodwill. But his honeymoon period may be over if results don't live up to increasing expectations.
Mark Hughes (Stoke City) is... Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
From left to right: Mark Hughes and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Getty Images)
He's a fearsome figure, known to be a bit gruff and sparky, and some say he has a chip on his shoulder. Despite repeated predictions of his demise, he always seems to stick around.
Alan Pardew (Crystal Palace) is...Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
From left to right: Alan Pardew and Cristina Kirchner. (Getty Images)
Their supporters adore them for their strength and determination, but their opponents think they're unhinged egomaniacs.
Roberto Martinez (Everton) is... Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
Roberto Martinez and Alexis Tsipras. (Getty Images, Bloomberg)
There are many who want to see him succeed, particularly given the limited resources at his disposal. But his principles and good intentions risk backfiring.
Slaven Bilic (West Ham United) is... Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban
Slaven Bilic and Viktor Orban. (Getty Images)
He can't shake the hint of Eastern European neo-fascism associated with his politics. He presides over a place steeped in history, but with a slightly more uncertain future.
Tony Pulis (West Bromwich Albion) is... Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Tony Pulis and Tony Abbott. (Getty Images)
He has a reputation for being a disciplinarian and slightly boorish. He once publicly challenged a colleague to a fight, much to the rest of the world's amusement.
Claudio Ranieri (Leicester City) is... Georgian politician and Ukrainian governor Mikhail Saakashvili
This is just Ranieri. (VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
He is always "tinkering," perhaps to an extent where his meddling sometimes blows up in his face. He's a world traveler who has a knack for re-invention, no matter his prior failures.
Steve McClaren (Newcastle United) is... France's President Francois Hollande
Steve McClaren and Francois Hollande
There was a time, rather long ago, when people were actually excited about him. But now he's mostly the object of ridicule and skepticism.
Dick Advocaat (Sunderland) is... Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari
Excited about this year's midfield depth. (MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
He's been around the block, but his relatively new job has him playing the figure of a change agent. He presides over what is widely thought to be a sleeping giant, waiting to be awakened.
Tim Sherwood (Aston Villa) is... New Zealand Prime Minister John Key
A glad-handing populist who critics say is out of his depth.
Eddie Howe (Bournemouth) is... Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson
AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe speaks during a news conference, August 6, 2015. (REUTERS/Eddie Keogh)
Red-headed and doughy-faced, he's the youthful leader of a plucky seaside realm that's now punching well above its weight.
Quique Flores (Watford) is... Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani
All the best for the season ahead. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)
He engages in a world of jet-setters and knows foreign journeymen will be vital to any future success.
Alex Neil (Norwich City) is...Scottish politician Nicola Sturgeon
Ready for the challenge after a promotion. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
They've come south from Scotland on a mission to change the game in Britain.
A big HT to @tancopsey, @kanishktharoor, and @imrangarda for their input.
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