LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 7, 2023: Liverpool's Thiago Alcântara (R) embraces Wolverhampton Wanderers' manager Julen Lopetegui after the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Premier League’s first manager change of 2023/24 comes days before kickoff

With the Premier League set to get underway this weekend, one club have already parted ways with their manager ahead of the opening set of fixtures.

After nine months in charge, Julen Lopetegui has left Wolves following what is said to have been “differences of opinion” with those at the top of the club.

The Spaniard replaced Bruno Lage at Molineux last November and guided the club to Premier League safety after the side were rooted to the bottom of the table at Christmas.

A statement on Wolvesofficial website read that the manager and club had “accepted their differences of opinion on certain issues” and that his stay was brought to an “amicable end” by those involved.

It means the Premier League will see its first managerial switch before a ball is even kicked in the 2023/24 campaign, with the 56-year-old overseeing the entirety of Wolves‘ pre-season.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Friday, November 6, 2020: Liverpool's Under-23 coach Barry Lewtas (R) and assistant coach Gary O'Neil during the pre-match warm-up before the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between West Ham United FC Under-23's and Liverpool FC Under-23's at Rush Green. Liverpool won 4-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ex-Bournemouth boss Gary O’Neil will to take over from Lopetegui having made an equally surprising departure from the Cherries this summer after steering his team to 15th in the Premier League.

Thankfully, Liverpool might just about escape the dreaded ‘new manager bounce’ on this occasion, with the Reds not scheduled to travel to Wolves until September 16 in the weekend’s early kickoff following the international break.

In what has become an almost annual occurrence, Liverpool will host Wolves on the final day of the season having agonisingly missed out on the league title by a point during that fixture in 2018/19 and 2021/22.

Despite only being at the club for nine months, Lopetegui faced Liverpool four times in less than two months between January and March.

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 4, 2023: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker (R) looks dejected as Wolverhampton Wanderers score the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Those meetings included a 3-0 thrashing of the Reds in the league at Molineux, along with a 2-2 draw in the FA Cup third round before losing 1-0 at home in the replay.

O’Neil also had success against Liverpool last season, guiding Bournemouth to a 1-0 win at the Vitality in March in his one and only meeting with the Reds as a manager.

Spontaneous managerial changes are certainly nothing new in the Premier League, but the timing of Lopetegui’s departure will certainly raise eyebrows given that the new season is a matter of days away.

Wolves do have more time than most before their campaign gets underway, with a trip to Old Trafford for their season opener not coming until Monday night.