MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Get ready for the Premier League like you've never seen it before.
No Alex Ferguson. No Roberto Mancini. The expected return of Jose Mourinho. The likely influx of more world-class players on the back of a bumper new TV deal. Two Welsh teams for the first time.
Don't forget the introduction of goal line technology, either.
The English season only finished on Sunday, yet fans across the globe are already counting down the days to Aug. 17 — when the next campaign begins — with a mixture of excitement, trepidation and intrigue.
Much of the buzz has been sparked by Ferguson's decision to step down as Manchester United manager after nearly 27 years. That one decision has grabbed the attention of the world over the past two weeks and its reverberations will be keenly felt next season, and beyond.
To many, it signals the end of United's stranglehold on English football dating back 20 years. The future of the Premier League may have been thrown wide open.
Come August, four of this season's top six — United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton — will have newly appointed managers in the wake of an unprecedented amount of high-profile coaching upheaval in May.
"I was with the chief executive of Liverpool at our reserve game the other night and he told me that Brendan Rodgers, who has not been in the job a year, is the 30th longest-serving manager in the country," Ferguson said last week. "That's incredible."
With David Moyes taking control of United, Mourinho set for Chelsea and Manuel Pellegrini — a coach largely unknown to English audiences — heavily tipped for the City hot seat, there will be a new dynamic at the top of the world's most-watched league. Arsenal cannot be discounted, with the club benefiting from a string of new, lucrative commercial deals and the club once again in the Champions League, while Liverpool and Tottenham appear to be on an upward curve under the forward-thinking stewardship of Rodgers and Andre Villas-Boas.
It is anyone's guess what will happen next season — and the gurus in the Premier League's marketing department must be licking their lips in delight.
In Villas-Boas' opinion, it could be time for Chelsea to reassert its dominance under Mourinho, who won back-to-back league titles in his first spell at the club from 2004-07.
"Chelsea next season will absolutely be the team to beat, bearing in mind the manager change and the manager that we expect to come in," the Portuguese coach said. "Plus, they will be strengthening an already very good squad."
The likelihood of Mourinho returning to Stamford Bridge is dividing opinion, though.
Some feel it is a perfect match, a union that shouldn't have been broken up in the first place. Frank Lampard and Petr Cech have already spoken out in favor of the return of the "Special One," giving an adrenalin shot to the team and the fans after the turbulent — if ultimately successful — tenure of Rafa Benitez.