Another season is about to kick off, for 18 Premier League teams at least, and though there’s no way of truly telling what the future holds I’ve had a stab at it anyway. As always reponses are welcome and good responses will be rewarded with a free bet. Which I’ll hand out early next week.
With Nasri and Fabregas
going, Wenger will be forced to make the kind of big signings he seems so reticent to make. The rumour is that Mata and Hazard will be the replacements. Fantastic players but the squad still lacks quality experience. Arsenal’s position in the top four will be under serious threat. An experienced central midfielder and a couple of centre-halfs are needed. Another year of flattering to deceive and the Frenchman’s position will also be
McLeish wouldn’t have been the first choice amongst the Villa fans but he’s there now so quit moaning. He led Birmingham to League Cup success last season, which is good, but also relegation, which is bad. He has a slightly stronger squad at Villa Park, at least in terms of
young players, but additions were needed before the departures of Young and Downing. Relegation shouldn’t be a concern but unless some significant signings are made nor will anything else.
If Steve Kean could pick from the players his bosses have pretended they were in contention to buy he’d be looking towards European qualification. He may still look to Europe but only for a much
needed holiday from what is likely to be a hard slog of a season down in the bottom half of the table.
First impressions sure do last. Owen Coyle was actually mentioned as a possible replacement for Ferguson after Bolton
made such an impressive to last season. In the end a limited squad saw them finish closer to the relegation zone than many people seem to remember. New additions are needed, preferably of the creative sort, if Coyle hopes to achieve anything other than mid-table mediocrity.
Villas-Boas didn’t make a lot of changes to personnel when he took over at Porto so Chelsea fans shouldn’t be overly concerned the new boss hasn’t instigated a mass rebuilding project. His track-record may be impressive but it’s not exactly long so there’s uncertainty over
just how he’ll get on in his first season in the Premier League. Chelsea
have some young stars in the wings and if Villas-Boas uses them to add some needed spark and energy to the team then Abramovich
may finally get the entertaining and successful team he’s been after.
They still don’t have any money. David Moyes’ biggest challenge is keeping hold of the players he has now. If he can pick up some bargains and decent loan signings then there’s hope of a more sustained challenge this season. If not, or if he loses the likes Fellaini or Jagielka, then it’ll be the usual story of playing well when everyone’s fit and struggling when they’re not.
With everyone’s favourite Dutch uncle in charge of things at Craven
Cottage, Fulham will be a more likeable team this season, even if they do have a statue of a suspected paedophile welcoming the fans each week. Jol has made some potentially shrewd additions to the squad
and with Zamora fully fit and Duff enjoying something of a renaissance, they should steer well clear of relegation, go on a
cup run and maybe make it in the Europe. Probably through the Fair Play League but still…
There’s little doubt the Reds paid over the odds in their summer transfer dealings, thanks to some assholes ruining domestic player valuations by paying £35 million for Andy Carroll in January, but they got what they needed. Having suffered in previous seasons because of a hesitancyin the transfer market, this new Anfield crew is all
about getting things done. Off the pitch anyway. Whether
Kenny can continue the improvement of the second half of next season waits to be seen but the signs are promising.
If anything Mancini’s squad needs a little trimming but the additions of Glichy and Aguero will add some more attacking flair to a side which was too defensive too often last season. You don’t win the Premier League by just being hard to beat. Questions
still remain over Mancini’s managerial credentials and if he
doesn’t steer City close to either the Premier League or the Champions League then the Italian can look forward to having a big payoff to spend next summer.
At the time of writing Ferguson has yet to address that central midfield problem. It’s hard to see the
level of performance which landed them the title last season being good enough this time round. The manager has made some good buys in De Gea and Ashley Young but if he thinks he can land a 20th league crown with Fletcher and Carrick running his midfield, he may want to ease off on the Merlot. They’ll be there or thereabouts as always but without some added quality in the middle it’s hard to see United winning anything big. It is United though.
There’s something very snide and unlikeable about the way Pardew and Ashley work together and many a neutral would
happily see them relegated this season. However despite selling some of his better players, Pardew has made some interesting
signings. Demba Ba showed plenty of promise with West Ham last season, whilst his policy of going for players from the French league is a clever one, at least as far as reducing the settling in period. If the new signings work out then the Europa League is a realistic aim.
The Canaries have been bringing in greater quantity than quality over the summer and as much as we all want to see Delia Smith stumbling around the centre-circle, celebrating survival, they’re strong favourites to go straight back down. There’s some quality in the squad and a few of the players will remain in the Premier League even if Norwich don’t. Paul Lambert has done a fantastic job, earning consecutive promotions, so relegation isn’t an absolute certainty but very likely nonetheless.
Where are the big money-signings? Why haven’t they sold Taraabt? If QPR’s mega-rich owners believe a team that can win the Championship is guaranteed Premier League survival or that Adel Taraabt’s mercurial talent will be able to mask his often disgraceful attitude at this level, they’re not going to own a Premier League team for very long. The overall strength in depth isn’t there and unless there’s some late transfer activity, QPR will be battling for survival come next April.
Good old Tony Pulis. He may not have great taste in headwear but he knows how to sensibly keep a team in the Premier League. So far
only Woodgate and Upson have been added to his squad but Pulis wants to add four or five more before the window closes. The right signings could see the Potters step up to challenge for a place in the Europa League but he should keep them clear of trouble either way. If he can get more than ten league starts out of Woodgate he’ll be
nominated for Manager of the Season.
Steve Bruce has definitely made a lot of signings but are they the right ones? Only time will tell but the winning experience of O’Shea and Brown could prove invaluable after the side collapsed last season. Larsson, Gardner and Vaughan have proven they can perform at this level with Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-Won adding some youth and depth to the forward line. If Steve Bruce fails to reach his targets this season then there can be only one person to take the blame.
Spending £3.5m on a striker who has had one really good season in the Championship is a risk. If Danny Graham is a hit and bags 15 goals then the Swans have a hope but unless Brian Rodgers uncovers a couple of real stars this season, team-work and a fighting spirit won’t be enough to save them.
Not qualifying for the Champions League has been a real blow to Spurs’ ability to attract the players needed to become a permanent fixture in the top 4. If Modric goes then more could follow. Redknapp still has issues at the back which he hasn’t addressed and the lack of a top quality striker is sure to hinder his ambitions this season. Address these areas and keep hold of Modric or be thankful for Europa League action next season.
Roy Hodgson may not be able to handle the pressures of a top club but at a club with fewer expectations he flourishes. He turned things around for the Baggies last season and keeping hold of Peter Odemwengie is important but not as crucial now that Shane Long has been signed. Gera’s return is interesting as are a couple of the other new additions. Long succeeding will help Woy guide the team to a comfortable mid-table finish and maybe a good cup
Robert Martinez actually has a decent squad at his disposal and they showed on occasions last season that they can trouble the top sides on their day. Consistency is the real issue and without it Wigan
will face another rollercoaster season. Picking up some impressive wins over the top sides but failing to build on them and ultimately spending much of the season looking over their shoulders. He may have been linked to the Villa job but Martinez still has a lot to prove this season. It’s his third season in the Premier League with Wigan and he needs to get them higher than 16th.
The defence was certainly an issue for Mick McCarthy last season and he’s addressed that issue with the purchase of Roger Johnson. A signing which could make all the difference. Keeping hold of O’Hara is a real positive too. However, the squad as a whole still lacks quality and this will be another season of fighting the good fight down in the lower regions.
The €20 free bet went to Ray.