Are we all refreshed?
Are we all ready to step back on to the rollercoaster?
With the frequency and full coverage of the pre season friendlies we’ve barely had a chance to take breath since the Champions League final, but here we are, a week away from the Communitable Charitee Shield (does anyone know what its called these days?) and the new season.
So whats happened?
Not a lot to be honest. Here’s my quick appraisal of how the following season may turn out.
Nobody is in any doubt about the raw talent of Jones and De Gea. Jones’ disciplined display at right back last week gave us all a surprise. The boy looks a bona fide United legend in the making. A great bit of business, and one of those new signings you just know is going to work out. Class. Coupled with Smalling’s excellent start, the defensive injury cover horror stories from two seasons ago will be diminished. Defence is our strongest area, no question. De Gea is a slight worry. He’s still a kid, and if there’s one thing the Premier League proves its that experienced keepers do best. Yes, there’s the occasional Casillas, and yes De Gea is a phenomenally talented shot stopper, but there’s a worry in throwing this boy into the rigours of regular Premier League games. My main concerns are his ability to deal with crosses. In Spain, keepers simply do not have to worry about this. They dont play that way. On the 10th & 24th September, we play Bolton & Stoke. THESE games are the test for De Gea. These are the games where vital points are gained and lost.
Ashley Young is a strange one for sure. The Dwight Yorke parallels are there for all to see, and not just the Villa connection. The unexpected arrival of a player not seen as particularly stratospheric, almost journeyman, into a position where we seem to have many options already. We all trust in Fergie. Is this a signing for the English players numbers? Is this a signing for through the middle of the park? Is this a signing because of his excellent displays against United in the past? He has a lot to prove, as 99% of United fans would want Nani & Valencia to start ahead of him. As would i.
All in all, a great set of signings, added to a young winning squad. And surely this is the year that the winning FA Youth Cup team get their chance to graduate to at least the Carling Cup. There are question marks as to the centre of our midfield, but these are only question marks with relevance to Barcelona. Anderson, Giggs, Carrick and Fletcher allow Rooney to be the player he’s best at being. And with Chicharito as his continued outlet it’ll be another great season for Rooney. There seemed to be a lot of negativity around United last season, but in agreement with Scholesy, i genuinely believe we’ve never had a squad this good. We’re bursting with talent. We’ve another great chance of a lot of silverware this year.
Having blown £70m in January, there’s not been a great deal forthcoming from the team who we expected to overhaul their ageing superstars. Ive watched their pre season games, and its not looking particularly cohesive. Ramires is looking like a great player, and whilst Luiz had a good start, his deficiencies were laid bare too. I made cash on predicting them going for Villas Boas, and ive also laid cash (6-1) on him being out of a job come the end of the season. Its a very tough ask managing Chelsea at the best of times. But trying to overhaul a squad whilst keeping the instant success cravings of the owner at bay is an impossible task. They’ll push close once again, but i cant see them winning the PL or the CL.
I’m so bored of hearing Wenger talk about his “young team”. He’s had a young team for seven years now. Is it sheer stubborness that stops him buying the dogmatic, tough, “British” players his talented spine needs? If Tony Adams was an Aston Villa player now, and they quoted Arsenal £10m, we all know Wenger wouldnt sign him. What has he done this pre season? Sign another talented yet dimunitve goalscorer in Gervinho. If they do land Samba of Cahill or Mertesacker then perhaps they could challenge. But its far more likley theyll land more of the same in Mata, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Hazard.
Its “their year” again right? Isnt it always? Im seeing quotes saying they’ll be serious challengers. Not a hope just yet. Dalglish has returned to his tried and trusted method of horribly inflating the transfer fees of British talent like he did at Blackburn. In excess of £70m on Henderson, Downing and Carroll is nothing short of scandalous. Adam will be a good signing, and Suarez a superstar, but they’re 15 points off the pace still. I’m amazed there hasn’t been a top defender added to the ranks, but there’s time yet. They’ll certainly improve on last year’s dire performance. Much like United, they will not worry about a set midfield, and change regularly to accommodate the amount of players they have for the middle of the park. Meireles, Gerrard, Lucas, Henderson, Maxi, Kuyt, Downing, Adam, Spearing, Poulson, Cole, Shelvey…. a fair few to keep happy there!
All in all, Dalglish has spent £100m of John Henry’s money in his short time at the helm. Time will tell what sort of owner he is, and whether patience is one of his business virtues.
Last but not least. It seems to be forgotten that City actually finished joint second last season. Coming strong towards the end and matching Chelsea’s 71 points. They’re not going to get worse are they? You could argue Chelsea are stagnating whilst City are very much on the up. Sure their scattergun transfer policy has produced flops (Dzeko, Adebayor etc), inconsistent nutters (Balotelli) and inspired signings (Tevez, De Jong, Kompany, even the maligned Yaya Toure), and it shows no sign of abating. Will Tevez go? Will Aguero hit the ground running? Can Balotelli come good? Is Barry really that rubbish?
It seems that Mancini has appeased the owners, and that stability can only help. Winning the FA Cup will help also. But is there a sustained challenge in a perceived bunch of mercenaries? With Aguero now on board, and the “fantasy” superstar box ticked as insurance against a departing Tevez, will Mancini’s defensive philosophy be allowed to continue? Solid for sure, but im just not sure there’s enough goals in the team to win enough points for the title.
In conclusion, and of course you’d expect a United blogger/writer to back his own team, i can see this season being another title for United. We won it by nine points last year, and nothing has happened in the close season so far to make me think we wont win it by nine points again. Bring it on.