With the beginning of the Premiership season just a matter of days away football fans up and down the country are salivating at the hope which sees all fans believing their clubs can go on to achieve something special this year; and what a year it promises to be, with three of the top four clubs all with new managers in post, all will be fighting to prove they have got what it takes to take the Premiership by storm.
Fevzi Hussein takes a closer look at the big five who will all be fighting it out for the ultimate prize in British football.
It seems difficult to imagine a Manchester United without Sir Alex Ferguson, but David Moyes has moved into poll position at Old Trafford without the hail of publicity that everyone thought would happen. His Manchester United side eased to a comfortable 2-0 win against Wigan in last week‘s Charity Shield and whilst this in itself was no surprise, the slickness of pace which sees United move from defence to attack in a few short passes will again see RvP score a bucket load of goals and be the man to catch (if he can stay injury-free). It is not just the arrival of Moyes that people will be watching. The club has employed a totally new senior football management team and Phil Neville is also back at the club he served so loyally. Whether Neville and Moyes turns into a winning combination will remain to be seen but football pundits largely agree that the appointment of David Moyes was a master stroke by none other than Sir Alex himself.
Manuel Pellegrini is promising a breed of football a million miles from the safety first philosophy normally applied by previous boss Roberto Mancini. They have again splashed the cash and despite losing Tevez they have more than enough fire power to give Manchester United a real scare in the title race. City fans will be hoping for more success after the disappointment of last year, which saw them throw in the title race towel far too easily. Pellegrini’s only concern will be if he hits a rough patch, and whether or not the fans and/or the Sheikh is willing to give him time to bed in.
The smart money seems to be on either Chelsea or Manchester City this year. With the Special One coming back to the bridge for his second spell, Chelsea fans are unanimous in their view that he is the right man for the job. However, it is always risky for a manager to return to a club, particularly as given what Jose Mourinho achieved in his first spell - Chelsea fans will be very expectant indeed. Mourinho seems to be a changed character as his normal outbursts and brave predictions have not really materialized since he walked back into the No.1 role. I think when the season starts we will see the old Mourinho, back to his best and in combative mood, as he spars with the media in his normal outspoken style. In terms of his playing options, goals win games and Torres has simply not cut the mustard. Cheslea should cut their losses with the Spaniard and send him packing. In Lukaku they have a real gem. At WBA he did brilliantly in an average team and with the support coming in from Hazard and Mata, Lukaku is going to have another memorable season. I am not sure if Chelsea have enough to clinch the Premiership this year. They have got the manager and the players to prove me wrong come next May, but I believe it won’t take long for the Special One’s relationship with Abramovich to become strained and I can see Jose leaving before Christmas if things do not work out well.
Tottenham Hotspur have amazingly, so far, managed to hang on to Gareth Bale. When you consider the goliath offers being made for the Welshman, who is being hotly pursued by Real Madrid, you have to commend the Spurs Chairman Daniel Levy. Many a club Chairman would have buckled weeks ago, but Levy is holding out for top dollar. He knows that even if they sell Bale next year they could still command a king’s ransom.
Spurs have again been amongst the frontrunners in the transfer market and their fans will be mightily relieved that this year they have not left it until 10 minutes before the end of the transfer deadline to conclude all their business. They have strengthened their frontline with the quality of Soldado and with Paulinho in midfield they have added more of the same. AvB had a tough start to his Spurs career but he has definitely won over their fans. Levy will be hoping that he can build on the success of last year and just maybe finish higher than their north London rivals. With the Bale transfer still expected to go through before the close of the transfer window, it will be a tough ask for AvB to finish higher than they did last year.
I have followed Arsenal since 1986 and I really cannot explain my optimism for this year as I agree it is totally irrational. Arsenal looked lacklustre in the Emirates Cup and effectively had their strongest team out against the Turks of Galatasaray, but could not overcome their nemesis Didier Drogba.
Last weekend they played Manchester City in a prestige friendly in Helsinki and surprised everyone with a performance which really underlined their 3-1 victory. With Sanogo being their only signing of note Arsene Wenger has taken a huge gamble (again) by not spending big in the transfer market. To be fair to Arsenal, if they get the luck that all successful teams need, there is no reason why they cannot be challenging for the Premiership this year – really challenging. Out of the top four, Arsenal are the only team not to have changed their manager. Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea’s new managers will all need their fair share of luck to embed themselves so you just never know.
The Premiership is destined to show the rest of the world again, why it is the best league in the world. Sit back and enjoy the season.