Liverpool fans are seemingly resigned to slipping back into mediocrity, which in September isn't exactly ideal. Plus better Arsenal, Allardyce praise and an excited Saint...
Matt Stanger watched Mesut Ozil answer his critics with a telling contribution in Arsenal's 3-0 thrashing of Aston Villa. It's now a question of playing him alongside Alexis Sanchez...
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United A Dark Horse?
A brilliant and unexpected thing happened in the last 12 months. Apparently, United are now written off as a dark horse. Maybe it's just that the Liverpool and Arsenal fans are blindly/desperately trying to enjoy the fantasy that they'll both be in the top four next year? Maybe some quarters can't look past last season's performance. Either way:
*Spurs have the same squad, a year wiser to the Premier League, and a new manager that isn't Tim Sherwood (could really use a striker... how about a bid for Hernandez?)
*United have an already improved squad, with more additions to come, and a new manager that is one of the best in world football.
*Arsenal have added one major player, great though he is.
*Chelsea have signed two major players one of whom who may well not cut it, and lost some squad.
*Liverpool have lost their best player by a country mile and could well do a Tottenham having replaced him with a number of lesser players (though I fancy them to still be battling gamely for 4th).
*City have not done an awful lot except make their most important player in Touré very unhappy (and have someone I still rate as middling as manager).
Wow, this season is going to be a corker for egg on face. I fancy a Chelsea, United, City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs finish, but whatever happens there's a lot more fans with expectations ready to be crushed this year! Brilliant!
How Will United Line Up?
I think Sanjit, Kuala Lumpur may be right in how United set up for this season formation wise, but I can't see Van Gaal putting the team out in those positions - Shaw as one of three centre halves? Mata and Welbeck as wing backs? Shoehorning Mata in the wide right position renders him virtually useless and the decision to do so was probably one of the final nails in Moyes's coffin last season. I think with Valencia's 3 year contract extension, the United team as is would line up like this;
GK - De Gea
CB - Jones
CB - Evans
CB - Smalling
RWB - Valencia
LWB - Shaw
CM - Ander
CM - Carrick (when fit)
CAM - Mata
CF - Rooney
CF - Van Persie
GK - Amos
DF - Rafael
MF - Kagawa
MF - Fletcher
MF - Januzaj
CF - Welbeck
CF - Hernandez
That's not a bad 16, attacking-wise anyway. New faces in the defensive positions are a must. The back 3 just aren't ready/good enough to be our first choice defence, not yet anyway. De Vrij would be welcome. Vermaelen, not sure. I definitely think we need a second centre half to come in, someone around 28 with nous and experience to help teach the younger lads. Smalling and Jones guarantee at least one brain fart each per game and Evans still looks scared of forwards over 9st. Throw Vidal in at CM and we'd look pretty solid. I think Shaw has great potential as a wing back and keeping Ander and Mata through the middle gives them both the opportunity to play in their preferred positions in the same team. Apparently both were pretty handy in the same side for the Spain U21 side.
Andrew (Hummels and Varane in a swap for Anderson and Cleverly would be nice too) Manchester
In response to Chris, England's a] baffling and b] wrong missive - at least Lahm and Scholes didn't use their international retirement as a petulant metaphorical flounce.
Andy Cole, at the age of 30, having been overlooked for seven consecutive squads [number seven being for the 2002 World Cup] 'announced' his international retirement. He was never going to be picked again - it was a poorly-thought-out attempt to save face.
To satirise him, I wrote to Sven requesting that, due to commitments [playing for the college 1st AND 2nd team; revising for my University Exams], I also would no longer wish to be named in any future England squads. He never replied, the git. [And I know he got my letter - he never picked me after that.]
Can I just express how disappointed I am not to see hordes of giddy Scousers on the YourSay boards talking up Jordon Ibe after his impressive turn against PNE. Not one comment. Not a one!
I know I've been impressed by his progress and he does look one for the future and worth a few cup runouts but don't we normally big up our own to unrealistic levels? Or do we leave that to the Mancs these days.
Anyway, time will tell if he's the real deal or just another 'Majeco Pacheco'. Suppose the real point of this missive is to trot out Majeco Pacheco*. Ah heady days...
*You read that here first...and last.
Gregory Whitehead, LFC
I feel the need to defend my beloved Tottenham Hotspur due to the constant bashing that keeps rearing it head after our business last summer.
Can I just ask how this can be deemed such a disaster? We sold arguably one of the top players in world football, and bought some exciting talent. Unfortunately we did not have the coach available to mould this talent into a team.
From this disasterous waste of money, where did we finish? Oh yes, 6th. 3 Points behind an 'awesome' Everton side. Considering we had Tim Sherwood in charge for most of the season, along with injuries for substantial periods to Lamela/Kaboul/Rose/Walker/Sandro/Capoue/Townsend, I really don't think a 6th place finish with 69 points is that much of a disaster? At best we could probably have finished 5th.
I think even if we still had Bale last season, we would not have fared much different.
So now I put it to you, we have a squad of players adapted to the Premier League, we have a coach who seems to enjoy improving players and constructing a team, along with a few key additions (Davies/Schneiderlin/Vorm/Bony?) we could enjoy a good season. 5/6th with good cup run would be an awesome start. Losing Bale meant we had to construct a new team, more functional with a playing style.
This needs a long term plan and one I think can still come to fruition. We have a team packed with Internationals, a widely lauded coach and a world class training facility. All the elements are there, we just need to trust in this and support the club.
I still do miss the days of Bale/VDV/Modric, how lucky were we.
Whilst I've never personally been a fan of John Nicholson, I still read his stuff out of a mixture of both curiosity and boredom. However, his latest article is similar to the loudest kid in primary school having fits of rage whenever the new, eloquent kid says a word with more than two syllables.
Considering it turned out to be a pretty personal attack on Woodward, I think it's incredibly harsh that last year we were being told almost weekly that he's sh*t at his job, yet this year when he seems to be improving and says a few things about the coming season, we're told to "keep the dweebs in the shadows". I understand the feeling that business and football should be seperate entities, but 1) football is far too valuable not to be businesslike at times, and 2) it's journalists -perhaps not John himself- who brought Woodward out of "the shadows" in the first place by singling him out: he has every right to reply by using interviews to show he's grown into the role.
If anything, John's a testament to having variety.. surely there's better things to talk about than a man's use of "interaction"?
We Feel Your Pain
F**k me, the "ROO.S.A" headline made me want to punch my screen. Can someone please make them stop?!
Joel Bradley, London
Don't Believe Jose
Step back Conor! It's all going to be ok.
Jose told you those weren't the droids you were looking for he has finished his transfer business and you believed him! Look at the facts, as Rafa would say.
Jose has previous for stating he will do one thing and then doing something different. (Naming the Barcelona team and Chelsea team and then playing a different line up, or playing Luiz in midfield after saying he never would)
If we offload Torres and/or Lukaku then Jose will go out and buy another striker, and use their departure as his 'get out' clause, and the press will fawn all over his great 'mind games'.
Personally I would sell Torres, keep Lukaku, (and bring back Drogba to mentor him and teach the youngsters some big game temperament), and give a chance to Bamford and Feruz. The system we'll play will only need one striker up front. Shurrle and Salah can also be used as a number 9.
Dan (as Kriss says 'PMA' or should that be 'Awooga'?)