Chelsea face a PR job while Man Utd must change everything: Summer resolutions

Steven Chicken
City celebrate, Arsenal agonise, Arne Slot beams and Sir Jim Ratcliffe looks excited
Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United all have jobs on over the summer. Well, less so City...

The curtain has fallen, the dust has settled, the underline has been drawn. The 2023/24 Premier League campaign is at an end, and already fans of 24 different teams – including those that have been relegated, promoted, or competing in the Championship play-off final – will be wondering what comes next.

In a way, the days after the end of a season is like the New Year: a time for reflection but also a time for looking to the future, which at this stage is all potential and no certainty. So it seems only appropriate to try and come up with a resolution for everyone to try and live up to before the 2024/25 campaign kicks off.

Premier League summer resolutions 2024/25

Arsenal: Dust off and go again. Even getting as far as the final day of a title challenge against Manchester City is a bit of an achievement in itself these days, but having gone so close this time will only have made the Gunners itchy for more.

Arsenal are as well placed as any of City’s former foes to keep it going into another season. Mikel Arteta has one of the youngest starting XIs in the division and has bagged a load of goals this season either in spite of or because of not having an obvious regular first-choice out-and-out striker.

This is a summer for adding a bit of extra quality in one or two positions, not one for a complete overhaul, making Arsenal’s summer job more manageable than most – but potentially harder to actually pull off.

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Aston Villa: Succeed where Newcastle fell short. Champions League football is coming to Villa Park, bringing more money and more prestige, but also more demands on a playing squad that is not used to the demands of adding European commitments to their domestic schedule – or not as an ensemble, at least.

Respectfully, Unai Emery’s experience and track record for success in Europe should make him better-placed to guide them through that transition than Eddie Howe.

But it also means recruiting well, with a particular focus on players who know how the handle the particularly gruelling Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday schedule they will now have to become familiar with.


Bournemouth: Prepare to get out of the blocks quicker. The decision to sack Gary O’Neil last summer may have been vindicated over the long run, but did seem to set Bournemouth back considerably at the start of the season as they had to wait until their 10th game to taste victory for the first time.

A considerably better run of form followed to effectively kill of their relegation fears by Boxing Day – despite a bit of a New Year wobble – and they will now be hoping they can find a bit more consistency right from the off.


Brentford: Gain certainty as quickly as possible. With Thomas Frank linked with Manchester United and Ivan Toney for some reason still being linked with a big-money move, Brentford currently face their most uncertain and potentially precarious situation for years after a sustained period of admirably sensible growth.

That famed recruitment department already has a bit of work to do after taking just three wins from 21 games midway through the season, so losing two of their most talismanic figures on top of that would pose a challenge. The sooner they get clarity on both – for better or worse – the better for Brentford.


Brighton: Move on quickly from Roberto de Zerbi. It all started so wonderfully well under the Italian, but his departure from the Amex has felt inevitable for sometime amid an overall inability to set up a defence and an apparent half-eye on the other big-name jobs he was being linked with.

The Seagulls have been as impressive as Swansea used to be in their ability to find the right managers at the right times, and as impressive as Southampton once were for coping with the loss of key players by bringing in the next raft of players who will one day be expensively sold to the bigger boys.

But both those S-clubs show how quickly it can all fall apart if they stop moving to that funky funky beat. Brighton must keep reaching for the stars to bring it all back to the upward trajectory they were on this time six months ago now they have decided to say goodbye to De Zerbi.


Burnley: Find an approach that can succeed in two tiers. We’ll talk about this a bit more when we get to Leicester City, so we’ll save a bit of it for the avoidance of repetition, but suffice it to say that the transition from Championship world-beaters to Premier League minnows was a difficult one for Burnley.

That does give them a bit of a headache now: do they try and go back to the style that allowed them to romp to promotion in near-unstoppable fashion, or try to refine it into something more sustainable that both takes them up and stands a better chance of keeping them there? If they think they can do the latter, it behoves them to at least give it a go.


Chelsea: Be sensible. We have left that there because this was originally written before they lost their tiny minds and parted ways with Mauricio Pochettino. So what do they actually need to do now? Pull off a miracle and get fans back onside; right now, they’re fuming.


Crystal Palace: Keep it going. The delightful surprise package of the final couple of months of the Premier League season, Palace have been a side transformed under Oliver Glasner now the Austrian properly has his feet under the table.

Anybody can have a good eight or nine games, though; the trick is to parlay that into something longer-term.

Glasner will have mixed feelings about the end of the season coming when it does, especially if Michael Olise, Jean-Phillipe Mateta and Eberechi Eze attract attention this summer. Convincing them to stay and see the project through for another year would be as important to them as what they can add to the squad.


Everton: Hang in there, baby. It’s been a difficult few years for Everton and has the potential to get even worse before it gets better – and their ability to ameliorate that is sadly largely out of their own hands.

That leaves Everton hoping for the best in in awful lot of areas, whether that’s recruitment, departures, takeovers, or the risk of further FFP trouble. Resilience is going to have to be extremely high at Goodison Park in the face of all that; Sean Dyche is going to have to get a real close-knit siege mentality going.


Fulham: Never change. We never know what you’re going to do on or off the pitch and we kind of love you for it.


Ipswich Town: Enjoy yourselves. We mean no disrespect to a former UEFA Cup-winning club with a rich and proud history, but this is also their first Premier League campaign for over two decades. There’s a whole generation of fans who will be seeing them in the top flight for the first time.

We dare say things have changed a bit since Ipswich came up from the second tier and immediately finished fifth in 2000/01, and the experience of the promoted sides over the past few seasons suggests it could be a long, difficult campaign for a club that has flown up from League One with incredible verve.

That’s not to write off their chances of staying up by any means – but that second year in the Premier League tends to be a lot more miserable than the first. The novelty of going to Old Trafford and Anfield and featuring on Match of the Day does wear off, replaced by the dreary realisation that you’re going into half your games knowing there’s a 90%+ chance you’re going to lose, and that upward mobility is so limited.

Our advice is just make the most of looking forward to next season, regardless how things end up going on the pitch.


Leeds United or Southampton: See: Leicester City. Two attack-minded, possession-based sides in a very similar boat to the Championship title-winners, who conveniently are up next…


Leicester City: Learn from Burnley. Aside from a very notable wobble just before the final run-in, Leicester were dominant both with their results and their performances throughout the Championship season – just like Burnley the previous year. And look how it ended for them.

The gap between the two divisions can cause problems for even the best newly promoted sides, giving Leicester something of a dilemma: do they stick with what worked so well for them last season, or try and be a bit more pragmatic?

There’s arguments both ways. Staying true to themselves worked well for Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds after their promotion in 2020, resulting in a ninth-place finish; but Vincent Kompany’s Clarets had to abandon some of the principles that had got them up in a too-late effort to save their season. Leicester need to decide quickly which way they will go, and ensure they have what they need to make it work at this level.


Liverpool: Don’t let it feel like a transitional year (even though it is). It will be whatever they do, of course: that front line needs too much work for it not to be, even if they weren’t losing an iconic manager in Jurgen Klopp.

The standard has been set very high for Arne Slot by Liverpool mounting a title challenge for two-thirds of the season before the wheels well and truly came off, but the expectations will inevitably be high for the Dutchman.

Even in his occasional poor seasons at Liverpool, Klopp had the benefit of a cast-iron belief from the fans that he was capable of getting them going again. Slot is unlikely to get that; if he starts poorly, worries will inevitably creep in that they have another Graeme Souness on their hands, and not another Bob Paisley.

We hate being all ‘we’ve won pre-season’ about it, but with key players rumoured to be set for the exit, Liverpool could really do with a statement summer to show they are serious about staying at least perch-adjacent.

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Luton Town: Come back stronger. Their recruitment since getting promoted has always had a feeling of building a team that could win the Championship next season more than staying up in the Premier League. That they technically went to the final day before having the drop confirmed was testament to how thoughtfully assembled they are.

Now things get harder for them. The expectations in the Premier League may have been low, but they will be expected (and expecting) to be right up there to have another go now, boosted by another round of recruitment or two to get the side truly top-flight ready.


Manchester City: Nothing. What even is there to say?


Manchester United: Everything. Sorry to get all Noel Edmonds about it, but United won’t get anywhere unless they know actually have a clear idea of what they want from the universe and begin manifesting it through their actions.

Ineos have had a good while to audit the club and work out what is going wrong (everything) and what needs changing (everything). Sir Jim Ratcliffe has warned that catching back up to Manchester City is not going to happen over a single summer, no matter what they do, and he’s right.

But you only get one chance to make a first impression, and this, really, will be theirs. With a squad overhaul desperately needed and a change of manager looking very likely, United had just a couple of months to show they really, seriously mean business again.


Newcastle United: Fix that defence. Newcastle’s front line is up there with almost anybody else’s on its day, but as it stands they are a frail whale of a side.

Eddie Howe’s side had the joint-best defensive record in the Premier League in 2022/23, matching Manchester City in conceding just 33 times. But they have thoroughly reverted to Howe’s type over this campaign.

Newcastle conceded three or more goals in 11 of their 38 Premier League games – far too many for a side of their ambitions. That was also an issue for Howe at Bournemouth: in his five seasons there, they had the second-worst, fifth-worst, fourth-worst, third-worst and second-worst defence in the Premier League. The fewest they conceded in any one season was 61. A reminder that they were a firmly mid-table side in the middle three of those five years, too.

Would the right recruitment help them turn that around, or is he simply not the right man for the job at this stage of their development?


Nottingham Forest: Get serious. Between protesting that the PSR rules shouldn’t apply to them for…some reason to their absurd short-lived appointment of Mark Clattenburg to their ministry of propaganda to their continued attempts to sign every single player in Europe…it’s been all too easy (and fun) to laugh at swivel-eyed banter club Nottingham Forest this season.

We can’t imagine they have particularly enjoyed that, but the solution is simple: put on your big boy pants, stop being so bloody silly, and focus on getting things right on the pitch, starting with addressing that leaky defence.


Sheffield United: Stop the rot immediately. We’ve honestly come to wonder over the past couple of years whether Sheffield United are aware other players and managers exist. The result of their lack of imagination has been a place near the top of the list of the Premier League’s worst-ever sides.

The Blades have finished the season with the exact same record as Huddersfield Town five years ago: three wins, seven draws, 28 losses, just 16 points. There’s a cautionary tale there: the Terriers subsequently only narrowly avoided a double drop, which another bottom side, Sunderland, had suffered a couple of years before.

The larger parachute payments now available to relegated clubs make a repeat very unlikely, but there is clearly something is rotten in the kingdom of Bramall Lane. Sheffield United must work out what it is and address it with ruthless immediacy.


Tottenham Hotspur: Find a better balance. Ange Postecoglou has very rapidly cycled through what we think of as the Three Stages Of Brendan Rodgers, going from “well I’m a bit worried about that defence but this is exciting” to “OK this is actually superb” to “for God’s sake WHY CAN’T WE DEFEND?” all in the space of nine months.

The difference is that Postecoglou has made no secret of his displeasure at his side’s frailties himself, and he will be determined to address those issues over the summer – without sacrificing the attacking verve that at times makes them so enjoyable to watch and lethal to opponents.


West Ham United: Vindicate the decision to ditch David Moyes. It seems a very long time ago now, but when David Moyes first spoke of his desire to get a new deal agreed with West Ham back in December, things were going very well for West Ham.

Whether the Hammers had already decided to move on from Moyes at that point, or if the decision was made for them by the dreadful drop-off in form that followed almost immediately, the end result is the same: Moyes is out, Julen Lopetegui inbound.

Moyes himself has said he understands the decision and that he hopes they can go on to fulfil their ambitions under the new manager, but their decision to make a change can only be vindicated if they back themselves up with more than just a change of gaffer – especially given that Lopetegui left Wolves precisely because he felt he did not have the resources he needed to succeed.


Wolverhampton Wanderers: Back Gary O’Neil. Thank you, the alphabet, for giving us such a seamless transition between two entries right at the final hurdle.

O’Neil is yet to take charge of a pre-season in his nascent managerial career: he was promoted to the role after the season began at Bournemouth, and was appointed in Lopetegui’s place just a few days before this campaign kicked off.

He’s done well in spite of that at both clubs, and we’re genuinely curious to see where his career might go when he actually gets to have a proper say on both preparation and recruitment – the two most crucial elements for setting up for a successful season.


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