Lots has been made of United’s lack of transfer activity this summer, with Wilfred Zaha the only new face around the camp from last term. However it is also easy to forget that this is the same United side that ran away with the league title last season. So in this piece, we will look at what our rivals have done to try to close the gap on the Champions.
We certainly don’t need reminding that our local rivals, and ‘noisy neighbours’ finished as Champions the season before last, and it was City who came the closest to denying United their 20th title last season. Manchester City’s problem last season was that they didn’t really strengthen their title winning squad. De Jong leaving and replacing him with Rodwell, as well as signing Scott Sinclair certainly didn’t improve their side. This season it is different. Out went Mancini and Platt, in comes Manuel Pellegrini and his team.
The Chilean manager certainly hasn’t wasted time in strengthening the squad, with 4 big name arrivals joining the side. However, City have also lost, in my opinion, one of their best players. A player, who on his day, is unplayable and can make things happen. Of course, I speak about a certain Carlos Tevez, who has joined Juventus in a £10m deal.
In: Fernandinho(£30m), Jesus Navas (£16m), Negredo (£20m), Jovetic (£22m)
Out: Tevez (£10m), Maicon (Free), Kolo Toure (Free)
Overall: Stronger than last seasons side but it is hard to say how their new signings will not only settle in to the club and league, but how Pellegrini will deploy his new side. City will almost certainly be in the top 3 next season and will be challenging for the title.
It was the worst kept secret of last season, but if you don’t know, Jose Mourinho is back!
Where Pellegrini at City, as well as Moyes at United, bring an uncertainty to the style of football that will be played. But at Chelsea, with Mourinho at the helm, you know you will get an organised side. Not only does Mourinho provide organisation to his sides, but he gives them belief, and usually success.
Chelsea have made some good signings, especially in German International, Andre Schurrle, and are of course still apparently in the hunt for Wayne Rooney, despite United’s insistence he is not for sale.
Rumours persist regarding the future of David Luiz.
In: Schurrle (£18m), van Ginkel (£8m), Schwarzer (Free)
Out: Malouda, Benayoun, Turnbull (All Released)
Overall: Schurrle is a good signing but Mourinho is certainly the best for Chelsea. The self belief he will bring to the side will be the biggest improvement on the side (unless they get Rooney). Chelsea should be challenging for the title.
Gonzalo Higuain, Wayne Rooney and Luis Suarez. 3 big names, all linked with big money moves to Arsenal. Sadly for Arsenal fans, once again, Monsieur Wenger has signed a Frenchman who I certainly haven’t heard of, Yaya Sanogo.
Arsenal have been linked to 3 strikers, but I personally think they need to strengthen down the spine of the whole team. Better goalkeeper, better defenders, better midfielders, and of course strikers. Arsenal have seemed to get rid of the dead wood in the squad, with Arshavin, Chamakh and Gervinho all departing.
In: Sanogo (Free)
Out: Gervinho (£8m) Chamakh (£m) Arshavin (Released), Santos (Free)
Overall: Without signings, I have doubts to whether Arsenal will finish in the top 4. North London rivals Spurs have strengthened significantly, especially up front and in midfield – and I feel with the squads as they are at present, they are favourites to finish in the top 4.
I have included Liverpool, because although probably not rivals for the title, or even top 4, they are one of the clubs that most Reds keep an eye on. Brendan Rogers has continued to transform the style of Liverpool.
King Kennys signings of Carroll, Downing and Adam are now all gone, and for a massive financial loss. They have also replaced long standing goalkeeper Pepe Reina with Simon Mignolet. Rogers has brought in his own players, and it seems the new number 9, Iago Aspas has some goals in him, if Pre season is anything to go by. Liverpool are in a desperate transfer wrangle with striker Luis Suarez, and the outcome of this will decide the direction of their season.
In: Iago Aspas (£7m), Luis Alberto (£7m), Mignolet (£9m), Kolo Toure (Free)
Out: Carragher (Retired), Carroll (£15m), Shelvey (£6m) Downing (£5m), Reina (Loan), Suso (Loan)
Overall: It will take a massive over achievement to break back into the Champions League places, and I fully expect to see the Anfield club languishing between 6th and 10th.