Here are my (extremely) early predictions on the final standings for the 2013/2014 season. They will more likely than not be well off the mark, considering there is a massive transfer window yet to come, but I thought it would be interesting to have an “educated” punt anyway.
Final Top 6 Positions:
3. Manchester City
4. Manchester United
6. Tottenham Hotspur
We all don’t know what will happen in terms of Arsenal’s transfer signings, and the futures of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez.
But we know that The Special One has returned to Chelsea. Chelsea have shown over the last 2 seasons the quality they have in their squad after winning the Champions League and then the Europa League, and with Mourinho at the helm they will be a major force in the Premier League next season. Abramovich isn’t shy to spend money so you can only assume that Mourinho will be allowed to bring in players that he feels Chelsea need to win the league.
Simply put, our league position will hugely depend on what business we do this summer. The one thing you can say about Arsene is that he is consistent, and with whatever squad he has managed to assemble on a budget, he has secured 4th position or better every time. Since the new stadium move we have finished either 3rd or 4th. So one would assume that with the supposed “war chest” available this summer, we could improve on that.
We all know that Arsene will not spend £30 million on a single player, it’s not his style. What he will do however is invest around the £15 million mark on players from, I would call, the second tier teams around Europe. Partly because they are less likely to have an ego and disrupt the dressing room, and partly because he believes he will bring in a player that feels they have something to prove.
So while we might not get those “superstar” signings all the fans crave, we potentially could get more mid-range signings than usual, which will improve our performance in the league. So instead of getting a couple of £12-£15 million players, we could bring in 4 or 5 – which would improve the squad dramatically.
The free-spending City (who have just officially announced Pellegrini as their new manager) have already invested in Fernandinho and Navas, but I am unconvinced by their title credentials. While Pellegrini’s record in Europe is okay (with Villarreal and Malaga) he hasn’t won a domestic league in Europe. In fact, his only honour as manager since managing in Europe is the Intertoto Cup with Villarreal in 2004.
So coming to a new country, a new league and a new challenge won’t be easy for him. The main question is if he can get all of the egos in the squad playing as a cohesive unit.
Despite winning the league at a canter last season, I’m not sure how David Moyes will do in the United hot-seat. Many have hailed his appointment a masterstroke, but I don’t see it. He’s done okay at Everton but speaking to blue supporters some of them were glad to see the back of him. Their main problem was that they felt his tactics were too negative and in the big games he bottled it. I suppose the prime example was when Everton played Wigan at home in the FA Cup and lost 3-0. If they won that game they would have met Millwall in the semi-finals and surely made it to the final.
I have a feeling that David Moyes may crack under the pressure of the legend that is Sir Alex Ferguson and it will be interesting to see how he copes if United lose one or two games on the trot.
Sounds coming from the Liverpool camp suggest that they will mount a bigger challenge to the Top Four but I think they will just miss out. They will probably keep Luis Suarez (mainly because no-one wants to but him) and he will be chomping at the bit next season (sorry).
I could try and make up some other reason why I’ve put Liverpool 5th but the truth is that I’ve done so for no other reason than it makes Tottenham finish 6th. I could have put Everton 5th but I think they’re more likely to get relegated after appointing Roberto “What’s a defence” Martinez.
Gareth Bale was immense last season and even if he does end up staying, simply put, teams will be able to work out how to nullify his threat next season. Towards the end of the last campaign, teams started to deploy ways to reduce his control on games and you noticed that he wasn’t having as much influence on games as he had done earlier on in the season.
When Bale was out injured it was shocking how much they struggled without him so that, coupled with the fact he could get injured, is the reason they won’t do as well next season.
Added to this, having Europa League football will add to their fixture list and they will probably find it difficult to attract top players without Champions League football.