Excitement for new Football season heats up, with an influx of new managers and potential big money signings. 19/07/13

Pellegrini, Moyes and Mourinho looking to make their markMoyes-Mourinho-Pellegrini_2961665
Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement towards the end of last season, it was clear that the 2013-2014 Barclays Premiership would bring about a new era with the old guard stepping down. It is David Moyes who has stepped into the Old Trafford vacancy and certainly has an impossible task to follow. It would be unfair to ever compare him to Sir Alex, but nonetheless Manchester United fans will still have a certain level of expectations. I believe Moyes is the perfect choice for United and as a Preston North End fan I am delighted the former Deepdale player and manager has landed the biggest job in Football. He is a tough man and should attain instant respect from the players. At the same time he is human and he must be tremendously excited and will relish the opportunity to usher in a new era at ‘The Theatre of Dreams’. He has already made sound decisions in appointing Ryan Giggs and Phil Neville to his backroom staff.

Then followed the announcement of ‘The Special One’ returning which had been much speculated towards the end of the season. Jose Mourinho wasn’t taken to in Spain, but whether you are a Chelsea fan or not it is hard to disagree that Mourinho brings so much to the game, and he is indeed loved in England. The combination of his character and the excitable, flippant personalities of Ian Holloway and Paulo Di Canio are sure to make press conferences and interviews this season unmissable. Jose is clearly a talented manager, his record is perhaps only second to Sir Alex in the modern era. This man was adored by Chelsea and the fans are delighted to see him back. His exit from his first stint was unfortunate, but Roman Abramovich has now realised that in order to try and wrangle the title away from Manchester then there is no better man. Success will be expected in the first season from himself and the owner, and Chelsea must build on from their impressive finish to last season following a great but unheralded job from Rafa Benitez.

After the harsh dismissal of Roberto Mancini, Manchester City looked to ‘The Engineer’ Manuel Pellegrini. Not a bad choice from the outset having relative success at all of his clubs, and perhaps harshly relieved of his job at Real Madrid. A better manager than Mancini? Only time will tell, but hopefully the Sheikhs at City do give him enough time. So far it would seem Pellegrini is a man who likes to get on with the job in hand rather than talk about it and make headlines, and will be leaving that to the aforementioned. Fernando Soriano chief executive at City has set Manuel the target of 5 trophies in 5 years. With those trophies having to be either the Premier League, the FA Cup or the Champions League. A big ask for a club who just 14 years ago was plying its trade in Division 2 (League 1). Obviously circumstances have changed a great deal, but it will still take a long time for everything to come together on and off the pitch, before Manchester City are a consistent major force throughout world Football. That is not to say that I don’t think they will be challenging for those honours this season, they will. But if they end up trophyless I wouldn’t say it was a failure and more changes are needed.

PSG and Monaco splash the cash in order to compete with the big boys


PSG will be hoping Cavani can work miracles like his lookalike.

Whilst rumours continue to circulate around England of Rooney and Suarez’s futures, the main transfers have been occurring in France. PSG and Monaco have stolen the headlines so far. The latter did their business towards the end of May with the capture of FC Porto players, James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho for a reported combined £60m. Monaco and their Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev are clearly looking to make an instant impact on their return to Ligue 1. They followed this up with the £50m signing of Radamel Falcao from Atletico Madrid. Falcao is clearly a talented player and one of the best strikers around at the moment. With this in mind I find it disappointing that he has not made a move to a big big club in his career. Porto, Atletico Madrid and now Monaco are all good clubs, but this man should be playing for a Barcelona, or Chelsea type team. I hope he isn’t going for the money, and rather what should be an interesting few years for Monaco. PSG on the other hand signed another wanted man in the shape of Edinson Cavani, costing the Qatari owners a cool £55m. Cavani joining the likes of Ibrahimovic, Lavezzi, Pastore, and Lucas Moura make PSG a formidable team. Last year they found success in winning the league and pushing Barca close in the Champions League. Laurent Blanc is at the helm this year and they will be looking to progress further. Again I am sad that Cavani could not be enticed to England with a few teams linked. The Premier League didn’t used to have much competition when it came to attracting the top talent, but with the backing of oil rich owners it seems the competition is rife.

Rooney, Higuain, Fabregas, Jovetic, Suarez – The rumour mill is in full swing once again


David Moyes has only been in the job a few weeks but he must have been asked about Rooney’s future over a hundred times. He must already be beginning to get sick of the media attention in a club like United and their assets. The speculation over Rooney has continued to gather momentum ever since Fergie stated he has asked to leave towards the end of last season. With Van Persie having a superb debut season for the Red Devils, Rooney is said to be unhappy that he is not guaranteed a starting place up front anymore. Rooney wont be able to find himself a better club than United in terms of somewhere that will always be challenging for the major honours. Whilst that have been whispers of a move abroad, the main talk includes Arsenal and Chelsea. There always seems to be one transfer saga in this country that drags on throughout summer and it looks as if this will be this years. Although Suarez is running a close second. Jose Mourinho has publicly stated that he is interested in Rooney and that is his only target. On a completely unrelated matter he has also said this week that players wanting to be part of the World Cup next summer cant afford to be playing second fiddle at their clubs. Personally I can’t imagine Rooney playing for Chelsea or Arsenal, but it would certainly be fascinating if he did make the move.

Arsenal look set to spend big this summer for once, with Wenger realising that their once guaranteed top 4 finish is becoming a little precarious in recent years. Gonzalo Higuain of Real Madrid has been linked for a long time. I believe this would be a great signing for Arsenal and he would fit in well, this appears to have dragged out a little too long as well. Alternative targets have included one Luis Suarez with a reported £35m bid being rejected by Liverpool. Suarez has repeatedly said he would like to move on, with Real Madrid initially looking like the most likely destination. But it was The Gunners who made the first move, and may make another in the coming days. Suarez is a typical villain of the game which is controversial actions a lot of the time taking over from his actual footballing talents. He is a great player and perhaps could have won PFA and Writers Player of the Year last season if it wasn’t for his temperament. I am not condoning racism or cannibalism but he is an entertaining character, and a very skilful player, one which adds an unpredictable dimension to the Premiership. Initially he did say that he wanted to leave England but if he did end up moving to Arsenal, it would be one of the more surprising transfers in recent years.

Negredo holding image final
Manchester City have been the busier of the two Manchester clubs so far. The signings of Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, and Alvaro Negredo have already been confirmed with Stevan Jovetic’s signature imminent. These transfers will amount to £100m near enough, and how they will adapt to the English game remains to be seen. The confirmed signings are heading toward there late 20’s and so will be expected to make an instant impact. United have made a bid to sign another former Arsenal captain, Cesc Fabregas, whom would be exactly what they need. A superb, technical player who wears his heart on his sleeve, did not leave Arsenal in bad circumstances, but if a move to Old Trafford did transpire, I would imagine he would be in for a frosty reception when the two meet at the Emirates.

Extra Time – England’s Women’s team knocked out, and the introduction of the best moustache in the Premiership


The England women’s team last night compounded a miserable summer for the country’s national sides, failing to make an impact in their competition just as the men’s Under – 21 and Under 20 sides did. Hope Powell has been in charge of the side since 1996 and has done a tremendous amount for the women’s game. The fact the Women’s European Championship was covered heavily by BBC shows just how much the game has come along. 4  years ago England found themselves in the Final of the competition, and unfortunately succumbed to a much stronger German side. Results leading up to this year suggested that another successful competition would occur. However it was not to be. An opening 3-2 defeat to Spain largely due to a poor performance from England Goalkeeper Karen Bardsley left the team with an uphill battle. A late draw against Russia gave hope but they were then outclassed by France in a 3-0 loss. Hope Powell’s position comes under question, with other nations seemingly rapidly improving and leaving England behind. Perhaps Hope Powell should be moved into a role with the FA to continue the development of the women’s game, and someone new should be brought in to lead the national side in a new direction.

Last week Mohamed Al Fayed sold Fulham to American Shahid Khan, 62. Khan already owns NFL team Jacksonville Jaguars and he also possesses quite a remarkable moustache. This ended Al Fayed’s 16 year association with Fulham Football club. In that time Fulham climbed the Football League in rapid fashion thanks to heavy investment and managers such as Keegan and Tigana enjoying great success. It was no surprise when Fulham entered the Premier League in 2001. What is a surprise is how in that time they were very rarely lingering around the bottom 3 and relatively quickly established themselves securely as a solid Premier League club. Their greatest achievement came under current England manager Roy Hodgson who led them to the Europa League Final in 2010. They very cruelly lost to a late extra time goal from former Manchester United man Diego Forlan. Nonetheless it was a superb season. Perhaps the only low light in Fayed’s reign was the shocking statue of Michael Jackson which was place outside the ground, I still don’t have a clue why that is there. Mohamed Al Fayed bought Fulham Football club for £30m in 1997 and this transaction has taken place for a reported £150m-£200m. A fantastic job all round for the 84-year-old Egyptian.


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