A look at the new English Premier League season
It seems likes only minutes have past since the end of the 2006-2007
season of the English Premium League and yet the new season is upon us, with
the first round of matches that started the 11th of August.
Shock and horror from some people, but a great relief to thousands of Thai
fans and expats who dote upon football, and in particular the Premier League
which is established worldwide amongst true football supporters as the best
league in the world.
True fans of the game have been keeping a very keen eye on the events
happening during the close season. The British tabloids and various Internet
sites have been full of talks of take-overs, sacked and new managers,
transfers in and transfers out of players as all clubs jockey to get
themselves into the best possible position to launch a challenge for the
title at the end of the year, not forgetting the ongoing saga of Sheffield
United’s legal wrangle with the Premier league’s decision not to dock points
from West Ham United for their illegal playing of Carlos Tevez.
Let’s take it club by club and look at their record in the transfer market
and their potential for success this season. A number of clubs departed with
their managers from last season for various reasons. Out went Sam Allardyce
(Bolton), Paul Jewell (Wigan), Stuart Pearce (Manchester City), whilst in
went Sammy Lee (Bolton), Chris Hutchings (Wigan), Sam Allardyce (Newcastle
United) and finally, Sven Goran Ericksson (Manchester City). All of these
will be striving hard to bring success to their respective clubs, obviously
though, success for different clubs means different things.
The three promoted clubs, Birmingham, Derby and Sunderland would be happy to
survive and keep their place in the premiership for the following season,
whilst the big four clubs of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester
United are chasing the premiership crown. There is tremendous pressure on
both Arsene Venger (Arsenal) and Rafael Benitez (Liverpool) to win the
premiership crown. Meanwhile, can clubs like Blackburn, Newcastle and
Tottenham breach the top 4 and gain entry into the prestigious and money
spinning Champion’s League?
Arsenal Biggest transfer out was that of Thierry Henry, Antoni
Reyes and Jeremie Alladiere whilst they have signed Eduardo Da Silva and
Lucas Fabianski. They finished 4th last season, should be in the same
position this year, however if rumors continue of Venger’s departure this
may well affect their final league position and entry into the Champion’s
league. Venger may well be gone by this time next year, but he will not be
Aston Villa has brought Reo-Coker and Harewood both from West
Ham. They have released a number of players in particular Lee Hendrie and
Juan Pablo Angel. Martin O’Neill will be under greater pressure to succeed
this year and they might be candidates for a European place, however
whatever happens he should still be in his job at the end of the season.
Birmingham City has been taken over by a Hong Kong businessman,
Carson Yeung. There is already talk about some inferior players arriving
from the Far East. So far they have signed Kapo from Juventus, Parnaby
(Middlesborough) and Muamba (Arsenal). The notable departures include
N’Gotty and Clemence. They will struggle to make the grade and will be
relegated. This season may well see the end of Steve Bruce’s reign at Saint
There appears to be little happening at Blackburn with Nielsen
and Rigters and Santa Cruz arriving and Andy Todd leaving. They will
continue to be hard to beat, but have they got the quality to break into the
top four, I doubt it. However, Mark Hughes will be safe and there for
another season unless a bigger club poaches him.
Bolton Wanderers have continued the policy of wheeling and
dealing in the transfer market. No major signings, but a number of deals
with McCann and Samuel arriving from Villa and Mikel Alonso on loan from
Real Sociedad with Ben Haim (Chelsea), Fortune and Pederson all leaving.
They will miss Big Sam’s motivation and struggle this year to finish in the
top half of the table. Will Little Sam survive, probably just for another
Chelsea has been relatively silent on the transfer scene in
comparison with previous years. Alex from PSV, Sidwell from Reading and Ben
Haim have been added whilst the main departures are Boulahrouz and Geremi
(Newcastle). They will push all the way and may well regain their crown.
Will this year see an end to the bitter struggle between manager and owner;
I think so, especially if they capture the Champions League.
At Derby they have also been involved in some wheeling and
dealing. Major buys are Robert Earnshaw from Norwich and Andy Todd with
several minor players released. They will struggle to make the grade and
will be relegated. Their manager Billy Davies may be the first casualty of
So far only one major signing at Everton, Jagielka (Sheffield
Utd), whilst Naysmith, Wright, Pistone and Phelan are all released. No more
than a mid table position and manager David Moyes may well lose his job at
the end of the season, if not before.
Fulham meanwhile have been busy in the transfer market, in comes
Kamara from West Brom, Hughes and Davies from Villa, Konchesky from West Ham
and Healy from Leeds are the major signings whilst out goes Bown, Jensen,
Pembridge, Radzinki and Crossley. They will need a really good start or may
well be challenging to avoid the dreaded drop and I cannot see Laurie
Sanchez lasting the season.
Liverpool has been very busy in the market with major signings of
Torres from Athletico Madrid, Babel from Ajax, Benayoun from West Ham and a
number of other imports from abroad. Benitez has had a major clear out and
gone are Zenden, Fowler, Garcia, Cisse, Dudek and Bellamy to name a few.
They will need to push all the way, however may have to settle for the
runners up position at the best and a good run in the Champions League,
anything less will see the demise of Benitez.
Manchester City will be looking for a great improvement this year
and certainly closing the gap on their rivals United. I feel they will get
no more then a mid table finish, but this will appear to be a success for
Sven. Major signings include Bianchi, Elano from Donesk, Garrido, Geovanni
and Fernandes, whilst out have gone Distin, Sinclair, Weaver and of course
bad boy Joey Barton. Keep tuned for more signing including one or two Thais?
Manchester United has acquired the services of Anderson and Nani
for 30 million pounds combined and the long awaited Hargreaves from Bayern
Munich. Then they have just acquired Tevez on a 2 year loan and then a
possible permanent transfer, I will not even attempt to go into the ins and
outs of this transfer. United have released Richardson, Rossi and Smith,
whilst Heinze may also be on his way. Whilst the new recruits might be very
exciting players, the question is will United rue the non-signing of a top
quality striker. Champions last year, I feel may lose out this year, but
nothing more than an absolute disaster would see the end of Sir Alex. Any
bets for the Champions League?
Middlesborough have been a hit and miss team and I for one cannot
see any improvement this year. Their main purchase this year has been
Aliadiere, Sanli from Fenerbahce with Vidulka, Xavier (joining Beckham in
LA) and Parnaby released. They may well be in the relegation dogfight to the
bitter end, and I would not be surprised to see Southgate axed.
Newcastle United have signed Smith, Barton, Vidulka, Rozehnal
(PSG) and Geremi and off loaded Parker, Bramble, Sibierski and Bernard to
name a few. They must look for at least a UEFA cup spot, which I feel they
may well get, but they will not challenge the top four clubs. Whatever
happens, big Sam will get another year.
Portsmouth has also been wheeling and dealing as is the norm for
manager Harry Redknapp. His biggest signings have been Muntari from Udinese,
Nugent from Preston and Distin from City. I do not think they will make any
real improvement and will finish outside of the European places, but Harry
should be ok.
Reading will find it harder this year as all other teams are much
more aware of them. They have lost the influential Sidwell to Chelsea and
Halford to Sunderland whilst not making any major signings other than Cisse
from Boavista. Steve Coppell will have his work cut out, but should maintain
his team’s premiership place, will he decide to continue?
Sunderland has purchased Chopra from Cardiff, Richardson, Halford
and Anderson from Aberdeen with just Cunningham and Miller released. They
will be the best of the promoted teams, with Roy Keane’s leadership they
should gain a mid table position and is Roy a candidate for manager of the
year. It should be interesting when he takes Sunderland back to Old
Tottenham are really pushing for a top four finish and they may
well edge out their neighbors Arsenal, if so Martin Jol will be safe. They
have brought in bent from Charlton, Bale from Southampton, Kaboul from
Auxerre to name a few and have released Hallfedsson, Yeates and Ziegler.
Failure to deliver and Big Jol will be looking for another job.
West Ham United may again struggle this year. They have failed to
attract the really top quality players; perhaps the dreaded board of
confidence will hit Curbishley. So far they have brought in Parker, Bellamy,
Faubert, whilst releasing Reo Coker, Harewood and Benayoun.
Wigan Athletic I feel will find it difficult again to attract top
quality players without Paul Jewell. This may be their swan song in the top
flight and a certain end to dreams of their manager, Chris Hutchings. Their
major transfer dealings have been Sibierski and Bramble from Newcastle,
Brown from Fulham and Koumas from West Brom whilst releasing Unsworth, de
Zeeuw and Jackson.