So in a few hours the 2013-14 Premiership Season gets under way. Tonight some teams will have three points on the board. Some will have one point. Some will have none.
There will be at least one first day shock, hopefully not Manchester United at Swansea.
Its an unequal contest.
There are really three different leagues within the Premiership. The race to the title involves at most seven clubs(Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Everton).
There will be a race to avoid relegation (Cardiff City, Hull City, Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Norwich City and Southampton).
And a race from Mediocrity to Mid Table Respectability ( maybe even with a minor Trophy). It will involve Newcastle United, West Ham United, Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa, Swansea City and Fulham).
One of the top group will struggle and the word “crisis” will be used. A top manager will be boooed by disappointed fans. One of the middle group will flatter to deceive in the early part of the season. One of the traditionally safe teams will struggle and flirt with the bottom group. And one of the bottom group will pleasantly surprise us.
The Premiership….its all about money. At Manchester United and Liverpool, American owners talk about “franchise”. Chelsea are bank-rolled by a Russian oligarch and Manchester City bank-rolled by Gulf sheiks.
And yet the pre-season is dominated by three players.
Luis Saurez at Liverpool.
Gareth Bale at Tottenham Hotspur.
Wayne Rooney at Manchester United.
All want away.
Saurez is Liverpools best player. Bale is Tottenhams best player. Rooney is NOT Manchester Uniteds best player.
Saurez is a disgrace. Liverpool were foolish to back him in the Racism Row two seasons ago. No respectable team should sign him. As Arsenal have a legitimate claim to being Englands most respectable football club, it is surprising to see Arsenal leac the chase for his signature. Saurez of course has a contract with Liverpool but it means little.
Gareth Bales contract at Totteham Hotspur means more. Real Madrid will buy it for up to £80 million. spurs should grab it. They did not finish in the Top Four, losing out on Europe. The bottom line is that Bale might be the best player in England but the players that Spurs can buy with £80 million should be enough to get into the Top Four.
Wayne Rooney…dont start me. I am far too old to hero-worship footballers. Rooney always LOOKS unfit. Overweight. He might still be able to turn a match but not as often as in his first few years at Old Trafford.
Three years ago he was “unsettled” and persuaded to stay with a pay rise. He got the cash but lost the affection of the United fans. Wanting away for a second time….well good riddance.
I am a pessimist. In two decades Manchester United have only finished below first or second on one occasion when they finished third.
Really the tragedy is that finishing in the Top Four and qualifying for the BIGGER European Champions League is as important as actually winning the Premiership.
Dropping out of the Top Four would be a disaster.
Spurs (fifth) have spent money and will have more to spend.
Liverpool look better. Everton dont look as good without David Moyes.
Arsenal and Manchester United have need to spend…but while Arsenal might get Saurez, United seem to be missing their targets. New manager David Moyes starts under pressure. Will United have the same hunger without Ferguson.
Chelsea have spent money.
Manchester City have spent more.
Manchester City look to be favourites.
As always….hoping for the best and fearing the worst.