With the new season upon us, United Rant’s contributors speak about their hopes, fears and predictions for the campaign ahead. We predict who will win the Premier League and why, how United will fair in Europe and our fantasy summer transfer signings. Finally, we ponder what is in store for Sir Alex Ferguson at the end of next season…
Who will win the Premier League?
Ed – Chelsea will take the title narrowly from both United and Manchester City. It will be another close season with the points spread pretty evenly among the top four or five sides.
Tom – Chelsea.
Paul – No idea. Neither United nor Chelsea have significantly strengthened in the break. City is buying a who’s who of international footballing mercenaries, Arsenal haven’t been really in the title race for a while now. Can’t see United doing it, but can’t see anyone else doing it either so let’s say it’ll be United!
Brett – Hate to say it but Chelsea will successfully retain the Premiership this year.
Ingar – United!
Dan – Arsenal will win the Premier League if Arsene Wenger can keep hold of Cesc Fabregas.
Toby – Chelsea will edge the League again this year.
Kieran – Unless United or Chelsea make a mega-bucks signing before the transfer window closes, this could be another really close season.
Where will United finish and why?
Ed – Second, just ahead of City. The squad is still injury-prone and United’s older players cannot continue forever. The squad’s lack of creativity is telling, while Chelsea will welcome Michael Essien back and he’s worth five points alone.
Tom – Second, because the squad isn’t strong enough to compete with Chelsea.
Paul – United will finish first because of the above rambling nonsense.
Brett – United will finish second, although it won’t be as close as last year, and the team will be pushed closely by Citeh if Roberto Mancini’s squad can gel. Last year United flattered to deceive, and was carried by an outstanding Wayne Rooney. Whilst Rooney to recover from his awful World Cup, he can’t carry the team for a second season in a row.
Ingar – First because the side is really hurt and tends to do well after World Cups. Rooney will probably get some abuse from opponents fans that’ll fire him up real good. But United is alarmingly dependant on the Croxtheth lad.
Dan – United will finish third as the squad hasn’t improved. There is too great an emphasis on older players or other players finally coming good. Even a late summer addition will not improve the squad drastically.
Toby – Unless United signs a creative central midfielder, the side will fight with Arsenal, City, Spurs and Liverpool for second to fourth spots, probably coming second. If Ferguson does sign one (e.g Özil) then the side will fight with Chelsea for first. The side still has strong forward options in Rooney, Nani and Antonio Valencia, with cover from Dimitar Berbatov, Javier Hernandez et al. United looks good enough in defence with Nemanja Vidic’s new contract even if Rio Ferdinand is out. All that’s lacking is that midfield playmaker!
Kieran – Tottenham, City and Arsenal will all be up there, while United and Chelsea will probably continue on from last season, neck and neck at the top. For United to win the league they need to sign a world class midfielder, and without one the title could be staying in London.
What about the Champions League?
Ed – Barcelona will take the title, with David Villa adding goals to a team that was the best in the competition last season. United doesn’t have the midfield creativity to compete at the very highest level. Expect a quarter final exit.
Tom – Villa will win it for Barça.
Paul – United is ill suited to the Champions League this season, but let’s hope this is proven wrong. Barça last season plus David Villa is a fearsome thought and Jose at Real will make them more of a force too.
Brett – United will struggle this season and be knocked out at the quarter final stage.
Ingar – Love to see United win, but can’t really see it happening. The two Spanish clubs will be favourites for that one. Inter will crash out to an East-European team.
Dan – As long as United doesn’t face Real Madrid or Barcelona the side could go anywhere. Probably semi finalists.
Toby – Same as before, with the right signing it could be semis or final and without United is looking at the quarters again. Real will be strong this season, along with Chelsea, Barça and Inter.
Kieran – If Jose Mourinho gets his act together quickly at Real, nobody will stop the Galacticos. Chelsea, Barcelona and of course United will all be challenging, but sadly Madrid’s money may win it.
If you could add one player to the team it would be…
Ed – Anybody with some vision from midfield – Wes Sneijder, Özil, Andreas Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez all fit the bill. United will struggle in this department in the coming season.
Tom – Iniesta, for obvious reasons.
Paul – A 28-year-old version of Lucio or Fabio Cannavaro. Barring that, Essien or Villa. Or some Argentinian kid who plays in La Liga who can play a bit! In the realm of footballing reality, perhaps Igor Akinfiev? That’s never how that’s spelled by the way.
Brett – United should add two or three players to the squad. Despite Fergie’s ramblings about there being no value in the transfer market, there is. Joe Cole, a player whom Fergie has admired for years, is good value. United desperately needs a creative midfield player, and the ideal long term replacement for Scholes, and a top summer transfer target, has to be the outstanding Sneijder.
Ingar – Ghana’s Anthony “Mighty Mouse” Annan or as a “marquee” signing it would be someone like Özil.
Dan – Cristiano Ronaldo, or realistically Bastian Schweinsteiger. He would add a really grit and attacking flair to the midfield.
Toby – Realistically it is Özil for his vision in the middle of the park. Luis Suarez would be interesting as he would bring about a tactical change, using more of a traditional 4-3-3 system. Jack Rodwell is young, inexpensive and offers huge potential. He could play as a proper anchorman or as cover for Rio.
Kieran – Either of the standout German midfielders from the World Cup please. Özil and Sami Khedira were both amazing in South Africa, and as Scholes gets older and Michael Carrick struggles to reproduce past form, a world class midfielder, either attacking or defending, would do nicely.
At the end of the season Sir Alex Ferguson will …
Ed – Say that he is happy with his squad, bemoan the lack of referring decisions in United’s favour and ask Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Edwin van der Sar to stay on for another year.
Tom – Regret buying Owen Hargreaves.
Paul – He will call it a day but before he goes, WWE style, he will grab a microphone on the Old Trafford Pitch, pull out a green and gold scarf he had hidden away in a coat pocket and announce that he’s leading a consortium to buy the club back from the Glazers and lead the fans in a chorus of We’ll Keep The Red Flag Flying High. Ah well, a man can dream…
Brett – Announce that he is to retire at the end of the 2011/12 season, complain about no value in the transfer market with no big signings next summer, and try to convince himself that the team doesn’t need replacements for Giggs, Scholes and Van Der Sar. He’ll beg them to play one last season and then make way for Jose Mourinho.
Ingar – Command his senior statesmen to play one more season.
Dan – He won’t leave but in two years time he’ll make way for Mourinho.
Toby – He’s bound to stay just a little longer.
Kieran – If he wins the Premier League he will retire, anything else and he will stick around. The man is on a mission to knock Liverpool of their perch and won’t rest until he moves ahead of them in terms of league titles won.