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Season Preview Part 3 05/08/2015

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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MANCHESTER CITY

INS: Raheem Sterling (Liverpool, £49,000,000), Fabian Delph (Aston Villa, £8,000,000), David Faupala (Lens, Undisclosed), Patrick Roberts (Fulham, Undisclosed), Enes Unal (Bursaspor, Undisclosed)

OUTS: Dedryck Boyata (Celtic, £1,500,000), Jordy Hiwula (Huddersfield Town, Undisclosed), Joe Nuttall (Aberdeen, Undisclosed), Karim Rekik (Marseille, Undisclosed), Scott Sinclair (Aston Villa, Undisclosed), John Guidetti (Celta Vigo, Free), Frank Lampard (New York City, Free), James Milner (Liverpool, Free), Micah Richards (Aston Villa, Free), Angelino (New York City, Season Loan), Seko Fofana (Bastia, Season Loan), Stevan Jovetic (Inter Milan, 18 Month Loan), Enes Unal (Genk, Season Loan)

OUR EX-SKY BLUES: None

THEIR EX-ORNS: None

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: Two defeats in Manchester in FA Cup ties, one of which a close thing the other less so, and two draws in the top flight – a nil-nil in Manchester in a rainstorm, and a one-one at the Vic that confirmed our relegation.

REPORT ARCHIVE:

Season H A FAC LC OTH
2001-02 1-2 0-3
1996-97 1-3

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Hart
Zabaleta        Mangala        Kompany       Kolarov
Fernandinho
Sterling              Touré           Delph                  Silva
Aguero

VERDICT:I had a look back at last year’s City side.  They’re not actually that old.  Of the regulars only Yaya Touré (32) and Martin Demichelis (34) are over 30.  I would have guessed more than that.  The thing is, for all that they’re all top players, established players there was maybe a lack of hunger, a lack of urgency last season.  Everything’s relative again, they were still the second best side in the country… but an awful lot of them will be 30 or knocking by the time the season ends, this is a side that’s due a refit.  Thing is, New City haven’t been terribly good at buying younger players.  Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair, Adam Johnson, Jovetic, Nastasic, Savic have not lived up to expectations, Mangala had a patchy first season.  The frankly terrifying Aguero is one of very few to have come in at a young age (23) and ripped it up.  The consequence, then, is that City are needing to acquire players at the top of their game, or certainly well-established, and therefore expensive.  Good job they’ve got the backing to support the expensive strategy of signing players with necessarily limited resale value.  That same level of investment means that even a transition season for City will leave them strong enough to finish second or third.  They’ll still be too strong for most.  Christ, isn’t the Premier League dull?

MANCHESTER UNITED

INS: Memphis Depay (PSV Eindhoven, £31,000,000), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton, £25,000,000), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich, £14,400,000), Matteo Darmian (Torino, Undisclosed), Sergio Romero (Sampdoria, Free)

OUTS: Robin van Persie (Fenerbahçe, £4,800,000), Nani (Fenerbahçe, £4,250,000), Angelo Henriquez (Dinamo Zagreb, £1,100,000), Saidy Janko (Celtic, Undisclosed), Rafael da Silva (Lyon, Undisclosed), Ben Amos (Bolton Wanderers, Free), Tom Cleverley (Everton, Free), Tom Thorpe (Rotherham United, Free), Will Keane (Preston North End, Season Loan), Radamel Falcao (AS Monaco, End of Loan), Andy Kellett (Bolton Wanderers, End of Loan)

OUR EX-RED DEVILS: Craig Cathcart

THEIR EX-ORNS: Ashley Young

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: Three defeats in our last top flight season… a 2-1 reverse at the Vic that was more comprehensive than it sounds, a 4-1 defeat in the Cup Semi-final that was perhaps less comprehensive than it sounds, and a 4-0 at Old Trafford that was every bit as comprehensive as it sounds.  The first of the three provided the final ever BSaD report.

REPORT ARCHIVE:

Season H A FAC LC OTH
2006-07 1-2
2001-02 0-3
1999-00 2-3 1-4
1984-85 5-1
1978-79 2-1
1968-69 0-2

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

De Gea
Darmian      Smalling        Rojo          Blind
Schneiderlin
Mata               Herrera         Schweinsteiger           Depay
Rooney

VERDICT: If there’s any joy left in the Premier League it’s in watching a side that’s grown reliant on Champions’ (sic) League income flail around as it slips out of the limelight.  Not that it was difficult to feel some sympathy for David Moyes in the thankless position of following Ferguson.  Mourinho would have been a better bet,  someone arrogant enough not to give a monkeys who he was being compared to would have had a better chance of success but would have failed spectacularly and quickly otherwise, getting that following Ferguson problem out of the way.  Van Gaal is much closer to that mould, and seems to have licence to spend in a way that will drag United back into contention with the top two;  it seems unlikely that United will go the way that Leeds did twelve or so years ago, more’s the pity. Indeed the summer recruitment looks hugely impressive, Schweinsteiger an extraordinary catch. I thought the same about Di Maria though, so what do I know.  I’m sounding as if I care again, aren’t I?

NEWCASTLE UNITED

INS: Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV Eindhoven, £14,500,000), Chancel Mbemba (Anderlecht, Undisclosed), Aleksandar Mitrovic (Anderlecht, Undisclosed)

OUTS: Hatem Ben Arfa (Nice, Free), Remie Streete (Port Vale, Free), Jonas Gutierrez, Ryan Taylor, Sammy Ameobi (Cardiff City, Season Loan), Adam Armstrong (Coventry City, Six Month Loan), Facundo Ferreyra (Shakhtar Donetsk, End of Loan)

OUR EX-MAGPIES: None

THEIR EX-ORNS: Mike Williamson, Kevin Richardson (U17 coach)

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: Two mid-season defeats during Malky’s first season during Newcastle’s brief spell in the second tier as, with the Vicarage Road pitch unhelpful to our young, lightweight team during the winter months, the orns began to struggle for points.

REPORT ARCHIVE:

Season H A FAC LC OTH
2009-10 1-2
1999-00 1-1 0-1

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Krul
Janmaat      Mbemba    Coloccini     Haidara
Colback
    Sissoko       Wijnaldum                      De Jong               Aarons
Mitrovic

VERDICT: Here’s an interesting one.  A club that lost eight games on the hop in the closing months of the season and really, really needed the campaign to finish as soon as possible.  Newcastle felt rotten, all sorts of things going wrong from the relationship between board and fans to the lack of spirit in the side to the caretaker manager accusing his centre-back of getting himself sent off to general bluntness.  Over the summer in comes… Steve McClaren.  An experienced coach, but not the first man you’d pick to wield a great big broom and kick some backsides. Derby’s end-of-season collapse may have had as much to do with the anticipation of the manager’s departure as any fundamental failing on McClaren’s part, but his appointment looked a much odder one at the end of the campaign than it had when first mooted much earlier on.  The squad has been strengthened and the likes of Aarons and De Jong have returned from injury problems – the imminent threat of Newcastle getting relegated appears to have receded, the bullet dodged last season but you don’t get the sense of there having been the really good shake that the club needs.  And I find myself not feeling overly sympathetic, for all that Pardew has departed… the stain he leaves rather difficult to wash out…

NORWICH CITY

INS: Robbie Brady (Hull City, Undisclosed), Graham Dorrans (West Bromwich Albion, Undisclosed), Jake Kean (Blackburn Rovers, Free), Youssouf Mulumbu (West Bromwich Albion, Free), André Wisdom (Liverpool, Season Loan)

OUTS: Mark Bunn (Aston Villa, Free), Sam Kelly (Port Vale, Free), Cameron McGeehan (Luton Town, Free), Luciano Becchio, Mark Bunn, Carlos Cuéllar, Javier Garrido, Ignasi Miquel, Remi Matthews (Burton Albion, Six Months Loan), Carlton Morris (Hamilton Academical, Loan of Unspecified Duration)

OUR EX-CANARIES: None

THEIR EX-ORNS: Sébastian Bassong

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: Two heavy defeats last season, the first of which featuring an early Joel Ekstrand dismissal at Carrow Road and the second a tight, competitive contest turning on the rewarding of one of the less convincing of Wes Hoolahan’s catalogue of dives.  Despite these mitigating circumstances and accompanying lack of grace on the part of the victors, these results comprehensively demonstrated the Canaries’ superiority, a superiority that was mysteriously not evidenced by the remaining 44 games of each side’s campaigns.

REPORT ARCHIVE:

Season H A FAC LC OTH
2014-15 0-3
2013-14 2-3
2010-11 2-2 3-2
2008-09 2-1
2007-08 1-1 3-1
2005-06 2-1 3-2
2003-04 1-2 2-1
2002-03 2-1 0-4
2001-02 2-1 1-3
2000-01 4-1 1-2
1998-99 1-1 1-1
1995-96 0-2 2-1

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Ruddy
Whittaker        Martin         Bassong          Brady
Mulumbu           Tettey
Redmond            Hoolahan             Johnson
Jerome

VERDICT:Norwich?  Best team in the Championship last year.  Ask any Norwich fan, they’ll tell you all about it.  What’s more, they’ve only lost a handful of players since they were last relegated and one of them, Ricky van Wolfswinkel, is back from his year’s sabbatical so that just goes to show that they’ll be really strong.  No, really, they will.  Even though they’ve, you know, not signed anyone.  And anyway you’d much rather be in their shoes than Watford’s what with all their new Carlos Kickaballs signings.  Just like QPR that innit, not like they’re going to gel.  Watford needed to strengthen more than City did anyway, they had no strength in depth last year or anything, I’d rather have our, you know, team spirit….

And so forth.  There’s something in some of the accusations being nervously lobbed in Watford’s direction from Norwich messageboards of course, which are more appropriately covered when we discuss our own prospects in Section 5 of this series on Friday.  The temptation is to ignore them, just as the temptation for Norwich fans is to inflate them to reassure themselves.  From my perspective however what we’ve been reaping is the benefits of the Pozzo family’s contacts and know-how, our own infrastructure, and the investment that is clearly being put behind it all.  Norwich are closer to the position we were in in 2006, irrespective of the starting strength of their squad.  You have to question quite who is going to sign for the Canaries, focused as they are on the domestic market… as time goes on and their roster isn’t boosted established players are going to be harder to convince whilst cherry picking from the division below is made more difficult as the more attractive signings start to think that perhaps they’re better off biding their time.  Which isn’t to say that Norwich are doomed by any means…  their midfield is competitive, they’ll be organised. I just wonder what’ll happen when they lose a few games, as they inevitably will.  There’ll be an inferiority complex there waiting to get out, borne of the anxiety of their relative inactivity.  It will be interesting to see how Alex Neil copes with that… his first two years in management have been hugely impressive and you’d rather have a manager who wasn’t used to losing games than the reverse.  But he’s never had to cope with losing more than a couple of games on the hop.  City look vulnerable to me.  Shame.

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Comments»

1. simmos - 05/08/2015

Well done again Matt. Loved the comment about the Norwich messageboards. I wish I had your self control to ignore their sites but their inflated sense of importance and that they are somehow better than us despite finishing third last year touches a nerve which makes me feel that I have to comment.


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