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Season Preview – Part 2 09/08/2016

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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CRYSTAL PALACE

INS: Andros Townsend (Newcastle United, £13,000,000), James Tomkins (West Ham United, £10,000,000), Steve Mandanda (Marseille, Undisclosed)

OUTS: Dwight Gayle (Newcastle United, £10,000,000), Jerome Binnom-Williams (Peterborough United, Undisclosed), Jake Gray (Luton Town, Undisclosed), Alex McCarthy (Southampton, Undisclosed), David Gregory (Cambridge United, Free), Chris Kettings (Oldham Athletic, Free), Emmanuel Adebayor, Reise Allassani, Marouane Chamakh, Connor Dymond, Spencer Forte, Matthew George, Will Hoare, Brede Hangeland, Paddy McCarthy, Adrian Mariappa, Oliver Pain, Christian Scales

OUR EX-EAGLES: Adlène Guedioura, Hayden Mullins, Ben Watson

THEIR EX-ORNS: Keith Millen (Assistant Manager), Jordon Mutch

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: Don’t.  Just, don’t.

REPORT ARCHIVE:

Season H A FAC LC OTH
2015-16 0-1  1-2
2012-13 2-2 0-1
2011-12 0-2 0-4
2010-11 1-1 2-3
2009-10 1-3
2008-09 2-0 0-0 4-3
2007-08 0-2 2-0 2-0
2005-06 1-2 1-3 0-0 / 3-0
2003-04 1-5 0-1
2002-03 3-3 1-0
2001-02 1-0 2-0
2000-01 2-2 0-1
1998-99 2-1 2-2
1995-96 0-4
1993-94 2-0

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Mandanda
Ward              Dann         Tomkins        Souaré
McArthur           Cabaye
Zaha                           Bolasie                  Townsend
Wickham

VERDICT: There’s a danger in extrapolation. Take a pattern and blindly extend its trajectory and you end up predicting all sorts of crazy shit (insert joke about EU Referendum here). Nonetheless, and Cup Final notwithstanding, it won’t have escaped Palace fans’ notice that they only picked up 11 points and two wins in the second half of last season; for context, our own downward trajectory nonetheless yielded twice as many wins and 16 points. At the time of writing some of Palace’s problems remain… lack of a focal point for the attack, despite ambitious sounding targets being mooted, the most obvious. Alan Pardew, some might speculate, might be another. There have been encouraging looking signings coming in – Tomkins and Mandanda look sensible, Townsend an asset albeit in an area where the Eagles already seemed well-served. If you had to put a pin in the table describing where Palace belonged you’d put it slightly higher up than they finished, but lower than they were suggesting in the first half of the campaign… but if they don’t take advantage of a relatively gentle start which sees Spurs and Stoke the only opponents in the first seven to have finished above halfway last term, the Eagles will be getting nervous.

 

EVERTON

INS: Idrissa Gueye (Aston Villa, £7,100,000), Nathan Baxter (Vitesse Arnhem, Undisclosed), Chris Renshaw (Oldham Athletic, Undisclosed), Bassala Sambou (Coventry City, Undisclosed), Maarten Stekelenburg (Fulham, Undisclosed)

OUTS: Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids, Free), Aidan Graham, Tony Hibbert, Leon Osman, Steven Pienaar, Mattioni, Jindrich Stanek, Jordan Thorniley, Conor Grant (Ipswich Town, Season Loan), Russell Griffiths (Cheltenham Town, Six Month Loan)

OUR EX-TOFFEES: None

THEIR EX-ORNS: Tom Cleverley

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: A splendid draw at Goodison that set things going rather well, and an altogether less glorious point at Vicarage Road in a match best forgotten – and, indeed, largely forgotten – by all concerned.

REPORT ARCHIVE:

Season H A FAC LC OTH
2015-16  1-1 2-2
2006-07 1-2
2000-01 1-2
1999-00 1-3 2-4
1983-84 0-2

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Stekelenburg
Coleman        Jagielka     Stones         Baines
Lennon           McCarthy          Barkley          Mirallas
Deulofeu        Lukaku

VERDICT: There was a school of thought that Roberto Martinez was rather hard done by.  That school won’t have been present at Vicarage Road in April when a half-arsed unmotivated Toffees side struggled against a scarcely more impressive Hornets.  A season that began with coos as to how this was such a talented Everton squad with so much evident quality had petered out into a quiet embarrassment long before the end, a drunken divorcee sitting miserably alone with another glass of wine at a party that everyone regretted inviting them to.  Martinez, for all his suave manner, was ever less convincing as time went on, a man waiting to be put out of Goodison Park’s misery.

On the back of a February takeover, somewhat inevitably, comes Ronald Koeman with a new broom and if the talk of a new dawn remains just that for the moment it’s perhaps significant that at the time of writing (and it’s still July here folks, I can’t churn this gubbins out instantaneously much as it reads like it) the underachieving trio of Barkley, Stones and (more arguably) Lukaku, all linked with moves, remain at the club.  It will take time, you suspect, even if this new dawn is to be a positive thing; it’s difficult to see Everton doing any better than an OK-ish mid-table this season.  But Koeman has profile, and a history of playing an apparently unfavourable hand to stunning effect at Southampton.  One of many that will be interesting to watch develop.  Tenth.

HULL CITY

INS: Will Mannion (AFC Wimbledon, Undisclosed)

OUTS: Mohamed Diamé (Newcastle United, £4,500,000), Sone Aluko (Fulham, Free), Ryan Taylor, Matt Clark (Cambridge United, Six Month Loan), Chuba Akpom (Arsenal, End of Loan), Isaac Hayden (Arsenal, End of Loan), Nick Powell (Manchester United, End of Loan)

OUR EX-TIGERS: None

THEIR EX-ORNS: None

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: Two heavyweight encounters with the Tigers during the Zola season, which resulted in a worthy away win for each side and a mighty celebration in response to a mighty Troy Deeney winner at the KC.

REPORT ARCHIVE:

Season H A FAC LC OTH
2012-13 1-2  1-0
2011-12 1-1
2010-11 1-2
2007-08 1-0  0-2 / 1-4
2005-06 0-0  2-1
1998-99  0-0

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

McGregor
Odubajo         Davies          Dawson     Robertson
Snodgrass       Clucas    Huddlestone  Livermore      Elmohamady
Hernandez

VERDICT: There’s a point in any relegation season when You Know.  In dramatic circumstances it might not happen until the last day of the season…. Muzzy Izzet’s goal for Leicester in 1996.  Or it might happen much earlier;  hearing that Marlon King was likely out for the season in November 2006.  Getting dicked by Wimbledon at Selhurst Park in 1999.

You know where this is going already.  I’ve nothing against Hull.  Surprising really, given their role in our two most recent failures to secure accessible promotions, in 2008 and 2013.  On both occasions City’s role was… not quite incidental but certainly not unduly provocative, particularly three years ago (does it feel longer?) when perverse circumstances delayed the game against Leeds both giving us the illusion of control over our destiny and taking it away again.  Hull merely chanced upon the twenty quid that fell out of our pocket.

City were, in relative terms, unimpressive play-off winners last season.  They’d wandered into the automatic places a couple of times over the season but almost by accident and never with any great conviction.  That point, that point when Hull realise that the season will end in relegation, has passed before a ball has been kicked.  The untrusted Egyptian owners, vague rumours of a takeover never having quite progressed beyond that, have presided over a situation that has seen no senior players recruited at the time of writing, manager Steve Bruce resign, three members of the defence that was City’s strongest suit last season (Allan McGregor, Moses Odubajo and Matt Dawson) succumb to long term injuries and, reportedly, six players hand in transfer requests in the wake of Bruce’s departure.  Hal Robson-Kanu had a decent European Championship, but when you’re pinning your Premier League rebuilding on a striker with a moderate record for Reading and 35 year-old Peter Odemwingie you know you’re in trouble.  Will be a long season for the Tigers.

LEICESTER CITY

INS: Bartosz Kapustka (KS Cracovia, Undisclosed), Nempalys Mendy (Nice, Undisclosed), Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Undisclosed), Raul Uche (Rayo Vallecano, Undisclosed), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover 96, Undisclosed), Luis Hernandez (Sporting Gijon, Free)

OUTS: N’golo Kanté (Chelsea, £32,000,000), Joe Dodoo (Rangers, Undisclosed), Andrej Kramarić (Hoffenheim, Undisclosed), Jacob Blyth (Motherwell, Free), Dean Hammond (Sheffield United, Free), Paul Konchesky (Gillingham, Free), Jonny Maddison (Yeovil Town, Free), Elliot Percival (Sheffield Wednesday, Free), Ryan Watson (Barnet, Free), Kyle Bailey, Jack Barmby, Aaron Hassall, Michael Kelly, Keenan King, Harrison Panayiotou, Mark Schwarzer, Max Smith-Varnam, Michael Cain (Blackpool, Season Loan), Nathan Dyer (Swansea City, End of Loan)

OUR EX-FOXES: None

THEIR EX-ORNS: Danny Drinkwater

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: Two single-goal defeats, narrow and yet fair enough.  In any other season, pretty unremarkable.

REPORT ARCHIVE:

Season H A FAC LC OTH
2015-16 0-1 1-2
2013-14 0-3 2-2
2012-13 2-1 2-1 3-1 / 0-1
2011-12 3-2 0-2
2010-11 3-2 2-4
2009-10 3-3
2005-06 1-2 2-2
2004-05 2-2 1-0
2002-03 1-2 0-2
1999-00 1-1 0-1
1995-96 0-1

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Schmeichel
Simpson       Hernandez          Morgan          Fuchs
Mahrez                Drinkwater               Mendy              Kapustka
Vardy         Musa

VERDICT: And to think that there were some idiots a year ago predicting that Leicester would get relegated…

“Be careful what you wish for,” was always the mantra.  Clubs like Leicester, or Palace, or Watford…  you get promoted, and then what?  Mid-table isn’t a glamorous aspiration, but surely that’s all you’ve got?  That, maybe a cup run, a win against one of the top teams with the wind behind you.  Woooo.   And then, when you have a bad season, when you get injuries at the wrong time or the biggish signing doesn’t quite work you’re down again, and just one of a bunch of similar clubs but now with downward momentum.  Be careful what you wish for.  There’s a lot to be said for the comfort of the Championship, knowing you can more or less rock up to games and pay on the day, against proper football supporters, and not get dicked every week.

Well so much for that.  Balls to all that.  Leicester’s title is just as wonderfully ludicrous now as it seemed at any point, time hasn’t lessened or contextualised.  Yes, all the traditional contenders had disappointing seasons but they were disappointing in no small part because they didn’t win the League and Leicester did.  So what’s chicken and what’s egg?  Watch City not care.

As for what happens next… City’s advantage is that it almost doesn’t matter in the short term.  Rarely will League Champions go into a new season with, simultaneously, such buoyant support and such relatively moderate expectation.  Not that it’s impossible that they win the League again, nobody’s going to rule that out after last time… but it’s not, perhaps, expected.  So the pressure’s off, and that’s got to help… which is a good thing, because the elaborate distraction of the Champions’ League will be significant, and champions or not Leicester have lost key men in Kanté and recruitment chief Walsh.

Nonetheless, City have recruited well.  When the summer started City were linked with Troy and Bolasie… Troy won’t happen and Bolasie’s gone very quiet but that felt right, felt like the sort of player that City could and should be strengthening their hand with.  Top players at mid-tabley clubs who might not have gone for Leicester in the normal way but as Champions, with the Champions League to look forward to…  an indication that they were going to be sensible about it.  The new signings, ultimately, have come from abroad but you’d be a fool to dismiss them out of hand and a bigger fool to predict where they’ll finish this time.

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