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Season Preview 2017 – Part 4 10/08/2017

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.


INS: Jacob Murphy (Norwich City, £12,000,000), Florian Lejeune (Eibar, £8,700,000), Christian Atsu (Chelsea, £6,200,000), Javier Manquillo (Atlético Madrid, Undisclosed), Mikel Merino (Borussia Dortmund, Season Loan), Stefan O’Connor (Arsenal, Free), Josef Yarney (Everton, Free)

OUTS: Daryl Murphy (Nottingham Forest, Undisclosed), Sammy Ameobi (Bolton Wanderers, Free), Vurnon Anita (Leeds United, Free), Yoann Gouffran (Göztepe S.K., Free), Ľubomír Šatka (DAC1904, Free), Haris Vučkić (Twente, Free), Adam Armstrong (Bolton Wanderers, Six Month Loan), Sean Longstaff (Blackpool, Six Months Loan), Matz Sels (Anderlecht, Season Loan), Ivan Toney (Wigan Athletic, Season Loan), Callum Williams (Gateshead, Six Months Loan)

OUR EX-MAGPIES: Daryl Janmaat

THEIR EX-ORNS: Kevin Richardson (U17s coach)

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: Two efficient, Iggy-fuelled wins in the League and a muddling through in the FA Cup in The Obbi Oularé Game two seasons ago.


2015-16 2-1  1-0
2009-10 1-2
1999-00 1-1 0-1


Yedlin                 Lejeune           Lascelles            Dummett
Ritchie                Shelvey         Diamé           Murphy
Gayle        Perez

VERDICT: The thing about writing previews at this stage, a week before you’re going to read it, is that so much is still to happen.  In theory, anyway.  The transfer market is seriously constipated and Newcastle are just one club professing to be hoping  to get a large number of transfers over the line between now and the end of the month.

But if they don’t, you fancy Newcastle could be in some trouble.  Pre-season predictions might place Brighton and Huddersfield in the relegation crosshairs ahead of United (I’ve lazily done the same…) but the whilst the United squad is marginally more experienced than those of their fellow promoted sides it’s their name and tradition that gives them an apparent edge.  The team looks less convincing…  Shelvey and Ritchie have quality but only showed it spasmodically in the top flight previously, Gayle is prolific but fragile, Perez inconsistent.  Lejeune has attracted favourable reports, but a side that likes to follow their coach’s modus operandi of sitting deep and tight has neither  a tough enough midfield nor a reliable enough goal on the break to make that work.

Benitez himself is a huge plus, of course.  But you rather fancy how long he’ll be minded to hang around if United aren’t able to strengthen.  Best bet would be a narrow squeak, but the Magpies are less mentally prepared for a scrap than either Brighton or Huddersfield.  Could easily go back down.


INS: Mario Lemina (Juventus, £16,000,000), Jan Bednarek (Lech Poznan, Undisclosed)

OUTS: Jay Rodriguez (West Bromwich Albion, £12,000,000), Jason McCarthy (Barnsley, Undisclosed), Martin Cáceres (Hellas Verona, Free), Lloyd Isgrove (Barnsley, Free), Cuco Martina (Everton, Free), Harrison Reed (Norwich City, Season Loan), Ryan Seager (Franchise, Season Loan), Mouez Hassan (Nice, End of Loan)


THEIR EX-ORNS: Ross Wilson (Head of Recruitment)

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: An encouraging opening day draw at St Marys and a 4-3 home defeat that was less exciting than it sounds.


2016-17  3-4
2015-16  0-2
2011-12 0-3
2008-09 2-2 3-0
2007-08 3-2
2005-06 3-0 3-1
2004-05 5-2
2002-03 1-2
1999-00 3-2 0-2
1982-83 4-1
1980-81 7-1


Cédric          Yoshida        Stephens     Bertrand
Lemina       Romeu
Redmond             Boufal                    Tadić

VERDICT: So the classic Southampton summer template is…  sell star player(s), probably to Liverpool.  Patch together a squad that can’t possibly do as well as the previous season.  Defy all expectations by hanging around the best-of-the-rest region of the table anyway.

Slightly over-simplifying.  Southampton were nine places but only six points clear of us at the end of last season, so they were in the morass really whatever the league positioning suggests.  Hence, in part, the departure of Claude Puel for achieving what Southampton might have hoped to achieve but in a thoroughly underwhelming and uninspiring way that didn’t foster any sense of momentum.  We know how that feels.

So this summer is following the traditional template so far, but the transfer market situation – where nobody’s quite sure what anyone’s worth any more and so aren’t risking letting players go unless they have to – means that Virgil Van Dijk is still at St Mary’s in body, as I write, if not in spirit.  This leaves a big hole in the middle of the defence that Augsburg drove a truck through in last week’s friendly, and it’s the defence that you’d worry about with Bertrand and Cédric also linked with moves and Fraser Forster not in form.  Saints should be OK, but with a protracted suggestion of a takeover hanging around in the background messageboard suggestions that they’ll improve on last season’s eighth seem hugely fanciful.   Bottom half.


INS: Joe Bursik (AFC Wimbledon, Undisclosed), Josh Tymon (Hull City, Compensation TBC), Maxim Choupo-Moting (Schalke, Free), Darren Fletcher (West Bromwich Albion, Free), Tre Pemberton (Blackburn Rovers, Free), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea, Season Loan)

OUTS: Marko Arnautovic (West Ham United, £24,000,000), Phil Bardsley (Burnley, Undisclosed), Jonathan Walters (Burnley, Undisclosed), Glenn Whelan (Aston Villa, Undisclosed), Daniel Bachmann (Watford, Free), Harry Istead (Luton Town, Free), George Waring (Tranmere Rovers, Free), Ryan Sweeney (Bristol Rovers, Season Loan), Dominic Telford (Bristol Rovers, Season Loan), Liam Edwards, Shay Given, Joel Taylor

OUR EX-POTTERS: Daniel Bachmann

THEIR EX-ORNS: Glyn Hodges (U21 Manager)

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: A thoroughly miserable home defeat and a reverse in the Potteries that I have no recollection of whatsoever.


2016-17 0-1
2015-16 1-2
2007-08 0-0 0-0
2005-06 1-0 3-0
2004-05 0-1 1-0
2003-04 1-3 1-3
2001-02 1-2 2-1
1995-96 3-0


Johnson     Shawcross      Zouma          Muniesa         Pieters
Allen             Fletcher           Choupo-Moting

VERDICT: If a stagnant market is a challenge when trying to replace a star who’s forcing his way out, it’s an absolute pigging disaster when you are needing to seriously overhaul your squad.  That’s where Stoke are, with Arnautovic having exited for West Ham, Shawcross not the player he was and both full-backs struggling and unsuited to the wing-back system that Mark Hughes seems keen to implement.

There’s still quality in the Stoke side, but nothing like so much quality that they’re beyond the risk of a relegation scrap.  They’re blunt up front and no longer have the relentless defensive reliability of the Pulis era.  Joe Allen’s great, but if there’s not much in front of him and a swinging door behind then he’s only going to be so much use.  With a tough start that includes an opening home run of Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea  Mark Hughes’ position looks precarious to me.  Relegation candidates.


INS: Roque Mesa (Las Palmas, £11,000,000), Cian Harries (Coventry City, Undisclosed), Erwin Muller (Heerenveen, Free), Tammy Abraham (Chelsea, Season Loan)

OUTS: Jack Cork (Burnley, up to £10,000,000), Modou Barrow (Reading, £1,500,000), Alex Samuel (Stevenage, Undisclosed), Liam Shepherd (Peterborough United, Free), Franck Tabanou (Guingamp, Free), Josh Vickers (Lincoln City, Free), Tom Dyson, Marvin Emnes, Tom Holland, Owain Jones, Gerhard Tremmel, Jordi Amat (Real Betis, Season Loan), Borja Baston (Malaga, Season Loan), Daniel James (Shrewsbury Town, Season Loan), Connor Roberts (Middlesbrough, Season Loan)


THEIR EX-ORNS: George Byers, Nigel Gibbs (Assistant Coach)

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: A forgettable 0-0 draw on a sunny afternoon in Wales, and what proved to be a vital win in a scarcely more memorable game at Vicarage Road.


2016-17 1-0 0-0
2015-16 1-0
2010-11 2-3
2009-10 0-1
2008-09 2-0


Naughton     Fernandez        Mawson         Olsson

Fer                   Carroll  
      Llorente         Abraham   

VERDICT: So, anyone fretting about our activity this summer, about the state of our side going into the new season, ought to have had that tempered a bit by today’s selection.  Four sides all of which, in different ways and to varying degrees, looking a bit iffy going into the new season.

Swansea at least have some upward momentum, having finished last season well.  If Sigurdsson does go (and it may be that he’s gone by the time you read this in four days’ time) then it will be for a big wedge (surely £50m is still a big wedge?  As long as it’s spent in the next year or so before the next TV deal) and whilst yes, everyone will see them coming and, yes, they’ll have to pay over the odds and yes, he’s kind of important to the side you’ve still got to fancy that they’ll get someone in and their recent track record – Mawson, Carroll, Llorente – isn’t at all bad.

Swansea are very much in the pack that could struggle.  But you fancy they’ll be OK.


1. Keith Dowding - 10/08/2017

Hi Matt – always appreciate the reports and info you supply. Great reads and great knowledge. Out of interest, with all this do you smash it when it comes to fantasy football leagues?

Matt Rowson - 10/08/2017

Ha. No. Thx for the vote of confidence tho.

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