Looking At The Season Ahead TODAY
Looking at the season ahead TODAY
As this time last year I remain confident Martin O'Neill will bring in a few players eventually, but as the Premier League scene stands now, I'd say all of our teams Manchester City excluded and perhaps Chelsea are weaker than last season, with 8 days to go to kick off.
Man City certainly have the players but that doesn't always count, to make a top 4 entrance, even a top 2, so at lot will depend on Mark Hughes.
Manchester United remain the one to beat, Chelsea with a new and proven manager won't be far behind. I have a sneaky suspicion Liverpool and Arsenal will find it tougher than ever, but see for now Everton, with their injuries back even if Lescott goes, the one to push them
Spurs have bought then sold, after several down seasons expect an up, its Harry's way.
The rest. Well I can't see beyond Fulham and Sunderland and I'd be surprised if Roy Hodgson can bring enough to challenge for a top 6 and cope with Europe. Sunderland with nothing to worry about and some cute buys, might just do something to finish above 10th
Of the new boys, Blues should do the best, they have been here recently. Wolves will be too one dimensional but expect them to survive, and I hope Burnley do well to stay up otherwise they must be favourites to join those on the yo yo trail, Blues, Bolton, Wolves, even Portsmouth a club in turmoil.
With 25 buying days left it could all change of course, well for a few, as I don't see many of those who came up or finished below 10th being able to do much now to make a huge difference to where they finish
The exceptions, Arsenal and of course ourselves. Wenger has amazed me with his lack of expenditure of late, and although his squad is full of talent some of his top calibre and most experienced players have moved without reply. Their edge over us is they start from a far better squad position so I at worst expect a finish around the top 6.
We on the other hand do not look good. We don't have a squad capable of a full PL season even without injuries. Take into account Europe, the Cups, and injuries to Downing, Bouma, Petrov, Davies, Luke Young, already we have little chance of a top 10 finish, let alone a qualification for Europe.
We do have O'Neill and plenty of time by his standard to bring in players but with 4 out and effectively none who could start at kick off in I'd be amazed if even he can bring in enough talent to fill the gaps created to give the club a viable chance of a top 4 push. That said, in his 3 seasons we have been very lucky with injuries and still have a first 13 capable of giving many a good game, so I remain optimistic especially when I look at the early season games that we can do enough from kick off to remain in that top half.
By September 1 I'll no doubt have more confidence when the transfers have been made, but for now, I'm concerned, just as I was in O'Leary's last season.