Phil McNulty Q&A blog
Chelsea and Manchester United are ready to take the Premier League title race down to the season's final day. The battle for fourth place is fierce. The World Cup is only weeks away. What better time that to have another Q&A blog?
England's World Cup campaign has attracted a lot more attention - a sign that the clock is ticking down to kick-off in South Africa - and Dimitar Berbatov is a subject that is exercising the minds of many Manchester United fans it seems.
Once again loads of questions via Twitter and Facebook - again I have tried to address as many as I can but it is just not possible to answer them all. Please keep sending them in and there will be another Q&A soon.
And remember the debate continues here - there will be plenty of questions to come out of the questions. If that makes sense.
foolhandy and kopdoc on Twitter both asked about England's World Cup starting line-up, with foolhandy asking: In 09/09 Q&A I asked your England team if World Cup was this Saturday - you said : Green, Johnson, Ferdinand, Terry, Cole, Lennon, Barry, Lampard, Gerrard, Rooney, Defoe. Now?:
If the World Cup was starting this Saturday my line-up would be (and I'll take the liberty of assuming everyone is fit) James, Johnson, Ferdinand, Terry, Cole, Lennon, Barry, Lampard, Milner, Gerrard, Rooney.
I think we can safely assume this WON'T be the team as the spell Emile Heskey casts on England managers appears to live on under Capello. I name David James as the keeper on current form but without huge confidence, while I also have deep concerns about the fitness and form of Rio Ferdinand and John Terry. Also Aaron Lennon needs to be getting games pretty soon.
Ask me again in a couple of weeks and it will probably be different - confirmation that the World Cup is upon us.
FingyM asks on Twitter: Should John Terry and Rio Ferdinand start for England in the World Cup? Both in awful form. Upson and Dawson?
I would stick with them as the tried and trusted pairing, but with the confession - made in the first reply - that I am concerned about Ferdinand's constant vulnerability to injury and Terry's current form. Chelsea's captain was run ragged at Spurs at the weekend.
Not sure Matthew Upson's case is strong enough, but I had lots of questions about Michael Dawson, who has plenty of admirers out there.
With Joleon Lescott injured, and never fully convincing for England anyway, there may well be a spare berth at the back and Dawson is playing superbly for Spurs, as he has done for most of the season.
He was almost faultless in front of Fabio Capello, who knows a quality defender when he sees one, when Spurs beat Chelsea and I think he must be in his mind. Everton's Phil Jagielka is another defender for who Capello has great admiration, but the World Cup will come a little too soon for him as he returns from a serious knee injury.
No surprise that Liverpool (and yes I know, my tip for the title this season) have also attracted plenty of questions so we will stick to these three and try to give a general answer to their problems.
edlee on Twitter asks: What do Liverpool need to do to challenge next year and beyond? On the pitch and off the pitch.
7Shoaib7 on Twitter: If Liverpool finish fourth, how does that rank among Rafa's achievements? Will it be a chance missed for Man City and Spurs?
Shaneel Chetty on Facebook: What will happen to Liverpool should they miss out on European football next season (I mean both the Champions League and the Europa Cup?) Will some of their top players leave?
I thought Liverpool would not just challenge this season, I thought they would win the league. I could not have been more wrong.
To challenge next season, they will need an injection of major investment to give them the financial firepower to bring in better players to challenge the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea, and then to keep pace with Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester City and Aston Villa.
This process is already under way with the appointment of British Airways boss Martin Broughton as chairman and owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett signalling their intention to sell the club.
All indications, however, are that this will not be a quick process, especially if reports coming out of the United States that Hicks has set his sights on raking in £800m for Liverpool prove to be true. This simply will not happen and the owners will have to get real about the price.
As for the statement from Hicks and Gillett claiming they have "grown the club" - deluded does not even cover those remarks.
If Liverpool finish fourth, I actually do not think it ranks anywhere in Rafael Benitez's list of achievements. It would simply be achieving the very minimum requirement that would have been expected by the club and the supporters at the start of the season.
Benitez has been in charge at Anfield since the summer of 2004. Pic: Getty.
As for Manchester City and Spurs, they would both regard this season as a huge opportunity missed, especially given Liverpool's limitations, if one of them does not claim fourth place.
Spurs are in prime position now, while City will be edgy after losing so late in the day at home to Manchester United on Saturday.
I know a real fear for Liverpool, expressed to me by some inside the club, is that City will finish fourth and respond to reaching the Champions League by throwing almost unfathomable amounts of money at player recruitment.
In answer to the final question, I do not think Liverpool will miss out on European football completely next season, and they have to believe they can still finish fourth. The question remains whether the Europa League will be enough to fire the imaginations of their star men such as Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.
I still believe Gerrard will finish his career at Liverpool, despite renewed talk of a move abroad, but Torres is another matter and it will be interesting to see what happens if he has an outstanding World Cup. He is sure to attract interest from clubs using huge wages and the lure of the Champions League in an attempt to entice him away from Anfield.
johnmicol on Twitter: Don't you think if Manchester United win the league for a fourth successive time it will be bad and make the Premier League boring?
No I don't. If they win it for the fourth season running it means they have been the best team again. It is up to the other challengers to try and make life more interesting for themselves by taking action to try and stop Manchester United. I am sure Sir Alex Ferguson, his players and United's fans do not get tired of winning titles.
It might get a little tedious if they were doing it without being given a run for their money, but this season will go right down to the wire and, of course, they may not win it yet. So boring? No.
Phil Williams on Twitter: Put your neck on the line. Make a prediction how much longer Fergie will keep going and who will replace him.
Put my neck on the line? After my Liverpool prediction? Oh go on then. It has been very interesting to read stories by journalists who have an inside track at Old Trafford suggesting in the last couple of days that next season will be Sir Alex's last.
No reason why they should dream that up out of thin air - although suggestions about a successor have varied, with both Jose Mourinho and David Moyes getting strong support.
So, climbing off the fence, I would guess Ferguson will stay at Old Trafford next season, or until such time as Jose Mourinho is ready to take over. But don't quote me.
Ferguson replaced Ron Atkinson in the Old Trafford hotseat in November 1986. Pic: Getty.
Sam Fiske on Facebook: Are some Arsenal fans correct in believing it is the right time for Arsene Wenger to leave?
Ahad Shaukat Gooner on Facebook: Has Arsene Wenger lost the plot ? Where did he go wrong in Arsenal's trophyless years ? And do you expect an Arsenal side managed by him to seriously compete for silverware on all fronts?
Andrew Chrysostom on Facebook: Have Arsenal over, or under-achieved this season?
Jason Busby on Facebook: Where do Arsenal go from here?
I was attacked by lots of Arsenal fans for criticising their team after the defeat at Chelsea and accusing Wenger of being "delusional" for somehow arriving at the mistaken conclusion that they had been the better team.
I believe I have been proved correct about them. They have not been strong enough or good enough and Wenger's belief in his team has been exposed as flawed again.
What I do not believe, however, is that any Arsenal fans would be right in suggesting Wenger should lose his job. This is a total nonsense, but the time is coming when Wenger needs to start winning trophies.
His obvious disregard for the FA Cup and the Carling Cup would find more sympathy here if Arsenal actually looked like they might win the Premier League or the Champions League, where they were outclassed by Barcelona.
Wenger needs a trophy next season, and if it means swallowing his pride and accepting one of the domestic cup competitions, then so be it.
I think he made a serious mistake by not buying a quality goalkeeper. Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski have let Arsenal down and Wenger has stood by without correcting an obvious problem.
In answer to Andrew's question, I am afraid Arsenal have achieved more or less what I expected them to achieve in the Champions League and the Premier League, and have been mistaken in fielding weakened teams in the FA Cup and Carling Cup.
I expect this to be, by Arsenal's standards, a hectic summer in the transfer market with strengthening done in all departments, with a reliable keeper, a strong centre half and a powerful midfield presence all required.
Reason? It has to be.
Bolarinwa Olajide on Facebook: Which team has surpassed all expectations this season in the Premier league?
Has to be Birmingham City. I thought they would struggle, but they have lived happily in the top 10 for months and have been a tribute to the outstanding management of Alex McLeish.
McLeish bought well when bringing in players like Roger Johnson and Scott Dann. He has brought the best out of Barry Ferguson and his decision to get goalkeeper Joe Hart on loan from Manchester City has been inspired.
He is a common sense manager who has found a style and system that suits his players. I trust Birmingham City's owners will realise what a gem of a manager they have on their hands. Everyone associated with Birmingham City can be proud of their season, no matter what happens in the next couple of weeks.
davidleatham on Twitter: Do you think that had Everton not had key players out at the start of the season they would be at least fourth if not better?
Quite a few questions on this subject. Hard to say definitely, but given their form since the turn of the year then they may have every reason to regret this season as a chance missed to get fourth place.
I think the saga over Joleon Lescott's acrimonious sale to Manchester City wrecked the start of their season. I think it also affected David Moyes, who was very downbeat as Everton struggled early on in the season, and did little to hide his bitterness about City's pursuit of Lescott.
I happen to think City's £24m deal for Lescott represented a stupendous piece of business for Everton and events have proved it.
What it did do was leave Moyes little time to get in reinforcements and of course they take time to settle. John Heitinga has been a big presence for Everton, while the return of Mikel Arteta and Phil Jagielka after injury has seen them become not only a winnning team, but a very attractive team.
They have beaten Chelsea and Manchester United at home, drawn at Arsenal and Chelsea and comfortably outplayed Manchester City at home and away. These are very good signs.
If they can keep the likes of Steven Pienaar and Jack Rodwell at the club, get Marouane Fellaini fit again and add a quality striker and maybe even get Landon Donovan back, then Everton should enter next season with great optimism.
abblly on Twitter and Bolarinwa Olajide on Facebook: Can Dimitar Berbatov be regarded as a success or a flop at Manchester United?
I would say neither, although I know plenty would say flop. He did play his part in a title-winning team last season, and while he has not played at his best this season he has still made a contribution.
I know people suggest he looks like he doesn't care, but I simply refuse to believe that about any professional footballer playing at the elite level.
Manchester United have also flourished with Wayne Rooney playing as a lone striker this season, which has limited Berbatov's opportunities.
Yes, he could have done a lot better but I am not convinced he has been as bad as so many are keen to portray. It will be interesting to see what would happen if United received a presentable offer for him. One thing is for sure - they will not get any offers approaching the £30.75m they paid Tottenham.
So flop or success? As with many things, I would suggest the truth lies somewhere in- between.
Matt Goodacre on Facebook: Would Steve McClaren be a good choice for the West Ham job, should they stay up?
First of all, Gianfranco Zola is still in his job and I will never use this blog as a platform to suggest managers of Premier League clubs should lose their jobs. There is no question, however, that his future is shrouded in uncertainty.
What I can say also is that I have total respect for Steve McClaren for the way he has rebuilt and reinvented his career after losing the England job, which was sadly inevitable because results proved he was out of his depth.
Maybe he even thought himself that the job came too soon, but he was never going to turn down his country. I was very criticical of him - and to be honest results and performances left little option.
But to take charge at FC Twente in Holland and take them to within one victory of winning Eredivisie is a great feat and is deserving of the admiration of even his sternest critics.
If he returns to this country, there is every chance it will be as an improved coach and manager and a wiser, more experienced man. Of course his time with England will never be forgotten, it never is, but being a success abroad is some rehabilitation and I have no doubt that if Premier League jobs come up, his name will undoubtedly be on the lists of the chairmen.
Ray Kiarie on Facebook: Should we read anything from Spurs' win against Arsenal and Chelsea - ie: Spurs improving under Harry Redknapp?
I think you can read, Ray, that Spurs are a far better team under Redknapp than they were before he arrived. It showed great character to respond to the FA Cup semi-final defeat against Portsmouth by beating Arsenal and Chelsea, and totally deservedly as well.
I know plenty of Spurs fans were highly critical of their display against Pompey at Wembley, but in reality they had plenty of chances to win that game in normal time.
Spurs are attractive to watch, have more steel about them and have given themselves a great chance of finishing fourth. Indeed I know some experts who occasionally populate White Hart Lane who are starting to even fancy them for third.
Redknapp will no doubt play the markets in the summer, especially if they reach the Champions League, so expect more improvements from Spurs next season.
Adama Sallah on Twitter: Do you think David Beckham missing the World Cup will be a blow to England?
No. I would not have had him in the squad in the first place. A spent force as a serious international player. Sorry for him as a person and a professional that injury ruled him out, but no great loss for England.
Eamonn Bermingham on Facebook: Who is the best striker in the Premier League?
Tough one Eamonn. You could barely slip a piece of paper between Wayne Rooney, Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres. I will go for Rooney because of his all-round game, but I fully accept the case for either of the other two players I have mentioned - both unquestionably world-class strikers.
liamwoodward on Twitter: Dark horse to make the England World Cup squad?
Tottenham's Michael Dawson.
Ryan Moore on Facebook: Do you think Bobby Zamora should be going to the World Cup? He has all the hold-up play of Heskey and plenty more goals...
Not sure Zamora is international class to be honest Ryan, but I believe he has developed into a better player than Emile Heskey this season and he is almost certainly going to the World Cup. I would take him ahead of Heskey, but I do not believe for a second Fabio Capello will do that.
Zamora has been outstanding this season, and credit should also go to Fulham boss Roy Hodgson for the way he has maintained his confidence and turned him into a fine, all-round striker capable of scoring and making goals.
Not a World Cup contender for me - but a very good striker these days.