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Looking forward to a new season

Steve Wilson | 14:21 UK time, Friday, 17 July 2009

I got my first Match of the Day rota for season 2009/10 this week and I can almost taste the start of the season.

Of course, for some of my fellow commentators the season has already started. I thoroughly enjoyed Rhyl v Partizan Belgrade on S4C on Tuesday night, even with every word in Welsh.

The Champions League qualifiers are financially some of the biggest games going. I was told that when Anorthosis Famagusta played in the Champions League group stages last season, they made more money than every other Cypriot club put together.

Whether the Cypriot league will be distorted to its detriment remains to be seen.
After Rhyl lost 4-0 at home to Partizan, it's not something which the rest of the League of Wales are likely to have to worry about.

Some of my fellow commentators are still wondering what the season ahead has in store for them. I know many of the staff at Setanta very well indeed, and some of them are close friends. I hope that they will be in work when the first ball is kicked.

My first Premier League game of the season will be at Chelsea, who take on Hull. It will be very interesting to see what the pundits make of Hull's prospects this season.

I organise the Match of the Day sweep and just about everyone who entered, including me, predicted that they would go down. We were all wrong, but only just. After surviving by the skin of their teeth, but struggling so badly in the second half of the season, do they stand more chance of surviving than the three teams who came up?

I started and finished the last Premier League season at the KC stadium; an opening day win over Fulham and the last day defeat by a virtual Manchester United youth team. In August, the Tigers looked bold and confident; in May they were exhausted and ground down by a run of just one win in 22 games.

Hull's clash with a youthful Manchester United team

That they survived was down to Newcastle's lame surrender at Aston Villa. It was almost too much for Hull chairman Paul Duffen who had tears in his eyes as I spoke to him after the game.

The day after Chelsea play Hull, I go to White Hart Lane for Spurs' game against Liverpool; and in the first midweek I am off to the first ever Premier League fixture at Turf Moor; Burnley against Manchester United.

That should be a fantastic occasion. I met Burnley manager Owen Coyle a couple of years ago when they played Arsenal in the FA Cup. As part of my preparation for commentating on the game, I went to watch Burnley play Queens Park Rangers about three weeks earlier.

Over tea and biscuits, Coyle talked in detail about his squad and the difference between managing in England and Scotland, where he had enjoyed success with St Johnstone. I wish him well, but United for the first home game - good luck!

Wolves' game at Man City will give me a chance to catch up with Mick McCarthy, who was a co-commentator with me at Euro 2004 and the World Cup of 2006.

I remember years ago Mick gave me an important lesson in interview technique. I was a young reporter on Capital Radio in London, he was the manager of Millwall. I went down to their training ground and started my interview with some rambling question or other. When I eventually finished Mick said, "The answer to the first bit was yes, to the second bit was no, and I've forgotten the rest."

So, in the interests of keeping things concise - bye for now, and happy new season - almost!

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    There is no question about it. Hull City are going straight down this year. They were appalling from before Christmas, and I still cannot believe they somehow managed to stay in the Prem. As for Burnley, I hope they stay up even if though they are from the wrong side of the Pennines... http://www.loserscomesecond.com/

  • Comment number 2.

    I think if Hull can get a couple of good players in and Bullard fit they should stay up. I think Burnley will stay up but ports,outh may struggle

  • Comment number 3.

    Coyle enjoyed success with St Johnstone? When? His side failed to get promoted to the SPL year after year. St Mirren, Gretna and Hamilton all beat Coyle's St Johnstone to the title. If success is not being promoted..

  • Comment number 4.

    good stuff. cant wait to see how ancelotti copes with premiership, tactics, media etc..

    if you interview him... go easy!

  • Comment number 5.

    Thanks Chic1877 -- To be fair to Owen Coyle at St Johnstone, he took them to the semis of both the Scottish Cup and League Cup in the same season, when they were not in the SPL. I think winning at Ibrox on the way - not bad in my book.

    Did similarly well in cups with Burnley last season and added success in the league too.

    It will be very interesting to see if can make the step up.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hull, Burnley and probably Wolves to go down. Think Wigan, Pompey (unless they get plenty of new players in), Stoke and Brum will be right in the mix too.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Steve,

    Just wondering if you have any input into what matches you do?

    Also will you involved in the Football League coverage this season?

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi shaun_d

    Just caught me before I logged off. Normally I don't have a huge say in what games I cover. Luckily for me I rarely get a complete turkey - and there's always something to get you interested.

    Yes I will be doing some Fotball League games and Carling Cup too. I have Forest v Derby on August 29th which I am really looking forward to. It's one of the few derbies I have not experienced before.

    Gotta go!

  • Comment number 9.

    Hi Steve,

    I'm interested to know if you follow a team yourself, and if so, are you allowed to ever commentate on their games, or do the BBC keep commentators away from their chosen teams for fear of bias!

    Great blog.

  • Comment number 10.

    Looks to be alot of poor/average teams in the league this year, I honestly feel this year is going to see increased Spanish Primera popularity. There just seems to be more to offer over there, and I can't think of one eye-catching transfer in the EPL yet. Maybe more is to come, I'm just hopeful of some more deals/excitement. Hope Liverpool steal the league too, sick of Man Utd although I feel sorry for SAF, who can't attract anyone noteworthy.

    I think Wigan may go down, or at least struggle. Valencia, Palacios, Heskey are all huge losses, as well as Zakis early season form. Looks like Cattermole may leave, and will Mido be returning to Wigan? They've basically lost there entire strikeforce and the strongest players in the midfield. This, with the loss of Bruce, and replacing him with a unproven premiership manager is a huge risk. They can't attract players of the same calibre that they've lost.

  • Comment number 11.

    What do you think of Man City and their chances this season... They have spent big but will it pay off this season or will it take longer? Having great players does not always mean a good team..

    http://jonnyontheball.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 12.

    I agree fully that Hull are doomed this year. Humorous pursuits of Michael Owen aside, they arent adding to the squad that really shouldnt have survived last year.

    Wigan are looking weaker by the week, as they also dont replace the strong strike force, midfield and management team that they had.

    Overall it could become a good year to be a promoted team, Burnley aside.

  • Comment number 13.

    What time will MOTD be for the Championship? Will it clash with the Prem highlights?

  • Comment number 14.

    Good blog - thoroughly enjoyable read.

    Steve,

    Would you be willing to stick your neck out and pick three clubs for relegation from the Premiership this coming season?

    My 3 would be...

    Burnley - Sadly just wont have enough in the tank i feel, though i would like to be proved wrong.

    Hull - Havnt significantly added to a squad that tired very quickly last season and morale isnt as it was this time last year.

    Portsmouth - Dodgy choice i know but possibly losing Crouch and Distin with no replacements on the horizon is disastrous. Just cant see where they will get goals and thier net will constantly be peppered this season, and James cant stop 'em all. Should the proposed takeover go through however, and they make sound investments, then Wolves will probably slip back down in my opinion for same reasons as Burnley.

    look forward to hearing yours, and anybody elses views on this :-)

    A.S.E


  • Comment number 15.

    Looks like Hull are doomed, already stuck a wager on them for the drop but only got evens. They are a poor side that nobody wants to sign for with a proper Charlie as manager. It would be great on a footballing note for Stoke to join them, they are everything that a team shouldn`t be, very dull on the eye, so defensive and negative. Birmingham may struggle as they usually do, Burnley are similar to WBA in lots of ways. Wolves will find the going tough especially away from home. So its Hull to finish rock bottom, Stoke (fingers crossed) and then any 1 of the 3 promoted sides for the drop. I make no apologies to Hull and Stoke, I will not miss either of them, but its going to be tough for the other three.

  • Comment number 16.

    mufc chris. #9

    Yes Steve does have a favourite team, but listening to him commentate you would never know!

  • Comment number 17.

    If Phil Brown manages to keep Hull up they'll need to check he can't walk on water too. He will have to recover the dressing room that he quite obviously lost last year after the half time 'pitch incident'. I see them going down.

    Mick McCarthy stands as much chance of keeping Wolves up too in my opinion. In fact I'd have them as favourites for the drop.

    I don't see Burnley going down though. I think their style of football will be more suited to the Premier League and I can see them finishing outside of the top three without too many issues.

    That leaves one space at the bottom. I fully expect Birmingham City to occupy it and for their season to start with an absolute hammering by a Manchester United team with a point to prove. If there are a couple of other clubs that will struggle this season then I see them as Blackburn and Wigan.

  • Comment number 18.

    Nice post Steve. I Enjoyed your tale about Mick McCarthy.

    @the all seeing eye -- to go down this season:

    HULL - no new signings of note whereas most other teams have boosted their playing staff.
    BURNLEY - they were promoted by the skin of their teeth and lack the quality to stay up.
    PORTSMOUTH - the takeover is taking too long and I think the uncertainty and lack of strategy before the season begins and transfer window closes will mean they find it hard to stay competitive, especially if they lose Crouch.

    I do think the above teams have a chance though. I can see Wolves, Bolton, Blackburn and Wigan having a rough ride this season too which means it could be an interesting season at the bottom end of the table.

  • Comment number 19.

    Nice post Steve - am I right in thinking your father used to watch City at Boothferry Park?

    As for the anti - Hull posters on here - be careful what you wish for!

    Phil Brown is neither a clown nor did he lose the dressing room after his infamous half time team talk on the Eastlands pitch on Boxing Day - such views merely coincide with cheap and lazy journalism by the so called informed London based media.

    Yes, we were poor the second half of last season - but lets not forget we were without £7.5m worth of talent in Bullard and Gardner, had little or no strike force with Cousins out for much of the time with a back injury and had to send Marlon King back to Wigan because of his unsavoury off the field antics. Moreover we held our own in most games post Christmas and nobody wiped the floor with us.

    View us more accurately when we have a couple of new faces in the building.

    In the meantime - C'mon you 'ull




  • Comment number 20.

    Hi strinestiger

    It was my grandfather who used to go to see Hull at Boothferry Park, though as both my parents are from Hull I'm sure they must have gone too. He was a big football fan though, whereas my Mum and Dad are more into Yorkshire cricket and rugby league (one Hull FC the other Hull KR!).

    Though I am not from Hull I do remember going with my grandad and watching Billy Bremner play for them.

    I think they will have to buy well to stay up. Long term injury means that both Gardner and Bullard are pretty much unknown quantities - can they get back to their former level?

    Also have to say the old "London based media" line is very tired!! Do you think all media types are Londoners? You are very much mistaken!

    I don't think many journalists would survive in the business long enough to get as far as the national press if they had narrow minded ideas based on simple geography!

  • Comment number 21.

    Terrific article and much excitement is building up now amongst my friends and family ahead of the new season. As a United Season ticket holder, I'm excited by how our new signings will emulate the successes of previous players, if not their style (less 'diving' claims next year, one hopes!)

    I just wondered whether there was a specific match or couple of matches you look forward to each season in the Premier League, Steve? For me, it always tends to be United vs Liverpool and Arsenal that I look for, although Derby days this next season should be fairly entertaining too!

  • Comment number 22.

    Great to see Wolves up.

    Adds a lovely splash of colour to my Fantasy Football team!

  • Comment number 23.

    Easily got to be Wolves, Stoke and Birmingham going back down. Wolves solely 'cos "Big Mick" hasn't got a scooby what he's doing in the Premiership, and his tactical naivety and sheer lack of quality in the squad are going to be found out. Stoke can't expect to Delap themselves to safety for another season, and without some serious strengthening the big clubs will just start to dismantle them. As for Birmingham, when your highest profile signing of the summer is a past-it back-pass merchant like Barry Ferguson, you know you're in trouble. Although all the luck in the world to James McFadden, because he's simply brilliant to watch when he's on form. I hope Burnley can stay up, Coyle has them playing some good stuff, and it would be a real shame to see them sacrifice style and fluidity for "park the bus" mentality football. Although West Brom might serve as a warning.

  • Comment number 24.

    New season should be great. The new teams all have a chance to stay up and noone should be dismissed before we've witnessed a few games. Getting the opportunity to commentate at Turf Moor's first premier game will be great. A commentator first. Spanish league is full of duds too, the teams are not all Real and Barca.

  • Comment number 25.

    So another season beckons. Top of the table should be more interesting again... can Liverpool build on last years impetus? are Man Utd significantly weaker, will they be the same force against the lower teams withou Ronaldo and Tevez? how will Ancellotti fair at Chelsea? has Arsenal's and Everton's limited transfer budgets already put pay to any real challenge? and maybe most interesteing of all... how many games will Hughes last at Man City given his mish-mash of overpaid stars? At the other end I feel it will be same old, same old, with all team going straight back down. Can we not introduce some mechanism to the Premiership to help? Here's the top 6
    1-Liverpool, 2-Chelsea, 3/4-Arsenal/Man Utd, 5-Man City, 6-Everton

  • Comment number 26.

    I can't wait for the season to start, the last few months have been tough but it's getting closer and closer. I live in the North West and what with Burnley being added to the region's contingent everyone here is buzzing.
    http://jumpersforgoalposts1212.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 27.

    All to their own but No Way Liverpool. What was it they've won with Benetez? I think it was three majors in an awful long time and two of those were via penalty shoot out... and I have to say the incredible final they won in the Champion's League was a farce, Watch it again, and you won't believe how far old 'Wobbly legs' came of his line in those crucial kicks. The ref clearly had a bad day.

    Add to this that Benetez had signed over 60 players since his arrival! Maybe more by now, it's hard to understand how he's still in a job.

  • Comment number 28.

    Im fairly confident chelsea will win it this year round. Man united, without ronaldo and tevez have lost 3/4 of there strike force as we all know rooney isnt a huge goal scorer is he, as with owen. Liverpool dont seem to be doing anything and if they lose mascherano or alonso then i think they will struggle for 3rd place. Arsenal struggled last term and have just sold there most potent strikeforce in adebayor. Chelsea seem to be making headway's. Drogba back to his best, anelka scoring freely sturridge added to the squad, no player's lost and shevchenko back in the squad for extra strike cover. Man city are playin a very dangerous game and will never win the premier league at least not for at least 5 or 6 years. You cant assemble some amazing players and hope for the best you need them to be on the same wavelength!

  • Comment number 29.

    There are many teams who are guarennteed to struggle this year. The likes of Bolton, Blackburn, Burnley, Birmingham , Wolves, Hull and Stoke will all find themselves scrapping for points come the back end of next season. It doesnt fill you with hope for this season when you read off that list of teams does it? Long ball football and bad tackles spring to mind. No wonder mant people are predicting a much better season for the spannish league next year. Other temas who i think will also struggle are Portsmouth, Totthenham and City. Totthenham and City because of overpaid,overrated players and no team spirit and Portsmouth because of a lack of stability and togetherness at the club. Fulham may also struggle to reach the heights of last year due to their lack of strength in depth and european involvements. Wigan and West Ham are two teams I am backing to have better seasons this year and possibly challenge Everton and Villa for the Europa league places. City could also be involved in the fight for the europa league if they can find a good balance to their team. The top 4 will be the ame teams but im thinking a differant order. United will struggle without Ronaldo but will still comfortably retain their top 4 place. Chelseas squad might be popping down the post office every monday to pick up their pension but will still comfortably be in the top 4 and challenging strongly for trophies. Arsenal are still probably a defensive midfielder and a striker away from being capapble to win the league and Liverpool will challenge strongly again if they keep hold of alonso and mascherano. Therfore, not really an outstanding candidate to win the league this year. But ( obviously im going to go for Arsenal to win it.
    1. Arsenal
    2. Liverpool
    3. Chelsea
    4. United

    18. Hull
    19. Bolton
    20. Birmingham
    (sorry for the essay)

  • Comment number 30.

    'It would be great on a footballing note for Stoke to join them, they are everything that a team shouldn`t be, very dull on the eye, so defensive and negative.'

    CypriotJohn I don't agree with that at all. Stoke are not defensive and negative when they play at home, far from it. And if they are away from home, aren't most teams? If every promoted side tried to play 'flowing football' they would be essentially relegated before Christmas, just look at WBA last year. Promoted teams have to fight against more skilful teams for all their worth and then build from it if they can survive - this is what Wolves, Burnley + co will have to learn this year. Also, call me crazy but if every Premier League team tried to play like Arsenal and practically walk the ball into the net we'd have an extremely boring league.

  • Comment number 31.

    arshavinmylord

    1. Arsenal
    2. Liverpool
    3. Chelsea
    4. United

    18. Hull
    19. Bolton
    20. Birmingham

    ---------------------------------
    I have to disagree quite a bit here. Can't see Arsenal getting 1st after last season. With Man City pushing forward there's gonna be a club to fall off the 'top 4' perch and i'm afraid it's Arsenal. I'm not hating here, but they're looking slightly shakier each year and not much productivity in the transfer market either.

    1. Chelsea
    2. Liverpool
    3.Man Utd
    4.Arsenal

    18.Wigan
    19.Burnley
    20.Hull

    (and no i'm not a Chelsea fan)

  • Comment number 32.

    Isn't it amazing how quickly a discussion of relegation battles turns into "who's going to win it this year"? The usual parade of people lauding up arsenal (why? what have they added from last year?) chelsea (ditto. ross turnbull ain't going to win you a league) and liverpool (who are about to have their midfield decimated by madrid and barcelona) and writing off United. The reigning champions. Who have been stripped of a temperamental, diving, huffy, erratic, inconsistent forward, and Ronaldo too. (buh-dum, tsssh) United's defence is still league leading, England's best midfielder is about to return from injury (Hargreaves, in case everyone had forgotten about him) to end Utd's dependence on that over-rated donkey Carrick, and how many goals did Tevez score last year again? Discuss.

  • Comment number 33.

    32. At 8:58pm on 19 Jul 2009, Txillardegi14 wrote:
    Isn't it amazing how quickly a discussion of relegation battles turns into "who's going to win it this year"? The usual parade of people lauding up arsenal (why? what have they added from last year?) chelsea (ditto. ross turnbull ain't going to win you a league) and liverpool (who are about to have their midfield decimated by madrid and barcelona) and writing off United. The reigning champions. Who have been stripped of a temperamental, diving, huffy, erratic, inconsistent forward, and Ronaldo too. (buh-dum, tsssh) United's defence is still league leading, England's best midfielder is about to return from injury (Hargreaves, in case everyone had forgotten about him) to end Utd's dependence on that over-rated donkey Carrick, and how many goals did Tevez score last year again? Discuss.

    .........................................................................

    Are you completely out of your mind? Blatantly a man united fan but god give it a rest. Ronaldo won you your last 2 league trophy's and the champions league single handedly, without his goals your worthless. Hargreaves best english midfielder? Lampard? Gerrard? Beckham? What has hargreaves done consistently to deserve this? Nothing. People are bigging chelsea because toward the end of last season they were the most consistent team going and they havent lost any plaeys unlike united and possibly liverpool. Stop bigging up your team because its embarrasing.

  • Comment number 34.

    Motherwell fan, actually, but big soft spot for Ferguson. My point was that in all the posts above, not one person has tipped Man Utd to retain the trophy, which seems a wee bit strange for me. Now, granted, Ronaldo scored a lot, but only really ever played well when the rest of the team did. How many times did you see an abject Man United display salvaged by Ronaldo? Not many, really, in the grand scheme of things. Not nearly with the frequency and predictability of Lampard and Gerrard. Which segues quite neatly into Hargreaves, the most gifted defensive midfielder England have. Barry? Don't make me laugh. Graft and application, but no real class, which is why he's played for such footballing luminaries as Villa and City. If Gerrard played all the time like he does when Liverpool are 3-0 down, we'd be looking at one of the greats. But he doesn't, and we're not. Don't try to assign Liverpool's relative success last season to him, it was pure Alonso and Torres. Lampard I like, a great box-to-box midfielder, but all-round (defensively, positionally, tackling, engine) I rate Hargreaves higher. He just seems to be crocked all the time, which I grant you is a bit of a minus. Beckham? Great crosser. That's it. The rest of his game was Championship standard. Would a Utd fan say that? More likely I'd be extolling the virtues of Paul Scholes. And as for Chelsea, the reason they were on good form towards the end of last season? Hiddink. And he's gone, so Anelka and Malouda might maintain their form, but more than likely Carlo "Yes Man" Ancelotti will play whoever and however Abramovich wants, and destroy some great players in the process. As for bigging up my team in the Premiership, come on Everton!

  • Comment number 35.

    I love fans writing us off. I know a few shocks are coming the way of Pool fans. As for Chelsea being the most consistent towards the end of last season, it was the same in Grant's season and Scolari's last season. What's changed? United, Chelsea, Pool... Hull, Brum, Wolves

  • Comment number 36.

    Cant actually complain as you have pretty much worded that precisely!

    Still think chelsea will win it though simply because i dont see united being able to hammer the away side without ronaldo or tevez. Hope for there sake berbatov lives up to his price tag and rooney decides to score a few more. Man united seem to think they can just throw 10/15 million some little brazilian or italian's way and hope he turn's out to be the next ronaldo...anderson?nani?ronaldo?macheda?manucho? + all the others that have been shipped out on loan or we dont know about including the proposed £18,000,000 on an unknown brazilian called douglas costa.

  • Comment number 37.

    I'm dreading the start of this season... united minus CR7 and Carlitos, plus Obertan, Owen and Valencia equals a fraction of our former self! multiply that by the lack of a defensive midfielder, a renewed sense of optimism from the other teams and the 'hope' that Berba, Rooney, Nani and co. can step up... the equation just doesnt end well for SAF!

  • Comment number 38.

    Write us off at your peril, everybody does, all the so called "experts", "going to do a Derby, or worse" was the unified cries before last season, well you were right we did do a Derby at least after 1 game.
    You all wrong weren't you !
    And you will be this year, Mr Duffen and Mr Brown had a 5 year plan in place, to get promoted, which we did a year earlier than planned, to survive and then thrive.
    Will we struggle this season, probably but everyone at the club have a years learning curve under their belts, and while we might not be attracting the likes of Owen (how long before he's hurt ?) or Campbell (enjoy the bench at Slumberland Fraiser, didn't want the pressure of been "the man" did you)
    As far as who's in the mix for relegation look for Portsmouth, Birmingham, Stoke, Burnley, Bolton, Sunderland, Wolves, Wigan, Blackburn, and Hull to be in there, but for us anything above 17th will be progress.
    I have the upmost confidence in our management team getting in the right players to improve our team, can fans of Portsmouth (in crisis), Bolton (tiny 1st team squad), Birmingham (perpetual yoyos), Burnley (nice attractive football, but didn't the experts say that about WBA) Sunderland (Giant club, yeah in the 1930's and 1 place above Hull last year) say the same.
    I don't like to make predictions but the bottom three will be Portsmouth, Burnley and Bolton in any order.

  • Comment number 39.

    I think that the bookies will have a good year this year - everybody has such differing opions for a change. Are Man U going to fail without Ronaldo? Can Liverpool keep improving? Will the money at Man City make a difference, so too at Chelsea with their new manager?

    http://sportales.com/soccer/epl-premiership-predictions-2009-2010/

  • Comment number 40.

    Those predicting Birmingham to finish last have obviously not followed this summer's transfers. Fair enough Brum won't be contenders for Europe and they'll have to work hard to stay in the league. But there are about 10 teams in the same boat and at least the numerous signings the Blues have made will give them confidence and a good chance to stay up. I would be very surprised if McLeish couldn't keep this Birmingham side up.

  • Comment number 41.

    1 Man United

    2 Man City (sorry to say it but if they get Terry and Lescott, they have one hell of a team)

    3 Chelsea
    4 Liverpool
    5 Everton
    6 Arsenal

    18 Hull
    19 Birmingham
    20 Stoke.

    You heard it here first :) PS im an Everton Fan. PLEASE KEEP LESCOTT!!!!

  • Comment number 42.

    I'm looking forward to the Start of the Season too! Great Blog :-)
    I'm a Man U fan but I like watching footballers develop at Other clubs too. I'm disappointed the Premiership has lost Ronaldo. But we still do have alot of the very best footballers in the world playing here, a fact noticed by La Liga teams who seem to be buying the players up all the time.

    Are Alonso and Mascherano next to go from Liverpool and if so how will that tip the balance in terms of squad strength when compared next to the Likes of United, Arsenal and Chelsea?

    As for the best midfielder in the Premiership, it's Essien. Strong, Powerful, Athletic, a good passer of the ball and controls his position brilliantly. I'm somewhat disheartened to hear about Hargreaves, up until his injury he'd brought solidarity and class to our midfield and allowed Carrick to concentrate on playing his football.

    I'm also looking forward to seeing how Walcott, Arshavin, Collison (really like the look of this player) & Anderson play this year.
    As for who will go down. I suspect that Burnley might be a surprise team early on, but will eventually get sucked into the battle. I also think Wigan and Portsmouth look shakey, Portsmouth are dismantled and seem to have no cohesion or plan of direction in terms of playing staff and tactics.

    Away from the Relegation battle, and onto the spot known as 'outside the top 4' what of this? Can Everton and Villa build on their recent success in the recent season or will we finally see Spurs or someone else have a go?
    I am really looking forward to this season starting! Come on United!

  • Comment number 43.

    there's no denying that hull are in the mix for relegation but there are at least 6 other teams in the same boat as us. our defence will improve infinately this season with us not having to rely so heavily on zayatte. turner & gardener for a strong pair in the centre.

    whats happening at portsmouth is going a wee bit under the radar in terms of relegation. when crouch goes that leaves them woefully short of goals and i think they are a good bet to go down as fratton is hardly a fortress.

    we're the least attractive premiership club in terms of new signings (as much for geographical reasons as our premiership survival chances) but a feasible wishlist for me is zamora, thomas, kevin nolan and 1 other young pacey striker (id have liked mccormack). with those additions and bullard staying healthy we'll be ok.

  • Comment number 44.

    Liverpool to win the league and Portsmouth, Hull and Birmingham to go down.

  • Comment number 45.

    I think Bolton are going to struggle this season and Liverpool won't get into the top four, they're hardly signing any players and I think Alonso will leave Liverpool. It's safe to say Hull are going to finish bottom they were terrible after Christmas last season and to be honest I don't see them doing much better this season. I think it will be like this:

    1. Chelsea
    2. Man UTD
    3. Arsenal
    4. Tottenham


    18. Bolton
    19. Birmingham
    20. Hull

  • Comment number 46.

    What do you think of Man City and their chances this season... They have spent big but will it pay off this season or will it take longer? Having great players does not always mean a good team..

    http://jonnyontheball.blogspot.com/

    http://twitter.com/jonnyontheball

  • Comment number 47.

    #45 its safe to say nothing! have you not been paying attention to how this marvel of unpredictability called football works?

    last season at one point it was 'safe to say' that villa were going to penetrate the top4 and even potentially challenge for the title.

    prior to the start of the season it was 'safe to say' that ourselves and stoke were for the drop. we scraped survival and stoke managed it with ease. im sure it was also 'safe to say' that newcastle were just too big for the drop.

    during 07/08 fa cup, first liverpool and then chelsea fans would have probably assumed it was 'safe to say' that they would hammer barnsley.

    in april 2001 im pretty sure that it would have been 'safe to say' that leeds wouldnt be playing 3rd tier football within the space of 8yrs.

    if football was filled with such complete inevitability, it wouldnt be half as exciting. then again, i'll take my hat off and admit that coming from behind at the emirates, safe to say that wouldnt ever happen.

  • Comment number 48.

    I hope that for this season, you'll have boned up on the part of the offside rule that says a player can't be offside if he is behind the ball when it is played (regardless of whether there are two defenders between him and the goal or not) and also that you now know what it looks like, when the whole of the ball is over the whole of the line (it looks as if it's well over long before it actually is).

  • Comment number 49.

    I am Man Untied Fan, How about this for a season, Burnely to finish in the top 6, Liverpool to win Nothing, Ancelotti to be as big a flop as that Mustachioed Brazilian who Drogba the pure, didn't take to. Man City to Hit Top Spot. Mark Hughes to still get fired, Of the current Euro clubs only Man United to make it to the Champions league, and only on the last day of the season... .........Bolton Blackburn and Portsmouth to get relegated and Hull to do what they did last season but in the reverse, by starting bad and finishing strong, and still avoiding relegation on the last day.
    Actually it will be just more of the same at the top and The real madrid manager will be first to be fired I reckon.

  • Comment number 50.

    The new season really can't come around quickly enough for me. I'm a big Gillingham fan and after the atmosphere at the play off final i'm really looking forward to watching the Gills try and stay in League One.

    This season will be a special one for me for other reasons though. My Dad and I are going to tour round all the 92 football league grounds in September to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital. It's something we've both wanted to do for a long time and this season we've just decided we're going to go for it. GOSH have done a lot for a couple of members of our family in recent times so it'll be nice to give something back.

    If you'd like to follow the tour we leave on September 6th and arrive back on September 17th. During the 12 days we're away, or even during the pre tour, you can track our progress on the following links...

    www.tothe92.co.uk

    http://tothe92.blogspot.com

    www.twitter.com/tothe92

    or if anyone is able to donate to this very worthy cause please do so here..

    www.justgiving.com/tothe92

  • Comment number 51.

    Why is everyone writing Man Utd off just because Ronaldo and Tevez is gone doesn't mean anything. Yes im sad to see Tevez go his work rate was ammense and he nearly always scored when it matterd but even though a think well manage. Ronaldo on the hand was good but think about it was he really that good he scord good goals what we can only dream off and yes he got us through the campaign but Rooney, The young guns like Park, Anderson and valencia and The Golden oldies in Scholes, Giggs and Van Der Sar not to mentain our amazing defence of Ferdinand, Vidic, Brown, Evra and Evans we will not miss Ronaldo but Ronaldo will miss Man Utd and as for Mulvy2009 saying that Douglas costa is unknown brazilian is rubbish as if you followed braziian football you would know he is one of the best emerging talents in brazil but any way great blog

 

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