Finally, after months of waiting, the Barclays Premier League is back! And what a season this looks to be! Managerial changes and big money transfers throughout the league, as well as a new system of delivery (NBC Sports/beIn) here in the States gives this Blue a stomach full of butterflies. With this post I hope to bring everybody up to speed with the goings on of the summer, and hopefully get you excited for what is sure to be one of the most exciting seasons in history.
Four of the top six clubs from last year’s campaign have new managers. FOUR of SIX. I can’t remember a time in which there has been so much change at the top of the table. Chelsea have brought back “The Special One” or “The Happy One” (or whatever the hell else he wants to call himself) Jose Mourinho, and are looking to bring the Premier League trophy back to London. This is the only change in London, even though Arsene Wegner may be on borrowed time (more on that later). Now we head up to the current footballing power base in England, the northwest. After being in charge of Manchester United for over two decades, Sir Alex Ferguson has retired, leaving a gaping hole on the bench at Old Trafford. Regardless of how I feel about him or that club, it is impossible to look past the success they’ve had. It is simply astonishing, and SAF has left behind some gargantuan shoes that need filling. He has hand-picked former Everton boss, and fellow Scot, David Moyes. Moyes has become famous for keeping Everton competitive with very little money, which is a very different situation than being at United (again we will get more into this in a minute). Every move that Moyes makes will be looked at under a microscope, and he will be under immense pressure to try to continue the success of his predecessor. With David Moyes off to United, Everton had found themselves without a manager. This did not last long however, as former Wigan boss Roberto Martinez was brought in to manage the Toffees. Martinez had just been relegated with Wigan, but this does not mean that he is not a quality manager. The fact that he managed to walk the tightrope with Wigan for as long as he did with no financial backing is staggering. Martinez will be looking to bring a more attractive brand of football to Merseyside than what the fans had become used to under Moyes. Lastly we look at our beloved Manchester City, and new gaffer Manuel Pellegrini. After the sacking of Bobby Manc Roberto Mancini at the tail end of last season, the owners have brought in a Chilean manager with a marvelous background, even if you’ve never heard of him. Pellegrini took Villarreal from being a small club in Spain to being a Champions League quarterfinalist and even broke up the La Liga duopoly by finishing second. At Real Madrid, he picked up a club record 96 points in the league, only to be bested by Barcelona who came through with 99 points. Manuel was fired by Madrid, and then brought on by Malaga. Again the Chilean worked his magic and pushed his relatively small club into the quarter finals of the Champions League (and would have been semifinalists if not for last minute heroics from Dortmund). We all know how demanding the Sheikh can be, and Pellegrini will be under great pressure to bring the club more trophies (reports are that the board wants 5 trophies in as many years), whether or not he can handle the pressure remains to be seen. I personally have no question that the gaffer will win over many fans with his attractive style of play and modest disposition. With all of these managerial changes, we are sure to see new styles of play at multiple clubs. New style, more often than not, requires new players, and what a summer it has been for those of us that love the madness of Silly Season.
As far as the “Big 6” go, City and Tottenham have been the most active this transfer window, offloading unwanted players and stacks of cash to bring in players that better suit their respective philosophies. Some of the mid table clubs, such as Norwich, Swansea, Southampton and Fulham have done some very smart business this summer and look to make the run for the Top 6 very interesting. Meanwhile, down in London, Chelsea have been surprisingly quiet. Aside from sealing early signings Schurrle and Marco Van Ginkel, there hasn’t be too much actually going on. In fact, I would say that their biggest addition isn’t a transfer at all, but the return of West Brom leading scorer Romelu Lukaku from loan. Sure there has been plenty of noise about the possibility of Rooney joining, but until after the two teams play each other I will not spend any time on it. In North London, it is the tale of two clubs: One striving to improve its position in the league through spending money on quality players and offloading dead weight, the other stagnating under a formerly great manager that seems to be losing the confidence of supporters and the board alike. Tottenham have signed, Paulinho, Etienne Capoue (a man I wished City would’ve gone for in January), Roberto Soldado, and Nacer Chadli. And as of this writing, Gareth Bale is still on Daniel Levy’s books. Tottenham has a top 4 squad if I’ve ever seen one. Arsenal, on the other hand, may not even exist. Aside from signing French striker Yaya Sanogo on a free, and selling Gervinho and his forehead to Roma, they have done nothing other than fail very publicly to sign a few big name players. First it was Gonzalo Higuain who chose to take his talents to Naples, and then Luiz Gustavo turned down the Gunners to stay in the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg. This lack of action has started to ruffle the feathers of Arsenal supporters, with many saying that “The Professor” may have lost his touch. Gooners don’t want to scrape by in 4th every year, they want to challenge for the title, and the way things are going it just won’t happen. Manchester has mirrored North London this summer. Manchester City have loaded up with Jesus Navas, Fernandinho, Stevan Jovetic, and Alvaro Negredo. All of these deals were sealed up early in the window and the players have been training and playing with the club for the better half of the summer. Manuel Pellegrini had a very clear idea of who he wanted to bring in, and having handled it early, he has been able to drill his squad all summer in order to get them playing his way. David Moyes on the other hand may not be having as much fun as Pellegrini. Manchester United have, very publicly, fallen on their collective face multiple times this summer. Moyes came out and made it clear that he was going to get Thiago from Barcelona; Thiago had different plans and is now at Bayern Munich. Then it was Kevin Strootman, a central midfielder from Holland who has chosen Roma over United. Next it was Cesc Fabregas, Barcelona have turned down 3 bids for the midfielder. Currently, Moyes is failing to sign two of his former players from Everton, Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini. All the while, they have been trying to hold on to Wayne Rooney who has a rocky past with David Moyes. So many transfers have already been completed and we can expect many more between now and September 2 as teams will try to fortify their squads for the rigors of the upcoming season.
Much like most of you, I am a fan of the sport of football just as much as I am of Manchester City. That being said, I have wonderful news for those of you that are addicted to the sport, this year you will have access to more coverage of more leagues than ever before in this country. NBC has acquired the rights to the Premier League and are making every minute of every game available to everyone either on TV or via their free app. This is in stark contrast to the past where FOX Soccer would make you pay a hefty fee in order to get FOX Soccer+ and FOX Soccer2Go. Even if you paid the money for those services there was still no guarantee that you would be able to watch your favorite club on a quality feed, or at all! NBC has promised that every game will be available live in HD and also will be available on replay. For those of you that like to follow other leagues, beIN Sport has you covered. With Serie A, Ligue 1, the Bundesliga, the English League Cup, and the English Championship, beIN Sport has got you covered! So, should you ever find yourself wanting more footy, just have a look around and there is sure to be some on somewhere.
New managers, new players, and more coverage than ever before. As a fan, there’s not much more you could ask for. It helps that our club has a great new manager and has brought in quality signings! Even though City aren’t playing on Saturday or Sunday, do yourself a favor and sit down and watch a match or two. Learn about some of the other clubs, and let’s pride ourselves in being a group of supporters that know what we’re talking about when it comes to our club, our league, and our sport!
In the next day or two I will be posting my breakdown of our new manager’s tactics, as well as my prediction of the Manchester City starting XI against Newcastle. Stay tuned and thanks, as always, for the reads and shares!
Here’s to the new season! Cheers!
A Citizen Abroad