With the 2013/14 season still in it’s infancy, we pause for a break to watch England’s attempt at qualification for the Brazil World Cup. After three rounds of fixtures Kevin Henning asks have we learned anything and what can we expect from the next thirty five?
Chelsea will be more effective than explosive
Despite the fact that Roman Abramovich has always imagined Chelsea sweeping all before them on a tidal wave of attacking, fantastical football, it has never quite panned out that way. Managers have come and gone but the straightforward manner of Chelsea’s approach has always been present.
The return of Mourinho hasn’t changed this but possibly, after a decade in charge, the Russian billionaire has accepted that winning trophies by any means necessary is what’s important. The blues methodical wins over Hull City and Aston Villa have shown that the happy one sees the result as the be-all and end-all. His tactics for the first clash of the heavyweights at Old Trafford confirmed that he has a detailed plan for his assault on the title and being pleasing on the eye doesn’t come into it.
Spurs fans may have to wait until next season to see where the Bale money went
We all expected Daniel Levy to pocket the World record transfer fee from the Gareth Bale deal and maybe invest a small percentage of it back into the Tottenham team. We were wrong. Spurs have been collecting players like my sons collect Match Attax cards. They have done some serious business and pulled off the odd masterstroke such as the deal for Ajax’s Christian Eriksson.
So far though, Spurs have managed a measly two goals. Both of these have been from the penalty spot and the lack of chances created in the grudge match at Arsenal would have worried their fans.
Maybe a number of Tottenham’s new stars will need time to adapt to the pace of the English game and we won’t see the very best of them until next season but exciting times are certainly ahead and if the Spurs go marching into next season’s Champions League, further additions next summer would surely see them amongst the title favourites.
Everton’s new manager can see clearly through the transfer window…
That Roberto Martinez was able to negotiate an almost identical transfer fee for Marouane Fellaini to the “derisory” one offered for both the Belgian and Leighton Baines was impressive enough. The deal to bring in James McCarthy looks to be a very wise one with the Spanish manager knowing all about the Glaswegian from their time together at Wigan. The added bonus of the serially underrated Gareth Barry’s experience brought in on loan from Manchester City could be the temporary deal of the season but the best was saved until the very last.
Romelu Lukaku struck fear into the hearts of Premier League defenders everywhere last season and this was to be his breakthrough year. Everton have a player who will boss weak willed centre halfs and contribute a large amount of goals. It was a stunning deadline day for the Toffees.
…but their old manager nearly lost his fingers as it slammed shut
David Moyes and Manchester United staggered around the transfer market like a chav who’d had a win on the lottery but hadn’t had his cheque cashed.
United have been written off prematurely and foolishly by people who have clearly forgotten last season’s stampede to the title but the need for fresh blood increases month after month at Old Trafford. United looked to have started off where they left in May with a blitz at Swansea but the draw at home to Chelsea and defeat at Liverpool have made the errors made during the transfer window look inexcusable.
United were embarrassing in their attempts to attract a marquee signing. They dithered too long over Alcantara, made a month long play for Cesc Fabregas despite the footballing World seeming to know it was never going to happen, unsettled Patrice Evra by targeting first Baines and then Flavio Coentrao, upset Wayne Rooney by publicly stating he would back up in case RVP got injured before panicking and attempting more impossible deals for players such as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Daniele De Rossi and rumour has it Gareth Bale.
Chief Executive Ed Woodward pulled off a credible impression of Philias Fogg in taking 80 days to get around the World after he set off from Australia sometime in June to take care of urgent transfer business only to fail to appear back in England until Jim White was taking his yellow tie from the rack.
Liverpool might actually be getting their act together
The red half of Merseyside have endured a painful few seasons recently but with no European distraction, some fresh signings and Luis Suarez still at the club in a World Cup season, this could be a very exciting nine months for them.
Three straight wins have sent Liverpool to the top of the league and they head into the break full of optimism that the perfect start can be extended. Brandan Rodgers has brought in top quality young signings at decent prices. The mistakes made by King Kenny have been corrected and even Jordan Henderson is looking good. The rest of the big boys are glancing towards Anfield nervously.
There will be one almighty dog fight at the bottom
The newly promoted sides were tipped to be the three going straight back down without a fight but all three have snarled and shown their teeth already.
Cardiff City’s stunning 3-1 win over Manchester City showed that any team travelling to the Welsh capital should expect a battle.Hull City were not blown away by Chelsea and were unlucky not to leave Manchester with at least a point on Saturday and won against Norwich after playing an hour with ten men. Crystal Palace were the last out of the blocks but after a narrow opening day defeat at home to Tottenham, put Sunderland to the sword last time out.
Any club used to loitering in the lower half of the league need to be aware of the snapping at their heels. The three new boys are up for a fight and it’s a dog eat dog World out there.
Joe Kinnear’s phone is out of credit
After JFK’s plea to judge him on his transfer dealings, the Geordie jury has come back with it’s verdict. The man who claimed he could call any football manager on the planet has either ran out of credit or is making up names again when trying to negotiate players in at St James’ Park.
The Toon Army want this imposter out of their club and his mate Mike Ashley can go with him. Whether Alan Pardew is the next target of their ire will be determined by his ability to get them back to the top half in a season where the excuse of the marathon like Europa League is absent.