7 Thoughts On The Season Ahead

  1. Where will he fit in at the Lane?

    Confirmation came tonight that Spurs have indeed signed Rafael Van der Vaart from Real Madrid. The Dutchman is a decent player, a poor man’s Wesley Sneijder in my view, but that doesn’t make him a dud by any stretch of the imagination. I wonder though where exactly he’ll fit into the Spurs lineup, with the excellent Luca Modric already established as the club’s main playmaker, and Van der Vaart lacking the pace or power to really impose himself on the Premier League from wide areas. For 8 million euro he’s a player that’s sure to bolster Spurs attcking options as they face the rigours of a Champions League campaign for the first time. But I’m far from convinced he’ll make that much of a difference as the season progresses.

  2. Big money move for Gourcuff

    The big news from Ligue 1 last week was the transfer of Yoann Gourcuff from Bordeaux to Lyon. On his debut Gourcuff and his new side slid to a defeat to Lorient, managed by Gourcuff’s dad of all people. My feelings on this guy are mixed, to the point where I now have doubts about him having once held him in high regard. A flop at Milan could be ignored due to it all happening too soon, and a stellar league winning season at Bordeaux helped put him back on a pedestal. But Gourcuff was poor last season, anonymous during the World Cup and will be under huge pressure to perform at Lyon burdened by a massive price tag. His development this season will be very interesting to observe.

  3. Back in Serie AThe goings on at AC Milan during the past week have really caught my eye, as first the Rossonieri brought in Zlatan Ibrahimovic on loan with a view to a permanent move from Barcelona. They then trounced Lecce 4-0 on Sunday night and looked very impressive in doing it, and followed that up by signing the enigmatic genius that is Robinho from Man City for a deal that could ultimately be worth 18.2 million pounds. With a potential front six of Pirlo, Seedorf, Pato, Ronaldinho, Robinho and Ibrahimovic season ticket holders at the San Siro must be rubbing their hands together with glee. Of course its how the likes of Nesta, Silva and Antonini at the back manage to cope that will really determine the level of Milan’s success this season. But one things for certain; new coach Massimo Allegri has a hell of a job on his hands moulding all that attacking talent into a cohesive until during the season ahead.
  4. Quagliarella scored a beauty in the World Cup

    Staying in Italy and it’s hard to know what to make of the dealings of Juventus and Inter this off-season. La Vecchia Signora have splashed out in all directions, bringing in the likes of Bonucci, Krasic, Quagliarella and Lanzafame in an attempt to improve on last season’s dismal showing. I think they’ve erred in selling Diego back to the Bundesliga however, the gifted Brazilian would have come good given time. Treble winners Inter have gone in the opposite direction, adding only Brazilian youngster Coutinho to their ranks and selling the loose cannon that is Mario Ballotelli to Man City. They’ve lost Mourinho and replaced him with Rafa Benitez of course, which can only be viewed as a step backwards. Inter opened with a scoreless draw, while Juve lost one nil, and both will be looking for improvements after the international break. You get the feeling that if AC click this season then Il Scudetto is there for the taking as I’m not sure how strong Juve are even after all their buying, while you always got the feeling that the Mourinho effect gave this particular Inter side the X factor. With the Special One gone it’s hard to see them being as strong this time around.

  5. How special will he be in Madrid?

    And speaking of Mourinho, what of Real Madrid as they start off on another journey to topple their arch enemies Barcelona? In have come Carvalho, Ozil, Leon, Di Maria and Khedira. Players like Drenthe, the aforementioned Van der Vaart and club legends like Raul and Guti have all waved the Bernabeu goodbye. Mourinho says he needs time, but when Barca are likely to threaten the 100 point mark again this season (they reached 99 last term) it makes it imperative for Real to hit the ground running, making an opening scoreless draw in Mallorca all the more worrying. Though he has scaled the footballing heights on numerous occasions over the past few years Mourinho must have felt deep down that the task facing him in Spain might be his greatest yet. Watching him try to scale the summit again will be a fascinating experience.

  6. Great signing for Wolfsburg

    Heard the one about the manager given 25 million to spend on new players over the summer and leaving it untouched? Well that’s exactly what Bayern Munich coach Luis van Gaal has done, as the German double winners welcomed Toni Kroos back from his loan spell with Bayer Leverkeusen and left any more squad alterations on the back burner. Bayern could still have more than enough to take the Bundesliga by storm this time around, but a retooled Schalke with the likes of Jurado, Raul and Huntelaar in the ranks, and a Steve McLaren led Wolfsburg featuring Simon Kjaer, Diego and Bosnian hitman Edin Dzeko will both be formidable challengers.  The Bundesliga is always well worth keeping an eye on, this season as much as ever.

  7. Hello Bebe

    When you’ve been to Italy, France, Spain and Germany you have to head back to England for a Premier League wrap up. So let’s see; Chelsea lost Ballack, Deco, Joe Cole and Belletti among others and added Ramires and Benayoun. Steady as she goes for Ancelotti’s men. Man United are following a youth policy that may or may not pay dividends. Fact is the money ain’t there for the 30 million pound transfers anymore, so fans should get used to more Chicaritos and Bebe’s arriving as long as the Glazers stay in charge. Arsenal bought two French central defenders, a French reared Moroccan striker, and neglected to buy a new goalkeeper. So between them Messrs Almunia, Fabianski and Mannone must have the answers right Arsene? Between Spurs, Everton, Villa and Liverpool positions 5-8 will be shared, maybe in that order, and I’ll be here for a week if I get started on Man City. Toure, Milner and Silva I like, Koloarov and Ballotelli not so much.

Whatever happens the season ahead just proves once again that the old adage “The more things change the more they stay the same” rings true. Enjoy.


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