Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughPay the Price for Premier League Success - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Pay the Price for Premier League Success - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Pay the Price for Premier League Success

Despite there being two months remaining of the transfer window, this is hotting up to be one of the closest-fought Premier League title races in recent years. The amount of money spent has been more ‘sensible’ compared to recent years, coupled with some interesting deals in the pipeline between the teams who want the crown, and of course, not forgetting January’s action. Who really is in pole position to go all the way, or crumble under the weight of expectation?

Personally, I’ve been very impressed with Manchester United’s activity in this transfer window. Sir Alex Ferguson has seemed somewhat reluctant in the past to splash the cash unless deemed absolutely necessary. However, I think he knows better than anyone that the side that came within three wins of a Treble didn’t have a single correlation with the legends of ’99, and improvements were needed. The signing of David De Gea (whose name will frustrate commentators for years to come) has been seen as a masterstroke. Crucial in Spain’s U21 European Championship win, De Gea has been likened to Edwin van der Sar for his size and adaptability. Experience may be the only problem here, as it may well with Phil Jones. He also was at the U21s, but England were less emphatic. Jones has been dubbed as the next great English defender, but, much as Gerard Pique was forced onto the bench all those years ago, the brick wall that is Ferdinand and Vidic may prove restrictive. Ashley Young also faces stiff competition from Valencia, Nani and Park, leaving many scratching their heads. He’s done well for Villa though, and looks set to be a regular starter at Old Trafford. It has been nice to see Ferguson buying domestically. England may not have many stand-out players, but in Rooney and Young, he now has two of them.

Not wanting to be outdone by their neighbours, Manchester City are slowly making progress. At the time of writing, they are closing in on Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy – two massive signings in my opinion. Jerome Boateng seems to be on the way out, and Clichy has bags of pace to replace him. Nasri could give the midfield it’s drive and free-flowing football Mancini desires, and what’s more, snaffling him from under United’s nose would really show that City want to be there or there abouts come season’s end. But more signings are required. A striker of real quality to go with Tevez and Dzeko (who is yet to live up to his Football Manager fame!) fits the bill, and Aguero’s release clause of £42m-£52m may well be the answer. Chelsea are also monitoring the Argentinian’s status, and it could well be a clash of the currency when offers fly in. You must fancy City to apply pressure to United this term though. It’s often unaccredited that they finished level on points with Chelsea in 10/11, so expect more this season. Champions League deliverance will the bait in any potential deal, but let me dispel a rumour that still circulates… Cristiano Ronaldo will not be a Manchester City player next season, even for £1m per week… nor will Messi… but they’re about the only two players who would say no… Alexis Sanchez? Well, if Barca come calling, then surely that will be the sensible route to take.

Stay in the North West? Don’t mind if I do. Liverpool have given us a comeback that Lazarus would be proud of. Roy Hodgson wasn’t given a fair crack of the whip financially, but King Kenny’s ambition, plus new owners means that Liverpool may not need to make any signings to win the title this season. Luis Suarez has been a masterstroke since arrival on Merseyside, and the Reds look to create a winning partnership between him and Andy Carroll. Time will tell whether it’s going to happen or not, but one more top quality player could give them a leg-up and over their Mancunian rivals. They lost out on Phil Jones and Ashley Young to United, and Connor Wickham saw Wearside as a better option. If Liverpool are to snap up players, they need to be as ruthless as they were in signing Andy Carroll – make a bid so high that they have to accept it. Gary Cahill is on the radar, and would provide depth to the back four, but again, Liverpool are chasing Arsenal in that race. Liverpool are lacking a player who can complement Gerrard and Merieles perfectly in the heart of midfield. Is the Brazilian wonderkid Ganso too much to ask? With crazy American owners, nothing is out of the question.

Arsenal need to spend this summer, otherwise they’re in serious trouble. The loss of Fabregas could cripple them, but of course, it would free up a massive amount of funds. Nasri and Clichy look on their way out also, but who to and how much for remains a mystery. But who is going to arrive at the Emirates? Gary Cahill is a possibility, as is Gervinho, of whom a lot has been spoken. It’s all very well delivering abroad, but when you arrive in the Premier League, you must adapt quickly (see Edin Dzeko). The French factor that used to dominate Arsene Wenger’s side has disappeared, and with Walcott and Wilshere, has two of England’s brightest young stars. Wenger would do well to spend domestically, and spend big. Arsenal need a trophy soon, before the other team from North East London passes them by…

Last but not least, we must consider Chelsea, who are licking their wounds from a trophyless display last season. Abromovich’s trigger finger was active as per usual, and exciting young manager Andre Villas-Boas has come in, which will either be a disaster or an act of genius. Porto played seriously sexy football last year, and if Falcao can deliver half of the goals he bagged in Portugal, he would be a great signing for Chelsea. The money is there, but this aging side needs a complete overhaul. Drogba, Anelka and Lampard all have lost the touch of a couple of years ago, and therefore can expect new players to rival their places. The big question surrounding Chelsea is whether or not they can beat Real Madrid to signing Neymar. If you don’t know who he is, Google him, and prepare to be amazed. He is the best young player in the world, and could give Chelsea the panache that they lacked last year. Torres should be back to form, but a new midfielder could allow Chelsea a little more creativity. A player reminiscent of Michael Ballack is the kind of player I’m thinking of… Javier Pastore is  the answer. The Palermo player has ability perfect for Chelsea. Pulling Alexis Sanchez out of the bag would be surprising, so really, they must aim lower than City financially. Aiming lower in the league would leave Abromovich’s ambitions questioned, as he searches for the Champions League… an obsession that could hinder Chelsea for a long time to come.

All in all, the Premier League is going to be close in 11/12. Currently Manchester United lead the way in the transfer market, but expect Chelsea, City and co. to come roaring back. They have the finance and the ambition to stop the Red Devils making it 5 titles in 6 years, but what happens off the pitch does not win you matches – it’s what happens on the pitch that matters.

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