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Russell Berrisford

Russell Berrisford

Russell’s support of Derby County eventually led him to leave the country. He has lived in Canada since 2007 and currently writes about soccer for The Vancouver Sun.


TANGENTS

I don’t know what you will do this Summer

Written by on May 23, 2012 | 10 Comments »
Posted in English Premier League, General

Any summer that is filled up with four weeks of international tournament play inevitably gives clubs and players less time to arrange any changes that they need (or need to avoid) than the average off season break.

So with a number of Premier League teams seemingly in a state of flux what are the priorities that some of them face?

Chelsea– as Bobby and Asa said on the podcast it seems somewhat bizarre that a manager who has just taken a club to both Champions League and FA Cup glory is even being discussed as a possible target for dismissal but the simple fact is that Roberto Di Matteo still has to wait for the word on his future from owner Roman Abramovich.

If the Russian were a more conventional owner he would speak to Di Matteo to try to discover his plans for the transition of players that is still needed at Chelsea and how he intended to improve the league form that didn’t really change despite the cup successes.

The likelihood though is that Abramovich has already made up his mind about what he will do and his predisposition for the “big name” may not be good news for Di Matteo.

Arsenal– Cometh the summer cometh the Arsenal crisis over whether their best player will stay or go. This year Robin van Persie is the name in the frame and despite Arsene Wenger’s confident predictions that the Dutchman will stay the lessons of recent history don’t bode well for the Gunners.

Finishing third at least removes the doubt that they had last year about Champions league play which should allow any possible deals to be completed quicker and with more assurance but van Persie will surely want to see a high level of ambition if he is to commit to the club as he reaches the prime of his career.

Liverpool– If the current Liverpool team didn’t exist then the sporting media would have to invent them.

Hugely expensive signings, controversy on and off the field and now a very public search for a new manager.

At the time of writing no decision has been made but plenty of people seem to have thrown their name in the hat (and plenty also seem to have removed their name from the said hat).

The importance of making the right selection this time around can’t be emphasized enough as one more misstep would surely lead to a tailspin that would be hard to pull out of.

Liverpool’s current squad isn’t actually that bad and the right man could probably steer them somewhere near to a top four place given a fair wind and a little dose of good fortune.

Manchester United– On the face of it United did remarkably well in the league this year. Keeping track with the neigbours was no mean feat and to come so close to actually winning the thing was borderline miraculous.

Yet there are serious problems that need to be addressed.

The young players who started the season so well faded as the campaign went on and no matter how good a player Paul Scholes is the fact that it was his return that sparked them back to life speaks volumes about the lack of midfield quality available to Sir Alex Ferguson.

Maybe if Tom Cleverley and Darren Fletcher return to full fitness many of the issues will be resolved but it’s hard to imagine that United‘s fans will be happy unless the team show the depth of their ambition by  making at least one foray into the transfer market.

Eden Hazard has been mentioned (as he has with pretty much every other club as well) but if the failure in Europe turns out to be indicative of a lack of depth then the Glazers may not have the will to spend enough to solve the problems and United will once again be relying on the wonders that Ferguson regularly performs to see them through.

Tottenham Hotspur– Spurs have become the Schrödinger’s Cat of football in that they both succeeded and failed in fulfilling their ambition at the start of the season.

Harry Redknapp discarded all other competitions for the prize of a top four spot and Champions League football and then discovered that he had somehow achieved the first but not the second of those rewards.

That throws the futures of the likes of Modric, Bale and others into substantial doubt and the fact that Redknapp himself is in the last year of his own contract only heightens the urgency with which Spurs need to establish who will and who will not be leaving.

They managed to hold on to players without Champions League football last summer but to do so again will take an awful lot of persuasion (and probably no small amount of money).

How they handle this off season will have implications for many years to come.

Manchester City– City need to decide which players they will spend inordinate amounts of cash on.

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10 responses to “I don’t know what you will do this Summer”

  1. J Rob says:

    I am unconvinced that Man Utd have serious problems. Any other season 89 points would have won them the title. They have a crop of good young players and a manager with incomparable experience.

    Liverpool have real problems. The start of next season is ten weeks away. Any new manager will face skeptical fans and owners who deem anything less than immediate top four football a failure. In the near-term with no manager or head of football their preparations for the next season are handicapped while their rivals strengthen.

  2. John Bladen says:

    J Rob:

    Spurs and LFC are the ones in real trouble (competitively speaking, perhaps not as much financially… at least for the next year or two). I’d put Arsenal between them and the Manchester Clubs, but it can be argued to which group they are closer…

    Agree on Man U. Lots of people rushing to crap on SAF from great height. No surprise, he’s an unpopular figure (outside of Manchester… well, outside of most of Manchester…).

    Those who look at the big picture will realize that United’s defensive woes have more to do with the absence of arguably the best defender in the world due to injury in 2011/12 than a steady decline in the squad (though, to no-one’s surprise, the debt laden club has much less depth for cover than in previous years).

    Midfield is an issue. Such is the case for Arsenal, LFC, & Chelsea as well. Lots of competition (domestic or otherwise) for quality midfielders. Perhaps their best option would be to make better use of the talent they have (to me, Rooney plays better in the hole than as a single striker… and they have other strikers who can play at a high level in front of him), hope for the best from the young/injured players in the squad already, and splash on one or two young and gifted additions to the midfield.

    Thoughts?

  3. John Bladen says:

    Good luck with the computer Russell…. and the preloaded ATM card.

    PS: Barton banned for 12 matches after hearing today. Not enough IMO.

  4. Russell Berrisford says:

    John- how do you think I could afford a new computer! Amazingly it is now up and running.

    I think the biggest issue for Man Utd was their performance in Europe- and while that could be a one off if, it is repeated then that could be a serious issue.

    I agree that although Rooney scored plenty of goals he is far more effective playing a bit deeper. Maybe it isn’t Vidic that United really missed but Hernandez who barely played all season?

  5. Grant Skene says:

    My one wish is that the English media will quit speculating that Pep Guardiola will come to manage one of the English clubs after his year break. Why would anyone want him? By his own admission, he was burnt out by the pressure of managing the best group of players of this era. Surely, the most important feature in a top manager is a thick skin and the ability to deal with the pressure if not revel in it.

  6. Russell Berrisford says:

    Grant- yes, apart from all the trophies he has won it’s difficult to think what Guardiola has to offer.

  7. Grant Skene says:

    I am not denying Pep was a great manager. I am merely saying a man who admits to being burnt out is a risky choice. Not to mention any other team he went to wouldn’t provide anywhere near the raw materials he already had.

  8. John Bladen says:

    Grant:

    Pep was the perfect choice for FCB at the perfect time… as discussed in this forum previously, it is unlikely his system would have worked as well as it did had he been hired by Stoke City or Wolves.

    The fact that he had great players who were perfect for his system (or vice versa) doesn’t tarnish his achievement, in my view.

    The only question I have is, is he leaving because he is tired? Or because he realizes that the FCB we have witnessed for the last 5 years or so can’t exist much longer? They are still a fantastic team, but the defense is arguably not much better than it was 5 years ago (or even worse, considering the age/pace problems), and the attack (apart from Messi) doesn’t create fear the way it once did (Eto’o etc).

    I can’t say there aren’t world beating replacements just around the corner (either within the team’s system or to be recruited from without), but even though I still marvel at their skill, they don’t look as good as they did a couple of years ago.

    Thoughts?

  9. Ed Gomes says:

    I actually believe Pep when he said he was burnt out. I’m surprised that he’s supposedly made himself available, but almost anything outside of Barca could be less pressure.
    Clubs like Barca, Real and I’ll throw Benfica in there, can’t lose. There’s no such thing as retooling. The fans are insane and expect the club to win every single game and every trophy every year. The pressure is beyond crazy. Most of the fans are beyond crazy.

    Having said that, I think that Barca is still better than fine. They’re still the wanted location for players and have the resources to get the necessary defenders. Someone like Luis (Chelsea), Silva (Milan) would fit their style perfectly. They also wouldn’t be left as exposed due to Barca’s ball procession.
    If you are going to tell me that their wage scale is much to high and they need to cut back, then that’s a whole different story. Then they will suffer on the field.

    I think that the Spurs will be selling everything. Mostly due to players asking for their release. No Champions League play for the players and no CL money for the club. No matter what he says, Ade will prefer to sit and collect his wage instead of lowering it in order to play.

    I love the off season. The silly season is crazy and we’ve already had plenty of significant movement throughout Europe. The rumors are great, and it’s also great to hear players comments.

    Question?
    Having read Hazard comments, does it give pause to any of the teams trying to get him. He’s basically come out and continually stated how huge teams want him, and he’ll decide who deserves him.
    I’m all for a player trying to get all he wants and a healthy ego doesn’t hurt. But sometimes that ego could hinder.

  10. JC says:

    I laughed when I read your thoughts on Liverpool they are something of a dog and pony show at the moment. As for United I think they will try to retool their midfield, to what extent I am not sure but I could see them going for someone like Modric for instance. I think if Spurs are able to keep one player they will keep all their players, if that makes any sense. If someone like Modric, Bale, or Van der Vaardt were to leave it could mean they could lose other key players which would be a disaster for them. On the other hand if they can keep everyone and maybe get Vertonghen they would be in good shape. Chelsea will have an eventful summer I am sure of that. Players will leave and I predict Abramovich will spend a large transfer fee on a new toy, who knows maybe he will pay the 84 million price tag for Hulk.

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