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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