Manchester City will know that Europe will have to be conquered. Failure in the Champions League against Napoli and Bayern, plus a flop in the Europey League, blew a cold wind through the Etihad. The Premier League title won by City doesn’t cut it in Singapore. David Silva is the flashing rapier, he needs an épée and a broadsword to back him up.
Across the city, Rob Roy’s twitching sporran is already on fire. He has to play five top teams away after European fixtures. To hell with computers, let’s do it like Alan Hardacre did it in Blackpool in the olde days, deal the clubs like a hand of cards. At the start of last season, Rooney was on fire. Welbeck, Young, Nani, Valencia and especially young Cleverley played United’s traditional footie. Alas, Vidic and Cleverley were hurt, and Scholes and Giggs, who really should be in pushchairs on Brighton seafront, were pressed into service. The cracks showed in away games at Wigan and at the Shrine. Beware all pretenders. Rob is ferocious when cornered. Meanwhile, in a dark corner of New York, the Glazers are up to their usual tricks. When does righteous indignation become unrighteous, even riotous?
Where's my hero, ‘Arry O’Redknapp? Flounced out of Spurs, spurned by England. The supreme entertainer, a joy to be with, creator of super teams. And what of James (Kevin) Bond, sibling of the flamboyant John? Come back – soon.
So, of the aspirants, the Arsenal remain. Years of fruitless pioneering of the Beautiful Game with no silverware, Arséne’s thatch has turned a lighter shade of grey. My prediction: Manchester City champions; then Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs. Newcastle and Everton will feature. The rest are making up the numbers, scrapping to stay in the money.
I’m afraid Southampton and Reading, newly promoted, do not stir the blood. Fact is, and this is heresy, the positive footie will be in the Championship, as it’s now named. Pedigree, history, stamped all over it. Bolton Wanderers, Derby County, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday, Wolves, Blackburn, Leicester, Leeds, Huddersfield, Middlesbrough. Illustrious clubs, fallen on hard times, but what history! League championships, European Cups, FA Cups. There’ll be some fantastic matches, goalless draws will be scarce, this lot are playing to win.
Premier League Football kicks off from Saturday at 3:00pm on Radio 5 Live and 4:30pm on ESPN