What the Butler saw – Premier League Preview 2013/14

For my Premier League preview I could bore you with a piece talking about Rooney to Chelsea, Suarez to Arsenal and Bale to Madrid. I could talk about how Gareth Bale isn’t worth £100 million, maybe even go as far as to say he isn’t as good as most people who are overcome with the Tottenham hype would tend to believe, thus making him worth £50 million at best. The sheer simple fact that when Cristiano Ronaldo was sold for £80 million he had won Premier League titles an FA Cup and a Champions League. Bale has achieved nothing, he hasn’t even managed to carry a fledging Tottenham side to Champions League football. I wouldn’t use the term overrated but I would be tempted. Not only these two ‘superstars’ but also the Suarez to Arsenal story, boring. Arsenal want a world class player, its about time; for the last 6 years or so the majority of signings are mediocre at best so it’s about time they are linked with let alone actually take steps in signing someone who is a high quality player.

No, the talking has stopped and transfers need to be put on the back burners for a while as Sunday sees the traditional curtain raiser in the Community Shield being contested. Manchester United take on FA Cup heroes Wigan Athletic. Both sides have seen changes in personnel off the field and will feel they both have something to prove this season. For United its all about life after Sir Alex whereas for Wigan its all about redemption and their quest to regain the Premier League place they gave up last year after 8 seasons in the top flight. This will be the ideal marker for United to send out ahead of the new campaign, and one that on paper they should carry out.

In regards to how they will fair this season without the most decorated and successful manager of a generation, maybe ever, I think the first 5 league games will show us and the whole world how strong Manchester United are or how weak they are without the great man at the helm, leading his men on. With the attacking outlet of Swansea welcoming United to Wales on the opening weekend of the season the Red Devils will feel the full effects of the new season, and how. Even though United have taught us down the years never to write them off I still expect the first 6 weeks to 2 months of the season to tell us whether David Moyes will continue where Sir Alex Ferguson left off or whether he will have to go back to the drawing board and come again at stamping his own mark on the great team that the great man left behind.

If Rooney does go, it won’t be the end of the world for Manchester United and I truly believe that. Reports today suggested that the afro’d Marouane Felliani will be joining the man who originally bought him to English football a few years ago, as well as the appeal that a lesser side like Arsenal don’t have anymore. The fact is, if Rooney leaves then Manchester United can get a new player in within a week. A harsh truth in this modern economical climate but money wouldn’t be an issue. No player is bigger than the club.

One team that has interested me throughout the close season is Liverpool. They have gone about their business with class and dignity. Selling players like Jonjo Shelvey and signing players like Luis Alberto, players who will back up the already set creative talent of Phillippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge. The main difference however between Man Utd and Liverpool is the fact that Liverpool do not have the draw and appeal to a replacement forward should Suarez up sticks and leave Anfield. It will be intriguing to see how Brendan Rogers goes about getting a new man in should it come to it. Lets talk hypothetically for now, if Suarez stays then Liverpool will be top 6, pushing hard for a 4th spot, that is a given. But if Suarez goes, the squad isn’t good enough without him to challenge. He is the difference between being a World Class team and a mid table, average side that they have threatened to be due to inconsistency. Either way Liverpool are still a couple of players short to be considered Champions League contenders let alone title challengers.

Next on the agenda is a side who flirted with relegation last season and got so close they got nipped a few times, Aston Villa. After losing 12-0 in total over Christmas against Chelsea and Tottenham respectively, Villa fans would have thought the writing was on the wall and that things were going to get worse and quickly. In all honesty, that is the lowest point of Villa’s season. The highs coming with the Carling Cup win at then champions Manchester City, the 3-1 win at Anfield, down to an inspiring performance from Christian Benteke and then the 6-1 win at home against Sunderland. A win that proved to be crucial in their quest to avoid a humbling relegation down to the second tier of football. It seems like one of the ever present Premier League teams flirt with relegation every now and then. Mostly Everton throughout the years but this time it was Villa’s turn.

I like Aston Villa, and I like Paul Lambert. A manager who says little but what he does say has substance and is an honest outlook on his side and football as a whole. He doesn’t hide anything from the players or the press, and in this day and age is something that is quite endearing. In the two main front men Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann they have two hungry strikers with a lot of potential and ability. Benteke is for me one of the future superstars of the Premier League and I am glad he has stayed at Villa. For this year anyway.
In regards to their season I expect better, the Holte End expects better and ultimately I think they will be better. I expect a mid-table to top 10 finish.

Another of the sides I expect more from this year is Newcastle United. Life is never dull up on Tyneside is it? Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. The introduction of Joe Kinnear is a mysterious decision by Mike Ashley and so mysterious I don’t even know what to say that will be unique or have a different spin on what has already been said. It’s just a shame to see a club like Newcastle – who have had the likes of Shearer and the god that is Nobby Solano come through the doors and play some of the best football the Premier League has seen – in this position. Alan Pardew is not a bad manager, in fact is the opposite, a good manager. A manager who has achieved some level of success everywhere he has been. Obviously it was going to be tough to replicate the form from the 2011/12 season so it wasn’t a surprise that they didn’t finish as high as they would have liked.
The Toon then said bye to Demba Ba, and in the close season nearly ‘gambled’ away Papiss Cisse. But hey, lets not go there. Newcastle have strengthened, with the incoming talent of Loic Remy and supposedly Lyon’s Gomis, they will have the fire power to finish higher up the table and maybe just maybe finish in the top 10 once again.

Lastly, you can’t talk about the new season without talking about the return of a certain “Special One,” Jose Mourinho. I could talk about this man for hours, he is good at what he does. Whether it’s talking the talk or walking the walk he has a certain spell on everyone he encounters along the way to footballing dominance. Can he inspire Chelsea to regaining the Premier League title? I think he might just be able to reignite the flame. A top three finish will be guaranteed again but if they can strengthen before the end of the transfer window then they may just finish in the top one.


Premier League Prediction

1st : Chelsea
2nd : Manchester City
3rd : Manchester United
4th : Liverpool

18th : Fulham
19th : Cardiff City
20th : Hull City

Ryan Butler