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View From the Road End: Man United 11/12 Season Preview

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As the current Champions, how confident are you that you can retain the title?

I still believe that the experience Utd have in winning titles always gives us an edge. The players and staff have done it so many times now that the winning feeling and culture is ingrained in them. Fergie is a master motivator and somehow gets the best out of players that maybe aren’t quite Utd standard. I think the league will be very tight again and City and Chelsea will run us closer than ever but there will be those games that we will pick up the win or draw that we don’t deserve to and it’s those few games that will win us the title

What about nightmare season?

Easy answer – City winning the league! Still get a little sick at the back of my throat thinking back to the FA Cup semi final.

What do you think of United’s summer deals so far?

De Gea has a huge job on his hands in replacing VDS, I think that’s pretty obvious. But his Primera League experience, the training he will get at Utd and the competition with Lindegaard all seem to be the ingredients for him to be a success. The first few months will tell us more there but he seems a confident lad and his pre-season, although brief, looks very encouraging. Phil Jones is obviously for the future, just like Smalling but maybe he is the Vidic of the future and Smalling will be the Rio. Ashley Young seems to split opinion with the Villa fans, half gutted he’s left and half thinking they got a good deal. It seems he is pretty direct, so more in line with Valencia than Nani, something I prefer. Fergie said he intends to start him on the left wing so if that means less playing time for Nani I am good with giving him a chance. His crossing needs developing but I think his direct play on one wing and valencia on the other will get even more out of Rooney and Hernandez, who both look pretty frustrated with Nani at times.

What have you made of our signings so far this summer (Downing, Adam, Henderson & Doni)?

Overpaid for both Downing and Henderson but the Utds, Liverpool, Chelseas etc always overpay to smaller clubs. Downing OK but for the money paid there were probably better options out there but he has decent delivery from wide and is quick on the wing, a position you have struggled with recently. Henderson can play center or right and can learn from Gerard but not really sure with so many midfielders he will make such an immediate impact. Adam is a solid signing, never outstanding in my opinion but a consistent performer. I think perhaps a big fish in small pond at Blackpool which made him stand out to potential suitors. Doni is a nothing signing, just back up – One of those keepers who might hang around a few years then off again.

What do you make of the other main rivals’ business this summer? Who will be your main contenders this season?

I think if Aguero fits in at City quickly they will be the main rival. I think the lack of activity at both City and Chelsea is a good thing for them as 90% of their starting 11 will remain the same and give them more continuity. Same goes for Spurs as long as they keep Modric. Liverpool have been the most active by signing a bunch of midfielders but with barely any decent defenders, Carroll looking more 3.5m than 35m, and no Gerard to start the season i think they might struggle in the first few months. Arsenal are doing their usual thing. Gervinho will most likely be another striker they sign that doesn’t score many like Chamakh, Bendtner etc and if/when they lose Fabregas, Nasri or both they might struggle to make top 4, especially coupled with some poor defenders like Liverpool.

City – can they actually win the League?

Ability-wise absolutely, they have the players that have now had a few seasons together and only really Aguero is going to change their best 11. Like I said before Utd gets pts when they don’t deserve to and if City can do that too and couple if with a good start then they can win the league. I just don’t think they quite have the absolute winning mentality yet. It will definitely make some great derbies if the teams are closer than ever though!

Sneijder? Do you want him? Do you need him?

Not particularly him but a center midfielder with some invention and craft than can score a few. I personally think both Modric and Nasri are over-rated so Sneijder seems a good option in a market that isn’t blessed with many top players in this position. Apart from a bad spell in Madrid (although it seems to have that effect on some players) he has performed consistently well for Holland and Inter. My only concern is that he is somewhere between a center midfielder and a #10, neither quite one of the other.

One Liverpool player you would sign:

To make a difference to Utd, traditionally you would have said Torres or Gerrard, but now …. maybe a random one but Joey Cole. Always been a fan of his and thought he would have been a good Utd signing before. Something different than what we have and can show the younger players direction.

Strongest starting 11 (with Sneijder):
De Gea, Rafael, Rio, Vida, Evra, Valencia, Anderson, Sneijder, Young, Chico, Rooney

Strongest starting 11 (without Sneijder):
De Gea, Rafael, Rio, Vida, Evra, Valencia, Anderson, Cleverly, Young, Chico, Rooney

– got to try someone different in there, Cleverly had a good grounding in his season at Wigan and pre-season has looked very useful. Fergie likes to give the young ones a go, so why not let him start 4 or 5 games early season and see how he does?

Predicted finish: 1st

Top four: Utd, City, Chelsea, Liverpool

Relegated: Swansea (20), Norwich (19), Wolves (18)

Top scorer: Torres

One to watch: Anderson, if he can stay injury free and start season well

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