Mails: Busquets would eliminate Man City’s weaknesses entirely

Date published: Wednesday 9th August 2017 3:28

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Some chunky predictions…
I’m not sure that anyone is too interested in the predictions of a League Two fan, who only narrowly beat a childrens tv presenter in a fantasy football league, but I’m writing them down for myself, so you might as well have them

Easy to start: Who will win the league?

Man City, now that they’ve got fullbacks who aren’t at least three years past their peak they really should win the league.  Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs haven’t strengthened and have Champions League, and Man United although being much improved I can’t see reaching the top, though I’m sure Jose has some good excuses prepared.

And now the rest of the top four in order, as is traditional?
I’m going for Chelsea, Man United and finally Spurs.  Liverpool and Arsenal just seem the most likely to cock up

Which three clubs are going down, down, deeper and down?
Brighton, Huddersfield and Burnley.  Burnley were dire toward the end of last season, and have lost their best defender.  I don’t see the John Walters and Phil Bardsley changing that.  The other two just don’t look like they’ve got enough quality, however since I don’t know much about any of Huddersfields signings they might turn out to be great.

Which club will do surprisingly pleasant things?
Crystal Palace are my pick for the team to finish in the top half without ever looking like relegation.  I hope that De Boer does well, and with a squad that Big Sam set up he should be able to carry on.

Top scorer, please?
Lukaku, did you see how many he scored for Everton?   He’ll get even more in that Man U team

The best signing, if you will?
Sandro at Everton looks like a bargain for a Spanish U21 striker, but I think Klaasen will hit the ground running and make everyone wonder why Spurs or Liverpool didn’t go for him.

And which new signing will stink the place out?
I doubt Solanke will play more than League Cup minutes at Liverpool.  13 million for Richarlison to Watford sounds a lot like money down the drown, he’ll disappear off to Granada without traCE.

Sarah picked Tom Davies as last season’s breakout star. What about this season?
After loaning his way up the leagues, I’d like to see Sulley Kaikai get chance a Palace, but the answer to this is definitely one of the Everton lads.   Probably Lookman, and then he’ll be an outside shout for the World Cup

First manager to leave?
Going for Shakespeare at Leicester, how often does appointing an assistant ever really work?  And I still don’t like the slightly murky nature that he took over, even if Ranieri did need putting down.
Bob, CUFC Cambridge


Sterling to leave for West Ham in January
Trying to predict the top 6 this year is a mug’s game, and I’m over 21 so sod off with that.  However, I’d hate to disappoint Judd, so here are some maverick predictions for the coming season.

Signing of the season:  Big fees and free transfers are cheating here, which is why I maintain Matt ‘Matty’ Phillips won this last season as I predicted.  This season it will be Will Hughes.  Excellent whenever I’ve seen him at Championship level, moved at the right age to a team that will actually play him, £8m is great business from Watford.

Nice things 1: I like the look of the new Midfield at Watford. With another striker, and a fit Pereyra I think they’ll be good.

Nice things 2: Leicester have made some great signings this summer. Title winning side, minus Kante, plus Iheanacho and Maguire = 8th.

Thing no one saw coming apart from me, which I’ll then bang on about for the next 3 years:  Raheem Sterling to leave Man City in January.  Pretty sure Guardiola doesn’t fancy him, and there’s a lot of competition for places.  It all screams ‘loan move to West Ham to get in the England squad for Russia’ to me.

First manager to leave: Wenger.  Sanchez will leave on deadline day, and Wenger will just decide it’s really not worth the bother anymore.

Colchester United prediction (oddly missing from your version):  Colchester will laugh in the rich, crying faces of Mansfield and win League 2. They will do this with the groundbreaking combination of playing 3 at the back and letting all our centre backs leave on a free.  This will become the blueprint for Pep Guardiola’s Man City side, who will dominate Europe and The Premier League for the next decade, without having to spend £50m on centre backs who can’t defend, anymore.  Eventually John McGreal will get the recognition he deserves when a Nick Miller feature for TheSetPieces goes viral in 2031.  Fans of seeing predictions go badly wrong immediately, can watch our defenderless back 3 live on Sky Sports against Villa tonight.

Most fun player of the season: I’m looking forward to Paul Merson getting stuck in an endless verbal loop trying to describe Davy Propper as a proper player.

Player of the season:  This will be the season everyone finally notices that Christian Eriksen is Tottenham’s best player.

Joe Hart of the season: Joe Hart. He will be imperious for the first 30 games of the season, as West Ham cruise to 9th place.  He’ll then chuck in 5 dodgy performances in the last 8, to make us all very, very worried about the world cup.  His fronting up will be world class though.

Worst signing: Not convinced that £43m for Bernardo Silva is a good idea. (I mean, it’s Rooney, obviously).

Top scorer: Rondon. Without question, definitely Rondon.  I’ll accept my formal apology from Ben the Baggie with good grace at season’s end.

Most annoying thing all season:  The endless arguments over who’s best out of Morata and Lukaku.  Which will make a change from the FA Cup being rubbish/still good.
Jeremy (Yeah, I know. Soft Cell. Surprised me too.) Aves


Busquets would eliminate Man City’s weaknesses entirely
Let’s start out by letting readers know I’m a Liverpool fan. This is the obvious reason I would not want City to sign Sergio Busquets. Man City are already favourites for the league, and as fanciful as it is that Liverpool may challenge them for the title, the two teams will inevitably be knocking around the same part of the table and can be considered rivals. However I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for City, I don’t care for the money ruining football argument, I want to see the best football possible from every team, and more money means better facilities, better academies, better training, and better football. I feel like Busquets especially would facilitate this.
I know many English fans don’t appreciate what he does, but I would say he’s up there with some of the best deep midfielders in the game right now, and would be perfect for City’s 3-1-4-2 that they seem to have transitioned into. I’d love to see him in the Premiership, and for Man City to go from being a flighty team of 11 false 9s to being a huge European behemoth.
In the short term this could only be bad for my team, as Liverpool surely would not be able to get close to such a complete team as City (can they now?), but long term it would be great for the Premier League. The money we’ve got in the league means that when one team runs away (Leicester, Chelsea), the others come back with a vengeance and strengthen significantly. A single transfer on the lines of Neymar wouldn’t do that, but the absolute complete business from City might, they’ve created a fantastic but flawed squad right now; I’d be fascinated to see them eliminate their weaknesses entirely.
KC (they’ve always played pretty too – not like current United) 


Jumping to conclusions
What better opportunity than a pre-season friendly match in stifling heat against the best side in the world to make some kneejerk reactions on United’s prospects for the season ahead?

–          Without meaning to re-open the debate on “footballing intelligence”, Lukaku’s foul throw and run from an offside position towards the ball following Herrera’s interception were not exactly compelling evidence of this side of his game…!

–          If Mourinho’s main task this season is to address United’s profligacy in front of goal then the early signs are not good following Lukaku and Rashford’s glaring misses. Lukaku’s will get all the attention but Rashford’s was equally bad – Navas had left the right side of his goal almost completely unguarded yet Rashford inexplicably tried to steer the ball towards the corner of the goal where Navas was already positioned.

–          As many have said, this season is a big one for Pogba. However, when watching him over 90 minutes I still can’t shake the impression that he drifts in and out of games. There were some moments of wonderful skill (a brilliant piece of control and skill on the left wing when surrounded by Real players to release Lingard, who looked surprised the ball had reached him) but he was anonymous for large chunks of  the game and his decision making was questionable (the shot from 30 yards when United were on a counter attack being the most prominent example). Of course he won’t have to face the same quality in the PL, but more consistency and authority is to be expected.

–          Matic has not had a pre-season and is some way off match fitness, yet was one of United’s best performers. Always asked for the ball, broke up play well and also played a part in United’s goal with his shot that Navas could somehow only parry to Lukaku.

–          Early days for Lindelof, but he has had a very poor pre-season. Mourinho has a good track record buying defenders so it is to be hoped that he just needs some time to settle in, but he seems to have a worrying habit of losing his man very easily. Still, in his defence it can’t help being paired with Smalling, who I hope we won’t see much of this season.

–          De Gea was outstanding as usual. Let’s hope that performance doesn’t reignite Real’s interest in him. He’s cup tied in Europe now anyway, right?!

–          As for Real, well, it’s hard to see any weakness in their team (perhaps with the exception of Keylor Navas). The midfield axis of Casemiro, Modric and Kroos is without comparison in world football. With their main domestic and European rival significantly weakened by the sale of Neymar, anyone betting against them to retain at least one of the two trophies they won last season?

–          Zidane is going to end up with a haul of trophies at Real to match Guardiola’s at Barca. As has been said before he doesn’t get the credit he deserves. I think that is because he doesn’t display (outwardly, at least) many of the traits we associate great managers with – e.g. pioneering a particular style of football (Guardiola), tactical awareness (Mourinho, Simeone) or outstanding motivational and man-management skills (Ferguson). But with the players at his disposal those traits are not always necessary. To succeed at Real the most important thing is to understand the dressing room dynamic and command the respect of the players. Ramos hinted at this in his press conference yesterday and Zidane, as a Real Madrid and football legend, is clearly able to achieve this. His casual and relaxed demeanour should also serve him well in what is a notoriously demanding and intensely political job.
Sam, MUFC, Basel, Switzerland


Pogba ‘nowhere near’ Modric, Kroos or Isco
Well, you have to give Jose credit. He spent 70 minutes trying to park a bus down a one-way street, then when all seemed lost, bring on Fellaini, slightly let go of the handbrake and smash balls into the box. Didn’t we see this in the big games last season? It was almost identical to Utd vs City at OT.

Pogba, not the worst player out there but when compared with the level of Modric, Kroos and especially Isco, he was nowhere near it.

Navas showed exactly why Real need De Gea, surely he is their only weakness?

In summary, if Jose once again goes into every big game like that, then I can’t see too much progress in the league or Champions League. The modern game doesn’t allow for such negative tactics, creative teams will always open you up, no matter how many players you stick behind the ball.
Cyril ‘Blakey’ Blake


United desperately need three more players
I’m struggling to understand the hype around Manchester United this season, seeing a number of journos pick them as champions or runners up seems odd to me. I’ll ignore last nights glorified friendly because warms ups against the best team in the world can’t be analysed too deeply but I see it like this,

They replaced one 20 goal a season striker with another. I’m not convinced Lukaku has the all round game to be an elite centre forward but assume he matches last season’s tally he’s effectively replaced Ibrahimovic, so not much has changed there.

They’ve brought in a very good defensive midfielder and a promising but unproven centre back, but stopping goals wasn’t really United’s problem last year. They desperately need a left back and another creative wide player and probably another striker, unless Rashford can figure out the whole scoring thing.

They finished 6th last year and weren’t exactly unlucky to be where they were. Every team above them bar Spurs and a few behind them have improved their starting 11s. Don’t even get me started on the whole ‘Jose’s second season’ guff, Mourinho doesn’t have the swagger he used to and just seems like a typical, chip on the shoulder moaner now.

Unless I’m missing something I’d say United were a potential top 4 team, not potential champions?
Tom (bracket/end bracket)


Man United look the most balanced side in the league
There seems to be a consensus that Man City will win the league. Just like this time last year. I’m not buying it – here’s my view on the 6 teams in the title race:

–          Man City: Sarah’s right that the midfield stands out, but, er – so does the central defence. Stones, Otamendi and Kompany is not up to scratch, and that’s before factoring in the inevitable injury to Kompany. I expect Pep to play Kyle Walker in central defence before Christmas, and that defence will lose City too many games. Maybe Pep will magically convert his army of full backs into a series of competent defensive midfielders and central defenders; or maybe Kompany, Stones et al will suddenly improve and stay fit; or maybe they’ll score so many goals in every game that it won’t matter. But none of those feel likely to me – if they win with this squad, Pep will deserve manager of the year

–          Chelsea (my side): My hope is that there’s still some important business that will get done before the end of August. IF Morata turns out to be an upgrade on Costa, Bakoyoko upgrades Matic, we manage to get Sandro, and a quality sub midfielder or two, and we’re reasonably lucky with injuries, and Conte is able to transition the central defence with Rudiger and/or Christensen improving the backline; then Chelsea could win the league again. But that’s way too many ifs to back them

–          Liverpool: Look like pretty much the same side as last season, but if they do manage to keep Coutinho and sign Van Dijk (unlikely/ likely) and can recapture the swashbuckling style of the 1st half of last season then they could win the league. That’s a few big ifs, but frankly not many more than the other teams here!

–          Spurs: Standing still has been the new going backwards for years. There’s no good reason to suppose that Spurs will magically buck that trend, adjust seamlessly to playing home games at Wembley (WHL was a fortress last season), or that Spurs will suddenly manage some good end of window signings.

–          Arsenal: Still managed by Arsene Wenger.

–          Man Utd: Frankly, they look the most balanced side, with shed loads of quality in depth, and Mourinho in his second season. Defence looks good (this assumes Lindelof turns out to be good); Midfield is possibly the strongest in the league (though there’s a question mark on which Matic will turn up); the attacking midfielders are excellent, and Lukaku and Rashford is an excellent strike force.

On balance, I’d say Man Utd should be favourites for the title. This is only considered ‘fanciful’ because Jose’s side underperformed so wretchedly last season, as this side has for a few years. Either Chelsea or Liverpool could change that with late season business, to my mind. City to finish 3rd.
Tim Colyer, Chelsea fan, Kuala Lumpur


Tottenham to underachieve
I’m going to boldly proclaim that spurs will underachieve this season (the stadium move, rivals strengthening, Cl) and i can see Pochettino moving on at the end of the season. Dele Alli will surely move to Madrid next summer.

Chelsea will do just fine but will find it tough to replace Costa’s goals and brawn. Morata will take time to settle but i can see him eventually finding form towards the tail-end of the season.(Backing him to hit exactly 10 goals in all competition)

Liverpool’s squad will be stretched this season. Juggling domestic and european commitments will surely test this set of players as Klopp’s style of football demands pressing high up the pitch. I can see some of their key players breaking by December/January. Will be interesting to see if Klopp prioritize the UCL for the league.
If they lose Coutinho they will certainly find it difficult to replicate last season’s form.

United since SAF retired hasn’t got a sniff at the title and have continuously spent big every summer since. The same trend is going to continue this season. Spend big and fall short.


Fuchs and Farke to collide in the FA Cup
Dear Football365,

Predictions, like dreams, don’t come true.  They’ll make a mess out of you.  Here are some of mine:

*Following Gary Megson’s comment that he is, in effect, “Tony Pulis’s caddie”, West Brom sign up Craig Bellamy as first team coach.

*In every photo of “passionate Brighton fans” there will be someone in a different team’s shirt.

*Norwich City draw Leicester City in the FA Cup.  Newspapers alight upon the idea of Christian Fuchs and Daniel Farke both having names that sound a bit like a rude word.

*Every week someone will write into the mailbox accusing a supporter of Huddersfield Town, Mansfield Town, Middlesbrough or Nottingham Forest of being biased towards and/or against an underachieving side with Champions League aspirations.

*Every song ABBA ever wrote, recorded or released will be crowbarred into a report of games featuring penalty shootouts.

*Alan Pardew’s punditry gig starts well, and in an incident-packed game makes some really insightful points.  However, he follows this with a run of turgid, low-scoring games, in which his “analysis” is incredibly dull and difficult to watch.

*A PFM will be accused of doing research after referring to a non-British manager by his nationality, instead of simply as a foreign.

*The likelihood of a player being given a retrospective ban for diving is inversely proportional to his team’s proximity to the top of the table.

*A grown adult will win an award for bravery after admitting they watch Soccer AM every week, of their own volition.

*F365 will run a poll asking who people’s favourite BT Sport pundit is.  1% say Frank Lampard.
Ed Quoththeraven (Chic > ABBA, apart from penalty shootouts)

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