As the new English Premier League season is on the horizon, it’s time to take a closer look at the teams and what the new season may have in store.
I don’t foresee much movement in the way of the mid-table sides, so the likes of Crystal Palace, Newcastle and Southampton are expected to stay put. Aston Villa are likely to struggle again should Paul Lambert remain in charge of the side for the length of the season, though Villa faithful will hope that the addition of Man United legend Roy Keane as assistant manager will add a degree of stability to their season.
If one team is likely to spring a surprise on the rest in the way Southampton did in the first half of last season, it’s likely to be Crystal Palace with Tony Pulis at the helm. Pulis was pivotal in hoisting Palace away from the relegation zone and into mid-table comfort by the season’s end, and will look to improve even further this time around.
But it’s the bigger teams that make for the most interesting reading.
Manchester United, first and foremost, will probably be the most interesting team to watch over the course of the season as they’ve appointed a new manager, while having to replace a number of stalwarts in their squad. Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs are no longer taking the field for United and Marouane Fellaini’s performances have hardly justified his transfer fee.
Rumour has it Patrice Evra may yet move to either Italy or France ahead of the new season, but he has signed a one-year contract extension at Old Trafford, so the jury’s still out on a move away.
Wayne Rooney also had a poor season by his standards, and Robin van Persie’s form dropped from his debut season in United colours, though he had struggled with fitness for much of the 2013-14 campaign.
Louis van Gaal, however, is an old hand at making do with what he has at his disposal. If his exploits with the Dutch national team, Barcelona, Ajax, Bayern Munich and AZ is anything to go by, United will have an incomparably better season than last time out. This is a man with a coveted World Soccer Manager of the Year title to his name – something even Sir Alex Ferguson cannot lay claim to.
Van Gaal’s managerial record makes for impressive reading – winning six league titles, a range of domestic cup competitions, one Champions League winners’ crown, and two more Champions League runners up medals to boot.
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