It should be Liverpool’s title

Published: Friday, 09 August 2019

First question. Which idiot decided it was a good idea to shut the PL transfer window before any other European League. You couldn’t make it up. Why? It’s madness. I’ve heard the argument that it ‘cleans up’ the process so all our teams start knowing what they’ve got to work with. But it doesn’t.

The other big leagues in Europe don’t shut their windows until early September so it’s still possible for them to come and raid our top talent.   Are Spurs sure Christian Erikssen will be with them in September? What about Wilf Zaha? Already his advisors are saying that they’ll try and push through a move to Spain - where I think he’d be a real success - simply to spite Steve Parrish. What if Real
or Barca now make a big money move for - say - Marcus Rashford? Where does that leave United?

It’s ok saying ‘well, they don’t have to sell’, but really you do. The promise of big money from big moves unsettles players. I don’t care that Palace are happy they’ve still got Wilf on the books. On paper they have - but where’s his head? What about his attitude now he’s been denied what he claims the Chairman promised him - a move if the right money was offered? Palace have lost him anyway. His head is elsewhere now. He’s angry. He might not be the real Wilf Zaha ever again at Selhurst Park. He wants out - simple.

The solution is that UEFA should come up with a common window that suits all. And it’s pointless English clubs ‘showing the way’. The rest of Europe is laughing at us. They don’t care. Any advantage they can take they will.

Anyway - here we go. Who’s finishing where - and who’s done the best business?  

A couple of years ago I said that no-one would ever spend a better £8m than Liverpool had on Andrew Robertson. Inevitably I was asked if I’d lost my mind. Eight million on a left back from relegated Hull? I wasn’t wrong though was I? What a player.

My best value in this window? It’s a 3-way split. Arsenal have pulled off a massive coup in getting David Luiz out of Chelsea. I know he’s not the best ‘defender’ in the world - but he’s a lot lot better than he’s ever been given credit for. He’s a ‘man’. He’s a leader. He’s exactly what they need - someone  to knock players heads together. Someone to step forward in a crisis. A voice to be heard when things aren’t going well.  

He’s a modern day defender. Never mind that Harry Maguire ‘breaks the lines’. My goodness, Luiz has been doing that for years. And if there’s a centre-back playing that knocks a better diagonal ball that he does I haven’t seen him. Emery knows all this. They had time at PSG together, where Paris loved him for his leadership qualities. It’s great business. Have a look at what he’s won. You don’t do that by being ordinary.

I said after that miserable Europa League performance that I didn’t think there was much wrong at Arsenal - which of course drew the usual slew of abuse. But I stand by that. A leader and centre back was required. Done. A good left back was also required. Done. Kieran Tierney is another really good piece of business. For me it’s nip and tuck between him and Robertson - and the same goes for a couple of Scotland managers, who’ve had the dilemma of choosing one or the other. Right now Robertson is better - but give Tierney a season in the PL and you watch.

Second on my list of ‘top buys’ is Fabian Delph. What a steal. Ten million for someone with his kind of experience? It’s robbery. He’s Everton’s James Milner. Again - like Luiz and Milner - a top pro. He’s got a great attitude to playing and winning. Like the other two - he’s got vast experience. Like the other two he can play in a variety of positions. And although he’s 29 - in terms of ‘game
miles’ he’s nowhere near that. A terrific buy.

Third is Che Adams. Southampton have got a steal. If this kid progresses as he should he’ll be a superstar. I watched a lot of him last season and boy - can he finish. He’s a handful. He gets all types of goals. I can’t believe that more didn’t go in. He’s just what Everton need. And Newcastle. Perhaps Leicester. Why didn’t one of the big boys have a nibble? Perhaps they did and perhaps Adams has smartly realised that he needs games to progress. He’ll get them at Southampton where he’ll also get a bag full of goals.

Now the dangerous business of predictions! Ask City and Liverpool fans if they would’ve swapped trophies last season and the answer is ‘yes’. I’m working largely on that basis now. I predicted Liverpool to win the league adding ‘if they don’t win it this season they never will’. I retract that. I said it because I genuinely thought it was their best chance ever. They did great business in the January bringing in Van Dijk and I love watching them play their ‘Rock and Roll’ football. Give me that over a possession based game all day long.

My only reservation for them now is that they might end up playing too many games. It remains to be seen how seriously being involved with the World Club Championship affects them.

So. 1 Liverpool. 2. City. Whatever Guardiola says I don’t believe that he doesn’t desperately want to get his hands on the CL. He still hasn’t won it - or got anywhere near winning it without Messi. That statistic must annoy him. And he’s now got a team every hit as good as that Barcelona team he coached - Messi aside.

3. It’s got to be Spurs. But please, shut up Poch. You’re becoming new Rafa. Stop complaining. If you don’t want to be there - leave. Put a cheeky fiver on Mourinho taking over if that happened!

4. Arsenal. This will surprise a few, but I repeat, I really didn’t think there was a lot wrong last season. They finished really well - the Europa League final aside. And I don’t believe there’s a team better equipped at the top end than they are. There’s goals everywhere.

5. Chelsea. Frank has got it all on but I wish him all the luck in the world. It’s great to see a Brit involved with one of our big clubs again.

6. United. I just can’t see where they’ve improved enough to be any better than last season. And losing  Lukaku without replacing him is reckless. Maguire is good - but is he really much better than anything they have? Not for me. Yes - he ‘breaks lines’ - but then what does he do? Too often he stops and passes sideways or back. Is he as good as Van Dijk? No chance. I don’t think he’s even as as as Laporte. It’s a very expensive £85/90m for me.

One to watch? I think Leicester will go well. They’ve got some good players. They’ll upset a few. I know we chuckle a bit at ‘Brenton’ - and his ‘Brentonisms’ - but Rodgers is a very good coach. He deserves another crack at the PL.

This will surprise their fans - but I think West Ham will go well too.

A lot of people expect Wolves to be mixing it at the top again. I’m not sure. ‘Second season syndrome’ is dangerous - especially when there’s the distraction of Europe.

Watford proved me wrong last season. I love Troy Deeney. With him
around you’ve always got a chance.

I like a lot of Everton’s business but I just don’t think there’s enough goals in them.  Zaha would’ve been something completely different.

This is where it gets really hard. The bottom four!

Norwich have to finish bottom. They’ve spent just over a million. That’s nowhere near enough. They’ll surprise a few at home - but I fear they’re going to take a few beatings. If Farke is still there at Christmas I’ll be surprised but sacking him won’t make a difference. In fact, it would be very unfair after what he’s achieved.

Then it’s two from three. Without Zaha I think Palace will struggle. They desperately need him. I’m a big fan. I know you’re thinking ‘but they’ve got him’. Have they? Or should they have cashed in early and done business to replace him?

I fear for Brighton. It’s great to see tue likes of Graham Potter getting a chance, but if he makes them too easy to beat they’ll struggle.

Time might just catch up with Bournemouth. They went off like a steam train early last season - but look at their form from late November. I like Eddie Howe a lot, but perhaps both he and Bournemouth need a different challenge?

Sheffield United and Villa won’t find it easy - but they’ve both done good business. Chris Wilder and Dean Smith are good guys - good coaches too. Enjoy it lads. 

Newcastle will do ok. Believe me. What a breath of fresh air Steve Bruce will be. He’ll get them playing - and they’ve got the players to do that - unlike Brighton, who can’t afford to. It was so refreshing to hear Bruce talk about winning a trophy. He knows they can’t complete in the top 6. Those days have gone - unless you’re owned by a Nation State or a billionaire. But Newcastle CAN win a trophy if the coach cares enough about silverware and not his bonus for grinding out a top 10 finish.

VAR - let’s not go there. Suffice to say it will cause more arguments than it settles.

And all these new kits? I’ll pass judgement as we go on #beINSPORTS - but I like the majority. In brief - it’s great to see United back in a ‘proper’ strip. I hated the black shorts. And Arsenal’s is pure class. Enjoy your season...