It’s not City for me…

Published: Thursday, 04 August 2022

  I wanted desperately to be wrong. I     know. You don’t believe me. But I did. I really wanted it to work out for Ronaldo and United part II. Ronaldo will forever be the greatest player of his generation for me. Arguably the GOAT. But what was going to unfold at United was all too predictable. It was never going to work. 

I said at the time that it was a romantic signing. A bad signing. That he would score 20 goals, but contribute nothing to the ‘team’. Well?  
I’d happily drive him to his next destination if I was ten Hag. He blew the dressing room up last season and he’ll do it again this time round if they don’t get rid of him. 

At 36 and with his best years behind him, he can’t expect to be anything more than a cameo sub these days. But he won’t have that. For some strange reason he believes that United should be building a team around him.

Really? He can’t play wide anymore. He definitely can’t play up top - so where does he fit in? The answer is - he doesn’t.

Sadly his stand-off with United has also exposed how little there is they ten Hag can do about it. I read he’s told Ronaldo his behaviour last week was ‘unacceptable’. Ouch. The sulking superstar must be stung by they eh? No. He doesn’t care - and he’s exposed an immediate weakness of ten Hag’s. He can talk tough - but he can’t see it through with senior pro’s. 

Am I surprised to see United toiling in the transfer market and pre-season? No. Nothing has changed really. And it could get worse before it gets better. Big players don’t want to sign for United right now. 

It’s a real shame that they didn’t make more of an effort to buy Lewandowski. What a difference he would’ve made. No9’s are back in fashion - and he’s got a year or two left in him. Remember the job van Persie did at about the same age? Almost single handedly he won them a title. There was a time Lewandowski would’ve crawled to Manchester to sign for United. 

I’ve always said that we need a strong United and Ten Hag might eventually get it right, but it won’t be this season.

My feeling is that he likes working with young players. He’s intimidated by senior pro’s. If I’m right - it’ll be a while before United are a force again. I don’t see much better than top 6. 

Ibrahimovic reckons Guardiola is the same - which is why he lost control of Messi and there are always changes close-season - wherever he works. He too wants youth. The only time City didn’t make wholesale changes they lost the title to Liverpool.

Haaland is a class act - no question about that. But how much time will he need to adapt to a new league? Forget adapting to a new country. He knows England well enough.

Will he hit the ground running - or will he be new Sancho? They’re still making excuses for him at United. My feeling is that Sancho simply isnt good enough. It was all too easy for him in Germany. 

You couldn’t say that about Haaland. But I’m not totally convinced. There’s something about Nunez I like more. This won’t sit well with City fans, but I reckon Liverpool have done better business. We’ll see. It’s all conjecture but it gives us something to talk about doesn’t it?

I’ve never tipped City to win it. I don’t know why - and I’m not going to now! Make no mistake - they should. They really should. They probably will - but Liverpool are due one and I don’t care what they say publicly - Guardiola, Mansour and co are desperate to win the CL. Without question that’s the one they MUST win.

So it’s Liverpool and City one and two for me. The other two top four places are a roll of the dice. I’ll go Spurs and Chelsea again - but Arsenal will be better this time and Jesus is a terrific signing.

I expect the Hammers to go well, but I don’t see them in a CL place. I reckon Moyes would take a trophy - any trophy. And so he should. If he delivers silverware it will have been a great season.

Wolves surprised me last time round. I had them down to struggle. They’re certainly not stronger than they were which is why I think they’ll be at the wrong end this time. The way they finished last season should worry their fans.

Leicester? Again I’d be worried if I were a fan. It’s been an awful close season and there isn’t much time left to change that. Brighton? Safe. No more - no less. And that should satisfy everyone at The Amex. Never ever forget what you are. Strive for progress, but realise your station. Charlton forgot what they were and look what happened.

Eddie Howe knows he’s got to make an impression. I’ve been taken by how careful Newcastle have been in their spending so far. It’s evolution not revolution and Geordie fans can look forward to a season in a way that they haven’t since Sir Bob was in charge. The debate about ownership is over. It’ll be good to see a fine football club rattle a few cages.

Palace will do what Palace do - get 40ish points. Brentford would settle
for that, but they’re in for a battle. Eriksen turned their season on its head. They were going down until he signed. He’s still a top player and he’ll make a massive difference at United. That really is a good piece of business. But Brentford will miss him
- massively. And second season syndrome will be a factor.

Villa have got to make a statement. It’s them and Newcastle that should be shaking up the natural order of things. They spent big again in the summer and Gerrard will have failed if they’re not challenging for a place in the top six.

New-boys aside - that leaves us with Saints, Everton and Leeds. Saints will struggle again. Hassenhuttl was lucky to survive the back room clear out. Those things rarely work unless you get rid of the lot - manager included. I don’t think he’ll be there in November.

Frank Lampard has got it all on. He’s already called it. He knows it’s going to be a long season. Everton simply aren’t good enough. I fear for them.

Leeds are interesting. I quite liked Jesse Marsch when he arrived, but I’m not hearing good things. Like Everton - they’re another club where there’s too much going on behind the scenes for it to be healthy. Verdict? Another struggle.

Of the new-boys I think Forest are best equipped to survive. The City Ground will be a hard place to visit, but they’ll still struggle to win 10 games. I reckon they’ll have enough - just about enough - if they can win a few at home.

Fulham? Down. Bournemouth? Down. If you pushed me I’d go with Southampton to make up the relegated three. If you’re looking for a surprise struggler - its got to be Leicester. And for the record - I’ve had two of the bottom three correct in each of the last two seasons. So be worried if you support those teams. 😂. 

On a general note - why are the PL waiting to allow us to hear conversations between Stockley Park and the refs? I notice that Ch Exec Richard Masters has said that they’re ‘working towards’ releasing audio post match. Why post match? What have they got to hide? Do it now. It’s our game - not yours Richard. Nor is it Mike Riley’s.

I know why they won’t. It’s because Riley still wants to make all the big calls from his bunker. Refs visited a monitor more than 60 times last season and were told what decision to make to make as they approached it. Not once - not once - did a ref stand by his original decision. I’m pretty certain they’re waiting for Howard Webb to change things when he replaces Riley. To be honest - I’d have taken the comedian Rob Webb as long as someone replaced Riley. If I’m wrong Mike - prove it. But you know I’m not.

We haven’t got one VAR official at the WC this year. Proof that the rest of the world knows we don’t use it as it was intended. I hope Mike Dean can help make a difference - but will he? On retiring he called himself an ‘entertainer’ with a whistle. An entertainer? That’s not a refs job Mike. We don’t want to be entertained by the ref - we simply want him to get things right.

And I fail to see how Dean can’t be compromised by his new role as a ‘pundit’ for the Daily Mail. That’s utter madness. It shouldn’t be allowed. Dean argues that PL clubs have asked for more openness - and that he can provide it with his new column. No. He can’t. The Mail are paying him. It’s a conflict of interests. Of course we want openness - so let us listen to the conversations at the monitor - and make yourself available to everybody Mike - not just The Mail. I hope the other papers really kick off about it. 

And so we start our 30th PL season. I’ll have a few more words on that subject on Monday - but yes - Andy and I were both there - although you wouldn’t know it reading some of the previews. 

Final word. What don’t these people get? Of course girls should be allowed to play football at school. I didn’t realise that they still can’t. I was coaching 4/5/6 year olds at school when my daughter was at that age. It caused a bit of a stir back then - but I didn’t care. She wanted to play. So I organised games. I had no idea football for girls still wasn’t on the curriculum. Change that - and now.