Analysis Opinion Insight

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New Season, new signings, new rules

With just under 3 days to go to the start of the new Barclays Premier League Season, the size and composition of each club's squad will be more closely regulated by the Premier League itself, as the 20 clubs introduce a UEFA style 25man squad limit. This self imposed squad limit, which hopes to make the clubs more "young talent friendly", financially sustainable and competitive, are not well understood by the general population, with managers such as Harry Redknapp complaining about a lack of knowledge as to the technicalities and the need for the home-grown player rules. Premier League Home Grown Player Rules
Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez celebrates
 his fortuitous goal in the Charity Shield. 

So with the clubs required to name 17 overseas and 8 home grown,over 21 players, with a no limits as to how many  under 21 they employ, United have only added 2 players, (Smalling and Hernandez) to their books, while selling Tosic and releasing Heaton, Gray and Zieler , and loaning out a whole host of younger players who need  match time and experience.

With Owen Hargreaves and Anderson Oliveira sidelined with knee injuries, and Edwin van der Sar, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs entering the final months/years of their respective glorious careers, Sir Alex has put his faith in a collection of supremely talented young players sourced from all over the world. In Ben Amos, Rafael da Silva, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Fabio da Silva, Gabriel Obertan, Darren Gibson, Tom Cleverley, Nani, Federico Macheda, Danny Welbeck, Mame Diouf and Javier Hernandez, United have high quality talent to call upon when the established squad members require rejuvenation or rest.

The rest of League have conducted various levels of pruning and replenishing, but none compare to that done by our Manchester Neighbours. The seemingly limitless pile of cash available to them have seen some top quality players come to Man City this summer, with Silva and Yaya Toure confirmed and speculation surrounding Balotelli and Milner continuing, along with a much more stable defence, with quality wing backs in Boateng and Kolorov strengthening a highly visible weakness from last season. Such wholesale change however, has come at a cost, and may prove to be a problem in the future. Having inflated the wage market in luring the likes of Bellamy, Santa Cruz, Bridge, Adebeyor, Lescott and Kolo Toure to Eastlands, the second phase of their accelerated growth has left the transfer dealers at Man City with the unenviable problem of having to shift unwanted players on sky high wages to clubs who can't afford to pay them. This will shine the light on a players willingness to take a pay cut to guarantee first team football, and I for one, expect a few of City's millionaires to sit on the bench all year and keep banking their astronomical salaries. Another solution available to Mr. Mubarak, is to loan out unwanted players, and pay the difference between the clubs' salaries, an option Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp in in favour of using to acquire Craig Bellamy.

Spurs themselves have yet to conduct many deals, with young Brazilian midfielder Sandro being the only summer signing so far. That said, renowned "wheeler-dealer" Redknapp is said to be in pursuit of Aston Villa's Ashley Young, West Ham's Scott Parker  and Nice's Loic Remy and he did chase Joe Cole, who having entertained bids from most of England's top clubs, decided to give his career the proverbial "shot-in-the-arm" by moving away from London and signing for Merseyside's, Liverpool. New manager Roy Hogson (whose only claim to fame, according to Mohammed Al-Fayed, is coaching Fulham), has acquired the assurances of commitment from Messrs. Carragher, Reina, Gerrard and Torres, while securing the services of Milan Jovanovic, Dnny Wilson, Fabio Aurelio, the aforementioned Joe Cole, and highly talented young Englishman, Jonjo Shelvey. The deservedly hyped former Charlton Athletic player smartly refused to join the Arsenal "central creative midfielder stockpile", and has seen some pre-season game time in the newly sponsored Reds shirt. Arsenal, contrary to popular belief, actually spent some money in signing Marouane Chamakh  ( all be it on wages), and  Laurent Koscielny, and rumour has it that Almunia will high-tail it to Villa, to make way for Schwarzer, who's position is said to be filled by soon to be Ex-Villa stopper Brad Friedel. As the transfer window slowly closes, and Man City look to slash their wage bill, a lot of activity is expected, and team line ups will no doubt change even after deadline day.

So with United playing Newcastle this coming Monday (a game United have traditionally won) to kick off their season,  followed by a trip to London to face Fulham and then at home to the Hammers, Sir Alex's men will be hoping to hit top form before September's fixtures against Everton, Liverpool and Bolton.

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