Time to another edition of ‘View from the other side’. Today is the turn of Alan – brother, United fan, and usual winner of family Fantasy Football, to give his views on his club, as well as Arsenal and a view other bits and bobs.
Feel free to add your comments at the end, and for a look back at an interview with a Liverpool fan, go here. Without further ado, a warm welcome to Alan.
Thanks for joining me. It has been quite a summer for United, a world record fee for Ronaldo, plus the surprise of the year with the signing of Owen. How do you feel the close season has gone?
Let’s say it could have gone worse. United look ill equipped to survive an injury crisis… but the same is true of most clubs. £80 million for Ronaldo is nothing to be sniffed at, but we’ve been reliant on him and Rooney for the last two seasons. Now we’re very reliant on Rooney, who’s prone to have patches of not scoring.
No team in history has ever been champions of England four seasons in a row. Can you do it?
We can. Regardless of the strengths of the first team, it’s very difficult to win the league with a number of high profile injuries. The last time Man Utd didn’t win the league – injury crisis in midfield. Last couple of seasons – Chelsea have been affected much worse. Keep the main players fit and any of the big four have a shout.
Undoubtedly, picking up £80m for Ronaldo is great business, but now he’s gone, you need to replace his goals. Who needs to step up this season and shoulder the responsibility?
Number 1 – Berbatov. Ronaldo offered a lot, but his main impact was goals. Valencia, Park, Anderson and Carrick aren’t going to replace those goals – Berbatov is the one who needs to step up.
Can Owen be expected to have a big impact this season?
Yes. He might spend most of the season injured and just score five goals… which would mean he’d be scoring about the same amount of goals as Tevez did last year. And if he doesn’t get injured, even as an impact sub he could be responsible for turning draws into wins, which is what you need to win the league.
Who else are you looking forward to seeing in the season ahead?
For Manchester United – it’d be nice to see Anderson hit a free kick like he did in pre-season. I’ll think we’ll see plenty more of Johnny Evans as well. I’d like to see more of the Da Silva’s as well – Fabio needs to show that he’s not too fond of the treatment table.
Outside United – well, there haven’t actually been the exciting foreign signings that there usually are. It’ll be interesting to see if Fabian Delph can step up.
The ‘other’ Manchester team have been making waves, playing fantasy football and signing an entire new team of forwards, with only the occasional thought for defence. How do you see them doing this season? Are they a realistic threat to the top four?
No. They’ll be a threat whenever they play the big teams, especially Man Utd. But Stoke vs Man City in the middle of winter? Maybe if Hughes is brave and drops Robinho for matches like that. I put them at fifth, unless Liverpool or Arsenal suffer long term injuries at key positions.
You could make a case for the whole top four getting worse this summer – United have lost Ronaldo and Tevez, Chelsea have seen an aging team get older, Liverpool have lost Alonso and Arbeloa and Arsenal have sold Adebayor and Toure. Which of the four do you think have done the best, and worst, with a few weeks to go before the window slams shut?
Arsenal haven’t done too badly, but Adebayor was a focal point for them. They’ve got enough forwards, but none of which can fill his boots fully. Liverpool peaked last season, whereas Man Utd definitely lost goals. So I’d have to say Chelsea – they are getting older, but they’re not past it. And it’s not as if they haven’t got the replacement midfielders for Ballack.
Turning to Arsenal, do you think the sales of Adebayor and Toure will hurt us, or can a canny signing or two make this an excellent summer?
It doesn’t take a genius to say that Arsenal are short of (in priority) a holding midfielder, a centre back and a target man. Long term Wenger thinks the midfield is covered (and there is a lot of young talent in the Arsenal squad), he has enough forwards (even if a lot of them are similar), so a defender is all I think they really need. Fans always clamour for more, but it has to actually improve the side. I’d like Man Utd to sign a creative goal scoring winger. They’re not going to, though.
Do you think bringing Vieira back would be a good idea?
Yes, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. There’s a lot of talk, but no action, which isn’t the way Wenger conducts his transfer business. A pity, as I think he’d make a decent stop gap for key matches.
Arsenal have tons of young talent, but who would you pick out as one to watch this year?
This year? That’s actually a tough one, as they’ll mostly be starting on the bench, waiting for their chance. Which I think they’ll be well equipped to take, a la Gibbs. Song is in the best position to make an impact if he can make the holding midfield berth his own, but at 22 next month he’s not young by Arsenal standards any more. However, I think its time Vela stepped up to make an impact, and he’s got the talent.
Finally, let’s have a prediction – give us your top five for this season? Who do you think will go down, and are there any dark horses to keep an eye on?
Chelsea (and I hate to say that)
Dark Horses? Can’t see any really. I think there will be a lot of teams struggling (Stoke, Birmingham, Bolton, Hull) so outside that… West Ham maybe?
Thanks for your time.
Interesting and balanced stuff there, and like me, he’s tipping Chelsea to win the league this season, horrible as that prospect is. Neither our resident Liverpool or United fan believes City will break into the top four this season.
For more View from the other side, check out the archives here (more will follow!), in the meantime, please add your thoughts below.