Aug 102009
 

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?

Top 5:

Chelsea (and I hate to say that)
Man Utd
Arsenal
Liverpool
Man City

Relegated:

Burnley
Portsmouth
Wolves

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.

Aug 072009
 

With the start of the season fast approaching, I thought it time to get another viewpoint on the summer and the campaign ahead, and with United and Liverpool fans for brothers (yes, I know), who better than to kick off this new feature?

This will hopefully be the first in a series of interviews throughout the season, getting the viewpoints of both clubs regarding how their season is going, and how they view Arsenal from the outside. So, without further ado, welcome tripli00, lifetime Liverpool fan, to give his thoughts.

Thanks for joining me today. First off, how do you think the summer has gone for Liverpool so far?

Before losing Alonso (which was coming all summer) its not too bad. This summer seems not to have been the summer to be adding players – but not losing them to other money rich sides. Sorting out the club’s finances with our owners was good as well.

This season will mark twenty years without a league title if Liverpool fail to win it. After coming closer last season than you have in years, do you think you’ve got what it takes this season?

As a fan of course I am going to say yes here – but after last season we are without doubt in with a chance of the title. The season will come down to two important factors – Torres’ hamstring and Gerrard’s groin. Without the two of them we are not title winners, and one down really hurts us.

Last season, much of your success was built on the strength of your midfield. With Alonso gone, an injury prone Aquilani in, and Mascherano itching for a move, are you worried that foundation might not be maintained?

Well Alonso – who was a lovely passer of the ball – is gone and Aquilani comes in to replace him with several million profit. Both have injury histories (remember Alonso’s foot being broken by Frank Lampard) and both wouldn’t and can’t play a whole season – but who can in that kind of role? Mascherano – he would be a big loss but I don’t see him going anywhere now – the rest of the Premier League midfielders will be looking forward to him pressuring them.

The foundation of the team is the central spine – and not much has changed. Aquilani remains unproved and unknown in England yet – but so was Alonso when he came over. Not worried – unless we have another long term injury. Just hope someone has taught Lucas not to concede penalties this summer.

Glen Johnson. £18m well spent?

Tricky question. Good player, good buy, will really help the team forward and back and I am sure will benefit from Carragher. But 18 million? Welcome to English prices. But he is a good international player – part of solid back fours who can cross, overlap and score the occasional stunner, and will play most games. Glad to see him here.

Do Gerrard’s and Torres’ groins and hamstrings have to hold all season for you to stand a chance of winning the league?

In a simple answer, yes. Tweaks we can handle – a tear means time out with it then 4 weeks to get back to the level of making us go wow again.

Who in the squad do you think might surprise people, or come of age this year?

I would like to think that Lucas will surprise a few – he has got better each season. Insua looks a solid left back and I think one of El Zhar or Voronin will get a few more goals that we think.

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?

United have got worse – Ronaldo is a huge loss for them – but Sir Alex is too wise to let that upset him. The back four is still solid (oh for an injury to a centre back). That’s the biggest loss. Chelsea – no big signings – but they have collected them already. Injuries hurt them last year and I think that they will be a better side this season but can they continue? Arsenal have had the usual cut and slice of anyone not on enough money or approaching maturity. Again they are an injury away from trouble – and especially at the back! Liverpool – as already stated – losses and gains – a no movement summer.

How do you see Man City doing this season? Will they prosper and threaten the ‘Big Four’ or will they implode?

No imploding – they will challenge whoever struggles in the top four. They put a good season together last year despite having no idea away from home. If they can get that then you never know. They have yet to show themselves as a solid side – and that’s what leaves a top four side a top four side.

Moving to Arsenal, there is little doubt, as with you getting £30m for Alonso, raising £40m from the sales of Adebayor and Toure is good business. How do you see Arsenal doing this season without the African contingent?

Good business – especially when you miss those players in Jan. They were experienced and Adebayor will be missed as a solo striker which he was good at. Its only good business if the money goes somewhere useful. The Carling Cup side will be great again this year – the best depth young squad as usual – but somewhere it will go wrong this season like last etc.

Who in the Arsenal squad do you think can make the step up this year?

Well not a surprise but a fit and free Walcott will have a good season, Arshavin will have a good one till he tires – and Gibbs will slowly cement as a left back.

Do you think re-signing Vieira would be a good move, or should be avoided?

I think nothing to lose there. He is not the player he was so don’t fall into that trap – but really who else is going to hold the central midfield together? Fabregas is wasted (and a little childish) in that role and no one else would get others moving the ball quickly.

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?

Top five – well that’s easy but the order isn’t. 5 Man City, 4 Arsenal, 3 Chelsea, 2 Man Utd, 1 Liverpool (that’s injuries to Chelsea and Man Utd and not Torres and Gerrard!!)

Birmingham to do a lot better that we think – Aston Villa to not.

Bottom three – Wolves, Hull, Portsmouth

Thanks for your time.

So that’s that – he’s optimistic for the future, but expects the top four to remain as they are, City taking a little longer to break in. Agree or disagree, feel free to leave your comments, but he is family, so no abuse please!

Coming soon…interview with a United fan.