Jamie’s Premier League Preview
TITLE RACE OVER BEFORE IT STARTS IF CITY SIGN KANE
If Manchester City sign Harry Kane – in addition to securing Jack Grealish – then there’s no point in anyone else turning up. It’s going to be ridiculous. They have the best team with the best players in virtually every position.
But, look, Manchester United and Chelsea have still got great teams. I’ve given United a lot of stick and I’m still not sold on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. however they are going in the right direction.
Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane are top signings and spending big money again will add to the pressure on Solskjaer, especially with fans in the ground. They simply have to win something this year but I can’t see them beating City.
As for Chelsea a lot depends on whether they sign a number nine – and who it is. If they get a Haaland or a Lukaku then that will make things very interesting. Thomas Tuchel also has something over Pep Guardiola after the Champions League final.
Liverpool? They haven’t signed anyone. They need a refresh and it doesn’t look like it will happen. It could also take Virgil van Dijk a little while to get up to speed after so long out. They’re too good to lose out on the top four but they are missing a big signing or two to revamp the squad.
If City don’t sign Kane then it opens right up. They have options without a striker but, for me, they need one and it will be a lot easier if they get Kane. I don’t see him going to another Premier League side.
That’s my top four. I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom at Tottenham. My old club must put the farce of the managerial hunt behind them and obviously the Kane situation doesn’t help at all but there have been some decent arrivals and I like the way that Nuno plays. You can see he fancies himself as a gaffer and he knows what he’s doing. Spurs have fallen off the top four level but top six would be a decent season in the circumstances.
Arsenal forking out £50m on Ben White is a very good business – I wish Spurs had gone for him – he’s going to be a top, top player. I just don’t see them putting enough results together to finish higher than fifth or sixth. Mikel Arteta has got to be careful. He had a free pass last season after winning the FA Cup and he will need to show progress and compete. You can’t finish eighth again: this is Arsenal we’re talking about.
Leicester have fluffed it the last couple of seasons and despite having a world class manager in Brendan Rodgers you just can’t see them breaking the stronghold.
At the other end the promoted sides are favourites to go back down but I think Newcastle are going to struggle. I said this a year ago and Steve Bruce proved me wrong but I don’t see it ending well for them this time. They need to back him in the transfer market yet it never happens. Pre-season hasn’t been going great and some fans have started giving him stick already. It’s that whole negative atmosphere about the place and with crowds back at St James’s Park, they are going to be ruthless. It could turn toxic.
PLENTY OF CONTENDERS IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP
In the Championship, it’s hard to look beyond the obvious candidates and it should be incredibly competitive.
I expect to see one of my old clubs Fulham do well. They know how to get out of the division. Do they have enough to win it? I think maybe just. They’ve done it the hard way twice with the play-offs but this time they can do it.
Scott Parker is a top manager and Bournemouth will be a good side with him in charge. They’ve still got a strong squad and they will definitely be contenders.
If Chris Wilder was still at Sheffield United then you’d be very confident; without him, I don’t know. West Brom should go up – they’ve got the money, they pay the wages, and they’ve got the players,
Barnsley are ones to keep an eye on. They’re a decent outfit that people don’t talk about enough but they can have a go.
The big worry in the Championship is Derby.
I love Wayne Rooney but he’s got serious problems there and he needs to walk away. I understand why he’s staying around – he’s a new manager and wants to prove to everyone he can do it. But it’s a poisoned chalice.
He’s Wayne Rooney; he doesn’t need to be there. He’s won everything and done it all. Derby are falling through the floor and the worry is that it will be a lot harder for him to get another job if he goes with them. They’re going to go down and he doesn’t want that on his CV.
SUNDERLAND AND SALFORD SET FOR SILVERWARE
Leagues One is always very hard to call. I know from experience just how tough it is. Look at how many ex-Premier League sides are down there.
Sunderland absolutely have to get promoted this time out. They can’t spend another season in the third tier and I reckon they’ve got a manager in Lee Johnson who can deliver. Expect another of my former employers, Portsmouth, to run them close. I think they will go up. Fans will be onside with the Cowleys and if Fratton Park is rocking there’s no better place to play football.
You look at Salford’s owners and they only accept the best. I don’t see anyone other than them winning the title. They’ve got the money and now experience at this level to push on for the next. Forest Green are another extremely well-run club and I can see them going up too.
PREMIER LEAGUE: MANCHESTER CITY
LEAGUE ONE: SUNDERLAND
LEAGUE TWO: SALFORD