So the new season is upon us and we start again from 0. Will this be a push on from 9th into European places, or is that wishful thinking, and should we be grateful for mid table consolidation and not worrying about relegation.
I am normally an optimistic fella, but I can’t help but think we don’t yet have the squad to break into the top 6 and another top 10 finish would be a great result. If we can strengthen on the pitch using some youngsters and a couple more purchases, and develop off the pitch with stadium expansion, the next few years look hopeful and we can really push on.
So, what has happened since I last put pen to paper (or finger to iPad I suppose) for the last thread. We have had a few signings … I am not sure Jack counts really, given he has been here 3 years, but at £15m from what I have read, that looks like a great deal and makes him ours. I have to admit having never really heard of Firpo, but a good left back will really help us and from what I have seen / read the link up with Harrison has started well. Klaesson looks like another good young keeper, and hopefully inspires more confidence than Kiko sometimes did…I was in the North Stand for the Derby play off semi final…. Plenty more for the U23s but I think we have an issue here…the jump from PL1 to the Premiership is a big one, and these boys have not successfully competed in PL1 yet, so I wonder if those calling for immediate squad inclusion are being over-optimistic, but I would love to be proved wrong.
So as we go into this new season I look at the table and can see a number of teams that we should comfortably finish above:
Then there are the teams that I believe we can finish above:
Then there are the teams I think we will finish amongst:
So, given that leaves some combination of the Manchester clubs, Liverpool, Chelsea and Leicester that I think will finish ahead of us, it means as well as predicting a riot, I can see anywhere between 6th and 10th for us. Even if things go wrong, and we pick up some key injuries I just cannot see how more than 3 of those I think we will comfortably beat can finish ahead of us….so no relegation worries really.
So, where do I think we have gaps….
we have an excellent young keeper, and what looks like a great backup, no problems there
3 great, and 1 good centrebacks
Ayling and Firpo look like quality fullbacks to me, although not sure if we get a long term injury what we do, beyond the inevitable answer of Dallas, which then leaves us short in midfield
Phillips is world class, and really surprised (but delighted) we have not had a big offer made for him, but again, not sure we have back up there. Koch doesn’t do it for me (as they say!), and Forshaw not proven
Wingers, we have Raphinia and Harrison, both excellent, and Poveda as back up…I like him, but just wish he wouldn’t try too hard…always seems to want to do it himself. Not sure Costa is up to it, or rather not up to it consistently…on his day he can be very good. Do we need another one?
In the middle we have Klich, who seems to be getting back in the pace again, Dallas and Shackleton, although I am not really sure anymore what Jamie’s best position is, Bielsa seems to keep moving him around. We definitely need more creativity here.
Up front we have Bamford, who I will come back to in a minute, Rodrigo and Roberts. I think the later two haven’t quite found their place yet, but for both of them I think they will come good this season. Tyler improved hugely last season and I think will keep going, if anything he needs a more consistent run out, and Rodrigo is class and shows moments of brilliance. So, back to Bamford - I have a worry here. Not that I think he is a bad player at all, I am a huge fan, the work he does off the ball is immense and when we play without him we lose shape. But I am concerned, I think he played out of his skin last season, and I am nervous it was because the crowds weren’t there…so when we are back, will the pressure tell on him…I hope not, and I am probably worrying over nothing, but there you go.
All in all, not bad, but worried about depth and creativity…how will we break teams down when they park the bus…where does the magic come from?
Get on with it, I hear you cry! On to the game then…let’s talk about Manchester United. I am not going to get personal, I am not going to name call, I don’t really understand fans who refuse to wear red for example. But it would be great to start with a win wouldn’t it. Given that Ole appears to be under some pressure to perform this season, he has just signed a new contract after all, and spent rather a lot of money, it would be a fantastic start to beat them, even if it is 0-1 with a 91st minute goal that came off Rodrigos arse (I bet you would get 200-1 at Paddy Power for that…you heard it here first!)
I am not sure I really care about those glory hunter Man U fans, so I can’t even be bothered to research them, but I do know a few at work, so hoping Monday won’t be too bad in the office.
Also, if I start listing players who have played for both clubs we are going to wonder why we sold Cantona and argue about Alan Smith, who is still a childhood hero of mine, so let’s not bother. But coming the other way Strachan was a fabulous signing.
For them I am not sure Varane will be signed and ready, and Sancho won’t have trained much with them, so can’t see him playing. A lot of their team are only just back in training too. I see their key threats as Fernandes, so let’s hope Phillips can keep him in his pocket like he did at Elland Road last year, and not get dragged around the pitch like at Old Trafford, and Greenwood, who I would much rather be playing than say Rashford or Cavani (both of whom are unavailable). Don’t think Pogba will play either ...his move to PSG has fallen through, so what state will his head be in, and he didn’t play in either game last year…he can’t cope with our game.
With Llorente and Shackleton being injured I expect the Leeds line up to be:
Ayling Koch Struijk Firpo
Raphinia Dallas Klich Harrison
With a bench of Klaesson, Cooper, Forshaw, Poveda, Rodrigo, Roberts, Costa. I can’t see the kids on the bench for this game.
On to the business end… I think we will start the season with more energy and a higher tempo and catch Man U out…I am predicting a 1-2 start to the season with Raphinia and Bamford scoring. The weather will be showery but not windy…still 18 degrees so only your kagoul needed….
I am predicting a win for two reasons. Firstly, I really think we can…we generally play a bit rubbish in pre season friendlies and then start the real thing well. More importantly, I have tickets for the Everton game so I really want to do the MDT for that one…so come on football gods…I will sacrifice a Man U supporting work colleague….
That’s enough football, we all know you have been waiting for a chart….
Here goes, let’s look at the power of civilisations over the last few thousand years in an infographic created in 1931 by John Sparks. It has some obvious flaws, there is definitely a Western bias to it, and given its age, some of the terms used maybe considered dated today, but it tells an interesting story or the rise and fall of powers.