Who will win the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League title?
This summer has simply proven to us football fans how little time is needed for the face of football to change tremendously. The past few months has set the platform for the most exciting title race in English top flight history, as the winds of change have struck the Premier League like a hurricane.
At the peak of the Premiership these transformations have made their biggest impact. The legendary Scot, Sir Alex Ferguson, has been replaced by compatriot David Moyes; ‘The Special One’ has returned to his rightful home, Stamford Bridge; and Malaga’s former ‘Engineer’, Manuel Pellegrini, has been installed as the new head coach at Manchester City.
These three clubs are the only realistic contenders for this season’s title, in my opinion. In terms of consistency, experience and quality in depth, they are leagues above the division’s remaining sides. The two Manchester clubs and Chelsea are the only teams capable of mounting a successful campaign, the question is, who will be crowned as champions next May?
Current holders Manchester United have arguably experienced the most disadvantageous summer. Having lost Sir Alex Ferguson to retirement, the Glazers have replaced the club icon with the unproven, ex-Everton boss, David Moyes. Although the Toffees’ previous head coach was handpicked by his predecessor, it’s fair to say his appointment has been met by a reasonable amount of controversy.
The Scot will be eager to make an impression at the club, however, I fear it will take more than one summer to complete his transition from a mid-table to a title contending side. During his first season I can’t see him having the same influence as the man whose boots he is filling.
We have already witnessed Moyes’ lack of power and inexperience, this has appeared through his actions in the transfer market. Besides Guillermo Varela, the club have failed to add any new players to the ranks so far this window. Despite flirting with the prospect of Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara and Marouane Fellaini, as of yet, no real quality has been added to the set-up at Old Trafford. Unless Moyes steps up his game and brings in a few fresh faces, United fans will continue to grow increasingly frustrated.
What’s more, United’s pre-season form has failed to fill the fans will any sort of confidence. Two wins from seven attempts during the side’s Tour of Asia is by no means a menacing statistic. Sunday’s Community Shield victory versus Wigan is easily the highlight of a very dull few months for the Red Devils.
I think this season will prove to be a transition period for Manchester United and David Moyes. Realistically the club should be targeting a top two finish, anything more would be a fantastic achievement.
Manchester City were quick to make changes this summer, bringing in just under £100million worth of new talent. The arrival of Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic, alongside new manager Manuel Pellegrini, should add huge amounts of quality to a side already bursting with talent.
If the new players can gel quickly, City should have a real chance of regaining the title this season. Pellegrini will provide much needed consistency and discipline to the club. This combined with his experience in the Champions League should results in a number of positive changes during the upcoming season. ‘The Engineer’ was a clever acquisition for Manchester City’s owners, he is the change the club needed in order to step up to the next level.
Whether or not City will win the title next season, will ultimately come down to how quickly the players can build a working relationship and how well they perform in their opening league fixtures. A good start is vital for Pellegrini, without this, they could fall short come the end of the season.
Chelsea are my favourites for the upcoming season. The return of Jose Mourinho is a huge bonus for the London club, his discipline and experience will bring a new dimension to Stamford Bridge. After 6 years away from London, Jose Mourinho has returned to the club where he won two Premier League titles between 2004 and 2007.
The Portuguese manager is the most successful coach in Chelsea history, leading them to five major trophies in five seasons and he has provided this quality of achievement wherever he has taken control.
Mourinho will provide all the qualities needed for Chelsea to challenge for the Premier League again. His managerial ability paired with the current set-up is the perfect formula for even greater triumph.
Chelsea haven’t made huge noises in terms of transfer activity – bringing in Andre Schurrle, Marco van Ginkel and Mark Schwarzer – however, these players will add depth to the current squad.
Despite the fact Mourinho hasn’t yet signed a new striker, I believe Romelu Lukaku will capably lead the forward line next season. 17 goals for West Bromwich Albion last season was no fluke and I’m sure he will improve on this total during the 2013/14 campaign.
Blue should be the colour this season; the blue of Chelsea or Manchester City. However I’m hoping Moyes’ United will surprise a few people. But, to succeed the squad need to shake off the hangover left by Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure.
Most bookies favour City, and it can be an expensive game going against the odds-makers, but the feeling for Chelsea glory rests on the dug-out dwellers.
Pellegrini has still to learn the rigours and rhythms of English football and the team needs time to gel. Meanwhile, Mourinho has never lost at home in the Premier League and the ‘Special One’ thoroughly deserves his self-appointed title.
Prediction: Chelsea 1st, Manchester United 2nd, Manchester City 3rd