View From The Opposition – Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur

We are over half way through our look at the new season courtesy of our Premier League panel so it is about time to check in with the views on Manchester United and Spurs.

Manchester United @Doc_Joshi

Q. What are the fan expectations?

This is difficult. As a fan, you can’t really “expect” the team to win the league or win a trophy but for a club like Manchester United with the outlay we’ve seen on players, you have to say that no season is a successful season without silverware. After that you have varying degrees of success dependent on what you actually win.

Generally speaking, the fans want to see more attractive, attacking football. With the talent in the squad, this should almost be a formality but for whatever reason, Jose Mourinho has found it difficult to get the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard playing in a cohesive manner. There’s a feeling that he doesn’t quite trust the defence enough to let go of his defensive tendencies but two years into his tenure you’d expect more. Hopefully, with a few choice signings, we will see it.

Q. Which position does your team desperately need to improve?

Where do I start? Looking at the word “desperately” I have two positions in mind. Centre back is an area where I would like to see a top level, experienced defender come in and bring some leadership to the back four. That said, I think we’re well stocked there. I’d hope Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof can form a good partnership and we have good depth there in numbers with a mix of youth and experience, so it’s not necessarily an area of “desperate” need.

The two areas I was thinking of are left back and right wing; also, the two areas where Mourinho has failed to make a signing since joining the club. I really want to see the full-backs upgraded but, given you’re asking about one position and the fact that we’ve signed Dalot (a promising Portuguese full back who can play on both sides) I’d be inclined to give Luke Shaw a final chance to prove he can be the player we’ve seen only in flashes.

That leaves us with right wing (or the right side of attack). Over the last two seasons we’ve tried Mata, Lingard, Martial, Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Sanchez there with nobody making it their own. Whilst I think Rashford has the attributes to develop into a top-level right sided attacker with the right coaching and motivation, I don’t think that will happen overnight. It’s an area that is crying out for someone to come in and dominate hence the links with Willian and Ivan Perisic. Neither are inspiring players to me but if I were to pick from the two I’d sign Willian. He’s a natural right sided player and has Premier League experience. What would get me more excited would be if there was some truth in us being interested in Christian Pulisic, the young Dortmund winger. Sadly, I envisage an, ultimately unsuccessful, deadline day bid for Perisic!

Q. Name a player from your club that will shine

Paul Pogba. He was one of our best players last season despite what some sections of the media would have you believe. He was by no means perfect but the difference in the side when he played versus when he was injured was marked. He managed a goal or an assist in the league every 134 minutes last season. To put that into context, player of the year contender, Kevin de Bruyne managed a goal or assist every 129 minutes. I understand that statistics don’t paint the full picture but, having watched him week in week out, I know Pogba is a top-level midfielder just searching for some consistency (and fair reporting!). His hair seems to be a distraction for many who watch him; it really isn’t a distraction for him.

The World Cup will have been a life changing experience and hopefully one that has introduced a level of maturity into his game that will see him elevate himself into that top echelon of player. Many of his France teammates commented on how they were surprised by his leadership qualities in the dressing room and this was seen in the videos of the French changing room before the final. Pogba was leading the team talk and spoke with authority, maturity and was clearly an inspiring figure for the side. If he can bring that back to United it could be the making of him at the club.

Q. Where will your team finish in the league and how will they do in the cups?

I always find this difficult! My head says we still have work to do. But then the fan in me says we finished second last year and didn’t see the best of any of our players on a consistent level (other than David De Gea). There is so much scope for improvement that if things come together we could see the beginnings of a special team. But even that is tempered by the fact that City are already a special side and Liverpool have strengthened well in the summer. My head says that second and a cup run (potentially culminating in a win) is the best that we can hope for at the minute but with nine days of the transfer window to go, there’s still time to make signings that might make a difference.

Q. Predict the title winners, teams relegated and domestic cup winner.

  • Premier League – Manchester City (urgh!)
  • Relegated – Watford, Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City

Domestic cups are difficult to predict but I can’t see past the big teams. Maybe Mauricio Pochettino and Jurgen Klopp will break their trophy ducks in England with the League Cup and FA Cup between them, but I doubt it. Chelsea and City to share the spoils.

Q. Your thoughts on Palace and how we will do this season?

There’s a lot to like about Palace and I’m not only talking about it being one of the best away days in the league! Roy Hodgson has done well in his short time there and in Wilfried Zaha they have the best player outside of the top six clubs in the league. However, there’s been very little activity in the transfer window and the squad lost Ruben Loftus-Cheek who had an excellent season in midfield. I think it will be a difficult season for a lot of clubs but if Palace don’t make a few quality signings they could be dragged towards the bottom of the table, especially if they were to lose Zaha as well. I think they may flirt with the relegation zone for a while but Hodgson will steer them into the mid-table zone in the end.


Tottenham Hotspur @KevRov

Q. What are the fan expectations?

Our expectations for this season are almost identical to those last off-season: top four and a trophy. Obviously, we fell short on the trophy front, again, last season, but did finish third and gave a good account of ourselves in both the Champions League and FA Cup. If we could repeat that again it would be a very good season indeed but, a lot of our fans, and likely some of the players will be looking at this campaign with a “trophy or bust” mindset.

Q. Which position does your team desperately need to improve?

Tottenham are in a bit of a unique situation as there are no clear weaknesses in our first team. That would certainly change if either Toby Alderweireld or Moussa Dembele left, but for now, we look a very solid side. If pressed, a partner or back up option to Harry Kane that could actually score goals would be nice (sorry Fernando Llorente/ Vincent Janssen), but that position has proven tiresomely difficult to solve. Personally, I would love to bring a gifted passer into central midfield, though it’s unlikely we address that position until Dembele leaves the club.

Q. Name a player from your club that will shine?

Lucas Moura. People forget, but once upon a time he was one of the most touted prospects in the game. His move to Paris Saint Germain never really seemed to click, but he picked up boatloads of trophies which should help promote a new winning culture at Tottenham. As a player, Lucas provides the pace and creativity that Spurs had been looking for on the right for years and he should become an integral part of an even more dangerous Tottenham attack this season.

Q. Where will your team finish in the league and how will they do in the cups?

A lot of fans are panicking over our lack of transfers but, Liverpool aside, I don’t think the gap between the other clubs and ourselves has widened too significantly. Chelsea, Manchester United, and Manchester City have all basically just made one big move. Arsenal made a fantastic signing in Lucas Torreira but also added three players whose names are bigger than their recent performances. Because of all of this, I think Tottenham, even with the lack of signings, can still be confident of a third consecutive top-four finish. Unfortunately, a trophy may be a bridge too far for Tottenham again this season.

Q. Predict the title winners, teams relegated and domestic cup winners?

  • Premier League – Manchester City
  • Relegated – Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Watford
  • Domestic cup winners: Manchester United, Liverpool

Q. Your thoughts on Palace and how we will do this season?

Things certainly did not go to plan last season, but the fact you finished the season in 11th was a pretty impressive feat. As for this season, I would be surprised if your name was ever really mentioned in the relegation fight. You could well be in for a top half finish if Wilfried Zaha stays, Christian Benteke can find any semblance of form, and you avoid the kind of heinous injury record you suffered last season. Like with Tottenham, a signing or two certainly wouldn’t hurt.






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