We’re back with the second half of the BackPageFootball.com predictions for the year.
6. Which player will prove to be the best summer signing?
Neil Sherwin: I think Marouane Chamakh is a solid signing for Arsenal and brings a different dimention to an already very potent attack. He looks like he has plenty of goals in him and shoud thrive with so many creative players around him. Joe Cole is a very astute signing for Liverpool, especially on a free transfer. Likewise Martin Petrov for Bolton.
Kevin Coleman: I think David Silva will be phenomenal for City, and really turn heads. I think Marouane Chamakh will do a great job for Arsenal and I’d say Man Utd’s new Mexican Javier Hernandez will impress as well. Also watch out for Wigan’s new striker Mauro Boselli, Pablo Barrera of West Ham, Ben Foster at Birmingham and Sunderland’s Ahmed Al-Muhammadi. But I’ll stick with Silva.
Ciaran O’Raghallaigh: David Silva
Neil Ahern: Javier Hernandez
Ed Diggins: Javier Hernandez looks a super prospect for just under £7million . At the time of writing, except City, nothing stands out. David Silva is easy to say, but he comes with a huge tag, huge expectations. Ya Ya Toure will do well I feel, but City have a huge abundance in that department. With all the World cup players back in action now, things may change. Joe Cole is a win win for Liverpool, but again injuries will determine his success. Alot could happen in August, as nothing really has happend yet! Perhaps this is one question that we should all be allowed to update come September!
Gavin Reilly: Not a player, but a manager: Mark Hughes. If we’re talking about players, Javier Hernandez will turn out to be an absolute steal for United, though I think Liverpool were mad to let Yossi Benayoun go and he will become a massively integral part of the Chelski midfield.
Eamonn Power: In terms of bang for your buck there are a number of players who could prove a very shrewd investment. Joe Cole (free) won’t disappoint for Liverpool and Martin Petrov (free) will add an extra touch of class to a Bolton side with a manager who finally likes to play a bit. All in all however, Birmingham’s £6m signing of Ben Foster may prove to be the best move of the summer. Although he has shown signs of weakness in the past, regular first team football outside of the pressures of the very highest level will bring Foster on leaps and bounds. Replacing Joe Hart with another future international was a great move from McLeish. If in a few weeks Mark Hughes can persuade Man City to part with Stephen Ireland my answer to this question may change…… I’m also very enthusiastic about Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez, If he’s given a proper chance, expect him to take it.
Chris Mann: Ramires could come to have a big impact on Chelsea’s season. With Lampard on the wrong side of 30 and Ballack having moved on, the Brazilian could be an integral part of Ancelotti’s midfield. I’m really looking forward to seeing him line-up alongside Michael Essien. One word, dynamic.
Chris Nee: It’s still relatively early in the transfer silly season, but Antolin Alcarez at Wigan was impressive during the World Cup. Titus Bramble does a job but I think Wigan came out better from those deals. There’s huge pressure on Joe Cole to succeed and it’s a big season for him. If he finally pins down a first team place and starts to influence matches week in, week out then Liverpool won’t regret the money he’s going to cost them.
David Bevan: Sunderland’s new right winger Ahmed Al-Muhammadi looks excellent. The most interesting thing about him is that he wins headers – could score a few this season, especially if Kieran Richardson overlaps effectively from left-back and aims for the back post. Also think Martin Petrov is a great signing for Bolton.
Kevyn Doran: Joe Cole will give Liverpool a dimension they haven’t had in years, and David Silva will be the one to watch at Manchester City, but I fancy Antolin Alcaraz to capture headlines at Wigan. A lot of people are tipping them to go down, but I fancy them to surprise us all and finish around midtable. I like the dealings Roberto Martinez has done this summer, none more so than the Paraguayan defender after his tremendous showing this summer. Honourable mentions to Jerome Boateng and whoever picks up Jack Wilshere on loan should it happen.
7. Which player will prove to be the worst summer signing?
NS: Nikola Zigic. I think Birmingham have taken a risk by shelling out a reported £6 million for him. At 6ft 8ins tall, he is now the league’s tallest player. He never impressed in his time at Valencia, though he did find some form while on loan at Racing Santander in 2009. Alex McLeish’s men played some nice football last season but I expect that this will go out the window to a certain extent in favour of long balls to the target man.
KC: There aren’t many to choose from here. No side have bought any particularly bad players, or players who won’t justify their price tag like Aquilani last summer. Yaya Toure at City will do well but won’t merit £200k/week, while Chris Smalling at United will take a while to justify his £10million-odd price tag but he’ll hardly be involved much.
CO’R: Chris Smalling (given the amount paid)
NA: Titus Bramble
ED: One of the City signings, due to the huge amount of money they are throwing about, they all cannot be a success. As I said in point 6, Silva comes with huge expectations and I feel he may struggle so I will go for him. Yossi Benayoun is a strange one for Chelsea and I cannot see why they bought him. Another questions best left until September however.
GR: Titus Bramble (Wigan to Sunderland). Why, oh why, oh why would anyone sign Titus Bramble? You might as well agree to take the field with seven outfielders and Eeyore in goal.
EP: Again talking bang for your buck, Manchester United’s £10m purchase of Chris Smalling is far from a guaranteed success. Whilst Alex Ferguson has signed some of the greatest players ever to grace English shores, he’s also had his fair share of mistakes. Such a high price for a player who seemed to struggle towards the back end of the season when the spotlight shone upon him is a worry for United fans. Smalling won’t be in the top three options for centre-half but given United’s injury problems of last year it is not inconceivable that he will have a large part to play this season. Whereas a mistake or two for Fulham may be glossed over, no such allowances are made at Old
Trafford. Aside from Smalling, I expect Jermaine Beckford to struggle in the top flight with Everton.
CM: £2.5m is a lot of money for Wolves to pay for Jelle Van Damme. As a Southampton fan I feel relatively well qualified to say that the Belgian is simply not good enough to produce consistently good performances at Premier League level.
CN: I’m not convinced there’s any value for Newcastle in having Sol Campbell over a whole season. I suppose the biggest flop will be one of the foreign signings that happens not to come off. That should give Harry Redknapp something to talk about at least.
DB: I can’t see Pablo being a success at West Brom. The pace of the Premiership will be a huge culture shock to him and he will be under immense pressure with the Baggies failing to strengthen their midfield so far. I also think new Birmingham signing Nikola Zigic is in danger of being overrated and it is debateable whether Newcastle’s James Perch is even Championship quality, let alone Premiership.
KD: I don’t like Marouane Chamakh. His goals to games ratio is hardly remarkable, but as a free signing, Arsenal don’t have much to lose. The same can’t be said for Nicola Zigic at Birmingham I’m afraid. I know Birmingham have quite a bit to spend, but that £6 million could surely have been put towards a striker with a better record.
8. Who will be the first managerial casualty of the year?
NS: Roberto Martinez and Owen Coyle will see their respective sides struggle and could battle it out early for the honour of being first out the door. Given Wigan’s miserable start to the year I don’t think it will be too long before the heat is turned up on Martinez.
KC: This is always a tough one to predict, and especially this year for some reason. Blackpool would be harsh to sack Iain Holloway if they found themselves rock bottom of the league, and the same goes for Roberto Di Matteo at West Brom. So I’ll say either Owen Coyle at Bolton, because I don’t think they’ll have a great season, or Roberto Mancini if things go tits-up at City.
CO’R: Roberto Di Matteo
NA: Owen Coyle
ED: Back in January, I predicted Mancini would do well to be there by September. Had he come in September 2009, rather than December, he maybe already gone, as 4th was not an option. However, a huge amount of damage had been done before then with poor signings and several poor draws. The bottom clubs will no doubt blame the manager for their players lack of effort and surely one of them will go, but if City are not in the top four come end of September, its bye bye to the Italian. After that, i will say Wigan will have a new manager as they will be in the bottom three with Chris Houghton also under pressure in the yearly managerial yo yo at Newcastle.
GR: Tony Pulis. Pulis for me has always been a bit of a Tony Mowbray – nice enough football but with far too much naivety. This year he’ll get caught out and only the managerial change will save them from the brink.
EP: Roberto Martinez. Speculation over his began arising last season and I don’t see it being any different this time around. Should Sunderland continue their dismal run of results into this season, Steve Bruce will also be shifting awkwardly in his managerial seat.
CM: I believe that question’s already been answered by Mr O’Neill. Wouldn’t be surprised if Chris Houghton was next, St James’ Park can be a very demanding environment.
CN: Martin O’Neill isn’t likely to get sacked, but he’ll have walked by Christmas. (Ed – this was written before O’Neill’s departure. Mystic Chris!)
DB: Alex McLeish at Birmingham. Carson Yeung may fancy a more exotic name if McLeish starts off badly.
KD: Sam Allardyce. If Blackburn’s change of ownership goes ahead, the new guys in town will want a new manager to come with them. Sam Allardyce has struggled to add quality to his side this summer, and fans are already growing frustrated before a ball has been kicked.
9. What will be the biggest scandal to emerge from the 2010/11 season?
NS: Javier Hernandez is booted out of Manchester United for dipping his little peas into the WAGs of half the dressing room. His replacement, Robbie Keane, immediately states how he is delighted to be joining the club he supported as a boy.
KC: There was so much last year, it’ll be hard to match it really. Expect more WAG trouble, maybe a court case here and there and some transfer scandal to boot. Someone will have something in the closet, and it’ll come out sooner or later.
CO’R: Shaun Wright Phillips is actually John Terry’s lovechild (w/Sinitta).
NA: Leaked sex tape featuring Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Cesc Fabregas.
ED: A baby will be born and the father will be a married England player. It will cause even more huge divisions in the already weak England camp.
GR: Dimitar Berbatov’s continuing unemployment, the revelation that Kia Joorabchian still owns all of Carlos Tevez’s scalp, and I’m going to put my neck on the line and say that one player from the “big four” will be found to be a serial performance-enhancing drug user.
EP: Given that the alleged Premier League Star/Teenage Pregancy story is all but common knowledge at this stage I think that the next big scandal may come away from direct action. My money is on one of the Soccer Saturday crew to claim that Jeff Stelling is quite inward back stage and doesn’t like associating with the rest of them. A News of the World sting whereby Jeff is caught slating Paul Merson’s affinity for using cockney slang confirms the stresses behind the laughter.
CM: The goal-line technology debate will inevitably rear its head at some point during the campaign. Also look out for some sort of sexual dalliance involving John Terry and a scrap instigated by Joey Barton in order to complete your “Premier League scandal bingo” card.
CN: Something to do with John Terry or Steven Gerrard and the fact that footballers think they’re untouchable, I’d imagine. Sorry, I couldn’t think of anything funny that didn’t involve Carlo Ancelotti and Terry’s mum.
DB: Well, that all depends on whether Mario Balotelli joins Manchester City doesn’t it? If not, perhaps something to do with the anti-Glazer protests.
KD: These things are always hard to predict, but it’s hard to overlook the goings on at Anfield for a potential candidate. Liverpool’s takeover will rumble on for another while, and Im not 100% convinced the Fernando Torres situation is resolved just yet.
10. What are your hopes/expectations for the year?
NS: On a personal level, I want City to in the top 4 places because if they don’t then the fallout will be massive. I’d also love it if neither United or Liverpool won the title so I’ll be backing Chelsea for the title again, though Arsenal would be an acceptable alternative.
KC: A highly competitive title race, another shuffle of the big four, a good season for Liverpool and some entertaining football with less referee related controversy and more quality, top class football.
CO’R: Hope – Balotelli to show his class, City to finish ahead of United and Chris Hughton to lead Toon to Europe. Expect none of the above to happen!
NA: To grow, and neatly trim, a bansai tree.
ED: As i said in point one, i have higher expectations than last year. I think United will win the league. I predict a massive year, full of attacking football and loads of goals.
GR: As a Man United fan I’m hoping for the building blocks to be laid for a few promising seasons ahead but realistically I expect the real fight to be that for fourth again, with Liverpool, Everton, Spurs, City and Villa all having a right go again.
EP: Hopes: United to have the league wrapped up my late February with Chicharito banging 20+. Expectations: Sky Sports and it its inept pundits once again justifying that the English League is, of course, the best league in the world regardless of the quality on show or the fact that the Spanish league is insanely good to watch and possesses some of the greatest players ever to kick a ball.
CM: I hope that the team that plays the most attractive football wins the league and I’m expecting Ian Holloway to give plenty of memorable press conferences.
CN: I expect the teams with the most money and power to finish near the top and Sky to try to whip us all into a frenzy over which of them will take the title. I hope more people join me in not caring.
DB: hope Blackpool stay up. I have no expectations.
KD: A competitive year with competent officiating and exciting football. You can’t ask for much more than that.
You can read Part 1 of BPF Predicts: The Premiership here!