With managerial changes at each of the Premier League's top three clubs from last season, the campaign of 2013/14 is perhaps the most potentially exciting, yet increasingly unpredictable in recent years.
With Chelsea bringing back the 'Special One', Manchester City hiring the experienced Manuel Pellegrini and Manchester United appointing Glaswegian David Moyes, nobody is quite sure what to expect of the coming season and how these newcomers will adapt to life at their latest clubs.
Although these three teams have dominated the Premier League in the last decade, for me, this season is very much a two horse race. The two horses: Manchester City and Chelsea. Despite Manchester United being the current holders, their decision to hire David Moyes was a precarious gamble. A gamble in which I believe, at least in the near future, will backfire.
Moyes had a decent spell at Everton, finishing most seasons in a respectful league position- even finishing fourth above Liverpool in 2005, though failed to make the Champions League after losing the resulting qualifier. However his lack of trophies is noticeable.
Whilst I acknowledge Everton aren't a leading force in English football, you'd have expected them to perform a lot better on that front. Perhaps an FA Cup, or at the very least a League Cup. But instead Moyes failed to make an impact on either- reaching the FA Cup final only once during his decade in charge, whilst achieving even less in the League Cup.
Having to succeed the most successful manager in English football history, who won no less than 32 domestic trophies, it seemed a strange decision from the Manchester United hierarchy to appoint a man who had won nothing in England.
Whoever you are, you will always be under immense pressure as boss of Manchester United. It's the nature of the beast. It's unfortunate, yet inevitable and one of the few downsides to managing the biggest club in the world. With Moyes yet to really prove himself in England, the pressure increases to a point to which I'm not sure he'll cope. Though saying this, how many credentials did Sir Alex Ferguson have before joining Manchester United? Very few. I suppose time will tell.
When appointing their new manager, it seemed Manchester United wanted to find a Sir Alex replica, and so appointing Moyes was the obvious, and perhaps only, choice. Both are from similar areas of Scotland with fierce and fiery personalities, and so the resemblance is obvious. However it's asking a lot of Moyes to achieve even a quarter of what Sir Alex did, hence the overwhelming pressure placed upon him.
The Manchester United hierarchy are dreaming if they think Moyes will replicate Ferguson's success. However the six year contract shows the extent of their faith in him, and the hope he'll be able to do just that.
When reviewing Moyes' Everton reign, the striking positive is his ability to get the most out of the transfer market on a shoe-string budget (signing Tim Cahill for £1.5 million being the stand-out example). However being the manager of Manchester United, he'll seldom have to work on such a budget and so this immediately becomes irrelevant. Indeed even with a considerable budget, his dealings in the transfer market this summer have been disappointing, with him yet to make a singing of note, failing to strengthen their squad from last season.
Whilst his dealings with Wayne Rooney have reportedly left the England star unsettled and looking for a way out. It's a combination of these factors that I believe will lead to Manchester United being left behind by their two title rivals this season.
In contrast, both Chelsea and Manchester City have spend excessively in this transfer window, resulting in far superior squads to that of last season. Chelsea have brought in both Willian (£32 million) and Samuel Eto'o (undisclosed fee) from Anzhi Makhachkala, as well as Andre Schurrle from Bayern Leverkusen which will improve their already vast attacking options.
An added bonus for Chelsea is their recalling of Michael Essien, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku from loan spells. Manchester City have also bolstered their attacking options this summer by bringing in Álvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas and Stevan Jovetic for a combined fee of £53.3 million.
When compared to that of Manchester City and Chelsea, the attacking line-up of Manchester United seems considerably weak. With Ashley Young failing to score in 14 months, Danny Welbeck remaining inconsistent, Rooney being unsettled and Nani simply not being good enough, it would seem Manchester United rely far too heavily on Robin van Persie for goals. Unless David Moyes uses transfer deadline day to bring in a couple of world-class players, I truly believe that Manchester United will be left behind in the race for that prestigious Premier League title.
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