As the calendar turns to August, the 2016/17 soccer season is getting underway. Most of the major European clubs are either knee-deep in preseason tours from China to the US, or are playing friendlies. Some have even begun and ended their European cup journeys (sorry Hertha). The transfer window is still wide open; rumors and speculation are the order of the day. Instead of another story about Paul Pogba’s supposed medical exam, we thought that you’d rather hear from the fans! So, to get you ready for the new season we asked fans of each club to give you the lowdown on their team’s summer. Next up, it’s Manchester United, the team with the busiest offseason and here to give you all the details it is Gergely Kovács from Hungary.
1.Which league do you follow the most? What are some of the major news, interesting stories that caught your eye in the summer? Did you go to any games in person? Do you have something to rant about as far as the league is concerned?
The best to watch is still the Premier League, I think. The English teams have not performed well in recent times in the European Cups, but overall the league is still the most balanced; as I would never watch a Getafe – Málaga match, I am fully happy with a Sunderland – Swansea.
And that magnificent last year of Leicester!… Can anyone imagine that Espanyol or 1. FC Köln can win their leagues?… I could never imagine this about Leicester – but it happened and stuff like this can only happen in this always amazing and exciting contest. (the EPL)
Unfortunately I have never been to a Premier League match. Last season I only visited one Bundesliga clash: I wanted to see Pál Dárdai’s Hertha against München in Berlin and did so [Bayern won 2-0].
2. How would you describe your team’s summer (transfers, major news, etc) and preparations for the new season?
Manchester United. My love started with the peak of the Ferguson era, the CL final in 1999. Scholes, Beckham, Giggs, Keane, etc. I guess no real explanations are needed. Just magical.
About the present. Now it has been a longer than expected time to rebuild of the team. Started with Moyes (I think if he had more time the team would be in a much better shape than now); then came van Gaal – without any real strategy. What he touched, if not immediately, but after some time, it failed (Depay as the new van Nistelrooy; Rooney as a playmaker; Schweini as the new center of the midfield), he had only temporary and accidental successes with the youngsters: Martial, Blind, Lingaard, Rashford.
His departure is fully reasonable. The arrival of Mourinho is not fully that, but if we see it as a reaction for the lack of successes (again out from CL…), we can understand the club’s decision.
Mourinho will bring two things: Not a totally reshaped team, but a heavily strengthened one. The lineup can remain 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1, with filling up the main holes: Ibra will surely bring the goals and some nice magic up front. Bailly (who seemed fast & strong, but much pompous at the same time during the Community Shield win against Leicester) can be a stable point beside Smalling. Mkhitaryan, the playmaker from Dortmund can bring new opportunities and ways of playing and tactics in attack. And Pogba: The prodigal son returning to his club (which he left after a debate with Sir Alex) and who can be the origo of the whole team. That is an – expensive, but – nice list.
Although there are a lot of questions remaining. Just some: where will Rooney be deployed? Since he is not a striker, he is not himself fully in my opinion (it was horrible to see him so deep in the midfield during the European Championship); who will be the other 1 or 2 players in the center of the midfield beside Pogba? Mourinho seems to lean towards Carrick, but he is nearly 35, although we can understand him – there are some things against Schneiderlin, Schweini and Fellaini as well (there are only counterarguments for the latter). Probably the best choice would be Herrera – but he should be stronger and a bit more agile in defending. Mkhitaryan’s role is a question too. Probably he would be the best behind Ibra, but then Rooney should be playing on one of the wings – this is not the best solution, but maybe an optimal one. Mata: a big question regarding the future of the Spaniard too. And: how will the youngsters play? Rashford, Martial and Lingaard are all talented players, but their precise position, their opportunities and Mou’s expectations and patience will be crucial.
All in all I am a bit concerned about Mourinho’s arrival. After the huge but focused spending the team will be much stronger and much sharper for collecting wins. But on a short-term Mou has to solve some burning tactical questions. And regarding the long-term: on one hand if the results will come (if the questions above will get good answers – surely): Mou will be successful. But the main question is: can the main character of the antithesis of attacking, possession-play football be a legend in club where there is already one with an always open, direct, truly attacking heritage? Or: can Mourinho change from his role as the incarnation of the power fighting against the beautiful game?
3.Season predictions for Top 4, including winner? Who will get relegated?
Chelsea will be there, Arsenal, Tottenham and maybe Leicester again. But the most exciting will be United against City. I need to predict Mou to beat Guardiola and to be triumphant in his first year – although I would put City with the smallest odds.
4. Which teams/players are you looking forward to watching? Who will be a surprise (player/team) or disappointment?
The main event will be Mou against Guardiola, definitely. But I will be interested how Conte can build up Chelsea and if Leicester can prolong the magic. I will watch the new players of United, but beside that I am really supporting Mahrez and Vardy in this season again. I would have been really-really happy if the first one would have switched for United in the summer (Although it was never really an option, he would be a sensational addition to the flank play of the team.)
5. Who will win these awards: player of the year and top scorer? Other relevant awards you care about?
Pogba / Ibra. Or Mkhitaryan!
6. Anything else that is on your mind? Where can people find you online?
Sometimes I will be blogging here, when Abel asks for something….