With New Year’s Day fast approaching and 2013 just around the corner, all twenty clubs in the Premier League will be hoping for bigger and better results. Just what they need differs from team to team but every manager knows who or what they want.
And with a New Year, comes New Year’s resolutions. Welcome to Part Two.
Liverpool – I promise to spend the right amount of money on players and bring back the top-four reputation.
What will hurt most about Liverpool’s current demise is the fact that for two-thirds of the 2007/08 season, the Reds were keeping pace with leaders Manchester United at the top only to finish in second place by the end. Such was the surprise title-challenge from Liverpool, that many believed the 18-time champions would have another go the following year.
How wrong were they?
Twelve months on, then manager Rafael Benitez only managed to steer his side to seventh and since then, the Anfield side have failed to finish above sixth. Having signed Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll, who have all failed to light up the field, for a combined total of £71m, many Reds fans feel money could be better spent elsewhere. And the next £71m needs to be to push Liverpool back into title-winning contention.
Manchester City – I promise to spend money on players needed and to beat the Champions League voodoo.
Ever since the blue side of Manchester failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League, the daggers have been out to spur on the sacking of Roberto Mancini. But with the likes of Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in their group, it was always going to be tough for City to get through. Now with the Premier League within their grasp, this season will prove whether Mancini’s side can overcome their biggest rivals, Manchester United.
Throwing money at your problems doesn’t seem to be helping in The Citizens case as summer signings Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell have yet to get a consistent run in the team. That’s £23m spent on two players who have barely featured. In January, there is no doubt there will be some activity from City’s camp during the transfer window and money has to be spent on someone who can make an immediate impact.
For all of Man City’s firepower up front, their inability to change possession into three points has been a constant problem. Someone who can assist Yaya Toure and David Silva would prove to be extremely useful as the two playmakers look to be carrying too much on their shoulders.
Manchester United – I promise to stop leaking goals and to finally buy that midfield sensation.
Seven points clear as it stands, Sir Alex Ferguson looks to be leading his side to a twentieth league title – an extraordinary achievement. Even though Manchester United have not been playing to the high standards they set themselves, they are doing just enough to grind out results. Yet with twenty-eight league goals conceded, the eight most this season, the defence is conceding more and more goals.
What is more, as the season continues, can United’s famous comeback experience pull through in bigger and tougher games? Can they withstand conceding so many goals to the ‘big guns’ of Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid, away from home? Something that could benefit Ferguson’s side apart from a long-term Nemanja Vidic replacement is a dominating midfield player who can dictate play.
With Wesley Sneijder a top target since last summer, another playmaker in the shape of Christian Eriksen has been attracting interest. If the Red Devils were to land either, the real final piece of the jigsaw may just arrive.
Newcastle United – I promise to provide strength in depth and keep hold of star players.
This time last year Newcastle were demonstrating their talent and ability as they ended the season in fifth place, something they hadn’t previously bettered since the 2003/04 campaign. Now, with nine defeats already to their name, just two less than the whole of last year, Alan Pardew is struggling to recapture the form that led The Magpies to impressive victories over Manchester United and Liverpool.
With injuries to Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye, Newcastle are running short of creative options in midfield and having become over-reliant on the French pair, further acquisitions must be made in the transfer window. Alongside Ben Arfa and Cabaye, Demba Ba and Papiss Cissé have already made significant strides to helping the club boost up the table but if any were to be lost through injury, nobody looks capable of stepping up to the plate.
Norwich City – I promise to transfer home form into away games and to beat those teams near the bottom of the table.
After a dismal run of form which saw Norwich only win once in their opening nine games, home form provided stability for Chris Hughton’s side and after beating Arsenal 1-0 at Carrow Road, they went on to remain unbeaten for a further nine matches. Beating Manchester United 1-0 at home as well meant taking points from the bigger clubs was starting to become a fashion.
A recent defeat to Chelsea was only their second home loss of the season but away from home, The Canaries have only managed one victory. With the passion and desire they have in their home games, it must be replicated on the road as getting victories in another stadium provides more of a boost – something they badly need. Knowing full well that beating teams around them helps steer away from relegation, Hughton will need to rally his side more efficiently against ‘weaker’ teams.