On May 13th 2012 Sergio Aguero scored a dramatic winner to give Manchester City their first Premier League crown in their history. Man Utd fans were inconsolable after seeing them being within two minutes of recording a 20th first division title only for it to be snatched away at the last minute.
This season is one of revenge.
With the new season looming closer and closer, Sir Alex Ferguson and his squad are preparing for a new campaign in which they hope to end the short reign of their 'noisy neighbours'.
July 18 - AmaZulu FC - 1-0 (Macheda)
July 21 - Ajax Cape Town - 1-1 (Bebe)
July 25 - Shanghai Shenhua - 1-0 (Kagawa)
August 5 - Valerenga - 0-0
August 8 - FC Barcelona - 0-0
August 11 - Hannover 96 - ?
Pre-season hardly ever gives us an idea into how a team will preform in the new season. In the first five games Utd have played there has been hardly any goals. But it isn't all bad as pre-season is used for building up the fitness of players and looking for encouraging performances instead of results. Certain players have picked up their game in order to try and cement their place in the squad, most notably Anders Lindegaard and Bebe. Along with Shinji Kagawa these three have been the most impressive on the tour. Lindegaard has looked to become the new #1 at the club after having a great pre-season and making some impressive saves which has given SAF some food for thought as to who should start the season as the first choice goalkeeper. Bebe quickly became SAF worst ever signing in 2010 after he paid £7m for a player he had never seen live and who hadn't been at a club for more than a week before signing for Utd. His first season was limited to Carling Cup performances and a cameo appearance against Wolves in the Premier League which sealed his status as the most useless and absurd signing in recent times. Following a disastrous season long loan spell at Turkish side Bekitas, Bebe came to the tour looking for a chance to impress, and he did. He scored an injury time equaliser against Ajax Cape Town in which he showed his determination, strength and half decent dribbling ability as well as an improved first touch for his goal. In the third game against Didier Drogba's Shanghai Shenhua, he set up Kagawa for his goal. He made a couple of decent runs again and may have shown SAF what all the hype was about. Personally, I don't think he'll be at Utd for much longer and a career of mediocrity is destined for him in Europe or beyond. Shinji Kagawa was brought in from Borussia Dortmund and has shown the Utd fans what he is like. He's got a great first touch, likes to be involved in the final third as well as giving little one-twos with his team mates as they look to increase the tempo of a game and get the all important goal. For his strike against Shanghai, he showed a great first touch and impressive technique to control and volley into the net following brilliant play before from Bebe. Kagawa will surely be a key figure in the new campaign and may prove himself to be a big name in Europe.
|Bebe celebrating after his goal in pre-season|
Shinji Kagawa - The £17m pound man was bought in after a great season with Dortmund in which he scored 13 goals in the Bundesliga and become the inaugural 'Bundesliga Player of the Year'. He will give the Utd team a new dimension with his slick movement, passing and creativity along with other impressive attributes. Having already played, and scored, in the Champions League last season with Dortmund, as well as having over 30 caps for Japan, Kagawa definitely has the top class experience which can help him settle at the club.
Nick Powell - A raw 18 year old CM who cost £4m from Crewe Alexandra, his role in the squad is not yet known but he has played in the majority of the pre-season games and looks to be a bright talent for the future. He has all the attributes of rigid English CM, he can pass, he can tackle and he can retain possession with his great passing as well as having a good eye for goal.
|SAF with his two summer signings thus far.|
Park Ji-Sung - A great player on his day and with the best work ethic and stamina you'll ever see, Park was sold to QPR for a fee believed to be £5m. With his contract soon running out as well as losing his place in the 1st team, the time was right for Park to move on and prolong his career by playing more games instead of sitting on the bench.
Fabio da Silva - Joining QPR on a season long loan seems an ideal chance for Fabio to develop his game where he can expect to start games and further adjust himself to the EPL. Fabio wouldn't have as much playing time in the coming season as he would have expected seeing he has such powerful competetion in Evra. This deal is a win win for both clubs. Fabio will gain experience and QPR will have a great new LB.
Arsenal captain Robin van Persie has been the name on everyones lips as the big star signing Utd will purchase this summer. Although signing an arch rivals best player is always a big deal, SAF has taken the unusual step of confirming his interest in the player public. "Obviously Arsenal have given out the fact that we've made a bid for him."
Another name on the lips of fans, until recently, was Sao Paulo's 19 year old attacking playmaker/winger Lucas Moura. Several clubs had shown interest in him such as Chelsea and Inter Milan and bids of around £25m had been rejected has the Brazilan club had valued him at around £35m. Again, SAF made the unusual step of confirming his interest in the player, "It's not correct. We haven't reached an agreement for the player. We have shown an interest, but until such time we get a deal agreed, we can't say he's our player." But alas, big spending French side Paris St. Germain made a €45m bid for the player and he is on his way to Paris in January.
The LB role at the club has become one of real interest as Patrice Evra has showed signs of declining as a player last season, most notably in defence. Leighton Baines has been a consistent performer for Everton since his transfer from Wigan as well as for England when he has been needed. He would become a welcome addition to the squad and may even challenge Evra for a place in the starting line up.
First 5 fixtures
1) Everton (A) - Always a tricky fixture, however with the new signing looking fresh and ready to play we should start the season off with a good, tidy win.
2) Fulham (H) - Our first home game of the season and we'll look to give a good performance against a much weaker Fulham side who have lost Pavel Pogrebnyak, Danny Murphy and maybe even Clint Dempsey by then. We have a good record against them and I wouldn't be surprised with a 3+ goal winning margin.
3) Southampton (A) - One of the newly promoted sides, Southampton will be our third game of the season and will prove to be stubborn in defence. I predict a slow moving game or an all out blitz from Utd, we will take all three points back to Manchester.
4) Wigan (H) - We have never lost or conceded to Wigan at home in the Premier League since their induction to the top flight. With key man Victor Moses being closer to a move to Chelsea, I should see no reason why they should stop us. I expect out first BIG win of the season.
5) Liverpool (A) - The first big test of the season and both sets of fans will be hoping to avoid the controversy that endured at Anfield the last time these two met in the EPL. With a new manager Liverpool will need time to adjust to Brendan Rodgers' philosophy and style of play but we can expect an encounter like every other game between these two teams, from the end to end action to the scrappy penalty box scrambles to goals, goals, goals. This ground may be the first time we drop points in our title hunt.
My team for the new season
Rafael Ferdinand Vidic Evra
Valencia Kagawa Nani
What position will we finish?
Obviously winning the title is the main ambitions and I think with maybe one or two more class signings and the return of Vidic, that task can be made easier and we can win our 20th title, however Chelsea, with their new £64m worth of talent as well as Man City and even Arsenal who have made three excellent additions to the squad with Lukas Podolski, Santi Carzola and Olivier Giroud. I fully believe at the end of the season we will be the Premier League champions once again!
|The new home kit has drawn comparisons to a tablecloth|
|The new away kit|