As another year of the emotional roller-coaster that is the Premier League is fast approaching, we spoke to football writers and fans to get their thoughts on the transfer window and the season ahead.
I had the pleasure to interact with Dale O’Donnell, Editor and Chief of Stretty News and contributor to The Mirror, The Sportsman among others – on Manchester United, Jose Mourinho and the main stories that dominated their Summer. Plus, some interesting predictions for 2018/19.
You can follow him on Twitter but not around the streets: @ODonnellDale & @StrettyNews.
So Dale, this has been a jarring transfer period for Manchester United so far – weird, in fact, for a shorter one than usual. What have you made of it all? Have United strengthened enough to mount a title challenge?
Fred is the only signing that will improve this United side, but how much nobody knows. The Portuguese kid, Diogo Dalot, comes as an understudy to Antonio Valencia and Lee Grant was available and happy to come in as third-choice for the year, with Joel Pereira heading to Portugal on loan to gain first-team experience.
We haven’t strengthened anywhere near enough to mount a title challenge unless Manchester City implode and Liverpool underachieve because, let’s face it, the Scousers have had a good summer.
We have got to talk about Mourinho’s role in all of this. Is his general negativity in the press justified? Or do you think he’s overplaying it to send a message across?
I’d rather Jose Mourinho come out and lambast Ed Woodward or the owners rather than hide the truth from fans like Sir Alex Ferguson did for so many years. He hasn’t been backed by the board this summer, so who do they think should take the blame? This situation is a mess and I fear this coming season will suffer significantly as a result.
That said, his demeanour has been shit. Mourinho could at least try to brighten the mood with his players in order to have his squad in a better state of mind before it kicks off against Leicester on Friday night. It may be worth sucking up a few of his unhappy players because it’s none of them have been replaced, therefore, he really needs to make the most of what he’s got. Otherwise, I can see him gone by December.
One of the key stories of the Summer has been Mourinho’s treatment of Anthony Martial. Where do you stand on this?
Heh. Le Sulk? Anthony Martial doesn’t himself. Moreover, this has been an issue for months and Mourinho made it clear to Woodward before the transfer window opened that he wanted the Frenchman sold.
Woodward still isn’t convinced that would be the right move and he’s ignored the manager’s demands by not trying his utmost to find a buyer. Now, that creates more issues as we enter a new season with a player knowing he’s not wanted. What else would you expect from a businessman making football decisions? Clueless.
If Martial returns, he needs to put his head down and try to get into Mourinho’s good books. I’m pessimistic given his stroppy attitude.
With the window about to close in under two days from now (at the time of writing), who would you like for United to bring in and why?
We need a centre-back, left-back and a right-winger. Mourinho knows he’d be lucky to get a text message at this rate, though I think Toby Alderweireld will come in and that’s about it.
Where do you think United can win or lose the league this season?
I’m not confident about this season. The board hasn’t given us any reasons to be. Unfortunately, City will win it outright again, Liverpool to finish second while third and fourth places are up for grabs.