Season 2008-09: Contenders – I

Manchester United

With both the domestic and the European titles under their belt, they would be brimming with confidence this time around. They would ideally be looking at retaining both the titles and in doing so become eligible to be the best United team ever. Ferguson has managed to retain his talismanic winger Ronaldo for one more season and has not made any notable buys so far. He is short of one striker and is eyeing the Spurs spearhead Berbatov who Ramos is reluctant to sell as he has already lost Keane.

The community shield was won in the penalty and it once again showed the fighting skills of Tevez and the youth and exuberance of Nani in the absence of Ronaldo and Rooney. But are they good enough to win the league this time also? Needs to be seen, as I can see them challenging the others only if they buy one more striker. This could be the last season for Van Der Saar, Giggs, Scholes and Gary Neville in this team. Queiroz has already left for Portugal and it is quite odd to see Alex Ferguson without his partner in coaching.

With Ronaldo and Rooney missing the beginning of the season I think United will lose their momentum initially though they will come back strongly. But how will Ronaldo play after his operation, will their new striker(if they buy anyone) fit in well with the team, can the Defenders put in one more stellar season? A lot of questions but I think they will not prosper as they did last year.

Prediction: Finish 3rd in the league

Chelsea

A new coach, old players and couple of good additions, Chelsea just look bigger and better this season. Having got Scolari as the coach who admitted openly that his only motivation was money, Chelsea did the best they could in getting a good coach. The other important thing they did was retain the services (so far) of Frank Lampard, their star player. With Drogba now looking at seeing out his contract and Ballack in some good European form this team will be pushing all limits this time around.

Deco was a wonderful signing and I wonder where he would fit in as the Chelsea midfield looks packed with talent. They have to make sure Lampard, Ballack, Essien, Deco, Joe Cole all get to play now. Scolari’s man management skill will be tested and if his past experience in handling the Brazilian national side is anything to go by then he definitely will. He is still pursuing Robinho and wonder if that is required at all.

Last year they know how close they came to winning the league as well as the Champion’s league. People like Ballack and Deco have shown their class in the just concluded Euros and would like to give it one more shot and honestly I think this year’s Chelsea team has got a better cutting edge than the previous season’s. They can maintain the winning momentum for 38 games and now they have coach who will provide the spark.

Prediction: English Premier League Champions

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Filed under 2008-09 season, Champions League, Chelsea, EPL, Europe, Manchester United

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