Like an SUV of whinging kids it’s been a constant refrain since the last kick of the ball in May – are we there yet? Yes we are – well almost.
The English Premier League 2013/14 season reaches launch phase tomorrow. Sir Alex has moved on but buckle up for the second coming of the Special One. We grilled Fox Sports host and Newcastle United tragic, Adam Peacock, about what to expect from another bumper season of EPL action.
Not many sleeps left – excited much?
Oh yeah. It’s never a long off season especially in football with the Confederations Cup, world youth championships and the great friendlies that we get down here. Of course we had Manchester United and Liverpool coming to these shores but it does feel like something is missing when there’s no Premier League and/or A-League. Finally that little bit of wait is over.
Which opening weekend match is not to be missed?
I can’t miss my boys play against Manchester City, although I’ll want to miss it I daresay. Actually I’m intrigued by the first match of the season – the early kick-off, Liverpool v Stoke. The pressure will go right on whoever loses that straight from the start. Mark Hughes is taking over another club. He had a horrible time at QPR and a weird time at Fulham where he just upped and left after one season. Is it the last chance for him at management level? The amount of money he spent at QPR for the return is nothing short of diabolical, it was an absolute disaster. So he needs to turn things around and freshen up a football club which has got itself a reputation, probably fairly, for playing anti-football. They’ve actually signed a kid from Barcelona (Marc Muniesa). Can you believe it a player has actually opted to go from Barcelona to Stoke? It’s like putting your hand up and saying yeah I’ll travel from Earth to Pluto, they’re that far opposed to each other. Whereas Liverpool, there’s a massive amount of pressure on Brendan Rodgers. The first season everyone understood the revolution he was trying to take on or the evolution, but no more. It’s second season up. He needs to keep (Luis) Suarez, looks like he will, but he’s without Suarez for the first six including this one.
Robbie Slater has tipped Manchester City to take the title – your prediction?
Mine is out there – Spurs. It can change before September 2, which is now the day the transfer window closes. But if they keep (Gareth) Bale and I reckon they need to sign another central defender, if they do those two things. I just think, for me, this season is so open. All the new boys at Manchester City will take time to gel. They’re brilliant players but will they adapt to the Premier League? Chelsea – a young squad and (Jose) Mourinho is back. I think Chelsea are the nearest thing.
There’s nothing like a good relegation scrap. Who will be battling the drop?
It’s hard to predict this. You look at last season and the team that finished 9th, Swansea, got 46 points which was just 10 points clear of the team that got relegated in 18th, Wigan. It’s so compressed. The market has reflected that as well. (The clubs generally) are not spending huge amounts of dollars on individual players but they’re spending across the board an average of about three or four million per player. They’re looking for that gem, the next Michu (Swansea) which makes choosing relegated teams really hard. I fear for Crystal Palace. They’ve got a lot of experience but is it Premier League quality experience? Relegation? I’ll vote Palace, Stoke and, just because I’m a little bit like that, Sunderland.
Who’s going to suffer most from David Moyes’s move – Manchester United or Everton?
I reckon Everton will go okay. It’s another one of those things – that pain of the transfer window not closing until three games into the season. If they hang onto (Marouane) Fellaini, (Leighton) Baines and maybe, at a stretch, I’d go Leon Osman as well, I think they’ve got a side that will be pretty handy. They might equal if not better what they did last season in terms of points. I’m not sure that they can break into that top five. Manchester United – not convinced – they didn’t add to the squad basically at all. They signed a 20-year-old from Uruguay (Guillermo Varela) who’s not going to get a look in this season. And Wilfried Zaha was signed back in January. A handy addition, but is it enough? They’re still trying for the marquee signing and they will until September 2 but I’m not totally convinced, with the improvements that might come from the other teams, that what they’ve got is enough. It will be fascinating to see what happens, and how they deal with David Moyes, if they have a bad spell. Remembering a bad spell for them is going a season without a trophy.
Now Fergie’s gone who gives the best post match interview – Ian Holloway or the Special One?
You’ve got Holloway (Crystal Palace) , Paolo Di Canio (Sunderland) and Mourinho in the one league – if you can’t get a good quote out of those guys I don’t know what you’re doing. I can’t split those three. Di Canio walks in, you’ve got no idea what he’s going to say. Mourinho walks in and you’ve got a fair idea what he’s going to say, but you know it’s going to be good because he’s going to have a go at someone. And Holloway walks in, you’ve got a fair idea it’s going to be good but you don’t know what he’s going to say. Those three I can’t split and that’s the beauty of it.
Which one of the new boys is going to rip up the league?
I wouldn’t say rip up the league but I think Cardiff City have given themselves every conceivable chance to do okay. I know it’s not the be-all and end-all who teams sign but they’ve brought in a quality striker, a quality defensive midfielder and they’ve signed a quality defender. All, you would think, premiership standard. And they’ve got some good players on their books already including South Korean, Kim Bo-Kyung. They’ll go okay. I don’t think they’ll be up there with Swansea if you want to compare them with their fellow Welsh club.
We think Norwich City’s £8.5m acquisition Ricky Van Wolfswinkel offers huge pun potential. What do you think?
Robbie Slater has already brought it up. He called him Rocky van Bullwinkle. (Wolfswinkel) used to play with the Aussie boys at Utrecht and I was speaking with Michael Zullo about him and he said this guy – wow. He’s A-grade quality. He spent a couple of seasons at Sporting Lisbon and he’s got a good goal scoring rate. Norwich have spent over £20m so they’ve backed their manager. And this guy now finds himself in the Premier League and a chance to make a name for himself – a bigger name for himself.
Will Mark Milligan be lining up for Crystal Palace?
I doubt it. I just don’t think they’ll meet the valuation that Melbourne Victory have on him. There might be options they can find closer to home. They’re going to have to pay what they paid for that 20-year-old kid out of Sevilla (Jose Campana, £1.7m) or around that ball park to get him out of Melbourne Victory. Personally I don’t think it’s in the interests of Mark Milligan wanting to be a starter at the World Cup, oddly enough, going to the Premier League. I’ve just got a feeling it might actually hurt him. He can be a star here, play every game, he’s comfortable and he knows the surrounds. Whereas if he goes to Crystal Palace it’s a bit of a risk because it gets to May and he’s played six games. You just don’t know. The depth of the squad is a lot greater there.
Finally, any tips for getting through Monday at work after pulling a weekend of EPL all-nighters?
I think it’s just a case of thinking about later on a Monday evening where you don’t need to be doing anything. You’ve just got to push through. Grab a Berocca, grab a Red Bull – whatever your poison – and wait for that five o’clock, six o’clock on the couch when you can watch all the highlights on Fox Sports.
Tomorrow we talk with Simon Hill.
FOX SPORTS delivers all 380 matches in the 2013/14 season from this weekend and it all begins on Saturday, when fans can watch every match LIVE in the opening round kicking off when Liverpool clash with Stoke City at 9.30pm AEST on FOX SPORTS 1HD & FOX SPORTS 1.