TheChelseaBlog continues its series of interviews today with both sides of Manchester. First up is Danny from Bitter & Blue.
TCB: Obviously your owners’ money makes even us look like paupers these days and transfer-wise you have pretty much free-reign, have any of the transfers surprised you over the summer though?
B&B: No, because all of the transfers were well documented prior to them being announced. All three that were made (Boateng, Toure and Silva) all filled an obvious need so weren’t solely for show or to land a ‘name’. It will be interesting to see if Mancini lands anyone else before the deadline.
TCB: It’ll be even more interesting to see how Mancini copes with them all to be honest. Are there any players you’d have fancied signing that you haven’t?
B&B: I was hoping that Edin Dzeko may have been added by now. He does look to be an impressive player.We do need a real, genuine goalscorer and from what I have seen of him he would be a good fit to go alongside Tevez.
TCB: Which club are you looking forward to playing most? And least?
B&B: It still has to be United. Derbies are always special regardless of the situation but there will be a sense of trying to avenge last seasons late disappointment. There is no-one I’m keen to avoid playing, but recent results against Tottenham don’t inspire much confidence.
TCB: Who can you see finishing in the top four and who’ll be possible relegation fodder?
B&B: Chelsea and United are certainties for two of the positions and I would be amazed if Arsenal didn’t make it, effectively leaving one place between ourselves, Liverpool and Tottenham. You wonder how the Champions League will affect Tottenham in the league so I imagine a tight race between ourselves and Liverpool if they can rebound from last seasons poor showing.
For the drop, it isn’t a stretch to suggest Blackpool, whilst I’d go for Wolves and West Brom to join them.
TCB: Which club could be the Premier League’s dark horse?
B&B: With the strides that City, Tottenham and Villa have made, it is harder for sides to really have a surprise season. Even Birmingham’s great run last season only resulted in a mid-table finish. The side that I think improves the most though will be Bolton now Owen Coyle has had a summer to shape the side and get them ready for a full season.
TCB: Considering the influx of money and players, do you think you got a decent return last season and what are you hoping for this time round?
B&B: At the outset, there wasn’t a real expectation of a top four finish given the stranglehold that the ‘big four’ had on the positions. However, Liverpool’s slump opened up a spot so it was disappointing to get so close and ultimately miss out. It has to be classed as a good season though – highest ever finish, record points, record goals scored and a Cup semi-final.
This season though expectation is raised further. Whilst no-one is suggesting a tilt at the title, for the investment made, a top four finish is a must, whilst there is a big demand to land a trophy after so long.
TCB: Which manager impresses you most?
B&B: It is easy to say one of the big names who have vast resources and quality at their disposal. I do like what Owen Coyle did at Bolton last season though in taking over a relegation threatened side and revamping their style of play, which was a brave thing to try and do rather than stick with trying to graft out points.
TCB: So far you’ve managed to get both a left-back and winger who struggled for games at Chelsea, if you could have any of our players who actually get games, who would you go for and why?
B&B: Frank Lampard. What we missed last season is a dynamic presence in midfield capable of adding goals. Lampard has been a consistent presence for a number of seasons and for such a ‘big name’ is often underrated.
TCB: Which player do you think will stand out for you?
B&B: Carlos Tevez is the obvious choice given he was such a vital component last season. He really did make the difference between drawing and winning in a number of games last season and really does spark the side.
If he can adjust to the Premier League quickly (which isn’t an easy thing to do) David Silva could be a big factor, whilst Adam Johnson could be set for a breakout season.
TCB: We were bloody woeful against you last season. How do you think you’ll do when you play us this time?
B&B: Our home record means we have no fear against any side, but the importance of last seasons victory at Stamford Bridge shouldn’t be underestimated. The record at Stamford Bridge was woeful but there should be no fear heading there this time around.
TCB: Lol, just a touch confident then?