A Look Ahead – Manchester United and Chelsea in 2009/2010

Manchester United vs FC Barcelona Manchester United

Coming into the new season pundits and fans alike are speculative about United’s chances of capturing yet another League Championship.  I choose to believe in Sir Alex Ferguson’s coaching and decision making ahead of the new season.  There have been a few high profile departures from Old Trafford in the offseason and a few promising prospects who now don United colors going into the new season.

Key Losses: Cristiano Ronaldo (to Real Madrid), Carlos Tevez (to Manchester City)

Key Additions: Gabriel Obertan (from Bordeaux), Michael Owen (from Newcastle United), Antonio Valencia (from Wigan Athletic)

For the entirety of the summer I have heard every reason why United cannot compete for the title again this year.  To that I tell you to sit back and watch.  Ronaldo while a good player was a distraction at many points in time and not always a healthy one, and Carlos Tevez did not want to sit the bench anymore.  So Ronaldo fills his supposed lifetime dream of playing for Madrid and Tevez joins another side filled with World Class strikers fighting for time on the pitch.  Good luck to our two former players, and while we will miss you, we will move on.

Our additions have been criticized heavily as well.  They say, “Valencia to replace Ronaldo?”  No, Valencia will not be replacing Ronaldo, but filling a vacancy we had on the wing.  Valencia is a strong young performer who will only blossom more with time and with the attacking options presented at United he cannot do anything but succeed.  Gabriel Obertan, who has come to us from Bordeaux is a young French International with a promising future.  While it is not clear how much of an impact Obertan will have in the first team this season, one thing is for sure, he is a big target man with a promising future.  And our most highly criticized move of the offseason, Michael Owen, who is prone to injury and is aging as well.  Look, Owen is a gamble, but a smart one in my opinion.  He can still score and will have less pressure on him at United than he ever faced at Newcastle.  He has something to prove to his critics this season, and I think in a limited role this season we will see him regain his form and net many times for us.

We also return with a strong defense and a strong presence up top with Rooney and Berbatov.  Mix in the experienced veterans and the youth of the squad and I think this side will prove many wrong.  Finding their own way without Ronaldo would be tough for many, but Sir Alex Ferguson has done it before and I will not be surprised when he does it again.

Chelsea FC v Inter Milan

Chelsea

Following another season that saw Chelsea finish behind Manchester United in the EPL standings the biggest problem facing the Blues was who would be coaching the side next season.  That question has since been answered by bringing in former AC Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti to Stamford Bridge.  How will Ancelotti do in England?  From his preseason start with the Blues it looks promising, but do not hold your breath as a few seasons back Avram Grant, who was constantly criticized, managed to take the side to the Champions League final, before falling to Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United on penalties.

While not losing any integral parts of the wheel at Chelsea, a few new faces have shown up and a few old faces have reappeared.

New Signings:  Carlo Ancelotti, Coach (AC Milan), Daniel Sturridge (Manchester City), Ross Turnbull (Middlesbrough), Yuri Zhirkov (CSKA Moscow)

While you look at these signings, you also have to realize a few names have come back, though it is not clear whether they will be here by the time the season starts, they are as follows.

Adriy Shevchenko, Claudio Pizzaro, and Sam Hutchinson

My thinking is that with the play Chelsea have shown during the preseason, there is not much reason to change what is not broken.  I do not see Sheva and Pizzaro getting into the lineup while Drogba and Anelka keep scoring, and I would not be surprised to see a few others go out on loan before the season starts.

Chelsea will be a strong side this season, and with the coaching Ancelotti is bringing to the club, I do not think they will drop off much.  They will challenge for the League Title this season and the Champions League again, but do not be surprised to see them fall a little short again.  While money has bought Owner Roman Abromovich a strong side, they have yet to dominate year in and year out since Jose Mourinho left the club.

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