As I sit here and write this in New Zealand the end of 2008 draws near. I therefore take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy new year. May 2009 be happy and healthy for you all.
And, in the spirit of the evening, with many people bound to be making resolutions that they may very well not keep, I thought I would just do a quick post tonight and consider what resolutions the managers of the Premier League might be making.
Arsene Wenger – Arsenal
Wenger must surely resolve to actually spend some money in this transfer window. In past windows he has resisted the temptation to splash the readily available cash, preferring to stick with his young Gunners. That’s all well and good, youth can work, but so far this season for Wenger, it isn’t. They need to sure up a few positions and add some experience, but most of all, they need to replace Cesc Fabregas.
Martin O’Neill – Aston Villa
2009 will doubtless present Martin O’Neill with a series of dilemmas, decisions to make, that as yet we cannot foresee. However, a couple of decisions that he will almost certainly have to make will regard the futures of Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young. At some point someone will offer him really big money for one or both of them, and he should resolve to resist the temptation to sell for the right price. They have been the driving force behind Villa’s season and have great careers ahead of them, and no matter how much they are offered, it would be in Villa’s best interests to hang on to them whatever the cost.
Sam Allardyce – Blackburn Rovers
Big Sam has only just walked through the door at Blackburn, but he has made a decent start. If I were him though, my resolution would be to sell Roque Santa Cruz for as much as possible, and to spend the profits wisely. Santa Cruz is a top player, but since Hughes left he has not been happy at Rovers, and hasn’t been scoring, so if that’s to continue, they’re better off without him. Plus, with the sort of money they could get for him, he will be able to make some serious improvements to his squad, especially if he can still wheel-and-deal as he did in his Bolton days.
Gary Megson – Bolton Wanderers
Megson will know that with Big Sam moving in just up the road, he is likely to raid Bolton for some of his old players. Megson needs to hang on to them if he can, because the loss of players like Kevin Davies and Kevin Nolan would really disrupt the team. He will also want to improve his side’s defencive capabilities, they’re finding their form going forward but need to tighten up a bit to keep well clear of the relegation battle.
Phil Scolari – Chelsea
Big Phil finds himself in an unusual position as January rolls around. He is about to be a Chelsea manager who doesn’t actually have much money to spend, if any at all. That means that he will have to be very wily with his purchases if he makes any, because Chelsea do not look like the finished article quite yet. In Anelka and Drogba they have a formidable strike force, but they do lack a bit of variety in attack and if I were him, I’d be on the lookout for a world class forward with pace to burn. So Big Phil’s resolution: spend wisely.
David Moyes – Everton
Moyesey will want to put Everton’s up and down first half of the season behind him and establish a settled atmosphere around the club. Top of his things to do in the new year is to find a striker to replace Yakubu and James Vaughan, because Saha is massively injury prone and Anichebe still developing. He won’t have much to spend though, as usual, and so he may have to once again look to pick out a bargain. In Arteta, Lescott, Cahill, Jagielka and Pienaar we have the proof that he has an eye for one, so fingers crossed he can do it again. Also, he is in danger of losing his record signing beneath a mop of curly hair and so must force Fellaini to visit the barbers.
Roy Hodgson – Fulham
Hodgson has done a good job at Fulham and he has done it quietly. A few neat signings has got the team playing well and picking up good results, so for the most part he will be happy. If I were him though, I would resolve to do my damnedest to hang on to Jimmy Bullard. The playful midfielder really makes Fulham tick and I don’t think they’d be able to replace him if he was to leave, especially as his contract is up soon so they won’t be able to hold out for a big offer for him.
Phil Brown – Hull City
Phil Brown’s start to life in the Premier League has been pretty spectacular and he will be very satisfied with his 2008. He must continue his great attitude to football into 2009 if Hull are to keep up and away from a relegation battle though, so he must not despair if they do suffer a big dip in form. Hull’s strength is their confidence and fearlessness and he brings that to the squad, so he must remain upbeat through thick and thin to keep their season on track. Also, he should resist the inevitable offers that will come in for those players who have caught people’s attention. Here’s looking at you, Geovanni.
Rafa Benitez – Liverpool
Rafa should resolve to get the services of a damn good lawyer. Whatever happens at Liverpool next year, it will not be good if Stevie G ends up behind bars for alleged assault in a night club. Say what you like about ‘the best Liverpool side in years’ but without Gerrard, they will plummet away from the Championship race. Even if Torres were fit for the rest of the season, no one can carry a team like Gerrard does Liverpool. People don;t notice it only because he has been doing it for so long now.
Mark Hughes – Manchester City
Hughes finds himself in a tricky situation. He knows that the way forward for City is a gradual building process, but he also knows that their mega-rich owners will eventually get restless if the results don’t come and superstars aren’t signed. He must resolve though, in my opinion, to stand firm on his principles. He knows how he likes to operate and he should not succumb to pressure to sign players for the sake of it. If it costs him his job then so be it, he will not be without one for long, but in the long run, it’ll be better for Hughes and City if they don’t go mad in the January sales.
Alex Ferguson – Manchester United
Alex should sell Ben Foster. Simple as that. I’ve been thinking this for ages now and I’ve had enough. The lad is one of England’s best goalkeeping prospects and needs to be playing regularly to develop properly. The fact that Ferguson has Van Der Saar and Thomas Kuszczak at United and still refuses to loan the young Englishman out is just insane. He doesn’t even make the bench usually! I know he’s a Scotsman and may not be too fond of the English but as a manager in England he has an obligation to the English national team, at least not to hinder it unnecessarily. Rant over!
Gareth Southgate – Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough’s season so far has been very up and down. They’ve looked good at times and at others have been just awful. He needs to consolidate his side, but that could be a very difficulty thing for him to do considering he is likely to receive offers for a number of his players. Stuart Downing has been at ‘Boro for a long time now and is due a move away, and Sanli Tuncay is probably attracting attention as there are lots of clubs in the market for forwards. Youngsters David Wheater and Adam Johnson will tempt a few too, so Southgate must be careful not to cast them into a struggle by letting his key men go.
Joe Kinnear – Newcastle United
Joe needs to get a swear jar, that much is blindingly obvious after that infamous press conference a few months back. But on a more serious note, if I were Joe, I would make a difficult decision and resolve to get shot of Michael Owen in January. He is clearly a little unsettled up there and if he stays until the Summer they will lose him on a free transfer when his contract runs out. So in my opinion, they should get what they can for him now and put the money to good use by signing a replacement, Tuncay from just down the road wouldn’t be a bad bet…
Tony Adams – Portsmouth
This season seems to be an awful one for young British managers, with Roy Keane and Paul Ince already losing their jobs. Adams has struggled to get Pompey going since Harry Redknapp left and so will know the pressure is on him too. That is not helped by a threat of mass-exodus from the club of all those players who Harry signed, and who apparently, were there purely because of Harry. Now players that don’t want to play for the club aren’t ideal and so some would argue that he would be sensible to let those unhappy ones go. But he must be careful that he doesn’t leave himself without a squad because replacing them would be a difficult business with such an atmosphere surrounding the club.
Tony Pulis – Stoke City
Pulis needs to work out how to get Stoke playing football. Sure, they can throw the ball a long way and bully the ball into the net, but that won’t be enough to keep them up. For one thing, everyone is wise to their trick now and will be putting things in place to counter it, and for another, it just ain’t THAT good. They are far too one-dimensional to survive in this league and unless they figure out new ways to score, they will find themselves back in the Championship. Ugly football doesn’t pay!
Ricky Sbragia – Sunderland Athletic
Sbragia gets his first taste of the transfer window when the clock ticks past midnight and into 2009 later, but he shouldn’t be too busy. Keane spent lavishly during his spell in charge and though he had a few successes, much of the money was wasted. Key for Sbragia is to establish a fighting spirit and a bit of consistency, and he should strengthen his defence and solidify his midfield. His resolution must be to do everything he can to keep Djibril Cisse beyond his loan spell though, as he has formed a good partnership with Jones and provides the firepower they need to survive.
Harry Redknapp – Tottenham Hotspur
Harry has had a good start as Spurs boss but things have been slipping a bit recently. He will want to turn that around and no doubt some of his contacts in the ol’ transfer market will come in handy. Expect him to snap up a striker, and replace Gomes in goal. But he should be careful not to disrupt the current side too much. Strengthen in places yes, but Spurs have lacked consistency for years because they have such a high player turnover.
Tony Mowbray – West Bromwich Albion
It’s going to be a tough second half of the season for Mowbray. I fully expect the Baggies to get relegated, but that shouldn’t be considered too much of a disappointment. What he wants to focus on is getting his current squad signed on for another season in the Championship. If they can keep the current team together and use the parachute payments wisely to add a touch more firepower, they will have a good chance of bouncing back and having a good crack at survival.
Gianfranco Zola – West Ham United
I think Gianfranco needs to bring a bit of his trademark style to West Ham. They have got a good, workmanlike side but lack too much creativity and inspiration at times, which is why they struggle to kill games off. He also desperately needs a striker to play with Bellamy – if he can keep the Welshman. That should be his top priority but in their tough financial situation, looks to be out of his hands. In that case, he needs two and so he may have to bring in a lesser known player from his native Italy.
Steve Bruce – Wigan Athletic
Steve Bruce’s resolution for 2009 is simple. Next time when you find a good player, sign him up properly rather than on loan! Amr Zaki has captured the attention of a host of Premier League clubs and Bruce’s hard work in finding him will probably be rewarded with just one season’s worth of performances before they are outbid in the race for his permanent signature. Emile Heskey is another who will attract attention so Bruce should concentrate in future on looking ahead and securing his key players on good contracts.
Wow! That worked out longer than expected!
Have a great new year everyone, I look forward to seeing you in 2009. As always, thanks for reading.