Football Expert & Columnist
Jamie Redknapp on title race, top-four contenders and a Swansea surprise
Chelsea for the title? Norwich for the drop? Swansea for the top four? Jamie shares his views...
Last Updated: 08/08/13 8:40am
A Premier League season without Sir Alex Ferguson in the dugout is something we're all going to have to get used to. It'll be extremely strange to not see him berating referees on the sidelines and pointing to his watch all the time! It will take time and I think the Man United fans have to get used to David Moyes and different tactics and substitutions.
It's a lot more of a level playing field. I played against United enough times and you could see people were petrified of him. His own players admired him and loved him, but he would overawe other managers and you could see that referees were scared to give decisions against him; I'd be there at half-time walking up the tunnel and you'd see him berating the referee and you'd know in the second half he'd start leaning towards Man United. That's not me being angry about Ferguson, that's me being honest and how he has that power and ability to manoeuvre situations. It's a gift - there's no reason why others can't do it, but he was the best at doing it. People were scared of him and that's why he was such a successful manager.
Chelsea will win the league... but only if they sign Rooney
I find it really hard to pick a winner at the moment until I see everybody's squad. For instance, if Chelsea don't get Wayne Rooney I won't be backing them. I wouldn't be backing Chelsea because of Jose Mourinho, I'd be backing them for the players they've got. If Fernando Torres goes in with Demba Ba then I don't think they're good enough to win the title. Romelu Lukaku sometimes looks like a world beater and sometimes he looks average. He can score goals and is powerful so people say he's going to be like Didier Drogba, but that is a big ask. He has a similar type of frame, but it doesn't work like that and that's why I'll reserve judgment until I see all the squads together.
If I was to have a bet now, as it stands, I think you'd have to look at Manchester City and Manchester United. I picked Chelsea on the Sky Sports preview show because I believe they will get Rooney, but I wouldn't be diving in at 9/4 to get them, that's for sure.
Man City will be strong, despite all of the new faces
Manuel Pellegrini seems to have settled in really nicely. I like his body language and what he's saying about his team. It's going to be interesting. He hadn't actually signed for the club when they signed Fernandinho, so I wonder how much it had to do with him? The managers are having less and less of an input into who comes in. The players I do like are Fernandinho and Jesus Navas, who is an old-school winger. In the last couple years, all their width has come from the two full-backs but now they're going to have a different outlet. Pablo Zabaleta and Navas in tandem should be really exciting.
If Alvaro Negredo starts with Navas they should know each other's games inside out because they were team-mates. Negredo is very good in the air, he scores a lot of goals and every goal he scored in La Liga last year was from inside the box. That's where he works, between the width of the goalposts and I'm expecting him to be really good. I think Man City fans will really like him. Of course they are going to be strong. Just look at the back four. They've got Vincent Kompany and they still have the best goalkeeper. I'd rather have Joe Hart than David De Gea.
Are Arsenal contenders? Only if they splash the cash...
Arsene Wenger said that even if they don't get any players in they can still win the title. Well, I think they've got no chance. If they don't get any players in then they are going to finish in the top four at a struggle; that's what they normally do and fair play to him because he does a great job every year and just about get in. They can't win the league without a squad though. If they get Luis Suarez we can maybe have a different conversation, but until they get one or two players in Arsenal will be in a battle to get in the top four with Tottenham, Everton Liverpool and Swansea.
Swansea are genuine European contenders this season
Swansea are my team to watch. If was doing a points bet I'd be looking at Swansea this year, as I think they're going to be extremely strong. Wilfried Bony and Michu will get goals and they are my outside bet for the top four. When they won the Capital One Cup last year it completely changed their season and they lost their way. A few of them got on their sunbeds a bit early, but I like Bony as a goalscoring machine and I like the way they play when they pass the ball from the back. They have to keep Ashley Williams, who is a really good defender and they would be a good bet for a European place, but not just by virtue of winning a cup. I think they will finish in the top six.
The Golden Boot should end up in Manchester
I think Robin van Persie at 7/2 is the bet. I don't think Gareth Bale will be here, so you can rule him out and it'd be amazing if Luis Suarez wins it because he's missing the first six games of the season. Sergio Aguero is a little machine, he's a great finisher as long as he's fit because he's had injury problems in the last two years. Last season he didn't quite have the fitness, sharpness and goalscoring form of the year before. If he's had a good pre-season he could really go close as well. Van Persie and Sergio Aguero would be the two outstanding bets.
The promoted sides are going to find it difficult
I'm sure Crystal Palace wouldn't have liked Wifried Zaha to have had quite as good a pre-season as he's had because there might have been a chance to get him back on loan. They are going to be relying on team spirit and hope that Ian Holloway's enthusiasm can get them through. It's going to be hard for them and I don't like predicating teams to go down because it's a horrible thing. It's the same for Hull and Steve Bruce, who knows the league inside out. Then there's Norwich who are going to have a difficult season and Stoke, who just about survived last season and a lot depends on the type of football they play now. Playing a more progressive game is easier said than done and Tony Pulis did a good job there. That's one to look out for. Three names? I'll be getting hate mail, but Hull, Palace and... Norwich.