Updated: Friday, 23rd August 2019 @ 11:02am

Too close to call: Premier League title favourites a puzzle for predictions god Chris Kamara

Too close to call: Premier League title favourites a puzzle for predictions god Chris Kamara

| By Kenny Lomas – MM exclusive

Girlfriends around the country are currently in mourning... that’s right, the new Premier League season is now upon us.

To celebrate this momentous occasion – not your girlfriend's dismay, we mean the football – MM have spoken to the icon, the legend, the unbelievably affable football god Chris Kamara.

Will the Premier League trophy remain in Manchester for the fourth year running or will Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea prise the title back to London?

Perhaps Liverpool will finally end their 25 years drought? Or maybe, just maybe, pigs will fly across Old Trafford.

“There’s two big things in United’s favour is the introduction of Louis van Gaal and the fact that they don’t play in Europe,” Kamara, who backed the correct winners of all four divisions last year, told MM.

“Look at the distraction Liverpool had last year – they didn’t have the distraction of Europe, so the players were refreshed. They didn’t have those long journeys in mid-week.

“United would still love to have them, don’t get me wrong, but while it’s still there, use that advantage.

“Liverpool don’t have that advantage now so it’ll be interesting to see how Brendan Rodgers utilises the squad.”

 

 

 

United have already looked fresh in pre-season, winning all six games against top-class sides including Roma, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Liverpool.

It seems the change in manager has had exactly the required effect.

“With Louis van Gaal coming in, everything he’s done so far has been perfect,” he said.

“It’s give everybody a life at the club, he’s laid down the law, shown them that he wants everybody to be 100% fit.

“He’s made Wayne Rooney captain and that was made easier by telling Robin van Persie he wouldn’t start the season, so everything he’s done has fallen into place in terms of pre-season, but obviously now it’s onto the real season, then we’ll see how it goes from there.

“He's done the right thing, like any top-class manager does, before he makes the changes he’s given an opportunity so none of the players can claim they were phased out before he even gave them a chance.”

United begin their journey back from the depths of last season’s disastrous seventh-place finish by hosting  Swansea at home, before facing Sunderland at away then heading off to Turf Moor to face newly-promoted Burnley.

It’s a much more forgiving run that David Moyes was blessed with last season, as the defending champions hosted Chelsea and Manchester City then faced Liverpool away early on.

“If he could have picked his earlier games, no disrespect to any of the clubs they’re playing, he couldn’t have been disappointed.

“Whereas David Moyes, the thing that upset a lot of United fans last season was when he said they couldn’t have had a tougher start and that proved to be the case unfortunately.

“People still tend to forget they won the league by 16 points the season before – you don’t become a bad side overnight, it just didn’t work. Moyes isn’t the first manager to go to a football club and it not work.

“Everybody said it would be hard but and it proved to be so true. And David Moyes while he had some bad results he also had some bad luck.”

While United are still in dire need of a world-class centre-back and midfielder, they do have a new signing in the engine room, and not Ander Herrera, but a revitalised Darren Fletcher.

 

 

 

Fletcher looks to have finally ended his three years of hell, where he has battled with ulcerative colitis.

His performance has impressed his new manager so much that Van Gaal has just named him United’s new vice-captain, giving a clear indication he views the Scot as being an integral cog in the new-look machine.

“Don’t forget Sir Alex always played him in the big games, he knew what a fantastic engine he had.

“The Scotland captain went box-to-box and, of course, David Moyes only just got him when he was coming back to fitness from his long-term illness.

“Any player, when he’s come back from any length of time out, will tell you it takes you 10-12 months to get it out of your system and get young again.

“He’s like a new player for United, having him back and you probably know he’ll be one of the first players on the team sheet.”

Looking over to the blue side of the city, the current champions will feel like they’ve had a whole host of world-class signings, after David Silva, Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero all signed long-term contracts this week.

“Well they’ve won the Premier league title two out of the last three seasons so now they’re there to be shot at. Can they actually make it three out of four?” Kamara told MM.

“It will be so much harder for them this season.”

Kamara says there is every chance the trophy may well be uprooted from the city it has called home for four years, given the business that Mourinho has made at Chelsea.

The Special One came close last season, but fell short with a lack of real quality up front.

This looks to have been addressed for the new season with Diego Costa and Cesc Fàbrega being brought in as well as Blues legend Didier Drogba.

“Chelsea has done some great business. Costa will probably start upfront with Fabregas just behind him in the 5-4-1 type role.

“And you’ve got Drogba and Torres in the wings, which is better than what he had last year with Eto’o and Demba Ba.

“When you looked at what all the other people had, Van Persie, Rooney, Aguero, Džeko and Negredo, Suarez and Sturridge – and they weren’t in that league, they were short.

“This time round, they're not short but it’s too close to call.”

It’s an old cliché that is said ‘every single season this is the most open season to date’.

But coming into the new season, it genuinely looks like there is substance to that statement.

Manchester City are strong as ever and should be even hungrier for success after their second title in three years.

Manchester United look revitalised after a new manager with new ideas has come into the fold.

And Chelsea look as though they have made some of the best business in the entire league, and they have Mourinho, who traditionally comes on strong in his second season.

 

 

 

Then there’s Liverpool, who’ve lost Luis Suarez. That’s all that needs to be said for them.

So who does Chris Kamara, the footballing god, back to win the title?

“Like I said, with United not playing in Europe, how much difference that’s going to make, and with Van Gaal coming in as a top quality manager,” he told MM.

“If you look at his CV, it’s amazing, going to the World Cup and not losing a game then not winning it.

“Last season, I backed Manchester City and I actually backed the winners of all the divisions apart from the fact I said QPR would stay in the Championship.

“This time around I’m not so sure, I’m certainly not sure about the Premier League.”

Image courtesy of Sky Sports via YouTube, with thanks.