Aldridge makes surprise Premier League title prediction
Okay, strap yourselves into you seats and let me tell you who I am backing to win this season’s Premier League title - Manchester United.
You will all know that I will take no delight in making that prediction a week before the start of the new Premier League season, but I firmly believe the chips are falling into place for Jose Mourinho to work his magic once again.
You will all know that I take no delight in making that prediction a week before the start of the new Premier League season, but I firmly believe the chips are falling into place for Jose Mourinho to work his magic once again.
Mourinho is going for quick-fire success by signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba, because he knows that he is at a club that demands trophies every season. He needs to deliver from day one or he will be screwed.
Well, it pains me to say it, but I think United have the right manager in place now and I’m backing him to guide them to the title this season, even though I believe my old club Liverpool can give Mourinho’s men a run for their money.
For a second season in succession, this is a Premier League title race that is impossible to call and after so many pundits picked Leicester to be relegated last season, we should all get the hint that these kind of pre-season punts are near-impossible to get right.
However, at a time when Man City and Chelsea are rebuilding, Liverpool and Arsenal have a few question marks over them and Tottenham and Leicester have so many issues to address, I reckon Mourinho will get United back on track quickly.
Their signings have cost a lot of money, but the players coming in are proven quality and that can only help the United I have always been a fan of Zlatan and he can still have an impact in the Premier League at the back end of his career.
Mkhitaryan is a quality signing and, of course, they have splashed the cash in a pretty garish way to bring Pogba back to United four years after he left Old Trafford for nothing.
Now I haven’t had too many chances to stick the boot in to Alex Ferguson over the last quarter of a century, but you have to say the legacy of one of the great managers has taken a beating over this Pogba (below) situation.
Even if Fergie had a fallout with Pogba’s agent back in 2012, you cannot allow a player of that quality to walk away for nothing and the scale of his error has been highlighted with the cash Man United had to pay to get him back. What a cock-up.
This has to go down as the most expensive mistake in football history.
For all the success Ferguson enjoyed during his time as United manager, he now has this giant stain on his record.
Fergie’s reputation will take a further battering if Pogba lives up to his billing and takes the Premier League by storm and while they are not yet a proven team, Mourinho is a manager who tends to inspire instant success.
One of the reasons why I am backing United to do well this season is the question marks hovering over the other title contenders in a summer when transfer fees officially went mad.
You don’t even need to be an especially good player to have a €35m price tag at the moment and United are one of the few clubs who can compete in this market.
Jurgen Klopp and those controlling the purse strings at Liverpool have a slightly different approach, with the desperation to keep a viable wage structure in place ensuring their transfer strategy is a little more controlled.
However, this is a season when Liverpool will not have any European football to distract them and history has shown that can be a massive advantage during a title race.
Brendan Rodgers so nearly won the title with Liverpool in 2014, with the lack of European football on his agenda that season so important.
We saw the benefits for Leicester last season as they had long periods of rest in between Premier League matches and Liverpool will enjoy that same luxury at a time when their rivals may have hectic schedules in February and March.
I like the transfer business Klopp has done so far this summer and I expect big things from Sadio Mane (below) following his move from Southampton.
Daniel Sturridge, Danny Ings, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Mane are a dynamic set of attacking players and if Klopp finds the right balance going forward, they could cause chaos for Premier League defences.
I don’t see Chelsea challenging for the title as new boss Antonio Conte will need time to rebuild a team that fell apart last season and Pep Guardiola will also need time to find his feet at Man City.
Champions Leicester may well finish outside of the top six this season as they embark on their first adventure in European competition and I have my doubts that both Arsenal and Tottenham can get into the mix for the title in the final weeks of the season.
Part of me hopes that my backing for United to emerge as champions ensures they get nowhere near the title, as my pre-season predictions have not gone too well over the last few predicting Chelsea would retain the title in the pre-season pull-out a year ago and that punt went
But while I’d be delighted to see Mourinho fall flat on his face at Old Trafford, I don’t see it happening.
A title winning party at Old Trafford next May... What a horrible prospect that years!