|CLASS ACT: Manchester United’s resurgence has been largely down to the form of their Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes. — AFP Photo|
I won’t bore you by going on about how messed up a year 2020 was. Enough has been said already. But as the year draws to a close many of us are hoping the past 12 months will soon become a distant memory and we can all ring in the New Year with glee.
Sorry, somehow, I don’t think that’s really going to be how it works. With COVID-19 cases reaching new heights in England, I don’t think it will be long before we see another break in Premier League akin to the back end of last season.
But let’s not get too down in the dumps. As we say goodbye 2020 and hello 2021, I wanted to take a look at what I think supporters and managers will be wishing for in the New Year.
After losing Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez to long-term injuries back in October, Jurgen Klopp will be thanking his lucky stars Liverpool are top of the Premier League. He has already said the chances of Liverpool buying a defender in January are slim at best. Youngsters Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams have both stepped up to the plate when called upon and midfielder Fabinho is proving his worth as a makeshift defender. That said, Liverpool’s one wish for 2021 is simple. No more injuries, particularly in defence.
Despite heavy criticism, United have sneaked up to second place in the league and although they were knocked out of the Champions League, it seems things are slowly beginning to click for the Red Devils. Bruno Fernandes has been key in their resurgence, picking up the pieces so spectacularly dropped by the enigma that is Paul Pogba. As for 2021, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be wanting more consistency from his defence and better results against top opposition.
I still know Evertonians that are pinching themselves to make sure they are not dreaming. Carlo Ancelotti is by a country mile the best manager Everton have had since Howard Kendall. Their lofty position in the Premier League as the year draws to a close is all the doing of the Italian. As for 2021, I think Evertonians will be hoping the year brings a trophy and a place in the top four.
Much has been said about Frank Lampard and whether the job is too big for this young manager. He spent big in the summer transfer window and so far, Germans Timo Werner and Kai Havertz have been very disappointing. Chelsea managers before Lampard will testify that owner Roman Abramovich does have a ruthless streak and will have no problem firing Frank if results don’t start turning around. Next year won’t be a case of Finding Nemo, but finding Timo’s goal-scoring touch to guide the Blues back to the top.
Fans will no doubt be pleased to see back to back wins in the Premier League but deep down I think it’s fair to say they are well aware of the deep-rooted problems at Arsenal. A drastic clear out and rebuild job is desperately needed for the Gooners and many supporters fear Mikel Arteta is not the right man for the job. 2021 is going to be a tough year for the Spaniard and I’m guessing all he is hoping for is not getting the sack.
Don’t let the fact City are currently in eighth place in Premier League hide the reality they remain a massive force to be reckoned with. Pep Guardiola is one hell of a manager and has a bottomless pit of cash at his disposal. This year the City faithful will be hoping for at least one big name signing in the January transfer window and a return to full fitness for Sergio Aguero.
So there you have it. Out with the old and in with the new. And I’ve no doubt this coming year will be just the same roller coaster ride in the world of football as 2020.
Happy New Year. — VNS