The departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez will seriously dent Manchester United’s title challenge, according to Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka.
Ronaldo joined Real Madrid for a world record £80million, whilst Tevez left for rivals Manchester City after his loan deal expired. United have signed Luis Antonio Valencia, Michael Owen and Gabriel Obertan in a bid to replace the duo but Anelka thinks the champions may struggle to retain their title.
“I don’t think they’ll be as strong this season” said the French international.
“Ronaldo and Tevez have gone and maybe it will give us more of a chance to win the title and be stronger than United.”
The Old Trafford club have won the title for three successive seasons and in doing so have equalled Liverpool’s record of 18 league championships. However, they are likely to face increased competition this season, with Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal all desperate to dislodge them and Manchester City spending around £80million in a bid to break into the ‘big four’.
Anelka thinks the title race could be closer than ever. He said: “It will be a tough title race. All the teams at the top are very strong and even Manchester City have some good players.
“Because United have lost two big names, it gives everyone else – including ourselves – a big chance to win it. We will fight until the end and see.”
Anelka’s comments could well provoke a response from Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson. The Scot has already got the mind-games underway ahead of the new season with a dig at Manchester City. Speaking during a pre-season tour in China he claimed City pose little threat and are a “small club with a small mentality”.
With three weeks to go until the big kick-off and sparks already starting to fly, 2009-10 may prove to be one of the most explosive seasons in Premier League history. Premier League betting may certainly be interesting this season!