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David Moyes

Monday Soccer Insider: Aug. 12, 2013

Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund side will keep the Bundesliga race tight this season. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a player I had hoped several Premier League sides would pursue instead, ended up with the European runners-up as somewhat of an afterthought. On Saturday in his Bundesliga debut he recorded a hat trick, made runs from a wide position, and linked up well with Marco Reus, İlkay Gündoğan and Nuri Şahin. The return of Sahin to the Dortmund XI is also significant as he showed some of the signs of what made him arguably the most influential player in the league before his ill-fated move to Real Madrid in 2011.

I found it interesting that despite the new signings and toying with tactics, Pep Guardiola returned to tried and tested tactics/squad selection on Friday in Bayern Munich‘s season opening victory. Guardiola is spoiled for choice. And once Mario Götze and Thiago achieve full match fitness, look out.

An annual rite of passage with some in the media and blogosphere is to poke holes at Manchester United and say that this current team is not a “vintage” United side. I find this to be a case of commentators sitting in an echo chamber perhaps wishing for something to change. But David Moyes appointment as manager of Manchester United is bound to have more ramifications for Everton,  who were chronic overachievers under Moyes than for United who remain arguably the most complete squad in England, with the best infrastructure and support with which to remain title contenders. Looking at the Red Devils, one does not see a whole lot of squad weakness outside of an aging central midfield. This is contrasted with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City all of whom have more obvious and pressing potential transfer needs. The ease at which Wigan Athletic was dispatched in the Charity Shield at Wembley reminds us of the professionalism of this United squad.  Sir Alex Ferguson has left Moyes with a squad capable of winning the Premier League by some distance, as they did last season and contending for European honors.  That doesn’t mean they will win the league or advance deep in Europe, but they still seem to be the most complete and battle tested squad in English football.

The Luis Suarez transfer saga has been most interesting for the involvement publicly of Liverpool owner John W. Henry. As an owner of a Premier League club, Henry’s hands-on management style will win him friends on Merseyside but very much may rankle the rest of English football in a similar fashion to the way Dave Whelan has. Henry seems committed to making a public stand, which perhaps is posturing to regain the goodwill of so many Liverpool supporters.

NBC Sports promotion of its Premier League package in the United States has been outstanding. The two programs aired on NBC over-the-air on Sunday afternoon raised the bar on coverage of the sport in the United States. Never before has such original programming aired about any league including our own domestic leagues on network television. A rising tide lifts all boats and while I have noted some bitterness among MLS/NASL/USL-PRO fans about the promotion of the Premier League on NBC, it will ultimately make the sport more popular and sustainable in the United States.

The Tampa Bay Rowdies, the subject of a World Soccer Talk mini-documentary, enjoyed the club’s  first ever regular season sellout (7,000 +) at Al Lang Stadium Saturday against the New York Cosmos on Saturday. For those who don’t think the Cosmos impact is real, they should note the Rowdies — despite the on-field success they have had since 2011 — have had only one regular season crowd over 5,000 in that period.

Orlando City broke its regular season attendance record with almost 11,000 in attendance to see the the Seattle Sounders reserves in “inter-league” play between MLS and the USL PRO. Orlando got good news on the stadium front this week, and looks poised to move to MLS soon.

While Tampa Bay and Orlando were enjoying banner weekends, a third pro team in the state of Florida continues to struggle on and off the pitch. The Fort Lauderdale Strikers have 2 wins, 2 draws and 10 losses this season and barely drew 3,000 fans to Lockhart Stadium on Saturday night. This came just days after 67,273 in the same market watched Real Madrid defeat Chelsea.

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  1. Fulhamish

    August 12, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    Great column Kartik. Looking forward to more of these.

  2. Jack Daniels

    August 12, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    U R an EPL (mANURE FANBOY)..Chelsea and City are more complete than United.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      August 12, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      I am actually as most folks know a 20 year plus City supporter. (Don’t say Citeh because that means you support Leeds or United) I do think on paper Chelsea is the best squad but looking at how the parts work together and proven Premier League pedigree I would still take United’s team over the other two. City have a lot of questions and I still don’t believe Mancini’s sacking was justified or smart. I am not convinced by Chelsea either. Things could most certainly change between now and August 31st based on transfers. City in particular need another Central Defender with Nasty injured. Lescott simply has been mistake prone starting with the QPR match at the end of the 2011-12 season.

  3. Eplnfl

    August 12, 2013 at 3:43 pm


    When either Tampa or Orlando are selected by the MLS will the city left out be able to sustain things in the NASL? Are we looking at another Seattle/Portland combination for the MLS? Can there be a 3rd Florida team in the cards and a future Citrus Cup to be battled for?

    As to the hurt feelings of MLS fans include me in but I do agree with you that it is a rising tide and since the EPL refuses to copy the NFL and play a few games over here or even locate a team here MLS will ultimately gain. However MLS fans should take heart in that the league is growing in quality and quantity now on its own and the success of so many MLS products on the USMNT will also increase interest.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      August 12, 2013 at 4:58 pm

      I agree on the Tampa Bay/Orlando thing. The rivalry aspect is huge and taking one and leaving the other behind would be a mistake. The Citrus Cup would be brilliant!

  4. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    August 12, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Fair points Paul…Regarding City, Milner most certainly can play centrally though Mancini was reluctant to deploy him there. Rodwell is always injured and Garcia has been spending more of the preseason at CB. I agree on Evra which is why Buttner will either have to really develop this season or Baines (or another LB) will need to be purchased.

    United’s strikeforce is Rooney stays is the envy of the world. I really expect Welbeck to break out this season.

    You could be right about City- maybe it was being fed up with Mancini that created the ineptitude up front last year. Certainly it seemed as if the team had checked out at him at times. I like Jovetic alot about it will take time for him to acclimate to the physicality in England given he is a link up player between the midfield and attack.

    RE: Chelsea, Jose’s greatest success is when they had Makelele there. It seems if they want to play on the break as so many Jose teams do, they need someone sitting in front of the back four that will actually win the ball. Certainly player for player, on paper Chelsea appears loaded. But it deficiencies in specific places, also central defense especially if Luiz is moved out that worries me about them. The Blues have continued to sign attacking minded players. DeBruyne and Schurlee are both outstanding but don’t address their needs. FYI, having watched both in Germany last season, I would actually rate DeBruyne slightly higher but they are both quite good.

    If United sign Fellaini, the CM problem could be solved.

    Ultimately it’s all theoretical until we actually kick a football which comes this weekend, finally!

  5. Paul

    August 12, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    aging Central Midfield?? who’s old in that midfield. Scholes has retired and Giggs plays on the left. Clev, Anderson, and Kagawa are all relatively young(Carrick is 31).
    Wigan wasn’t going to win the shield. And Chelsea and City have more complete squad than we do.
    who’s writing this drivel??

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      August 12, 2013 at 12:44 pm

      Chelsea’s central defense and holding midfield (no ball winner) is a concern.

      I am thinking specifically of Carrick and of course Fletcher who is not fit (illness of whatever) in saying aging.

      Carrick was excellent last season, but United might need an upgrade there to compliment Carrick. Otherwise the side looks solid.

      Manchester City have all sorts of issues. Left back is a problem for City, no Central Defense depth which will already be tested with Nasty’s injury, and if you play Toure and Fernandinho in Central Midfield neither is an out and out ball winner. Keep in mind City’s leading goal scorer last season tallied fewer strikes than part-time player Frank Lampard, so the assumption that City has a good striker corps is a fallacy. It might work out for them after the Nergredo and Jocetic signings but is far from guaranteed.

      On paper Chelsea have the most impressive side but many of those players are in the same positions or areas of the pitch. United has more variation, more tactical flexibility and better option off the bench in various areas than Chelsea at this moment in time. That is assuming Rooney stays.

      • Paul

        August 12, 2013 at 1:14 pm

        The only CM united has who’s pulling his weight is Carrick. If Carrick gets injured….
        Evra hasn’t been the same for a while now. And Rafael just picked up another knock in the C. Shield. Jones and Smalling can fill in at RB but they aren’t full backs.
        Rooney either wants a new contract or a move away from the club. If RVP gets injured then we only have Welbeck and Hernandez as STs.
        How are we the most complete club with those issues?? If you desperately need an upgrade in an area of the pitch, you aren’t the most complete club.

        Chelsea has Lampard, Mikel, Oscar, Van Ginkel, De Bryune, Ramires and Essein as MFs. Traore has impressed during the pre-season. Even w/ the misfiring torres they still have Lukaku and Demba ba. Since when are dedicated ball winners pre-requesite for teams to win a title?? have you ever heard of pressing?? you dont need a dedicated ball winner to press.

        City has Rodwell, Javi Garcia, Silva, Yaya, Nasri, Fernandinho and Barry as MFs. Lets not forget James MIlner can also play there.
        They just signed Negredo, Jovetic and Navas.
        So a strikeforce of Negredo, Dzeko, Aguero and Jovetic(who can play there) is a fallacy and not a good strike force??? Last year City team got fed up with Mancini. They have a new manager now. Oh and lets not forget that City had the best defense last season.

        So i dont get your point that United has the most complete squad in England. It doesn’t make any sense.

  6. Paul

    August 12, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    “United who remain arguably the most complete squad in England”
    i stopped reading after this….LOL…we desperately need a at least 1 CM, how are we the most complete?? *mindblown

  7. Erik

    August 12, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Sahin could have worked for Liverpool if Rodgers had actually tried to make it work.

    A mid level manager at a top level club. Why would we expect more?

  8. Dean Stell

    August 12, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Funny…as soon as those NBC programs came on the air, you could almost hear that certain contingent of American soccer fans complaining that NBC didn’t do that for MLS. I agree, a rising tide floats all. More people watching EPL should result in more people supporting their local soccer clubs, which gives them more money to spend, which enhances the product on the field, which enhances the TV product, yada, yada….

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      August 12, 2013 at 12:49 pm

      I have been hearing so many complaints from MLS fans about the NBC promotions. Hopefully they will embrace it after getting over their unjustified bitterness.

      • Taylor

        August 12, 2013 at 1:04 pm

        Respect is gained, not asked. So if MLS wants to get “respect” they need to raise their game.

    • sucka99

      August 12, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      I did notice that during the classic matches they played on Saturday they had the ticket running the whole game.

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