DF Previews…

George previews his teams upcoming season.

SALFORD CITY

Manager: Graham Alexander

Last season: 2nd (Promoted via Play-Offs)

key player 

Adam Rooney. Top scorer last season, Rooney has played at the top level in Scotland which should hopefully stand him in good stead for a season in League 2. His physicality and nack of being in the right place at the right time could be key.

SIGNINGS SO FAR

Richie Towell, Dan Jones, Oscar Threlkeld, Kyle Letheren, Joey Jones. The signing of Towell is an exciting one. Towell was on loan at Rotherham in the Championship last year making over 30 appearances for them, so a drop down to League 2 should really make him one of the stand out players in the division.

Who TO SIGN

There’s been some talk of David Wheater coming in, which at league 2 level would be a brilliant signing. His mix of experience and presence at the back could be a really solid foundation to build the team on. Other than that full back cover should be a priority, as should a pacey winger and another striker.

EXPECTED FINISH

Play offs. Looking at the other teams in the league I don’t think there is too many stand out teams who could dominate. With 3 automatic promotion places and the 4 play off positions, a top 7 finish should really be the minimum expectation.

EXCITING GAME

Bradford City away is a huge game for a club like Salford. To come from where Salford have come to then be playing against an ex Premier League time like Bradford is an incredible journey. 

TROPHY?

The only trophy on offer is the Checkatrade trophy. Most teams don’t really care about the trophy, with poor attended games last season. This could give Salford a real chance to sneak in another appearance at Wembley.

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Citizens X Money

Citizens x Money. Ballers.

Back to back Premier League champions Manchester City have accumulated a staggering 198 points in two seasons, but we all know that isn’t enough for the perfectionist Pep Guardiola.

From the outside looking in, one must think that you don’t need to improve and add to a squad that won the first ever domestic treble in England, however watching the Blues closely you can see a couple of areas that could easily benefit from improvement.

Here are my suggestions on who Manchester City should sign this summer.

RODRIGO

According to various sources the transfer is just days away from being confirmed, as City look to trigger the Spaniards release clause of £63million.

Rodrigo is a tall central midfielder currently playing for Athletico Madrid and after just one season in the Spanish capital he could be on his way out already.

‘Rodri’ is just 22 years of age and could be the perfect direct replacement for the ageing Fernandinho (34) in that holding midfield role, directly behind the likes of De Bruyne and David Silva.

If he is to join City he has big shoes to fill with Fernandinho being a first team regular since he arrived in 2013 and judging from his track record so far with club and country Rodrigo Hernandez seems the perfect pick for Pep.

Guardiola is rumoured to have beaten his former side, German champions Bayern Munich to the signing of the central midfielder.

ANGELINO

Manchester City are reportedly just moments away from announcing the signing of one of their old academy players, Angelino, who has a £12 million buy back clause in his contract.

The Spaniard left for Manchester for Dutch side PSV Eindhoven for just £5 million in 2018, and since then has been included in the Eredivisie team of the season two seasons on the showing glimpses of the player City expected him to be when playing on loan at various clubs in Europe.

Left back is clearly a problem area for the Citizens; Benjamin Mendy joined from AS Monaco in 2017, but having only played 17 games for the club many of City’s fans are starting to get tired of his off-field antics and injuries.

Then there is Oleksandr Zinchenko who filled in for Mendy for most of the 18/19 season. A season that saw the once central-midfielder transition to the left-back position and impressed us all massively and some might say he deserves that spot for good. However, the signing of Angelino could provide a much needed headache for Guardiola.

JOAO CANCELO

City seem nailed on to sign Portuguese right-back Joao Cancelo from Italian Champions Juventus for around £50 million.

It is perhaps a surprise to most that City are linked with Cancelo as both Kyle Walker and Danilo. Already occupy that position with enough quality.

But, it seems it will be Danilo who will make way for Cancelo which would make sense given that Kyle Walker has just signed a contract extension and Danilo is reportedly desperate for more playing time.

The issue with this transfer is I don’t believe either Walker or Cancelo will be happy with being on the bench for most of the season, but with City competing in the Premier League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Champions League there are plenty of games for both players to feature in.

City want to include Danilo as part of the deal to lure Cancelo to Manchester but new manager Maurizio Sarri isn’t keen on Danilo, instead he wants the £50million to bolster his squad.

A CENTRE BACK

After club captain Vincent Kompany left this summer to become player-manager of his boyhood club Anderlecht, there is set to be a Belgian shaped hole in the back line of the Blues.

City are now lacking that one player who got them through the hard and times and cropped up with very important tackles and goals, but who could possibly replace their long time captain?

For me it has to be Maththijs De Ligt of Ajax. A young, strong centre back who is hungry for success.

At just 19 years of age he captained Ajax to the Dutch Eridivisie, Dutch Cup and the Champions League semi-final in the 2018/19 season.

De Ligt won’t come cheap though, with Ajax reportedly demanding no less than £60 million, which, considering the amount of years he has to play, his leadership qualities and his undeniable talent are enough to persuade me that it’s a long term investment.

Finley White

Jones X Stoke

Jones x Stoke. Game. Set. Match.

The Championship can, at times, be a cruel mistress. Stoke City are one of many teams that have found it hard to adjust to life in the second tier, despite pre-season expectations of total dominance.

In fact, the Potters placed a meagre 16th,in their first season out of the Premier League in 10 years, in the Championship season just passed.

Once viewed as Premier League stalwarts, City, found themselves embroiled in controversy and a relegation battle come January 2018, where they changed manager for only the second time in their ten year Prem stint. When Paul Lambert replaced the outgoing Mark Hughes, Stoke were flirting with relegation, but just two wins in 2018 saw them finish the season 18thand condemned them to at least one season in the Football League’s second tier.

The end of the 16/17 season bought a host of changes. Gary Rowett replaced Scotsman Lambert and employed an almost completely fresh backroom staff in an attempt to fire Stoke straight back to the big time. Big signings like Benik Afobe, Tom Ince and James McClean were completed giving the squad a fresh look from the woes of the season before.

But, in Rowett’s first competitive game in charge, Stoke fell to an embarrassing 3-1 defeat at the hands of Leeds on Elland Road turf. A stark contrast to what was expected and hoped for by Stoke fans.

Rowett showed some promise when his Stoke side reached the dizzy heights of the top ten in his first few months in charge, but a baron spell over Christmas saw Stoke decline to the bottom half of the table. With hopes of promotion now fading away, the Stoke board made a quick decision in relieving former Derby man Rowett of his duties, almost a year to the day that Mark Hughes suffered the same fate.

In came Nathan jones. An almost unknown entity in football, Jones had taken London club Luton Town to the dizzy heights of the pinnacle of the League One table following a successful 2017/18 campaign that saw the Hatters promoted from League Two to the third division.

The Welshman entered the bet365 Stadium, with a fresh boost of enthusiasm and passion that Potters fans had craved for so long. Not only that but a reputation that is ever-growing in the English game. Luton fans praised his attacking intent alongside a defensive solidarity and a real hunger in every game. Something that Stoke had lacked for so long

However, Jones seemingly inherited a squad with no motivation, no togetherness and no confidence. The new man had a lot of work to do. His first half season with the Potters ended with a 2-2 draw to newly promoted Sheffield United on home turf. Perhaps a sign of things to come with results before that beginning to look promising.

It is, without a doubt, one of the toughest jobs in football at the moment (trying to turn the fortunes of a team bereft of confidence), but Jones clearly feels he and his team have the ability to do so.

With an apparent squad overhaul on the horizon, Potters fans will hope that this season will show stark contrast to the disappointing fate that came with last. At least a top six finish is a realistic expectation for the team from Stoke-on-Trent and will certainly be the ambition that they will show.

United&Spurs x UCL

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United travel to Paris after they lost 0-2 to the French champions at Old Trafford three weeks ago.

It’s a mountain which even the club renowned for it’s comebacks won’t be expected to climb. United have 10 first team squad members missing with enigmatic Frenchman Paul Pogba, who was sent off in the loss in the first leg of the last 16 tie, among them.

Goals from Presnel Kimpembe and Kylian Mbappe were enough to stun United, who themselves expected to beat the Parisians due the absence of Neymar, Edinson Cavani, Thomas Meunier and Adrien Rabiot, but the impressive defence and silky attackers did the job for the French champions.

United have been doing superbly under Solskjaer, no one can deny that and impressive wins against Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea prove that the man known for United’s most famous comeback in the Champions League final of 1999 is no stranger to a big win and could possibly pull off the unlikely in Paris. But it will take a lot of effort from his very thin squad.

Dawson Football predicts: PSG 2-1 Manchester United.

Borussia Dortmund however have an even bigger mountain to climb, with Spurs leading the German side by three goals with no reply after an impressive display at Wembley.

A flurry of second half goals from Tottenham stunned BVB, and Spurs with their desire to win and hunger to get further in this competition out-played a Dortmund side that lack the attacking prowess to expose the back line of the English team.

Borussia’s star man Marco Reus is back on a more positive note for BVB, but the Bundesliga leaders did lose away to Augsburg on Saturday, and will need to improve massively in just a few days if they are to overturn a three goal deficit in the space of 90 minutes at the Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday night.

Dawson Football predicts: Borussia Dortmund 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur.