Last year's Premier League was pretty exciting wasn't it? For the first time in a long time the rivals for the title were Manchester United and Liverpool as the season went down until the penultimate game. Although Utd won out in the end, it was uplifting to see Liverpool in with a chance for the first time in over a decade, but the long wait for title number 19 continues.
Optimism came and has kind of gone now with the imminent departure of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid and an unimpressive string of results and performances for LFC in pre-season. Financial worries continue to dog the club and a failure to bring in high profile signings (so far) do little to inspire confidence. There are some injury worries too before the season's opener away to Spurs. Key signings have not yet been forthcoming. Hyypia has not been replaced, no wingers have been brought in and horror upon horrors no striker has been signed and Voronin has returned to the club.
Pending a medical, Alonso should bring five years service to the club to an end with a £30million move to Madrid. Adios Xabi, you will be missed but if you want to go then goodbye but be careful what you wish for. Congratulations too to Rafa for sticking to his guns and squeezing every penny out of Madrid. Could it be that Benitez will be given all the money to sign the three players we need to challenge for the title? Will some much needed flair be added to the side? It looks like a replacement has already been lined up in Roma's Alberto Aquilani but should it have been the cheaper and more experienced Gareth Barry? Enjoy counting your money Mr. Barry.
Now Alex Ferguson has stoked up the fires with some pre-season mind games. Remember last season ans Rafa's supposed rant? It was nothing of the sort but it DID get up Fergie's red nose and he didn't like it. A sure sign that he knows Liverpool are a force to be reckoned with these days. Now he cannot shut up about Benitez and Liverpool Football Club. Questions remain to be answered about their post-season dealings too. Ronaldo has gone but who will score their goals now? For Utd there are more questions than answers.
So what has Fergie said now?
"Liverpool have just had probably their best season for 20 years, finished up with 86 points and still finished four adrift. It will be hard for them to match that, let alone improve. Other teams will read Liverpool better. It has to be Chelsea as the main threat. Ancelotti will change how they play."
The English press are making this out to be Fergie writing off LFC's title bid before a ball has been kicked so you can bet that this will get tasty at some stage. I look forward to Rafa wiping the smile off Fergies face come May. Chelsea remain strong but their players are hardly getting any younger. The mind games have begun early. Should be another interesting season.