What to expect in the close season from Manchester City’s next spending spree to what to do with Joey Barton
Saturday’s Champions League final ramifications
Should Chelsea beat Bayern Munich it will become very difficult, although not impossible, for Roman Abramovich to replace Roberto Di Matteo. Even if they lose, replacing the popular caretaker manager would still represent a bold, politically loaded, move. Moreover would Pep Guardiola, for instance, really want to lead Fernando Torres and friends on a Europa League adventure? Tottenham fans will be praying for the Bayern win which would keep them in the Champions League qualifiers. Otherwise there are likely to be farewells to Gareth Bale and Luka Modric.
The West Midland managerial merry-go-round
Where will Chris Hughton end up when the music stops? West Bromwich Albion perhaps or maybe even Aston Villa? Hughton’s mooted departure would create a vacancy at Birmingham; could it represent the return Steve Bruce is waiting for? Might Norwich’s Paul Lambert or Swansea’s Brendan Rodgers be on the shortlist to replace Alex McLeish and become Villa’s fourth manager in two years?
Kenny Dalglish and Liverpool
Will they or won’t they? Are Liverpool’s American owners poised to dismiss King Kenny? Might they try and persuade Roberto Martínez to finally walk away from Wigan?
Can Arsenal keep Robin van Persie?
The name Robin conjures images of those old three wheelers, but Arsenal’s Dutch striker is much more a Ferrari and Arsène Wenger remains worryingly reliant on him. Van Persie though may well be lured away, possibly to Manchester City? If so could it be the beginning of the end for Wenger at the Emirates?
How do Manchester United answer City back?
Will Glazer-economics permit Sir Alex Ferguson to oversee the strengthening in all departments – central midfield especially –United require if they are to have any real hope of silencing those noisy neighbours?
Newcastle United’s Transfer Dealings
Mike Ashley, Newcastle’s owner, is a tough negotiator but he loves a deal and it will be no surprise if one or two key players such as Cheik Tioté are sold for huge profits this summer. Can Alan Pardew unearth modestly priced replacements of similar value?
Sir Alex Ferguson is far from the only manager resistant to the prospect of his players being called up for Stuart Pearce’s Olympic team. Quite apart from prompting mid-season burn-out the tournament’s timing also featuring Euro 2012 promises dreadful disruption to pre-season plans.
Sunderland and Martin O’Neill
Martin O’Neill wants Sunderland to break into the top six next term. Yet after ending this season 13th, lacking a win in their last nine games, his team requires revamping. The comings and goings on Wearside should be fascinating. Can O’Neill somehow hold on to Stéphane Sessègnon?
How does Roberto Mancini conjure further glory AND satisfy Financial Fair Play requirements?
Roberto Mancini must balance a fiendishly tricky equation. Before strengthening his team he needs to offload the likes of Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli, Emmanuel Adebayor and Wayne Bridge. Can he?
Mark Hughes has a reputation for taming football’s awkward squad. Just ask Craig Bellamy, Tevez and Robbie Savage. Barton though is in a different league; does Hughes stick or twist? Will QPR get rid — or try going down the road to reform?