27/07/2016 09:22 BST | Updated 25/07/2017 06:12 BST

Pre-Season Ponderings: Manchester United to Sunderland

Originally published on Sixth Feb

Praise be the gods, club football is almost back! After enduring a summer that was somehow both packed with football and had nothing interesting to watch at the same time, we get to look forward to the excitement of the Premier League! I mean if Leicester City - the greatest underdog story ever© - could win it, anyone can right? It's not like the Euros or the Copa America where the obvious favourites keep winning. In that vein, the ignorant fan is going to make completely informed judgments* on the upcoming season based on clubs' transfers so far!

*Judgments may not be complete or informed. Or even judgments, honestly.

Manchester United

Ins: Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Outs: Tyler Reid, Ashley Fletcher, Oliver Rathbone, Victor Valdes, Joe Rothwell, Nick Powell and George Dorrington

I'm quite impressed with Mourinho's PR this summer. His arrival was greeted with questions about whether his inevitable sh*thousery would gel with the supposedly pristine image of Manchester United (not including Rooney and Giggs' infidelity issues, Keane's deliberate maiming of opponents and Fergie's constant whining of course). To counteract these doubts he is going out and buying any and all players with a rating of over 85 in FIFA 16. He's even managed to convince the fans that Zlatan was bought for his talent. The guy who would 'let' Cantona remain King of Manchester because he wanted to be God instead. Yeah sure, that's definitely not a ploy to deflect attention away from Mourinho's antics.


Ins: Marten de Roon, Viktor Fischer, Antonio Barragan, Alvaro Negredo, Victor Valdes, Bernardo Espinosa, Gaston Ramirez and Jordan McGhee

Outs: Jonathan Burn, Connor Ripley, Rhys Williams, Luke Coddington, Jordan Jones, Jonathan Woodgate, Damia Abella and Andre Bennett

Victor Valdes AND Viktor Fischer?! Boro are destined to be victorious this season! Thank god for crappy puns, because I genuinely have no idea how good their summer has been. Valdes was dumped by Van Gaal who didn't think he was good enough, while Negredo had a horrid season at City. But that proves exactly nothing because Di Maria was sold by United, and Jerome Boateng didn't exactly play well during his English sojourn. Plus, Fischer has been the next big thing for so long, it's astonishing that he is still 22. He could be either the next Pelle or the next Afonso Alves. And don't even get me started on the absolute randomness of de Roon's arrival. Who knows what's going on with this club.


Ins: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Nathan Redmond

Outs: Sadio Mane, Graziano Pelle, Victor Wanyama, Juanmi, Jason McCarthy, William Britt, Kelvin Davis and Gaston Ramirez

When Southampton were promoted to the Premier League in 2012, it was considered an absolute coup that they managed to get Gaston Ramirez. Today, it's an absolute miracle that they've managed to get rid of him. Despite losing about 16 first XI players every season, the Saints have struggled to get rid of their Uruguayan albatross. The dream has finally come true this summer, and, of course, he is off to Boro. What the hell is going on at that club?

Stoke City

Ins: None

Outs: Steven Sidwell, Yusuf Coban, Mark Waddington, Benjamin Barber, Edward Dryden, Bobby Moseley, Ryan O'Reilly, Peter Odemwingie, Petros Skapetis and Mason Watkins-Clark

Last summer, Mark Hughes was the talk of the town as he loaded up the ex-Pulis side with as many Barcelona rejects as he could find, in a misguided attempt to prove how great a manager he could be. This summer, there has been nothing. No sneaky bids for Swiss wingers and no talk of picking up more undeserved Champions League winners. And here I was thinking Pedro would've been perfect for the Potteries. Allardici's appointment as England manager has really deflated Hughes, hasn't it?


Ins: None

Outs: Emanuele Giaccherini, Danny Graham, Steven Fletcher, Martin Smith, Wes Brown, Mikael Mandron, Liam Agnew and Steve Harper

If you are a struggling club, and one of your players has an absolute stormer during a summer tournament, the natural instinct would be to tie him down to a 40-year contract. But not Sunderland, no siree. Not content with losing their manager to England, Sunderland decided that Giaccherini, now playing in Europe with Napoli, wasn't worth fighting for. Moreover, they figured a squad that has just about scraped survival for the last few seasons didn't need any more additions. No doubt, they will say that new manager David Moyes is to be given a chance to sign the players he wants. It's not like the Scot has ever been ridiculed for failing to act in his first summer at a club.

To read parts 1,2 and 4, click here