The former Manchester United defender and current England coach offers his views on the contenders for the upcoming seasons...
This is a settling in period [for David Moyes]. It's a critical period for any new manager and the good thing about it is that he has been there since the first day of pre- season. Managers sometimes get appointed later in the season or when the games have already started. He has got enough time in these next six weeks really to understand his squad. The thing about David Moyes is that he is a managerial coach in that he is active on the training pitch. He gets involved with his players. He wants to do a lot of the coaching himself and so they will be starting to understand how he works
I was delighted for [his brother] Philip being appointed as a coach him. He was desperate to carry on playing but his body was telling him it couldn't anymore, with the little problems he was having. He missed a lot of games towards the end of last season. This job is obviously a little bit like coming home. He had a great time at Everton but for him Manchester United is where his heart is. To have the opportunity to come back is wonderful, a great experience. He is as committed and dedicated to football as anybody I have ever met and I am sure he will give it absolutely his all.
Not as many people are talking about Manchester City at this point as they were last season, which I think is dangerous because they under-performed last year. Look at where they were at the end of the previous season, they definitely under-performed. Think of the likes of [Sergio] Aguero and people like that. If they hit their top form again, and they've obviously signed a couple of players, they will be really strong. Everyone's looking at Jose Mourinho, everyone's looking at Moyes, but City are probably sat there thinking they're okay at this moment of time: 'We're out of the limelight.'
From 2004 to 2007 was the leanest period United had post-1993, and Mourinho had a big part to play in that. He built a fantastic side. He inherited a few of those players, but the players he brought in were brilliant signings: the likes of Ricardo Carvalho, Didier Drogba, Arjen Robben, Michael Essien. Going back there now, he's got a greater challenge. But Chelsea are on the up. Everyone could see that at the end of last season. They won the Champions League the year before, won a trophy last season, finished strongly in the league. They're going to be a huge threat this season. The business the clubs do in the next few weeks will be critical.
Where we lost out to Mourinho teams at United in those early years was we left ourselves too much to do. We weren't slow starters, but we weren't at our peak form September to December. When we got into our stride in January, February, March, the problem in the Mourinho years was we were too far behind to mount a challenge in those first couple of years. So the critical thing this year will be to make sure that, at the turn of the year, you're in contention.
I thought Arsenal would have gone big and early [in the transfer market]. The noises coming out of Arsenal are that they're going to try to spend bigger than they have done and we're still waiting for that and the domino effect, for one big player to move and the rest falls into place.
You've got Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain at the moment who have come to the fore, blowing people out of the water and it's just setting one or two of our English clubs back a bit in terms of aspirations and they're thinking they'll have to reset their thoughts.
The surprise for me has been that we've not seen big activity from the big clubs. Obviously, Fernandinho signing for City is a big move but I would've expected more of that.
Tottenham really should have got into the top four last year. The position they were in when they beat Arsenal at White Hart Lane in early March, I never thought for one minute that Tottenham wouldn't get into the top four.
Losing Sandro was a big problem for them. That really did set them back. The fact they didn't have more back-up in centre-forward positions and there was a heavy reliance upon Gareth Bale probably at the end may have cost them but generally it was a pretty good performance from Tottenham.
I just think that you always wonder have they got it in them to go again. To spend big or get the players in that are required to make that breakthrough that they need to because Arsenal will be better next year. Manchester United, Chelsea and City will be there. So you are talking about Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham [for fourth place]. I think last year was the bigger opportunity for Tottenham to get in the top four than this year. I think this year could be tougher for them because Arsenal will improve greatly from where they were last year.
I think you will see Arsenal sign two or three players that will really take them forward so Tottenham will have to do the same. It goes without saying if they lost Bale that would be a massive blow. At the moment, there are no noises coming out to suggest he wants to leave or that Tottenham are willing to sell.
If Liverpool lose Luis Suarez it will be a huge blow. It's critical. The goals he scored last year and the performance level at the time of the season when he was suspended was fantastic. He was well in contention to be player of the year. You never know who Liverpool might have backed up to replace him but if they've got aspirations of finishing in the Champions League [they need to retain him].
It's more important for Liverpool to keep Suarez as a message to say: 'We want to get back into those Champions League places'. Brendan Rodgers had a period when he was settling into the club and everybody accepted that. It was recognised it would take him time to put his philosophy in place. This year, they'll be expecting improvement and he'll be expecting improvement. Losing Suarez would be detrimental to that, so I think it's critical that Suarez stays at Liverpool, for their sake.Reuse content