Poles apart in EPL race

City and Spurs are tack­ling push for Pre­mier­ship ti­tle in very dif­fer­ent ways

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - DPA

AF­TER com­ing up short in the Premier League last sea­son, Manch­ester City and Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur are tak­ing markedly dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to chase down cham­pi­ons Chelsea.

City have spent more than £200 mil­lions (about R3.5 bil­lion) so far this summer in strength­en­ing their squad, while Tot­ten­ham are yet to buy any new play­ers.

With the new sea­son kick­ing off this weekend, it won’t be a long wait to see if ei­ther club has made the right choice.

“We have a lot of play­ers with a lot of qual­ity and I am so grate­ful for what the club has done,” City man­ager Pep Guardi­ola, who be­gins his sec­ond sea­son away to pro­moted Brighton to­mor­row, said. “Last sea­son we were the old­est team in the Premier League but we have made the team younger.

“But I still think we need a lit­tle bit more. The trans­fer win­dow doesn’t close till Au­gust 31, so we will see.”

City have added five new play­ers – to re­fresh an age­ing side – in their cash splash af­ter fin­ish­ing a dis­tant third last time.

Over-30s Gael Clichy, Alek­san­dar Ko­larov, Bacary Sagna and Pablo Za­baleta have de­parted and have been re­placed by 20-some­things Ben­jamin Mendy, Kyle Walker, Danilo and Bernardo Silva

“We don’t change for the short pe­riod,” Guardi­ola said.

“All the play­ers, the av­er­age (age) is so, so young. So, it’s for the next five or six or seven years.”

Tot­ten­ham have fought to the end the past two sea­sons only to fin­ish third and sec­ond.

Spurs im­pressed last sea­son by los­ing just four league games, while scor­ing the most goals (86) and con­ced­ing the least (26).

But while their lack of spend­ing may alarm sup­port­ers, man­ager Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino said there’s no need for panic yet.

“It is so dif­fi­cult when you have a very good team and at a club like Tot­ten­ham you have a very clear phi­los­o­phy and a plan that you want to follow,” he said ahead of Sun­day’s opener at New­cas­tle.

“It is not easy to find right foot­baller. I think we are work­ing and we’ll add some play­ers to the end of the trans­fer win­dow. “We need to bring some new en­ergy and strengthen our squad. I think ev­ery­one knows that – and first of all our chair­man, Daniel (Levy), knows that.”

While no new play­ers have come in yet, only Walker has left for Manch­ester City and con­ti­nu­ity is key to Spurs’ suc­cess, ac­cord­ing to Mousa Dem­bele.

“The way we have played the last few years … there is a lot of con­fi­dence in the team,” the mid­fielder said. “The big­gest aim was to keep ev­ery­one to­gether. It’s a pos­i­tive thing.

“We’ve played a few years to­gether and ev­ery­body knows their role in the team. This year is go­ing to be a special year for us I think.” PARIS : It’s been nearly a week since Ney­mar landed in Paris, and the world’s most ex­pen­sive player still can’t play for his new club in the French league.

Ney­mar’s world-record 222-mil­lion euros (about R3478m) trans­fer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Ger­main was com­pleted last week, but the Brazil in­ter­na­tional has yet to be granted per­mis­sion to play.

PSG wanted Ney­mar to start the sea­son at the Parc des Princes last week against Amiens but his de­but was de­layed be­cause his in­ter­na­tional trans­fer cer­tifi­cate (ITC) had not been re­ceived by the French league on time.

Ney­mar was un­veiled to the PSG fans on Satur­day, but watched from the stands as his new team started its league cam­paign with a 2-0 win.

The former Santos player was then ex­pected to play on Sun­day night at Guingamp at the 18 000-ca­pac­ity Stade du Roudourou, but PSG fans might have to wait a bit longer to see the star in ac­tion.

The French league said in an email to The As­so­ci­ated Press yes­ter­day that it had not re­ceived the doc­u­ment needed from the Span­ish fed­er­a­tion. It added the dead­line for re­ceiv­ing the doc­u­ment was mid­night lo­cal time.

The French league added that it “does not un­der­stand” why its Span­ish coun­ter­part “re­fuses to ac­cept the pay­ment for the buy­out clause for Ney­mar”.

There has been spec­u­la­tion in France that Barcelona slowed down the whole process as a re­tal­i­a­tion mea­sure against PSG af­ter the French league club lured one of their play­ers out of the Camp Nou.

Ac­cord­ing to French newspaper L’Equipe, PSG are un­likely to ask Fifa to rule on the issue be­cause it could slow down pro­ceed­ings fur­ther. The club did not im­me­di­ately an­swer a mes­sage from The As­so­ci­ated Press seek­ing com­ments.

Asked about his views on the issue af­ter the Amiens game, PSG coach Unai Emery said last week he was not sure “Spain did every­thing” to en­sure Ney­mar would be cleared to play for PSG with­out de­lay.

French foot­ball fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Noel Le Graet said an­other rea­son for the de­lay could be the cur­rent tur­moil within the Span­ish fed­er­a­tion. An­gel Maria Vil­lar, who ran the Span­ish soc­cer fed­er­a­tion since 1988, was sus­pended from the pres­i­dency for one year in July by Spain’s top sports au­thor­ity for his sus­pected in­volve­ment in a case of mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of pri­vate and pub­lic funds re­ceived by the fed­er­a­tion since 2009.

“I don’t need to tell you that the Span­ish fed­er­a­tion is hav­ing some prob­lems at the mo­ment,” Le Graet told L’Equipe. “The trans­fer is com­plete, so this should not last.”

In any case, the pa­per­work is­sues have left Ney­mar un­fazed. He’s been mak­ing the most of his time off to head to Saint-Tropez, where he has been pho­tographed par­ty­ing with friends. Ney­mar has since re­turned to train­ing with his team­mates. – AP; Pic­ture: EPA

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