Poles apart in EPL race
City and Spurs are tackling push for Premiership title in very different ways
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Over-30s Gael Clichy, Aleksandar Kolarov, Bacary Sagna and Pablo Zabaleta have departed and have been replaced by 20-somethings Benjamin Mendy, Kyle Walker, Danilo and Bernardo Silva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