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English Premiership guide for 2007-08


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English Premiership guide for 2007-08

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London - Team-by-team guide to the English Premiership season, which kicks off on Saturday August 11 (all figures in pounds, one pound = two dollars).

Manchester United

Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson

Last season: Premiership champions, Champions League semifinalists, FA Cup runners-up, League Cup fourth round

IN: Owen Hargreaves (Bayern Munich), Nani (Sporting Lisbon), Anderson (Porto)

OUT: Kieran Richardson (Sunderland)

OUTLOOK: The Premiership's most successful club are back on their throne as the kings of English football, but Sir Alex Ferguson knows the battle to stay there will be more brutal than ever.

Ferguson defied predictions that he has lost his touch by clinching a ninth Premiership title, his first in four seasons, last term and he is determined to keep Chelsea and Liverpool at bay.

The United manager fears the two main challengers to his title will be stronger this year and, with that in mind, he has moved to give United an edge with a series of major signings.

Owen Hargreaves finally completed his protracted transfer just weeks after Ferguson had swooped for Anderson and Nani, two of the game's brightest young stars, and Carlos Tevez is still likely to arrive once the legal wrangles with West Ham are resolved.

Those additions will add further lustre to a side already stocked with dazzling talents. If Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney gel with their new team-mates, Ferguson has every reason to expect another season at the top.

KEY PLAYER: Cristiano Ronaldo. Rightly feted as the outstanding attacking talent in the Premiership, but now the Portuguese winger has to start dominating on Europe's grand stages as well.


Manager: Jose Mourinho

Last season: Second in Premiership, Champions League semifinalists, FA Cup winners, League Cup winners

IN: Florent Malouda (Lyon), Steve Sidwell (Reading) free, Claudio Pizarro (Bayern Munich) free, Tal Ben Haim (Bolton) free

OUT: Geremi (Newcastle) free, Nuno Morais (Apoel Nicosia) free, Yves Ma Kalambay (Hibernian) free, Khalid Boulahrouz (Sevilla) season-loan, Michael Mancienne (QPR) season-loan, Jimmy Smith (Norwich) season-loan, Ben Sahar (QPR) three-month loan

OUTLOOK: For the first time in five years Jose Mourinho begins a season without a league title to defend but he is already scheming to regain that winning feeling.

A tumultuous season that embraced pleasure and pain in equal measure ended with two cups in the Stamford Bridge trophy cabinet, but the Premiership crown was wrestled away by Manchester United.

That was an unusual experience for the Portuguese coach, who had won four successive titles with Porto and Chelsea, but he has no plans to suffer the same fate again.

He believes a return to the 4-3-3 formation that served Chelsea so well in his first two seasons will tip the balance back in the London club's favour. Wingers are crucial in that system so he swooped for Lyon's French international Florent Malouda and is keen to rebuff Real Madrids interest in Arjen Robben.

There has even been an outbreak of detente in the corridors of power after Mourinho and Roman Abramovich called a truce following their bitter dispute. With politics on the backburner at last, Chelsea should be stronger than ever this season.

KEY PLAYER: Didier Drogba. His Herculean efforts almost single-handedly kept Chelsea in the hunt for the quadruple and established the Ivory Coast forward as one of the Premiership's superstars.


Manager: Rafa Benitez

Last season: Third in Premiership, Champions League runners-up, FA Cup third round, League Cup quarterfinals

IN: Fernando Torres (Atletico Madrid), Ryan Babel (Ajax), Yossi Benayoun (West Ham), David Amoo (Millwall), Andriy Voronin (Bayer Leverkusen), Ryan Crowther (Stockport)

OUT: Craig Bellamy (West Ham), Djibril Cisse (Marseille), Luis Garcia (Atletico Madrid), Boudewijn Zenden (Marseille), Jerzy Dudek (Real Madrid), Robbie Fowler (Cardiff), Adam Hammill (Southampton) season-loan, Godwin Antwi (Hartlepool) season-loan

OUTLOOK: Rafa Benitez is ready to throw caution to the wind as he tries to end Liverpool's 17-year wait for a league title.

Benitez's defensive tactics have flourished in the Champions League, but that game-plan has come unstuck in the helter-skelter Premiership and Liverpool are yet to get close to mounting a sustained title challenge under the Spaniard.

Success on home soil has to be Benitez's main objective now and to achieve that he finally seems to have realised that Liverpool must start to show more attacking verve.

All his significant close-season signings have been made with the intention of adding pace and power to a previously prosaic forward line.

There is no doubt the likes of Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel will bring quality to the club, but the change in philosophy will take time and Liverpool could be too far off the pace by the time everything clicks.

KEY PLAYER: Fernando Torres. The Spanish striker, the club's record signing, has all the attributes to become an Anfield idol as long as he can cope with the burden of that weighty fee.

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