Jan Molby

United best set of big three despite Mourinho appointment

Jan Molby

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The top three teams in the country will have new managers next season - and the bookmakers cannot separate Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs after Jose Mourinho's return to the Blues was confirmed.

As this point in time, though, I still think that Manchester United are the side to beat next season. They have proven quality and while they have a new manager in David Moyes, he is not going to stray too far from what Sir Alex Ferguson did. He will have money available which I feel he will spend so they look to be slightly ahead of the other two.

If United go out and get two really good central midfielder players then they are pretty much set already. I would still take the likes of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie to outscore City and Chelsea's forwards.

There is no doubt, though, that the biggest excitement and hype at the start of the season will surround Mourinho and Chelsea.

English football liked him when he was here before and has missed him since he's been gone because, if nothing else, he is box office.

For me, the Chelsea he took over in 2004 is a far different beast to the Chelsea of 2012.

When he came last time they were desperate for success, desperate to win the league and desperate to win the Champions League – but they have achieved all of that now.

Nine years ago players like Frank Lampard and John Terry were a lot younger and grasped on to every word he said - but that has also changed.

Chelsea are now a battle-hardened football club. They've tried it all and have won everything. When he first arrived he made an impact within weeks but there is more for him to do this time. There is the issue of a front man – will he stick with Fernando Torres or Demba Ba? What will he do with the older players? Will he get rid of David Luiz, as speculated? They are a club surrounded by more questions than answers at the moment.

For me, the most interesting appointment of the summer will be Manuel Pellegrini's impending move to Manchester City.

He has done a superb job at most places, with the one exception being Real Madrid - but that does raise the question about how he will cope at City. I'm not suggesting that the madhouse at Manchester City is comparable to Real Madrid, but in terms of profile it is up there.

People who have worked with him speak very highly of him and Villarreal and Malaga played some super football, but it is just that nagging doubt which remains. It's probably unfair because many a good manager has come unstuck at the Bernabeu.

It should all lead to a chaotic summer in the transfer market. You bring these types of managers in and immediately put them under pressure to succeed, so I would expect Mourinho and Pellegrini to have both negotiated big transfer funds before accepting their jobs.

When it comes to which players might be brought in, with exception of the really settled Barcelona lads – Xavi, Iniesta and Messi – and the core of the Bayern Munich team, I feel that pretty much any player in Europe is a realistic option for the top Premier League clubs to target.

Napoli's Edinson Cavani is likely to find himself on the wish-list of both City and Chelsea, especially after Falcao's puzzling move to Monaco. Robert Lewandowski of Dortmund will interest clubs too although I think he will probably go to Bayern Munich; his team-mate Marco Reus is an exceptional player who would improve any of the three main contenders.

Of course there is always Cristiano Ronaldo to consider too. There was that picture of Ronaldo and Mourinho looking at each other in the tunnel on the final day of the season, which seemed to convey a stronger bond than is usually seen between a manager and a player. It was almost like Ronaldo was saying: "Let's both go together."

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What will make things difficult is that so many of the top clubs will be chasing the few top quality players that do become available. This will drive up the prices, as will the interest of other clubs like Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco.

It is not as straightforward as it used to be, when the English clubs had the first pick of all the best talent.

The likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool will also be hoping to benefit from the changes at the big three.

Spurs' future hinges on one decision – can they hang on to Gareth Bale? If they decide to sell him, then you can forget about them.

I know Arsenal finished fourth last season, but they still look three or four players short of being a really good team for me, while obviously Liverpool might have a problem in keeping Luis Suarez.

So even though you usually expect new managers to need time to bed in, the question marks surrounding the clubs around and below the top three means this is less of a problem than it might usually have been.

Mourinho's been there before while I think Moyes and Pellegrini are steady hands. There may be no games for a couple of months but it is still going to be a very interesting summer in the Premier League, with plenty to talk about.

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