MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 22: Nikica Jelavic of Everton rises to score the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford on April 22, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Everton host Manchester United for their 2012-2013 Barclays Premier League season opener on Monday. There has been a flurry of activity in the transfer market, something that Everton fans are definitely not used to. United have proven great competition over the last few years with some memorable clashes in that time. Royal Blue Mersey spoke to the fine folk who run the fellow SB Nation blog over at The Busby Babe, read on after the jump for the responses from Sweet science.
RBM - RVP is the big name signing of the offseason, but who are the other notable signings for Man U this summer?
We also have signed the Japanese startlet Shinji Kagawa from B Dortmund, and Crewe's Nick Powell. The latter seems to be one for the future, although I am sure he will get a run out or two, especially in the Capital one cup. Kagawa is definatley one that will feature heavily though. Where he will play.... God knows. It looked like he was going to play in behind Wayne Rooney. But now with Robin Van Persie arriving, I would be very surprised if RVP wasn't the number 9 for the majority of games, with Rooney, Kagawa, Ashley Young, Nani shifting and changing positions.
RBM - Sir Alex Ferguson is back again this season, what (if anything) does he do different this season?
Of course he is back again :) Tough question. It is hard to second guess Fergie, great manager that he is. I personally would like to see him use the 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 formation a little less, and instead adopt a more flexable system which will get the best out of our flexable players. Again, with the already mentioned players, along with Tom Cleverley (Who is a very smart player) and Danny Welbeck.... The ability for a more attacking, fluid game is there. Last season we were so predictable at times. Shift it wide, get crosses in....... Effective, but predicatble. Fergie doesn't really shock us with his formations however, so I would be surprised if he does anything too radical.
RBM - What formations do you see United using to get the best out of Kagawa & RVP, while keeping Rooney, Nani and possibly Welbeck on the field?
Bloody hell.. a 2-2-6? One of the reasons why I don't love the RVP deal as much as some. Because Welbeck, and also Javier Hernandez will not see as much gametime, hindering their development. ------------------RVP Rooney--------------------Nani -----------------Kagawa -------Scholes/Clev---Carrick The options we have are quite ridiculous now. Valencia can play right wing, or RB if needed. His lack of a left foot means he is not as fluid as our other attackers, and so is suited more to a rigid 4-4-2, in which he excelled in last season. Welbeck can play up top or on the wing. Rooney can play in any of the front four positions. Kagawa, in behind or on either wing. Nani, on either wing... We could also play 4-4-2 when we are in need of goals and/ or are expected to win handily. Rooney and RVP up top would obviously be the main strike duo... Havn't even mentioned Dimitar Berbatov yet.... Glad im not Ferguson. This is giving me a headache
RBM - De Gea had a rocky start to his Old Trafford career, how do the fans feel about him in goal after a full season?
I have no concerns with David De Gea. Sure, he had a shaky start. But when Anders Lindegaard replaced him, and then promptly went down injured, De Gea was phenomenal from then on in. A stunning save to save the game from Juan Mata's free kick against Chelsea gave him much needed sonfidence. His shot stopping is ridiculous, thanks mostly to his wonderful reflexes. He still needs to improve on his cross taking and command of his box, but he is young and he will get there. We also have a very solid back up in Lindegaard. Im happy with the GK situation.
RBM - What are your realistic expectations for the season? Who do you expect to be contending for the Premiership and Champions League titles?
I expect us to be up there once again. City are obviously top dogs, but they now have the target on their back. I take confort in knowing that we were a minute and one goal away from winning the title, in a season where we spent a large portion of it without argubly the best defender in the world. I actually really thought Arsenal would do well, if they kept hold of the main man. Think they will be top 4. Chelsea have got great talent in their squad, but can Roberto DiMatteo handle the ego's for a full season? Spurs will drop off in a big way if they don't find a replacement for Luka Modric. They also need someone else to bang in some goals, as Jermaine Defoe won't do the job Emmanuel Adebayor done last season. 1st - City 2nd United 3rd Arsenal 4th Chelsea 5th Liverpool Spurs Newcastle Everton In Europe, you can't look away from the Spanish giants. I think Real Madrid may finally get their hands back on the trophy. United to bow out in SF's to Madrid.
RBM - Finally, what is your prediction for Monday's game at Goodison?
I think all three results are possible. Everton are one of those teams that can upset anyone on their own patch, and even away (I still havn't forgiven you for the 4-4) A win for either team won't be by more than the odd goal. But I will go for a score draw. 1-1 RVP to snatch a point for us!