The stories which will dominate the next Premier League season

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The stories which will dominate the next Premier League season - Shutterstock
The stories which will dominate the next Premier League season - Shutterstock

We have all enjoyed the past day since the end of the 2021-22 Premier League season. We luxuriated in its conclusion, digested the final table and tutted at the pitch invaders.

Yet football marches on and attention now must turn to next season. Here are the stories which will dominate 2022-23:

The Erling Haaland experience

Intrigue galore as Manchester City attempt to integrate strapping young enormogoal machine to a system which prizes nippy, lithe Fifa skill move sorts. Might he struggle to fit in? Will Pep Guardiola bend him to his will? Will his addition blast City away from the rest of the league and help them on their way to the first ever 114 point all-win season. Crucially, how rude will he be in his interviews?

Erik Ten Hag: messiah or very naughty boy?

Faces struggles on several fronts at Manchester United. Must work out how to play to Cristiano Ronaldo’s strengths while also reducing the team's ruinous reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo’s strengths. Must rouse squad that have looked on the beach since Christmas and comatose from Easter onwards. Must convince Marcus Rashford he is still a footballer. It could be a five year job to turn the club around. Fortunately football fans are extremely patient.

The Newcastle feelgood story

In which a plucky sovereign wealth fund begin their sustained attack on the top four. Fortunately Manchester City have provided homework to copy. Three things we can expect:

1. Worthy community-building initiatives. School visits, charitable foundations, construction of a statue of Steve Howey.

2. The addition of some stalwarts on the pitch who could be in place for a decade, some possibly even more exciting than Chris Wood.

3. Eddie Howe being Mark Hughes-ed out of the door at the end of the year, with the role of Roberto Mancini being played by Mauricio Pochettino.

Won’t somebody please think of the exhausted footballers?

The novelty of a winter World Cup will interrupt the season at a time when it is usually entering its most attritional period. Fresh back from their triumph in Qatar, some of England’s heroes will land with a bump when forced to play at Leeds on Boxing Day. There will be numerous repetitive complaints about fixture congestion and player welfare from the usual subjects. Meanwhile, Liverpool are off to Bangkok to play Man Utd in a few weeks.

Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers - GETTY IMAGES
Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers - GETTY IMAGES

Mo Salah, Mo Salah, Mo Salah / running down his deal

With his new contract as yet unsigned and Real Madrid stung by Kylian Mbappe’s ghosting, prepare for at least a summer and probably more of transfer rumours. Please do curb your enthusiasm. The powerplay for Liverpool would be to back their ability to regenerate, cash in on Salah now and find the next Luis Diaz from their mysteriously powerful talent conveyor belt. The more likely outcome is a new deal worth exactly one Merseyside three bed semi per week.

London managerial uncertainty

Tottenham still feels marginally below the level Antonio Conte would usually aspire to. Mikel Arteta intersperses long periods of measured progress with classical Arsenal confidence implosions. Thomas Tuchel is surely close to untouchable at Chelsea, but new owners tend to want their own man, and Chelsea’s modern success is built on ruthlessness. David Moyes seems the safest bet to still be in his job by the end of the season. Fulham will sack Marco Silva and nothing will change.

Chelsea's manager Thomas Tuchel applauds fans after the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea FC and Watford FC - Shutterstock
Chelsea's manager Thomas Tuchel applauds fans after the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea FC and Watford FC - Shutterstock

Jack Grealish’s less difficult second season

Even excellent players take a year to adjust to the all-encompassing Pepvision lifeplan. Jack Grealish’s uneven first year ended in the morose sight of Mr Calves unused and on the bench against his boyhood club, watching his new one go two behind and wondering where it had all gone wrong. With the trophy in hand half an hour later things seemed far rosier. Expect much more next season. More dribbling. More getting fouled. More sock-rolling down.

A regression to the mean

This has been by any measure a superb season. We are still riding the joyful wave of having crowds back, despite their recent unpleasant incursions onto the pitch. The novelty may wear off next year. A saner Man Utd and Chelsea seems likely. Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest or Huddersfield might bloody the odd nose but do not seem primed for a Brentford / Leeds style first season of over-achievement. City and Liverpool will remain out of sight. Five subs instead of three will favour the richer clubs. Expect hand-wringing and fears about predictability as we settle into the new reality.

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