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Soccer Mailbag: Manchester City or Manchester United? Arsenal Sign Podolski, Di Matteo's Future at Chelsea

Who do you like in England for the title? Newcastle at home is a dangerous game for City. Wouldn’t surprise me if they slip.

- @Pedro200

I believe the blue moon will finally turn to gold and Manchester City will win the title. Newcastle could be a tough game, but the Magpies have been very erratic (lost 4-0 to Wigan and beat Chelsea 2-0 in the same week). Manchester City are in great form, having won four-straight by a 13-1 margin. Assuming Manchester United, winners of one of their last four, will automatically lock down the final six points is a bit presumptuous.

Is it true that Blackburn’s Junior Hoilett is eligble for USMNT selection?  If it is why is he not being talked about more, and shouldn’t this be Klinsman’s No. 1 mission to sign him up? Hoilett could develop into a World Class player as he has shown in the Premier League already at the age of 21.

- Danny F.

Hoilett does might have USA eligibility. An article on FIFA’s website mentions that he does. He has suggested he possibly could have USA eligibility. He’s certainly eligible for his native Canada and his father’s birth country, Jamaica. He could also wait it out a couple years to get his passport and play for England, where he has lived on and off since age 13. He has tremendous potential. He would be a massive boost for the US. However, there’s nothing linking him besides the theoretical possibility. The U.S. might be his fourth choice of the available options. Don’t raise your hopes.

WHY does US soccer feel the need to change the national kit every two years? I get changing small details, but to go from plain white to sash to FC Dallas-inspired gives no consistency. Nike effect?

- Jason J.

It’s not unique to the U.S. Every club and country does this, as they know you’ll feel like a dork should you have an outdated jersey. As for consistency, the U.S. does not have an iconic “look” besides the flag colors. Nike has a lot of leeway.

Thoughts on the Podolski signing?

- Miguel D.

Podolski should be fantastic for Arsenal. He’s experienced, direct and score goals. He offers insurance for a Robin Van Persie departure and provides versatility, as he can play up front, on either wing or behind a lead striker. He’s more mature than he was earlier in his career at Bayern. It’s a minimal risk for what may be a great reward.

Under what circumstances does Di Matteo keep the Chelsea job? Is it Champions League title or bust just like Avram Grant? If he does not retain the job, who is the next man to face Roman’s wrath?

- Matt G.

Di Matteo likely needs to win the Champions League. He’s popular with the players. There’s no obvious alternative, with Pep Guardiola taking a year off and Mourinho staying at Real Madrid. That said, his tactical innovation has been playing a very condensed, conservative defensive system (not the type of soccer befitting a billion-dollar investment) and winning just five of 10 league matches since taking over does not prove him qualified for the post beyond a reasonable doubt. As for potential replacements, someone such as Guus Hiddink, who loves money and is presently coaching in Russia, would make sense.

If Torres has in fact finally woken up, is there a way to play Drogba and him together in the same XI?

- Chris M.

No. They are both lead strikers and liabilities behind the ball. Chelsea’s defense and midfield are not strong enough to play a 4-4-2. This season it will be Drogba up front. Next year, expect Torres to replace him (if Drogba returns). His Champions League heroics have masked it, but Drogba is in decline. He just turned 34. He has scored just five goals in the league. He’s far less active in buildup play, with just one assist after 23 the past two seasons. He should not play more than a bit role next season. If he does, do not expect much from Chelsea.

If Milan doesn’t catch Juve, how big of a failure is this year for the Rossoneri? Would you see big changes for next year?

- Jeremy S.

I don’t see it as a failure. Juventus has a better squad, even if the Zlatan does age like fine wine. It’s a testament to Milan’s system they are only behind by three points. Big changes are needed. The club has 14 players over 30 and 10 players over 34. The Milan lab can’t keep them running forever. Though, with Berlusconi more concerned with his legal troubles than reinvestment, expect them to try to get by for another season. Look for “Solomon Kalou on a free transfer” type signings rather than the addition of major stars.

Some of the biggest clubs (Man U, Barca, Real Madrid) have been purchased and/or financed their operations through large amounts of readily credit. Do you expect the credit crunch to hit the football world and provide a competitive advantage to teams like Arsenal and Bayern who have attempted to keep their debt to a minimum?

- Michael O.

Looking at lower leagues and smaller countries, the credit crunch has already hit Europe. The Premier League and the Bundesliga, with substantial revenue and more equitable sharing should be more immune. As for the three biggest clubs, not all debts are created equal. Barcelona and Real Madrid are collectively owned local institutions. It’s unlikely either club would be called out for its debt in Spain. Only a grave financial crisis has the Spanish government even considering forcing clubs to pay back taxes owed. They are also only just taking measures to maximize their revenue.

Manchester United is another matter. They have spent about $84 million net on transfers since 2005. That is not a lot of money and it leaves Sir Alex Ferguson little margin for error. They don’t have another Ronaldo to sell to fund reinvestment. Last summer they clearly needed a central midfielder and could not land Modric, Nasri or Sneijder. Their midseason solution was to recall Paul Scholes from retirement. A drop off after Ferguson leaves and a failure to reach the Champions League in the next couple seasons could leave them in real trouble.

[Photo via Presswire]

 

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