Good. John Terry isn't coming. No need to repeat my reasoning from columns past, but long term I believe we will look back and consider ourselves fortunate that we didn't sign the Chelsea captain to a five year deal. The off season has seen the club, other than the Eto'o flirtation, target established Premier League stars. Fairly transparently this is because Hughes doesn't have any more time. He has to achieve the top six target of the Chairman and as such has little time for players from other leagues to find their feet.
It used to be said that it took foreign players 18 months to get up to speed in the Premier League. Players such as Torres and Elano have clouded that assertion in recent years, however they remain the exception rather than the rule. Balancing the short term verses the long term stability of the club is a huge challenge for a manager with so much pressure on him.
But that being said I think it is time for the club to look abroad in its search for new central defenders. Vidic is never going to leave United for City, Terry has finally passed and Lescott remains a dubious choice. At this point name a great central defender in the Premier League. They are very thin on the ground. Toure may be useful enough I suppose. Duran Duran's inspiration has stated he would never come to City which is great because the fans would never want such a player at the club.
There was a method to Sven's madness in putting Micah Richards in the centre of defense and getting him to learn the position. Creating a potentially very good player at the position from within the club would have been a masterstroke. Again for reasons I've discussed previously around the manager's tactics the centre of defense was no longer the right role for Richards. There are youngsters in the pipeline such as Ben Mee and Ryan McGivern but there is no indication that either is a world beater.
Time methinks for Hughes' well won reputation for spotting talent in the Bundesliga to come to the fore. Naldo at Werder Bremen for example is a player that has struck me as useful.
Elsewhere... I have been bemused by Old Purple Nose this week. He rather seems to have lost the plot when it comes to City and seems to have let them get under his skin. The quite brilliant Welcome to Manchester Carlos Tevez poster in particular seems to have rattled the United manager in a manner more befitting a Keegan or Benitez outburst.
If City were inconsequential Ferguson would not be saying anything but the fact that the club is constantly brought up tends you to believe that there is genuine concern at United that a shift is occurring. Now of course City have a long long way to go before the club is a consistent challenger for silverware. Nonetheless, it would appear a nerve has been struck.
You may consider it wishful thinking but I believe there is a good chance that United will struggle this year. The lose of Tevez and Ronaldo is going to impact the squad regardless of the reinforcements brought in. That being said I feel the Premier League will be an incredibly tight race with all four main clubs in a close battle. I do not believe that City will break into the top four, but top six is reasonable if the defense is addressed.
I'll have more when I do my season preview but Sunderland, of all teams, are one to keep an eye on. Some very good acquisitions so far this summer. If you want a surprise team to pull a Wigan/Reading/Fulham I have a sneaking suspicion that the Black Cats could be it.