RID OF THE TANTIES, MAN CITY LOOK FAVOURITES
For many, Jose Mourinho's return has Chelsea as Premier League favourites. But keep an eye on what is happening at Manchester City. There's still been no headline-grabbing signing, but what has happened is the sources of any rifts or tension have been removed. Unlike 12 months ago, City go into the new season without the resentment towards Mario Balotelli from sections of the locker room and the powder keg of Carlos Tevez's temper. Despite the in-fighting, City have finished top two for the past two seasons. What is Pellegrini's team capable of with everyone rowing in the same direction
EARLY BUSINESS LEAVES CITY RIVALS SCRAMBLING
Also working in Manchester City's favour is getting their business done early this summer window. Manuel Pellegrini does still want a new centre-half signing, but unlike their title rivals, City's squad does look balanced and virtually complete. Speculation is still swirling around Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal about who is going and who is staying. There's very little of that at the Etihad. With so much now dependent on a positive season start, City's squad stability can be a huge advantage for Pellegrini.
WHY WOULD BALE WANT TO LEAVE NEW-LOOK SPURS?
Tottenham will count on Paulinho, Roberto Soldado and Nacer Chadli this season. Andre Villas-Boas, good enough to attract an approach from PSG, is also staying, as is Hugo Lloris, who turned down efforts from AS Monaco to take him back to France this summer. With so much excitement about the coming season inside Spurs Lodge, why would Gareth Bale want to leave when they could be on the brink of something so exciting?
WHO HAS VALENCIA LEFT THE NO7 UNITED SHIRT FOR?
So why did Antonio Valencia take the No25 shirt for Manchester United yesterday? In a routine Community Shield victory for United, the most fascinating development from the day was Valencia's decision to vacate the No7 shirt. Who is he leaving it to?
SOUNESS IDEA OFFERS LIVERPOOL DECENT COMPROMISE
Graeme Souness made a great suggestion to warring camps at Liverpool last week: Copy Fergie. In a nutshell, Souey urged Liverpool to follow Sir Alex's example when asking Cristiano Ronaldo to give Manchester United one more season before leaving for Real Madrid. John W Henry is right, there's not enough time to find a replacement for Suarez. The Reds do not want to go down the Fernando Torres - Andy Carroll road again. But if Henry can sit down with Suarez, promise him a sale next summer in exchange for one last season, it would be a workable compromise for all involved.
MORRISON ONE TO WATCH AT WEST HAM
After a summer to forget for England's youth teams, a glimmer of hope has been offered at the Boleyn Ground this preseason. For all his off-field issues, there was no doubting Ravel Morrison's ability among Manchester United's coaching staff. Many at Carrington rated Morrison the best they'd seen go through the academy since Paul Scholes. But talent isn't enough at United and management, including Sir Alex Ferguson, exasperated by his discipline and off-field dramas, chose to cut him loose. West Ham United looked a dead end last season, with Sam Allardyce finding the same frustration good friend Ferguson had experienced. But the penny seems to have dropped for Morrison after working with Lee Clark, on-loan at Birmingham City last season. This preseason, Morrison has been a revelation with the Hammers and should be involved for the Premier League opener against Swansea. There's so much good will for the lad, both inside the locker and board room, he only has himself to blame if he blows this second chance.
ALLAMS TAKING MICK AT HULL
The Allam family are taking the mick, surely? They cannot be serious about throwing away 108 years of history to rename Hull City 'the Tigers'? This has to be a non-starter. A big reason why fans across the globe are attracted to the Premier League is the club's history. It's why the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United now have a squad of ex-players on call to send across the world. Fans buy into the history of English teams. Rather than upset the local support with the threat of a name change, perhaps the Allam family would do better focusing on why there's so few Hull shirts sold in Egypt, despite Steve Bruce's liking of Egyptian talent? There's better ways, more proven, to build a club's profile around the world than renaming your 'franchise'.