They vied to become the first person to complete a quadruple backflip on a BMX bike. By completing we mean landing
Team by team guide to the new English Premier League season which kicks-off on August 14. All transfer fees are listed in sterling pounds:
Manager: Carlo Ancelotti
Last season: Premier League champions, Champions League last 16, FA Cup winners, League Cup quarter-finals
In: Yossi Benayoun (Liverpool) 5m
Out: Miroslav Stoch (Fenerbahce) undisclosed, Joe Cole (Liverpool) free, Michael Ballack (Bayer Leverkusen) free, Juliano Belletti (Fluminense) free, Rhys Taylor (Crewe) two-month loan, Ryan Bertrand (Nottingham Forest) six month-loan
Outlook: As Carlo Ancelotti soaked up the sun during his close-season holiday, the Italian wrestled with the question that will define his team’s campaign: How do you top the most successful season in your club’s history?
After pipping Manchester United to the Premier League title and then winning the FA Cup a week later, Ancelotti could rightly look back on his first season in English football with pride.
But the former AC Milan coach knows demanding Blues owner Roman Abramovich will never be completely satisfied until Chelsea are crowned kings of Europe, so the Champions League will once again be the main aim at Stamford Bridge.
To achieve that goal Ancelotti needs more new recruits than just Israel midfielder Yossi Benayoun and moves for Brazilian duo Ramires and David Luiz, both of Benfica, are in the pipeline.
Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson
Last season: Premier League runners-up, Champions League quarter-finals, FA Cup 3rd round, League Cup winners
In: Chris Smalling (Fulham) 10m, Javier Hernandez (Guadalajara) 6m
Out: Ben Foster (Birmingham) 4m, Zoran Tosic (CSKA Moscow) undisclosed, Tom Heaton (Cardiff) free, David Gray (Preston) free, Daniel Drinkwater (Cardiff) season-loan, Josh King (Preston) three month-loan, Mame Biram Diouf (Blackburn) season-loan, James Chester (Carlisle) five month-loan, Matthew James (Preston) season-loan
Outlook: There was still more than half an hour of United’s 2009-10 season remaining when Sir Alex Ferguson marked the start of his bid to regain the title.
With Chelsea cruising to the win they needed to end United’s three-year reign as champions, Ferguson sent on youngsters Federico Macheda and Darron Gibson for Dimitar Berbatov and Paul Scholes in the last game of the season against Stoke.
The changes marked the passing of the torch to the next generation and Ferguson is convinced the decision to put his faith in the likes of Macheda, Gibson and new signings Javier Hernandez and Chris Smalling will be rewarded.
Ferguson knows money is tighter than in the past at Old Trafford due to the huge debts amassed by owners the Glazer family, but the Scot remains convinced his youthful squad, aided by stellar performers like Wayne Rooney, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra, can win a record 19th English championship.
Manager: Arsene Wenger
Last season: 3rd in the Premier League, Champions League quarter-finals, FA Cup 4th round, League Cup quarter-finals
In: Laurent Koscielny (Lorient) 10m, Marouane Chamakh (Bordeaux) free
Out: Eduardo (Shakhtar Donetsk) 6m, Philippe Senderos (Fulham) free, Sol Campbell (Newcastle) free, Fran Merida (Atletico Madrid) free, Luke Ayling (Yeovil) free, Francis Coquelin (Lorient) season-loan, Sanchez Watt (Leeds) season-loan
Outlook: Only one issue dominated the agenda at the Emirates Stadium since the end of another barren campaign and Arsene Wenger is delighted that the future of Cesc Fabregas has finally been resolved ahead of the new season.
When Fabregas met Wenger before the World Cup to tell his manager that he wanted to rejoin Barcelona, the Spain midfielder was confident his wish would be granted.
Instead Wenger was determined to hold off Barca’s interest and his refusal to be bullied by Barca forced Fabregas to admit he was going to stay. Whether the captain will be contented for the next 12 months remains to be seen.
Even with Fabregas, Arsenal are without a trophy in 2005 and the additions of Laurent Koscielny and Marouane Chamakh in pre-season won’t be enough to end that drought if their talisman is anything less than 100 per cent committed.
Manager: Harry Redknapp
Last season: 4th in Premier League, FA Cup semi-finals, League Cup quarter-finals
In: Sandro (Internacional) undisclosed
Out: Adel Taarabt (QPR) 1m, Lee Butcher (Leyton Orient) undisclosed, Dorian Dervite (Villarreal) free, John Bostock (Hull) season-loan, David Button (Plymouth) season-loan
Outlook: Having a bucket of iced water poured over him by a gaggle of jubilant Spurs players in the aftermath of the victory which clinched a top four finish may not have been how Harry Redknapp imagined the finest moment of his career would turn out.
But it was somehow fitting that qualification for the Champions League play-offs, where they face Swiss side Young Boys, will forever conjure up memories of Redknapp standing in a drenched suit at Manchester City with his face wreathed in smiles.
A club regarded as perennial underachievers had finally fulfilled their potential thanks to Redknapp’s astute guidance, and the architect of Tottenham’s renaissance has no intention of resting on his laurels.
If the likes of Luka Modric, Wilson Palacios, Gareth Bale and Michael Dawson can repeat last season’s herculean efforts, Redknapp’s prediction of a Tottenham title challenge may not seem so far-fetched in a few months time.
Manager: Roberto Mancini
Last season: 5th in Premier League, FA Cup 5th round, League Cup semi-finals
In: Yaya Toure (Barcelona) 25m, David Silva (Valencia) 24m, Aleksandar Kolarov (Lazio) 16m, Jerome Boateng (Hamburg) 10m
Out: Valeri Bojinov (Parma) undisclosed, Martin Petrov (Bolton) free, Paul Marshall (Walsall) free, Javier Garrido (Lazio) undisclosed
Outlook: Roberto Mancini has been acquiring new players with the carefree relish of a lottery winner let loose in Harrods and his lavish spending spree could transform City into serious title challengers.
Mancini has spent over £80 million on four new players as City’s billionaire Abu Dhabi-based owners continue to splash the cash in an attempt to buy their way into the sport’s elite.
Recruiting Yaya Toure from Barcelona, Valencia winger David Silva, Aleksandar Kolarov from Lazio and Hamburg defender Jerome Boateng is quite a statement of intent.
The spending is unlikely to end there and, while City’s approach to squad-building will bring scorn from those who prefer teams to develop more organically, you only have to look at the title triumphs enjoyed by Chelsea and Blackburn in the past to see that big money buys success in the Premier League.
Manager: Martin O’Neill
Last season: 6th in Premier League, Europa League qualifying round, FA Cup semifinals, League Cup runners-up
Out: Stephen O’Halloran (Coventry) undisclosed, Wilfred Bouma (released)
Outlook: Having to choose between joining a mega-rich club with ambitions of European supremacy or staying at a team in danger of becoming the nearly men of English football must seem like a simple decision to James Milner.
For the second year in succession, Manchester City have come calling for Villa’s best player and they expect money to talk - as it did when Gareth Barry moved to Eastlands 12 months ago.
If Villa have any desire to turn their squad’s undoubted potential into something more tangible, they need O’Neill to find a way to persuade England midfielder Milner that he can fulfil his ambitions at Villa Park.
But it seems increasingly certain that Milner will follow Barry’s example and head for the Villa exit door, possibly paving the way for stars like Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor to make a similar decision in the near future.
Manager: Roy Hodgson
Last season: 7th in Premier League, Champions League group stages, Europa League semifinals, FA Cup 3rd round, League Cup 4th round
In: Danny Wilson (Rangers) 5m, Jonjo Shelvey (Charlton) 1.7m, Joe Cole (Chelsea) free, Milan Jovanovic (Standard Liege) free
Out: Yossi Benayoun (Chelsea) 5m, Robbie Threlfall (Bradford) undisclosed, Mikel San Jose (Athletic Bilbao) undisclosed, Philipp Degen (Stuttgart) season-loan, David Martin (Milton Keynes Dons) free
Outlook: “First is first and second is nowhere,” growled Bill Shankly when asked to consider the possibility that Liverpool might not win the league one year during his legendary reign at Anfield.
If second is nowhere then seventh - Liverpool’s final position in the Premier League last season - would have left ‘Shanks’ shaking his head in disbelief.
Roy Hodgson couldn’t be any less like the out-spoken Shankly but the new Liverpool boss will need to rebuild his unsettled club in much the same way the Scot did in the 1960s.
Hodgson arrives from Fulham to find a team in disarray after the woeful end to Rafael Benitez’s reign, but the signing of Joe Cole and Steven Gerrard’s decision to stay were two much-needed boosts at the start of an intriguing season for the Reds.
Manager: David Moyes
Last season: 8th in Premier League, Europa League last 32, FA Cup 4th round, League Cup 4th round
In: Jan Mucha (Legia Warsaw) undisclosed, Jermaine Beckford (Leeds) free
Out: John Ruddy (Norwich) undisclosed, Lukas Jutkiewicz (Coventry) undisclosed, Dan Gosling (Newcastle) free, Carlo Nash (Stoke) free, Anton Peterlin (Plymouth) free
Outlook: The feeling that Everton have been stuck in a rut for the last 12 months has led to a sense of frustration at Goodison Park in pre-season.
Toffees boss David Moyes already has a squad capable of beating any team in the country on their day, as they showed with victories over Manchester United and Chelsea last season, but he needs all his key players to stay fit over a sustained period to have any chance of challenging the top four.
Moyes has taken a gamble on Jermaine Beckford’s ability to reproduce his impressive Leeds goal-scoring record against top-flight defences and has persuaded Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta to sign a new five-year contract despite interest from several top clubs.
Manager: Alex McLeish
Last season: 9th in Premier League, FA Cup quarter-finals, League Cup 3rd round
In: Nikola Zigic (Valencia) 6m, Ben Foster (Man Utd) 4m, Enric Valles (NAC Breda) free
Out: Lee Carsley (Coventry) free, Gary McSheffrey (Coventry) free, Artur Krysiak (Exeter) free, Franck Queudrue (released)
Outlook: Backed by Hong Kong based tycoon Carson Yeung, Birmingham will attempt to improve on the club’s best top-flight finish for 51 years.
Alex McLeish’s men confounded expectations that they would struggle after promotion from the Championship thanks to a ferocious work ethic and a rock solid defence inspired by the form of on-loan goalkeeper Joe Hart.
With Hart back at Manchester City, McLeish has brought in former England goalkeeper Ben Foster from Manchester United and added physical presence to his shot-shy forward line with the purchase of towering Serbia striker Nikola Zigic.
Manager: Sam Allardyce
Last season: 10th in Premier League, FA Cup 3rd round, League Cup semifinals
In: Mame Biram Diouf (Man Utd) season-loan
Out: Steven Reid (West Brom) free, Andy Haworth (Bury) free, Marcus Marshall (Rotherham) free
Outlook: Climbing away from the relegation zone into the safety of mid-table following the arrival of Sam Allardyce ensured Rovers could look back on last season as a success.
Allardyce is an old hand at winning survival battles after his time at Bolton but the Blackburn boss believes his squad is good enough to avoid any nerves come the end of the new campaign.
Although there has been little transfer activity at Ewood Park, Allardyce can rely on proven top-flight performers like Ryan Nelsen, Morten Gamst Pedersen and Paul Robinson, while young English defender Phil Jones is a great prospect for the future.
Manager: Tony Pulis
Last season: 11th in Premier League, FA Cup quarter-finals, League Cup 4th round
In: Florent Cuvelier (Portsmouth) undisclosed, Carlo Nash (Everton) free
Out: Andy Griffin (Reading) undisclosed, Steve Simonsen (Sheffield Utd) free, Diego Arismendi (Barnsley) season-loan, Ibrahima Sonko (Portsmouth) season-loan
Outlook: Heading into their third season in the Premier League, unfashionable Stoke have reached a crucial stage in the club’s remarkable rise.
For the last two years, Tony Pulis’s battlers have prided themselves on being able to rough up any opponent no matter how famous the names in their line-up.
Those route one tactics established Stoke in the top-flight, but now Pulis has the money at his disposal to bring in better quality players, who could add skill but possibly dilute the team’s work ethic. It is a decision that will define Stoke’s future.
Manager: Mark Hughes
Last season: 12th in Premier League, Europa League runners-up, FA Cup quarter-finals, League Cup 3rd round
In: Philippe Senderos (Arsenal) free,
Out: Chris Smalling (Man Utd) 10m, Elliot Omozusi (Leyton Orient) free, Wayne Brown (Bristol Rovers) free
Outlook: Reaching the Europa League final was a fitting finale to Roy Hodgson’s magical reign at Craven Cottage and there is no reason for Fulham fans to fear the fairytale is over just yet.
Hodgson’s close-season departure to Liverpool was inevitable once the Reds showed serious interest, but Fulham won’t necessarily slump back to the lower reaches of the Premier League without their astute leader.
After a failed attempt to lure Martin Jol from Ajax, the Fulham hierarchy made a canny appointment in Mark Hughes, who earned his reputation at Blackburn - a club with the same pedigree and ambitions as Fulham - and will be motivated to make amends for his sacking by Manchester City.
Manager: Steve Bruce
Last season: 13th in Premier League, FA Cup 4th round, League Cup 4th round
In: Titus Bramble (Wigan) 1.5m, Christian Riveros (Cruz Azul) undisclosed, Simon Mignolet (St Truidense) undisclosed, Marcos Angeleri (Estudiantes) undisclosed
Out: Lorik Cana (Galatasaray) 5m, Marton Fulop (Ipswich) undisclosed, Daryl Murphy (Celtic) free, Roy O’Donovan (Coventry) free, Nyron Nosworthy (Sheffield Utd) season-loan, Michael Liddle (Leyton Orient) six month-loan
Outlook: A club with Sunderland’s rabid fanbase will always dream of greater things, but in reality another season of comfortable survival would be accepted as a respectable achievement at the Stadium of Light.
Black Cats boss Steve Bruce could have done without the departure of key midfielder Lorik Cana and a serious injury to goalkeeper Craig Gordon in pre-season, while his signing of error-prone former Newcastle defender Titus Bramble raised a few eyebrows on Wearside.
Yet Bruce’s side, who can look forward to the resumption of their rivalry with Newcastle, should finish in mid-table again if Englnd striker Darren Bent reproduces the form that brought him 25 goals last season.
Manager: Owen Coyle
Last season: 14th in Premier League, FA Cup 4th round, League Cup 5th round
In: Marcos Alonso (Real Madrid) undisclosed, Robbie Blake (Burnley) free, Martin Petrov (Man City) free
Out: Ali Al Habsi (Wigan) season-loan, Nicky Hunt (Bristol City) free
Outlook: Owen Coyle’s controversial decision to ditch Burnley for a move to local rivals Bolton midway through last season led many to question the Scot’s wisdom.
At the time Bolton looked more likely to go down than Burnley but Coyle got it spot on. He lifted Bolton away from the relegation zone, while across Lancashire, Burnley slumped back into the Championship.
Coyle’s pleasing commitment to passing football looks set to continue following the signings of flair players Martin Petrov and Robbie Blake and the purists will hope Bolton are rewarded with survival again.
Manager: Mick McCarthy
Last season: 15th in Premier League, FA Cup 4th round, League Cup 3rd round
In: Steven Fletcher (Burnley) 6.5m, Stephen Hunt (Hull) 3m, Jelle Van Damme (Anderlecht) 2.5m, Steven Mouyokolo (Hull) undisclosed,
Out: Chris Iwelumo (Burnley) 500,000, Jason Shackell (Barnsley) undisclosed, Andrew Surman (Norwich) undisclosed, Daniel Jones (Sheffield Wednesday) undisclosed, George Friend (Doncaster) free, Sam Vokes (Bristol City) five month-loan
Outlook: After defying the odds by avoiding relegation last season, Wolves boss Mick McCarthy has launched a major spending spree in a bid to establish his club in the top-flight.
Bolstered by the financial rewards of Premier League survival, McCarthy paid over six million pounds to sign striker Steven Fletcher from Burnley and also splashed out on Republic of Ireland midfielder Stephen Hunt from Hull.
If McCarthy’s heavy investment pays off Wolves will hope to follow Stoke’s example and move into a mid-table berth, but failure could lead to relegation and a serious headache for the club’s bank manager.
Manager: Roberto Martinez
Last season: 16th in Premier League, FA Cup 4th round, League Cup 2nd round
In: James McArthur (Hamilton) undisclosed, Ronnie Stam (FC Twente) undisclosed, Mauro Boselli (Estudiantes de La Plata) undisclosed, Antolin Alcaraz (Club Brugge) free, Ali Al Habsi (Bolton) season-loan
Out: Titus Bramble (Sunderland) 1.5m, Tomasz Cywka (Derby) free, Antonio Amaya (Rayo Vallecano) six-month loan, Jason Koumas (Cardiff) season-loan
Outlook: Keeping Wigan away from the relegation zone will once again be the main aim for Latics boss Roberto Matinez.
Although Wigan’s close-season transfer activity barely registered a flutter of interest outside the DW Stadium, Martinez was more concerned with holding onto prize assets Charles N’Zogbia, Hugo Rodagella and Maynor Figueroa, who have attracted interest from bigger clubs.
If that trio are still at the club by the time the transfer window closes at the end of August, Martinez will be confident of extending Wigan’s stay in the top-flight to an unlikely seventh season.
Manager: Avram Grant
Last season: 17th in Premier League, FA Cup 3rd round, League Cup 3rd round
In: Pablo Barrera (Universidad Nacional) 4m, Frederic Piquionne (West Ham) 1m, Thomas Hitzlsperger (Lazio) free, Tal Ben Haim (Portsmouth) six month-loan, Winston Reid (FC Midtjylland) undisclosed.
Out: Bondz Ngala (Plymouth) free, Guillermo Franco (released), Araujo Ilan (released)
Outlook: Pessimism has often been the dominant emotion at Upton Park after decades of underachievement, but there are finally signs of a more positive attitude following Avram Grant’s arrival.
New boss Grant has a reputation as a fine man-manager and should be able to steer the team into calmer waters after their narrow escape from relegation last season, especially if he can persuade key midfielder Scott Parker to ignore interest from Spurs.
But it is the former Portsmouth and Chelsea manager’s skill as a boardroom politician that could be most useful when dealing with combustible owners David Sullivan and David Gold.
Manager: Chris Hughton
Last season: Championship winners, FA Cup 4th round, League Cup 3rd round
In: James Perch (Nottingham Forest) undisclosed, Sol Campbell (Arsenal) free, Dan Gosling (Everton) free
Out: Nicky Butt (released), Fabrice Pancrate (released)
Outlook: Newcastle fans have always embraced their reputation as the sport’s great romantics, but a healthy dose of realism is rife on Tyneside ahead of the Magpies’ return to the top-flight.
A year spent in the purgatory of English football’s second tier delivered a much-needed wake-up call to a club often weighed down by the high expectations of its passionate fanbase.
Chris Hughton’s team were worthy winners of the Championship though and the squad looks better equipped to deal with the demands of Premier League action following the acquisitions of veteran defender Sol Campbell and talented young midfielder Dan Gosling.
Manager: Roberto Di Matteo
Last season: Championship runners-up, FA Cup 5th round, League Cup 3rd round
In: Boaz Myhill (Hull) 1.5m, Gabriel Tamas (Auxerre) 800,000, Steven Reid (Blackburn) free, Pablo Ibanez (Atletico Madrid) free
Out: Borja Valero (Villarreal) season-loan, Joss Labadie (Tranmere) free, Luke Daniels (Bristol Rovers) season-loan
Outlook: Not for the first time, Albion will spend this season aiming to cling onto their place among English football’s elite.
The Baggies have become a real yo-yo club in the last decade as promotion from the Championship is routinely followed by relegation, but Roberto Di Matteo’s squad are confident they can break that cycle.
Di Matteo, whose side face his former club Chelsea in their opening game, has assembled a well-organised and entertaining outfit who were too good for the Championship and could surprise a few bigger teams this term.
Manager: Ian Holloway
Last season: 6th in Championship, promoted via play-offs, FA Cup 3rd round, League Cup 3rd round
Out: Daniel Nardiello (Exeter) free, Ben Burgess (Notts County) free, Hameur Bouazza (released)
Outlook: Winning promotion to the top-flight for the first time since 1971 was a remarkable feat for a club operating on Blackpool’s limited resources, but the achievement seems to have come with a few headaches judging by the close-season chaos at Bloomfield Road.
Seasiders boss Ian Holloway has been struggling to find enough senior players to meet the requirement to name a 25-man Premier League squad, while the club had to ask for their first game of the season to be moved to Wigan because stadium improvements, including the construction of a new stand, won’t be finished in time.
Holloway’s group of unheralded journeymen are heavy favourites to be relegated, but the experience of taking on the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool should leave memories that last a lifetime.
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