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Holymoly   

And Jose is right. The standard of the PL is improving. Not many players could improve us, other teams have more room for improvement. That's what he is getting at.

Both Jose and JT have said we need to be better this year to retain the title - and we will. Part of that comes from new players but part of it comes from players we have improving, as they have the potential to do.

Less points will probably win the title - but still back us to win it.

I don't know James, sometimes you need a little new blood just to motivate the players to try just that little harder. Human nature makes it likely that subconsciously some of the returning players will be in the mindset that all they have to do is the same as last year. The quality of the lower level teams have all improved massively (potentially) due to the amount of money they've been allowed to spend on new players of a far better standard than previous years. There will be far more "upsets" in the league this year, maybe that's why Jose seems now to be concentrating on shoring up the defense.

I foresee a rollercoaster of a season ahead, and much wailing and gnashing of teeth on these forums.

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No, my point is that the quality of the players the lesser sides are buying has improved, Stoke have Bojan and Affelay where in the past they'd have gone for players from the Championship, you can't complain about the paucity of English players and then disagree that the players from the continent that Stoke, Villa ,Newcastle and Palace are a cut above the English, surely?

Of course they are a cut or two above English players. That's the root of this issue to begin with. If England could produce good footballers my money would be on transfer fees going down in general. It's because we can't produce them we're taken to the cleaners from the teams that can. And the few half decent ones we do manage to produce goes for ridiculous transfer fees because they are a very scarce commodity.

That is the very reason we're forced to pay silly money for players that are no better than players half their price. We're forced to buy from abroad. We don't have other options unless we want to fall even further behind the best teams in Europe.

It also puts the claim that the Championship is better than many European leagues into perspective. It's an absolutely ludicrous claim to begin with but is easily disapproved by your observation above. If that was the case, there would be no need to pay over the top for a completely unknown African with 10 caps for his country.

I would however agree that they are buying better players now compared to before (in general). I just don't agree those players are any better than what continental teams have for a lot less money.

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Twitter is going crazy with rumours he will join us for £33 million and United aren't interested.

Maybe they're smarter than we are? At that price, we shouldn't be 'interested' either.

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Khobar   

Maybe they're smarter than we are? At that price, we shouldn't be 'interested' either.

With their defence they possibly should be. Not like money is a problem for them.

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Gadget   

Everyone seems so down with the lack of signings. Some players will need to up it big time this season I.e. Oscar and Willian. Oscar can have no excuses with finally having a summer rest, needs to find that consistency in the performances that we know he can put in.

Willian, with all his work rate needs to add final product in terms of goals/assists. More worries about out midfield where Fabregas look shattered after February time.

Start of the window I hoped for Griezemann, pirlo and Varane. Stones in stead of Varane makes sense to build a future cb partnership with zouma, Bar that we still may be lacking in depth

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Whilst Stones is highly overpriced, I think him and Rahman coming in means that we easily have the best set of Goalkeepers and defenders. The problem is obviously the Midfield areas, as I would say whilst CF isn't the greatest in the world it is still probably better than anyone else's in the league. Our problem in midfield is that while we have a great starting five - Matic, Cesc, Hazard, Oscar, Willian - there is zero competition from the players behind them - Rambo, Mikel, RLC, Cuadrado, Moses, Traore. Now, whilst I reckon that you do not need all of the back up options to be of equal ability of the starters I would say you need at least one CM and one AM that is, while the other four can be the 'potential' players or just decent pros knocking about when you need to save legs.

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xCELERYx   

Whilst Stones is highly overpriced, I think him and Rahman coming in means that we easily have the best set of Goalkeepers and defenders. The problem is obviously the Midfield areas, as I would say whilst CF isn't the greatest in the world it is still probably better than anyone else's in the league. Our problem in midfield is that while we have a great starting five - Matic, Cesc, Hazard, Oscar, Willian - there is zero competition from the players behind them - Rambo, Mikel, RLC, Cuadrado, Moses, Traore. Now, whilst I reckon that you do not need all of the back up options to be of equal ability of the starters I would say you need at least one CM and one AM that is, while the other four can be the 'potential' players or just decent pros knocking about when you need to save legs.

You make a good point re: lacking a first team quality player on the bench to call upon. Which I think in some cases is why we see Oscar start games on the bench and Ramires a head of him. It allows JM to bring on someone who has qualities of a first team level to hopefully change the game, opposed to having to bring on someone that a couple notches down the quality ladder. Certainly a better option than bringing on Ramires or someone else who doesn't have that ability, particularly if we're chasing a goal or result.

Fingers crossed Moses and Cuadrado are able to step up and help fill those roles this season.

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That is the very reason we're forced to pay silly money for players that are no better than players half their price. We're forced to buy from abroad. We don't have other options unless we want to fall even further behind the best teams in Europe.

The reason English clubs pay silly money is because they have got so much of the stuff.

You keep obscuring the situation by talking about the best teams in Europe. The half dozen or so richest clubs in Europe are still richer than nearly all PL clubs and will remain so. They will still take the best players out of the PL as they always have done (Ronaldo, Bale, Robben). They will still pay silly money for players they should have bought for half the price (Luiz).

But that isn't the issue at all.

It is the Stokes of this world who are getting richer.

I can understand the moral indignance if you think they are overpaying.

But I can't why throwing money at overpriced players still won't make them stronger.

City wasted hundreds of millions on overpriced players - they still improved.

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"I think what other teams are doing will make a different Premier League. Crystal Palace buy [Yohan] Cabaye and Connor Wickham, as an example. I could give you much more examples. So, welcome this mentality, welcome this economic power, welcome this ambition.

If the Premier League was difficult, the Premier League will now be more difficult and I think fewer points to win the title. I think more defeats, more lost points for the top teams.

It was always difficult to win matches in England. Always difficult. I think now more difficult. I was giving examples of Crystal Palace, I could give you examples of Stoke City, I could give you examples of Newcastle United, I could give you examples of Watford. The teams are going to be stronger and I think it will be more difficult for all of us.

Everybody knows it’s difficult in this country but these teams are going to be difficult not just for the champions, they are going to be difficult for everybody.

They will take points from us, they will take points from other clubs, the distance will shorten for sure, and I think good."

Of course they're more likely to take points off you if they strengthen and you don't!!! Is he making excuses already?

Sounds like a pre-season advert for football to me. No one wants to hear him say the opposite. And he is right too.

The good thing though is that last season we were not just the best team, but the best at rolling over teams that came to defend too. We were best at getting 3 points consistently against weaker and mid-ranking teams.

That will be even more important this season.

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What kinda erks me with Reus/Griezmann/Koke continuing to be mentioned is that it appears not all understand that some of these players are simply not available options at present. Koke has said he's happy to Atletico, likewise with Griezmann. Reus the same with Dortmund. While neither club are looking to sell. Yet, they're always the players popping up on here as who we should sign without any sort of thought put into how realistic those suggestion may be. You may as well be suggesting we sign Messi, Aguero, etc. I'm sure the club has looked into such players and been promptly turned away, be it by fee demanded or disinterest in selling, leaving us where we are currently.

I'd have been extremely content with looking at players who would be realistically more obtainable who aren't already amongst the top tier of clubs, yet would still be able to contribute. More so when it appears the club aren't willing to splash big money on a single star player. Players like Filipe Anderson of Lazio, Franco Vazquez of Palermo, Pjanic at Roma, Moutinho at Monaco - hell, even someone like Sigurdsson at Swansea would be a useful addition to the side we currently have.

We seem to have reluctance to sign player who aren't quite at the top yet, but move to other bigger clubs, do well and then try to sign them for double or triple what they could have been purchased for had we not waited. Then wonder why it's as difficult as it is to get these players, or why the price goes beyond what we're willing to pay.

Fair points from both you and Cam. I guess I just feel money talks in these situations, regardless whether or not teams want to sell. This "£50 million" would be enough to prise away one of these players mentioned imo, I guess we don't know if they are willing to leave but I'd be surprised if we couldn't convince them!

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