He’s No Angel – Di Maria Choked! Stan Speaks…

Angel Di Maria’s failure to shine at Old Trafford proves once and for all that Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player in the world and I’ll explain why.

The Real Madrid striker came to England as a young boy, tripping and falling over himself every other game, criticised weekly for cheating, and overcame those hurdles to develop into a 30-goal Premier League monster. He was up for the physical challenge; he was up for the mental challenge.

It annoys me to hear people call Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and even Lionel Messi, the best player in the world. To be the best player in the world, without a shadow of a doubt, you have to perform in the best technical league in the world – La Liga – and the world’s toughest – the Premier League.

Don’t get me wrong, Lionel Messi is, of course, one of the world’s greats, and will go down as one of the best ever, but could he or Zlatan Ibrahimovic cope with the added competitiveness in England; the lack of a winter break, games coming thick and fast? I don’t think they would. At least not to the level they’ve shown up to now in other countries.


Two seasons ago, Angel Di Maria was one of the shining lights of Real Madrid’s famous La Decima-winning season.

He was walking past teams in La Liga game in, game out. He comes to the Premier League and finds it too tough, too much of a challenege and the first opportunity he’s been faced with, he has run off to France.

Simply put, he’s choked, he’s bottled it.

Top Six Fight

The battle for the Premier League and the Top Four is primed to be immensely intriguing this season. As a former striker, it seems to me that we are losing strikers rather than gaining them.

With Robin Van Persie leaving Manchester United, Man City losing Dzeko and Jovetic to Serie A and Diego Costa’s continued injury problems at Chelsea, the lack of competition in the forward department of the top sides could be pivotal in the race for the Premier League title.

Can Wayne Rooney shoulder the goalscoring burden at Old Trafford? Will Sergio Aguero be able to stay fit for the entire season? Harry Kane is Spurs’ only recognised striker. I don’t see Giroud, Welbeck or Theo Walcott bagging the necessary 20+ goals to win Arsenal the title. They need a Karim Benzema type to complete the jigsaw.

Should Costa’s hamstring trouble continue to dog him, you could even see Jose Mourinho cutting his losses and moving him on, which would arguably be one of the stories of the season.

None of the top clubs have got the requisite firepower at the minute that you could see a team runaway with it. it’s going to be highly competitive.

Best Transfer Business

Of the top six or seven teams, I think Liverpool have signed very well. James Milner looks like he might fill the Steven Gerrard-shaped void in midfield. Christian Benteke, should he settle quickly, will score goals and Nathaniel Clyne is a great piece of business at right back.

Soccer - Pre-Season Friendly - Swindon Town v Liverpool - County Ground

I don’t think they will make the top four but I do believe they have a good chance now after their summer business.

Manchester United have also made some stellar signings in Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Memphis Depay, whilst lower down the table, West Ham have got themselves super players in Dimitri Payet and Angelo Ogbonna.

Relegation Battle

There are six teams, and six teams only who can go down: the three promoted clubs – Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich – and the three strugglers from last season: Sunderland, Leicester and Aston Villa.

Having spoken to managers on this before, the ideal number of new signings every season seems to be generally 2-3. There has been a very high turnover of players at both Villa & Bournemouth which could be a very risky strategy.

I am giving Villa the benefit of the doubt in terms of having that Premier League experience in the squad, though – I think it will be tight for my former club but they should just about get over the line.