From Middlesbrough to Madrid, Kay Murray has covered football for her childhood team and probably the biggest club worldwide, but enough about ‘Boro. Kay currently resides in Miami with beINSports and has become one of the most well known and recognisable female journalists around. The former Ballon d’Or host spared us some time to discuss the new season, her love for Middlesbrough and a few predictions ahead of the big kick-off.
Firstly, as a huge ‘Boro fan, you must be incredibly excited about your new signings despite the way last season ended?
The ending to it last season was obviously a kick in the teeth, not least because I was on-air hosting the event for the US audience. But the fact that we went all the way to the play-off final is something to be proud of, especially in what was Aitor Karanka’s first full season in charge. The excitement on Teesside was off the Richter last season and has caused the fanbase and the team to be even more united.
To have Stewart Downing back at the Boro is a dream come true for the fans and not only a big indication of our ongoing ambition, but also that a player of Premier League quality believes in the project.
Cristhian Stuani is a player I’ve been able to see a lot of in La Liga. He’ll add some much needed firepower upfront.
In terms of the new teams that have come up, who do you think is best prepared to survive in the Premier League?
It’s going to be interesting, because not one of the three managers have led a side in the English top flight before. Last season we saw all three teams with some formidable forces up top, but a lot depends on whether they can recreate that form at the highest level, not to mention how they’ll fare at the other end of the pitch, where they will have to defend against entirely different beasts.
This is why last year’s champions, Bournemouth can probably not afford to be quite as entertaining as they were last season, but I do hope they maintain their plucky spirit and style. It looks as though they are planning to – I’ve read they have brought a psychologist in. The Cherries won as many games at home as they did on the road last term, if they can use their home ground to their advantage and not get too fazed by the bigger stadiums and crowds on their travels, I think Eddie Howe’s side might just have the ambition and belief to stay up.
I have seen a fair bit of Watford’s Quique Sanchez Flores as a coach; he was at the helm at Valencia when I first moved to Spain to start working in La Liga. He also went on to lead Atletico Madrid to Europa League glory in 2010. And let’s be honest, there’s always a place for a perma-tanned coach in the Premier League. Gino Pozzo can boast a great scouting network, especially when it comes to finding and developing young players. The Pozzo family are also owners of Udinese and Granada, but with the money that’s on offer in the Premier League, the main focus of resources and attention has to be on their biggest earner, Watford.
We have already seen that Pozzo has given the financial backing to his new coach in the transfer market. QSF will be hoping it’s the same level of support when it comes to his job – he’s the fifth Watford manager in the space of a year. The managerial musical chairs may not quite pay off in the Premier League, as it did in the Championship.
Norwich will have hoped to have learned from their previous mistakes, last time around. Destiny is in the hands of the Canaries and perhaps the boots of Nathan Redmond. As the only Scottish boss in the Premier League and also its youngest ever manager, it’s hard not to wish Alex Neil well on his venture into the English top flight.
He’s building up an impressive CV and we also know he has the best person to turn to for advice when the going gets tough – his mum!
Name three new signings you think will shine in the Premier League this season, from any club?
THOSE STEPPING UP
I’m shamelessly squeezing two into this category. Patrick Bamford and Lee Tomlin for Crystal Palace and Bournemouth, respectively. They both shone with my Middlesbrough last year. Bam Bam is rarely not effective, he’s a good finisher & he’s full of confidence too. In cup clashes with Premier League teams last season, he scored a penalty against Liverpool in the final minute of extra time to take the Capital One clash into spot kicks. He also scored the first of the two goals that Boro put past Man City at the Etihad to knock them out of the FA Cup.
Lee Tomlin will also get the chance to show his flair on the bigger stage. He’s an exciting talent and always had time for our fans. He’s great fun to watch too, as he showed us (and Vincent Kompany) with the Tomlin Turn ™ last season.
THE PREMIER LEAGUE VETERAN
Petr Cech – a great goalkeeper, with loads of experience and a fair few titles too. He knows what it takes to win the Premier League and I’m sure he’ll prove to be the difference at Arsenal this year.
THE FOREIGN PLAYER
The versatile Dimitri Payet – He was fantastic last season in Ligue 1, where he topped the assist charts (16) and scored more than a handful of his own too. He’s already been turning it on in the preseason and I expect him to do the same in the Premier League.
We say it every single year, but the top of the Premier League does look completely unpredictable this season doesn’t it?
Chelsea again. Cech a big difference for Arsenal. United challenge this season.
Yes, yes. But, because so many of the season predictions are reading the same right now, I’m not allowing myself to pick Mourinho’s men as winners, just to make mine a little more interesting. Stay reading.
There have been a lot of managerial changes in the league this summer, which appointment in particular catches your eye?
I think McClaren can probably steady the ship (and another similar word) at Newcastle. I am looking forward to seeing Ranieri in charge at Leicester, not least for when he comes to face to face with Mourinho again. We’ll see if the war of words between the two will be reignited.
Mourinho rarely comes away from a season empty handed and I’m expecting him to do well in Europe and the other cups this year. Chelsea might be league champions again, but everyone is saying that, so I won’t be boring and predictable.
3. Manchester United
4. Manchester City
Again, this is getting quite boring and predictable with the picks and the odds I’ve seen so far, so I gave myself a rule of not picking any of the newly promoted sides. Plus, if I picked Norwich, everyone would say I’m bitter!
I hate to say which clubs will go down, but someone has to make way for Boro!
Bottom Three: Aston Villa, Leicester City and Sunderland.
Golden Boot: Sergio Aguero
One to Watch: If the commentators can get the pronunciation of Graziano Pelle’s name right, once and for all.