Friday, June 3, 2011

Rooney : Chelsea will give strong challenge next season

Although United's campaign did end on a low note with their chastening Champions League defeat by Barcelona at Wembley on Saturday, they have been able to celebrate a record 19th championship.

Sir Alex Ferguson will have to rebuild though. A summer of change was expected even before Paul Scholes announced his retirement earlier on Tuesday.

Edwin van der Sar has hung up his gloves, Owen Hargreaves has been released, while there are major question marks over the futures of Wes Brown, Michael Owen and record signing Dimitar Berbatov.

However, there are question marks over all United's major rivals too.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini would appear to have the happiest problem, attempting to prise more cash out of Blues owner Sheikh Mansour.
More new faces are anticipated at Eastlands and given they finished last season level on points with Chelsea, and only missed securing the runners-up spot on goal difference, it would appear City are the most likely title challengers.

Yet Rooney is predicting Chelsea will once again be the team to beat.
"Chelsea will be our main rivals for the league next season," Rooney said. "They are so strong and powerful and ended the season so well."

Rooney does accept it will be tougher than ever next term, which he believes is bound to follow this season's trend of sides at the bottom regularly beating those at the top.

"Chelsea, Manchester City, Spurs, Liverpool and Arsenal will all be fighting for top four," he said.

"It makes it even more intense. It wouldn't surprise you if any of those teams finished in the top two. The teams in the lower half have improved. Going away from home was so difficult this season."

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