So far, so good for Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City, but have they spent wisely? What will happen at Spurs if Bale departs? Plus, is Paolo Di Canio one-dimensional?
"As I already said"; "No, I just answered that"; "It may be one of the reasons we bought Jesús Navas."
In his opening dispatches Manuel Pellegrini has already strived to establish the ground rules he hopes will control his and the Manchester City message. The first two examples above have been noted as stock responses he employs when wanting to move the conversation on to questions he would rather answer, the last an illustration of how he chooses his words carefully.
It came on Saturday evening after Pellegrini's team had defeated Sunderland 1-0 to win the Asia Trophy. Navas, one of City's four summer buys, had made his debut after half-time. When he was asked if pace was the reason why the winger had been bought by City Pellegrini calibrated his reply precisely. All this is in contrast to his predecessor, Roberto Mancini, who would say anything he fancied, even at the risk of putting the nose of an A-list player out of joint. At 59 Pellegrini ought to have seen most things in football and exudes a quiet wisdom his players should trust. So far he has also managed to resist being drawn on José Mourinho. Pellegrini was sacked by Real Madrid for Mourinho in 2010 but has tartly said that he did not wish to speak about him. At Friday's pre-final press conference, the Chilean was asked about Mourinho's suggestion that given City's £88m summer spending his team were under the most pressure. Again, the question was swatted away. So far, so good. City landed back in Manchester on Sunday afternoon having won the Asia Trophy – a minor pot for sure, but all new managers like to win. What matters, though, is the serious stuff that starts on 19 August when Newcastle United visit the Etihad Stadium.
On the scant evidence so far Alvaro Negredo appears the most intelligent buy, the striker with the "Beast of Vallecas" nickname is an intriguing cocktail of physicality and balletic touch who may introduce a telling dimension to City.
The Navas question was posed because serious pace is the element City have lacked, even in their title-winning side of two years ago. In paying Sevilla £15m for the Spaniard, City sought to solve this deficit, though the sense remains they could use a further speed-merchant to provide variety and cover.
Costing £27m, Fernandinho needs to show his worth almost instantly. As Pellegrini will configure his side into a 4-3-3 this season the onus is on his side to be mobile and fluid and the Brazilian will be expected to operate as his countryman Ramires does for Chelsea –a force in attack and defence.
With Fernandinho aged 28, and Negredo and Navas 27, at 23 Stevan Jovetic is the "baby" of the new quartet who scored 14 goals in 27 Serie A games last season before leaving Fiorentina for City. With goals a struggle during last season's failed title defence the Montenegrin has been bought to rectify that fault.
A Gareth Bale-less Tottenham Hotspur failed to reach the Asia Trophy final, although of course this tournament was well down the club's list of priorities. The news that the Wales forward is distraught that Daniel Levy has turned down a world record £86m Real Madrid bid is understandable and came as no surprise here after André Villas-Boas declined repeated opportunities to reject the notion categorically during the tournament. The club say he has injured his right buttock so was unavailable for the competition but, having been pipped by Arsenal to a Champions League spot last season with a Bale in career-high form, what happens to the Andre Villas-Boas project if he does depart?
The hyperactive Italian with endless opinions and a penchant for answering a yes or no question with a monologue talked all week about his philosophy and the Sunderland players switching instantly on to it. Di Canio mentioned how this has been achieved because of their intelligence, though given how fitness, double-sessions and working hard in training were all repeatedly given top-billing you wonder where the tactical instructions and match preparation are.
After losing the final to City Di Canio was asked if it was possible to over-work a team? No, he said, as this part of the season is all about fitness.
The Beckton-born striker is the prolific finisher who has never quite convinced a perennial Champions League contender to buy him. Yet at 30 Defoe remains at his peak years and the hat-trick he scored in Spurs' 6-0 rout of South China in the Asia Trophy third-place playoff was the best start to a season that ends with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
"I got experience of playing in the World Cup in South Africa and it is unbelievable," he said. "It is the pinnacle of your career, that is where you want to be as a footballer and to get on the plane again would be fantastic. But it is a long season and it is important to play well for your club, get your goals and keep working hard to make sure you are on that plane because it is going to be a special World Cup and you want to be part of it."
Defoe's road to the Brazil continues with Spurs' next friendly on Saturday, at Monaco.