36. It’s Not The Despair……
I was honestly going to do something poignant about Robin Williams, forceful about Vicky Beeching, and hilarious about Gaza (it can be done, trust me). Instead, SOCCER.
Here’s your cut out and keep guide to the forthcoming season. Please feel free to keep it and abuse me about it come May.
I haven’t backed anyone yet, so if your team are crap it’s not my fault.
I’ve tried desperately to be impartial, but I’ve failed obviously…..
Placed in reverse order then…
Probably the smallest budget in the division, no notable signings, and a small squad will mean that Sean Dyche is hampered fatally, despite his qualities. Seventeenth will be a miracle. I’ve been to Burnley. There are no miracles there.
19th Crystal Palace
No Pulis, no hope. Whoever comes in will have to deal with an interfering owner and a tiny budget. They will be fucked by Christmas anyway. The most pointless breakdown in a relationship since Kid temporarily fell out with Play.
If you keep selling your best players it will eventually catch up to you. If you sell them all over one summer it will catch up to you a lot quicker. Koeman’s side will be neat and tidy and well coached, and the balance sheet will look stunning, but ultimately without their departed stars they are a championship squad, and will soon be there…
17th West Bromwich Albion
Again, not a great side by any stretch, but others will keep them up. Notoriously tight budgets might be tested if January rolls around and they are in trouble but they have fight and knowhow.
16th Queens Park Rangers
Car windows will be wound down, players will be talked up in the press and not picked, and Glenn Hoddle’s hair will be off the hook. They will do enough by being hard to beat at home, and beat enough worse sides than themselves to never trouble the relegation scorers. Won’t give two monkeys about the cups.
15th Swansea City
Will stay up because there are several worse sides than them. You’ve got to hope they stay brave and pass it, and with the other strugglers being so bad they might well be able to. Got to keep Bony fit and at the club though.
14th West Ham United
Won’t be relegated, and where they end up will be decided if they are ok in November. Allardyce has given up trying to win the fans round with football so will live and die by his results, and if they aren’t up to snuff by Bonfire Night he might get his cards. And if THAT happens, well, you know the rest. Bit tough on them to start the season with a cup final though……
13th Leicester City
Looked impressive coming up, and Nigel Pearson has enough resources (unlike Burnley) to ensure they cling on and look to consolidate next season. Likely to be torture to watch but if they stay up their fans won’t care a jot.
12th Hull City
Almost pulled off the shock of the season to continue Arsenal’s trophy drought. If their chairman doesn’t continue to be bonkers and Bruce spends the Shane Long money wisely they will be solidly in midtable and safe from any relegation fears by March. Might have a pop at the League Cup too.
11th Newcastle United
Expectations will be sky high, results will not match them. Alan Pardew will argue with Ben Arfa then have to pick him as he’s their best player, or sell him at a huge loss to get him out of the dressing room. Shola Ameobi has finally left, and will have the same effect as the ravens leaving the tower. Dark times in Black And White Town…
Could be anything. If Conor Wickham becomes the player he showed glimpses of during last season’s climax they will give anyone a game. If Brown and O’Shea self-destruct as they often did early in the season they will be pushovers. Outside bet to finish higher than Newcastle, and to their hard core that will be a great season.
9th Aston Villa
Spent last season winning the games they were meant to, and losing the others but never disgracing themselves. Roy Keane may light a few fires under any slackers but lack of goals will mean they won’t threaten a Europa place.
8th Stoke City
Prettier to look at than Pulis’s side (not hard), Mark Hughes will be looking to push on from mid table safety. Sadly replying on Peter Crouch for consistent goals is foolhardy, and so their mid table mediocrity will only be leavened by the sight of their fans crowding round the Sky Sports News reporter on deadline day looking for all the world like extras in a The Hills Have Eyes remake.
7th Tottenham Hotspur
A drop of a place for Spurs, but only because of a resurgent United and the fact that for the 40th season in a row they are in a period of transition. Pochettino is credited with improving a lot of players at Southampton, so the White Hart Lane faithful will be hoping they have acquired the real star of their last twelve months, and he can make some use of £30m man Erik Lamela. Unlike the last two managers picking him would be a start. They are also desperate for the players purchased last summer to follow Christian Eriksen’s example and take to the Premier League. Should take the Europa League seriously. Won’t.
Expectations will be high at the School Of Science after securing Lukaku, but there is a reason Chelsea never trusted him, and if we find out what it is he might disappoint. The Europa League will test their squad depth too, and may ultimately hamstring their attempts to turn a creditable 5th into 4th.
5th Manchester United
Not in Europe so will be going all out to win the cups as compensation for their fans. van Gaal has too much to turn around to challenge even the Champions League places this season, and will hope his fans are patient and expect signs of progress and potential rather than trophies. Wayne Rooney as captain sets a dangerous precedent after his two transfer requests too…..
Will start well if managers keep quitting two days before they have to play them. Home for their first and last games, don’t leave London over the festive period, so their traditional luck remains. Sanchez could make the top four an easier target to achieve, but a paper thin squad and still fragile mentality will mean they are ten points off the pace by Valentine’s Day.
I’m afraid they still haven’t convinced me that their defence is tight enough to win the league, but the loss of Suarez is something I think they can deal with by other players stepping up. Sturridge gets a lot of stick but I think he will be OK without his partner from last term. Cup squads will be interesting now they are back in Europe too.
Lack of goals cost them last season, and if Diego Costa doesn’t fire it will again. Will be massively hard to beat, incredibly boring, but ruthlessly efficient. And Mourinho will sicken everyone with his antics, but idiots in the media will call him a character.
CHAMPIONS Manchester City
Quite simply they won the league by outlasting their rivals. If they can keep Aguero fit they will be too strong and powerful and have too many goals in them to cope with. They might even have a proper go at the Champions League as well. The ones to beat again.