The Cheer Up Alan Shearer Premiership Predictions, 2006-7.
(predictions are here - don't miss the first round, for heaven's sake!)
This always takes bloody ages. Apologies if I lose interest before I get to the end....
Boring boring boring. I’d love them to be astonishingly shit, but I can’t see them finishing anywhere but first. They’ve just gone and bought bloody Michael Ballack and Andriy Shevchenko.
Watch out for: half of the first team squad going on a march and demanding regime change.
Do you think Peter Crouch wakes up in the morning and pinches himself? Has any player made quite the same transformation from sideshow freak to attacking lynchpin for his club and national side? Getting better year on year under Benitez and looks to have added sensibly this time.
Watch out for: Bellamy and/or Pennant getting into trouble on and/or off the pitch.
Inevitable headline: “Speedy Gonzalez”
3. Man Utd
I thought they were rubbish last year, and yet they still somehow managed to finish strongly in second place. They look a striker short, but they’ll have Heinze, Solskjaer and Scholes back this season and Michael Carrick and (possibly) Owen Hargreaves are surely a much better bet than the Djemba-Djembas, Klebersons and Darren Fletchers of this world, aren’t they?
Watch out for: Wayne Rooney getting booked for turning up.
Ooooh. Get them in their posh new stadium. Twice the capacity of Highbury, but at what cost? £260m of debt and only one signing thus far (albeit a good one). They’ve still got Thierry Henry, mind you, and he’ll be enough to see them land a top 4 place.
Watch out for: Theo Walcott. Fewer appearances for Arsenal than that Squirrel
Martin Jol has done a great job here, hasn’t he? Unlucky to be beaten to that last European Cup slot last season and with a side packed with decent players. Berbatov and Zokora should ensure that they hardly miss Michael Carrick and (ahem) Andy Reid at all. And they’ve got Aaron Lennon too.
Watch out for: Jermaine Defoe spending another season biding his time on the bench as Jol prefers Robbie Keane and Berbatov up front.
Ok. So now I’m going to start guessing. If the top 5 pick themselves, then I think it’s fair to say that the next 15 places are more or less entirely up for grabs. Blackburn gave Chelsea a right good going over towards the end of last season, and Mark Hughes is another manager making a name for himself. No Bellamy, but with players like McCarthy, Reid, Bentley, Pedersen and Roberts, should give most sides a good game. Solid defence too.
Watch out for: Robbie Savage. Rarely has a player of so little talent thought so much of himself (with the possible exception of David Beckham)
If Big Sam can stop crying about the England job and the loss of Dietmar Hamann, then they’ll probably be alright in that not-very-pretty-but-undeniably-effective way.
Watch out for: the bulk of their goals coming from Nolan and Stelios in the midfield.
Hm. Interesting. Could Andy Johnson be the spark they need to haul themselves up the table? Will no doubt be intensely dull to watch, although the old “hoof it to Duncan” tactic will have to be consigned to history with Dunc’n’Disorderly’s retirement.
Watch out for: Jolean Lescott’s haircut – what’s going on there?
9. West Ham
Just how much will Alan Pardew rue England’s friendly with Greece? Thanks to his collison with the colossal bulk of Shaun Wright-Phillips, Dean Ashton will be out of action until November, and with him surely goes West Ham’s Plan ‘A’. Can ‘Marvellous’ Marlon Harewood cover for Ashton’s absence by continuing his barely believable Premiership goalscoring record? Surely not?
Watch out for: Anton Ferdinand’s increasingly excellent “mini-me” impersonation of his Gungan brother. I’m talking about haircuts, obviously.
10. Aston Villa
Two words: Martin O’Neill. Post match interviews should get a whole lot more interesting, anyway. Surely not hard to improve on last year’s flirtation with relegation.
Watch out for: The signing of a big lump to play up front for a more direct style of play.
Duff is a great signing, and the midfield has some real talent in the shape of Emre, N’Zogbia, Parker, Milner, Solano and…er… Nicky Butt. But who’s going score the goals?
Watch out for: Glenn Roeder to be under early pressure from idiot chairman Fat Freddie Shepherd.
I’m not sure that Harry Redknapp knows what to do with all that money. It shouldn’t be hard to improve on last year’s near relegation, but any defence containing David James, Sol Campbell and Glenn Johnson is going to have its comedy moments, isn’t it?
Watch out for: Harry’s droopy face. It should be listed by English Heritage and maintained by the National Trust.
On the face of it, Ian Dowie has an impossible job: how can he ever match up to Curbs? But then again, all he really has to do is to make sure that his side finish as strongly as they start, and he should be fine. Curbs did a brilliant job, but it’s time for the club to take the next step. Are Andy Reid, Jimmy-Floyd, Amady Faye and Djimi Traore the men to take them there? Doubtful.
Watch out for: A shirt big enough for Andy Reid
A great first season in the Premiership, but they surely can’t do that again
Watch out for: Emile Heskey. The clown is back in town.
15. Man City
I’m bored now. Dull side. Won’t do much.
Watch out for: Kaspar Schmeichel’s nose. Like father like son.
Southgate is a brave managerial appointment, but I think he might find it hard work this season. Julio Arca has always done well for me in Championship Manager though.
Watch out for: Viduka and Yakubu causing minor earth tremors as they lumber into the box.
17. Sheffield Utd
I have a confession: I quite like Neil Warnock and I look forward to seeing what kind of a swathe he can cut in the Premiership. The Blades have been one of the best sides in the Championship for the last five years, and it will be interesting to see how players like Michael Tonge and Phil Jagielka cut the mustard. I’d like them to stay up. I’m not sure they will, but I’d like them too.
Watch out for: Warnock making some misty-eyed remark about his tractor. Oh, and slagging off referees and opponents at every opportunity.
Struggle – especially if they don’t persuade Steed Malbranque that he’d really like to stay another season.
Watch out for: Brian McBride of course – he is after all (according to David Pleat, who knows these things) pound-for-pound the best striker in the Premiership.
Another side who have been good in the Championship for a number of years and who I would be delighted to see make a decent fist of the Premiership. As a Wolves fan, I’ll be very interested to see how Seol does, but if he’s their biggest signing, then I think they’ll struggle.
Watch out for: erm. Your guess is as good as mine.
Whipping boys, surely?
Watch out for: David Furnish. The thinking man’s WAG.
It's hard this. Like I say - after the top 5, almost anything could happen.
Should be good, eh?