With the new Premiership season only days away, and before we get down to the serious business of predicting who is going to finish where, I thought it might be nice to have a look back 12 months at last year's season predictions.... (which can be found here)
Here's the table I predicted (with their actual finish in brackets):
1. Chelsea (1st)
Right, but not a terribly difficult prediction to make. Did anyone get this wrong? Picking Wright-Phillips as the player to watch was a bit daft though, although I still maintain he's better than Beckham (who I hope will also be on the bench soon).
"England fans will be praying Lampard & Terry stay fit for summer" Hmmm. Terry anyway.
"I should hate them, but somehow I don't" I do now.
2. Manchester Utd (2nd)
This one was probably a bit tougher to call, and looking back at the table now I'm actually a bit surprised that they managed to finish this high.
"Fortune wears the #25 shirt." Tee hee. Not any more.
"Player to Watch: Alan Smith – is he really the new Roy Keane?" No.
3. Arsenal (4th)
4th was a good finish for them in the end and was only achieved right at the death.
"Leggy Leader lost to Old Lady. Can Gallic genius galvanise greatness for final fling before the Grove?" Oh God, it's Mystic bloody Meg.
"Player to Watch: Cesc Fabregas – filling big boots" And filling them with aplomb.
4. Liverpool (3rd)
Well, they're definitely getting better every season under Benitez, aren't they?
"Freakishly European Champions. Not so much luck in Europe this time, but surely a stronger showing in the league." That's not so very far off the mark is it?
"Player to Watch: Peter Crouch – hard to miss (good touch for a big man, etc.)" And I'm pretty happy with that too.
5. Tottenham (5th)
I'm quite pleased with this prediction. They did really well last year and were ultimately very unlucky to miss out on a place in the European Cup. Martin Jol appears to be doing an excellent job.
"More optimistic than usual with a young squad yet to taste the bitterness and disappointment that are their destiny." A bit harsh really. The future looks bright.
"Player to Watch: Michael Dawson – if he can stay clear of injury" Well, he did get injured a bit, but he was good when he played and is certainly one to watch this year.
6. Boro (14th)
Blimey. Miles off with this one. I obviously gave Second Choice Steve more credit than perhaps he was due (although to be fair he did make the UEFA cup final).
"slightly dull" Only slightly?
"Player to Watch: Gaizka Mendieta – occasionally one of the best players in Europe".... and last season, even less occasionally than usual.
7. Bolton Wanderers (8th)
Not bad. Big Sam's doing a good job up there. They should make the most of the good times whilst they last as surely he won't be there for much longer?
"Since Southampton’s relegation, Big Sam is now the undisputed king of the Used Car Salesman school of management".... and then Harry came back.
"Player to Watch: Stelios – goal-scoring midfield dynamo" 10 goals last year.
8. Everton (11th)
I'm not sure I can remember a single Everton game from last year. Not a single one. I don't think I can remember a goal either. Or who plays for them.
"Only 2 words are needed to summarise the disappointing season ahead: Phil Neville. Oh, and maybe four more for good measure. "Early", "exit", "from" and "Europe"." Fair enough on all counts, I think.
"Player to Watch: Phil Neville – 52 cap England legend" I was JOKING of course.
9. Manchester City (15th)
Only 15th? I thought they'd done better than that. Was Stuart Pearce really a candidate for the England job?
"Psycho Therapy, Psycho Therapy!" He is a very odd looking man though, isn't he?
"Player to Watch: Joey Barton – what will he do next?" Score lots of goals and look to get a transfer?
10. Newcastle (7th)
Started appallingly but Glen Roeder and Alan Shearer did a fantastic job in turning them around. Or actually, perhaps it was just getting rid of Souness that made the difference?
"This great club is being reduced to a laughing stock by the ineptitude of its board and management. Shame". Still true, sadly. Good luck to Glen Roeder though.
"Souness won’t last the season, but Freddie Shepherd has little to be proud of here." Souness is gone, but Shepherd is still there. How has he got the nerve?
"Player to Watch: Scott Parker – point to prove" Very much still true this year.
11. Birmingham (18th)
WRONG! What was I thinking? Bernard Cribbens took them down with something to spare.
"They play a bit like Steve Bruce’s nose looks: ugly, crooked, damaged and yet strangely effective… " Well, all except the effective part.
"Player to Watch: Jermaine Pennant – will he let his football do the talking?" Now to be seen plying his trade at Liverpool.
12. Aston Villa (16th)
Well, at least they have something to look forward to this year. O'Neill can't fail to improve on this, can he?
"Mid-table. Mediocre. Average. Uninspired and uninspiring." Not even that.
13. Blackburn Rovers (6th)
Fair play. Mark Hughes is doing a grand job. Not sure they can top this though.
"Guaranteed to turn any game into an undignified scrap. The wise man gives Premiership Plus a miss if this lot are on. Actually, I think the wise man gives Premiership Plus a miss full-stop" I think they actually belied their reputation for violence last season, but I stand by what I said about Premiership Plus.
14. Charlton Athletic (13th)
Another one that was fairly easy to predict. Good start followed by predictable fall away. Can Dowie make the step-up that Curbs couldn't manage?
"Outside bet for an early managerial casualty?" Not quite, but he knew it was time to go.
15. West Brom (19th)
As a Wolves fan, this was perhaps my strangest prediction. More of the same this year please.
"Should be easier this time around" Er, or perhaps not.
16. Portsmouth (17th)
Well done Harry. Certain relegation avoided thanks mainly to pots of cash. Genius.
"With no Yakubu, goals will be hard to come by and Laurent Robert will storm off in a huff" Did he actually storm off, or did he just flounce about complaining?
17. Fulham (12th)
Cookie Coleman did a brilliant job last year. Surely he can't top this performance.
"Struggle ahoy! If Malbranque leaves, relegation beckons." Well, in my defence, he's still there now, so does that make me sort of half-right?
18. Sunderland (20th)
Big Mick is still a management legend in my books though.
"They just popped up to say hello, and now they’ve gone back down below." Harsh but fair.
19. West Ham (9th)
oops. Nearly right eh?
"Nice to have them back, but I don’t expect an extended stay." And I was pleased to be wrong.
"Player to Watch: Anton Ferdinand – it’s in the blood (allegedly)" It was in the haircut, anyway.
20. Wigan (10th)
To be fair, I don't even think that Wigan fans saw this coming in their wildest dreams.
"Back to the Championship quicker than you can say “parachute payments”" Apparently not. Are they the new Bradford or Ipswich though? Confound critics last year only to slip below in their second season....
"Player to Watch: Nathan Ellington – goals at this level?" For West Brom, yes. Well... a couple.
It's harder than it looks this. I'll have to have more than about a 5 second think about it this year. I'll get back to you before the big kick off.