Sunday, August 05, 2007

Ryan Giggs for Manchester Utd (vs Chelsea), 5th August 2007

Given that we've just sat through the Community Shield and a new season is already upon us, I thought it was probably about time that we picked over the bones of my predictions for last season.

1. Chelsea [actual position: 2nd]

I said: "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."

Hmm. Actually they had a really difficult season (by their standards) and still nearly one. Ballack and Shevchenko possibly overrated..... by me and by Jose Mourinho anyway.

2. Liverpool [actual position: 3rd]

I said: "Getting better year on year under Benitez and looks to have added sensibly this time."

True enough, but another good run in the Champions League and slow progress in the league. was right about Craig Bellamy getting into trouble too! FORE!

3. Man Utd [actual position: 1st]

I said: "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?"

... and I picked them to finish 3rd?

I'll get my coat.

4. Arsenal [actual position: 4th]

I said: "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."

Well, right about 4th... but they did it mostly without Henry.

5. Tottenham [actual position: 5th]

I said: "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".

obvious, but true. I was right about Defoe stewing on the bench too. With the signing of Darren Bent, why exactly is he still there?

6. Blackburn [actual position: 10th]

I said: "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."

So true.

I also said: "No Bellamy, but with players like McCarthy, Reid, Bentley, Pedersen and Roberts, should give most sides a good game. Solid defence too."

Perhaps I was a bit optimistic, but they did okay and I expect the same this year too.

7. Bolton [actual position: 7th]

I said: "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."

Ha. Just ignore what I said about Nolan and Stelios being their main goalscorers, and I look like a genius with this one. Newcastle would be happy if Sam delivers this for them in 2007/8 won't they?

8. Everton [actual position: 6th]

I said: "Will no doubt be intensely dull to watch"


9. West Ham [actual position: 15th]

I said: "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?"

I was right, but I certainly never saw their season coming.

10. Aston Villa [actual position: 11th]

I said: "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."

Well, we're still waiting. They were dull last year, albeit much improved. It should be interesting to see if O'Neill has moved them forwards much this year.

I also said: "Watch out for: The signing of a big lump to play up front for a more direct style of play."

John Carew anyone?

11. Newcastle [actual position: 13th]

I said: "Watch out for: Glenn Roeder to be under early pressure from idiot chairman Fat Freddie Shepherd."

Roeder went eventually, and finally fat Freddie has followed him out the door. Surely better things ahead?

12. Portsmouth [actual position: 9th]

I said: "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?"

Well, wrong on almost every count. They had a great season and their defence was magnificent.

13. Charlton [actual position: 19th]

I said: "On the face of it, Ian Dowie has an impossible job: how can he ever match up to Curbs?"


14. Wigan [actual position: 17th]

I said: "A great first season in the Premiership, but they surely can’t do that again"

No, they couldn't.

15. Man City [actual position: 14th]

I said: "I’m bored now. Dull side. Won’t do much."


16. Middlesborough [actual position: 12th]

I said: ....nothing of interest at all. But look at them. Can you blame me?

17. Sheffield Utd [actual position: 18th]

I said: "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."

So nearly right.....

18. Fulham [actual position: 16th]

I said: "Struggle – especially if they don’t persuade Steed Malbranque that he’d really like to stay another season."

Well, Malbranque left and they're still hanging on in there.

19. Reading [actual position: 8th]

I said: "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."

Wrong. They were brilliant and Coppell was justifiably manager of the season too. Seol did a job for them too...

20. Watford [actual position: 20th]

I said: "Whipping boys, surely?"

All too predictable.


If I get half an hour at work in the next week, I'll try and whip up my totally unscientific thoughts on this year's league too.


The actual premiership table:

1 Man Utd
2 Chelsea
3 Liverpool
4 Arsenal
5 Tottenham
6 Everton
7 Bolton
8 Reading
9 Portsmouth
10 Blackburn
11 Aston Villa
12 Middlesbro'
13 Newcastle
14 Man City
15 West Ham
16 Fulham
17 Wigan
18 Sheff Utd
19 Charlton
20 Watford

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