The Premier League is back. It's like it hardly went away.
It's time to revisit those great echoing stadia and listen to the vain and desperate hollering of touchline coaches as football revisits the Lost Years. I look forward to a tumbling Aubameyang saluting plastic seating after another cool finish; to the resonant yelp of pain every time someone gets within two metres of Jack Grealish; and to the plaintive cries of Mike Ashley as he sits outside St. James's Park doing his weekly oligarch ring-round on the off-chance that someone might sponsor the Gallowgate for a couple of months.
But there's the actual football, too. It'll be good to see England's players back in club colours after the unnervingly bland efforts in Iceland and Denmark. Watching football that turgid is like an act of self-harm. Or a Lawrence Fox tweet, if you like. Clearly, Foden and Greenwood is the main story from those trips. What on earth were these 18 and 20 year-old young men doing hanging out with attractive young women? I mean it beggars belief.
And what were these attractive women doing sharing it on social media and having copious interviews in the British press? I mean have these youths lost their minds? Rest assured, you shameless brats, there's not a single person reading this blog - wait, smart-arses, this sentence hasn't finished yet! - there's not a single person reading this blog who would have been so selfish and naive at that age.
I hope they go home, have a word with themselves - and in Foden's case, several words with the mother of his child - and then they go back to work.Seriously there are men in their forties and fifties bringing serial shame to this country every time they open their mouths right now and we're going to give these lads a shellacking? Priorities, my fellow Brits.
In passing, a quick nod to Novak Djokovic, who is like a walking billboard entitled The Dangers of Chutzpah. First, his tournament gets riddled with the virus, then he takes out a line judge's Adam's Apple. The overblown hammery of that woman's spluttering near-death experience will live long in the memory. I know the theatres are closed but she's a shoo-in for a Lady Macbeth when they open again. Djokovic is a curious cove. He's so not likeable and I'm not sure it's his fault. His humility has always so practised, and it's something that, like the line-judge I find difficult to swallow.
But enough of that. Real sport... Footy. And I should tell you who exactly is going to win the Premier League and who s going down quicker than a 2.00 am kebab. So here goes:
Arteta seems to have got the message through that the players need to work hard when they don't have the ball. Not everyone can be Mesut Ozil. Improvement to continue. 5th.
A lot depends on Watkins being as good as they hope. But they stayed up by the skin of the skin of the teeth, and it'll be the same this season. 19th.
I think they'll d okay. I like Lallana, even if his name sounds like some fruit the Telly-Tubbies eat. Potter is clearly a smart gaffer so... 13th
How much longer can Sean stay? Is this season the last roll of the Dyche? There's not a club in the PL more defined by the manager. Effective, honest, not pretty. Every year and somehow he gets them into comfy mid-table. 11th
Could Frank's massive cash-spaff could pay dividends? Or is it a moonshot? Yeah we're looking at furloughs and four million unemployed and somehow CFC have £250 million to spend. There's no doubt that Ziyech,Werner and Havertz are top drawer. Thiago's a useful stopgap for a defence with more leaks than an Eistedfodd. So, I'm saying 2nd.
Like the polar opposite of Chelsea. Hodgson's ambition continues to shrink. Palace are like the rest of us. Just get to the end of the week and see where we are shall we? And then have a 'kin drink. Not this season, Roy. 18th.
Well, a midfield that moved with all the rapidity and vigour of an oxbow lake has been ripped out by Ancelotti. Clearly he's a boss who knows how to put a team together, it's just a question of how soon that happens. In Carlo I trust. 6th.
Well, I know, they can't believe it either. They have bought Anthony Knockaert, so apart from those two worldies the season looks bleak. 20th.
Well Bielsa's hanging around so you can't seem them surviving. Weird that they've been out of the the top league for so long, like when you bump into an old mate on the street and you suddenly realise it's been 16 years. Not that a Boro fan is particularly pally with Leeds, like. They'll do enough. 15th.
Rodgers bucked the trend with fifth last season. Trouble is Leicester are always having to offload their top players. Like Southampton a while back, it's a case of the better you do, the weaker the squad next season. Like Donald Trump's defence of anything he's ever said, it's unsustainable. 9th.
For much of last season, they were like an episode of 24. Okayish, good production values, a tad boring at times, and then the last five minutes always left you wanting to watch the next episode. I can't see Klopp's Season 6 being so good. And I like Lovely Jurgen to do well. I think 3rd.
It's down to Pep. If he does a Champs league and skilfully outthinks himself then this could be another weird season. Ake and Laporte should give more security at the back, though. When they're anyhting like you can't see anyone beating them. 1st.
Reasons to be cheerful here. Fernandes is superb. Pogba's upped his game since someone better than him arrived. Van de Beek (de Bork? de Buck? de Bleedin' 'Eck Dutch names are so tricky) is a vital improvement. If Maguire can avoid getting arrested, and the front three keep firing, well... 4th. (But not far behind 1st.)
Not unlike the Toon Army I've had my doubts about Bruce. But he's been great. Wilson, Fraser and Lewis are top signings. Trouble is, it's all the other shit isn't it? People know when they're working for a dysfunctional organisation. Just ask senior civil servants. Should be doing better but all that crap will trickle down onto the pitch eventually... 15th.
I dunno. Miraculous effort last season. I think cos Wilder's so old school about it, it's easy to ignore how skilled and savvy United were, too. The end of the season indicated tougher times ahead but a team to admire. 12th.
Still hard to believe that 9-0 drubbing last season. How that hurt the heart of Hassenhuttl. Hassenhuttl's higher hurdle has to be harder however. Hassenhuttl's hopes hang on Danny Hings. 10th...
Mourinho is a busted flush. I mean it. It's a good squad but unless he's banking up lines of four and five and grinding out draws against the big boys he's got nowt to offer. The team looks so utterly cheerless. Not Spursy. Except some bottling will occur. 8th.
It all looks very boing boing. Still, out of conviction that Palace must drop, I'm giving the Baggies an arbitrary benefit of the doubt. Bilic is always good value too. 17th.
Moyes remains. Even the venal pornographers in charge couldn't cast him to one side like a rain-soaked jazz-mag in a lay-by. Quite how this season is anything other than another long slog with the squad he has is beyond me. (Honorable exception - Antonio). Think they'll get away with it again. And Moyes will be gone this time next year. 16th.
I know why Klopp got all the gongs for last season but Nuno (or Wilder) deserved them just as much. Such a civilised soul, too. Every time I watched Adama Traore last season I was reminded of a bloke with a similar name who once ran about like a man on an uncontrolled motorised scooter at the Riverside. Different bloke though the one at Wolves. 7th.
That's that then. You can ignore the entire season now you know how it will end. Hope that's distracted you from the cavalcade of lying law-breaking self-interested, untrustworthy fucktards that are dragging this country's name through the mud at every turn.