The new football season has rather snuck up on me this year – although not as suddenly as it has on Mark Hughes and Chris Hughton. I’ve seen Jodie Marsh have more cover at the back. Still it was remiss of me not to give you a sound unbiased foretelling of the season to come, so here it is.
ARSENALIf Wenger makes you club captain, it means you’ve got one season left. Gooners might say that Arsenal can be good without Van Persie, but then some people will tell you that they buy Nuts magazine for the articles. At least Arsene’s not been arsin’ about with regard to purchases: Cazorla is very good, Podolski’s erratic but talented and as for Giroud – well, he could be Chamakh Mark Two. 5th.
ASTON VILLATheir decline has been as inexorable as the slow fattening of a Tory politician’s cheeks. Lambert worked wonders at Norwich but it’s hard not to see Villa’s downward velocity as terminal. No new boys of note means that a lot of young, eager, average players will be toiling away in the hope that Darren Bent can make summat out of nowt. But that only happens to one in 14 million lottery entrants. 18th.
CHELSEAThe European champions. Abramovich scattered his roubles across the earth and finally a mean-spirited and charmless eleven, spearheaded by a centre-forward whose greatness was directly proportional to time spent in the upright position, won the Champs League. Hell we were even a little bit chuffed for ‘em. Drogba’s gone now, Oscar and Hazard are in. (Josh McEachran will be sent away again to some orphanage for Lost English Talent.) I’m guessing they’ll be prettier, and leakier, but they’ll hold on for 3rd.
EVERTONNo Rodwell or Cahill, and once again the squad looks no deeper than a pool of cuckoo spit. If Everton could start a season a little quicker than a pensioner emptying a purse, then maybe they could challenge for 5th or 6th. But it’ll be 8th.
FULHAMPetric looks a cracking player and Jol has bagged Rodallega who, like a beautiful virgin, looks good but isn’t worth bothering with. Still can’t see Fulham struggling too much if they can keep hold of Dembele. 10th.
LIVERPOOLWell who the fuck knows? Rodgers knows only one way, and I’m not sure adding Joe Allen will make them all play the Rodgers way. I think Carroll’s treatment has been a bit shonky. The lad’s not got too bad a touch, he could benefit from playing in a good passing team, and the fact that he has the neck muscles of super-vitamined giraffe might mean simple headers from inside the six-yard box aren’t left to the goofy Uruguayan racist to nod into the crowd. 7th.
MANCHESTER CITYMancini says they’re not favourites. Listen, you won last season when half your frontline were either playing golf or sticking fireworks up their nostrils. You’re MASSIVE favourites. Winning by less than 9 points would be a SHIT season. You’ve got more money than the continent of Europe, and half its strikers in your squad. Shut your tiresome face, Roberto. Please. 1st, damn you.
MANCHESTER UNITEDFergie must still be hurting from that Aguero dagger a couple of months ago. You’ve got to hope so any road. Van Persie is seen as a real statement of intent. Vidic is back. Fergie’ll be intent on pulling Scholesy and Giggsy out of the post office queues for one more year. But the noisy neighbours have become sitting tenants. I can’t see it. 2nd.
NEWCASTLE UNITEDThere’s no reason why they can’t do just as well this season. They’ve kept hold, so far, of Cisse, Ba, Cabaye, and Ben Arfa. Job done. Same as last season, only slightly better. I might be jinxing ‘em but, if Pardew can get his hands on a domineering centre-half then… 4th.
NORWICH CITYNo one can argue with the appointment of Chris Hughton, eh? One 5-0 drubbing later and the reaction of Canary fans was more knee-jerk than a Kevin Pietersen tweet. I think Hughton is the right man, but I also think they’ll struggle. 17th.
QPRThere’s summat about a blustery blingy chairman that makes me wish his club ill and as Tony Fernandes oversaw a massacre at Loftus Road, I couldn’t resist a snigger. The off-season purchases somewhat reek of ‘get in who the hell we can’. Only Hoillet is real coup. Sparky should be able to cobble together summat half-decent from the ragtag squad. 14th.
READINGMcDermott’s a very sound manager and, unlike some desperate wheeler-dealers, he hasn’t gone mental in the marketplace. But not even a double-dose of Viagra will keep Reading up by the end of the season. 20th.
SOUTHAMPTONDifficult start for the Saints at the Etihad – Football’s Who’s Who versus Football’s Who..? Expectations are lower than a banker’s morals but they looked good. Lambert will score goals.They will survive. 16th.
STOKE CITYA mate gave me tickets for a Stoke game last season and I couldn’t give ‘em away. Pulis won’t be distracted by ‘the European adventure’ this season – otherwise known as The Rough Guide to the Arse-Ends of Europe. They are solid, reliable, the cottage pie of football teams. 9th.
SWANSEA CITYDunno much about Laudrup’s coaching skills but by God he was a wonderful footballer and his team have made a helluva start and it looks like the Great Dane can spot a player. Can’t see all Rodgers groundwork being undone by as smart a bloke as the new gaffer so… 13th.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPURMuch like Liverpool, your guess is as good as mine. AVB at WHL? With RVDV? WTF? Replacing Arry with the Portuguese is like replacing Arthur Daley with Socrates. Sometimes Villas-Boas comes across as too bookish for his own good. Arry knew that players need an arm around the shoulder or a kick up the backside, but not a pamphlet on zonal marking. I think it’ll be tricky. 6th.
WEST BROMSteve Clarke landed in the Hawthorns when the music stopped and it’s hard to know what he’ll be like. Saying he’s been a permanent number two make shim sound shit, but he’s been well-respected, even at Chelsea where respect is as scarce as Saudi cider. 15th
WEST HAMIt’s a delight to see Big Sam back in the Big Time. So much has changed. The new nippy frontline, the interchanging midfield, the strolling libero at the back. Rumours that the Allardyce training session begins with a picture of some grass captioned with the slogan ‘Keep Away From This – It Is The Enemy!’ are untrue. ‘Course, I may not like it, but it works. 12th.
WIGANMartinez’s reign has been like King Canute’s, but the tide has to come in eventually. There’s only so long Wile E Coyote can stare at the empty space beneath him before gravity takes over. And without Moses, how can there be a miracle again this year? 19th.