Well the new season’s started and it’s a long time since I did a footie posting. Prompted by Charlie Cranium’s recent comments I thought I should offer up some thoughts on the season ahead which you’re all welcome to challenge. Let me know what you think.
First observation; has anything changed much? We see Chelsea already playing ugly and winning, Paul Scholes red-carded for hot-headedness, Premiership managers under threat of the sack after 2 matches (did Curbishley save his job for one week at least yesterday?), the head of the FA gets sacked whilst England continue to play shapelessly and without passion and leadership, the Champions League draw has thrown up yet more of the same old same old (Man U v Celtic, Liverpool v PSV, Arsenal v Porto, Roma v Premiership team), and Man U find themselves locked in a protracted transfer saga. Yawn….
It all feels a bit samey doesn’t it? The Euro 2008 Championships were great I thought but they seem a long time ago now. Has anything happened in the meantime to quicken your pulses about the coming season? I have to admit to feeling pretty uninspired by it all. Which transfer signings have sparked the imagination? So far the big clubs have signed Keene, Nasri, Bosingwa, Dossena and a few other never-heard-ofs. Would you fork out for a season ticket on th strength of any of thopse signings? Deco I guess is the most interesting signee but let’s face it he’s past his best and at the fag end of a career. Come a cold wet night up in Middlesbrough in mid-November, the spark will be missing no doubt. To be honest I wouldn’t have minded Ronaldo disappearing off – the ingrate – if it would have facilitated a speedy resolution of the Berbatov transfer. United are clearly in need of a striker. Now it’s all dragged out and even if it does still happen, he’ll take weeks to get assimilated and Chelsea could be away with the fairies and the title.
What else has happened in the the last few weeks? Maybe it would be better to start with what hasn’t. Building hasn’t started on Liverpool’s new stadium ( and probably never will now), Barry hasn’t gone anywhere as yet – what is that all about? Wenger’s hardly spent any money though Arsenal have lost a lot of talent, especially in midfield. A bit odd? Xabi Alonso seems unwanted (what’s wrong with him Arsene?) and yet I regard him as one of the most cultured players in the Premiership and a real creater in midfield. Surely what Arsenal need above all else though is a midfield enforcer. Since Viera’s departure they’ve played the most beautiful football but remain the easiest team in the Premiership to kick sh*t out of. Ask Bolton. What else? Shaun Wright-Philips has moved – back to Man City. That was a waste of 3 years. Shevchenko’s gone back to Milan – ditto. And surely Robbie Keene was the wrong purchase for Liverpool – he’s too similar in style to Torres and un-supported by his natural suppliers – pacey wide players and an unselfish strike partner flicking stuff on. Oh and Derby still haven’t won under Jewell.
So what of the coming season then, what can we predict to spark some life into proceedings? I’m pretty sure that the teams currently occupying 4th, 5th and 6th places in the Premiership – West Ham, Boro and Bolton – won’t finish in those places at season’s end. I actually think Curbishley will go (and soon) and that Boro might just become a top 10 side this season – maybe even a candidate for a EUFA cup place. I think Bolton will join the 3 promoted sides in a 4 way dog-fight for relegation. Megson won’t survive. I think Everton might struggle this year and that Man City under Hughes will surprise everyone. I rate him very highly – if nothing else he knows how to send out a balanced, competitive side. Sunderland ought to make progress but its hard to call what’s going to happen at Newcastle. It could be a season of consolidation or it could implode. My money’s on Keegan leaving way before season end.
As to the so-called big 4, I honestly think the premiership title will be a straight two-way tussle between Man U and Chelsea. It’s not an inspired piece of forecasting, most pundits go for the same thing. But I’ve a feeling that 2 or maybe 3 of the clubs may be looking for new managers by or at season’s end. Oooh. I also think Villa will get very close to breaking into the gang of 4.
The Cups? Well apart from the Champion’s League which I’m bored with now, they are pretty much irrelevant aren’t they? A bit harsh maybe – any Portsmouth fan will argue strongly against that view but at best they are a side-show. I think the most competitive league and most entertaining to watch now is the Championship. This year there are at least 8 clubs in with a realistic shout at promotion to the Premiership. I don’t think my old home-town team Blackpool will be one of them (though I do hope they survive) but if i was putting money on it I’d go with Birmingham.
As for personalities I’m looking forward to seeing more of fat Phil who was great in the French Connection I thought. Dean Windass will become everyone favourite Yorkshire lad – honest, blunt and as thick as his accent. Tevez to be player of the year whilst team-mate Ronaldo will have a season-long sulk. Thaksin will sell his interest in Man City offering that tosspot of a Chief Exec (is it Gary Cooke?) more scope to sound like he has swallowed all 4 volumes of Business Speak for Beginners. No doubt he borrowed them from that pilchard Simon Jordan.
Final forecast; Duke of Edinburgh to pop his clogs. Sorry folks, can’t resist the dark side. Come on make my day and let me know why we should be looking forward to the new season with anticipation and your own forecasts.