Back in August a team of idiots made some predictions. Those idiots were us. Those predictions are here…
Who will win the league?
No honking c*ck-up like Leicester City in 2015/16, so Winterburn, Storey, Stead and Chicken (surely the worst of all the law firms) celebrate with Pep Guardiola. Extra marks go to the boss for getting over her ‘massive doubts because of that central midfield’ by saying that Manchester City ‘might just score 100 goals again’. And they might just did.
The wooden spoons are used to spank the bottoms of Watson and Nicholson, not only a majestic fantasy golf pairing but also the two fools who said Manchester United would do City. Both thought that ‘Jose’s second season’ would be more powerful than improving players and improving morale.
And now the rest of the top four in order, as is traditional?
None of the six got all four right because none of the six could find space for Tottenham and Liverpool. Storey and Stead were the only ones to pick a top two of City and United in the correct order, but DS went for Chelsea in third ahead of Tottenham while MS loses all goodwill for picking Arsenal in third and Chelsea fourth. Smelly.
Nicholson, Winterburn and Watson also went for Arsenal to finish in the top four, but the latter claws a point back for being the only one to back Liverpool. ‘Liverpool’s narrow advantage over Arsenal disappears when you factor in Champions League football,’ wrote Winterburn, before conceding that ‘nobody ever gets this right’. Too true.
Which three clubs are going down, down, deeper and down?
It sums up the job that Sean Dyche has done when you consider that Burnley were the only team picked by every one of us to be relegated. Barman, a round of mea culpas if you please.
In fact, this was a rotten round of picks given the ability of the promoted clubs to keep their heads above water. Ian Watson and Steven Chicken are the only ones to make any strides forward, both picking Swansea to fall. John Nicholson is hit on the head with an empty bottle of Newcy Brown for picking the Toon to go down. Believe in the Rafa.
Which club will do surprisingly pleasant things?
We will focus only on the positives here, and that means Johnny getting it done: ‘Brighton seem like this season’s Bournemouth. We’ve seen before how a manager that can infuse a collective spirit can outweigh bigger spenders. I like Chris Hughton and he seems to know how to put a team together as a unit.’ Three ticks.
Top scorer, please?
Nobody had Mohamed Salah, but then how could we have done? Winty, Storey and Chicken said Kane (who finished second), but Storey only did it to play safe having said Alexandre Lacazette, so immediately loses his mark. There were two shouts for Romelu Lukaku – amazingly neither from professional Lukakite Storey – but Stead gets to wear the dunce’s cap for picking Gabriel Jesus. He’ll get used to that.
The best signing, if you will?
Now we’re cooking on gas. Storey gets to practise his smug look with his choice of Pascal Gross, which was bob on. Chicken picked Asmir Begovic, which was boring but also just about fair enough. Stead is having a shocker again as he selected Jairo Riedewald and Roque Mesa. At least one of them stayed in England until after January. ‘Kelechi Iheanacho is a great buy for Leicester City. His goals will consolidate a top-half finish,’ said Nicholson. They did not.
And which new signing will stink the place out?
‘Wayne Rooney. Why is anybody pretending it will be anything other than a disaster?’
‘I can’t help thinking that Alvaro Morata will take the type of time to settle that you don’t really get in the Premier League.’
‘In which case Alvaro Morata, purchased to replace a 20-goal striker, will struggle to replicate that record.’
‘I suspect Victor Lindelof will take time to adjust.’
‘It’s an obvious one: Wayne Rooney.’
‘My answer is Wayne Rooney and I don’t think I need to go into why.’
Ticks. All. Round. Although it would only be fair to say that Stead picked Andrew Robertson to flop (he did say he’d be dropped at least once by February) and now he loves him like a child loves a small puppy.
Who will win the PFA Player of the Year award?
We live in a world founded on and funded by injustice, and Storey and Winterburn curse it more than most having picked Kevin de Bruyne and seen that glory slip and slide away. Steady went for Kyle Walker, forgetting that full-backs never win awards, while Watson (Paul Pogba) and Nicholson (Lukaku) went for Manchester United players. Chicken chose Jesus, which sounds like the name of a cartoon series that goes viral.
Who will be this season’s breakout star?
Hoo boy. That sound you can hear is Winterburn and Storey high-fiving and massaging each other’s egos having picked Trent Alexander-Arnold. ‘There are those at Anfield who think he might be the next local boy made good’ – it brings a tear to the eye.
There were two (bad) shouts for Dominic Solanke, while Watto picked Tammy Abraham to score double figures in the Premier League. He didn’t do that, but winning an England cap makes it a successful shout.
And what of Matt Stead, predictor extraordinaire? ‘Marcus Edwards. He won’t play a bucketload of games, but, as he turns 19 in December, Mauricio Pochettino might look to hand him a few opportunities here and there.’
No. of league minutes for Tottenham: 0. No. of league minutes for Norwich City: 6. So he didn’t play a bucketload of games – Steady’s nailed it.
First manager to leave?
Frank de Boer p*ssed on everyone’s chips here by leaving Crystal Palace on September 11. There were four shouts for Mark Hughes, who hung on grimly until January 6, and Chicken went for West Ham and Slaven Bilic, who went two months earlier. He wins, given that Johnny went for the very much still in place Benitez.
Champions League winner, please?
Obviously not yet sorted out, but Winterburn and Storey continued their love affair by both going for Real Madrid. But from the jaws of heavy defeat, Matt Stead has pulled out a gem by choosing Liverpool all those months ago. We’ll ignore the bit about Philippe Coutinho scoring in the final.
Finally, I’m giving you a crisp £20 note to use on something happening this season. Where does it go?
Slim pickings. Watto had Manchester United and Manchester City to finish in the top two in any order, while Storey won on United being top of the league at the end of August at 3/1. Elsewhere, Johnny went for ‘Jurgen Klopp leaving Liverpool after a poor, trophyless season’. It’s a difficult market to find.