Will Grealish d***ing around see Man City fourth?

Editor F365

Predictions are hard. The Mailbox begins with some, and nobody would be surprised if Man City came fourth. Everybody would be surprised if the top four was not the top four. Mail us at theeditor@@football365.com


Let’s kick off some predictions
It’s now only a matter of a few dozen hours until the new season kicks off which is a prime opportunity for predictions.

Top four already looks set in stone – Man City, United, Chelsea and Liverpool are much stronger in key positions than Spurs, Arsenal or Leicester. There is always the possibility of one of the latter three putting a good run together to challenge (probably Leicester) but ultimately I think they’ll come up short. The order of the Top Four is far trickier, on the face of it City still look the strongest so I’d still tip them to win the league but wouldn’t be surprised if any of the others won it or if City come fourth.

If Antonio and Bowen can stay fit all season (doubtful though it is) and if Leicester go deep into the Europa then I can see West Ham making a good play for fifth, otherwise it’s the usual suspects of north London with a possible outside shot of Leeds wrecking everyone’s party and actually challenging for Champions League places.

The mid-table clubs could go either way (which is why they’re mid table I suppose). A number of clubs look simultaneously on the verge of a good season or a disastrous one. Benitez could transform Everton into an effectively efficient team that cruises into the top half or the rigid dourness might turn toxic and see them battling all year. Brighton could have a comfortable year if their strikers put a few more of those chances away or their defensive injuries start to bite and they lose the only thing keeping them in the division. Even Villa, despite their excellent signings, run the risk of a slide, too many new faces along with the loss of their best player could put them on the wrong side of a lot of close games. The addition of Graeme Jones to Newcastle’s coaching staff is going to help them massively and I can see them continuing their fine form from the end of last season but ultimately it’s still a Steve Bruce side and they are once again just a Wilson injury away from possible relegation, though signing Willock does help with this a bit.

Of the promoted clubs only Brentford look to have enough about them to survive past this season. Much will depend on how their key players perform but if Toney can get 18-20 goals and if Mbeumo and Canos still contribute then they should be safe based solely on their goal scoring ability. Watford look to be going for a ‘difficult to beat’ style this year though I don’t see it working too well plus Xisco seems to be favouring a 4-4-2 in pre-season which limits Saar to a traditional winger type role instead of the attacking runs into the box he’s so good at. Norwich are probably the weakest squad, have sold their best player from last season, have one of the worst run of games imaginable to start the season, and have been devastated by covid and injuries. They could be effectively relegated by November.

The four remaining teams Burnley, Wolves, Southampton, and Palace don’t look ready for a good season. With Vieira still pulling a squad together while Wolves and Southampton sell their players it doesn’t bode well for the future, any could be potentially fighting the drop. Wolves could do better second half of the season once they have adjusted to their new manager’s style and Palace might stumble into a decent team eventually (stranger things have happened) which should keep them safe. I think Burnley will have a better season than last though still not a ‘good season’. They seemed one of the worst effected by empty stadiums last season, with the expected return of home/away form this season as the fans provide that extra 10% to their teams I think they will be near enough comfortable to be invisible, looking forward to the slew of articles in mid April saying how Dyche is overlooked for top jobs as Burnley hit 38 points.

In terms of honours, City for the league, Man United for the FA Cup, Chelsea to win the Pep Cup, and probably La Galactique for the Champions League. Norwich, Watford and Southampton to go down.
Dave, Manchester


Oh Pep
Is this the moment when Pep finally disappears up his own tailpipe?

Not only has he spent 100 million on England’s 3rd choice left winger to complete the set when he already has the other two, but Kane notwithstanding, he appears to be making no effort to fill the No.9 void…who needs a Plan B anyway?

Apart from the statutory humping of the likes of Burnley and Norwich, I foresee a lot of sterile possession with Grealish dicking around with the ball and breaking up whatever momentum Man City had left after Rodri has passed it back to the center-backs a couple of times. Whether this works against the better teams we’ll see.

Having said that, Kane probably makes them unbeatable in a PSG/Messi late-stage Champs League pratfall kind of way. Fun times ahead.
Matthew (ITFC)


Caution not embarrassing
PeterB, I appreciate you mainly wanted to have a dig at Barry Fox, but honestly, not selling out for the opening day against City isn’t that surprising to me.

Peter, in case you hadn’t noticed, the global pandemic isn’t fully over yet, and just maybe some people are still a little reticent to go and join 55,000 other people in a cramped (but granted technically outdoor) space where it’s known that loud shouting, singing and people jumping on top of random strangers to celebrate goals all increase the risk of a deadly virus being transmitted around (kinda like with the outdoor fan parks during the Euros that caused the last spike of cases)!!!

I’m a season ticket holder at WHL, but I have no plans to go back any time soon, not until I and my family are more comfortable with the prevelance of the virus in London. This is because my wife has a life long medical condition and takes medication that has reduced the overall effectiveness of her vaccine jab and I’m sure there will be other like minded Spurs fans and fans of other clubs.

I don’t see why our cautiousness should be considered embarrassing?
Paul (Spurs), T.Wells


This is the end game
Simon, Manchester was asking to what the current situation is a precursor. I would say the current situation is not a precursor event but the culmination of events over the last 20 to 30 years.

The Premier League changed the game when it was created. Slowly ratcheting up its power every time it renewed broadcasting rights. It meant that the top clubs could afford top players and become much more competitive and stronger than clubs from Spain, Italy and Germany. This peaked during the noughties when England had 3 quarter finalists in the CL from 2006 to 2009 and 3 last 16 from 2006 to 2011.

The response from clubs from other countries (except Germany) was to spend even more. Spend more than they could afford. It meant Barca and Real Madrid racked up even bigger debts. It didn’t help when clubs like PSG were acquired in 2011, creating even greater financial pressure. Spanish clubs were rewarded with strong showings in the CL.

Meanwhile, English clubs also had the challenge of the strength of competition from their own lower league clubs who were financially stronger, meaning more effort to stay in the top four and having to compete harder for the best players. But the EPL kept getting stronger overall.

For the longest time Spanish clubs had benefited from tax laws that made it far more attractive to play in Spain, help from sources like Madrid financing their ground, the ability to individually negotiate broadcasting rights – meaning they skim off the majority of the broadcast funds in Spain. However, while the latter point is an advantage, it is also the reason it is difficult to sell La Liga as a whole for the best price.

The financial pressure finally took its toll during the pandemic. Not only is it harder to service huge debts, but the ability to sell high to offset debt was suddenly a challenge. Most clubs in Spain, Italy and France have hit a wall trying to keep pace with the power of the EPL. Not the individual clubs, but the EPL as a model. The fact the EPL was able to negotiate a contract at par to the last one in the current conditions was a massive win for the EPL.

So the culmination of years of the EPL financial muscle pushed clubs like Barca and Real (even with all their funds) to the absolute limit. EPL clubs are once again dominating Europe.

Barca are in serious trouble. I read and listen to people saying Barca shouldn’t be allowed to fail. Why? By spending far more than they could possibly earn – earn even over the next 10 years – they grabbed a larger share of broadcast revenue and prize money than they deserved. Lower level Spanish clubs have suffered the most but so have other CL clubs. If they fail, they fail and it would be a great example of why they should have managed themselves better.
Paul McDevitt


The pressure on Pochettino now…
One man who is surely the manager under the most pressure this season is Pochettino. He has been put into a position to prove his quality, but if he should fail, he may never bounce back to such heights again.

He has only been in Paris since January 2, and in that time he won the Trophee des Champions in his third game, won the Coupe de France(CdF) trophy in May, followed by a second placed finish in their quest for the Ligue 1 title to Lille, and defeat by Lille in the Trophee des Champions(TdC) this August.

With a team that has a wage budget about four times that of its nearest rival, he should have done much better last year. Winning the TdC and CdF is not what he was hired to do, and losing the TdC and league title to Lille must have hurt the owners. They have remedied this by adding their infamous summer signings, whilst at the same time, their opposition have all, to a degree, gotten worse due to the financial implications of the pandemic.

That leaves PSG 3-1 for the title, with their nearest rival at 20-1. It should be a walk, but so should last year have been. Pochettino has to manage mega stars, their ego’s and playing time, whilst somehow getting three defensively weak forwards to work as a unit, and take them to the finals of each competition they are in.

If he succeeds, he will be lauded as one of the greats, the leader of one of the strongest sides in history. Some would envy having such talent at their disposal, but I imagine Pochettino knows anything less than huge success will be an abject failure.

Will he be Neil Armstong, or Icarus?


Don’t blame the player…blame the game
Good luck to Leo Messi on his new challenge at PSG and the twilight of his career.

I have seen him live a few times and enjoyed watching him on TV for the best part of 20 years.

An absolute joy of a player who does things that no other player can do. The guy is ridiculous with stats and trophies to back it up.

Lionel Messi

Don’t let the money side of the game ruin your enjoyment of him as I feel we have all been privileged to live through his playing career.

As far the money is concerned……Don’t blame the player, blame the game.
Plato – MUFC


Barca fans chose this
Drunkenly occurred to me that the reason Barcelona have found themselves in this catastrophic position on the verge of bankruptcy (jk lmao, rules don’t apply to the elite) is that they’re a democracy run by fans voted in by fans.

1) If Barca was run by a ruthless oligarch like Roman Abramovich, the post 2015 underachievement would have been quickly arrested and certainly wouldn’t have been rewarded with all round pay raises for everyone driven by disgusting demands of a past his best Argentinian who thinks he is “mes que un club”.

– A string of top class (and the odd bizarre) managers would have been brought in to get a grip, and woe betide any player who offended the owner (see Mutu,Adrian).

2) If they were run by Yankee asset strippers like the Glazers you would never have seen £500,000,000 spaffed up the wall on comparative mediocrities like Dembele, Coutinho, Griezmann.

– Pogba, Sanchez, & De Gea are all bargains in comparison.

3) If an old school working class authoritarian genius like Alex Ferguson had been managing Barca during their golden generation (Xavi+Iniesta) he would have sold Messi for a world record fee by 2018 at the latest and used the money to buy Mbappe/Haaland.
Calum, Scotland


To Aravind, Chelsea fan: I ain’t reading all that, I’m happy for you tho, or sorry that happened.
Ben, Dublin