The F365 pre-season predictions revisited: How wrong we were about Man Utd…

Havertz and Arsenal feature in pre-season predictions
Havertz and Arsenal feature in pre-season predictions

It’s that time again when we look at our pre-season predictions, decide nine months is such a very long time in football and wonder where it all went wrong. Answer: just about everywhere.

You can read the original pre-season predictions in all their glory here.


As is traditional, tell me who will win the league.
Not a terrible start (it’s all downhill from here) because nobody mentioned anybody but Manchester City or Arsenal, with our idealistic youngsters Lewis Oldham and Jason Soutar going for ‘f*** it, Arsenal will do it’ and ‘Arsenal are going to do it. I can feel it in my bones’ respectively. They will surely learn.

Sarah Winterburn (why am I doing a third person thing?), John Nicholson, Ian Watson, Dave Tickner, Joe Williams and Will Ford all correctly chose Man City, though the latter should have imaginary points docked for ‘Manchester City by a long, long way’. It was two points, Will.


And the rest of the top four, in order. Which nobody ever gets right.
Nobody does ever get this right. Apart from this Villa fan in the Mailbox. We all included Manchester United because we absolutely bought the lie that they were fixed. There were some game shouts for Villa to come close but Tickner choosing his beloved Spurs ‘for shits and giggles’ is the sweetest.


Three picks for relegation please.
Literally none of us picked Burnley. We’re honestly seething about how sh*t they have been.

There were too many shouts for Wolves and their ‘stench of decay’, but that was at least understandable after a summer in which they lost manager and key players. Quite what Soutar was thinking with his ‘I think even West Ham, Fulham and Brentford could be in a spot of bother’ is still unclear. Why does he hate middling London clubs so much?

And people really need to stop wishful thinking over Everton; they will never go down.


Which club will be a pleasant surprise?
What’s the right answer here? Aston Villa probably, though Crystal Palace finishing 10th and being belatedly brilliant would be a shout. Though entirely unpredictable, in the purest sense of the word.

Wrong answers are easier to find and mostly contain the word ‘Burnley’. But also Brentford (Matt Stead) and Luton Town (Williams).

We are more than happy to credit anybody who mentioned Bournemouth, but particularly Oldham for his eerily specific ‘binning off Gary O’Neil is an inspired decision as Andoni Iraola is a clear upgrade. They’ll be comfy between 10th and 14th’. They finished 12th.


Who will win the Golden Boot?
Yay. We smashed it. Go us.


Which new signing will have the greatest positive impact?
‘Andre Onana at Manchester United; he will single-handedly push Manchester United a bit further up the pitch and we should see a proper Ten Hag team,’ said Winterburn, and she really wasn’t the only one.

‘James Trafford is a great signing for Burnley and could be the difference between struggling and surviving,’ said Nicholson, and that was before his stroke, while Ford picked Nicolas Jackson and Oldham looked like he had smashed it before Christmas with his James Maddison shout.

It’s fair to say that we’re not all looking back on 2023/24 as the season of Jefferson Lerma (Stead), but in our defence, Cole Palmer had not yet signed for Chelsea. Though there is almost f*** all chance we would have picked him anyway.


And which one will turn out to be a massive flop?
Happy to report I was (eventually) wrong about Kai Havertz. As was Stead about Josko bloody Gvardiol. We’re a bit loathe to say that rather a lot of us were right about Rasmus Hojlund, though we would throw very little blame in his direction.

Tickner summed it up: ‘Rasmus Hojlund will do precisely as well as a 20-year-old striker with a roughly one-in-three scoring record thrown into a new league can reasonably be expected to do, but that fee, the lack of any other centre-forward in Manchester United’s squad and the harsh but inevitable comparisons with Haaland down the road and Kane who United “should have signed” (even though they had no chance of doing so) means expectations will be far from reasonable and he is thus heading inexorably for flopsville.’

Soutar is weird so he went with Calvin Bassey. We can’t fathom it/him.

Correct answer? Matheus Nunes for £53m. Seven Premier League starts and a winner’s medal, is it? But again, the transfer was completed post-predictions.


Who will be the biggest bloody bargain?
Pau Torres was an excellent shout from me/Winterburn, Matt Turner less so from Stead. And Mark Flekken even less so from Watson, who is supposed to be a goalkeeper expert. Others went for the easy option of checking out Brighton’s summer business (no, Mahmoud Dahoud was not the bargain of the summer). 

I’m going to hope Benie Traore, signed from Swedish side Hacken for £4m, can score the goals to keep the Blades up,’ said Williams. Oh dear. Poor Joe. Genuinely upset now.


Who will be named the PFA Player of the Year?
We mostly said Erling Haaland and we will mostly be wrong. Nobody quite saw that Phil Foden season coming.


First manager to leave their Premier League job?
The correct answer was a rather dull one: Paul Heckingbottom.

Only Nicholson and Watson mentioned him, while most were preoccupied by David Moyes, who has somehow lasted the whole season. Stead tried to think outside the box with Marco Silva but should have stayed in the box and remembered that the Blades were sh*t.


Pick the Champions League winner.
‘Real Madrid after the signing of Jude Bellingham,’ might rescue my predictions, and Tickner, Williams, Oldham and Soutar all followed suit. Oldham might just be a genius as he declared: ‘Real Madrid; a Jude Bellingham and Joselu masterclass is incoming.’


In five words, tell us what you are most excited about this season.
Ah, just go and read them