Salah forgotten? Pre-season predictions revisited for Christmas
Honestly, it’s like we pretty much entirely forgot that Mo Salah existed and that Liverpool are quite good.
We always revisit our pre-season predictions at Christmas. It’s our gift to you because we know there is nothing you enjoy more than to see what absolute clueless pricks we are.
We start with the Premier League winners question. Six of eight of us got quite giddy and opted for Chelsea. Unfortunately, that six-point gap to Manchester City already feels like a chasm so John Nicholson and Jason Soutar might be the only ones emerging with any credit here. ‘If Manchester City can’t win the league with their massive resources, when they’ve got at least two teams who are good enough to do so, then Pep Guardiola should be ashamed,’ wrote Johnny. Nobody even mentioned Liverpool, which in hindsight looks really f***ing weird.
We know that nobody ever gets the top four order right but we can probably rule out Will Ford now for opting for Leicester over Liverpool; he was clearly still p***ed after Chelsea won the Champions League. Matt Stead was the only one to forecast that Manchester United would miss out, though predicting huge things for Nuno Espirito Santo’s Tottenham looked like a ludicrous shout even then. ‘I have weaned myself off my Arsenal addiction,’ said Sarah Winterburn. She was a numpty last year and she is a numpty now.
Relegation next. Quite what Joe Williams was thinking about when he left Norwich off his list is anybody’s guess. Everybody said Watford and not everybody said Brentford, so that feels like a general tick for us. Nobody really embarrassed themselves here with no club currently higher than 15th even mentioned while Soutar might have smashed/mashed it by daring to say Burnley. Nobody ever says Burnley. So naive.
And on to the pleasant surprise. ‘Arsenal for top six. Is that a surprise?’ asked Winterburn (it’s me, not sure why I am writing in the third person like a dick). It is a surprise and a highly pleasant one at that. That’s certainly a better shout than Everton, with Stead predicting they would be ‘There Or Thereabouts for the coveted Conference spot thanks to Rafa’. Is 14th a coveted Conference spot? ‘Brentford will be comfortable. And Villa will thrive post-Grealish,’ might yet be brilliant from Ian Watson. Not so brilliant from Ford (again), who claimed Patrick Vieira ‘could well be De Boer-esque’. And those who mentioned Leeds are old fools and young romantics. The right answer right now is undoubtedly Arsenal.
Golden Boot time. Well we f***ed that. We all get giddy over Romelu Lukaku except those who assumed Harry Kane would continue to do Harry Kane things.
New signing impact now and it’s important to remember here that the predictions were made on August 12, which is way before rather a lot of transfers were completed. Hence, no mention of Ronaldo or even Aaron Ramsdale. But that’s no excuse for anybody being so excited about Leon bloody Bailey (Nicholson, Soutar). Still, it’s nice t0 remember a time when people thought Manchester United signing really good players would mean that really good players would be playing for Manchester United.
Massive flop-wise, Leon Bailey got a few shouts (why were we so obsessed with Leon Bailey?) while the jury is definitely still out on Jack Grealish, though ‘Man City are paying £100m for Jack Grealish and they will get worse’ looks a tad silly now. Some of us had oddly strong feelings about Joachim Andersen and Adam Armstrong. The ‘right’ answer (so far) is probably Jadon Sancho.
The biggest bargain? Take a bow, Matt Stead: ‘Townsend gets ten assists at Everton. Valentino Livramento does a Tariq Lamptey, hopefully sans injury. Emmanuel Dennis has an Ighalo season at Watford. One of the good ones.’ Anybody mentioning Demarai Gray would get a half-point if we were scoring but points are knocked off for Milot Rashica (Watson) and Michael Olise (Williams, Soutar) while Nicholson guffing on about Scottish football means he now has nae points. Ever.
We obviously have no idea who will win the PFA Player of the Year but it seems really sodding unlikely to be N’Golo Kante (Winterburn), Mason Mount (Stead and Williams), Romelu Lukaku (Dave Tickner and Nicholson) or Kai bloody Havertz (Ford). Honestly, it’s like we basically forgot Mo Salah existed.
The first manager to leave the Premier League job? Of course it was Xisco Munoz. I didn’t even invest in learning what he actually looked like. Five of us got it right, while this was Soutar: ‘As an Arsenal fan I can see us losing our first three games, continuing to struggle and then end up managerless by November at the latest.’
Oh my word. Mikel Arteta, hats off to you. Ruthless. https://t.co/jct9BvDcc7
— Jason Soutar (@jbsoutar) December 14, 2021
Pick the Champions League winner. We all have a horse left in this particular race and it’s mostly a cheval.
Finally, we asked for five words to describe the most exciting thing about this season and now we’re wondering how Nicholson could have been so, so wrong about Greenock Morton.