Tuesday, 10 August 2010

2010/11 Season: Les Be Avinu!




A new season also means a new sticker album. "Got. Got. Need..."

This time of year sees the hacks give their low-down on the campaign ahead. Almost every paper will have their guide to the season and fill it with a fact file on each club.

There'll be sections such as what the club needs, who they've bought and sold, and then the prediction.

Each year, the journos try to outdo each other. Yes, you'll have the perennial clubs mooted for the title, and no doubt there'll be numerous combinations in which the top clubs will be placed.

There'll be predictions that throw impartial views on deaf ears, as football writers look to outdo each other and be as controversial as possible.

Sam Wallace, of Sunday Supplement and Independent fame, last weekend took the Liverpool circus full circle when quizzed on his surprise package of the year. He argued with Roy Hodgson at the helm, and by securing the short-term futures of Messrs Torres and Gerrard, the Anfield club will 'surprise' us all.

I do like Wallace, but what rhubarb! How can a club of Liverpool's history, fan base and status in the English game be labelled a surprise package when they finished in second place the season before last and have won five European Cups?

More staggering still, is how quickly the Reds can go from a crisis club to a surprise package in the space of a summer; all because journalists consistently have to churn out original material.

Come the business end of the season, the usual suspects will be in the mix - but I see there being a twist.

Thanks to the World Cup (oh how shoddy it all was and how good it is to have the bread and butter of the domestic game back), I see the title race going down to the wire - with four or five teams contesting first place.

Chelsea have contrived to lose four out of their five friendlies, and it will take time for Carlo Ancelotti's charges and the remaining top sides to find their rhythm early on with so many big players only having had around 10 days of pre-season following an extended summer break.

I see Tottenham joining Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea and Man City all in the mix for the race to the summit, as the 'sky four' is well and truly dismantled. Don't be surprised to see Everton knocking around the top in February (injuries permitting), but their title push will almost certainly fade due to the sparseness of David Moyes' squad.

And the rest?

Aston Villa will unquestionably be weakened by the departure of Martin O'Neill and the impending exit of James Milner. O'Neill, depending on what source you read, had grown disillusioned with life at Villa Park, with the cash generated from Milner's potential move to City not being re-invested in the squad. Don't be surprised if they experience teething problems under the new regime and have an indifferent season.

Their city rivals Birmingham punched well above their weight last term, and manager Alex McLeish will do well to replicate their ninth-placed finish.

At risk of sloppy journalism, McLeish's men join a band of teams who, in all honestly, could finish anywhere from ninth place to seventeenth or below.

Blackburn, Bolton, West Ham, Stoke, Sunderland, and Wigan could all conceivably be sucked into a relegation battle at some stage. Conversely, a good run of form at any point could see them comfortably in mid table and have their fans dreaming (hopelessly) of a European tour.

On the subject of European tours, and Fulham had the season of their lives last time out, and every superlative under the sun has been used to describe the job Woy performed at Craven Cottage as they marched their way to the Europa League final.

Without the European 'distraction', Mark Hughes could well oversee a successful domestic performance, and who knows, with the same group of players, Hughes could mastermind an extended run in the domestic cup competitions.

Special mention must go to Mick McCarthy at Wolves, who against the odds is constructing a competitive side at Molineux, and expect them to comfortably avoid the drop and build on their 15th-placed finish.

We also see the return of the Toon Army, and the bellies who proudly adorn the sub-zero temperatures while supping on Newcastle Brown Ale. They have a new number nine, and it will be intriguing to see how Andy Carroll deals with the added responsibility. I expect Chris Hughton's side to consolidate, then kick on next year.

West Brom? Sorry Adrian, but I'll be willing to put my mortgage (if I had one) on your side returning to the Championship as you stay true to yo-yoing form.

There'll be much song and dance about Blackpool's return to the top flight after a 39-year absence, not least thanks to Ian 'Olly' Holloway's insightful, post-match analysis.

The seaside town will almost certainly become the Away Day of the season, with travelling fans desperate to make the trip to Bloomfield Road and the added tomfoolery on the Pleasure Beach and piers.

However, it will - regrettably - be a one-year stay in England's premier competition. Holloway has struggled to improve his squad in the close season, with reports suggesting League One's Huddersfield were able to outbid him for the services of Marlon Harewood.

Blackpool may even inherit the unwanted tag of 'worst ever Premier League team' from Derby (although the latter's points haul of just 11 from the 2007/08 season will be hard to beat).

Champions? Well, I won't be stepping into Alan Hansen's shoes just yet (when has he got it right anyway??). What I will say is we are in for a roller-coaster ride that will be difficult to predict with so many teams battling until the death for the Premier League crown. Over to you, White Hart Lane. Lights, camera, action.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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韋陳富 said...

你怎麼能經過一片海,而忘記它的藍?......................................................................

Anonymous said...

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建枫 said...

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