2017/18 Premier League predictions…or…a load of old bollocks

Them annual prediction things. Wippo sez this…

AFC Bournemouth – 17th
Eddie Howe, having kept Bournemouth up repeatedly against all the odds, and then astounding everyone by winning the FA Cup in 2018/19 is the next Everton manager after Ronald Koeman leaves for Barcelona, having guided us to out first title in 32 years. That’s the fantasy, but reality means Steady Eddie will be looking for another job in the Championship after this season as Bournemouth cannot compete at this level for more than three years, surely? Actually, they will, just. Bournemouth will battle all season with south coast neighbours Brighton for the “top” drop spot, but their experience in the top league will just about be enough to see them through.

Arsenal – 7th
Keeping Wenger was a mistake, which they will reluctantly realise by January when he will be pushed upstairs, having gone through their normal yo-yo start to the season where one game they look like world beaters, and the next…well…Arsenal, really. The new boss inherits a squad that is big on style and thin on substance, and one that spends more on male grooming products in a week than most of us earn in a year. They finish 7th due to their complete lack of cojones, several diva-like hissy fits from their stars, and their new manager being hospitalised for bad nerves. And because of the gulf in class between the top seven and the rest it’s practically impossible to finish any lower without being accused of match fixing.

Brighton – 18th
Next to Bournemouth in more ways than one.

Burnley – 19th
Sean Dyche is the sort of bloke you’d want on your side in brawl, but even he can’t keep doing the impossible.

Chelsea – 1st
Can’t really see past them for the top spot. They may not have the best first eleven on paper, but they know how to win matches and titles. Yawn. At least Man City will give them a run for their money this time round.

Crystal Palace – 9th
The other ex-Barcelona Dutchman with something to prove. I can see him beating his compatriot Ronald’s lot too, just for the hell of it. Frank de Boer’s inexperience in the Premier League means Palace will battle it out with Southampton for the “The Best of The Rest” title. Maybe better next time.

Everton – 6th

“Life could be a dream (sh-boom) / If I could take you up in paradise up above (sh-boom)…”

My club just squeezed in at the newly extended top table last season and were grudgingly given a child’s chair with a wonky leg, right at the end near the door, so the football royalty didn’t have to look down at us for too long. For way too long prior to this we were like pauper landed gentry whose country pile was collapsing around their ears as the Lord of the Manor couldn’t afford its upkeep. One day not so long ago Lord Bill spotted a chap of Middle Eastern descent waving his stuffed wallet at sundry minions as he wandered past a theatre in the West End where Bill was putting on his latest show, “Oo-er Mrs, Where’s Me Trousers?”, starring Bill Roache as Dolores Undergarment. Using his oleaginous charms Bill enticed the unwitting fellow in for a nice cup of tea, and the rest, as they say is history.

Since then that nice Mr Moshiri has bought half of Liverpool, has his even richer buddy Comrade “Don” Usmanov lurking in the wings surrounded by his over-tattooed and over-muscled fellow countrymen acting as henchmen, and the now Mosh-owned Liver Building is lit up blue every night! It is such fun to observe thousands of Kopites as they wail and gnash their way through an existential crisis caused by our sudden ability to beat them in the money stakes for the first time in decades. This is a crisis the likes of which the poor deluded lambs have not known since Bill Shankly said he actually thought Everton was the better run club, back in 1747. Not only that, but Mosh…he’s ok being called Mosh, I asked…has provided Steve Walsh and Ronald Koeman with the funds to go build a team that can actually give the usual suspects a run for their mostly lesser amounts of money. Fuck, I can’t believe I just said that. I’m convinced I’ll wake up soon and this is all a dream.

It was…I wrote all that not long into the transfer window, and realism has kicked in since then. It’s now looking highly unlikely we’ll have a striker with a track record who is not at the end of his career leading the line, and we will obviously miss Lukaku’s goals big time. I am also only too well aware that buying up a virtually new squad in a close season is no guarantee of success, you only have to look across Stanley Park for almost yearly evidence of that, heheh. On the plus side that hard Dutchman has coped more than ok with having new teams each year when he was at Southampton, and Director of Footy Steve Walsh was the man who assembled Leicester’s astonishingly unlikely title-winning team, but grim logic says we are simply not good enough for the top 4, that’s going to take at least another two or three years. Frankly I don’t really care where we finish as long as it’s no lower than last season and we win a pot. At the end of 2017/18 it will have been 23 long barren years since we last did that.

Huddersfield – 14th
A total guess as what I know about Huddersfield is similar to the amount of common sense pinging around randomly in Ross Barkley’s empty brain cavity. One promoted side always does better than expected, so why not Huddersfield?

Leicester – 10th
There is a misplaced but understandable sense of entitlement about the board of directors at The King Power Stadium, and it will take a while before the dust settles after that surreal title win two seasons ago. This will mean a revolving door on the managers office as they struggle to do better than their rightful place in the grand scheme of things, which is safely ensconsed in mid-table.

Liverpool – 4th
That intellectually challenged and all-round gobshite Jamie Carragher reckoned that none of Everton’s close season buys would get into L****poo*’s first team. This of course includes Jordan Pickford, who was Carragher’s goalkeeper in his Premiership Team of the Season last time out. Durrr…
It seems our lovely neighbours are being left behind a tad by their rivals in spending power. Good news to me made all the sweeter, as the Norwegian hordes squint myopically at us across the park from within the spendid confines of their fabulous Big Shed stand, as we sail off to exciting times.

Manchester City – 2nd
The other side of the coin to assembling a new squad each year is the Chelsea and Citeh way of doing business – buy everything and loan it out. You throw enough shit at the wall eventually some of it will stick, but Citeh will find themselves falling short again, but it will be a close call. Not enough to prevent Pep getting the push or leaving for losing the title to Chelsea on the last day of the season however, and Man Utd fans up and down the Home Counties, South Africa, and Thailand will have their Schadenfreude moment despite not managing to finish ahead of the noisy neighbours, again. The question for Citeh is; where on Earth do you look for a manager after Pep?

Manchester Utd – 3rd
They will score more goals than last season, obviously (bastards 🙂 ), which will mean less draws and more points. They will still be a way off the two teams above them, but they may well go all the way in the Champions League, as Jose knows a thing or two in that department. Not a lot more to say, really.

Newcastle Utd – 13th
El Camerero Gordo is back, which is good, as the Premier League has sorely missed his comedy value. Much rumblings of discontent are emanating from St. James Park from the Spaniard over the difficulty he is having in prising Ashley’s fat pudgy fingers off his wallet, so by the time you read this Rafa may have walked. Big Sam to the rescue?! Either way, a mid table finish.

Southampton – 8th
Eighth, but a good few points off seventh, such is Southampton’s lot. Another team with a new manager, me making the Saints “Best of The Rest” is a bit of a gamble, but Pellegrino certainly has the pedigree, unlike his predecessor.

Stoke – 16th
Mark Hughes along with Tony Pulis are two managers from whom you know exactly what to expect. Pulis has slightly better players at his disposal hence he’ll be the one who won’t be looking over his shoulder in April.

Swansea – 15th
Along with Watford, Swansea are a club with owners whose expectations well exceed their respective clubs’ natural place in the pecking order. Call it ambition, or more likely greed, but these two are never going to be challenging for the top half unless the playing field levels out considerably. To be fair to Paul Lambert, much depends on whether or not they hang on to Sigurdsson, by far their best player, and I’m assuming they don’t. Unfortunately for Lambert he won’t be able to spend any of the ridiculous amount of dosh Everton end up paying until the January window, as the transfer will happen too late for that. As an Everton fan, I know all about that particular nightmare!

Tottenham – 5th
Tearing up and down and across the vast open spaces of Wemberlee will eventually wear them out, disillusionment will set in, the fans and the players will be grumbling into their hipster beards before Xmas. No club can do a sulk quite like Spurs, so I can see the wheels coming a bit loose this time, but they will bounce back when they get into their new home, the shortest ground move distance-wise in history!

Watford – 20th
A perfect advert for how not to run a football club. Watford were my dad’s team, but sorry dad, they’re doomed, incompetence in all areas will find them out.

West Brom – 12th
Pulis does what Pulis does. The fans will get fed up of the same old same old, just as they did at Everton, but the change when it comes for West Brom is unlikely to be for the better as history is not on their side.

West Ham – 11th
I like Slaven Bilic. He puts me in mind of a warlord from the Middle Ages leading his unshaven and unkempt warriors into battle. You get the impression he wants to steal the other club’s women and silver, as well as giving them a good seeing to on the battlefield. The Hammers’ problem is that said field is that soulless running track, the complete atmospheric opposite of their old stomping ground. I doubt the team or the fans will ever get used to it. Can’t see the ambitious Croatian hanging round for much longer to be honest.

Pots:
FA Cup – Everton
League Cup – Everton
Europa Cup – Everton
…well, one of them might be right!
Chumps League – Manchester Utd

Clive, despite an ongoing and frankly unsettling transformation into a Centaur from the waist down since he and his Mrs recently moved into to a cave with some Picts still resident, has these remarkably sensible things to say, brought to us by a Tennent’s Super-fuelled carrier pigeon from somewhere oop narth…

The 2017/18 Season Predictions:

It’s a little later than usual, but here’s the pre-football moment you’ve all been waiting for…
I feel like I’m starting to repeat myself, but I think this season could well be one of the most difficult to call in the 15 or so years my mate Wippo and I have been doing this. Teams you would have fancied going down have acquired new managers and even the weakest of teams promoted have credible chances for survival. I’m sticking my neck out and forecasting a couple of complete shocks.

AFC Bournemouth – 17th
I like Eddie Howe and I like the way Bournemouth have gone about their business. I have real worries about them this season, despite investing in better players. The reason is simple, with the amount of money being spent, they might not have done enough. It’s going to be a much longer, more worrying season for the Cherries.

Arsenal – 6th
On the surface, being in the Europa League with Wenger’s reputation for playing academy youth in pointless cups (nice dig, there Clive!), might not be as much of a hindrance as is being made out. They also appear to have bought some players and look to keep others. I honestly believe that Wenger will not be a problem, despite constant speculation on his future intensifying in the new season. The problem will be the Europa League and how many of the first team play in it and how far they get. If offered the chance, I reckon Arsene would have been happy with an 8th place finish last season, this one they need to be challenging and I doubt they will ever look like that.

Brighton – 19th
Could we witness another Bonfire of the Bs? Blackburn, Bolton and Birmingham went down a few years ago and there will be punters going for a repeat of that again. The thing is I like Chris Hughton and this season pits him in an unlikely confrontation. He was the last manager to bring Newcastle back into the Premier League lost the job halfway through an adequate and safe season, which saw Newcastle struggle from that point on. Newcastle are also newcomers this time and Hughton will want to emulate his first half season with the Bar Codes down at Brighton. I think he has a job and a half and I don’t think the Seagulls will have anything like the ability to compete in this league, this season.

Burnley – 16th
Sean Dyche is a good manager; a 21st Century Sam Allardyce but scarier, but Burnley have no class and not much hope. You get the impression the team will always struggle but eke out enough points to survive. This season could be far more of a struggle than perhaps their fans believed it would be and I expect a mass capitulation by the New Year, but they’ll do enough to stay up.

Chelsea – 2nd
Here’s a puzzle. Chelsea won the league without European engagement. This season Conte will be expected to mount a serious Champions League campaign and to retain the league; he might come close, but I feel he will do neither. Chelsea, along with a few other ‘challengers’ have brilliant players, but they might be struggling for strength in depth – this isn’t Chelsea circa 2008. I expect them to challenge, but also they might struggle with the Champions league and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were trying to win the Europa League come February.

Crystal Palace – 8th
We will see whether Frank De Boer is the new Messiah. This is one of those intriguing appointments; this is a man who has been linked to Spurs, Everton, Man Utd and Real Madrid in recent years and brings a big reputation. Clever signings suggest the return of an expectation not seen around Palace since the early 1990s. The thing is how high can they logically expect to finish? 8th? Are they likely to challenge the top 7, especially as the 7th member of that group has spent £95million so far?

Everton – 7th
This is a team who should be in better nick than others come the big kick off. They will have played at least two competitive matches by the time others are playing their first and as I stated above, they’ve spent over £95million and still want to ruin Swansea’s future by taking a Spurs reject for another £50mil. There are expectations from the blue end of Merseyside, the problem is there aren’t a lot of chinks in the armour above them. They will finish with a huge points gap over 8th though, such is the division in this league.

Huddersfield – 13th
I remember when they were last in the top flight; that ended badly. Something tells me this isn’t going to be the same and while I expect they will spend some time flirting with relegation, I think they may always be a bit better than four teams below them.

Leicester – 11th
There have been some interesting signings and Shakespeare is the kind of inexperienced manager with no right to success who achieves things. They may well never repeat the feats of 2016 and I expect the current manager will have been sacked by the spring, even if the Foxes don’t ever look anything other than mid-table.

Liverpool – 4th
This is a season that possibly hinges on Hoffenheim. The Reds have drawn a real banana skin in the ECL and defeat would mean the Europa League and a bit of ignominy. This is going to be a tough season for Klopp because there is a good enough title challenging team here, but it has no strength in depth and it’s full of weaknesses that will do them in the end. This is a team that is still two years away from being a serious challenge.

Man City – 1st
The make or break season for Pep Guardiola and all pre-season suggestions are that they will be better this season and nothing short of the title will be enough. I expect this team to make the running; to have a blip or two but still beat Chelsea by 8 points. If it goes wrong and they’re not there, expect big wholesale changes.

Man Utd -3rd
Mourinho’s second season and you have to expect a title challenge even with added ECL. If, and it’s a big if, they can turn all the draws from last season into wins then they will be up there; the thing is I expect them to draw games they shouldn’t. Man U are the new Arsenal.

Newcastle – 14th
Part of me wants them relegated and rumour has it Rafa Benitez is angry at the lack of transfer movement and we’re heading for an end of August showdown. The thing is if Rafa stays they stay up with little or no fuss; if he goes it becomes a different ball game – as much as it pains me to say, there’s few better than Rafa out there and none are available to a team of Newcastle’s resources.

Southampton – 9th
If the new manager is all he’s cracked up to be then mid table safety beckons; if he isn’t probably mid table safety anyhow. Will cause the odd shock and be on the receiving end of one or two as well. The thing is they could end up finishing in the top half while not being much better than the team that finishes in 16th.

Stoke – 18th
And I think it might be the year they fall apart and finally get relegated. It’s one of my hopes, these or West Brom because they bring nothing to the table, ever. I think Tony Pulis will keep WBA up; Mark Hughes time will end before May.

Swansea – 12th
This is about Paul Lambert and whether he will be the next England manager. The man has pedigree, he kept this lot up last season and I expect he’ll do it this, with or without the apparently £50m-rated GylfiSiggurdsson. They might not have done much business, but I expect they will; a manager like Lambert is far too good to have the piss taken out of him by the Swans’ owners so expect a concerted show of solidarity and money spending.

Tottenham Hotspur – 5th
Wembley will be the downfall. I expect five games to be lost and as many drawn; even with great away form, we’ll be 20 odd points behind Man City and the chance will be gone. The one season at the Nation’s home ground will be a godsend for Levy’s coffers, but it will spell the end of the great promising era and I expect changes again before the move to the new stadium – those changes will probably be on the pitch but could affect the management. Will finish above Arsenal, but will not win anything again and will be £300million light of talent for the following season without anything like equality in replacements. A disappointing, annoying and frustrating season awaits.

Watford – 20th
The new manager is good. Some of the money spent has been… well, the amounts have been impressive even if the people prove not to be. I just don’t see them having enough and if the season starts badly it will be long and difficult. This Watford is a soulless and unlikeable team and they don’t deserve to be here.

West Brom – 15th
Personally, I’d prefer this lot to go down instead of Brighton, but you know Pulis will pull something out of the hat and they will win enough matches to keep them safe. The writing is likely to be on the wall for Pulis though and I expect he’ll be replaced with a flashy Portuguese manager in the summer of ’18.

West Ham – 10th
I have forecast West Ham to finish 10th. This is because I have no real idea. They have signed some good players; they won’t challenge the top 7; they’ll be inconsistent; it won’t be as bad a last season and Bilic probably won’t get fired, but he might quit.

Cup Predictions:
FA Cup – Crystal Palace
League Cup – Everton (I always go for Everton)
Euro Champs Thing – Bayern Madridona
Europa League – Slovan Bratislava

 

This is proper alternative facts, this is! 🙂

 

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Chancer’s Arm

It’s that time of the year again when people do predictions of a footballing nature. Your amiable and often priapic hosts the Wippo Brothers and their mate Clive have been doing this so long they have actually sold their wills to live to a small town iron merchant in Frinton.

So as another football season awaits… what better way to kick off the nine month long festival of cheating, greed, self-obsession, drugs, dodgy sex in hotels, and occasional kicking of balls than to laugh at the utterly ridiculous pre-season predictions of our two embittered hacks?

[much scrabbling about…]

“Oh fuck!”

“What?”

“I’ve done it different to you and I really really can’t be arsed to change it, so…

Alphabetical Wippo says:

Arsenal

2nd – My dark horses for the title, but I’ll stick with 2nd…no, stop laughing…one year they have to go a full season without a period of self-destruction, and they looked quite good towards the end of last season. Wenger finally seems to have assembled a cohesive team again, and nabbing Petr Cech could turn out to be the most astute piece of business by anyone in this transfer window. Other than that, they don’t need to sign anyone, really. Clive won’t like that, at all.

Aston Villa

14th – Tim Sherwood has been allowed to splash out the Benteke money, and in all probability has done a small scale impersonation of Spurs when they lost Gareth Bale. The big question is can Sherwood mould a team from his large squad of Carlos Kickaballs. Benteke’s goals aside, surely they can’t be as woeful as last season?

Bournemouth

17th – As unpredictable as it gets, Eddie Howe’s minnows will get some right hidings, but also spring a few surprises, at least one of which will be against Spurs.

Chelsea

1st – Whether or not they get John Stones, who would only be a bench warmer until Terry retires anyway, with their massive squad they will have more than enough options to see off the Arse, despite the odd decision to let Cech go to the Gooners. The best thing about Spartak London is that they are not Manchester City. Actually, as a football team, I quite like them, and Maureen is a good coach, as well being a personality, something most PL managers keep well hidden, assuming any of them possess one.

Crystal Palace

11th – Clive’s Mrs fancies Alan Pardew, and from a purely footy perspective I hasten to add, so do I. Pardew seems to have calmed down since his disastrous and ill-advised association with that cockney goon up on Tyneside. He has also been very busy in the transfer market, and if he can get his new additions to gel quickly, never an easy task, may get Palace higher than my prediction. That’s called hedging yer bets, that is…

Everton

9th  – Gang raped by (insert whoever gets Stones and McCarthy and possibly Lukaku here) for our best players, Bobby Brown Shoes finds he has lost Slade and at the last possible minute will buy Chicory Tip, Kenny, and Tony Orlando & Dawn to replace them. He’s already bought Enrique Iglesias and got Sam Smith on a free. We will win or lose every game 4-3 if we keep Lukaku, 1-0 if we don’t. Still, it can’t be as bad as last season, can it?

Or…we keep hold of our best players as for once we don’t actually need the money, but a lack of action in the transfer market (so far) means progress is difficult. With all our realistic rivals for the places between 5th and 10th having made significant additions maybe 9th is a tad optimistic. A make or break season for Martinez, who can look at Moyes’ 3rd season for inspiration, as he too did not have the most auspicious of 2nd seasons.

Leicester

15th – Claudio Ranieri is a decent fella, and somewhat less confrontational than his predecessor. Admittedly he could be a disaster, given his predilection for squad rotation, but I reckon he has enough experience to get survival and a bit more for the Foxes. This is the prediction I am least confident about.

Liverpool

6th – Aside from Benteke, have you seen who Brenda has bought this time round? Even the most swivel-eyed deluded Kopite is going to struggle to mutter his annual prayer “It’s our year” this time with even the slightest amount of conviction. A “taxi for the manager” by Xmas is my guess. Mind you, thanks to Benteke’s goals and the inexplicable hoodoo they have on us in derby games, they’ll still finish above us. Might even get 5th if this Firmino bloke is all he’s cracked up to be.

Manchester City

3rd – Citeh are the only reason Spartak London are no longer my most loathed club in the Premiership – that and the passage of time. You can get used to anything after long enough. Those two between them stand for everything that is wrong with the venal, self-serving rich men’s club at the top of the tree. Hoovering up young homegrown talent from poorer clubs to fill their Fair Play quotas, said players then wasting their talent away on the bench, or on loan in the Championship, these two clubs suck the life out of the competition. When you think about it, the Premier League is run much like the country – the rich fuck the poor til they bleed. And then kill them.

Oh…hang on this a footy prediction thingy, is it not? Expect Pellegrini to spend far too much on another tranche of Carlos Kickaballs, and to collect his P45 by Xmas.

Manchester Utd

4th – Might go higher, depends if Rooney can stay fit for a full season. They’ve spent a shedload again, and between them, Citeh, and Chelsea make it harder and harder for anyone else to get a look in. “Bastian Schweinsteiger” does not translate to “Bastard Pigfucker”, unfortunately.

Newcastle

16th – The league’s joke club will continue doing circus clown impressions to the delight of the rest of us, this time holding an umbrella.

Norwich

20th – Probably won’t finish bottom (see Watford prediction), but will find themselves completely outclassed.

Southampton

8th – They still can’t keep hold of their best players, but was Nathaniel Clyne any good to begin with? Ronald Koeman is proving rather good at making do, a kind of more attacking version of David Moyes, and will get Southampton playing above themselves again.

Stoke

7th – Mark Hughes has found his level at Stoke and is building a decent team, almost unnoticed. They could well finish lower than 7th, but trying to rank the midtable teams with any certainty is nigh on impossible. Unfortunately, even with Glen Johnson in the side I reckon they will still finish above Everton.

Sunderland

18th – I like Dick Advocaat, but Sunderland are a team that are about as exciting to watch as Coldplay are to listen to. Dull and lifeless, they now have Younes Kaboul to throw strops and give the ball away in the penalty area, and will go down on the last day. Will beat Newcastle 5-0.

Swansea

10th – Last season’s performance from Gary Monk’s team made my prediction look a tad daft. “Who is Gary Monk?” I metaphorically asked, well, now we know – a more than competent mid-table coach who will end up at Spurs. You read it here first.

Tottenham

5th – Again. As a result of the Bale money there are so many average players at Spurs it’s a miracle they end up 5th to be honest. Yep, they’ve shifted some of those on, but Spurs’ squad list still contains as many anonymous characters as War & Peace. Although they have the Useless League to contend with, their squad is big enough to cope, and their usual rivals are either falling away (us) or a permanent joke (Liverpool) or not quite good enough (Southampton, Stoke) that it’s hard seeing beyond 5th. Much depends on 50s throwback Harold Kane keeping fit. Is the Potch the dullest manager in the Premier League?

Watford

19th – My Dad’s team, bless him. The only cup final I’ve ever attended was Watford v Everton, great day out. My team won easily, Watford were just happy to be there, as they probably are now in their one season back in the top flight. In a weird twist of fate, Watford’s first game is away to…Everton! Watford could easily finish bottom, and I reckon they will ship a shedload of goals, but sentimentality prevents me from going for 20th.

West Brom

13th – Palace, Wests Brom & Ham are three teams you can’t really separate. Tony Pulis will, well, be Tony Pulis, and grind out another mid-table finish. He might even get Ricky Lambert to remember where the goal is, who knows?

West Ham

12th – Slaven Bilic is one of those “passion” managers, but unlike the clueless Kevin “run around a lot lads, I feel lucky” Keegan variety actually seems to know what he’s doing. Already a fans’ favourite from his time playing for the club, he’ll either have a decent “settling in” season, or be gone by Xmas.

FA Cup – Arsenal…again

League Cup – Middlesbrough, beating Everton in a penalty shoot-out

Well, that’s yer lot…come back next May and point and laugh. Remember, the playing field isn’t so much not level as a 1 in 10 slope, and everyone outside the top six is doing a Sisyphus impression.

And then there was Clive who usually leaves it to others to point out that the fucking Ashes is still on…
Here in a completely different format are the results for the Andalusian Judge…

1 – Chelsea

The pundits, desperate to sound as though there is actually a title race on this year, are querying whether Chelski have made the necessary improvements to defend its title. A reserve keeper and a failed striker seems to be the sum total of incoming business, but they were streets ahead of everyone else last season and have the key factor, thanks to their manager – belief. Won’t be the procession it was last year, but I doubt it will be much more difficult.

2 – Arsenal

I hate this. I really do. But they are closer to being where they were 8 years ago and probably the only thing holding this team back is its loyalty to the manager, who probably has lost the temperament to win a title and he’s a miserable cunt and doesn’t deserve the drippings of a diseased arse.

3 – Man United

Not challengers but challenging to be a challenger. LVG will do what is necessary and MU will begin to look like the team they can be. There has been too much pre-season upheaval for it not to have some impact on the opening few months of the season and that will be the defining part of their season. Will be talked about as a real possibility come April/May.

4 – Man City

Dead Man Walking. Pellegrini needs to win the league or the Champions League and even then he’s likely to go walking in favour of Pep Guardiola and I doubt they will win anything and will only finish 4th because of the sheer quality in their team and the lack of belief in the two teams below them. Expect Fabian Delph, when fit, to have the flattest and warmest bottom in football, from sitting on benches week in and week out. English players joining this club are effectively retiring.

5 – Liverpool

Last season, despite essentially copying Spurs by selling Elvis and buying One Direction (backwards), this season they didn’t have an Elvis to sell (but they did lose a talisman) and have bought even more players, some of who we might almost have heard of. With that one exception when they finished 2nd, Liverpool are really just vying for the title of Laughing Stock of the Premiership with Spurs and when you feel down, the Red Shite often go and lose to a team like Bournemouth thus restoring faith in humanity. I actually hate this club more than Arsenal and if I could have one football wish perversely I’d rather see Liverpool relegated than Spurs win the title (well, maybe not, but you get the idea). Benteke needs to score goals; Firmino and Coutinho need to be true Brazilians and you can just feel none of that happening… This might keep Brenda his job if it goes right, if it doesn’t – ha ha ha.

6 – Stoke

Or Barcelona Old Boys as they like to think in the Potteries. There’s money in this club; there’s ambition; there’s a capable manager and they are now as established in the premier league as any club in the top 10. Will be tough to beat, especially at home, as usual, but have evolved from a hard-arsed bunch of thugs into an attractive ball-playing team. No longer boring. Will not be selling potatoes by the side of a B road in February.

7 – Tottenham

Here we are again and here we go again. One thing was clear from last season, Daniel Levy intends to give the new manager at least two years and only a massive capitulation before Christmas will put MoPo’s job at risk. Does that please me? I don’t know. Like Everton’s Martinez, MoPo is highly-rated, but, you know, is he that good? Does he have a Plan B or C. Have his summer signings done anything but look like investments or makeshift? Where’s the striking back-up? What if Kane is a second season flop? Are Spurs just going to do it again and do all their business on August 31st, three weeks into the season? I’m actually being optimistic about 7th because it could be so much worse. It depends on how well the three teams directly around this prediction do; if one of them really hit a good streak – and all three are capable of doing it – then Spurs could finish 9th and that wouldn’t be seen as anything other than abject failure. I have never gone into a season, in recent years, feeling so ambivalent and reservedly pessimistic. I would also like to point out that I have actually revised my predictions based on the breaking news that Man Utd are likely to be selling their keeper to Real Madrid and buying Spurs’ Hugo Lloris instead, if this is the case (and it is unknown at the time of print) then I fucking hate football and 7th is bloody optimistic. Daniel Levy is a fucking retarded wookie and I will start supporting Raunds Village FC.

8 – Everton

No Europe and probably only a psychological reason why they won’t finish higher than their neighbours. Everton’s biggest threat to a top 7 finish will be the team I reckon will finish just above them. One gets the impression that Bill Kenwright needs to sell the club at some point because my gut feeling is a team that will be looking down rather than up over the next few years. They need money, world class players and belief to break back into the big time and they have none of them at the moment. If they sell John Stones then it just sends the wrong signals to everyone. Big season.

9 – Swansea

Smart money suggests the Swans might be closer to Champs league than Europa Cup. I feel sorry for Garry Monk because he’s obviously a good young manager who is overlooked by others who maybe (Eddie Howe excepted) don’t realise he’s an English manager with a consistent premiership team. Swansea have become one of those teams that often get one vaguely derisory comment in our forecasts because teams that end up mid table tend to generate that kind of riveting excitement.

10 – Crystal Palace

I’d have stuck my neck out and forecast these to finish 8th if it wasn’t for the fact that you know that the wheels will fall off at some point and a lot of points will be dropped to teams that you’d expect them to now beat, especially at home. Everyone will be happy with a top 10 finish and QPR really need to look at this club as a template for making life in the premiership slightly easier.

11 – West Ham

Several things will affect the Hammers season. Europa’s burden (now over, but the effects will be felt); injuries from fatigue and the indignity of being London’s worst premiership team, despite finishing 11th. Bilic will be good for the team; will be entertaining on MotD and it will be more of a rollercoaster ride than last season when they got the points they needed and then switched off. Might, just might, have a good cup run.

12 – Southampton

Europe will cost this team 5 places. Koeman’s 2nd season will be much more difficult and the rotating door policy the club’s transfer business resembles could backfire. I like this club but they don’t have the credibility in the league to be anything more than a stepping stone for ambitious and mercenary players. Will not be daunted by being humbled this season and could bounce back next year.

13 – Newcastle

Meh. Seriously meh. McClaren will add some steel to them but this is a club that needs a massive overhaul from the chairman down. If they were as good as they have been they’d be vying with Liverpool as the laughing stock of football. I like the Bar Codes but they are a shambles and how they’re still in the premiership is down to how crap the bottom half is. I liked Wippo’s umbrella joke – tee hee.

14 – Aston Villa

Tim’s first full season won’t be a success but the fans will be grateful for a relatively safe season with no bitten fingernails, so that means it will be a successful season. Just not likely to be anything other than mid-table at the moment.

15 – Watford

Won’t be relegated. Will surprise people. Will score lots of goals and concede even more. This season’s entertainment. Ossie will enjoy seeing his style of play get an encore. There might be a cabbage incident and expect 11,000 loanees and a bag of cement.

16 – West Brom

Please see Season Predictions for the last few years, read in 2015 voice. Tony Pulis is Welsh, apparently.

17 – Bournemouth

The fight will be won because Bournemouth know how to fight and Eddie Howe is a bit fearless. I can’t see this fairy tale continuing further than next season unless they spend money, build a new ground and start to look like something other than an aberration, but I’m really looking forward to them playing this year – the neutral’s team, without a doubt.

18 – Leicester

Ranieri sacked by February and a slump rather than a boost will see them fall into the bottom three, like a perverse mirror image of last season. Regardless of locality, money and great curries, this is a rugby city and the football needs to be in the championship.

19 – Norwich

No depth. No real quality. Good young manager. Not enough anything, except pies and mustard.

20 – Sunderland

Poor team that needs a new direction. Dick Advocaat seems more like an excuse rather than a way forward – feels like with him and Ranieri that chairmen have lost their ability to look to the future. Summer signings have been poor so far and like fierce rivals and neighbours Newcastle have little to be optimistic about. That kind of surprises me with the amount of money floating about, but what do I know, I support Spurs.

FA Cup: Chelsea

League Cup: Chelsea

Championship: Argentina

Champions League: Chelsea

The Cobblers – play-offs

Euro 2016 – Bhutan or Ipswich.

Now fuck off and watch cricket.

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Next week’s lottery numbers here…

In a brutally honest review of their laughably inept pre-season predictions, our cynical hacks mainline speedballs and get low down’n’dirty with the gospel truth…or summat…

Wippo:

I would like to state for the record that I got the top 6 correct and with one notable exception I even got them in the right order. Obviously suggesting Man U would win it and Chelsea would come fourth was just an aberration and down to me hating Chelsea more now than I hate Man U (or Man Citeh or Liverpool but maybe not Arsenal).

Sadly, after the pretty acceptable top six (of which I’d have been given stupidly low odds on forecasting), I did really poorly…

10th Sunderland – Can it be worse? Yes, yes it can.

11th Newcastle – Could have got into 7th but for a dramatic loss of form after Easter that results in Pardew finally being sacked in May 2015. Ha ha ha. I got bits of this almost right and other bits laughably wrong.

12th Southampton – Koeman does his best at damage limitation. I believe that by not suggesting they would be relegated I win.

13th QPR – Harry couldn’t possibly do any worse than he did last time round. Sensible buys this time around so far. Harry and Chris Ramsey confounded my expectations by being so poor it was almost as funny as Newcastle or Liverpool losing 6-1 to the mighty, mighty Stoke…

14th Hull – Europa fucks them over, but not enough to relegate them. Everything fucked them over and they got relegated (at least I didn’t say they’d be 8th, eh?)

I got Villa spot on. I doomed WBA and Leicester and got Burnley almost perfectly. As a crystal ball gazer I think I make Wippo look like that Russell Grant bloke.

Now… My team. 5th was remarkable. 6 points behind 4th was somewhat misleading in the end and considering how awful Spurs were at times, it says more for the rubbish below us than our own abilities. Harry Kane had the breakout season many believed he was going to have. Christian Eriksen cemented his position as the only really good and consistent bit of Gareth Bale money invested (although Nacer Chadli did more than he appeared to) and Hugo Lloris pretty much made himself indispensable. Other than that there was lots to hope for in the young players and many of their expensive flops to go elsewhere must be the priority – the problem being is another season of bedding in a whole bunch of new players really what any Spurs fan wants?

I said 5th and they ended up there, but a lot of that had to do with capitulations from teams that should have challenged us and teams that shouldn’t, realistically, even have been there. That’s football outside of the top 4 – it’s all about the what ifs.

I expect some interesting happenings over the summer – there are two world class coaches available in Ancelotti and Klopp. Ted Rogers at Liverpool will be confident he can keep his job while many fans will be confident he doesn’t. It will take more for Liverpool to get back into the top 4 than it will take Spurs to – that’s the biggest crumb of comfort I can take, that and we finished above them for the sixth time in seven years. Result!

Big Sam’s out there and could go to another biggish club. Some Prem managers will nervously hope that they did enough to save their jobs, for now.

I also want Villa to win the cup and I also know that if they do, both them and Spurs will qualify for the group stage – we’re already there and that’s cast in stone. Liverpool will travel to the arsehole of Europe at the end of July, which should set their season out excellently.

We’ll be back at the start of August with next season’s weak and feeble excuses at forecasting even if you won’t.

Clive:

Nobody reads this rubbish, which is just as well as we have proved ourselves to be about as good at predicting the future as a pre-election YouGov pollster. Amongst the utter bollocks spouted by my good self, these were the real steaming piles, ranked in order of jaw-dropping stupidity…

3rd Chelsea – Maureen moans a bit too much this season, becoming a right old pain in the Ron Harris in the process as his dull team snooze their way to 3rd. Expect a sacking in late May. Actual position 1st, by a mile. “Expect a sacking by late May” Hahahahahahaha…

17th Swansea – They are a lot worse than you think. “Gary Monk”? Sounds like a dodgy used car salesman to me. Actual position 8th. I have no comment to make, at all…

14th Southampton – Gangbanged by the Shite, plucky Southampton survive by playing a team of veterans and 12-year olds, who to every neutral’s delight beat those evil bastards home and away. One can but dream…Actual position 7th. Oh dear…

These three below are so wide of the mark, there isn’t a lot more to said. At least I got the “Joke Club” right, although the Shite ran them very close…

8th Hull – Like wot Wippo sez, there will be a big points gap between 7th and 8th. There will be one plucky team from the also-rans who confound expectations and I haven’t a clue who it might be. Just to keep my Yorky neighbour happy, how about Hull? Everyone expects them to struggle because of their European involvement, but occasionally these extra burdens serve to inspire.

9th Newcastle – It was all going so well until Alan Pardew punched that copper in the Sunderland derby. The fat cockney refuses to sack the loon, and Newcastle tighten their grip on the their title of the Premiership’s Joke Club, lost briefly to Liverpool in the latter Fat Spanish Waiter years.

10th OPR – Or anyone else barring the three who go down. Joey Barton says nothing stupid for a whole three months!

Those were the lowlights of probably my most feeble set of forecasts ever. I’m glad the footy season is practically over, as unless you support a team owned by a dodgy billionaire oligarch or one financed by stupid amounts of leverage you may as well not bother. Financial Fair Play my sweetly scented ass.

The problem is I love the bloody game too much, so I know I’ll be back next season cheering on my bunch of also-rans to hopefully the top of their particular tree, which is fifth…Ho-hum.

Talking of dubious oligarchs, the title was easily won by Chelski, who are anything but boring. Anyone who thinks that is either a) jealous or b) a thick cunt who doesn’t actually understand football at all. The west Londoners’ stately progress has been a joy to watch for the most part, even their 6-3 demolition of my lot on our own turf, a game that ranks as one of the best of the season.

The other unjustifiably monied bunch, Citeh, confounded expectations by playing every other league game like they’d only met each other the first time the previous day. Pellegrini doesn’t seem to be bothered, and on his wages and contract termination fee why would he be? Expect a sacking in a week or two…did I just say that?

Save Brenda! We do not want Brenda to go, oh no. If it wasn’t for Newcastle FC, the Shite would win footy’s Perrier Award this season by a mile. Brenda spent most of the season spouting utter shite that continually came back to bite him in the ass. This happened with comedic regularity because Brenda doesn’t know how to defend his ass, at all. That Stoke game was the funniest thing I’d seen on MotD in ages! He also seems incapable of buying a decent player who can stay off a treatment table for five minutes, apart from Couthino, and I’d put him down to luck. And…Balotelli…’nuff said. £210m spent on rubbish in three years is the perfect reason to give him the kitty again, you know it makes sense!

My lot were jiggered by the Useless Cup as we knew would happen. An entirely forgettable season where Lukaku still managed 20 goals, yet the sizeable moronic proportion of our fanbase (every club has some) want him gone as he is apparently “a waste of money” and not good enough. When Howard was injured we played Robles in goal, another of Bobby’s ex-Wigan players. He was initially awful, progressing to half-decent by the time Howard came back. The way some fans reacted when Robles was dropped, you’d think the gawky streak of possible averageness was Gordon bleedin’ Banks reincarnated.

Next season we are thankfully spared the Useless Cup, but to make any real progress we need to get shot of two more ex-Wigan players – Alcaraz is a calamity waiting to happen, and Kone, who couldn’t see a cow’s arse in front of his daft haircut, let alone hit it, with a banjo or anything else. Another who needs to go is McGeady who tries hard but is simply not PL standard. We are linked with Man Utd’s Jonny Evans and Januzaj both of whom would make decent additions. Getting Dooloofooleufeefeu back would be nice, too. Fifth, here we come!

As I write it emerges that El Camarero Gordo is now the favourite to land the Real Madrid job. This joke of a manager defies logic by continually landing top jobs despite mountains of evidence that he is about as hopeless at football management as I am at crystal ball gazing.

Oh…and Villa for the cup as that would put Wippo’s lot into a Useless Cup qualifying round too. Now, go away and do something useful…

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The Sportdiscuss Tattoo Emporium

Here it is – the annual ‘Prophet or Eejit’ Competition…

To kick us off, here’s Wippo‘s predictions:

I’ll tell you who won’t win it – any of the teams outside of my top 4.

1st Man Utd – If there was one prediction I feel I’m sticking my neck out with, it is this one. I just feel as though, with no European commitments, a coach and a club with the ability to attract star players who won’t mind not playing Champions League for a season if enough dosh is thrown at them. I can see them doing a double.

2nd Man City – I’m not convinced the players Citeh have brought in were a) needed or b) as good as or better than some already there. I believe this is a squad that could have dominated in this coming season, but clubs do like star names and big transfer stories and that could end up being to the detriment of the team with the best squad in the league.

3rd Arsenal – Will be in the shake-up right until the last few weeks. The emergence of a new, much better, Arsenal will happen this year. they, after all, can compete with the big boys, so perhaps they just might. Sanchez could be massive for them. They have some good players; they just need a squad of good players.

4th Chelsea – Could be the year Mourinho is found out. Too much rebuilding; not enough emphasis on attractive football; Chelsea will have a say in everything this year, except maybe winning anything. I’m also not convinced his average players are any better than any club that finished between 4th and 7th last season.

5th Tottenham – In many ways 5th would be an achievement, in many others it would be yet another failure. The problem Spurs have is with AVB (and then Tim) they started the club on a backward trajectory – Redknapp needed to go, the problem was they needed someone who could take Harry’s template and run with it; what they’ve had for two years is transition and discontent. Pochetino is relatively untested; he’s maybe still a bit young and he’s probably aware that even if his job is pretty much secure for at least 18 months; he needs to do a lot more than just keep them standing still. I predict a season with only 7 defeats, but maybe 12 draws, which would leave them short.

6th Liverpool – I remember when Spurs sold Elvis and bought the Beatles, except they bought Gerry & The Pacemakers instead – okay, but nowhere near the same class. Before most of their expensive flops flopped, Spurs were being touted as possible dark horses for the title. This season the Red Shite have sold Jaws and bought most of Richard Keel’s false teeth – whether they’re gold or gold plated remains to be seen. My head says: not disgraced in the Champs League, maybe quarter finalists, but fatigue and not enough strength in depth will put paid to anything higher than 6th. And they only get that high up because…

7th Everton – Roberto Martinez will take the Europa League seriously. He will look at his club; his resources and his ability to turn them into a top 4 team and opt for a crack at the Europa with its carrot of Champs League now officially dangling.

8th Stoke – The gap between 7th and 8th will be 12 points. Stoke are emerging as the new Bolton. expect two or three more years of 8th or 9th finishes before the inevitable crash and burn. They say healthy shit floats, well, Stoke might not be healthy, but they’re probably the 8th best team in the country on paper now.

9th Swansea – Actually, I lied about Man U. I also am not sure about Swansea either. Gary Monk might do it, but the hard fact is the teams below 7th, on paper or on the pitch, don’t compare to those challenging for the European spots every season. I have a gut feeling all the S teams will be grouped together.

10th Sunderland – Can it be worse? See above.

11th Newcastle – Could have got into 7th but for a dramatic loss of form after Easter that results in Pardew finally being sacked in May 2015.

12th Southampton – Koemans does his best at damage limitation.

13th QPR – Harry couldn’t possibly do any worse than he did last time round. Sensible buys this time around so far.

14th Hull – Europa fucks them over, but not enough to relegate them.

15th Crystal Palace – Pulis does it again, albeit a closer run thing than last season.

16th West Ham – need so much that the current manager, owners, etc can’t give them. This used to be the poor man’s Spurs – great football, won bugger all. They don’t play such good football and Spurs owe them big time.

17th Aston Villa – “We’re here because there are three more teams worse than us!” Is the song from the Holte End for most of the season.

18th Leicester – Money doesn’t buy success when all your city can offer is crisps and nice architecture, oh and pork pies. Have you seen who’ve they’ve bought? Nigel Pearson should never be given money again.

19th West Brom – They will fight it out with…

20th Burnley – for the title of worst team. WBA will be worse by miles, but will beat Spurs to obtain just the one point to shove plucky and ‘everybody’s 2nd favourite team’ Burnley into last and leave Sean Dyke shouting ‘You’ll never take me alive copper; not without a proper shootout’.

FACUP: Citeh

League Cup: Everton

Outstanding talent of the year – Winner: Eric Lamela. 2nd: Woss Barkway. 3rd: Spaj Masoo

………………………………….

Clive, awoken from his whisky sodden stupor, remained conscious long enough to scribble this load of bollocks on the back of 23 beer mats…

A new season of Buy The Title commences, and that means the 16 other teams don’t stand a chance even though two of them still manage to spend stupid amounts of cash every year, mostly to little effect.

1st Man City – Waving their cheque books most vigorously and therefore finishing ahead of their newly noisy neigbours will be Man City, despite trying their damndest to throw it away in matches that follow their appearances in the Chumps League.

2nd Man Utd – Like wot Wippo sez, with no Euro distractions Utd should win it, but suffer some internal ructions as the dictatorial style of LvG takes a bit of getting used to at Old Trafford. His order that everyone should sport his haircut sparks a mini revolt when Wayne Rooney is excused due to his artificial turf refusing to grow in any recognisable style at all.

3rd Chelsea – Maureen moans a bit too much this season, becoming a right old pain in the Ron Harris in the process as his dull team snooze their way to 3rd. Expect a sacking in late May.

4th Arsenal – Wegner rediscovers the delights of an open wallet and buys some players who actually know how to defend occasionally. Still, it wouldn’t be the Arse if they didn’t spectacularly implode at some point. 10 points clear by Xmas, we all know what happens next.

5th Liverpool – Brenda likes flashing the cash too, and the Shite, or “Liverhampton” as they’re now known round these parts have a decent Chumps League campaign in Stevie Me’s last season, reaching the semis where they get knocked out by Maureen’s lot. The Schadenfreude will be lovely. Mr Gerrard announces his retirement in a tearful heap after the game, breaking his own record of 71 “errs” in a five minute speech.

6th Tottenham – Pochetino is this season’s Unknown Quantity in the top half. The jury will still be out come May.

7th Everton – “Cut me, and I bleed blue”, so sez Tim Howard allegedly. That’ll be all that tattoo ink, mate.
Where we finish all depends who we sign up front. If it’s Lukaku then we might swap places with the Shite, or even Spuds. So far we’ve only signed one player, a hard bastard in the mould of Keano by the name of Bastid…sorry, Besic. He has loads of tats, natch. The Useless League provides plenty of entertainment, but a loss in the quarter finals to one the Chumps League rejects proves how annoyingly futile this competiton actually is.

8th Hull – Like wot Wippo sez, there will be a big points gap between 7th and 8th. There will be one plucky team from the also-rans who confound expectations and I haven’t a clue who it might be. Just to keep my Yorky neighbour happy, how about Hull? Everyone expects them to struggle because of their European involvement, but occasionally these extra burdens serve to inspire.

9th Newcastle – It was all going so well until Alan Pardew punched that copper in the Sunderland derby. The fat cockney refuses to sack the loon, and Newcastle tighten their grip on the their title of the Premiership’s Joke Club, lost briefly to Liverpool in the latter Fat Spanish Waiter years.

10th OPR – Or anyone else barring the three who go down. Joey Barton says nothing stupid for a whole three months!

11th Stoke – meh…

12th Leicester – Attractive footy, nice ground, a bit of money. This year’s Reading.

13th Crystal Palace – Another meh, but everyone loves Pulis don’t they?

14th Southampton – Gangbanged by the Shite, plucky Southampton survive by playing a team of veterans and 12-year olds, who to every neutral’s delight beat those evil bastards home and away. One can but dream…

15th Sunderland – A dreadful team who punch kick and spit their way to survival. There is no justice.

16th West Ham – This lot used to be everyone’s second team, and although they have nothing going for them, Big Sam does what Big Sam does best. Eat all the pies.

17th Swansea – They are a lot worse than you think. “Gary Monk”? Sounds like a dodgy used car salesman to me.

18th West Brom – Drear from the Slough of Despond. Even having their half time oranges spiked with LSD at The Stadium of Fright does nothing for the entertainment value as inevitably they all have bad trips and run about screaming in the second half. Sunderland still fail to score against them.

19th Burnley. It’s Accrington, not Burnley, as I keep telling you. That was an in-joke.

20th Aston Villa – My “stick my neck out” prediction. A side who have been going nowhere fast for years finally get there. The only nice Yank businessman in the world, Randy Lerner is last seen sobbing into a pint of weak Tetley’s bitter in a canalside pub in Brum. After his disappearance Villa are thrown into Turmoil, a village in the Brum commuter belt.

FA Cup – Tottenham (heheh)

League Cup – Not Everton

The Leyland-DAF Trophy – Argentina

…oh, and Chelsea lose 5-1 to Bayern Munich in the Chumps League final, in case you were wondering.

………………………………….

Those predictions will be utter pants, just you see. Now, fuck off and do something useful…

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Brazilian Arse Shavings

Fortified by Oakham ales and Highland single malt, your careworn hacks carve a path back through the televisual jungle to bring you their report on last night’s shenanigans…

Wippo:

So, Ingurland stuttered to defeat against a fairly ordinary Italian team by their standards. Two things killed us off; first were the conditions, as we visibly wilted in the second half, the second was defensive naivety. You would have thought that a coach like Woy, who is renowned for his defensive nous and organisational capabilities would have instructed the two holding midfielders to cover our two attacking full backs. I mean, it ain’t rocket science is it? When Baines gets forward at Everton, Mirallas or Barry always fill in behind him. At Liverpool either this doesn’t happen when Johnson goes AWOL, which might explain why they ship so many goals, or Gerrard and particularly Henderson forgot how they play at their club. Another thing Baines had to contend with was Rooney’s lackadaisical perfomance in front of him, offering little help to the beleaguered left back.

Wayne Rooney has to be dropped. Apart from the assist for our goal he did sweet FA. Rooney had his best World Cup while still an Everton player and has never lived up to his star billing in an England shirt. It is time we tried something else.

A striking contrast last night was the difference between the two playmakers. Alexander Pirlo is the perfect footballer. It wouldn’t surprise me if his pass completion stats were 100%. Simple passes and immaculate vision were epitomised by his opening pass to the right back that led to Forza Azzurri carving us open down our left for their second goal, with Baines out of position after an England attack broke down, and the rest was a peach of a counter attacking team goal. Where were Gerrard or Henderson covering? Absolutely nowhere to be seen that’s where.

As for our substitutions in the second half, Barkley and Lallana came on and promptly disappeared, and Wilshire may as well have worn a tutu, at least you’d have known he was on the pitch. Then the heat and humidity set in, and the result was inevitable. It now means we cannot afford to lose to Uruguay, which actually is not as improbable as it might have sounded a day ago. Onwards and sideways…

Clive:

God… Where to start?

Walking back from Wippo’s last night, I was left with the feeling that the likes of Gerrard, Rooney and Baines – the three older, more experienced, team members – might have contributed more. Rooney’s best England performances have been when he wore an Everton shirt and I said to Wippo, when Wazza missed a golden chance, that the player has been taught how to be a Man Utd player and that only. He cannot do what he does for United in an England shirt – he hasn’t, against any decent opposition, performed since 2004.

The kids did well, to be honest; they played with a freedom and a verve that we’d like to see in our teams, but they have no nous; they have no experience; they are youthful, inexperienced players who are not used to an opposition who can soak it up till the cow’s come home. By the end of the game, I really didn’t want them to play it down the right and I didn’t want Sterling anywhere near it. Our final ball rarely happened; our set piece delivery was poor, our threat was pretty much nullified by experience.

All credit to Woy for trying; the problem is we’ve got problems…

Baines had a shocker and the only option is Luke Shaw – he would not have defended as well as Baines, and Baines had a shocker… Ashley Cole must have a wry, but disappointed, smile on his face. Rooney is in the team because of reputation; Woy said he’d drop him if necessary – I believe it is necessary. Gerrard pops up, but is becoming more and more anonymous in an England shirt. But Jordan Henderson disappeared even more conspicuously and as a result Pirlo’s pass completion was 100%. 100%!!! How the fuck? Oh and Glenn Johnson takes far too many touches and isn’t that good when he isn’t up for it.

We had little expectations and the truth is the match against Uruguay is now a cup final – the winners will get another chance, the losers are out. This is now turning into a group of proper death now, because if Costa Rica and Italy draw, the emphasis is on us or Uruguay to ensure a victory or either are as good as out. Personally, with Suarez back and a massive uphill battle facing them, I fancy them not to lose; our kids, faced with mounting pressure will eventually buckle and even if they get a result, how good are Costa Rica?

I think we have a few players who have to retire from International Football after this and a few years of moulding this young team and bringing through other talent is essential, because the older players did nothing to inspire the kids last night.

The cup has already been won, anyhow, it just depends on whether FIFA has covered their arses with their selection of referees; it just takes one of them to forget they have to let Brazil win and we could have a major international incident. Therefore I still think the Argies will win (despite not having played yet). My outside, dark horses, Chile, looked exquisite for 20 minutes against the Aussies and then looked more abject than our defending against set pieces for the rest of the game. Holland blew everyone’s minds – they’ve peaked too soon, you mark my words. The Chermans haven’t been seen yet either.

It’s not the end of the world because it was never at stake, but our world stage limitations are obvious – we just need to address them properly.

Here then, are our player rankings:

Joe “John” Hart

W: 7 – Did what he had to do, no blame attached for their goals

C: 7 – as above

Glenn Johnson

W: 6 – Can’t defend, not much better going forward. The fact he had Sterling rather than Rooney in front of him is the only reason he gets a better score than Baines.

C: 5 – suspect player in our suspect position. I doubt a fit Kyle Walker would fair much better.

Phil Jagielka

W: 7 – Solid. One goal saving clearance

C: 7 – should maybe replace Gerrard as captain?

Gary Cahill

W: 7 – Solid, some good tackles, and can pass the ball too.

C: 6 – bad positioning and was out of position a few times.

Leighton Baines

W: 5 – Disappointing, but stymied by lack of support, particularly from Rooney. Corners lacklustre, to the extent that even Rooney had a (hopeless) go. One decent free kick. At least partly culpable for their second goal.

C: 4 – seemed totally out of his comfort zone.

Steven “Hollywood” Gerrard

W: 6 – Subdued, and when you do get the chance to influence proceedings keep it simple like Pirlo, ya grandstanding buffoon.

C: 5 – was as prominent as an ant’s erection.

Jordan Henderson

W: 6 – Workmanlike

C: 5 – one good shot, some nice touches, otherwise pretty much a Championship level player; only got picked because Woy wants to prove a point to Liverpool (IMHO).

Raheem “Prince” Sterling

W: 8 – The secret love child of Prince and Sheena Easton was my Ingurland MotM. Would have been a 9 if he hadn’t ran himself into the ground by the 75th minute.

C: 8 to a point and then 4 to another. As Wippo says, had a great game, but faded faster than a damp squib.

Wayne Rooney

W: 4 – Poor. Drop him, Woy

C: 3 – wanker.

Daniel Sturridge

W: 7 – Not bad at all.

C: 7 – did well, drifted out too far at times; did not follow up the way he does for his club.

Danny Welbeck

W: 7 – Our best forward, no question

C: 7 – pushing for MotM for me, his offensive defending is a treat and he scares defenders at times.

Subs:

Ross Barkley

W: 5 – Disappointing. Got 30 minutes and did very little. Welcome to world class football.

C: 6 – wasn’t given any service, made a lot of things almost happen, should replace Rooney.

“Smokin'” Jack Wilshere

W: 4 – Remember the tutu next time. Welcome to world class football.

C: 3 – Poof.

Adam Lallana

W: 5 – Same as Barkley, but only had 15 minutes to be fair. You guessed it…Welcome to world class football.

C: 5 – as above, but with the added – will this tournament expose his weaknesses? looked accomplished at times, but also one-dimensional. Tried the same manoeuvre three times in four passes to him, defenders will cotton on quick at this level.

Woy

W: (would say if I let him)  J. Arthur Wank.

C: Thought he was going to have a cardiac episode at times; too nice, not enough savvy; no obvious English (or British) replacement, we’re pretty much fucked without the players taking responsibility.

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Life Could Be A Dream…

Wippo:

Going into Tuesday night’s game with the lovable neighbours I knew deep down we were on a hiding to nothing, seeing as how, goalkeeper excepted, you could have fielded an entire and fairly decent team from our injured list. At Anfield we laboured with a makeshift defence, where 19 year old John Stones, a lad who has obvious talent but also has an awful lot to learn, was played at right back, a position he was obviously now unfamiliar with despite starting there when we first got him. His youthful naivety led to him frequently making wrong choices, leaving huge gaps for the Red hoardes to charge into. I felt a bit sorry for the lad as his naivety was shown up even more than it would have been had he been played in his preferred centre back berth. That honour went Alcaraz in Distin’s absence, a player who seems to still be at Wigan in his head, a thoroughly unnerving sight. When you add to that the returning Baines and the still tentative Jags, we were ripe for tearing apart, and so it proved.

Once the first goal went in, swiftly followed by Lukaku being put out of the game by one of his own side, the writing was on the wall. Liverpool had a few injury absentees if their own, but on a far less all-encompassing scale to Everton’s, although missing Glen Johnson can only be a bonus, surely?

Football fans, much like club owners, are not a breed to let realism disturb their frequent trips to never-never land, and Everton fans are no exception. All the wailing and gnashing of teeth from Everton fans on forums and social networking sites fails to take into account the fact that the current top four plus Man Utd and Spurs are not so much on a different planet from us in terms of resources, they’re in another bleedin’ universe. Liverpool’s two forwards alone cost £30m, and Utd have just splashed out £30m on Juan Mata. That sum is about twice our annual transfer budget, so expecting us to finish 4th is simply so unrealistic as to be deluded, a word often bandied about by Blues in the same sentence as “Kopite”.

The sheer strength in depth of those other six teams’ squads means that an injury crisis as we are suffering now leads to us relying on pretty poor squad players in comparison, and so a slide away from the top four is inevitable. You wouldn’t know it from some fans’ reactions but we cannot compete at the top and haven’t been able to for about 20 years, and it all comes down to money. You can blame last night on Martinez’ preference for Stones over Hibbert, or his tactics all you like, but when it comes down to it, having no choice but to field four players just back from injury is asking for trouble against a team that are scoring for fun, especially at home. It is also a choice that the other six teams would not have had to make in similar circumstances.

Some fans reckon that just by “keeping the faith” and having “belief”, whatever that means, that somehow we will, to keep on with the quasi-religious language, “miraculously” make 4th. In fact, when we briefly held that position not so long ago there were some fools who reckoned we could win the damn thing. No doubt these people are the very same who shout down Reds for saying “this is our year” every summer, more than likely using the word “deluded”.

And another thing; some fans are calling for Bobby Brown Shoes to splash some cash on a striker before the January deadline. Why? All you’ll get is an over-priced mercenary chancer, or a “Michael Owen” as it should be known, who likely as not will make little difference apart from adding to the wage bill. No panic buying is needed, we’ll wait until summer, thank you very much.

After that little moan, do I think we can we finish fourth? No chance, with or without “faith” and “belief”. If there is a religion in football it is worship of Mammon, and we are a long long way down the pecking order where that’s concerned I’m afraid. I said when we got Martinez as manager, who was my choice at the time by the way, that seventh or eighth and a decent cup run would be a good outcome in a transitional season, and I stick to that.

On the other hand, didn’t Arsenal get thrashed at Citeh, and now look at them. Maybe if I “believe” really really hard…..

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Smaller and smaller

Wippo:

I said to Clive in the pub last week that I was getting fed up with football. I seem to have lost the spark that, historically, I’d lost before. I was football mad in the 1970s, but during the 1980s when I discovered drink, women, drugs and sex with aforementioned women while drunk and high, I kind of fell out of love with it and if pushed, I maybe remember footballer’s from that era having perms and ridiculously tight shorts.

The thing was between 1977 – when I had my first meaningful erection – and 1996 when this country hosted the Euros, I took about as much notice of football as you do the fence at the bottom of your garden. You’re aware it’s there and occasionally you pay it some attention, but, you know it’s not that big a deal unless it falls over or gets stolen by fence thieves. Then Clive and a few other friends drummed up that feeling of football passion again and I got back into football like a teenager gets into wanking.

The problem was I supported England and they pretty much were as shit as they had been in 1978 when we started becoming an actual international joke and Tottenham had apparently almost flirted with success a few times in the 80s and early 90s (I vaguely remember avoiding the 1991 cup final), but by 1996 had returned to being something of a laughing stock in English football terms, so even if I’d returned with optimism brimming it was always going to be a relatively unpleasant ride.

Therefore, possibly walking away from it again isn’t such a strange idea. Clive reckons he can’t because it’s an addiction, but when things get so poor, being a masochist, when you’re patently not one, is something that can grow annoying very quickly. England’s two friendly defeats might not mean anything in the long term scheme of things, apart from possibly signalling another massive lull in international fortunes, but that means the chances of another major tournament success in my lifetime is about as likely as Spurs also winning something meaningful.

Spurs were on the receiving end of a drubbing at the weekend and yet I was less angry about it than I was when the team struggled to beat Hull City 1-0; mainly because I think the writing is on the wall for AVB and unless he can perform a total miracle he’ll be gone Christmas, especially if we don’t take at least 7 points from our next 3 matches – and two of them are away and it’s the home fixture where they, on paper, will have the most problems.

If they don’t get 7 points from the next 3 games then they will likely be dragged towards the team below them (currently a 5 point gap) and the teams below them are the ones most likely to battle it out for survival and after the supposed great start to the season Spurs have had, surely only a buffoon would suggest the team are closer to crap and creative?

But, it isn’t just football. Someone I know said this winter could herald a new era for British sport. If you were a cricket fan, rugby or football fan you might not argue with that assessment, the thing is I think my friend was suggesting it would be a great new era…

I suppose Clive was seething by early Saturday afternoon, but by the time Sunday rolled around he probably thought his team got off lightly. Let’s find out, shall we? Clive?

Clive:

Football has never been as important as music for me, that’s why I’m deaf, rather than carrying a knee injury from my Sunday League playing days that never happened.

Funnily enough Everton’s most succesful period in the mid 80s was given short attention by moi, as I was mostly monged. My most vivid 80s football memory not involving the Cobblers, for whom I was a real rather than couch potato fan, comes from 1989 when me and the girl whose knick knacks were tantalisingly close at the time were rushing about town trying to score on the evening of the Liverpoo v Arse title decider. The game was on TVs in every den of inquity we visited, of which there were a few, as there was a drought on.

We arrived at our last hope, somewhere I usually tried to avoid, as the bloke was a bit of a headcase, later turning into a fully-fledged Bible bashing nutjob. Anyway, we arrive just in time to see Michael Thomas’s last minute goal that gave the Gooners a 2-0 win. That made me happy. Scoring, and indeed an hour or so later, scoring again made me very smiley indeed.

Football has become more important to me as I enter the old and dribbly period of my life, but to be honest I prefer cricket. That shows my age, I’m sure! Unless Everton are taken over by a billionaire with more money than sense, we ain’t going to win anything anytime soon. Saturday’s lunchtime draw/defeat followed on from a thrashing at the hands of the Aussies in the crikit, so I was already feeling fairly down, when the day got far worse, but that’s got nowt to do with sprot and I ain’t gonna broadcast my woes here.

We’re all going to die.

Wippo:

The scary thing is he’s right… The other scary thing is everything changes and not always for the best or how you want it to. Take wordpress for starters: it now looks incredibly complicated but appears to have less in it. Yahoo is the same – 21st century facelifts that aren’t needed and the same applies to football. I embrace changes, as does Clive, but unnecessary changes (my team’s managerial policy; the England cricket team’s ability to change from good to woeful) have a habit of pissing you off and wordpress has thrown away my desire to use their programme.

This might be the last blog for a while. Clive and I have less time than ever before to wax lyrically about shit. With both of us struggling to write our own blogs and both feeling jaded, if not a bit disillusioned about most sports – even the ones we like – it could be a while before you see us again. The half dozen of you have stuck with us through thick and thin, we salute you. Now, fuck off and do something useful.

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