So, after a summer of boredom, unfulfilled Tennis dreams and pleasantly surprising Cricket success, this coming Saturday heralds the return of the Football season. Saturday afternoons will have purpose once more, the BBC’s Red Button will get plenty of action (subject to bloody BBC cuts) and millions will watch the likes of Gary Pallister, Steve Claridge and Garth Crooks watching games on television and discussing talking points until the cows come home.
And, in true footballing tradition around the world, fans will be scouring the fixture list for nailed-on victories, hopeful away draws and potential banana skins, then casting a wilful glance all the way to May to wonder how it will all turn out…
Well, here’s how I think it’ll turn out (which basically means everything that follows will be as far off target as an American missile in Iraq).
In the Premier League, the race for the Champions League could be quite a congested affair, but when all is said and done, I think it will be title number twenty for Manchester United. Chelsea and Manchester City will complete the top 3, with Arsenal just beating Liverpool and Tottenham into 4th. Liverpool will take 5th place.
At the bottom, Swansea will make the drop back down, along with Norwich, while after a couple of seasons struggling, Wigan will finally succumb to relegation.
In the Championship, West Ham should do enough to get back up as champions, along with Reading. Cardiff will be doomed to another Play-off appearance, along with Birmingham, Nottingham Forest and Leeds. I’m going for Leeds to make the jump up.
In the Relegation picture, Brighton and Peterborough will go straight back down, joined by Crystal Palace.
Down in League One, after dropping down last season, Sheffield United will go back up as champions, joined by city rivals Wednesday. Colchester, Huddersfield, Charlton and Preston will fight it out in the Play-offs, with Charlton coming out on top.
In the relegation mire, Stevenage and Bury will find the step up too much, and will be joined back in the basement by Walsall and Notts County.
And in the lowest division, League Two, Swindon will be inspired to the title by Paolo Di Canio, followed up by Shrewsbury and Bristol Rovers. In the Play-off picture, Crawley will fight it out with Plymouth, Crewe and Gillingham, with the Football League new boys riding the crest of a financial wave into League One.
At the bottom, Barnet will bid farewell, and it will be a short lived fairy tale for AFC Wimbledon.
Of the Blue Square Premier teams aiming for promotion to the Football League, I think Luton and Lincoln will be celebrating when the season is over.
And there you have it. Either I’ll get it slightly right, or badly wrong. Which means that Sheffield Wednesday fans might be better preparing for a relegation battle, and Plymouth supporters had better hope their team survives a whole season with Peter Ridsdale all but confirmed as the new owner!
Feel free to leave your own opinions by the way!
Que Sera Sera etc…