Originally published on Sixth Feb
Football is back! It's finally back! As such, its time to dive into some predictions that will be completely forgotten after the first set of results prove them to be completely meaningless. Unless they are somehow accurate at the end of the season, in which case I will be retiring from football journalism to become a full time Paul the Octopus impersonator. I'm pretty sure there's more money in that anyway.
8. Middlesbrough/ Leicester City
You know what? I'm going to try to be an optimist. As avid readers of the Ignorant Fan's column can attest to, I was immensely confused by Boro's purchases this summer. However, I am going to believe in the club. I am going to believe that Karanka's fights with senior players in March have been forgiven and forgotten. I am going to believe that nine [NINE!] new players are not going to have any trouble settling in. I am going to believe that Martin de Roon turns out to be this season's Kante, rather than this season's Schweinsteiger. After all, it's not like the club's record signings have a history of not working out. *cough, Afonso Alves, cough*
9. Southampton/ Leicester City
Southampton are like the postal service. Regardless of what is happening around them, they consistently deliver just enough to keep going. They can lose 15 first team players a year, or yet another manager who just seemed to be settling in, and they will continue to impress. They will put up a big fight, beat a couple of the big boys, but eventually finish in a somehow glorious mid-table blaze. Sort of the anti-Arsenal, in the sense that they keep getting weaker but remain in the same position.
10. Crystal Palace/ Leicester City
It's hard to tell which Alan Pardew we are going to get this season. Is it the guy that led Newcastle to fifth in 2012? The guy that took over a floundering Crystal Palace, and had one of the best years in 2015? Or the manager who took a Europe-chasing Palace team midway through last season, and led them to exactly two league victories in 2016? They even managed to lose to Aston Villa during that run. So, I split the difference. After all, they do have Cabaye and Mandanda. But they also have Wickham and Fryers. ARGH!
11. Stoke City/ Leicester City
This is going to be a strange season for Stoke. Hughes just doesn't seem to care about anything anymore. Last year, they were Barcelona-lite with Shaqiri, Krkic and Arnautovic as their mouth-watering frontline. This year, they are Liverpool-lite with Joe Allen. And not even fun, heavy metal Liverpool. Nope, they're boring post-Suarez, Rodgers-inspired Liverpool who finished sixth. Assuming they're too big to go down [ha, Newcastle], mid-table mediocrity seems about right.
12. Everton/ Leicester City
This should have been an exciting season. New owners, a new manager, and several big money signings. But it just isn't. Koeman represents stability, which is just incredibly boring. Everton may have the most listless year of them all - too good to be dragged into a relegation fight, and not good enough to challenge for any honours. Even Ashley Williams can't seem to be arsed.
13. West Bromwich Albion/ Leicester City
This one was slightly obvious, because Tony Pulis won't get you relegated. Instead, he will get you close to the relegation zone, and then pull you out by the end of the season. Somehow this makes him look like a miracle worker, instead of a tw*t playing with your emotions. Then again, he did win the Manager of the Year doing just that, so what do I know. Well apart from the fact that WBA will finish between 11th and 14th. You could bet your prized pair of socks on it.
14. Sunderland/ Leicester City
I considered predicting Sunderland to finish just outside the relegation zones after being bottom on matchday 37, but it just doesn't seem like something the Moyesiah would allow. After all, the last time he took over a club languishing near the bottom of the table, he dragged them to European football within two seasons. Sure, he's completely lost when he's up in the stratified air of mid-table, but 14th seems about right for a man whose greatest achievement is leading Preston to promotion from the old Division Three.
To read parts 1 and 3, click here