As featured on the Huffington Post
One of the Ignorant Fan’s many musings
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.
- Manchester United/ Leicester City
Haven’t you heard? Mourinho has bought built the perfect squad! Pogba, Mkhitaryan, Ibrahimovic, and, umm, Bailly! To us common folk, money can’t buy happiness. However, in a world where €100 million-plus transfers are announced by rappers, happiness [i.e. hollow pieces of metal known as trophies] are easily purchased. Well, if you’re in the top three richest clubs in the world, at least.
- Manchester City/ Leicester City
While we’ve all been distracted by the shameless spending across town, the more conservative Guardiola has only gone and bought about 15 different small, nimble playmakers. As far as I can tell, he seems to have gone the misogynist-in-a-bar route of hitting on everything until someone responds. On the off chance that [Gabriel] Jesus turns out to be the second coming of Messi, City could finish pretty high up the table.
- Chelsea/ Leicester City
Another club whose business has gone under the radar thanks to the shenanigans up at Old Trafford, Chelsea have brought in Conte and Kante to help make them as loveable as they used to be in 2005. While they don’t seem like they could win the title just yet, make sure to look out for Terry stripping down to his kit to celebrate winning the FA Cup despite playing 5 matches all season.
- Arsenal/ Leicester City
Was there really going to be anyone else in fourth? Yes, Tottenham look a better side. Yes, Liverpool have Klopp. Yes, it’s weird that Wenger thinks the market is too expensive, despite spending €47 million on Ozil three years ago. Nevertheless, Arsenal are going to threaten to challenge for the title, have a horrible November, come back strong over Christmas, get knocked out of every tournament in February, and book a Champions League spot when the pressure is off. It just wouldn’t be Premier League football without Wenger’s annual ritual.
- Tottenham/ Leicester City
I’ve been impressed with Tottenham’s business. They’ve quietly and efficiently brought in a fantastic striker in Vincent Janssen, and good midfield competition in Victor Wanyama. Additionally, Mauricio Pochettino seems to have struck a great balance between success and blooding youth. If this was any club but Tottenham, I would’ve predicted a tilt at the title. But, since it is Tottenham, they’re bound to do something ‘spursy’ and screw it up. Just ask Arsenal, who somehow managed to finish ahead of them for the 128th year in a row last season.
- Liverpool/ Leicester City
This was supposed to be the summer of Klopp. When the German first landed at Anfield last season, he was supposed to bring about a revolution. When he contrived to finish eighth, lower than Rodgers ever managed, supporters said it wasn’t his team. After he had raided Germany for their finest unknown talents, Liverpool would be great again. 2016/17 was going to be their year. Instead, he’s brought in Sadio Mane. Wouldn’t Brendan Rodgers be proud.
- West Ham United/ Leicester City
The Hammers are moving to the Olympic Stadium! In my head, this could go in two different directions. Either the stadium fills up, or it’s half empty and kills the club’s famous atmosphere. It’s in these times, I like to think of myself as an optimist. I believe the stadium is going to be full, its going to rocket the team up the table to help them challenge for the top four, the fans are going to become full of themselves, they’re going to hound Bilic out when West Ham inevitably lose to Chelsea, and they’re going dramatically drop down the table. Ok, so I lied. I’m not an optimist.
- 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*
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Watford/ Leicester City
Quique Sanchez Flores was a Europe League winning manager, who led Watford to a comfortable 13th place finish on their first attempt. Mazzarri is a manager who took over Inter after they finished 9th, and was sacked for somehow still being there a year and a half later. So obviously to the Pozzo family, Mazzari is a man who can improve a team, while Flores has reached his ceiling. The fact that Flores is only in charge of Espanyol now is obviously proof that no clubs as big as Watford trust him.
- Swansea City/ Leicester City
I’ll be honest with you, I forgot Swansea were in the Premier League. This is very much a case of “hmmm, someone has to finish 16th I guess.” They really have become quite irrelevant since Laudrup won the League Cup three years ago. Back then they were THE lower league success story. Southampton and Leicester have usurped that title somewhat. For god’s sake, Jamie Vardy is getting a Hollywood biopic. Swansea City, on the other hand, are apparently very excited about buying Borja Baston. He was last seen playing at Eibar.
- Bournemouth/ Leicester City
Have you heard of Eddie Howe? Apparently he’s the next big thing in British management! Yeah, I hadn’t heard of him before either! Maybe the media are giving him a break, and letting him develop at his own pace. I mean, can you imagine the kind of pressure he would be under if they had linked him to the national job after only a couple of decent seasons? It’s a good thing they aren’t putting too much pressure on him to become the country’s great managerial hope. I’m sure Bournemouth can only benefit from having a man in charge that won’t have to answer for every little mistake on his learning curve.
- Burnley/ Leicester City
This summer has been dark for fans of British managers. Ever since Sam Allardyce was appointed manager of England, it’s been hard to decry the FA and the media as anti-local managers. No longer could we complain about how British managers are underrated compared to those ‘foreigns.’ Yet, there is hope! Here comes our ginger savior, astride on his Irish hare! Sean Dyche, the new carrier of the mantle proclaiming “Hey, I’d be offered a top four job if my name was Sean Dici.”
- Leicester City
The more astute readers may have noticed that I have placed Leicester’s name alongside every position in this prediction. That is because I am legally obliged to say that I have no idea where they are going to finish this season. With no betting companies claiming 5000-1 odds of them finishing in any particular position, how else is an intelligent pundit supposed to make an educated guess as to how Leicester will do?!
- Hull City
I may get into legal trouble for not predicting Leicester to finish dead last, but even I’m not stupid enough to assume that they will finish lower than a Hull side attempting to break Derby’s record for least points in a season. When you don’t have a manager, no incoming transfers, and Abel Hernandez as your best player, the only direction is down. It’s only a question of when their relegation will be confirmed. I’m going to plump for Christmas because, well, schadenfreude more than anything else. I think I might be a little sadistic.