Time to lay memories of England’s World Cup to rest and get on with the real deal
I can’t speak for others, but I certainly didn’t lose any sleep over England’s third-fourth place play-off match on the last weekend of the World Cup – in fact, I gained some!
My interest was so intense that I managed to fall asleep after the first 10 minutes of the match and, when I awoke, Belgium had just gone 2-0 up. I didn’t bother watching the highlights later.
The fact is that, after all the hype and crazy expectation, England were found wanting. Nice try, no cigar.
I’ll keep this brief because, well, I’m sure you’re sick of all the analysis and what-ifs that were trotted out in the aftermath of the tournament. I’ll sum it up by saying England achieved far more than fans expected and they gave Englishmen cause to hope. Well played!
After England were knocked out the sun still came up the next day and, with nod of appreciation and congratulations to France, I think I’ll conclude my warblings about the World Cup there.
I’ve even asked for previous posts on the subject to be “buried” on REm’s website.
So, let’s move on to the real deal – the Premier League which starts in less than a week’s time. As is customary after World Cup disappointment, I’m especially looking forward to it.
This time last year I predicted six without committing to trying to put them in order. On reflection, it was a pretty meaningless exercise.
The only real “skill” in relation to the top of the table would be in predicting a side who might break into the top half dozen. I will give that a go, but preface my prediction(s) by saying that if given £100 to wager I would not look outside the teams that took the top six slots last time.
Who might trouble the established order?
It’s not easy picking anyone without triggering hoots of derision. But, I have a sneaky feeling about West Ham.
On what do I base this?
It’s in the quality of the manager they have appointed – Manuel Pellegrini.
A lot still depends on who they can bring in before the transfer deadline but, yes, I think West Ham may do enough to secure European football for the 2019-20 season.
Last time I attempted to talk up the chances of Everton so Hammers fans may not thank me
for suggesting they may do well this time. I also think the Toffees have a chance, by the way.
Who will win the whole thing?
No prizes for putting forward the name of Manchester City.
Not for me, though it sounds like they might have solved their goal-keeping problem.
I thought they had made a major signing in Sanchez, but he obviously needs to play in a line-up where he is considered the main man.
They have a Golden Boot winner (at the time of writing) and will do well to keep hold of him. Can’t see them winning the whole thing.
I think it’s too early to expect Wenger’s replacement to make his mark but were they to improve on last year’s sixth place it wouldn’t surprise me at all.
Really struggling to understand what is going on there. By the time you read this they may have a new owner and I think it’s entirely possible they might lose their two Belgian superstars – Hazard and Courtois. If any team is going to drop out of the top six, Chelsea would be my choice.
And what of the relegation places?
I didn’t get a single one of them right last time so I’m seriously wondering if punditry is for me.
The division is full of so-so sides who lack Premiership pedigree. The teams that came up – Wolves, Fulham and Cardiff are comparatively unknown quantities.
Wolves seem to have a super agent in the camp who should help them to make good signings.
Fulham have some talented individuals, especially the young Sessegnon.
Cardiff would be my top tip for relegation, but Huddersfield were last time and look what happened.
Two to go down with Cardiff?
Well I’ll perm two from three. I like England’s south coast but I’ll go for Brighton and Southampton. As an alternative, I’m not sure Huddersfield will escape again.
A cheeky outsider for the drop?
How about Leicester City?
The sale of Mahrez was bad news for them and if Maguire is lured elsewhere they will be in a bad way.
Good luck to your team, whoever you support!
By Dave Buckley