Tales Top Tips

Chris Darwen

Premier League Winners: The fans! The fans will be the winners, honest. No, of course they won’t be. Some ticket prices maybe frozen, but that cynic in me thinks popcorn prices might be on the rise inside the stadium. But we don’t mean that, do we? You’ve read this in the vague hope of getting something useful. Who will win the Premier League? Well, if Pep, Jose or Antonio doesn’t given the amount of collective money they will have spent come the end of the season they should be put on the first plane out of the UK. If I had to pick a winner though, which is kinda the point, I’d say Chelsea will defend their crown which will really, really upset Jose Mourinho.

Who will get relegated: We’ve had some real dozy plonkers relegated in the last two seasons. Will anyone be more hilarious than Aston Villa or Sunderland? Probably not. I hate to say it, but I think Huddersfield will wish they were never promoted (even though the vast amounts of cash will soften the blow). Equally, Brighton have spent a decade trying to get up, and theirs will be a very short stay. I’d love to see Mark Hughes relegated, though ideally I’d like him to get relegated but Stoke stay up. Can I have that? I am worried for Bournemouth, I think this might be a double south coast relegation. Hell, maybe Southampton will go too – that won’t happen though.

Who will get sacked first: Sackings are great, aren’t they? Personally, I don’t think they happen enough. Although he won’t be sacked, I still have an inkling that Antonio Conte might be the first Premier League manager to leave his post meaning Leonid Slutsky will be the first Russian manager to win the Premier League. Most of the guys are probably going to say someone like Frank de Boer at Palace will get the boot, but I don’t think Palace will want to be recruiting yet another manager anytime soon, there aren’t too many left to pick from. I’m going to be bold and say NOBODY gets sacked this season – any parting of ways will be by the biggest load of crap that gets spouted when P45’s are being dished out – “mutual consent”.

Biggest Transfer Flop of the Season: Oh my, there are so many factors to consider in this. Price paid vs impact. What is considered a flop. Wages paid vs transfer fee vs passes completed over 90 minutes. Sod all that, I’m going to say Wayne Rooney. Let’s face it, he’s shit now and he is about to prove that he isn’t even good enough for Everton.

FA Cup Winners: I can imagine there will be a late scramble by Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and United to all take the competition seriously when they realise that their season does need some form of silverware to be validated. And, frankly, one of them isn’t going to get Champions League football. Maybe two. Hell, maybe three!

League Cup Winners: I’ve lost interest in the League Cup since Luton Town failed to defend their crown in 1989. Sorry. So, let’s say Aston Villa so John Terry can claim that leading the side out at Wembley and lifting the trophy equals anything he achieved with Chelsea.

Which English club will bomb out of the Champions League first: I can’t believe I even made this a question when the answer is so simple. Tottenham are crap in Europe and crap at Wembley so the answer is clearly going to be Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp might end up testing the patience of even the most loyal Liverpool fans early in the season as the shock kicks in that beating Bayern in a fucking friendly means nothing if some team from Hungary beats you in a Champions League qualifier.

Jim Salveson (On the Left Side)

Premier League Winners: There will be no winners in this year’s Premier League! The money spent and the expectations are just too high this season. Take City, a club who’s summer spending makes Elvis’ buying habits look thought out and considered (younger readers may like to Google that reference). The outlay on players means that anything other than a Premier League title will be considered a failure. On that basis, winning the league is only about fulfilling expectations and should be greeted with no more glee and celebration that say, West Brom, finishing 12th. This level of expectation is in no way unique to City, its the same at 5 or 6 Premier League clubs this year, all expecting success and most falling short. There are no winners… we may as well all go home now!

Who Will Get Relegated: Whoever gets relegated can at least rest assured in the knowledge that they won’t be as much of an embarrassment as Sunderland were last season. Even since getting rid of David Moyes the Black Cats have continued this summer turning ineptitude into an art form that I very much doubt will be matched for some time to come. Who will come closest to that fate… I think Newcastle could be in for a shock. Comedy club owner Mike Ashley has been too busy getting pissed under tables and fighting former business partners to actually bother strengthening the team and we could well be hearing the dreaded phrase “Too good to go down” before the first sightings of topless Geordies dancing in the St James Park snow.

Who Will Get Sacked First: The average life span of a football manager is under two years. That’s less than a normal pet Hamster’s life on this earth. This means two things… one, only buy your child a pet hamster if you want to soon be teaching them some important lessons about death and two, probably 30% of Premier League managers will be signing on at the job centre before the season is out. Who’s going to go first? Frank DeBoer. The relationship with Crystal Palace got off to a rocky start when the club used a picture of his BROTHER to announce his arrival and the challenge of the Premier League will be very different to the one he faced in Holland and Italy. He could be pining for the fjords before we know it (are fjords a Dutch thing… how about windmills then?).

Biggest Transfer Flop: Alexandre Lacazette. No doubt the boy has talent. I’ve been looking forward to seeing him play in the Premier League for some time and his goal to game ratio for Lyon is none too shabby (almost 1 in 2). Those Arsenal fans who are hoping for another Theiry Henry may not be too far off the mark. However, that doesn’t factor Arsene Wenger into the equation. I am 100% convinced that over the next 2 season Wenger will flex his un-sackable muscles and set about systematically destroying the football club for whoever dares follow him into the dugout. So for all Lacazette’s talent as a natural goalscorer, it will do him little good when he Wenger picks him in goal each and every game.

FA Cup Winners: Aston Villa. I hope so anyway, purely so I can watch John Terry, having been injured since the first week of the season, elbow his new team mates out the way to be first to lift the trophy. Never change JT.

League Cup Winners: The what cup? Seriously? Do they still play the League Cup? Kept that one quiet.

Who Will Bomb Out of the Champions League First: Forget about the English teams in the Champions League. They’ll all follow the usual route of walking the group stages, potentially struggling through the last 16 before being dumped out in the quarters sparking much debate on sports radio about the PL being the “Best League in the World”. Mark Clattenburg is by far the most successful English Champions League export and he has the tattoo’s to prove it. Clat-man may be stepping away from England to referee for the Saudi Arabian Football Federation but if he is called up to Europe’s top table once again (and I’ve no idea if he’s even eligible) he will soon realise that refereeing a REAL football match where the match officials room isn’t plated with gold and an army of Arabian beauties don’t feed you half time oranges isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. He’ll make his excuses and retire back to his sun lounger.

Dean Mannion (Is Right La)

Prem winners: Man United. Mourinho has thrown enough money into making his team the most 1970s version of modern day football that they will bludgeon their way to the title.

Relegated: Huddersfield (as the worst team in league history), Brighton (as third worst – Derby were that bad in 07/08), Stoke (just because it has to happen at some point)

Sacked first:  Mark Hughes. He’s horrible, he’s antagonistic, I don’t think even his own Mum likes him very much so Peter Coates is going to have had enough, surely, by Bonfire Night.

Biggest flop: Everton, I’m delighted to say. Bought too many players, all midtable at best. Rooney is too fat to move now and the only striker in the league with a first touch worse than Lukaku’s.

F.A Cup: Arsenal. Because the day of the final ends in a ‘y’.

League Cup:  Liverpool. We’ll flatter to deceive. Like our transfer business, we’ll promise so much and deliver little. See the league as us “entering the race” for M’Bappe, see winning the League Cup as us fucking up the Van Dijk move.

Bombing out the CL: Spurs. In for a dismal season. They’re terrified of Wembley and have bough nobody to replace Kyle Walker, or even deputise for Kieran Trippier. They had a terrible season after selling Bale, but at least they bought a whole new squad and Kyle Walker isn’t even as good as Bale!

Abhi Pancholi (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly)

Premier League Winners: Manchester City. Pep has been afforded enough time and money to create a team in his image. Getting one over the baldist, austerity-preaching loudmouth across the city would only make it sweeter.

Who will get relegated: Huddersfield Town will prop up the table as their bulk purchases fail to form an understanding on the pitch. Brighton will be just above them with Burnley finally running out of luck and sinking right before their boat touches the shore.

Who will get sacked first: David Wagner. I look forward to Klopp offering his commiserations to his compatriot as Liverpool demolish Huddersfield on the deadline day of the winter transfer window. Huddersfield then panic and sack their manager the next day. Tim Sherwood comes in, riding his mule, and leads them back to the Championship.

Biggest transfer flop: Tottenham. Yes, the club. Daniel Levy is clutching his purse tightly, sipping tea and watching reruns of the 2008 League Cup final while Pochettino’s wails grow louder outside his front gate. Poor Mauricio might be putting on a brave face in public, but deep inside he knows they might end up with no significant additions and Sissoko might stay.

FA Cup Winners: Arsenal. Because water is wet and electric current follows the path of least resistance. If that makes no sense, neither do Arsenal’s performances in this particular competition.

League Cup Winners: Chelsea. Antonio Conte will take on the role of player-manager to compensate for lack of numbers in the Chelsea midfield. He’ll score a stunner against a lower division side, break someone in half in the semi-final and get himself banned for the final which they’ll win on penalties against John Terry’s Aston Villa.

Who will bomb out of the Champions League first: Tottenham. With any luck, they won’t drop down into the tiring Europa League, simply concentrate on the Premier League and run the winners close.

Cameron Eyles (Bad Management)

Premier League Winners: Man United Mourinho bloody loves winning the league in his second season. Expect United to be pretty dull but incredibly hard to beat, Lukaku will bag loads and City will run them close but not close enough.

Who will get relegated: Brighton (20th they’ve spent no money) Burnley (19th – due to my irrational hatred of Dyche) Stoke (18th – just bored of them really plus on a downward spiral)

Who will get sacked first: Tony Pulis after he falls out with the board over transfers. To be replaced by Pardew who will go on a good run before being relegated next season

Biggest transfer flop: Danilo, I don’t think he’ll play that much and when he does he’ll be crap

FA Cup Winners: Manchester City, Pep does a Wenger and saves a disappointing season right at the death probably defeating Spurs in the final

League Cup Winners: Everton. Rooney to score a late winner against Watford in the final

Who will bomb out of the Champions League first: Arsenal, oh wait Spurs I guess. Poch seems to be useless in Europe.

Billy Munday (Wally of the Week)

Premier League winners: Either one of the Manchester clubs – probably United who have seemed to have strengthened their weaker areas. City will burst out of the blocks as usual but will fall around Easter time after Guardiola loses the plot and ends up buying Xavi to play in goal.

Who will get relegated? Hopefully Huddersfield. Can’t see them providing much excitement and they are barely a Championship club anyway. Newcastle are at risk without many big signings and Rafa Benitez losing his patience. But let’s talk about the facts and the fact that the appointment of Frank De Boer is a risky one makes Palace a contender. And by the sounds of it, Spurs are the outsiders.

Who will get sacked first? I can see Brighton panicking if they have a bad start but it’s a decisive season for the likes of Guardiola and Klopp who are yet to taste success in the form of silverware at their respective clubs. But hopefully Tony Pulis, as good as he is at what he does, we could all do with a bit of excitement. I feel for the Baggies fans at times.

Biggest transfer flop: Kyle Walker will soon learn what it’s like when the rest of your back 4 can’t defend and the manager refuses to teach you how to tackle. But as a pessimistic Chelsea fan I’ll go with Alvaro Morata – mainly because he reminds me of Fernando Torres and has the cursed number 9 worn recently by Torres, Falcao and Franco Di Santo.

FA Cup Winners: Manchester United. Mourinho will win at least one trophy so if I say them for everything I’m bound to get one right.

League Cup winners: Manchester United (see above)

Who will bomb out of the Champions League first? I’m going to say Liverpool – they’ll be knocked out at the play off stage by a Macedonian team who have a population half the size of Tranmere and a stadium which has been engulfed by nature.

Bob Priestley (Curbing your Enthusiasm)

Premier League Winners: Tough one this season. I think Mad Ideologue Pep has the best chance, they appear to have improved in all the areas they were weak in last season (centre back aside) and an extra season at the feet of the Mad King will only improve the existing squad. As a United fan I wish I could say us, but Jose already started swinging last year and I’m worried that of Pogba has an off day we lack creativity. I still personally feel that Jose’s attitude in the big games really stops us kicking on, I understand the need not to lose but the games away at Liverpool and City last year were ridiculous. Chelsea and Liverpool will be hit hard by the extra European games and I think Spurs need more players; Daniel Levy is enjoying his holidays too much. I’m going to be radical and assume Arsenal will start okay, drop off in November, be knocked out of everything by February then win every game to finish 5th. I’m as mad as Felix Baumgartner (remember that? He jumped from f***** space!).
Who will get relegated: I can’t look past Brighton. They look over reliant on Knockeart and is Maryport’s own Glenn Murray going to score enough goals? Any man forged in that hellhole will have a steely disposition but I don’t think that will help him score enough goals for Brighton. Huddersfield. I don’t quite get all the Wagner love and you can play as much ‘heavy metal football’ as you like, but if you’re a weaker team you’ll get slaughtered. I’m expecting people to love Wagner’s persona until it all goes wrong in March and he does something awful like slap a journalist or run over a dog. My third pick is tough because there’s a lot of awful teams, but at the time of writing I think Stoke are in danger. I think Mark Hughes is a good manager, but they’ve lost some key players, they can’t defend and they can’t score. There’s still time to sort that out but it looks a tough season for them. Mark Hughes may have to start obsessing over handshakes with Championship level teams soon.
Who will get sacked first: If Stoke don’t get a few players in I wonder if Hughes might step down to leave an already sinking ship; a bit like when Jack Sparrow arrives in Port Royal at the start of the first Pirates of the Caribbean. If you’re asking about sackings specifically, I think Bilic is top of the list. Everyone seems to think West Ham have bought well, but to me they still look a mediocre team. With inflated expectations, the already precariously placed Bilic will get the chop. Plus that squad is too weird. Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang? Come off it!
Biggest transfer flop: I’ll get this wrong whatever I say! After watching the friendlies I wonder if Lindelof doesn’t perform like the child of Jaap Stam and Nemanja Vidic, he’ll be deemed a flop. However I’m going to take a skewed toe poke punt at Morata. I think he will get a few goals to be honest, but he’ll always be compared against both his fee and Lukaku, which is a losing battle. We’ll get all those articles at the end of the season dividing his fee by the number of chances created and goals scored. Anyway I’ll be sat here with a bib on ready for that sweet egg on my face come May.
FA Cup Winners: I want to say Arsenal, but I’m going to go for… (puts hand over eyes and points at the league table)… Swansea! What a turn up!
League Cup Winners: Manchester United by accident. Everybody will rest their first team desperate to be knocked out and somehow we end up with a Manchester United vs Swansea final (christ Swansea are doing well!) Why do we still have this cup anyway? It’s crap. Nobody cares. I don’t even know the sponsor this time. Who is it? Carabao? Can you even buy that in Britain?
Who will bomb out of the Champions League first: Liverpool in the qualifying round. Yes that’s right! I said it! I think that game is far tougher than people give it credit for. Plus it will be as delicious as that egg I’m eating in May. Assuming they get through, I would again say they will struggle anyway. Yes they’ve improved their team but Klopp relies on high pressing and I don’t think they have the scope to rotate enough to make it through. Also see above re: delicious. Now watch as Spurs go and Spurs it up.

Eion Smith (Pan the Pundits etc)

Premier League Winners: Everton. Well, they better win it considering they’ve spent enough to build an army. Then again this being Everton they’re likely to reach Christmas in 14th then finish 7th. Again. In all seriousness, I’d imagine that Antonio Conte’s Terminators will rather robotically win. Yawn.

Relegated: Somewhere my love for the Foreign Guy will matter or be important but it will never change the fact that Watford are a bit s**t. Brighton are like Norwich in that they can’t be arsed buying anyone semi-decent to try and stay up while Huddersfield will probably enjoy losing £5 million on Tom Ince when they go down on the last day.

Who will get sacked first: Frank de Boer. I mean Crystal Palace are just not that great especially considering they’ve not really bought anyone other than Riedewald. He’s a start but it’s kind of like putting a plaster over a hose pipe so they’ll struggle at the back and Frank will be getting the sack.

Biggest Transfer Flop: Who spends £50 million on a full back anyway? What kind of return do you get for it? Plus, I’ve always thought Kyle Walker was a bit pish anyway so I hope that the cut-price foreigner keeps him out the side.

FA Cup Winners: The great Wenger debate will be decided at Wembley – Wenger remains in a decision that ends up dismaying the vast majority of the country who are now stuck with this debate for another bloody year GOD WILL THIS EVER END?!

League Cup Winners: Walsall because they’re a football club that is entering said competition

CL Bomb: As much as it pains me to say it, Liverpool will manage to snatch embarrassment from the jaws of dignity and get eliminated by losing on away goals. It’s what we seem to do best.

Tim Adams (new boy)

Premier League: Man City- As the squad takes time to gel the back papers will use the headline Fraudiola as it emerges that spending £350m on a squad had less of an impact on the league than it would’ve on the side of a bus (and that hasn’t worked out well). Against Chelsea David Silva will handle the ball on the line and Andre Marriner will send Bernardo Silva off instead. And as the tune of Blue Moon reverberates around the stadium many City fans will realise it’s cheaper to get to the moon than the Etihad. But City will still win the league and it would be fitting if Lee Nelson started the celebration.

Relegated: Huddersfield. Their stadium is named after a beer. Says it all. Brighton. Their stadium is named after an American Company. Good luck to them. Burnley. Turf Moor’s a bit dull. They should all look at Bournemouth. The Vitality Stadium. A bit more positive lads c’mon!

Sacked first: Tony Pulis but don’t put a bet on it given two seasons ago I thought Claudio Ranieri would be the first boss to depart. So WBA fans may just be celebrating the league at the end of the year.

Biggest transfer flop: Alvaro Morata. A panic but for Conte who has already moaned about his fitness and physique, and all this after losing Lukaku to Man United in a one horse race. Hopefully the Italian doesn’t lose his hair over it!

FA Cup winners: Newcastle. They’ve got to win a trophy at some point. The trophy cabinet is struggling on a zero hours contract.

League Cup winners: The draw will be more entertaining than the competition.

Club to bomb out the UCL first: Spurs. Finish third in the group and go into the Europa League. Arsenal fans laugh. Four months later Spurs beat Arsenal in the Europa League final. Arsenal Fan TV episode gets more views than Love Island.