Sunday, May 22, 2011

Football's Survival Sunday: how did I do...

Regular readers will know that I am something of a football fan. They will also be aware that at the beginning of each of the last three Premier League seasons, I have put my amateur punditry skills to the test by predicting which teams would finish where.

This season, though, rather than predict the position in which each club would finish, I decided to deal with the ones that really matter, groups which I called, rather inventively I thought, The Winners and The Losers.

And starting with my predicted winners, I tipped Chelsea for the title (d'oh!) and the rest of the top four to be United, City and Arsenal, in no particular order. So I got the Champions wrong, but correctly called the four teams who would qualify for the Champions League. But before anyone says it for me, let me be the first to concede that a blind man on a galloping horse could have seen that, so no kudos to the Throne there, then.

Moving slightly further down the pecking order, but remaining with 'the winners', I saw Spurs, Everton and Liverpool filling the next three spots.I got those right as well, and whilst some might suggest that they were another 'gimme', I would remind them that for a significant period of the early part of the season, Liverpool were languishing in the lower reaches of the league, whilst Everton's season started slowly and built to an excellent crescendo.

Turning to The Losers, I have to admit that I was significantly wide of the mark in predicting that Blackpool, Wolves and West Brom would take the drop. Yes, the Seasiders - everybody's second favourite team - eventually succumbed to their inability to defend, but both of the others survived, despite experiencing real wobbles and in Wolves' case, spending months in the bottom three. But as Mick McCarthy and his Wigan counterpart Roberto Martinez would doubtless observe, it doesn't matter how much of the season you spend in the bottom three as long as you're not in it after the final game.

So congratulations to the survivors and apologies to supporters of those clubs I wrongly tipped for the drop.

And whilst I'm wearing the hair shirt, allow me to open myself to further ridicule by reminding you of another of my predictions, suggesting that if any team was capable of breaking into the top seven, it was Birmingham City, who actually ended up being relegated!

So there we are; a bit of a curate's egg really - called the top seven exactly right, but got most of the losers wrong and one of them - Birmingham - very badly so.

Still, it won't stop me breaking out the crystal again next August... Bet you can hardly wait!

Ps. I see that Chelsea (or should that be Abramovich) have sacked Carlo Ancelotti after two seasons in charge at The Bridge. Well, he only won The Double in his first season, didn't he; what else could he expect from a grateful owner other than the sack.

And unless the Russian is prepared to dig very deep again this summer (and I don't see that happening), I see Chelsea's star waning somewhat, as their top stars, Terry, Lampard and Drogba all begin to age simultaneously, whilst Petr Cech is a shadow of the keeper he was before his skull fracture. If I was Abramovich, I'd be phoning Arsene Wenger to seek his advice in developing a coping strategy for season after season of high expectation and ultimate, crushing failure.

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