Saturday, August 6, 2016

Why This Won't Be Your Year: Premier League 2016/17 Preview, Part 1

Hull City Tigers

That`s what your cookie cutter official website calls you, so suck it up Hull fans. The website is also holding a riveting poll on which shirt you would buy, home, or away? Why would you choose the away kit, unless you secretly wanted to hide your allegiances behind a strip so plain and white you could pass for a county cricketer. The Hull City Official Supports club website runs a far more interesting poll about when was your favourite Hull game at Wembley. Though I’m a bit suspect of this site, as no one comments on anything, and they seem to be excited by the new shirt sponsor. Three years with a Kenyan betting site across my chest wouldn`t exactly get my pulse racing.

Oompa Loompa Cosplayers pictured at the recent ComicCon.

Why This Won’t Be Your Year

When your own manager wants nothing to do with you after promotion, you know you’re in trouble. When some of your best players are more than willing to drop back down a division rather than tog out in the top tier, you should probably think twice before forking out for that season ticket too. With the opening day looming it seems you will be reduced to picking eight fit players, a cream telephone box in midfield, with two airfix planes up front, to make up the starting eleven. That opening day fixture is none other than Premier League Champions Leicester City, who will be more than happy to come and win one nil, leaving you with that faint hope that maybe you can compete this season.

Of course lots of people blame the owners, the Allam family, for this state of affairs. But what did you expect a billionaire to do with an exotic wild animal, only to shoot it dead, skin it into a nice rug, all before giving it a cute nickname? The club is currently up for sale (kind of), but not before the owners get that sweet, sweet TV money, sucker some fans into season tickets, and perhaps some of that parachute payment cash after inevitable relegation. Buying Blackpool probably looks like a safer investment at the moment, plus you`d at least get a successful ladies team with them.

The team captain is sidelined for three months with injury. The caretaker manager has never managed an actual game from the dugout as a manager before. All your best players played in the Premier League two years ago and they were crap then, so why would this season be any better?? Oh those heady days of Phil Brown. In fact they should build a statue of Phil Brown serenading Giovanni and Bernard Mendy outside the KCOM stadium to remind fans of the good old days, Hull City Council should get on this right away.

You Couldn`t Write The Script

If they can keep all the other more ambitious teams from buying all their half talented players then perhaps they have a chance of staying up. You don`t get out of the Championship without a somewhat decent first eleven. Another bright spot has been the preseason form of Adama Diomande. The Norwegian was one of the top scorers in the Tippeligaen not so long ago and could transfer that to the Premier League, where you don`t have to play as many games in the Arctic Circle.


Face it Burnley fans, this is just a year of travelling to strange places to watch football games before the serious business of gaining promotion from the Championship in 2017/18 begins next August. You know this, I know this, the manager knows this, and the owners definitely know this. So let`s be realistic here before any talk of `doing a Leicester` enters our heads.

What was it like to be on the conveyor belt of great Liverpool defenders Jon?

Why This Won’t Be Your Year

You might come from a small town, but you’re not even interesting enough to have the smallest stadium. Your captain is from Chester, which is bloody miles away, and your top scorer comes from the far flung lands of Wolverhampton, so stop pretending like you’re the guardians of English football parochialness. Your manager is from Kettering; it’s easier to get to Paris from Kettering than to travel up to Burnley. So stop pretending you`re a small club. Ramsbottom United are a small club. You are not a small club.

Speaking of your manager, I guess the best thing that can be said about him is that after Burnley sold all their `stars` when they dropped out of the Premier League two seasons back, they all turned out to be a bit crap without him. Oh how Kieran Trippier would love to be supplying long balls to a grateful Danny Ings right about now. He was also linked with the English manager’s job during the summer. It seems the FA decided to go with the one manager who probably plays more long balls than Sean Dyche. England play once a month, and most of those shouldn`t even be classed as a competitive international. Dyche could have managed the two jobs easy. What did the FA think he was going to do? Call up Dean Marney??

Also, what’s up with your club crest? It looks like something drawn on the ZX Spectrum. A colour bleed of garish purple and yellow. The club should go back to the crest they had which featured two lions and a bee, and didn’t have a stork at the top. But I guess it’s not as boring as the West Ham crest.

You Couldn`t Write The Script

This side is surely better than the team that couldn’t get a win in the Premier League until November in 2014. Plus Andre Gray is definitely better than Danny Ings and should help them get more goals than the pathetic effort of 28 goals in 14/15.

They’ve also dodged a bullet when Joey Barton decided to retire to write a few chapters of his autobiography up in Scotland, as he hasn’t been good in the Premier League since about 2010. He surely would have seen red under the bright lights of Match of the Day, before getting into an altercation with one of Turf Moor’s racist bottle throwing fans on the way to his early bath.

Another positive is that majority of the league is composed of teams barely better than most of the sides in the Championship, and if they can make themselves hard to beat they can reach the promised land of finishing ahead of Sunderland or someone…


Seemingly by default Middlesbrough are everyone’s favourite team in the north east. Or at the very least, in their top three or four. The `Boro have been knocking on the door of promotion for so many seasons now everyone was just waiting for them to just give up and accept a life of Championship obscurity, a la Ipswich Town. But no, they seem determined to eke out a season in the top tier before doing that, probably after Steve Gibson has gone through everyone on his LinkedIn account in January, all their players leave after getting a taste of Premier League action and think they are bigger than the club, topped off with a Lee Cattermole goal at the Riverside in March rooting them to the bottom of the table right before Aitor Karanka`s heart explodes, leaving the dream team of Gareth Southgate and Gordan Strachan to be drafted in to sort things out. Enjoy it `boro fans.

Maybe he thought there was no relegation like in the MLS?

Why This Won’t Be Your Year

And what`s going on with signing all these players in pre-season? How many new faces do you need? You know what clubs signed a stupid amount of players last year? Yep, Aston Villa and Newcastle, and it worked out great. You even went and signed Villa`s goalkeeper. The team that conceded the most goals in the league, you went out and signed their goalkeeper. I never understand why you would let your squad be infested by players who only a few months previous were strolling around as their team was getting embarrassed. Yeah, that’s the kinda spirit we need. Middlesbrough even played Villa in a friendly recently, and beat them (thank god). Luckily your manager seemed to take positives from it, saying the game was good for everyone. Oh great, a run out against Villa will prepare you for the exertions of the Premier League. It`s like pushing over a bunch of toddlers in preparation for a fight in the UFC. And once again, Brad Guzan, jeez, you might as well have loaned Bruno Zuculini again to see if he was any good in goals.

Of course everyone is getting excited about Alvaro Negredo. A player so good he couldn`t get a game at Madrid. A player so good Valencia let him go on loan despite only having one senior striker in their squad. A player so good Spain didn’t bother bringing him to EURO 2016 even though they were crying out for a goalscorer. But what about all those goals at Man City you ask? Well, he only scored nine league goals in his one season there. The same amount as Danny Welbeck that year. But if you need someone to score a hat trick in the league cup, Negredo`s your man. So when Middlesbrough draw Gillingham in the EFL cup, high tail it down to the bookies and lump on boro fans, you`ll be swanning around the banks of the River Tees like Alfie Common the next day.

You Couldn`t Write The Script

Hey, but you never know. Perhaps this is the season that Stewart Downing finally delivers on that promise he`s been bottling up for the last 15 years. Remember that time he was your top scorer? The same year that saw Middlesbrough beat Man City 8-1! How long will it take the team to reach eight goals this year? I`m guessing halfway through October.

Even if things fail to click up front early on, at least things will be safe at the back. Victor Valdes has won more honours in his career than Brad Guzan has clean sheets in the Premier League (I did not make this stat up). Valdes went on a short holiday to Belgium a few months back, and he still somehow managed to win the Belgian Cup.


Do you know that if you go to every other Premier League club`s Wikipedia page it will say that `Team X plays in the Premier League`. Not Sunderland though, their page adds the beautiful caveat of `currently plays in the Premier League`. Even random compilers of arbitrary information realize this team is on a stay of execution, and soon it will descend towards the light of the Championship.

The only reason to go to the stadium is to take in the `Officer and a Gentleman` ladies nights, unless you find some perverse pleasure in seeing Man Utd and Spurs rejects try to do an impression of a back four. I believe the two corners of the main stand have a shrine to a golden boot and a pair of hooped earrings in honour of the only two people to bring joy to the ground in living memory, Kevin Philips and Beyonce. It`s going to be a another long season Sunderland fans, and a long way from the clubs heyday of the 90s (that`s the 1890s).

David Moyes slowly morphing into Roy Hodgson here.

Why This Won’t Be Your Year

So your manager left to pick an England squad every few weeks. This is perhaps good news for Jermain Defoe, who surely should have been rewarded for coming out of retirement in the MLS to rescue the Black Cats from relegation with a call up to EURO 2016. Though it`s probably for the best in the long term, as he would have only come back with his soul crushed like all the other England players.

And who`s the new manager? ……………. drum roll please …………… David Moyes! I bet that sets the pulse racing doesn`t it. He followed a tough act at Man Utd and made them worse. He then went to Sociedad and somehow made them worse too. The pinnacle of his career has been taking Preston out of the fourth division. You can point to his 11 years at Everton, but he just made them a sterile club that was happy to finish around sixth every year. He`ll be the manager everyone forgets managed their club, even Everton supporters. The managerial equivalent of a blind spot, that tricky table quiz answer you won’t be able to answer as you down your fifth pint of Double Maxim.

Before a ball is kicked Moyes is already rabbiting on about his win percentage. You are solely employed to win football matches, that`s all you have to do. You could watch animal porn on a projector and loud speakers in the club museum, but if you win football games no one will give a crap. Unless your win percentage is hovering around 90%, don`t talk about your win percentage. I can just see Sunderland winning on the last day of the season and reaching 40 points to stay up. Only for Moyes to be sacked because he drew the 37 other league games, leaving him with a shocking 2.6% win percentage.

You Couldn`t Write The Script

Well, the club isn`t harbouring a pedophile anymore, so that`s always a plus.

This could be the year Fabio Borini catches fire and loses the use of his baby finger after celebrating one too many goals. It could also be the year Defoe swaps his Spurs pillow cases for ones featuring Samson the Black Cat, and he decides to score goals before Sunderland are six points from safety sometime in March.

Also, what have you done with Wes Brown? Is he not a player there? When did he stop being a registered player? I`m half expecting a Panorama special entitled `The Disappearance of Wes Brown`. Where they show grainy footage of a figure going up for a corner, only for the away team to break down field and score. As the camera pans back we can only make out a cloud of smoke and perhaps the flag of a long extinct fifth or sixth official.


Or AFC Bournemouth as they insist on being called. Is all this just a ploy to be top of the league on opening day? And what`s with the A anyway? Athletic. Are you sending guys to the Olympics now? Perhaps Tyrone Mings was bought because of his proficiency in the pole vault. Maybe I should head to the official club website to find out. Oh dear, oh no, my eyes! The site is all written in red and white on a black background, I know that`s the colour of your kit, but why do you assault me like this. A.C. Milan have the same colour jerseys and their website is far more readable, and that’s in Italian. Possibly taking more cues from the Italian giants, AFC could stand for `Associazione Faceto Calcio` but I guess we`ll never know.

Hmmmm should've gone for the England job...

Why This Won’t Be Your Year

Dean Court is getting a second season of top tier football. This would have been unthinkable back in the days of Harry Redknapp and Tony Pulis. Thankfully you`ve got a hot young manager who likes to spend money like a born again Brendan Rodgers, in the effort to keep the Cherries in the top flight. He also looks like the newborn baby of a tryst between Dan Dare and an Easter Island head. I`m sure that’s why all these fringe Premier League and middling Championship players flock to the south west to be with him.

The season couldn`t start out much tougher for Bournemouth, as they host Man Utd. If you thought Leeds supporters rioting through the town in 1990 was bad, wait until Zlatan is finished with you. Artur Boruc won`t be able to sleep for a month. Josh King will forget where the goalposts are after seeing his incredible haul of six goals in one season get obliterated in one afternoon. The team won`t be able to lift themselves off the bottom of the table for two months. The only highlights in that time will be some of your new signings snapping their cruciate ligaments after tumbling down some steps in the Ted Mcdoughall Stand in an ill-advised photo-op.

The Cherries got nine points off the trio of teams that got relegated last year, that won’t be happening again. They had the worst defence of all the teams that stayed up last year, so what have they done to remedy this? They`ve loaned one defender who really wants to be a midfielder, while paying six million (Yes, 6,000,000) for another player who has more studs on his boots than first team appearances, and also, doesn`t really want to be a defender.

You Couldn`t Write The Script

You know, that Jordan Ibe can be quite handy. He can play on either wing. He has an eye for the odd goal or assist. If he helps them stay up his fee will seem like a bargain, plus they can sell him on to Chelsea at three times the price at the end of the season.

Bournemouth overall are a very young squad. A few good results and they could be this year’s surprise team. A poor man`s Spurs if you will. Except lacking the flair, and the nagging self-doubt.

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