It’s barely been three months since Martin Tyler’s spine-chilling Aguero climax, or from the historic moment John Terry appeared in full Chelsea kit in Munich, commencing a lucrative Photoshopping career.
But following the entertainingly predictable Team GB failure in the mens football, the new season is now rapidly approaching, and here at 1FITG towers, we love a good prediction. So we’ve been asking some of our contributors to tell us what they think is in store for season 2012/13, with five simple questions – a few of the usual, with some of the unexpected thrown in there.
1. The Champions question: who will win the Premiership, Championship, League 1 and League 2
James Albion: Manchester City, Charlton, Sheffield United, Southend United.
@josephclift: Manchester City, Bolton Wanderers, Preston North End, Rotherham United.
@giraffefarmer: Manchester City, Bolton Wanderers, Sheffield United, Southend United.
Trebor A: Chelsea, Blackpool, Coventry City, Gillingham.
Dan Northcote-Smith (@dnsandnick): Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers, Sheffield United, Fleetwood Town.
Nick Moss (@dnsandnick): Manchester United, Bolton Wanderers, MK Dons, Rotherham United.
@Miller179: Manchester United, Leicester City, Sheffield United, Rotherham United.
2. The Ron Atkinson question: who will be the first manager to be sacked in the top four divisions?
James Albion: Neil Warnock (Leeds). Conventional wisdom says that Neil Warnock just needed time to mould Leeds in his image. However, sometimes it just doesn’t work for you at a club, and there were signs last year that Warnock may be struggling to work his alchemy at Elland Road. A slow start this year, could see Ken Bates try and salvage the season with an early managerial change.
Who’s up for the chop?
@josephclift: Andy Thorn (Coventry). I’m amazed he’s still in his job to be honest – Coventry look as though they’re a club that could have a Preston-esque year of transition in League 1, and a poor start to the season will probably see him sacked in September.
@giraffefarmer: Sean O’Driscoll (Nottingham Forest). High expectations coupled with a mediocre squad means that Forest could struggle at the start of the season. If that happens expect the patience of the new owners to wear thin very quickly, especially if they feel that a higher profile name could be attracted to the City Ground.
Trebor A: Steve Kean (Blackburn Rovers). How on earth has he managed to last this long? Could be sacked before the end of August.
Dan Northcote-Smith (@dnsandnick): Nigel Pearson (Leicester City). Continued investment at the King Power Stadium will demand results which on recent form seem unlikely to come.
Nick Moss (@dnsandnick): Steve Kean (Blackburn Rovers). Even though it seems he has actually improved the team, the owners aren’t going to understand the difficulty the Championship poses.
@Miller179: Chris Wilder (Oxford United). Oxford are a big club (in terms of the division0 who could be looked upon to have underachieved over the last few seasons. If they don’t get off to a good start, the trap door could be beckoning for Wilder.
3. The Guy Whittingham question: who will be the top scorer out of the top four divisions?
James Albion: Jordan Rhodes (Huddersfield Town). Too good for League 1 last year, I fancy him to carrying on from where he left off in the Championship.
@josephclift: Stuart Beavon (Wycombe). Beavon did extremely well in League 1 last year, really impressed me when I saw him. I’m amazed that he hasn’t been snapped up by either a League 1 or Championship team. Assuming he stays, I can’t see League 2 defences coping with him, and provided Wycombe don’t implode I can see him having a great season for them.
Who’s going to score a shedload?
@giraffefarmer: Freddy Eastwood (Southend United). Back at the club where he made his name in the Football League, he’s far too good for this level and will supply the goals for a Southend United side that is likely to dominate the league.
Trebor A: Sergio Agüero (Manchester City). What a debut season from the diminutive Argentinean. I fully expect him to avoid the dreaded second season syndrome.
Dan Northcote-Smith (@dnsandnick): Jordan Rhodes (Huddersfield Town). Proven finisher – think Huddersfield will do well this year under Simon Grayson.
Nick Moss (@dnsandnick): Jordan Rhodes (Huddersfield Town). Great finisher, now working under a manager that made Beckford look Prem quality. More of the same.
@Miller179: Sergio Agüero (Manchester City). The complete striker/poacher. He has everything - pace, agility, strength, and finishing. With the service that he will get I’m sure it will be goals galore this season.
4. The Marco Boogers question: which new signing will completely flop?
James Albion: Nuno Gomes (Blackburn). The Portugal international has a fine pedigree, but if I were a Blackburn fan I’d prepare to be underwhelmed – very underwhelmed. Having spent the bulk of his career challenging for honours at Portugese giants Benfica, the move reeks of a player whose only remaining interest is in bolstering his pension. Now 36, does Gomes really have the mettle for the rigours of a long Championship season in a cold, half-empty, Ewood Park? Well, you can guess what I think.
Who is this season’s Marco Boogers?
@josephclift: Steven Naismith (Everton). David Moyes simply doesn’t have a good overall record with strikers. He’s done well with some, but terrible with most – for every Jelavić he’s signed there’s a James Beattie or Jermaine Beckford blotting that record. Naismith was always the lesser of the pairing at Rangers, and coming off the back of a cruciate ligament injury I can’t see him doing well in his first year. Particularly if he’s stuck somewhere in midfield, which he may have to expect given Moyes’s bizarre allergy to selecting two strikers.
@giraffefarmer: Ben Burgess (Tranmere Rovers). This question was answered early this year, Ben signed for Tranmere Rovers in June 2012 and then retired from football in July 2012. A sad end for a solid pro, but definitely a flop.
Trebor A: Eden Hazard (Chelsea). The football prostitute, cavorted himself to a plethora of potential suitors. Fluttering his eyelids, and continually pursing his lips. Before announcing his decision on twitter. In a ridiculously over-hyped fashion. You would think Chelsea have signed Leo Messi. Well they haven’t. Hazard is just another player, whose 5 minute YouTube videos precede him.
Dan Northcote-Smith (@dnsandnick): Olivier Giroud (Arsenal). Can’t see him dominating Premier League centre-backs like he did in France. Plus, will Arsenal start chucking crosses into the box?
Nick Moss (@dnsandnick): Edin Hazard (Chelsea). Tough call this as his talent isn’t in question. His adaptability, especially in the first season, is though. A hefty price tag, and most likely having to find space on the left wing won’t help.
@Miller179: I wouldn’t say flop signing because this player has great potential, but Edin Hazard (Chelsea). I’m not sure if his style is suited to Chelsea - for me the way they play is too rigid and unexpressive. I think he will have a very tough first season. He should have gone to Man United.
5. The Titanic question: which club is going to have a nightmarish disaster of a season?
James Albion: Portsmouth. Given Pompey may not even exist at the start the season, this may actually be a poor choice. At the time of writing the club had just 3 first team players on its books. Assuming they satisfy the administrators on the 10th August, it’s hard to see how the remaining players – along with any last minute additions – will do anything other than struggle. It raises the humbling prospect of the 2008 FA Cup winners starting the 2013 season in the bottom division.
Who’s entering troubled waters?
@josephclift: It would be easy to say Portsmouth. I’m instead going for Nottingham Forest. A new manager once again, and while Sean O’Driscoll was raved about prior to 2011 it’s difficult to forget that it all ultimately went very wrong for him at Doncaster. His style of football was generally pleasing on the eye for a team with zero expectations – with the rich new owners and heightened expectations, I’m not convinced O’Driscoll’s up to the task. They’ll be looking at a top 6 finish – I reckon they’ll be midtable or worse, with potential upheaval in the new year from jittery owners concerned about their investment.
@giraffefarmer: Swansea City. Swansea lost their talented manager Brendan Rodgers over the post-season and look set to lose star players such as Joe Allen. With little clout to bring in new players or the time needed to integrate any newcomers into their (slightly overrated) sub-tiki-taka style of play, the team is likely to be weaker than last season. Couple this with second-season syndrome and Swansea will seriously struggle. If that wasn’t bad enough, potential success for rivals Cardiff this season after their cash injection means Swansea could be relegated while being leapfrogged into the Premier league by their biggest competitors – which would definitely be a nightmarish disaster of a season.
Trebor A: Aston Villa. Yeah, I know last season wasn’t exactly a vintage one, for Villa fans. The McLeish era wasn’t something to regale you about. However, I fear that everything is about to get a lot worse. A meagre budget, coupled with average players means one thing. Relegation is clearly on the horizon. England’s 2nd city will soon have no football clubs in the top-flight.
Dan Northcote-Smith (@dnsandnick): QPR. Low caibre signings and they will be without the delivery of errant midfielder and social media expert Joey Barton.
Nick Moss (@dnsandnick): Coventry City. A couple of demoralising results early on – that slip can turn into a slide.
@Miller179: Liverpool. For me the Brendan Rodgers era is going to get off to a very slow start. Everyone talks about the style of play that Rodgers employs, but what people don’t realise is that this takes time – a lot of time to get to that level. It doesn’t happen overnight. Remember Rodgers at Reading??? People won’t see the full fruits of this until next season. The first few months could be a tough slog for the Reds.