Predictions? Who’d be so daft....?

Published: Tuesday, 21 January 2020

If I could get all my predictions right you wouldn’t be reading this now. I’d have done the lottery when I lived in the UK and f****d off a long time ago.

Predicting is a dangerous business. I’ve been haunted by mine that Everton might finish about Liverpool two/three seasons back. Liverpool fans have never let me forget it. What they don’t seem to remember though is that I predicted a title win for their team last season - and went again this time round. Well done me!

The reason for the ‘Everton’ tweet was simple. My mate Steve Walsh was doing some of the buying there at the time and I wanted to show support. He was caught up in a three-way tussle for power and not getting his way on a lot so I weighed in on his behalf. Sadly it’s all gone horribly wrong at Goodison, but at the time there wasn’t a lot between The Toffees and Liverpool. Would I like to see Everton chasing prizes and European football again? Of course I would. The mess they’re in after such big spending is a travesty. How different it might have been had Bill Kenwright not been chasing vanity signings and Koeman hadn’t been buying players that weren’t good enough through his own agent . What we do know is that if they’d trusted Walsh and had a more co-ordinated transfer policy they’d have been more effective in the market.

Anyway. That’s one that went spectacularly wrong. It hasn’t stopped me offering support to mates mind you and nor will it. I was happy to nudge United along encouraging them to get the Harry Maguire deal done on behalf of a mate. And I’m delighted that I stuck my neck out and gave Steve Bruce my unequivocal support. I’m still waiting for the Toon bullies that disagreed to admit they were wrong but I’m not holding my breath!

And so to a couple of other predictions that I made pre-season. I said Norwich would struggle. I had them down to finish bottom. There’s a fair way to go in this season yet - but where are they?

I had Bournemouth down as one of my three to be relegated. This wasn’t a simple rash guess - it was based on the way they finished last season. From the start of last January they won only three games of 18 played. Relegation form - but they got away with it because the early part of the season went well. Now they’ve lost 10 of their last 12 and haven’t scored in their last four. As I mentioned last week - all that after a £234m spend in the four and a half years that they’ve been in the PL. They're in free fall. Jeff Mostyn has a bid decision to make. I’d make a change before it’s too late. Eddie Howe needs a new challenge. Bournemouth need a lift. Call for Big Sam before the window closes. He’s good - but he’ll need more than they’ve got down there to get them out of trouble.

So, that’s two correct right now - but, of course, there’s plenty of time for both clubs to get out.

My third call for the drop was between Brighton and Crystal Palace. I did add the rider that Palace would be ok if they held onto Zaha. I was making these predictions before the August window closed. He’s so important to them, as he showed at City. In one explosive moment he changes games. There aren’t that many payers that can do that. Villa’s Jack Grealish is another. There’s a confidence about him now. An arrogance. That’s good because he knows he can deliver. I’m sure he’ll leave at the end of the season, and I still believe Villa will have enough to stay up. Both can move on productively if that happens.

Palace have got enough now even if Zaha leaves in this window - but what about Brighton? Nobody at The Amex should be anything other than concerned about the rest of their season. Again - as I pointed out last week - they’re still two points and one place worse off than they were a year ago. They had the fight of their lives to stay up then.  It’ll be Interesting to see if Graham Potter is still splitting centre-backs and trying to play out when it gets a bit tight from March onwards.

I’m pleased with my call re-Sheffield United as well. Not for a minute did I think they’d struggle.

I’m also interested to see a few more people agreeing with me that Jurgen Klopp has had a dramatically bigger influence on his club than Guardiola has had at City. If you’re not a regular let me explain. So far Guardiola has won nothing at City that the two previous managers hadn’t. Klopp has ended 30 years of hurt at Anfield. He’s also won a CL, which Guardiola has still failed to do without Messi. Here’s another prediction - you’ll hear more about this elsewhere going forward!

I said VAR would be a nightmare. That it wouldn’t add anything to our game. Anyone care to disagree? We’re edging towards the correct use of the system now - only because IFAB and FIFA have warned the PL about the way we use it - but it’s still far from workable. Ask yourself - how many times should a match day ref have gone to a monitor this weekend to check his own decisions? We’ll get there - but Mike Riley will be dragged kicking and screaming towards acceptance. When he has been he should quit - or be fired if he won’t walk.

One change I would be happy to see - and I predict isn’t far off from being adopted - independent time keepers. It’s a MUST. How can Michael Oliver take 3’10” to adjust equipment during the first half of Watford’s game and then add on only two minutes? This happens week after week with VAR as well. We’re being short changed. What’s wrong with somebody else taking this task from the ref?

So there we have it. As my old boss at tv-AM, the genius Aussie Bruce Gyngell, used to say ‘no-one else will give you credit for what you do - so make sure you do yourself’. Good on ya Bruce!!