Season Preview

Arsenal

Ahh the usual season for Arsenal involving some sparklingly keep-ball and no one to finish them off. The usual fragilities will be less obvious with Vermalean coming back but there is a distinct lack of belief in the team and the Great Wenger is looking more and more isolated. Whereas before they’ve relied on players who are simply not good enough, now it will be down to their very talented youth. The arrival of Wiltshire and Ryo Miyaichi will push Arsenal on but signings like Gervinho simply arent good enough.

Aston Villa

Its difficult to know how Villa will do this season. McLeish needs a good start to quell any discontent. Losing Young is disappointing but they have decent young players coming through especially in Albrighton. Agbonlahor is a real talent and staying fit could link up well with Heskey. Given is a like-for-like replacement for Friedel. A lack of strength in depth could hinder them.

Blackburn Rovers

A poor team under an unnecessary manager and curious owners. By February last season I was fairly sure Rovers would get relegated. They survived but with little conviction. Without a change of management and some new players, Blackburn are drifting to inevitable relegation.

Bolton Wanderers

Despite the disastrous FA Cup semi-final loss to Stoke, Bolton has a pretty good season last year. Coyle is a good manager and added some flair to the team. They need some investment especially if they lose Cahill. Their summer signing don’t inspire a sense of progress.

Chelsea

A difficult team to assess this season. Chelsea are ageing yet still efficient. Torres looks keen to lead the line and they have enough flair to provide the chances. Lakaku is no Drogba, a player with underrated skill and the loss of Essien is a serious blow. I’m not reading much into this new manager yet. He may have worked under Jose but there is only one Jose Mourinho. Roman should have known that.

Everton

Moyes will do it again. Bringing in unheralded players and moulding them into a winning, or at least, very difficult to beat team. Everton only lost 10 times all season but ended the season with only a 6+ goal difference. There is no point calling for more investment. It just can’t happen under the board. How long Moyes can continue this brilliant job or wants to, I don’t know but if Moyes does leave, Everton are in trouble.

Fulham

We will see another solid over-achieving season from Fulham, this time under Martin Jol. Fulham are a team re-born, forged into a solid defensive outfit and an attractive attacking team especially at set pieces.

Liverpool

Kenny has no excuses. The board have lavished money on the squad. Dalglish has bought well (even if he has overpaid especially for Downing and Henderson) and the youth team re-organised by Rafa is finally coming through. Lucas came of age and Suarez is a real talent but there remain many questions over Carroll, Gerard and the right side.

Manchester City

Winning the FA Cup and finishing 3rd hardly seems enough for such an expensively created team. Despite still looking like a Championship Manager team, for me they should have done better and Mancini wont have too many excuses next summer. He has quality in De Jong, Toure, Silva and Aguero. However they still look vulnerable at the back. Any team with Lescott in it, won’t win the league.

Manchester United

United have invested for the future but right now are they stronger than last year? They will have more dynamism, Nani might finally do more than show off, Anderson can lead the midfield and Young will add more finesse to procedures. De Gea doesn’t convince me at all but Rooney looks comfortable and they have quality at the back. Definite favourites for the league.

Newcastle United

The usual messy season coming up but mid-table is all Mike Ashley aspires to. While allowing Nolan to leave is a bad decision, Newcastle have the organisation and defensive nous in Tiote to overcome their lack of flair and in Joey Barton, they’ll always get a headline.

Norwich City

Paul Lambert is yet another up-and-coming Scottish manager. He has brought in 8 new players and kept the old squad on the books. My friend Jorden tells me Grant Holt is the greatest Norwich striker since Robert Fleck. I’m not sure what that means in reality but Norwich should have enough to stay up especially if they garner points at Carrow Road.

QPR

QPR are a rough diamond according their new owner Tony Fernandes. He could have been talking about Neil Warnock as well. Warnock has sensibly invested upfront bringing in Jay Boothroyd and DJ Campbell, two marginal Premier League players. They will inhabit the lower echelons of the league for most of the season but its competitive down there. That will suit Warnock.

Stoke City

Stoke will be Stoke. They will take no prisoners and make compromising tackles. Europe may be a distraction for Pulis but ultimately they have enough to finish mid-table and give the fans a few nice European away days.

Sunderland

The loss of Bent last season hit them hard along with injuries. They’ve invested in a few quality defenders in Wes Brown and John O’Shea and Connor Wickham looks a good shot for the future. But the future can’t wait. Bruce needs a good start or this season and his tenure will begin to look difficult.

Swansea City

Swansea have promised to play attractive football in the Premier League so prepare to get relegated. Coming up via the play-offs they’ve brought in 6 players, none of whom will save them. I hope they have some good days home and away but I suspect they won’t last longer than a season.

Tottenham Hotspur

Harry’s team have improved and now challenge the big boys. In Van Der Vaart and Modric, they have real talents in midfield. But there are gaps. I fear for their defence. They can’t keep wheeling out Ledley King and Kaboul or Bassong aren’t good enough replacements. How Gomes starts ahead of Freidel is beyond me. And too many draws last season (14) indicates they lack a prolific goalscorer.

West Brom

Finishing 11th last season was more than the Baggies could have wished for. Hodgson will repeat the trick this season. The squad remains intact and Shane Long is a good bet. But it all rests on the wily Hodgson who will see them to midtable again.

Wigan Athletic

I can’t believe they survived last season. I like Martinez but his team is poor. I know its Wigan but I expected more. Having lost their only real talent in N’Zogbia, they will really struggle this season. Only the poor league can save them.

Wolves

Similarly to Wigan, Wolves pulled it out on the final day. Mick McCarthy instigated a clear-out but has brought little in. Roger Johnson is a solid defender but Jamie O’Hara was there last season on loan. Wolves will struggle, that’s a guarantee but similarly to Wigan, there may be a way to survive.

Champions: Manchester United

2nd: Manchester City

3rd: Chelsea

4th: Liverpool

5th: Spurs

Relegated: Blackburn Rovers, Swansea City, Wigan Athletic

Zimbardo Asks Why People Go Wrong?

I’m not sure of some of Zimbardo’s previous work especially his Stanford prison experiments but anyone who moves psychology beyond the individual to understand individual action/reaction is on the right path for me.

And if you don’t know it, Ted.com is a great website.

Cameron faces the tough choices

You have to give it to the Prime Minister; in a time of crisis, despair and fear, it is very brave of him to go to Witney, his deprived constituency to make such the speech about our broken society. He must have been overwhelmed with the hard questions; chicken or smoked salmon volovant Mr Prime Minister?

Personally I just don’t know the answer. Its so confusing.

LATEST:Saudi Arabia withdraws ambassador from Syria in protest at crackdown

This isn’t a story from The Onion but from the BBC. I love the irony of such a hugely repressive regime who sent in troops to support the Bahrain crackdown now taking a moral stance against repression. The irony of a regime that suppresses all rights and adheres to a near-medieval Wahhabism is now making a call on human rights. I assume too many men have been killed and they are taking their eye of the women drivers.

Si’s rant: Glastonbury, football and all those cu#ts

Almost no one rants like Si, one of my great mates, a highly intuitive man and a pertinent and intelligent swearer. Don’t be offended. He could be defending you in court one day. So please read, mind your eyes but prepare to laugh as Si goes to town on Bono, Chris Martin and Glastonbury. See below

It’s now almost closer to the start of the new season than it is to the end of the last. How time flies. We’ve managed to get through a month without football, with only Rory McIlroy’s five irons and Roger Federer’s topspin forehand to keep us occupied. It’s been alright. A good clean break. I bet you haven’t even thought about the Barcelona debacle for a good few weeks. Sorry to bring it up again, like, but on the flipside you can look back and recall the glorious march to number nineteen. That seems a long time ago now. In odd years when there is no major tournament it’s difficult to think of anything football related to write about so with the benefit of a bit of distance and thus some perspective, let’s take a look back at 2010/11. It’s either that or I go on about how Glastonbury has turned into the Prince’s Trust benefit concert full of teenage birds screaming every time Beyonce says something about “forgetting your troubles and getting lost in the music”, and nobody wants that. Seriously though, surely it’s only a matter of time before JLS are headlining and it makes you pine for the days when shite like The Levellers were playing to a bunch of gypos with dreadlocks and dogs on a rope drinking meths. As Nicky Wire once told 15,000 smug cunts with Greenpeace t-shirts on and a petrol guzzling 4 x 4 parked in the healing fields, “they should build a bypass over this shithole”. And he’s a cunt too.

So instead of a diatribe, let’s dish out awards for the best and worst of 2010/11 in the old soccer.

Goal of the season – Bono is the king of all cunts. It’s hardly the most original opinion of all time but it’s true none the less. One thing I admire about him though is his total blinkeredness. Despite pretty much everyone in the world calling him a cunt on a daily basis, he just ploughs on through, thinking the world loves him and hangs on his every utterance, each one more inane and meaningless than the last. Look what happened to Robbie Williams. He had a similar level of arrogance and self satisfaction but when he was continually beaten down by the media and the public at large and he saw how much he was hated he very nearly topped himself. It would have been great if he had, don’t get me wrong. I’d like to see the man dead. Or would I? Do I care enough about Robbie Williams to actually see him dead or am I just being flippant? Hang on I’m going to have to stop and think about that for a second… Yes, I’ve decided that I’d like to see Robbie Williams’ life ended. Anyway, Bono. Even his own band mates hate him. Larry Mullen clearly can’t stand the cunt but he knows he’s on a pig’s back and makes millions off the back of his self-promotion. The Edge, despite being called ‘The Edge’, I reckon is probably about as well-adjusted as it’s possible to be for a man in his position called ‘The Edge’. The other fella looks like a bit of a ballbag and got his bar out on an album cover once, that’s about as much as I know of him. But Bono… maybe he’s not actually suffering from cuntitude and is just a genuine loon. To go on the way he goes on you have to be one or the other. It’s one of life’s great imponderables: Bono – cunt or loon? Rooney’s overhead was obviously the goal of the season.

Player of the season – Vidic. Chris Martin though… Now there’s a cunt. No mental illnesses going on there, just pure, unadulterated twatishness. If ever a human could be a big, wet, hairy fanny then it’s this fucking prick. He is Glastonbury now. He is what the festival is, and that’s a cunt. Glastonbury was once represented by relatively left field acts like Billy Bragg and Julian Cope – who are both shite by the way – but now it’s full on sack-cloth wearing bell ends like Chris Martin. He has two first names for starters. Never trust a man with two first names. It means their forefathers didn’t have a trade like ‘Cooper’ or ‘Taylor’ or ‘Schweinsteiger’ and were probably thieves. Butter wouldn’t melt in this cunt’s mouth. I know someone like that. He’s fucking brilliant at everything and is a smart cunt and he’s never said a bad word about anyone and no one’s ever said a bad word about him. He’s so nice that it just can’t be real. He must be covering something up. He must wank off dogs or something. Chris Martin definitely wanks off dogs. Never mind blimps with protest slogans about U2 not paying tax, the next time Coldplay are on at Glastonbury, which will be every fucking year for the next fifty, I’m getting a massive inflatable cock and balls with ‘Chris Martin wanks off dogs’ on it and floating it in front of the stage so it’s on national TV and the tip of the bell end is going to poke Chris Martin in the grid as he’d trying to sing. A massive, 20 foot penis in his face for the duration of the concert. Let’s see if he’d got “the best job in the world” then, the smug cunt. Never have a band become more representative of a demographic than Coldplay and the Pyramid Stage set – the sort of people who buy their CDs in Tescos and call it ‘Glasto’. Wankers.

Match of the season – Chelsea or something. But fuck that, maybe I’m not being fair. There were 175,000 people at Glastonbury and probably only about a fifth at the most could fit in the space around the main stage. I’m judging the whole festival on that. Most festivals are populated by dickheads these days and at least that one isn’t an advert for a minging beer or a telecommunications company. Glastonbury has become a television event – or the Pyramid Stage has, and the headliners reflect that. They are selected for people with mortgages who hate their wife and for whom 6 bottles of Corona and big bag of Walkers Sensations is about as rock and roll as their life gets these days. They’re 37 years old and this is the sort of shite they want to see. There’s probably all sorts of brilliant music and interesting shit going on all over Glastonbury but it’s not for the telly. The telly stuff is for the boring cunts, and they get bands on that reflect that. Elbow (these days), Coldplay, Paul Simon, Primal Scream, U fucking 2… all middle of the road pish’. Of all the people they showed on the telly not one of them was in any way off their nut. Not even drunk. In fact I can’t ever remember seeing anyone in the crowd with a drink in their hand. At a fucking festival, like? That’s not any festival I’ve been to. Wayne wouldn’t have been at that carry on, of course. He was obviously off his meatball on Buckfast and MDMA in the dance tent or lying talking shite to a bin that he thought was Carol Vorderman… with a Stereophonics tattoo on his arm.

Atmosphere of the season – Singing at a football match? Are you fucking serious? Grow up.
Gripe of the season – I don’t gripe. Life’s too short for negativity and I find it does your inner chakra no good to harbour unconstructive thoughts. If you don’t like it, change it or shut it. Moaning gets you nowhere.

Signing of the season – Ok, so it’s Javier Hernandez, but here’s a thought on your new favourite player. El Chicharito – the name every kid wants on their shirt. I’m not sure. That’s all I’m saying – just beware. He’s a god-botherer. Never trust a god-botherer. They don’t play by our rules. Is this the sort of player we want our kids idolising? I wouldn’t – not if I had any kids anyway. Not that I would have kids. I hate them. They’re evil fuckers who have an acute sense of your uncomfortableness around them and play you on it for their own gain. Crafty bastards. I hate them. Apart from yours. Yours are dead cute – do you have any photos of them on your phone that you could show me and tell me the story behind each one for the next five hours? I’d love that. But if I did have kids I’d have them with Vidic or someone on their shirts. God botherers think they’re on a higher plane to everyone else, whereas really they’re just weak-minded, stupid doormats who might as well believe in fucking fairies or something. Not only are they weak and ill-adjusted to the modern world, they actually have a sense of self-sanctimony and superiority that turns all that on its head in their own mind. Think Bono or Chris Martin. Go-botherers actually pity you though. To a man they’re devoid of personality. Think Kaka or most Americans. Michael Owen would probably be the best god-botherer in the world if he’d only bother about god. These people have ceded it all to some bullshit whilst a cunt with a cigar between his blackened teeth in a golden palace in Rome counts his cash with one hand and fingers a six year old boy’s balloon knot with the other. No place for that shite at United. Hernandez’ll also fuck off to Spain at the first available opportunity citing it as his ‘dream’. And he’s not that good – certainly not worth the hype he’s getting. Don’t trust the little bollicks, take it from me (but don’t hold me to it). It wouldn’t surprise me if he was undercover filth, in fact. He looks a bit like that rookie that was on The Bill years ago. Ravel’s yer man. Hernandez would be down the front for Coldplay waving at the camera and drinking mineral water whereas Ravel would be knocking out fake Benzo Fury to Jemima whilst his mates robbed their tents. That’s the sort of cunt we want at United.

In the Sun

Great last few days, the kind of chaos that only comes about when you have too much to do. Arcade Fire and Beirut with Alex Carrington, jumping up and down in right at the front like drunken kids building our harem as we went. Sad to miss Mari Hardwick and Ben Kelly but drinks with Magda Pałys and Ania Rewieńska on Friday, lunch with Mary Martha Eyo, boating down the Thames with Gary and Lynne in Richmond, randomly running into Rosie and all topped off with an email from the great man Os who is flying over for a month in a few weeks. Serious catch-up boozing time after 3 years with Os.

I am pleased. Very pleased. Yah! 😀

I’m for the Admiral…

I just did something exceptional. I voted Admiral Ackbar for manager of the year. Not for his European sexventure but on the basis of one game. Now I loathe Spurs in a manner similar to Hitler and Stalin disliked certain people/tribes/races but when everyone was busy s’cking Kenny’s very old fella, Harry took his team into a must win away game and won it easily. On the basis of that nous, he got my vote.