Once the Christmas and New Year fixture programme is complete, we will be at the half-way stage of the football season. I thought therefore I would reflect on the pre-season predictions I made in this column and consider what choices I might revise. I would invite those reading this to do the same and perhaps share their selections – be honest! Many of you will, I know, have signed up to prediction competitions at the start of the season.
In the Premier League I opted for Manchester City to end up as champions and I expect them to narrow the gap at the top to three points if they win their game in hand and to go on and claim top spot. I said that Liverpool and Manchester United would contest second and third place and I am sticking with that. For the fourth Champions League slot I had it as a straight fight between Spurs, Wolves and Arsenal but I now think that will be between Spurs and Chelsea.
I do find it interesting that we now have some former world class players in charge of clubs like Lampard and Arteta but I ask myself whether they will ever reach the heights of those in charge of clubs who were not world class players in their football careers like Klopp, Mourinho, Ferguson and Wenger. Only time will tell I suppose.
My relegation choices of Sheffield United, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham are the current bottom three. I really hope for Scott Parker’s sake that I am wrong about Fulham. He is turning out to be as good a manager as he was a player. I recently said Claus Jensen was my choice as the best player in my time at Charlton, but Scott was a very close second. I said I felt Leeds would do best of the promoted clubs and I still believe that. They are a breath of fresh air but maybe a bit too open at times and in the Premier League the strikers are so good that any small mistake is punished. I went for Manchester City as Champions League winners and Spurs as Europa League winners and both remain on course.
In the Championship I went for Watford as Champions and they sit fourth currently. I think they will prove worthy winners come the end of the season. I went for Peterborough Utd, Charlton and Sunderland to fight out the League One Championship.
In my role at Integral Sports, I have been lucky enough to be involved in the signing of some of the most promising young players in the country in 2020. Keep an eye on a 17-year-old midfielder called Flynn Clarke in the James Maddison mould. He has broken into the Peterborough side this season and in my view is destined for the very top of the game. He is one of seven very promising young players Integral represents, and I believe they could all end up playing in the Premier League.
Lee Bowyer, Johnnie Jackson and Steve Gallen have done a brilliant job at Charlton as it is only a matter of weeks ago that they had no team at all to train let alone put out on the pitch. The arrival of Thomas Sandgaard as the new owner has re-energised the club and its fans after all the ownership problems of recent years and I expect them to be active in the January transfer window. Lee Johnson will sort out Sunderland and they may finally end their long stay in League One.
In League Two my choices of Exeter City, Cheltenham Town, Carlisle United and Forest Green currently sit in second, third, fourth and fifth positions and I expect Newport the current leaders to fall away in the New Year and for those four to claim the promotion slots.
All in all, I am happy where I sit with my predictions but are you?
Peter Varney – Chairman, Integral Sports Management
For more information, please contact email@example.com
Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.