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2011-2012 Football League Predictions

August 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Just a quick post with my predictions for the new football league season starting next week. This is how I see the Premier League, Championship, League 1 and League 2 finishing up. These could be amazingly correct or staggeringly wrong, we shall see how the season develops.

Premier League:

 

  1. Manchester United
  2. Chelsea
  3. Manchester City
  4. Arsenal
  5. Liverpool
  6. Tottenham Hotspur
  7. Everton
  8. Aston Villa
  9. Stoke
  10. QPR
  11. Bolton
  12. Fulham
  13. Newcastle
  14. Sunderland
  15. West Bromwich Albion
  16. Wolves
  17. Blackburn

——————————————————————-

  1. Norwich
  2. Wigan
  3. Swansea City

Championship:

 

  1. West Ham United
  2. Leicester City

——————————————————————-

  1. Leeds United
  2. Ipswich Town
  3. Southampton
  4. Middlesbrough

——————————————————————-

  1. Cardiff City
  2. Birmingham City
  3. Brighton
  4. Nottingham Forest
  5. Bristol City
  6. Burnley
  7. Hull City
  8. Reading
  9. Blackpool
  10. Portsmouth
  11. Derby
  12. Watford
  13. Millwall
  14. Barnsley
  15. Doncaster

——————————————————————-

  1. Crystal Palace
  2. Coventry
  3. Peterborough United

League 1:

 

  1. Huddersfield Town
  2. Charlton

——————————————————————-

  1. Sheffield United
  2. MK Dons
  3. Scunthorpe United
  4. Brentford

——————————————————————-

  1. Preston North End
  2. Colchester United
  3. Leyton Orient
  4. Chesterfield
  5. Bournemouth
  6. Carlisle United
  7. Sheffield Wednesday
  8. Exeter City
  9. Tranmere
  10. Oldham
  11. Walsall
  12. Bury
  13. Notts County
  14. Hartlepool United

——————————————————————-

  1. Yeovil Town
  2. Rochdale
  3. Wycombe
  4. Stevenage

League 2:

 

  1. Shrewsbury Town
  2. Crawley Town
  3. Swindon Town

——————————————————————-

  1. Rotherham United
  2. Bristol Rovers
  3. Crewe Alexandra
  4. Oxford United

——————————————————————-

  1. Gillingham
  2. Torquay United
  3. Plymouth
  4. Dagenham & Redbridge
  5. Accrington Stanley
  6. Aldershot
  7. Northampton Town
  8. AFC Wimbledon
  9. Bradford
  10. Port Vale
  11. Southend United
  12. Morecambe
  13. Hereford United
  14. Macclesfield
  15. Burton Albion

——————————————————————-

  1. Cheltenham Town
  2. Barnet

Veteran Friedel signs for Spurs

40 year old goalkeeper Brad Friedel has signed for Tottenham Hotspur in a free transfer from Aston Villa in what is believed to be a two year deal at the London club. Despite seeing fellow 40 year old keeper Edwin van der Sar retire at the end of this season, Friedel has no such plans to end his playing career and has joined up with Spurs who will be competing in the Europa League next season as well as aiming to break back into the top four of the Premier League.

The American keeper who first moved to England in 1997 when he signed for Liverpool has racked up an impressive 400 games in the Premier League which has included a run of not missing a single league game since 2004 with Blackburn Rovers and then Aston Villa. Friedel also holds the distinction of being one of only three goal keepers to have scored a Premier League goal, Paul Robinson and Peter Schmeichel being the other two, coming for Blackburn away at Charlton.

Friedel elected to leave Villa after his contract expired

Friedel is thought to have rejected a number of other offers from clubs including Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion as well as a new deal from Villa before deciding to join Harry Redknapp’s side. With Heurelho Gomes and Carlo Cudicini already established at Spurs, the competition for the number 1 spot will be healthy and is probably the strongest line up of goalkeepers in the league. Cudicini recently signed a new extension to his deal at Spurs but there have been rumours surrounding the future of Gomes and a possible move away back to his old club PSV Eindhoven.

Redknapp seems keen to keep his trio of goalkeepers together however with a long season ahead for Spurs which could include a deep run in the Europa League. The Spurs manager said “It is good to have three such experienced top goalkeepers at the club in Heurelho Gomes, Carlo Cudicini and now Brad and it means we have competition for places particularly with the number of games we will hopefully face next year both domestically and in Europe as well.”

Although into his 40s, Friedel has proved he still more than capable of performing at the top level and now that he has been confirmed as a Tottenham player, the battle begins to see who will be starting between the posts come the new season.

MacKail-Smith ready for the Premier League?

After leading Peterborough United back to the Championship, Scotland international Craig MacKail-Smith is on the verge of a move to the Premier League with a number of clubs rumoured to be involved in a battle for his signature. This seasons top scorer in League 1 with 27 goals, MacKail-Smith has been linked with a move away from the Posh for the last couple of seasons after showing an ability to find the back of the net on a consistent basis and after being asked to stay at the club following their relegation from the Championship next season, his goals have fired the club back up to the second tier of English football at the first time of asking.

MacKail-Smith has enjoyed his best goal scoring season this year

First coming to prominence with Dagenham & Redbridge whilst in the Conference, MacKail-Smith was instrumental in their 2006-2007 season in which they won the Conference title and earned promotion to the Football League. He moved to Peterborough the following season and once again tasted promotion in his second season with the Posh as they climbed from League 2 to League 1. A second successive promotion followed up to the Championship before last seasons drop back to League 1.

It is now clear that the striker’s future is away from London Road and having proved his worth as a goal scorer in the lower leagues, he will now have the chance to show if he can make the step up to the top level with a move to a Premier League club on the cards. There have been a number of players who have made the move from the same level to the Premier League and failed to make the grade. Obvious examples include Jon Stead and Nathan Ellington and MacKail-Smith will be keen to prove he is not another sharp shooter who can’t replicate their form at the top level. However, the 27 year old MacKail-Smith has certainly earned his chance at the Premier League after a number of consistent seasons whilst the likes of Stead, who was only 20 when he moved from Huddersfield in League 2 to Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League, burst onto the scene and was elevated before he was ready.

Newly promoted Norwich City seem to be the favourites to win the race for the striker in a deal apparently worth £3million although there has also been reported interest from Q.P.R, Wigan and Everton. Wherever he lands though, this is MacKail-Smith’s opportunity to establish himself as a Premier League player and achieve what would be a relatively impressive statistic of reaching double figures of goals in a season in all four leagues and the Conference.

Owen remains at United

Michael Owen has signed a one year extension to his contract at Manchester United and will remain at the club for another season as they look to reach 20 league titles. The striker, who scored United’s final goal of the Premier League season in their 4-2 home win over relegated Blackpool, has only managed 16 appearances this season in all competitions, contributing 5 goals. Despite spending the season behind Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov in the United strike force, Sir Alex Ferguson has been impressed enough with Owen through the season to keep him on at the Premier League champions.

Owen to stay in United red

On his twitter account, Owen stated that he was “Delighted to be staying for another year” and now that 31 year old former Liverpool forward is confirmed to be remaining with the team, doubts are now cast over the future of Berbatov, the clubs top goal scorer in the last season. The Bulgarian managed 21 goals during the 2010-2011 campaign despite falling out of favour in the second half of the season as Rooney and Hernandez developed a strong partnership up top for Ferguson’s side.

Owen was included amongst the substitutes during the recent 3-1 defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League final ahead of Berbatov who was left out of the final squad and the Bulgarian told Sky Sports that he felt “ashamed” about being left on the sidelines for the game and he watched the match on a monitor in the United dressing room. Berbatov stated that he would like to stay with the club, “I will fight for the 20th title.” However, with him seemingly now falling behind Owen as well as Rooney and Hernandez in Ferguson’s plans, there will be a number of rumours surrounding potential moves away from Old Trafford coming out in the next few days and there will likely be many clubs both in the Premier League and across Europe alerted to the potential availability of the Premier League’s joint top scorer.

Fall from Grace

Sunday 29thMay, 2011 will be a day all fans of AS Monaco will remember as they watched their team fall out of the top tier of French football Ligue 1. The seven time league champions had not suffered relegation since 1976 but they will now join fellow relegated sides RC Lens and Arles-Avignon in Ligue 2 next season. Needing a win at home to Champions League hopefuls Lyon, Monaco collapsed and went down 2-0 with goals from Pape Diakhate and Lisandro Lopez which meant the visiting side were left celebrating having secured a Champions League qualification spot whilst the majority of the crowd at the Stade Louis II ground were left to digest the fact that their side would now be playing in the second tier of the French league only seven years after competing at the top of European football in the Champions League Final.

The AS Monaco side before the 2004 Champions League Final

The list of honours in the history of Les Rouge et Blanc is a long one which includes 7 Ligue 1 titles between 1961 and 2000 as well as 5 Coupe de France titles. Successful periods through the 1960s and the late 1970s and 1980s established the side as one of the biggest teams in the French league and in more recent times, their run to the 2004 Champions League Final was their best ever European performance. Despite losing to Jose Mourinho’s FC Porto in the Final, impressive victories over Real Madrid and Chelsea in the knockout rounds won the club many admirers throughout Europe but since then they have never been able to reach similar heights in Europe or domestic football.

Park Chu-Young shows despair after relegation is confirmed

Always expected to finish around the top of the Ligue 1 table, they managed a strong third place finish in their Champions League Final season 2003-2004 and then repeated that finish a year later. However, they fell out of the of the bracket of the top clubs reaching Europe from Ligue 1 with 10th, 9th, 12th, 11th and 8th place finishes before this seasons disastrous campaign.

The recent past of players such as Thierry Henry, Patrice Evra, Emmanuel Petit and Ludovic Giuly are now a distant memory and the focus will now be to return to Ligue 1 at the first time of asking.

Demand for Donaldson

As a Crewe Alex fan, so far the entirety of this off season has been dominated with rumours surrounding the out of contract Clayton Donaldson. The League 2 top scorer with 28 goals, Donaldson along with strike partner Shaun Miller led the Crewe attack that managed an impressive 87 league goals and the former Hibernian and York City striker has been attracting rumoured interest from a host of clubs in League 2, League 1 and the Championship.

Donaldson in action for Crewe

Dario Gradi has stated he would like to keep Donaldson and why wouldn’t he? After the season the striker has had. Donaldson managed 19 league goals in his first two seasons at Gresty Road, but his 29 goals in all competitions means this past year has been the best in his career so far in terms of goals. The offer made by the Alex would require Donaldson to take a pay cut on what he already earns and with most clubs able to offer much more in the way of wages compared to Crewe, it would seem unlikely he will remain in South Cheshire. The offer does include the incentive of Donaldson receiving a healthy percentage of any future transfer fee for the striker from other clubs but it seems pretty certain he will move on.

Bradford City, Donaldson’s home town club have been the most vocal in their pursuit of Donaldson with manager Peter Jackson apparently holding talks over a possible move to Valley Parade. Other League 2 clubs linked with his services have been Oxford United, Gillingham and newly promoted Crawley Town who will likely be able to offer much bigger wages than any club outside the Championship as they look to bring a second straight promotion through heavy investment. It would be a rather strange outcome however if Donaldson decides to remain in League 2 however with this being a great opportunity to move up the leagues.

League 1 teams mentioned as being interested in Donaldson include Carlisle, Chesterfield, Tranmere, Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton Athletic and Colchester United whilst Watford, Millwall and Coventry have also been suggested destinations in the Championship. Watford may be looking at Donaldson as a potential replacement for leading scorer Danny Grahama who is attracting interest from newly promoted Swansea City whilst Millwall’s leading striker Steve Morrison is on the verge of a move to another new Premier League side in Norwich City. However, regardless of where Donaldson winds up he will be expected to deliver a similar tally of goals and level of performance that he managed in this past season for Crewe.

Post NFL season prediction examination

February 11, 2011 Leave a comment

As the NFL season is now at an end, it’s time to see how pathetic my pre-season predictions were which you can see in this previous post from September – https://smegheaddave.wordpress.com/2010/09/08/nfl-predictions/

Well, here are how the standings actually finished, with my pre-season prediction in brackets:

AFC East

1. New England Patriots 14-2 (12-4 – 2 games out, not bad)

2. New York Jets 11-5 (9-7 – 2 games out, not bad but underestimated)

3. Miami Dolphins 7-9 (8-8 – 1 game out, pretty good)

4. Buffalo Bills 4-12 (5-11 – 1 game out, ok but a bit generous with the wins)

AFC North

1. Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4 (8-8 – 4 games out, what was I drinking?)

2. Baltimore Ravens 12-4 (13-3 – 1 game out)

3. Cleveland Browns 5-11 (3-13 – 2 games out, not bad)

4. Cincinnati Bengals 4-12 (8-8 – 4 games out, wow they were bad)

AFC South

1. Indianapolis Colts 10-6 (13-3 – 3 games out, can I blame injuries?)

2. Jacksonville Jaguars 8 -8 (7-9 – 1 game out, alright)

3. Houston Texans 6-10 (8-8 – 2 games out, not bad but I thought this was to conservative)

4. Tennessee Titans 6-10 (10-6 – 4 games out, a rusty like Smith prediction)

AFC West

1. Kansas City Chiefs 10-6 (4-12 – 6 games out, those Chiefs are fast…)

2. San Diego Chargers 9-7 (11-5 – 2 games out, not bad but I’ll blame injuries again)

3. Oakland Raiders 8-8 (5-11 – 3 games out, underestimated)

4. Denver Broncos 4-12 (6-10 – 2 games out, not bad but overestimated)

NFC East

1. Philadelphia Eagles 10-6 (8-8 – 2 games out, not bad, this was made when Kolb was the guy)

2. New York Giants 10-6 (7-9 – 3 games out, can’t remember my reasoning for this)

3. Dallas Cowboys 6-10 (11-5 – 5 games out, doubt I was alone with this poor judgement)

4. Washington Redskins 6-10 (6-10 – NAILED IT, I love a nice predictable franchise with no drama…)

NFC North

1. Chicago Bears 11-5 (4-12 – 7 games out, yeah I’m sorry Chicago)

2. Green Bay Packers 10-6 (13-3 – 3 games out, not the worst ‘3 games out’ ever)

3. Detroit Lions 6-10 (5-11 – 1 game out, pretty good)

4. Minnesota Vikings 6-10 (11-5 – 5 games out, bye bye Brett)

NFC South

1. Atlanta Falcons 13-3 (9-7 – 4 games out, poorly underestimated)

2. New Orleans Saints 11-5 (12-4 – 1 game out, pretty good)

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-6 (3-13 – 7 games out, maybe worse than my Chicago prediction)

4. Carolina Panthers 2-14 (6-10 – 4 games out, massively overestimated)

NFC West

1. Seattle Seahawks 7-9 (9-7 – 2 games out, not bad and I didn’t know anyone else picking them for the division)

2. St Louis Rams 7-9 (5-11 – 2 games out, not bad but clearly a bit better than I thought)

3. San Francisco 49ers 6-10 (9-7 – 3 games out, not good)

4. Arizona Cardinals 5-11 (8-8 – 3 games out, ‘3 games out’ also the Cardinals quarterback philosophy)

In terms of the playoffs, I did predict the Packers to reach the Super Bowl but I had them losing to the Colts so I can’t really claim to much of a victory in that. Anyway, roll on the new season and lets sort this Collective Bargaining Agreement out and get back to the action.