The Premier League is back this weekend which is a cause for celebration. Or it should be. Here are my hopes for the 2018-19 campaign.
1) Liverpool to win the title: Yes, I am among those who love to see Liverool fans deliver hopelessly optimistic predictions which have no basis in fact or recent history. I laugh at their belief they were the second-best team in Europe last season (they were actually only the fourth best team in England) and I enjoy the delusion that they have the best manager in the world in Jurgen Klopp (no cups for four years).
But Klopp has so much charisma, gets his team to play fast, attacking, entertaining football and appears to be such a top bloke I really want him to succeed and if anyone can beat Manchester City it will be the Reds now they have finally signed a proper goalkeeper.
They’ll more likely finish second though as Mo Salah surely can’t be as good and Daniel Sturridge is too close to the first-team squad for comfort.
2) Everton to fail: The hounding of managers by fans of a mid-table club is a miserable spectacle. You’re an average club with average gates. You will have average results, get used to it.
3) Bournemouth to get relegated: The Cherries were fined £4.75m for breaking Championship financial fairplay rules when in the Championship in the summer, no fine at all for a club with a billionaire owner. Bournemouth basically got away with cheating their way into the Premier League. This week they paid £25 million for a player and yet they play in front of 11k gates.
4) Gary Lineker to get off the telly: Football on TV needs a revamp. More action, less talking would be a good start. No-one would miss Lineker on a Saturday night. No-one watches Match of the Day to see him wave his arms around, fiddle with his specs and make smug remarks about his long-finished playing career.
5) Young English players to get a World Cup bounce: It won’t happen of course because unknown, ordinary foreign players will still flood our game leaving the likes of Phil Foden (and how good was he in the Charity Shield?) to twiddle their thumbs until the Carabao Cup comes around.
6) Jose Mourinho to go away: As there is no chance of his non-stop whining and excuse-making stopping, I hope Manchester United lose their opening six games and he gets the sack.
6) Fulham to thrive: I trust all the summer arrivals at Craven Cottage won’t alter the way the Londoners play. There are too many dull sides (Burnley, Southampton, Huddersfield, Manchester United) who offer little in the way of excitement in the Premier League. Fulham were a joy to watch last season
7) Referees to do their job: The laws are there to punish the divers, the fakers, and the set-piece spoilers. Officials need to be brave enough to stamp on all offences all season and not just when it takes their fancy. I also hope referees are brave enough to show yellow and red cards to all misbehaving managers and not just Neil Warnock.