Not too many columns left in 2015 so I want to be the first to make some Premier League predictions for 2016.
1) Leicester won’t win the title. They won’t even finish in the top four because as soon as injury or loss of form affects either Jamie Vardy or Riyad Mahrez ‘The Foxes’ will be hunted down by Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester City and Crystal Palace. Anyway I refuse to believe a team with Wes Morgan and Robert Huth in the centre of defence can possibly win a Champions League place.
2) Manchester City to sack Manuel Pelligrini and appoint Jose Mourinho until the end of the season. City are a defensive shambles. Mourinho is the master of the 1-0 win. It won’t take a lot for City to overhaul an Arsenal side who are bound to wilt under the pressure of winning a first top-flight title for 12 years, but they won’t do it under a coach who keeps picking Eliaquim Mangala.
3) But if City fail to make the most obvious of managerial changes, Mourinho could end up at Old Trafford in place of Louis Van Gaal which would amuse me greatly. In one breath United fans bemoan the lack of thrills at the stadium formerly known as ‘The Theatre of Dreams’ but in the next breath they are singing Mourinho’s name. This is the same Mourinho who specialises in all-out defence.
4) Klopp mania becomes a redundant phrase apart from in ironic form. Liverpool’s squad is so bad every home point is celebrated by players linking arms in front of a silent Kop.
5) All English clubs will be concentrating on the Premier League title race by the end of February as they will all be knocked out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage. The Premier League may be far more interesting this year because of the drop in standard of every traditional big club, but it’s not more exciting (no matter what Sky’s Premier League stooge Martin Tyler tries to tell you). The standard is poor. Champions League results will prove this.
6) Aston Villa, Southampton and Swansea will be relegated. Villa are awful, Southampton are paying for the relentless sale of their best players and Swansea’s chairman wouldn’t recognise a good manager if Pep Guardiola turned up at the Liberty Stadium. The Welsh club’s recent pursuit of a 60-year-old Argentine manager has been dispiriting. Is there really no-one better nearer to home?
7) Arsenal’s title challenge will only persist if Theo Walcott stays fit and if Jack Wilshire, one of the most over-rated players of all-time, stays unfit. I’d love Arsenal to win the title because they play the best football, but more importantly because it would prove once again that Piers Morgan knows as much about sport as he does about dieting.
8) Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe is named manager of the year. Okay he has the backing of a billionaire, but he’s turned League One defenders into Premier League players and he’s winning games without using Lee Tomlin’s genius.