Well bugger me it’s back. After a summer full of more tittle-tattle than an at-home Ann Summers party (you should hear the missus and her mates guffawing like some Teesside coven - chilling), we are proud to announce the return of The Best League In The World. Or the Fastest. Or, if you have a degree in Creative Accounting, the Richest.
The curtain-raiser was surprisingly provocative. I say make it a derby every year regardless and we might have some fireworks instead of the usual just-off-the-sun-loungers/plane from Malaysia torpor. But is that a pointer to the rest of the season?
Here’s Robbo’s predictions... and remember punters, I am the man who put the ‘Damn!’ into Nostrodamus.
Wenger’s team increasingly resembles a dimly-remembered boy band who had a couple of hits in the early 80s and now hang around outside China White’s hoping the doormen will recall what they used to do.
So far Arsene has studiously avoided strengthening his squad in the right areas. Still no Cahill or Jagielka – just another flashy frontman with a bootlace for a headband. They’re too easy to score against. And for the Joy of Cesc, let the lad go. The top four is beyond them. 6th.
Look just cos McLeish dumps Brum in the mire doesn’t mean Villa get the rebound effect. It’s not as if HSBC are lining up to hire Sir Fred Goodwin is it? (And here he is looking like a bloated Jimmy Somerville).
Villa have offloaded their hard-working wingers Young and Downing and replaced them with a French Stephen Ireland. N’Zogbia is wonderful if he can keep his noddle together, but he won’t be the alpha male at Villa. Not so much a new dawn as the same day as yesterday. 8th.
Well it’s great for us to have a bloke called Goodwillie in the League (my missus’s relatives are called Badcock – true – so if you’re name’s UglyKnob let us know and we can put together a Spaghetti Porn Western).
The Foghorn Leghorns in charge have been crowing about capturing some Galactico or other ever since they arrived at Ewood. No one’s showed up yet. Jones has gone, Samba wants to fly the coop, and the whole thing's going off half-cock. Kean will be the first to bite the managerial bullet.
Anyway I’d rather walk the M25 (in the fast lane) than watch Blackburn. Fingers crossed for 18th.
Bolton have been mixing up the humps up to Elbows Davies with a nodding reacquaintance with the Reebok grass. They’ve got a ruddy awful start, fixtures-wise, mind, and they’ll need to scavenge from the big boys again for a bit of creative nous. Could be tough but my wife has always had faith in the Coyle, so... 11th
Well who the hell knows what to expect here? Roman’s brought in a new broom and the old dust is still lying about the dressing-room. It’s the age-old conundrum for Villas-Boas. How do you get complacent money-bagses to keep it up all-season long? And how the hell do you get Fernando Torres to stop thinking he’s a poor white trash Emile Heskey? And why is Salomon Kalou? 3rd.
How’s the song go... Fairly Cross Ol’ Moysey? Not a whisper from the Toffees in the transfer market save for the Mo Cyzslak looky-likey clinging on to Jagielka and Rodwell like a Christmas kid refusing to share his selection box. While Kenwright’s delving behind the sofas, Moyes'll be lining up the 4-5-1 and praying to God that Saha stops breaking down like a Jeremy Kyle show housewife every five minutes. They’ll start the season like a traction engine and finish it like a dragster all over again. 7th
You kind of forget they’re still there somehow. Everyone’s favourite nightclub bouncer Martin Jol is in charge now. They’ve got Gudjohnsen and Riise for a bit of nous, Zamora’s fit, it’s a tidy squad. Were it not for that fucking Michael Jackson statue you could start taking them seriously. 9th.
Oh shite, another dawn beckons. Can avuncular Kenny keep that Mona Lisa smile for the next nine months, or will he just be another Moaner?
Dalglish’s midfield is so filled with options he'll end up like a pissed bloke at a curry house and find he’s ordered too much. And if he has, then Jordan Henderson is the unnecessary tarka dhal, Joe Cole is the stale naan, and Steven Gerrard the disappointingly lacklustre signature dish.
Having said all that Suarez and Carroll, if he can stay upright on a bar-stool for the season, could be the best front two that's yet to appear in Nuts magazine. THIS COULD BE THEIR YEAR... but it won’t be. 4th.
Oh I’m just bored of ‘em already. All that money and they turn out a team to play Allardycean footy. Dzeko’s a dzoke. Balotelli’s bonkers. Tevez continues to say he’s thirsty for a change – mainly cos he adores the Kia Aura of his agent. They’ve bought a chump in Clichy. And the best English winger of the last ten years continues to see more cameos than your average Antiques Roadshow art expert. For Chrissakes Adam Johnson, leave, son!
Clearly Mancini will muscle them up the table a little further in a way that shows all the daring of a pensioner booking a coach tour to Bournemouth. They’re Blackburn Rovers with genuine money. 2nd.
The great thing about Ferguson is every time he reinvents a team it’s like there’s a new club in town. Cleverley, Jones, Wellbeck, Smalling – they all, like Rooney (despite the patchy top weave) look like old heads on young shoulders.
Now no doubt, His Puceness will be flinging the usual pot-shots at the FA, the refs, the everybody who isn’t us brigade, and it’s amusing that a club that’s spent like they have this summer can still get away with a somewhat Redknappian line of appearing like the poor relations. But it’ll be fascinating to see how this team kicks on. I can’t see ‘em not winning it. And I’d rather them than the big lunks across town. 1st, dammit.
You’ve got to worry for poor old Pards, haven’t you? Well you’ve got to worry for anyone who has to work with Joey Tweet-Tweet Barton.
(I say put Barton and Balotelli in the Big Brother House, turn the cameras off for the night, and send in forensics first thing in the morning).
If they don’t start well, I can see it being bum-squeakingly bad all season. They’ll scrape it though but... and Ba’s a top signing. (You don’t want to be signing for Swansea with a surname like that.) 15th.
Good pies at Carrow Road, they tell me. That’s what’d comfort me if I were a fan. 3-down to Spurs at half-time? So the fuck what, I’ve got a Delia steak n ale and I’m a happy man. They’re so busy planning for the drop they’ve probably bought a birthing pool and their own gas and air. 20th.
Anagram fans will welcome back Neil Warnock. “Colin’s” main job is to keep hold of Adel Taarabt, a man who you can’t mention without using the word ‘mercurial’. (A similar relationship exists between the words ‘Hamilton’ and ‘reckless’; or ‘Flintoff’ and ‘pedalo’).
Word is the R’s will be charging £72 a ticket which may be no more than a bit of metal in the fluff of your Paul Smith jacket for the likes of Briatore and Middle Earth’s very own Ecclestone, but it’s a cynical fucking hike on the purse-strings of the poor saps who sat through years of non-achievement with grim resignation. For that reason alone, 19th.
Pulis is a permanent scowl isn’t he?
Slowly but surely we are learning to love the stout yeomen of the Potteries. And like us, they are learning that life doesn’t start and end with the towelette attachment to Rory Delap’s shorts. There's a kind of charm in their charmlessness.
As long as they prepare a comfy corner of the physio’s room for Jonathan Woodgate I think nowt much’ll change. An honest to goodness 10th.
I think Steve Bruce is just a shite manager? Never has a man presided over a team that positively binges on bad results. Unlike Brucey, Sunderland are downright bulimic.
As ever he’s lobbed some lucre about and ended up with a couple of creaky artisans from Fergieland and a likely lad in Connor Wickham. When I heard Bruce had bagged him I thought he must be a Ghanaian called Can’t-ee Kick’em.
Mackems prepare for more feast or famine. 14th.
Look I don’t know if their fans care two hoots about this season given that after watching Cardiff finish three successive promotion-chasing seasons like one of them twats in a home-made flying machine jumping off Brighton pier, they've got there first.
Nice to have Angel Rangel back on Match of the Day, mind, joining the ranks of Looney Rooney, Patchy Squillaci and Stephen Hunt. The Swans will play some nice stuff but can they hold out at the back? I give ‘em a hope. 17th.
On Saturday, there was a worry that Modric had secretly joined Man U but it turned out it was just one of the mascots holding hands with Carrick (and increasingly Carrick needs his hand holding). Still here is, still trying out an all-blue kit.
‘Arry must be gagging to trim the squad of some expensive weeds, mind.
David Bentley must be there to breathe out carbon dioxide for the house plants. And I swear I saw a card advertising Robbie Keane’s services in a telephone kiosk last time I was in London.
It’d be nice to think Spurs will tiptoe into the top 4. But there’s more chance of Sepp Blatter retiring gracefully to an Alpine log cabin (and if he does I’ll be the one hollering from the ski lift in a bid to start that avalanche). 5th.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Roy worked the wonders he can work with lesser mortals last season. Give him top-of-the-range internationals like Joe Cole and he hasn’t got a clue.
No reason to believe he can’t weave more magic this year. The resources look meagre but then again the chairman has done this really weird thing of trying to balance the books rather than go pissing in the Arabian or Mid-West American wind for a slush fund. They’ll be fine, man. 12th.
N’Zogbia’s gone now. Cleverley’s back in red. Who’s left? And where the hell did they come from? Martinez is the one huge plus for the Latics and his bit of nous should see them clamber up the table a little.
But they really are becoming an unfeasible tale of survival – in 2012, prepare yourself for the story of how, trapped under a fallen bus, Hugo Rodallega manages to cut off his own arm and arrive at the DW just in time to nod in a far-post winner and consign Blackburn to relegation. 13th
Ah, doughty old Mick. As bluff as they come, he makes Geoff Boycott sound like a Harrow-educated diplomat. If you aren’t chuffed that Wolves stayed up then you’re either a Baggie or a berk.
Having said that there’s nowt complicated about the Wolves way. And now if you get past Karl ‘De Jong’s a Pussy’ Henry you’re going to run into Joltin’ Roger Johnson or George Elokobi, who eats brick shithouses for breakfast. Enough spine to stay another day. 15th.
That's it. Boro for the FA Cup, obviously. Obviously.