When I tipped Newcastle United to finish fourth this season, I was drunk. I must have been. (It was after 9 o'clock.)
I also didn't realise that the likes of Cabaye and Ben Arfa would be spending a lot of time on their sofas. Furthermore I didn't think for a second that Papiss Cisse would be a carbon copy of the end of last season but in negative. Indeed, seen in negative Papiss Cisse would look like a white-faced loon with the finishing instincts of a badger in sponge boots - or, as he is better known, Fernando Torres.
It's ironic in these days of short-term, interim, wing-and-a-prayer managers that Newcastle should so stink when their boss is on an eight-year contract. Despite the Geordie bottlers evident success last season I couldn't find many of 'em who were pleased with Pardew getting such apparent job security.
I'll be honest, we north-easterners (loth as I am to lumping us all together) divn tek kindly to some southern jessie gannin up here and tellin' us what footy's aboot, like. NEVER forget this a HOTBED of football. South Shields is England's Copacabana Beach, right? The Wallsend Boys Club has a cloning machine that's guaranteed to produce twinkle-toed talents with terrible haircuts.
A cockney barrow boy with passable good looks is not what we want up here. We want a bloke who looks like he walks into lampposts every week, and sounds like he enjoys doing so, especially if he's 'taking one for the team'.
Of course the Barcodes are doubly damned cos they've got a Fat Del Boy made good as their chairman. The Managing Director Derek Llambias isn't exactly whole-heartedly embraced by the Toon Faithful, unless it's to squeeze the bleeding life out of him.
The fact that Llambias, Ashley and Pardew are firm friends does make it look like the cast of some two-bit Guy Ritchie gangster flick have descended on Tyneside and turned St. James's Park into their own little piece of Larndon Tarn. The eight-year contract reeks more of good mates helping each other out than sound football and business sense.
In short, Pardew's going to have to work a lot bloody harder than, say, Sir Bobby Robson, to win the fans over. Unlike Sir Bobby, he's got a board who'll back him. And to be fair, a very good season behind him. Hence my inebriate optimism at the beginning of the season (laced, possibly, with the hope of my pundit's curse).
Under the likes of Freddie Shepherd the Reading defeat might of signalled the end. Certainly Reading are this year's 'plucky' losers. Any point gained gets a patronising pat on the back, like the team have just managed to write its own name or wipe its own arse. McDermott insists he's not under pressure and his team are proving it.
Meanwhile Tyneside confidence is going to be low when a team like Reading's equaliser is swept in off the body of a forward imitating a penguin returning to the icefloe. Newcastle are in a desperate need of a pick-me-up and a decent French right-back is not the tonic they need. The lack of Demba Ba and the continuing misfiring of Cisse could well spell trouble. If Shearer's in charge with ten games to go the game's up my Geordie friends. (Okay, friend, singular.)
Of course, vying for the tag of plucky losers this year was Southampton. (That's if you don't include Arsenal who continue to prove that they can give those top-flight teams a real run for their money, bless 'em.)
The Saints made a poor start (they did have United, City, Everton and Spurs in their first seven matches) but Adkins turned it around. His reward? Cheers mate but we at Southampton FC have a different idea of how a manager should look and sound. He's got a funny name. He's worked in Spain and everything. He will take the club forward.
That's right, the bloke who has led the club to two successive promotions and up and out of the relegation zone after a draw at the European champions is taking them sideways, isn't he? You ruthless, vicious, cynical, arrogant tossers. It was bad enough when Newcastle dumped Hughton, but this. It's such a flagrant disgrace, it's positively Suarezian.
Adkins struck a chord with most of us natives, I reckon. He seemed a stout solid citizen. Honest, straightforward, not too sophisticated. The sort of bloke that Tynesiders welcome. He did of course come up with the most lamentable excuse for Rodriguez's dive last week but we'll leave that to one side.
The only exucse for replacing him, it seems to me, is malice. Unless Fagin's in charge at the Saints and he couldn't stop singing 'You've got to pick a Pochettino or two.'
All I know about the Argentinian is that he's a decent leg for Michael Owen to pretend to fall over. Watch this: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=england+v+argentina+2002&view=detail&mid=2ADE0CEF67424F3606EF2ADE0CEF67424F3606EF&first=0
..and you'll see where Chelsea's Ramires gets his cunning stunts from.
Frankly I don't wish the guy well. I hope Southampton pay for their decision. I'd be surprised if they don't. But first they've got to get below Newcastle. It's not going to be easy.
Meanwhile Adkins will be back in a job very soon. I understand the Blackburn Rovers job is up for grabs in the next couple of weeks.