I’m gripped by this feeling that the new football season in England is starting a week early. I might be imagining it, but I’m NOT imagining this huge rough hand gripping me by the scruff of the neck and hauling me sorry ass to my Adler J5 typewriter to get on with all the predictions that are sure to go wrong.
Last year around this time, because Norwich City was relegated back to The Championship, I began a series entitled The Championship Years as a vehicle to write about and/or chronicle the Canaries adventures a division down from the Prem. I figured they’d be down in the Championship a season and then go straight back up.
They were, after all, tipped as favourites to go up along with Newcastle, who actually did go up.
Instead, the Championship Years continue on.
And while I was disappointed with last season’s 8th place finish, I’m feeling very good about the process and progress of change at Carrow Road this season….which I’ll get to in a bit. Meanwhile we get to whip the fuck out of The Tractor Boys twice a season in the Old Farm Derby.
And….I get to make even MORE predictions sure to go wrong. 24 of them in fact!!
So my first prediction sure to go wrong is:
Sheffield Wednesday is going UP!!
Not only are they going up, but they will win the Championship in
I really not sure why just yet. But I’ve a got a feeling for phenomenon about this, unreasonable as this might seem.
Their rivals Sheffield United just got promoted up from League 1. So the Steel City Derby is on again after a lull of xx years.
Maybe I’m feeling that promotion to the Prem is the Owls’ way of sticking it to the Blades. As soon as the Blades catch up with them, the Owls disappear. Maybe this is Terry Curran’s revenge upon his misguided decision of many years ago.
Or maybe I just need another cold brew to settle my brain.
I was not going to be just adamant, I was going to be pig-biting adamant in my thinking that Boro would stay down with the two other hapless band of chumplins, Hull and Sunderland, that went down from the Prem with them. I figured that Monk would lead Leeds ((see what I did there Clive….?)) into the playoff positions.
But then the lights came on and the music began to play ((“Down By The Riverside))…Yes. Aitor Karanka had been dispatched. And hapless Boro who scored a mere 27 goals in 38 Premier League games last season was not going to hapless Boro this season in the Championship.
They spent a tonne on Britt Assombalonga, Ashley Fletcher and Martin Braithwaite….a couple of three fuckers who can actually score goals. And also Jonny Howson…formerly of Norwich City
Yes, Garry Monk was prised away from (B)Elland Park to run things down by the Riverside. Leeds scored more that twice as many goal under Monk as Boro had done last season under Karanka. This changes everything.
So….I’ve seen the light. And my second prediction sure to go wrong is probably going to go right. Boro is going back up. I’ve got them in 2nd place. And on Saturday, Boro kicks it off against one of their sternest competitors,Wolverhampton over at the Molineux.
And now….here’s 22 other predictions sure to go wrong!
I’m actually quite comfortable with places 3-6 which are the playoff spots for promotion. Any 4 of those could (and 1 of course WILL} go up. I put Norwich in 3rd because it’s MY team.
The Canaries will make the playoff spot under new gaffer Daniel Franke. But I’m not really expecting them to go up. I want them to, of course. But part of me would rather see them stay in the Championship for one more year of rebuilding. Plus we’d get to kick the Tractor Boys up the arse twice a season for yet another year.
Wolves have actually spent some big coin. They’re serious about going back up NOW and a lot of pundits have picked them to go up. I’m making it harder on them I guess because I’m not entirely convinced.
This same could be said for Fulham and Aston Villa. They have good squads and could claw their way up, but….I’m not sticking my turkey neck out on either of them.
Then again, Aston Villa has got John Terry…..Captain, Leader, Villan. So…..
If I had to pick today, and what the fuck eh, it I today and I’m picking….I think when the dust settles, Wolves will go up by beating Norwich 1-2 in the playoff final at Wembley. Or if you don’t fancy the Canaries, then any team of your choice 1-2 Wolves.
But wait….if Norwich finishes 3rd and Wolves 6th, then Norwich would meet Wolves in the first playoff round instead of the final.
Another prediction sure to go wrong, then.
Any of 7-13 could sneak into the playoff spots. Which reminds me….
WHY do I have Bolton ranked so high??
I must have been too engrossed in a pint of DOGFISH HEAD Seaquench Ale. I forgot that Kevin Davies and Gary Cahill no longer play for Bolton. But they DID sign another former Norwich man, Aaron Wilbraham. So that must count, yes?
So can Preston North End make the playoffs?
I doubt it, but they could….
I really don’t know fuck all about Preston North End. And most likely, neither do you. But yet another Norwich City man is there. Our former gaffer Alex Neil is now at the helm at Deepdale after being tossed off the property last season in March with Norwich stuck in 8th place after a bright start to the season.
And as much as I know about Preston North End, I know even less about Barnsley. So where they actually end up is the purest of conjecture. Barnsley Fan,show some Red Pride and tel me why Barnsley will finish better than 21st!!!1
As for the relegation fodder, it will be sort of sad I guess to see Burton Albion and Bristol City slip back into League One.
But Sunderland in an absolute trainwreck garbage fire of a team. When Darron Gibson, whose own play on the pitch at times should make him think twice about pointing fingers, thinks his teammates are all shit, then Sunderland are shit.
They’re going down and will stay down until Ellis Short finally sells the team and a new owner can bring sanity and a sense of purpose to rebuild this historic old squad.
See? Another prediction sure to go right.
The Opening Day of the 2017-18 Championship Season ended thusly:
Bradley Johnson’s goal on 11 minutes was pegged back by Sunderland’s 42nd minute penalty kick by Lewis Grabban
BOTH are former Norwich City guys! Damn!! Former Norwich City guys are everywhere in the Championship!!
This match is not indicative of either team’s ultimate fortune or misfortune. 45 more games to go.
Barry McKay, from Paisley, Scotland, snapped home the winner at the 41st minute mark on an assist by David Vaughn.
Neither man has ever played for Norwich City. So, that’s sorted.
The result was pretty much expected all around.
“Yer hame team’s yer ain team.”
Fulham 1 Norwich City 1
We fired up the 2017-2018 Championship season at Craven Cottage on the banks of the Thames in the Royal Borough of Fulham & Hammersmith in London at 3PM (or 9AM by me in Mineral Point Wisconsin USA!USA!!USA!!! Opening day woes have plagued Norwich since they were promoted from League One many years ago. Last year’s Blackburn Rovers 1-4 Norwich City was almost an aberration. So playing Fulham in their house and running out with a point was a good result.
Fulham started far more brightly, and game long they trouble the Canaries out wide…especially down Norwich’s left were new boy James Husband was stationed…..Husband was far better at offense than defensive and he’s need to work on that, But overall, we got into the game and held off Fulham’s threat after Russell Martin’s inadvertent own goal as a shot from Neeskens Kabano deflected off him into the net.
So….we scored all the goals in.match on the opening Saturday.
All 7 of our new boys started. Aaron Gunn in goal; Christoph Zimmerman was in my view (I only was able tpo watch the 1st half) man of the match alongside fellow German Marcel Franke; Mario Vrancic was decent in mid-field and will only get better as the season goes along. You Manley Watkins was good backing up Cameron Jerome on the front line (as was last season’s rookie James Maddison who did not get enough playing time under Alex Neil); Harrison Reed got the start since Wes Hoolihan was recovery from injury ( though Wes got a runout subbing for Reed on the 80th minute); James Husband as I mentioned needs to work on his defensive positioning—-if this were the NFL and Husband was a cornerback, Aaron Rodgers would put JOrdy Nelson on him and Nelson would stolen all his lunch money and eaten in lunch all day.
Nelson Oliviera subbed in for Cameron Jerome on the 80th minute.And 8 minutes scored the equilizer at the death of a cross from Wes Hoolihan. He promptly tore off his shirt earning a yellow card and ran straight to the coach, Daniel Farke pointedly showing him the back of the shirt with his name and number, #9 btw, clearly letting Farke know in no uncertain terms that HE not Cameron Jerome should be the starting striker. Farke was actually pleased with Nelson’s outburst. It’s the passion for the the game he was to instill in all the Canaries as the season rolls along.
“Yer hame team’s yer ain team!” That’s certainly home truth. Be true to your school and all that. I’ll always be a Green Bay Packers fan no matter where I live and where I go in this world. Go Pack Go!! Green and Gold blood flows through my veins.
That’s why I tend to confound football fans in England with my decidedly more secular interest in the game. The fact that I can root for both Chelsea and Norwich City gives them fits. And I can see their point. Your home team is your own team, and that’s that!!
Football in England, Scotland is more tribal than the NFL Football equivalent in the USA!USA!!USA!!!. Similar, but far more intense. Having a second team to root for is neigh unto unthinkable.
But here I am with a glorious mess of Blue and Green & Gold blood coursing through my veins.2 The saving grace, at the moment, is that my teams all play in different leagues (at the moment in the case of Norwich and Chelsea). And I do have my priorities straight. If the Green Bay Packers played real football instead of NFL football, and they were in, say, the Premier League with Chelsea, or down in the Championship with Norwich, then it would be the Packers all the way. Green Bay is my hame team and will always be my ain team.
But Chelsea v Green Bay at either Lambeau Field or Stamford Bridge going to happen anytime soon, or ever, except in a science fiction novel that I have no intention of writing.
So as life in the Championship starts anew, it’s On The Ball, City!!
I’m very pleased that the Norwich City board awoke from the slumber of the past 7 years and have finally appointed a young and upcoming director of football in Stuart Webber who in turn hired the young, passionate and tactically astute former coach of Borussia Dortmund’s reserve squad Daniel Farke as the new Canary’s gaffer.
We went to Craven Cottage and came home with a point. The squad is young, new, and they’re working together better than any Canary squad I’ve seen in the last 5 years. Not perfect yet, but they’re going to get there.
It;s exciting times at Carrow Road.
On The Ball, City!!
And with gameday one of the 2017-18 Championship in the books with today’s Bolton 2-3 Leeds at Macron Stadium. As always, all images here are for homage and review purposes only…but I call attention to the football art of Paine Proffitt that has added an evocative character to the opening day of the Championship. Check his art out. It’s good work.
And now….I am leaving the pitch. 24 Predictions sure to go wrong in my wake….