Yes, I know it’s meant to be all about the Arab moneybags, Manchester City, versus the Russian moneybags, Chelsea, with those magnanimous proprietors who have earned their cash fairly and squarely, through the sweat of their brows, by doing only the very best for their own countrymen and women. And those guys luuurve their purchased clubs with all their heart and soul. Well, hopefully with a lot more than that. But…
BORING! BORING! BORING!
Therefore I’m happy to say that this season, the real is fun going to be on Merseyside. I love the look of Everton and the style of football Roberto Martinez has them playing. If I had to have a season ticket for one club (discounting West Ham, of course) I’d be watching football at Goodison. They play the way West Ham should; but sadly another season of Sam beckons for the Hammers. AAAGGGHH!!!!
Overpaid footballers and ‘special’ fans…
Considering the other half of Merseyside, I’m going to make a strange prediction, (probably just for the hell of it, as it really is hard to see past City or Chelsea), but here we go: Liverpool to win the League. At first I considered that they were going to be this season’s Spurs; sell one superstar and sign half-a-dozen ‘okay’ players, not knowing what their strongest line up is, only to subsequently discover that it’s actually pretty shite. The Anfield talisman, Stevie Gerrard, is pretty much shot, and will probably struggle to complete the season. So I initially thought that 2015 might be a gloomy year for them after last term’s amazing ‘so close’.
My reason for reconsidering is Brendan Rogers (above). The execrable ‘Being Liverpool’ documentary showed him in an easily mocked, David Brent-esque light, but that’s what those things are set up to do. As an aside: please, for fuck’s sake, no more documentaries about the ‘inside workings’ of a club. The fans that care enough probably know all this anyway. The rest of us just end up with an even bigger dislike of thick, overpaid footballers, who make too much money and shag all the top birds who-should-be-with-us-if-only-they-could-see-our-hidden-depth, and the supporters of ‘other’ clubs (ie: all of us) with their self-mythologising let-us-publically-wank-about-how-unique-and-special-we-as-a-fanbase-are.
Tall order to replace Suarez
The fact is that Rodgers is the savior of Liverpool, (who were basically turning into Stoke before he arrived), and he’s probably the best coach in the Premier League. Jordan Henderson, heading at breakneck speed back to the Championship before falling under BR’s tutelage, now looks like a player again. And Rodgers’ signing policy of picking players who can do a job is far more sound than the let’s-see-who-West-Ham-are-reportedly-interested-in-and-guzump-them approach of Tottenham. Tall order for anybody to replace Luis Suarez, but I see parallels between Rickie Lambert and John Aldridge; prolific goal-scoring fan gets dream move to boyhood heroes and does a great job for a couple of seasons.
Jousts await LVG
There will be more angst and neurosis around Old Trafford, as fans reared on success might fear that their club has become the northern Arsenal. However, van Gaal (above) will make Manchester United stronger, and I expect them to push for a Champions League, or even a top three slot, as part of their ongoing reconstruction towards becoming genuine title contenders again. LVG will become a high-value sporting media star in England; great potential jousts with the likes of Mourinho and Wenger are pending. The Gunners? Well, they will probably still play some of the best football next season, (which counts for little in the Premier League), but remain in the perennial position of being two-three signings short of a flag-winning squad. And Spurs… they will be behind all the above-mentioned. Yes, even West Ham. Especially West Ham.
Irvine Welsh is the best-selling author of Trainspotting, Ecstasy, Filth and The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins. He’ll contribute to the Paddy Power Blog each month. Follow Irvine, if you wish, on Twitter here.