THE PREMIERSHIP – HAS ANYTHING CHANGED?
As you guys spend your spare time with family and friends. Maybe venturing down to the local with your mates. Here are CFCnet our families no longer remember what we look like and as for going down the pub, that was something we used to do pre-2000 and when we had some sort of social life.
The reason being that we have work to do on this very website. We are currently ploughing though over 6,000 articles that we generated over the last 8 years and we are adding the best of them to this new CFCnet. Most can be found under our “Archive” others we are running again as we know you will enjoy them.
Here’s one from 2002 when James Carey put his head on the block as he dared to predict who will be the winners, losers and makeweights come the end of the 2002 season. Was he right? Has the Premier League changed that much? Read on.
Loathe them or hate them, this is the team to beat, unfortunately. In an ideal world this lot would be struggling in division two, if only so their fans could actually get to feel what it is like to experience a bit of hardship. Instead they have the all-round complete team, which is going to top the lot again this season.
Predicted position: 1stMedia friendly rating: 5 — Strictly a love-hate relationship among the hacks and their attitudes towards the Gooners. To be honest, they have never been given full credit for their achievements.
Support rating: 3 — Spoilt, pampered and unappreciative.
Uninspiring, dull and trophy-less for as long as I care to remember. They briefly hailed themselves as the role model English team under John ‘look-at-me’ Gregory until they once again faded into mediocrity. Their messiah, Graham Taylor, is back (he got them promoted once you know) and the only thing that they have got to look forward to this season is their local derby against Birmingham. You always know that it is time for the season to start when Villa exit Europe.
Predicted position: 8thMedia friendly rating: 7 — Very much in favour. Why? Perhaps because of the media’s love for all things mediocre.
Support rating: 3 — Largely an insignificant lot who summed up the height of their ambitions following their humiliating 2000 FA Cup final defeat by singing “Ingerland, Ingerland” and “We’ve got more English players than you”. It highlighted the gulf between the teams on and off the pitch.
This mob seems more obsessed with hating Man Utd than anything else. This is the team that gave us Gudjohnsen, so they are alright by me. Their so-called ‘old school’ manager has completely turned them around, although I cannot see them staying up this season. I will always remember the final game of the 1998 season when they needed to beat us to stay up and in return put Everton down. Every time they attacked we were encouraging them to score. It did not work mind, but they went down gracefully.
Predicted position: 18thMedia friendly rating: 6 — Hacks seem to be largely indifferent to them, so it is hard to gauge.
Support rating: 8 —They applauded Gudjohnsen on his return to Bolton and have always appeared fair enough to me.
They finally huffed and puffed their way into the top flight — despite finishing about fifteen points behind third place Wolves — and they only managed to win their play-off match on penalties. I cannot say that anyone is particularly excited by the prospect of their arrival in the Premiership, except possibly Villa. They have a nomadic and possibly overrated manager in charge, plus a history of pointless and disastrous purchases — especially by Barry Fry. Dead certs to go down.
Predicted position: 20thMedia friendly rating: 6 — See Bolton.
Support rating: 4 — For some reason they see themselves as a big club, despite having never won a major trophy. Strange.
A team that could surprise a few people this season, especially now that they have a potent strike force. They have fallen heavily since the spend, spend, spend days of Jack Walker, although they are now slowly and quietly making a minor comeback.
Predicted position: 7thMedia friendly rating: 8 — Media got all misty eyed and romantic when they won the league and they seemed to be largely devoid of criticism despite the short-term methods they adopted in achieving success. They do tend to keep a lower profile these days, which is quite an achievement considering that they have got Souness in charge.
Support rating: 4 — I do not mind them, but their vocal support is pretty awful and unoriginal and can only be described as being on par with Everton or Newcastle. The archetypal new/glory-hunting fans?
The third most successful team over the last ten years, with four gleaming trophies, six cup finals, ten semi-finals and let’s not forget — although every non-Blue does — that glorious run to the last eight of the Champions League in 2000. Hardly warrants the bemusing tag of underachievers, does it? A top-five finish beckons, though a lot will depend on injuries in what is looking an increasingly skeleton squad in certain positions. Like any club, a lot will depend on the number of injuries we get or avoid. Expect a Chelseaesque season whereby anything can happen. I am sure that we will once again destroy the big spenders of Man Utd, Liverpool and Newcastle. Personally, I would settle for any kind of victory over the Gooners.
Predicted position: 4thMedia friendly rating: 0 — The most hated team in the country, from the perspective of the press box. These beholders of poisoned pens have showered Chelsea with cheap, inaccurate, xenophobic and downright pathetic dribble in a time when we have enjoyed the most successful period in our history. We will never forgive or forget — ever.
Support rating: 9 — Well, nobody’s perfect.
Now this is a model for how a club should be run. A decent side and a decent stadium that makes them a bigger club than the Spanners. Not a bad job done by old Curbs. I can see another comfortable mid-table finish and I imagine that they will finish higher than a few other London clubs I could mention.
Predicted position: 9thMedia friendly rating: 8 — Even the journos favour them.
Support rating: 8 — No problems from where I am standing, though I wish that they would stop doing the double over us.
I do not know about you, but I have never been able to hate this mob, even when they were successful in the 1980s. Maybe it is the blue kit or the fact that the great Pat Nevin ended up playing for them. It could even be a sympathetic response for them having to live alongside Liverpool fans. Whatever the reason, they are no longer a threat to the elite and appear to be resigned to a life of bottom-half obscurity.
Predicted position: 14th
Media friendly rating: 7 — The media, like everyone else, appears to show a lack of interest really.
Support rating: 5 — They have only got one song and that involves just the one word — you can probably guess what is. The only fans who do not even bother making an effort at away games.
I would love to hate them, and believe me I have tried, but I just cannot bring myself to do so. Despite Fayed’s riches, they will always be that friendly, hospitable club from down the road. Even the walk to their ground is pleasant and it still has a feel of a pre-season game when I visit there. They even let us turn them over in an FA cup semi-final, despite a below par performance from us. They cannot score and this season they could really struggle. On the bright side, at least they have allowed QPR fans to see a bit of Premiership footy this year. Bless.
Predicted position: 13thMedia friendly rating: 9 — Media treat Fulham as ambassadors of football and they can do no wrong in their eyes. It could just be a ploy to annoy the neighbours from the real west London team further down the road.
Support rating: 3 — A club that appears to have a lot of power and sway, but sadly it lacks the real authentic ingredient of mass support, as the Villa Park semi-final debacle clearly demonstrated.
Where do you start with this wretched lot? Watching their season fall of the rails radiated a warm feeling to fans everywhere. Even better is the fact that O’Nearly has gone and we no longer have to hear his repetitive post-match snide remarks. A team of Mills, Batty, Viduka and Smith is never going to be appreciated or liked and here’s hoping for an even more rapid decline under Del Boy, although to be honest, it could be a turning point in their favour.
Predicted position: 3rdMedia friendly rating: 2 — Strange how they are not compatible, as they deserve each other.
Support rating: 3 — Not a pretty sight, but at least they have got a degree of passion, which is cannot be said of many other clubs.
This lot will do absolutely anything to win the title, even if means having to steal, cheat or kill. One could argue that the latter method is being acted out in the way they have bored us all to death as they crawl to yet another tepid 1-0 win. A classic Liverpool example of their win-at-all-costs philosophy was displayed at the end of last season when they somehow managed to get their league game against Blackburn postponed due to their pending Champions League quarter-final tie (an unprecedented move as I cannot recall other teams having this benefit). They then refused to play on the rearranged date as they decided that they wanted to kick off on the same day of the Arsenal v Man Utd clash. Cheeky Scousers, eh? Nonetheless, Gerard Hoola Hoop has built a monster of Frankenstein proportions. He has thrown together countless body parts of as many players he can find without much insight into how the creature will develop. Over the last ten years they have just kept buying and buying, and for one season it seemed as though one of these permutations had finally paid off. However, you feel this monstrosity is about to stumble, and when it does it is in for a heavy fall. But Hoola Hoop is not to be deterred and like any other passionate mad man he still seems intent on adding more and more features, thus making the animal even more complex and unpredictable. Ultimately this is an ugly creature by nature. Its features include four arms, four legs and four eyes, which if you think about it is in harmony with the Pool’s desire to have at least four means of cover for each position.
Predicted position: 5thMedia friendly rating: 10 — Adored and loved. Put simply, they are the media’s great white hope. No hack will rest until Pool have reclaimed the title and thus they tend to avoid the very criticisms that are labelled at many other clubs (buying success, foreign invasion, etc). If you need an example of the media’s double standards and hypocrisy, you need look no further than this lot.
Support rating: 4 — Not bad when they are on top, but they are not the most sporting of losers. They appear to think that they have a god-given right to win every game. I reckon they should be given a twelve-point head start just in case they fail. We don’t want to upset them now, do we?
This lot’s saga has run and run, and quite frankly it has all got a bit boring. Who really cares about a high profile team that constantly fails? Why glorify and glamorise failure? Why do they feel as though they have suffered more than any other fans? To hear all those City supporters continuously bleat on about their plight, one would think that they were supporting Carlisle. They should do all right this season and I really hope so, otherwise they will all be rambling on again about how loyal and courageous they are to support City.
Predicted position: 15thMedia friendly rating: 8 — The media love sentimental claptrap, and this lot oblige perfectly.
Support rating: 4 — The greatest fans in the league, is what they would have you believe. They paraded a banner displaying this message at half time in their final game of the season two years back after they had just been relegated from the Premiership. They proved it by 10,000 fans invading the pitch with three minutes left as they tried to attack Chelsea supporters. I do not think that Zola has been kicked as hard since.
The irony of this lot is that they get accused of not being ‘real’ fans by people who have just jumped on the footy bandwagon themselves. Let’s face it, all this ABU stuff is pathetic and stems from pure jealousy and bitterness. If there is one consistent feature of United’s history it is that they have always played great football, even before their recent great period. Yes their manager is a cunt and they have players who can really annoy, but come on, just look at how many times they have stopped Arsenal and Liverpool from winning the title. Now that cannot be a bad thing, can it?
Predicted position: 2ndMedia friendly rating: 8 — They have many friends up there, but their success makes it more bearable.
Support rating: 7 — They have recently created the wittiest and most original chants both lyrically and melodically. They have always stood by their team and contrary to popular belief the majority of their fans do come from Manchester. They are let down by thousand of muppets who wear their shirt with little understanding of football, or anything else for that matter. That is the price of success.
One of the few sides to have got their chequebook out. It seems that every summer ‘Boro put in a fair investment on players, but the end result always ends up the same — struggling against relegation. However, ‘Captain Marvel’ is no longer employed there, so maybe things could be different this year. Not the most romantic place to visit and despite the ground being one of the most modern it still has the air of despondency and apathy about it.
Predicted position: 10thMedia friendly rating: 7 — Their chairman, Steve Gibson, seems to be well liked, while the club has the advantage of being based near North East territory, which obviously invites warm reviews.
Support rating: 3 — Can almost be described as branded fans, especially when you see so many of their fans waving those nauseas gladiator thumb objects. They sing along to the musical corners and goals as well.
The team that carries a thousand myths. If you cut through all the nonsense written about them and their ‘glorious’ fans, you will find that they are the biggest underachievers since the Premiership began. No club has spent more money over the last ten years (£170,195,000 to be precise) yet they have got absolutely nothing to show for it. They came fourth last season and now appear to think that they are back in the big time. Yeah, right. Sir Bobby Robson had not even started managing Ipswich Town when they last claimed a trophy back in the 1960s.
Predicted position: 6thMedia friendly rating: 10 — Their fans can do no wrong and, as we are constantly reminded by the media types, they have the most passionate, loyal and vocal support in the world. Oh yes, and they are also everyone’s second-favourite team.
Support rating: 4 — The most passionate, loyal and vocal supporters in the world, eh? Strange then that they were getting crowds of 10,000 less than ten years ago and St James Park is undoubtedly one of the quietest grounds in the top flight. This was demonstrated last season when Chelsea visited. Even though they were on top of the league at the time, there was a distinct lack of noise and, dare I say it, passion. Maybe it is because we were situated so high up in the stand, but it is not the first time that I have left Newcastle wondering what all the fuss is about. In a nutshell, a Mickey Mouse outfit.
One of the longest survivors in the top flight and they are definitely part of the furniture. A real plus in that they have recently grown a distaste for everything associated with Rottenham — to be honest, they cannot really complain seeing as they got nearly £10 million for Dean Richards. Oh, and they managed to get rid of that genius Hoddle.
Predicted position: 12thMedia friendly rating: 6 — They tend to get patronised and only seem to get mentioned in the last few weeks of the season when they are nearly always fighting relegation.
Support rating: 8 — I cannot think offhand for any reason to criticise them. They have a few decent boozers next to their ground as well.
This lot are not very imaginative when it comes to renaming features of their club, as the ‘Stadium of Light’ and the ‘Black Cats’ will testify. Then again, they have never had much to shout about, so I suppose it is understandable that they want to glamorise the nature of their club. After all, a certain Ian Porterfield is seen as one of their all-time legends.
Predicted position: 19thMedia friendly rating: 7 — Their North East locality naturally makes them a favourite for those hacks looking for a spot of pathos. A dreamy, romantic reminder of better times, if you get my drift.
Support rating: 7 — I have to confess that the Stadium of Light (ahem) is probably the most vocal ground in the Premiership and is a distinct improvement on their old ground, where we would sing: “Where’s your famous Roker whore?” or words to that effect. They travel well and appear a shade more passionate (god I hate that word) than their local neighbours.
Ah, our old chums at Three Point Lane. They are fast becoming our unofficial nursery team, due to their annual hand out of six points. Now also known as the nearly team, following their recent audacious dealings in the transfer market. Do not forget that this is a team with a tradition of quality football, especially in the days of monochrome, which if you think about it is fairly ironic. One thing is certain and that is that they are a team who belong firmly in the vaults of history. Even when the year ends in one it does not guarantee them glory these days. They have got their Rottenham back and we are all ever so pleased for them. One possible solution to their plight could be for them to swap places with Rangers and Celtic, and perhaps they could take their fellow strugglers West ham with them. It would certainly even both leagues up a bit.
Predicted position: 17thMedia friendly rating: 6 — Once the darlings of the London press — indeed in the 1980s half a newspaper would be dedicated to their exploits. However, now they are generally used as a bit of a side show to the real proceedings. They do provide many funny moments and quotes to fill a quiet day in the office, many of which border on the absurd and the ridiculous.
Support rating: 2 — This lot are in total denial. They still believe that they are a big club and they still pretend to be indifferent to Chelsea. Strange then that they celebrated their first win over us for twelve years in a manner normally reserved for World Cup winners. It appears that they have even given up attending away games, going by the lack of numbers that turned up at the Bridge last season.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Ironic how they finally managed to come up in the year that their legendary striker Jeff Astle died and is reminiscent of the Matthew Harding story. They have a solid defence and I have a feeling that they might just stay up. The only criticism I can level at them is for letting QPR win their one and only trophy in the 1960s. But hey, you have just got to let some things go.
Predicted position: 16thMedia friendly rating: ? — I have no idea, though Frank Skinner seems to get a fair press if that helps.
Support rating: 8 — Any team that does the boing, boing chant and dance is fine with me. However, being the cynical sort, I am sure that I will find some reason to dislike them by the time the season is over.
WEST HAM UNITED
And finally we come to the woeful Spanners. They have not won an away game since 1965 and apparently Paulo Di Canio has not played in one since 1999. However, at times they do play wonderful stuff and let’s not forget that they have a young side (all groomed from the academy of course) together with a young manager who is quietly going about learning his trade. They could win a few trophies, but as any West Ham fan will tell you, that is not what it is all about. The should know, because they are London’s finest with a real tradition of flair and integrity and they won the World Cup for England and they are a family club and… shut the fuck up.
Predicted position: 11thMedia friendly rating: 9 — How can the hacks not love this mob? Perhaps because they all support West Ham.
Support rating: 2 — Quite literally, a bunch of city merchant bankers. No culture and no class.