Never has the coming football season seemed so predictable. Almost every commentator in the land is saying the same thing - and even though I like to go out on a limb I cannot disagree with them. The champions will come from one of the 'Big Four'. Despite yesterday's stuttering performance against Hull, everyone's favourite for the drop, I fancy Chelsea for the title. But then, I fancied them last year! But it could just as easily be Liverpool, Man Utd or Arsenal. Some were writing off the 'Gunners' after the pre-season transfer comings and goings - but less so after yesterday's spectacular start at Everton. I, too think that Man City will lead the challengers, alongside Spurs. Villa and Everton will also be thereabouts despite poor opening games. I'd like to see Wigan and West Ham prosper, simply because I admire their respective managers. And have you seen the stuff about Ferguson bemoaning opposition teams cheating through gamesmanship. Incredible. For years, Ronaldo's was conning referees by falling over non existent obstructions - with Ferguson's full approval. Its like Lord Mandelson complaining about Tory spin.
And there's boring agreement on who's for the drop as well. My three are Burnley, Hull City and Portsmouth - though Wolves, Birmingham, Bolton and Stoke will be in the mix. After my impressive prediction twelve months ago that the first Premiership manager to be sacked/resign would be an emotional Kevin Keegan at Newcastle, this year I'm going for Phil Brown at Hull this year. OK, I know that Keegan wasn't technically 'first' but it was near enough. Hot favorite is Mark Hughes, but I reckon he'll last until at least Christmas.
Much harder to pick the teams that will challenge at the top of the Championship. I think at least two of last year's relegated clubs will bounce straight back up - West Brom and Newcastle. It could be QPR's year, if the wallets of investers, Mittal, Ecclestone and Briatore are opened wide enough.
I'm tipping The New Saints to win the Welsh Premiership. Not because of their 5-0 opening victory, but because of the glow of confidence which was engulfing Mike Harris when I met him last week. Llanelli and Rhyl will provide the main challenge again.