If predicting the future was easy then Nostradamus would have been a medical practitioner stating the bleeding obvious to a public’s apathy. Mystic Meg would have simply been ‘Meg’.
It’s not easy. It’s precarious because it leads you open to mockery further down the line and that goes double for those crazy enough to fortune-tell football’s tomorrows, especially now when a season’s slate is being cleaned and the transfer market is due to open.
Thankfully some things you can set your watch by even in the arbitrary circus tent that is the Premier League. You don’t need a crystal ball to know that the following scenarios are inevitable.
You only need time to be proven right…
You don’t win league titles in four different countries without having widely-accepted truisms grow around your stature like ivy and in Jose Mourinho’s case, two of these are that he always wins championships in his second season then goes into atrophic meltdown a year later.
Finishing several lightyears behind his managerial nemesis Pep Guardiola finally put paid to one Mourinho myth but it certainly doesn’t follow that the other will tumble now too. Indeed the likelihood of a third season unravelling into spectacular crisis at Old Trafford borders on the certain given that the club will surely double down on their galactico ethos, as they desperately try to bridge the gap between themselves and City.
With further marquee names to squeeze into a team devoid of any collective vision the results will suffer and the Portuguese pouter will throw his toys from the pram before setting fire to it.
Newcastle United are expected to bring in a whopping £120m this summer from TV revenue alone. How much of that will be allocated for much-needed player investment however, remains to be seen.
The Spanish coach’s battle to wrestle control of the clubs recruitment plan has been a long-running saga played out in the background at St James’ Park for some time and his grievance at being short-changed very nearly led to Benitez walking last summer. Despite his ever-growing position of influence after guiding a Championship-standard side to mid-table in the Premier League, does anybody seriously believe the situation has changed much since?
To fend off interest from West Ham, Rafa will be promised a certain amount of money to spend in the forthcoming window but Mike Ashley will eventually renege on the figure as the club prioritise bargain-basement buys instead. Before a ball has been kicked the popular coach will resign in disgust.
You read it here first.
The expansive atrium being installed at Tottenham’s spanking new ground has no need for cover as the North London giants have had a glass ceiling for several years.
Two consecutive runners-up spots – as mightily impressive as they were – appears to be this side’s ultimate capability under the brilliant stewardship of Mauricio Pochettino and while their rivals will spend staggering sums of money and further improve this summer, Spurs will continue to be handicapped by a wage cap that is meagre in comparison.
There is no standing still in this Premier League – only progress and decline –and it’s all too easy to imagine the first hint of staleness setting in at the Lane.
Having woefully struggled with the pace and aggression of English football, Davy Klaassen has proven to be a tremendous flop at Everton since his £32m move from Ajax last year. The midfielder will almost certainly be moved on this summer (most probably on loan) and will flourish elsewhere because there is no questioning his ability.
Swansea, meanwhile, stunned football by luring the highly rated winger Renato Sanches to South Wales last summer from Bayern Munich on loan. The 20-year old – who was Young Player of the Tournament at Euro 2016 – was expected to tear apart the Premier League but instead regressed dramatically with a series of ineffective displays, in a move that can legitimately be deemed disastrous. This time out Bayern will no doubt loan the Portuguese talent to a league more accommodating to his attributes and he too will shine in 2018/19.
Alvaro Morata heads to the World Cup next month considered a flop in most people’s eyes after scoring on just 11 occasions at Stamford Bridge since his big-money switch last year. Unhappy on our shores, the forward is expected to return to either Spain or Italy in the months ahead whereupon he will resume scoring goals for fun.
Football can be an immensely frustrating business at times.
When viewed from the outside the Hornets’ business model resembles a child’s drawing of the chaos theory with a revolving door to the manager’s office and so many transfers in and out that it makes stability – that most prized of ideals – an impossibility.
Yet time and again they come up trumps, forging a promotion to the top flight and then settling in for the long term.
In a very different way Southampton also went against type for several years (repeatedly selling their best players) and this season that hari-kari strategy very nearly cost them dear. So will the same now apply to Watford?
No. In 2018/19 they will dispense coaches like sweet wrappers, bring in an abundance of unproven foreign fare and still compete around mid-table. It will defy all logic.
Nobody is suggesting the Egyptian Messi will turn into Patrick Bamford overnight but it’s equally fair to say that this season has been a perfect storm for Mo Salah, and it’s a storm unlikely to be repeated next term. Due to his incredible impact he will be one of the most marked men across Europe and should his phenomenal form dip, that should be a concern for Liverpool who have come to rely so heavily on his prolific weekly return.
An awful lot can change over a summer break and it will be an enormous ask to replicate such greatness. In the space of a year Super Mo could conceivably go from being the Second Coming to the Stone Roses’ Second Coming.
The highly combustible Madame Tussauds cast-off has publicly stated in the past that he no longer has much appetite or love for the Premier League and don’t be surprised if he enters his top flight swansong in an unnerving state of laissez faire, declaring to one and all that he simply wants to enjoy the experience.
Then a few games in a throw-in will be awarded the other way and in his post-match interview he will compare the referee to Hitler and with Cardiff languishing at the foot of the table, that will be that for one of the most entertainingly unhinged gaffers English football has ever seen.