I'M BACK LADIES AND GENTS. Here are my predictions for next season. Feel free to refer back to them at any point, calling me a prick in the process.
First six games
August 6th: Bolton Wanderers 1-0 Leeds United
August 12th: Millwall 0-2 Bolton Wanderers
August 15th: Birmingham City 1-0 Bolton Wanderers
August 19th: Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Derby County
August 26th: Hull 1-1 Bolton Wanderers
September 9th: Bolton Wanderers 0-3 Middlesbrough
These will inevitably be wrong but one can only try at this stage. Leeds aren't as big as they think they are and need to learn that bringing 89,000,000 fans to the first game of the season doesn't necessarily guarantee you a win. Milwall are, and always have been, shite, so we'll do them away from home. Birmingham will be a tough game, as will the Deathly Triangle of Derby, Hull and Boro. 1/2 points out of those three games and I'd be happy.
Final League Position
In all honesty: fuck knows. Our squad is probably one of the weakest in the league in terms of depth, no matter how many loanees we sign. I think we'll be relatively solid defensively but, as always, goals will be a big issue. I'm expecting a lot of draws and narrow losses, but I can also see us being pretty robust at the back, using the pace we have in certain areas (Morais/Ameobi specifically) to exploit teams on the break. I'll go out on a limb here and say I don't think we'll go down, but we won't set the world alight either. Let's go with 18th.
Everyone's wanking over Josh Cullen & Reece Burke from West Ham but I really think this could be Jem Karacan's year. The bromance him and Adam Le Fondre seem to have started could genuinely be worth its weight in gold; if they can take their Twitter chat and apply it to the pitch, we might stand a fighting chance up top. Karacan is a small, slight individual but he knows how to use that to his advantage. He'll have tough competition in that No.10 role, though; Josh Vela did very little wrong there last season. Let's see what happens.
Signing of the Season
Julio Baptista. "But it hasn't even happened yet!" I heard you cry. Fuck off. He'd be immense and you know it.
THE MAN. THE MYTH. THE LEGEND. GARY MADINE, WASHING MACHINE.
Supersub of the Season
Aaron Wilbraham. An experienced player with very little left in the tank, this is probably his last season as a professional. Having said that, most of us thought the same about Eidur when he came back, but he was still pretty nifty. Wilbraham has the potential to grab us a goal when we need it most. Watch this space...
What will Parky do?
I can't see our team/system being too different from last year's set up. As we all know, Parky is renowned for creating well drilled, defensively organised teams and we're going to need to operate with that ethos even more this season. What I will say is that I'd like to see us having a little more of a Plan B when things don't go our way. Last season we were one of the strongest teams in a very poor league so didn't necessarily need it as much - this time round, it will be very different. We'll get found out quickly if we can't make our team fluid, which could ultimately be our downfall.