With the events of the Macron Miracle ensuring that Bolton Wanderers go into another Sky Bet Championship season, its time to do it all again with 10 months of blood, toil, tears, sweat and, hopefully, some joy at the end of it.
My prediction of Sunderland to finish in promotion places last season was, to say the least, inaccurate, but I’m hoping to fare better this year with my crystal ball.
Hang onto your seats, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!
I hate them with every fibre of my being. Their fans are annoying, they have provided me with the worst footballing memories I will ever have and their city is a dump. Unfortunately, though, Stoke are surely going to win the title this year. The retention of Joe Allen is a cracking bit of business and though it must go down as the strangest deal of the window, the loan of Benik Afobe will surely be a fruitful one. When you have strong additions, retention of a strong squad and the appointment of a manager of Gary Rowett’s calibre you have a team who must be considered Champions in waiting.
West Bromwich Albion are my picks but that’s with about two weeks or so of the transfer window left. The future of a lot of their players are up in the air but the core of their squad will surely be enough to see them out of this league. Were it not for the uncertainty at The Hawthorns it would be difficult to prise them and Stoke apart for the Champions nod. Kyle Bartley will be a very useful signing this season and they are guaranteed to have firepower even if they lose both Rondón and Rodriguez with the ability of Oliver Burke and Matt Phillips down the flanks. The Baggies’ stay in the second tier should be a quick pit-stop with their squad.
Preston have been steadily building to get to a point where they can challenge at the top of the division and this year I think they will comfortably get into the Play-Offs. Middlesbrough are always there or thereabouts whilst Nottingham Forest’s spending spree will surely get them a spot in the end of season lottery. I saw recently that Brentford were fancied to finish 3rd in well-known magazine FourFourTwo but I don’t see them having the stability defensively to challenge after the departures of John Egan and Andres Bjelland. Instead, I think Leeds United will finally get a crack at the Play-Offs but this is assuming they will have both Patrick Bamford and Matej Vydra signed and sealed before Deadline Day. Barry Douglas is another great signing for them.
I think Ipswich will regret getting rid of Mick McCarthy and not improving their squad this summer but I just can’t see them being relegated. I going to go with Wigan, because Will Grigg doesn’t ignite in this league, QPR, because Steve McLaren is a joke of a manager and they can’t sign any players in January if they make a poor start, and Rotherham because well, they’re just very good are they. The only other team I see properly struggling with them is Bolton but I’m never going to predict us to go down.
Where will Bolton Wanderers finish?
Last season I predicted mid-table because I thought we had recruited well and had a stubborn enough manager to help us grind out results. The problem was that we couldn’t grind anything out and that cost us at least 15 points last season. Those 15 points would have seen us into mid-table and nowhere near needing a miracle to survive. This year I would like to think we have learned our lesson and though recruitment has been slow I have been quietly impressed with the calibre of signings. I merely want us to survive but will predict a boring 16th placed finish where we flirt with relegation but are safe by mid-April. We would bite anyone’s hand off for that, wouldn’t we?
League Top Scorer
Last year I predicted Britt Assombalonga and I think he has a chance of being up there again. However, I will go slightly left field and say Lewis Grabban after his move to Notts Forest where he will be the main man and key to any potential success. He was fantastic last season, especially in a struggling Sunderland team where he was the focal point. He thrives on being the star and will almost definitely break the 20 barrier at least.
Mad Random Event Prediction
This was the only one I got right last year. Madine to score at Brammall Lane and rub it in Fat Little C*** Billy Sharp’s face. This year I will say that Adam Le Fondre scores a penalty at the Liberty Stadium and runs to Oli McBurnie and gives him the bird. Up the ALF!