Well, I was right with some of my predictions for 2006 and wrong with others.
- Ipswich had a season of mid-table mediocrity.
- Madrid won la Liga, although somewhat fortuitously at the end and it cost Capello his job.
- Arsenal struggled without Patrick Viera and looked light.
- Sheff Utd & Watford relegated.
- Inter didn't bottle it, they won Serie A at a canter. Meeelan were lucky in the end to finish 4th.
- Chelsea didn't win the Premiership as or Champtions League as both Sheva & Ballack had seasons to forget.
- United didn't miss the horse at all, and won the Premiership with a flourish.
- Meeelan did win the Champions League after I predicted they couldn't.
- Reading didn't get relegated, enjoying a dream season.
Halfy halfy I think. So here are my predictions for 2007.
I once again think that Ipswich are going to have a difficult season. The recent signings of Pablo, Neil Alexander and old boy Tommy Miller are good signings, but not exciting enough to ensure promotion this year. Particularly if Owen Garvan's recent personal problems and Gavin Williams' disruptive influence on the squad continue. I think we'll do better than last year, I don't think we'll be in a relegation battle, but I think that if we manage the play-offs, it will be a dream season for the Tractor Boys. My guess is that Sheffield United, Cardiff & West Brom will go up this year.
The Premier League is going to be perhaps the most competitive in years. Recent years have always been a two-way race, but I think this year will be a three-way race. Chelsea have recovered from their injury problems of last year and have strengthened in the areas they struggled last year. But Man U have bought big and if they do end up buying Tevez, they are going to be an exciting team to watch. And fresh from their Champions League final defeat, Liverpool have also bought big this year, not least of all Fernando Torres. And even Tottenham are getting closer to the big 4 and could easily finish higher than Arsenal this year. I think it will go down to the wire - and I'm predicting Man United retaining their crown.
Serie A is going to be interesting too. I don't think Meeelan will win it. They simply don't have the strikers. Ronaldo will do well, but without a truly great striker beside him, I just can't see them getting more points than Inter. And with the return of Juve to Serie A, I think it's going to be a hard year for the rossoneri and a lot is going to depend on the young maestro Kaka. My prediction is that Inter will win it again, unless Meeelan can sign another top striker.
La Liga is going to be fun, as Barca seem intent on playing the legendary 4-2-4 formation, with Et'o, Ronaldinho, Messi, Henry all playing together. I'd like to think it can work and if it does, it will be incredibly exciting. I think that Real will struggle without Beckham, as he did almost single-handedly win them la Liga last season. I'm going for Barca this year, just for entertainment value.
And on the international stage... I am predicting that England will not reach the finals, which will not be a bad thing. It will mean the end of Steve McClown and a new England manager. And who will be the new manager? Depending on the season that Sam Allardyce has at Newcastle, it could be him. Or they may go for a foreign manager - and I'd still like Capello.
So here are Chez's predictions for 2007:
- Ipswich to finish top half of table, but to miss out on play-offs.
- Sheff Utd, Cardiff & West Brom to be promoted.
- Man U to retain the Premier League Championship, with Chelsea a close second, Liverpool 3rd and Spurs 4th.
- Wigan, Birmingham and Derby to be relegated
- Inter to win Serie A, Juve 2nd, Meeelan 3rd
- Barcelona to win la Liga, Madrid to finish 2nd or 3rd
- an English team to win the Champions League, most likely Manchester United
- England to not qualify for Euro 2008, McClown to be sacked.
- Italy to win Euro 2008.