As regular readers of Each Game As It Comes will be aware, we put our vast football knowledge to the test back in August to predict the outcome of the season in all four divisions of the Premier and Football Leagues. We also had a quick look with about ten games left (and we even got some of those predictions horribly wrong too!). Let’s take a look at what we got right and wrong.
Premier League – Champions:
Pre-Season Prediction: Manchester City
Ten Games to Go: Manchester United
This wasn’t difficult to predict with ten games left, as United were twelve points clear. Nevertheless, like many, we didn’t see the implosion at Manchester City, which also saw the team put up a limp performance in the FA Cup final, and the removal of manager Roberto Mancini. United were seen by many as the best of a pretty ordinary bunch, but the signing of Robert Van Persie was inspired, and the defensive performances have also improved. Now though, both clubs face the challenge of new managers coming in. Next season will be very interesting.
Premier League – Top Four:
Pre-Season Prediction: Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea
Ten Games to Go: Manchester City, Spurs, Arsenal
Yes, we really thought Spurs would get in the top three, but Chelsea’s strong end to the season saw them finish third, and Arsenal pipped their North London rivals for the fourth spot. We imagine with the return of the Special One that Chelsea will probably look to be breaking into the top two, although next year’s title race could be the most open in years.
Premier League – Relegated:
Pre-Season Prediction: West Brom, Norwich, Reading
Ten Games to Go: QPR, Reading, Sunderland
Ok, we’ll admit Reading were the easy choice in August, but with ten games to go, themselves and QPR were all but doomed. We weren’t far wrong with the final team, with Sunderland leaving it very late to survive, and really, Wigan will be kicking themselves for letting slip a vital lead against Swansea that could have made things far more interesting.
Championship – Promoted:
Champions: Bolton; Promoted: Cardiff; Play-Offs: Leicester, Leeds, Middlesboro, Brighton
Ten Games to Go:
Champions: Cardiff; Promoted: Hull or Watford; Play-Offs: Hull or Watford, Palace, Brighton, Leicester.
We didn’t really stick our necks out on the question of who out of Hull or Watford would get the final promotion spot, with Cardiff pretty much out of sight with ten games left. As it is, it went to beyond the final game, with Watford’s match finishing some fifteen minutes late with the Hornets still in with a chance of pipping Steve Bruce’s side to second place. As it was, we got the final play off line up correct, although Leicester sneaked in with a last minute winner at Forest. No excuses though, we see plenty of Championship games so we should know the league by now.
Championship – Relegated:
Pre-Season Prediction: Barnsley, Bristol City, Ipswich
Ten Games to Go: Bristol City, Wolves, Barnsley or Peterborough
Bristol City were the first to go, and struggled all year. Barnsley were revitalised by David Flitcroft and survived by the skin of their teeth on the final day, sending Peterborough down. We were disappointed in Mick McCarthy’s ability to ensure we were never going to get all three correct, but he once again proved what an astute manager he is at this level. Wolves can rightly point the finger at some poor decision making at board level, although we think with the recent appointment of Kenny Jackett that they might finally have done something right.
League One – Promoted:
Champions: MK Dons; Promoted: Swindon; Play-Offs: Brentford, Crawley, Scunthorpe, Sheffield United
Ten Games to Go:
Champions: Doncaster; Promoted: Sheffield United; Play-Offs: Brentford, Swindon, Tranmere, Yeovil or Bournemouth
So our start of season predictions were mixed to say the least, with the MK Dons eventually finishing just outside the top six after a mid-season slump, Swindon did get in the play offs, as did Brentford and Sheffield United. Our tip of Doncaster for champions with ten to go was reliant on a missed Brentford penalty in the end. Tranmere’s slump was remarkable, as was Yeovil’s eventual promotion.
League One – Relegated:
Pre-Season Prediction: Portsmouth, Hartlepool, Walsall, Doncaster
Ten Games to Go: Hartlepool, Portsmouth, Bury, Scunthorpe
Unlike the promotion race, relegation in League One was pretty clear cut with ten games left. Although Scunthorpe were only officially relegated on the final day, it would have taken a freak set of results for them to survive. And to think we tipped them to go up….
League Two – Promoted:
Champions: Bristol Rovers; Promoted: Gillingham, Southend; Play-Offs: Bradford, Cheltenham, Chesterfield, Wycombe
Ten Games to Go:
Champions: Gillingham; Promoted: Burton Albion, Port Vale; Play-Offs: Cheltenham, Rotherham, Northampton, Exeter
Gillingham were leading the way from early on, but we totally overlooked Burton and Port Vale in the promotion picture. What was interesting was our tip with ten games to go, we did say that Rotherham were outsiders for automatic promotion, and they eventually finished runners up, but Exeter dropped out of the play offs, and Bradford not only managed to get in the end of season lottery, but they convincingly won it as well.
League Two – Relegated:
Pre-Season Prediction: Barnet, Burton Albion
Ten Games to Go: Plymouth, Accrington
So in the end Barnet didn’t have enough to survive, and joined Aldershot in the conference. In the final few weeks, the picture changed regularly, so better tipsters than us would have struggled. We’ll overlook the fact that we tipped Burton to go down, and they ended up finishing fourth.