10 months ago as the 2016-17 campaign was about to begin, I made my prediction on how the season would pan out in the top four divisions of English football and various cup competitions. Let’s see how I got on…
- Green = correct prediction
- Orange = 3 places or less away (close, but no cigar)
- Red = 4 places or more away (completely incorrect)
I’m fairly happy with this one, with 15 of the 20 teams finishing around the area that I predicted them too. My predicted champions Manchester City finished third, whilst I was only one place off with eventual champions Chelsea who I thought would finish second. No one was quite sure how last year’s title winners Leicester would fare this time around, and a 12th place finish was fairly respectable after a poor start to the campaign, despite the fact that I thought they would finish seventh. I got two predictions spot on, Swansea and Bournemouth, whilst I did also predict Hull to get relegated just not in the correct position. However I did predict that the two other relegated teams Sunderland and Middlesbrough would finish comfortably in mid table. The worst prediction though was West Brom, who I thought would go down yet they ended up in 10th and could have been even higher had it not been for a late-season slump.
Just the one correct prediction here, and that was Newcastle United as champions. The Magpies were everyone’s favourites before the start of the campaign but did only secure the title on the final day. The rest of my predicted top six doesn’t make for great reading, with only Brighton and Sheffield Wednesday finishing in that area, whilst Derby, Norwich and Aston Villa all massively underachieved. Burton, who I predicted would finish bottom, surprised everyone by staying up in their first ever season in the second tier. I was correct in predicting Rotherham to go down, whilst the other two relegated sides, Wigan and Blackburn, I had thought would just about survive. Undoubtedly the two worst predictions here were Huddersfield and Fulham, who I thought would struggle this season and even predicted the Cottagers to go down. Yet both sides finished comfortably in the play-off positions, with Huddersfield of course beating Reading at Wembley to earn promotion to the Premier League which is a superb achievement. Also a quick mention of Reading (come on, I had to!), who also defied my and everyone else’s expectations by finishing third.
Perhaps a marginally better showing than the Championship. I predicted Millwall to finish top but they ended up in sixth, going on to win the play-offs, so I suppose that sort of counts as a correct prediction! Equally, I thought eventual runners-up Bolton would finish fifth and then win the play-offs so I did get two of three promoted teams correct, only thinking that eventual champions Sheffield United would finish fourth. I got the positions of three teams spot on – Scunthorpe (3rd), Walsall (14th) and Port Vale (21st) – the latter of whom I correctly predicted would go down. But it’s fair to say the other three relegation predictions were a way off, as were the teams who eventual got relegated, such as 23rd place Coventry who I thought would finish 10th. That isn’t quite the worst prediction though, as I predicted Fleetwood Town to just about survive relegation in 19th, but they ended up finishing 15 places higher to qualify for the play-offs in fourth.
We’ll address the elephant in the room first, as yes I did predict Leyton Orient to finish third and earn promotion, when in fact the Os finished bottom of the table. Admittedly, few could have foreseen the damage owner Francesco Becchetti would do at Brisbane Road. However, I did get the other two automatic promotion winners, Doncaster and Portsmouth, correct just not in the right order. Three of the teams that ended up qualifying for the play-offs – Luton, Carlisle and Blackpool – I had predicted would finish around that area (getting fourth place Luton spot on!), but Exeter were the anomaly as I predicted them to finish 16th. As well as Luton, I also got predictions for Mansfield in 12th and Yeovil in 20th spot on. Newport escaped relegation on the final day so scuppered my prediction for them to go down, whilst the team I thought would finish bottom, Morecambe, ended up in 18th. Hartlepool were the side that went down with Leyton Orient, but I had them down to finish mid-table.
Of the 92 clubs, I got nine spot on (one up from last year) and 41 very close (10 more than last year), so although that isn’t great, my prediction skills are certainly getting better!
This is where I did do worse than last year, although admittedly I took the Scottish Premier League out this time around as it was just far too easy to predict. The only competitions that I did get right this year were the EFL Cup (Manchester United), Serie A (Juventus) and the German Bundesliga (Bayern Munich).
My predicted FA Cup winners Liverpool were beaten by Wolves in round four, whilst Chelsea’s Under 23s couldn’t get past the group stages in the Checkatrade Trophy. In Europe, Barcelona disappointed me by not winning either the Champions League (knocked out in the quarter-finals) or La Liga (finished second to Real Madrid), whilst I almost jokingly predicted Sevilla to win a successive Europa League crown so I’m not too bothered about that one. Monaco were arguably Europe’s biggest surprise, as they ended PSG’s Ligue 1 monopoly by taking the French top-flight crown.
As for my predicted individual award winners, Sergio Aguero’s 20 goals saw him finish fourth in the Golden Boot race and weren’t enough for a PFA Player of the Year nomination (he is yet to be even nominated in six years in England!). Michy Batshuayi was kept out of the Chelsea team by Diego Costa, but did pop up to score the goal that won the Blues the title so at least I predicted he would do something of note! As for the first Premier League manager to be sacked, my thinking that Watford always get rid of managers quickly did prove true as Walter Mazzarri left at the end of the season, but it was Swansea’s Francesco Guidolin who lost his job first in October – on his birthday.