What WSC contributors got right and wrong
12 August ~ "For once, saying top three feels wildly optimistic," said Manchester United contributor Joyce Woolridge in preview of the 2013-14 Premier League season, following David Moyes's appointment as manager. "Where did Everton finish last season? Top seven?" The rest of the top division's contributors didn't agree, predicting they would lose their title but still finish second. Joyce – though she might not have been happy about it – was right, as they struggled to cope with the retirement of Alex Ferguson and finished outside the European places.
Ian Farrell thought last season would be a "bedding in year" for Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City "rather than a glorious one" and the rest agreed, having them in third place. However, after a shaky start that saw them as low as eighth in November, City came back strongly with only two defeats in 27 games to win their second title in three seasons.
Liverpool turned out to be City's main title challengers, winning 11 games in a row between February and April. It came as a surprise to both Rob Hughes – "sixth at best" – and the other contributors, who for once agreed. In the end a defeat to Chelsea at Anfield followed by drawing 3-3 away to Crystal Palace ended Liverpool's title hopes.
Chelsea were tipped by the contributors to win the League under José Mourinho, while David Hearn was "Hoping to be (The Happy) One". They led the table in February and March but a defeat to Sunderland and draw with Norwich meant they couldn't sustain their challenge. Meanwhile Mark O'Brien was worried about Everton's change in manager. "David Moyes always guarantees top eight but now we have Roberto Martínez who, well, doesn't." He went on to say Martínez would "do well to improve on what Moyes did." In fact the Toffees' new manager did even better, finishing fifth, two places better than their prediction.
Jon Spurling found it "hard to see beyond fourth again" for Arsenal and was correct, though they did end their silverware drought with the FA Cup. Elsewhere Southampton fan Tim Springett said that despite ambitious owners "few of us would consider a second 14th-place finish in a row a failure". He was under-selling his team as the Saints surprised many and finished comfortably in eighth.
Towards the bottom, Fulham's Neil Hurden said: "Apparently we're on our way to the "next level" under new owner Shahid Khan. Realistically though, we're probably going to miss out again on winning the Premier League – by about 35-40 points." In the end it was 54 points as Fulham did indeed go to a different level – the Championship. Cardiff's Scott Johnson thought "anything was up for grabs" below the top six and predicted mid-table, though the rest of the division's contributors were more accurate as the Bluebirds were relegated straight back to the Championship.
No one expected Norwich to be the other team to drop, not least fan Andrew Woods who said "Norwich City will be challenging for the Europa League this year". He quantified this by saying he also believes "Phil Collins-era Genesis were actually quite good", and his team's ultimate relegation shows just how wrong Andrew can be about both football and music.
Hull and Crystal Palace were the other teams predicted for relegation. Palace's Matthew Barker went for "fourth from bottom and a change of coach. Ian Holloway is the Boris Johnson of football managers – people like him ‘because he's funny'". Matthew got more than he dreamed of, with Holloway replaced by Tony Pulis and an 11th-place finish. Hull City fan Matthew Rudd's prediction that "the doom-mongers from outside East Yorkshire might have to eat their pessimistic words" proved well-founded as his team avoided relegation and reached the FA Cup final, qualifying for Europe in the process.