THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

14 August ~ The predicted Premier League table in the WSC guide for 2009-10 turned out to be right in only two positions: we had Man City to finish fifth and Hull second from bottom. No one foresaw the meltdown at Portsmouth, although our correspondent, Steve Morgan, had some foreboding: "It's the work of a clairvoyant to predict our fortunes." He was nonetheless right in predicting "it won't be dull". Our Hull contributors Craig Ellyard and Ian Farrow forecast that they would "scramble like hell and avoid relegation" while they were a popular team among other writers, mainly due to their manager's antics: "Phil Brown made a fool of himself on a weekly basis," said our Wigan correspondent.

That Burnley ended up doing marginally better than expected was down to a fine start – they were in the top half at the end of November after five wins in the first 13 games. At which point the mild optimism of our Clarets correspondent, Kevin Clarke, seemed justified: "Realistically it will be a struggle for us, but Owen Coyle is God." After Coyle's departure for Bolton in January, however, they won just three times in 18 games. New boss Brian Laws thus had the ignominy of being associated with two relegations in one season with his previous club, Sheffield Wednesday, also going down from the Championship.

Further up the table Birmingham City managed to exceed all expectations to finish ninth. Even our correspondent Ken Jones was surprised. He had claimed that they "might have a decent chance of finishing around 12th". Fulham were also successful, despite failing to replace "the less-than-prolific Bobby Zamora". The season was not so enjoyable for our optimistic Liverpool correspondent Robert Fordham, who had bravely claimed: "I don't think I have much choice but to have some hope in my heart and say we'll be champions – of something."

A glance at last year's preview shows how similar the past two seasons have been for Everton. Mark O'Brien summed up the 2008-09 season as akin to the smell of dry-roasted peanuts: "A bit shitty at first, but then increasingly satisfying." After a humiliating 6-1 home defeat to Arsenal on the opening day of last season, David Moyes managed to turn the club around in the second half of the season. They were unbeaten in their last 11 league games.

Our Chelsea correspondent was particularly prescient, predicting both that they would win the League and that we could expect some "player-related mischief". Joyce Woolridge, our Manchester United writer, was similarly perceptive, remarking that the club smelled like Camembert:  "It excites the taste buds, but you always think that it must go off at some point soon." Perhaps Ian Farrell, representing Man City, had the best nose for a smell: "A thousand dirham note being used to light a fine Montecristo." The scent is still wafting about, getting up various noses.

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