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2008/09 Premier League Predictions: Places 11-20 (Part I)

Andy Greeves in Editorial, English Premier League 12 Aug 2008

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11 – Manchester City

Poor old Sven Goran Eriksson was sacked after leading City to ninth in the Premiership – an improvement of five places on the previous season. What more can a manage do to please his chairman?

Mark Hughes is an excellent manager, but with the controversial former Thai Prime Minister and club owner Thaksin Shinawatra increasingly medalling in team affairs, his position could become compromised. Recent media speculation has suggested Hughes already feels unsettled by communication difficulties between him and his board.

Jo is capable of scoring 20 Premiership goals in his first season and in Micah Richards, City have one of the best defenders in England. But with lack of harmony behind the scenes, that will translate on to the pitch.

12 – Sunderland

The Mackem’s spent £40m last season to ensure Premiership survival. Having finished three points and three places above the dreaded drop zone, it proved to be money well spent.

Roy Keane has had another busy summer wheeling and dealing to help his side continue their progress this season. Steed Malbranque and Teemu Tainio will greatly improve Sunderland’s midfield, while El-Hadji Diouf increases their goal scoring potential. Pascal Chimbonda also brings a wealth of experience, if a not slightly questionable attitude, to the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland are a way from becoming a top ten side, but a significant improvement on last season’s league position awaits this campaign.

13 – Newcastle United

Like any great soap opera, Newcastle United are never more than a couple of weeks away from chaotic storyline.

The Magpies uncanny ability to shoot themselves in the foot was evident throughout last season with only relegated sides Reading and Derby conceding more goals than them. Fabricio Coloccini has been brought in to try and shore things up at the back. Whether he can make a significant difference to the goals against tally remains to be seen. But at least he’s better than the hapless Claudio Cacapa.

Damien Duff, Nicky Butt and Alan Smith are just some of the big name underachievers in Newcastle’s squad. The biggest questions are, can Kevin Keegan get the out of his players? And will the boss stick around if the going gets tough?

14 – West Ham United

Expectation always exceeds reality at Upton Park and this season will prove to be no different.

Having finished tenth with injury ravished squad last campaign, West Ham fans probably expect a challenge for a UEFA Cup spot with a fully fit side. But even with a full strength squad to select from, there are so many better equipped teams than West Ham.

While the likes of Tottenham, Manchester City, Portsmouth and Fulham have seriously invested in their squads this summer, the Hammers have spent modestly.

Behrami looked decidedly average at Euro 2008, Jan Lastuvka failed to impress on loan with Fulham, while Balint Bajner and Orn Eyjolfsson have never played in a top league.

A tough campaign awaits for Alan Curbishley, who is already the bookies favourite to be the first managerial casualty of the season.

15 – Wigan Athletic

Small crowds and average players make Wigan one of the most unfashionable clubs in the Premiership. But going into their forth season in the top flight, nobody at the JJB Stadium is particularly concerned about their image.

Steve Bruce has made some good signings during the summer, with Oliver Kapo capable of bring flair to a midfielder of tough tacklers. £3.5m youngster Lee Cattermole also represents value for money.

Marlon King and Emile Heskey give Wigan a cutting edge upfront that the new boys along with Bolton and Middlesbrough lack. For that reason alone they should be safe come April.

16 – Bolton Wanderers

Top ten finishes and forays into Europe seem a distant memory for Bolton post Sam Allardyce. Nowadays it’s all about survival.

Cult heroes El-Hadji Diouf and Ivan Campo left the Reebok during the summer and their replacements look suspiciously second rate. £10m striker Johan Elmander failed to score, or make any sort of impact for Sweden in Euro 2008, while Mustapha Riga was part of a Levante team relegated from La Liga last season.

Matthew Taylor, Kevin Nolan and Kevin Davies have enough ability to ensure Bolton survival. But the rot has well and truly set in at the Reebok for a Wanderers team a shadow of it’s former self.

17 – Middlesbrough

The Teesiders have enjoyed mid-table security under the management of Gareth Southgate, with twelfth and thirteenth finishes respectively in the last two years. But having failed to significantly improve on last season’s squad, Middlesbrough could be surprise relegation candidates this time around.

From back to front, Boro lack inspiration and quality. Keepers Ross Turnbull and Brad Jones lack the presence to install confidence in their back four, the midfield bar Stuart Downing is bland and unimaginative.

Jeremie Aliadiere has managed just 5 goals in 29 games for Middlesbrough while strike partner Mido spent the most of last season injured, overweight or out of form.

Goals and entertainment are set to be at a premium at the Riverside as Boro battle for their Premiership lives in 08/09.

18 – West Bromwich Albion

Despite the difficulties experienced by newly promoted teams in the Premiership, it’s not since 1998 that all three new teams have been relegated together after one season.

Unfortunately the class of 08/09 are just about to find out how big the gap between the top and second tier of English football is.

West Brom’s have a decent spine of goalkeeper Scott Carson, defender Paul Robinson, midfielder Jonathan Greening and forward Ishmael Miller. But while they looked impressive in the Championship, the Premiership is a completely different kettle of fish.

As the Albion fans that chant ‘Boing Boing Baggies’ know, what goes up, must come down. Sadly their yo-yo act of recent years will continue this season.

19 – Stoke City

Last season’s new boys Sunderland spent £40m on new players to finish just three points and three places above the drop zone, proving just how big the gap between the Championship and Premiership is.

Having invested just £8.5m in their squad this summer, Stoke’s chances of survival are minimal. Forward Dave Kitson is a shrewd purchase from Reading and in ex-Manchester United winger Liam Lawrence, Stoke have a decent midfield supplier. But other than that, the squad has Championship side written all over it.

The passion of the Potteries crowd coupled with Tony Pulis’ long ball tactics could pose problems for early visitors to the Britannia Stadium. Alas, Stoke will have peaked by the end of September and be long gone by May 2009.

20 – Hull City

Derby County were relegated from the Premiership last season with a record low points total of 11. Bookmakers are now offering short odds on Hull taking the Rams’ unwanted record in 08/09.

Hull’s squad consists of Premiership veterans and misfits sprinkled with a few talented youngsters. Doubtful that this mix will cut it in a league full of multi-million international superstars.

Phil Brown failure to sign Manchester United’s striker Fraizer Campbell, who was on loan at the KC Stadium last season, doesn’t bode well for the new campaign. Neither does a 4-0 pre-season defeat at Crewe.

Relegation is a certainty.

Stay tuned for the final part of this list (1-10) that will be published tomorrow!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Greeves


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Van Basten
Van Basten
13 years ago

I think with at least 3-4 new signing , Newcastle will improve on the their 12th position from last season and at least finish between 6-10.

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