The new football season is almost upon us, and it is that time of year that football fans are full of hope for the coming season and optimism outweighs reality.
In the Premier League, both Manchester City and Liverpool have strengthened their already impressive squads and I expect them to dominate at the top of the league once again.
As with last season, I expect City to come out on top but without doubt their biggest priority will be the Champions League and I expect them to finally win that also. They dominated Real Madrid over both legs of the semi-final last season, and it is still a mystery to me how they lost the tie in five mad minutes after Madrid hardly mustered a chance over 90 minutes in the second leg. I think City will re-think how they approach the League Cup and FA Cup this season as a result.
Tottenham and Arsenal have also done some astute business in the transfer market this summer and I expect them to qualify for the remaining two Champions League places.
At the other end of the table, this could be a difficult season for a number of clubs, and I think Southampton, Brentford and Everton will struggle. But it will be tough for the three promoted clubs - Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest - to bridge the massive gap that now exists between the top two divisions and I do expect them to fill the three relegation places.
In the Championship, the disparity in finance between the sides who have the parachute payments and those who don’t is enormous and for that reason I take Norwich City, Watford and Burnley to be in the final shake up for promotion back to the Premier League. I expect the surprise package to be QPR. Michael Beale is a talented and highly rated coach and has taken Damien Matthew with him. Damien coached the League One Championship winning side at Charlton. I think they will be a strong team and have a major impact on QPR.
League One has some big clubs in it and will perhaps be the most competitive league next season. There are around 12 teams who would expect to be challenging for promotion and I think the points share will be very close. I take Sheffield Wednesday to take the league title, as much I’m desperate to say Charlton.
I have a vested interest in Walsall in League Two and the new owners are going about building the club in the right way and I am rooting for them to take the League Two title.
It is three months since the last EFL season ended and I for one am ready for my weekly dose of football. This will be a strange season with a World Cup in Qatar in the middle of it but that gives the season an added spice and I have high hopes for England, particularly as the competition is not taking place after a long hard season and the players will be in peak condition.