For most of us, Mario Vrancic’s late winner at Villa Park simply served to ease any remaining jitters and ensure the title-winning party started five minutes early.
However, for those in the MFW team vying for our own accolade – that of Champion Tipster (for our predictions that have featured in every preview piece), the Bosnian’s strike provided sufficient drama to warrant the full Jeff Stelling Treatment…
There are five minutes left at Villa park and as it stands;
1st Andy 37 points
2nd Stew 36 points
But let’s cross over to Villa Park, where’s there’s been a goal…
And it’s all change here, Jeff;
1st Stew 39 points
2nd Andy 34 points
Super Mario’s strike delivering Stew’s 1-2 forecast at the expense of Andy’s 1-1 and handing him the title.
For completion, the remaining standings were as follows;
3rd Martin 31 points
4th Steve 31 points
5th Gary 23 points
6th Siri 23 points
7th The oppo 9 points
NB:- Martin and Gary gaining the places on an ‘alphabetical ruling’, which will be prompting the use of surnames from next season.
But it wasn’t the only competition we ran.
Back in August, before a ball had been kicked in anger, the MFW team offered up our forecasts for the Championship top six and bottom three and invited the readers to do the same, in our annual Prediction League.
The rules are simple; penalty points awarded for the difference in placings against each prediction, with the lowest overall score winning.
For example, if you had predicted Leeds to finish in top spot, their third-place finish would carry a two-point penalty, and so on.
Could anyone dethrone, reigning Champion and MFW columnist, James Finbow?
Would my master spreadsheet ‘go missing’ once it became clear I was going to lose?
Does anyone, even care?
Before the ‘big reveal’, let’s turn the clock back to last summer and the Bookmakers’ pre-season odds of promotion.
|1||Stoke 13/8||9||Derby 9/2||17||Blackburn 12/1|
|2||Middlesbrough 11/4||10||Norwich 7/1||18||Hull 16/1|
|3||West Brom 11/4||11||Bristol City 15/2||19||Millwall 16/1|
|4||Nottingham Forest 10/3||12||Preston 8/1||20||QPR 16/1|
|5||Leeds 7/2||13||Sheffield United 8/1||21||Reading 18/1|
|6||Swansea 7/2||14||Sheffield Wednesday 8/1||22||Ipswich 25/1|
|7||Aston Villa 9/2||15||Wigan 10/1||23||Bolton 80/1|
|8||Brentford 9/2||16||Birmingham 11/1||24||Rotherham 80/1|
Little surprise that the three relegated sides, West Brom, Stoke and Swansea, featured high on the list, with conventional wisdom suggesting that the haves should triumph over the have-nots.
Pulis at Boro, Bruce at Villa and Karanka at free-spending Forest were also highly fancied being managers with a proven track record in the Championship, whilst Bielsa’s appointment at Leeds, and the media love-in surrounding Frank Lampard’s employment at Frank Lampard’s Derby County, ensured that both attracted interest.
At the bottom, and despite heralding ‘a new era’ under Paul Hurst, Ipswich were tipped for the drop alongside Bolton and Rotherham.
As for City, the bookies predicted an improvement on last season but nothing more than a mid-table finish.
Fast forward to May and the final standings reveal what most would suspect, namely that the bookies don’t get too much wrong.
|Predicted Placing||Team||Actual Placing||Penalty Points|
The obvious anomalies being City and Sheff United who greatly out-performed but most notably Stoke’s failure to live up to the pre-season favourites billing.
Using our scoring system, the bookies’ total for top-6 and bottom-3 predictions, is 36 points, which we’ll consider the ‘benchmark’.
So in reverse order and with our MFW’s columnists in italics, let’s countdown to top spot…
|45||Robin, John Mitchell|
|38||Gary F, Andy|
|37||Matthew, Stewart, Steve, Alex B|
|36||Daniel, John T, General Melchett|
|35||Sam, Gary G|
|34||Connor, Rich, John Holland|
|30||Dean Coney’s boots|
Congratulations to our very own James Finbow, who like Pep Guardiola’s Man City, regained his title by a single point (and who may or may not be backed by oil-based Billionaires).
An honourable mention must also go to Mick Dennis, the only one amongst us who predicted that…
“City’s going up and the Scum are going down”
Will we run the competition next year?
The challenge of predicting the top 6 and bottom 3 in the Premier League is perhaps less of a challenge.
Then again, as we’ve seen this season, Football is capable of throwing up more than the occasional upset where even the bookies can get caught out.