The particular details of how we came to be around this round table together are inconsequential. What matters is that we were held for an amount of time until we had provided answers to a list of questions regarding the 2013-14 season. I think that it probably annoyed Alfie the most - seeing as he probably had lots of things to do over at Big Cat Country. Anyway - we made our predictions, were returned to our normal lives and the results were hermetically sealed within the Google Machine until now. How well did we do? Let's find out.
Who will finish in the top 6?
Suffice it to say, none of us predicted the rapid demise of the David Moyes era at Manchester United and the extent to which their league position would be affected. Additionally, most of us over-estimated the Mourinho Effect, although to be fair Chelsea weren't far off the top of the table.
How did we do?
Alfie was the only one of us that selected Manchester City to win the league. Robert, Alan and I all selected Chelsea. Oops. Although Alfie nailed the champ, he did choose Spurs as runners-up... while Robert and I both selected them fourth. Alan only specifically picked the champion in his Top 6 list, which in hindsight was a brilliant move as it completely sidesteps nearly all accountability for incorrect picks. 50% of us (Alfie and Alan) even picked Liverpool in the top 6 at all. We did all get pretty close on Arsenal, with Robert, Alfie and I all selecting them 5th... so that's close, right? Special mention goes to Robert for this nugget:
Manchester United will struggle (relative to other recent seasons) under David Moyes
Jim: 1. Chelsea, 2. Manchester United, 3. Manchester City, 4. Tottenham Hotspur, 5. Arsenal, 6. Everton
Robert: 1. Chelsea, 2. Manchester City, 3. Manchester United, 4. Tottenham Hotspur, 5. Arsenal, 6. Everton
Alfie: 1. Manchester City, 2. Tottenham Hotspur, 3. Chelsea, 4. Manchester United, 5. Arsenal, 6. Everton
Alan: 1. Chelsea 2-6 (in no particular order) Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Everton
So... yeah. Alfie got one exactly right (Man City), Alan didn't order his 2-6 so we're going ahead and claiming he picked Liverpool at 2, and Alfie nailed Chelsea at third. Although we didn't get specific league positions exactly right, ultimately we each got 5 out of 6 teams correct in the Top 6.
Who gets relegated?
We didn't fare too much better on our relegation picks.
Robert: (in random order), Hull City, Crystal Palace, Stoke City
Alfie: Crystal Palace, Hull City, Southampton
Alan: Hull City, Crystal Palace, (choose from) Stoke City, Norwich City, Aston Villa
We all obviously underestimated Stoke City the most as three of us picked them to go down (actual league finish, 9). Crystal Palace was also a popular inaccurate pick (three of four) although there were mitigating circumstances of sorts in that Ian Holloway stepped aside before he did irreparable damage to their chances. Although they were looking good early in the season, they ended the season in 16th, so we were close on that one (some more than others, ahem). Alfie gets the award for biggest disparity between pick and actual finish with his shout for Southampton. With Alan once again dodging 100% accountability, we're going to claim his pick of Norwich, so we'll end up with 2 correct picks out of 12.
Pick one team that will surprise in a good way and one that will surprise in a bad way.
I think this one went a little bit better than the picks up to this point. Let's take a look.
Jim: Good - Everton, Bad - Sunderland
Robert: Good - Norwich City, Bad - Swansea
Alfie: Good - Newcastle, Bad - Fulham
Alan: Good - Fulham, Bad - Spurs
Not only did these picks largely go well in name, some of the justifications were pretty well on the mark as well. For instance:
Bad way: Sunderland - I think that they will surprisingly manage a number of results and be flying high (Party with Marty, anyone?) and then surprisingly lose momentum and end the season lower-mid table.
I think Fulham is going to surprise in a bad way. They rely on Berbatov and I don't think adding Bent helps all that much.
I like Norwich City to continue to progress under Chris Hughton. He's made some shrewd buys (Leroy Fer, anyone?) and I can see them challenging for the top half of the table.
I think Fulham could surprise in a good way. I think getting Darren Bent was a good pick-up for them. I think they may challenge the top six.
Premier League Player Of The Year
Let's just let the analysis of this one stand at: AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
Our picks: Jim - Juan Mata, Robert - Eden Hazard, Alfie - Robin van Persie, Alan - Fernando Torres
Who wins the cups?
This one didn't go just a whole lot better - although I did at least pick Manchester City to win one of the competitions... though I picked the wrong one. Also, Alan refused to pick, so....
Our picks: Jim: Capital One - Newcastle United, FA - Manchester City, Robert: Capital One - Everton, FA Cup - Spurs, Alfie: Capital One - Arsenal, FA Cup - Everton
Actual results: Capital One Cup: Manchester City, FA Cup: TBD (Arsenal v. Hull)
Newcastle United Player of the Year
We should have an outright winner here. Due to the fact that the player who SHOULD win it was sold off in January it seems most likely, however, we probably will not have.
Our picks: Jim - Yohan Cabaye, Robert - Tim Krul, Alfie - Moussa Sissoko, Alan - Hatem Ben Arfa
Newcastle United's biggest surprise player
I think that we have another case of close but not quite for this one... although some of us were much closer than others.
Our picks: Jim - Shola Ameobi with double digit goals (!), Robert - Haris Vuckic, Alfie - Cheik Tiote, Alan - Moussa Sissoko
Yes... Shola did have a relatively good year (3 goals in all competitions), but nowhere near double digit goals. Haris Vuckic, tipped by Robert to play well in the cups and force Alan Pardew to consider him every week couldn't even get regular action at
League Two League One Rotherham United. Cheik Tiote looked like he was back to his best in the first half of the season, but then... and Moussa Sissoko was the best right midfielder we played this season.
Newcastle United's Final League Position
We had it surrounded. Out of the four of us, we had two 8th place picks, one 9th place pick and one 11th place pick. Well, the 11th place pick (Robert's) was technically 10.5th place and chose for us to underachieve slightly... but maybe we claim this one at 10th. At the end of it all, even though the club finished right where we thought they would they did it in the most infuriating way possible... because Newcastle United.
Our picks: Jim - 9th, Robert - median between 5th and 16th, 10.5 rounded down to 11th, Alfie - 8th, Alan - 8th
We didn't exactly set the world alight, but we didn't exactly come away completely empty handed, either. I would say that by most metrics we probably performed at the minimal acceptable standard. As we know, that is plenty enough to keep our jobs for next year.