The Community Shield was yesterday. I don't know what's more embarrassing - Chris Foy's performance, Paddy Evra's penalty, football starting at this time of year, or me secretly seething at losing a match which is a pointless friendly. Actually, something else tops that - England's performance in the last Test match. Shee-eesh!
Anyway, that runabout at Wembley signals that the Premier League season is once again upon us. And here comes the slight change on my blog - for this season, gone will be the Premier League Predictions I did on a Friday afternoon. Instead, once a week I shall be putting up the standings on the Fantasy Football league myself and dear old Merciless have been running. Ah yes, that league. If you still want to sign up, it's not too late, but you have until Saturday at the latest. To enter, sign up and create a team over at the Premier League site, then you'll need the code for our league, which is 6923-3239.
We have an interesting mix so far - some people I don't know, an old friend from my childhood, a former History teacher of mine, and Cynical Ben (hopefully Voley too). So, yeah, sign up if you want, should be fun. And like I said, I'll be charting the league positions every week on here, so keep on dropping by for that.
Finally, I can't leave the predictions thing completely. The papers this weekend have been doing their final Premier League table thoughts, so here's mine. I'm typing this on Monday 10th August, so I'm basing this on the way the squads stand right now, HOWEVER I am going to assume that Lescott leaves Everton and joins Man City, as is expected.
1 Chelsea - Presuming they don't all hate Ancelotti, I see Chelsea as the strongest team. Not lost anyone, Joe Cole back, Zhirkov in. Only issue is the age of the squad.
2 Liverpool - Presuming Torres and Stevie Me stay fit. Alonso is a loss, but defensive platform is there and Aquilani will be an interesting proposition.
3 Man Utd - Replacing Ronny and Teveth with a player from Wigan and a crock is yet another indication that the once great man is slowly winding down. It will be emotional at the end of the season, when we wave goodbye to him, and say hello to Jose, but it must be done.
4 Arsenal - Might be worth having a few quid on Arshavin being Player of the Year. I've got Vermaelen in every Fantasy Football team I've got going this season, so he better shore up that defence. Losing Toure is a massive blow, and out of the big 4 teams, they are the furthest away from winning the league, but they'll just hold off Citeh.
5 Man City - Good luck Sparky! Adding Lescott will make them a much better, balanced team than they were, but I can't see them breaking the top 4 just yet.
6 Aston Villa - One of those teams I always look out for, as I have numerous friends who support them. A top 6 finish is well attainable, but the loss of G.Barry stops them getting closer to top 4.
7 Everton - Good job they have one of the best managers in the league. Still handcuffed financially, it will be more of the same this season.
8 Tottenham - As much as I dislike them, Harry has assembled a half-decent squad there. Bassong is a great signing, Crouch is a very good signing.
9 West Ham - I really fancy the Hammers to do well this year - good manager, good assistant manager, and a few interesting young players. Look out for Jack Collison.
10 Fulham - Presuming they keep hold of Hangeland, it will be more of the same. Formidable home record should continue under Woy Hodgson.
11 Sunderland - Looking at their squad, it looks a bit thin. But Steve Bruce is a good manager, and Darren Bent will bag quite a few up there.
12 Blackburn - Obviously losing Santa Cruz is going to be a big loss for them, but under Allardyce they'll survive, and survive comfortably.
13 Wigan Athletic - How will Roberto Martinez get on there? That's the big question. I see them having a slightly below par season, as they adjust to the new man, but they'll be fine.
14 Bolton - I hate them for the way they play, but it's effective. Typical Megson side. Like their local rivals Blackburn and Wigan, this will be a season of solidarity, but not much excitement.
15 Stoke City - Survival, again. And I suspect that's all they care about. Home form will be crucial once again. Interesting to see what impact Delap has this time around. They'll be safe, just.
16 Wolves - I tip the Wolves to survive, mainly based on Ebanks-Blake and Kevin Doyle. Looking at that midfield - it's weak, and I wouldn't go rushing to put money on them to stay up. Not a great team, but I think there are a few worse ones floating around.
17 Birmingham City - I have 4 teams left, and to be honest I don't rate any of them. I've just flipped a coin, and Birmingham get survival in 17th place, and Burnley go down in 18th place.
18 Burnley - One season wonders, I fear. Home form might give them a chance, but I just can't see them staying up. Major achievement for Owen Coyle and his players if they do.
19 Hull City - Hull are going down as readily as Jenna Jameson, seriously. They are DOWN. In fact, they are very lucky that they won't finish rock bottom.
20 Portsmouth - Players out: Glen Johnson, Peter Crouch, Sean Davis, Sol Campbell, Lauren amongst others. Players in: Steve Finnan, Aaron Mokoena. Sorry Pompey, bye, and I won't miss you. Only chance of escape is a foreign investor with deep pockets taking over there.
Roll on the new season!