It’s time for a whole new ball game.

Our crusade to improve the world’s sports prediction ability takes another step forward today as we finally reveal to a chosen few our shiny new app.

Sporting Mouth is now available to download from the Apple store (you’ll find one on most street corners) and we’re asking our regular readers to try it out and report back. (Though if you are taking it for a test drive for God’s sake don’t scratch it, or we’ll lose our deposit).

As soon as you’ve fired up the app you should find yourself one step closer to earning the stripes your sporting judgment deserves. And as a result, your friends a step closer to losing theirs.

To get you match fit for the start of a journey that will involve all sorts of exciting features (including our weekly Premier League game that started this caper), we suggest you drop everything and immediately join us for some pre-season training in Brazil.

You’ll find all of this summer’s World Cup fixtures on the app, nervously lining up like Matchday mascots ready to shake your predictions by the hand.

Once you’ve decided what will happen on the pitch, you can then get on with the important business of picking an opponent and an appropriate stake, whether this is a free prize or one where the loser pays.

After that the app does all the hard work. You simply sit back and watch the action, safe in the knowledge that every result you nail will make someone feel as comfortable as the keeper in a penalty shootout.

As an added incentive to getting stuck in we have an extra treat.

Our new friends at Microsoft have come up with some unbelievably cool prizes for the most successful users of the app during the World Cup. They’ll also be publishing a live leader board on Facebook throughout the tournament.

As the elite foot soldiers of our movement it is your job to let us know what you think about the app and help us weed out any last minute technical glitches.

Those of you with fathers around on D-Day will understand that this is not a responsibility to be taken lightly. Please bear this in mind as you step into the landing craft for our very own Operation Overlord on June 6th.

Right, that’s enough of the pep talk. Time to cross that white line and show us what you can do.

Last one on the beaches gets the beers in.

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All good things come to an end. So no tears please.

AMNT Towers has been rife with speculation in recent weeks. As our shiny new prediction platform slowly comes out of the hangar the question on everyone’s lips has been what happens to the game we’ve been playing for the last 2 years. Will we still be able to predict the Premier League scores each week and will the technology that we’re planning to use make this a delightful experience or a bit like one of Statto’s biros?

Happily we’re able to report that though this will be the very last time that anyone asks you to click the Magic Link, you’ll be able to experience the joys of outwitting one another in a very modern way when our app launches on June 6th.

For those of us with longer memories than an Anfield season ticket holder, June 6th is of course already a historical date. It seems fitting then to borrow it to launch our new app, when our shock troops will be pouring out of their landing crafts and liberating those poor souls who’ve been denied that very basic human right of being able to predict the outcome of football matches.

So as you click the link for the last time, man up and don’t shed any tears. There have been quite enough of those in the last few weeks.

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We’re ***t and we know we are.

As you might have noticed we’re creaking under the strain of bring you Sporting Mouth, our shiny new app, that will forever banish the need to apologise about missing tables and errors of calculation.

Rest assured that all our results tables that haven’t yet appeared are in hand. Statto’s overbearing Brazilian aunt has been in town and her favourite nephew has been under the cosh.

In the meantime here’s the magic link for this weekend’s title and relegation deciders. Click on it now to settle the scores.

The Magic Link

Make the most of something we’ll never sing again.

The Stevie G sheet music

The Stevie G sheet music

It’s hard to escape the feeling that Premiership grounds around the country may be engulfed by an enormous sense of loss this weekend.

In the week that Mrs Moyes learned that she would be seeing a little more of her husband in future, you might imagine that there are a few parts of Britain that will be mourning the passing of United’s profligate season.

Yet for once there is an even bigger loss than anything United have managed on the pitch this season.

A chant that has graced the lips of every stadium in the land for much of the last two decades is on the brink of permanent retirement and there seems very little that any of us can do about it.

‘Have you ever seen Gerard win the league’ has greeted Liverpool wherever they have travelled and invariably broken the silence in the away section at Anfield over the years.

Yet in precisely 270 minutes of playing time (and whatever is added on for Fergie time) it now seems more or less inevitable that this charming little ditty will join that great hymn sheet in the sky.

Indeed conspiracy theorists amongst us suspect that the hand of God may be involved – and yes, we mean the man with the white beard, not Maradonna (Ed. Have you noticed that Argentina’s favourite son also sports a white one these days?).

Where once there was a doubt that Liverpool could ever again scale the lofty heights reached by their Old Testament heroes, there is now a biblical inevitability about Brendan Rogers’ team being crowned champions.

Who’d have thought that a season touted so much for its open ended possibilities would now close down faster than the David Moyes memorabilia section in the United shop, to become a pageant to all things Scouse.

Knock them off their perch if you feel brave enough, but as you click the magic link to enter your predictions for this coming weekend please bear in mind that the good Lord and 96 angels are looking down.

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silenced

Who wants to walk alone when the Anfield bus arrives?

Are we talking non-stop to the title?

Are we talking non-stop to the title?

As we enter the final weeks of the season we don’t need any scientific instruments to tell us that things are finely balanced.

Sitting in the eye of the hurricane, listening to the eerie silence surrounding us, waiting for the inevitable – like the flapping of a butterfly’s wings, the slightest event could be the trigger for the change that we know is coming.

Yes, any day now, Liverpool fans will go from being plucky underdogs bowed down by years of hilarious failure to the soaring heights of absolute insufferability.

Unless, of course, Norwich and their new manager Neil Adams can be the immovable object that stands in front of Anfield’s unstoppable force on Sunday.

It seems somewhat unlikely, due to Norwich being absolute gash for the vast majority of the season, but the Canaries have to find wins from somewhere to have any chance of playing at this level next season.

What of Liverpool’s title challengers?

Chelsea will either be winning 1-0 or losing 0-1 against Sunderland, but either way Mourinho’s touchline antics will probably be kept to a minimum for once in fear of Gus Poyet’s permanent air of quiet menace, like a Uruguayan Begbie. Then on Monday, Manchester City will be taking on West Brom at the Etihad in their own attempt to keep up with the pace.

Before all of that excitement, Saturday’s games offer another instalment of that long running saga ‘How few points will it take to avoid relegation this season?’.

A number of teams are playing survival chicken right now, testing just how bad they can possibly be while also managing to stay up. Hugo Rodellega will be hoping to continue his one-man Wigan impression (not last year’s Wigan, obviously) by scoring for the third match running as Fulham take on Tottenham, while fellow strugglers Cardiff face Stoke.

If either of them picks up three points, Swansea and Aston Villa will be looking nervously over their shoulders – both teams having gone from ‘half-decent’ to ‘you have played this game before, right?’ since the start of the season.

Swansea have the good fortune to be playing Newcastle who have literally – no make that utterly literally – gone on holiday since passing 40 points and selling their best player, and will therefore be fielding a team made up of a few Geordie Shore rejects, that fat topless guy from the crowd, and indie-disco favourites Maximo Park. Villa Park, meanwhile, continues to be built on top of a Native American burial ground, so expect a Southampton win.

To round out the weekend, Palace will be looking for their fourth win on the trot at West Ham, while Hull take on Arsenal. And you can expect Monday’s newspapers to be full of tedious pieces comparing Moyes and New Moyes as Everton take on mid-table underachievers Manchester United at Goodison Park.

So, have fun, stay safe, don’t do anything we wouldn’t do, and hit the magic link below to enter your predictions for the coming matches.

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Calm down. It’s only the most decisive game of the season.

Let's hope the nation's stocks last the weekend.

Let’s hope the nation’s stocks last the weekend.

If ever there was a weekend for the nation’s aromatherapists to consider a spot of overtime this surely is it.

The need to calm down a bit is expected to set the city of Liverpool a municipal challenge that not even a squadron of crop spraying planes armed with gallons of Geranium Oil could be expected to douse.

Liverpool’s game with Man City hardly requires us to add kerosene to a spectacle that is already as fired up as a line of stolen cars on a friday night in Toxteth, which is why we’re plumping for a damp squid of a game with nothing settled before the ref blows time on our over-hyped expectations.

In a season of more twists and turns than a shoplifter in Poundland, we are increasingly of the view that whatever we’re all expecting to happen will not and pretty much anything that we hadn’t considered is a nailed on certainty (with the exception of Man United winning the Champions League and Liverpool coming 4th).

So whether you think Fulham are going to survive in the Premiership or Arsenal are going to manage to secure another year of Champions League football or Sam Allardyce will win plaudits for an adventurous brand of 21st Century football, just remember that you’re in good company.

Most of all, don’t forget to enter your predictions for this coming weekend by clicking on the magic link below. Once you’ve done that it’s probably wise to put the kettle on and calm down a bit.

 

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Moyes shakes his Tictacs at accusations of tactical naivety.

tic tic

Moyes reveals his secret tactical weapon

Some of us have been thinking that David Moyes must believe football tactics are a type of mint (thank you Michael Darby).

However, after a night when United proved that at least they don’t suck in Europe, we are now wondering if Moyes’ domestic stripes will amount to more than a bag of Everton mints.

With a mid-week Mancunian derby following this weekend’s Premier League fixtures we shouldn’t have to wait too long to find out if Moyes is a mint with a hole or a good old-fashioned gobstopper.

In sweet shop terms the Premier League is patently entering its Easter Egg phase, with more teams than normal eyeing that large box behind the counter and the customary line at the back of the shop fearing the shutters will come down before they get a chance to spend their pocket money.

Make sure you don’t get sticky fingers by missing out on this weekend’s action. Click on the magic link below to enter your predictions.

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Bet you a case of Blue Nun that we all get indigestion.

Who'll be enjoying a case of sour grapes this weekend?

We wonder which manager will be enjoying a case of sour grapes this weekend.

The Premiership returns in force this weekend to deliver us from wasteful European adventure and the misty-eyed romance of the Cup.

With such distractions set aside, we can get back to the serious business of working out if this season of so many twists will serve us a few more, before the Spring sunshine and the smell of newly mown grass overpower us with longing for our summer residences.

Fortunately the fixture list for this weekend is such a tour de force of  juxtaposition that we doubt the best chef in the land could match its menu for invention and appetite appeal.

After binging on tapas, cheap Rioja and cold chips, the juggernaut of Mancunian ambition rolls into the North East on Saturday lunchtime for a culinary encounter that would make Egon Ronay wince.

Whatever they eat in Hull isn’t likely to be found in any of Pellegrini’s kitchens.  Too much salt and stale chip fat for his tastes we suspect.

On the other side of the Pennines toils a man that many of us think is miscast in this life. Close your eyes and imagine David Moyes as an industrious sous-chef in a promising yet realistic seaside cafe and you’ll know what we mean.

Take him out of this environment and set him the task of feeding 75,000 success starved United supporters and the seams on his kitchen trousers are likely to buckle.

But don’t take our word for this, listen attentively to David’s visiting cousins from Merseyside this weekend and you’ll hear we never walk alone.

Elsewhere we reckon the roadside cafe that bridges the red and white halves of London will be strangely harmonious this weekend.

Both sides are starting to realise that the bargain Norton Commando they bought from that dealer in Wembley isn’t likely to get them to John O’Groats and back in this lifetime.

Yet there’s a slip road to silverware lying ahead, for one team ending a famine that a trailer load of hot-dog stalls couldn’t manage, and for the other, an offer of a form of fame that escapes them at home. Which could make this the quietest North London derby of recent times.

With Sunderland v Palace and Swansea v West Brom completing the weekend line-up, it’s clear that everything football related will take some digesting during the next 72 hours.  So don’t forget to click on the magic link below, enter your predictions and check the stocks of Rennies.

Finally, if you haven’t yet done so, may we suggest you check out our astonishingly successful funding campaign for Sporting Mouth. In the space of a few days we’ve already hit 50% of our target and have received many declarations of intent from would-be investors. If you fancy getting involved in something that could be bigger than Mourinho’s ego, don’t delay, unless of course you’re a specialist in failure.

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This week we’re all backing the crowd.

Our first shareholder's meeting.

Our first shareholder’s meeting.

Regular readers will know that we’re not big fans of the FA Cup.

Another weekend listening to broadcasters prattle on about the magic of the cup is a poor substitute for a round of Premier League games.

So with only five matches to predict this weekend we contemplated giving Statto a day off.

Fortunately we have other news to brighten up the scarcity of compelling league games and Statto used up his holiday allowance on the that trip to Brazil last year.

Today we have taken an Andy Carroll sized step forward in our mission to bring AMNT to the masses. If you don’t believe us, then may we suggest you take a look at our investment pitch, which went live this morning in our crowdfunding campaign. If you have any sense you’ll liquidate all your assets immediately and join us on the road to fame and glory.

Even if you don’t fancy a flutter, you will be the beneficiary of other’s benevolence when we launch our own fully automated sports prediction platform in early May. No longer will you have to put up with the crude technology that we have been using to share this entertainment. Gleaming brighter than a ref’s whistle our new platform will make the business of entering scores and producing tables as slick as the motors in a Premier League car park.

That’s all for the future. For the time being, if you want to decide who will win this weekend’s London derby or whether David Moyes is on the cusp of becoming the new Sir Alex Ferguson, you’ll have to click on the magic link and enter your predictions.

THE MAGIC LINK

Clear the dining room table, it’s now a four horse race.

Waddingtons-Totopoly-The-Great-Race-Game-1960-39-s_700_600_2OFO4We suspect one or two older readers of this blog might have a tattered board game in their attic called Totopoly. In an era when technology rarely extended beyond BBC’s Tomorrow’s World, people played this horse racing game on their dining room tables for family entertainment.

Fortunately the world has turned a few circles since, liberating the dining room table for all sorts of other games. Yet the horse race fascination remains, as the current quartet of contenders for the Premier League title are starting to demonstrate. With a little pony leading a pack containing a heavily armoured war horse (City), a nervous French filly (Arsenal) and a circus horse escapee (Liverpool), the Premiership finishing line is already starting to resemble Aintree on Grand National day.

Whoever lifts the Premier League trophy in May one thing is already certain, there will be plenty of statisticians blood on the carpet, and maybe some on that dining room table. That’s because Mourinho has never lost a title when his team is in front by late February, the top scorers (currently Liverpool) have won 8 out of 10 recent Premiership campaigns, while the team with the biggest goal difference (City) usually comes top. Clearly something has to give and we can only hope that those abacuses have their safety clips on.

Fittingly last week’s AMNT table was won by our own resident statistician, O Statto, who devised a cunning plan involving a sequence of 1-0  predictions. Sadly for the rest of us (but fortunately for Statto) the shooting boots in most of last weekend’s games were worn by players who’d obviously only rented them for half an hour. Apart from the seven goal thriller at Anfield and the five goals at the Emirates, goal line technology was largely given the afternoon off.

Let’s hope that next weekend disproves Statto’s formula. Even though there are less games to predict (the Capital One Cup has stolen the services of Man City and Sunderland) we have a sneaky feeling that the nets will be trawling goals.

Let’s all specialise in failure this weekend.

football failure

Fear not son, we’re all plonkers now.

Guess what, we’ve suddenly reached that part of the season where football dreams coming crashing down faster than the sea walls on the Cornish coast.

This week two big waves and two red cards saw the European aspirations of the twin citadels of Arab hopes (the Etihad and the Emirates) come crashing down faster than you can say ‘referee’ in Swedish. One suspects the walls of Jericho might have put up more resistance, but that’s another story.

Meanwhile the domestic season has rid the FA Cup of any dreams of silverware on the Fulham Road and Anfield Road, unless of course the trophy rooms in either camp only have eyes for bigger prizes. Yet you know what they say comes after pride.

One cold comfort we can all enjoy is that every team has been specialising in failure recently. Even Jose Mourinho has been at it. We can only presume that victors need to sup from the odd cup of defeat to safeguard the sweet smell of success, as I’m sure Mrs Moyes says to her David each morning.

As a special tribute to the art of failing we’ve asked Statto to do this weekend’s tables in reverse. He wasn’t too keen on the idea initially until the penny dropped that this might give him more to gloat about than is usually the case.

Chuck your name into the great hat of runner ups by clicking on the magic link and entering your predictions for this weekends games. Your chances of complete success are virtually nil – just like certain English sides with European return legs to play.

THE MAGIC LINK

Mid-week fixtures require instant digestion.

Those awfully nice people that arrange Premier League fixtures have once again been guilty of that crime usually experienced in  certain Italian restaurants.

No sooner has the last course been cleared away than another one, bearing an equal amount of food, staggers to the table demanding our immediate attention.

This means that Statto who is still knee deep in the weekend dishes has yet to complete the weekend tables, and now has to deal with a round of mid-week fixtures that kick off on Tuesday night.

To ensure that you’re not caught short in the kitchen we suggest you drop everything and click on the magic link right now to get your predictions recorded. If they’re not, they won’t be on the results menu later this week.

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Never park the bus when you have a special coach.

Jose's secret weapon is the special coach

Jose’s secret weapon is the special coach

This week we’ve been to bible class.

In Deutoronomy chapter 7 it says something about 2 great northern dynasties being laid low by a man who says the very opposite of what he does.

Even with our relatively limited powers of divination it’s clear that the man in question has to be that football personage who is becoming more native to these isles by the hour – leading one wag to suggest he might Anglicise his name to Joseph Maureen Howe.

The only certainty is that with Jose now in the driver’s seat and City temporarily searching for the Manuel, the coach won’t end up where it’s expected to be. Which is probably good news if you happen to be an Arsenal fan unless this weekend’s trip to Anfield becomes a talk-too-soon match.

As we’re learning, Deutoronomy is also fairly big on the sin that dare not speak its name, which we’re guessing could be a bottom reference, as the Israelites were well known for their fear of relegation. With some justification as it turns out, as going down in biblical times often involved wholesale population slaughter, which even the FA frown on. As this may be the season where 6th place is 3 points from the relegation zone, the risk of nemesis is now spreading to a dozen parts of the country. Which is especially exciting for most Londoners.

Something the Israelites were very fond of is shared by the winner of the latest table. With more points than anyone has achieved so far all season, our champion punter put his enemies so convincingly to the sword that not even Lawro’s make-up artist could bring the corpse back to life.

With 7 out of 10 correct scores there’s a suspicion that the hand of the almighty might have even been at work, though quite why a man with a white beard would want to come back as an AMNT pundit defies belief. Now that would be a cross to bear.

Get in line if you want a scoop of this weekend’s action then click on the magic link below. We’re working on a celestial sound effect to make this bit more exciting, but until then you’ll have to get your excitement in that age old way angels prefer – with your index finger.

THE MAGIC LINK

Lawro goes top for the first time this season.

Sorry folks, the lightening speed of match fixtures provides little time for mid-week reflection. A moustachioed former Liverpool player tops the table for the first time this season. It’s only taken him 23 weeks, which suggests there is hope for us all. Find out how you did by clicking on the link below, then enter your predictions for this coming weekend.

Latest Tables

Magic Link

Why does everyone feel sorry for David Moyes?

The door says David Moyes, the eyes say I'm lost.

The door says David Moyes, the eyes say I’m lost.

Apparently something seismic happened in the Premier League last weekend. After 22 matches Man United’s season is now officially a valedictory tour to the title and any other form of silverware, for about as long as most non-United fans can dream.

It’s been suggested that future historians will write of 2013 as the watershed moment, like the year 1990 became for Liverpool, marking the point in time at which grace finally got knocked off her perch and championships became no more.

The dynasties of Busby, Shankly, Fagan and now Ferguson are no more. To think that at precisely this time last year, United were effortlessly cruising to a title, that was ultimately decided by van Persie’s decision to join them. (Whether RVP looks back and regrets jumping the gun for one title, when if he’d stayed at Arsenal he could now have been in the hunt for two, we’ll never know).

What is certain, is that this cauldron of historical significance, this inter-dynastic vacuum of uncertainty, this Mancunian theatre of daydreams, is not the kind of place that Mrs Moyes would want for her son David. She’d have sussed the risk of him becoming the pantomime fall guy, who waited for his big moment longer than most of us have memories, before emerging on stage looking like a man who has both contact lenses stuck at the same time.

So why didn’t she tell him? Or maybe he wouldn’t listen. The lure of silverware for a man brought up on a diet of pats on the back was probably too hard to resist.

As if to underline the scale of the task facing Moyes our latest table shows that a not a single pundit went for a United victory at Stamford Bridge. Given the southern bias of AMNT (demographically speaking), which situates it deep in the heartland of United’s support, one might have expected a surge of red defiance.

For some reason the coming weekend is devoted to things other than Premier League football. The next round of games take place on Tuesday and Wednesday evening, when amongst the fare we have a Merseyside Derby, Tottenham entertaining Man City and Fulham entertaining everybody. Make sure you get your predictions in by clicking on the magic link below.

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Clubs get their lines on cue as curtain falls on Panto season.

The Top 6 Fail To Fall Over

The Top 6 Fail To Fall Over

Anybody who has taken part in the first read through of the script at an amateur dramatics rehearsal will have recognised the footballing significance of last weekend.

With all eyes upon you the first time it comes to your part, the only thing you are thinking about is not fluffing your lines.

It doesn’t matter that the words  come out with the tonal variety of the average terrace chant or that any emphasis is lost in the mud of your comprehension of the script, you just want to get the damn thing done and sit back and watch the next poor bugger go through the turmoil.

And so it was last weekend, as a flutter of 2-0 score lines said job done throughout the country. Now that the panto season is firmly behind us, absolutely nobody wanted to fluff their lines, with even Big Sam managing to get in on the act. Though when the top 7 all win of course there’s a sense of pointlessness about the whole affair. If there’s no snakes and ladders in the weekend’s football dramas we’re a bit stuck for something to talk about on a monday Morning.

As our latest results indicate, if you were looking for an upset, you would have had more chance in the worst curry house in the land. The surprising thing was that so many of us failed to back Sunderland’s trip to Fulham as one of the (many) defining relegation moments of the season. Unless Michael Jackson steps down from his Craven Cottage plinth in the guise of Neymar’s double, Fulham look likely to be washed away. Obviously their proximity to the rising Thames waterline makes this an each way bet – one way or another they could float off to obscurity by the end of the season.

Hopefully the coming weekend will give us more to gossip about, with Manchester United’s trip to Chelsea guaranteeing at least some shift in the counters on the board. Guarantee that your predictions won’t float off into obscurity by clicking on the magic link below – then get back to learning those lines.

THE MAGIC LINK

2014 arrives charging like a rhino on heat.

Charging-Rhino-800x529

Big Sam takes issue with the idea that the Olympic Stadium will be the Hammer’s white elephant.

At risk of jumping the gun can we be the first to say that 2014 already looks like being the year of the great reality check.

As we prepare to sharpen our prediction pencils for the first time this year, 2013 already seems a million miles away. The sentimentalism of Liverpool topping the table at Christmas and Arsenal threatening to be title contenders has  been blown away by an icy gust more lethal than anything currently troubling our American cousins.

As reality bites into ideas such as a striker-less Arsenal will be Spain in disguise, or that David Moyes shares anything more than an accent with his predecessor or that Big Sam really will shed those Christmas pounds before the Bowden summer catalogue comes out, we ask ourselves where it might all end up.

Will City now confound the suspicion that overwhelming expectations may prove too big a cross to carry over the line? Will the Chelsea squad learn that diving for the tape is best left to the track and field men? Will Sunderland stay up, will Fulham go down, will that chap at Southampton ever do an interview in English? And if anyone is standing near Big Sam would they tap him on the shoulder and politely ask him to wear something a little more modest than those fitted lycra shorts next time he comes to the gym.

Anyway, that’s quite enough speculation for one sitting, now its your turn. You know the drill. Click on the magic link and enter your predictions for this weekend.

THE MAGIC LINK

AVB leaves the lower sixth searching for answers.

The young Villas Boas fails to learn his lesson.

The young Villas Boas fails to learn his lesson.

We have a sneaking suspicion that football discussions during the last 24 hours have cost most major countries at least a few points of economic growth.

As labour forces downed tools to await the Champions League draw, out popped the news that had been hotly anticipated since about 6 pm on Sunday evening. That Andre Villas Boas had suffered the indignity of being spared further employment at yet another London club.

Whilst we’re not closing the book on the subject, we suspect that unless AVB is still looking to get full value out of his Oyster card by turning up next at West Ham, the odds on him being back on the Northern Line this side of the next millennium must be longer than it usually takes White Hart Lane to find its voice.

In many respects AVB reminds us of that time at school when a young and thrusting new master arrives to upset the teaching orthodoxy. With a dossier brimming with methodology he sets about the lower sixth as if they were the Oxbridge set and only realises just before parents evening that his seeds of wisdom haven’t taken root. Fortunately for AVB he’s now been spared the humiliation of explaining why little Johnny struggles with his zonal marking. Instead he’s probably already lining up his next interview, his voice an octave or two deeper and that teaching dossier a few centimetres thicker.

Whilst we await news of his successor we have compiled a dossier of our own. The latest tables once again prove who was paying attention in class and who had let their mind wander. The tougher questions, such as what’s the likely score when you oppose the teams with the best attack and the best defence defeated the entire class. Which is rather disappointing given the amount of time devoted to this in the Villas Boas homework club.

Hopefully you’ll all try much harder next time, unless you want an iffy school report to darken the mood of the Christmas holidays. Until then please form an orderly line and get ready to click the magic link to enter your predictions for another round of job cuts.

THE MAGIC LINK

Make your fortune on our stock market flotation.

Investors prepare for the AMNT float.

Investors prepare for the AMNT float.

You may have noticed that in this age of whizzy technology AMNT struggles to operate at more than the speed of one of those old dial-up modems.

The information super highway may be commonplace where you live, but at AMNT Towers the daily grind of collecting predictions and publishing tables stretches our bandwidth like a League 2’s defence. Were it not for the office rituals and shameless bullying of the intern there are days when everything almost falls apart.

To keep pace with modern technology we’ve decided that we need a major injection of cash and are now taking advice about a possible stock market flotation. We have also spoken to an advertising agency who have told us that they think they can make us all millionaires when we appoint them. But before we rush off an sign something more incriminating than a footballer’s jockstrap in an Essex girl’s handbag, we thought we’d go all modern and ask you – the AMNT pundits – if you’d like to be involved in what almost certainly will be the business deal of the century.

As you peruse the results of last weekend, which annoyingly suggest that we are all wasting our time and should be playing more golf, you might care to think about how you’d spend the loot when AMNT eventually gets bought by an uber cool web company.

Will you be all Tony Pulis-like and instruct the bank manager to place an extra household brick on top of your stash in the vault, lest any should blow away? Or will you go all reckless and spend the lot on something that you can only rarely use, like Sam Allardyce did when he bought Andy Carroll.

Obviously we don’t want to distract you from the serious stuff, like thinking about whether City might wallop Arsenal on Saturday, or if Palace will get a late equaliser at the Bridge or Liverpool leave White Hart Lane even quieter than it normally is. So if all this talk of future wealth is a distraction please pass this on to your stockbroker or financial advisor and have your people talk to ours.

In the meantime get ready to download the sum of your footballing intuition by clicking our merry magic link. It won’t play you jingle bells, but if you listen hard you’ll hear the herald angels sing (insert your own football ditty here).

THE MERRY MAGIC LINK

PS. We’re not joking about the business venture. If you’d like to read some background you might find this interesting.  If you know people who might be interested in investing please get in touch with john@sportingmouth.com.

Midweek games go wham, bam, thank you ma’am.

blind dateWe’re probably not the first observers to notice that mid-week evening fixtures are the footballing equivalent of blind dates.

You turn up thinking this might be your lucky night and spend the rest of the evening wanting the ref to blow for time.

On Wednesday night this scenario was played out across the country to varying effect and you don’t need to be much of a football pundit to know who got short changed.

As goals that would defy the simulation powers of the world’s most talented CGI operator became a mundane occurrence,  the Premiership’s most lethal lotharios gorged their appetites on some remarkably loose creatures of the night.

Doubtless wishing he had just slipped away in the night that nice Mr Moyes finally saw his Everton team win at Old Trafford for the first time in 22 years. Unfortunately he won’t be taking any of the credit for this achievement as we know. Which is a shame as it could be the victory that defines the season.

The results of the mid week predictions have now been run through Statto’s new Casio and turned into tables, so take a peep at them to see how your season is defining. You’d be a fool to read too much into them of course, though you’d be none the wiser if you did (if you see what we mean).

Hopefully they’ll give you inspiration to click on the magic link to enter your predictions for this coming weekend. And if they don’t you’re probably the kind of person that never gets picked on blind dates.

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Statto’s aunt miraculously saves missing tables.

As keen observers of South American life will recognise, things tend to go missing on that great continent.

However, the land of lost tribes very nearly added one more victim, the week 12 tables, which recently went missing from Statto’s radar somewhere over the Amazon.

When the beads on his abacus jammed last week, there was a real risk of them being lost forever, along with all memory of what we predicted. So we’re counting our good fortune that his aunt was on hand to save the day.

With one of those raking midfield passes that all Brazilians seem to do in their sleep, she found her errant nephew with a brand new Casio calculator. With unconfined joy he instantly produced not one, but two sets of results at the same time. Which has  never been done before (apart from last Christmas).

So without further brouhaha it gives us great pleasure to announce that here are the results for week 12 and week 13

Once you’ve got over the shock and the statistical overload, make sure your predictions are recorded for this week’s mid-week matches by clicking on the magic link before 7.45 on Tuesday 3rd December.

Otherwise they most certainly will be lost.

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Will the next lap of the Premier League prove decisive?

Spurs go through their training routine.

Spurs go through their training routine.

The last seven days have provided a perfectly synchronised wake up call to everybody (and Tottenham fans especially) that sport is fundamentally flawed every time it defeats our expectations.

After all, what on earth is the average cricket fan supposed to do now that the Boxing Day Test has been rendered non-competitive by Mitchell Johnson’s reincarnation as the collective fire and brimstone of every lethal fast bowler to storm the turf?

And what can Spurs fan hope Father Christmas will bring them now that their team has become the butt of another round of jokes, like what’s the difference between Spurs and an old banger? (Most cars only lose four wheels, Spurs manage to lose six).

Obviously this ability to disappoint and render much of the foreseeable future instantly redundant is one of sport’s unique features. It is the health warning on the packet of 20 that we voluntarily ignore.

Taking the pulse of the footballing nation it would seem that Manchester United fans are currently most at risk from ignoring the warnings. Sunday’s draw with Cardiff once again had the gifts of Fergie time visiting the wrong side and David Moyes picking the wrong team, with grumblings about Marianne Faithfull (easier to spell than Marouanne Fellaini) scaling heights that even his barnet can’t reach.

Elsewhere title aspirations were inevitably reduced after one of the best fraternal tit-for-tat scraps of recent years. Bearing increasing resemblance to episodes of All Our Yesterdays the Merseyside Derby  once again underlined that old adage that when two Scouse burglars are in the same room neither leaves with the loot.

So who does that leave? Ah yes, Arsene and Jose, one still nay-saying all the doubting Thomases and the other either coming to the boil or starting to boil over, depending on where you stand in the kitchen. The next episodes of this newly fraternal tit-for-tat may determine who has the wheels to keep pace with Man City’s juggernaut as the season starts to stretch its legs.

We’re not saying where we’re putting our money (we’re all mouth no trousers). But we will say that whatever happens next will be decisive, just as it was last week.

To see how decisive you were you will shortly be able to see last week’s results (Statto has finally worn out the abacus he received from his aunt last Christmas – present hint – but he’s working on it as we speak).

In the meantime why don’t you click on the magic link and enter your predictions for the coming weekend, you’ll find the process of doing so makes you more decisive.

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Eau no, now even the French are going to Rio.

It couldn't happen to a nicer President.

Let’s hope he doesn’t take his Speedos to Rio.

Somehow the exclusiveness of next summer’s World Cup seems a little diminished. What only 24 hours ago looked more like a holiday of a lifetime now feels a bit more like a week at Butlins, as the footballing equivalent of the great unwashed finally surged into the departure lounge.

Not that we begrudge the Greeks, the Portuguese or even the Croatians a place in the South American sunshine, but now that the French are going as well it feels as if we’ve lost something.

So populous over here that it would be small wonder if any of them were actually left over there, we’ve become accustomed to seeing French players line up in their Premiership jerseys to duel for the right to be Creme Anglaise, safe in the knowledge that back home their national team has in recent times become a right old Eton Mess.

Whilst some might privately be thinking merci dieu, at least changing rooms up and down the country don’t have to put up with le grand sulk now that they’ve qualified, the prospect of seeing the Gallic nose out of joint was one of the few bright spots in a hard winter ahead. To be absolutely candid, at AMNT Towers it was one of the very few things that was keeping us going.

Obviously in places like Newcastle, where French footballers are so numerous the locals sing songs about ‘frog on the Tyne’, the celebrations at the culmination of France’s game with Ukraine were doubtless thunderous. Yet a word of caution for those whose teams are laced with more than a soupcon of the men from the other side of the pond this weekend, you may as well prepare now for le hangover as you click on the magic link to make your predictions.

So don’t be fooled by a typically rosbif fixture list, littered with classic English dishes including the Merseyside derby. We caution you to go steady with any French dressing. It won’t just overpower your side salad, it could leave your predictions swimming in oil – just like the last set of results – and your sporting judgment more diminished than a French President. And you can’t stoop much lower than that.

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10 games into the new season and the tea leaves take shape.

A couple of Arsenal fans see the feint outline of silverware.

A couple of Arsenal fans see the feint outline of silverware.

According to Arsene Wenger the 10th week of the season is the first to offer any clues about the likely destination of the Premiership trophy. Mind you he probably would say that.  Arsenal’s cup is overflowing with optimism and the tea leaves are lining up in a promising fashion to suggest that the wait for silverware (as opposed to silver service) may finally be coming to an end.

At AMNT Towers we think that one would have to be pretty uncharitable, or possibly a Spurs fan, to wish for the fates to now take the Gooners on a joy-ride down the table. Whilst we wouldn’t spare dear old Arsene the odd white knuckled moment between now and mid-May, we are increasing inclined to believe that perhaps this is the season when those who have kept the obituary writers most busy come back to haunt their mockers.

Rooney, Torres and Wenger topped this list as the season started, yet all three can currently stand a little more confidently before St Peter, harbouring ambitions of a place a little closer to the holy throne than they might have expected at the start of the summer.

AMNT’s own holy throne had been monopolised this season by Lawro until the last few weeks when a devilish run of form saw him tumble from grace. Having more or less topped the cumulative results table (for which thanks go to John Brazier), week 10 has finally seen the cracks start to show as our season to date points tally below indicates:

  1. Owrid………….79
  2. Lawro………….76
  3. Johnson………74
  4. Hradek…………68
  5. Brazier…………67
  6. Morris………….67
  7. Lewis…………..67
  8. Templeton……65
  9. Simpson………62
  10. Knew…………..62

To see how week 10’s results contributed to this statistical effigy please check out The latest tables. You’re unlikely to learn much that will add to the tree of human knowledge, yet you possibly will learn that underestimating Manchester City at home isn’t very smart.

To stop Lawro mounting a come back please click on the magic link below and enter your results for next week’s round of games, including Arsene’s trip up north to the scene of his darkest hour. And if you want the odds on this being repeated, the bookies will take your money at 8-2.

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Premier League defences pulverised by meteor shower.

Michael Fish reveals his midfield diamond.

Michael Fish outlines his midfield diamond formation.

If weathermen were football pundits we’d have doubtless been waking up to headlines like the one above on the back pages of yesterday’s papers.

As the flag on top of AMNT Towers stiffened slightly to the tug of what turned out to be no more than a vigorous autumnal breeze, we were reading of an apocalyptic storm that allegedly blew the lid clean off a dustbin on the south coast of England.

What a shame that only football deems simulation to be a  punishable offence, otherwise forecasters might think twice about feigning an act of God in the mid-Atlantic.

Yet this episode demonstrates (as if we didn’t already know) that the worlds of football punditry and weather forecasting have much in common. We’re tempted to say they occupy the same isobar but you’d only groan.

For a start, both professions seem prone to omelette sized episodes of egg on face – for Michael Fish’s quip that the great storm of 1987 was ‘definitely not a hurricane’ witness Alan Hansen’s that United ‘would win nothing with kids.’ (Arsenal fans should be mightily encouraged by Hansen’s message in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph that the Gunners would definitely not win the title and almost certainly come 4th).

More common ground is found in each profession’s use of TV graphics. In fact there’s an argument that a few wind direction pointers wouldn’t look out of place on Sky’s map of the movement inside the 18-yard box, whilst that jet stream symbol on the BBC’s weather map looks suspiciously like the long ball diagrams once used in tactical planning sessions by Messrs Pulis and Kinnear.

And it will have escaped nobody that both professions share the same tailor, as the forecaster’s current uniform pays homage to what we like to call the Frank Bough look, whilst those MOTD pundits wouldn’t look at all out of place on Channel 5’s weather update.

THE AMNT TABLES

The latest AMNT Tables should at least provide statistical proof that like the weathermen, professional pundits are simply amateurs in disguise. Lawro’s recent run of poor form continued last weekend, with just 3 correct results and 1 correct score, whereas this week’s winner managed 6 correct results and 2 correct scores. Maybe they should swap professions.

Since more or less everyone foresaw that Arsenal would beat Palace, Tottenham would prevail at home to Spurs and United would render Stokes’ huffing and puffing gallant but not victorious, you could say that 3 points was the bare minimum. The weekend’s big surprises were at the Stadium of Light which only 2 people thought might end in a home win, and to a lesser extent Villa Park, where many foresaw the Toffees coming unstuck.

As you scrutinise your own performance make sure you keep a weather eye on that big fluffy cloud on the horizon. It could be the end of the world or just the smoke from Jack Wilshire’s fag. As you make your mind up about it, don’t forget to click the link and enter your predictions for next weekend.

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Premier League uncertain how to feed the monkey.

Gus Poyet goes ape.

Gus Poyet goes ape after Sunderland crash again.

Lets be honest, it hasn’t been the best 7 days for one of our closest relatives Chimpeus Panzieus .

At the start of last week, in the animal sanctuary of the Wembley home dressing room, news emerged of that horrendous breach of public decency when our Darwinian link was surprisingly compared to a Tottenham Hotspur attacking midfielder (the semi-exotically named Andros Townsend).

As if that wasn’t bad enough, by the end of last weekend, rumours were starting to circulate that the man in charge of the Premiership team least capable of climbing anything vertical (let alone a league table) may also be a distant cousin of homo sapiens (see above). Much to the dismay of our cousins in a certain town in the north east.

Whilst monkeys might have some connection with man’s most noble game (and no we’re not just making mischief with the progeny of Mrs Tevez), it seems to us that the football world would be much better off with the monkey off its back, so to speak. Because unless we’re all very careful, all this monkey talk may eventually land someone in hot water and cause something said with only allegory in mind to be taken entirely the ‘wong’ way (as England’s manager might say).

AMNT Tables

Speaking of wrong ways, the BBC’s Mark Lawrenson might profit from a little instruction on the right way to predict next weekend’s football results. As the latest AMNT table reveals, with all the clarity of a fresh jungle clearing, Lawro had one of those weekends where his customary conservative approach left him rather foolishly exposed. His  jumbo collared shirts making him look very much like the missionary in the pot, he failed to record a single correct score.

Unlike this week’s winner who romped home with 6 correct results, 4 correct scores and a tally of 18 points, our man from the Beeb was the baboon’s bottom – uncomfortably red in all the wrong places.

As it isn’t often that most of us get the opportunity to make a monkey out of Lawro, we should enjoy our day at the zoo as much as possible. So go ahead and rattle his cage, blow raspberries and make indecent hand gestures. But for God’s sake don’t feed him or we’ll never hear the end of it.

And once you’ve done all that don’t forget to click on the magic link and enter your predictions for next weekend’s action. We’ll go ape if you don’t.

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Premier League excites but fails to love you longtime.

chinese-folk-art-painting-old-woman_LRG

Erm, not tonight love, Palace are on the telly.

Premier League supporters the world over are doubtless reflecting on the immortal words of that 8th century Chinese naval brothel madam, Yu In Luk. “That didn’t last very long” was her customary valedictory message to departing guests and seems oddly relevant after a weekend when the last of the leading clubs failed to go the distance.

Everton’s defeat to Manchester City now means that every Premier League side has lost a game this term,  equalling the record set for the shortest number of games taken (7) for every side to lose at least once.  So could this be shaping up to be the most unpredictable Premier League season so far, or is that just premature speculation?

Unfortunately coitus interuptus, in the form of yet another international break, now spoils the fun. Like those Shanghai sailors of days gone by, we’re in for a fortnight of frustration as our national teams put on a footballing display of being all at sea.

However before we man the life rafts and issue extra rations of rum (unless you’re a supporter of Crystal Palace, in which case by-pass these options and take the escalator straight to Davey Jones locker), we have lashings of freshly compiled data to see you to the other side of the international break.

THE AMNT TABLES

The latest AMNT tables, this week compiled by a very nautical Statto, have now sailed into view. As one might expect, they contain a mixture of the entirely predictable (nobody failed to collect points at Anfield) and the utterly unforeseen (West Ham’s triumph at Spurs).

For pundits of a more trainspotterish disposition there is hopefully sufficient material here to fuel those mental gymnastics that occupy the wee small hours.

For example, how come so many people thought Southampton would beat Swansea but not a soul opted for 2-0, and why did so many anticipate that Chelsea would encounter a banana skin at Carrow Road? And last, but certainly not least, why does Lawro keep topping our table when he presumably doesn’t need the work and has more high collared shirts than he’ll ever have opportunities to wear them?

We’ll probably never know the answer to all of these questions, so perhaps it’s best not to pry. Instead we have a far more rewarding use for your time. Click on the magic link below and enter your predictions for the round of games that start after the international break. We can’t promise you instant gratification, but if you take your time we’ll love you longtime.

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Ecky thumped as Cockneys and Scousers make merry.

Did the big cats get stuffed?

Did the big cats get stuffed last weekend?

We’ve a sneaking suspicion that those in command of Manchester’s leading clubs are especially envious of their European counterparts this morning.

As they scan the continental league tables they’ll have noticed that unlike the Premier League this season, on the other side of the channel it’s largely a case of might is right. The big European clubs are all sitting pretty, either with perfect starts under their collective belts or at least with nothing more inconveniencing than the odd draw to spoil their symmetry of their stats.

One imagines that in the boardrooms at Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Monaco and Roma there is considerable amusement at the folly of the English and their gloriously open league. How very democratic to give teams like West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa a scent of the main prize. If that’s where democracy leads, they’ll be thinking, thank goodness for the cheques and balances of continental ways.

However at AMNT Towers we think we should spare a thought for the legions of continental pundits whose jobs must be as varied and stimulating as the defect controller at BMW’s Westphalian assembly plant. As our German cousins will surely testify, all Mund keine Hose (we’ll let you work out the translation) is a game that is as predictable as Angela Merkel’s election wardrobe. You desperately crave a hint of stocking, but you know all you’re going to get is tan tights and sensible shoes.

As we can now reveal, there was plenty of excitement in the latest AMNT tables. As Lawro enjoyed one of his more average weekends a healthy crop of pundits enjoyed double digit scores.

Obviously nobody foresaw the result at Old Trafford and none got the correct score at Villa Park, but a number of City watchers had cleverly anticipated that those inflatable yellow bananas that their fans have adopted might come back to haunt them.

Doubtless the Premier league table will have performed another twist by the end of next weekend. Will the London/Liverpool top 4 coalition survive intact or will those Mancunian sides discover something stiffer than an upper lip and storm back? As ever, scribble your answers on the back of an envelope and send them to AMNT Towers or if you prefer, click on the magic link below.

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The madness of September catches everyone out.

Neville's team sheet receives widespread approval.

Neville’s team sheet receives widespread acclaim.

If April is the cruelest month then September surely has to be the daftest. The 30 days that yoke the end of summer to the onset of autumn have unusual form for spectacularly wide of the mark predictions.

Ever since Neville Chamberlain brandished that scrap of paper in the September sunshine all those years ago, promising peace in our time, the ninth month of the year has become to prophecy what the Hindenburg became to air travel.

After what was easily the first spectacular weekend of the new football season we can now add to the canon of crazy predictions, from somebody:

What makes this derby interesting is that, if one of these team loses, they have only got seven points from a possible 15 and will have lost two of their first five games. That is part of the reason I think this is a nailed-on draw. I don’t think either manager will want to risk losing and I don’t think either of them will be picking attacking teams.

BBC Football correspondent Mark Lawrenson on the eve of the Manc derby, which City won 4-1.

Just like those Polish border guards in 1939, nobody seems to have suspected that the opening salvos at the Etihad on Sunday afternoon would be the prelude to a fussball blitzkrieg that has temporarily re-drawn Manchester’s city limits.

As the latest AMNT table amply illustrates, neither Lawro nor any of our hardy pundits envisaged that Pellegrini’s band of mercenaries would gel to such devastating effect, or that the fates could be so rotten to that nice Mr Moyes.

If there is any consolation to losing one of the most important games of the season, the fates weren’t especially kind to any of our pundits last weekend. Having settled into a parody of 1990s style Italian football and an endless sequence of 1-0 score lines, the Premiership’s first few weeks mutated into a relative goal avalanche. When combined with such unexpected results  as Southampton’s at Anfield and Hull City’s at the Stadium of Wonga it probably wont come as a big surprise to discover that the points tallies were fairly modest.

Before we kiss goodbye to September’s foolhardiness (and no we don’t mean Paulo di Canio), we have one more round of fixtures to contemplate, including another derby game with plenty riding on it. In what BT Sport are imaginatively billing as the Apprentice versus the Master (how long did it take them to come up with that) Spurs entertain Chelsea in a game that Lawro will doubtless call a nailed-on draw.

As usual you can commit your own act of madness by clicking on the magic link and entering your predictions below.

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Premier League comes back in different time zone.

berlin-wall

Look what went up on the Anfield Road last night.

Keen followers of foreign cinema might see certain parallels with today’s Premier League table, following the first round of games after the international break.

The film Goodbye Lenin has a resident of the former East German Republic emerging from a coma into a world now uninhabited by communism. The Berlin Wall, whose heyday coincided with Liverpool’s last era of domination in English football, has disappeared and the movie’s central action revolves around keeping this transition under wraps, lest it all proves too much for our former coma patient.

Anyone living near Anfield might be advised to double check that something similar hasn’t happened this morning. A Liverpool team top the Premiership and the Red Army is once again on the march.

An accompanying sense of footballing unreality was evident at other grounds last weekend. Witness Stoke City’s determination to keep the ball closer to the grass than the floodlights, Newcastle’s failure to allow internecine wars in the boardroom to descend to the pitch and Jose Mourinho’s acceptance that to lose doesn’t involve an establishment conspiracy. All we need now is for the participants of next weekend’s Mancunian derby to be spotted exchanging pre-match pleasantries and our suspicion that football has gone back in time will be complete.

At some stage we’ll doubtless all wake up and discover that none of this true. And perhaps at some stage the league’s strikers will emerge from their summer coma and provide the prediction community with a little more ammunition than the trickle of small arms fire that has marked the opening salvos of this season. Goals, like luxury goods in the former FDR, have been in short supply so far and now that the transfer window’s closed there’s no black market for foreign replicas.

THE AMNT TABLE

Were it not for a certain Antony Templeman, the latest AMNT table would be topped by a former Liverpudlian this morning. Fortunately Lawro is straining against his collar to look up at the dizzy heights of this week’s winning crop of 6 correct scores (equalling the AMNT all time record).

As ever a couple of this week’s fixtures may as well have not been played. Nobody guessed that Chelsea would come unstuck at the Toffees or that Newcastle wouldn’t at Villa Park.

Just like that former East German border guard, there’s little point dwelling too much on what cannot now be repaired. If you found that your predictions last week came up shorter than a small man’s attempts to scale the wall you’ll have to get over it (not the wall obviously).

Luckily freedom from the tyranny of a poor performance is just around the corner. Click on the magic link to enter your predictions for next weekend and you’ll see what we mean.

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24 hours of retail frenzy leave many shopping lists intact.

shopping_list_17854g3-17854g5

Were your transfer window purchases necessities or luxuries?

For a brief moment we almost scuppered the opportunity to bring you the results of last weekend’s Premiership match predictions. Of course many of you might wish we had when you get around to scrutinising our latest table.

As the summer transfer window entered its last few minutes, AMNT Towers received a number of entreaties to swap O Statto, our resident Brazilian statistician, for a gleaming new abacus. Had we gone ahead with any one of a  number of lucrative deals we’d doubtless find ourselves in exactly the same position as many a Premier League manager this morning – flush with excitement at seeing all that money whistle through the system, followed by the realisation that what we’d bought we’d already got.

In scenes scarcely seen since the boom years of the mid 1980s, when football shirts came with inbuilt shoulder pads and go faster stripes, the transfer window closed in a frenzy of copy cat deals. Yet this last minute dash around the aisles appears to have left many of the bigger clubs with the original items on their shopping list unchecked.

Whilst Fellaini, Ozil and Willian may look good on the dance floor (see last week’s post), they were hardly the indispensables that their new clubs originally set out to buy. Not for the first time in retail history it looks like some people let the supermarket trolley by-pass household essentials for another trip around home decor.

THE LATEST TABLES

If there’s a suspicion that certain Premier League managers don’t know what they’re doing, there’s irrefutable evidence that many of our pundits are guilty of the same crime.

With 27 points to play for, this week’s winner managed to top the table with just 8 points, and only 4 players managed to beat Lawro, even though he was incapable of guessing a single correct score.

Thankfully further ignominy on the prediction front is suspended whilst the Premier League goes for a lie down (otherwise known as the international break). Instead, the ignominy baton is passed to those representing their national sides as they attempt to do what Statto has just managed – spend a few weeks in Brazil.

If you want to get ahead of yourself please click on the magic link below. The sooner you make your predictions the more time you’ll have to do the shopping.

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Bet those transfer targets only look good on the dance floor.

You'd think that footballers would choose their partners carefully.

The strictly come dancing part of the season.

After a weekend of the kind of goal action to quicken the pulse of only the most dedicated statistician , the Premiership is now set to temporarily morph into a teenage dance from the early 1970s.

For no sooner has the new season kicked off than we have arrived at that last and increasingly desperate act of the summer, when unless you quickly pick a partner you risk being left on the sidelines, or even worse, stuck with those you no longer love.

It’s the prospect of snaring the best looking thing on the dance floor or the ignominy of watching your best mate make a last minute move when you aren’t looking. It’s three and a half minutes of frenetic passion before the lights come on or months of self-torture because you dithered and waited too long before making your move. Yes, the transfer window is closing and by this time next week we’ll know who went home with who and who was left standing at the bus stop.

At AMNT towers we’ve been wondering how we might muscle in on this action. We’ve even sent Statto on a scouting mission to Brazil to unearth new talent. Such is the current appetite for Brazilian footballers we reckon that so long as they have a 1970s afro and a decent sun tan we could convince one or two of the more gullible Premiership managers in town that we’ve unearthed the next Pele. Palace supporters especially are advised to be wary of any Latin American additions to their squad in the next few days.

You’ll possibly understand our venture into life as a football agent when you examine the latest AMNT tables. We had to run the numbers twice to make sure Statto’s abacus hadn’t pulled a hamstring. Yet the tables that cannot lie cannot hide the collective embarrassment behind last weekend’s points haul. With 30 points to play for this week’s winner managed to bag just 5 of them. Perhaps we should all concede defeat and do something more rewarding with our lives.

But hang on. Isn’t that the DJ announcing it’s time to pick your partners for the last dance? The last chance to shake your booty in front of potential suitors until the mid-season transfer window opens in January. Time to get excited that it might be the extra long version of 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love”, stretching all the way to the very last seconds of the night. All the way up to the magic link for this weekend’s predictions.

Let us hold your coat, whilst you get stuck in.

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The new needle gets stuck on last season’s football.

First games of new season replay last season's melodies.

First games of new season replay last season’s melodies.

Part of the appeal of the football season starting in August is the possibility of totally bonkers, tennis-set score lines.

As players wonkily unfold from a flurry of pre-season travel there’s an expectation that some won’t know what country they’ve ended up in, let alone which part of the pitch they’re meant to occupy. Dubrovnik and Derby can look mighty similar to the untrained eye, as can centre-back and centre-midfield.

What a shame then that there were barely any Keystone Cop moments on day 1 of the new season. In fact that untrained eye might have struggled to detect that the intervening 100 days since the last season ended ever happened.

Van Persie is still banging in goals for fun, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool are still brimming with promise, Man City still brim like a flat track bully, West Ham continue to brim with resolve and Arsene Wenger like an angry giant bird brimming with impending flight, continues to flap his disapproval up and down that Emirates touchline.

In other words nothing really has changed. Last season’s bus never stopped, the terminal never arrived, there was no ‘all change’ announcement. If you predicted otherwise and thought day 1 would contain an avalanche of goals and surprise results you will find yourself propping up the first  AMNT table of the new season.

SHALL WE SING A SONG FOR YOU?

The only reason we know for sure that it is a new season is the new crop of terrace chants that seranaded its opening.  ‘Come On David Moyes’ to the tune of Slade’s ‘Come on Feel The Noize’ was the stand out track, even if  misheard as ‘Come On Feel The Moyes’ suggests an altogether different way of getting behind a new manager.

Quite why in the 11 years that he was at Everton nobody spotted such a connection to this Slade track is a bit queer. You’d think a team that trots out to the Z Cars tune would be well up on early 70’s glam rock.

Elsewhere we liked Stoke City fans acknowledgement of their new manager’s commitment to play football – “We’re passing the ball, we’re passing the baaaaalll, we’re Stoke City and we’re passing the ball.” And obviously the Abba-esque “Money” taunts at the Emirates went down well, even if we couldn’t quite make out whether these came from the home or away end.

If the coming weekend doesn’t contain further lyrical evolutions of terrace toons we’ll be changing the stylus on the AMNT gramop. We’re expecting Mourinho’s visit to Old Trafford might be the most deserving of musical commemoration, so as you enter you score predictions (by clicking on the magic link) please let us know what you think the Stretford End should sing.

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Is it time to make the new season sit on the naughty step?

We won't report you if you tell him where to get off.

We won’t report you if you tell him where to get off.

The opening day of the new football season is like an extremely demanding child that wants your attention when you’re not ready for it.

Maybe you’re still on holiday, or just about to go away, or enjoying other people being away, or enjoying the cricket instead, or the transfer gossip, or simply vacating your brain for its seasonal shut down.

But you’re not quite ready for football, and want to tell the demanding child to go away. But he doesn’t and slowly you let him tug your sleeve and whine and be in your face. Even though he makes you wince each time he opens his mouth,  eventually, when nobody’s looking, you finally give in to his demands and let him have his way.

In your defence you never stood much of a chance. Not only is he an extremely demanding child, but this season he’s also an extremely spoilt one.

In fact he’s a real trustafarian, with more money than it would take to air condition the entire kingdom of Qatar, let alone a few football stadia. A child so rich that he nonchalantly talks of spending £17m on a striker, even when the club in question belongs to Stoke City.

And like all spoilt rich kids he tends to get heard. Which is why to know nothing at all about the Rooney transfer saga, or where Suarez will end up, or the approximate price of Spurs’ Euro Bale-out, is now practically impossible. Your plane would have had to come down somewhere incredibly remote to be that much in the dark about football matters these days.

Geographically there’s probably nowhere left to hide from the Premier League any more. After all, the pundits have multiplied like Mormon missionaries, with Gary and Gary and Phil and Lawro and Jamie and Alan practically everywhere, all wearing the same shiny suits, teeth and tans, and all bearing a look that they know something  we don’t.

“WE DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE DOING”

The problem is they know nothing more than we all know. Which is that about 30 games of the new season will end up goalless.  That 70 more matches will be won by only one goal. 95 will have 2 goals, 80 will see the net bulge 3 times, 55 will have 4 goals and a bedazzling 50 games will have 5 or more by the end of whatever replaces Fergie time.

After years spent mucking about with football data this is the sum total of proven knowledge about what will most likely happen during the next 8 months of the Premiership season.

The promoters of the season ahead would have us believe that despite all the certainty this could be the most unpredictable league ever staged. The return from exile of you-know-who,  the de-throning of the Old Trafford dug-out and the arrival of an Eastwoodesque hispanic at the Etihad (who has quietly stepped off the street and into the saloon bar whilst everyone else was squaring up), are being touted as ingredients for a memorable campaign. A Special Season, as they might say at Stamford Bridge.

In which case there’s probably all the more reason to doubt them.

In 12 months time we could be looking back at the year everyone choked and Hull City Tigers became champions. We might be celebrating Joey Barton as footballer of the year and Joe Kinnear could yet end up receiving the keys to the Toon. Hell, we might even be celebrating the fact that against all the odds our boys made it to Brazil and failed to embarrass themselves, missing out by the width of a Copacabana beach thong on a place in the semi-finals.

But perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Right now it’s still the pre-season. The whining kid may be getting on your nerves but there’s an easy way to make him go away. Just click on the magic link below to see how – it allows you to predict the scores of the first round of games coming up this weekend.

As we’re still in pre-season mode (and will be till the transfer window shuts) with half our statistical resources currently in Brazil doing a recce for next years’s World Cup, we may not be as quick out of the blocks with the results as we normally are – but bear with us or we’ll stick you on the naughty step.

THE MAGIC LINK

10 reasons why Premier League managers may need our love.

It's time to feel the love.

It’s time to feel the love.

People that remember the 1960s know that we have been here before. Love is on the lips of the football world right now as the new crop of managers kiss badges to show whose goes river deep mountain high.

It may not be free any more but the signs are unmistakable that love will last for at least a few weeks, which is much longer than the AMNT annual holiday.

Before we all rush off to fatten the wallets of jet-ski rental firms, a moment of reflection might be in order, to think about what might be awaiting our return and whether the leading managerial debutants will still need our love when we all get back.

OUR TOP 10 REASONS FOR STAYING LOVED UP

1. Mourinho’s return to Chelsea is the re-write of every best-selling movie of all time. It is Bambi’s mother recovering to find that the gunshot only stunned her, it is Ali McGraw finding a draw with some pills in it to give Love Story a happy ending and Butch and the Kid discovering an armour-plated vehicle in the underground car park of that Mexican square. The problem is we don’t believe in these sorts of endings because we’ve all seen that second comings usually amount to a dose of the Keegan/Dalglish syndrome, when someone you’ve so publicly loved turns out to be the one you eventually want to cheat on.

2. With Mourinho it’s hard not to think of Napoleon (he even bears a resemblance), who managed to escape his exile and mobilise an excitable band of disciples for another attempt at conquering Europe, whilst leaving a feeling that Elba (the Bernabeu in Mourinho’s case) could feel like paradise if he ever got caught short, which of course he did. If this adventure leaves Mourinho in San Marino (the footballing equivalent of St Helena) you can say that you read it here first.

3. Meanwhile a couple of hundred miles away, a man sounding suspiciously like a bottle of mineral water has washed up on the shores of Lake Etihad.  Whether the idea of Pellegrini quenching an Arab thirst for football success becomes anything more than a mirage remains to be seen. Like City, we haven’t the faintest idea any more if that’s a football team shimmering in the distance, or one of those giant lots of abandoned sports cars at Dubai airport. When the sand storm calms we’ll let you know.

4. There is an old Steve Martin joke that Stoke supporters may not find funny any more. A man walks into a police station to complain that his apartment has been burgled and everything in it stolen and replaced by an exact replica. Like the Old Bill, fans of the Potteries style of football must be scratching their heads at the moment and wondering how they’ll ever to be able to know for sure that Tony Pulis has been replaced by Mark Hughes.

5. There’s another old joke that if you can’t afford Mourinho there’s always Ian Holloway, though it seems to have got lost in translation. Perhaps it’s a Portuguese joke, because to their ears Jose really does have the Iberian equivalent of a West Country accent (if anyone can verify this we’d love to know). Holloway will certainly have his work cut out, not in keeping Crystal Palace up – that would be the easier task, but in keeping the football world convinced that he’s more unhinged than the other obvious contender for the award next season, Sunderland’s Paulo Di Canio.

6. Talking of hinges, whilst the new managerial dust has almost settled there are probably a few incumbents who are keeping a beady eye on that barn door, as it rattles and bends to swirling rumours. If your summer holiday plans involve places like Norwich or Newcastle (and posssibly Swansea too) you’d be advised to take a wind cheater with you. It could get a bit gusty.

7. One door that now appears to have been fastened down is Goodison Park’s. The owners clearly caved in to the perennial Merseyside anxiety that someone might nick it if they left it lying on the ground too long. Martinez’s firm of builders and decorators may yet invoke that Steve Martin gag again, as there’s not an awful lot you can do with a couple of lengths of hardboard and a tin of plaster of Paris.

8. Surveying the builder’s yards for re-usable parts and repairable bits of machinery will be the summer hobbies of the other managerial debutants. Steve Bruce, as honest as a bricky’s spirit level will doubtless keep us momentarily engaged in the idea that we all want the same terraced house, before we end up disappointing him. And Cardiff’s manager is presumably sweating like a Scouser in Dixons as he surveys all the things he’ll never own, at least not honestly.

9. For what has been longer than any of us can remember, the last word on anything to do with football has been Sir Alex Ferguson’s. As he would say, “there’s no doubt about that”. Who will fill this role, the one who brooks absolutely no debate, who scares the pants off anyone that crosses his path will be the side-contest of next season – there’s no doubt about that. As the now undisputed grand old dame of the Premierhsip managerial kingdom this could be Wenger’s moment to step into the void and add some Alsatian bite to his armoury. If not, the ticking clock of silverware famine may yet crack the cavernous walls of the Emirates and bring them tumbling down.

10. If David Moyes has any sense he’ll be spending the summer on a quiet acting retreat with a horror movie coach who can teach him how to scare the living daylights out of anyone that dares look him in the eye. As his size 9 feet try on the size 27 boots left by his predecessor he must be wondering whether he’ll ever be his own man again. He’s going to have to stay in character longer than anyone else has ever managed so far.

A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR

Finally as you disappear to your Mediterranean yachts and villas, you may be interested to know that All Mouth No Trousers has taken a leaf out of the football owner’s handbook and started to plan for the future. We’re aiming to raise enough money to build a proper football prediction platform, which we hope could become the new Wembley of sports prediction in time. If you’d like to know more about this take a look at our development blog. And if you know any wealthy Russians that have tired of investing in football clubs and now want a much more efficient way of losing money please let us know.

It’s goodnight from him, and it’s goodnight from me.

Morecambe-and-Wise-of-the-IT-World

The Premiership’s Morecambe & Wise moment.

You can tell that the cricket season has started. The final overs of the football season were marked by a rush of players joining Fergie to draw stumps on their sporting careers.

By the final whistle, what had started off as just a pageant to the golden generation (Becks, Scholes, Owen and if we’re being generous, Carragher), became a retirement stampede of golden oldies, as footballers across the land stepped into the team bath for the last time. Even the referees were at it.

So far we’ve managed to resist this craze, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this now. Though there have been moments when we’ve thought about throwing in the towel, somehow the idea seems as appealing as walking out on a movie that you’ve long queued to get into and spent a fortune on popcorn once inside.

Fittingly, quite a few pundits have turned to the movies to summarise the season that has just ended. The BBC’s Colin Murray couldn’t resist a reference to Quantum of Solace to describe a campaign which he thought “lacked a real climax and, if truth be told, we’d worked out what was going to happen well before the final credits”. Whilst the excellent Barney Ronay, writing in the Guardian, makes mischief with Beckham and Superman, before saving his best for a wonderful characterisation of John Terry’s podium friendly, wardrobe changes, which have turned him into “the kind of boy who insists on wearing his Spider-Man suit to a wedding.”

One movie this season certainly hasn’t been is the Great Escape. Instead of joining Tom and Dick, ‘Arry’s tunnel at QPR ended up so far short of the barbed-wire fence that it might have been quicker to wait for the war to end. And it would seem that Roberto Martinez finally preferred the silver parachute of the FA Cup rather than another season digging for victory at Wigan.

For the London clubs the only film in town was Groundhog Day. Arsenal and Chelsea end yet another season in the top 4 – again at the expense of Spurs – and Sam Allardyce makes West Ham as resilient as every team he’s ever managed. Just like last year, the concluding spectrum of expectations for what lies down the yellow brick road for each club contains all the colours of the rainbow. From the implausible blocks of gold at the Bridge (we like to call it Russian Racing Yellow), to the paler hues of French Impressionism at the Emirates, to the stormy brooding blues and blacks at the Lane, a colourful summer appears to beckon.

We’ll see who makes the biggest splash very shortly when the transfer activity kicks off. Before then a final chance to see if anyone made a splash predicting the final games of the season.

THE FINAL TABLES

On a last day marked by a palpable absence of drama, unless you count Spurs’ failure to better Arsenal’s result at Newcastle, the scores had a whiff of pre-season about them. Notably at the Etihad where Norwich marked the post-Mancini era by walking off with the points and of course at the Hawthorns, where Fergie added to his collection of unrepeatable career numbers with a 5-5 draw to conclude his 1500th game in charge.

Very possibly you had to be an old pro to have seen any of this coming, which explains why Lawro sits smugly on top of our final table of the season. Though with a relatively modest 11 points to his name he’s really just the tallest dwarf in town, which we knew anyway, as those shirt collars he wears on Match Of The Day were clearly designed for a bigger man.

As ever you will find a full breakdown of all the predictions for week 38 of the season on the results page. Tearing a page from the UEFA coaching manual may we suggest that some of you print them off and stick them to the wall of your caravan this summer. Apart from providing a welcome distraction from watching the rain clouds form, it may provide that extra motivation you need to do better next season.

Normally this is the point when we ask you to exercise that prediction finger to make your forecasts for the forthcoming weekend. In the absence of any Premier League action, and if you haven’t already done so, we are hoping that our brief blog survey (see the link below) might satisfy any cravings to exercise those forefinger muscles.

THE BLOG SURVEY

As a mark of respect please read this standing up.

gurad of honour

In a break from tradition football supporters
don’t stand up to hate Man U.

A good part of last week was devoted to explaining to Statto that Sir Alex Ferguson hadn’t died. Not paying attention in class, our Brazilian statistician had assumed that the sudden media wave of Fergie retrospection had been triggered by the great man’s demise.

Even though it was hard to explain the difference between an obituary and the tsunami of Fergie content that has subsequently engulfed us, Statto’s penny has finally dropped that Fergie’s still around. So why did he resign, he asked, in that way statisticians have of searching for logic in everything?

At AMNT Towers we like to give conspiracy theories a bigger spin than you’ll get in the average launderette. We think that the country’s surprisingly lukewarm response to United winning a 20th title gave Ferguson the hump. It suddenly dawned on him that he’d reached that point in sporting life where the continuous plunder of titles bizarrely works in reverse, to create increasingly hollow victories (one could even call this Fergie’s law, though Celtic fans might dispute that).

Fergie’s problem was that 20 titles is so beyond comprehension that people have stopped comprehending it. Throw in the Salford factor, with many people in Old Trafford’s catchment area being unaware about what comes after the number 20 (one of the problems of cigarette pack maths), it became clear to Fergie that the numbers game was finally up. If he really wanted us all to continue to genuflex he was going to have to go one step further and finally cash in on longevity too.

One can imagine the “they’ll bloody well remember me now” breakfast speech in the Ferguson household on the morning of last week’s announcement, almost as clearly as one can now imagine the “bloody hell what have I done” one, in the Moyes kitchen this morning. The reality of course is that he hasn’t gone anywhere.  Like an interminable Tolkien tale, with you-know-who as Gandalf, and his successor (who is even starting to look like one) playing the Hobbit, this looks like it has the legs to run all the way to Mordor and back.

Yet in bidding him a temporary farewell we’d like to remind Fergie that whilst some people may have retired, others are still hard at work trying to fathom whether the last twist of the season has anything more to squeeze out. The final round of games will be reviewed later in the week when we publish the results from last weekend.  You can start to predict them now by clicking on the magic link below.

Whilst you do that please also click on our Blog survey link. This will take you a few seconds (there are only 6 questions) yet it could save us hours of working out what to do during the close season. Whilst it’s a totally anonymous survey anyone failing to complete it will be called back early from their summer holidays for extra training.

THE FINAL MAGIC LINK

THE BLOG SURVEY

Fergie leaves Rovers Return under new management.

One way to keepy uppy with the rumour mill at Old Trafford.

He’s finally off and it looks like he’s taking the ball with him.

26 years ago television broadcasters could confidently expect to have half the country on tenterhooks for the latest instalment of their flagship soap operas and Alex Ferguson was just another football manager.

Today those roles are reversed.  Coronation Street is presumably still just a short cab ride from Sir Matt Busby Way, but nobody cares any more about who owns the sweet shop. Instead all eyes are now on David Moyes, a man who is presumably about to spend the next phase of his life at the end of a rather pointy stick.

Only time will tell whether people in Salford will return to watching soaps now that Fergie is moving on. Brought up on the certainties that United’s manager is always a corrosive Glaswegian, and Ken Barlow is always on the brink of a comeuppance, has been a massive dollop of reassurance in uncertain times. With Ken now on the brink of joining that growing band  of 1970s British television stars who weren’t entirely in character off-screen, and Fergie about to exchange the dugout for a padded seat in the director’s box, it’s fair to say that life may never be the same again in this part of the world again and the void created by Fergie’s retirement could become permanent.

LATEST TABLES AND SURVEY RESULTS

As regular readers will recognise, nobody knows more about filling voids than AMNT. That’s why instead of casually adding to the bonfire of speculation that surrounds our beautiful game we’re of the firm view that prediction is the best way forward. Making finite pronouncements about sporting events that have infinite possibilities may be a mug’s game to some, but we’d rather be a mug than a teapot, which are invariably all spout and no trousers.

To see who was a mug last weekend check out the latest tables (this week one player kicked everyone else’s butts so hard that we’ll all need cushions to sit on for the remainder of the day). In the meantime, we  asked you last week to nominate the candidates for the mugs of the season – the team, player and manager who in your opinion have been the most all mouth no trousers this term. Here is what everyone thinks:

AMNT 2012/13 Season Awards
Team: 1. Man City. 2. QPR  3. Liverpool
Player: 1. Rooney. 2. Terry. 3. Suarez
Manager: 1. Redknapp. 2. Mancini. 3. Wenger.

In addition to marking your cards for this season’s penultimate round of Premiership fixtures (see Magic Link below), we’re also asking you to let us know what you think about this blog. We have plans aplenty to develop AMNT but your point of view is a key part of the process, so please take part in our blog survey. You should find it more rewarding than watching the soaps.

THE MAGIC LINK

BLOG SURVEY

All you need is love (and a little cuddle from the 4th official).

Puma-Love-Football-3Like springtime, love is in the air everywhere across the football world right now. We first sensed this might be the case when Statto started to take longer than usual lunch breaks. Either he’s moonlighting for some other start-up football business, or his heart has gone ping with a springtime realisation that ultimately, at the end of the day, when the ref has finally blown for time and all those hot dog wrappers have been recycled, all you need is love.

That’s certainly the way Jose Mourinho sees it, who will be returning to these shores (and making his AMNT debut) next season. According to our favourite tabloid, the Special One is in need of the kind of cuddle that can only be provided by 40,000 blokes wearing replica Chelsea shirts – a condition that some of our wives might recognise.

Fittingly, in the week that Mourinho declared his need to be loved above all else, the world finally fell out of love with the tiki taka Iberian take on football that has monopolised our planet ever since Mrs Messi first read about growth hormones. As one of our favourite reads, the Guardian’s Fiver remarked, “Like the demise of a much-loved 1980s American soap opera featuring glamorous women with big hair and even bigger shoulder pads, Bayern Munich’s beasting of Barcelona seemed to signal the end of a Dynasty.”

THE WEEKEND’S FIXTURES

Fortunately the Premier League is at least temporarily immune to dynastic collapse. Unless you count the relegation of Reading and QPR as the end of a football era (which we don’t), the teams on show this weekend haven’t had the chance to be thrashed in major European competition this season, because none of them made it as far as the punishment room. (And as even the most one-eyed Chelsea fan will admit, the Europa League doesn’t count).

So instead of watching our football gods perform with feet of clay, we’re instead now all loving the Germans for ridding us of the tyranny of that irritating short passing game. Whilst the role of European liberator isn’t often associated with Germans (the jackboot’s on the other foot this time), we think they wear it well and have temporally forgiven them for many of their former indiscretions (though perhaps not that fondness for stonewashed denim).

Unfortunately there aren’t many Germans to love in this weekend’s round of Premier League matches. Neither the Merseyside derby, or United’s game with Chelsea, or Sunderland’s encounter with Stoke (with the possible exception of Robert Huth), will be rich with German flair. But don’t let that put you off predicting the outcome of these teutonic encounters, click on the magic link below to enter them if you haven’t already done so. Whilst we can’t promise next week’s winner some of the trappings of Jose’s love (like the £10m annual salary he’s rumoured to get), we’ll make every effort to give them a great big cuddle.

DER MAGIK LINKEN

Calls to form a guard of honour get a lukewarm response.

guard of honour

Click on the image to see what happens.

With some reluctance the staff at AMNT Towers have been deliberating whether to form a guard of honour to commemorate the worthy winners of this season’s title.

Whilst Manchester United might feel quite excited about this prospect, we’re not in fact referring to the Barclays Premiership gong but our award to the club who this season has been decidedly all mouth no trousers.

This has become a contentious issue because AMNT union representatives feel that the candidate clubs have sufficiently run the gauntlet of public humiliation during the past 35 weeks, to make any further ceremony of their inability to put lead into pencil a needlessly cruel taunt.

The management view, possibly shaped by schooling in the Thatcherite age of cruel taunts (loadsamoney etc.), is that unions need to work on their sense of humour and give the public a bit more of what they want. And unless you are called Fernando, a little more humiliation never did anyone any harm.

As with all industrial disputes we may yet reach some compromise agreement. Perhaps it will be one like those facing some of the players at Loftus Road this morning, who are learning that a walk-on part in Arry’s Great Escape blockbuster has halved their chances of being box office attractions elsewhere. Redknapp’s attempts to turn QPR into more than a bunch of letters has ended with them descending in alphabetical order (Pretty Quickly Relegated), something QPR’s owner probably feels is poetic injustice. He’s right too.

Being a democratic bunch (that Thatherite schooling again) we’d prefer to wait till the votes are counted before deciding on the identity of this season’s pantomime acts. You’ll shortly have an opportunity to nominate yours when you enter your predictions for the next round of games.

LATEST TABLES

Now that Statto has analysed last weekend’s entries, we have to feel a little sympathy for all of our pundits, because large parts of north eastern Britain seemed to disappear into the sea in the last 72 hours.

Shipping goals like a trawlerman with nets bigger than his catch, the Geordie teams conceded six apiece, with only a single fishy in the dishy in reply. Predictably nobody saw that coming and we will be writing to the FA to ask how a region once famed for bare chested defiance in sub zero temperatures can become a hotbed of frilly shirted surrendering when the thermometer gets above 9 degrees.

Fortunately the prediction fairy was sprinkling her dust elsewhere, putting smiles on the faces of all those who knew that Arsenal and United would draw and that Spurs would drop points at a place like Wigan.

As Lawro managed 8 points this week (he got the right scores at Stamford Bridge and the Emirates), anything higher than that entitles you to a job at the BBC. As you contemplate what to put on the application form, don’t forget to enter your predictions for the big matches coming up this weekend. Anyone getting a perfect score will be entitled to a guard of honour.

THE MAGIC LINK

Now Suarez takes a chunk out of Fergie’s achievement.

Fergie fails to realise that biting his own finger isn't headline news.

Fergie fails to realise that biting his own finger isn’t headline news.

Our commiserations go to Sir Alex Ferguson this morning. The team he thought that he’d knocked off its perch has found a cunning way of gaining revenge.

What should be a week of walking in a Fergie wonderland, as United celebrate a 20th title, has instead become a festival of soundbites about that bite.

Suarez has achieved what Liverpool can’t any more, biting United where it hurts and stealing the headlines of their thunder. The No. 20 bus may have at last come along, but with Liverpool’s No. 7 still trending on the world’s superhighway there’s not a big queue waiting to climb on board.

Being a thoroughly impartial bunch our sympathies in this affair also extend to Uruguay’s favourite carnivor. There’s probably a part of each of us which entertains taking a lump out of someone on the field of play, unless dear Luis has already eaten it. We suspects Suarez masticates for one and all, if only we’d admit it.

QPR fans know this, as do Evertonians, who poles apart on any football proficiency scale, probably recognise that a bit more bite last weekend and their collective outlook today would be different. Spare a thought also for those Chelsea fans who might have wanted Suarez to bite their manager rather than their centre back.

As you will see in our latest tables there was good cause to feel hard bitten during the last few days. This week’s winners romped home with only 2 correctly forecast scores and 5 correct results. Whilst that was still 3 more points than Lawro achieved, the bragging rights like our friend Luis could be a little muted.

Unlike him we’ll all be back on the pitch this weekend, so please click on the magic link to join us and enter your predictions. They promise to be a collection of real nail biters.

THE MAGIC LINK

20 reasons we’re grateful for the lack of a title race.

2oth title scarfs

We’re just glad that he isn’t modelling the underwear range.

According to confidential sources we’re about to be deluged by a wave of twenty-something sporting paraphernalia. The Lancashire cotton mills have been working overtime on a range of commemorative merchandise for United’s landmark achievement of winning a 20th title.

As retailers brace themselves for a tide of XXXL custom, our scouts have been out and about to take the football pulse of the nation. Are you bothered that this seasons title race is six week’s shorter than last year? Do you feel miffed that the points difference between 1st and 2nd place is likely to be wider than the QPR bench? And are you really concerned that the Premiership trophy has just become a shuttle-cock, moving from one side of Manchester to the other?

The results of our enquiry are so shocking that whilst we feel duty bound to tell the world about it, we’re also worried for its  potential impact on Sir Alex Ferguson and his duo decennial moment. For whilst there is grudging respect for United’s achievement, it seems that the indecent haste shown by them in winning this year’s main gong has left many of our pundits feeling that the crowning moment has come too early. By the time that No. 20 double-decker bus has chugged its way around Manchester we’ll be too distracted by the perennial Premiership sideshows of European and relegation spots to give a fig about where the title landed.

Though we won’t be rushing to buy any more football merchandise – O Statto’s collection of Brazilian World Cup figurines dominates the shelves of AMNT Towers so much that there isn’t even space for  a commemorative ref’s whistle – we do hope that United’s twenty-somethings will be properly recognised for their landmark event when it comes. Then it’s back to the 20 reasons we don’t care about the title race and the far more serious business of predicting the scores for this coming weekend.

We’ll have the results of round 33 after the final whistle of the mid-week fixtures. Until then if you feel a need to exercise that prediction finger please click on the link below and enter your forecasts for the next round of games.

The Magic Link

‘Arry’s horse goes lame as pundits set new course record.

Is it game over for QPR?

Is it game over for QPR?

It seems that ‘Arry Redknapp’s attempts to configure QPR into more than a bunch of letters may have failed.

Like a man with a bag full of consonants in a game of Scrabble, there seems little he can do now except pray that the latest turn of the Premiership managerial merry-go-round results in a few errant vowels being tossed his way – especially now that Paulo di Canio has come to the table.

Whilst nobody predicted that Fulham would beat QPR 3-2 last night, a majority of pundits correctly guessed the result in what turned out to be the most accurately predicted weekend of the season so far.

A whopping 64% of all results were correctly forecasted, up by about 50% on the season’s average. Unlike QPR we seem to be collectively improving, though just like the Hoops we’re less good at getting the right number in the back of the net (our shooting accuracy this weekend was only 17%).

Whilst we have long suspected that football prediction is a practice-makes-perfect endeavour, we’ll have to wait and see whether last weekend is part of a late surge in form or simply one of those blips that sometimes happens when the clocks go forward.

THE DECISIVE WEEKEND?

When the fixture list first generated the next set of matches everyone assumed that this would be the decisive weekend, as the great Mancunian powers come head-to-head at Old Trafford. Yet like an over zealous baby sitter, United put the title to bed so early that some folks might be having second thoughts about going out now.

Obviously they would be foolish to ignore the fascinating sub-plots that still threaten to make this the season when everyone forgot who came first. So make the sitter earn their corn and drink heavily and stay out late, but make sure you enter your predictions before doing so, and click on the magic link below.

THE MAGIC LINK

Is leaving the relatives the best part of visiting them?

Thank God the international break is nearly over and we're almost home.

Thank God the international break is nearly over and we’re almost home.

Have you noticed how much international football breaks are a bit like staying with the relatives? No sooner do you arrive than you start yearning for that car journey home and the end of all pretence that you and your bloodline have that much in common these days.

Whilst Uncle Roy would contest it vigorously (doesn’t he everything?), San Marino v England had little in common with a game of football, bar possibly one of those end of season testimonials when a few celebrities and veterans join in.

It certainly had nothing in common with Fulham v QPR or Man City v Newcastle (let alone Everton v Stoke) which are just some of the clashes returning to our screens this weekend, all of which have a lot more riding on them one suspects than a few World Cup qualifiers.

So what can we do about these moments of mid-seasonal football interruptus, that doesn’t leave us feeling like we’ve just spent a tedious hour or so in the company of an uncle we never much liked from the get-go?

If we weren’t quite so apathetic, we might start a campaign to persuade the FA to level the playing a field a little when matching up against part-time sides like San Marino. Perhaps we could copy them and also field a collection of electricians, plumbers, hoteliers and delivery men, instead of the customary occupants of the national jersey, and even up the prospect of a more balanced contest. Or has the influx of foreign workers now reached such a level that we’d struggle to generate much of a turnout from such occupations?

Fortunately in a few hours it wont matter. As the final whistles blow around the world, the nomadic national tribes of international football will hopefully, like one’s relatives, disappear via the rear view mirror at warp factor speed and we can get back to the task of predicting a decent set of football matches.

Once you’ve parked the car and unpacked the bags you’ll see that the welcome home mat for this weekend’s round of games is bristling vigorously (click the magic link to step inside).

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The life of Brian foreshortened by public acclaim.

Left to right: Hughes, Di Matteo, Adkins and Mcdermott.

Left to right: Hughes, Di Matteo, Adkins and Mcdermott.

33 days after picking up the official Manager of the Month award Reading’s Brian Mcdermott has fallen victim to the textbook oligarch owner ploy of axing anyone who risks becoming too popular with the crowd.

As he joins the ranks of this season’s managerial crucifixions (see photo) we wonder if there will be any more, or has the season run too much of the course to warrant another public execution?

At the risk of being smug many at AMNT towers suspected this might be Mcdermott’s fate, yet in a well synchronised exercise of parapet ducking we decided not to tell anyone. After all, who likes a smart pundit?

If anyone does, they’ll have to dig deep to find one in this week’s tables. To be fair, with a fixture list containing only 6 Premier League matches (to accommodate  the FA Cup quarter-finals), it was always going to be a tough ask to make double figures on this week’s scoreboard.

In this respect nobody disappointed us. 9 points was enough to secure top spot and anyone who made less than 6 had the dubious honour of standing in Lawro’s slipstream.

Talking of slipstreams, this coming weekend’s fixtures contain a number of over-taking scenarios (Aston Villa v QPR) as well as games where the managerial hot seat could break the thermostat (Everton v Man City, Swansea v Arsenal, Chelsea v West Ham and Sunderland v Norwich).

If you don’t stick your head above the parapet and enter your predictions, that will be your cross to bear. Click on the magic link below to nail your forecasts to the board.

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North London ‘classico’ bucks trend of insignificant games.

AFC AMNT

The most crestfallen team of the week?

Have you noticed that by walking away with the title so early, Manchester United have single handedly emptied this season of a swathe of games of real significance?

Regardless of the comeuppance for this act of selfishness, in the form of last night’s early euro bath (ironically diminishing the significant games quotient even further), there is a burning sense of injustice that the cards were marked ‘red’ too early in the season and that the Premiership has suffered as a result.

Even the prospect of City going to Old Trafford in early April now seems a quiet family affair rather than the big street party of yesteryear. You sense that whatever Mancini does between now and then, United’s points advantage is only going in one direction, reducing the men in blue to the role of guard of honour, like reluctant ushers at a cousins wedding.

Obviously scarcity is the very mother of demand, so it’s little surprise that Tottenham’s victory over Arsenal (get up and stand in the corner if you didn’t see that coming), soaked up so many column inches in the aftermath of Sunday afternoon. It certainly had the feel of a classico, even if north London is to paella what the Bernabeu presumably is to pie and mash.

Once again Bale lead the most famously old testament team in the league one step closer to the promised land, as one team’s Genesis became anothers’ potential Exodus from European competition. Sunday school teachers would have been excused for taking the afternoon off and sending their charges to White Hart Lane for all the passages of biblical significance on offer. It was that kind of game.

Sadly none of this mattered a jot to hard-bitten pundits for whom the entire spectacle was just another 3-point opportunity. As the latest tables show, many of us anticipated the impact of Bale in what turned out to be the most successfully predicted weekend of the season. Perhaps practice makes perfect after all.

The acid test will obviously be whether this form continues. Whilst hardly meriting the term ‘classico’, the fixture list has cunningly conspired to create a weekend of games coming up that are either genuine 6-pointers, as Reading take on Villa and QPR play host to Sunderland, or simply intriguing pairings, culminating with (you guessed it) the return of the Gareth Bale show, as Spurs go to Anfield on Sunday.

If that doesn’t make your prediction finger twitch with excitement, doubtless nothing will, so enter your forecast now by clicking on the magic link below. If you don’t, just like Fergie last night, we may become too distraught to talk.

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Mourinho for Pope, but Bale is the most likely Saint.

Bale annoints himself before entering the promised land.

Bale annoints himself before entering the promised land.

Last week we asked you which footballing figure should be the new Pope. You annointed Jose, by the thinnest of margins, with a healthy dose of suspected Fenian humour in those cast for Sir Alex Ferguson, who as we know is already Pope in some parts of the world.

If only we’d known that our poll of matters celestial would coincide with the footballing equivalent of the second coming, as God wearing studs, in the form of Gareth Bale, descended from heaven to lead Spurs to the Promised Land.

Bale’s a bit too young to be Pope, even if the prospect of watching him burst through a pack of Cardinals at full pace would be worth paying the entrance fee to St. Peter himself.  He might rightly have higher ambitions too. Anyone lucky enough to have seen what he did to West Ham on Monday night must be wondering what a club that gave the nickname ‘God’ to Glenn Hoddle will now have to coin for a proper Messiah.

THE COMING WEEKEND

The only disappointment for all football pundits is that this weekend’s north London derby between Arsenal and Spurs already has a pre-determined outcome. A 90th minute winner from the man with the halo in his feet is already being replayed by a bunch of angels in the sky. You can practically hear the bar talk, “the archangel Michael used to make the ball dip like that, just before he got red-carded”.

It might surprise you to learn that at AMNT towers we now know how God feels. He goes and puts his footballing son on planet Earth and we all ignore him. Only one pundit correctly foresaw Spurs come-back win on Monday night. Oh ye of little faith.

No wonder the latest results have so many pundits stuck in limbo (which this week was 8-points, the score managed by Lawro).

If there’s one lesson for all of us surely it must be that a collective failure to believe in the divine can cost you points. As you contemplate this coming weekend’s fixtures be sure to bear this in mind, our we’ll turn you into a pillar of salt.

There’s biblical brouhaha brewing in most of the weekend’s fixtures, let alone the one at White Hart Lane. Chelsea old boy Steve Clarke returns to see what further damage can be done to Roman’s temple of doom. City visit Villa Park hoping that one day United will drop points (though possibly not at home to Norwich) and Southampton might just be the dreaded coup de grace for ‘Arry’s increasing forlorn effort to turn QPR into something more than a bunch of letters.

That’s enough idle speculation. Time for the real thing, as you click the magic link (below) and enter your predictions for the coming weekend.

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Will the Papal vacancy interest Premier league managers?

ex benedictIf we’d asked you to predict which of the following was going to happen last week, either a Pope resigns or a Premier League manager, we wouldn’t have needed to disturb Statto for analysis of the answers. Wishful thinking aside (Chelsea fans in particular) most of us thought the papal seat was safe from the managerial merry-go-round. Happily now it isn’t, we can pontificate (see what we did there) a little on the suitability of a man from the touchline, rather than a man of the cloth, occupying the hot seat at St. Peter’s – as well as speculating aboutwhich team dear old Benedict might take on, now that he’s got more time on his hands. But more of that later.

LATEST TABLES

First we need to turn our attention to the latest tables. Following Liverpool’s 0-2 defeat to the Baggies last night (which absolutely nobody foresaw) the 26th week of the season is complete and ready for inspection. The games that earned the most points were inevitably at Stamford Bridge, White Hart Lane and Old Trafford. So if you didn’t score heavily here you were probably already in trouble. Remarkably one person did predict that Citeh would come unstuck on the coast, and this week’s table toppers all largely foresaw the inevitable stalemate between Norwich and Fulham, Villa finally having something to smile about and Tony Pulis in post-match chipper mood after battering Reading 2-1.

If you didn’t manage 6 points this week the penalty should be having to sport a moustache like Lawro’s for the next 7 days, since that was the sum total of his insight. However we’ll let you off if you enter your predictions for the next round of games.

Before you do that we’d like you to consider which football figure might be the most suitable candidate for the papal throne and which team currently could most use a bit of divine intervention with a former pontiff at the helm. You can enter your answers when you click on the divine link (see what we did there) below and we’ll publish the answers before there’s a puff of the white stuff coming out of the Vatican chimney.

Obviously your answers will depend on your view of what needs fixing. Anyone raised in an Irish laundry might reasonably surmise that St Peter’s could do with a no-nonsense reformer (Tony Pulis springs to mind). Sir Alex Ferguson obviously fits the age profile and would probably appeal to those who think the church should have a bit more silverware and a little less gold. And it probably goes without saying that a special job may need a special one to fill it. Mourinho spurning the hand of the devil (by returning to Chelsea) to kiss the hand of the god instead has a biblical elegance about it, even if it would upset the football writers.

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If you didn’t want to know how you scored, look away now.

Was this week the season's Paula Radcliffe moment?

Was this week the season’s Paula Radcliffe moment?

The 38 lap marathon that is the FA Premiership now enters its 26th week, which in running terms is that point when you realise that you took on too much water 10 miles back, yet are gasping for some form of refreshment before the finishing line.

As usual there isn’t a convenient bush to spare the blushes of that Paula Radcliffe moment and unless you’re Gazza, nobody is rushing to offer you a drink. Perhaps it’s time to take a deep breath and look at the results from last weekend.

To those who plodded on through the 25 week stage of the season, we salute you. And if you accumulated double digit points for your efforts we’d probably buy you a drink if our entertainment budget extended that far.

To anyone who banked on Everton thrashing Villa and Chelsea pipping Le Toon we can only say hard cheese, but if football was that easy to speculate about Lawro would be out of work. Though when the BBC’s main football pundit only gets 4 points (as he did this week) perhaps he should join his municipal brethren and sign on after all.

Of course that’s what we all should do, because the Premier League carnival is already spinning rapidly back into orbit, ringed by the link for the next round of games, which is now awaiting your autograph below.

If it’s the only thing you sign this week make sure you read the small print, unlike those poor French footballers who were lured to the north east of England on the promise that they’d be working with Alan DePardew.

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Why do those baggy trousers now feel like drainpipes?

We’ve been taking calls all week from people wanting to know what the world was like when Liverpool last won the title. And sadly we’ve disappointed most of them, as our customer service team hadn’t been conceived then, let alone born. Maybe we should outsource them to India in future, though the thought of writing the briefing manual is about as appealing as linesmen duty on Boxing Day.

Statto is especially suffering with all this, as his algorithm doesn’t anticipate a team from the pre-internet era winning the title. It’s fair to say that the rest of the country probably hasn’t either. If you want to resist being dragged back to an era of even baggier pants than the ones that you’re probably wearing today, click the magic link and enter your predictions for this weekend’s action.

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What to do if your predictions were hit for six last weekend.

Here’s a canny statistic from last weekend’s ruination of goalkeeping reputations.

42 goals were netted in the 10 Premier League games played, but our winning AMNT pundit only predicted half that number would be scored.

Which presumably means that the leading marksmen are twice as good as the leading pundits, or that the leading pundits only have half their mind on the job.

If there’s a better explanation, we hope that you’ll let us know.

What remains indisputably clear is that after years of bigging up the notion of a title race, we now actually have one.

And for those of us fortunate enough to have second homes on the Iberian peninsula, one can even claim there are two, as La Liga apes the three horse race that appears to be consuming these shores.

(We should insert an apology here to any Arsenal fans for writing off their chances with so many games to play – except their own players seems to have beaten us to it).

Anyway, as ever this weekend’s fixtures are now lying in wait for your predictions, so don’t get stuck with your midfielders out of position, click on the magic link to enter them now.

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