Football fans are fortune-tellers and undiscovered geniuses. Show us a fixture list and we will invariably settle on a series of events that will determine an end result, without thought for fate or unforeseen circumstance.
Just as we believe we can predict the next goal-scorer, the correct result or the winner of a game that is determined as much by luck as by talent, so we can look at a complete set of matches and decide on results that make headlines like mine.
Because looking through next season’s Premier League fixtures, one club’s stood out more than most.
That club was Everton, who have replaced a man who built a legacy with one who has shown glimpses of being just as capable, without yet taking a chance.
After turning down both Liverpool and Aston Villa, some may have believed Roberto Martinez was playing it safe as much as he was playing it savvy. But he had good reasons for refusing both, a lack of confidence in what would follow that he didn’t feel in the face of Everton’s interest.
And now he is in position, he will look at his new club’s opening six fixtures and believe they are winnable. Yes, all of them; even the Chelsea match.
The Toffees’ opening six fixtures are home games against West Bromwich Albion, Newcastle United and Chelsea, and away matches against Norwich, Cardiff and West Ham.
Eminently winnable, all of them, in part because Goodison Park is not a place opposing clubs would willingly visit if they were seeking an easy ride, and in part because both Martinez and his new club have something to prove.
The Spaniard has shown how inspirational he can be in turning relegation fodder into silky slayers of top-half opponents. Last season didn’t go according to plan, but the seasons before that he somehow saved Wigan when all seemed lost.
Time and again a twist we didn’t see coming saw the Latics saved. Until the one season we expected the twist…and conversely it was in the fact that for once they didn’t survive.
But he now has the chance to prove himself with a club of bigger means, one that is used to top-half finishes and in many ways being the best of the rest.
To begin the season with 18 points and a place at the top of the pile would certainly silence the doubters. And when you consider that the other contenders have to play each other early, with Arsenal facing Tottenham on match-day three and Manchester United taking on Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea in the space of 28 days, it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.
Everton fans may think I am putting a hoodoo on them, aiming unrealistically high. And they will be all too aware of bad beginnings past and the catch-ups that followed.
But as much as anything can be predicted based on some words on a piece of paper, I believe Martinez has every chance of starting with a bang.
By October, we’ll see if I am a fortune-teller or a fool.
image: © illarterate