The Beautiful Game: Ben Marwood - Everton FC

Everton don’t believe in signing new players - all of which has Ben Marwood looking for ‘cheap children’. Don’t quote him on that.

If you’re anything like DIY, you’ll have spent last week finely tuning your Fantasy Football team ready for the new season. Now, with all the major English and Scottish leagues underway, it’s time to take a balanced look at just what’s in store. We’ve asked a bunch of bands, artists and music industry types to let us know exactly what they expect from their team in 2011/2012. Anyone for a Bovril?

Everton don’t believe in signing new players - all of which has Ben Marwood looking for ‘cheap children’. Don’t quote him on that.

After a preseason where we re-signed some guy we hadn’t heard of on loan and sold of a couple of ne’er-do-wells, Everton fans like me may be wondering where all the money’s gone. Fear not though, as manager David Moyes has cut his teeth finding cheap children who can step up at times like this, which is handy since by the end of last season most of our starting eleven had bits hanging off them after ninety minutes.

For once we’re not the only Merseysiders hoping for a fresh start as Liverpool look to banish memories of the first season since 1733 that they’ve failed to qualify for Europe, having been beaten to even the Europa League by footballing giants such as Birmingham City, Fulham and, er, Stoke. Expect them to power their way back into the top four, due largely to the impending departure of Fabregas and Nasri from Arsenal, which will no doubt leave the Gunners permanently glum in the Arsene.

Surely the league belongs to Manchester United once more, though Torres is due to put his boots on the right feet for Chelsea this year, and Manchester City should not be discounted either. Both are good value for domestic cup victories.

At the wrong end of the table, expect Hodgson to wave his magic wand once again and keep West Brom well out of trouble, whilst QPR will find it a tough welcome back to the top flight. Expect Norwich to struggle unless they can buy in more firepower but they’ll still display the fighting spirit Blackpool had in abundance last year, whilst Swansea need to tighten up their set piece defending or they’re toast. In the end the Premier League survival of the three newbies will be determined by whether they’re better than Wigan and Wolves.

Down in the Championship, expect Allardyce to send West Ham to the title, whilst Cardiff will look like favourites to join them until dropping to third in the last few games as is now tradition, mingling no doubt with the likes of Reading and Blackpool and inevitably being dumped out of the playoffs. Birmingham will instead sneak back to the Premier League with hopes of staying up for three seasons this time.

As for Everton, expect yet another late race for 7th with Bolton. I’ll take that over the umpteen relegation dogfights of the nineties any day.