BotN season preview: Ambitious nicknames, abrasive moustaches & matchmaking

The Back of the Net team conclude their Premier League 2014/15 preview with a completely serious look at Swansea, Spurs, West Brom and West Ham...

Swansea City

Swansea will again have the twin targets of rooting themselves in mid-table and avoiding being forced to join the Welsh Premier League. Without the distraction of Europa League football, Garry Monk’s players should look fresher as the season progresses and be better able to converse about Game of Thrones.

Manager: Garry Monk became the first interim manager in history to graduate to manager following the dismissal of Brian Laudrup, who was found to have pretended to be Michael Laudrup on his CV. Upon making the transition from player-manager to manager, Monk has banned players from referring to him by his old nickname ‘Monks’, insisting they come up with more ambitious ones like: Thelonious and Tony Shalhoub.

Tactics: Swansea will need to be a little more direct next season after averaging nearly 400 passes per goal last term. Many sides were unwilling to allow the Swans to get past 350, at which point they had to start again.

If they were a Sega Megadrive game they would be... Phantasy Star.

Prediction: The signing of Bafetimbi Gomis could prove very shrewd and if Swansea can keep Wilfried Bony they may have the strike power to go with a solid back-line. 7th.

Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs spent last season lurching between chaos and disaster, but ended up with their highest ever points total thanks to an administrative error. They may not have successfully replaced Luka Modric, let alone Gareth Bale, but in Daniel Levy Spurs have a chairman who can play the transfer market like a blues piano.

Review of 2013/14: Andre Villas-Boas was sacked after his inexcusable failure to qualify for the Champions League during his five-month tenure. He was replaced by Tim Sherwood, who impressed the board by shouting his CV at them repeatedly, but Sherwood failed to keep Spurs out of the Europa League and was fired at the season's end.

Goals for 2014/15: Champions League qualification may be a step too far for a team in transition, so Spurs are focusing their energies on finding a nice girl to go out with Jan Vertonghen. Jan is a non-smoker with a GSOH who likes comic books, sunsets and Mexican food.

If they were a currency they would be: the Mauritanian ouguiya (MRO).

Prediction: After a season of ups and downs, most Spurs supporters would settle for consolidation and the sense that the club is, at last, planning for the long term. In Mauricio Pochettino they may well have a manager who can take them to the next level, but he will need patience from the board, and from fans. 7th.

West Bromwich Albion

West Brom are preparing for their fifth consecutive season in the Premier League to the surprise of most reasonable people who presumed they had been relegated. The Baggies will attempt to slip under the radar again by keeping as quiet as possible towards the end of the season and drawing people’s attention to how few points Burnley have.

Manager: After sacking Steve Clarke for ostentatious overachievement, chairman Jeremy Peace eventually brought in Spanish boss Pepe Mel, but his reign was hampered by Mel not knowing what West Brom was or how he came to be coaching it. Now Peace has turned to Alan Irvine, a man so dull he still reminisces fondly about a joke he made in 1989.

Star signing: Club record signing Brown Ideye arrives with a certain amount of pressure on his shoulders. He will be expected to score all of West Brom’s goals, provide all of West Brom’s assists and generally help out around the place when he’s got a minute.

If they were a branched chain amino acid they would be… Leucine.

Prediction: Irvine’s steadying influence plus the signings of Ideye and Joleon Lescott, which will reinforce the team at both ends, will see West Brom ease to safety and beyond. 7th.

West Ham United

The Hammers are re-establishing themselves in the Premier League with consecutive finishes of 10th and 13th, although many fans have criticised the club's lack of ambition and are demanding that Sam Allardyce target the 'promised land' of 9th. Should the season begin badly, there are fears that terrace mutterings could grow into fully-fledged sarcastic remarks.

Manager: Allardyce was initially welcomed by supporters for not being Avram Grant, though the relationship soon cooled when they realised he wasn't Gianfranco Zola either. The ex-Bolton boss has been told to update his style, but early indications are that he will persist with his old-fashioned, abrasive brand of moustache.

Key player: Kevin Nolan's 'chicken dance' celebration has become a regular sight at Upton Park, although doubts have been raised as to whether he has ever actually seen a chicken.

If they were a wood they would be... Monterey pine.

Prediction: You know to expect defensive solidity from an Allardyce side, and the combination of Andy Carroll and Enner Valenica up front will sow panic in opposition penalty areas. If Ravel Morrison finds consistency and form, it's hard to see West Ham losing many games. 7th.

SEE ALSO

Arsenal, Aston Villa, Burnley, Chelsea - Cesc impersonators, psychotic cops & too many trophies
Crystal Palace, Everton, Hull, Leicester - Interrogation suites, hair transplants & Steve Bruce's bone structure
Liverpool, Man City, Man United, Newcastle - Transfer sagas, adopted pandas & personalised jelly
QPR, Southampton, Stoke, Sunderland - New signings, Tintin & underwear auction websites


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