BotN season preview: Interrogation suites, hair transplants & Steve Bruce's bone structure

The Back of the Net team continue their look ahead to the new Premier League season with some in-depth analysis of Crystal Palace, Everton, Hull and Leicester...

Crystal Palace

Buoyed by passionate home support and a peerless work ethic, Crystal Palace surpassed all expectations last year. In a bid to stop his players succumbing to second season syndrome, manager Tony Pulis has announced plans to play no football whatsoever for the entirety of 2014/15.

Manager: In November, Palace replaced chilled-out entertainer Ian Holloway with Tony Pulis. The former Stoke man replaced Holloway's games room with a soundproofed interrogation suite, where players' mistakes are analysed with high-end Prozone technology and a small, sharp knife.

Key man: A consistent (and consistently underrated) performer who keeps things ticking over so that his more celebrated colleagues can shine, if there's one man who sums up the Eagles, it's Randy Meisner.

If they were a common mathematical constant they would be... √2.

Prediction: Palace's blend of flair and steel has been reinforced by the astute signings of Fraizer Campbell and Brede Hangeland. Given a full season at the helm, Pulis can take the Eagles even further than he did last term. 7th.

Everton

After years of being considered the small team in Liverpool, Everton have announced plans to rebrand as the big team in Tranmere. The club have also abandoned the controversial 2014/15 crest in favour of their traditional symbol of a lighthouse wearing a scarf.

Manager: Roberto Martinez was under the spotlight when he arrived last summer, but he ignored calls for a radical overhaul and set about improving individual areas on his own terms. His gradual approach has been so successful that many people haven't even noticed he's having hair transplants.

Key man: It is vital that Everton keep midfielder Gareth Barry fit, as their threadbare squad can boast only James McCarthy, Ross Barkley, Darron Gibson, Leon Osman, Steven Pienaar, Aiden McGeady and new signing Muhamed Besic as back-ups.

If they were an early Mannerist master of the Venetian School they would be... Sebastiano del Piombo.

Prediction: The squad is largely unchanged and only bad luck with injuries, or the resurgence of teams around them, is likely to stop Everton posting another fine season. 7th.

Leicester City

Following a record-breaking Championship campaign, Leicester City are back in the Premier League after an absence of 10 years. Can it really be 10 years? Ten years since Leicester were in the top flight? Ten years ago you had so many dreams, so much hope in your eyes, and now look at you. If only you could turn the clock back to that glorious summer of 2004, when anything seemed possible. But you can't, you can't, however much you wish you could. Foxes striker Jamie Vardy is younger than you.

Key player: David Nugent's goalscoring prowess has made him feared throughout Andorra, while Kasper Schmeichel's performances in goal have inevitably seen him compared to fellow goalkeeper Casper Ankergren.

Star signing: £8 million man Leonardo Ulloa will hope to silence the doubters who say he's Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

If they were an Imperial Roman province they would be... Gallia Aquitania.

Prediction: You don't win more than 100 points in the second tier by accident, and the rest of the Premier League should underestimate the newcomers at their peril. If the Ulloa signing pays off, Leicester should reap the rewards handsomely. 7th.

Hull City

For so long an anonymous club at the foot of the Football League, Hull are now an anonymous club with a decent chance of cracking the top 14. Few teams will relish the trip to the KC Stadium, because for such a large city, train connections are woeful.

Last season: 2013/14 was a rollercoaster ride that began with Paul McKenna being turned away for being too short, and ended with David Meyler being sick into the FA Cup. The campaign was ultimately overshadowed however by the row over their proposed change of name, and sport, to Hull Kingston Rovers RFC.

Key man: Alex Bruce, his father's eyes and ears, but, happily, his mother's nose and bone structure.

If they were a Shakespeare sonnet they would be... Sonnet 47.

Prediction: In Tom Ince and Robert Snodgrass, Hull have one of the finest wing partnerships outside the Champions League, and European football will see the calibre of the squad improve still further. 7th.

SEE ALSO

Arsenal, Aston Villa, Burnley, Chelsea - Fabregas impersonators, psychotic cops & too many trophies
Liverpool, Man City, Man United, Newcastle - Protracted transfer sagas, adopted pandas & personalised jelly
QPR, Southampton, Stoke, Sunderland - New signings, Tintin & underwear auction websites
Swansea, Spurs, West Brom, West Ham - Ambitious nicknames, moustaches & matchmaking


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