21 amazing things you'll learn in FourFourTwo’s Season Preview issue
1. Forlorn in the Forest
QPR have never won at Nottingham Forest. Ever. That’s not ‘in the Premier League era’, or ‘in cup competitions’, or ‘on a Thursday’ – it’s across all 34 of their meetings at the City Ground, stretching back to a 4-0 Forest win in 1934.
It has become tradition for Rs fans to travel to Nottingham in numbers, hoping they’ll see history made. This season’s fixture is on December 22. Well, it’s good to get the Christmas disappointment in early.
2. Academic achievement
Several Hamilton Academical alumni had a big impact at this year’s World Cup. Luis Rubiales is best known as the man who sacked Julen Lopetegui two days before Spain’s first game (and a month after Rubiales himself was appointed), but he also played four games in defence for the Accies in 2009. Ex-Hamilton striker Graeme Jones, meanwhile, has been Roberto Martinez’s assistant manager for over a decade and, as such, helped Belgium to third place in Russia.
Finally, Allan Russell spent four years in Hamilton’s starting XI but was most recently England’s attacking coach in Russia as Harry Kane won the Golden Boot. Gareth Southgate heaped praise on the Scot for his work in making England a unique threat from set-pieces, even if Southgate received most of the plaudits for having “weaponised queuing”. Still, Russell had no influence on the size of Harry Maguire’s head… we assume.
3. Not-so-lucky Black Cats
In November, Sunderland will host Wycombe in League One. That would have seemed impossible four years ago. On the final day of the 2013/14 League Two season, Wycombe won 3-0 at Torquay to stay in the Football League on goal difference, and at exactly the same time – a 3pm kick-off on May 3, 2014 – Sunderland won 1-0 at Old Trafford. You’ve got to laugh. No? OK then.
4. Notts knees-up
In 1981, ‘the Notts County Choir’ released County’s The Team For Me, for reasons best unknown. It’s available on iTunes, though you should know that then Radio One DJ Noel Edmonds called it “the worst pop song of all time”. Come on, Noel, it’s not even Notts County’s worst pop song.
5. No pressure, Tranmere
Since promotion replaced re-election in 1987, no team coming up from the National League (The Artist Formerly Known As The Conference) has gone straight back down again. In fact, nine of the 43 promoted sides rode the wave of momentum and sailed immediately on up to the third tier.
Football League new boys Forest Green Rovers did give relegation a bloody good try last season, finishing one point above relegated Barnet. However, their survival means it’s on Tranmere and Macclesfield to avoid setting an unwanted first in 2018/19.
6. Bevvies for the Levy
Last season, Tottenham’s wage bill was closer to the Premier League’s lowest, that of fellow overachievers Burnley, than it was to Arsenal’s in fifth. Yes, yes, we know – where’s their trophy…
7. Somerset Sinatra
Yeovil manager Darren Way does things in his own… well, way. The club’s Huish Park ground is covered with everything from motivational quotes to pictures of majestic lions (you have to take some liberties when your nickname is the Glovers). Meanwhile, Way’s players are given ‘warrior cards’ to keep, which remind them of their individual goals and strengths. Presumably each player also shares one uniting goal: ‘Put up with this malarkey’.
8. Going down
Oldham, a club that younger fans of Premier League teams might naively assume have bounced around the bottom few divisions for some time, are in fact entering their first season in the fourth tier since 1970/71. Indeed, they’re still on the same gentle downslope that took them out of the Premier League in the early 1990s.
For some bored Oldham fans, however, the icy embrace of League Two may come as a relief. Relegation in May brought an end to 21 consecutive years at League One level for the Latics, including a run between 2009 and 2017 in which they finished between 15th and 19th – their points totals between 51 and 57 – for eight years in a row. Consistency’s great and all, but after that long circling the drain, a new challenge might be exciting – although FourFourTwo’s prediction for 2018/19 is that Oldham may not have finished falling yet…
9. Becoming good friends
Stoke anthem We’ll Be With You, released to celebrate the Potters reaching (and then winning) the 1972 League Cup Final, was written by Jackie Trent and Tony Hatch – who also wrote the theme tune to student staple Neighbours. We’ll Be With You made the UK Top 40, but even more impressively, the Neighbours theme’s Wikipedia entry is over 2,000 words long.
10. Passed them by
Cardiff are re-entering the Premier League on the back of a stat-breakingly remarkable promotion campaign. Neil Warnock’s men finished second despite having the Championship’s worst pass completion (59.4%), fourth-lowest possession count (45.4%) and second-highest foul count – yet they also had the second-most shots on target in the division, and the second-highest xG value per game.
Passing: who needs it?
11. It's electrifying
Doncaster are the holders of the Yorkshire Electricity Cup, which ceased in 1995 after four instalments across a glorious six years. The other two winners were Halifax (twice) and Huddersfield.
Bring it back, we say.