The Bottom Picker #1

An Occasional Blog on when to Pick the Worst Teams in the Premier League.

I’ve played TFG for 3 years now… and if there’s one area that’s trickier than most, it’s when to pick the worst teams and get some points. When do you pick the teams that seem like they’ll never be in form? That are certainties for relegation? That are managed by Mark Hughes.

This year the list of those teams is long and it’s less the usual candidates (promoted teams) and more those reasonably established premier league clubs that seem to be following some or all of the Swansea model: upwardly mobile, reach ceiling, attempt to ‘push on’, start to stagnate, change manager (regularly), panic, make progressively worse decisions, get relegated. I’m thinking Southampton, Watford, Bournemouth, Manchester United.

The trick – not that I’ve totally mastered it – is to hold your nerve. While it’ll get to October and you’ll start to think “I really need to pick one of these terrible teams or I’ll be left with them at the end of the season”, in actual fact you want a lot of these picks left as the season heads into the final straight: when else will Bournemouth, Huddersfield or Watford win four in a row including a famous home win over Manchester City?

So, in the main the advice is to wait. Wait til the relegation scrap starts. Wait til these teams start to change manager and get a Carlos Carvalhal-like bounce, wait til they start playing teams with a Champion’s League quarter final three days later.

Or don’t. Because the other great time to pick your bottom is the very start of the season. Remember Hull City twice racing out of the blocks in the Premier League, even beating the champions on opening day? What about Huddersfield? Or going way back in the day to George Burley’s Ipswich Town?

So, this weekend I’m picking my bottom early doors and looking to get one of these teams out of the way and pick up some points. I’m drawn to two matches. Firstly, Cardiff at Bournemouth. In Premier League terms I’m not really sure what role Bournemouth play – seemingly ok but underwhelming at everything, and can seem well and poorly managed almost at the same time. I fancy Cardiff with early season energy and their manager’s force of will to grab something from the game. This pains me because I really loathe Neil Warnock, but I’m comfortable knowing that any early season glow will have ended by November.

The other option is Fulham who have impressively strengthened over the summer versus Crystal Palace, who haven’t. Though a London derby I still fancy Fulham to get something from this even if it’s a draw. There’s other riskier options out there, but they’re my two. Go on, have a go…

Martin Wood

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