With the Charity Shield days away and the final touches being applied to Boro's meticulous preparations for the new season it seems as good a time as any to scan an eye over the competition. The reasons why I don't agree that our 'out of his depth' manager will be leading us to Championship ignominy will be expanded upon before the season opener against Blackburn. For now, this is a unique chance to be rude about all of the rest of the Premiership in the same post.
Eyes down and don't look too hard at this come May:
1 Chelsea With last season's pantomine feuds seemingly put to bed and unquestionably the best squad in the league, they are the team to beat. They might even scrape a point at the Riverside this season.
2 Manchester United Fergie may well be more interested in Europe than another league title. Are these multi-million pound teenagers good enough to replace Scholes and Giggs?
3 Liverpool If they can keep in touch for the first 6 weeks of the season they have a chance. Recent history suggests not.
4 Arsenal Despite a difficult summer, the liberation from the ego of the increasingly overbearing Henry could be a blessing in disguise. Likely to be a tight squeeze though.
5 Tottenham Keep on improving but defence is a bit soft if (when?) King is injured.
6 Blackburn Well organised and should start well (hopefully after August 11th).
7 Everton Dreary to watch but hard to beat.
8 Aston Villa Its about time Martin O'Neill lived up to his reputation - if he can, Villa should emerge somewhere nearer the top of the mediocre midtable dross.
9 Portsmouth A lot will depend on Nugent. If he fires, they will be top half again.
10 Boro Alright, maybe this is a bit optimistic.
11 Newcastle They manage to get rid of Shepherd and Bramble in one summer and the fans still moan. Expect the pantomine to continue - a fiver says Joey Barton will be jailed before Christmas.
12 West Ham Having escaped relegation in very dodgy circumstances, they look set to lose the man who kept them up single-handedly. They have also lost Benayoun and Reo-Coker, key players in their run to the 2006 cup final (bastards!). The replacements are overpriced, overpaid and a bit crap.
13 Manchester City Sven has been splashing the cash far and wide but its hard to know how this obscure collection of foreigners will do compared to last season's woeful outfit. Bianchi has the whiff of the Corrado Grabbis about him.
14 Reading Intelligently managed by Steve Coppell, they could struggle to replicate last season's efforts, particularly without Sidwell. Too good to go down though.
15 Bolton With Fat Sam leaving in typically graceful fashion and Anelka threatening to do one, they will drop like a stone. Looked increasingly flakey last year, the departure of Ben Haim will not help.
16 Fulham If you were going to pinch all the players from any national side, then Norn Iron would be pretty far down the list. Kamara and Healy are a big gamble.
17 Derby Being written off will only increase the spirit of a side big on graft. Earnshaw has the potential to reach double figures and that could be just enough for survival.
18 Sunderland Keane bought a shedload of Championship players last year and has bought two more, overpriced ones in Chopra and Richardson. May not be quite as amusing as the 19 point vintage but expect to be entertained and for Keane's overblown reputation to take a kicking.
19 Birmingham Did not convince when getting promoted. Signings this summer have been based on quantity rather than quality. Don't expect Steve Bruce to survive past Christmas.
20 Wigan Utter dross. Having miraculously escaped relegation due to the opposition's ineptitude last year, their luck must run out. Although the Bradford reign of Chris Hutchings and the entire career of Titus Bramble suggest they are making their own luck already.
FA Cup - Manchester United
Carling Cup - Arsenal