How we’ve missed the warm embrace of the Premier League.
There’s no denying the World Cup was a whirlwind summer romance but the Barclays is undoubtedly our tried and tested bread and butter.
And with just days to go until the new season gets underway, I’ve had a think about where the individual awards might end up come next May.
This may very much come back to haunt me.
Player of the Year – David Silva
Despite perhaps more eye-catching names in the Man City side, I’m backing Silva to take the big prize in a similar vein to Ryan Giggs’ honorary award back in 2009.
Silva, as he was last season, will make the league champions tick whilst continuing his transition into Andres Iniesta (the hair has already gone).
The man they call Merlin will have racked up nine seasons at City by the end of the campaign and his legacy will be recognised as a tribute to his consistent brilliance as arguably the club’s best ever player.
Young Player of the Year – Naby Keita
There’s a lot of fanfare about the 23-year-old after tearing up the Bundesliga in the last couple of seasons.
Keita in many ways is three or four midfielders all rolled into one and he’s raw, sometimes rash but ultimately ready to put his stamp on the Premier League.
Liverpool have been crying out for a player of his type since Steven Gerrard retired, so it’s fitting he has taken the Liverpool icon’s famous number eight shirt.
Top scorer – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Siri, show me a striker who knows where the goal is.
Aubameyang lives and breathes finding the net and he took to life in England like a duck to water with 10 goals and four assists in just 12 games after arriving in January.
With Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan constantly looking to feed him, just imagine how many he’ll score in a full season?
Best summer signing – Jorginho
The living embodiment of footballing artistry.
No player suits Maurizio Sarri’s stylistic blueprint than the Italian metronome and his quiet dominance on games will come to the fore this season.
City will still win the league, but if Jorginho hadn’t snubbed them for Stamford Bridge this summer they’ll have wrapped up the title by February.
Biggest disappointment – Richarlison
You can thank Neymar for officially ruining the financial side of football.
Fellow Brazilian Richarlison was almost inconceivably priced at £50m this summer despite failing to register a single goal or assist in 2018.
Everton and former boss Marco Silva were willing to pay the price, but there’s just no way he’ll justify that kind of money.
Best summer bargain – Xherdan Shaqiri
When you consider the numbers behind the Richarlison deal, the fact Liverpool snapped up Shaqiri for just £13m is almost insulting.
Big Shaq (or little Shaq) is still just 26-years-old despite seemingly being around for ever and managed to shine in a desperately poor Stoke side last season.
His versatility made the move even more of a no-brainer and he could wreak havoc alongside Liverpool’s ridiculous front three.
Breakthrough star – Matteo Guendouzi
Unai Emery has acted quickly this summer to plug the gap in Arsenal’s defensive midfield area that has been so painstakingly obvious in recent seasons.
But instead of the more high profile Lucas Torreira, I’m backing French teenager Matteo Guendouzi to catch they eye more.
He’s shone in pre-season and his David Luiz-esque hairstyle has made him a cult hero already with a huge future ahead.
First manager sacked – Mark Hughes
No Pulis. No Allardyce. No Moyes. No Pardew.
The Premier League is missing the usual old guard of prehistoric managers this season – but Mark Hughes is still hanging about at Southampton.
The Saints are in decline and a fairly subdued summer transfer window points at an early axe for their journeyman manager.