NOW is the perfect time to make predictions.
If you get them right, you can remind people endlessly and with insufferable smugness of your guru-like qualities come season’s end.
Get them wrong and you can be reasonably confident no one will remember a jot of what was said, millions of words previously, back in August.
It’s a comforting thought.
So, having been reticent about it all summer, I’ve decided to be bold today, stick my neck out and make a few tips.
Firstly, the answer to the question I’ve been asked more times this close season than any other, and perhaps more times than any other season: “Where do you think Sunderland will finish?”
I think I’ve been asked it so many times, simply because so many people cannot for the life of them predict what will happen to Paolo Di Canio’s men.
I think Sunderland can finish in the top 10 this season – possibly even higher than the halfway mark should Di Canio get in the creative playmaker, attacking left-back (and possibly winger and striker) he seeks before the window closes.
I’m still not sure about the size of the squad as it stands and the head coach needs the team to gel from the start.
But players like Jozy Altidore and Emanuele Giaccherini are class additions to what is now a super-fit squad with a clear tactical game-plan established in players’ minds and they also have the chance of a flying start.
I believe Sunderland can do better in the cups though, than the league – Di Canio already has a cup pedigree from his stay at Swindon and I think his motivational qualities, coupled with Sunderland’s support, will be perfect for the challenge of one-off games.
I think soon-to-return Steven Fletcher will finish Sunderland’s top scorer this season, but he will be grateful to the generosity of strike partner Altidore for many of his goals.
I expect Giaccherini to have a good debut season for Sunderland but to be outshone by an Adam Johnson finally fulfilling his potential.
And I expect goalkeepers Keiren Westwood and Vito Mannone between them – if not to erase the memory of Simon Mignolet’s departure – at least to ease it.
I hope, but don’t think, that Wes Brown will make a dozen appearances this season. I believe that Modibo Diakite (pictured) will though, and go on to be this year’s John Mensah – a class act whenever he takes the pitch.
Young player of the season? I’ll tip David Moberg Karlsson – young enough to know no fear.
As for the derbies, I think Sunderland will win at home – more Paolo knee-sliding time – and either win or draw at St James’s Park.
Deep down though, I’ve got a hunch that Sunderland have every chance of their first league double over Newcastle since the 1966/67 season – something we can all agree is long overdue.
There, I think that should do for now – my predictions on which I’ll stand or fall.
I’ll get back to you on them all in May.
Or not ...