Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sporting Augury for 2010

As we move into the second decade of the second millennium of the current era, the world of sport is very much centre-stage. And sporting prophecy seems to be all the trend for Arsene Wenger, foretelling the world that eight teams are in with a chance of winning the Premier League this season. Remarkably puzzling. Surely that number can't include Liverpool who are already thirteen points off the pace at the half-way stage. Looking down the current standings, Birmingham and Fulham lie sixth and ninth respectively. No-one in their wildest dreams would imagine these two moderate clubs piling the pressure on Man. Utd and Chelsea in a final push for the summit.

In a mood to portend the future, here is my vision of the near happenings of the Premier League.

Having already lost Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor to Man. City, Arsenal will lose a frustrated Fabregas to Barcelona and replace him with yet another unknown up-and-coming youngster, after yet another trophy-less season. Arsene 'whinger' Wenger will have voiced his final whine about fixture congestion or something as he finally cuts ties 'by mutual consent', or rather, by a boot up the backside.

But it's not any merrier for Liverpool either. After finishing a dismal sixth, Benitez immediately gets the sack, and the club fund in on their top stars. Gerrard is the first to leave in a big-money move to Madrid. Torres is next, moving to Champions League-bound Aston Villa. In an early-season clash at Old Trafford in September against their perennial rivals of Manchester, new boss Graeme Souness decides that the approaching midweek game against Burnley presents a more realistic opportunity of gaining three points. He rests ten first team players as Liverpool begin a relegation dogfight.

Again with just an F.A. Cup to show for a season's work, Carlo Ancelotti is hastily sacked by Abramovich, who then decides that he's fed up with his London toy and walks out.

Ryan Giggs scores the winning goal in the Champions League final against surprise package Bordeaux.

After a second disappointing season at Old Trafford, Berbatov is shown the door, joining Inter Milan. The useless Nani is also evicted as Yoanne Gourcuff and David Villa arrive as repalcements. Giggs and Scholes sign one-year contract extensions and Sir Alex Ferguson says he's good for another five years.

Mark Hughes meanwhile gets the sack from his Arab owners and Carlo Ancelotti is brought in. (Since penning this article, Mark Hughes has been swiftly sacked and replaced by Roberto Mancini. Ancelotti joining next summer still can't be ruled out however!)

Portsmouth, West Ham and Bolton, established Premier League names, make the dreaded drop to the Championship.

England win the World Cup in South Africa, prevailing 4-2 after extra time in the final against old foes Germany. Wayne Rooney becomes just the second player in history to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final.

No African nation advances beyond the quarter finals. A tearful Cristiano Ronaldo bows out at the group stage.

Meanwhile, in tennis, Rafael Nadal shocks the world as he announces his immediate retirement from the sport due to persistent problems with injuries all over his creaking body. (A week later Tiger Woods comes out of hiding and similarly brings to a premature end his golfing career due to long and financially painful divorce proceedings).

Once more, Andy 'never-win-a-major' Murray fails to make the breakthrough with a Grand Slam after hyping himself up all year about his chances. He does reach the Wimbledon final but is comprehensively beaten by Roger Federer, who after his seventh victory at SW19, is given a replica key to the All England Lawn and Tennis Association Club.

Federer himself completes the only thing left to do - winning a single year Slam - bagging all four majors of 2010, taking his Grand Slam tally to 19.

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