Football Shorts – Part 2: Did Mystic Trickygirl’s predictions come true?

Don’t be daft….

Back in August, when the football season was still fresh and new and full of opportunity for your club (or something), I made a series of predictions about how the season would pan out. Problem is, I’m not the world’s greatest prognosticator, as you are about to see. I’m not Mystic Meg. In fact, I’m so bad at predictions that I’d make a drink-addled, third-rate, end-of-the pier crystal ball reader look as if she genuinely had the kind of second sight that laughs in the face of ‘tall, dark strangers’ and tweaks the noses of ‘mysterious admirers’, all the time while knowing where the bodies are buried. In a footballing sense, of course.

The truth of the matter is that I’m just a grumpy, cynically romantic, ever hopeful football fan – hopeful of one day actually getting it right, that is…

So let’s examine the evidence for my predictive incompetence, shall we?

1] Sepp Blatter will say and/or do something really, really stupid: Wrong (so far). Although he did fall over in an amusing fashion – does that count? Actually, it doesn’t, because that was back in July, so not strictly this season – but it’s bloody funny nonetheless. Notorious for opening his mouth and immediately stuffing his foot right in it (female footballers, Cristiano Ronaldo’s ‘enslavement’, anything to do with English football, etc.), strangely enough, and so far this season anyway, he has actually and amazingly managed to say something really quite sensible for a change on the subject of top clubs poaching young players. I’m not holding my breath that this new sensibleness will continue, though…

2] A manager will be sacked within the next month and a half: Wrong. For a change, there have been no hysterical knee-jerk reactions to a bad start in the Premier League and it’s all ‘as you were’, which surprises me (except for the rumours that Harry Redknapp is off again, but – strangely – those seem to emerge everywhere he goes. Wonder why…). Usually, by now (mid-October), at least one top-flight manager has been handed his P45, a big fat payoff, and then given the traditional sorrowful final press conference, usually before they’ve had the opportunity to achieve anything at all of note that term – the case of Juande Ramos at Spurs last season immediately springs to mind. It’s possible that a few of the current lot won’t make it to 2010, but I suspect clubs are having to be much more careful about the threat of enormous payoffs for sacked managers in this economic climate.

3] My beloved Spurs will implode. Again. Unless they astound me by actually playing football as a team for a change: Um, wrong. Quite ridiculously, fabulously, wonderfully wrong. Unless they lose every game for the rest of the season, that is (and stranger things have happened). They have, indeed, astounded me – they’re currently sitting pretty in third, having only lost two out of their eight league games so far. And they have also played some lovely football with it; in particular, it’s been great to see Robbie Keane and Jermaine Defoe back where they belong. I’m still slightly in shock at our start to this season, and, being the typical football fan I am, I’m just waiting for it all to fall apart again, although I hope it won’t!

4] ‘Arry Redknapp will continue to be ridiculously quotable: Right. That one was a wee bit predictable, even for a prediction of this nature, as old ‘Arry has long been well known for his motormouth oracular pronouncements and brutal honesty in interviews. However, in his latest interview, published yesterday, he is a little more circumspect and understated than normal, describing his move from Portsmouth to their biggest rivals Southampton as “possibly crazy” (the understatement of the decade!), and that a lack of success at Spurs could “probably have been the end of my career” (it would certainly have been terminally embarrassing, if nothing else). I expect the return of comments like the classic “[John] Hartson‘s got more previous than Jack the Ripper” imminently, or else football just won’t be the same.

(EDIT: And then I found this gem of a Redknapp interview I’d previously missed, dated 14th October…)

5] Michael Owen will get injured again and/or spend most of the season warming the bench: Wrong – thus far, anyway (apart from a minor(ish) groin injury in the Champions League game against Wolfsburg in late September – does that still count?). Signing for Manchester United seems to have given the unlucky and injury-prone ex-Liverpool striker a new lease of life, as he’s made nine appearances for the Red Devils and scored twice, including a dramatic winner in the Manchester derby. I was dubious about his transfer to Old Trafford, but I am now beginning to suspect I was wrong about that; Owen appears to be having far more fun playing in Manchester than he ever did in any of his four seasons as a Newcastle United player. It’s good to see a player of his ability enjoying his game again after such a long run of bad luck – and perhaps there is the vague possibility of an England place again?

6] Rafa Benitez will finally graduate from his FA courses in Advanced Premiership Manager Mindgames and Talking Complete Bollocks: Right! Well, right about the former, that is – all Premier League managers Talk Complete Bollocks anyway, although few are capable of doing so in such charmingly-accented English as Rafa. He has, however, got so good at the Advanced Premiership Manager Mindgames thing that the FA have, only this week, given him a warning about an “objectively offensive” gesture towards a referee (taking his specs out of his pocket and examining them closely) during a post-match press conference – which is a slightly more subtle gesture than some in the Premier League are capable of…

7] The feud between Rafa and Fergie will step up a pace and become a full-blown vendetta: Wrong. This one seems to have actually calmed down a bit, possibly because Liverpool didn’t win the title last season. We all know that Fergie appears to like playing mindgames with his rival managers (and occasionally his players too) – but seemingly only when he perceives them to be a real threat to his despotic hold on Old Trafford. You know, like the verbal punch-up with Rafa, or the Pizzagate incident and its aftermath (although with Wenger as the opposition, that one could run and run). And, of course, Fergie’s got a bit of previous with referees, which seems to have rubbed off on Rafa (see above) – who manages it with a little more class and humour. In my view, anyway. However, I’d never say never – we certainly haven’t seen the last of this spat.

8] Fabio Capello will finally end his love-affair with the English media after some chronic goalkeeping howlers in World Cup qualifiers: Wrong. Even that dodgy defeat in that controversial qualifier against Ukraine hasn’t quite stopped the Fab/English media love-in – and that game even managed to feature the first England goalkeeper ever to be sent off. That dubious record will now belong to poor Rob Green, the West Ham keeper, for all of eternity – and his replacement, the notoriously accident-prone David James managed to pull off a brilliant performance, despite the somewhat tense atmosphere. Really and truly, it all comes down to one simple fact: Capello led England to World Cup qualification. And convincingly, too. Admittedly, there are still some hacks out there who won’t trust any England coach, even if he did eventually manage bring home the World Cup, but Fabio’s calmness and demonstrable ability at his job have just about convinced most. Until another goalkeeper screws up, that is.

9] The FA will whinge on about Respect. Everyone in football will ignore them (as usual): Wrong – in fact, the whole Respect thing appears to have gone a bit quiet of late. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen, particularly as there has also been so much debate about the rights and wrongs of players diving so far this season. In fact, some Premier League superstars are now so good at diving that they could give teenage Olympian and world champion diver Tom Daley a few helpful tips and pointers (naming no names…). The FA’s website refers to the Respect campaign as “a long term commitment” in which we must “all play our part” in order to “really make a difference”, which is all well and good – but why can’t I find any references to the campaign on said FA website later than May of this year?

10] The FA might want to implement my suggestion of training up WWE wrestlers as Premier League referees: Wrong. Unless Lord Triesman of the FA is in secret talks with Vince McMahon as you read this, which – disappointingly – I suspect is just a tad unlikely. I still think it’s the only solution to the ongoing problem of players mobbing and abusing referees – I mean, you wouldn’t ever mess with men as preternaturally large and scary-looking as the Undertaker or the Big Show, would you? My point entirely…

11] Arsene Whinger will, yet again, fail to visit Specsavers: Ah, here’s another one I did actually get right, unsurprisingly. As tough as it is for a Spurs fan to say this, Arsene Wenger is an intelligent and articulate man, and a good manager. But he is infamously unable to see any further than the end of his nose, particularly when it comes to the behaviour of his precious players. You know what I mean – the opposition breathes on one of his players in the box, and it’s a blatant penalty that the ref deliberately ignored. But when one of his players scythes down an opposition defender in a possible-career-ending tackle right in front of the dugout, he saw absolutely nothing. Nada. Zilch. It’s all got really quite tedious now, particularly as there are other managers who do the same thing to equally irritating effect. I suggest issuing free eye tests for all top-flight managers, with the first invitation being sent directly to Mr Wenger’s office at the Emirates…

12] Manchester City will, yet again, fail to buy the Premier League title: Too early to say, but considering that they’re firmly perched in fourth and that they came within minutes of snatching a convincing and rather exciting draw against the red side of Manchester last month, I refuse to entirely dismiss any chance they might possibly have of winning the damn thing…. I suspect they’ll finish high, but not high enough – if they can hang on to fourth until the new year, they should finish pretty well. However, at this rate, the title is probably something for the future; personally, I don’t think they’re quite there yet.

13] If that lot of City divas are actually playing as a team by the end of the season, well… I’ll eat my green woolly hat!: My poor hat really is at risk in that case – that bunch of spoiled City divas haven’t been playing at all badly. Anyone got any good hat-related recipes, or perhaps a few sauce suggestions that might make green wool that bit more palatable? What do you reckon – baked, boiled or stewed? Or maybe I should just get a pizza instead?

14] There will always be at least one bare-chested, heavily tattooed fat bloke in the crowd at St James’ Park, even in the shivering depths of a Geordie winter – this and every season for all eternity: Er, probably right. Check back on this one in the frozen snows of January – it’s a bit too soon to tell, although it is possible that here is a certain and distinctive sub-tribe from within the Toon Army that go shirtless all year round (I tried to find a pic, but was thankfully defeated in my aim by Google not understanding what I wanted and why I wanted it). Newcastle University must have an anthropology department, perhaps they should write an academic paper on this bizarre and decidedly icy cold phenomenon? After all, they do say you can see Norway from the top tier of the stands at St James’ Park…

And the final score is…. three and a bit out of fourteen. I could be a pundit on Match of the Day at this rate. Stop sniggering at the back. I know, I know, that’s not a particularly impressive hit rate there, but I did warn you…

(Part 2 in an Occasional Series of Short(ish) Rants and Ramblings about the Beautiful Game)

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2 comments

  1. shmoo7275

    And you know the truly astonishing thing? That fat, bald shirtless Geordie’s nipples never go hard (at least according to Dave Lister)!

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