By Nick Harris
31 December 2009
Ten for 2010.
ONE) The Ivory Coast will go further in the summer’s World Cup that any African nation at any previous World Cup. If Didier Drogba arrives fit and well and not too despondent from missing out on the Premier League title, they could even win it, although that would mean beating Spain in the semis by my reckoning. Could happen. Or not. England, like the Ivories, will also make the semis at least.
TWO) Manchester United will win the Premier League title, for a record fourth consecutive year. And not just for an EPL record but an English league record four-in-a-row. Chelsea, having been hit by an ongoing slump made worse by absentees at the African Nations Cup, will finish third, behind Arsenal.
THREE) Sir Alex Ferguson, satisfied that he just about overhauled Liverpool’s previous record of 18 English league titles on his own, will have a long hard think about whether he wants to continue in management. It will be a tough, tough decision but it will be his alone. He’ll say he’s going. He’ll tell close friends he’s going. He’ll get a whiff of who’s going to replace him. Then change his mind.
FOUR) Liverpool will finish outside the top four in the Premier League, thereby missing out on qualification for next season’s Champions League. This kick-starts financial meltdown at Anfield and the American owners, George Gillett and Tom Thingummy, will race each other to the exit. George will get there first but be unable to open the door. He’ll stop for a breather, fall asleep, and dribble down his cardigan. Tom will ask his pal George Bush Jnr if he wants to buy a sarka club. He won’t.
FIVE) Tiger Woods will return in time for The Masters and win it. (This could be wishful thinking, by every senior golf official, TV executive involved in golf, golf equipment manufacturer, newspaper editor, and fan). When Tiger does return he’ll make a least one public joke at his own expense about his private life. This will be well received by a media who see Tiger’s new-found humility as touching. But the good feeling will be interrupted moments later when a hitherto unknown bikini model charges into the press room wielding a nine-iron shouting “You think that’s funny?”
SIX) Roger Federer will win at least one Slam, quite possibly Wimbledon, while Rafa Nadal’s chronic knee problem will give him further trouble and raise fresh doubts over his future in the sport. With Justine Henin making a successful comeback in the women’s game, winning at least one Slam as Kim Clijsters and the Williams sisters help comprise a new-look authentic “big four”, some even older names will consider coming back. Sue Barker and Virginia Wade will enter the doubles at Wimbledon but Sue will pull out due to TV work and Virginia because she can’t be arsed.
SEVEN) Michael Schumacher will win more than two Grand Prix races on his return to Formula 1 at the age of 73, while Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton will insist throughout the season that they’re best mates even though the BBC screens covert footage of them pulling each other’s hair and wiping bogeys on each other’s helmets during a bitch-fest at the back of the Williams garage.
EIGHT) The Walcott will win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. A motor racing driver will finish as runner up. Tom Daley will be nominated for the Young SPOTY award, and only miss out because success would mean a third triumph in four years and the BBC cannot afford to let him keep the trophy for good. Tom will also reveal that he is now a fan of Rage Against the Machine. With one eye on a post-diving career, he will join RATM on their UK tour as a guest vocalist, specialising in singing: “F*** you, I won’t do what you tell me.” He will later explain to Graham Norton: “The pressure of always being so bloody polite and diplomatic got to me. It won’t happen again.”
NINE) The New York Yankees will announce a payroll even higher than last season’s, at around $500m. They will request entry into the 2010 IPL because they see it as quick way to make a few quid. But some fundamental misunderstandings about the differences between baseball and cricket will lead to hilarious consequences. Tom Hanks will play the role of Freddie Flintoff in the movie of the tournament, later saying his favourite bit was the scene where his character went for a curry with Alex Rodriguez, Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan and they ended up crashing a rickshaw into the Ganges.
TEN) Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt and Lance Armstrong will go head-to-head in a ‘Battle of the Titans’ swim-run-cycle event. Or so the publicity material will claim for an event promoted by Allen Stanford.