Ten things I'd like to see happen this season... but probably won't

From the banning of the pointless handshake via Xavi revealing the real reason he is in the Middle East to Bayern Munich imploding and finishing the season potless and Wembley selling out... Tom Peck reveals his wish list for the 2015-16 campaign 

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The Independent Football

1. The handshake to be banned

The standardised Premier League football match requires no fewer than 448 officially sanctioned handshakes. That’s the kind of number only a fresher returning to his hometown pub on Christmas Eve can ever expect to match.

Footballing anti-matter, the handshake is now a real event only at the moment it does not happen. If Pepe Reina had just walked idly by Michael Carrick and got on with his day there would have been no Evra handshake for Suarez to snub and the football-loving world would not have had its nose plunged deep below the waterline of tolerable tedium for the best part of 18 months.

It is also, by the way, the initiative through which Sepp Blatter continues to attempt to secure the Nobel Peace Prize, which should be cause enough for its international outlawing.

2. Xavi to speak out about the plight of migrant  labourers in Qatar

Now that Xavi Hernandez has more in common than ever before with the Nepali Tarmacking community, in that he, like they, have washed up in Doha as foreigners in need of a pay cheque, we imagine the finest midfielder of his generation will waste no time in speaking out about the appalling treatment of migrant labour in his new-found home. People listen to footballers, after all. He knows that. Why else would he have gone there?

3. Arsenal to win the league without a centre-forward

France at the 1998 World Cup are the only team in history to win a major honour without a centre-forward of the highest quality, as the impossibly fortunate Stéphane Guivarc’h remembers better than anyone. So constant are the claims that this is finally Arsenal’s year, they are all but a certainty to repeat the miracle.

After they signed Petr Cech, their squad is now, we are consistently told, among the strongest in the league. All they need do is bring in John Terry, Nemanja Matic and Diego Costa before the end of the transfer window and they could yet mount a realistic title challenge.

4. Louis van Gaal to play 4-3-3 at United

“I always play 4-3-3,” so said the great man in approximately 10,000 interviews spread over the entire three centuries of his life at the very top of the world game. Perhaps it will be at some point this season that Old Trafford is treated to its first run of it. In his defence (and someone needs to come to his defence, because Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are simply not going to), he has been rather too busy rotating world-class talent on and off the payroll in the last 12 months to give much thought to such matters as who in his squad might play where on the pitch in any given game (Need a keeper? Try the one with six La Liga titles currently training with the Under-21s).

It would also explain the acquisition of another two holding midfielders, the departure of 66 per cent of his recognised strikers and a defence as liable as ever to ship nine goals to Leicester City and MK Dons.

That said, he will no doubt win the league with Luke Shaw as a false No 9, and Marouane Fellaini coming on in goal for penalties and we’ll all look ridiculous.

5. Radamel Falcao to score 50 goals for Chelsea

That he waddled around the Copa America the complete ambulant Picasso, knees for feet, shin pads for arms, the ball repelling from his ragged touch like the 10,000-tonne magnets in the Large Hadron Collider is only proof that he will yet be the glitch in the Chelsea matrix.

To arrive at Stamford Bridge the ready-made, fully ruined world-class No 9 is a cause of great hope. You only need ask Chris Sutton, Pierluigi Casiraghi, Adrian Mutu, Hernan Crespo, Andrei Shevchenko or Fernando Torres to find out what Chelsea like to do to a top-class striker already at the peak of his game. Now, finally, it will fall to Falcao to prove whichever one of Newton’s Laws it is that’s got something to do with equal and opposite reactions. There must be a dark side of the Chelsea striker force. Radamel will find it.

6. Harry Kane to cope with second-season syndrome

Three words: Miguel Perez Cuesta. You may know them better as one: Michu. Whatever happened to him (and there’s no point asking a Napoli fan)?

When you’ve been recalled from loan at Leicester, and things haven’t quite worked out for you at Leyton Orient, Millwall or Norwich, it’s possible that Premier League defences might not see you coming.

Those days are over. If Harry Kane is still one of Tottenham’s own by the start of September, or even if he isn’t, life as the starting point of every opposition’s defensive strategy is not going to be easy. The second season, like the second album, is difficult. 

7. West Ham to handle life after Big Sam seamlessly

Hopefully, West Ham fans have been too busy scraping their way past some of the finest sides in all of Andorra and Malta – if not Romania – to appraise themselves of what tends to happen to teams who say goodbye to Big Sam Allardyce. But Newcastle, Bolton and Blackburn all know well enough.

Whether the humble British taxpayer will be as happy to subsidise West Ham United’s rent should they be welcoming the likes of Rotherham and Bristol City through their brand new turnstiles and under their £200m taxpayer-funded roof next season we shall have to wait and see.

8. Bayern Munich to lose

So determined has a certain type of English football fan become to genuflect at the technically gifted feet of the Germans, could this be the year that for all the cheap beer and sausages and atmosphere and safe standing and reasonably priced tickets, the league isn’t all over before the tinsel’s on the Tannenbaum? Don’t bet on it.

9. Glory days to return to Newcastle

The path from the England job to St James’ Park is well trod. You can either go via PSV, Sporting Lisbon, Porto and Barcelona, only stopping to pick up a knighthood, or if you prefer the less scenic route, there’s FC Twente, Wolfsburg, QPR, Forest and Derby County. Either way, with big Schteve in the hot seat, and answerable only to the Daily Mirror, the good times are bound to come again.

10. Wembley to sell out

For the American football at least. With only Switzerland and Estonia left to visit the home of football for England’s mesmerising enlarged Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, the FA might consider sticking Rooney and the boys on in a double-header with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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