The Last Word: I predict Abramovich will sack himself while Tevez lifts title (for his agent)
Expect the unexpected next year – it's Murray's time at Wimbledon, Monty enjoys Open Sandwich and 'Arry gets England job
Sunday 02 January 2011
Sporting clairvoyance is a double-edged sword which, despite the obvious financial benefits, has the habit of turning on its owner. One can never be shocked, however odd the result, but one always has to pretend to be. It's rather like being on the Fifa Executive Committee. "Qatar! Well, who would have ever thought it?"
So feel some pity for the prescient, those of us who don't so much march into a new year excited by the possibilities, but limp across the markings of a fresh calendar dreading the inevitabilities. As you will see, 2011 will be a year which will see sport reach the very peak of physical endeavour, while continuing to visit the lowliest troughs of self-interest.
January England win final Test in Sydney by a single run to take Ashes series 3-1. The absent Ricky Ponting wishes he hadn't loaned his dummy to stand-in captain Michael Clarke. Clarke is given out after a TV referral shows him spitting it out and dislodging one of his bails. Carlo Ancelotti is sacked as Chelsea only win 2-0 at Wolves, leaving them stranded in third place. "I can't believe he lasted this long," said Roman Abramovich. Harry Redknapp is lured from Spurs. "Even Alan Pardew rang to tell me I'm mad," says Harry.
February Gavin Henson inspires Wales to thump England in Cardiff. "This rugby's a doddle after Strictly Come Dancing," he says. England coach Martin Johnson resists calling up Ann Widdecombe for the rest of the Six Nations. Carlos Tevez puts in another transfer request, but updates his reasons for wishing to leave Manchester City. "Did I say it was my family I wanted to move closer to?" says the Argentinian. "Sorry, I meant it was my agent."
March England lose 3-0 to Wales (Bale hat-trick) at the Millennium Stadium, leaving Euro 2012 qualifying in the balance. Capello quits. "I hope you're all happy now," says the Italian. In a One Show poll, 99.9 per cent agree they are (S Gerrard abstains). Redknapp in; Abramovich not bothered. "I was going to sack him anyway," says the Russian. "He may have taken us the top of the League with thrillingly attacking football, but I don't think much of his bowing." France win the Grand Slam when Henson drops the ball while doing a cha-cha-cha over the try line.
April England win the Cricket World Cup, hammering Australia in the final in Mumbai. Barmy Army disband. "All the fun's gone out of it," says a spokesman. They vow to follow English ice-skating instead. The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is marred when a little, grey-haired man is forcefully ejected from Westminster Abbey. "That Sepp Blatter's got a cheek," says Prince William. "Turning up with that invite I voided after the World Cup bid. When I first walked up the aisle I thought he was her Uncle Jack. But all that oil and sand on his shoes gave him away."
May Tevez lifts the title for City, the club's first League success in 43 years. "This means so much to us," he says. "Yes it does," confirms his agent. Historic Manchester double when United win the Champions' League, with Rooney scoring a brilliant three-yard winner against Barcelona, his first goal from open play since New Year's Day. "This is why he decided to stay," says Sir Alex. "Yes it was," confirms Rooney's agent. "The extra £5m a year was an irrelevance."
June In Redknapp's first match in charge, England beat Switzerland 4-0 (Rooney 4 pens). "Please don't get too carried away," pleads the new manager. Redknapp is knighted; England are backed into odds-on favouritism for Euro 2012; John Terry is voted husband of the year. In a surprise move, Fifa announce the World Cup hosts for 2026, 2030 and 2034. They are: the Sultan of Brunei, Carlos Slim and Bill Gates. "We've tried to make the bidding process more personal," says Blatter. "The charges from the English press that we've sold off as many finals as we can before we all retire are ridiculous."
July Blatter and his Fifa executive retire. What a month for Scotland. First Andy Murray beats Australia's Lleyton Hewitt to win Wimbledon (although Britain's first men's singles title for 73 years is slightly undermined by the fact Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have formed a breakaway, two-man tour) and then Colin Montgomerie fends off Australia's Adam Scott to win The Open at Sandwich. It was a long wait for his first major, but with Monty we always knew it was going to have something to do with food.
August The football season kicks off with a managerless Chelsea. Abramovich takes the helm, then sacks himself after only winning 4-0 at Anfield. Tiger Woods wins the USPGA in Atlanta, his first major in over three years and 17 mistresses. "It's good to get my hands around one of these again," he says at the prize-giving, holding the Wanamaker Trophy in one arm and Jordan in the other.
September New Zealand are knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup in Auckland, so extending their baffling barren run to 24 years. Their prime minister, John Key, announces a four-year period of mourning. "And nobody is allowed to wear black," he declares.
October England win the Rugby World Cup when Jonny Wilkinson scores a drop goal in extra time against Australia. IoS columnist rubs crystal ball to check it hasn't malfunctioned. After 10 months of haggling, David Haye finally announces he has agreed to face one of the Klitschko brothers. It's not Wladimir or Vitali but their younger brother, Vincent. "A Klitschko is a Klitschko," declares Haye. "Even when he's 5ft 3in."
November Lewis Hamilton laps Australia's Mark Webber in the final F1 race to win the world title. "Can't we beat these Poms in anything?" says Australian PM Julia Gillard. She then dismisses the idea of enticing Skippy The Kangaroo out of retirement to fight Audley Harrison – "strewth, we still have a little dignity" – and appoints Fabio Capello as her Minister of Sport to search for weaknesses in English sport. "Well, he did a bloody good job in exposing them in their football team," reasons Gillard.
December Fifa reformed; new World Cup bids requested for 2026, 2030, 2034. Abramovich and the Qatar Royal Family installed as board of directors. "We wanted people who are beyond reproach," comes a statement from Zurich. "And who are too rich to bribe." FA launch bid for 2026. Having qualified for the Euros as group winners, Redknapp's contract extended until 2027.
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