During the heady days of the summer, when England were rubbish at Rugby, we didn’t bother with one day internationals too much, but could murder the shallow one-day obsessed sub-continentals at proper Test Match Creeket, I spent an idle minute writing my predictions for the season.
As pre-season predictions are a bit passé, I kept it to myself, but when dusting my shelves this week I was alarmed to see that I have been near 100% right in my predictions so far, so thought it was only fair that I should share with the rest of you what is going to happen for the rest of the season.
In the BBC Studio, a joke is made about Alan Hansen’s assertion that you don’t win anything with kids. He was famously proved wrong as Schmeichal, Bruce, Pallister, Irwin, Keane and Cantona lead United to the title.
The major news of the month is that Carlos Tevez making his Manchester United debut, scoring in a routine 2-0 home win over Reading. An article in the Guardian claims that this is the best team that has ever been assembled.
Arsenal beat Man City at home, with Da Silva scoring a header. Their fans tell themselves that they wouldn’t have won this match with the overrated Henry last season.
In Liverpool, Rafa Benitez makes a substitution. He is widely criticised for his mindless tinkering.
Arsenal score a goal after 87 passes, and are duly declared the guardians of all that is beautiful and true about the world. Tackles on Arsenal players are subsequently banned from all football matches for the rest of the season.
Sunderland fans are stranded at Shannon airport as Air Lingus pulls its route to Heathrow. Niall Quinn walks over the Irish Sea and carries them on his shoulders over to Old Trafford, where they sea Roy Keane make Ole Gunnar Solskaer cry in the dugout, before Nani and Anderson give United a comfortable victory. Ferguson is lauded as a genius in the transfer market for yet again spotting talented youngsters that nobody has heard of.
England play. Everyone goes on holiday.
Billy Davies becomes the first managerial casualty of the season. Everyone briefly remembers that Derby are in the premier league. Neil Warnock is appointed manager. He says the West Ham game will be just like any other for him.
Sven Goran-Eriksson attempts to play down Thaksin Shinawatra’s human rights abuses: "weeell, I don’t think it was so bad. This is football, and he did let those boys become girls. Eeeehh, I really couldn’t tell until you got really close."
Steve Bruce goes on holiday to China. He is not seen for the rest of the season.
Big money looks well spent for West Ham, Man City, Spurs and Sunderland, as they occupy the coveted top four spots in the table, closely followed by Man Utd and Liverpool. UEFA announce that, in the interests of the football community and UEFA brand, they are considering awarding the Champions League spots to the teams finishing in 5th, 6th, 7th and 9th in England. Bolton, sandwiching Chelsea and Arsenal in 8th place, don’t know which way to look. Little Sam is struggling to cope, and spends the entire trip to Krakow for a UEFA cup game in the overhead baggage lockers.
Reading are brought by an Afghan Warlord, who made his fortune in growing and exporting opium. The FA announces that he passed their fit and proper chairman test.
Order is restored in the premiership, as Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal are tied at the top of the table. UEFA denies that it ever seriously considered awarding champions league spots to anyone but the top four. Communications manager Christophe Gaillard said: "It is not true. Our only problem is Liverpool. We hate them." The Guardian concurs.
Everton manager David Moyes has his ring stolen in a trip to West Ham, where the sequel to Green Street is being filmed.
Chelsea win the African Nations Cup, but are falling behind in the premiership by New Year. Jose Mourinho asks how he was supposed to foresee this happening.
In Spain, table toppers Real Madrid lose their unbeaten record, but remain 5 points clear. Bernt Schuster is sacked.
In their winter break tour of Scotland Milan play Dundee United. Cally explodes.
David Moyes has to buy a new pair of shoes, and is photographed taking regular trips to a beauty parlour in Liverpool. A journalist searches through the bins in Merseyside and finds discarded wax strips filled with ginger foot hair.
In the January transfer window, Fulham are the major movers, signing Neil Lennon, Iain Dowie, Gerry Hamilton and Callum Best. The biggest signing though, is Thierry Henry sulking back to Arsenal, for a seemingly bargain basement £20, though he is paid a reported £500k a week. He surprisingly makes his first outing for the youth team, causing Canadian Arsenal fan, Johnny come-Arseneknows to marvel at Wenger’s ability to pick up unknown gems for a pittance.
Arsenal fans and GU journalists are united in their belief that Henry is exactly what young Arsenal stars Jens Lehmann, Toure, Gilberto, Gallas and Rosicky need to lead them and inspire the team.
Rafa Benitez signs a Spanish full-back for £2m. No-one notices.
The title race is hotting up, and the big four remain locked together, having only dropped points against each other.
At the other end of the table, Neil Warnock is sacked, a decision explained by the Derby board as being because, ‘well, he’s just a bit of an embarrassment really.’ Nigel Clough takes over.
Everton, Newcastle, Tottenham, Blackburn, Aston Villa, Man City, Sunderland and Reading are all tied in what must be an exciting race for the UEFA cup spots. However, sky plus viewing figures are down to single figures for games not involving the big four, and FA chief executive Brian Barwick tells the press that he is considering calling it off due to lack of public interest, as they are all so much of a muchness.
David Moyes describes little Timmy Cahill as being his most precious player. Everyone thinks he is a bit creepy.
The Champions League restarts, but no-one really cares anymore. Michel Platini explains that everyone has played each other so much recently that it is pointless, before awarding the trophy to his mate Berlusconi.
Robbie Savage is declared public enemy number one, after he tackles Cesc Fabregas. He is sent off for this slight, and banned for the rest of the season. Mark Hughes apologises on the pitch, and orders Brad Friedel to score an own goal. Arsenal win 1-0, but have a pass completion rate of 103%, and are duly awarded another 10 goals by the FA for artistic merit. The Guardian welcomes this new rule, and subsequently goes back through the archives to discover that under this new ruling Arsenal have won every championship since they bought their place in the football league, even when George Graham was boss. The only exception is when Spurs pipped them in 1961. Martin Jol acknowledges that this proves that Spurs play exciting football. Still. Honest. A halo is fitted around the emirates to signify Arsenal’s purity.
West Ham are arrested. Just because they have so many ‘orrible players.
Everton players complain that boss David Moyes is starting to show a different, obsessive side to his personality. He also seems to have no internal monologue anymore.
Derby win all their games this month.
There are some showers; there are some fools.
The FA decide to have an end of season awards ceremony, instead of the FA cup final (which they cancelled after the big four were knocked out in the quarter finals) presented by Jonathon Ross, and with Javier Mascherano reading some poetry in the interval. Arsenal win the gold star for being pretty, Manu a prize for being exciting, while Liverpool and Chelsea are booed off the stage. These four are all awarded places in the Champions League, although Liverpool are asked to start qualifying last February.
David Moyes has not been seen for the last month, with the only sighting of him behind some rocks in New Zealand. He has taken to going around naked, and with a strange high-pitched voice. He is a shadow of his former self.
Derby win the title. Football eats itself.
In the summer, a major tournament is played for the first time since we bothered to look without a British Isles team in it. It is rubbish. There is no fighting; no useless looking team who manage to get through with passion and commitment; no amusing football songs; no ignorant British journalists who don’t know who Ricardo Quaresmo is; and most importantly, the sheer cynical, monolithic androgyny of it all bores the pants off everyone. The final is cancelled, and everyone decides that they like Rugby better.
Epilogue to the Epilogue
Germany win the 2011 Rugby World Cup.