Saturday, January 2, 2010

Ten Football Predictions for 2010

The last year was a memorable one. Barcelona won the Champions League with the kind of display associated with Holland in the '70s. Real Madrid took their spending to £1 billion while Liverpool went backwards and Spurs finally look like they're ready to join the elite of English football.

1) Liverpool and Rafael Benitez will part ways.
Life at Liverpool has never been a bed of roses for Senor Benitez. Ever since the clubs American owners took over in October 2006, there has been rumors of a new manager coming in.
Liverpool's worst start to a season in decades has shown Benitez's failings in the transfer market to everyone. Having taken over the worst Liverpool team in decades in 2004, the Spaniard has created the worst Liverpool squad of all time.
Time for Rafa is running out and even if Liverpool finish fourth, as expected, there could be a parting of the waves.

2) David Moyes to Celtic, Mark Hughes to Everton.
David Moyes has achieved everything he is going to achieve at Everton. He has hit the ceiling, there is no where else to go.
The club simply do not have the money to progress any further and Moyes himself will never be fashionable enough to manage one of the big five clubs, despite his sterling record at Goodison.
Celtic are in turmoil under Tony Mowbray, and the former WBA manager is on his last legs at Celtic Park. Should Moyes take over, he will get the chance to win trophies and play in Europe regularly.
While the initial move to Celtic may look a step backwards, it is in truth a step sideways. Celtic are a huge club and success in Scotland would open the door to managing someone like Spurs or Aston Villa should their managers move on.
The obvious manager to take over is Mark Hughes. Having seen his star rise when he was given the City job, it would be a massive step down to manage anyone outside the Premier League's big clubs.

3) Thierry Henry will serve a no-game suspension for his infamous hand ball.
The "Hand of Frog" incident may have blown over for the time being but it has not yet disappeared.
With Ireland refusing to accept the FIFA Fair Play award recently, FIFA will be embarrassed into action.
They have already said they will look at the incident in 2010 with a view to retrospective punishment.
Expect FIFA to fudge this, too. Henry will, in all probability,  not be given a suspension but an admonishment as Sepp Blatter looks to make himself and his organisation look progressive rather than the bunch of idiots they usually come across as.

4) Portsmouth, Hull, and West Ham to be relegated.
Sorry Brian...
Portsmouth have no money to pay the wages of their players. There will be a clear-out of available employees in January and those that are left will have to pick up the pieces of a demoralised squad.
Hull just don't have the strikers. Unless Phil Browne really works some magic in January then the Tigers will go down battling.
West Ham are in as just a precarious position as Pompey. Their Icelandic owners have ordered Gianfranco Zola to bring in at least £10m for "them" this season. That will mean the sale of the clubs best two players at the very least.
With his team treading water expect Gianfranco Zola to be linked with the Napoli job...

5) Liverpool will sell Fernando Torres and possibly Steven Gerrard
Even if Rafa does somehow manage to avoid the sack at Liverpool, he will have to sell to rebuild the squad.
As it is Liverpool only have three players that any other team would covet. The two aforementioned players and Pepe Reina.
They could accrue almost £130m for the trio if they get what they want for the players. That money will give the manager the money to rebuild the team.
In a worse case scenario RBS will force the sale to claw back some of the £290m still owed to them.

6) Jose Mourinho will replace Alex Ferguson at Manchester United
Fergie does not have long left.
United will not win the title this year and the Glazer's are now facing that massive debt growing again. Two seasons ago, Manchester United had their most successful season of all time, having won the EPL and the Champions League, and their debt still grew...
Imagine what will happen in a season without a trophy?
It is a step the Glazer's cannot take or afford. They will try to get Fergie to resign this summer and will have the best manager available lined up, Jose.
With Wayne Rooney having won the Golden Boot for the Premier League as well as the World Cup, Mourinho will possess the best forward in the world.

7) Arsenal will win nothing this year.
Having seen the Gunners tackle the first part of the season, I have come to the conclusion that they are about three to four players short of winning the league.
Their over dependence on Cesc Fabregas means they will be relatively easy to neutralise as the Champions League gets into the knockout stages.

8) Cesc Fabregas will join Barcelona in July.
Having sat on the bench through most of the World Cup, Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas will be itching to set foot on a pitch.
The upcoming Presidential elections at Barcelona are ominous for the Gunners, as Fabregas' signature is promise numero uno for the candidates.

9) Rafael Benitez will take over at Real Madrid.
Free from Liverpool, the Spanish giants will move to sack Pellegrino and replace him with Rafa.

10) Chelsea, Newcastle, and Leeds will win their leagues, while The Penioners will get to the Champions League Final.
The Premier League is Chelsea's to lose. Has been since day one. The African Nations will give some of their players time to reflect on what is needed to win the title, while one or two additions will give their squad the chance to rest as the knockout stages come thick and fast.
If United or Arsenal get to the final, Chelsea will win. If Barca or Real get to the final, they will probably lose.
And just for good luck...
Spain to beat Italy  in the World Cup final.
Any other predictions?

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