What definitely won't happen in 2019
As 2018 slipped inevitably into 2019, FourFourTwo’s, er, February 2019 issue required some oddball predictions for the new year. So…
SPARKY’S SOFT-SHOE SHUFFLE
As the summer slides by with no prospect of re-employment, Mark Hughes ends his exile from the public eye by surprisingly agreeing to star on Strictly Come Dancing. Never a man to stay still for long - ask Fulham fans - Hughes is expected to bring forth elements gleaned from a well-travelled career: the meticulous movements of the Catalan Sardana, the thigh-slapping exuberance of the Bavarian Schuhplatter, the wide-eyed stare of the Factory acolyte after a particularly potent pill. Instead, the wrathful Wrexhamite reacts to an argument with the judges by simply standing at the side of the dancefloor, arms folded, eyes burning with injustice as he’s voted out. Again.
SPURS GET BUSY
Fed up of waiting for Spurs to finish building their stadium, Mauricio Pochettino tackles the problem in typical style: by getting his players to put in a shift on the building site. Fanning out from foreman Christian Eriksen’s portable cabin, the hard-working players shuttle around the White Hart Lane site, with Ben Davies and Danny Rose alternating at fitting seats in one stand while Serge Aurier and Kieran Trippier do the same on the other side and Moussa Sissoko carries hods of bricks hither and yon. After all, if you need something finishing, give it to Harry Kane. Sadly, the opening ribbon-cutting ceremony ends in a shambles when Hugo Lloris drops the outsized scissors.
SOL TAKES NOTES
At a stunning press conference, Macclesfield Town manager Sulzeer Jeremiah Campbell shocks the football world by acknowledging that he’s not, in fact, it. “You know what,” he humbly begins, “this job might teach me something. I’ve realised that some of the fellas managing in this division have earned their spurs, if not their Arsenals. Jim Bentley might never have done a controversial moonlight flit across one of football’s great divides, but he’s managed Morecambe in 400 games. I’ll pick his brains for the trip to Lincoln, just as soon as I’ve told him my plans for when I become Prime Minister.”
KLOPP’S HAPPY DAY
Delighted to have found a fiver in an old pair of jeans, Jurgen Klopp charges excitedly out of his house and bounds dementedly through his garden. Pumping his fists maniacally, he sprints up the driveway of his next-door neighbour Adam Lallana, banging on the door and demanding a bearhug.
HAMMERS’ SMOOTH RIDE
April brings confusion to the London Stadium as almost a month goes by without anything wildly controversial or hilariously disastrous. Under the suavely unthreatening Manuel Pellegrini, the Hammers have been good enough to avoid the relegation bunfight but inconsistent enough (obviously) to steer well clear of the glass ceiling and Everton's traditional seventh-placed berth. “I don't like it,” says Karren Brady, “it's too quiet.” “Hold my beer,” says Jack Sullivan.
GARETH’S YOUTH PROJECT
Tiring of ageing has-beens like Jordan Pickford and Eric Dier - “I don’t want anyone who was alive when Wet Wet Wet were No.1 with Love Is All Around” - Gareth Southgate indulges his insatiable lust for ever-younger players by calling up the U16 squad en masse for June’s Nations League semi-final, ruining a few GCSE revision timetables in the process. Excited by the opportunity to stay up especially late, the kids beat the Netherlands 1-0 and Portugal 4-1. But by Christmas, Southgate receives the ultimate accolade for an England manager: being hounded out by the tabloids, after hanging around prenatal classes checking that womb-based prospective call-ups are kicking with both feet.
With the year wearing inevitably on, the British public do what they usually do and make a determined effort to get on with things. The increased cordiality is reflected in social-media discourse: with people recognising viewpoints other than their own, the rise of the hashtag #youmighthaveapointthere sees Chelsea’s history acknowledged by Liverpool fans, having had their own brand of successful football applauded by Manchester United supporters, who in turn have been recognised by Manchester City fans as genuine Mancunians who aren’t in it for the glory.
JOSE GETS A NEW JOB
Finally accepting defeat in the strangely difficult job of making Manchester United admired, Jose Mourinho decamps to an entirely new yet strangely familiar role: as Brexit secretary. Here he finds himself desperately plunging toward a quite possibly illusory goal in a doomed attempt to recapture a long-gone golden era, surrounded by suspicion and often outright hatred, denouncing ‘experts’ while going on gut instinct, and giving away £350m while attempting to park a bus which hasn’t been thoroughly checked. In his element, then.