Play new year bingo
Published 27/12/2010 | 05:00
Event: Roy Keane great/Roy Keane bad
Watch out for: Ipswich spend the month lurching between seventh and 17th and are then hammered by Chelsea and Arsenal in consecutive cup games. Amateur psychologists reveal Keane is "cracking", "on the brink" or "losing the dressing room." Beating Doncaster makes it all go away for a few weeks.
Event: Fixture congestion
Watch out for: Harry Redknapp complaining about being "down to the bare bones." Those involved in the Champions League face six games in a month -- plus the FA Cup fourth round -- but the equation of success bringing more games again goes unnoticed by moaning managers.
Event: Alex Ferguson mind games
Watch out for: The inevitability of references to a 'grand stretch in the evening' once the clocks go forward is only matched by a comment made by the Manchester United manager being blown out of proportion. How he unnerved Kevin Keegan is repeated ad nauseum; how he didn't do it to Kenny Dalglish/Arsene Wenger/Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti isn't.
Event: Referee costs team millions
Watch out for: A manager of a team under threat of relegation laments how a referee's mistake could "cost this club millions" after he misses an opposition offside or fails to award a penalty. The standard of players bought by the same manager or 70-odd points dropped under his guidance goes unnoticed.
Event: "Greatest team ever"
Watch out for: Two months after destroying Arsenal, Barcelona produce a scintillating display in the Champions League semi-final to bring comparisons to Brazil of 1970 as the greatest team of all time. As last year, Jose Mourinho then parks a fleet of buses in front of the goal against them and Real Madrid win the final on penalties.
Event: Irish players play a game
Watch out for: Not normally a cause for celebration, but Shay Given, Richard Dunne, John O'Shea, Damien Duff and Robbie Keane actually starting a game when Ireland play Macedonia is heralded for its rarity. Each 'have a Macedonia' with not enough yellow bibs to go around at the next training session.
Event: Meaningless pre-season tournament
Watch out for: Had Inter Milan come to Dublin last year, they might have been a reason to finally fill the Aviva. Instead, their Rafa-inspired fall from grace will see them in a tournament with two WWE-style 'mystery opponents' plus an Airtricity League XI who consequently won't get a mid-season break. Expect the standard FAI-bashing summer.
Event: Premier League begins
Watch out for: Sky replace 'The Premiership Years' and a load of old men running around playing in a five-a-side with the 'the best league in the world' a countdown to the end of the transfer window. Man United/
Chelsea/ Liverpool's supposed new signing fails to materialise, leaving a sad reporter standing outside Wigan for 24 hours.
Event: Random references to other sports
Watch out for: A player bending the rules when the Champions League returns brings needless comparisons between football and other sports, usually around 9.50pm on a Tuesday/Wednesday. That Brian O'Driscoll/ Henry Shefflin/Ruby Walsh/Padraig Harrington would never do such a thing is somehow relevant to the game's analysis.
Event: First sacking
Watch out for: A media-friendly manager losing his job being met by a lament from the fourth estate about how chairmen/owners don't understand football. If he's a foreign coach or a person who gives monosyllabic answers to anodyne questions, the media won't shed a tear. Expect Alan Pardew's bank manager to be smiling.
Event: Ireland lose replayed play-off
Watch out for: Ireland looks set for more play-off heartbreak until a dive in the penalty box in the dying minutes earns a penalty which is scored, even though replays show the ball didn't cross the line. From the moral high ground, Ireland offer a replay to the vanquished opponents and are eliminated, but the country feels better because we did the right thing.
Watch out for: Journalists struggling for something to write about in a haze of Christmas parties and sporting fixtures being postponed look back, look forward or rank the teams of their sport -- often with hilarious consequences. Actually, you can probably mark that one off now ...