Happy New Year! Yes, that’s right, while we were all lying in our beds contemplating whether increasing bladder pressure warranted getting up yet, things silently, subtly shifted from the 06 part to the 07 part of the 06/07 season.  Don’t get me wrong, I knew it was going to happen, we all did, it’s just that, as always it seemed slightly sudden.  Frantic parties and an alleged ‘work’ week separating Christmas from New Year’s Eve meant that I didn’t really have time to get to grips completely with the transition. In such a hectic schedule, where’s the time for reflection? or more importantly the time for predictions? Nowhere, it would seem.  As the year nears its end so too does time speed up, rushing us faster and faster to the finish until we hurtle through the annual barrier, shattering it to splinters and spilling our champagne before finding ourselves standing cold and naked in an uncertain January, blinking in confusion at the year ahead, a smell of burning in the nostrils…

But it needn’t be this way.  January is a long month, and frankly an uneventful one, so relax, take the time to pick your clothes out of the wreckage, get dressed and let’s enjoy some quiet contemplation.

Over the season of good-will and jolly-spiritedness I noticed a discernible increase in grouchy tempers towards Chelsea.  What’s more, the apparent sincerity of the vitriol shown towards a club that only a few years prior had been everyone’s favourite second team, the ‘sexy footballers’, was all too prevalent.

“They’re not only bad losers, they’re bad winners.”

“Mourinho needs to learn when to shut his trap.”

“Boring, boring Chelsea.”

“Well say what you like, I think Drogba’s fit; up the ’pool!”

Yes, well that last one was spoken by my girlfriend when drunk and so can’t be overlooked, but you get the gist of it.  Now I’m not going to bother countering any of these statements, as usual they are nothing more than jealous taunts from people who didn’t get what they wanted in their Christmas stocking and as such I lend them about as much attention as I do that crazy guy in Piccadilly Circus who was given a microphone by Jesus.  The best thing to do under such circumstances is to say ‘hey, take it easy!’, offer them a lollipop and then spend more constructive time trying to guess what the 07 part of the 06/07 season holds. So here it goes:

If I had told you at the beginning of the season that by the annual gatepost Shevchenko would still be nervously finding his feet, Cech and Cudicini would have been hospitalised in the same game and Terry would have his spine operated on, you’d probably have been somewhat dispirited. But if I’d then gone on to say that Drogalog would be league top scorer, that we’d beaten Barcelona, and that David James had hair-design to look like Clark Kent, you’d simply stop listening.  Such implausible dreams are only believed by people who read their horoscopes aloud.

And yet they are all true, proving once again that the world of predictions is a crazy one best looked at in the rear view mirror.  (For the record, I actually predicted Liverpool to give Chelsea a run for their money and Shevchenko to be top scorer, so that’s my psychic career officially down the pan.)   And so with my unofficial psychic career still fit and well, let’s start guessing, or rather foreseeing what the 07 part of the 06/07 season holds:

The one thing we learnt from Man U throughout the nineties was that the match isn’t over until the final whistle blows.  A never-say-die attitude won them the Premiership, the Champions League and the accusations of cheats as injury time regularly drifted into 6 or 7 minutes at Old Trafford.  But jealous accusations could only highlight a team’s resolve that refused to believe a match was over, and it is this exact self-belief that has since been picked up by Chelsea.  We saw it against Arsenal and again against Everton, when everything suggested the die was cast, the likes of Lampard, Essien and everyone’s favourite Yule Drog carried on until the result was achieved.  And so I am using this development as a basis to predict that the season will go down to the wire and that Chelsea will show the resolve and the self-belief to pull a last minute thirty-yard belter out of the bag and hold on to their title. Those with weak hearts should probably get an early night though.

Secondly, I think I might stand by Liverpool, but in cup competitions not leagues, so basically I’m predicting that they’ll beat Barça over two legs.

Additionally, in an attempt to lend statistical accuracy to my predictions, I predict there will be a hosepipe ban, that the crazy guy will still rant unintelligibly at Piccadilly Circus and that London Transport fares will go up again without justification and that no-one will say anything about it.

Lastly I predict that Mourinho’s pouting bottom lip and easy-going shrug will continue to wind up anyone who wants to get wound up and meanwhile entertain the rest of us.  How many managers can get away with saying that they knew a Heskey equaliser was imminent because “I can smell it. On the pitch we give away possession, I can smell it, at half-time I smell it. In the dressing room, I smell it.” Smell, not sense, SMELL.  Only Mourinho’s nose knows what the future holds, and he’s not yet breathing through his mouth.