In the future, predicting things will be easy. It’ll all be done on computers with magic gloves and invisible screens, at least, that’s what Minority Report says. I’m still waiting for that prediction to happen, just as next year I have every expectation that hoverboards will appear in Toys ‘r’ Uses around the world. But that’s not really a prediction since Marty McFly has already been to 2015, that’s fact.
Anyway, that’s in the future; at the moment predicting things is a stupid pastime. Whether it’s politics, weather or sports results, all predictors are doing is dressing up their guesswork in fancy apps and sciency-sounding numbers. The truth is, as anyone who’s planned an Algarve beach outing or read a Scottish newspaper will know, there’s always enough contrasting predictions to a) make you sound convincing beforehand, and b) have got it right with hindsight.
Actually, if I remember Minority Report correctly, the magic hands thing looked quite convoluted, and in the end, I’m not sure Tom Cruise got the right man. So I’ve changed my mind and we can safely say, in the future, predicting things will be much harder.
Anyway, bearing in mind what a stupid waste of time writing predictions is, and equally what a waste of time it is to try to avoid reading them, here are two more for you:
- Chelsea will win the 2014/15 Premier League by a record margin, easily romping home with over 100 points, thereby mauling the idea that the Premier League is “The Most Exciting League In The World”.
- England won’t ever again win a major trophy.
Now I know neither of these are dramatically new predictions, which is why I had to dress them up in somewhat exaggerated tones (Chelsea will also win the double by the way).
Ok, now I know what some of you are thinking and the answer is no you can’t, it’s never acceptable, and you know that. But back to the matter in hand, before you get worried about jinxing things or superstitions or white heather stolen from gypsy harlots, let me put your mind at rest: After the gargantuan disappointment of the World Cup final result we can happily proclaim that either there are no footballing Gods, or that if there are, they’re insane, and so not worthy of engaging in any form of superstitious voodoo negotiation. I mean, how can it be that Argentina saw two of the best players in the world injured while Germany got an extra day’s rest and a semi-final replaced with a light spot of training and a Brazilian massage and pep-talk? Now, every time Di Maria beats his marker, or Aguero scores, or Argentina go 4-0 up in Dusseldorf, I just think what if, what if… No. It’s still too soon. I don’t want to talk about it. Instead, I’m just going to say fcuk you footballing Gods, and make predictions: 100 points to Chelsea.
And why not? Four wins from four, seven goals from our new striker, a devastating attacking line up and enough mojo to make the strongest-willed opposition blink. And with Cech now working as understudy, we can even let Courtois get his head caved in and we’re still looking tasty. Yeah, how do you like that for juju provocation?
More significantly, the England prediction is much easier to make. After all, the best club in England (100 points remember?) now boasts the grand total of three English squad members, one of whom is on the point of retirement. Good luck Lewis Baker, is all I can say! Of course, Chelsea aren’t alone in this. Of the twenty starting line ups last weekend, only three teams fielded an English majority.*
I know this argument has been hashed, rehashed and hashtagged more times than you can say ham hock hash, so I’m not going to labour the point: In England, we have replaced our top division with a lite version of what the Champions League ought to be, ie a league. It’s awesome, but it ain’t helping our World Cup chances. If Scudamore could get away with it, you just know he’d bring in Barcelona, Bayern, and PSG and boot out anyone in the bottom half, because hey, that’s even more entertaining!
The trouble is a) that would obviously be more entertaining, and b) in practice that leaves no room for English players to develop, or worse still, it means all English talent will realistically have to develop in the Championship, which is a shorthand way of saying England will never again win a major trophy. When the England manager invites players to travel overseas to get some first team play, it tells you all you need to know.
Now, the Premier League may well decide it wants to up sticks and start travelling the world, inviting foreign teams to join in the fun and ditching weaker English members as it goes. It may end up as a globe-trotting cavalcade of football. But until that happens, by hosting the show, England is irrevocably sacrificing its own players’ development.
On the plus side though, we’re going to win the double.
(*Aston Villa: 6 English, 5 foreign; Crystal Palace: 6 English, 5 foreign; and Burnley: 8 English, 3 foreign.)