Andrew Boulton: Thank f*ck you’re here 2017 – predictions for the New Year

From Gary ‘Nunchuck’ Neville to finding Alan Pardew in a wheelie bin - the next 12 months could be mighty strange.

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Now that 2016 has almost finished murdering our heroes and smashing us repeatedly in the genitals, it’s the perfect time to look forward to 2017.

Yes, there’s a good chance that death, misery and Donald Trump don’t particularly coordinate their shit-iness by year, but let’s pretend they do and look ahead to the predictions made by the time wizards we keep locked in the office dishwasher.

1. Ultimate Fighting Neville

Having conquered the worlds of television punditry, centre partings and living in Spain for a bit, everyone’s third favourite footballing Gary will spend 2017 taking on his greatest challenge yet – cage fighting.

Admittedly his mixed martial arts ability extends little further than being rude to Liverpool players on the telly. But Gary ‘Nunchuck’ Neville is quietly confident that huffy remarks and pissing about on a massive iPad will protect him from a ferocious beating. If not, he can always tag in Big Phil.

2. The Redemption of Alan Pardew

The mid-50s is a tough time for any man. Particularly if that man has just lost his job because he’s not as good on Powerpoint as wine-pint pioneer, Sam Allardyce.

But if 2016 has been a difficult year for Alan Pardew, 2017 is already looking a lot brighter. After all, with the loss of so many cultural icons the nation is in desperate need of a handsome and silvery national treasure to make it all better.

Perhaps he’ll win our hearts gliding across the Strictly ballroom, or land a job staring joyfully into a winking cow vagina on Springwatch. Perhaps you’ll just find him in your wheelie bin one morning, chewing on a soup tin and w**king off a pigeon. It’s hard to say.

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3. Mary Berry’s England

Yes, Gareth Southgate has been handed a long-term contract, earning him more money each year than most area managers at Argos. But, let’s assume he’ll be engulfed in some sort of deeply sackable scandal, fairly instantly –probably getting his balls out on The One Show.

Luckily, that frees up those wise old mallards at the FA to introduce a ‘guest manager’ system, where a carefully selected band of light entertainment celebrities get a game each for the rest of the year.

The massive guy from Pointless would ease us through the Malta game, before everyone who’s ever been in The Sugababes squeeze out a respectable draw against Slovenia. Mary Berry would take on the final fixture, a narrow away win over Lithuania marred only slightly by Berry drowning an underperforming Gary Cahill in a crème brûlée at half time.

4. Chinese Takeaway

Antonio Conte thinks that the Chinese Super League is a danger to football clubs all over Europe. If he hadn’t been doing backstroke through the massive pile of money he’d just got for the Premier League’s 15th best Brazilian midfielder, we’d perhaps take him a little more seriously.

In fact, by the end of 2017 we should all have a much brighter outlook on the rise of Chinese football.

After all, when a Chinese club under the stewardship of some sacked Chelsea manager or other pays £50 million to take Andros Townsend off your hands, or perhaps breaks the world transfer record to land a prestige signing like Charlie Adam, you can’t help but smile. Those mad bastards might even buy Fellaini. For actual money. Christ.

What do you think?