2023 is nearly upon us and Paddy Power News has been staring into its crystal ball to mark your cards for the footballing year ahead. Here’s what’s in store….
Despite the appointment of new referee supremo Howard Webb hopes of improvement in VAR are dashed when a game between Crystal Palace and Newcastle takes so long to complete the final ten minutes are shown live on Match of the Day.
Manchester United’s search for a new striker proves fruitless leaving Erik ten Hag with no option but to ask Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to return to Old Trafford. He reluctantly agrees once Ten Hag confirms he will no longer park in “the gaffer’s” spot at Carrington for the duration of Solskjaer’s contract.
Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper adds another 30 players to his squad on deadline day.
Mid-February sees a crucial title showdown between Arsenal and Manchester City at The Emirates.
It’s Mikel Arteta against his former mentor Pep Guardiola and both teams spend the entire 90 minutes passing the ball around in pretty patterns, with the inevitable goalless draw brought to a conclusion by three blasts of Anthony Taylor’s whistle which awakens half the crowd who have fallen asleep. Pep confirms after the game that this is the toughest game he has ever played since last Saturday.
For the first time in 30 years, Manchester United will not have their FA Cup fourth-round home tie, against Grimsby, shown live on TV. This leads to mass protests in the Home Counties as people take to the streets to vent their anger.
Everton part company with Frank Lampard with the Toffees lying next to bottom of the Premier League. Owner Farhad Moshiri targets England coach Gareth Southgate as his successor, but settles for Sam Allardyce when he realises he can be paid in pints of the cheapest Sauvignon Blanc from Aldi.
Liverpool and Manchester City are paired together in the Champions League quarter-finals. In the second-leg at Anfield and with City protecting a narrow 1-0 lead, Pep Guardiola demands that his players be flown to the stadium by helicopter to prevent fan disorder outside.
The decision backfires however, as Erling Haaland twists an ankle jumping from the cockpit to the pitch which ends his season prematurely. City eventually crash out after extra-time.
With City crowned champions, Arsenal runners-up and an Ole-inspired United third, Newcastle, Liverpool and Spurs vie for the final Champions League spot on the final day.
The Magpies’ game at Stamford Bridge is delayed by 20 minutes after Chelsea owner Todd Boehly sacks coach Graham Potter at half-time and takes charge of the team himself for the second-half. He brings on his mate Ronaldo and the visitors go on to win 3-0, relegating both Liverpool and Spurs to the Europa League.
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The FA Cup Final between Forest Green Rovers and Gillingham kicks off at 12pm on the first Monday in May due to fixture congestion and lack of interest.
Real Madrid win the Champions League by default as their final opponents Bayern Munich get stranded in Germany thanks to an airport baggage handlers strike.
With Everton’s 68 years top-flight stay over, the club’s owner commits the biggest act of s**t-housery since, well, appointing Rafa Benitez, by appointing Steven Gerrard to lead the Goodison side’s promotion push.
“I’ve finally come home” Stevie G says on signing his 5-year contract. “Managing a club whose supporters think they’re bigger than they are and a club that plays in blue and white while spending way more money than they should will be just like being back at Rangers.”
“Any chance Neil Lennon takes over Liverpool to make me look good?” he wonders aloud at the unveiling.
Pep Guardiola announces that he’s taking time to reflect before deciding whether to continue at Manchester City. Pep’s failure to deliver the Champions League has caused the club’s owners, City Football Group to wonder why they’re paying him 20 million quid a season.
After weeks of speculation and to the delight of the rest of European football, however, he decides to stay. The clubs’ owners immediately shelve plans to extend the capacity at The Etihad as they can barely get a crowd as is.
Relegated Nottingham Forest put 70 players on the transfer list and announce a series of special offers, including 2-for-1 deals, in a bid to cut their wage bill.
As the transfer window deadline approaches, Newcastle boss Eddie Howe is offered a treasure chest of 300 million quid to strengthen the squad but decides to save the cash, only bringing in his nephew and several unproven prospects from Liverpool’s academy ahead of the big kick-off.
The Glazer family announce they’re staying on as club owners at Manchester United, offering Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a one-year extension if he’ll play for free instead of signing anyone else.
Todd Boehly sacks himself at Chelsea and brings Frank Lampard back to Stamford Bridge.
After a poor start, Newcastle’s Saudi owners decide to sell the club for a quid. A spokesman claims: “We’re bored already and it’s too bloody cold up here”.
Mike Ashley returns as head honcho, sacks Eddie Howe and reinstates Steve Bruce as boss. He also puts all the Sports Direct livery back up at St James’ Park.
A deal in principle is signed to swap Bruno Guimaraes for a ton of Barcelona training gear in January 2024 with the Catalan club so he can flog it in his stores.
Jurgen Klopp starts his annual moan about fixture pile-up and actually picks himself for Liverpool’s Carabao Cup match against Crewe.
It’s Christmas party season and there’s an altercation in Manchester city centre when City players, dressed up as members of Oasis, bump into their United counterparts whose fancy dress theme is The Stone Roses.
The Premier League confirms a return to the traditional Christmas fixture list, though one round of games will only be broadcast via telepathy.
“We’re delighted to add Extra-Sensory Powers (ESP) to the Premier League’s broadcast partners this season,” a spokesman says. “Fans in the UK wishing to watch the Boxing Day games merely need to close their eyes, hold hands with the person beside them and chant ‘oooooooooommmmmmmmmyyyygooodddddidyoujustseethatgoal’ and images from the game of their choice will appear in their minds.”
“Of course, all games will be available to those outside the UK to watch via their local broadcasters.”
*Paddy Power’s breaking news coverage is 110% nonsense
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