James Dutton and David Wild offer up an alternative vision of the season ahead. Expect surrealism, silliness and absurdities in The False Nine’s very alternative season preview…
In the now customary curtain-raiser to the new season, the Community Shield is fought over by the two trophy winning powerhouses of David Moyes and Owen Coyle, now in charge of Manchester United and Wigan Athletic respectively. Having taken the unorthodox tactical decision to don trousers for the occasion, Coyle’s men are the surprise winners. Having inspired his new side to a comfortable 2-0 victory, the former Bolton and Burnley manager tells the press that his sights are fixed firmly on a triumphant Europa League run, “I was born to manage Wigan Athletic, and I was born to beat the likes of Asteras Tripolis and Hapoel Ramat Gan.”
Later in the month, Bayern Munich dismantle Chelsea 5-0 in the European Super Cup and inspire a shock resignation from Jose Mourinho. Having watched on helpless as David Luiz and Gary Cahill reduced his well-honed defensive plans to mockery, with each goal conceded drawing a smug smile and knowing wink from Pep Guardiola, the Portuguese loses it. As a nervous twitch suddenly wraps itself around the controls of his facial muscles, the supposedly Happy One begins ranting about “Spanish midgets” and how “Frank and John” are past it.
A clearly emotional Michael Essien announces his retirement from football following the full-time whistle in order to take the time out to comfort his adopted father. Pundits wonder whether Mourinho will ever be the same again, while Juan Mata looks relieved if anything. Rumours circle that Roman Abramovich had undertaken a campaign of psychological warfare against his new coach in the weeks before in order to kill off the Cult of Mou once and for all, planting “Bring Rafa Back” posters around the club’s training ground and the match day crowds. The idea of failing to succeed Benitez was clearly too much for the serial title winner.
Manchester United manager David Moyes suffers a nervous breakdown during the buildup to his first Champions League game of the season. The Scot delivered a car-crash of an interview to Adrian Chiles before kick-off, breaking down in tears as he walked down the touchline to the sound of the competition’s famous theme music. Steve Round is appointed caretaker manager while the former Everton chief gets himself together. “Managing Manchester United is really, really hard,” reiterates to an increasingly bored and near-empty weekly press briefing.
Roman Abramovich takes over as Chelsea boss after Alan Curbishley rejects the opportunity to succeed Mourinho. He declares that the club does not match his ambitions.
Bayern Munich retain the Bundesliga.
A major investigation is launched after a series of inexplicable burns injuries begin inflicting players in the goalmouths of the Premier League. The FA set their best man on the case; Stuart Pearce. The former England U-21 manager had been based in a kennel outside FA headquarters since his summer sacking in a bid to prove his loyalty and ability to learn new tricks. Early on pundits questioned his suitability for the new role, after reports suggested he had been unable to find his favourite bone, having buried it and forgotten the location two weeks previously.
The Venky family make new signing Chris Taylor the face of their latest advertising campaign in India. The Indian public is so fascinated at the sight of the ex-Oldham winger’s distinctively British ginger hair that sales rocket for the battery farmed, relegation fuelling chicken products. Blackburn manager Gary Bowyer receive a windfall of £1.99 as a thank you from the Venkys, which he spends at the local branch of KFC. Shebby Singh promptly fires him for gross misconduct.
In an unprecedented shake-up at the head of English football, Jim White is appointed as the new chairman of the FA following Greg Dyke’s dismissal for biting Gordon Taylor at a charity function. White promises to bring increased transparency to the game’s governing body and installs a yellow breaking news ticker onto the Wembley arch.
England fail to reach the 2014 World Cup finals after losing their play-off against the Republic of Ireland on penalties. Manager Roy Hodgson blames the Premier League fixture calendar for staging Manchester United v Chelsea just three months before the crunch fixture.
A consortium of Newcastle players comission the building of a replica of the Eiffel tower to stand alongside the Angel of the North. Nile Ranger immediately thinks he has signed for PSG and tattoos their badge on his face.
Manchester United are knocked out of the Champions League without gaining a single point. Caretaker manager Steve Round is sacked and within 24 hours David Moyes returns after making remarkable progress, yet he is powerless in stopping Aston Villa beating United at Villa Park for the first time since the inception of the Football Association in 1863.
Arsenal announce a new transfer policy for the January window, sacking all scouts and reinvesting their wages so as to be able to bid £1 more on every bid their rivals make. Daniel Levy sees this as the best possible offer available. Gareth Bale signs for Arsenal for £120,000,001. Arsene Wenger responds with a counter-bid or £120,000,002. Faces meet palms across the world of football.
Harry Redknapp crashes his car after attempting to conduct a interview whilst driving into training. The QPR manager is then arrested after police find his vehicle’s tax disc has been replaced by the picture of a bulldog. He subsequently escapes to Moscow before the authorities can catch him, claims asylum and becomes manager of Anzhi Makhachkala. Unfortunately, Harry’s driver window interview policy ends in a car-jacking upon crossing the border into Dagestan.
Lionel Messi wins his 84th Ballon d’Or. Cristiano Ronaldo begins investing 30% of his wages into the study of time travel to try and play in a different era.
Searing wounds continue to ravage players in the six-yard box. The FA’s top man, Stuart Pearce, soon discovers that the new goal line technology sensors have been replaced by super-heated death lasers. The only clues as to who is to blame are a tear soaked, light blue football scarf and a lock of thin grey hair. The mystery continues…
After losing a bet in a haze of drunken Chinese New Year celebrations Sam Allardyce decides to turn his system on its head and attempt to play a fluid passing game for remainder of the season. Unfortunately, Andy Carroll’s mere presence on the pitch creates a pony-tailed gravity well within the space-time-football continuum, pulling all short passes into off course long balls stuck in orbit around his leather magnet of a head. Having stumbled upon such an unstoppable way of playing, on the borders of physics itself, West Ham storm into the top four.
Hawkeye announce that their early trial systems have become self-aware and infiltrated football itself causing the sport to become sentient. Without time to question how or why this could happen, a time portal rips open from which bursts out Arnold Schwarzenegger on a motorbike and Wolves’ Sean “John” O’ Connor, who proceed to destroy Cristiano Ronaldo’s time machine prototype and the Hawkeye mainframe in order to avert judgement day… for now.
Buoyed by their unprecedented victory over Manchester United back in December, Aston Villa launch a storming assault on the Premier League Title race, finding themselves in a lofty second place behind West Ham United. Scoring freely their brilliant form carries them almost to the point of winning every game in March before a seemingly panic stricken Martin O’Neill bolts on to the pitch in the final game of the month and begins streaking, forcing the game to be abandoned. Villa lose the replay. The curse of March continues.
Joey Barton releases his autobiography ‘The Honest Truth’. Morrissey writes the foreword. Sales are poor at first provoking Twitter into having a blackout as protest. Sales remain poor.
Hot on the trail of the unknown aggressor who has been rigging the Premier League’s penalty boxes with laser traps, Stuart Pearce believes he’s cornered his man. With all his clues pointing him to the Etihad, Pearce sneaks past security and heads deep into the foundations of the stadium. There, in a forgotten corner of the underworks, he finds a secret room with the door ajar. Creeping in, he’s surprised by none other than Roberto Mancini, still bitter at the Premier League for his sacking in the summer. Having clonked Pearce into unconsciousness with a stale ciabatta, the former Manchester City manager strings him on the demo goals he’s erected in his lair. Waking up to sound of laser triggers, Pearce soon realises a cutting beam is coming straight for his crotch. “Do you expect me to talk Mancini?” he asks. “No Stuart Pearce, I expect you to die… was gol!” replies the disgruntled and unhinged Premier League winner. At the last moment however, David James appears out of nowhere to disarm Mancini and save his former manager. “Great save David”, says a relieved Pearce, clearly trying to create pun about the keeper’s life saving recovery. “Thanks boss. Y’know, ever since that game against Middlesbrough when you stuck me up top as striker, I’ve come to realise I can be anything I want to be, which is why I’ve decided to leave football to become a crime fighting vigilante. Like Batman, but with the wages from 18 seasons in the Premier League rather than a big corporation to fund it all. I just like giving something back.” Pearce, pats his former charge on the back, clearly choked by the fine example of well-adjusted human being standing before him who he helped to support and develop. The two stroll off to FA HQ with Mancini in custody. Another mission complete for Pearce, Stuart Pearce.
Vincent Tan, noting the wild success of his changing of Cardiff’s kit and badge from blue to red and seeing himself as something in the mould of a Welsh cultural crusader begins instructing Cardiff’s coaching staff to teach Rugby at training sessions. Cardiff subsequently sack Malcky Mackay and hire Tony Pulis.
England sack Roy Hodgson and hire Michael Owen as manager off the back of his BT Sport Premier League coverage performances. A nation rejoices at what they perceive to be the FA finally appointing the right man for the job.
David Moyes disappears for 3 weeks and is found locked in a maintenance room in Lisbon clutching a stolen Champions League trophy, bedecked in a full Celtic kit whispering ‘let’s all do the huddle’. He is coaxed out of the cupboard and convinced that his fantasy football team is the real world and Manchester United have amassed a world record points total of 2083 for the season.
Manchester United avoid relegation on the final day of the season with a win at Spurs, who finish 5th. Arsenal win the league after Wenger is able to disarm West Ham’s title challenge through quantum physics, allowing his players to be in two places at once. While this usually means that Arsenal can field a team of 22 players, they occasionally pop in and out of reality in other grounds and matches across the land, scoring last minute winners against their top four rivals.
A concerted and nationwide conspiracy sees every Spanish player in the Premier League be ‘accidentally’ injured by a teammate in training. Spain subsequently play their C-side and win their second World Cup. Led by Samir Nasri, France retire from international football. A spokesman for France states that the player’s claim ‘there’s just no point in trying anymore’ through the traditional medium of the Gallic shrug.
Freddy Adu signs for Watford.