Wednesday, January 2, 2013

(sports) sport 2013: The editor’s five predictions for the sporting year of 2013

I claim to be no Nostradamus but here are my five predictions for the sporting year of 2013.

1          Man Utd to win the league

While some may say this is an easy prediction to make, Manchester United is not immune to losing leads. Man Utd lost the title on the last day of last season despite holding a substantial lead for some time. However this year, Manchester City appears really shaky and have been run close or beaten convincingly in matches they would breezed through last season. Some may see a late run by Chelsea but I believe it’s not wise to look past united as they when they dominate, they usually win, and when, tellingly, they start badly, they know how to stay in the game long enough to take their chances.

2      Mancini out, Guardiola in

I know the first part of this prediction is a no brainer but the second has some risk of being way off. Mancini will leave at the season as he has failed to improve Man City’s fortunes in the Champions League and the increasing number of lacklustre performances in the league. While most of us don’t have an inside track to the Man City dressing room, it is clear to say that Mancini’s management and press skill have dazzled no one as the Tevez debacle and on-going Balotelli circus have shown.

The appointment of Txiki Begiristain shows City’s intention to acquire the services to the trophy laden former Barcelona coach as  Begiristain recommended Guardiola to takeover from frank Rijkaard over Jose Mourinho back in 2008. Guardiola has not revealed his plan for the future with regards to which club he plan to join in 2013 but the man city does look an attractive position with financial backing and a large and talented squad.

3    Amir Khan to win light-welterweight title

This prediction is risky as the often cited but irrefutable fact of boxing is that reputations are built and destroyed by one punch. 2012 was a year to forget for Amir Khan as he lost his WBA and IBF belts to a controversial points loss to Lamont Peterson and suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of Danny Garcia. However, 2013 will be a kinder year to Khan as under the tutelage of the wise and impressive Virgil Hunter, khan is set to make his way to the top.

Under Virgil Hunter, Khan has worked on his defensive skills that cost him his belts and his pride in brutal fashion. However, the Molina fight at the back end of 2012 showed that training sessions with Hunter are paying off as he used his quick hand speed, reach and footwork to see off Molina as Khan dominated all rounds. While the competition is hotting up in his weight class, Amir Khan reach and speed is arguably the best in the division and adding a defensive component to his game is only going to help him win honours this year.    

4    Aston Villa Going Down

This is the easiest prediction I’ve made so far as Aston Villa look like a team doomed to play in the championship next season. They lack quality and experience in key areas (defence and midfield especially), get outclassed by teams they should beat (last match against Wigan a case in point).

One of the problem that see them go down is that the manager doesn’t seem to have any idea in how to halt the slide as Aston Villa take one beating after the next. Aston Villa Manger Paul Lambert has made some poor signings across the board with the only success being striker Christian Benteke.  Messrs Lowton, Holman and El Ahmadi have not covered themselves but neither has the manager whose policy of buying young energetic players has failed badly.

5      Andy Murray to win a grand slam

This prediction is based pretty simply on the fact that Andy Murray now knows that he can win a major title rather than just believe it as he did before. While his competition is still stiff with Federer, Djokovic and Nadal all gunning for major honours this year, Murray can take of the fact that he can beat all three mentioned as he has in the past. Whether he will win the grand slam that matters the most (Wimbledon) remains to be seen but be sure to watch Murray this year as he goes into the major competition knowing he can best the best.

Agree or disagree with these predictions or have some of your own?  Share your thoughts below and comment.    

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