Gerald Sinstadt: Pope for Pope and Owen for England – what a new year ahead
Out with the old, in with the new. Gold medals may be forever, but who knows what 2013 has in store? After consulting my personal guru who has supernatural insight into the world of football, I can share with you some interesting predictions
IN football's transfer window Manchester City offer Mario Balotelli for sale. Port Vale's CEO says: "If Micky Adams needs to strengthen the squad, we're here to listen."
In the FA Cup fourth round, a reinstated Balotelli scores the winner against Chelsea. Celebrating, he reveals a T-shirt message: "Ciao Micky, it wasn't just the oatcakes." A professor of T-shirt interpretation from Keele University is baffled.
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ENGLAND play Brazil at Wembley. Roy Hodgson says the goalless draw has "many positives."
The Sentinel reveals that Michael Owen chose to go on loan to Stockport County because of its proximity to Haydock Park race course.
County's manager says: "Michael has the quality to get us out of the Conference. We believe he will be back to full fitness and ready to play in a couple of weeks."
TWO World Cup qualifiers for England. After a goalless draw with San Marino, Roy Hodgson says: "You have to remember it was away and Andy Carroll injured himself in the warm-up. There are lessons we can learn before we go to Montenegro on Tuesday." Result: Montenegro 3 England 0. Ryan Shawcross, sent on for the last eight minutes, is named man of the match.
HAVING beaten Wycombe Wanderers, Crewe Alexandra, Leicester City (on penalties), Hastings United and Accrington Stanley, Burton Albion reach the FA Cup semi-final.
Manager, Gary Rowett confesses: "After what they did to Liverpool in the third round we have to respect Mansfield. But on the day it's just 11 v 11."
TEN-man Stoke City win the FA Cup, beating Burton Albion 1-0 after extra time in the final. Tony Pulis tells The Sentinel: "I've seen the incident several times on video. When she presented the trophy, the Duchess of Cambridge said she thought we should appeal."
PORT Vale's open-topped bus tour of Burslem celebrates promotion from League Two via the play-offs. The supporters' club launches a Micky Adams statue campaign. New buckets are purchased.
WITH work underway on an extension to bring Old Trafford's capacity up to 100,000, Manchester United are still negotiating a ground share for the coming season.
Norman Smurthwaite has been in touch. "It will be strictly on a commercial basis," he says in an exclusive Sentinel interview. "There's a reason why they call Vale Park the Wembley of the North."
MUCH transfer activity. Sir Alex Ferguson reminds his scouts about the day he told them "Nick Powell". Now he wants more of the same.
Attempts to nick the whole Crewe Alex first team are turned down. Steve Davis says it fell through when he suggested a swap deal for Wayne Rooney.
RUMOURS that Sir Alex can't stand the noise of the builders at Old Trafford and may resign. Micky Adams denies being sounded out.
England rediscover winning ways under their new coach, beating Moldova and Ukraine. Jose Mourinho says: "I know you don't like foreign coaches so I have applied for naturalisation."
ENGLAND'S new Special One disguises himself as a prawn sandwich waiter to escape a Wembley press conference following a goalless draw with Montenegro.
Sources tell The Sun: "Mourinho was let down by Hodgson's deadbeats."
Ten previously uncapped players start the final qualifier against Poland. England top the group after a 3-0 win thanks to a Michael Owen hat-trick. Stockport County fans launch a statue campaign.
MICHEL Platini asks the UEFA press office to come up with some ideas to get him back in the headlines.
Interviewed on Sky by Clare Balding, Platini announces a new European competition for Fourth Division clubs to be played on Friday nights when nothing else is happening.
He says: "Without Barcelona, Man U and the same old, same old, it will be more interesting."
LIONEL Messi salutes the first European player to score a hundred goals in the calendar year.
"If it couldn't be me," he says modestly, "I'm thrilled it's Tom Pope."
Norman Smurthwaite canvasses the BBC about bringing Sports Personality of the Year to the King's Hall, but they prefer to continue selling £50 tickets for the 15,000 capacity Excel Arena.
Meanwhile, SPOTY has a new presenter following Gary Lineker's retirement to spend more time with his golf coach.
Hopes that Garth Crooks would be handing the trophy to Tom Pope are dashed when the Vale man comes second to Michael Owen.
A special investigation by The Sun reveals the outcome would have been different had The BBC not disqualified a huge number of text votes all originating from the same number at Vatican City.
Happy New Year folks. Don't believe everything you read in the papers.