10 football, cricket and tennis specials to follow in 2020
These bets range from the likely to the radical, and that's just the ones involving Mauricio Pochettino.
Jose Mourinho to leave Tottenham
It’s already going wrong.
The Humble One has spent the Christmas period calling opposition coaches ‘idiots’, criticising officials and schedules, and outing his players in public. All while Tottenham score few goals and win fewer matches.
It was predictable to many, but not Daniel Levy, for whom the prospect of another hefty pay-put may be the only reason why this bet doesn’t land.
Pep Guardiola to leave Manchester City
There is a reason why Guardiola has never been at a club for longer than four years.
His intensity takes it out of both himself and his team, while, invariably, he has always achieved close to all there is to achieve in that time period.
After his family moved back to Catalonia in September, a summer exit seems possible.
Mauricio Pochettino to manage Manchester United …or Manchester City
With Mikel Arteta presumably out of the equation, City have no natural successor to Guardiola.
Pochettino is capable of picking up the Spaniard’s legacy and running with it, but is impactful enough to provide the change of voice and ideas that the dressing room might need. Sign us up.
But will they even get the chance?
United could pull the plug on the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer experiment at any moment, with a manager with a proven track record at the top of the Premier League waiting in the wings.
It makes sense, which is why you can only get an odds-on price on it happening.
Scotland to beat England at Euro 2020
In order for this to become a possibility, Scotland must beat Israel and Norway or Serbia, an unlikely feat for a team that has only beaten San Marino, Cyprus and Kazakhstan in the last 12 months.
Then they get the chance to down the Three Lions at Wembley 21 years after last doing so.
Steve Clarke’s side could rival the Euro 2016 defeat to Iceland in terms of ignominy for England, and that could result in…
Gareth Southgate to leave the England job
Even if England’s Euro 2020 campaign does end in painful humiliation, Southgate probably has the credit in the bank to survive it.
But would he want to?
The 49-year-old hesitated before signing a new contract through to 2022, concerned about the intrusion into his private life and club ambitions, and that – perhaps combined with an early tournament exit – could see him walk away this summer.
Jimmy Anderson to retire from international cricket
Nothing about Jimmy Anderson’s performance in the recent second Test match in South Africa suggests that the end is nigh.
The 37-year-old has taken 314 Test wickets since turning 30, and this emphatic comeback from a calf injury suggests that he really could play for England until he is 40.
Yet he need only ask best mate Graeme Swann to know how quickly things can spiral once a bowler begins to worsen, so nothing can be ruled out.
Ben Stokes to captain any England match
Treat this one with caution.
As vice-captain, Stokes is one Joe Root injury away from taking charge of a Test match. But an England captain hasn’t missed a Test since March 2010, when Andrew Strauss rested himself from a tour of Bangladesh.
If Root were to lose his job in the next 12 months, meanwhile, Stokes would surely not be asked to juggle captaincy with his role as an all-rounder.
Jos Buttler deputises for Eoin Morgan in white-ball cricket, so Stokes is very unlikely to take charge of a match in that format.
Andy Murray to win a major
Alas, this won’t happen.
Pulling out of the Australian Open with a pelvic injury suggests that side effects to his hip resurfacing will continue to hold Murray back. Even if he does play a few events, he will miss enough that finding the form to win a major is almost impossible.
If he was to go close, the US Open may be the best bet, where he can go more under the radar than at Wimbledon.
Roger Federer to retire from tennis
This one, however, might.
2020 could be a landmark year for Federer. He has never won Olympic gold, and has the chance to put that right in Tokyo. But, with Rafael Nadal one behind, it could also be the year in which he loses the men’s Grand Slam record.
Either of those eventualities may see him decide that enough is enough.