Omens say Fergie has no chance of winning league title

Truth is this year is the ultimate anti-climactic sporting year, or in some cases the inadequately-climactic year. Every time a perfect ending beckons, someone falls over; every time history is in the making, someone slips, writes Rohit Brijnath.

Alex Ferguson is a terrific fellow who speaks a version of English that often requires an interpreter. Occasionally though his feet do the stern talking and he known to kick a boot, inadvertently of course, into his star player's face. Somehow you think his message gets across.

Ferguson, who might be considered a sort of Lombardi of his times, is probably a great coach because he doesn't give a damn what you, me, commentators and the postman think. Still, this coach, whose skin could be used as sandpaper, has everyone misty-eyed these days since it is his 20th anniversary at Manchester United. It is amazing, of course, for many managers do not last a single season.

For this short while, talk of whether Ferguson should exit United is muted, though if he wins the league why should he? And it would be nice, wouldn't it, like some fairytale that comes tied carefully with a ribbon, if he won the league, a sort of neat, perfect finish to the 20th year celebrations.

But of course it won't happen. No chance. Zero. Not because United aren't producing some sublime stuff lately (its inglorious departure from the League Cup courtesy Southend United aside), but because the planets are going berserk since old Pluto got the heave-ho and they're evidently all out of alignment.

Truth is this year is the ultimate anti-climactic sporting year, or in some cases the inadequately-climactic year. Every time a perfect ending beckons, someone falls over; every time history is in the making, someone slips.

Look back at parts of this year with a suitably cynical eye (what else), and here's what you get.

The Schumacher stall: In his last season, the German trails by 25 points, he looks more burnt out than hospital toast, and just when the season looks dead, old marble face begins his run. And, needless to say, we are fascinated. Eventually, incredibly, he equals Alonso, and in the second-last race in Japan... he wins? No. He crashes while attempting a brilliant overtaking manoeuvre? No. He gets out-raced by a magnificent Alonso? No. His engine goes kaput, for the first time in five years, when on the cusp of history? Yes. It's like Tiger Woods missing out on the grand slam because the head of his pitching wedge came off on the 18th hole. If there's a motor racing god, he deserves the sack.

The Tour de Tedium: The first Tour de France in God-knows-how-long without Lance Armstrong, who was unfortunately repeatedly accused of ingesting all manner of substances, was won by an American who was found to be ingesting all manner of substances. It was a great race. Really. Full of drama, and comebacks, and courage. Till we discovered Floyd Landis had taken something for his courage. Now the possible winner of the most gruelling, testing, remarkable race in sport is a fellow whose name we don't even know. Oscar Pereiro, if you've forgotten.

The best forward line in football isn't who you thought it was: Remember how we hysterically wondered last year about who they would leave out, Robinho or Ronaldo or Kaka or Adriano, and then eventually we decided it would have been better if they left them all out. As anti-climaxes go this was up there with Ronaldinho doing an impersonation of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapelwith no ladder or paints. How we salivated waiting for Brazil, how the spittle flew when they played.

Spanish inquisition has more holes than Swiss cheese: Ali vs Frazier, Borg verus McEnroe, India vs Pakistan in anything, to this would be added Nadal versus Federer. It was the perfect rivalry. Grinner versus grunter. All was fine. On clay. Even on grass. Till they got on hardcourt and Nadal incredibly turned into a pumpkin.

Doctor gets a taste of his own medicine: We always say everyone chokes, novices and champions, but this was special. Valentino Rossi, i.e. The Doctor, is the best damn rider since Billy the Kid, his brain has more gears than his motorcycle, he has more world championships than should be legal. Still, he's the underdog for much of the year. He has bad luck early in the season, and we sympathise.

He hangs on in Nicky Hayden's shadow, and we hang around for some of the most mind-zapping racing we've seen for a while. He edges past Hayden with a race to go, we sit up. He wins pole position in the last race and we dust off the Rossi Is The Greatest poster. Then he falls!!! No way. Rome can fall, but not Rossi, not now. Yes, Rossi, now.

There's more.

There's the Indian one-day team promising us the world and we, old faithfuls, believing them again, only for the team to go from 19 of 27 matches won (70 per cent) to 3 of 13 (27 per cent). There's the women's tennis tour, with Sharapova, Henin, Mauresmo, Serena, Kuznetsova, Petrova, Clijsters, Hingis and you think somewhere, someone would crank up a rivalry. We should have known something was wrong when sulky Henin didn't even care to finish her Open final against Mauresmo in Australia.

Thus, having read the signs, totalled up the broken promises, measured the anti-climaxes, we can tell Ferguson this. United will probably lose the league title to an own goal from its player of the year.