New Year, fresh hope and some wishful thinking

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Our reporters look into their crystal balls to predict what 2018 might have in store

Hopes for 2018: That Sheikh Mansour fancies a change of scenery from the Etihad and decides to swap his comfy seat, private lounge and private jet parked outside for a pie and a pint in the Davie Cooper suite at Fir Park before watching Sergio Aguero bang in a treble hat-trick for Motherwell City as they beat Barcelona in the Champions League. Apart from that, more biscuits at Easter Road and a wifi connection in Tynecastle’s new main stand will have to do.

Most looking forward to: The Winter Olympics. No, honest. As the great Billy Connolly once proclaimed, there is nothing quite as exhilarating as watching a grown man hurtle down an elongated Smartie tube on a tea tray wearing nothing but a crash helmut and his sister’s swimming costume. Having said that, I may be thinking of something else…

Any ice hockey fan always looks forward to the Winter Olympics as it’s the only time you see heavy weight likes Canada, Sweden and the USA go head to head. Out with that, the World Cup will of course offer another summer of bittersweet contentment as Scots seek salvation in the pain of others.

Talking point of 2018: Scottish football fans looking like members of Mensa when they get concomitant as the Countdown conundrum.

NICK RODGER

Hopes for 2018: Apart from the obvious – a nice spell of settled weather, a new range of commemorative dish cloots ahead of the Royal wedding and the return to the national screens of Elton Welsby – I’m going for an overdue Scottish win, male or female, on the respective European Tours. Raising the profile of golf, inspiring the young? Whatever it may be, success can breed success.

Most looking forward to: The Commonwealth Games, the World Cup, the Ryder Cup? It’s all happening in 2018. But we’ve also got a Winter Olympics, a dreamy frozen festival which showcases certain sports, like the ski-jump or the luge, which are wonderfully enchanting in their sheer terrifying simplicity.

Talking point of 2018: Keeping with those Winter thingymebobs, surely the talk of the steamie – well, probably not – will be that age-old question: just how do you forge a passion for the two-man luge? “When we grow up Mum, me and Davy want to squeeze ourselves into sausage skin suits and lie on top of one another while hurtling towards oblivion on a souped-up serving tray,” is an ambition I never harboured yet remain in awe of those madcap men who did. Terrific stuff.

CHRIS JACK

Hopes for 2018: For goal-line technology to be introduced so we can all stop talking about it. For Rangers and Celtic to move to the Premier League so we can all stop talking about it. For referees to declare what team they support so we can all stop talking about it. For Scottish football to switch to a summer calendar so we don’t get cold at games.

Most looking forward to: None of the above will happen but the unique world of Scottish football will continue to spin on its axis, and sometimes go the wrong way. Our game may not be a great watch, but it does provide a great read and the unpredictability of it all is the only thing we can predict. Away from the headlines and rows, it should be another intriguing Formula One season, while there is plenty to look forward to on the golf course with the Ryder Cup in September.

Talking point of 2018: Rangers appointing Graeme Murty as interim manager to replace the sacked Graeme Murty and then naming Graeme Murty as boss until the end of the campaign.

SUSAN EGELSTAFF

Hopes for 2018: While there is much consternation about the lack of coverage of women’s sport, Scotland’s sportswomen are leading the way on the international stage. From Laura Muir to Katie Archibald to Elise Christie, Scotland’s female athletes are impossible to ignore so more of the same please.

Most looking forward to: Team Scotland put in a remarkable performance at Glasgow 2014 and it is shaping up to be another spectacular couple of weeks at Gold Coast 2018. Archibald, Callum Hawkins and Duncan Scott have all flourished since the Glasgow games and a record overseas medal haul in Australia possible.

Talking point of 2018: Josh Taylor, right, will become world boxing champion. The 26-year-old from Prestonpans had an outstanding year, winning all four of his fights including impressive wins over Englishman O’Hara Davis and former world champion Miguel Vazquez. His progress in the professional ranks has been rapid and 2018 will be the year he becomes Scotland’s newest world champion.

ALASDAIR MACKENZIE

Hopes for 2018: Andy Murray to prove his doubters wrong, shake off his persistent hip problem and charge back up the men’s ranking after a torrid 2017. Murray’s run to world No 1 was outstanding but his ongoing fitness issues have seen more than a few onlookers question whether he can make it back to the top. It would be great to see those people eating humble pie after strong performances in the Grand Slams.

Most looking forward to: The Winter Olympics. Far more entertaining than their summer equivalent, the event in South Korea features some of the best spectator sports including snowboard cross, ski jumping, speed skating and skeleton. But let’s be honest, ever since Cool Runnings in 1993 it has been all about the bobsleigh. Forget the World Cup in Russia, this is where the real action is at.

Talking point of 2018: Video Assistant Referees are introduced to Scottish football for the start of the 2017/18 season. Controversial decisions become less frequent. Fans become disillusioned at the lack of things to moan about. VAR is ditched in October.

NEIL CAMERON

Hopes for 2018: For Twitter to shut down, Celtic fans to stop moaning about their lot, Steve Clarke cracking a smile, Scotland to win the Grand Slam, Michael O’Neill saying yes to the SFA, the government to offer £100 million to revamp Hampden, Andy Murray to get fit, Montrose to win League Two, Dave King to do one and Celtic to draw and beat an English team.

Most looking forward to: A fit-again Andy Murray winning one more Wimbledon. Our brave lad’s body has seen better days and so it would be wonderful if he could get back to his best.

Scotland winning the Calcutta Cup would be nice and in terms of football, let’s see our national team being good – I know – and even more young players getting their chance in the Premiership.

Talking point of 2018: How on earth can you top 2017? It’s probably going to be whether Rangers remain deid or not. But, and I might well be wrong, the grand return of Tiger Woods will have everyone amazed and pole dancers everywhere nervous. He will win the Masters. Pile on it.

ALISON McCONNELL

Hopes for 2018: That Scotland bring in a manager who can offer genuine hope of taking us to a major tournament with a team who can play a bit. It would also be nice to think this will be the year we can bring through a crop of young players ready to make their mark on domestic and international football.

Most looking forward to: Watching the World Cup. Alas, another major tournament and Scotland are there only to make up viewing figures but still, it is also a fun month to watch the best go up against one another. Will have to settle for playing spot-the-footballers-who-play-in-Scotland.

Talking point of 2018: That Scotland did superbly well to get their finger out and lure Michael O’Neill away from his post with Northern Ireland and put him at the helm of the national team.

MATTHEW LINDSAY

Hopes for 2018: That there is an end to the interminable Rangers soap opera. Scottish football may not necessarily need a strong Rangers to flourish, but it would be all the better for having the Ibrox club challenging strongly once again. Who knows? There could even be a meaningful Ladbrokes Premiership title race for the first time in a generation.

Most looking forward to: Russia 2018. Scotland may not, alas, be involved but nor will Italy, the Netherlands and the United States. It will be a major surprise if a tournament passes off without incident with concerns over racism and hooliganism as well as the threat of terrorism. What could possibly go wrong? But with Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Uruguay and France among the 32 competing nations there is much to look forward to on the football front.

Talking point of 2018: Whether Brendan Rodgers stays at Celtic or moves on. There is only so far the Parkhead club can progress in the Europa League given some of the clubs they can expect to come up against if, and it is a big if, they get past Zenit St Petersburg in the last 32 in February. But they will win the Ladbrokes Premiership comfortably and could complete another domestic treble. Will the Northern Irishman be content to remain in Glasgow for another season?

GRAEME McGARRY

Hopes for 2018: A new Scotland manager at some point would be nice, and one that bloods some of the exciting young talent while getting off to a decent start to the Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Most looking forward to: A close title race in the SPFL Premiership may be too much to ask, but the race for promotion from the Championship is hotting up nicely.

Talking point of 2018: The casualty of academies further down the SPFL ladder as Project Brave takes hold, and the continuing saga around the appointment of a permanent Rangers manager.

STEWART FISHER

Hopes for 2018: A return to full health for Andy Murray. The prophets of doom are circling but the Scot is still only 30 and those who write him off usually do so at their own peril.

In the world of football, the SFA deliver the right manager to get us to Euro 2020 and the right formula for aspiring young talents to get access to excellent coaching and top-level match practice.

Most looking forward to: The Commonwealth Games should be fun, and shine a light on where Scotland is four years on from Glasgow 2014. Laura Muir won’t be there, but an athletics team featuring the likes of Hawkins, Lynsey Sharp, Andrew Butchart and Eilidh Doyle should be to the fore.

Talking point of 2018: All the usual: referees, Russian dopers, video technology, why haven’t the SFA appointed a new manager yet?, European super leagues and referees again. Oh and Dave King, whose position in charge of Rangers will come under further scrutiny. And will Brendan Rodgers be considered for any of the major roles in Europe or become a forgotten man when it comes to the Barclays Premier League?



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