- Festive Fundown
Got it wrong! The blunders of the year
Christmas season is upon us, so in the build-up to the big day itself we at ESPN Towers will be picking out a host of top-five moments, and then asking YOU to vote for your favourites.
What was the goal of 2012? Who are the top five bad boys of the past 12 months? Who had years to forget? Come back each day for a new topic and cast your vote to pick the winners of each category…
Redknapp prematurely appointed England boss
If you believe in the theory of parallel universes, then perhaps there is one somewhere in which England, managed by that wily coyote (although he looks more like Droopy) Harry Redknapp, won Euro 2012. And it was so nearly the one we live in.
Redknapp, after all, was the runaway favourite to be named the new England manager when Fabio Capello resigned in February, with some bookmakers even suspending betting before the Italian's departure, after the Spurs boss was acquitted of tax evasion charges.
Yet, when Capello walked in a fit of pique and every tabloid writer around started crowning 'Arry, it was Roy Hodgson who stole up on the rails and was given the job. Shock abounded, although Redknapp professed to be sanguine about it all.
"I didn't wake up and think on Monday morning, 'What's happened to me, I'm not the England manager'," Redknapp said at the time. "It saved me making a decision in all honesty, because I'm very happy at Tottenham."
Yeah, about that Harry... unfortunately Spurs decided to dispense of his services in the summer. From England manager-elect to unemployed (before riding to the rescue at QPR), that was Redknapp's story of 2012.
US journalists write off Europe
Remember that time when US journalists thought the Ryder Cup had been wrapped on Saturday evening, so wrote out hasty obituaries for the European team that evening to (presumably) clear space for ballyhooed, jingoistic editorials after the (mere formality of) Sunday singles? You should do, because that happened in September.
"Team Europe can still win if the following five things happen Sunday," Gene Wojciechowski wrote over at our sister site, ESPN.com (in what wasn't even the worst example of pre-emptive celebration on the site). "Keegan Bradley is abducted. Team USA captain Davis Love III inserts Michael Jordan, President George W Bush, Amy Mickelson and the Rev. Jesse Jackson into the singles line-up. Marty McFly shows Team Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal how to go back in time."
Yes, Europe were 10-6 down - but the race was not run, especially with Ian Poulter on Olazabal's side. And so it proved, Martin Kaymer eventually leaving the American hacks red-faced and disbelieving. Twenty four hours on from getting the party started, ESPN.com's article on the ultimate result was entitled "The biggest choke ever".
"Team Europe needed, what, 10,000 things to go right for it to win the Ryder Cup?" was the sour tone. "Team USA only needed 4½. But it was the European players who stood in the fading sun of a cool, late September evening and sprayed oversized bottles of champagne at anything that sang, 'O-le ... O-le, O-le, O-le'."
Mitt Romney doubts London 2012 will be a success
Mitt Romney infamously claimed that 47 per cent of his own countrymen would never vote for him in a presidential election (so Republicans might as well not bother courting them), but here was a case of him leading nearly 100 per cent of another country to question how the figure could possibly even be that high. The presidential candidate shocked with his comments about the Olympics during a (supposedly relationship-improving) trip to London ahead of the Games - questioning the country's readiness to host the major event.
Romney voiced concerns about the security and infrastructure in place in one of the most advanced cities in the world, before openly questioning whether British people would bother to even turn up to see events (despite record ticket sales).
"There are a few things that were disconcerting," Romney said. "The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging. Because there are three parts that makes Games successful... [and] number three are the people of the country. Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? And that's something which we only find out once the Games actually begin."
Romney, of course, could not have been more wrong - the Olympic Games were a huge, rampant success, with attendance records set (highs that spread over to the Paralympic Games, too) and no significant security issues. Unlike his presidential campaign, alas, which subsequently failed - with the Mormon landing a somewhat ironic 47 per cent of the popular vote.
Olympic great Carl Lewis perhaps said it best: "Some Americans just shouldn't leave the country."
Khan promises to knock out Garcia
There's the usual, take-with-a-pinch-of-salt, trash-talk between fighters ahead of a fight, and then there's the way Amir Khan dismissed Danny Garcia's chances entirely ahead of their July light-welterweight world title fight.
Garcia (and his father) claimed before the meeting that Khan would be let down by his suspect chin, something that riled the Bolton fighter into revealing just how confident he was of victory. "I have never said this before at a press conference, I will knock Danny Garcia out and I will take the world title," Khan said in the week of the fight. "Danny has not trained as hard as me. I promise I will knock him out."
The fight went as the Australian (given little chance beforehand by the media, including our very own Steve Bunce) suspected, however - Khan succumbing to a fourth-round knockout defeat that certainly was not as promised. "We got a little complacent and he took advantage and he caught me," was Khan's verdict - although his subsequent decision to fire trainer Freddie Roach suggests he still had to find someone else to blame.
McLaren sure Hamilton won't join Mercedes
It has happened before on many occasions, in both professional and personal settings - someone gets comfortable in a relationship, begins to take it for granted, and then gets handed an almighty shock when the other person leaves for a better option.
That was not going to happen to McLaren in 2012, however. Yes, Mercedes were sniffing around their star driver Lewis Hamilton, and yes, they could offer him a more enticing financial package. But Hamilton had been with the team since he was 13! You just can't buy (literally and figuratively) that sort of sentimental attachment!
"Lewis loves this team and he knows the car is capable of winning races," team principal Martin Whitmarsh said in July. "He's sat with me in the last 10 days and explained his passion, enthusiasm and desire to remain part of this team."
Most members of the press were inclined to agree with Whitmarsh's assessment. But by October everything had changed - as Hamilton signed on the dotted line to replace the retiring Michael Schumacher at the German team. "I think he has [regretted the move] on occasions," Whitmarsh claimed later. "He has been with us for so many years that I do not fully understand it."