So, it’s nearly Christmas and many end of year awards will be being held over the next few days but instead of handing out trophies, I’ve decided to hand out nice little imaginary gifts to footballers instead. Here’s the list of stocking-fillers for 2012:
- Santa is, of course, an avid football fan; otherwise, why would he be handing out these presents? And, judging from the colours that he flaunts, he may well be an Arsenal supporter. So the first present is to Arsene Wenger and he’s being given another couple of years at the helm. Despite the growing numbers of Gunners fans who want him out, Santa knows how tough it is to be an older male in a young man’s world and the trophies a few years ago and economic stability now that Wenger has brought to Arsenal are obviously on Santa’s ‘Good’ list.
- Santa travels all over the world so he does see more than just English football; he occasionally views the French leagues as well! So his second present of 2012 is to Joey Barton and it is, of course a decent French accent. The ridicule Joey got for the now infamous accent was probably a little more than he deserved but it was rather amusing nonetheless. However, Barton is enjoying quite a good time over in France, he’s playing in the team for Marseille and hasn’t got into any trouble just yet. Perhaps a decent French accent could keep him there, either so that we don’t have to have him back, or, the option I prefer, so that a decent footballer has a decent period in his career without a scandal.
- Santa will eventually reach America and this present links to present number 1. A gag for Piers Morgan. Piers is always at the front of the ‘Wenger out’ brigade and often has annoying Twitter ‘wars’ (in reality, they don’t even deserved to be called handbags) with Lord Alan Sugar. A gag, especially a Twitter gag, will, Santa hopes, bring a little bit more happiness (and quiet) into the world.
- The next present could go to a few people: Alan Pardew, Mike Ashley and the players involved, so I will give it to Newcastle United as a whole. It’s a wordy one; for Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba to score goals at the same time. Since the start of last season, it has been a seesaw of goals for the strike partnership: the first half of last season, Ba was banging them in; then when Cisse joined, he was top dog. Now Ba is on top form again and Cisse hasn’t got going this season. With Newcastle doing poorly in the Premier League, they need their key players to perform and this present could help to justify the HUGE 8 year contract that Pardew, or his agent, managed to engineer after last year’s mega-season.
- This is a biggie, the type of present that would dominate the underneath of the Christmas tree on December the 25th. On the label, it is addressed to every football fan in the UK and it is, of course to make every pundit as good as Gary Neville. As is pointed out every time Neville is on Sky Sports, he is a brilliant pundit. He manages to stay impartial but still let his intelligence, work-ethic and pure love of the game shine through with every piece of analysis he gives. Without him, Monday Night Football would not be worth watching and we need more pundits like him.
- This is Santa’s final present of the year and so requires a bit more thought than the previous five. Even though he is magic, Santa can’t do miracles – there’s no way he can wave a magic wand to right the immense wrongs in football and rid the game or racism or displace Sepp Blatter as head of FIFA. He can’t bring back the magic of the FA Cup or make England win a major trophy. However, what Santa can do is to help provide evidence that former Kabwe Warriors striker Chitalu scored 107 goals in a calendar year in 1972. That’s right. The Zambian FA (let’s pause for a moment and remember their amazing African Cup of Nations victory earlier this year) are trying to prove that Messi still has some way to go to break the record for goals scored in a calendar year. This present goes to both Chitalu himself, who died tragically in a plane crash in 1993 along with the entire Zambia squad, and the rest of the world. How great would it be for a little known Zambian striker to have such a great world record that has such a little chance of being beaten? Yes, you can say the Zambian league is not as competitive as where Messi or Muller play; but still, what a fantastic Christmas story it would be.