Monthly Archives: December 2014

(clickbait) What will Santa be putting in YOUR club’s stocking this Christmas? (/clickbait)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. With the games piling up, those teams stuck in a rut can climb up the league. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Yes, it’s Christmas/the non-denominational festive season. And because this time of the year conveniently falls roughly at the half-way point of the season, it’s a good time to ask what presents Premier League clubs might be hoping that Santa/Superman/the Holiday Armadillo brings them. So here they are, club by club (do not expect to be pleased by what your chosen folk legend brings you, and the gifts are non-returnable).

Arsenal: A Christmas Kanu. Clearly, Gooners don’t care about the FA Cup, as they’ve won it and they’re still complaining, so it’s not trophies per se they want, it’s the league. Since Kanu left the club, they haven’t won another Premier League title. He moved on a free to West Brom, where they were the first team to dig their way out of a PoW camp, or something similar. After that, he went to Portsmouth where he helped them win an FA Cup. Clearly, he is a good luck charm that Arsene was an ‘idiot’ (French for ‘idiot’) to let go.

Aston Villa: The season to end now. They’re twelfth, if you can believe it. Hey, twELFth. Geddit. The rest of this is better than that, honestly.

Burnley: Some cough sweets for Sean Dyche. Not for their benefit, but for everyone who has to listen to him give a pre/post-match interview. #ClearSeanDychesThroatOUT

Chelsea: Gaffer tape for John Terry’s mouth. Not to stop him saying racist things, but to stop him ‘doing a Gerrard’ and jinxing the title away. Although, to be fair, he’s already had a trophy-losing slip, maybe he’s got it out of his system.

Crystal Palace: A change of name. They never seem to have done all that much as ‘Crystal Palace’, which is a very ostentatious name that it would be hard to live up to. Perhaps their fortunes would switch and they’d go on to be successful if they called themselves something less showy.

Everton: Two words: David Moyes. I would say they and Real Sociedad should do a manager swap to save David Moyes from the cringe-worthy experience of having to learn Spanish in public, but I’m all for people learning new languages. In that case, Martinez needs his gift to essentially be David Moyes’ Everton tactics – in other words, Tim Cahill up front.

Hull: A real life tiger, which might have the dual purpose of motivating their own players and scaring the opposition into submission.

Leicester: Ulloa to be visited by the ghost of Michus past, present, and future so that he can manage a scoring record that will drag his team up out of the relegation places.

Liverpool: A priest. It’s obvious that, in their handling of Luis Suarez, they did a deal with the devil and now that he is gone they’re lingering in the uncertain fuzziness of mid-table. Failing a good priest, if they’re lucky they might be able to buy their soul back from Milhouse.

Manchester City: What do you buy the club who can buy everything and, if it can’t, threaten to withhold it’s oil supplies until the prices are lowered? Socks.

Manchester United: Magic plasters. With their back-line resembling a cartoon mummy, with bits always falling off – sometimes at unfortunate moments, sometimes just for comic effect – they could certainly do with some way to keep their squad fit. Added to this is Falcao’s knee problems, which may or may not stop him from returning to the quality of player that he may or may not have been, depending who you ask.

Newcastle: I would say Pardew and Ashley being kicked out of Tyneside for good, but where would be the fun in that?

QPR: Probably something that more closely resembles a coherent transfer policy.

Southampton: A limelight, seeing as West Ham are doing such a good job of stealing theirs at the moment.

Stoke: *shrugs* Something to play for.

Sunderland: To play Newcastle United every week. They seem to be mostly rubbish against everyone else but verging on competent when playing against their rivals.

Swansea: A new web address. They’ll never achieve anything with a .net domain name.

Tottenham: Like West Ham (below) they don’t need a thing, because like Arsenal (above) what they need is something with a candy-cane pun related name (Harry Kane).

West Brom: I dunno, something to make them a little more interesting I suppose.

West Ham: Nothing. They have clearly already been gifted the gift of Sam Allardyce being born in England, thus him not being named Allardici or Bigsaminho, meaning that he has to make do with the Hammers rather than being let loose with the Galacticos or something.


Henry, cold windy nights in Stoke, and rating players

Thierry Henry retired today and it’s sparked a few ‘Who was the best striker in the Premier League’ debates. In my opinion, ‘best’ is way too subjective and dependent on outside factors to be of any use – the most obvious, cliched caveat to a player’s quality being the ‘cold/wet/windy Tuesday/Wednesday night in Stoke’.

Every player has an upper limit and lower limit to their abilities. These limits may move over time as they improve or deteriorate as a player, but they’re there. No matter how on-form your Sunday league striker is, they’re unlikely to match the heights of Cristiano Ronaldo, for example. If you’re rating players out of 100, the Sunday leaguer might be between 0-35, while Ronaldo’s range (picking fairly random, arbitrary numbers) might be 45-90.

The range of the numbers/performance probably isn’t the most important thing though, it’s how often they perform at what level. A player might have an upper limit of 85, but they might often only play at a 50 level. These are the frustrating players, the ones who you KNOW can be fantastic, but they too often play so far below their potential. On the flipside, you might get players (arguably like Ronaldo) who consistently play at a pretty high level, say the 80s, but are quite capable of having absolute 30-rating stinkers.

This is where debates about best players can get so heated. You might have one player who is consistently very good but never great, while another who is absolutely amazing *on their day* but the rest of the time is only just above average.

This all, perhaps, is missing the point. Of course you’re going to want a different player for different circumstances and it depends what kind of argument you’re having. You can argue clinically about the ability of players and their scoring/assist/winning records and so on, but then doing that will probably mean having to admit that one of the players you love doesn’t deserve the pedestal you put them on in your heart.

I’ll always be a fan of Welbeck and Rafael because they seem like lovable people and players, but I can’t truly say that Welbeck deserves an England place ahead of Sturridge, for example, and part of the reason I love Rafael is because he has a tendency to leap into challenges like an excitable, adorable puppy. Similarly, Cole, Pires and Ljungberg will always have a small place in my hearts because some of my first memories of football are their overlaps on Arsenal’s left flank, but I was a kid and they probably weren’t as attacking and exciting as I remember.

I suppose the point is that ranking players as set in stone one better than the other is mostly a bit stupid. But then is that the point? Probably not. Do people get overly angry that someone has a different opinion to them about a person who kicks an inflated bag of whatever-they-make-footballs-out-of-these-days? Probably yes.

Basically, in conclusion, this is a 500 word shrug of the shoulders. And, in honour of Henry, I’ll make it a Gallic one.

*Gallic shrug*