It’s been a tough year, you know. We’re hardly out of the recession and yet here I am, packing your socks with gifts once more. No I’m not the one with a reindeer – I turn up your drive with a cranky Opel (Vauxhall in England) making more noise than Jose Mourinho at the referees’ annual Christmas do. No time for niceties now. This is my presents lists for 2011:
Sepp Blatter, in your sock there’s a resignation letter. I even left out the orthographic and grammar blunders, like this it looks like you finally got somebody decent to write it out for you. Do you like the reference to the Qatar 2022? Or Germany 2006 for that matter, when you must have had a grievous need to go to the bathroom instead of handing Italy the trophy? Oh I also typed the letter instead of using quill and ink. I’m not scared of technology. Hope to see you in 2011. Well actually I don’t.
David Beckham, I left a little present in your sock. Nothing huge, but I’m sure it will come in handier than Victoria’s gels and ointments. It’s a pension fund. You know, one of those things where you put in money in a bank then you get a pension. There’s a song by that Manchester band, the Courteeners or something, it goes, “You’re not nineteen forever…”. It’s about a successful football player who goes to the US after a disastrous spell at Real Madrid, then tries to sneak back to the continent vi a Milan, gets a nasty injury, misses the World Cup, helps his country lose the bid to host World Cup 2018, then wakes up one morning and decides he deserves to play in Euro 2012. Alongside Peter Shilton and Gary Lineker perhaps?
Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani, you get a sock to share. No lap dancers Silvio – I think the Flair and Creativity department is now brimming with the arrival of Antonio Cassano – but my oh my, I had a bit of trouble finding a suitable gift for you two. Finally I settled for a maxi-pack of Gaviscon, in case you get heartburn when you watch Daniele Bonera sauntering aimlessly in defence and start to wonder whether buying a defender would have been easier.
Nicklas Bendtner two one way tickets to any destination outside of London, one for you, the other for your daddy the agent. I’m sure you can find a place to be the indefatigable superstar you’ve always wanted to be, and even get paid for it.
Harry Redknapp I got you a nice book in French. Sounds like English so it must be complicated for you, ‘arry. But you can always get a Cockney to English dictionary pretty cheapish, cheaper than Assou-Ekotto in fact.
Rafa Benitez, well you don’t get a sock. You couldn’t put a sock in it and got a boot. Did you get to spend a day with your Club World Cup trophy?
Massimo Moratti, here’s a book I’ve been writing for fifteen years titled “How to make a hash of it all.” One of my friends read it, he thinks it’s your biography but I disagreed: my book has a happy ending. So it goes, therefore, that after a fifteen year stint as president you are replacing the manager who won two trophies and did a discreet job in the league. You find it cheaper to sack a coach than buy a couple of new players in January. But that doesn’t mean you did the right thing. Not all men are like Mourinho, and not all seasons will be like 2009-2010. Still fancy buying Kaka in January? Suggest you get a physio for him too. I know a couple of good ones.
Leonardo you played with Milan, coached them last year, got the boot, then you go to Inter. Something tells me I should give you an Atlas. Changing cities will do you good. All that pollution, you know…
Adriano you still look an Ikea wardrobe. I’m giving you a voucher for a health farm and a very very strict personal trainer who will shoot on sight anyone who tries to ply you with beer and chips. It worked with Woodgate long ago…
Let’s see who’s left…
Arsene Wenger how would you like to find a trophy in that sock? Bad day, sorry. D’you want a goalkeeper instead? And since I like you, you get a second present: a DVD of the Invincibles. You learn a thing or two about defences there.
Mario Balotelli same as last year. A nice clip round the earhole. You just don’t learn do you.
Roberto Mancini I already gave Mario a clip which you amply deserve. Yet – I’m feeling a bit kinder today, so, here goes the book called “How to manage primadonnas without being one.” Plot spoiler: the protagonist wins a trophy at the very end of the book.
Diego Milito laser goggles that will help you find the goalposts again. You must be having a tough time these days.
Ronaldinho someone else already bought you tickets to Brazil. I’ll be pleased to send you a season long subscription to some VIP joint that opens at midnight and closes at 6. Ok, stop thanking me.
Joey Barton yours didn’t make it on time. But another jail sentence is what you’ll get, hopefully soon.
Before I leave, yes… Jose Mourinho, there you go: Pep Guardiola’s autograph. Keep it on your desk, will remind you that sometimes, shutting up is key to victory.
And, to all footballxs readers, wishing you all the best for this Christmas and a Happy 2011. Looking forward to share with you a year of passion, football, blood, foul-mouthed comments and all the armchair joys of the beautiful game.