The festive season is upon us.
And we all know what that means: football, football, and more football. Hallelujah!
While managers and players will kick up the usual fuss about playing eight games in a month, for British football fans 'tis the season to be jolly.
The Champions League, U.E.F.A Cup, and Carling Cup are in full flow, the Premier League is hotting up, and the F.A. Cup will bring its usual thrills and 'Cupsets' aplenty.
This month really is pivotal for so many people at so many clubs and its impact on next year's events cannot be underestimated.
This weekend's games and stories offered us just a little taster of what is to come over the next four weeks—a Christmas canape before the roast turkey if you like.
But what about the trimmings?
Who will make merry and fatten their stomachs on the festive offerings? Who will be burnt and discarded, like a once succulent but now shriveled sausage that has been enveloped and suffocated by the over-zealous bacon that greedily and readily drips its fat over everything that crosses its path?
Some head into the New Year in high spirits in the anticipation of a bright future. Some look to the heavens and pray. Some continue apathetically on their way, convinced that nothing has or will ever change.
Ever the optimist, I have carefully compiled a footballing wish list that will renew my faith in the beautiful game. So, here goes...
I wish that...
- Fabio Capello stays strong and continues to mentor a revival in our national team's fortunes with his combination of knowledge, prudence, and simplicity.
- Tottenham win the U.E.F.A Cup and climb up the league table thanks to their British contingent.
- Players start showing some loyalty to the clubs and supporters that treat and support them through thick and thin, good and bad.
- Clubs show some gratitude to the supporters without which they could not survive. The only way to re-fill emptying stadiums and club shops is by offering a value-for-money service.
- A minority of disrespectful, foul-mouthed, violent, racist, drunken fans are banned from football stadiums in an effort to further democratise the game.
- Players learn the art of good sportsmanship. That means: No diving, no swearing, no sniping, no talking back, and no theatrics. Let's have footballers doing their jobs properly and allowing the referee the same opportunity.
- Referees be treated with respect and dignity. This means both on the pitch and off it. In rugby, the referee's word is final. In football, so should it be too.
- There be an end to technological nonsense. Football never had goal-line technology or live, in-stadium action replays in the past and managed just fine.
Where would the fun be in football being a fair game? Life isn't fair, nor is football. Let our love-hate relationship flourish in its ambiguity!
- The broadcasting corporations buck up their ideas. Please don't continue to spoil all of your good work. The red button service is genius. The punditry is NOT.
We don't want drab analysis and hackneyed observations. We are just asking for the odd acute observation or thought-provoking comment.
- International football makes a return to terrestrial television. We understand that SKY and Setanta's coverage of the Premier League fills the coffers, but it is nonsensical to deny football fans the opportunity to see their national team develop.
This is especially true as Capello and his players approach a crucial crossroad in their journey to South Africa.
- Football's community initiatives continue to flourish and expand in every continent. Football is such a powerful, meaningful, and inspirational gift to this world—let's be generous and thoughtful in our giving.
- Writers continue to express and share their opinions, experiences, and knowledge with each other on Bleacher Report and continue to strengthen and diversify its profile throughout they year.
What is on your wish list?
Merry Christmas to all!