29 December ~ We asked some WSC contributors to give us a footballing hope for the coming year
Steps will be taken to start to genetically create humans with a better sense of eyesight and timing than our existing assistant referees – a brave new breed with the ability to tell when a forward has been dashed past by a late, panicking defender while the ball was travelling. Perhaps jazz percussionists with an innate sense of timing could conjoin sexually with keen-sighted mountain people and live apart from the rest of humanity while they hone their skills and learn to give themselves totally to the concept of giving the benefit of the doubt to the striker. Cameron Carter
That Premier League managers – from Roberto Mancini all the way down to Owen Coyle, but particularly Alex Ferguson, Kenny Dalglish and Neil Warnock – would embrace the admittedly revolutionary notion that defeats generally happen because the other team was better than you, rather than because of bad luck or incompetent refereeing. More generally, I would love to see more modesty and reflection in football and a lot less hype. These are probably forlorn hopes, so I guess I’ll have to settle for West Browm finishing halfway up the league again.
It is a tournament year, so I'm looking forward to Euro 2012. Having said that, I’m already anticipating the jingoism of England’s meeting with France and the shock of the English public when Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Andriy Shevchenko conspire to compound the country’s misery. In the club game, I am hoping for an against-the-odds Europa League win for Stoke City. If only so that the subsequent UEFA Super Cup could finally help answer that burning question of our age – can Lionel Messi really do it on a not-so-wet-and-windy night against Stoke?
An end to the touchline histrionics favoured by coaches when things aren't going their way. A linesman flagging the wrong way for a throw-in on the halfway line is a minor professional irritation, the office worker's equivalent of having to put more paper into the photocopier; it's not a reason to start slapping your own forehead and carrying on like a laughing sailor who's just received two barrels of buckshot to the hind quarters.
That the government legislates to implement the recommendations of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee's report on football governance. And, a forlorn hope this, that someone does something to Match of the Day. Anything.
That anyone – seriously, anyone – but Harry Redknapp gets the England job after the Euros. Like most people in this country, I have been disillusioned with our national side for some time, but actively willing them to fail would be a new and unpleasant experience.
I don’t care about a British football team and above all I really don't want anything to jeopardise the future of the Scotland team. But the associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are looking like moody, belligerent old men with their apparent refusal to engage in any discourse regarding "Team GB" at the Olympics. Can't they contact Jérôme Valcke at FIFA – he seems like a reasonable bloke – and request a legally-binding guarantee that their players' participation won't affect the countries' footballing independence? Unless, of course, what they are really worried about is losing the increasingly unjustifiable four positions that the British associations hold on the eight-member International Football Association Board?
Oldham to win the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy – sad I know. And that the winners of Euro 2012 do so at the end of a great tournament, with the style, good humour and humility that reminds us all why we follow football.
That Zdenek Zeman's free-scoring Pescara team will win promotion to Serie A. It is time a coach who embodies the opposite of the cynicism so pervasive in much of the Italian game had some tangible reward for his principled stance.
Wrexham make it back into the Football League. They survived Alex Hamilton's ruinous tenure as chairman, they survived administration, they survived relegation to the Conference and – having assembled a team capable of promotion – they survived manager Dean Saunders’ departure for Doncaster. Despite being taken over by their supporters’ trust, they still face problems, as they are losing around £500,000 a year. Promotion might just give them the momentum to pull through and keep professional football in North Wales.
This may be a somewhat forlorn hope – that football fans relax a little and stop treating the 90 minutes on the pitch and any perceived slight so utterly seriously. Football, at its heart, is a slightly ridiculous game. We would be all the better for realising this. Going through the emotions at a game is normal. Getting so irate that you're still spitting venom three days later over a corner that wasn't given is not. If we could get back to just enjoying the game rather than analysing every word Arsene Wenger said in his latest press conference, the world would be a better place, and we would need less blood pressure pills.
Although this would mean restarting that shabby, tawdry bid process, can someone at FIFA see sense and accept that playing a World Cup in Qatar during the European summer is just not going to work?
That Manchester City don't win everything.