New Year 2010 ~ In the current issue, WSC 275 (January 2010), we indulged in some wishful thinking for football in the year ahead
Our list of hopes for 2010 should begin with something we'd like to see a lot less of. Earlier this year there was a party in the courtyard of the office block where we used to be based. Someone from a firm of architects in the adjacent building introduced himself to a WSC staff member saying: "I'm a Spurs fan!" He then added: "So, how are we doing?" We resisted the temptation to gently explain that they're having to cope without Glenn and Ossie these days.
Football supporters indulge in various forms of one-upmanship. The fundamentalists who go to every match mock those who stick to home games and the occasional away trip. Both would consider themselves a cut above the lapsed season-ticket holder who mainly follows the team on TV. But if the armchair viewer's weekend is ruined by a defeat, he's still a fan.
It used to be the case that football existed for the benefit of those who were interested in it. Supporting a team wasn't compulsory. Now feigning an attachment to the game has become a social obligation for some. They might even be perceived as "soccer nuts" by work colleagues who are even less interested in it than they are. Please, talk about your fell walking, your car or even your kids – just not football. We won't mind.
The other type of conversation we don't want to be trapped in is with anyone who insists on referring to people called "JT" or "Stevie G". They're not your friends, you see. The fact that Steve McClaren used to do it too is no excuse.
It might seem unfair to single out one individual as the embodiment of the crass corporate bluster that has enveloped football in recent years. But it's irresistible when the person involved is Manchester City chief executive Garry Cook. Garry has had to write to City's supporters club members to apologise for a gaffe made while introducing former striker Uwe Rosler at an anniversary dinner. Rosler, Cook said, was being welcomed into "the Manchester United Hall of Fame".
Some City fans claim that the incident has been overplayed, while reports that he was roundly booed have been disputed. Cook said recently that he'd learned from criticism of his previous outbursts – "Richard Dunne doesn't roll off the tongue in Beijing", "Thaksin is a great guy to play golf with" – but we don't think that he can stop himself. We'd like to see Garry continue to blurt out nonsense in 2010 and are quietly confident that we won't be disappointed.
The best thing that could happen at next summer's World Cup is that the outcome produces the greatest possible discomfort for Sepp Blatter. While it would nice to see an attractive, attacking team prevail, it would be even better if the trophy went to a bunch of well-organised grinders with a winning goal scored by a gnarled central defender who has no chance of starring in a Nike ad.
Whatever may be claimed to the contrary, the Thierry Henry handball saga has not strengthened the case for the six officials experiment. It's a ludicrous gimmick that will only undermine the authority of the referee. So it needs to collapse in recrimination as referees overrule each other, players don't know which official to surround and UEFA find that they run out of referees capable of making up the six-man teams for every match.
As ever we'd like to see someone break up the cosy quartet at the top of the Premier League, not least for the knock-on effect it would have on whichever of the behemoths missed out on their regular Champions League windfall. But we don't want the usurper to get settled in for long either – elimination in the qualifying round to the third-best team in Germany would be fine. Lower down there's the customary hope that clubs will win promotion through being well-run on and off the pitch rather than as a consequence of having a wealthy backer. At every level of the League we'd like there to be no more talk of "projects".
Finally it's time that action was taken to prevent the use of the term "iconic figure". If we can simply accept that everyone who has ever been involved in football is iconic, it need never be said again.