A very Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everybody out there. But it certainly isn’t a bright and sparkling Christmas for a select few in the footballing world. Let’s go through those unfortunate players, bosses and teams:-
1) Valencia Club De Futbol
Valencia’s problems actually originated in a period when they weren’t really struggling in La Liga. They were doing just well enough to remain in the top half of the top half of the table. But poor showings in Europe eventually saw that form translate into the league and they have taken a huge fall then on. Ronald Koeman has done little good so far. But his radical upheaval of the team’s long-serving veterans has done enough to garner a lot of page space in major footballing dailies. Their comeback draw in Real Zaragoza just makes the silver lining visible in a very dark, dense cloud.
HOPE: There could be a turnaround, most definitely. But patience is something that doesn’t come naturally to fans of a big club like Los Ches.
2) Carlo Ancelotti
Champions of Europe. Champions of the world. 12th in Serie A and 25 points behind city rivals Internazionale. Not even 3 games in hand give you hope, do they? Milan must improve their perilious league form, especially their poor home performances. Because if they do not finish in the top four, then look around for a person named Predrag Mijatovic lurking around the San Siro, waiting to pounce on the newly-crowned World Player of the Year, Kaka. Rejecting the overtures of a fast-returning-to-glory Real Madrid could be hard for him too, despite all affiliation to Milan.
HOPE: Inter are unlikely to drop their bearings. They are too good for that, I guess. Roma are playing great football. Juventus have done well to return to the upper echelons of calcio. Competition from teams like Lazio, Fiorentina, Palermo and many others isn’t a piece of cake either. You decide…..
3) England fans
They may be satisfied supporting their respective clubs for the time being. But in all the Christmas cheer, they know that their national team isn’t going to feature in the summer’s biggest football extravaganza. Fabio Capello’s appointment may soothe things a little and bring hope back, but not playing in the tournament could be, in fact is, one of the worst chapters in the history books of English football.
HOPE: English fans, lose your senses for those three weeks of the summer. And shut Michael Owen’s mouth when he returns to play in the World Cup qualifiers against a smirking-in-pride Croatia.
4) Thierry Henry
Expectations bogged down the French phenom’s early days in the Catalan capital of Barcelona. Now there are injuries and flak from the press on the whole team. And that was topped by his former club Arsenal’s meteoric return to the top of European football. Gone are the days of that fabulous, eye-pleasing, heart-thumping goalscoring. But we would be advised to pray that he returns to his best. Remember, how goalscoring was revolutionized…..
HOPE: His post-christmas time holds the most hope. Henry has overcome his injury and should regain freshness in the two-week Spanish mid-season siesta.
How times change. In fact, this is something new. No former World Player of the Year felt to such depths playing at the top level, as has Ronaldo de Assis Moreira. His attitude and training desire have been questioned. Even his passion for playing football is being put up for debate. He no longer makes those miraculous runs, or glances one way before passing the other way, cannot conjure up those still-unbelievable goals, looks slow on the ball and doesn’t even show any regret. The only thing that remains is the grin. The grin that lit up Catalunya once upon a time…..
HOPE: The grin can’t play football for you, nor convince the fans, the press and the ghost of the old Ronaldinho.
Merry Christmas, nonetheless…..