Christmas wish list
Believe it or not, The Fifth Official loves Christmas, for it brings with it the opportunity to lavish gifts on our esteemed Premier League managerial brethren. And Mark Hughes. Here, he lists his pressies in the order he thinks the table will look come the end of May. How exciting!
Sir Alex Ferguson
A new goal celebration. How many times have we seen that inane grin combined with a little jump up and down on the spot complete with jiggling wrists? He looks like a toddler that's just used the toilet successfully for the first time and can now consign his potty to the dustbin.
Luiz Felipe Scolari
A substantial stake in the language skills company that managed to teach him near perfect English, seemingly in the space of about three weeks in August, despite it being widely touted that he couldn't speak a word of the Queens. Juande Ramos could have done with their number too.
An expanded vocabulary that allows him to say something other than ''quality'' and ''squad'' eight times a sentence. Maybe he could pitch in some cash towards Big Phil's lingua-magic firm. Or electrolysis on his facial hair so that hideous goatee never appears again. Liverpool's players must have been baffled in the dressing room - it'd be like getting a team talk off Bluto from Popeye.
Someone willing to splash the cash on the ex-captain of the year, Mr William Gallas. After all, he is the man who did for the Gunners' team spirit what white spirits do to alcoholics - destroys them from the inside. At least the Arsenal dressing room is now united. In their hatred of him.
Valium, or the removal of those pesky ants from his pants that make him the most excitable 50-something with a law degree in Premier League history. Perhaps we could help him expend all that pent up energy he's clearly got by installing a special bouncy castle in his technical area so he literally can jump up and down all game while waving his arms about like a madman.
A big brown envelope stuffed with cash marked 'Government Planning Inspectors' so the inquiry into Everton's proposed Tesco super-ground in Kirkby concludes successfully, allowing Bill Kenwright to finally sell up to some trillionaire who can splash the cash on some players we've actually heard of rather than Maroune Fellaini and Segundo Castillo.
A Bluetooth headset for each ear, so he can wheel and deal in the transfer market and conduct press conferences with Sky Sports News and Setanta even when he's in the dug-out. Or a lie detector test whenever he says something like, ''I'm not leaving. Ever, ever. I love it here.''
Harry Redknapp back. Or a fort in his bedroom built out of pillows and duvets so he can go and hide there come April when Pompey finally slide into the bottom three and he implores the likes of Defoe, Crouch, Utaka, Distin and Kranjcar to come back and help them to safety (they'll be sold in January you see).
Ah, the friendly Count, all he needs is a cape and some brylcreem to turn him from kindly old granddad into Bella Lugosi # II (he was the quintessential movie Dracula for those of you who don't know). With that get up and a dodgy Eastern European accent surely he could frighten Jimmy Bullard into signing a new deal at the Cottage?
Wanted: Kaka, Ronaldinho, Pato, Messi, Buffon, Raul, Vieira, Ronaldo, Drogba, Klose, Diarra, Torres, Gerrard, Lampard, Terry, Nesta, Xavi, Bojan, Henry, Owen, Adebayor, Fabregas. Rid of Richard Dunne, Dietmar Hamann, Jo... you get the picture eh?
Cough sweets, so JFK can stop clearing his throat every five seconds during interviews. Alternatively, forget the cough sweets and let the man go hoarse so he loses his voice and is thus unable to hurl a string of obscenities at either local journalists or referees.
A dose of reality. This golden streak of form can't last for ever, pal - batten down the hatches post-New Year. Oh, and a makeover; the perma-tan and Bluetooth headset look are soon going to make him appear more like your dodgy uncle wandering round the lingerie section of a department store than a tactical genius.
An industrial sized bottle of Grecian 5000 hair dye to get rid of those flowing ginger locks. But then, what if the hair is the source of all his managerial powers? After all, the Ginger Mourinho sounds better than the Strawberry Blonde Mourinho.
A full blown scandal, preferably involving prostitutes, booze and a foul-mouthed rant a la JFK, just to liven up his image. I'm tired of the usual headlines: ''Southgate in another measured and beautifully constructed attack on the failings of the modern professional game. Full sordid details inside.'' Ooh Gareth, what will the neighbours say?
A dose of humility. Listen to this: ''Looking back over that short period I don't think any of it was particularly my fault. The usual rubbish that goes when someone like me is sacked from a club like Newcastle is that that job was too big for me. That's just not true. Newcastle probably wasn't big enough for me.'' Buying Alan Smith, Sam? Playing Alan Smith as a sweeper away to Wigan and Sunderland, Sam? Cacapa, Sam? Hello, Sam? Sam?
A name we can flippin' pronounce. How dare he quietly emerge in the wake of Keano's wave of destruction, inject some much needed belief into Sunderland's players and smash four goals past both West Brom and Hull to win back-to-back games for the first time this season. The cheek of the man.
A nose job. Simple as that really. Sorry, Steve.
A time-machine so he can go back, don the number ten shirt and back-flick, step-over and goal-of-the-season his way out of the Hammers' current malaise to save them from their ultimate fate in the Championship. Either that or an Icelandic bank account.
A more jaunty selection of headwear to replace that battered old cap. Imagine the suspense at the Potteries wondering what hat Big Tone is going to be sporting this week? And just picture 'Pulo' standing in the technical area waving his arms about wearing a Stetson, a balaclava, a fez or even a sailor's hat? Joy unconfined!
A compromise of principles. Yes, West Brom like to get it down and play in pretty little triangles, and, yes, it looks nice but they're rock bottom of the league. I wonder if you offered Arsene Wenger Jr guaranteed Premier League safety by one nano-millimetre but only if he abandoned his flowing football principles in favour of Stoke's agricultural approach to the game until the end of the campaign he'd take it. One has a feeling he wouldn't.
And lest we forget those who are absent: How about a little stocking filler for Alan Curbishley, Kevin Keegan, Paul Ince and Roy Keane? A few satsumas perhaps, or the latest Jackie Collins novel to read on the beach in Marbella? Actually, I'm sure their seismic compensation cheques will suffice.