New Year's resolutions
Happy New Year one and all. Obviously, the Fifth Official's list of resolutions stretches into the hundreds but enough about me, here are a few suggestions for Premier League players to usher in 2009 with a clean slate.
Ricardo Fuller: To commit to anger management counselling.
It sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of Stoke's season if anyone who gives away a goal gets a slap round the face for their troubles. Crikey, there'd be scrapping from kickoff till the final whistle by that rule, given the drawn out relegation battle that lies ahead. And yes, sometimes this stuff does just write itself.
Steven Gerrard: To have a few nights in.
With his extortionate wages I'm sure he's got a half decent sound system in his Formby palace - and he can play whatever music he likes there. It may also be a wise move to acquire some new pals given the less-than desirable types he seems to be knocking around with at the minute. It couldn't be that Liverpool's title tilt is derailed by the very man who's done most to engineer the possibility in the first place, could it?
Michael Owen: To finally get out of Toon.
After four years of unseemly soap-opera episodes, relegation fight after relegation fight, injury after injury and depressing loss after demoralising loss I bet he can't wait to head south on the A1. Lord knows he's been well paid for it but the lad's suffered deeper trauma than a particularly gory Christmas episode of ER.
Cristiano Ronaldo: To stop whinging.
Where to start? Well, let's keep it simple. More brilliant goals and sublime trickery, less petulance and anguished expressions when anyone has the temerity to get within three feet of him on the pitch. And hopefully an end to the Madrid transfer saga, one way or the other.
William Gallas: To find a friend.
Maybe the Frenchman could launch an all out charm offensive to try and win his way back into the affections of a very disenchanted dressing room. Perhaps he could nip round Robin van Persie's Buckinghamshire mansion with a duster a couple of times a week, or bake some cookies for Emmanuel Eboue. And for the boss, a mountain of expensive Belgian chocolates and Arsenal 49: The Complete Unbeaten Record on blue ray.
Robinho: A vow not go missing during away games when it's a bit nippy.
Let's face it, when he signed we all wondered whether he'd really be up for a third round FA Cup tie at Gresty Road on a bleak midwinter afternoon, and for the most part we've got the answer we were expecting. Mind you, if he only turns it on between August and November and April to May he'd still probably score enough goals to keep City up.
Djibril Cisse: To leave his hair alone for five minutes.
I mean, yes, it is reasonably entertaining wondering what colour the strip of fuzzy hair down his bonce will be each week, but it also draws more attention to the fact that he's a pretty rubbish striker. Fair enough he's having a mild resurgence at Sunderland, but we don't need to be reminded of his weekly nervous breakdown in hair form.
Kieron Dyer: To actually take part in a little slice of Premier League action in 2009.
His minutely rate must be the highest in football history. Since he joined West Ham in August 2007 he's played three times. So, presuming he earns at least £50,000 a week, by my crude calculations, that's a whopping haul of £12,592 for every minute played. And that's rising every week of course. Not bad work if you can get it.
Michael Chopra: To settle down.
The nickname 'Rocky' wasn't meant to sum up his career; the poor lad's been back and forth to Cardiff so many times he's started dreaming in Welsh. In 2009 he hopes he will find that yard of pace that prevents him being at all effective at this level, and maybe a cut figure sale to Middlesbrough where he can continue his inevitable progression to Ade Akinbiyi levels of ineptitude.
Tugay: To retire gracefully.
The Turkish evergreen will be resolving to keep on guesting as Old Mother Hubbard in the Blackburn Christmas panto in preparation for life after football. At nearly 100 years old he can still pass a ball at least 15 yards either side of him but sadly his once rocket-like shot is now more of a pathetic dribble. Quite apt given that's what he spends most of his time doing during Big Sam's tedious team talks these days.
Marouane Fellaini: To get a haircut, or start up a rock band.
The Toffeemen's mop headed Belgian star has vowed to form a band with all the club record signings from other Premier League teams and make himself the lead singer in the hope that he'll emerge from the obscurity that his massive transfer fee suggests he should have escaped by now. Where exactly did he come from again and why did he cost more than Cristiano Ronaldo?
Jose Bosingwa: To take up a musical instrument.
Of course, the best full back in world football has his sights firmly set on securing a Premier League winners medal come May, but given that he is troubled so little when the Blues turn out at Stamford Bridge he could also resolve to create some sort of atmosphere inside Stamford Bridge by playing the trumpet while he's gallivanting up and down the right flank.
Emile Heskey: To increase his goal ratio to more than one in 15 games.
Despite not being able to hit a cow's rear end with a banjo Heskey still continues to be the focus of hilarious bluster about a potential move to Manchester City or a sensational return to Liverpool. Quite why I know not. He suits Wigan. A 'nearly but not quite' striker for a 'nearly but not quite' club.