“Now Mario, you have been a good boy this year haven’t you?”

A sense of adventure for David Moyes and a trophy for Newcastle: Andy Robinson dons his Santa Claus outfit, feeds Rudolph a carrot, and visits fifteen clubs to hand out presents they sorely need this Yuletide.

Manchester City

A decent start to the season for City who only lost for the first time recently to their closest rivals United in a game that could have gone either way according to most neutrals. I am not a neutral – I am one of the Cutter’s original Sky Blue Mafia contingent and I actually thought United shaded it. With a six point deficit to make up and after another disastrous campaign in Europe what do we get City for Christmas?

I am going for a clock that turns back exactly a year or a big, big signing in January. God knows who though! City need to find form and find it fast if they are going to retain the title. As a little treat for Boxing Day Santa could also cancel the African Nations Cup so Yaya stays at home.

Tottenham Hotspur

With a new manager at the helm and a failure to capture a couple of their main targets in the transfer window I was amongst those who thought the glory glory boys might struggle but they have steadily managed to creep into a Champions League spot. To some extent the basis of this has been the excellent form of the young lad Caulker and in Lennon and Defoe up top they have outpaced and frightened enough teams to gain their points. So what do we get Spurs for Christmas?

They really need that big signing such as Moutinho to push on and they need big time managers to struggle so the press stay off AVB’s back. This is the man who took Arry’s job remember so the press can’t wait for him to fail. He could help himself a lot though by not crouching on the touchline like a chicken laying an egg.

Swansea City

After a successful first season back in the top flight but with the highly rated Brenda taking a step down to the once mighty Liverpool the Swans were many pundits’ choice as an outside bet for relegation. Laudrup however has carried on where Rodgers, Martinez and Paulo Sousa all left off. The Danish legend has also spent wisely in Hernandez – good enough to replace Iniesta for Spain a couple of seasons back in the Confederations Cup – and in Muchu he has the steal of the season. The only downside is their style can be negated by more physical sides like Stoke and Everton. So what do we get Swansea for Christmas?

With just the Semi Finals to go in the Capitol Cup a trip to Wembley would be nice and to toughen the side up a bit perhaps a cheeky bid for Joey Barton who despite his misdemeanors is a great passer of a football.

Norwich City

For Norwich City you can just refer to everything I have just written about Swansea. Outside bet to go down, new manager – blah,blah,blah. So what do we get Norwich City for Christmas?

I am going to argue that for the Canaries Christmas has been and gone. Sitting pretty in the Premiership table and on an unbeaten 10 match run in the league which has included wins over Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester United; what more could they possibly want?.

What I could wish for them and based on the traditional gift of a Premium Bond from a great uncle to a nephew as an investment for the future is some young stars to breakthrough all at the same time. Just like in the Nineties with Chris Sutton and Ruel Fox. Oh  and don’t let anybody know what an absolutely fantastic manager Chris Hughton is.


Everton, or as I as a City fan like to call them the Terrorists (they frighten me to death) made a strange start to the season this year in that they actually managed to accumulate a few points; straight out of the blocks they were and you could see the surprise on Sir David Moyes’ face each week after being interviewed on Match of The Day. They have tailed off a bit in recent weeks with too many draws but unless they have had a whooping from Chelsea that I missed (I checked, they haven’t – they play them in a fortnight and again on the season’s final day) they have beaten or drawn with all the top sides. I fear the top sides are their new rivals now and not the team they share a city with. So what do we get the Terrorists for Christmas?

The perfect gifts for the Toffees? A restraining order on Fellaini banning him from leaving Merseyside and a sense of adventure for the manager to turn those draws into wins as they push for fourth.

Queens Park Rangers

QPR have had a car crash of a season so far and Mark Hughes unsurprisingly has paid the price by losing his job. Football players were arriving by the busload on Bosmans at Loftus Road throughout the Summer and the sheer folly of this policy is best exemplified by the farcical situation of the keepers Green and Gomes. With the media’s darling Harry Redknapp at the helm for the last month they have remained unbeaten but with just the one win and uninspiring draws against Wigan, Sunderland and Aston Villa it isn’t looking good so what do we get QPR for Christmas?

Well for the fans they get my unreserved sympathy. No fan deserves to see his team managed so badly or managed by Redknapp. Santa needs to drop down the Chimney with a couple of

miracles. Some Championship managers could swoop in and offer money or at least to take over some of the contracts of the surplus players. The always consistent ex – England international Luke Young hasn’t even a squad number for instance. The best gift though would be a shiny, bouncy plastic pitch that only they know how to play on. Somehow I think they are going to be out of luck.

Newcastle United

A difficult season so far for those on the other side of the wall in “Game of Thrones” the topless Geordie supporters. After being in the race for the Champions League places right up until the final day last season it has been a case of after the Lord Mayor’s Show for the Toon. Increased respect from the opposition, a horrendous catalogue of injuries to nearly every single one of their key players from last year and Thursday nights in the Europa League in all corners of the continent has seen them down in 15th position. With difficult games coming up against some big name clubs in the next few weeks it could soon turn into a relegation battle. So what do we get them for Christmas?

With money tight the Chairman and Alan Pardew need to wheel and deal like the best of them in January to bring in just a little bit more quality to what is clearly a good side and swift returns by some of their stars should keep them well away from the bottom three. Santa could also bring them success in Europe. When things go right for them they are far better than both the Fulham and Middlesborough sides that reached the Europa Final in recent times. Even I wouldn’t begrudge Newcastle a trophy.

An England cap for the outstanding Mark Noble wouldn’t go amiss.

West Ham

A satisfying season so far for the newly promoted side sitting comfortably in mid table. Big Sam Allardyce is doing exactly what it says on his tin and has built a hard working and tough to beat functional Premiership side. In Kevin Nolan they have an outstanding candidate for player of the year so far and how Roy Hodgson managed to give England midfield call ups this season to Shelvey, Livermore and Huddlestone and dismiss the claims of Mark Noble is beyond most judges. The only fly in the ointment in all this is that they are so dull and you don’t say that about West Ham that often. So what do we get the Hammers for Christmas?

Well we can forget a new stadium because that’s on its way. Best presents as far as I can see would be the bigger clubs keeping away from the very impressive, powerhouse Senegalese international Diame and with Andy Carroll and Carlton Cole as the choice of number 9’s a top drawer striker wouldn’t go amiss.

Stoke City

This is perhaps the most unusual side in the Premiership at the moment. Apparently over the last few seasons they are the third highest on net spend for transfers and according to one Stoke City blog I read this week they have the third best defensive record in Europe for 2012 after Bayern Munich and Juventus. The blog did concede however that this is because their default position is 10 men behind the ball. They currently lie in the Premiership top 10 mainly built around the formidable spine that runs through the side from Bergovic to Shawcross to Whelen and to Crouch and this year they are not distracted by those Thursdays in the Europa. What do they need from Santa then?

Looking at it from a neutral point of view it looks to me that Tony Pulis who is a far better manager than I previously thought has taken them as far as he can. You just can’t stay mid table forever and with the club financing heavily on its youth set up recently the Chairman Peter Coates isn’t best pleased none of the kids have been given a chance. Some fans are also getting restless with the negative tactics. A change of manager to bring a more expansive style and a wonder boy playmaker from the academy in Stoke’s Christmas stocking.


In the words of Craig Revel Horwood, the Judge from Strictly Come Dancing, the season for Arsenal so far has been ”an absolute disaster darling”. It sunk to new depths last week when they went out of the Capitol One Cup Quarter Final to Bradford City. At the end of each season they seem to lose their talisman /star player. With the exception of Santi Carzola it now looks like Arsene has run out of talisman. Eight years without a trophy, contract issues with England stars and buys that have not come off have all led to discontent amongst the Arsenal faithful. Still they are in the last 16 again of the Champions League. What do Arsenal need this Christmas?

What Arsenal need now is the luck of the devil. This Wenger side are at least on a par with the Liverpool side that won the Champions League in Istanbul and the suspension riddled Chelsea side from last year. What a slap in the face for all those doubters if Arsene could pull a Champions League triumph out of his hat, nobody deserves it more than he who is after all the guardian of the beautiful game. If Santa’s plan A fails, then plan B should be to bring in Pep Guardiola in the summer. A far more logical fit for Arsenal than at either of the Manchester clubs or Chelsea.


Not a very good time to be a Royals fan at the moment is it? Bottom of the league and they have just been thumped at home by Arsenal. With discontent in the ranks from summer signing Danny Guthrie who wouldn’t travel to Sunderland recently because “his head wasn’t right” it looks like manager Brian McDermott has a bit of a battle on his hands. No side with as few as 9 points after 17 games has managed to beat the drop. So what can we get for Reading at Christmas?

McDermott seems to be paying a heavy price for trusting in the same bunch of players that got them out of the Championship. The players the club have been linked with for January also don’t seem to be the ones needed for a long battle ahead. What use are Scott Sinclair and Andre Arsharvin going to be in a dog fight? The gift for Reading; at least two South American defenders to kick their way out of trouble. McDermott lovely bloke that he is has taken Reading as far as he can.

West Bromwich Albion

After long spells as first team Coach for some of the biggest names in the Premiership the thoughtful and understated Steve Clarke has carried on from where Woy left off. A strong and hardworking passing side that had put any supporter’s fears of a bad season ahead before the clocks had been turned back for winter. The Baggies though seem to have faltered in recent weeks and have forgotten where the opposition’s goals are. The perfect gifts for the second half of the season then?

The manager of the season so far needs to alter his tactics slightly in order to get Lukaku and Long on the pitch together much more often and that’s about it really. It wouldn’t be cricket would it to say that they need to ensure that under no circumstances do they let themselves finish in a Europa spot at the end of the Season. Possibly the most disastrous position for a small but well organised football Club.

Aston Villa

Up until a few weeks ago I was one of the many who thought that Villa were dead certs for the drop this season. I also wondered what on earth Paul Lambert was thinking when he left behind all the nice work he had done at Norwich. Last week however was an amazing time for the supporters as they moved into the semis of the Capitol One Cup and tore apart Liverpool at Anfield. The side at Anfield averaged out at 23 years and 309 days the youngest in the Premiership so far this Season. So what do we get Villa for Christmas?

If I were a Villa supporter the first thing I would ask off Santa is big, daft money for Darren Bent. He is always going to score goals but unfortunately no longer with Villa. I would then spend this cash on an experienced head in midfield and at the back. The long term losses of both Stan Petrov and Richard Dunne were major reasons for the poor start to the Season. A trip to Wembley for the Capitol One Final would be sweet for the supporters as they were so clearly robbed by Phil Dowd’s failure to send off Manchester United’s Vidic for the most blatant last man tackle ever witnessed the last time they were there.

Wigan Athletic

A mixed season so far Wigan. The heroics at the end of last season wasn’t exactly carried on into the start of this but with so many of the sides one would consider their relegation rivals having disastrous starts they quietly managed to slip under the radar. The last month however has seen some of those clubs pick up and the Latics hit poor form. What do we get them for Christmas?

Seeing as they have fewer supporters than anyone in the Premiership and possibly the Championship as well, Santa has a full stocking for the always annoying Dave Whelan. Every Premiership chairman will suddenly lose interest in the well presented and tactically aware manager Roberto Martinez, the big clubs fail to see what is right under their noses in the talents of Maloney, McCarthy and Jordi Gomez and that their attractive passing game is rewarded with both De Santos and Arune Kone hitting hot streaks.

Manchester United

Sitting pretty at the top of the shop and not for the first time as we approach the festive season are Manchester United. Six points clear of their nearest rivals and scoring for fun with the addition of Van Persie in the Summer, all seems rosy in the life of Sir Alex Ferguson in his final season as United’s manager (what, has nobody told you?). I have a feeling though that there could be trouble on the horizon. So what do we get the side that has the most supporters, the most trophies and the strangest gifts in their club mega megastore for Christmas?

Firstly Santa needs to sort those keepers out. Neither are anywhere near the best in the Premiership but it does neither of them any good with Fergie switching and changing all the time. They still need that one great box to box midfield player that they have been after since the departure of Keane and they need to stop leaking goals. Injuries and rotation are always felt hardest at the back. The best gift for Manchester United obviously is a clean bill of health and a change of heart about leaving from Sir Alex. The best gift for me as a City fan would be if Santa forgets about this last one and leaves it behind in Lapland on Christmas Eve.