Is Santa listening? Probably not, but Salut! Sunderland thought it would produce its own list of the presents it wants, the things it wants to happen not just for Christmas but for the coming year. Let’s see how many are granted. This is the first of three instalments. Come up with a better suggestion or two and you might win a prize …
A is for Arsène. The elegantly whingeing Alsacian – (“is that why they’re called Arsenal?” asked the daughter who knows nothing about football) – announces a new deal with Optical Express, suddenly sees things more clearly, apologises for his players’ occasional diving and heaps praise on teams that beat or draw against Arsenal as well as those that lose.
B is for Bruce: Steve wins three manager-of-the-month awards in succession and we’re not only safe but sixth.
C is for Chelsea: football hit by sensational news that the club may have to go into administration and start next season with minus 25 points. Abramovich is photographed scouring Russia for another trainload of diesel.
D is for Darlington: into the playoffs after starting a winning run that stretches from January to May.
E is for England fans: our fans return from South Africa clutching nominations for Nobel prizes for science (for exceptional interest and knowledge shown in cultural matters); literature (for the wit and substance of their chants and songs) and peace (for general, charming demeanour throughout).
F is for Fifa: Sepp Blatter, in a joint initiative with Uefa’s Michel Platini, appoinrts Lorik Cana to head a commission of inquiry into the feasibility of making football a contact sport again.
G is for the Geordie Nation: a surprise dip in form pushes Newcastle United just outside the playoff places – and pushes news of two abject apologies (Gary Neville for calling SAFC appalling for refusing to roll over for United two years ago; McAllister for that dive) off the Echo front page.
H is for Thierry Henry: the French handball champion locates an unknown ancestor from County Cork, changes nationality, learns fluent Gaelic, masters the bodhran and fiddler and accepts player-managership of the Republic of Ireland.
I is for Herita Ilunga: promoted from manager of choreography to artistic director of Salut! Sunderland AFC (Against Football Cheats)’s Maradona Academy. He writhed around on the floor clutching an uninjured face until the move was approved.
* Seasonal image from Teresa Boardman’s photos at Flickr