Perfect Christmas gifts to steer stars through 2014
CHRISTMAS is almost here. For some, the most pressing question is what present they want under the tree on the morning of December 25. For others, it's a time for outlining their wishes for the new year.
Here's what some football folk may or may not be looking for to guide them through 2014:
A kind return from February's Euro qualifying draw which will set out the competitive schedule for his two-year contract. Greece, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania and Gibraltar would absolutely delight the Derryman.
Attractive opposition from that draw, so the FAI can really profit from the heightened interest in the 'dream team.' The fact that the top two will qualify makes the quality of the top seed less of a headache. Spain, Norway, Scotland, Northern Ireland and any minnow would boost the coffers. An RSVP from England to confirm their Dublin visit for next November or February 2015 would also justify a celebratory bout of shoe-shopping.
Access to a desert island. And one-way tickets so he can send the warring factions in schoolboy football there for a while, thus allowing the FAI's high performance director to properly concentrate on doing the job for which he was appointed.
A central midfielder, such as Luka Modric for example. And a hobby that gives Alex Ferguson something to do on weekends and Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
A hobby that gives her something else to do during Irish international nights. Give the anthem back to the public.
A Brazil-bound team seeking 'enthusiasmus', 'rhythmus' and a manager.
A few bob from the Champions League kitty. Can wait until the summer.
The power of censorship to control Uruguayan radio in the months of July and August.
Spelling and pronunciation lessons for everyone who chooses to write or speak about him. The Chelsea man set the ball rolling with a brilliant YouTube video providing a demonstration which is worth checking out.
Multiple PR advisors and the guarantee of friends he can trust to prepare him for the inevitable summer attention.
A good PR advisor.
No present necessary. The re-opening of the transfer window is upon us.
A starring role in a TV documentary where people actually care about his input. (His best supporting act to Roy Keane on ITV4 last week is repeated on RTE2 this Wednesday).
A voucher for seven more international goals. That will bring him to his next target of 70, above Gerd Muller. If Miroslav Klose stops scoring, that would elevate Keane into Europe's all-time top three.
An old Nokia 6310i -- a phone that is very much a no-tweet zone.
Martin O'Neill's phone number. The ball should be in the player's court.
Younger versions of Bobby Charlton, Alan Shearer, Paul Scholes and the Russian linesman from 1966 to bring to Brazil. And the lend of Steve Staunton's USA 94 baseball cap for the heat of Manaus.
A pal with the courage to point out that adopting the name Tigers won't put Hull on the global map. Winning football matches is more likely to do that.
ROBIN VAN PERSIE
A less intensive training schedule
A new knee. There was scepticism about his repeated withdrawals from Ireland squads but it's clear the Norwich City midfielder has serious ongoing issues with his fitness. Sean St Ledger might have a similar request given his recent luck.
A compilation of Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher highlights ahead of his TV bow as a BBC pundit during the World Cup in Brazil.
A first Ireland goal, which he should accompany with a ferocious scream so he can kill two questions with one stone. (1) When will he develop a goalscoring streak? (2) When will he find his voice?
A new home in England and a nice contract with a Premier League club, even if it can never rival Russia's football-friendly tax system.
The head of the FAI's Elite Referee Committee will be hoping that the performance of the League of Ireland officials in 2014 will stop people asking questions such as "Who is in charge of the referees?" A repeat of 2013, however, will lead to more chaos.
The funds to avoid Nicklas Bendtner becoming an important part of the title race.
A method for hiding those funds.
A younger version of Didier Drogba, or a slightly better version of Romelu Lukaku.
The Ballon d'Or presentation takes place in Zurich on January 13. You can figure out the rest.
The World Cup presentation takes place in Rio De Janeiro on Sunday, July 13. If he's on the podium, that will settle all the debates.
A signed copy of 'I Am Zlatan' to get him through the lonely period of June and early July.
The contract to write an unauthorised biography of Alex Ferguson for the next Christmas market.
PAOLO DI CANIO
The producer with the courage to pitch a Di Canio v Di Canio, Best of Enemies documentary.