The perfect gift for each Premier League manager this Christmas
We look at the ideal Christmas presents for the 20 men in charge of Premier League sides over the festive period.
Arsenal, Arsène Wenger- An outbreak of war (so the season ends now)
War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing (except ensuring Arsenal win the Premier League). No Arsenal fan honestly expected to be here. Top of the league and having safely negotiated the Champions League "Group of Death", they have had a near perfect start to the season. But it can't last. December has already seen a draw against Everton, defeat in Napoli and a mauling by Manchester City to reduce their lead at the top of table to two points. There's only one way Arsenal can win the league – if the season ends right now.
Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers – A Luiz Suarez-shaped mega deal
Much like Arsenal, things have gone almost too well for Brendan Rodgers' side this campaign. Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard have proven instrumental as Liverpool have shown they are no one-man team. But Sturridge and Gerrard are now injured, so all hope lies with Luis Suarez. Discussions have begun over a new contract and there is nothing sweeter that Father Christmas could provide the Liverpool manager than for Uruguayan to commit long-term.
Chelsea, Jose Mourinho – Didier Drogba
"I would like Didier to come back here and feel what I felt," said Jose Mourinho ahead of Chelsea's Champions League last-16 draw. "What a draw. I'm the luckiest man in the Champions League. I'll play both games at home," said Didier Drogba after Galatasaray were handed a trip to Stamford Bridge. The Mourinho-Drogba love-in needs a conclusion and that simply has to be the Ivorian's permanent return to Chelsea. Maybe he could remind Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto'o how to score while he's in town.
Manchester City, Manuel Pellegrini – Travel sickness tablets
The numbers say it all. Home: 8 wins from 8 games, 35 goals scored and 5 conceded. Away: 2 wins from 8 games, 12 goals scored and 13 conceded. How does a team that averages almost 4.5 goals per game at home, lose to Sunderland, Aston Villa and Cardiff when they travel away? There must be some serious problems with the Manchester City team bus. Take some travel sickness tablets, drink plenty of fluid and the symptoms should disappear in a few weeks.
Everton, Roberto Martinez – Socks (with a set return period)
What do you get the man who has everything? Everton have exceeded all expectation so far this year and lost two games less than any other team (their only defeat coming at Manchester City which almost doesn't count). The day job is going swimmingly for Roberto Martinez, he's impressed during spells as a BBC pundit and he's nailed down that slick, polished Spanish lothario look. It'll have to be the default Christmas gift of socks then (but he's only got them on loan).
Newcastle United, Alan Pardew – Cash, to allow him to talk to his own players
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley revealed his latest moneymaking swindle last week when he announced plans to charge journalists for access to players. No cash = no interview. Why stop there though? instead of limiting the policy to the media, Ashley could extend it to Alan Pardew at any minute. £250 pounds for Pardew to shout from the technical box during a match, £500 to give instructions to a substitute and £1,000 to give a team talk. Pardew could need cash fast. Does anyone know of a short-term loan lender?
Tottenham Hotspur , Tim Sherwood – The job
With the Andre Villas-Boas reign over, Spurs are one of two Premier League clubs without a manager. Glenn Hoddle has confirmed his interest in the role, Michael Laudrup and Guus Hiddink have distanced themselves, while the likes of Fabio Capello, Mauricio Pochettino and Murat Yakin have also been mentioned. In the meantime Tim Sherwood has been placed in interim charge. Impress over the next few weeks and the job could be his in the long-term. Not bad for someone who doesn't even hold the correct licence.
Manchester United, David Moyes – A time machine set to April 2013
What a simple life it used to be for David Moyes. If he got Everton into the Champions League he had exceeded expectation and if he came close he'd given it a mighty fine effort. He was a Goodison Park hero. Eleven years he had given his all for the club and they loved him in return. Then the life he knew took a turn for the worse. Alex Ferguson quit, Moyes became United manager, the Premier League champions deteriorated at an alarming rate and his reputation is now in tatters. If only he could rewind eight months and just say no.
Southampton, Mauricio Pochettino – Public-speaking classes
Have you seen the Southampton manager speaking English? Almost certainly not. And yet Mauricio Pochettino speaks our native language all the time. He speaks to his players in English, he speaks to his staff in English and he even spoke to the written press in English last week. But he refuses to speak without a Spanish interpreter when being filmed. Poor Mauricio is suffering from the syndrome known as camera shyness and is in great need of some confidence-boosting public-speaking lessons.
Swansea City, Michael Laudrup – The new Rhod Gilbert DVD
What better way to learn more about the strange place that plays in a foreign football league than listen to the 2010 Wales' Sexiest Man? Michael Laudrup has ticked all the right boxes since arriving in Wales during the summer of 2012 but it must be tough for him to fully appreciate Tom Jones, leek soup and why everyone seems to care more about rugby than football. Gilbert, fresh from advertising the country on TV sets around the UK, is the man to help Laudrup out.
Aston Villa, Paul Lambert – A cuddle from cold and distant father figure Randy Lerner
What's Christmas without the tentative embrace of a loved one that's spent the rest of the year seemingly unaware of your existence? Randy Lerner is the forgotten man of Premier League owners, and Paul Lambert desperately needs some attention at this time of year. A hug, a phone call, a mooted change of the club's colours? Anything would do, Randy. Please give generously.
Hull City, Steve Bruce – A deed poll gift voucher
The glamorous UK deed poll service are endorsed by star explainer Michael Buerk:
The snazzy, modern outfit which put this video together have no doubt moved with the times, and surely offer the fashionable imitation credit card-style of gift vouchers which usurped the traditional paper variant some years ago. Steve Bruce is already reasonably popular around the former administrative region of Humberside after winning promotion and steering Hull towards comfortable mid-table anonymity this season. The ability for him to reverse the club's looming name change would make him a true City hero, for all of eternity.
Stoke City, Mark Hughes – A holiday (Stoke-on-Trent is no place to spend Christmas)
Mark Hughes has gone from a man in charge of several hundreds of millions of pounds at one of the most exciting clubs in the world, to the man doing a similar thing in a scaled-down and altogether more rubbish way at QPR, to manager of Stoke. If anyone deserves a break, it is him. We suggest getting away from Hanley in Hanoi, swapping Tunstall for Tunisia or trading Burslem for... Burnley? Perhaps not that last one...
Norwich City, Chris Hughton – Christmas dinner at Delia's
Given that Mr Hughton looks likely to be out of a job soon, it would be a crying shame if he's not invited round to his boss's surely-incredible Christmas dinner as a parting gift? What more could you ask for? Delicious food, Stephen Fry telling cracker jokes and the host getting gloriously hammered before leading the assembled crowd in a rousing sing-song:
Cardiff City, Malky Mackay – The tiniest bit of faith from his employers
Poor Malky Mackay. He led Cardiff to the League Cup final in his first season in charge and then guided the Welsh club to the Premier League the following year. What thanks does he get from owner Vincent Tan? First Tan replaces Mackay's mate Iain Moody as head of recruitment with a work experience kid and then he criticises the manager for overspending by £15million last summer. Cut the guy some slack.
West Bromwich Albion, Keith Downing – A name tag
Having got rid off Steve Clarke last week, West Brom are the second Premier League club without a permanent manager. Instead they have Keith Downing. You know, the Keith Downing who played more than 200 matches for Wolves. The Keith Downing whose only other managerial experience was with Cheltenham Town six years ago. The Keith Downing who ... no us neither.
West Ham United, Sam Allardyce – A money-back guarantee for Andy Carroll
Did they not read the terms and conditions? West Ham co-owner David Sullivan last week admitted: "Had we known [Andy Caroll] would be out for this long, we would not have signed him." Having splashed out £15million on the lanky striker in the summer, West Ham are yet to get a single minute of action out of him this season. What better Christmas present could Sam Allardyce ask for than a refund?
Crystal Palace, Tony Pulis – A lovely new baseball cap
He formulated Stoke's long-ball tactics and refined them over the years. He has sparked a quite unbelievable turnaround in Crystal Palace's fortunes since taking over at the south London club. But only one thing really matters for Tony Pulis: baseball caps. No one pulls off head accessories like Pulis and this could be the festive period that he takes it up a notch by finally embracing the snapback.
Fulham, Rene Meulensteen – To be left alone
Less than three weeks after Rene Meulensteen joined Fulham as Martin Jol's second in command, he was made No 1 and Jol was shown the door. Yet now the Dutchman is reportedly keen to have his old Manchester United mate Mike Phelan as his assistant manager. Phelan has already admitted he wants a managerial role so what is Meulensteen doing? Can't he see where this will lead? It's a never-ending cycle of No 2 becoming 1.
Sunderland, Gus Poyet – Imodium for all backroom staff
This time last year Gus Poyet was happily employed as Brighton & Hove Albion manager, trying to lead the south coast club to the Premier League. Then "poo-gate" happened. A prank by Brighton backroom staff backfired when excrement was found on the floor of the Crystal Palace dressing room before Brighton's Championship play-off second leg, which ended in defeat. Poyet was so angered that he sent a furious email to staff, was promptly suspended and eventually lost his job. He needs everyone at Sunderland to keep their bowels under control this Christmas period to ensure no repeat.