A New Year’s resolution is a commitment to alter a habit for the purpose of self-improvement. Certainly no-one in the Premier League is perfect, so this is as good a time as any to make a change. Here’s a few suggestions for those at the top table of English football:
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Arsenal: The New Year is normally a time for watching the pennies, but Arsene Wenger has to loosen the purse-strings a little when it comes to reinforcing his key positions. He tried being thrifty for far too long over a goalkeeper and it ended up costing his side. Thierry Henry is back briefly, but who will be back-up for Robin van Persie down the home straight when the Frenchman is back in the Big Apple? Get the checkbook out Arsene, no-one will judge you, though, they might if you don’t.
Aston Villa: Randy Lerner should make a commitment to listen to the views of his customers. They pay their money week-in, week-out, but were badly short-changed in the summer with Alex McLeish, the manager who relegated their hated rival, Birmingham City. Unless drastic action is taken quickly, the Villans could be in the wrong place at the wrong time if Big Eck continues to show that last season’s relegation was not a fluke.
Blackburn: We all need to be fed but no one needs to be nourishment more than the Yak. The bulky striker has survived on scraps so far but no striker can feast on hit-and-hope set-piece deliveries alone, especially not one who has single-handedly kept Rovers in with a hope of staying in the Premier League. Steve Kean needs to prove himself worthy of the job and find an alternative supply line to his over-achieving frontman.
Bolton: Pretty simple here. Get Stuart Holden fit and back on the pitch, before it’s too late.
Chelsea: Roman Abramovich must resolve to stop meddling and leave the football decisions to those who know what they are doing – namely Andre Villas-Boas and his army of staff. Just keep signing the checks, Roman, and no more vanity buys.
Everton: The only way the Toffees can improve is to head across Stanley Park, drop to their knees and beg their neighbor to get a place together. Either that, or look a little harder for that kind-hearted billionaire willing to give David Moyes the funds he deserves to prove himself as the manager we all think he could be.
Fulham: America produces great quarterbacks, point guards, shortstops and Clint Dempsey. Clint, it’s time to take the next step and find yourself a club in the UEFA Champions League. Fulham will understand, it’s your natural stage.
Liverpool: Take a look at Everton and act with a little more humility. As much as you protest and however wronged you feel, sometimes you have to just accept it and retain your dignity. Move on.
Manchester City: You’ve got the talent and you’ve certainly got the cash; now it’s time to prove that you possess the one quality that all the oil money in the world cannot buy – bottle. You lacked the necessary character in Europe and tough questions are starting to be asked at home. It starts at the top. Roberto – it’s time to lead from the front.
Manchester United: Sir Alex Ferguson, I know you stated that you want another three years but let’s be realistic – the end may be closer than you think. You have the opportunity to help the club find your successor and leave Old Trafford with your head held high; Or, your refusal to go gracefully could be the trigger that starts a ‘Glazer Revolution’ when they eventually sack you. The latter will not be pretty and will inflict some serious damage to the club.
Newcastle: When you’re the owner of a club you get to do anything you like. Mike Ashley, please reconsider the stadium renaming (I can’t say the new name, I just can’t). The Geordies had almost forgiven you for dispensing with King Kev and taking them on a tour of the Championship, but to desecrate the natives’ place of worship was a step too far. Get back down to the Gallowgate End with pint in hand, fall on your knees and beg for forgiveness. It’s St. James’ Park. Always has been and always should be.
Norwich: Never change. Keep doing exactly what you’re doing and learn the lessons Blackpool kindly taught you through the second half of last season.
QPR: When you signed Joey Barton you made a deal with the devil. Now to be fair, the devil has remained hidden for the majority of this campaign but no one can deny that it’s always close to the surface. Neil Warnock; accept the rough with the smooth and give Arsene Wenger his glasses back.
Stoke: It doesn’t matter what I say. As we are constantly told by the partisan public at the Britannia Stadium, ‘you’re Stoke City, you’ll play how you want’. At least you’re honest.
Sunderland: Ellis Short made his resolution a few weeks earlier than most and it’s already paying huge dividends. Martin O’Neill is different class when it comes to motivating and managing. The question is whether the owner’s resolve will hold when bigger clubs begin sniffing around the Northern Irishman again, as is inevitable, especially when Manchester United eventually move on.
Swansea: It’s hard to know what to say about the Cinderella story of the season to date. Brendan Rodgers knows exactly what he is doing – just keep doing it.
Tottenham: In 1961 Tottenham played a brand of football that was unstoppable and it led to their last league title. Now in 2012, they’re in the same position because on their day, they are the most watchable, likeable, entertaining club in England. What do they lack? A little cynicism – a despicable-but-necessary quality for any title winner.
WBA: The Baggies are all about ‘shape’ and from a purist’s standpoint, their organization under Roy Hodgson is magnificent. However, training without a ball for hours on end is nothing but a recipe for trouble. Hodgson’s resolution now he has established the Baggies as a side which belongs in the Premier League, is to make his players truly believe in his methods. He did it at Fulham, he can do it again.
Wigan: Dave Whelan, owner of the Latics has fallen under the spell of his manager, Roberto Martinez. The Wigan owner needs to wake up and realize that his dream of top-flight football may turn into a nightmare if he keeps believing in the man, who if he were a bar of chocolate, would eat himself.
Wolves: My resolution is to never stop listening to Mick McCarthy’s post-match interviews. The most honest, self-deprecating manager you could ever have the privilege of listening to – pure, brutal honesty every single time.