Suspended for the next three matches, Jamie Vardy will have the festive period off. A cynic might say he committed what is known in the game as ‘a Kevin Nolan’ by getting sent off in the last match before Christmas. There are so many reruns of Miranda one can tolerate, though, and so the striker will turn up for Leicester City’s Boxing Day match against Everton.
Vardy will make the most of the home brew kit he was gifted for Christmas, smuggling some of his own skittles-infused vodka into the King Power Stadium. The stewards will do a sniff test on the striker’s bottle of Lucozade, but they will detect no port. Instead they will get a fruity waft and hand the bottle back to Vardy. Because what alcohol smells like the rainbow?
Times were easier for Alan Pardew at Newcastle United. Sure, he was the subject of more protests than Donald Trump, but he always had a scapegoat to point to. Mike Ashley was Pardew’s convenient safety net. It mattered not how badly he did, it was always the owner’s fault. Even when he head-butted an opposition player on the touchline he could have got away with saying it was all down to Ashley.
Pardew wasn’t afforded the same thing at Crystal Palace. When he led the club to their worst ever start to a Premier League season, he was to blame. When he spent £27 million on a striker then didn’t play to his strengths, he was to blame. When his side collapse from 4-3 up with just seconds to play against one of the worst teams in the division, he was to blame. Will anyone notice if he blames Ashley one last time?
Mauricio Pochettino to send his cardboard cutout to the St Mary’s Stadium
Spurs have got themselves into a routine this season. It goes like this – narrowly win a match at home, lose a Champions League match at Wembley, sign a key player to a new contract. Indeed, Spurs seem to have signed more players to new contracts than they have won games this season, with Hugo Lloris the latest to put pen to paper this week.
But something’s fishy about the picture Spurs releases with every contract renewal – Mauricio Pochettino looks the same in every single one. Same suit, same expression… the only reasonably assumption to make is that he is using a cardboard cutout of himself. And so the Argentine will send his body double to the St Mary’s Stadium to stand in for him against Southampton. Because why would he bother himself to travel all the way to the south coast when he can get a cardboard cutout to do his job?
For the first time since he was shuffled out the back door nearly three years ago David Moyes will return to Old Trafford. There will be no glorious homecoming for the Scot, though, considering how he was the most hated Manchester United manager in history, at least until Louis Van Gaal replaced him. Moyes should be thankful there will be no banner flown overhead this time.
Like a travelling businessman staying overnight at an airport hotel next to a Beefeater, Moyes will want something to show for his trip to Old Trafford. A souvenir, you could say. Marouane Fellaini will fit the bill, given that nobody at Man Utd would even notice him missing. And so the Sunderland manager will attempt to smuggle the Belgian back to the Northeast. It’ll be like trying to stuff a pompom into a hand bag.
An unashamed member of the managerial old school, Sean Dyche isn’t one for new ideas or methods. He doesn’t even look at the league table until the final game of the season has been played, because you can’t trust statistics. And so he will let his Burnley players enjoy themselves on Christmas Day, no restrictions.
The rest of the Premier League might prepare for their Boxing Day fixtures with a pre-match meal of protein and condensed energy, but Dyche believes in old fashioned values. His Burnley players will tuck into a pile of turkey sandwiches and whatever sweets have been left at the bottom of the tin of Quality Street. What more could a professional footballer want or need?