A New Year’s resolution for every Premier League club

Allow – nay, force – Hector Bellerin to remain in the stands even once he returns from injury. Doing so will lead to more and more elaborate and outlandish outfits: a kilt, Louis XIV couture, a spacesuit, Seinfeld’s puffy shirt, full nudity, all of Chandler’s clothes, etc.

Secondly, they need to sign Daniel Sturridge. They don’t really need him, but if they do, he’ll have played for the exact same six Premier League sides as Nicolas Anelka, and that will really mess up a lot of people’s performance on Sporcle quizzes.


So which is it? AFC Bournemouth or just Bournemouth?

It’s about time they stopped pretending that prefix is anything other than a transparent attempt to sit at the top of the table every summer when the league is still organised alphabetically.

If they want to be that childish, make them go the Yellow Pages approach and change their name to AAAA Bournemouth. Also, every commentator has to call them that on every mention, with the “AAAA” to be pronounced as a short, ridiculous scream, giving the impression that Guy Mowbray has just been rudely awoken from a frightening daydream or Martin Tyler is walking on Lego.


Brighton & Hove Albion
One of the rare clubs to represent two places at once, like Dagenham & Redbridge, Tooting & Mitcham United, Havant & Waterlooville, or Bolton W & Erers.

It feels only fair that the much larger Brighton should give Hove its time in the spotlight, and change their name to ‘Hove & Brighton Albion’.

If you can believe it, actual research has gone into this piece, which has revealed to us that the phrase ‘Hove, actually’ (which roughly translates as “no I’m not from bloody Brighton, how dare you” in Tory-speak) predates the title of utterly reprehensibly terrible festive tripe film ‘Love Actually’ by several decades. Why didn’t they set that film in beautiful Hove instead of at a fucking airport? At least then we could have enjoyed the prospect of the entire cast and production crew involved in that abomination falling into the sea and being lost forever. (Emma Thompson would be spared.)


Sticking with a theme, the Clarets should take the opportunity presented by Saturday’s FA Cup tie and merge with Barnsley.

The two towns are basically the same place anyway – northern, surrounded by beautiful scenery, rougher than Sean Dyche’s larynx – and the newly-merged Burnsley would truly unite two counties that have remained divided since 1455. Perhaps as an extra incentive, they could be given recent representative of both sides Kieran Trippier for free.


Derby County, Aston Villa and Sunderland have proven that fans enjoy laughing at a Premier League whipping boy. We had hoped Cardiff would fulfill that role this year, but they have been irritatingly capable, and we’re not allowed to laugh at Huddersfield here otherwise Winty docks our pay.

If they’re going to keep up that kind of on-pitch competence, the least they can do is once again go mental off it, and the most effective route to that is to change the colour of their home kit again. Don’t worry, though, Bluebirds fans, they’ve learned their lesson from last time and are willing to compromise. Purple it is.


Crack out the Bad David Luiz act more often, please.


Crystal Palace
When Watford visit next weekend, Roy Hodgson must resolve to settle his mascot-related beef once and for all by stripping to the waist and fighting Harry the Hornet in the car park. We should root for Roy; for the reasons why, see Watford.


It’s time they revealed this whole ‘football’ thing is just a front for their real ambition of assembling the most superhero-friendly side in the country.

Think about it. Michael Keane looks like a hapless but optimistic young journalist who hangs around with Clark Kent. Leighton Baines sounds like the name of a Superman villain. Kurt Zouma and Ademola Lookman have superpowers already baked into their names, and if you think ‘Lookman’ sounds rubbish let us just say that it’ss actually just a much better name for Cyclops from X-Men.

The whole thing has been a charade, which explains many of their recent results, as well as Jordan Pickford’s excellent comic timing in the derby.


Bring. Back. Michael. Jackson’s. Statue.


Perfect club, wouldn’t change a thing.


Become interesting enough that we have something funny to write here next year. We’re sure something will come up over the next 12 months, but it’ll have to wait: hindsight is 2020.


Liverpool, you’re really unnerving us with this whole ‘being really good at football’ business. Look, if you must get this ‘winning a league title’ thing out of your systems, then go ahead, by all means, do it. But then can you please go back to being the vaguely useless nearly-men we’ve come to know and make fun of? Thanks.


Manchester City
City are that lazy sod that makes the same resolution every year, but it’s a good one, so we’ll let them off: they must conspire to draw Wigan in the FA Cup for the fourth time since 2013, and then lose to them for the fourth time since 2013. Can’t beat the classics. Or the Latics, apparently.


Manchester United
It’s much too late for this to happen in 2019, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can start putting this in motion.


Please just be nice to poor old Rafa.


Finally seem to be interesting again since the departure of Mark Hughes, with their December fixtures seeing them score three times or more twice having not previously done so for over a year. Good on ’em. Keep it up.

Not all of these are funny, I guess.


Arsenal will forever be able to tout their invincible season in 2003/04: 38 games without a single defeat as they took the Premier League crown.

Tottenham have already lost five games this season, but they can still do the next best thing to their great rivals and go the entire season without drawing a game. Finally, something Tottenham can boast about – a draw is only worth one point more than a defeat, after all!


Once, when I was sitting in the press room before a match at Valley Parade, I overheard a man lamenting: “When I was at acting school, I always said I wouldn’t do stuff like this. And look at me now.”

I followed his instructions and saw a man dressed entirely in a plush chicken outfit except for the head, who surprisingly was not running around in an uncoordinated fashion but rather standing glumly in the corner and pecking (again, not literally) at a sandwich.

What has this got to do with Watford? Well, yet more of that unexpected research reveals that Watford’s Harry the Hornet has a Twitter account, which is fine, but that it uses the actual human face and actual human name (Gareth Evans) of the man inside the suit.

We used to have a little thing called kayfabe, Gareth. A little thing called mystery and glamour and showbiz. Do you think the man who plays Billy Bantam gave up the best years of his life, along with his dignity, so that people like you could unaccountably break the mascot code? Is that what this industry has come to?

No. Put your stupid hornet head on, change your Twitter name to Harry, and have some bloody respect.


West Ham
While we’re on mascots…as if playing in a soulless and largely taxpayer-subsidised stadium was not enough, West Ham charge up to £700 to be a matchday mascot. They’re not the only ones who charge, but bloody hell. Even if they charged that for every game, that’s bringing in around 0.01% of the money they made from Premier League TV rights last year.

West Ham are not the only club that do this: the full list of shameful clubs charging for this privilege includes Everton, Leicester, Spurs, Wolves, Crystal Palace, Brighton, Burnley, Cardiff, Watford, and Bournemouth.

Football clubs have the right to charge whatever they like for the services they offer. We also have the right to think they’re amoral moneysucking shills for doing so. Having a two-tier mascot system that allows those who can afford it to skip the queue – and, worse, encourages those who can’t afford it to overstretch themselves to make their child’s dream come true – is the very epitome of that. The one and only resolution the clubs need to follow is this one: just please stop being pricks. That or the ‘Roy Hodgson car park fight’ thing.

Anyway, sorry, West Ham fans, that you got singled out for the serious resolution. Something about Andy Carroll or something, I dunno.


Four simple words: Erers & Wolverhampton W.

Steven Chicken is on Twitter


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