It’s that special time of year when good boys and girls wait anxiously for Santa, desperate to get their hands on the latest toy, stuff animal or gizmo on the market. But what do football managers across the globe want this Christmas season? BackofTheNet speculates what’s on everyone’s wish list this year.
Arsene Wenger: Theo Walcott to sign a new contract.
It’s not been an easy year for the veteran French coach. Still reeling from the departure of Robin Van Persie in the summer to rivals Manchester United, Arsene is trying to hold on to the talented members of his squad as well as his job. He has managed to sign up 5 younger members to long-term contracts – Gibbs, Wilshire, Jenkinson, Ramsay and Oxlade-Chamberlain but the one he wants the most is Theo Walcott. The electric England international winger is holding out for more cash in his weekly wage and so far Arsenal have been unable to meet his expectations. Negotiations are being handled by Arsenal’s US-based lawyer so perhaps something is being lost in the currency conversion but with Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea all watching closely, Wenger will be praying that a deal can be reached sooner rather than later.
Marco Kurz – Three points
The newly appointed Hoffenheim manager will be desperate to stop the rot at the Rhein-Neckar Arena, as Hoffenheim slide further down the able towards relegation. No wins in their last 6 leaves the German side third from bottom with only 12 points from their first 17 games. Oh how times have changed for the club who shocked Germany with its meteoric rise from fifth division obscurity in 2000 to Bundesliga challengers in 2008, thanks to the heavy investment by billionaire software mogul Dietmar Hopp. Kurz now has the comfort of a mid-season break to come in, assess and turn around the ship that Markus Babbel left on a collision course with an iceberg. With a talented squad boasting internationalist from Spain, Switzerland, Denmark and Germany, surely its only a matter of time before they start to climb back up the league. Kurz will be praying that Santa can bring him the good fortune the club needs to get back on track.
Manuel Pellegrini – A cash injection
The Malaga boss must be wondering what he has done to deserve such bad luck this season. Malaga who were celebrating in 2010 the arrival of Qatari investor Abdullah bin Nasser bin Abdullah Al Ahmed Al Thani, his sizable wealth and good fortune, are now in the pits of despair after UEFA banned them from competing in Europe for one year from next season on. The charges laid against Malaga by UEFA relate to unpaid player wages and late fees owed to other clubs and are the first hammer blow of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules. Sitting 4th in La Liga and in the latter stages of the Champions League, everything appeared to be back to normal for Malaga after a turbulent summer which saw a host of star players such as Santi Cazorla and Joris Mathijsen sold for cut price fees to cover the lack of funding at the club by their supposedly über rich owners. Pellegrini has worked miracles to get his team to where they are now but without European football next season and with the high likeliness of further drama unfolding at the club, he will be hoping that Santa brings him the cash the club needs to fix the mess it finds itself in once again.
Neil Lennon – Some domestic competition
It’s a little too easy for Celtic in the league right now. With arch rivals Rangers demoted to the third division in Scotland for entering administration, Celtic were looking forward to this season to see which of the nearly runners of previous years would step up to challenge for the title. Former champions Aberdeen and Dundee United had strong squads so could pose a threat, the Edinburgh based duo of Hearts and Hibs always had the ability to stir things up and Motherwell had gone through a resurgence of late under the management of former Rangers and Scotland midfielder Stuart McCall. Unfortunately none have really turned up and Celtic find themselves on top of the league with a 5 point lead and a game in hand. Neil Lennon’s team haven’t even played that well this season in the Premier League, losing at home to Inverness and Kilmarnock whilst scrapping points against Dundee United and St Johnstone so the opportunity was there for a fresh challenge but none arrived. Lennon, with a tasty Champions League double-header against Juventus coming up to focus on, will be praying that either Ally McCoist’s Rangers can gain three automatic promotions back to back or that the SFA/SPL/SFL conglomerate can roll out their new aligned league structure soon, so that his team can once again be pushed for the title.
Brendan Rodgers: A striker, just not Andy Carroll.
Goals win games and Rodgers knows this. So the fact that his team have only hit the next 23 times in the first half of the season makes Rodgers letter to Santa an easy one. All he wants is a striker, someone capable of partnering Luis Suarez and hopefully chipping in an extra 10-15 goal in the second half of the campaign. With Borini struggling to come back from injury and Suso the only other viable option, Liverpool need a target man, even though they seem reluctant to recall their £35million man, Andy Carroll back from loan. Despite comments to the press before the loan was agreed suggesting Carroll was still in Rodgers plans, the fact that he hasn’t been recalled suggest this has now changed and the former Newcastle hit man will be sold off like a bad Christmas tree to anyone who is willing to take him. Newcastle may renew their interest but it will need to be nearer the £10million mark than the £35million one.