Smudger Smith: Cheer up, Royals, even if it’s not the end of the world

The Journeyman Pro

In a professional career spanning almost two decades, Simon "Smudger" Smith has played for over 67 clubs. The ultimate utility player, as his pace has diminished he has reinvented himself time and again, from poacher to holding midfielder, centre-back to goalkeeper.

At the time of writing, the world has not ended. However, if it does, then presumably Man United would be crowned champions. It would be a huge achievement for Sir Alex to take the club to 20 titles but you can't help but feel it would be a hollow victory. If the world doesn't end, we will all breathe a sigh of relief, apart from perhaps Reading, who will then not avoid a potentially soul-destroying trip to the Etihad. The league table currently makes grim reading for grim Reading, but hopefully they can turn a corner over Christmas. Chins up, Royals fans.

Commiserations to Chelsea on falling short at the Club World Cup but Benitez may not be that disappointed. We've already established Abramovich isn't impressed with winning trophies, so perhaps the Spaniard dodged a bullet.

We now enter the hectic Christmas period and I can tell you from experience that the players will be busier than Emeli Sandé's agent. Sandé must be the only person to get more bookings than Robbie Savage in a calendar year, so how her agent didn't even get a nomination for Sports Personality is a mystery (congrats to Wiggo, by the way.)

The big news is, of course, the European draw and the news that an all-time Premier League great will be returning to face his former club. I'd like to wish Steed Malbranque the very best when Lyons take on Spurs. Also, Real Madrid will face United, with Mourinho facing off against Ferguson once more. Jose talks with great respect about "The Boss", though how he has managed to confuse Sir Alex with Bruce Springsteen is a mystery. Though I suppose those three-hour epic concerts have their share of Fergie time.

They say you have to beat the best teams to win these competitions, so Newcastle will be disappointed to get little-known Metalist Kharkiv, but I'm sure they'll make the best of it.

Merry Christmas one and all.

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