The Last Word: My bucket list for the season

The Community Shield has become a sub-standard pre-season friendly. Once it is over, momentum will gather. Here are 10 things that I then hope happen

In the days before football clubs followed the marketing strategies of global corporations and undertook social-engineering projects for small nations, the Charity Shield was regarded as the traditional curtain-raiser for the season.

Rebranded as the Community Shield, it has degenerated into a sub-standard pre-season friendly staged  between below-strength teams in a stadium that has become a padded cell for the domestic game. The identity of today’s winner is an irrelevance.

Once it is out of the way, momentum will gather. Here is my bucket list, 10 things I hope happen over the next 10 months.

1. City must spark passion

Manchester City have won the Premier League twice in the last three seasons. Having had a transformative effect in a deprived area, they are establishing a trans-continental empire. Yet they are overshadowed by more traditional clubs because, beyond instinctive envy, they evoke indifference.

Where is the passion? What is the point of filtering progress through the cotton wool of the corporate communications strategy? It is all too calculated, too anaemic. City must acknowledge their faults, as a club which smothers young British talent, and become more transparent.

 

2. Rodgers wins a trophy

Brendan Rodgers has moved on from the corporate excesses of that introductory documentary. As the most important British coach of his generation, his success will embolden his peers and challenge the myth foreign coaches are inherently superior.

Liverpool are the antithesis of City, since they are prone to excessive emotion. Rodgers is wisely managing expectations, but needs to deliver a trophy this season.

3. Dyche keeps Burnley up

Burnley do not belong in the Premier League. They represent a small market town of 86,900 people. They don’t shift satellite dishes or sell shirts in Singapore. Yet the game’s democrats and dreamers have a vested interest in their survival.

Such community clubs may belong in a Lowry painting, but they enshrine important values like unity, honesty and humility. In Sean Dyche they have a measured yet hugely impressive manager, who will ultimately require a bigger platform. If anyone can keep them up, he can. 

4. The cash goes to Pompey

It is a ridiculous notion developed by bureaucrats in search of positive PR, but Sport England, the Government quango which oversees grassroots sport, are  offering £1.6m to the city which offers the best chance of growing the game.

The money should be loaded into an  armoured car and delivered to Fratton Park forthwith. Portsmouth fans have this weekend raised in excess of £250,000 for the club’s academy. The club is sustainable, supported by its constituents. Just think what they could do with six times that amount.

5. FA get their act together

Politicians bark like rottweilers and behave like poodles when it comes to dealing with football. MPs demanded an immediate transformation of the FA’s antiquated structure in July 2011. They imposed a one-year deadline for wholesale change in the way the game is run in January 2013.

The result? A few platitudes and more empty promises. All public money should be withdrawn from professional football immediately. It must only be renewed when revolution is complete, blazers are burned, and the game is fit for purpose.

6. Betting ads are restricted

The FA, in their infinite wisdom, have banned anyone involved in football from betting on the game while ignoring the  institutionalised hypocrisy of accepting and allowing sponsorship from the gambling industry.

A generation of children now associate betting as an integral part of the sporting experience. TV ads which promote such a dangerous assumption must not be  shown before the 10pm watershed. Ray Winstone will just have to revert to being a jobbing actor.

7. Youngsters given protection

Youth coaches and academy managers are now being approached by agents promising “there’s a drink in it for you” if they are given preferred status. Parents of talented 10-year-old boys are routinely playing off the biggest clubs against each other. Greed is rampant, unchecked and encouraged by a system that turns boys into commodities before the onset of puberty. Football needs to respond to its duty of care and reject the prevailing view that little can be done  because of inherent flaws in human nature.  

8. Don’t kiss the badge

If Howard Webb has any influence with his new-found friend Sepp Blatter, he should begin lobbying for the immediate imposition of a yellow card for any player who flagrantly kisses the club badge. It is an act of bogus affinity.

9. Scudamore replaces Bernie

Bernie Ecclestone should be replaced as soon as possible by Richard Scudamore, who has reached the limit of his influence at the Premier League, another sporting fiefdom. He would do a brilliant job in recalibrating grand-prix racing, which is losing TV viewers and failing to attract the youthful audience beloved of its sponsors, and dispel the whiff of the second-hand car salesman.

10. Frank ends the myth

Picture the scene. the Etihad Stadium, Sunday 21 September just before 6pm. Frank Lampard makes a trademark late run into the area and scores Manchester City’s last-minute winning goal against Chelsea.

He gestures towards the heavens, puts his hand to his heart and runs to rejoice with his new fans. In one unforgettable moment, the argument that it is somehow disrespectful to celebrate achievement against a former club is exposed as being nonsensical and unforgivably self-indulgent.

Suggested Topics
Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week