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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
science
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
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

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links