It is not very original to say that 2020 cannot end fast enough. Most of us have experienced the greatest collective turmoil of our lives. Many of us have lost loved ones. Some have lost their livelihoods. We know better than anyone that just because the earth has made another (imperfect) revolution around the sun, it does not mean that nothing important will change at midnight. But there is no point in updating that the change in the schedule will bring less reality.
When you read this, football is part of your life, no matter how much you spend on it. This means that it also brings with it the desire for something brighter and better. I have shared mine below to tell you how happy I have been every December for the past seven years.
Download before 2021…
Gaba’s wishes From: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014
1. That we think about the forced interruption of the game in the spring – and the continuing lack of supporters in most places – and use this as a guide for action. What did we miss? What’s important? What’s less important? Professional football is a 24/7 commercial activity that lies midway between collective spirituality and escapist entertainment. It’s not a rock. We, uh… or at least the institutions at the top… can shape the future.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Categoryfootball fans have briefly returned to stadiums throughout England, but an increase in the number of cases means another period of closed-door matches. Stu Forster/Getty Images
2. To ensure that the legacy of players who feel empowered to kneel and other forms of protest do not disappear over time. For some it was – and still is – systemic racism; for others it could be environmental issues, human rights violations, etc. The players have a platform. It is both a privilege and a responsibility. Make them feel empowered to use it if they feel the need.
3. that Euro 2020 will also take place in 2021. Also (if necessary) in a different form, in different places, with different formats. I miss international football tournaments. For many of us, they determined the rest of our lives every other summer.
4. That FIFA’s new rules for agents and player transfers are approved and, just as importantly, applied consistently and fairly. Agents and brokers fulfil an important function, but they and the clubs that enable them should not operate in the dark and unregulated.
5. That we get clear rules about who is allowed to own a club and under what conditions, and that decisions should be quick and transparent. No more nonsense about the fact that Newcastle withdrew an offer to buy out the Premier League for months without explanation.
6. That while we are at it, we also start a conversation about what owners can and cannot do. I would put things on the list of inaccessible things like irresponsible accumulation of debt, taking money for one’s own needs, total responsibility for intermediaries and not being a good steward at all. After all, the club is the heart of the community. Whether it’s a community of a few thousand provincial team members or a few hundred million around the world, it has to come first.
7. That the biggest decision to be taken in the next 12-18 months – the reform of the international competition calendar – should not be motivated by greed, power games or a handful of selfish clubs. 2024 is the magical time to take over FIFA’s calendar, which regulates virtually every aspect of club, international and youth football, and there is much at stake. You could see more matches, you could see weekend matches in the Champions League, and every year the legionnaires were relegated to a window. Everyone is in the game, and these reforms will determine how the game is played in the next decade.
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Sid Lowe comments on Lionel Messi’s recent remarks about his future in Barcelona.
8. That any talk of splitting up the European Super League should remain a dead letter unless it is based on something other than greed. For more than 120 years, the European game has been based on a pyramid structure with rises and falls between different levels. It also worked surprisingly well. If we’re talking about changing the game and making it more sustainable, fine. But if, as appears to be the case, it is mainly due to the greed of some clubs and other clubs need new income after having spent too much or suffered economic damage as a result of a pandemic, then no thanks are due.
9. That the fans and the media – especially those interested in big clubs and big leagues – do not laugh and ignore the European Conference of UEFA, which starts this summer as another big joke. One of the side-effects of the curvature of the major leagues is the displacement of the rest of the football and filling the Champions League with clubs from the Premier League, Series A, Bundesliga, La Liga and Ligue 1. This game gives others the chance to play.
10. That while it is great that the rich in Asia and North America (and the companies they control) pay money to the elite clubs in Europe, at least for the clubs themselves. Otherwise we always have an uneven playing field.
11. In order to understand the world outside of Europe and South America, it doesn’t have to be what works elsewhere to develop the game optimally. UEFA and CONMEBOL have a lead of 100 years (or more). Perhaps the discussions about a merger between LigaMX and Major League Soccer make sense. Maybe the Gulf States, where there’s a lot of money, need their own regional league. Maybe the idea of a pan-African competition isn’t so far-fetched. Let’s be honest. It’s not universal.
12/12 to ensure that the concussion protocol is taken seriously. These are temporary replacements and independent on-site estimates. Until then, it won’t be.
13. So that we at least investigate the possibility of making the 5-replacement rule permanent. If we look at the tables in France, Germany, Italy and Spain – where, unlike England, they have been taken over – it seems that the doomsday scenario of the domination of bigger and richer clubs did not quite happen, did it?
14. that Lionel Messi stays in Barcelona. Yeah, it’s a personal wish. I’m sorry, but I like the idea of a legend spending his entire career in one club.
15. That Barcelona may become the club worthy of Messi to stay there. It may take a little longer, given the dumpster they were in – some injured, some out of control – but there’s an election coming up. Believe it or not, the fans of Barcelona have survived much worse times and have not only survived but also flourished. They’ll come back and hopefully soon enough for Messi to stay.
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Matteo Bonetti explains what went wrong for Juventus in their 3-0 loss to Fiorentina.
16. That Cristiano Ronaldo continues to defy gravity and reinvent himself. In the beginning we defined him as a whipper, an asshole with an intoxicating amount of tricks. Today, one of his most famous gestures is hanging letterheads at the outpost, in the Jordanian style.
17. That Juventus fans and critics understand that what they are experiencing this season with Andrea Pirlo at the helm is necessary. Offensive football, faith in young players, high line, counter pressure, play possession…. Yes, it’s a fundamental philosophical change. And maybe Pirlo, in his first appearance as a senior, doesn’t have the means to keep his promises. But someone had to do it because his previous model was no longer viable in the modern game. And even if he fails, it will make things much easier for his successor.
18.18. That Eden Hazard stays in uniform. Not so much for Real Madrid – they will find their way without him – but for him and for all of us who have loved his maze, the discreet runs, the awareness that his eyes are on the back of his head and the precise finishing decisions. (Oh, and because Belgium wants to be favourite for the Euro 2021 return match).
19. That even if Marcus Rashford doesn’t become the world-famous superstar he represents, everyone will remember what he has already done as a caring and selfless person in public life. Inspiring others by taking a public stand is not for everyone, and he does so with passion and dignity. As far as we can tell, he’s better than a soccer player. And that’s a lot of praise.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Leeds (Bielsa) is in the middle of the table for their first Premier League season since early 2000. But don’t expect their risky and very lucrative style of play to change. Photo: George Wood/Getty Images
20. So people understand that Marcelo Bielsa plays the way he does because he believes it’s the best way to win. He doesn’t have a philosophical mission to entertain, he doesn’t like to give away cheap goals and he sincerely believes this is the best way to get the most out of his players in Leeds United. And you know what? It works, and it’s fun. The next person who calls him naive gets a kick in the head. Bielsa knows what he’s doing.
21. That this generation of young American talent – Giovanni Reyna, Christian Pulisic, Weston McKenney and others – continues to elevate the whole sport in the United States. Why is that? So that one day we can laugh at the old joke that football is the sport of the future in America…. and it always will be.
22. That Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira will find a place to play when their contracts expire next June. Both joined Real Madrid ten years ago and were stuck for most of 2020, partly because of their huge contracts, but also because they couldn’t go any further (and didn’t want a pay cut). I don’t want to see the two World Cup winners as sad sacks who train on their own while being called stingy.
23. That Kai Havertz finds a spot on the field near Chelsea, even if it takes time. Especially when you see him in person, you realize how extraordinarily talented he is. But the question of how to give her something at this stage of her development is also far from simple. He’s still young. Be patient.
24.24 : That Jurgen Klopp sees his contract with Liverpool. Yeah, he’s already played in the Premier League and the Champions League. Yeah, he’s built a team that’s one of the best in the league. So, of course, if someone calls, few people will be sad to see him go, despite his commitment to the club until 2024. But what he does is very special and the Premier League is richer for having him.
25. How Manchester United finds happiness, with or without Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. It is true that since the hegemony of Sir Alex Ferguson, other clubs have emerged. But United didn’t rule for long, and what’s even more confusing is the feeling of everlasting instincts that has existed ever since. The leaders came and went, but those who made the decisions about them remained the same. And yet it feels like they’re not aiming for anything. It can’t be up to the director.
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Manchester United are second in the Premier League. Is it because of or despite the old Gunnar Solskjær?
26. That Paul Pogba is smiling again, whether at Old Trafford or elsewhere. The punditocracy – mostly former pros, mostly former players from the golden age, who seem determined to keep everyone at the level they set (or think to set) – seems to enjoy pointing out all its flaws. He’s not perfect, but he’s extremely talented and fun to watch. And the word lazy is used too often in connection with Pogba.
27. That the three known free agents in Milan – Gianluigi Donnarumma, Hakan Calhanoglu and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – after the expiration of their contracts in June…. stay in Milan. , but if it gets too expensive, it’s not a question of who you prefer. (This is Donnarumma, by far the youngest of the three.) All three have played a major role in the revival of Milan and the attack of the Scudetto this season, but none of them are indispensable. The system that has been put in place and the young players who have come on board… is what will help Milan move forward.
28. That Neymar remains in good shape and productive. I feel like I say this every year. He’s not in the Messi/Ronaldo conversation and never will be. But I also don’t want a man with his skills to somehow exceed the next generation – the Erling Haaland/Kilian Mbappe cohort.
29. For Borussia Dortmund to keep this team for a while and give it the leadership it needs to succeed. They have many hats on as the smartest men in the room to make this huge and impressive body of young talent: Jadon Sancho, Haland, Reina, Jude Bellingham and now Yussufa Mukoko. They also honestly admit that they can’t keep them long. OK. So sacrifice one, find a coach who can make the best of it, and convince them to win something big – something very big – before they are sold.
30. So that children who fall in love with sports first get a chance to support their local club before jumping on the big jungle/club train just because it keeps swinging in front of their screens. Yeah, it’s a clip from last year, but it’s worth rehearsing. And it is the desire over which we have most control.