Merry Christmas to those it may concern. English Premier League players do not have much luxury to wine and dine as most are in camps for the Boxing Day fixtures. Go on, indulge yourself and treat yourself with an extra drink and cake slice on their behalf. If anyone asks, tell them I said so.
The weekend football was interesting and surprising in many ways but I will only sing praises for Swansea. You got to love this team. Their patient build up of every attack are so well thought out and their spirit is commendable. It is not just how they bullied Manchester United and drew out harsh criticism from Sir Alex Ferguson, they played what I call sweet football.
Let us mention Chelsea demolition of Aston Villa by an avalanche of an octa-salvo. It may have been the effects of the Fifa Club World Cup or just a frustration venting stampede and poor Villa were on their way. Not that Villa played badly though they could have done much with the ball and defended much better. It might have been the Rafa Benitez effect, whereby he induced some sense of guilt or just pure luck.
Many would wish not to remember Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid. I draw a lot of criticism of seeing that average team being just that - average. They are driven by too much money and hindered by even too much coaching. Frankly, The Only One is now a disservice to the Galatico. They play far too tense and very rigid.
It is not their failure to defend that is amazing, but also the way they miss simple chances. Teams playing Madrid so far have scored so many simple goals that Madrid failed to convert. This turns out to be invitation to trouble as small teams smell blood and throw everything into the game. One thing a good team needs is never to prove that they can be beaten.
I still think that only a few players can win a place in the Barcelona, Bayern Munich, PSG, Manchester City or United line-ups. That is how bad they are. Cristiano Ronaldo is a highly talented player probably suffering the publicity fatigue. His dependability hit a knock every time there is strong comparison with Lionel Messi. In rare spells of brilliance, he dances with him toe-to-toe until he gives in to media attention disorder.
The Messi records dismembered his game completely at a time Madrid needed a players of his or Messi's calibre. The Bernebeu camp this season needed a talisman who could turn nothing into a win and exactly when that needed to happen, Ronaldo failed to turn up to the party. The team needs a crazy game changing player for now and if Cristiano cannot do it, who in the world can?
Just to quash one belief that everything looks bigger on TV, unless you watch them live week in and week out, you may just have a slight clue that Stoke City have tall players. Wait until you see the team, from back to front. Those guys are huge. I mean huge. TV does not do justice to their heights and sizes and in their case, they are much smaller on your screen than they really are.
Again, merry Christmas