The Cracker-Pulling Premier Previews
Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas!
What? Too early, you say? Well, IÃ¢ÂÂm not here next week Ã¢ÂÂ face facts now, you shouldnÃ¢ÂÂt be reading this blog on Christmas Day.
Come in, everybody Ã¢ÂÂ make yourselves at home. ItÃ¢ÂÂs my annual Christmas party for Premier League managers.
Oh, itÃ¢ÂÂs great fun. We play Pin The Tail On Tony Adams.
Come in, come in. Yes, youÃ¢ÂÂre first, Carlo. DonÃ¢ÂÂt worry, Sir Alex will be here soon.
Wait, whoÃ¢ÂÂs this? Steve Bruce? YouÃ¢ÂÂre a bit early, chum! Oh dear, and youÃ¢ÂÂre a bit drunk already. Looks like youÃ¢ÂÂve peaked too soon. Go and have a sit down Ã¢ÂÂ yes, in the middle there.
Avram! Good of you to make it again. YouÃ¢ÂÂre at the foot of the table, over there.
Have you heard from Mick McCarthy yet? What do you mean heÃ¢ÂÂs not coming? Resting?! Oh, another big party coming up, has he? I see.
Right, I think everybodyÃ¢ÂÂs here at last. LetÃ¢ÂÂs crack open those crackers, delve deep into SantaÃ¢ÂÂs sack and see what we find, shall we?
A previous Christmas party. Don't fancy yours much...
Arsenal vs Hull
WhatÃ¢ÂÂs Santa brought Phil Brown then? A redundancy package? No, itÃ¢ÂÂs a new pair of knees for Jimmy Bullard. Oh no, theyÃ¢ÂÂve broken in the sleigh.
Luckily Santa has a back-up present for Browny: a yearÃ¢ÂÂs supply of permatan. Lovely.
And for Arsey Arsene, an enema for his fixture congestion.
Christmas cracker: Wenger wins the tug oÃ¢ÂÂ war but complains of exhaustion Ã¢ÂÂ this is his third cracker pull in a week.
Out falls a novelty headset and a joke, which reads simply Ã¢ÂÂPhil Brown." Well, thatÃ¢ÂÂs not in the spirit of Christmas, is it?
Aston Villa vs Stoke
The eveningÃ¢ÂÂs grand prize Ã¢ÂÂ the Manager of the Month Award Ã¢ÂÂ deservingly goes to Martin OÃ¢ÂÂNeill, while Tony Pulis has to settle for a Thomas Sorensen Stretch Armstrong doll.
Ã¢ÂÂBah humbug,Ã¢ÂÂ heÃ¢ÂÂs heard to mutter.
Christmas cracker: OÃ¢ÂÂNeill wrestles the three-pointed cracker out of PulisÃ¢ÂÂs grasp and paws over the goodies.
The toy is a novelty hairclip, which he promptly gives to his opposite number, and the joke reads: Ã¢ÂÂWhatÃ¢ÂÂs the difference between an angry accountant and Tony Pulis? OneÃ¢ÂÂs a warring banker and the otherÃ¢ÂÂs a boring wa Ã¢ÂÂ Ã¢ÂÂ Ã¢ÂÂ oh come now, thereÃ¢ÂÂs no need for that.
Blackburn vs Spurs
Oh, what a lovely present for Harry Redknapp Ã¢ÂÂ a mocked-up end-of-season league table with Spurs in fourth.
But whatÃ¢ÂÂs this? ItÃ¢ÂÂs crumbled to dust! What shoddy workmanship! Honestly, these elves.
Big Sam gets a blood pressure monitor. Aw, thatÃ¢ÂÂs nice.
Christmas cracker: ItÃ¢ÂÂs a battle of the heavyweights as Ã¢ÂÂArry and Big Sam grasp each end of the cracker with their massive, meaty hands. But itÃ¢ÂÂs Ã¢ÂÂArry who prevails, and Big Sam falls over backwards with the effort, clutching his chest.
The toy is a miniature postcard of White Hart Lane for Paul Robinson. It reads "Wish you were here?" "Yes," he sobs.
Fulham vs Manchester United
Roy Hodgson is given an England shirt with Ã¢ÂÂZamoraÃ¢ÂÂ printed on the back, and as the hand goes into SantaÃ¢ÂÂs sack once more Fergie prays for a defence-making kit.
But no, itÃ¢ÂÂs Charles DickensÃ¢ÂÂ A Christmas Carol Ã¢ÂÂ that heartwarming tale about a man who spends his life overworking, moaning about everything and everyone, until one nightÃ¢ÂÂ¦
Ã¢ÂÂAre you trying to make a point?Ã¢ÂÂ asks Fergs, throwing it on the fire.
Christmas cracker: Crackerjack! Against all odds, Hodgson nabs the cracker out of FergieÃ¢ÂÂs sweaty palms.
The United manager rips up the joke and furiously grabs the toy Ã¢ÂÂ a miniature watch.
Manchester City vs Sunderland
Mark HughesÃ¢ÂÂs present: a nice pair of rose-tinted glasses. Steve BruceÃ¢ÂÂs gift is a bag of grit, to stop him slipping and sliding down the table.
Christmas cracker: Bruce hopes for his first win in five games (uh, of cracker-pulling) but itÃ¢ÂÂs Sparky Marky who reaps the rewards.
The toy is a miniature doodle pad. Ideal for those who love to draw.
Portsmouth vs Liverpool
Paul Hart has written Avram GrantÃ¢ÂÂs Christmas card, and very heartfelt it is too.
Ã¢ÂÂCome near me again and IÃ¢ÂÂll kill you,Ã¢ÂÂ it reads. Such a nice man Ã¢ÂÂ I hope he enjoys his two months at QPR.
For Rafa Benitez, in his best Ã¢ÂÂTop Four Or BustÃ¢ÂÂ jumper, itÃ¢ÂÂs a hardback collection of Famous Last Words.
Christmas cracker: Rafa grabs the cracker, dances around the room and repeatedly tells everyone heÃ¢ÂÂs back in business (good to see that car dealershipÃ¢ÂÂs still going then).
Grant gives up on bringing Glen Johnson back to Pompey and falls asleep in front of The Great Escape.
Wolves vs Burnley
Santa brings a jigsaw puzzle for Owen Coyle. There's also one for the absent Mick McCarthy, but all the important pieces are missing.
Christmas cracker: A slightly bizarre contest as neither side turns up. Officials declare it a draw.
Meanwhile, Wolves supporter chief Arthur Williams wins Idiotic Quote Of The Week for saying, Ã¢ÂÂHopefully [McCarthy] will pick a full-strength team against Burnley and make amends.Ã¢ÂÂ
Well, yes, that was the point.
Everton vs Birmingham
David Moyes gets an odd present from Santa: itÃ¢ÂÂs an American firecracker with an expiry date of March. Hope he gets some use from that before itÃ¢ÂÂs too late.Alex McLeish begrudgingly accepts some crampons, to help keep his feet on the ground as he attempts to climb with unsuitable equipment.
Christmas cracker: Moyes knuckles down and McLeish readies himself for another victory but itÃ¢ÂÂs one of those rubbish crackers that doesnÃ¢ÂÂt go bang. Nobody wins.
West Ham vs Chelsea
ItÃ¢ÂÂs a much-needed first aid kit for Gianfranco Zola (signed, bizarrely, by Dean Ashton), and Carlo Ancelotti is given a brand new cologne called Ruthlessness.
Small bottle, though Ã¢ÂÂ not sure if it will last until June.
Christmas cracker: An all-Italian battle ends in triumph for Carlo and despair for Franco against his former buddies. The toy is a plastic Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Oh, thereÃ¢ÂÂs a joke in this one! Ã¢ÂÂWhy didnÃ¢ÂÂt Nicolas Anelka go to the Christmas party? Because nobody likes him.Ã¢ÂÂ ThatÃ¢ÂÂs not very nice, Santa.
Wigan vs Bolton
Santa brings Roberto Martinez the Rage Against The Machine single (itÃ¢ÂÂs his favourite) but Gary MegsonÃ¢ÂÂs present is a lump of coal! Boooo. He must have been a naughty boy.
Christmas cracker: Megson gets stuck into the sherry after losing another cracker pull.
Martinez is pleased but the joke confuses him: Ã¢ÂÂWhatÃ¢ÂÂs the difference between Tiger Woods and Maynor Figueroa? Figueroa can drive a ball 60 yards and doesnÃ¢ÂÂt have 15 mistresses.Ã¢ÂÂ
I donÃ¢ÂÂt get it.
But Tiger does.
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