There are reports inside the Manchester United camp that senior players are stalking the corridors anxiously waiting to pull out a name for this year’s Secret Santa.

The annual tradition can create tensions, famously an unknown player’s decision to buy Sir Alex Ferguson Serbian winger Zoran Tosic in 2009 – a gift that was neither funny nor useful – ruined the mood. A baffled, disoriented Tosic emerged from the wrapping paper making weak appeals for Lucozade and a place in Sir Alex’s first-team plans only to be re-gifted as quickly as humanly possible.

But this year the atmosphere is less jovial than ever before and players are desperately trying to come up with a plan of action should the worst happen and they are called upon to buy a gift for Jose Mourinho.

“Even though he’s walking around in a Santa suit and has insisted the players call him ‘Jo, Jo, Jose’, it’s clear that Mourinho doesn’t have a belly full of festive cheer,” an insider told FourFourTwo.

“He keeps saying that whoever gets him had better step up and deliver the kind of gift he’d expect from a world-class Secret Santa participant.

“Jo, Jo, Jose [Jose Mourinho] will then tell the whole dressing room that he ’sure hopes’ Santa brings him a Lamborghini Aventador this year with a knowing wink before reminding the players in no uncertain terms that they are not, under any circumstances, to break the £5 maximum spend.”

Bad Santa

Mourinho moved to reassure his nervy squad that Secret Santa is “a bit of fun” but compromised that message somewhat with the caveat that anyone who disappoints him will never play for United, or the festive game of Secret Santa again, as long as he has any control over it.

More Back of the Net…

Sources suggest that Luke Shaw’s ‘injury niggle’ is in fact an excuse for the left-back to stalk the pound shops of Manchester in a desperate bid to find a gift that is charming and apt just in case he draws Mourinho.

“Luke occasionally walks past me in the corridor, head down, murmuring to himself ‘I bet I get him’ in a kind of mantra before adopting an exaggerated limp,” our source continued.

“The last time I saw him he was on his phone searching ‘Chateau d’Yquem 1847 under a fiver’ and shaking his head sadly.”

In a cruel twist, there are unconfirmed reports from Old Trafford that the draw has been rigged to ensure that every player gets Mourinho, taking advantage of the strict code of omertà that will prevent any discussion of Secret Santa amongst the players for fear of brutal reprisals.

Please note: This news story is satirical. Honest, we swear.

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