Legitimately the only good thing about Christmas is the football. There’s loads of it. If at any time during the Christmas period you aren’t watching football, then you’re probably eating dinner at the table because this is a time for family and would it kill you to try for just one day?
Alternatively, you may be watching a beloved Christmas film. It isn’t beloved by you, of course, because 99% of Christmas films are abominable and because you’d rather be watching football. If only you could imagine Bill Nighy, Emma Whatsherface and Him From The Walking Dead were really your favourite heroes and villains from the Premier League… HOLD ON A MINUTE.
Mauricio Pochettino is… Kevin McAllister in Home Alone
What do Gremlins, The Snowman and Home Alone have in common? That’s right: child endangerment. And no more so than in Home Alone, the film that made Macaulay Culkin a star and covered Joe Pesci in goose feathers at the same time as he was winning an Oscar for Goodfellas.
In this updated version of the John Hughes classic, Kevin/Mauricio is accidentally abandoned by his distracted parents/chairman and must protect his home/club by devising increasingly elaborate stunts, from creating a blowtorch booby-trap to making Moussa Sissoko good at football.
Rafa Benitez is… George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life
It’s A Wonderful Life is the festive favourite that rewards its Christmas Day audiences for awkwardly tolerating two hours of misery by giving them a brief sense of false hope at the end.
There’ll never be another Jimmy Stewart, but Benitez could play the role of George Bailey without trying. A good man is at rock-bottom when his own generosity and the cruelty of his tight-fisted superior render him penniless, and he considers giving up. Then, a guardian angel shows him a horrifying alternate reality in which he never existed: there’s nobody to save his brother from drowning, Istanbul hosts a routine Champions League final win for Milan, and Newcastle wind up relegated again. Bailey embraces life anew, there’s a happy ending, and it’s all in black and white.
Paul Pogba is… John McLane in Die Hard
Myriad pundits and Manchester United fans would take issue with the implication that Pogba has been as successful at Old Trafford as McClane is in the Christmas classic, Die Hard, but he must surely share McClane’s inner monologue. You just know that Pogba, as he crawls slowly through the congested air duct of a Manchester United midfield, is muttering bitterly to himself, “Come to Manchester, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…”
Plus, he’s just had the chance to say, “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf***er” to Jose Mourinho.
Chris Hughton is… Kris Kingle in Miracle On 34th Street
Friendly. Extremely generous. Beloved by all. And quite possibly immortal.
Did you know Hughton just turned 60? He is one of the oldest managers in England’s four divisions. There are matchday mascots who look closer to retirement.
Marouane Fellaini is… Edward Scissorhands
He’s an awkward, destructive force who was abandoned by his creator and left with big hair and no place in a world that doesn’t trust him. But all he needed was one person who believed in him.
This Christmas, open your heart to a story about an unusual man who found a new home – a man who, with the help of a friend and the power of love, overcame the odds to become a decent makeshift targetman/topiarist.
Sean Dyche is… The Snowman
Imagine the childlike wonder on the faces of Burnley supporters when their humbly-made hero comes to life and treats them to unimaginable joys. Together they play, experience amazing things, meet new faces and finally go walking in the air, soaring high above their humdrum existence in an unforgettable journey across Europe, before returning home to dream of more tomorrow.
What adventure! What dizzying heights! What – oh, he’s melted. Well, it was fun while it lasted.
Callum Paterson is… Buddy in Elf
How could anyone fail to raise a smile at the loveable buffoon, so innocent and out of place yet enthusiastically muddling through to bring the whole world joy? Also starring Aron Gunnarsson as Zooey Deschanel. Four stars.
David Luiz is… Gizmo/Stripe in Gremlins
He’s your furry friend, funny-looking but bright – at least until he has a monumental meltdown and wrecks everything. Maybe the real reason Brazil lost 7-1 to Germany in 2014 is because Phil Scolari accidentally gave Luiz food after midnight. And it did rain that night…
Neil Warnock is… Hans Gruber in Die Hard
“Who said we were terrorists?” asks a malevolently grinning Warnock, as the charismatic villain reveals that even as his henchmen terrorise the Nakatomi Plaza Premier League’s inhabitants, his plan was never to make an ideological statement, nor threaten the wealthy capitalists with his explosive insurgency. No, his intention was simple: to steal as many points as possible.
This can go any way you want it. You can walk out of here or be carried out. But have no illusions: he is in charge.
Wilfried Zaha is… That bloke played by Rowan Atkinson in Love Actually
“That looks beautiful, Wilf, but please just put it in the bag already. Yes, very fancy, but – in the bag now. In the bag, Wilf. It doesn’t need any more scented stepovers. What else, are you going to dip it in yoghurt? Lovely, just – in the – Wilf, put it – WILF. PUT IT IN THE ONION BAG.”
Richard Scudamore is… Marley’s Ghosts in A Christmas Carol
“I wear the chain I forged in life,” laments the man doomed to spend his afterlife warning the living that their actions have consequences, which is why he is forever weighed down by a chain made of “cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds and heavy purses wrought in steel”. His hellish anchor represents that “no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused”, these literal trappings of finance an eternal and physical part of him now, his greed made manifest. Uh, allegedly.
Jose Mourinho is… Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge
Embittered old grump, once surrounded by Muppets.