Q: What did the Sheffield Wednesday fan say on January 1?
A: New Year, Nuhiu
Okay, now we’ve got the last of the Christmas cracker jokes out of the way, it’s time to turn out attentions to what 2019 has in store.
There’s plenty to be said in 2018’s favour – we had a memorable World Cup and one of the best Champions League final goals in history, to name but two – but there’s always room for improvement.
And so, we turn to the ways in which football can improve in the 12 months ahead: things it needs more of, and things it can cut out.
— The Bean (@adamjneilson) June 20, 2018
More forward roll throw-ins
You might have your own favourite moments from the World Cup – England’s penalty shoot-out against Colombia, for example, or that stunning Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick against Spain.
Maybe even that Xherdan Shaqiri goal against Serbia where he did it all himself and found a last-minute winner out of nothing. However, we’re here to tell you that, unless your choice involved Milad Mohammadi, it is wrong.
Iran defender Mohammadi attempted to launch he ball into the Spanish box with a forward roll throw-in in the final minutes of a group game, only to bottle it and end up taking a normal throw-in like a nerd.
Some might say his failure to follow through on his ridiculous plans cost his team a place in the World Cup knockout rounds and made football as a whole slightly worse. That’s us.
We’re the ones saying that.
Lugo goalkeeper Juan Carlos Martin Corral scores a sensational goal from his own half!
Best of 2018?
— Photos of Football (@photosofootball) December 30, 2018
More goalkeepers scoring from their own half
All the way back in January 2018, Lugo goalkeeper Juan Carlos wasn’t content with his team winning by just two goals to one against Sporting Gijón and decided to take matters into his own hands. And by hands we mean feet.
Deciding if you can’t try new things on your birthday then you never can, the 30-year-old launched a 60-yard shot over the head of Diego Mariño and into the Sporting net.
As more and more keepers try to make an impact in the opposition half, with Manuel Neuer’s World Cup failure and Ben Foster’s attempted bicycle kick just two highlights of 2018, we say it’s time for keepers to go back to doing things the old-fashioned way and finding the net from way out.
It’s a game of percentages, after all, and the further from goal you are when you shoot, the harder it is for the opposition to bypass you on the counter.
Oh, and also you look really cool doing it, which is the only thing that really matters.
Less of commentators saying “we want to see less of this”
If we’ve learned one thing from watching years and years of football, it’s that our opinions and those of the folks paid to commentate on the games often diverge. Most specifically, comments along the lines of wanting to see less of something often apply to things we want to see more of: fights, cynicism, Sergio Ramos-style villainy; you know the sort of thing.
It’s time for commentators to change their tune and admit most of us love to see football’s ‘worst’ side, especially when it benefits our own team. Diving? Good. Shameless bear-hugs on opposition strikers? Brilliant. Punching someone off the ball? A victimless crime. It’s time we recognised that.
After watching the last 12 months of football, we know it might be a fairly big ask to expect all three of these things to come to fruition. After all, if we know one thing about the sporting world it’s that it has a tendency to dangle what we want as tantalisingly as possible before sweeping it away just as we’re about to reach out and grab it.
However, we come into the new year with a new-found belief: a belief, despite everything that has come before, that football won’t let us down this time. Are we naïve? Perhaps, but we prefer to call ourselves idealistic.
Come on, football. For one year, please, just don’t embarrass us.