It’s no secret that this hasn’t been the most glimmering season so far, but as the year draws to a close I think it’s worth remembering that 2018 did bring us our world-best 13th Champions League title and may still close out with another Club World Cup championship. It definitely feels like cold comfort in the midst of our unconvincing form of late, so with that in mind I would like to make some humble requests from Señor Kringle on behalf of my beloved Merengues.
Querido Señor Claus,
I have been a very good Madridista this year, and as a reward for my struggles I am begging you for any of the following:
1. A slightly better than serviceable striker
I don’t need Mauro Icardi, although I wouldn’t turn him down. But even a fit and in form Mariano would be a welcome addition at this point. Someone who can find themselves in dangerous areas and convert straightforward chances would be satisfactory.
2. A functional attack, one that at least creates a reasonable number of chances
With #1 in mind, we could also use some sort of offensive scheme – or any scheme at all – that can create even an average number of scoring opportunities. Grateful as I am for the world class level of talent in our squad, it’s all for naught if we can’t get them within sniffing distance of goal. So if you could work on that, it would be greatly appreciated.
3. A 100% (or at least 80%) Luka Modric
I’m not asking for miracles. I know he’s getting older and coming off of an insanely grueling World Cup campaign, but a Luka functioning at even three-quarters capacity is still an enviable quantity that few teams can compete with. If you could maybe slip him a few extra gingerbread cookies and some Muscle Milk, it would go a long way to papering over our many deficiencies.
4. A Gareth Bale who plays every game like a Club World Cup match
I’m not sure what it is, but that tournament – and semi-final/final games in general – really gets the Welshman going. Maybe the inability to sustain performance at an elite level is a symptom of being on a highly successful team – that would actually explain our stuttering form in La Liga in contrast to our ability to turn it on in the Champions League – but Bale is the most striking example of a player who gets up for the biggest games. If you could just Jedi mind trick him into believing every game is a crucial knock-out match, we would all be much better off.
5. Eternal health and hair gel for Marcos Llorente
I know asking for health is probably out of bounds even for your merry might, but if you could at least ensure that his hair products never run out, that would be just as good. I have a feeling this is a Samson-like situation, where he derives his power from the lushness and glory of his otherworldly locks, so if we can keep his mop looking mind-blowing it stands to reason that he will keep performing like the blue chip prospect great minds like Kiyan Sobhani have insisted he is for years.
6. Mauricio Pochetino – or at least an assurance that we WON’T be rehiring Jose Mourinho
I know this is a shot in the dark, but I can promise you extra milk and cookies in perpetuity if you can pull this one off for me. Poch has to be every Madridista’s dream coach at this point, but with Mourinho’s acrimonious departure from Manchester United the picture has gotten even muddier as we all know Florentino’s feelings for The Special One. While I would kill to get Pochetino to sign on with Madrid, I would settle for you granting my wish to keep the angry Portuguese elf away from the Bernabeu. I love this club and am finished doing moral acrobatics to support his buffoonery. Any finagling you can do in this department would sustain me for the next two years at least. (Fine print: I will most definitely be back here asking for more miracles next Christmas season.)
While some of these may seem like pie in the sky, a good number of them are doable. At the very least, someone must be able to hook up Marquitos Llorente with some Aqua Net or Tres Flores to keep him humming in midfield for the foreseeable future. But shy of some quality signings and a top tier tactical mind on the coaching staff, neither of which appear to be on offer at the present time, this season is probably not headed in an amazing direction. I stand by my preseason projection that I would be happy with third place in La Liga and quarters of the Champions League, but if you could slide down my chimney with any of the above I will consider it a win. Because while I don’t expect any major trophies to results from the shambles of this season, anything beyond a lump of coal would be a welcome respite.
Los Blancos at Christmas