New Year, New You! Most people celebrate ringing in the new year with the time-honored tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. A long-established custom across many cultures, the idea of improving your circumstances and the hope of a brighter, better new future is nothing new for most of us. The majority would like to start the calendar year by saying goodbye to past mistakes, looking forward with a new-found resolve to get a better job or find love or execute the perfect freekick in the style of Juninho Pernambucano.
And if we football fans are making our own resolutions that we will conveniently forget about sometime in March, then why wouldn’t our favorite players be embarking upon the same exercise in self-improvement?
I wonder what they’d be….
Some are ready for the new year to bring them a welcome change:
Paul Pogba: celebrate NEW BEGINNINGS. Continue to score. Perhaps a new hairstyle? Definitely make an appointment with my barber in Paris for Neymar.
Raheem Sterling: F*ck the haters
Liverpool F.C.: Banish all past demons—call in a priest for a blessing? Maybe witches? Light prayer candles at least.
While others will want to move forward on progress already made:
Alexis Sanchez: Take the dogs for more walks.
Benjamin Mendy: Be more sharklike.
Sergio Ramos: Take another wrestling class.
Javier Pastore: More backheels.
Christen Press: Run more. Score more. Lift that trophy this summer.
Some are probably aiming for self-improvement like the rest of us, but instead of resolving to hit the gym three times a week, these teams and players are probably thinking much bigger:
Japan women’s national team, various members: “Revenge!” “Get our cup back!” “Glory!” “Maybe finally take up ikebana to relax?”
Ada Hegerberg: kick more ass, on and off the field. Remember to continue to go high while others go low (but also maybe anonymously send a gift certificate for dance lessons to a certain DJ?)
Sunderland A.F.C.: Create Emmy campaign & work on Season 2.
Some have some new challenges ahead:
Franck Ribéry: More gold-plated meals.
Christian Pulisic: Learn Russian.
Wayne Rooney: Look for a British English-American English translator.
Patrice Evra: Take a food safety class.
While some people are probably renewing or repeating commitments from years past:
Florentino Pérez: Dig José’s number out of the trash? Beg Zizou to come back? Ask Sergio?
Carlo Ancelotti: Practice The Look with the other eyebrow.
Chelsea F.C.: Find better fans.
And some know there’s not much room for improvement in their lives but one must always try:
Samuel Umtiti: Practice my strut.
AS Roma Twitter admin: Ask for a raise.
Edinson Cavani: Sharpen cheekbones.
Lionel Messi: Beard? No beard?
Yet some players must be looking more to others, thinking of ways they can help their fellow human:
N’Golo Kanté: Give more of myself to others and always go to work with a smile on my face.
Francesco Totti: Try not to glower so much from the stands.
Claudio Marchisio: Find new beaches. Buy more speedos. Post more photos.
Marcelo Bielsa: Teach an advanced Excel class in my free time.
José Mourinho: Buy a vineyard while plotting which team to improve next (remember to send Sir Alex a bottle, but not Arsène).
Some have found inspiration to change from others, often for good reason:
Unai Emery: Dress more like Arsène, be more like Arsène.
Phil Neville: Ask Gareth for his tailor’s number.
Neymar: Win Champions League. Try not to immediately smug-text all former Barça teammates. But also, continue having the cutting-edge in hairstyles
And some, for questionable ones:
Tobin Heath: Learn French phrases for “move out of the way,” “coming through,” and “get off me.”
Gareth Bale: Finally stand up to Sergio when he teases me about my hair.
Andrés Iniesta: Find better friends.
To be fair, most of the footballing world needs to focus on kicking out the racism and sexism and homophobia that still plagues most clubs across the globe in 2019. In a year in which we celebrate the women’s game, we hope journalists and fans alike begin to take it more seriously, that they give it the respect it deserves. It’s always disappointing to hear fellow fans are stuck in the dark ages; it’s even more so when it’s our favorite players. We all end up needing to make difficult choices when discovering the dark underbelly of football.
Let’s collectively make our 2019 footballing resolution to make the beautiful game beautiful for everyone.
And possibly take an Excel class.