2012: The Football Year In Cliché
It's been a busy 2012 for football fans, pundits and players alike. Spain rule Europe. Messi rules the record books. Man City pinch the Premier League title at the death. Today on the blog Adam Hurry dissects the last 12 months in all its clichéd glory.
Thanks to Lionel Messi's goalscoring exploits, football has finally embraced the concept of the calendar year about 400 years after Pope Gregory XIII. As a keen follower of football's trends, therefore, I feel legitimised in bringing you this retrospective of football's last twelve months in cliché.
Paul Scholes came out of retirement to ease Manchester United's injury crisis, in a rare example of a player unhanging his boots.
Predictably, he claimed to have missed the "buzz" of match days that many retirees speak of.
In the latest trauma to befall that inexplicably over-significant bit of stretchy fabric, John Terry was once again stripped of the England captain's armband.
Elsewhere, Mick McCarthy was relieved from his duties of not being able to fault his players' effort after every defeat, with a wide-eyed Terry Connor successfully throwing his hat into the ring after Wolves' ring failed to attract any other hats.
While Chelsea sacked André Villas-Boas, stamped their feet and asked for yet another go on the Managerial Merry-Go-Round™, March saw the rest of football embark on somewhat of a charm offensive.
Fabrice Muamba's collapse at White Hart Lane, followed later that month by news that Stiliyan Petrov had been diagnosed with leukaemia, jolted football fans into almost militant displays of genuine goodwill.
In the second leg of their Champions League semi-final, Chelsea stunned possession-hogging Barcelona at the Nou Camp with a rearguard performance that set the benchmark for all future rearguard performances.
A reminder, if one was needed, that the only statistic that matters is in the top left-hand corner of your screen.
Roy Hodgson was unveiled as England coach, disappointingly not citing his hatred of the day-to-day involvement of club football as his motivation.
May was also the month for grandstand finishes, with Sky's Martin Tyler just edging out BBC counterpart Guy Mowbray in the guttural "Aguerooooooo" posterity stakes. The 21st-century final-day drama, however, suffers for the increasing obsolescence of the wireless radio, so often pressed to the ear of football fans in decades past to facilitate the "filtering through" of results elsewhere.
Roy Hodgson's England upheld the most cast-iron of international football clichés - masking a series of clueless, directionless performances by going out via the "cruel lottery" of not being able to score, undisturbed, from twelve yards.
Meanwhile, a short-lived backlash against Spain's strikerless tiki-taka attempted to gather some steam, but they passed their way towards another major title nevertheless.
The Olympics ushered in a new era of football high-horsery, with hundreds of athletes (most of whom compete under the media's sensationalist radar, with far fewer than 40,000 morons shouting abuse at them every week) conducting themselves in keeping with the Olympic spirit.
Many onlookers declared their indignation that our nation's footballers couldn't do the same, and Premier League attendances have dwindled while these people stick to their word, abandon the game that horrifies them so much, and flock to watch the Rowing, Canoeing and Taekwondo Premier Leagues every Saturday afternoon.
The transfer window slammed shut, bringing several protracted sagas to a thankful close. Robin van Persie and Luka Modric finally pushed through their exits from North London.
Steve "Beleaguered" Kean was finally put out of his misery at Blackburn, finally ending the longest dead-man-walking routine of all time.
September was also the nadir for English football's latest obsession with Handshakegates - Sky cameramen zoomed in on Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra burying their hatchet, while Anton Ferdinand "snubbed" John Terry.
Arsenal's absurd Capital One Cup comeback at Reading suggested that 4-1 was now rivalling 2-0 as the most dangerous scoreline in football.
Racism continued to rear its particularly ugly head, with Serbian fans ensuring a fine for their national association that would inevitably be roundly described as "paltry", much like insufficient transfer bids are always labelled "derisory".
Two clubs seemingly destined to be in a period of transition until the end of all time, thanked their axed managers for their efforts and wished them well for the future.
At Chelsea, in came the ever-lampoonable Rafa Benitez, facing a barrage of questions (worded only slightly differently every time) about how he could win over the A4-sized-banner-wielding fans, while jokes about Harry Redknapp's car window were dusted off in time for his unveiling at QPR.
Messi broke Gerd Muller's previously unheard-of record for goals in a calendar year, forcing journalists and commentators to announce a world shortage of superlatives.
Bring on 2013.
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