Beautiful game's highs and lows in 2012
'Arry Redknapp has taken over as manager of QPR. If anyone can save Ryan Nelsen and his boys from the drop, it's Arry. Watch him go when the transfer window opens in January.
Barcelona. Brilliant. Beautiful. And Belgium. With Premier League stars Hazard (Chelsea), Fellaini (Everton), Dembele (Spurs), Benteke (Aston Villa), Lukaku (West Brom) and Vermaelen (Arsenal) in the team, they'll be a chance at the World Cup.
Corinthians. The Brazilian club won the World Club Cup, a slap in the face for the superpowers of Europe, and a boost to hopes that Brazil can do the same at the World Cup in 2014.
David Beckham's family are slumming it in the Maldives for their holidays, where their room bill is half a million bucks. Then you've got to add the cost of Victoria's personal grape peeler.
Ejits. Despite efforts to improve spectator behaviour, the loons and morons still rule the stands in stadiums around the world.
The Flea. Lionel Messi, scorer of a record 91 goals this year, plays the game like no other life form - human, insect or otherwise - on Earth.
Gareth Morgan wants his Wellington Phoenix to play more attractive football. No problem Gaz. Just show us the money.
Handbags. Still the weapon of choice for fighting in a football match.
Ibrahimovic, Zlatan. One of the great goals of the year was scored by the Swede against England with an acrobatic overhead kick which he described as "part skill, part luck".
Jose Mourinho. With Real Madrid now 16 points behind rivals Barca, the Special One is more like a Special Case.
Kompany, Vincent. You thought I'd forgotten him. The Man City captain plays for Belgium too.
Love. Attention-seeking Ronaldo isn't feeling it any more from Real Madrid, and is pining for a move back to first love Alex Ferguson.
The Mayan calendar had many people worried, but English football thug Joey Barton was sorry the predictions didn't come true. "Damn", said Barton. "Now I'll have to serve my suspension."
Nix. When are the Phoenix going to put it all together? They've had 5 years of settling in, development and transition, and still . . . nix.
Ono, Shinji. The Japanese star started slowly in the A-League, but he's leading Western Sydney on a charge up the table.
Playoffs. The purists don't like them, but they keep the season alive for fans whose teams would otherwise be out of the running. The Phoenix are hovering on the edge again.
Qualifying. No problems so far for the All Whites in Oceania qualifying as they head for a showdown with Concacaf for a place in Brazil.
Racism reared its ugly head throughout the year. Have you noticed how the perpetrators are usually even uglier than the rubbish they spout?
Strange. When a foreigner takes a dive against the Phoenix, there's outrage. It's a disgrace. He's a cheat. When a Phoenix player does the same thing, it's a bit of a giggle.
Technology. Despite growing dissatisfaction over refereeing booboos and simulation, apart from goal-line cameras, Fifa muppet Sepp Blatter continues to keep football technology-free.
Uruguayan Luiz Sanchez. Whether it was for his cheating, his racism or his extraordinary ability, Sanchez was always in the headlines.
Victory, Melbourne. They're going great guns in the A-League, inspired by ex-Phoenix Kiwi Marco Rojas. Damn.
Wenger, Arsene. One of the great managers has copped it over Arsenal's poor results. Without the budget of United, City and Chelsea, can the Professor get the Gunners back to the top?
Xmas pud. The Nix's opening 20 minutes against the Heart on Thursday suggested they'd overindulged at the dinner table. But they ran it off to notch a memorable come-from-behind win.
Yaya Toure. Manchester City's driving force would be an attractive proposition for Gareth Morgan. His wages of 25 million would not.
Zenit St Petersburg. "We're not racist. We just don't want any black players in the team," said their unwelcoming fans. "Or gays." Billy Harris is a former All White.
Sunday Star Times