1 Jarring squad numbers
In a perfect world every team would line up 1-11.
But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world of tangled earphones, leaky binbags, slow walkers, stubbed toes and rogue squad numbers.
Remember when William Gallas was No10 for Arsenal? When right-back Khalid Boulahrouz was No9 for Chelsea? When Jonathan De Guzman shamelessly wore No1 for Chievo, a number that should always be reserved for keepers?
A player’s number is part of their identity and when they choose wrong it disrupts the delicate balance of world football. Know your place.
2 Topless yellow cards
A player has just scored a goal and, in a show of passion (something that has always been encouraged), he decides to peel his shirt off and expose his tattoo-laden torso to the world.
“Look at me,” he thinks, “drink in this hairless chest and the rock-hard abs of a recent goalscorer. No shirt can imprison me for I have just reached double figures for the domestic season.”
And once the celebrations have died down and the player in question (let’s be honest, it’s Roberto Firmino) has squirmed back in to his skin-tight sweat wrap, the referee totters over and produces a yellow card, the same punishment Marcos Rojo receives for his bi-weekly leg amputation attempts. It’s just not right.
3 Away goals
Two European clubs of colossal proportions are up against each other in the Champions League knockout stages. A relentless stream of adverts, promos, tweets and montages have convinced you this two-legged tie is the most important 180 minutes in human existence.
At the end of it all the two giants are locked at 2-2 and you’re gagging for more. But no.
The fact that one team had to travel across one whole timezone in a luxury private jet to play in a stadium populated with fewer people wearing their club’s shirt compared to home games means one of their goals has greater value.
Heaven forbid those who paid a gazillion pounds for their ticket/BT Sport subscription to get too much value for their money.
The team that ‘won’ 2-2 go through while the team that ‘lost’ 2-2 are led into the media slaughterhouse. Fuck you, away goals.
4 Transfer gossip
Announce this player! Announce that player!
A player’s girlfriend of two weeks likes an Instagram photo posted by someone with #COYS in their bio and every news source on Earth reports that said player has ‘agreed personal terms’ with Spurs.
Resisting the clickbait rumour mill is almost impossible because what if Sheffield Wednesday are actually in advanced talks with Cristiano Ronaldo?
All we can do is turn on notifications for David Ornstein’s Twitter feed while simultaneously wishing the time away until an excitable Jim White tells you the transfer window has slammed shut. And then everything is fine… until January.
5 Ugly sponsors
Chevrolet should never have been allowed to sponsor Man United. Their logo is an eyesore on the kit.
And don’t get us started on sleeve sponsors, shorts sponsors and all that.
People are much less likely to buy whatever it is you’re selling if your logo stains their beloved club’s kit.
6 Sponsored stadiums
Much of the above applies here as well.
It’s sickening that Fly Emirates and Etihad Airways lend their names to stadiums of two of the biggest clubs in the world.
Anfield, Elland Road, St James’ Park, Old Trafford, Goodison Park, Stamford Bridge… these are the names that stir something in romantic fans.
The day the Manchester derby is played at the www.airchina.com/subscribe Stadium is the day the coffin closes over football’s mangled corpse.
7 Lazy comparisons
They’re calling this kid the ‘next Lionel Messi’… but not because he plays anything like him. He doesn’t even play the same position. He’s just quite good and once had a two-hour stopover in Buenos Aires.
Comparing relatively unknown youngsters to past greats should only be allowed if they inform us about the former’s playing style.
When Kylian Mbappe was dubbed the ‘next Thierry Henry’ that was fair because he plays as a wide left forward with pace to burn and has a penchant for open-body side-foot finishes into the far corner.
But too often players are simply heralded as the ‘next (insert modern legend here)’ using nationality alone.
If a promising 6ft 3in forward from the Ivory Coast plays a lot like Robbie Keane and not at all like Didier Drogba then call him the ‘next Robbie Keane’. Or nothing at all.
Statistics are shit because they make you think you don’t know anything about football.
You watch a game and your centre-midfielder has a shocker. Again. After a couple of lager beers you channel your inner Gary Neville and rip his performance to pieces, but using beer mats and pint glasses instead of the fancy-schmancy Sky Sports gear.
Then some busy mug shows you a tweet that say his passing completion on humid Sundays is actually above average when compared to all the other half-Serbian, half-Macedonian left-footed No18’s in the league.
And the worst part is you actually start to doubt yourself.
Stats can be useful, but the ones that try to convince us naff players are mustard and our heroes are actually chancers can do one.
9 Understrength teams
Of course we want young players to develop and be given a chance in the first team. We just don’t want them to do it on our time.
If we go to a game or, more likely, take a 90-minute break from binge-watching Game of Thrones to watch one on an illegal stream, then we want to see the best of what the two teams have to offer.
It’s not the League Cup/FA Cup’s fault that teams use domestic competitions as a nursery but when you’re a relatively dedicated fan and you don’t recognise half the names on the teamsheet it’s difficult not to flick back to Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons.
10 Defensive midfielders/centre-backs who dive
Diving in all forms is a source of much frustration and anger for fans but the sad fact is that ‘simulation’ is now part of the game.
Many twinkle-toed forwards will gladly eat grass if they are downwind of a sneeze but for many it is their way of turning their lack of physicality into a benefit.
But the sight of hulking defenders and midfield enforcers tumbling to the ground is too much to bear. Have some respect for yourselves, lads.
Now if somebody could just fix all these before the start of the new season that would be great.