Richard Hercock: Let’s hope Christmas wishes are granted to all Yorkshire’s clubs

Parents among you will know that this time of year is all about Christmas wishlists.

Steve Evans
Steve Evans

My five-year-old son tore his way through a store catalogue several weeks ago looking for potential gifts to cut out pictures and stick on his note to Santa.

Now I imagine Nigel Clough is not too keen on signing Thumpack (for the uninitiated he is one of the characters from console game Skylanders) although Trigger Happy does sound a decent striker.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

But it got me thinking about what Yorkshire’s football managers would have on their Christmas wishlist.

Now, let’s be serious for a minute, even this fantasy football has to have some boundaries.

No choosing Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.

Can’t see either of them swapping the Spanish sunshine for a cold Tuesday night at Oakwell.

It has to be something a little bit more tangible, a possibility rather than an impossibility.

So let us start with Hull City, Yorkshire’s highest-placed club in the footballing pyramid.

Might they wish for Danny Graham to score a goal, I wondered?

After going 30 games without a goal to his name, Hull’s on-loan striker must have wondered had he absent mindedly passed under numerous ladders on his way to the KC Stadium.

So imagine my amazement when Christmas came early for his manager Steve Bruce when Graham finally ended his drought with Hull’s goal in last Monday night’s draw at Swansea City.

If Graham can now start hitting the back of the net on a regular basis, Tigers fans can face 2014 in the knowledge they have a cutting edge to go along with their defensive strength.

Hoping to join Hull in the Premier League come next May are Leeds United and Huddersfield Town.

The two West Yorkshire clubs are chasing a play-off spot, and here it seems the respective managers, Brian McDermott and Mark Robins, might have been peeking at the other’s answer.

For surely their Christmas wish will see them imploring Santa “Please don’t sell my star striker”?

Goalscorers are a commodity for which Premier League clubs will pay decent money.

Blackburn Rovers splashed £8m on Huddersfield’s Jordan Rhodes after he served his apprenticeship outside the top flight and in Ross McCormack and James Vaughan, Leeds and Town have two of the best forwards in the Championship.

Following his goal against Doncaster Rovers on Saturday, McCormack – who was the subject of several bids from Middlesbrough in the summer – has netted 17 goals.

If Leeds are to make a challenge for promotion, McDermott has to keep McCormack at Elland Road, and not allow him to follow Jermaine Beckford and Luciano Becchio out the door.

Ditto Vaughan at Town. Even if promotion seems a little ambitious this season for the Terriers, Vaughan’s goals will at least mean they avoid a similar scenario to last season when they went into the final day with relegation a possibility.

Two Yorkshire clubs similarly under threat that day were Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday and both look set for another long battle to beat the drop.

Both have sacked their managers after terrible starts and how both clubs would like a striker of the calibre of either McCormack or Vaughan. At Hillsborough, they would simply like a striker.

Apart from on-loan Connor Wickham they have only Atdhe Nuhiu as a recognised first-team striker. So Wednesday’s wish is that come the January transfer window, they somehow scrape the money together to bring in two strikers.

As for Barnsley, the festive wish has to be for a purple patch for Chris O’Grady, the former Wednesday striker needing to replicate his heroics from last season in order for Championship status to be retained.

Over at the Keepmoat Stadium, the Christmas wish for Doncaster must be finally sorting out the ownership of the club. My suggestion is One Direction pop star and Rovers fan, Louis Tomlinson, splashing out and buying his boyhood club.

There have been plenty of off-field problems, with chairman John Ryan quitting and investment sagas, and it has taken some of the spotlight off the great job Paul Dickov has done.

Middlesbrough are another club who have changed managers this season, but in new head coach Aitor Karanka they seem to have unearthed a real gem.

Very impressed with his start to English football, so Boro’s Christmas pressie is a guide to all Teesside’s finest eateries for the former Real Madrid assistant manager. Looks like he can sort the football out himself.

In League One, the wish for Rotherham United has to be some relaxation lessons for Steve Evans. The Glaswegian is one of the most animated characters you are likely to see on the touchline, but I sometimes fear for his health.

No denying it works though, for the Millers are looking for back-to-back promotions which prompted Milan Mandaric to come calling for a replacement for the axed Dave Jones.

Phil Parkinson’s wish should be not for a new mobile phone, as many will crave, but losing the one he has, at least until February 1.

Bradford City manager’s line is going to be hot with clubs trying to pinch his star striker Nahki Wells, who is integral to the Bantams’ hopes of achieving successive promotions.

Over at Bramall Lane, Sheffield United simply want League One football this season. Nothing grand, just something others take for granted.

And in new manager Clough, they have the right guy to build on what David Weir started, and I expect crocked striker Shaun Miller to impress come the second half of the season.

Finally in the Football League, Nigel Worthington’s Christmas wish must be to finally pull away from the dreaded drop zone.

After fighting so hard to get out of the Conference, it would be a setback for the Minstermen to return to non-league ranks.

Okay, some of these Christmas wishes are more realistic than others, and some might need a generous chairman rather than a guy with a white fluffy beard (was Ken Bates both?).

But let us hope all Yorkshire football clubs enjoy a prosperous Christmas schedule, with league points the gifts rather than a woolly jumper from Auntie Sue.

and another thing...

LIKE thousands of other cricket fans, I had been formulating my battle plan ever since the summer’s Ashes concluded.

Late nights with mug after mug of coffee, perhaps the occasional late arrival at work the next day after staying up through the night to watch England blitz Australia and retain the Ashes.

What could go wrong? We stuffed them 3-0 in the summer, and even though that flattered the hosts, surely the gap was still big enough for Alastair Cook’s side to prosper?

How wrong we all were. Agreed, England have played terribly as they headed into this weekend’s Test in Perth, but credit must go to the Aussies, and former Headingley favourite Darren Lehmann in particular.

When people talk about managers, Lehmann is a prime example of what the job entails. Managing people, treating them as individuals, letting them enjoy their work and, with a little hard graft, getting the maximum out of a group of individuals.

Getting the best out of Mitchell Johnson has shown Lehmann’s class, and I couldn’t think of a nicer bloke to inflict on me a painful Ashes winter. At least I’m getting plenty of sleep now as I can’t stand watching through the night any longer.