Football: Spirit of Christmas survives but will not last

Football: Spirit of Christmas survives but will not last
England cricket fans cheering on their team on the first day of the fourth Ashes Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

With the possible exception of one Mr Jose Mourinho, the Christmas spirit has been out and about over the past week of "English" sport.

English, though the Premier League is now a melting pot of all manner of nationalities, including those like Yaya Toure and his brother Kolo, who are Muslims.

Yaya must be in a league of his own for winning the most man-of-the-match champagne awards, and never imbibing a drop.

He gives the bubbly to his team-mates. He gives his heart and soul to performance. And if, to him, the Christmas message is different, for the sake of bond-ship he just treats it like any other time.

This year, indeed, every Manchester City player gave up family time - at least a few hours of it - to train on Christmas Day.

Their coach Manuel Pellegrini, whose wife and three sons are thousands of miles away in Chile, put the squad through their paces at the City training ground at exactly the same evening time they would kick off against Liverpool.

That is professional football, English style.

It is also, incidentally, a similar story a world away in Melbourne where night is day compared to the UK.

Yet they share this sporting tradition of the Aussies versus the Poms in the "Boxing Day" Ashes Test match.

No matter that Australia had already wrapped up a 3-0 series victory and burned any prospect of England keeping the tiny traditional urn. There were 91,000 people packed into the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

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