More reform, transfer transparency, Euros: 30 footballing wishes for 2016

It's that time again. Time for those New Year's wishes. Like last year. And the year before.

I didn't do too well with my wishes last year, although some did come true: The Premier League has ditched its perennially predictable status quo, at least for now, and the Champions League and Europa League revenue distribution has been changed.

Anyway, the point isn't necessarily to be realistic. It's to highlight what you hope for, both serious and heavyweight and less so. So here's the list for 2016:

1. That we get true reform in the way international football is administered. I say "international football" and not just "FIFA" because it goes way beyond that. In fact, FIFA has been way too convenient a whipping boy. Every time a CONCACAF or CONMEBOL guy who also happens to sit on a FIFA committee gets busted for thievery or racketeering in CONCACAF or CONMEBOL, he gets described as a "FIFA official." Which may be technically true, but it's a bit like describing John Gotti as a member of the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club rather than reputed boss of the Gambino crime family. As we learned from the multiple U.S. attorney general indictments, the bulk of the dubious activity took place in North and South America in North and South American competitions with North and South American officials involved. Fixing FIFA without fixing the confederations won't be much of a step forward.

2. That the Garcia Report into irregularities surrounding bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups is published in full. Yeah, I know, the guy who refuses to publish it in full, Hans-Joachim Eckert, head of the adjudicatory branch of the Ethics Committee, still has his buttocks firmly planted in his seat and is unlikely to change his mind. But we'll be getting a new FIFA president in February. Hopefully it will be someone with enough sense and courage to make the report public.

3. That folks understand that the best we can hope for with FIFA reform isn't something that will make football administrators more honest (or more competent) but rather a set of changes that will make it harder for them to be dishonest or administer badly. I don't mean to be overly cynical here, but that's the whole basis of laws and regulation. They don't make bad people good; they make it tougher for bad people to behave badly, they encourage so-so folks to behave well and they help ensure good people continue to behave like good people.

4. That we get as clear and indisputable a finish to the case involving Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter and the disloyal payment as possible. Justice can't just be about putting people away by any means necessary. It has to be credible. That means allowing the full process of appeals to take its course. And for the final judgments to be clear and transparent. Obviously, you can't appeal ad infinitum. Let the Court of Arbitration for Sport have the final word on this. But let it also show exactly and clearly how it came to its decision, whatever it may be.

5. That the game chooses its next FIFA president -- out of the five candidates who are running -- based on who each of the 209 voting FIFA members believes is best suited to the job from its perspective and not based on backroom deals and voting blocs. Again, wishful thinking. But we can hope, right?

6. That whoever takes over as UEFA president -- assuming Michel Platini's ban stands -- will continue walking the fine line between rich and poor. That means growing the game and the revenues of the big clubs while also looking out for the little guys. And, equally, doing the same at FA level. It's not easy, and UEFA's Executive Committee is still saddled with some dinosaurs from another era, but it's critical that it gets it right. If you don't keep growing the pie and running the game properly, you're a hop, skip and jump away from that breakaway European Super League few want to see.

7. That FIFPro, the international footballers' union, gets a bigger voice. Particularly when it comes to sticking up for professionals near the bottom of the food chain who are often exploited, abused and threatened by their employers. Simply put, there are far more than there should be.

8. That somebody with resources, know-how and guts uncovers the cesspit of kickbacks and money laundering that makes up a portion of the transfer market. It's not just the cost of doing business. It's illegal and unethical. It drives good people out of the game and keeps bad guys in it. And, ultimately, it's the end user -- read: fan -- who gets screwed.

9. That we won't hear the words "terrorist" and "stadium" in the same sentence in 2016. Ideally, that we never again hear the word "terrorist" except in historical retrospectives.

10. That Euro 2016 goes off without a hitch and that, rather than moaning about dilution of quality after the first bad game, we celebrate the facts that more countries get to take part.

11. That, at the highest level, referees be treated as what they are (or should be): professional components of a professional game. We have foreign players, foreign coaches, foreign doctors, foreign chief executives and foreign owners, all in the name of merit and free markets. Officiating, however, is the last bastion of protectionism. That means you can be the best referee in the world, but if you're from a tiny country with a crappy league, you won't get the same chance to progress as the guy who happened to grow up in England, Mexico, Italy or Germany.

12. That somebody with credibility takes a long, hard look at fixture congestion and the demands placed on the modern footballer. Only then, with serious data, can we decide what is too much. Comparisons with the past are pretty useless -- training and medical standards are higher today -- but there has to be a way to measure the impact of travel, training and games on players and find an optimum level. Otherwise, it seems pretty perverse to globe-trot in preseason to raise money to pay players who then break down or underperform in the spring.

13. That somebody fills the knowledge and education gap that keeps intelligent ex-pros out of football-administration jobs. There's no point in calling for clubs to name ex-pros to front-office jobs. The harsh reality is that in most countries, if you're going to turn professional, you need to ditch proper schooling at 16 or 18. And then, when you retire at 35, you lack the skills to do anything other than coach (if you did your badges) or act as a glad-handing club ambassador. Better to institute a program whereby the best and brightest recently retired players are sent to study for two years and then integrated either in a club or an FA. There's no telling how many intelligent ex-players are lost to the game because we don't know this.

14. That Corinne Diacre serves as a trailblazer when it comes to clubs realizing that coaching talent knows no gender. She's the manager of Clermont Foot in France's Ligue 2, and while some saw her appointment in 2014 as a publicity stunt, 18 months later she's still there. Clermont haven't been relegated. The sky hasn't fallen. She is just a football coach who happens to use a different bathroom than the one her players use. It's the new normal. Deal with it.

15. That Jorge Sampaoli gets a shot at a big club on a bigger stage. He's done his bit for Chile, winning the Copa America. If he wants to stick around to win the Copa America Centenario, too, fine. But I'd love to see him working day in, day out, with a club side. Preferably one in a big league.

16. That Jose Mourinho doesn't stay out of a job for long. No, not just because everywhere he goes, news tends to happen and guys like him keep folks like me employed. But because what he's done over the years is remarkable. And while 2015 was his annus horribilis, it doesn't define him as a manager.

17. That French football figures out its Paris Saint-Germain problem. PSG are a zillion points clear at the top of the table, and to make matters worse, the other potential contenders -- Marseille, Lyon, Saint-Etienne -- are all underachieving to various degrees. Le Championnat isn't the Bundesliga. It doesn't have the huge attendances and consolidated fan bases to keep thriving even in the face of a single dominating team. It needs some semblance of competition.

18. That Paul Pogba decides his future with serenity and does what is best for him, not what his club or his agent or whoever else wants. If it means moving on from Juventus, so be it. But he has to feel in control of his own career.

19. That we get another year of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a top European league. That's just me being selfish. He'll be 34 in October; he can do what he likes. But I'd love it if he could squeeze another year at the highest level out of his body, just because his skill set is so unlike that of any other player in the game today.

20. That if Gary Neville fails in Valencia, he won't be written off as a manager. Folks -- and maybe Neville himself -- don't quite realize just to what degree he dove into the deep end at the Mestalla. If he comes up short, let us realise that you sometimes learn more in failure than in success. And that he'll still have a lot to offer afterward.

21. That events in the Premier League this season aren't just a blip. Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Watford, Stoke City and, of course, Leicester City are each showing, in their own way, that there's a way to compete if you're organised and professional and do your homework. The closed shop benefits nobody but the elites: Let's hope this isn't a one-off.

22. That if Manuel Pellegrini leaves Manchester City at the end of the season, people will remember the dignity with which he behaved for most of his tenure. Some managers feel the need to bully, lie, cajole and complain. He does not. Even as -- I think it's an open secret -- his employers have been chasing his replacement for months.

23. That even as Bayern Munich go in a different direction by appointing Carlo Ancelotti to replace Pep Guardiola, some of his legacy stays behind. Great managers build on what came before, and that's something Ancelotti has done in the past. How well he does it in Munich will directly determine whether his tenure -- and Guardiola's -- was a success.

24. That Lionel Messi waits at least another year before passing the baton to Neymar. It's inevitable, I guess. Just as Ronaldinho passed the "best player in the world" title to his teammate Messi, sooner or later you'd expect Messi to hand it over to Neymar. But Messi is 28, and Neymar is 23. The latter can wait a little while longer.

25. That Cristiano Ronaldo be happy. I get the notion that it's his insatiable hunger for goals and success that makes him so good. And that when he doesn't get them, he's angry. Fine. I just love watching him play. And, because he happens to be of the same generation as Messi, he can't get all the goals and all the success he wants. He has to share at least some of it. I wish there was a way for him to be happy and serene with knowing he did his best and is one of the greatest ever.

26. That former AC Milan coach Arrigo Sacchi is correct when he says that this season's thrilling Serie A race is a sign of a broader trend, favouring football over tactics. If it's so tight at the top in Italy, it's partly because clubs have cast off fear and are trying to outplay -- rather than outsmart -- the opposition. And they're discovering they're pretty good at it. Tactics come in cycles, and this renewal is just what we need.

27. That whether or not Louis van Gaal (or, for that matter, Ed Woodward) sticks around, the Glazers take a long, hard look at what happened after Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill stepped down. Amid the spin and the smoke screens, what's obvious is that Manchester United have not been able to handle change the way a club their size should have. The Glazers are businessmen. Let them hire the smartest consultants they know and put them to work identifying what went wrong and who is responsible. And, if change is needed, let them have the courage to enact it.

28. That Brazilian football gets some real, honest leadership. Ricardo Teixeira, Jose Maria Marin, Marco Polo Del Nero ... these are the guys who've run the Brazilian FA since the 1980s. Each one has had major legal issues, and each was forced to resign in infamy. Brazil, simply put, deserves better. A lot better.

29. That somebody starts giving Luis Enrique a little more credit. Sure, it's easier to win five of six trophies in a calendar year when you have Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez and the rest of the Barcelona framework at your disposal. But he managed to do it with his president and director of football resigning, with the Neymar transfer being investigated, with Messi and Neymar dealing with tax issues and, initially, with a skeptical media questioning his rather-thin résumé.

30. That more folks in football understand that analytics and the eye test are not mutually exclusive and that the industry is still in its infancy. Where analytics works best is when it's another tool at the disposal of the so-called football men. Where it doesn't work is when it becomes the only frame of reference and is used without humility or an appreciation for external factors. The economist -- and analytics buff -- Chris Anderson (now chief executive at Coventry City) put it like this: "If you compare football analytics and what we know to the history of medicine, we're still at the stage where we're using leeches to suck out infected blood. There's so much we don't know and so much we have yet to understand."

Words of wisdom.

Happy 2016!