Early Doors

Is that IT?

Early Doors

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The beginning of a new season allows even the most damaged of goods to start afresh.

Take Craig Bellamy, who wants to wipe the slate clean and has pledged to cut out the monkey business.

No more abusive text messages, no more Rocco Mediate impressions, no more mouthing off on TV calling the gaffer a liar.

Just football, which, once upon a time, he was quite good at. And he made a decent start by scoring twice in a pre-season friendly against Hampton and Richmond last night.

A reformed Bellamy comes fresh from his summer jaunt to Sierra Leone, spent setting up a charity project and only occasionally getting into alleged scuffles with the locals.

But Bellers was upstaged by the man who fixes his Xbox, West Ham IT man Francis Quarm.

Being one of those geeky types who speaks in binary code and describes computers as "machines" to make them sound cooler, Quarm obviously was not playing for the Happy Hammers.

Instead he turns out for the Conference South outfit, who lost to Alan 'Pig Lids'* Curbishley's side by a creditable 4-2 scoreline.

Quarm managed to tear himself away from his day job of interfacing more cache RAM into his Intel BX80569QX9770 QX9770 CPU processor, set aside his thick-rimmed NHS glasses and fired Hampton and Richmond into the lead with a peach of a volley.

Early Doors sincerely hopes Eurosport's IT team do not read this. As the men and women who control countless people's entire working lives, they wield a frightening amount of power.

What is to stop some speccy number-cruncher secretly removing the various bits of silicon-powered technology from ED's computer and replacing them with abacus parts?

Or loading dubious images onto its hard drive and blaming ED's misguided lunchtime Googlings? Nothing.

*An 'affectionate' nickname given by West Ham fans, based on the questionable premise that Curbishley's eyelids look like a pig's.

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One down, 18 to go.

That is the state of play for Manchester City, whose UEFA Cup campaign started with whatever is the precise opposite of a bang last night.

Mark Hughes's City won 2-0 against a team from the Faroe Islands with a forward slash in their name in their first qualifying round first leg.

Still to come if City are to make next May's final in Istanbul:

First qualifying round, second leg
Second qualifying round, first leg
Second qualifying round, second leg
First round, first leg
First round, second leg
Group stage, match 1
Group stage, match 2
Group stage, match 3
Group stage, match 4
Last 32, first leg
Last 32, second leg
Last 16, first leg
Last 16, second leg
Quarter-final, first leg
Quarter-final, second leg
Semi-final, first leg
Semi-final, second leg

Which, as well as being a useful device to fill space, tells you exactly how many teams City will have to brush aside before their fans can travel en masse to Glasgow and smash the place up in a revenge attack. Even if the final is in Istanbul.

It is not just the number of games that is the problem, but the relentlessly mediocre calibre of the opposition.

Yes there are a few decent sides, but for every AC Milan or Sevilla, there are a dozen Unirea Valahorum Urzicenis, Cherno More Varnas and Motherwells.

Basically, qualifying for Europe sounds great until you actually get there. Teams spend millions of pounds and coutless years striving to reach the promised land.

Then, when they get there they find themselves rubbing shoulders with no-name Eastern European outfits in empty stadia, with a plethora of Thursday night matches leading to rearranged Premier League games and ungodly fixture congestion

So what happens is teams field a reserve XI for that crucial group game at Slaven Koprivnica - because if they play their strongest team it could hurt their league form and jeopardise their bid to get into Europe next season.

- - -

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "There was a real suggestion from Kuruvchi. That's why I'm in Tashkent right now. One of the reasons I am here is to get to know about the people here and all the interesting things about this country. I want to say something but there will be more offers from other clubs and I will choose the one that is the right for me." Dear Jim, please can you fix it for me to sign Samuel Eto'o?

CHUMPS OF THE DAY: Mexican side Universidad Nacional, who were hoodwinked by a Sven-Goran Eriksson 'lookalike' and gave the new national team coach a tour of the club. You could create a more convincing likeness if you waxed the front of a chimp's head, gave him rimless glasses and put a model on each arm. "To be honest I was quite amused," said Nacional manager Ricardo Ferreti.

FOREIGN VIEW: You thought Marca had forgotten about Cristiano Ronaldo? Think again. They seize on the picture of him wearing a stupid Spice Boy suit in LA and shriek: "He's already in white!"

TALKING POINT: Early Doors asked for your tales of Ronaldo-style largesse and here they are:

kantong_wokster: "Most amount of money in one night would be 800 euros on a hotel at the Monte Carlo! Add to that the roulettle money, champagne... I didnt go as far as the transvestites though. Orsm night!" Orsm? Oh, awesome!

bencornelius23: "I took my best mate to Vegas for his 21st and we spent $3,500 dollars between us over 3 days. We won back $2,500 so it wasn't all bad!" Well, it's nice that somebody can describe losing $1,000 as "not all bad".

euansutherland1: "Last year when I lived in Birmingham I was approached by an attractive young lady who was collecting money for homeless children. I said I would sign up if I could take her out for a date. She agreed, however she lived (she still might live) in Nottingham. So Friday night arrived and I got the train which was about 60 quid return. Then a taxi to a hotel which was about a tenner, hotel bill for single room was 55 quid, another taxi into town which was around a fiver. Several drinks, entrance fees, more taxis etc. Come 3am she decided that she would like to accompany me to the hotel, which meant 70 quid for a double room (I was past caring by this stage). I had work the next day so I set my alarm although I slept through it and woke up late, panicked and ordered a taxi all the way back home to Brum, 90 quid. = 340 GBP. It was a good night though."

claire881: "Hmm the most I've ever spent on a night out was £50 on a night at The Polo Club in Glasgow (a gay club), was a fabulous night, there were transvestites but I didn't get my photo taken with them! I know £50 isn't exactly a lot compared to you lot are saying you've pished away on nights out but what can I say I'm a cheap night out!"

arttidesco: "I remember going on a date to Pizza Hut when I was at college and spending my entire collection of Luncheon Vouchers that my mum had carefully saved for me over the previous six months, the night ended badly, subsequently it became apparent that I was allergic to cheese."

Today - Any good tales of IT-related woe? Or, if you'd prefer to talk about football, is it worth qualifying for the UEFA Cup?

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