Early Doors

  • Street Fighting Man

    There is something about footballers that makes them spectacularly bad at fighting. Given the lack of invitation they need to square up to each other, you might think that one or two had thrown a punch in their time.

    Yet, Duncan Ferguson aside, they fail even to grasp the basics. Look at the picture of Patrice Evra, right, playing pat-a-cake with a Chelsea groundsman. Just what on earth is he trying to do? Grind his assailant's face with the palm of his hand? And what's with the protruding tongue?

    The Manchester United defender's dancing partner is said to be one Sam Bethell, a Millwall fan

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  • I’ll take the little fat kid with the big hair

    Diego Maradona paid a surprise visit to Chelsea's Cobham training ground on Monday for reasons passing understanding - you get the feeling it may have also been a surprise for the great man himself.

    What could have been a PR coup for Chelsea served only as a reminder of the crushing mediocrity that pervades their squad.

    Maradona is 47 and retired over 10 years ago, has suffered a major heart attack and caught hepatitis, had gastric bypass surgery to cure his massive obesity, is a recovering cocaine addict and nearly died on several occasions in the last decade.

    Despite all this, El Diego has

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  • Keeping up appearances

    It is no secret that most modern day footballers are purveyors of profound vanity. Rarely is a player seen in public without the obligatory overly-gelled and coiffed hair, showing off the latest in body 'art' across their forearms and sporting a wealth of bling the value of which could easily rival the GDP of a small south American nation.

    We say 'most' because believe it or not, there are odd exceptions. You have to dig deep to find them, but take heart, they do exist. Take the man in the picture as a shining example of how not to worry about your image.

    Without wanting to open up a can of

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  • Kaka cacophony

    There is more chance of Manchester City re-signing Bert Trautmann than
    there is of them getting their hands on Kaka.

    Yet everybody has an opinion on the blockbuster transfer
    that wasn't, isn't and never will be.

    Our own Paul Parker thinks it would be "damaging to the
    club and to the wider game", and he is not alone.

    The very idea of City paying a £100 million transfer fee
    then another half a million quid a week in wages has sparked no end of moral
    outrage.

    How dare these foreigners come here with their billions of
    pounds and spend them on one of the greatest and most entertaining footballers

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  • Do panic!

    This weekend proved beyond all doubt that panic sackings do
    work
    , as both Chelsea and Portsmouth's temporary management teams masterminded
    victories.

    After soldiering pointlessly on with Tony Adams for 22 full
    games, Pompey bowed to the inevitable and were promptly rewarded with three
    points.

    All it took was to get rid of Adams, persuade a previously
    supportive senior player to slag him off, put a backroom boy in
    charge and thrash Manchester
    City thanks to the giddy
    bounce that comes from a change of leadership.

    Likewise, Ray Wilkins (pictured) was able to manufacture a Chelsea

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  • Britain’s Got Big-time Charlies

    In its playing days, Early Doors was a bit of a clogger. It hates pointless skills - the kind of flicks and tricks that everybody seems to love but that achieve precisely nothing.

    Former world's most expensive player Denilson was the king of this, dribbling at his man with a dazzling flurry of stepovers, usually before falling over or knocking the ball out of play.

    Denilson was briefly extremely popular before everyone realised he was completely useless.

    This aversion to fancy-dan crap means ED also loathes futsal, that foot-volleyball game and anything that places skill and technique ahead

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  • Inside the mind of Mike Ashley

    On the day, the average number of Newcastle United replica shirts in the city increases from 14 to 16 per head following the appointment of Kevin Keegan we try to get inside the mind of Mike Ashley.

    The appointment of Keegan is a perfectly logical one by Ashley in as much as the Magpies have not won anything for 39 years but Keegan came closer than the rest.

    Now after two dour Scots, an uptight Northerner, a crazy Dutchman, a loveable former England manager and a bloke with an oblong face, Keegan has returned to Tyneside 11 years after walking out on "home".

    The fact is that Keegan had

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  • Enemy of the state

    MORE DESPATCHES FROM SEPP BLATTER'S CHOICE FOR WORLD CUP 2018: If it is a treasonable offence to affix a stamp with the Queen's head upside-down, then surely denying Cliff Richard a Eurovision Song Contest victory should result in a slow and grizzly execution.

    Yet a documentary has claimed that General Franco fixed the 1968 contest to ensure Spain's one-name wonder Massiel beat Britain's favourite tennis-playing, bible-bashing celibate.

    It always seemed a curious result, with the prosaic "La, La, La" (sample lyric: "La") no artistic match for Cliff's joyous "Congratulatisfnmalsd

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  • Divine intervention

    Matthew 20:16: 'So the last shall be first, and the first last'

    Time was, the only sense in which the Carling Cup final could be described as 'first' was chronologically. It trailed in last for importance, interest and usually quality, as anyone who sat through Middlesbrough versus Bolton in 2004 will tell you.

    Everything about the Carling Cup screams "second-rate". The competition is sponsored by one of the most nondescript beers in the world (not the most nondescript, obviously, for it does not even excel at mediocrity). In fact, if you Google "Cooking Lager", a page about Carling is,

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  • It’s been a hard day’s night

    Early Doors will come clean - it has looked and felt better. And, as you can see by the scary jailbird mugshots, none of its three incarnations is an oil painting.

    This morning it plumbs new depths; slumped at its desk with matchsticks propping its eyes open and an intravenous drip of coffee plugged straight into its forearm.

    Why so tired and cranky? Put it down to a thrill-packed evening spent on eurosport.yahoo.co.uk, repeatedly pressing the 'refresh' button on the Transfer Talk: LIVE story.

    Did Early Doors say thrill-packed? Apologies, must be the sleep deprivation talking - it meant

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