Early Doors

  • Kung Fu fighting

    After the season he has had, Rafa Benitez must feel like jacking it in - but he knows he will forfeit several million pounds in compensation if he quits Liverpool.

    So, with the sword of Damocles not so much hanging over his head as plummeting inexorably towards his cranium, Rafa can only hope his demise is swift and painless.

    He can move things along by sticking with Charles Itandje in goal and keeping Steven Gerrard on the bench when Internazionale visit Anfield this evening.

    The runaway Serie A leaders are heavy favourites to win the tie despite not having been to the final for 36 years -

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  • Jokerman

    Cristiano Ronaldo has a healthy enough ego - does he really need Carlos Queiroz to compare him with the bloke who discovered America?

    The Manchester United second banana has weighed into the increasingly ludicrous war of words with Real Madrid over the man who is to humility what Sharon Stone is to US-Chinese relations.

    Queiroz thinks that Real are not only trying to sign Ronaldo; they also want to kit him up with a flamenco dress, a big leg of ham and an inflatable donkey, and send him off to his siesta with a Spanish passport.

    "Cristiano Ronaldo will never be Spanish," Queiroz ranted. "As

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  • Zero tolerance

    Police are reportedly considering the introduction of 'mosquito' ultrasonic devices to break up gangs of antisocial youths.

    This young-person deterrent emits a piercing noise so high-pitched it can only be heard by people younger than 25. It sounds like one of those things country folk put in their gardens to scare off moles.

    The idea is to fire the 'mosquito' at the kids on your local street corner and watch them scatter, while anyone old enough to remember Elton Welsby on the Big Match remains unaffected.

    Broadcasting an irritating sound might not be the zero-tolerance solution many would

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  • Sorry mate, no trainers

    Chelsea might be in the throes of a mini-crisis, but at least we finally know what Henk ten Cate is for.

    The burly Dutchman has obviously been employed as Avram Grant's bouncer, and was reportedly involved in a bundle with John Terry in the lead-up to Sunday's Carling Cup final - possibly over Terry's attempt to enter the training ground wearing trainers.

    The story is reported 'Exclusively' in both the Sun and the Mirror, with both papers opting for the same weak pun (Cate-fight) - sadly the bloke's name is pronounced more like 'Carter'.

    Avram Grant came in for no end of stick after Chelsea's

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  • You don’t get if you don’t ask

    Yak 1 n. large ox with shaggy hair, humped shoulder and large horns.

    Yak 2 n. Nigerian striker who scores when fed.

    Strong as an ox, but without the hair, hump and horns, last night Yakubu was the subject of one of the more prophetic terrace chants of recent weeks.

    'Feed the Yak and he will score' sang the crowd. So Everton did. And he duly obliged. Three times, as Everton beat Norwegian no-hopers SK Brann 6-1.

    Even Andrew 'Andy' Johnson managed to get on the scoresheet - twice, for heaven's sake - although quite how the tune 'der der der der, An-dee Jooohn-son' translates to 'give AJ the ball

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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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  • Bendt out of shape

    It says something about Tottenham's 21-game winless streak against Arsenal that the first time Early Doors felt confident they weren't going to chuck it away last night was when the Gunners needed to score four in stoppage time.

    Until then it looked certain we would see another tale of heroic failure. Spurs raced into an early lead, roared on by a White Hart Lane crowd who seemed just a little too enthusiastic for a Carling Cup tie.

    It looked like a turning point when the ineffective Denilson went off injured and was replaced by Cesc Fabregas - the perfect example of a supposed positive for

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  • Comebacks and drawbacks

    Comebacks can be a risky business. Just ask Bjorn Borg, Vanilla Ice or the bloke who made the Superman sequels. Bad news for all those concerned.

    There are occasional success stories - Martina Hingis, Led Zeppelin, Jesus and the 1970s to name a few - but generally the rule is that 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' (unless of course you've made some poor business decisions, been rinsed by a former lover or developed an expensive drug habit, resulting in complete desperation and the abandonment of any scruples that may once have existed).

    Why? It's simple really - so as not to run the risk of

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  • Can we play you every week?

    What did we learn from this week's
    Champions League last 16 ties, other than that knockout football can be every bit
    as dull as the group stage?

    Mainly that John Bull is better than Gianni Foreigner. Or
    rather that the foreign players Bull's
    foreign owners can buy are superior.

    Liverpool looked right at
    home in the Bernabeu last night - possibly because they had more Spaniards than
    Real Madrid.

    Real came into the game off the back of nine straight wins,
    but anyone wondering how Juande Ramos went from joke to genius in four short
    months got a fairly definitive answer - he hasn't.

    Manchester

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  • Go to Hull!

    Early Doors spent yesterday celebrating rumours of a Stone
    Roses reunion like it was 1989, so how very appropriate that Phil 'Brownie' Brown
    should dominate the news agenda this morning.

    Following Hull's
    defeat at Arsenal
    in their FA Cup quarter-final, the young Ian McShane
    lookalike delivered his forthright opinion in a manner completely at odds with
    opposition manager Arsene Wenger.

    "Yep, that's offside," he said abruptly after being shown a
    replay of William Gallas's late winner.

    "Yep, he's offside," he added of Nick Barmby's disallowed
    goal midway through the first half. No ifs, no buts.

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