Early Doors

  • England’s missing men

    On the face of it, England playing without both their captain and their star player against the world champions out of choice sounds like an act of hara-kiri.

    Under normal circumstances you could reasonably expect the tabloids to be questioning the sanity of manager Fabio Capello, perhaps illustrated by the headline 'Has Fabio gone doolally?' and a photoshopped image of the Italian wearing a straitjacket.

    But the build-up to Saturday's friendly with Spain at Wembley is not normal. For different reasons, John Terry and Wayne Rooney will not be playing.

    Enough has already been said about Terry

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  • Balotelli reigns supreme as England’s joker

    When Mario Balotelli whipped off his shirt on Sunday to reveal the slogan 'Why always me?' Early Doors couldn't help but think of the Joker's famous query in The Dark Knight: 'Why so serious?'

    Like Heath Ledger's famous dramatic construct, Balotelli has now become an iconic anarchist, a compelling character who operates outside society's usual constraints and defies parking tickets at every turn. He is also unmistakably a joker. Perhaps the finest English football has seen.

    Which, coupled with recent escapades, made him the perfect man to be unveiled as Manchester City's new (and presumably

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  • RVP allegations a storm in a Twitter teacup

    It wouldn't be a Premier League weekend without a frankly incredible scoreline and some sort of race row, would it? Robin van Persie, to his elation and then downright horror, was the central protagonist in both.

    Just a day after enjoying perhaps the finest afternoon of his club career when scoring a hat-trick in a sensational 5-3 win at Chelsea, the Arsenal skipper felt compelled to take to Twitter to deny frankly ridiculous accusations that he had celebrated the second of those goals with a Nazi salute.

    He tweeted on Sunday evening: "It has been brought to my attention of some ridiculous

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  • Does UEFA know why it banned Rooney?

    UEFA has delayed giving the FA its 'full written reasons'
    behind Wayne Rooney's three-match Euro 2012 ban for at least another week.

    Consequently, the FA cannot yet decide whether to appeal
    (it will) and UEFA cannot decide whether to reduce - or even increase - the
    ban (it won't).

    European football's governing body said of the delay: "Due to the urgency of disciplinary cases
    connected to the UEFA EURO 2012 play-off matches, we will deal with sending the
    full reasoned decision on Wayne Rooney to the FA in due course."

    Far be it from Early Doors to sound like the world should
    revolve around

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  • Early Euro nerves for Manchester clubs

    Well, who'd've thunk it? As we go into the third round of group stage fixtures in the Champions League (or, to coin UEFA-speak, Matchday Three, even though it lasts for two days), and both Manchester United and Manchester City are yet to post their first wins.

    The Two Manchester Clubs are both unbeaten domestically this season as they cut swathes through the rest of the poor unfortunates that inhabit the Premier League - which would soon become a closed shop if some greedy, deluded chairmen had their way. However, the two neighbours have just three points between them in Europe so far, and

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  • Crunch time across the continent

    Tonight finally sees the pay-off of more than a year's worth of international fixtures. All those dreary midweek internationals have led to one evening of potentially thrilling, make-or-break action across the continent.

    More than 50 countries (51, to be precise) have repeatedly trudged their way across Europe over the past 13 months, all with the aim of doing so again next summer when the European Championships are held in Poland and Ukraine.

    Results that may have seemed irrelevant a year ago are now coming back to haunt several sides who could have rendered their fixture this evening

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  • Is Rooney worth the risk?

    When Wayne Rooney leapt off the plane and scampered back into the England team hotel after a scan confirmed his broken foot had recovered sufficiently to take part in the 2006 World Cup, he memorably announced: "The big man's back in town!"

    It was a snapshot of a confident young man relishing the chance to grapple with the biggest competition in football, but the cocky comment also betrayed the knowledge that England's hopes hinged on this somewhat unhinged young talent.

    Five years later, England's reliance on Rooney is as strong as it ever has been since he burst on to the scene at Euro

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  • On-pitch abuse so hard to prove

    Early Doors has always loved a good villain. It has always derived more enjoyment from cheering on the heel rather than the hero.

    For example, even considering Sam Warburton's shocking red card in Wales' Rugby World Cup semi-final defeat to France on Saturday, ED would like nothing more than to see this poor French side beat the All Blacks in Sunday's final. Not because of any sympathy towards Les Bleus, you understand, but only to see the priceless looks of defeat on the faces of Israel Dagg and co as the most embarrassing barren run in sport stretches into a fourth decade.

    This blog has

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  • Lukewarm reception for £12m man

    For most groups of supporters, confirmation that their club had signed a teenage youth international for around £12 million, beating two of their rivals to the punch in the progress, would be cause for celebration.

    But then again, Arsenal fans are not most groups of supporters. Early Doors would hasten to remind you that only nine days ago they booed their side off after having the nerve to draw a pre-season friendly.

    Though it is important to point out that many are rightly delighted by the news that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be joining the club from Southampton, there are others who see

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