Early Doors

  • Fancy a pop at Wenger? Join the queue

    With no football in England to speak of on Monday and the build-up to England's Euro 2012 qualifier in Bulgaria yet to start in earnest, the back pages are still busying themselves with sticking the boot into Arsene Wenger.

    The sense of disappointment among many of the press pack was palpable when the obituaries they had lined up for the Arsenal manager had to be pulled as Gunners made it through last week's Champions League play-off.

    It was akin to those vultures on the sidelines during the football match in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, who would gleefully run on to the field with a stretcher

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  • Man City are getting slicker

    Everyone is falling over themselves to praise Manchester City's new attacking approach follow the club's 3-2 win at Bolton Wanderers which puts them top of the league.

    Not that anyone is seriously claiming being top means anything at this stage - Newcastle and Wolves were also at the summit for brief periods over the weekend - but it can't do any harm either.

    As the saying goes, even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day. The uber-pragmatic City of last season still managed to entertain at times. But now it certainly seems as though Robert Mancini's enhanced and revitalised forward

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  • Taking care of business

    "I disagree with people when they say football is a sport. When the Sky money came in, that changed. Football is a business." - Bryan Robson.

    - - -

    It is a mark of the silliness engulfing the game that ED found itself moderately disappointed to learn that Tony Fernandes is worth 'only' £200m.

    The Air Asia and Lotus F1 boss pitched up at Loftus Road yesterday sounding confident and sensible - a welcome antidote to the pernicious idea that Asian owners have to be shady Thaksin-style autocrats or ridiculous chicken-peddling know-nothings.

    Fernandes said his first job would be "dampening down

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  • Cesc back in Barca’s bosom

    When a 13-year-old Cesc Fabregas was upset by the divorce proceedings his parents were undergoing, he received a gift from his idol Pep Guardiola - a signed first-team shirt that had scrawled on it: "One day you will be Barcelona's No.4."

    On Monday afternoon, to a backdrop of 30,000 delirious Catalans enjoying a public holiday by taking in a trip to Camp Nou to see their new hero unveiled, that promise was finally fulfilled. Fabregas is Barcelona's No.4, as his new coach predicted, and eight years after undergoing his own divorce proceedings with his boyhood club, the midfielder's

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  • When good results go bad

    Fourth-best team in Premier League beats fourth-best team in Serie A. Fans livid.

    That seems to be the general emotion among Arsenal supporters following last night's 1-0 win against Udinese.

    ED's Twitter feed was flooded with North London angst.

    A colleague of ED's found himself describing Marouane Chamakh as a 'complete non-player' and expressed disbelief that Carl Jenkinson ('completely out of his depth') should not only find himself on the pitch, but out of position at left-back.

    And this is one of the moderates - i.e. he didn't boo the Gunners off at the Emirates Cup.

    ED is not saying

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  • Can we play you every week?

    The Spanish Liga season could be delayed as the players'
    union prepares to go on strike for the first two match days.

    Without boring you with details, players want guarantees
    they will continue to be paid if their club goes into administration. The
    clubs, who would have to foot the bill, are saying no.

    In other news, last night club football's greatest rivalry
    served up yet another classic - a match filled with spectacular football and
    spiteful malice. A white-hot feud that burns as brightly as ever.

    It was the sixth time Barcelona have played Real Madrid in
    the space of four months, and they

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  • In defence of De Gea

    When Manchester United lost to Aston Villa on the opening day of the 1995/96 season, Alan Hansen made his infamous prediction that "you'll never win anything with kids". Nine months later a side containing David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville were crowned Premier League champions.

    On Sunday, meanwhile, the average age of the United team that started the 2-1 win over West Brom was one year younger than the team that contained the Fergie Fledglings. Comparisons were inevitable.

    Fears over the inexperience of Ferguson's side are not without merit given that young goalkeeper David De Gea

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  • News flash! Football is a murky business

    What with the hacking furore continuing to escalate, leading to more resignations at Scotland Yard, those at the very top of News International facing a parliamentary committee today and David Cameron still hiding in Africa for the time being, you'd think there was only room for one scandal at the moment.

    However - in addition to the Daily Express doing its best to whip up its own unrelated frenzy - Channel Four's Dispatches programme tried to unearth shocking revelations about the murky world of football club ownership.

    The documentary 'How to buy a football club', screened last night,

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  • It’s all gone quiet over here

    Just as you were getting used to the idea of life without two of the Premier League's biggest players, it looks as though neither of them will be going anywhere after all.

    Carlos Tevez's proposed move back to South America has evaporated, while Cesc Fabregas's long-mooted return to Barcelona may be in jeopardy of going on the back burner yet again.

    Early Doors wrote last week about how Tevez moving back to his former club was a deal that suited everyone - the striker got to be back close to his children, while City made a big profit on a player with plenty of time left in the transfer window

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  • Breaking the transfer tedium

    After yet another frustrating day in which the big summer transfer sagas moved no closer to completion, and Carlos Tevez's protracted departure from Manchester City even regressed, Early Doors, in a moment of desperation, suddenly recalled a quote from Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day.

    "I was in the Virgin Islands once. I met a girl. We ate lobster, drank Pina Coladas. At sunset we made love like sea otters. That was a pretty good day. Why couldn't I get that day over and over and over?"

    Instead, ED finds itself stuck in a particularly vicious time loop where Cesc Fabregas forever

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