Early Doors

  • ‘Group of death’ comes to life

    After a rather cagey set of opening fixtures thus far, today we will finally be served up a clash of the big guns.

    Two continents, nay, two hemispheres collide this afternoon in the World Cup's first genuinely big match: New Zealand v Slovakia kicks off at 12:30!

    OK, fine, it's Ivory Coast v Portugal you're really excited about, isn't it? Group G - the 'Group of Death' - kicks off in Port Elizabeth with a clash that pits Didier Drogba versus Cristiano Ronaldo, Sven-Goran Eriksson versus Carlos Queiroz and the Elephants versus the, er, Selection.

    Early Boers has made its peace with the fact

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  • How did it come to this?

    England found a novel way to help out the fans back home who can't stand the sound of vuvuzelas last night: play so poorly that viewers are compelled to change the channel.

    Fabio Capello's side were so bad that flicking over to Gardeners World Live, or even the woeful Godfather Part III, would have been a better proposition than watching Our Boys labouring to an insipid 0-0 draw with Algeria in Cape Town.

    Early Boers would have loved to have had access to such distractions at the Green Point Stadium. Never mind watching the bird that perched on the roof of the Algeria net, at one point EB

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  • Time to move on

    Little did he realise at the time, but when Wayne Rooney sent his bitter message out to England fans as they booed the team off the pitch following the Greatest Result In Algeria's History, he was perfectly encapsulating the mood back home.

    At that moment, the long-suffering supporters of the national team and the patriots who may only watch England at World Cup, even though they hate football, were bereft of any good will towards the players after they served up the worst performance in a Three Lions shirt for decades.

    Although Rooney's blast ("Nice to see your home fans boo you. That's what

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  • No way back for Milner

    You can tell Martin O'Neill is not happy with James Milner, and is resigned to losing the England midfielder.

    The man who enjoyed the best years of his career under Brian Clough sounded like Old Big 'Ead referring to Milner dismissively as "the player" when he revealed the 24-year-old told him he wants to leave Aston Villa for Manchester City.

    O'Neill said: "If a fee is agreed, at the end of the day, the player can leave."

    Milner is now making the transformation from honest young prospect to football commodity by refusing to sign a new deal at Villa and making it clear he wants to start next

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  • Transfer dreadline day

    So, transfer deadline day fever is over for another year.

    Sky Sports News' blue riband event, their poor man's version of a general election or the X Factor final has passed and the big, bright clock will be solemnly ticking down to 00:00 February 1 2011 off-screen for the next four months.

    In these days of austerity (overall spending in the Premier League is down 22 per cent on last year) the final day of August often disappoints, but the biggest let-down for Early Doors was that scotch foghorn presenter Jim White didn't dress up in a tuxedo to give proceedings a gala feel.

    But what a thrill

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  • Zola’s Wet Sham

    A lot of people, not least Bob Geldof and Garfield, hate Mondays. Not Early Doors. At least on that first day back at work there is a weekend's worth of socialising/relaxation/meow meow-induced oblivion to reflect upon and regale to friends and colleagues.

    By Tuesday however, the optimism mustered to face the new week has eroded, all the anecdotes have been repeated ad nauseum and the forced workplace bonhomie is already beginning to strain. And there are still four whole days to go until the next weekend.

    West Ham clearly agree. Since the Premier League, and therefore football, began West Ham

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  • Let the Merseyside sack race begin

    Sunday October 17, 13:30 at Goodison Park - stick it in the diary right now because it could be a Premier League managerial eviction special. David Moyes or Roy Hodgson? Who goes? The Merseyside derby decides.

    Moyes has been at Everton for eight largely successful years while Hodgson has been at Liverpool barely eight minutes, but unless the two Scouse teams buck up and start producing some quality performances soon then both managers are going to have their heads firmly on the chopping block come derby day.

    We will start with Everton whose miserable start to the season reached a new low

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  • Planet Hollywood

    Not even injury could prevent Cristiano Ronaldo from pulling off his usual array of Hollywood tricks over the past few days.

    Ronaldo was in Los Angeles last night for the ESPYs, an in-no-way-contrived awards ceremony put together by sports network ESPN.

    You may notice from the photo above that Ronaldo mistook the ESPYs for a fancy-dress party and turned up in a George Michael costume.

    Now, if you'll excuse Early Doors for a minute.

    [Thinking...]

    [Still thinking...]

    [Just a second...]

    No, there are no follow-up Ronaldo/George Michael jokes that would not result in an immediate and costly

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  • Call off the circus

    A week ago it would have seemed unthinkable that a 5-1 win would be greeted with grunts of dissatisfaction and a subsequent 3-1 win in Belarus would be treated as a famous victory, but it's funny how things turn out.

    Belarus - just as Macedonia did before them - proved that any two-bit new-fangled eastern European side is technically superior to many of Our Boys, but the visitors' eventual victory was their fourth out of four World Cup qualifiers.

    Rio Ferdinand may have sent shudders down the spine when he described manager Fabio Capello's approach as "results-orientated", but the upshot is a

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  • Stupid Boyd

    Early Doors cannot say it wouldn't be annoyed if it had to sit on the bench while Chris Iwelumo missed open goals, but Kris Boyd's international 'retirement' seems a bit far-fetched.

    Justifying his decision to keep Boyd on the bench against Norway on Saturday, Scotland boss George Burley pointed out that the striker isn't even a regular first-teamer for Rangers.

    Burley needn't have bothered - you don't need the talent-spotting genius of Arsene Wenger to distinguish Boyd from the second coming of Gabriel Batistuta, and his refusal to play for Burley will have precisely no effect since he wasn't

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