Early Doors

  • Mancini already feeling the heat

    As if feeling his first serious bout of pressure as Manchester City manager wasn't enough, Roberto Mancini is still living the life of Alan Partridge.

    The Italian boss is so unsure of his future at the club that he is yet to buy a permanent residence and move his family over.

    Instead, he remains living in self-imposed exile in a hotel. Speculation that he only has a mumbling, semi-comprehensible Carlos Tevez for company is, however, probably wide of the mark.

    The Daily Mail quote him saying in an interview in Italy: "If I get an apartment, that means that fourth place is becoming reality. From

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  • Chelsea on brink

    Early Doors doesn't often do predictions,
    and when it does it tends to do them badly (see Wednesday's 'Spurs win? It'll
    never happen'
    debacle).

    But not to be deterred by that massive
    fail, ED is prepared to stick its neck out once again with a spot of bold soothsaying
    ahead of this weekend's fixtures.

    Put simply, the title race will be done and
    dusted come teatime on Saturday.

    In the early kick-off, Manchester United's
    noisy neighbours from across town will be shouting all the way to a Champions
    League place when they outmuscle, outmanoeuvre and outscore the exiting
    champions at Eastlands.

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  • Video: Crisis? What crisis?

    If only the FA had put Frank Lampard up in front of the media yesterday instead of John Terry.

    The England vice-captain came out and denied any talk of a player rebellion, even a lone one from Terry, in such assured, relaxed fashion that he may have even convinced those who reported such an uprising yesterday that it were not true.

    Lamps then went one step further and mildly chastised the media by reminding them of who held the power in the player/press relationship.

    It was all very well handled by the Chelsea midfielder, who was open, erudite and intelligent. He's got an A* in Latin, you

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  • Germans have beef with gauchos

    It might not be the World Cup grudge match that England fans were hoping for, but the upcoming quarter-final between Germany and Argentina is a fixture that has a rich history of its own.

    Britain's back pages won't be covered in Hand of God references, "Gotcha!" headline retreads or Richard Littlejohn reminding us how good old Maggie sorted the Argies out, but there is plenty of gold to be mined in the build-up to Saturday's match in Cape Town.

    There is the small matter of the two consecutive finals in which the two sides clashed in 1986 and 1990, a run which ended honours even.

    But there are

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  • Why are we here?

    It's not often
    Early Doors agrees with Ian Wright. But even a blind darts player is going to
    hit treble-20 sooner or later, and the Gladiators presenter has got it exactly
    right calling England friendly against the Netherlands "ridiculous",
    "a waste of time", "a hindrance", "pointless" and
    "absurd" - he's obviously
    been at the thesaurus.

    Early Doors is too lazy to find out exactly who decided
    internationals this week were a good idea, and why, but it can only assume the
    scheduling was made as a forfeit resulting from some sort of bet.

    ED has to confess it hasn't
    watched an England friendly for

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  • Give Sven the job

    So, in the end it took £6 million for the Reds to rid themselves of manager Rafael Benitez.

    He may have won them the Champions League, but ultimately it was losing their place in that very competition that cost him. In six seasons at the club only one was remarkably bad, but coming at a time of such uncertainty it was more than enough to earn him the chop. 

    He never even got to say a proper goodbye. While his lawyers thrashed out his severance deal, Benitez remained afar, communicating to the fans who all once proudly declared "In Rafa We Trust" through a heartfelt statement.

    Mind you, you can

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  • Torres can make City credible

    Roy Hodgson's admission that Fernando Torres is not totally happy at Liverpool will be music to Manchester City's ears.

    Hodgson has spoken on several occasions of the "disenchantment" at the club where he replaced Rafael Benitez at the start of the month, and it seems Torres is no exception.

    He said: "Unfortunately, I cannot do much more. His beef is with the club and not me.

    "Fernando's situation has nothing to do with me, he made that perfectly clear over the phone during the World Cup and when I met him face-to-face.

    "He knows what I would like to do with the club. He knows how much I

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  • Video: Slots, safari and super-sized shirts

    Now we have
    a two-day wait that will feel so long that the third-place play-off will feel
    like the final itself, how will the fans still in South Africa keep themselves
    occupied?

    Being in
    Africa, it would be rude not to go for a trip on safari, but if watching
    various animals laze around in the sun isn't exciting enough for you, then you
    can watch a man walk amongst crocodiles and goad them into action by poking
    them with a stick. Wonder what the health insurance plan is like on that job.

    If you're
    based in Sun City then you can emulate the Black Star heroes of Ghana by
    hanging around the

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  • The Fabianski back-pass fiasco

    When recounting Arsenal's injury predicament ahead of last night's match against Porto, Early Doors made a glib remark that while the Gunners were missing Arshavin, Song, Gallas and Eduardo, the good news was that so was goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, in a cheap bid for sneery LOLs and ROFLs.

    Well, who's ROFLing now? Porto, that's who.

    Arsenal reserve keeper Lukasz Fabianski put in a calamitous performance that greatly helped the Portuguese side to a valuable 2-1 win in their Champions League last 16 first leg match.

    Fabianski's first error - allowing Silvestre Varela's cross to beat him at the

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