Early Doors

  • Jay-Z gets World Cup call-up

    A quick internet
    search for South African musicians throws up the following: Miriam Makeba
    a.k.a. Mama Afrika (deceased), Dave Matthews, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, dismal
    goth rockers The Awakening and Paul Simon's
    backing group.

    So World Cup
    organisers are going to stick to universal football principles and bring in
    somebody more famous for the opening ceremony.

    Organisers have
    hired Kevin Wall to stage the event. Wall has previously put on concerts for Madonna,
    Michael Jackson (hopefully not an omen) and bizarrely Al Gore.

    In line for World
    Cup call-ups are rap/R&B power couple Jay-Z and

    Read More »from Jay-Z gets World Cup call-up
  • No obligation to buy

    Yesterday was a quiet day in the Premier League. Among the biggest stories to be reported were Didier Zokora, the world's least energy-efficient footballer, joining Sevilla, and Robin van Persie getting a pay rise.

    Meanwhile, Real Madrid are gearing up for their third hysterical player 'unveiling' in just over a week this evening as Karim Benzema is presented at the Bernabeu, almost to underline how much the footballing world has been bumped off its axis this year.

    It will be interesting to see, after the appearance of Ronaldo, just how many Benzema shirts are sold once the Frenchman bursts

    Read More »from No obligation to buy
  • Kim Jong-il diving header

    Early Doors was just drifting off to sleep last night, as it often does, with Newsnight on in the background.

    It's not uncommon to hear mention of North Korea on the current affairs vehicle for quiz show host Jeremy Paxman, but ED woke up with a start when it heard Paxo mention the country and Sven-Goran Eriksson in the same sentence.

    The Guardian, once again leading the way with Notts County stories, reports that Sven and Notts County chief Peter Trembling have flown out to Beijing to hold final talks over taking charge of the national team at next year's World Cup, their first since 1966.

    Read More »from Kim Jong-il diving header
  • Were Ireland in on the plot?

    Cheatgate, day two, and the sheer scale of the plot to deny Ireland a place
    at the World Cup becomes ever more apparent.

    There are so many guilty parties, a millipede would struggle
    to point the finger at all of them.

    Blame Thierry Henry for handling the ball then refusing to
    fess up (but didn't he show lovely
    technique to kill the ball dead with his first touch, then caress it onto his
    right foot with his second?).

    Blame William Gallas for not 'doing
    a Paolo Di Canio' when the ball came
    across to him (no, not a fascist salute, that thing where he caught the ball
    and stopped play).

    Blame the

    Read More »from Were Ireland in on the plot?
  • Red alert

    Nine red cards were shown in the weekend's 10 Premier League games - a record according to the accepted wisdom that football (and indeed human history) started in 1992.

    The disciplinary debacle provoked outrage from the mid-market tabloids, with the Daily Mail describing Saturday as a "Halloween horror show" and a "day of shame".

    Let's forget for a moment that there are as many sendings-off in the average Copa Libertadores game as an average Premier League weekend - do all those red cards really point to a breakdown in discipline?

    Are our football pitches really turning into a microcosm of

    Read More »from Red alert
  • Australia Day

    As Zeljko Kalac creaked down to his right, attempting to save Cesc Fabregas's good-but-not-great long-range strike last night, it was all too easy to remember that this was the man Martin O'Neill once considered worse than Kevin Poole.

    Aussie Kalac spent the 1995/96 season at Leicester, where he committed numerous blunders in a 3-2 debut defeat to Bolton and found himself summarily dropped.

    Kalac made a memorable appearance in the play-off final, when O'Neill brought him off the bench for Poole shortly before penalties to make use of his extra nine inches. In height.

    He never had a touch, as

    Read More »from Australia Day
  • Role reversal

    Rugby players are a refined breed - well-spoken, clean-shaven public school boys who call the referee "Sir" and ensure that their inappropriate groping goes no further than the bottom of a ruck.

    Or so Early Doors thought until the emergence of Danny Cipriani, who once appeared on an MTV show pretty much auditioning to become a male escort.

    The Wasps man was yesterday axed from the England team after being pictured coming out of a nightclub late on Wednesday - although he claims he only popped in to give some tickets to a mate and, more importantly, people seem to believe him.

    Cipriani is also

    Read More »from Role reversal
  • The Terminal

    Early Doors has been accused in the past of devoting almost no coverage to events north of the border, and in turn has received plenty of abuse for it.

    So, after an evening in which there was precisely zero football played in England - there was even a 24-hour embargo placed on kickarounds on tarmac tennis courts imposed by the FA - ED is happy to give the SPL the spotlight it deserves.

    In events that mirrored those in Moscow the previous night, the attacking guile of the average Irishmen's second team Celtic claimed a dramatic late victory over the dour, pragmatism of Rangers.

    At least the

    Read More »from The Terminal
  • The holy grail

    Champions League football is the holy grail of the modern game. Well, a holy grail that comes around every year and, far from being elusive, is flogged by the media to within an inch of its corporate logo-emblazoned life.

    But it is what every player wants. It is the reason why Gareth Barry has demanded to go from captain of the sixth-best team in the country to squad player at the fourth-best team in the country.

    Never mind that angry hordes will chase him out of Birmingham next time he goes to see X-Factor Live at the National Indoor Arena. It's all about Champions League football.

    Which is

    Read More »from The holy grail
  • Return of the ‘tache

    After a season of underachievement, Manchester United have been boosted by the return of their talismanic captain.

    Before Sunday's Community Shield, Gary Neville has only managed nine minutes of first team football in the last 17 months, which goes some way to explaining United's failure to secure either the FA Cup or the Carling Cup.

    Many thought that that realisation of his worst nightmare - being replaced wholesale by Wes Brown - would be too much for Neville to bear, but he marked his full return in style by lifting the season's first trophy at the Wembley showpiece after beating

    Read More »from Return of the ‘tache