Early Doors

  • Why it’s OK to cheat

    Tim Cahill lost his appeal against a red card in the Merseyside derby, which means it is official - it's OK to cheat, but it's not OK to fractionally mistime a tackle.

    John Terry got off the hook last week after rugby tackling Manchester City's Jo as he ran towards goal.

    It can only be because it was a textbook challenge around the waist - the kind of which any public schoolmaster would heartily approve.

    Either that or a different set of rules apply to the England captain. Let us not forget that Terry was actually sent off, before the punishment was overturned and the referee responsible -

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  • Beckham V: Reborn

    Early Doors has spent a decade honing its bitter line in
    cynicism, but there is one man who remains capable of reducing Ed to a smitten
    teenager. Forget the fallout from the Merseyside derby, forget Pele's
    multi-billion-pound comeback at Manchester City, forget Barack Obama's foreign
    policy, Monday is all about the footballing institution that is David Beckham.

    Becks started yet again for Milan against Bologna, putting
    in a man-of-the-match performance and scoring a rollicking fourth goal in a thumping
    4-1 win for Carlo Ancelotti's superstars XI 
    - who had Dida, Ronaldinho, Filippo Inzaghi and

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  • Contract killer

    After several
    years of dotting the 'i's, crossing the 't's, (MASSIVE NATIONAL STEREOTYPE ALERT!) putting the
    squiggly things on top of the 'n's and turning the exclamation marks upside-down, Rafa
    Benitez has finally signed a new contract with Liverpool.

    Benitez is
    coming to the end of his fifth season at Anfield, making him the Premier League's fourth longest-serving manager, and he is now in
    line for five more.

    So why is
    it that Liverpool seem to be in a perpetual
    state of turmoil? It seems every fortnight some bookie or other suspends
    betting on Benitez getting the push, and yet he has

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  • Dressing-room destroyers

    Alan Shearer was involved in a furious shouting match with
    Joey Barton after Newcastle's game against Liverpool, according to The Sun.

    The pair had to be pulled apart when Shearer laid into
    Barton after the midfielder's red card for a wild tackle on Xabi Alonso.

    When Shearer told him he had let the club down, Barton, who
    left the pitch mouthing "it wasn't a foul", apparently responded by
    telling Shearer: "You're a s*** manager with s*** tactics."

    As the former Mr Match Of The Day had just selected Damien
    Duff to play left-back and Fabricio Coloccini to play... well, just to play, it
    is hard to

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  • S*** and we know we are

    Yesterday, Early Doors said that if any Premier League side could
    throw away a three-goal aggregate lead against Burnley,
    it was Tottenham.

    Last night's
    events at Turf Moor first proved ED gloriously right, then tragically wrong.

    But it was classic Spurs that their qualification for a
    Wembley final was overwhelmed by the complete humiliation of getting thrashed
    by a team that, since Christmas, have lost to Barnsley, Doncaster Rovers,
    Swansea and Preston.

    A rainy midweek evening at Burnley
    is meant to be a true test of a player's
    ability - and by that standard Spurs are truly rubbish.


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  • Wotte’s going on?

    Three hours
    is a long time in football. Just ask ex-Southampton manager Mark Wotte.

    If you
    thought Southampton's
    takeover by a Swiss billionaire would put an end to the chaos at the club,
    think again.

    The Southern
    Daily Echo
    's excellent coverage has seen
    new stories published on its website almost hourly.

    Yet not even
    in the high-octane and wildly fictional universe of Kiefer Sutherland vehicle 24 would Wotte's circumstances have changed as quickly as they did

    Wednesday, when Markus Liebherr completed his takeover of the club, Wotte
    described himself as: "Delighted and very

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  • Relegation fodder, Portsmouth are

    Depending on your point of view, Avram Grant either exudes
    zen-like calm, or has to be poked with a stick to check he is still breathing.

    goalkeeper David James clearly opts for the former, saying Grant is like Yoda from
    Star Wars - although given the Israeli's
    likeness to Dangermouse baddie Baron Greenback, it may not seem wise to compare
    him to a green animated character.

    James said: "He's
    like Yoda. His pearls of wisdom seem to be far-reaching and he speaks a lot of

    Good luck getting the likes of Kevin-Prince Boateng to
    digest 'pearls of wisdom' like: "Do
    or do not...

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  • Public Enemy No. 1

    Even though their old ground was nicknamed the 'Highbury library'
    (sadly, no quiet places rhyme with 'Emirates'), Arsenal fans are capable of making noise.

    Only this season, most of it has been directed at their own

    In December, fans reduced Emmanuel Eboue to tears when they
    booed his every move in a particularly useless display against Wigan, forcing Arsene Wenger to take Eboue - himself a
    substitute - off.

    But that is nothing compared with the vitriol aimed at
    Emmanuel Adebayor, whose move to Manchester
    City appears in danger of
    stalling, raising the hilarious prospect of an

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  • How to win friends and influence people

    It's official. The transfer of Emmanuel Adebayor from Arsenal to Manchester City is now the most acrimonious in the history of football.

    Forget Paul Ince's move from West Ham to Manchester United, Sol Campbell's defection from Spurs to Arsenal or Luis Figo's Barcelona-Real Madrid switch, this one tops the lot.

    Why? Because players, not just fans, are now getting involved, embroiling themselves in a bitter war of words that is showing no sign of abating. Frankly, it's great stuff.

    But it's also ugly. Not that it should be that way.

    Arsenal fans should have been - and were - glad to be rid of

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  • Villa’s blessing in disguise

    Aston Villa's elimination from the inaugural Europa League could be the best thing that happens to them all season. 

    Earlier this year, they were on course for fourth place and a place in the European competition that actually counts before spring arrived and it all unravelled faster than the typical A-Team plot.

    March came, the strain of a season that had begun the previous July told, Villa conceded two stoppage-time goals at home to Stoke and barely won another match the rest of the way.

    Despite a few decent summer additions and the imminent arrival of Richard Dunne, Villa do not have the

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