Early Doors

Foster: Football’s Ramprakash

Early Doors

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Alex Ferguson's
face is the football season's
equivalent of a pregnancy test; the moment it turns purple, you know it's game on and there is no turning back.

Who will be holding the little bundle of joy that is the
Premier League trophy in nine months'
time? The game offered few clues.

But the Community Shield fulfilled its brief as a super-size
friendly admirably, even managing to provide some genuine needle.

Fergie was furious that Chelsea's
second goal stood because of a fairly blatant shoulder charge on Patrice Evra
by Michael Ballack.

While ED would rather not get bogged down in the intricacies
of the advantage rule, it feels it must point out that United were in
possession at the time.

Even with his left-back in a sprawling heap, Fergie might do
better to reflect on his side's
defending of Chelsea's agricultural
boot forwards, which resembled a knackered out pub side with neither the
ability nor the inclination to get back in numbers.

The fact that Frank Lampard was left completely unmarked,
and that Ben Foster failed to keep out his shot, are surely more pertinent than
Chris Foy's mistake?

The balance was redressed in injury time when an offside
Wayne Rooney scampered through to equalise, about which Fergie was strangely
quiet. In any case, at this stage of the season, the process is more important
than the result.

Foster performed poorly, compounding his error for the
Lampard goal with some wayward clearances and dodgy communication.

It does not bode well for England
three days ahead of a game against Holland
that Foster is earmarked to start.

- - -

Going off on a wild tangent, if England's
cricket selectors need any encouragement not to make wholesale changes for the
fifth Ashes Test, they could do worse than look at Foster.

Like so many England
cricket hopefuls, he is a player whose reputation is only enhanced when he does
not play.

The reason the likes of Marcus Trescothick, Mark Ramprakash
and Robert Key are attractive is that they have not recently had a chance to

They have been able to fill their boots at County level while
their previous failures for England
have melted away.

We can conveniently forget that Ramprakash averaged 27.32 in
his 92 Test innings, that 29 per cent of Key's
775 Test runs came in a single knock against the West
Indies, or that the only reason Trescothick is not playing is because
of his mental fragility.

Do any of the above sound like the ideal selection for a
must-win Ashes Test; probably the biggest pressure situation an England
player can face?

Likewise, Foster is able to sit in the wings behind Edwin
van der Sar and bask in his status as heir apparent to one of the greatest
keepers ever - as though Van der Sar's
status somehow conveys legitimacy on his successor.

How exactly did that work out with Peter Schemeichel and
Mark Bosnich, then?

And - apart from his iPod-assisted penalty saves in the
Carling Cup final last season - he has rarely impressed for United.

Foster has been anointed England's
next big thing, and the only thing that can puncture this image is if he actually
gets to play regularly and his flaws become public knowledge.

- - -

QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: "I was talking
with Hull
manager Phil Brown, but I will not talk about figures. Maybe I was just talking
to Phil about the weather." Rafa Benitez is too embarrassed to admit he
wants to sign Michael Turner. And has anyone else noticed how often Benitez
uses the word 'talking'?

FOREIGN VIEW: South America;
God bless it.

A pre-season friendly between Uruguay's
Penarol and Newell's Old Boys of
Argentina had to be abandoned after 40 minutes because of a players' brawl.

"The Penarol supporters are reminded that this is a friendly
match," Penarol announced over the loudspeakers when fans threw
firecrackers at the Argentine team's
players warming up before kickoff in Maldonado.

With 37 minutes on the clock and the Uruguayans leading 1-0, Penarol
midfielder Julio Mozzo landed a hefty punch on Newell's
defender Diego Mateo after they both went for a high ball, reports said.

That turned into a free-for-all, with some players hitting out and others
trying to calm team mates, and the referee soon abandoned the game.

the beginning of a new and exciting era! Making a mockery of its short-sighted
creators' naming skills, Early Doors
today becomes a twice-daily venture. In addition to the standard 9am ED, there
will be an afternoon edition around 4pm. We'll
have to call it Late Doors, or Early Doors PM, or something. See you then.

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