Early Doors

Jimmy cranky

Early Doors

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Under the Premier League's intense spotlight, it has become difficult for decent players not to get noticed.

Such is the relentless hype that ordinary players like Scott Parker and Jermaine Jenas acquire reputations far exceeding their actual ability.

Some 'big' club - usually Chelsea, Spurs or Newcastle - believes the propaganda and splashes out for a bright young thing who actually turns out to be a bit rubbish.

So how come, when a couple of snappy tackles or decent through-balls are a passport to a top-ten club, nobody good wants to buy Jimmy Bullard?

Consider this:

He kept Fulham in the Premier League almost single-handedly.

He is a positive dressing-room influence (translates roughly as 'banter merchant').

He is that rarest of birds, the creative English midfielder.

He's really, really, ridiculously good at free-kicks.

If Tom Huddlestone can get in the England squad, Bullard should be a shoo-in. And yet the only side trying to buy him are Wigan - a club he left in 2006.

Bullard is an unashamedly old-fashioned footballer. He's got the kind of lop-sided face only a mother could love, topped off with a mop of blond curls teleported directly from 1976.

He exudes precisely zero arrogance and seems like a genuinely nice bloke - the perfect antidote to an age dominated by image and posturing.

Put it this way - you wouldn't see an oiled-up, marmite-coloured Bullard sunbathing on the front of a tabloid newspaper.

Is football really so shallow that Bullard gets overlooked by the big boys simply because he's not up his own backside?

Anyone who has paid even the slightest attention to ED over its lifespan will know the answer is a resounding yes.

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Luiz Felipe Scolari has taken to English football like an ex-pro to Scotch.

Since taking over at Chelsea, Big Phil has quickly made himself part of the furniture - metaphorically not literally, as was the case with the wooden Avram Grant.

You know you have truly arrived when Alex Ferguson targets you for mind games - in Scolari's case for having a very slightly older squad than Manchester United.

What has impressed Early Doors the most is his effortless adoption of English percentage inflation.

Take the statement Michael Ballack would miss a meaningless friendly against a Malaysian Select XI on Saturday, having joined up late with the squad following his wedding.

For Scolari, it was more than a piece of rather boring team news. It was an opportunity to inject hyperbole to an otherwise mundane situation.

Ballack was not just going to miss the game, nor 100 percent or even 110 percent likely to sit it out. He was "one million percent" not going to play.

A million percent! Imagine being that certain about anything. Scolari is a man who truly knows his own mind.

Problem is - his claim that Didier Drogba was "200 percent" a part of his plans doesn't sound so impressive any more, does it?

In fact, Scolari is saying that Drogba is 5,000 times less likely to stay at Chelsea than Ballack is to miss the Malaysia game.

- - -

Many of this morning's papers feature front-page pictures of both Barack Obama and Cristiano Ronaldo, whose skin tone rather calls into question whether Obama can really be described as 'black'.

Ronaldo's mahogany varnish is truly astonishing but, Early Doors would love to see him naked.

Not, perhaps, for the reason you would imagine, but just to see the luminous glow of his pasty white right foot - currently in a cast - and the 'area' underneath those ubiquitous metallic mini-shorts.

- - -

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Marcus Bent (11 clubs in 10 years) comes up with a new way to say 'bad blood' and has a pop at Wigan Athletic: "I was promised a contract and it didn't evolve. There isn't good blood between us."

FOREIGN VIEW: Barcelona weren't kidding when they said they were more than a club. They are now a purveyor of Pringle-style clothing after releasing their own tartan. Los Cules celebrated their love of all things Scottish with a 6-0 romp against Hibernian last night before heading out for a night of stereotypical merriment featuring Tennants Extra, deep-fried Mars bars and bye-election upsets.

TALKING POINT: claire881 endears herself to ED by revealing a sociopathic streak: "I hate Help the Aged, why isn't there a 'Help The Young' that's ageist in itself... hypocrites!"

Today - Who is the most under-rated player in the Premier League?

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