Early Doors

Role models

Early Doors

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Nicolas Anelka has weighed in with perhaps Early Doors's favourite quote of the season so far.

Le Sulk has toned down his outbursts in recent times - particularly after getting a move away from Bolton - but his latest comments show his massive self-regard is still very much alive and kicking.

"I'd compare myself to Zinedine Zidane in some ways. He's just a humble guy who happened to be the best," he deadpanned.

Who says the French don't understand irony?

"I saw what he did in the World Cup final in Germany and it made me smile. I even, in fact, respected Zizou a little more than before," Anelka continued.

What, chipping that penalty in off the bar? Alas, no. Nico referred, of course, to the bonkers chest-butt on Marco Materazzi.

"I recognised it as the typical reaction of a guy who has had to grow up on the mean streets."

Early Doors suggests that kids from the mean streets probably wouldn't last long if they committed assault every time somebody slagged off their sister.

At least he didn't pull a flick knife out of his sock and stab Materazzi to death, which appears to be the unhappy vogue this side of the channel.

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On the subject of role models comes the news that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is setting up a football camp this summer at over 30 locations in Sweden.

So the next generation of Olof Mellbergs and Henrik Larssons can forget about traditional Swedish professionalism, hard work and respectfulness.

Instead, Early Doors can only guess they will be taught how to underperform in big games, feud with team-mates and develop a God complex bigger than Anelka's.

Extra-curricular activities will be particularly encouraged, based on Zlatan's previous.

Ibrahimovic was once collared for impersonating a policeman - driving around Malmo's red-light district and "arresting" curb-crawlers.

While at Ajax, he goaded Mido to such an extent that the Egyptian attacked him with a pair of scissors.

Zlatan has compared himself to Muhammad Ali and said of John Carew: "What he can do with a football, I can do with an orange." Although he didn't say what advantage that gives him.

He has yet to make good on his promise to become the world's greatest player, having once declared that only injury could prevent him from doing so. Either that, or an inability to fit his head through the dressing-room door.

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Alex Ferguson loves the Champions League and his sunny midweek demeanour may explain why he has not enjoyed the same success in Europe as he has at home over the years.

Even the most turgid goalless draw in northern France transforms him from growling sociopath to giggling schoolgirl; so a 2-0 win in Rome ensured he sported a grin of Cheshire cat proportions after the game.

The Scot dusted off his favourite word - "marvellous" - to describe the result, a comment that moves him to second in the list of all-time use of that particular adjective - behind only Richie Benaud.

He then laughingly characterised Cristiano Ronaldo's goal thus: "It was a centre forward's header - it reminded me of myself!"

In fact, Ronaldo has some way to go to match his manager's goalscoring tally. Fergie rattled home 167 goals during his playing career at a rate of better than one-in-two (admittedly in Scotland).

It makes the Portuguese's total of 86 in 240 for United look positively pedestrian by comparison. Although Ronaldo's season-by-season totals of 6, 9, 12, 23 and 36-not-out suggest he may yet overhaul the gaffer.

If Ronaldo takes on any of Fergie's attributes, he must hope inherits his determination and longevity rather than his distress-flare facial features.

Don't think those pin-up boy looks can't disappear fast. It's just a question of genetics, as Jamie Redknapp and Paolo Maldini are set to discover shortly.

Ferguson even summoned the humility to utter the words "I got it wrong" when talking about United's second-half tactics - a statement equivalent to Arsene Wenger saying "I saw the entire incident" or Avram Grant appearing in an advert for a health spa.

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United have now played Roma five times in a year, but such familiarity has failed to exhaust the papers' massive reserves of Rome-based punnery, as this morning's headlines show.

"Rome sweet Rome" (Star), "He came, he scored, he conquered" (Mirror), "Rooman conquerors" (Sun) and "United reduce Roma to ruins" (Times) show some people will never tire of pointing out that Roma come from the same city as the Romans.

The Sun go on to rate Ronaldo's performance on a scale of 'Caesar Pleaser' to 'Caesar Salad'.

- - -

QUOTE OF THE DAY: It's an encore for that Nicolas Anelka gem: "I'd compare myself to Zinedine Zidane in some ways. He's just a humble guy who happened to be the best."

FOREIGN VIEW: 'Italy 0, England 3' - After Internazionale and Milan's Champions League defeats to Premier League opponents, Corriere dello Sport laments Roma's capitulation.

TALKING POINT: Yesterday's score predictions were the usual shots in the dark, although the probably-not-impartial mu_red_devils_293 got the United scoreline right.

Meanwhile, g_hine mused: "Anybody watch Delia last night? Is it me or had Alan Hansen had a few too many Cobras?" Well, anybody?

Today - which footballing loose cannon would you most like to see open a soccer school?

COMING UP: It's Battle of Britain part 675 as Arsenal take on Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium. Meanwhile Chelsea do battle against Fenerbahce. Please, Sir, can we have our foreign teams back? It's all live from 7.45pm.

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