Early Doors

Twelve Doors of Christmas: October

Early Doors

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Early Doors takes a nostalgic and sherry-fuelled look back at the year's big stories through the medium of recycled posts. ED returns on January 4.

October 1: Michael Owen gets crocked. Obviously.

ED's take: It is tempting to call Owen's latest injury ironic or unlucky, but in reality it is neither. Getting injured is what he has done his entire career, and having gone several months without so much as a broken toenail, he was certainly due.

Owen limped out of Manchester United's Champions League game against Wolfsburg with a groin strain that will keep him out for around three weeks. He was playing in front of Fabio Capello and it is thought a good performance would have got him into the squad for England's last two World Cup qualifiers.

If the injury itself was merely a logical consequence of being Michael Owen, irony fans will enjoy a report in this morning's Times pointing out that, despite suffering problems in training on Sunday, the next day Owen took part in a penalty demonstration with journalists as part of his sponsorship obligations.

He might have succeeded in sending Henry Winter the wrong way but at what cost to England's World Cup hopes?

October 6: Anger as Ukraine-England is shown only on the internet

ED's take: BBC and ITV deem Hole in the Wall and You've Been Framed more lucrative than the national team - just about the most damning indictment possible of this dead rubber.  And let's not forget; Setanta held the rights in the first place so nobody was going to see it anyway. 

England fan-in-chief Mark Perryman's well-meaning rant, describing the situation as "disastrous" and "a disgrace" is about 15 years out of date. " 

However much watching England can at times resemble a state funeral, the public does not have an absolute right to see the national team play a preliminary match in some far-flung central Asian outpost.

However, Perryman's beef is not with internet streaming, but with anything that isn't terrestrial TV. He should talk to the 1990s, 'cos the noughties ain't listening. 

October 14: Sven Goran-Eriksson is linked with the North Korea job

ED's take: Sven and Notts County chief Peter Trembling have flown out to hold final talks over taking charge of the national team at next year's World Cup, their first since 1966.

What are they thinking? This is a morally reprehensible travesty. Have the North Korean FA not seen Sven's record as Mexico coach?  That's the down side of being an internet 'black hole' - you can't search for these key bits of information.

Sven is surely on to a winner should he take this job. The pay will probably be hefty, especially for a part-time role. And, even if they are actually eliminated from the group stage in South Africa, he will still be greeted by mass parades through Pyongyang once the nation's public hear reports of star striker Kim Jong-il's diving header to seal his match-winning hat-trick in the final.

Following his year in charge of Manchester City when they were owned by Thaksin Shinawatra, Eriksson is set to work for another employer with a 'patchy' human rights record.

October 19: Darren Bent scores in-off a beach ball

ED's take: We'll all remember where we were the day Sunderland scored the beach ball goal. Such is the importance being accorded to Bent's deflected strike against Liverpool, it is almost too big to have a '-gate' suffix tacked on the end of it. This slightly bizarre goal might just be the most significant event in British post-war history. 

Overnight, the beach ball was elevated to such celebrity status it could roll out of China White with Jodie Marsh on its arm then punch a photographer and ED wouldn't be surprised.

Andy Gray analysed the inflatable's trajectory into the Liverpool box with his usual array of arrows, circles and other technical wizardry, measured precisely how much time Pepe Reina had to boot it away and did everything but offer an estimated pounds-per-square-inch pressure reading.

Others used it as fodder for the argument against Liverpool's zonal marking system - had Glen Johnson man-marked the beach ball, he would have cleared with ease.

A thousand jokers remarked that it is a better finisher than Andriy Voronin, and that Manchester City are preparing a £20m bid for it. Based on the its lack of movement, positional awareness and communication, ED just assumed Rafa Benitez had brought Josemi back to Anfield. 

October 30: Marlon King is convicted for sexual assault and ABH

ED's take: You might think that even a football agent would be a little circumspect on the day his client was jailed. Not a bit of it. Over to you, Tony Finnigan: "Let's say he does his time and comes out afterwards. Do you expect him to work for McDonald's? Someone - you trust me on this - will sign him to score goals, because that's what he does best."

'Do you expect him to work for McDonald's?'

It is hardly the most sensitive comment at the best of times, with its crass assumption that footballers have a right not to toil for a living like everybody else.  But it reaches a stratospheric level of idiocy when it seems precisely this kind of arrogance sparked King's attack.

His victim claimed King demanded: "Don't you know who I am?" (Unless she is one of the few people who watches Match of the Day all the way through without nodding off, she probably missed his scraps of action for Watford, Wigan and Hull.)

King then sneered: "You're not even in my league, love - I'm a multi-millionaire." That league, obviously, is the Championship, which is the only place he has ever been remotely prolific; his Premier League record is 15 goals in 69 games.

If, as Finnigan claims, scoring goals is what King does best, he may not find that job at McDonald's so easy to come by. ED wouldn't fancy having its burger flipped by a man whose greatest skill is to stick a football into a net every five games or so. 

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