Typical. Just when things are starting to get interesting, along
blunders the international break to kill the season's
growing momentum stone dead.
Manchester United are floundering, Liverpool are on fire and
it looks like we could have the most comprehensive collapse by a front-runner
since Jean Van De Velde rolled up his trouser legs and jumped into the stream at the 18th at Carnoustie in 1999.
The excitement is palpable, pulses are racing, the tension
is rising like a perfectly-prepared souffle - and it now faces complete
deflation while 11 sous-chefs in white shirts chase a bunch of Eastern
Europeans around for two weeks.
When domestic action resumes it will be flatter than Kerry
Katona post-boob reduction.
It may be the first time in 25 years Alex Ferguson is pleased to see his players trudge off to play for their countries, as it means United now have two weeks to gather themselves after a brace of calamitous defeats.
And Fergie is less likely to commit a physical assault on Wayne Rooney if Wazza is tucked away at some luxury hotel in Hertfordshire.
To use another culinary metaphor of sorts, the international
break sits like a particularly truculent bluebottle in an otherwise delicious
Rooney and Steven Gerrard are meant to be mortal
enemies - the last thing we need to see is them laughing and joking in training
The same goes for the inevitable ex-West Ham pallyness of Rio Ferdinand and
Damn it, you're
supposed to hate each other!
Plus there is the gaspingly obvious fact that international
football is rubbish, something club versus country rows are oddly slow to acknowledge.
The quality is nearly always dreadful, the players look like
they barely know each other. Plus there are so many teams and so few matches
that proper rivalries rarely have the opportunity to develop.
Compare the disjointed clogging you will see England serve up against Slovakia and Ukraine to the pacy, slick displays
at club level.
In fact, don't
bother. There's no point. It would
be like comparing the Sistine Chapel to a six-year-old's
drawing of a car.
ED can tolerate internationals in the summer and early in
the season, but when it has the temerity to disrupt proper football that is a
step too far.
- - -
Incidentally, Sky will be kicking themselves harder than Morten Gamst Pedersen
in the act of simulation ("I
lost my balance, my left calf hit my right calf") after passing up two
cracking live games at the weekend.
In a very cursory nod to democracy, broadcasters have to
show a certain number of live matches involving every team each season.
Increasingly, they have taken to just writing certain
matches off to get their quota of boring sides out of the way.
That was unquestionably the case with Wigan versus Hull, as Sky attempted to
tick off possibly the Premier League's
two least popular sides in one fell swoop.
But they picked the wrong weekend to do it. Manchester
United and Chelsea were consigned to the Saturday 3pm slot and, lo and behold, took
part in two of the most exciting and surprising games of the season.
The half-dozen or so people who took in the action at the
JJB saw a stultifying 90 minutes barely enlivened by Ben Watson's tidy late winner.
- - -
The father of Cristiano Ronaldo's
latest conquest has told the winger to keep his filthy hands to himself.
Ronaldo has been dating Brazilian fitness instructor
Gabriela Entringer for six weeks, and her father Jadson - a police chief - is
not a happy man.
Here is Miss Entringer's
mother: "Jadson has become a bundle of nerves over this. He thinks Gabi
should stay clear of Cristiano because he's
going to turn a lot of things upside-down in her life. Their relationship has
been all over the Brazilian press.
banned officers at his station from even talking about it. There has even been
talk that Brazil's Playboy is ready to offer nearly £200,000 to put
Gabi on their front page.
"Jadson would have a heart attack if that ever
Early Doors has some words of advice for him: think of the
- - -
QUOTE OF THE DAY: As a spokesman for Viagra, you might think
Pele would know a thing or two about pharmaceuticals. However, Robinho and Manchester City have reacted with fury to his claim
that the Andi Peters-resembling showboat merchant has taken drugs: "It's unfair to talk of drugs in football just because
of one or two cases, as happened with Ronaldo and Robinho who had that problem."
FOREIGN VIEW: If you think Manchester United showed a lack
of discipline on Saturday, get a load of San Lorenzo, who managed to get three
men sent off in a six-minute spell in their 3-0 loss to Colon in the Argentine championship.
Jonathan Santana was sent off for a second bookable offence before
Gonzalo Bergessio and Jonathan Bottinelli were given straight red cards in
quick succession. None of the three punched a corner flag, however.
COMING UP: Thanks to the profoundly hopeless spectacle
of the international break, there is no football outside Leagues One and Two
this week. So gorge yourself on the epicurean delights of Dagenham and
Redbridge versus Brentford from 19:45 tonight. Better than an England game or
your money back.