"A war machine built by spending lots of money."
What was Claudio Ranieri talking about yesterday? The US army? Paul
McCartney's legal team? Secret
government plans to equip nationalised banks with nuclear launch pads? Or Max
Clifford's publicity empire, built one
cancer-stricken 13-year-old father at a time?
No, of course not, he was talking about Chelsea. Even if the days when Roman
Abramovich was world football's
biggest spender seem like a quaint anachronism, the tinker man is never slow to
reflect on his misfortune in getting sacked at the height of the splurging years,
having just brought in Petr Cech, Arjen Robben and Claude Makelele.
Still, he is in good company now Abramovich has bumped off
two of the greatest coaches of the modern era. And Avram Grant.
It seems a little rich for the manager of Juventus to
complain about other people's
wealth. The Old Lady spent years not so much trying to buy their way to the
title as cutting out the middle man and trying to buy the title direct.
ED actually feels some sympathy for Juve, who were
relegated in 2006 as a punishment for their involvement in the Calciopoli
While there is no doubt that their managing director Luciano
Moggi tried to influence matches - specifically the appointment of referees -
little evidence exists to suggest he was any good at it.
He seems to have spent a lot of time bellowing uselessly
down the phone or, when really enraged, locking referees in their dressing
So far, so slapstick, but what he really did was betray
players like Patrick Vieira, Gianluigi Buffon and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who were
almost certainly the best team in Italy without Moggi's
Still, as ED griped yesterday, it seems a shame that Chelsea's trip
armed with a 1-0 lead, provokes not fear but a blase assumption of progress.
- - -
Over at Anfield, Fernando Torres faces a late fitness test
ahead of tonight's visit from Real
But, according to Real defender Fabio Cannavaro, it won't matter because they will play everything through
Dutch danger man Dirk Kuyt.
"At the Bernabeu, Liverpool
did not make any effort to win the game," whined Cannavaro.
Odd, because even though they weren't
trying they actually did win, which doesn't say much for Cannavaro and his colleagues.
"Throughout the match, their goalkeeper kept sending
long balls to Dirk Kuyt over and over again," Cannavaro said.
"I know for certain they will do the same at Anfield. I
am sure of it. If we can score against them, we will force them to come
You know the football world is topsy turvy when an Italian
defender accuses you of cynicism.
Tomorrow - Guti says Lucas Leiva has an effeminate haircut
and Arjen Robben accuses Torres of diving.
- - -
WINE WATCH: We all know that the most important part of any
meeting between Jose Mourinho and Alex Ferguson is their choice of tipple.
Both men like a drop of wine - good stuff, too, not Lambrini - and have long indulged in a
ridiculous game of one-upmanship, competing to see who can provide the better
bottle for a post-match drink.
Mourinho says he sent a £300 bottle to Fergie's hotel room in Milan
before the first leg to share when they met in Manchester, but the United boss has other
Either because he has already polished off the first bottle or because he wants to humiliate his foe, Ferguson plans to provide a £250 bottle he
had waiting for Mourinho in 2007 - only they never got to drink it because Chelsea sacked him.
"The great thing about Jose is he can laugh at himself
(sic) and he's able to separate what
happens on the pitch and off it," Fergie simpered.
"He might lose a game, but you can still have a
conversation with him about anything and everything after it."
Not that Ferguson
has much experience of that, having beaten Mourinho only once in their 13
meetings to date.
- - -
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Theo Walcott is literally begging to be kicked up in the air:
"I still haven't experienced
getting clattered yet, so that's the
next test. Even though it sounds weird, that will definitely be good for
me." There should be plenty of volunteers should Theo feature for Arsenal
against Blackburn on Saturday. Who you gonna
call? Keith Andrews!
FOREIGN VIEW: Early Doors is not alone in mocking Liverpool's
inflated sense of self-importance - even the Spanish are it, as today's Marca headline shows: 'This
is Anfield... so what?'
COMING UP: Full coverage of tonight's
Champions League games, with Liverpool v Real Madrid,
Juventus v Chelsea and a couple of other games we don't
care about because there are no English teams involved. There is also a full
slate of action in the Championship,
and, if you're really desperate, the
last knockings of a dead Test match in Trinidad.