Early Doors

Anyone at home?

Early Doors

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Thank goodness for RMT chief Bob Crow and his striking tube
drivers. If not for them, there would be nothing to talk about ahead
of tonight's England game against Andorra.

Wembley could be half-empty for the Pyreneans' visit, but ED would suggest that has less to do
with the tube strike than the fact that the FA are charging people £30 to watch
a country with the same population as Basingstoke.

The FA has offered refunds to anyone unable to attend, and
ED would urge fans to take them up on the offer whether they can get to the
stadium or not.

If the apocalyptic forecasts in the Daily Mail are
to be believed, there will not be a soul at the match, leaving the national
stadium looking like something out of the film 28 Days Later.

At least fans won't
have to put up with the customary hour-long wait to get into the Wembley Park tube station.

ED has no real grasp of the situation's
intricacies, but it does seem that trying to get the public onside by
inconveniencing them is a bit of an odd tactic.

It's a bit like
lollipop ladies campaigning for more money by leading schoolchildren into the
path of oncoming lorries.

The right to strike is important if you're a 14-year-old sweatshop worker entering your
36th straight hour of operating heavy machinery; perhaps less so if, like a tube
train driver, your starting salary is £39,000 a year.

Those that do make it to Wembley will be treated to the
sight of 11 men morphing, Transformers-style, into the shape of the team bus
and parking themselves in front of the goal.

ED particularly enjoyed The Sun's
probable teams graphic, which squeezed the entire Andorran team into a tiny
sliver of the pitch in a 10-0-0 formation.

It nevertheless represents a major step up in quality for
ITV's prime-time schedule, which
until last week consisted almost entirely of Ant and Dec making 10-year-old
girls cry.

Note to Emile Heskey; if you crumble under the weight of
expectation, Simon Cowell is not going to let you start again

- -

One silver lining for the never-ending stream
of managers sacked by Chelsea
is that they find no shortage of work offers afterwards.

Claudio Ranieri went to Juventus, Jose
Mourinho to Internazionale and now Luiz Felipe Scolari to, er, Uzbek champions

It might seem a strange move for Big Phil,
but at least Bunyodkor are champions - if Scolari had joined Uzbekistan's answer to Newcastle United, ED would be asking
serious questions.

They also have lots and lots of oil money, as
Scolari hinted when he revealed his reasons for taking the job.

He said: "I made a choice because of a
number of details, which are difficult to explain in an interview, but it's basically because of the project which I was

And by 'project', he presumably meant 'enormous
tax-free salary'.

You have to credit Bunyodkor's ambition. They are the club who, under their
previous name Kuruvchi, caused much sniggering when they claimed they had
signed Samuel Eto'o.

Then they silenced their critics by actually
getting their hands on Rivaldo and Zico.

And as a former Stamford Bridge man, Scolari
is used to dealing with upwardly-mobile clubs whose success is built on the
natural resources of the former Soviet Union, as he admitted: "It
offers me a project which is similar to ones in which I have already worked."

No doubt the parallels between well-heeled
West London and downtown Tashkent
are striking.

- - -

Many followers of Arsenal are distinctly
restless after four seasons without a trophy, but sponsors Emirates are not
among them.

The airline's
president has said the club's lack
of silverware comes as no surprise.

"We didn't
expect them to win the Champions League or the Premiership," Tim Clarke said.
"So long as they finish in the top half."

Well why not sponsor Fulham, then?

- - -

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I told him to stand in front of the
goal." Fabio Capello reveals how he sparked off Wayne Rooney's scoring streak. £6 million a year well spent...

I can say to that is that representing your country is an honour and not a
joke. It is like going to war for your country. The only difference is that our
weapon is a harmless ball and our battlefield is that green rectangle." Malta strike
Daniel Bogdanovic on why international football is exactly the same as modern
warfare, only not.

FOREIGN VIEW: "If you want Cristiano it's 96 million euros." This, according to Marca,
is what Manchester United have told Florentino Perez's
insatiable Galactico machine. Ronaldo, meanwhile, is topping up his tan on
holiday in Los Angeles.

COMING UP: Live coverage of England
v Andorra

at 8.15pm, and it is completely unspoiled by a lack of public transport. Unless
your computer is based at Swiss Cottage.

There are also two dead rubbers from the World Twenty20
and continued tennis from Queen's,
where angry young man Andy Murray takes to the court .

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