Early Doors

  • Wenger locks horns with the ‘special one’

    Harry Redknapp has been called many things over the course of his colourful career, many which don't bear repeating on a PG-rated football blog, but Rafael van der Vaart's assessment of 'Arry was perhaps the most glowing he has enjoyed since Kevin Bond described his pal as "wonderful".

    After slamming Real Madrid's football and describing playing for the club's coaches as "boring", the white Van man lauded Redknapp as a "very special man" - words of praise both parties' agents would no doubt wholeheartedly concur with. "It feels like I'm back on the street," he added - and not in a Bebe way,

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  • Coyle good… or Megson bad?

    Is Owen Coyle a really, really
    good manager, or is Gary Megson a really, really bad one?

    The Ginger Mourinho, you may
    remember, was sacked by Bolton (or rather, put on extended gardening leave),
    last year with the Trotters languishing in the relegation zone.

    Coyle has taken them to
    fifth, and on Saturday they absolutely mullered (there is frankly no other
    word) Newcastle 5-1.

    Megson's last game was a 2-2
    draw against Hull on December 29 last year, and this is the starting XI:

    Jaaskelainein, Steinsson,
    Knight, Cahill, Robinson, Chung-Yong Lee, Muamba, Cohen, Taylor, Davies,
    Klasnic.

    And here's

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  • Perfect storm blows Arsenal away

    Sometimes, despite all your best efforts and intentions, the elements conspire to ruthlessly expose every flaw and chink in your armour at precisely the worst time.

    And, just like the current Irish banking crisis or England's last Ashes tour of Australia, Arsenal were subject to a perfect storm of all their shortcomings last night as they suffered a late 2-0 defeat against Champions League Group H opponents Braga.

    They were robbed of a penalty when instead Carlos Vela was booked for diving, and they were unfortunate to be down to 10 men for the first goal as Emmanuel Eboue was being treated

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  • Instant karma

    Revenge is a dish best served cold, but humiliation should be piping hot with a touch of salsa.

    When ED grew up, the word 'special' had pretty much the opposite effect of its original intention, inspiring images of remedial classes, David Mellor and Gazza's off-pitch antics.

    Even though ED has a tiny little man-crush on Jose Mourinho, it is delighted that Barcelona reclaimed the word 'special' from his evil clutches, with the 5-0 hammering rendering their previously all-conquering rivals limp, helpless and a tiny bit drooly.

    Cristiano Ronaldo's resigned chagrin after David Villa clipped in the

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  • The Championzzzz…

    They should be two of the most exciting nights on the European football calendar, but once again the final round of Champions League matches are being met with an indifferent sigh.

    Last night, only one last-16 place was up for grabs. Tonight it's slightly better - there are two spots available.

    The process of eliminating the contenders is so drawn out it makes the X-Factor look like Fifteen to One.

    Yesterday's excitement came in the form of Manchester United and Spurs trying to finish top and thereby dodge Barcelona in the next round.

    Important stuff, maybe, but trying to duck the big guns (or

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  • What is Tevez thinking?

    "Boy, that
    escalated quickly... I mean, that really got out of hand fast."

    Ron Burgundy may have
    been talking about a bloody fight with a rival news crew in 'Anchorman', but it
    applies equally to Carlos Tevez's fall-out with Manchester City, which has
    blown up spectacularly in the last 36 hours.

    He handed in a transfer
    request, City rejected it, then posted a chippy statement on their website,
    before Tevez hit back saying his relationship with the club's hierarchy was
    broken beyond repair. Yikes.

    When Tevez crossed
    Manchester in 2009, we wondered what he would have to do to repair his

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  • Winter break the way forward

    It might be hard to imagine temperatures above freezing right now, but a reminder that the 2022 World Cup is due to be played in 50-degree heat might warm you up just a tad.

    FIFA president Sepp Blatter may have got his wish in spreading the football gospel to the Middle East, but few people outside of the region and FIFA HQ are happy.

    The teams behind bids from Australia, USA, Japan and South Korea all rightly believe they had better bids on almost every level, while fans that will make the journey have over a decade to sweat over how they can obtain beer and co-habit with members of the same

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  • Tevez saga snow joke

    As rumours intensify that Carlos Tevez will be stripped of the Manchester City captaincy, ED keenly awaits the fan reaction if he plays against Everton tonight.

    ED says 'if' not because it is concerned that Carlitos won't show, but because there is every chance the match may not go ahead after a couple of inches of snow effectively shut Britain down over the weekend.

    As if our hardy North American allies needed any further evidence that we Brits are a bunch of wusses, pretty much every match in the Premier League, League One and League Two was called off, although strangely the Championship

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  • Dead man walking

    Carlo Ancelotti be warned: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is not known for his patience.

    This is a man who had no compunction is pulling the trigger on Jose Mourinho, despite the Portuguese having won six trophies in three years, becoming the most successful manager in the club's history.

    Since then, at Abramovich's behest, the managers have tumbled with a similar frequency to Didier Drogba in the box.

    Avram Grant was next to go, despite having led the Blues to second in the Premier League and the final of the Champions League. It simply wasn't good enough for Abramovich.

    Luiz Felipe

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  • Berba-top striker?

    The scoring charts would certainly suggest so, the Manchester United striker's Boxing Day brace his 12th and 13th goals of an increasingly fruitful season.

    That's 13 in 13 starts for the Bulgarian now, a tally that would normally constitute a prolific return, even for a man who cost £30 million and is still waiting to pay it back.

    Yet of those 13, 10 have come in just three games - three against Liverpool, five against Blackburn and his latest two against Sunderland.

    All three games were at home, and against what can at best be described as modest opposition that never really stood a chance at

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