Early Doors

  • Get the dealing done

    Being a cheerful soul, Early Doors always leaves for work in the morning with a spring in its step and a song in its heart. Well, you need to when it's still dark outside, with wind and rain to boot.

    This morning it is reminded of a tune by the King of Country, Kenny Rogers. Like all the best songs of the genre, there's a world-weary life lesson in his song 'The Gambler':

    "You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away and know when to run.

    "You never count your money when you're sitting at the table. There'll be time enough for counting when the dealing's

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  • Capello right to ditch Beckham

    Fabio Capello managed to steal his own show last night by
    ending David Beckham's England
    career in a pre-recorded interview broadcast before kick-off.

    Today's papers are full of it. How dare he treat Becks so
    disrespectfully, booting him into retirement without telling him in advance? It's
    disgusting, and shows just how little he knows about the English game. And so

    But hang on a minute. Isn't this precisely the kind of
    no-nonsense approach we once so loved about the Italian?

    His refusal to stand on ceremony, his disregard for
    reputations - even his ignorance of English football was

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  • The best league in the world. Really


    It is impossible to hear those words without imagining them spewing from the face of a Richard Keys, a Jim White or some other satellite TV mouthpiece.

    Such is the ludicrous hyperbole with which Sky have infused English football that the sentence quickly transformed from an opinion to a statement of indisputable fact, then to just an alternative name for the Premier League.

    Sky's endless, unquenchable excitement about the tiniest soundbite, injury scare or nil-nil snooze betrays an uncertainty in their own product.

    It is the kind of undiscriminating enthusiasm

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  • Plastic not so fantastic

    As far as debuts go, there have been better.

    Tottenham took their bow in the Champions League last night amid much hope and expectation against opposition as 'lowly' as Young Boys.

    The relief of being paired with the Swiss side was almost audible in North London the other week when the draw was made in Nyon. Spurs' European adventure had been given the best possible platform from which to blossom considering they had managed to avoid the likes of Sampdoria and Dynamo Kiev. The lucrative group stage beckoned.

    Yet just 28 minutes into Spurs' first Champions League campaign, that outlook had

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  • Home-grown moans

    Yesterday, a day after Premier League clubs had the transfer window closed on them, they had to meet yet another deadline by naming their 25-man playing squads.

    Under the newly-introduced 'home-grown' rule, clubs had to pick rosters that include at least eight players who "irrespective of his nationality or age, has been registered with any club affiliated to the Football Association or the Football Association of Wales for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons or 36 months prior to his 21st birthday".

    All players classified as U21s are exempt from the ruling, meaning clubs can

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  • Tevez dragging City upwards

    They say that a league campaign is a marathon, not a sprint. If that's the case, then Manchester City have just managed to coast for half a mile in the slipstream of a pack of Kenyan professionals while Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham were all stuck behind two blokes in a pantomime horse outfit.

    City's lofty ambitions got a huge boost at the weekend when their win over Chelsea was followed by the rest of their top four rivals all failing to win too.

    With Manuel Almunia helping West Brom to a win at the Emirates, West Ham getting one over local rivals Spurs and Bolton holding

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  • Fabianski’s final chance

    Following his error-strewn performance in Saturday's home defeat to West Brom, Arsenal may have felt a tad relieved yesterday upon hearing the news that goalkeeper Manuel Almunia had been ruled out of this evening's match at Partizan Belgrade with an elbow injury. For about two seconds, at least.

    For whenever Almunia doesn't play, Arsene Wenger's answer to the perennial custodian question is Poland's finest, Lukasz Fabianski.

    The same Fabianski who, on his last Champions League appearance against Porto in February, scooped a low cross into his own net before picking up a backpass and then

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  • Spurs the unlikely underdogs

    Early Doors is a cynical old boot, and it has never
    understood the supposed imperative to support English teams in Europe, but it has to admit it is rather pleased at
    Tottenham's qualification for the Champions League proper.

    It is eight years since an English side reached the
    Champions League group stage that wasn't one of the 'Big Four' - that was
    Newcastle in 2002/03. And it is 48 years since Spurs were in what used to be
    known as the European Cup.

    Spurs go into Pot 3, which means they could find themselves
    in a group with Internazionale, Real Madrid and Russian champions Rubin Kazan.

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  • Liverpool: The People’s Club?

    If, when the credit crunch hit, you spent most of the time frowning with concern and scowling at those pesky greedy bankers - but were ultimately flummoxed by terms such as sub-prime, double-dip and quantitative easing - then you have Early Doors's sympathies.

    But there is nothing like complex fiscal matters related to football to make people try their best get their heads around issues about which they would otherwise remain blissfully ignorant.

    Liverpool fans may well be taking a crash course in economics now following reports in The Guardian that the Royal Bank of Scotland could force Tom

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  • Hosts facing boot from own party

    "It's Uruguay. It's Forlan. It's South Africa forlorn." For once, the bland host broadcaster's commentator gets it right.

    Diego Forlan's penalty, added to his deflected first-half strike and his killer pass that led to Alvaro Pereira's late third, has all but done for South Africa at this World Cup after they (deservedly) lost 3-0 to Uruguay in Pretoria.

    Nothing boosts a World Cup like the host nation doing well but, for all their opening day heroics and sophomore game endeavour, it looks as though Bafana Bafana will be the first host nation ever to fall at the first hurdle.

    It's not just in

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