Early Doors

  • Another fine mess

    Football certainly knows how to kick a man when he is down,
    and it delivered a hefty size-12 bovver boot to Rafa Benitez's lower abdomen last night.

    His Liverpool side lost at home to Lyon
    in stoppage time, while Steven Gerrard suffered yet another recurrence of the
    groin injury that has been with him so long it has now got its own set of house
    keys.

    Liverpool attempted some PR damage
    limitation after Gerrard went off in the first half, calling his withdrawal
    "precautionary" while Benitez insisted starting
    his captain "wasn't a
    risk".

    ED hasn't had a
    chance to poke around Gerrard's
    groin and

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  • Give him a big hand

    And to think, some call Thierry Henry a big-game bottler.

    Last night the France captain set up the equaliser for William Gallas that saw France win their play-off against Ireland and reach next year's World Cup finals.

    The Barcelona forward used all of the speed, guile and cunning that won him back-to-back PFA awards and three Football Writer's gongs at Arsenal to create an assist that lesser players would not have dared to imagine possible.

    His first touch to take the sting out of the ball at the by-line was surprising enough, but his quick second that brought it fully under control was

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  • Jimmy’s Browned off

    As soon as Jimmy Bullard sat the Hull team down and started giving them a
    talking-to after he scored his penalty on Saturday, Early Doors pressed
    the button marked 'Goal celebrations
    list feature'. So here it is.

    Bullard's late
    goal gave Hull a 1-1 draw at Manchester City,
    and he aped the same fixture last season when Tigers boss Phil Brown made his
    players stay on the pitch when 4-0 down at half-time and gave them a rollicking in full public view.

    You might think Bullard's
    take-off was a bit cheeky, particularly as he wasn't
    even at the club last autumn. But Brown loved it, principally

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  • The Denial Twist

    As you are no doubt aware, Liverpool face a do-or-die, or-at least mortally wounding, Champions League tie this evening.

    However, as there are already enough rants and opinions on the continued travails of Rafa and co (see below), ED will instead focus on more trifling matters, its own particular niche.

    With the opening of the January transfer window just a tantalising 38 days away, a groundswell of transfer tittle-tattle is beginning to emerge.

    In recent weeks the only real nugget of tangible goings-on have been the pleadings of both Roman Pavlyuchenko and his agent to let the Russian striker

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  • Win, lose or draw?

    This evening, the world will be glued to its TV set to watch a long, drawn-out selection of numbers, chosen in a potentially life-changing but ultimately random manner.

    Is it just ED, or does the World Cup draw resemble Deal or No Deal rather too closely for comfort?

    Much as the popular tea-time entertainment show is dressed up in pseudo-scientific riddles to make it appear more than the televisual scratchcard it is, so a string of dignitaries have been enlisted to add substance to a draw that could obviously have been made on FIFA suit Jerome Valcke's laptop and revealed to the world via a

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  • This week’s title favourites? Arsenal

    On Sunday, radio host Colin Murray put his pundits in an awkward position by suggesting that they should give up on trying to predict who will win the title and just enjoy the ride like every other fan.

    For the analysers and commentators on the show, it was a bit like being asked to suddenly write their own job description, knowing that there was a raft of redundancies on the horizon.

    However, Murray did have a point, as the title race took another turn at the weekend. Well, it was going to take a turn whatever happened, but in any case it turned in Chelsea's favour after they won 2-1 at Old

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  • Spurs reach edge of promised land

    As Manchester City fans shuffled out of Eastlands, collectively bracing themselves for the torrent of schadenfreude about to smother them from the red half of Mancunia, The Smiths' 'Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now' played out from the stadium's PA system.

    Had things gone differently for City, and they had beaten Tottenham and Aston Villa to fourth place, they could have been exiting to Morrissey singing 'panic on the streets of London, panic on the streets of Birmingham'. But, instead, it was Spurs fans who left with their hearts full after the North Londoners won 1-0 and claimed a Champions

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  • Video: Albiceleste agony

    Early Boers was in Cape Town for the World Cup quarter-final between Argentina and Germany.

    And it was agony for fans of the Albiceleste after their 4-0 thrashing by Joachim Loew's side.

    We caught up with our German colleague Stefan Zuern who gives us his thoughts on the success of Die Mannschaft.

    Here's the latest video blog from South Africa:

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  • Moment of surrender

    As soon as commentator Bill Leslie revealed that Georgios
    Samaras is Celtic's fastest player,
    ED feared a tough night for the SPL giants.

    Over the last decade Celtic have had numerous players with
    more pace than ability, like Bobo Balde and Momo Sylla. Last night it became painfully apparent they had neither, as
    they were humbled 2-0 at Parkhead by Arsenal, a result that all but condemns
    them to life in the Europa League.

    Although both their goals were supremely jammy, Arsenal even
    managed to take the edge off the famous Celtic Park
    roar. Perhaps the Hoops hardcore, never shy to flaunt their

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  • Use cameras to finger divers

    Rugby has really shown football the way in terms of bad behaviour over the last six months or so.

    The Bath drugs scandal, Schalk Burger gouging furore and now the 'bloodgate' fake injury affair has made football seem a bit tame by comparison.

    To recap, Harlequins engineered a 'blood injury' substitution in their Heineken Cup game against Leinster by getting Tom Williams to bite a packet of fake claret, making it look like he had a cut mouth.

    Williams's sly wink to the bench, in conjunction with the gore looking like something out of a pathetic 1960s vampire B-movie, meant Harlequins were

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