Early Doors

  • Kiss and make up

    If last night's game in Berlin proved anything, it is that Germans are capable of caring just as little about international friendlies as England.

    Most of the friendly faces we got to know and love at the World Cup and Euro 2008 were missing.

    There was no Philipp Lahm, bombing forward from left-back and getting caught woefully out of position.

    No Torsten Frings prowling around kicking people and smashing in 30-yard screamers like some latter-day Paul Breitner.

    No Jens Lehmann, whose public barneys with team-mates and inimitable clowning are now a thing of the past.

    And no Michael Ballack,

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  • Journeyman’s end

    Desperate for its daily dose of Sky Sports News lovely Georgie Thompson - who is currently, inexplicably being overlooked in favour of the decidedly less comely Vicky Gomersall - Early Doors turned to Sky's 'Premiership Years' programme yesterday and quickly found itself caught up in the thrills and spills of the 1997/98 season.

    'Was it really 10 years ago that Darren Huckerby sliced through the Manchester United defence while playing for Coventry or that Derby were an exciting top-flight team featuring the myriad attacking talents of Paolo Wanchope, Stefano Eranio and Francesco Baiano?'

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  • The thin red fine

    The world isn't always as harmonious as Early Doors likes to believe.

    While ED and the other people who inhabit this little cul-de-sac of cyberspace have learned to co-exist in an environment of peace and understanding - a blog-based Utopia, if you will - not everyone else is so lucky.

    This was brought home when England striker Emile Heskey was subjected to monkey noises from a section of the crowd during the 4-1 win in Croatia earlier this month when he received a booking for a foul on Niko Kovac, which could just about be heard over other chants deriding a certain British subscription sports

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  • The kids are alright

    Arsenal have revealed their youth policy for the future - education, education, education.

    Prime Minister Gordon Brown droned on at the Labour Party conference about his plans to open new and improved academies for the nation's children, and he need only look at Gunners boss Arsene Wenger for the way to give kids a Sure Start.

    For Wenger's own little rainbow family look to have ushered in a new era at the Emirates with their 6-0 demolition of Sheffield United in the Carling Cup.

    It's been a good week for Wenger, what with Michel Platini's irrational comments giving him the chance to take the

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  • Why it’s OK to cheat

    Tim Cahill lost his appeal against a red card in the Merseyside derby, which means it is official - it's OK to cheat, but it's not OK to fractionally mistime a tackle.

    John Terry got off the hook last week after rugby tackling Manchester City's Jo as he ran towards goal.

    It can only be because it was a textbook challenge around the waist - the kind of which any public schoolmaster would heartily approve.

    Either that or a different set of rules apply to the England captain. Let us not forget that Terry was actually sent off, before the punishment was overturned and the referee responsible -

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  • Classic injury quiz

    Stoke midfielder Liam Lawrence's knacked ankle, sustained tripping over his dog, is the latest in a grand tradition of freak injuries.

    Today's Early Doors is the latest in a not-so-grand tradition of list features masquerading as quizzes. Eyes down...

    FOOTBALL

    1- In a parallel that says everything you need to know about the difference between English and continental goalkeepers, Dave Beasant and Santiago Canizares both injured themselves after dropping glass bottles and attempting to 'control' them as they fell.

    What was in each player's bottle?

    2- What, apart from dodgy haircuts, do Rio

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  • Crafty Cockney

    Beleaguered Newcastle fans can rest easy following the news that Terry Venables has been in talks over becoming manager of the club.

    This being El Tel - and, for that matter, Newcastle - there is a catch. That catch being that he's only been approached to take over as 'interim' boss until the club's future is certain, meaning he could be there for some time, the way things are going.

    Venables said: "I can confirm I met Newcastle representatives.

    "Those talks will continue in the morning when, hopefully, I can give them a final decision."

    If there is one thing Toon fans need now, it's another

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  • Dressing-room destroyers

    Alan Shearer was involved in a furious shouting match with
    Joey Barton after Newcastle's game against Liverpool, according to The Sun.

    The pair had to be pulled apart when Shearer laid into
    Barton after the midfielder's red card for a wild tackle on Xabi Alonso.

    When Shearer told him he had let the club down, Barton, who
    left the pitch mouthing "it wasn't a foul", apparently responded by
    telling Shearer: "You're a s*** manager with s*** tactics."

    As the former Mr Match Of The Day had just selected Damien
    Duff to play left-back and Fabricio Coloccini to play... well, just to play, it
    is hard to

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  • S*** and we know we are

    Yesterday, Early Doors said that if any Premier League side could
    throw away a three-goal aggregate lead against Burnley,
    it was Tottenham.

    Last night's
    events at Turf Moor first proved ED gloriously right, then tragically wrong.

    But it was classic Spurs that their qualification for a
    Wembley final was overwhelmed by the complete humiliation of getting thrashed
    by a team that, since Christmas, have lost to Barnsley, Doncaster Rovers,
    Swansea and Preston.

    A rainy midweek evening at Burnley
    is meant to be a true test of a player's
    ability - and by that standard Spurs are truly rubbish.

    But

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  • Contract killer

    After several
    years of dotting the 'i's, crossing the 't's, (MASSIVE NATIONAL STEREOTYPE ALERT!) putting the
    squiggly things on top of the 'n's and turning the exclamation marks upside-down, Rafa
    Benitez has finally signed a new contract with Liverpool.

    Benitez is
    coming to the end of his fifth season at Anfield, making him the Premier League's fourth longest-serving manager, and he is now in
    line for five more.

    So why is
    it that Liverpool seem to be in a perpetual
    state of turmoil? It seems every fortnight some bookie or other suspends
    betting on Benitez getting the push, and yet he has

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