Early Doors

Bad Friday

Early Doors

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Some things in life simply cannot be relied upon - French bankers, the English weather, Her In Doors's cooking and Titus Bramble to name but a few examples.

Early Doors, however, is conspicuous by its absence from the list. No matter that today is a Bank Holiday, no matter that you lot are probably aren't even going to read this because you're on holiday, no matter that a Sunday service is running on the train lines, making it terribly difficult for ED to reach its lair.

No matter even that it is a slow news day. As long as it is a weekday, ED will always be here for you, unfailing and refusing to flinch from its duties.

Given the choice, of course, ED would have preferred to stay in bed, get up around midday and spend the afternoon lazily boozing down the local before settling down to follow MK Dons' clash with Peterborough in some top League Two action later on, but unfortunately the powers-that-be were not sympathetic to our wishes.

So here ED finds itself, looking ahead to the day formerly known as Easter Sunday but now rebranded as Sooper Dooper Sunday for the benefit of Rupert Murdoch's pockets.

But it is proving difficult to find inspiration on such a miserable morning, especially as ED is a rather narcissistic creature.

Everyone likes the fruits of their labour to be seen by someone. Imagine scoring the winner in a stadium packed with 80,000 screaming fans. Now repeat that thought, only in a half empty ground. Not quite the same is it?

With no one reading this, Early Doors now knows how Wigan players must feel.

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Sick and tired of today's footballers behaving like kids? Think they're too rich, too arrogant? Losing your faith in football in general?

Fear not, for there is a saviour and his name is Fabio Hat!

Apparently, the England coach won't stand for any more nonsense from his players and is set to revolutionise players' attitudes by starting with the way they behave towards referees.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. That's what it's all about according to the FA, who have already kicked off a new campaign which they hope will limit the amount of abuse officials receive.

Even Ashley Cole has wised up to it - albeit 24 hours too late - after yesterday issuing a grovelling apology to referee Mike Riley for his antics at White Hart Lane earlier in the week.

Clearly Cole knows better than to mess with Don Fabio. The Italian disciplinarian can be quite intimidating when he wants to be - even Stuart Pearce has admitted to being scared of him - and thankfully he is not afraid to throw his weight behind the effort to rid the game of its current malaise.

Respect indeed.

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Newcastle, it seems, are the new Middlesbrough; at least for they are for the purposes of these pages. Whereas a few weeks ago, barely a day passed without a mention of the pride of Teesside, it now appears that their neighbours from Tyneside have taken up the mantle of Early Doors's favourite conversation topic.

It must be a miserable time for Toon fans at the moment (not because they feature regularly on ED - that surely is an honour - more because they haven't won a league game in nine attempts), but they may be able to take some slight comfort from the knowledge that their club is not the only big name teetering on the brink of relegation this season.

Oh no, they're at it over the Channel too, where Paris St Germain are teetering on the edge of the drop zone and in serious danger of losing their place in 'Europe's fifth best league' Ligue 1.

Some may ask the question "does anyone really care?" The answer is probably not, but nevertheless PSG find themselves above the relegation zone by virtue of goal difference only - a distinctly precarious position to be in with just nine fixtures left to play.

The similar predicaments currently afflicting the two clubs got ED thinking and it turns out that it is not just their lowly league positions they have in common.

Indeed, you could say Newcastle are the English PSG and vice versa, although quite which club will be the happier at the comparison is unclear.

What is clear is that both clubs have an inflated opinion of themselves, the Magpies perhaps more so given that the official Newcastle trophy polisher has been idle for the past 30-odd years. At least PSG win the occasional pot.

Both sides currently boast centre forwards who used to be world class but are now injury prone and frankly average (Pauleta, little Michael), defences that are terribly leaky, wide men with no pace (Jerome Rothen, Damien Duff),  goalkeepers who are way past their best (Mickael Landreau, Shay Given) and a distinct lack of creativity in midfield.

The comparisons don't stop there - the two clubs have even shared a number of players over recent years. David Ginola and Laurent Robert have dazzled in both black and white and rouge et bleu, as have David Rozehnal, Alain Goma and Didier Domi, only more fizzled out than dazzled.

Both sets of fans have enjoyed a South American influence - the Parc des Princes has seen the likes of Ronaldinho, Leonardo and Rai, while Faustino Asprilla and the trailblazing Mirandinha have graced the turf at St James'.

They even seem to share an ability to unite neutrals into wanting to see them go down this season, if only for the novelty value.

With their pasts and presents so intertwined, who's to say their futures won't be too? Keep one eye on the Parc des Princes for an indication of how Newcastle will fare for the rest of the season, starting with this weekend's game against champions and runaway Ligue 1 leaders Lyon. Oh dear.

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HEADLINE OF THE DAY: Sorry... I couldn't control my tackle (where have we heard that before, Ashley?) - The Sun sticks the knife into 'love rat' Ashley Cole.

TALKING POINT: "The worst ground I've been to is Red Star's in Belgrade when they are playing Partizan, whose ground is a half a mile away. Without fail seats get ripped up and thrown on the pitch and there is usually a small riot. Once I was given a ticket for the Partizan section of the ground by a Red Star supporter (he was in the Directors' box). Have you ever seen that advert where just one person stands and cheers a goal? Can't comment on the toilets as I wasn't even capable of a squeak when I realised my faux pas." james_ssmith is one very brave (or extremely foolish) man.

As for today, would Ashley Cole have bothered with issuing an apology to Alan Hutton and Mike Riley if he had not got such a panning from the media?

COMING UP: It's Friday, and that means we'll have all the latest team news for the weekend's games shortly before midday and a choose 'em or lose 'em guide to Fantasy Football.

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