Early Doors

The gift that keeps on giving

Early Doors

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Early Doors is not going to accuse Steven Gerrard of deliberately throwing a match - not until video evidence of a News of the World sting emerges, anyway.

The Liverpool captain's poor back pass led to Didier Drogba's opener as Chelsea won 2-0 at Anfield, tightening their grip on the title.

The man the tabloids still insist on calling 'Gerro', even though no sane person in the real world does so, did his utmost to help the Blues towards winning the league, and stopping Manchester United overtaking their record haul of league championships in the process.

The back pass was eerily similar to that which Gerrard played against France in Euro 2004; that blunder led to Zinedine Zidane scoring an injury time winner from the penalty spot. He probably won't be quite as gutted about Sunday's error, mind.

Drogba, whose goal now puts him level with Wayne Rooney at the top of the scoring charts, was charitable towards Gerrard after the game, following the Reds skipper's own bout of philanthropy: "Gerrard made a big mistake but you don't do things like that on purpose. I was just lucky to be there and score."

United boss Alex Ferguson was, understandably, a bit more miffed, describing it as a 'gift' to the Blues following his side's 1-0 win at Sunderland.

Fergie said, with a line that reminded ED of this classic Day Today sketch: "I just saw it after the game. It was a great gift. There is nothing you can do about it. You just have to get on with it."

The conspiracy theorists will get plenty of mileage out of this one, and it is bound to be replayed on clips shows, accompanied by babbling talking heads for years to come. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

But any genuine talk of Gerrard and Liverpool throwing the game, when they still had the slightest sliver of hope of finishing fourth and salvaging Champions League football from their disastrous season, is well wide of the mark.

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Too often footballers are accused of being out of touch with reality, dating French underwear models, getting Sanskrit tatoos and having their initials paved in their driveways.

Not Dave Kitson. The Stoke City striker has reacted angrily to the criticism aimed at him by manager Tony Pulis after he walked down the tunnel when his was subbed off during last week's 7-0 drubbing at Chelsea.

Showing all the man-management skills that have fostered such great team spirit at the Britannia Stadium (Abdoulaye Faye fighting with Glenn Whelan, Ricardo Fuller fighting with Andy Griffin, James Beattie fighting with the manager), Pulis had accused several of his players of "living in a bubble", something which Kitson took umbridge to.

He said: "I worked stacking shelves in a supermarket for five years before becoming a footballer - I can do real life. What Tony said wasn't right, wasn't fair and was just a smokescreen to deflect attention from other things that have happened. I won't have it because it's not true and it's damaging to me and whatever I may do in the future.

"How can you attack a player in the media when you've spoken to that player earlier in the week and said, 'In future, come and see me one-on-one'? And now it's like I'm responsible for everything. 'Cloudy in Stoke? That's Kitson's fault'. 'The traffic's terrible on the way to training? Blame Kitson for that too'."

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I'm not going to make a thing of it but if the club ban them and they get what they deserve, I am happy. Somebody said that they saw a 50-year-old woman getting hurt. When they start doing that, it's wrong." - Crystal Palace defender Clint Hill slams the Sheffield Wednesday fans that chased him across the pitch after the Eagles avoided relegation at the expense of the Owls with a 2-2 draw at Hillsborough.

FOREIGN VIEW: Shteve McClaren's at it again. His FC Twente side won the Dutch league at the weekend, and his post-match interview was another fine display in slowly-spoken cod English. Amazingly, though, his Dutch interviewer's voice is even funnier than his. Shee Shteve's posht-match interview here.

COMING UP: It's a bank holiday for the rest of you lucky people, so why not celebrate by cancelling that trip to DFS and forget about that impending visit from the in-laws by relaxing and enjoying Wigan Athletic v Hull City at 13:30 and Blackburn Rovers v Arsenal at 17:00. That's followed by live text commentary of West Indies v England in the World Twenty20.

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