Early Doors

Given’s dog days

Early Doors

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The following is an announcement on behalf of the Early Doors dogs' home:

'Shay used to be a happy, bouncy puppy, full of energy and
life. A family in Newcastle
bought him and he loved nothing more than to leap around on the grass, catching
balls in his mouth and chasing after referees.

But then Shay's owners started to mistreat him. They told
him they would give him shiny presents but he got nothing. Shay's new playmates were big lumbering dogs including a shaggy-haired Argentinian
mutt who kept falling over.

Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City
- for just a few million pounds a month you can give Shay a better home and
help him rediscover his zest for life.

Remember - a Given is for life, not just for Christmas.'

So Shay Given wants out of Newcastle
after last Sunday's 5-1 hammering at home to Liverpool
despite his own superhuman efforts.

His agent has released a statement declaring Given
"very despondent" and considering his future.

The Irishman made a collection of remarkable saves against
Liverpool that not only merited a commemorative DVD, but probably deserved their own Bank Holiday, including three first-half
efforts that made ED's eyes pop out of its head on cartoon stalks.

The floodgates finally opened when Liverpool realised the
best way to beat Given was to ask the Newcastle
defenders to get in his way - which they did with aplomb.

ED particularly enjoyed Ryan Babel's goal, in which he had
time to control the ball with his back to goal, turn and finish from about half
a yard out, while Fabricio Coloccini tripped over a furious Given.

Over the 90 minutes, Given was pressed into action more
times than a mid-chorus key change in a Westlife album.

And, much like the hackneyed pop device - best served with a
white suit and a bar stool - Given could not prevent the whole thing from
descending into farce.

Early Doors thought Given would be pleased his defenders
gave him so many chances to shine - how many times has a goalkeeper got into
Eurosport-Yahoo!'s team of the week after conceding seven goals in two games?

Although it has already heard Given's statement described as
"bizarre" and "arrogant", ED has a lot of sympathy for him.

In an era when players are criticised for merely turning up,
going through the motions and collecting 50 grand, Given is one of a rare breed
who actually cares how well his team does.

He has stayed faithful to Newcastle despite years of mediocrity, and has
been their best player for each of the last eight seasons (since
Alan Shearer was last any good).

Plus he was snubbed for the captaincy, which went the way of
Michael Owen - a man rewarded for his blatant disloyalty in a doomed attempt
to stop him walking out on the club.

So yes, if Early Doors were Shay Given it would probably be
very despondent too, and ED knows a thing or two about despondency.

- - -

While ED was lying in a provincial town centre gutter being
showered with broken glass and bodily fluids, a transfer window swung ajar
somewhere.

Apart from a chilly draught, the window's opening has
brought no moves of any interest, primarily because nobody has any money.

In these times of financial turmoil, it is important to know
how to find a bargain. So, much like those pretentious Guardian articles telling
readers that Lidl actually do a rather good polenta, ED will attempt to point
out some cut-price turds that can be polished into something approaching Premier
League footballers.

Aston Villa - It
has been reported - mainly by Harry Redknapp - that the Villans want a piece of
Jermain Defoe but will have to pay up to £18m for him. After rummaging around
in the discount bin, ED has come up with Jermaine Beckford. The Leeds striker is also fast, also a decent finisher and
also called Jermain(e). Plus he is taller than Defoe (mind you, Verne Troyer is
taller than Defoe) so you are getting better value for money. £5m should be
more than enough to take him off the hands of Leeds who, despite continued
delusions of adequacy, are away at Hereford
this weekend.

Arsenal - Forget
£20m for Andrei Arshavin - Arsenal need experience, and fast. They need a
proven striker with pace and skill - so why not take Thierry Henry of Barcelona's hands. Tomas
Rosicky's continued injury problems make a wide midfielder a priority, and veteran
Robert Pires might be available on the cheap from Villarreal. With Cesc
Fabregas out, they desperately want a leader in the centre of the park - so how
about France
captain Patrick Vieira. And at the back, Kolo Toure wants out and William
Gallas is losing his marbles, so a steady hand is needed on the tiller. Step
forward Sol Campbell. Wenger just needs to coax Safe Hands Seaman out of his
reality TV career and it will be job done.

Manchester City
- About the only club who don't need to tighten the purse strings, but ED would
humbly submit that City don't actually need to buy anybody. They are short of
creativity, yet at the same time Mark Hughes is trying to convert the
previously brilliant Elano into a hard-working left-sided midfielder. The
problem, clearly is not personnel - particularly up front where Roque Santa
Cruz is likely to arrive for £18m. City's line-up of strikers currently reads:
Benjani, Bojinov, Caicedo, Etuhu, Evans, Jo, Robinho, Sturridge, Vassell. That's nine. They
can probably afford to leave Santa
Cruz's four league goals and dreadful injury record
where they are.

- - -

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Excuse Early Doors if it seems a bit cynical, but surely 'The
Magic of the FA Cup' does not encompass watching Tottenham play Wigan in the
kind of mediocre, all-Premier League tie that can be seen every weekend in, you've guessed it, the Premier League. Even Harry Redknapp doesn't want to know: "There are lots of games, too many in
all honesty. They are coming thick and fast and there is not time to get your
breath. With a squad of this size, we're fighting on too many fronts. If we
were sitting in the top half maybe we wouldn't be bothered, but when you are
where we are you could do without all these games."

FOREIGN VIEW: 'Cristiano goes crazy' - Marca draws the only logical conclusion
from Cristiano Ronaldo's claim that he is happy with the English and European
champions, and does not want to sign for the fifth best team in Spain.

COMING UP: If you
care more than Harry Redknapp, you can follow Tottenham versus Wigan live from
20:00 UK
time tonight.

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