Early Doors

Phil your boots

Early Doors

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Well, it's nice to have another interminable transfer saga to bang on about. Frank Lampard's move from Chelsea to Inter was on, off, on and off again all within the space of a day.

No wonder his agent Steve Kutner is desperate to engineer a transfer - Lampard has been happily ensconced at Chelsea since 2001.

While Nicolas Anelka's brothers gorge themselves on a slice of some grossly-inflated transfer fee every six months or so, Kutner's family have not had a decent meal for the best part of a decade and are starting to run low on Pot Noodles.

The furore rather overshadowed Big Phil Scolari's first press conference, at which the assembled hacks were so desperate for him to do something hilarious that every scratch of the nose or half-smile drew audible gasps and a flurry of flash-bulbs.

Although Scolari has not yet got a decent grasp of his new club's name (who are Shelseya?), he thankfully possessed the bravado to largely dispense with the translator and banter away in broken English.

He might not be fluent, but he spoke more of the native language than Steve McClaren did on his arrival at FC Twente. In fact, he spoke more English than McClaren has ever done.

Far be it from ED to attempt any genuine insight, but surely a Lampard move would be one of those unhappy situations that works out badly for everyone? Everyone except Manchester United.

Lampard's value to the team can never be greater than it is at Chelsea, where the system and the style of play suits him perfectly.

It has always been difficult to put your finger on why he is so good. He's not particularly fast, not particularly strong, not particularly skilful, and he scores an ungodly amount of deflections and scuffed shots.

Like a veteran practitioner of the rhythm method, Lampard's great talent is his sense of timing under pressure. He passes out of a congested midfield a nanosecond before having his ankles kicked; he surges towards the edge of the box just as some hapless Derby player miscues a clearance.

Without wishing to fall back on lazy stereotypes (oh, who is ED kidding?), Italian football is a different ball game.

It is slower and more tactical, with precious little freedom for midfielders to hare around sniffing out half-chances instead of tracking back.

Even under Jose Mourinho's guidance he will come nowhere near the consistent 20 goals a season he scores at Stamford Bridge. So there.

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Regular readers of 'Foreign View' need no reminding of Early Doors's love for German newspaper Bild, a tabloid so loose in its morals it makes The Sun look like the Puritan Chronicle.

So it was delighted to learn that Bild has launched a website in English, featuring such gems as "Kidman beats Jolie to birth" and "Hitler made whole again".

True, the English version does not feature marvellous words like 'Klingelklopf' and 'Stinkefinger', but it is the only way anyone with GSCE-level German can actually read the news instead of merely sniggering at the headlines.

So, what does Bild offer its international sports audience?

How about an in-depth reportage of Wolfsburg (formerly managed by Wolfgang Wolf - fact) holding a pre-season training session on a nudist beach.

The story is illustrated by a slideshow of the Bundesliga side running around in bibs, surrounded by flabby, middle-aged and crucially naked onlookers.

As is depressingly frequently the case, the grim reality of people not wearing any clothes proves far less titillating than the mental image.

Still, Wolfburg coach Felix Magath was sufficiently turned on by the panoply of beer bellies and bingo wings to quip: "I wanted to give the training sessions some new attractions."

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Gareth Southgate says Middlesbrough striker Mido is in "great condition" after shedding two stones at a fitness camp in Egypt.

Problem is, he's still 14 stones. Which means... please bear with Early Doors as it scrambles for a calculator... 16! He was 16 stones at the end of last season!

That is, remarkably, heavier than legendary goalkeeper William 'Fatty' Foulke when he made his professional debut in 1894.

Admittedly Foulke's weight subsequently ballooned, but he remained sprightly enough to earn this following praise in a 1904 book: "Perhaps the most talked of player in the world - a leviathan at 22 stone with the agility of a bantam."

Foulke is famously quoted as having said: "You can call me anything, but don't call me late for dinner."

Although Foulke probably didn't have to put up with opposition fans chanting "shoe bomber" at him.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Yes! I am special... er, no. I am special for my family, my friends and my country. As a manager, so-so." Big Phil stops himself just in time and throws in a nice bit of self-deprecating humour.

FOREIGN VIEW: "Lampard storm" - Italian rag Corriere dello Sport doesn't have any more idea what's going on in the Lamps saga than anyone over here. Oh, and new Juventus signing Amauri thinks he will become better than Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

TALKING POINT: Alternative names for the UEFA Cup?

stroke182181: "How bout 'Champions League Light' I can see the tag line:  'All the hassle of European football, now with only 5% of the quality'"

g_hine: "Hows about 'The Pfizer Viagra Cup' for clubs that just can't seem to stay up"

douglas_statt: "Carlsberg don't do European tournaments, but if it did it would have to be better than this"

Today - Verdicts on Big Phil's first day at the office? And what about Fat Frank, eh? Or you can just flirt with the handful of ladies brave/foolish enough to hang around the message board.

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