Early Doors

Sorry mate, no trainers

Early Doors

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Chelsea might be in the throes of a mini-crisis, but at least we finally know what Henk ten Cate is for.

The burly Dutchman has obviously been employed as Avram Grant's bouncer, and was reportedly involved in a bundle with John Terry in the lead-up to Sunday's Carling Cup final - possibly over Terry's attempt to enter the training ground wearing trainers.

The story is reported 'Exclusively' in both the Sun and the Mirror, with both papers opting for the same weak pun (Cate-fight) - sadly the bloke's name is pronounced more like 'Carter'.

Avram Grant came in for no end of stick after Chelsea's defeat to Spurs. Chief among the Israeli's failings is that he told his players the starting line-up just a few hours before kick-off on Sunday - but you may recall this is the same tactic for which Fabio Capello was widely praised after the Switzerland game.

While the Italian was hailed as a motivational genius, keeping his players on their toes until the last moment, in Grant's case it provided proof of what a bumbling fool he is.

Jose Mourinho could have been forgiven for watching his former club implode with a smug grin of unadulterated Schadenfreude, but instead he caught a movie with his kids.

The commemorative mugs were flying out of the club shop at White Hart Lane, while Chelsea wondered what to do with all their 'Carling Cup Winners' t-shirts, pencils and windscreen stickers.

The New England Patriots recently lost the Super Bowl and donated the pre-printed victory merchandise to disadvantaged people in Nicaragua (which Early Doors believes is the only Latin-American country sponsored by an anti-smoking chewing gum).

Early Doors hopes other teams follow the Patriots' lead and give away all their factually inaccurate clobber - it is nice to imagine one small corner of the globe living in a parallel universe where Arsenal and Liverpool won the last two Champions League finals, Zinedine Zidane has never headbutted anybody and Gareth Southgate is a national treasure.

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There was good news on the Eduardo front with Arsenal claiming he might play again by the end of the year.

It made an encouraging end to a day of wild speculation and scaremongering. In the absence of any actual news, specialists were lined up to state grimly that the player could have lost his foot and would never play again.

Such was the alarmist nature of the conjecture, Early Doors half-expected one 'expert' to assert that Eduardo's life could have been endangered had Martin Taylor followed up his challenge with two gunshots to the striker's temple.

Taylor was condemned by the Sun for showing his studs in training yesterday, storming: "He's still not learned." Tomorrow; more calls for a life ban as Martin Taylor raises his foot to get into bed.

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Chaos reigns in Big Four-land with a straw poll of today's papers showing most think Liverpool's American owners are set to sell up.

The Times and Telegraph say Tom Hicks and George Gillett are on their way out of Anfield, although the Guardian takes the exact opposite line, saying they will resist any takeover attempt.

Hicks's son, also Tom, went for a quiet pint in the city on Saturday and ended up having lager poured over him and getting spat at in a charming display of British hospitality.

Clearly the business of winning football matches has become a bit passé for the Big Four, but Everton moved into the real big four (no capital letters = they are actually fourth) with an impressive win against Manchester City.

You know what you are going to get with a Sven-Goran Eriksson team. Disicpline, hard work, no silly mistakes and a rigid formation. Right?

Maybe it was the pressure of having his successor as England manager, Fabio Capello, in the crowd (Early Doors refuses to recognise the McClaren era), but Sven and City lost the plot in a big way.

Micah Richards clearly hoped to impress Capello with an imitation of the England rugby team's grit and determination. Although two blatant handballs - both of which somehow went unpunished - may not have been exactly what the Italian had in mind.

Richards spent much of the second half playing up front, possibly in a futile attempt to showcase his versatility, as City poured forward leaving themselves skimpier at the back than the dancers in a Kylie Minogue video.

Martin Petrov then got himself sent of for a profoundly silly kick at Leon Osman, although it is a sad indictment of how lilly-livered football has become that a weak flick of the boot is enough to uphold a player's reputation as a bit of a head case.

Compare that with the rugby, where Mark Regan spent 50 minutes winding up the French by fair means and foul, before saying it was a "massive compliment" to get booed off.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "S*** happens" - Eduardo's succinct verdict on his injury.

FOREIGN VIEW: Inter striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic could miss a top-of-the table clash against Roma and next month's Champions League game against Liverpool with a dodgy knee, according to Corriere dello Sport.

TODAY'S TALKING POINT: Thanks for all your comments on Eduardo, other than the moronic ones. Today: has Avram Grant got any future at Chelsea?

COMING UP: A quiet day on the live football front, but you can still fill your boots with a triple-header of Championship action this evening, if such a thing tickles your fancy.

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