Early Doors

Strachan’s PR blunder

Early Doors

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Gordon Strachan has often made headlines with his pithy
quotes (Q: There goes your unbeaten run. Can you handle it? A: No. I'm
just going to crumble like a wreck. I'll
go home, become an alcoholic and maybe jump off a bridge. Yeah, I think I can
handle it.") but on his first day as Middlesbrough boss it was what he didn't say that created more interest.

Strachan
was pictured holding a piece of paper that looked a lot like his ideal Middlesbrough team sheet.

And bad
news for anyone not named Brad Jones, David Wheater, Sean St Ledger or Adam
Johnson - nine of the 13 names on the list were prospective signings.

Among
Strachan's targets are Arsenal
wunder-kind Jack Wilshere, Manchester United's
15-minutes-of-fame merchant Federico Macheda and, inevitably, Kevin Phillips. Also named were Kyle Naughton, Andy Griffin, Marc Albrighton, Isaiah Osbourne, Hayden Mullins and Chris Iwelumo.

While it
displays a bit of ambition, the list will hardly inspire confidence in the 24
Boro squad members who now, apparently, find themselves surplus to
requirements.

Strachan's blunder
was the kind of thing normally associated with major public figures and
government ministers - or Nick Faldo, who pretended his list of Ryder Cup pairings was a lunch list.

For example, in April Bob Quick, Britain's
most senior anti-terror policeman, resigned after flashing notes headed 'SECRET'
that detailed a raid on an alleged terrorist cell in North-West London.

And last year Housing Minister Caroline Flint was snapped
with briefing notes explaining just how deep in the brown stuff the UK property
market was: "We can't know how bad it will get." Of course you can't, you're
only the government.

It may go some
way to explaining Strachan's rather
odd remark: "If you have been Celtic manager for
four years you can be Prime Minister of Great Britain."

After yesterday's
Westminster-worthy gaffe, he
is well on the way.

- - -

Fabio Capello's
claim that Michael Owen is his "tormentor" has predictably been
misinterpreted by this morning's
papers.

'My Owen torment' is a typical headline, suggesting the Manchester
United striker gives Capello sleepless nights. If he does, it is almost
certainly by refusing to shut up about people refusing to shut up about his
injury record.

In fact, Capello was just answering a question about his Italy
counterpart Marcello Lippi, who has been slated for not picking the
mad-as-a-box-of-frogs Sampdoria striker Antonio Cassano.

Capello remarked that there always seems to be one player
the manager is criticised for leaving out. In Lippi's
case it is Cassano; in Capello's
case it is Owen.

FIVE MORE TOP TORMENTORS

Andy Reid

The view put about by an increasing number of Irishmen, led by rabble-rouser
par excellence Eamon Dunphy, is that Reid is being omitted from Giovanni
Trapattoni's squad because of pure
vindictiveness. After Ireland
came within a minute of beating Italy,
Dunphy stormed: "A travesty, a terrible performance, shameful. We never
passed the ball. It's clear Andy Reid
needs to be in the team. This is a great injustice." Steady on. Reid might
be worth a place in the squad, but he's
hardly Garrincha. In fact, he's not
even Damien Duff.

Dario Hubner

Another Trapattoni nemesis in the form of the ultimate
throwback striker. Hubner smoked, drank, made his Serie A debut at 30 and
scored stacks of goals. Aged 35, he topped the 2001/02 Serie A scoring charts
for Piacenza
and provoked a huge clamour for his inclusion in the World Cup squad. Trapattoni
was so rattled by this (and a campaign for Roberto
Baggio to be recalled) he named his strikers for Korea
and Japan
- neither player was involved.

Romario

Even in 2002, Romario was ancient, but Luis Felipe Scolari copped all
kinds of flak for refusing to pick him. Pele was among Scolari's main critics, leading to one of the greatest
quotes ever after Brazil
won the World Cup: "I believe that Pele knows nothing about football. He has done nothing as a
coach and all his analysis always turns out to be wrong. If you want to win a
title, you have to listen to Pele and then do the opposite."

Steve McManaman

McManaman, then of Real Madrid, was ignored by Sven-Goran
Eriksson for the trip to Japan
and Korea.
The Swede evidently thought it more important to take five centre-backs (Rio
Ferdinand, Sol Campbell, Wes Brown, Martin Keown, Gareth Southgate), the
managerial equivalent of taking thermal long johns on your honeymoon to the
Maldives. When Eurosport-Yahoo! blogger-to-be Danny Murphy pulled out injured, Eriksson
again overlooked McManaman and took Trevor Sinclair instead.

David Beckham

A very modern 'tormentor'. On taking on the England job, Steve McClaren dropped
Beckham as a PR stunt to make himself look like a strong manager. Instead, he
looked like a pillock. With England's Euro 2008 qualifying campaign floundering,
McClaren caved in to public pressure and recalled Becks, who could not prevent
defeats away to Russia and Croatia.
Capello sensibly decided not to mess with Becks, having done so unsuccessfully
at Real Madrid, and chose to drop Owen instead - a tactic which has the plus
point of being right.

- - -

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Tvente ish een ambitious club ... and realished
deir ambishion thish seashon. Dat is vye I am pleashed vith thish nieuw deal."
For sure. Steve McKlaaren on his new contract with FC Twente.

FOREIGN VIEW:  Clubs have criticised the French League after
20 people were injured and 18 arrested in clashes between police and fans
following the postponement of a game between Marseille and Paris St Germain due
to H1N1 flu.

The two clubs and local authorities were
unhappy that French Professional League president Frederic Thiriez had waited until
Sunday lunchtime to postpone that evening's
match  when 2,000 PSG supporters were
already on the streets of Marseille.

Several PSG players had been diagnosed with
H1N1 flu and the rest of the Ligue 1 team were quarantined.

"The decision to postpone the game was
taken thoughtlessly and too late," Marseille chairman Jean-Claude Dassier
said on the club's website.

PSG chairman Robin Leproux criticised the LFP
for having "hastily decided on Saturday that the game should be
played".

Soon after the League decision was announced,
Marseille and PSG fans clashed near the Vieux Port,
in the historical centre, and the main railway station.

Police said 20 people - 10 supporters and as
many policemen - were slightly injured, and 18 were arrested, 15 in Marseille and
three more at motorway services ransacked by PSG fans travelling back by bus

COMING UP: Carling Cup. Not just coverage, but massive
coverage. Scores and scorers from every game,
plus full live coverage of Tottenham v Everton
and Barnsley v Manchester United.

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