Early Doors

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Early Doors

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Early Doors thoroughly enjoyed its Sunday afternoon. Due to skin so prone to burning the slightest exposure to sunlight could provoke spontaneous human combustion, it stayed indoors, engrossed in 'The Jewel of the Nile' on ITV.

ED loved the on-screen chemistry between Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, and laughed out loud at the comic interjections of Danny De Vito.

All the while there was a nagging feeling that ED was missing something... or maybe it was just the sense of yearning with which director Lewis Teague infused the film.

At 10 to five, as the final strains of Billy Ocean's 'When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going' faded from the battered old black-and-white set, it flicked through the sports channels hoping to catch up with the Champions League handball.

Instead of burly Schleswig-Holsteiners hurling a Shoot 5 at each other, Early Doors was instead confronted by hordes of weeping topless men.

Troublingly, Early Doors was slightly turned on by all those pierced nipples, smudged tattoos and rippling pink bellies, and watched on - only to discover it had only gone and missed the last day of the MOST EXCITING SEASON EVER!!!

It felt almost as stupid as Gerard Pique, who stepped up to receive his Premier League winner's medal before realising he was one appearance short of qualifying and skulked off, medal-less, to assume the David May "who's that bloke?" pose in all the photos.

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Chelsea keeper Petr Cech looked like he had got lost on the way to a motorway maintenance-themed fancy dress party, given his striking resemblance to a traffic cone.

His retina-scorching fluorescent orange get-up, topped as always by that ridiculous scrum cap, meant you could hardly miss him.

John Terry certainly didn't (appropriately enough for a man with a speeding fine to his name), dislocating his elbow on the giant Czech's knee and getting stretchered off in agony.

Say what you like about Terry and his Tourette's-fuelled rants, but he does possess remarkable powers of recovery.

Like the Bionic Man or that silvery thing from Terminator, it seems he can absorb any kick to the face, distended arm or broken bone and continue unaffected after the briefest dab of a magic sponge.

To quote 1980s hard man par excellence Ray Wilkins, he is a "proper bloke".

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Showers in the north-west ensured Alex Ferguson looked far from his best as Manchester United wrapped up the title.

There was no sign of the usual smart club blazer as Fergie and the whole United coaching staff donned bright white nuclear fallout suits.

It seemed like an over-reaction to a bit of drizzle, but clearly Wigan has more of an acid rain problem than Early Doors gave it credit for.

And on a day of sartorial mayhem, Early Doors couldn't help but notice Steve Bruce forgot his kit altogether.

If ED had done such a thing in its schooldays, it would have been forced to continue wearing only its threadbare y-fronts.

Mercifully for everybody, the Wigan boss came out in a t-shirt bearing the initials 'AC'. Early Doors has just ferreted around the Wigan website, and believes Brucey raided the kit bag of physio Alex Cribley.

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Manchester City went into yesterday's game at Middlesbrough knowing a place in Europe was theirs for the taking, irrespective of the result, thanks to their position in the Fair Play league.

They could even lose 8-1 and everything would be OK. So, job done then? Er, no.

When you are chasing a place at the top of the Fair Play league, you can show all the defensive resilience of wartime Italy but you can't get your captain sent off for a professional foul, which is what happened to Richard Dunne on 14 minutes.

A smidgen of crowd trouble at full-time cannot have impressed the suit at UEFA in charge of doling out gold stars either.

City face an anxious wait to see if Fulham have pipped them to that relegation-ensuring berth in Europe's penultimate club competition.

Given Thaksin Shinawatra's volatile nature, the moments after an 8-1 defeat hardly seemed like the right time for Sven-Goran Eriksson to be issuing ultimatums.

Yet the Swede, apparently anxious to collect his P45 and a large sack of used twenties, demanded showdown talks "within hours" of yesterday's debacle.

Should Thaksin oblige, Eriksson's reign will fizzle out in familiar fashion; a promising start fading into crushing mediocrity.

The fact that his final game was against Gareth Southgate, the man who described him as 'Iain Duncan Smith' after the 2002 World Cup, proved the final indignity.

An unsuccessful pursuit of Big Phil Scolari and subsequent reluctant appointment of Steve McClaren will follow in short order.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY 1: "As far as I am concerned, this has been a near-death experience," Birmingham City chairman David Gold. As far as anyone else is concerned, it is getting sworn at by some disgruntled Brummies.

QUOTE OF THE DAY 2: "The fans who say we're not fit to wear the shirt are right," Paul Jewell delivers the final verdict on record-breaking Derby. "We've everything in place at this club except the team." Tell me I'm sweating...

QUOTE OF THE DAY 3: "If Everton can finish fifth, why can't we? We have a bigger stadium and more fans, but they all play for each other and that's the spirit we don't have." Kevin Keegan gives plucky minnows Everton the 'my dad's better than your dad' treatment.

QUOTE OF THE DAY 4: "We have finished 15th in the table and I have to say we are probably the 15th best team. Manchester United have been the best and the three worst teams have gone down." Roy Keane, you old romantic.

ACRONYM OF THE DAY: Early Doors was shocked and appalled to learn that 'ED' is also used as a convenient abbreviation for Erectile Dysfunction. Which could mean an end to those Pele gags.

GESTURE OF THE DAY:  Earlier this season it emerged that Didier Drogba has made a habit of sneaking into the Chelsea shop and buying shirts with his name on, hoping to make him the 'most popular' player at the club.

Well, Drogba was well and truly trounced by Olof Mellberg, who bought replica shirts for all 3,000 of Aston Villa's travelling fans at West Ham. That's £150,000 worth of official merchandise. Early Doors can't decide whether it is a wonderfully generous or staggeringly egotistical act.

FOREIGN VIEW: Marco Materazzi has apologised for taking and missing a penalty in Internazionale's 2-2 draw against Siena yesterday. The panto villain wrestled the ball off Julio Cruz before shooting tamely at Alex Manninger. "I'm sorry, I should have let Julio take it," Materazzi said, although coach Roberto Mancini countered: "Maybe Cruz would have missed too." Inter's Serie A lead is down to a point with one game remaining.

COMING UP: Our final Team of the Week is in the pipeline, and the much-anticipated Team of the Season. Plus there is a bumper edition of Winners and Losers. And get your dinner jacket and revolving bow tie ready - tomorrow Early Doors is a special end-of-season awards spectacular!

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