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Back pages | Anorak - Part 67

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Premier League news. Stories from the newspapers and BBC sport – sports news from tabloids Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Star, the Guardian, Daily Mirror, the times, daily telegraph

Beckham Retires

“WELL, I’m not a Wag any more, am I?” says Victoria Beckham.

Or should that be asked? These are early days in the existence of Wags and the definition is, well, less than definitive.

However, according to the Anorak Lexicon of Tabloid English (publishers who want to produce this authoritative text should contact us), Wag is defined thus:

WAG – INTRANSITIVE VERB: 1. To mix lemonade with brandy and ice. 2. To dance on tables in Baden-Baden with one hand raised above the head. 3. To shop for shopping bags. 4. To paint oneself a deep shade of orangey-brown (see Kilroy-Silk).

NOUN: To be the girlfriend or wife of a footballer.

Her Poshnesss might not do wagging but she surely remains a Wag – unless, of course, she plans to leave her Day-vid and become a Dwag (divorce) or Swag (separate)?

Or Dayvid gives up football. Which is he is not going to do because, as he tells the Sun, “I’ll be back”. Dayve’s been dropped from the England team but vows to return.

Says Dayve: “But it’s not all over for me yet with England – I’m working hard and I’ll be back.”

It seems that Vicky is a little premature in her self-reclassification from Wag to Dwag, Swag or Wigwag.

Might it be a case of wishful thinking? Indeed it might. As Posh says, no longer being a Wag “is no bad thing”.

She continues: “Everyone was going on about the Wags during the World Cup and me not hanging around with them all the time but I had three kids with me.”

She goes on: “My kids were getting car sick travelling on coaches so we had to travel to some matches by train, so that’s why I sometimes wasn’t with the other Wags.”

While the Wags were travelling by charabanc, Posh was riding German public transport, which although ruthlessly efficient nonetheless necessitates a meeting with the common volk.

This is a big sacrifice. Although Posh stresses: “But I haven’t got any problems with the other girls.”

Perish the thought. Although, now she mentions it…

Posted: 10th, September 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


Jamelia Scores

“THEY are famous for doing nothing,” says singer Jamelia in the Sun.

The woman with a name like an antiseptic ointment tells the Sun that Wags are “famous for doing nothing…They’re taking advantage of their partner’s position.” The Sun says that Jamelia is calling the Wags “leeches”.

All fair enough. But what has sparked Jamelia’s sudden bout of Wag-bashing? Why it’s the fact that she is dating Darren Byfield, who plays for Millwall.

“I didn’t seek out Darren because he’s a footballer,” says Jamelia. “I have my own career.”

In defending her position, Jamelia sounds not unlike other singers with footballer lovers, namely Victoria Beckham and the charmless Cheryl Tweedy-Cole.

Of course, Jamelia is her own woman. For one thing, Darren plays for Millwall, a team blessed with all the glamour and pizzazz of last night’s kebab.

For another, Darren is unlikely to ever play for England and so afford Jemelia the chance to follow the team like a pissed-up lager lout clad in Gucci and orange spray paint.

And for another thing, it’s more than likely she earns more than her footballer…

Posted: 5th, September 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


Up The Pool

“…ON Victoria, Coleen & Cheryl plus the TRUTH about those eyebrows!”

Before Alex Curran tells us how her eyebrows are expressions of her inner Wag, with their own store cards and stylists, OK! must set the scene.

The story begins in that place where life is so good they named it twice – Baden-Baden.

Alex is by the pool relaxing. And shopping, not by the pool (a girl can only dream of that) but in town.

But it was not always so. OK! says it was not all shopping and relaxing by the pool. Oh no. Alex “was busily attending to her new baby and her eldest daughter”.

We now move on to the point where OK! asks about those wild nights in the German resort. What sparked them off? “There was nothing to do of a day!” says Alex.

Wag by name and wag by nature, Alex is surely having a little joke at our expense. We know about her newborn baby and her little girl, how can she have been bored. The very idea!

No pictures of Alex delivering this nugget of information are forthcoming, but it’s not hard to imagine those eyebrows shooting up high on her clean brow. And then wagging up and down in the style of Groucho Marx’s cigar.

As for the rest of it… Well, Alex get on with Coleen McLouhglin. And Victoria Beckham and Cheryl Tweedy are friends.

“The thing is that when you’re in a big group you do stay with the people you’re closest to,” says Alex. Cheryl has Vicky. Vicky has a holiday to attend so she can’t make it to Cheryl’s wedding.

And Alex has her eyebrows.

Posted: 25th, August 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


Beheaders & Volleys

ONLY the few can have failed to notice that the football season is upon us once more.

And the few are those without access to Sky television on which the Premier League’s gilded games are broadcast LIVE!. For these poor souls, football is either something you actually play, stand in the freezing cold to watch or listen to on the transistor radio.

Or they can always go to the pub and watch the game on the big screen. And now footy fans in Portsmouth can get their coverage courtesy of Al-Jazeera, the Arabic broadcasting company.

Whereas Sky charges pubs £6,000 a year to broadcast their coverage, signing up to Al-Jazeera cost just £300 for the same period.

Sky is delighted. A spokesman for the media giant says that football is the national game and should be cheap and accessible at the point of entry. Or not. What Sky spokesman Dan Johnson actually tells the Mirror is: “This is illegal…Purchasing from Arabic television is copyright theft.”

While British punters work out how Al-Jazeera can sell football at such a discount, we tune in to the show, as broadcast in one of five pubs in Portsmouth.

And, as Derek Hopper, of the city’s Royal Exchange tavern, says, if you turn down the volume the punters don’t mind.

Although the occasional breaks in transmission to broadcast footage of men in hoods lopping the heads off rival fans can be distracting.

But nothing the physiotherapist’s magic sponge cannot clean up…

Posted: 23rd, August 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


Wag-ruptcy

WHAT’S the difference between a Wag and a wannabe Wag? The answer is, of course, a footballer.

You can have any number of titanium credit cards and store cards for boutiques in provincial Cheshire but there is no escaping the need for the man in the muddy boots.

Without him you are nothing. No, you are less than nothing. You are in peril of “Wag-ruptcy”, the pursuit of the blonde tints, the garish clothes and the all-year-round orange skin at any price.

The Sun has identified the phenomena of woman who want to look like Coleen McLoughlin and Alex Curran. With ambition that exceeds a can of Ronseal satin varnish (to keep at bay the ravages of watching your footballer play for his pub team on a cold night in January), the wannabe Wag is spending more than she can afford.

“Young women are increasingly choosing the Wag lifestyle but it can’t be sustained indefinitely,” says Keith Steven of accountancy firm Wilkins Kennedy.

“So many people are teetering on the brink of the precipice.”

Being a Wag cannot go on forever. Mr Stevens is right.

But it is not only Wannabe Wags that should tighten their belt but Wags too. (Note: Victoria Beckham should not try to tighten her belt any more as she runs the risk of cutting herself in two and chipping bone. And no-one want to see that.)

The life of a footballer is perilous, always a reckless tackle away from the end. Wags would be advised to prepare to the future.

And to ensure a rosy future, the Wag should: a) get their footballer to pursue a lucrative media career; b) enter into a programme of buying and then retuning overpriced clothing, retaining refunds in a secret private account, or large post-op bra; or c) push for their man to play for Chelsea.

Posted: 22nd, August 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


Do I Like Orange

WITH any disappointment at being overlooked for the England captain’s job behind him, Steven Gerrard has moved on.

“GERRARD MY STORY,” says the headline on the News Of The World’s cover. “How I got perfect Alex to be my lover. My shock over her arrest.” And: “PLUS: More amazing revelations in 55 pages of sport!”

Fifty-five pages of revelations is a lot of revealing. And before football can be laid bare, we turn to the football book that the NOTW says “THEY ALL WANTED”.

You might still be reading Frank Lampard’s autobiography, which also appeared this summer and was serialised in the Sun.

In which case you are left with a choice not unlike the one that faced Sven Goran Eriksson – should you close the book on Lampard and move to Gerrard, or can both be used together? Can you read a bit of Lampard and a bit of Gerrard and form them into a potent mixture? Or will the result just be a confusing mess?

But as we ponder that, there is new and exciting news. No sooner has the book been printed than Steven’s Wag-tastic fiancée Alex Curran (has she not a fragrance; has she not day-glo orange chic) been pinched.

It has been alleged that Alex was involved in a fight at Liverpool’s Shangri-La restaurant. Alex has been released on police bail.

This must be one of those sporting revelations promised on the NOTW’s front page. It’s an unpleasant story of alleged violence on a night out; far removed from sporting revelations about how some player always put his shorts on last and that the grass at White Hart Lane is 25 per cent clover.

But lest you think Gerrard’s tome is a celebrity book, the NOTW produces further extracts from it towards the back of the paper. And turning to it we read: “I swallowed paracetamol like SMARTIES”.

Or half-time oranges…

Posted: 14th, August 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


She Can Work It Out

“I NEED TO GET COLEAN AGAIN.”

That’s the headline in the Mirror. And duly hooked we read on and learn that Coleen McLoughlin plans to lose half a stone.

A picture of Coleen in a yellow bikini shows that she has a little weight to lose. For those readers unable to spot the excess, the Mirror draws a pink arrow to the troublesome area and dubs it “HOLIDAY TUM”.

Many of we obese Britons will take comfort from this and chose to attribute our own larger sizes to weekend breaks in Pizza Hut and package tours to the Wimpy Bar.

Of course, Coleen is a Wag, and as such she has no need to eat burgers and chips in the precinct but can eat burgers and chips in St Tropez. And it is this that has led to her gaining half a stone.

“I overloaded on pizzas, steaks, potatoes – and even McDonald’s,” says Coleen.

But now the holiday is over and Coleen is back to the serious business of shopping she wants to lose the weight she has gained.

“I’m trying to go swimming at least once a day,” she says. “I’m also spending time in the gym three times a week – and I have decided to go back to Weightwatchers.”

Losing this weight will require much hard graft. But we have every confidence in Coleen. And advise her to get a copy of Coleen McLoughlin’s Brand New Body Workout. With free burger, fries and shake…

Posted: 9th, August 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


Less Than 00

FORGET less than zero. The benchmark for this generation is double zero. And Nancy Dell’Olio might be wearing a pair of 00-size jeans as she arrives at Rome Airport.

Nancy is seen clad is a pair of Victoria Beckham’s Rock & Republic jeans.

The Star has the picture. But Nancy’s oversized handbag obscures the buttock and thigh segments of her denim and we cannot see the size on the label.

However, judging by the strained look on Nancy’s face, we think she is wearing Vicky’s jeans.

And there is another reason for Nancy to be pained. The paper says that the woman who is reported to have been dropped by Sven Goran Eriksson (she denies it) has toxic seaweed.

This is not a slight on the upper part of Nancy’s outfit, a blouse with a flowery motif that’s seems to be growing up her. It is a comment on the fact that the area around her beachfront home in Fregene, Italy, is infected with stinking algae.

Nancy says she is not bothered by it. “It doesn’t bother me,” says she. “I just sit in the sun.”

Doubtless trying to get her wet jeans to shrink to fit in the heat…

Posted: 8th, August 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


Being Frank

“THE FRANK LAMPARD STORY.” The headline reads like the name of an afternoon movie on Channel 5.

But that’s not the title of the player’s first autobiography. It’s called Totally Frank, which just happens to be the title of a Channel 4 TV series in which wannabe four-piece all-girl band try to make it big.

This may not be entirely coincidental, and it’s too easy to make the mental connection between Frank’s performance at the last World Cup and drummer Neve’s repeated failed attempts to hit the cymbal.

But there the stories diverge. The Sun’s serialisation joins Frank as he and girlfriend Elen Rives are lying by their pool of their hotel in sunny Las Vegas.

“I have heard it said that revolutions don’t start with a shout but with a whisper,” writes Frank. “Very few people knew of Roman Abramovich’s plan to buy Chelsea.”

Indeed. And even less revolutions start with a call from Rio Ferdinand, Frank’s England team-mate, he of the badly-drawn mouth.

Frank picks up his mobile phone and listens to Rio’s message. “A Russian billionaire is buying Chelsea, mate,” says Rio. “I’m tellin’ you. This geezer is seriously rich and can afford any player in the world.”

A few days later and Frank is home. Chelsea is “bulging” with new signings. “I knew right there I could leave Chelsea or become a better footballer. I became a better footballer,” says Frank, providing a neat quote, and a decent tagline for the afternoon film of the book.

There then follows the kind of gushing tribute that suggests Frank has learnt his writing style from reading about other footballers’ lives in OK! magazine.

Frank sees a determined gaze in Roman’s eye. He likes the owner’s style. Roman’s “an enigma to most people” but he has a close relationship with Frank. He is “affable, charming and light-hearted”. Chelsea are Roman’s “family”. Says Frank: “I am not just his No8: to Roman I am part of the Chelsea DNA.”

“I can see his hunger for success will never be satisfied and I appreciate that. It’s how I am.”

That’s Frank and Roman, two parts of the same double helix, wrapping around each other in a one-two two-one of harmony.

Until he’s dropped. Or cloned.

Posted: 2nd, August 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


Joanna Taylor Wants To Cry

“I THINK that when I walk down the street everyone is looking at me wishing they were me because I am the luckiest person in the world.”

Luck with a degree of planning. Joanna Taylor-Murphy, actress and footballer’s wife, is pregnant. And she conceived with the aid of IVF.

And you can stop looking at her and dreaming of being her because there can be only one Joanna.

But you can read bout her. And Joanna tells OK! about baby “M”, her “traumatic miscarriage”, the “emotional strain of going through IVF” and how the “heartache” has brought her closer to Danny, her footballer.

First up, Joanna wants us to know that every single day “I cry”. And the first thing she will do when she and her baby “meet” is to cry.

Joanna may very well be crying as you pass her on the street and wish you could be pregnant like her.

She may be welling up inside as she tells OK! about her laparoscopy, polycystic ovaries and endometriosis, her eyes becoming dewy as she tells the world about Clomid, IUI and Zeta West, a pregnancy specialist. Joanna has read some of Ms West’s books. You can read them if you like. They are real tearjerkers.

Zeta introduced Joanna to a Mr Taranissi, and he met with Joanna and her footballer. “He’s going to get us our baby,” said Joanna after their first meeting.

Joanna was given an intravenous immune globulin drip. But she had low levels of HCG. And that’s not good. But later the level rose and that was good. And now Joanna is eight months pregnant.

And everyone is staring at her…

Posted: 25th, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


Carly Zucker’s “Sexercises”

IT’S Carly Zucker.

She’s in a swimming pool with her lover Joe Cole. The pair are at the Miami Beach Hotel, relaxing in the sun after spending a summer kicking a ball in the sun and watching people kick a ball in the sun, respectively.

The Star looks on as Carly points to her chin. She and Joe are cuddling in the pool. And it looks like she wants Joe to stick one on her.

No kiss is forthcoming. But Carly needs to be ready for when it does arrive and she is soon wearing a tiger-print bikini and warming up for it.

Over five pictures, Sun readers see Carly go through her “sexercises”. Carly is a 24-year-old personal trainer and she seems keen to bring her keep-fit regime to the world’s attention.

She rubs her belly; she thrusts her elbows out; she stretches up high; she pushes he arms out wide; and she gazes to the skies.

And Carly’s mission to get Britain fit is working as the Mirror takes a keen interest in her keep-fit regime.

The Mirror says this could almost be a rehearsal for a new fitness DVD, and surely it could.

Indeed, it cannot be too long before we are able to watch Wag-tastic Carly go about her moves in the privacy and comfort of our own armchair.

Get ready with the super slo-mo button…

Posted: 21st, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comments (2)


Coleen McLoughlin Watches Wayne Rooney Caged

WHAT’S this? Wayne Rooney behind bars in France. How can it be?

The Sun calms our fears that young Wayne has been pinched by the Gendarmerie as he holidays in the South of France. It correctly realises that even in the La Belle Republique police rarely if ever wear fluorescent stockings and suspenders outside the station.

What we are seeing is Wayne at the Palais Nightclub in Cannes. Wayne, Coleen McLoughlin and their pals were in the VIP area drinking champagne and cocktails and generally bringing a bit of Baden-Baden to the French Riviera.

A song came on and it was time to dance. A source explains more: “While the girls were throwing shapes, Wayne couldn’t help but stand and ogle a go-go dancer who was putting on a show in a cage.”

While Coleen formed herself into a triangle, then a square, all the while building up to the thrilling finale when she and three friends form a perfect tetrahedron, Wayne gawped.

“The dancer clocked Wayne looking at her and started beckoning seductively with her finger for him to join,” says the source. He even took his shirt off.

“He latched on to her like he’d been given a decent through-ball,” says this insider. But, just like at the world Cup, Wayne did not score.

Sure, the dancer is rumoured to have been an active 59-year-old grandma, but Wayne is beyond that sort of thing.

Besides, Coleen was watching…

Posted: 18th, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


Cheryl Tweedy & Her Footballer

WITH less than 24 hours for our fake bake orange tan to dry, the pressure of getting ready for Cheryl Tweedy and Ashley Cole’s wedding is mounting.

Like you, we are deeply excited about the do at Highclere Castle, Berkshire. Yes, that was the venue where just last year Jordan said “I do” to OK! magazine and Peter Andre.

Not that Cheryl and her footballer’s wedding will be like that tacky affair. For one thing, Cheryl is believed to have had one of her tattoos removed. For another, thing… Well, there are too many things to mention.

And while we reread our suede invitation, and sign the enclosed form that stipulates that we are not allowed to ask any of Cheryl and her footballer’s famous pals for their autographs, we search our pockets for a few coins.

Rather than give presents, Cheryl and her footballer want their guests to make donations to the children’s charity run by their good pals and templates David and Victoria Beckham.

And thank good news for that. We’d have never made it to the shops in time. Our tan has yet to dry – and the forecast is for rain…

Posted: 14th, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment (1)


Grin It To Win It

NOT a day goes by when Cheryl Tweedy is not talking about her footballer or showing us her footballer.

Today Cheryl and her footballer are promoting an advert for the National Lottery’s new game.

For a mere £1, punters stand a chance of winning up to £500,000.

Just imagine what you could do with all that money. You can buy a watch, a ring or a football season’s worth of fake bake. You could even secure your own booth at Garibaldi’s bar and spit roast in downtown Baden-Baden.

And even if you don’t win, a portion of your investment goes towards London’s 2012 Olympics. And that’s just marvelous.

And here’s Cheryl to tell us just how marvelous it all is. “I’ve found my dream match,” says she. “Ashley is one in a million.” Says the footballer: “It’s great that there’s another big game to watch.”

It sure is. And right now thousands of England fans are excitedly queuing up to buy their tickets.

Ashley has his fingers crossed. And Cheryl has her hands on her hips. So come on England, get a load of this pair and give it yet best shot!

Posted: 12th, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


“The Morning Dafter Pill”

Puns Of The Day

“The XL factor” (Star) – Reality TV pop singer Shayne Ward says his penis is twice the size of football Freddie Ljungberg’s. Although Freddie is the better singer.

“The morning dafter pill” (Star) – Parents unhappy at schools’ plan to hand out morning-after pills to underage girls

“It’s the Ender Pauline” (Star) – EastEnders character Pauline Fowler must die
“Ender an era” (Sun) – More of Pauline’s imminent death

“Why ZZ blew his top” (Mirror) – France footballer Zinedine Zidane and that headbutt

“Mother of all insults” (Mirror) – Italy’s Macro Materazzi accused of racist slur on Zindane and calling his mother a whore

“Soph’s all washed up” (Sun) – Mo-del Sophie Anderton whips off her top on a beach

“Jolly teen giant” (Sun) – Paul Sturgess, 18, is 7ft 5ins – and still growing

Posted: 11th, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


“Eeyore Beautiful

“In sarnie-ty – Cop chiefs ban ham butties for PCs at Muslim do” (Sun) – Chief inspectors ban policemen and women from eating bacon butties at the Islam Expo even in London

Tot Noodle” (Sun) – Pregnant Jacky hardy ate a Bombay Bad Boy Pot Noodle and gave went into labour half an hour late

“Merry St Edmonds” (Mail) – Residents of Bury St Edmonds live longest

“A good old Pyrenees-up” (Mail) – More form Tony Hawks travel book

“Primarktic monkeys” (Sun) – Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner shops in Primark

“A gottle of Gere please” (Star) – Richard Gere is opening an inn and restaurant in New York

“Eeyore beautiful” (Sun) – James Blunt buys a Spanish retreat, near the donkeys

“It’s Zid Vicious” (Sun) – France’s Zinedine Zidane is sent off in World Cup final

“The Iron Lady” (Mirror) – Charlotte Church irons for the cameras

“Bug Bug me do” (Mirror) – Heather Mills McCartney plays Paul McCartney a tape of the singer and his daughter Stella talking on the phone

Posted: 10th, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


Dial M For Marriage

SHORT of marrying her footballer Ashley Cole in Namibia it’s hard to know what else Cheryl Tweedy could do to deflect unwelcome attention away from her impending nuptials.

Having already told us, via the gilded pages of OK!, that she and her footballer are not your typical wife and footballer, Cheryl is now keen to keep her wedding guests under wraps.

Cheryl has banned her less famous wedding guests from approaching any of her showbiz chums and asking them for autographs. To ensure that they obey her wishes, down-to-earth Cheryl has insisted that every guest signs a confidentiality agreement.

Failure to do so will lead to the invitation being rescinded. And news is that the restraining order extends to Cheryl and her footballer’s families.

What is more, to avoid unwelcome attention, to enable the day to pass off unnoticed and without any kind of fuss, guests will not be told the venue until two days prior to the do.

Then they will dial a special hotline. A voice will come on and thank them for voting for Cheryl in Pop Idol. They will then redial, taking care to use the correct number, and hear details of the rendezvous.

At which point all guests deemed not famous enough will arrive at the Travelodge by Chieveley services off the M4, leaving Cheryl, her footballer and her pals to party the night away in rare African splendour.

Posted: 10th, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


Old Lady Luck

Quotes Of The Day

“Lucky? I lost Totti three months before the World Cup. I have had Zambrotta, Gattuso and Nesta injured. We have had players sent off,. And we have a football scandal to deal with. You call this lucky? Oh yes, how f****** lucky I have been” – Marcello Lippi 

“I didn’t see the usual England spirit, the lions out there on the pitch, and I didn’t know why. Maybe Eriksson was too claim” – Claudio Ranieri wants more tears

“Plainly, he’s very good at taking free kicks. But what, exactly, does he do for the rest of the time? Is he at the hairdresser’s?” – Jeremy Clarkson asks the questions

“There’s a real international flavour to their World Cup” – Jimmy Armfield is not wrong

“Ballack’s feet aren’t working properly beneath his frame” – A Peter Drury-ism

Puns Of The Day

“He shoots..she scores” (NOTW) – Peter Crouch’s lover Abi Clancy pictured taking cocaine and in the company of another man

“Roo’s taken a dive” (NOTW) – Wayne Rooney gets over the pain of it all by diving from a big yacht into the warm waters off the island of Capri

“You only wink when you’re sinning (NOTW) – Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal lose 3-1 to Germany in third-place play-off

“Zidane: My final dream” (Mail) – Zinedine Zidane says the World Cup final is his last ever professional game

“Fears of a clown” (Times) – Will Fabien Barthez drop a clanger?

Posted: 9th, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


The End

Winners

Put your money on France. In 32 matches between Italy and France, the Italians have won 17; the French have won just 7. But in the past nine meetings, France have won five and Italy only one.

England will play a key part in the final. Hurrah! Alan Cairncross, the Scots heads groundsman at the Berlin Olympic Stadium, is using two 30-year-old English-made Ransomes Mastiff lawnmowers to trim the turf. “The mowers are almost as good now as when they were new,” says Carincross. Hurrah!

John Terry has made it into the World Cup team of the tournament. Other players who have graced the English game and feature in the elite group are: Maniche and Carvalho (Portugal), Vieira and Henry (France) and Crespo (Argentina).

Joe Cole is to marry Carly Zucker, the Wag who got up Victoria Beckham’s nose.

Ashley Cole has been on a £35,000 stag do in Marbella. Ashley eased the pain of England’s limp performances in the World Cup by going lap-dancing and drinking.

Losers

His brains are in his feet. France’s Franck Ribery was kicked out of Lille’s youth scheme because he failed to make the grade academically.

Should we feel sorry for Frank Lampard? Having seen his stock fall faster than Ronaldo in the penalty box, the Chelsea player has been getting away from it all on a luxury yacht – the one with a Portugal flag fluttering off the stern.

Sepp Blatter, Fifa’s diminutive president, says that when young he used to dive a bit. “I tried to get some advantages by falling down and saying ‘but he touched me’,” says Blatter. Blatter is Swiss, not Portuguese.

You can now buy an England flag at Tesco for 1p.

Posted: 9th, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


Shop Window

Football Gossip

Chelsea will sign Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro final (Mail)

Newcastle are to offer £7m for Werder Bremen and Germany striker Miroslav Klose (Mirror)

Chelsea will offer £15m offer for Argentina forward Carlos Tevez (People)

Tottenham want Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Express)

Arsenal will sign Lilian Thuram (People)

Cristiano Ronaldo will remain at Manchester United (Mail)

Ruud van Nistelrooy will be sold to Real Madrid (Mail)

Bobby Zamora will leave West Ham (Various)

Middlesbrough have made a move for France’s Sidney Govou (NOTW)

Arjen Robben is not going to Real Madrid (NOTW)

Posted: 9th, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


Round The Sven-d

“LATER he picked up a handful of pebbles…and began talking to them.”

“You,” he says, “are my defensive rock.” He then smacks his lips and with a self-satisfied smirk addresses the rest of the little stones in the manner of Steve McClaren.

In truth, we don’t know what Sven Goran Eriksson, for it is he, says to his pebbly pals as he wanders in the grounds of his £2milion lakeside retreat in Sweden. We only know what the News of the World tells us. We only know that “Sven’s Goran insane!”.

“Eriksson gibbering and raving after Cup flop,” says the headline. Above a montage of five pictures of Sven, the NOTW says: “OFF ME HEAD 2: YOU ALWAYS SUSPECTED IT, BUT NOW HERE’S THE HILARIOUS PROOF.”

We are then invited to laugh loud and heartily at Sven’s anguish. Speech bubbles have Sven saying: “They hate me in England…thank God I’ve still got you, my invisible friend”; “Where’s that little pixie I put up front?”; “98, 99, 100…coming ready or not, Napoleon.”

While Sven talks to himself, and his strike partner Nancy Dell’Olio tells a pal that since England’s failure to win the World Cup “I’ve cried every single day”, we turn to the Mail’s back page and read a little about Portugal’s Ronaldo.

The pantomime villain whose wink cost England World Cup glory is going nowhere. No, he’s not been rendered immobile by a meeting with Wayne Rooney down a dark alley in Liverpool; he’s just staying at Manchester United.

This is great news for British football. Not only is Ronaldo a terrific player, but he gives everyone who does not support Manchester United (and some that do) a fresh reason to dislike the Red Devils.

Perhaps if we all can boo and hiss and threaten to split him in two enough times, we’ll turn his wink into a nervous tick. You wanna wink, Ronaldo, we’ll make you wink so much you don’t know how to stop.

Why, we’ll make you as mad Sven, or as mentally troubled as Sol Campbell. News is that the man who had some kind of mental crisis in the middle of an Arsenal match against West Ham last season has quit the Gunners. And he has become “obsessed with the pursuit of a Hollywood lifestyle”.

The News of the World says Sol was “bitten by the acting bug” when he appeared on the TV show Footballers’ Wives. So he’s signed up with a showbiz agent, the same one who represents Robert De Niro.

And we wish Sol well. But remind him that the show must always go on, and that walking out halfway through a performance to get your head straight is considered bad form.

And that’s it. Sure the Sunday Times has a few words to say about some foreign football match in Germany, but it matters not. In England, football is about money, fame and scandal.

Just get a load of those pictures of Peter Crouch’s girlfriend Abi Clancy snorting a lump of what is said to be cocaine. She’s a “coke-snorting love cheat,” says the NOTW.

It’s the kind of story that’s got the football world talking – and buzzing again…

Posted: 9th, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


Off The Rack

Winners

Sir Clive Woodward, the former England rugby coach, says footballers should work on their penalty taking. He wants penalty shoot-outs at the end of every match.

Academics at the Cass Business School have come up with a formula to determine how well a nation should perform at a World Cup. Taking into account key factors – the number of internationals who play abroad, the number of men who play football regularly, climate and the number of years the nation have been a member of Fifa – England should be the fourth best team in the world. Scotland the 34th best, Wales 37th and Northern Ireland 48th. Brazil came in at 18th.

Losers

There’s no room on Fifa’s Golden Ball awards for England players. Fifa’s technical study group have selected the ten players from which the tournament’s most valuable player will be selected. The finalists are: Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro, Andrea Pirlo, Ginluca Zambrotta (all Italy), Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Zinedine Zidane (France), Michael Ballack, Miroslav Klose (Germany) and Portugal’s Maniche.

A Manchester United fan has put Cristiano Ronaldo up for sale on eBay. The ad reads: "Cristiano Ronaldo cheating goofy England hating portugezer, requesting first class ticket out of England. Unfortunately not welcome within 120 miles of Manchester. Requires good accommodation with torture chamber and enjoys 23.5 hours a day on the rack. Will never be allowed access to the UK ever again so if purchased, a holiday to England is out of the question. If you are the unfortunate successful bidder your life will not be worth living…….we will find you!!!!"

Italy’s Alessandro Del Piero has told his friend Liam Gallagher, of pop band Oasis, to wear exactly the same clothes he was wearing for the semi-final win against Germany.

Posted: 8th, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


Bronzed Off

Quotes Of The Day

“The thing must now be looked at after the match with a view to taking retrospective action. The trouble is a generation of players has grown up with Maradona’s Hand of God as an example” – Arsene Wenger wants divers punished

“The penalty was an error of mine. Yes, I touched Henry, but it was one of those incidents which the referee could’ve ignored and let play continue” – Ricardo Carvalho dreams on

"The decisive mistake for me was that the players didn’t shoot at the goal" – Franz Beckenbauer wonders why there were so few goals

"Any referee in the world would have given that red card to Rooney in that situation," – Luiz Felipe Scolari says Ronaldo is not to blame for Rooney’s red card

On our side of the fence, this game represents suffering, rather than a match you are happy to take part in" – Scolari is less than excited about the third-place play-off

Puns Of The Day

“Swotty Motty’s a record breaker” (Mirror) – BBC’s John Motson to be become first British broadcaster to commentate of six finals

“Sven sent Rooney loony” (Sun) – Michael Owen says Rooney should never have been playing as a lone striker

“Thierry is facing his final reckoning” (Mail) – Thierry Henry is in another final

Posted: 8th, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


Ruud Boys

Newcastle want to sign Manchester United’s Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Mail)

Bayern Munich also want Van Nistelrooy (Times)

Manchester United will bid for Spain’s Fernando Torres (Times)

Arsenal want to buy Kolo Tore’s brother Yaya from Olympiakos (Daily Mirror)

Portsmouth are to take Nicolas Anelka on from Fenerbahce (Mirror)

Fulham, Watford and Charlton are chasing Leyton Orient’s Gabriel Zakuani (Mirror)

David Beckham is on the verge of signing a new deal with Real Madrid (Various)

Watford will offer £500,000 for Aston Villa’s Lee Hendrie (Mirror)

Posted: 8th, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment


Not Wright

“I’M not happy this morning.” What’s wrong, Ian? It’s Ian Wright, and when Ian’s not happy something must be badly wrong with the world.

 “I should be glad to be at home but I’m not and you all know where I’d rather be.”

 This is not exactly the kind of thing Mrs Ian Wright and the couple’s assorted little Ian Wrights will be happy to hear. No sooner has husband and father returned from wearing pressed shirts in Germany than he’s telling Sun readers that he’d rather be somewhere else.

 And, no, he wouldn’t rather be in eating a hot jacket potato in his local Spud U Like. He’d rather be in Germany, standing in Berlin with a red and white plastic bowler hat on his head, an inflatable Spitfire in his hand and cheering the England team on to certain victory.

 Sadly, it was not meant to be. But even an unhappy Ian remains hopeful. His thoughts turn to Euro 2008. Ian has picked his team for the next tournament. And at its helm is Shaun Wright-Philips, his son.

 But Ian will not be picking the team in any official capacity. As England’s cheerleader-in-chief, Ian will be watching England play from the BBC’s sofa.

 The man in charge of team selection will be Steve McClaren. And the Mirror’s Brian Reade says he’s not up to it. McClaren’s appointment has “locked England into a foolish strait-jacket”. He is Sven Goran Eriksson’s “equally culpable deputy”.

 This McClaren is just another Sven, albeit with better teeth and a big smile – even if it is a syrupy smile of smug self-satisfaction.

 But before we get too deeply immersed in the drive to destroy McClaren – let’s no peak too nearly – and start blaming his ginger hair for England’s failure, the Guardian reminds us that even with England out, the game must go on.

 Sure, the main attraction has been struck down. England, the team a hobbling Michael Owen says was “the best” in the tournament are out. And a world weeps. But the game goes on.

 But it’s not use pretending. The World Cup final is nothing without England. Better to just read the Mail and its leading story that Newcastle want to buy Ruud van Nistelrooy.

 It’s the big news in football. And it’s got England, and Ian Wright, buzzing again…

Posted: 8th, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment