Inside the multi-lingual dressing-room of today's typical English football club, can there ever have been an easier time to pull the wool over a manager's eyes?
David Ginola says that he and Faustino Asprilla use "a little French, a little Spanish, a little Italian" in order to hold any kind of conversation, but rarely English. And much as Kevin Keegan would like to join in, his grasp of rudimentary German is not a lot of help.
In these circumstances, translators with any knowledge of football are enjoying something of a boom - and in a business which can be highly lucrative. It is hardly surprising, then, that Benito Carbone's arrival at Sheffield Wednesday prompted more than a few offers of assistance from local Italian eateries, where the staff were keen to make the acquaintance of the former Internazionale player.
All were in vain, however. The job of teaching English to Benny (as David Pleat has christened his record signing) has fallen to Juliana Hackett, who at least is properly qualified, having spent three years in Turin teaching English to Italian schoolchildren.
"My husband is a Wednesdayite," she said, "so when he heard about it he was over the moon."
Juliana also interprets when Carbone gives interviews, although one suspects that certain sentiments are still prone to be lost in translation. For the benefit of readers of Wednesday's match-day programme, Carbone explained that he "had not had time to see much of Sheffield properly, but my first impressions are of a beautiful city." Surely some mistake...
Campbell costs mount
Things go from bad to worse for Frank Clark, who has been forced to bow to the inevitable conclusion that his job may be on the line if his team does not get their act together rather quickly.
The main criticisms aimed at Brian Clough's unenvied successor focus on the transfer market, in which his record is open to more questions, unfortunately, than Dean Saunders has yet scored goals. If you want to remove any semblance of a smile from Frank's face, any sentence including the words "Silenzi" and "Andrea" will do the trick.
Still, however, he stoutly defends Kevin Campbell, whom he described on Saturday as the man to solve Forest's apparent fear of scoring. Once he returns from his latest appointment in the treatment room, that is.
So one can imagine that he will have been less than delighted to learn of the latest Forest "secret" to slip into the public domain - the revelation that every time the former Arsenal striker limps on to the field in a Forest shirt it costs his cash-starved employers pounds 10,000.
The money goes to Highbury as part of a deal in which, in addition to the basic pounds 2.5m Clark paid up front, Arsenal receive an extra pounds 10,000 for each senior appearance. Only when his total reaches 50 - however long that takes - do the payments cease.
Thus, the former England B international, with 10 goals from 36 matches since his arrival 16 months ago, will become a pounds 3m man after 14 more games. At least Clark can console himself with one thing: it probably won't happen this season.
Dancing the night away among London's bright young things can be quite demanding for the more mature man, which may explain why the king of clubs appears to be leading a double life as the stringy fellow in Newcastle's rearguard. Presumably all that stamina training has handy benefits.
Take a bow
For treating Tony Gubba's question with the answer it deserved. "You're struggling on the field and there are moves towards a takeover off it. Where do you stand in this?" Gubba asked. "At this moment," Clark replied, "where I stand is here, in the Aston Villa interview room, talking to you."
Whose supposed new composure appears to wearing very thin in the midst of Manchester United's crisis. Three games (Newcastle, Southampton and now Chelsea), three moments of madness. No worse than yellow cards yet, but time for Alex Ferguson to offer cautionary words.
The Brazilian-born playmaker may not have been the biggest extravagance in Ron Atkinson's spending spree. But 16 months after his arrival from Benfica and 11 months since his last first-team match, he continues to burn a hole in Coventry's wage bill. He enjoyed an eight-match run at the start of last season, but lost form and fitness and cannot rise above the reserves.
Watch out for...
Richard Rufus (Charlton)
Late autumn tends to be prime time for shoring up leaky Premiership defences, so the big time might be beckoning for this Under-21 defender if Charlton decide to cash in. Strong in the tackle and calm under pressure, he might be just the job for George Graham at Leeds if weekend speculation is accurate.
fact and fiction from the Sunday papers
While the Express were reporting that Jack Walker will open a pounds 22m transfer chest to lure Terry Venables or Bruce Rioch into the hot seat at Blackburn, the Mail on Sunday claimed that the Blackburn board are poised to invite Jack Charlton to become manager, if only to "restore morale on a short-term basis". Venables, their report says, turned them down a month ago. According to the People, Sheffield Wednesday are ready to send an SOS to their former manager Howard Wilkinson if David Pleat fails to arrest their slide down the table. That would be a bit of a blow to Richard Gough, reported by the Sunday Mirror to be eager to team up with his former boss at Hillsborough when he leaves Rangers in May. In the transfer market, Aston Villa's bankers should brace themselves for a deluge of outgoings, with Brian Little moving in for Phil Babb (pounds 4m, People), Lee Clark (pounds 3m, News of the World) and Andy Cole (pounds 4.5m, Mirror).
If you are defending properly it gives you a basis on which to do something. That just wasn't acceptable defending.
Alex Ferguson, finally admitting that Manchester United have problems.
It was long ball all the time and for my defenders just heading practice. They [Wimbledon] work hard and are good at what they do but it is not for me.
Arsene Wenger, given a taste of raw Wimbledon.
Some people will say it does not look very pretty, but when it gets like this no quarter is asked or given. It was a blinding game.
Joe Kinnear, with an alternative view.
We've got to start winning some games otherwise when any takeover is finalised there will be somebody else spending the money.
Frank Clark, feeling insecure at stricken Nottingham Forest.
We make one mistake and lose to a terrible goal. I can't believe it.
Harry Redknapp, after Ludek Miklosko's misunderstanding with Slaven Bilic condemned West Ham to defeat by Tottenham.
It's not going to hide anything, there's still a lot more work to be done. It's not a turning point, just three points.
George Graham keeps his feet firmly on the ground after Leeds win at last.
Just when we need to play again as soon as possible, we get a fortnight off. It's sod's law.
Jim Smith, after victory over Leicester arrested Derby's decline.
For all the satisfaction drawn from Saturday's first success under George Graham, no defeat of Sunderland will ever expunge completely the most painful memory among Leeds supporters of 1970s vintage.
In the FA Cup final of 1973, Sunderland were a Second Division side pitted against the holders, who had 11 internationals in their Wembley 12. No one had won against those odds since before the war.
But Bob Stokoe sensed complacency in the Leeds camp and convinced his own team they had nothing to lose. The results were startling. While Dennis Tueart, Vic Halom and Billy Hughes stretched Leeds close to breaking point at one end, a young lion-heart called Dave Watson became an inspiration at the other.
After 30 minutes, Hughes launched a corner from the left towards Watson at the far post, the ball went back across the goal and Ian Porterfield crashed a right-foot shot into the roof of the net.
Leeds staged a comeback, but if there was a decisive moment it came in the 70th minute, when Jim Montgomery kept out Trevor Cherry's header and somehow deflected Peter Lorimer's thunderous follow-up against the crossbar.
THE PREMIERSHIP'S LEADING SCORERS
Coca-Cola Cup 6
Premiership 10; Europe 2
Coca-Cola Cup 1
and bad boys
THE SEASON'S RED AND YELLOW CARDS
Suspensions loom, with three more players booked on Saturday
Bowyer came back and collected a booking
Three more yellow cards yesterday