Football: The Sweeper

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The Independent Online
As You Were

COMMANDING RESPECT, let's face it, is what football management is all about. You can delve as far and as deep as you like into his past but, whether it's balancing cutlery on his hooter or modelling well-dodgy Seventies' clobber, you just can't bruise the gravitas of Kevin Keegan, manager of Fulham. If Yuri Geller thinks he is the only man in the public eye who has ever made a fool of himself with a spoon, he had better think again, while what self-respecting supermodel in 1998 wouldn't give her genuine fur coat for the chance to have been around 20 years earlier to make a fashion statement alongside Doncaster's finest son and Liverpool's shrewdest signing from Scunthorpe? This is a warning: Leigh RMI (who play host to Fulham in Tuesday's FA Cup first round replay) - put your cutlery in your wardrobe. And lock it.

Booth's beloved boots bought back

IF THE deal is right, footballers will swear on their great grandmother's life that they owe it all to the boots they wear. Up until a fortnight ago Fila, no doubt, would have preferred that Andy Booth kept mum about whose boots he was wearing. But few sports manufacturers could have got a more honest endorsement of their product than Fila got from the Sheffield Wednesday striker after the trouble he went to in buying back one of his old pairs.

Ever since he agreed to auction off one particular pair for charity, Booth had struggled to find the net. After going 19 games without scoring the once prolific goalscorer - well, for Huddersfield anyway - decided the time had come to try to buy them back and he eventually tracked down the new owner.

Paul Metcalf had paid pounds 120 for the boots and thought them worth every penny. He scored a hat-trick in them the very first time he wore them and hasn't stopped scoring since, but being an Owls fan took pity on Booth and agreed to let him have them back. Whereupon Booth promptly broke his duck, scoring against Leeds United last Sunday week. It was all down to the boots, he said, even if it was a header. And Metcalf? He, apparently, hasn't scored since.

MIDDLESBROUGH FANS, glancing at the front pages of the national press this week, could be forgiven for thinking, momentarily, that Paul Gascoigne was back to his bad old ways. Pictured in a Middlesbrough away kit - Argentina's strip, as it happens - was a figure looking not unlike our dear old Gazza complete with ample girth and several chins. In fact it was Boro fan David Shayler, the former MI5 agent, on his release from La Sante Prison after a French court rejected an extradition demand from Britain. In the circumstances it is unlikely that we will be seeing Shayler at the Riverside in the near future. Which is a pity. We could have had: "He's fat, he's round, his memoirs are worth a million pounds..."

AT LEAST Sir Roland Smith, the chairman of Manchester United Plc, has not lost his sense of humour through the furore caused by BSkyB's takeover of the club. As shareholders crowded round to grill the plc board at Thursday's packed annual meeting, he told a group of them: "Would you mind going over there - you know how much we don't like people standing at Old Trafford."

Later, when informed by Professor Jonathan Michie, the spokesman for the action group, Shareholders United against Murdoch, that he "wasn't fit to run this company or any other company", Smith replied dryly: "I'll take that as a yellow card, then."

YOU'VE HEARD of yo-yo clubs. Well now, thanks to the reinvention of the 1950s craze, we have yo-yo footballers. David Reeves, Chesterfield's leading goalscorer, admits to being hooked on it, which is, I suppose, better than being hooked on some of the other addictions around these days. Sounding like a character out of a Monty Python sketch, he said: "A friend's little girl got me into yo-yoing and now I'm addicted. Everybody here is into it, but I'm the champ. My yo-yo lights up, whistles and everything and I can do loads of tricks. I was thinking of getting a dog but now the yo-yo takes up my time."

SO WHO do you think is the Premiership's demon tackler? Roy Keane? Paul Ince? David Batty? Patrick Vieira? Wrong. The answer, according the the Carling Opta Index, is that cultured Scottish midfielder, John Collins, which is a surprise, not only because one never thought of him as the terrier type but given Everton's preference for directness it is hard to imagine how he sees enough of the ball to make 89 tackles. And the top defenders? Tony Adams? Sol Campbell? Nope. Answer: Steve Chettle, of Nottingham Forest. What was it that Disraeli said about statistics?

JOHN GREGORY continues to make goalkeepers the lone exception to his buy English policy at Villa Park. As if to reinforce the view of Ray Clemence, the England goalkeeping coach, that there are too few young English keepers coming through, even Gregory has had to look abroad for a replacement for the Australian Mark Bosnich, who is set to leave at the end of the season. The Villa manager currently has two foreign keepers on trial: Petr Enkelman, a Finn who plays for Turku, and Marcus Hannerman, an American from Colorado Rapids. The word is, though, that the Englishman Michael Oakes could still be between the sticks come next August.


Mike Osman


Comedian and Capital Gold breakfast DJ

"The best-ever moment came in May 1976, when, as our manager Lawrie McMenemy said at the time, `a side of violinists and roadsweepers' won the FA Cup against Manchester United against the odds. And a few years ago, when Matty [Le Tissier] had been dropped by Ian Branfoot for six games and came back to score two of the finest goals you've ever seen. The low points are 4.45pm every Saturday this season. We're in a bad situation. Mark Hughes was good for 20-minute spurts at Chelsea but he's got to stop clattering people. He's got more yellow cards than we've got points this season."

The price is right


LAST WEEK'S pounds 5 win single on Roma might have been void - C4 only showed highlights - but The Sweeper's local bookie paid out, so he's claiming it. Ian Wright and Gabriel Batistuta can score opening goals in 2-2 draws in the Derby versus West Ham and Fiorentina versus Internazionale games tomorrow, while Paul Dalglish could strike first in a 1-1 draw between Everton and Newcastle on Monday.


(21 x 50p five-timers with Stanley): Aston Villa to beat Liverpool (4- 5); Leeds to beat Charlton (8-11); Leicester to draw with Chelsea (12- 5); Middlesbrough to draw with Coventry (12-5); Manchester United to win at Sheffield Wednesday (4-5); Tottenham to beat Nottingham Forest (4-6); Wimbledon to draw with Arsenal (11-5).

Blackburn v Southampton

First goal scorer/correct score double: Kevin Davies/2-1 to Blackburn (50p at 38-1, Coral).


Derby v West Ham

Score: 2-2 (pounds 1 at 14-1, William Hill, Ladbrokes, Stanley & Tote).

First goal: Ian Wright (pounds 1 at 13-2, William Hill).


Fiorentina v Internazionale

Score: 2-2 (pounds 1 at 18-1, Stanley).

First goal: Gabriel Batistuta (pounds 1 at 9-2, William Hill & Tote).


Everton v Newcastle

Score: 1-1 (pounds 1 at 11-2, Coral, William Hill, Ladbrokes, Stanley & Tote.).

First goal: Paul Dalglish (pounds 1 at 7-1 Ladbrokes & Tote).

ORIGINAL BANK: pounds 100.

CURRENT KITTY: ER...pounds 95.06.

TODAY'S BETS: pounds 18.63 (including pounds 1.63 tax paid on).