Robin Scott-Elliot: Could Mancini recommend a better tailor for Nasser?

View From The Sofa: Football/Cricket ESPN/Sky Sports
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The Independent Football

Now the thaw is with us, what future is there for Roberto Mancini's scarf? Hopefully, a brighter one than for Nasser Hussain's trousers, which came to an unfortunate end in Johannesburg this week when the former England captain bent over to inspect the pitch to the accompaniment of a tearing sound and Allan Donald giggling. It is never wise to bend over in a bull ring.

Mancini's neckwear is worn in the effortless manner that Italian men of a certain age usually adopt to sport a sweater draped across the shoulders. The Manchester City manager had his sweater on for both his TV appearances last week, and the scarf of course. Jon Champion, commentating with his usual detailed aplomb on City's effervescent dismantling of Blackburn last Monday, helpfully pointed out that the scarf is in fact an Italian invention.

Mancini, with his Farrah Fawcett locks – bounce and curl is not just a Tevez free-kick at Eastlands – has already broken into the big four in terms of grooming but, as Saturday evening's drubbing at Goodison showed, his team can still look like they've just grabbed the first thing that came to hand in the wardrobe. They have long been a club whose motto for defending runs along the lines of, when your backs are against the wall it's time to turn round and fight. The wall Shay Given lined up to deal with Steven Pienaar's free-kick on Saturday was the worst piece of construction since Jericho city council decided to get theirs done on the cheap.

Catenaccio, another Italian invention, and City will never be natural bedfellows. Which is good news, as they are always worth catching when on telly. Stoke against Liverpool may have the drama of desperation (at a stretch) but makes for a dire lunchtime watch. Come teatime and it was much more digestible; City are perennially entertaining, whether by accident or design.

The Italians also apparently invented double-entry accounting and the parachute, which should perhaps cause West Ham, the City of the south, to pause for thought before selling out to a man who does not appear to be a paradigm of virtue. No doubt he will sail through the Premier League fit and proper person test.

England's cricketers failed their final test in spectacular fashion but at least they did it somewhere warm. One of the advantages of being a former international cricketer with the ability to string a sentence together, or 53 in David Gower's case, is that when you call it a day in the middle you can head for the commentary box and ensure that winter remains a distant memory. It is so long since Gower can have caught a British winter that he probably still has a pair of mittens connected by a thread hanging forgotten in the hall of his family seat somewhere in Hampshire.

So to another sprawling seat: has Hussain's expanded under relentless South African hospitality? He was made to hold up his trousers for the camera to reveal a sizeable split. "I knew I was in trouble when Allan Donald started laughing," rued Hussain. Donald would have been doing all the laughing yesterday as well, but this series will be missed. It has made compelling viewing, particularly over breakfast to complete your guide to eating and watching sport. Or exercise as it's known in Scotland.

The commentators have had to be on their mettle from ball one, literally in this last Test. "The England dressing room is all of a tizzy," said David Lloyd as the wickets tumbled, although not as much as Nasser's tailor.

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