In a professional career spanning almost two decades, Simon "Smudger" Smith has played for over 67 clubs. The ultimate utility player, as his pace has diminished, he has reinvented himself time and again, from poacher to holding midfielder, centre-back to goalkeeper. Now that his website has been closed down, we have exclusive access to his weekly column.
Tuesday night saw the most disappointing performance at Wembley since Simply Red in 1989 (no "Holding Back the Years"? Come on Mick!). As with that gig, the fans only got what they came for with three minutes remaining (England scoring/"Money's Too Tight to Mention"). It's a tough group and any points gained against top teams like Ukraine and Poland have to be considered a bonus. There's no question that those are the two form teams in qualifiers, having soared into the recent Euros with no effort whatsoever. I assume both nations qualified with flawless campaigns, as there is no record of either conceding a goal in qualification.
Things could have been so different. Jermain Defoe had a goal disallowed and I feel his pain. The amount of goals I've had that weren't allowed over the years. Mainly because they went wide.
In the last few days, fans of Arsenal and Real Madrid have been eager to discover whether Arsène Wenger and Cristiano Ronaldo respectively will put pen to paper. The media will go into overdrive, just as it did for me during my time at Southampton. There was partying in the streets following my press release announcing I'd re-signed. Unfortunately, I had accidentally omitted the hyphen. That party turned ugly fast.
Looking ahead to the weekend's games, for the second season in a row there is a lot of scrutiny surrounding whether or not Anton Ferdinand and John Terry will shake hands before QPR play Chelsea. I'm not sure exactly what went on between the two but can only assume one of them once saw the other go to the loo and fail to wash his hands.
Finally, congratulations to my old boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who will be immortalised in bronze as a statue outside Old Trafford. I guess he has finally done as much for Man United as Michael Jackson did for Fulham.
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