Smudger Smith: Let auld clubs be forgot – it's transfer time

The Journeyman Pro

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The Independent Football

In a professional career spanning almost two decades, Simon "Smudger" Smith has played for over 67 clubs and has reinvented himself time and again, from poacher to holding midfielder, centre-back to goalkeeper.

It's a Smith family tradition to sit down on 31 December and have a game of Scrabble before taking it in turns to express our hopes and dreams for the impending future. Iain Dowie always pops in about 11.45 and we join hands to sing "Auld Lang Syne". Different people have different traditions, but I can't think of a better way to see in the new transfer window.

The photos of Mancini grabbing Balotelli have been blown out of proportion. Roberto was clearly demonstrating the most popular tactic in the league for defending at corners. It's good management, seeing as those penalties are never given. Incidentally, just after Christmas was the one time I had an advantage when it came to evading defenders. The "pudding weight" meant my shirt was stretched so tightly that players were unable to grab hold.

Speaking of shirts, celebration T-shirts are in vogue again, with Berbatov and RVP donning messages to be shown after they score. Earlier in my career I decided to share a "Free Mandela" message. It's fair to say its impact was lost a little in 1996 when I finally found the scoresheet.

It was a tough festive schedule for Wigan and a shame their efforts at home to Man Utd were for nought. Still, it was a nice birthday present for Sir Alex. I won't disclose how old he is, but he is officially entering Fergie time.

I'll admit I was wrong to say that QPR could expect a long journey home after 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge. Turns out it's only 3.5 miles. Benitez is getting stick for resting players with "only the FA Cup this weekend", but was it not only a few years ago we were all in outrage that managers weren't treating the competition seriously enough?

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