Something For The Weekend: 07/08/2010

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The Independent Online

Squeaky bum time for...

The western cape 23

The football world being honest, upright and principled to the core, nobody really believes that the banning by Laurent Blanc of all 23 revolutionaries involved in France's World Cup uprising for one meaningless friendly might in any way be to avoid them being punished when the real action begins.

That said, the only squad in South Africa to make England's appear one big love-in should be worried when their understudies face Norway on Wednesday. Why? Because the new coach's Thatcherite approach to strikers (the French have always loved our Maggie) could show some of the old hands there's no such thing as la société when the new recruits seize their chance.

There are 13 uncapped players including seven who have never even made a squad, and several who were controversially left to their own devices this summer – Samir Nasri, Hatem Ben Arfa and Philippe Méxès, for example. Plenty to prove then, and maybe an example to follow this side of la Manche.

We applaud you wholeheartedly

Martin O'Neill

The Aston Villa manager, who's not leaving the club, is one of the round-ball game's more erudite men, so it's good to see him doing his bit to shore up journalistic standards in these difficult times. "When a story appears on a blog and people take it up, then you find out that you're having to answer to it... I shouldn't find it incredible any more but it just is," he said. "The fact people kept on running with it became tiresome."

And the fact he only signs one-year rolling contracts has nothing to do with it whatsoever.

Michael Owen

England's perma-crock is coming round to the idea of a career in management. No, seriously. "Until three or four years ago I was still thinking about whether I should stay in the game," little Michael said. "At that point I would probably have said no chance. Now it is almost a case of 'why not?'"

Well, aside from never giving the impression of caring that much for the game, perhaps a little more passion might be needed? "If I do end up managing I don't have to look any further than what Sir Alex's team talks are like," he added. No, seriously.

I want that one

Alex Rodriguez signed bat

"Well, 600 is 600," said Bucky Dent, former coach of the latest (drug-tainted) recruit to the 600-club, the New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez. "I know it might not be the same as if he hadn't have done those things. But it's still 600 home runs. He's a tremendous worker." He is indeed, and a cheat, too. But if you still want one of 600 black maple "Louisville Slugger" bats, it'll cost $795.

Lights, cameras, no action

London's 2012 Velodrome

It's a wonderful setting, an ultra-modern, environmentally-conscious, naturally lit arena fit for Britain's most successful athletes, the track cyclists, to pedal to glory in 2012. "We wanted it to be unique and sustainable and not spend thousands on lighting," said four-time gold-medallist Sir Chris Hoy. Sorry, what was that? The International Olympic Authority's broadcasting agency says it needs to black out the 360-degree glass wall to keep out the natural light or you won't see a thing on the box? Ah...

Begging your pardon?

West Ham's Wizards of the Web

"The potential recruit is a young international, who represented his country with distinction at the World Cup." And you thought Hitchcock was the master of suspense. Never have the Hammers fans at SFTW towers been so animated as on reading the above statement on West Ham's website. "Ozil?" asked one. "Gotta be Müller!" another shouted back. Nope, Winston Reid, £4m New Zealand defender. Shirt printers are poised.