The British public owes Sven-Goran Eriksson an apology for a cruel misjudgement. The image of the Swede as an emotionless sort with the ice of his homeland's fjords clogging in his veins, based on an interview manner to make that equally unlikely swordsman John Major sound like Russell Brand's zanier uncle, is revealed as nonsense by his autobiography.
The Daily Mail's extracts from Sven: My Story reveal the volcanic passions that fuelled the former England manager's relationship with Nancy Dell'Olio. Having lured Nancy away from her Italian husband, Giancarlo, in 1998, he soon “began to feel a little cramped by her… She had to be the centre of attention, and I wasn't used to that in a woman”. Although this Andrea Dworkin manqué concedes that “at the start, I was probably in love with her“ (you have to love that ”probably“; such ardour), ”before long I began wondering if I had done the right thing in taking her away from Giancarlo“.
To Sven, it was like taking a player on loan with an option to sign him permanently, before being disappointed and sending him back. So when Giancarlo told him he wanted to give the marriage another go, Sven replied: “Absolutely.”
Curiously, however, Nancy felt she had some say on the matter, so Sven heroically put up with her until 2006, when his failure with England allowed him to flee her and return to Sweden.
Football scholars may now wish to review his 2006 World Cup campaign, asking this: was the bizarre selection of the untried 17-year-old Theo Walcott a cunning ruse to get him the sack, and spare this chivalric paradigm from the loan signing who refused to return to her old club?
If you judge a Tory stalking horse by his friends ...
Meanwhile, the career hopes of “the Tory Obama” have risen sharply. Fears mounted for Adam Afriyie's future when his fiendishly sophisticated leadership aspirations came to public notice in the summer, and again recently when his call for a 2014 referendum on EU membership seemed to fall on deaf Conservative ears.
How foolish the sneerers feel now, with no fewer than four Tory MPs pledging to vote for his amendment. Their quality is just about as impressive as their number. Rentaquote champion Peter Bone is one, and his fellow garrulous right-wing hyperbore Philip Davies another. All it needs is the support of the late Anthony Beaumont-Dark, and we'll have Adam and his fabled “entourage of nannies and helpers” tucked up comfortably in Downing Street for Christmas.
We choose to go to New York, not because it is easy…
Great to see David Miliband paying us a state visit in the style of his mentor, Mr Tony Blair. Now based in New York, running the charity International Rescue, David appeared on Andrew Marr's sabbath show to adduce JFK in support of a stronger European Union. He did not trot out “Ich bin ein Berliner” – though, since it literally translates as “I am a doughnut”, he could have got away with it. But he did describe his charity's efforts for displaced Syrian refugees as “the kind of issue that is energising me, inspiring me, challenging me...” This is vital and noble work, and if he makes it sound like occupational therapy to help him cope with the trauma of losing to Ed, we'll pass lightly over that.
A dog-whistler that's cheap at half the price
David also offered support for his brother's focus on the living wage. With the employed poor a potentially fruitful electoral tree for Labour, it is no surprise to find David Cameron so sensitive to the issue. Paying the Aussie dog-whistler Lynton Crosby a reported £550,000 per annum, from January, to mastermind Tory election strategy is inspired messaging, and no gift at all to the Opposition. Even if it seems an immodest stipend to the burgeoning numbers in fuel poverty and using food banks, they must remember that Lynton will be giving up much lucrative lobbying work, not necessarily for tobacco firms, to give us his party trick of inciting hysteria about the threat posed by immigrants.
Perhaps Obama will quit and trigger a by-election
The woman who blazed the disappointed politico's Westminster-to-New York trail on David's behalf addresses an incumbent Democratic president. In The Sun on Sunday, Louise Mensch looks ahead to happier days when Barack Obama vacates the White House. “In barely two years' time,” writes Louise, “there will be another president.” No there won't. Barring a JFK-type catastrophe, the next inauguration is in January 2017, more than three years away. If Louise ever tires of the States, the Countdown role once filled by Carol Vorderman may yet bring her home.