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Chris Charles | 12:06 UK time, Friday, 14 August 2009

The barbecue summer may be officially dead, but Sir Alex Ferguson is on a one-man mission to reignite the flames.

Fergie seems to be the only manager who insists on his own pre-season warm-up schedule. The Manchester United boss eased himself in with the 'small-club' jibe at rivals City, slipped into second gear by dismissing Liverpool's transfer credentials and really hit his straps on Sunday with a spot of trademark finger-wagging at the referee.

While many see Sir Alex as a knight in whining armour, for me he's like the first swallow of summer - as soon as he starts spouting off, you know the new season is truly upon you.

If the Wembley outburst was pretty tame by Fergie's standards, it's fair to say he wasn't entering into the Community spirit as he tore a few strips off Chris Foy (not to be confused with the triple Olympic gold winner who has recently taken to doing low-budget TV commercials. Memo to Sir Chris - don't give up the day-job).

Talking of adverts, I take it most people have seen the brilliant Plymouth Argyle mickey-take by now, given that it seems to be broadcast every 10 minutes. It took me a while to suss it was Paul Whitehouse in the lead role, but with catchphrases like "'right booy, 'right burrd" and "geddon, yer janner" it's surely the best footie ad since Carlton Palmer popped up in that bath (check out some more classics at the bottom of the blog).
Paul Whitehouse as Plymouth fan
Not everyone is happy, though. 'The Green' on Plymouth messageboard Pasoti fumed: "What a stupid advert - the guy sounds more from Bristol than bloomin' Plymouth!" In fairness, he was shot down by his fellow contributors, while Pilgrims fan Matt Straw loved it so much, he has had Dietmar Van Nostrilboy emblazoned on the back of his shirt.

What was a little surprising was the fact the company in question went down the Plymouth route rather than choosing Norwich City (the club they sponsor) - although after the 7-1 horror show against Colchester, it might prove to be a prudent move. Two fans were ejected for throwing their season tickets towards manager Bryan Gunn and the club are considering what action they will take. The pair are likely to appeal against a season-long ban, insisting it is nowhere near long enough.

If Ron Manager was based on former QPR boss Alec Stock then it's a fair bet Whitehouse's Plymouth creation was modelled on ex-Argyle manager Ian Holloway. Ollie was on vintage form as he prepared to take his Blackpool side to Loftus Road to face another of his old clubs.

Recalling the time he was put on gardening leave by Rangers for allegedly talking to Leicester, Holloway said: "If you met your ex-missus in the pub would you have any feelings for her?

"Of course you would. You might hate her because it ended horribly. You might still love her, who knows? I'm meeting an ex-relationship of mine. They let me speak to Leicester and they were saying 'He was cheating on his wife'. Well I wasn't - my wife told me to go out with another bird. That's how it was." Couldn't have put it better myself.

Staying in the Championship and Newcastle put their troubles behind them with a steady start at fellow-Premier League fall-guys West Brom, although their future remains shrouded in uncertainty.

The latest rescue package was said to involve local businessman Barry Moat, who despite having a comedy surname, is a serious businessman. Moat, who made his fortune flogging Big Mouth Billy Basses ....OK, maybe not that serious then.

No offence to Barry, but the last thing the long-suffering fans need right now is rival supporters chanting 'Don't Worry, be Happy' while pursing their lips and flapping imaginary fins.

Over in the north-west, three of Liverpool's top men are facing a grilling, not to mention a poaching, a frying and a possible roasting. Don't worry, Reds fans, no-one's in trouble, it's The Sun's story that Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Fernando Torres are set to compete in a Masterchef-style competition to determine who is Anfield's top chef. I don't know why either.

My money's on the skipper, not least because it could provide an interesting twist to the Kop's favourite chant...."Steve Gerrard, Gerrard, He does a boss dish with chard, And cooks all his chips in lard, Steve Gerrard, Gerrard." I'll get me coat.

Meanwhile the trio's team-mate, Alberto Aquilani, has been given a ringing endorsement by fiancee Michela Quattrociocche (try saying that after six pints). She poetically declared: "Ours is the love that gives you cramps in the stomach." It certainly had me reaching for the sick bag.

Comedy injury of the week, for once, did not happen to a footballer but women's tennis ace Dinara Safina who, in her own words, "lost a bet with a coconut". The world number one tried to cut the hairy blighter with a knife and ended up gouging a hole in her hand instead. Safina admitted her coach had not been too impressed when he found out - presumably calling her in to work on her backhand slice.

England's cricketers reverted to type in The Ashes, where they were soundly beaten by the Aussies at Headingley, prompting frenzied calls for the old guard to return. WG Grace is the only name not mentioned thus far, but give it a few days and someone's bound to suggest digging him up.
Mark Ramprakash in Strictly Come Dancing
Much as I'd have loved to see the return of Tresco (every little helps) or witness Ramprakash dancing down the wicket, I've got a sneaking feeling Rob Key might get the nod. I have every confidence in the big man and predict he will help himself to a flurry of boundaries, several large pies and a couple of trays of sandwiches.

England's defeat was blamed, among other things, on the hotel fire alarm going off in the early hours. The minor blaze was apparently started after a woman dried her smalls by tying them to a light bulb in her room and leaving it switched on overnight. Mrs Ponting was unavailable for comment.

In the Carling Cup, the draw that caught the eye for all the wrong reasons was Millwall away to West Ham. I was asked if I'd be up for covering the game but unfortunately I'm washing my hair that night.

Fellow Londoners Arsenal were said to have cooled their interest in signing Marouane Chamakh as a replacement for Emmanuel Adebayor and look like starting the season a striker light. But don't worry, Gooners, help is at hand in the shape of Nicklas Bendtner - no really.

The striker insists that by swapping his 'lucky' 52 shirt number for 26, he might have more chance of putting the ball in the net rather than row Z. He added: "I'd like to personally cover the cost of replacing anyone's shirt that has my previous number." A noble gesture I'm sure you'll agree - £80 is a lot to find in these worrying times.

Story of the week involved Sunderland midfielder Grant Leadbitter, who got away with a 14-day ban for driving at 112mph by telling magistrates he thought the cop car chasing him was in fact a posse of Newcastle fans. Perhaps he mistook those luminous police flak jackets for the club's dodgy away shirts.

Before I go, I know you're all dying to find out how I got in during my two-week sojourn to the Isle of Man. I'm happy to report the trip was a hoot, my other half is now best friends with Mark Cavendish's mum and great fun was had riding on steam trains, building sandcastles and waving to fairies. The kids enjoyed themselves too.


Accrington Stanley - who are they?
Keegan Brut commercial
Keegan's Green Cross Code effort
Gazza's crisp tears
Brian Clough - Shredded Wheat
Cantona Park Life
Carlsberg pub team
Venables crisps


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