Review of the week
Just when it looked as if things couldn't get worse for Fabio Capello, along comes a four-letter word guaranteed to strike fear into the heart of any England manager.....WAGs.
According to the Daily Mirror, the ladies who lunch are planning to set up 'base camp' 15 miles from the World Cup squad's South African headquarters.
If true, it would make the sorry saga of Cole/Bridge/Terry (or Terry Colebridge to give them their Hollywood name) seem as troubling as a Tim Henman fist pump.
The paper claims the girls were originally due to be based on Mauritius - a four-hour flight away - but presumably some can't bear the thought of being parted from their beaus for too long. Either that or they want to keep an eye on them.
WAGs at Germany 2006
Capello's original announcement that there would be no repeat of the WAGs' circus which dogged the last World Cup was warmly received by England fans and players alike. Indeed Frank Lampard recently admitted: "I don't want the women staying round the corner so I'm thinking 'Does she want me there today?'"
"It will not be like Germany. Absolutely not. Please!" roared Capello in Churchillian fashion after watching his team seal qualification to South Africa 2010.
But you can't keep a good WAG down for long, and, if The Mirror are to be believed, they have their eye on a hotel in Sun City, which will no doubt be rebranded by the tabloids once one of them is pictured falling out of her bikini. Incidentally, Baden-Baden was especially singled out ahead of the last World Cup to give the WAGs two shots at remembering where they were staying.
On a similar theme, my other half was on a girly trip in Manchester last weekend and discovered her party were staying in the same hotel as the Manchester City squad.
At one stage, the good lady and her two friends were standing in the bar when a group of players walked past letting off a wolf-whistle or two. Thankfully, in true red-top reporter fashion, the ladies made their excuses and left. At least, that's what she told me.
Since then, City have been involved in a bore-draw with Liverpool, before being dumped out of the FA Cup by Stoke - causing the good lady to question whether she's put a hex on them. I've reassured her that's a load of old nonsense - but just in case, I've instructed her to hold their next weekend away in Chelsea.
Which brings us nicely to Saturday's clash between the Premier League leaders and Man City, or the Battle of Stamford Bridge Part II. In the original, King Harold saw off the Vikings before meeting his maker in Hastings three months later. The sequel promises to be just as fiery.
In the blue corner is John Terry, in the light-blue corner Wayne Bridge, with Vanessa whassername holding up the cards in between rounds, possibly. Ladbrokes are offering 50/1 that the pair are sent off for fighting, 5/1 that a City player scores to reveal a Team Bridge top and 500/1 that Bridge and Terry make up and do a Morecambe and Wise dance down the tunnel. OK, I made that last one up.
Meanwhile, Football 365 are running a poll on what Bridge will do when Terry offers his hand before the match - a) shake it; b) ignore it; c) go to shake it and pull his hand away or d) give him a Chinese burn. I'd personally like to see a repeat of the treatment dished out to Steven Gerrard by the Chelsea mascot in the tunnel a few years back, where the cheeky rascal stuck his tongue out and waved his hand on his nose.
Bridge's very public announcement that he would be retiring from England duty must have been an irritant to the Terry camp, who had seen their man disappear off the front pages thanks to Chelsea colleague Ashley Cole's alleged indiscretions. I think that's what they call taking one for the team captain.
In the Champions League, Jose Mourinho drew first blood as Inter saw off Chelsea in the San Siro, a match every bit as pulsating as the warm-up, which saw the Special One renew his rivalry with former AC Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti.
Responding to suggestions from Ancelotti that the whole of Italy (barring Inter fans) would be behind Chelsea, Mourinho replied: "If he says that, it's because he knows and because somebody told him or because he belongs to the clan." Expect Jose to be waking up next to a horse's head in the very near future (no van Nistelrooy jokes, please).
The honeymoon is also over for Mourinho's predecessor Roberto Mancini, following reports of bust-ups with Carlos Tevez and Craig Bellamy. Luckily for the Manchester City manager, he can always count on his 'Linus blanket' for comfort, to the extent where he is even wearing the famous scarf for press conferences - indoors.
In the red half of Manchester, Wayne Rooney took his tally for the season to 27 with another double-header against West Ham. He has now found the net eight times with his head this term, putting paid to those critics who insisted he had nothing upstairs.
Rooney scores against West Ham
Roman Pavlyuchenko is another striker in form, with four goals in two games, including the double that did for Bolton in the FA Cup. Before his hot-streak, a frustrated Pavlyuchenko said: "I sometimes feel that Redknapp is making fun of me." A claim dismissed as nonsense by the Spurs boss as he did the rabbit ear fingers over his striker's head.
In other news, Anderson's season is over after rupturing his cruciate ligament. Sad news indeed, but at least it gives the Brazilian more time to devote to his favourite programme, following his recent revelation that "I love Jeremy Kyle. It's my favourite show. I watch it all the time!" Can't stand the programme myself, although I'd pay good money to watch a Premier League special.
And finally, with all these tawdry stories doing the rounds, it's refreshing to hear news of a footballer who keeps his brains in his head rather than his trousers. I'm talking, of course, about Burnley's Clarke Carlisle, who has been taking Countdown by storm this week, with words like demonic, barred and inane - all of which have been used to describe some of his fellow professional down the years.
His second appearance brought him 101 points (how Portsmouth could do with some of those) but he has still not figured out how to solve the conundrum of his team's away form. After his second victory, host Jeff Stelling quipped: "That's two wins in a row - more than Burnley have managed all season!"
Right, that's it from me. If the rumours are true, my lot are in line for manager number five this season, in the shape of Neil Warnock, whose very own Countdown conundrum reveals the best nickname in football, ever.