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Roll on the footy!

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Robbo Robson | 12:52 UK time, Monday, 27 July 2009

I think I've had my fill of summer sport now, ta.

By and large I enjoy a bit of football respite. But the pre-season friendlies have never done owt for my footy cravings. Vegetarian sausages, alcohol-free lager, silicone implants, football friendlies... all one and the same to me. I just want it to get under way and get a bit of order back into my life!

Jonas Gutierrez, Newcastle United; Lee Peltie, Huddersfield Town

Fortunately for the footy scribes, SAF keeps on chuntering about every other team at the slightest opportunity. Ferguson's sharpest barbs are heading across the city of Manchester. City are 'a small club with a small club mentality'. This from a man who said that when Benitez called Everton 'a small club' it was beyond the pale.

Still, I suppose most men would differ in their definition of 'small'. He added that Adebayor's agent had been making last-minute enquiries at United and Chelsea before signing up for City. I'd be surprised if you don't find Fergie sneaking into an Eastlands board meeting before August with a blackboard and some sharp nails.

Thing is, other managers keep their counsel, and if they do have an outburst (Wenger and Benitez) it sounds petty and adolescent. But that is Ferguson's default mode, and he plays the irritant well.

Lower down the food-chain, we've seen the ugly, but amusing spectacle of the Newcastle United Club shop opening to a small queues (if you can call 'one' a 'queue') and a 20% discount already in place. It's a brave smile on Steven Taylor's face on that poster where he's trying to flog the Newcastle away kit. I say kit, but a team coming out dressed in that clobber will look more like a bag of pineapple humbugs than a football team. Mind the match against Orient suggested that they were more like a right bunch of allsorts.

Shearer still doesn't know what he's going to be doing in August. It's not a bad time to have the job. Expectations are nil, but that sentiment extends to potential buyers too. The idea that Freddie Shepherd could return should be outlawed. I'm sure some blokes in the city have been fired for forcing down the price of something so they can buy it back on the cheap. Not saying Freddie's done that deliberately - not sure he'd have the nous to - but the overall effect looks the same.

The Boro exodus continues, with Mido leaving the club for some unnamed destination. Rumour has it that this move would have happened weeks ago but the poor lad couldn't actually get out of the dressing-room and had to wait, Winnie-the-Pooh style, til he was slim enough to be pulled free.

All of the idle chit-chat is of course displacement activity cos we're gagging for the season to start. The summer sports can't allay the cravings.

There's a few topers down the Blue Bell who'll bend your ear about the majesty of Le Tour. I gave up on the Tour de France years ago, when every cog, spoke and peddler seemed to have a 'pharmaceutical sponsor'.

It's a bit of a conundrum of an event to me though. I mean why so many jerseys? I don't ride a bike and I find I only need one meself. The lad Cavendish is clearly the greatest sprinter in the world right now, but what difference does winning the odd stage make if you're still ten minutes behind the leaders any road?

I mean I'm not knocking it as a triumph of physical strength and endurance. And it's hard to think of a more swashbuckling name than Alberto Contador. I suppose I never used a bike to race around on. If they had to carry their best mate on the cross-bar and do wheelies every mile then I must just understand. But if it was me at the bottom of a Pyrenee, I'd get the bus.

Of course I could've suppressed my footy urges by enjoying the F1. But why bother? Jenson's season's so close to meltdown I'm thinking of calling him Chocolate Button. The car's not as good as it was, he says. And there's the point. Hamilton wins cos his car's running better. Button fails cos his is worse. Solution: everybody use the same car. Fair fight. Again, I'm not saying I could drive the way these fellas do, or given Massa's crash, would want to, but who drives it is not the most important thing. F1 races are won in wind tunnels and computer programs.

Apparently there was a cricket final on Saturday. Sussex v Hants, featuring players who you've not really heard of. County cricket's finals used to be a thing of national interest, now it's cricket's equivalent of the FA Vase - really important to a bunch of local enthusiasts but a matter of complete indifference to most of us.

There was a bit of swimming 'n'all. I hear another great raft of world records have been achieved. Jaw-dropping, unless you look at what these people wear these days. There's no friction whatsoever on them bodysuits. They speed along like greased piglets in a length of plastic guttering. I wouldn't outlaw the suits, though. If everyone's got one then where's the advantage? If you're going to stop 'em wearing the suits then surely the hairier gill-heads should be disqualified from body-shaving'n'all. And try telling that to the Brazilians.

The Ashes will provide good compensation this week, especially if Mitchell Johnson keeps spraying it around like a reveller at a festival loo. I don't expect they'll pick him so England will be up against a pretty benign attack with Clark and Watson in for Johnson and North. There's still hope for the Aussies, mind: a Cooky crumble, a Ravi flash, a Bell pull and a Colly wobble and we can be 50/4 in no time.
It'll make 7 August arrive a little quicker: Sheffield United at home - a six-pointer to begin with, eh?


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