Winners and boozers
"There is no better psychological education than growing up in a pub... I learned about tactics and selection from the people talking about football in the pub - who plays on the left wing and who should be in the team."
Who's this talking?
Harry Redknapp? Big Sam Allardyce? At first I thought he'd nicked it off a previous blog of mine! But no, it's the thoughts of one Arsene Wenger. Monsieur Sophistication. Raised to the scent of Gaulois and 1664. A booze orphan tapping up the locals for a bit of knowledge.
It makes perfect sense. If he came for a drink in the Blue Bell you get a pint of fine ale and a wisdom chaser:
Wenger has been known to hit the bottle
'There's your bitter, Mr. Wenger, and by the way, Toure and Gallas are too similar to make a quality centre-back pairing. Your smoky bacon crisps, monsieur, and why not snap up a fox in the box to complement your intricate approach play?
There's your second pint, Mr Wenger, and why don't you tell the fans at the Emirates that if they don't start making a hell of a lot more noise we'll extend Bendtner's contract!'
Thirty years ago you couldn't get off your bar-stool for post-match footballers all mulleted and Old-Spiced and tipping back the large ones. They used ordinary alehouses in them days, not no-trainers nightspots for the well-to-do where the only danger is getting harangued by Lily Allen or happening across one of them parasitic 3am girls.
It's a job to imagine Wenger hanging out in a boozer, though. One can only think that his boyhood haunt was full of pool players who played the most complex and beautiful trick shots in the world but could never quite put away the final black.
There must have been a few one-eyed bandits in there too, and if any of the regulars ever spilt a pint, Arsene missed it. And you certainly couldn't trust the optics behind the bar, although they sometimes delivered the odd Double.
Sadly there's no mention as to what this now seminal boozer was called. Suggestions welcome although I'd opt for something like The Extra Touch.
Of course football people still like to invest their money in hostelries. Fergie's bought a boozer, I hear: the Old Red Lion (known locally as the Theatre of Drams). When you hear them shout 'Time, gentlemen, please' don't fret - you can get in at least three more rounds before they chuck you out.
Emmanuel Adebayor is opening an exclusive night-club for former colleagues - you can't get in without a stamp.
Michael Owen's pub has a beer garden with very comfortable benches in it.
Phil Brown's little drinking-hole has a tanning-booth out back and specialises in serving a Tiger beer with a distinctive orange hue.
A pint at 'Berba's' costs a lot considering it never gets a decent head on it.
The Referees Association are also interested in reviving failing public houses, and God knows how many dives they'll have bought by the end of the season.
On Merseyside, David Moyes can be seen behind the bar of Moe's (never see 'em in the same room), getting the absolute best out of some pretty average fare, while Rafa's Place is of course a whine bar.
Coyle's Club in Burnley is always too crowded for my liking but then I think that's 'cos they're letting too many in at the moment.
Meanwhile Roy Keane has lost the chance to run his own brewery after he failed to organise the opening night party properly. Besides which, he wants to stay away from the boos at the moment.
Don't ask for a mild at Warnock's Bar. I understand you can have a quiet drink in the saloon bar, a bite to eat in the lounge bar and an almighty amount of bitter in the cross bar.
In the Blue Bell, the landlord has stopped making a heady Blue Bell cocktail during Happy Hour. The recipe is a closely guarded secret but it's known as the Drogba Daquiri cos it goes down far too easily. We would've called it the Gerrard Gin Sling only he prefers the real ale. There's a Cheshire microbrewery that does a pint called the Groin Muscle and Stevie pulls himself one before every international friendly.
Have I exhausted this less than profitable seam yet? Yes. I'm sure you lot are gagging to chuck some more at us.
Anyway Arsene's always welcome at our gaff. I'd love to listen to the old Prof rattling on about tactics 'n' that. I wonder if he feels the same as Gary Kirsten, India's South African cricket coach, about sex the night before a big match? It certainly helped me get through my wedding day.
Torres celebrates his hat-trick against Hull
Kirsten reckons it improves performance on the pitch which rather suggests that Pompey are putting out a team of virgins right now. And Fernando Torres' girlfriend must be the happiest woman in the country.
Me, I always believed the opposite. The Friday night adage was always 'Score now and you don't score tomorrow.' So I would now like to apologise to all them lasses that must have been heart-broken when I turned them down on the night before a vital fixture.
Next Wenger'll be telling us of the performance-enhancing properties of beer and we'll be blaming that two-yard scuff past the post on the flaming detox diet and the wife's recurrent headache.