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Review of the week

Chris Charles | 12:34 UK time, Friday, 19 June 2009

Whoever said Christmas comes but once a year was clearly telling porkies.

The buzz I got when the new fixtures were announced was right up there with the time I unwrapped my Evil Knievel Stunt Cycle (which, unlike that well-known brand of varnish, did not do what it said on the tin).

It's impossible for the eyes to digest all the information as quickly as your brain wants them to, but the initial skim-read always guarantees that for every plum tie you spot, there's always a 'Here's what you could have won' moment right behind.

Jim Bowen In fact if the legendary Jim Bowen was unveiling QPR's top 10 fixtures for 2009/10 on Bully's prize board, this is what he might have said:

In One: You won't need your brolly to welcome back Olly - it's Blackpool at home in sunny August, as former boss Ian Holloway returns with his new club on the first day of the season.

In Two: If you like naval-gazing, then this is amazing - will Rangers halt the Pilgrims' progress in their first away trip of the campaign?

In Three: This could be tricky - you might need a sicky - Newcastle away on a Wednesday (flippin') night.

In Four: You know I'm not messing when I say this is pressing - a date with The Iron at Glanford Park.

In Five: Your boys have the dosh, but it won't make you Posh - it's Peterborough United at home.

In Six: Cold turkey and cider on your Boxing Day rider - as the Christmas Robins of Bristol come-a-calling.

In Seven: One to be feared (watch out for the beard) - it's a festive trip to face Keano's Tractor Boys. And a return to his old club for Jim Magilton (actually he'll probably be long gone by then).

In Eight: Forget about tat and a kiss-me-quick hat - everywhere will be shut when you visit Blackpool in mid-winter (for the third successive season - grrr).

In Nine: A date with Robbo? Just the jobbo - swap your blog for the smog as you head up to Middlesbrough in late Feb.

And Bully's Special Prize: You'll be over the moon as you welcome the Toon - in a final-day clash that could be a promotion/relegation play-off (delete where applicable).

There's no telling who will be running the Geordies - on or off the pitch - by then. As Sam Allardyce wryly observed when he was shown the door last year: "I don't want to comment on who or what will take over my job at Newcastle."

Mike Ashley, in his infinite wisdom, invited potential investors to email their bids for the club and the media got quite excited when a £150m offer was put on the table by a north-east consortium fronted by lifelong Newcastle fan Rick Parkinson.

It sounded too good to be true...and it was. Parkinson turned out to be Richard Parker, a lifelong Sunderland fan who gleefully hoodwinked everyone. "It's all friendly banter. I'm sure the majority of Magpie fans will see the funny side," he chuckled. I'm sure they will, Richard.

When soon-to-be-Saint (?) Kevin Keegan first walked out on Newcastle, he famously declared: "It's not like it said in the brochure."

Michael Owen has clearly taken heed of his former boss's advice and produced his own 34-page glossy number to tout his wares to potential suitors. "Were it not for an unhappy spell at Real Madrid and two injury-scarred years at Newcastle, he would be spoken about in the same breath as Torres and Ronaldo and valued in the priceless figures that only match-winning goalscorers ever justify," the brochure reads.

Manchester United start the defence of their title against Birmingham - a fixture described as a 'Brum deal for United' in a Teletext headline. Oh I don't know, even without the services of Ronaldo, I reckon the Red Devils might just squeak a 3-0 win.
Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo, meanwhile, is on his annual public holiday, moaning that people are paying too much attention to what he wears. I know what he means - I too get strange looks every time I wear my pink hat with a flower in public. I just can't understand it.

At least that well-known fashion icon Paris Hilton was sympathetic to the cause. The airy heiress was spotted cosying up to the world's most expensive footballer two days running - or as The Sun tastefully described it: 'Ronaldo has night in Paris', followed by 'Ronaldo's second night in the Hilton'.

Incredibly, the Portuguese winger was outdone in the Carry on Camping stakes by United team-mate Rio Ferdinand, pictured on his stag-do wearing a pair of denim hotpants and a fetching floral crop top. Turns out it he did it for a bet - so what's Ronaldo's excuse?

And finally, back to the highlight of the week. If you want to read a proper, comprehensive piece on the football fixtures, may I suggest you check out Fletch's fine piece of prose, or if you want to know how they are compiled, it's that man Fletch again. In fact the bloke is so darned industrious, he makes all our sandwiches before he leaves the house and sweeps up the office floor before he goes home.

As Fletch wryly observed: "I like to think the day the fixtures are released is the point when the mind finally leaves behind the previous season and becomes infused with a sense of summer optimism for the forthcoming campaign."

Amen to that. Give it a couple of months and I'll doubtless be back in that slough of despond, but for now, in the words of the great man himself, everything is super, smashing great.


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