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DES KELLY: Premier League? It's more like Last Of The Summer Wine

20 Feb 2010 01:00:50

DES KELLY: Premier League? It's more like Last Of The Summer Wine

Jimmy Greaves is 70 today. I half expect him to get 15 minutes somewhere as a substitute. The Premier League is like a prostate surgeon's waiting room these days. Players who should have been put out to grass years long ago jump up and down and claim to be full of renewed life, just like the cast of the film Cocoon, only to end up huffing and puffing like Compo chasing Nora Batty up the stairs in Last Of The Summer Wine. AC Milan provided us all with a glimpse of what the Premier League is going to look like in a few years if current trends continue. On the attack: But, no, Last of the Summer Wine's Nora Batty is not a Premier League striker The first-half performance from the Italian side against Manchester United in midweek was pure Viagra. The second was a chest-clutching, purple-faced collapse. That's what happens when your club's recruitment policy is little more than a ring round for some famous faces the owner has heard of for an end-of-season charity match. 'BERBATOV SENDS WARNING TO MILAN' One headline said: 'Berbatov sends warning to Milan'. And what would that be? 'I can stand still longer than you'? Serie A is an old folks home. It is football's Eastbourne. Household names from days gone by attempt to remind us they've still 'got it', pulling off a nifty shuffle and a few tricks like Ronaldinho the other night. But then it turns out they don't quite have it for as long as they used to. At first glance, it might seem harsh to brand players in their 30s as 'old', but you have to remember their time is measured in 'footballer years', which are just like dog years, only without the faithfulness or loyalty. With transfer fees out of reach for most clubs outside of Spain and Manchester City, more and more clubs are being tempted to take a chance on veteran free agents drifting around and looking for a pension. They are shuffling into the Premier League with their slippers still on and trying to remember what it was they were supposed to be doing when they got here. This certainly hasn't been a great week for the Premier League old guard. Having kicked the big guy's tyres and yelled 'We'll take it' without bothering with the MOT results, Manchester City signed Patrick Vieira. It is not proving to be a wise investment. Physiotherapy project: City's acquisition of Vieira is not looking wise so far This £150,000-a-week physiotherapy project was injured on arrival. The 33-year-old recovered sufficiently to earn a booking in each of his two starts and then distinguished his third appearance by kicking out at an opponent and earning himself a three-game ban. ROONEY'S A BRIT SPECIAL Mercifully, the lure of Wayne Rooney and the Champions League spared me from The Brits. This meant I was unable to see Cheryl Cole 'singing through the pain', although I hear she chose to mime though the pain instead. For all the fuss about footballers' salaries and the routine demonisation of a trade that, in percentage terms, probably has no more boorish drunks, adulterers and drug users than your average office or factory, you have to admit professional players are never given the luxury of 'bravely' miming through a match. Footballers have to perform for their money. They have to display their talent... although, in Ashley Cole's case, that may not be the best phrase to use right now. That's what happens when you get old. You become crotchety and easily irritated. You become angry at the radio because it keeps playing songs you hate. Your only pleasure comes from hearing the details of other people's operations. Everyone always seems to be in a hurry. Next you can't find your blasted reading glasses and suddenly you're kicking someone straight in the bifocals. Then there's poor old Sol Campbell. He wandered into his own penalty area against Porto on Wednesday and immediately suffered a disastrous memory lapse as he tried to call on his goalkeeper to boot his needless back-pass away. 'You there? Thingummy. Whassis-name? You! The guy! You know? The guy? With the thing! You know?' As Thomas Vermaelen tried to yell the name Lukasz Fabianski into Campbell's good ear, someone from Porto calmly kicked the ball into the net and the game was lost. Meanwhile, Michael Owen, who says he's 30 but is cursed with the body of a 70-year-old, like Benjamin Button in reverse, is usually abandoned on the bench with a blanket draped over his knees so he can 'get some air'. He is then forgotten, until somebody turns him to prevent pressure sores developing. Forgotten man: Michael Owen has become well acquainted with the United bench Owen hasn't had a look in, not even when Ryan Giggs fell over and broke his arm, as old people do. This is football's way of saving money. They avoid the transfer fees and use the cash to finance daft salary deals to players who no longer deserve to command them. Clubs should be cutting wages, but they don't. They follow what Middlesbrough owner Steve Gibson described as the 'economic principles of the madhouse'. David Beckham is the poster boy for the old guard. He is the master of the cameo appearance, always managing to look good for 20 minutes, usually at the end of any game when the action has slowed down sufficiently to compensate for his lack of pace. They say the older you get, the better you get unless you're fruit, in which case you get mouldy and start to smell. Actually, come to think about it, it was my birthdayyesterday.  Turning a Tiger into a robotKind of creepy, wasn't it? In the most emotional public statement of his life, Tiger Woods managed to come across as an automaton. There were the long, robotic pauses for effect, just to make sure everyone knew he was truly sorry. There were the rises in his voice, to show he was upset. It was all as he had practised it, time and time again, in front of his gaggle of media advisers and a rehearsal crew and a camera. But, as ever in his life, Woods had been coached beyond humanity. In his weakest moment he wanted to appear flawless and came across instead as a man merely schooled in how to say sorry. No matter the depth of his regret, it just rang out as hollow. Pause to effect: Shamed golfer Wood's 'sorry' statement was robotic I wanted to like him. I wanted the nightmare he had brought on himself to have transformed him into something more human. He fell some way short of that. How could it be any other way? He solemnly delivered his Sermon On His Mounts in front of a room full of 'friends and colleagues' (a euphemism for sponsors and employees). Loftily, he had expected a hand-picked selection of reporters to fall on their knees at the idea of receiving an invitation and sit like ornaments in the room. So the Golf Writers Association of America told him to get stuffed. It was a deserved snub. But, as Woods read from his script, he looked every inch the politician his father always believed he would be. Sadly he was more David Mellor or Bill Clinton than Martin Luther King.  Will big clubs get Wolves treatment?Wolves have been given a suspended £25,000 fine for fielding a 'weakened side' against Manchester United. Let's see how that works when the big clubs rest their best players prior to Champions League fixtures, shall we? Do you think United, Chelsea or Arsenal will be punished? Wolves' slap down is preposterous. Had Mick McCarthy called his changes 'squad rotation', like some top bosses routinely do, he'd be described as a 'master tactician' and linked with the Juventus job. Had he been economical with the truth by claiming a flu bug or virus had hit the camp, he'd have been given sympathy. Instead he was honest. That'll teach him. The rule should be quite simple. If a player is in the first-team squad, then he must be good enough to appear in the first team. Beyond that it is none of the Premier League's business to pick any club's line-up.Wolves should tell them where to stick that fine.  And now for some more shocking news...Craig Bellamy (right) has reportedly had a row with his Manchester City manager, Roberto Mancini. In other shock news, the world's fattest man has had a heart attack, a footballer's wife is considering a divorce, assassins decide not to use their real passports, a politician snivels for votes, the Pope remains Catholic and bears defecate somewhere in the woods.   More from Des Kelly... DES KELLY: Portsmouth are cheats, so let them go to the wall12/02/10 DES KELLY: Captain Chav John Terry is now England's Daddy Fool05/02/10 DES KELLY: Manchester United fans win with flying colours29/01/10 DES KELLY: Cool it, Tev and Nev - and that can't get lost in translation22/01/10 DES KELLY: Surely it's time to send Benitez through Anfield's exit door15/01/10 Des Kelly: Chill wind of debt keeps clubs away from January sales09/01/10 Des Kelly: The age old debate. Can Schumacher and Woods cut it?01/01/10 Des Kelly's Boxing Day quiz: Did John Terry's dad have snow this Christmas?25/12/09 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE


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