Say what you like about Sven-Goran Eriksson -and we all do - he does add to the gaiety of the nation. How can someone so ostensibly hapless line his pockets so productively while appearing such a figure of fun? Who said there were no laughs in football anymore?
Whichever lawyer advised Eriksson to sue the News of the World for breach of confidence must have a sense of humour. Irrespective of how his comments were garnered by the newspaper, clearly the England head coach's views on his senior players and alleged corruption in the game are a matter of public concern.
If the case ever comes to court -and that won't be until long after the World Cup finals this summer -the newspaper can justifiably claim that its revelations were in the public interest. Methinks Eriksson's writ last Friday against the NoW was a misguided and fruitless attempt to frighten off the paper, as it planned more revelations two days later.
Fat chance. The NoW has brought down cabinet ministers and many a heavy hitter in public life in the face of gagging writs and legal skirts being rustled. When you're backed by Rupert Murdoch's millions, the ire of someone like Eriksson is of no consequence.
Now the Football Association's craven indulgence of Eriksson's greed two years ago is coming back to haunt them. You may recall that Eriksson was caught negotiating a deal to manage Chelsea, thereby leaving his current employers in the lurch. His reward was a new, improved contract with the FA that nets him, after tax, a cool #3 million a year.
That was an unbelievable outcome at the time and is even more astonishing now, as the FA cannot pay him off without having to fork out millions to end the embarrassing series of gaffes Eriksson has blundered into.
The most pampered and best-paid employee of the FA has in turn brought his job into disrepute and the organisation that still stands by him.
It is naive to say in his defence that the England players think a great deal of him. So they should, given that he has been touchingly loyal to them, prompting the suspicion that it's harder to get into the England squad than be jettisoned from it.
In any case, international footballers don't bother with such peripherals. They just want to play in the World Cup, whichever middle-aged man in a tracksuit is standing in the technical area.
Some of those senior England players also reckon that they've been turned over by the tabloid press at various times so they would instinctively have sympathy for Eriksson. They'd encourage him to take the press to the cleaners if he could - just like they do with their banal 'exclusive' columns whenever they fancy another handsome, undemanding earner.
If you strip this one down to its bare footballing essentials, England's prospects of World Cup glory would not be diminished one jot if Eriksson was sacked this week. There would be plenty of time to bed in his replacement - whether he was temporary or not - and the starting XI basically picks itself to play 4-4-2.
When you write down a team containing the likes of Owen, Terry, Lampard, Gerrard, Ferdinand, both Coles, Neville, Rooney and Robinson, you can rest easy in the knowledge that it's good enough for at least the last four in Germany in six months' time. Even Graeme Souness couldn't cock it up. Mike Bassett, the film parody of a manager, would win World Cup games with those players.
It's ludicrous of the FA's Brian Barwick to plead with the public to back Eriksson now, because it's the done thing in World Cup year. Barwick's predecessors among the FA's top brass didn't bother with such niceties when Bobby Robson and Terry Venables went into major tournaments in 1990 and 1996, knowing that they'd be looking for alternative employment straight afterwards.
Robson and Venables had lost the confidence of the FA, but not their players, fortunately. England reached the semi-finals on both occasions. So Barwick shouldn't demand that we should automatically be cheerleaders because it's that time again.
You try telling the Premiership managers to rally round Eriksson after what he had to say about 'bungs' and other assorted practices.
They had to toe the line around Christmas, playing four games in eight days to allow Eriksson a precious free month with his players before hostilities start.
The managers were gulled into believing it was for the greater good, even though they all know that there's nothing worse than a bored footballer, lolling around a luxury hotel, ticking off the weeks before he can kick a football in anger. But now that Eriksson has thanked them in such a cavalier manner, he can expect the cold shoulder in boardrooms up and down the land.
And the FA can't really be seen to occupy the high moral ground. Don't forget that they went running to the NoW 18 months ago, trying to offer Eriksson's head after he'd been caught out in an affair with a secretary at Soho Square.
The complication was that Faria Alam had also dallied with Eriksson's boss, Mark Palios. The head honchos at the FA thought that Eriksson was more expendable and could be sacked without compensation but they were outwitted. Palios walked and Eriksson sauntered on, seemingly fireproof.
Nor should we stand for any sanctimony from the NoW. Any paper that pays handsomely for an exclusive regular column with Terry Venables is not entitled to bang on about the integrity of the game.
Ask Crystal Palace and Portsmouth supporters about the cheeky chappie who couldn't successfully conceal his fondness for money. If that paper had spent six months and more than #100,000 exposing the 'bungs' culture of English football, it would have done a nobler service than telling us what we already know about Eriksson.
It's a shambles. And you don't have to be an Aston Villa fan to recall the pride displayed by Graham Taylor when he got the top job in 1990, nor his integrity when offering his resignation after failing to qualify for the 1994 World Cup. And no amount of 'Do I not like that?' video clips have reduced his moral stature since.
Eriksson's legacy will be a cynical smile and recognition that Colchester United and Southend United are the nearest we'll get to ethics in professional football.
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Walcott justice arrives for Lowe
So Rupert Lowe is cheesed off that he had to sell his prize asset, Theo Walcott, to Arsenal. Truly, it's hard not to stuff the hankie in one's mouth to stifle the mirth.
Southampton's chairman moaned that Walcott had 'a moral agreement' to sign a professional contract with his club on his 17th birthday in March. Yet the small print states that under current procedures with a scholar - i.e., someone under 17 - the player can cancel that agreement for whatever reason.
That's what Walcott did but not before his parents, agent and Arsenal acknowledged the amount of hard work put in by Southampton into developing the lad. I would have thought that an immediate sum of #5 million -rising possibly to #12.5 million -was a sincere enough tribute to Southampton and excellent business.
But amid Lowe's bluster you pause and recall what he sanctioned four years ago, when Swindon Town lost Walcott to Southampton for a paltry #5,000. That's not a bad profit for Lowe's club since then.
Then you examine Lowe's relationships with his managers since taking over as chairman of Southampton in 1997. Managers caught in the revolving door, with Dave Jones humiliated even though child molestation charges against him were thrown out of court, Sir Clive Woodward perched on Harry Redknapp's shoulder.
The conclusion is inescapable as you laugh out loud. Sometimes, there is justice in professional football.
Ellis correct to put squeeze on Comers
Doug Ellis made his fortune in business by taking judicious risks at key times. The next 48 hours will determine whether that acumen still applies for the greater good of Aston Villa.
Villa's chairman is trying to smoke out the Comer brothers as they strive to complete their offer to buy the club. That's why he sanctioned Friday's statement that the board was to engage Rothschilds to seek alternative buyers.
Ellis has been running out of patience since Christmas, irritated that it's taken the Comer consortium so long to come up with an offer, after the club had been co-operative and constructive in negotiations since late summer and when discussions became more detailed.
The old boy caught them on the hop last Friday but they can't complain at that. It's business, old chap. Now let's see how you react to the gentle squeezing on your windpipe.
There is no doubt that Ellis and Jack Petchey, the majority shareholders, want to sell. The club is treading water, in need of a dynamic transfusion of money and new ideas. For their part, the Comers need convincing that they can make Villa profitable for all parties, including themselves.
If Ellis and Petchey reached satisfaction with the Comers, that would be preferable because it would take another six months at least before another consortium could make a bid. There is no evidence that another group is out there, willing to part with more than #60 million. Ellis has to be convinced that the interests of Villa would be paramount. Even with the reputable Rothschilds on board, it would be frustrating for the Villa board to start again from scratch.
So it's a case of 'better the devil you know'. Two steps back last Friday, perhaps a massive stride forward tomorrow?
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It's time for the sulk to grow up
Andy Murray says the press is putting too much pressure on him as he strives to establish himself on the tennis circuit. Yawn, yawn . . .
Few human species can match a sulky teenager for self-absorption and Murray conforms nobly to the stereotype. Rounding on the media after limply crashing out of the Australian Open was hardly an original or enlightening tactic.
Yet he didn't whine about the media attention he received last year, as he impressed everyone at Wimbledon. He changed his agent last month so he's well aware of the commercial possibilities inherent in becoming Britain's No 1.
If he's so concerned about the dastardly press, he ought to use a cuttings service and read the overwhelmingly positive coverage he's enjoyed over the past year. He might also reflect on what it's going to be like when he's the main British hope at Wimbledon.
Murray also might like to examine the role played in his developing public image by his mother, Judy. Her random jottings on life chez Murray were a staple feature of a broadsheet newspaper at Wimbledon fortnight.
She continues to offer periodical insights since. For money.
The delightful Judy is a popular presence in press centres on the tennis circuit, so we can safely assume that young Andy will soon be warning her off that particular course. Alternatively, Master Murray could try to grow up a little faster. When he was his age, Boris Becker had already won a Wimbledon title.
Murray ought to count his blessings, recognise that no one's forcing him to make a good living out of sport and that, occasionally, he could show that he was enjoying the privilege.