Don't let anyone ever tell you there's a direct link between academic intelligence and the football version.
The white-knuckle ride that is the climax to this season is underlining that all the A-levels you can shake a stick at mean nothing if you can?t clear your mind of the red mists.
Conversely a bright footballer doesn?t have to be someone who knows where to find the Dow Jones index in his daily paper.
Take Wayne Rooney. He?ll just about know where to find the Page Three girl ? the clue?s in the title, Wayne ? but he?ll never be found on Newsnight Review, sifting through the latest novels, or telling Bonnie Greer what really makes Scousers funny.
That?s not meant to be derogatory because Rooney has one of the best football brains in the country. Of course, he gets dragged into stupid incidents but when it comes to an ice-cold, instant assessment of situations on the field of play, he usually makes the right decision.
His maturity in that area of his game is remarkable for a 19-year-old. That?s why he?ll be a great player, provided all the other stuff falls into place.
The other side of the coin is that some clever, likeable people in professional football can make dolts of themselves without any help from those who lack their grey matter.
Three such individuals brought that home in the space of just a minute during Saturday?s desperately tense game between Crystal Palace and Southampton.
A conservative estimate is that around #20 million is at stake for those who either stay up or go down from the Premiership this season. Three of four clubs are going to be financially stricken, never mind the psychological mortification involved.
So Southampton?s Peter Crouch must still be kicking himself for getting sent off after getting involved needlessly in a shoving match with a Palace player. Crouch raised his hands after a late tackle and he knows that, these days, a red card is inevitable.
But it was so out of character. Crouch impresses everyone who meets him for his balanced, mature take on life, his readiness to accommodate the media and fans and for the mental fortitude that?s seen him fight back from rejection early in his career to being on the fringe of the England squad.
Having met his delightful parents last season and chatted at length to his dad about his passion for Chelsea FC, I can confirm that Peter Crouch comes from a stable, supportive family background.
But now he?s out of Southampton?s last game of the season. He?s a key player for them and one moment of silliness has nobbled Southampton?s chances of prolonging their stay in the top flight which stretches back to 1968.
One Southampton player who will be available next Sunday is Graeme Le Saux. Yet he is the luckiest player in the Premiership. His involvement in the flare-up at Palace that saw the double sending-off was ridiculously inflammatory.
Le Saux ran 30 yards to push every Palace player he could see out of the way, then started an eye-balling confrontation with Palace manager Iain Dowie that belonged in the playground. It smacked of ?Do you want some? Go on then!? as player and manager locked horns.
Dowie is the most cerebral of Premiership managers. With a degree in aeronautical engineering, he is literally a rocket scientist. He is stimulating company, bursting with progressive ideas and is a brilliant man to interview.
Only the other day, he became the first football manager to bring the Italian composer Puccini into an interview on Five Live. Yet there he was on Saturday, behaving like a bouncer at chucking-out time.
Le Saux was even more culpable. He is 36 and for more than a decade has been acknowledged as an intelligent man with wider interests than football.
He openly admits he reads The Guardian ? something that doesn?t go down too well in many dressing-rooms who then dub you a poseur ? and goes to art galleries. Yet Jekyll and Hyde stalk Le Saux on the football field.
The charge list against him is long and damning. Apart from all the avoidable sendings-off and the headlong dashes into trouble when he?s not involved, Le Saux came to blows with a team-mate while playing for Blackburn Rovers in the Champions? League.
He is a compulsive trouble-seeker. Yet he puts his head on the block publicly. On Saturday morning, he told a national newspaper: ?I?ve had to sit down and think about how I can improve things, make a greater contribution.
?With this situation coming at such a late stage in my career I can draw from experience and hopefully help the young people around me. As a senior man, the one thing you can do is be a good professional and be consistent.?
Well, he?s certainly consistent. A walking powderkeg, he must be odds-on favourite to be the first player to be sent off next Sunday as the relegation battle ratchets up its final intensity.
When Le Saux eventually graduates to the TV sofa as a pundit ? and he?s good at it ? I look forward to Gary Lineker pulling him up whenever he gets on his moral high horse and deplores temper tantrums on the pitch. Graeme Le Saux epitomises how common sense can go out of the window as testosterone and tension kick in.
Ferdinand reality check may put stop to memory lapses
Rio Ferdinand upbraids those Manchester United fans who are daring to suggest that Sir Alex Ferguson?s time at Old Trafford is drawing to a close. Ferdinand says their memories are too short and should remember what the manager has won for Manchester United.
On the substantive point he is right but for Ferdinand to lecture anyone about a memory lapse is akin to Sven-Goran Eriksson writing on the joys of celibacy.
It was Ferdinand?s lapse of memory that saw him go shopping, rather than attend a drugs test at United?s training ground, late in 2003. The subsequent ban of eight months severely hampered the club?s assault on the Premership title for two seasons in a row. Yet the club continued paying Ferdinand?s salary of #70,000 a week.
Now he wants a pay hike of #50,000 a week and can?t understand why so many United fans are turning against him. It?s almost a month since Ferguson rightly went public on Ferdinand?s stalling and the manager has to remain seething in private in case he ups sticks and heads back to London to join his patient suitors, Chelsea.
It?s no hardship to feel sorry for Ferguson here. Yet Ferdinand is one for the main chance. In the summer of 2002, he said ?I love Leeds and the people of Leeds?, only to scarper across the Pennines at the first sign of interest from Ferguson.
Now he?s bruised because so many United fans are berating him over his tardiness, saying that it?s every working man?s right to deliberate over a new contract offer. For a whole month? When your employer has been so remarkably loyal over a serious transgression that was your sole responsibility?
Ferdinand would be a fool to leave Old Trafford. He?s a very fine defender but not that outstanding. His memory lapses off the field are matched by regular bouts of doziness on it, as he loses his opponent with regularity.
Certain footballers need a reality check at times and Ferdinand is one of them unlike Paul Scholes who adores Manchester United and all it has done for him. I?m told that whenever Scholes? contract is up for renewal, it?s all wrapped up within an hour, with just his accountant representing his interests. And no haggling.
No wonder Ferguson loves Scholes. He must wish he had another 20 of his type on the United books.
England's big night market place for other nationalities
That remarkable night at Anfield was billed as a special one for English football, as two Premiership clubs battled for the right to be in the Champions? League final, for the first time since 1999. Yet of the 27 players used by Liverpool and Chelsea, only five were English. The managers were from Spain and Portugal.
Hardly a ringing endorsement for England?s footballers, more a realisation that the Premiership is just a market place, where players and managers of all nationalities display their wares. We await proof of what benefits it brings to England?s top footballers, apart from whopping salaries.
One English emigre must have had mixed feelings about Liverpool?s progress to the final.
Michael Owen, a guest summariser on ITV, looked as if he?d suddenly remembered he?d left the oven on at home as he digested the fact that he?d gone to Real Madrid at the start of the season in search of European glory, failing to achieve that while his old club had made it, against the odds.
Typically, he wasn?t asked the key questions as he delivered observations of stunning banality on the sofa in a deadening monotone.
There is no point in signing up a big name who doesn?t offer anything ? a mistake that TV sport makes regularly.
They can?t all be John McEnroes or Michael Johnsons but last Tuesday night ITV needed someone to convey the sheer drama and excitement of the occasion.
All Owen offered was a smart suit and a beguiling smile.
Money for old rope.
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