By Tony Stafford
Did you watch much of Sky’s Deadasadodo-line Day on Friday? Starting early in the morning after England’s penultimate capitulation on Australia’s cricket fields – can’t wait for the final humbling this morning! – they tried to make it exciting, or even a little significant.
All day, building up to his 8 p.m. takeover, we had glimpses of Jim White preparing for his move to centre stage. Reporters were despatched far and wide to hold microphones in front of various training grounds, where a stream of top players clinching last-minute big-money moves were about to appear.
Managers – using the unique access of the oft-mentioned “Sky Sources” were asked whether there was any business to be done. Most of them from the big teams tried to say “no”, but the “Sky Sources” knew better. So their envoys bravely shrugged off rain and wind and the ignominy of the fact that apart from Stoke, where we were told “you can always expect plenty to happen here” and six hardy, bedraggled souls and a bonus dog appeared, no-one else turned up.
So there was no idiotic braying or chanting from fans. The Stoke ensemble were asked if they were excited that some impossible to pronounce and unknown to us foreign guy was about to sign – he didn’t – only one “yeah” and not a sound from the dog emanated. By the way, our Yorkshire terrier can say “hello”, but then we wouldn’t ask her to stand outside in the rain all day.
Football’s mad. You all know Manchester United are in trouble, and it’s almost got to the stage when I’m feeling sorry for David Moyes, or Moyles as my mate Peter calls him. Wonder if he knows that a moyle (not sure of the spelling, probably moil) is the man who does circumcisions on young Jewish boys – I went to school in London with lots of Jewish boys and quite a few are still friends. Well David’s effect so far could be said to have been to take away something that was previously there.
There’s been a fair bit in the Daily Mail and other papers about the slipping Manchester United share price. Well on Friday, as a result of who knows what, it suddenly went up by a full dollar, adding almost 6% to the value of the company on the New York stock exchange.
Where the average daily share transactions are around 130,000, Friday’s trading was nearer 700,000. The bump, in mid-session, was suggestive of a 500,000 single deal. Wonder if the buyer expects a lower opening price on Monday morning after defeat by Stoke on Saturday.
Morose Moyes (or is it Moyles) asked afterwards, what do we have to do to win a football match? Well, I can tell him. You have to score more goals than the opposition. As he claimed, “we were the better team”. In what way? Did they cost more? Sure. Do they have umpteen high-earning internationals compared to Stoke’s trundling journeymen. Sure again. Then it has to be down to luck. It’s official! Manchester United are unlucky.
By the way, you’d think friend Peter’s mispronunciation of the manager’s name might be because of a nomenclature confusion connected with Richard Hoiles, the racing commentator. Not so, Peter always calls him Hoilees!
Joined Mr Bisogno on Saturday for a jaunt up to Wetherby to watch his latest winner Sprinter Sacre (sorry Slipper Satin) add to her Fakenham romp. Maybe I should have remembered that my previous three trips to see Fair Trade run there comprised a fall at the third-last hurdle when about to hack up; a tame unseated on his fencing debut and finally a capitulating “effort” back over the smaller obstacles.
Slipper Satin looked great beforehand, seemed to have grown at least a hand since Fakenham, and set off next to the favourite. It’s about 40 yards to the first hurdle – the same obstacle at which Fair Trade capsized – and she went into it in such a way that Jack Quinlan was unable to stay on top.
Then it was a case of watching her go the whole way round. She jumped some of the hurdles, but with a free hand in such matters, according to Jack, she also jumped a fence down the back straight. All seemed OK so it’s Plumpton next for her. It hasn’t been a cold winter, but Wetherby as ever tried its best to alter that and it was freezing. I remember my wife – brought up in Siberia – telling me on her first visit there on Boxing Day a few years back, that she’d never been colder in her life!
But I must return to Sky on Deadline Day. We were kept in suspense all day. Jim had been pictured writing things on paper, looking at screens and smiling at the camera. His crisp white shirt stood out against the background, but with what would he embellish it? At 8 p.m. we found out. A bright yellow tie and Jim set out with his sidekick, Natalie Sawyer, also resplendent in primrose, to do the deals.
A new departure was Kate Abdu, not only routinely Sky-beautiful, but multi-lingual and impossibly rapid on the auto-cue. A Jock, as it were, between two yellow Roses. It makes you wonder why Andy Gray and Richard hairy-arms Keys would want to get themselves sacked for such schoolboy attitudes when they could have continued working with such talented female colleagues.