Early Doors

Don’t say the A-word!

Footballers. So often vilified for wanting to leave one club for a bigger, better, richer or cooler club. Or all of the above.

Take Robin van Persie. Or Samir Nasri. Or... well. Just ask any Arsenal fan.

It smacks of hypocrisy, really. After all, there isn't a single human out there who would turn down a promotion, raise, dream job or dream location (or all of the above) out of 'loyalty to the current company logo'.

Not only that, but to resent somebody for doing it better than you is rather petty.

One's continual drive to improve their standard of living is a perfectly natural thing, as Jim's Dad would say.

Unfortunately, football has succeeded in turning the common term for this once-admired quest for self-improvement into one of the most vulgar swear words around.

That term, of course, being amb****n.

Amb****n, once an important gauge of somebody's integrity, is now just a cowardly way for someone to seek a better life without having the backbone to just come out and say it.

It's not Hatem Ben Arfa's choice, for instance, to want to leg it out of Newcastle as fast as his admittedly-capable legs can carry him because Alan Pardew's men aren't in line to win the treble.

No, no: it's the club's fault for not wanting a treble! He wants them to show him amb****n, and by not winning every match ever, the Magpies are clearly unamb***ous. Be interesting to know how Hatem plans on measuring this amb****n when it’s decision time.

Are the Geordies struggling to maintain last season's momentum? Yes. Will they be able to get back on track by having key players such as Ba and Ben Arfa bolt for the exit at the first sign of stalling? Probably not.

For all this time, Early Doors and the footballing universe have been fooled into thinking money, power, hard work and continuity make champions, make dynasties. In fact, it's all simply a case of who is the most amb***ous.

I bet you didn't know, until now of course, that very few clubs actually want to win stuff. Otherwise they just would, right?

If we are to believe this skewed take on ‘personal accomplishment’, a footballer’s Everest is to secure that all-important 10th substitute appearance of the season to be able to wear a medal during the celebrations.

Playing every week and becoming the heart of a side’s growth? They may as well retire now and wait for the Grim Reaper to visit.

Chelsea won the Champions League, three Premier League titles and more because the bird's eye view of Kings Road oozed amb****n when the Russian billionaire Whatshisface gazed out of his chopper to play 'I Spy' with his bouncers.

Anyone who assumed the Liga duopoly was down to a ridiculously unfair divvying-up of revenue is woefully naive. It's the Eye Of The Tiger, baby! Those other suckers just aren’t hungry enough.

And admirers of Barcelona's modern dominance were of course mesmerised by the amb****n on display when the soon-to-be stars enjoyed tiki-taka sessions on extra-small pitches as teens back when the Catalonians finished mid-table, not when they started claiming more titles than a second-hand bookstore.

Who are they kidding? Do some people really think they can make everybody like them by denying that clubs and fans - or companies and stockholders - mean nothing to them, compared to self-fulfilment?

Lance Armstrong did. Look at him now. He'll forever be regarded as a much bigger figure of hate than other sporting cheats because of the desperate and intelligence-insulting depths to which he plunged to cover up what had become common knowledge.

Players should be brave enough to publicly confess "I am tired of playing for Club X, and Club Y are willing to double my wages, work me less and give me more medals anyway. Oh, and there’s a sweet nightclub 15 minutes from the training ground.”

So what if it provokes more resentment than Cliff McJohnsonsmith leaving Smegworth Council for the bright lights, superior benefits package and extra £750 per annum of the city equivalent? Mo’ money, mo’ haters. That’s life.

ED pines for a world where go-getters go and get, without wanting to preserve some charade of being having emotional attachments to ‘banter’-mad ticket-payers they’ve never met.

Until then, ‘amb****n’ joins football’s post-watershed list of filth, along with ‘obv****ly’, ‘go**g n*w**re’ and ‘Engl**d can w** the *****************’.

Hopefully it’s not too long before the sport’s mouth is washed out with soap.

QUOTE(S) OF THE DAY: "At this time in my life I can deal with this. All my experiences have prepared me for this moment. It was a job I wanted to do. For a Scotsman, it's a fantastic thing. I played for Scotland then started coaching and thought 'I want to be Scotland manager some day'." - Gordon Strachan addresses the honour of being named his nation's new international coach.

"Velocity." - A classic line from back in the day when Gordon Strachan addresses a journalist who asks him for a 'quick word'.

FOREIGN VIEW: "I've always found English football very fascinating, just for the environment, the crowd and the supporters. As a player, I couldn't realise my dream to play there but I hope in the future, I have a challenge to be a coach or a manager there and feel the experience of all the coaches and players that have been there." Pep Guardiola finds another way of playing one-upsmanship with Jose Mourinho, despite no longer being in charge of a rival club to the Portuguese coach.

COMING UP: How old? That's a lot of birthday bumps. Many happy returns to the FA.

Seven FA Cup third-round replays were settled last night, and the final two take place tonight. We will have LIVE text coverage of both Man Utd-West Ham and Arsenal-Swansea, as well as the Premier League encounter between Chelsea and Southampton which the Saints will hope does not resemble the two sides' own cup clash earlier this month.

Jim White pops by at lunchtime, Andy Mitten is in the house a little later in the afternoon and you can pick your favourite goal from the weekend's best five in the Premier League. There were some screamers, too.