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The Prince(ss) and the (little) Pea

Toe Poke

Aluko still in contention for England - Marley


Phoenix Rising high in push for MLS place

Phoenix Rising

Transfer Rater: Benteke to Chelsea


Fifth Official: Beckham's break

Few of us like Monday but The Fifth Official does, for it brings with it a chance for him to point the finger and laugh. Here he pulls out the pretty, the puzzling and the downright pig-ugly from a five-star weekend.

Beckham injury woe

Given the hysteria that was unleashed after David Beckham's got a scratch on his face during AC Milan's bitty, gritty and hard fought victory over Chievo, it's no surprise that his torn Achilles has turned into another major international incident.

Within hours of his unfortunate knock, journalists were describing how the former England captain was consoled by his heartbroken team-mates, who "all cried with him in the dressing room." Slightly less sympathetic was one breakfast programme, who ruminated on what a blow it was for Posh Spice to be ruled out of the WAGs World Cup squad.

Beckham's injury may well be a sad end to a good international career, but he'll still go to South Africa and do largely the same job within the squad - he just won't be available for free-kick cameos in the final 15 minutes of games. His experience will still be utilised though, as will his ambassadorial qualities.

Fabio was left with a scratch too, but it was of his perfectly coiffed, bushy hair as he saw another of his players thrust on the scrapheap. Ashley Cole's recovering from a broken ankle, Wayne Bridge is out sulking, Aaron Lennon's groin is still playing up, Wes Brown's done a metatarsal, Glen Johnson and Rio Ferdinand are just back after long lay-offs and John Terry's questionable moral code has brought about form as patchy as Shane Warne's reconstituted hair.

Oh yeah, and Michael Owen is on the sidelines too, though I daresay Fab felt a dash of relief at that one.

Wash, scrap in front of the WI, and go

It's never dull in Hull is it? One minute Phil Brown is talking suicidal women down off the Humber Bridge and the next, two of his senior players are pulling each other's hair out in front of the Women's Institute.

Apparently after the Tigers were crushed at Goodison Park last week there was more tension flying around in the dressing room than in Basic Instinct between Stone and Douglas. Barmby accused Bullard of being lazy, it all kicked off, and the permed Cockney ended up trying to hit his team-mate with a branch, Fawlty Towers style, according to one report. Perhaps Barmby was jealous of Bullard's flowing blond locks and his snazzy new hair advert.

As fate would have it George Boateng piled forward to the press, joking: "I'm sorry because I missed it, I wasn't there. I would have paid to watch it!" Yeah, well, very few of us would pay to watch either your poker face impression or your horrendous challenge on Bacary Sagna again.

Hull's ten men looked like they were about to secure a morale boosting point before Nicklas Bendtner rounded off his perfect week with an injury time winner. It just goes to show, after last week's friendly gee up from yours truly, the Dane is great after all. You're welcome Arsene, you're welcome.

The wonder of Roo

The Roonatic's charge towards 30 Premier League goals continued against Fulham, when even his meaty shin got in on the goalscoring fun. Heck, the sort of form he's in at the moment he'll pot one from 35 yards with his family jewels before long.

No wonder Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is reportedly "obsessed" with him. Apparently he's got a little shrine to him in his Madrid mansion called "The Rooney room". The only person allowed in there apart from him is Coleen, but she's got her own on Merseyside so she's never seen the need to visit.

It's not surprising that Real are transfixed by England's 'Shrek-like' talisman, knowing how well he links up with their bronzed Adonis and international misfit Ronaldo, who is sulking after Real were dumped out of the Champions League by Lyon. Rooney is currently on 33 goals this season and Ronaldo 22. Even with those two, Real would still find a way to mess it up. They always do. They are like a rich Newcastle United.

Taxi for Caldwell

We all have bad days at the office, but thankfully, most of us don't embarrass ourselves in front of an admittedly sparse crowd at the Reebok, or the millions watching around the world. Gary Caldwell did on Saturday, after he was responsible for ALL FOUR of Bolton's goals. It's enough to make you wonder if fellow Scot Owen Coyle slipped him a bag of unmarked notes before the game.

Caldwell's shocker was made all the more funny by the fact he was wearing cycling shorts, as if he was a finely tuned like an Olympic sprinter and not an average duffer. All it seemed to do was make his legs behave like a 15 minute old foal. He danced round the ball for Bolton's first, hacked Tamir Cohen down to give away a penalty, took longer to turn than the Titianic as Fabrice Muamba befuddled him for number three, then shanked a clearance straight to Matt Taylor for the fourth.

Perhaps Caldwell should have stopped in Scotland, where similar mistakes rarely go punished. It's easy to look like Bobby Moore when you're playing Hamilton Academicals and Falkirk every week.

Mancini's Mankini

Roberto Mancini was Inter boss before Jose Mourinho but he's clearly modelled his stylings on the gobby Portuguese, with a menagerie of sleek jackets and shoes made from the finest Italian leather. The only interpretation of his own is that ridiculous scarf, which seems permanently attached to his neck, like the hands of Sheikh Mansour after a defeat.

We all know the north east is pretty cold, but Sunday saw a balmy ten degrees recorded at the Stadium of Light. Heck, in that weather, the glorious beaches the coast has to offer are rammed with folk stripping off because they are sweltering. Perhaps it was too much to expect the 'too cool for school' coach adapt to the weather like one of Sunderland's finest and turn into Mancini the Mankini.

Further evidence of his attempts to ape Jose came with City's late equaliser, which saw Mancini jog uncomfortably down the touchline towards his players. But far from punching the air, Mancini was urging his players to stop snogging Adam Johnson, who took particular pleasure in denying Sunderland a winner on account of being a Middlesbro' lad, and get back to the centre circle so they could try for a winner.


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