Monday 25 August ~
Anyone who winced through the eye-wateringly bad 'celebration' of London's staging of the 2012 Olympics held in The Mall yesterday had better steel themselves for four long years of witless build-up, from which football, sadly, will not be immune. As well as being an encounter between two teams looking to shake off the disappointment of a poor result on the opening day, tonight's Premier League match would also appear to be contest between the two front runners to be manager of England's Olympic team in 2012, which will go under the name of 'Great Britain' for convenience.
Harry Redknapp, as ever only too happy to give his many chums in the press a story to work with on a slow day, has already declared an interest in the job. Part of the enticement for Harry is that the games will be held in his "old stamping ground in East London". West Ham are still being widely tipped to become tenants at the stadium once the Games are over, so Harry, who left the club in 2001, may yet find himself working in Straford even if he doesn't become a member of Team GB. He has insisted that there is no truth in rumours that he is set to replace Alan Curbishley.
But then he was equally adamant that he wouldn't return to Portsmouth - where he seems to have experienced a frustrating summer. Having busied himself in building a successful squad at Fratton Park, Redknapp received much less spending money than he would have liked and may lose Nico Krancjar. Earlier in the summer the Croat was being tipped as replacement for Alexander Hleb at Arsenal, now Hamburg seem set to make a bid for him.
Man Utd haven't made any additions to what is a relatively small first-team squad, although that may change if they can conclude a deal for Dimitar Berbatov. Unlike Harry, Sir Alex has made no declaration of interest in the Olympic job, Indeed, he appeared to write off the whole idea earlier in the summer. At that dismal showbiz jamboree over the weekend, 2012's main fixer, Lord Coe, reiterated his preference for Sir Alex to become manager. Then again, some United supporters will recall that Lord Coe is a Chelsea fan (a long-term one, going back to the 1970s) and may wonder if he is rather enjoying making a pest of himself.