Friday 31 July ~
Kolo Touré is clear about his reasons for leaving Arsenal to join Man City. "When you love a woman and she gives you back the love you are really happy and that's what I can see at City. They have given me the love and I'm really delighted to bring them back the love." But if City's plans shape up and they are challenging for the title by next season, they will be looking for better central defenders than Kolo Touré. At which point they will have to tell him that they don't love him any more and that there is another central defender who understands them better, makes them laugh, listens properly.
At which point Kolo will slink off home to sulk and listen to the same CD over and over, reflecting that he should have moved for money instead. Like Sedan defender Paul Baysse, who is admirably honest about why he is considering a move to the Stadium of Light: "The wages on offer at Sunderland are 20 per cent bigger than the ones offered by West Ham and Blackburn," he told L'Equipe. With such admirable clear-headedness he might even play better than someone who is all mixed up because he's in love.
Alan Shearer will be at Newcastle's Championship opener at West Brom next week – but as a BBC pundit rather than the visitors' manager. "This is a real coup for us and a great way to kick off our coverage of the Championship," said a BBC source. You can see why the BBC would see Shearer's presence in the studio as a boost to their coverage given that it will generate plenty of pre-match publicity. There is no reason, however, to think he will say anything interesting about what is going on at Newcastle. Partly this is because he may yet be invited back by whoever takes over from the hapless Mike Ashley – although that may not be for a while yet.
But Shearer's past record as a pundit offers a more pressing reason to think that he isn't going to offer much insight. Why start now, after all? Shearer's television career has amounted to one long blank pause. They might as well put up the test card whenever it's his turn to speak. Former players employed as pundits are notoriously reluctant to comment critically on the matches they watch for fear of upsetting their friends in the game – but that assumes they have things to say in the first place. Shearer, however, has only ever offered a torrent of cliches from that tightly pursed mouth. Being told that these Newcastle players really do care and that they're a great bunch of lads won't amount to anything approaching a "coup" whatever the BBC might think. Matt Hobson