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Preliminary Draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia - Previews

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Roker Ramble: A reminder that if you think Sunderland had a bad week, others had it worse

...specifically, Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini. Also this week we’re featuring Messrs Warnock, Stelling and Savage. Don’t worry, they fared far better.

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Blatter and Platini in hot water... again

You know how some people only ever appear in the media in relation to certain stories? You’ll only ever see Brian Cox talking about the universe, or Brian May talking about badgers, for example. Meanwhile, Esther Rantzen only ever rears her head these days to discuss all matters pertaining to old folk being lonely.

Well, sadly for Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter, the only reason why their mugs appear in the press anymore is for things related to bank accounts - or more specifically, the amount of zeros in them.

This week, they’ve been at it again, having been charged with doing - to put it mildly - some interesting things with money.

Now we all know Blatter has managed to carve out a reputation ropier than a Scout’s knot festival - but this time things really could come to bite him. Charges include the Swiss cheese executing a perfect slide-rule pass of £1.6m into Platini’s coffers, who in turn is suspected of gobbling up the opportunity with aplomb.

65th FIFA Congress
Hold out your hand, Michel
Photo by Matthias Hangst - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

My favourite fact about Blatter is not that he was found by US federal investigators to be as bent as a nine-bob note (not their exact words, however that’s the take-home point) but actually that for a considerable period of time, an urban myth existed that his middle name was “bell end”. Sadly it was less factual, and more down to some creative licence from a practical joker on Wikipedia. Still, chapeau.

All to be proved of course, and a trial awaits; custodial sentences could be handed down -leaving most of us wondering whether at 66, Platini has still got it in him to run the midfield of the prison football team. Blatter meanwhile might be a bit past it at 85, but probably won’t be given the role of club secretary should he be found guilty.


Warnock’s in the record books

A huge round of applause has to go to Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock, as Sheffield’s premier Mrs Doubtfire lookie-likey has broken the record for the number of matches managed; Boro’s 3-1 reverse at Luton being his 1602nd in a career which began back when the mastodons were roaming the earth.

So big congratulations to the man who is also a trained chiropodist (he used to treat his own players, don’t you know), and he will no doubt have been reflecting this last week on the highs and lows of his career.

Clearly, he will be basking in the glorious memories of 13th April 1999, as Reidy’s lads didn’t so much take his Bury side to the cleaners, but got the deluxe hot wash, dry clean and ironing service in a 5-2 win which saw us seal the Division One title.

To me, however, he will always be the man who’s known for carrying signed photographs of himself in a bum bag.


Jeff’s Off!

In a development that will leave millions of football fans devastated, Soccer Saturday’s main man has announced he will be leaving the programme at the end of the season.

His replacement is yet to be announced, however, there’s always been a sneaky feeling that the excellence-in-broadcasting from Hartlepool’s finest helped to cover up the yawning chasms in the knowledge of many of the panel alongside him.

Paul Merson must be sitting very nervously.

Hartlepool United v Stockport County - Vanarama National League
Bye bye Merse
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

While the show has been wildly successful throughout the years, this feels in many ways like the right decision. Since the departure of Matt Le Tissier, Charlie Nicholas and Phil Thompson, the programme has lost its zip.

Maybe it’s because Stelling finds listening to Tim Sherwood about as interesting as discussing the Metro extension from Pelaw to South Hylton.

Still, big Jeff got a standing ovation from all those lovely Proper Football Men in the Sky Sports Studio. Warms the cockles.


Would you like more Savage with that television, sir?

It’s a bumper edition this week as we’re just festooned with news. I couldn’t possibly wrap things without mentioning the programme which is coming to the iPlayer on Friday.

That’s right! Everyone’s favourite Afghan-hound-masquerading-as-a-human Robbie Savage is continuing his quest to insert himself into every corner of the media by starring in the documentary Robbie Savage: Making Macclesfield FC.

It turns out Rob’s pal Robert Smethurst found a few bob down the back of the sofa and decided to buy the Silkmen who, as we all know, fell into oblivion last year. Sav got roped in as Director of Football, and the rest is history.

Call me cynical, but I suspect this isn’t going to be like listening to Classic FM on bonfire night. That’s when they play even more calming music to keep your pets from clawing the radiators from the walls.

Five minutes of Savage on 6-0-6 is like downing a pint of Novichok in the Mojave desert, while watching Rotherham’s fifth goal being endlessly repeated on TV screens which stretch as far as the eye can see.

So, Lord knows what an hour of GBH on the eyes will bring.

Maybe I’m being harsh - I have actually seen the trailer, and it seems worth a watch. My main question is, what is it with the sheer volume of fly-on-the-wall football docs these days? Are clubs subject to a points deduction if their owners don’t have a camera crew following them round?

Huddersfield Town v Manchester United - The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round
Did someone say BAFTA?
Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images
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