Good morning from the tail end of a blogless week. My main dilemma these last seven days has been: Barbeque â€“ gas or charcoal? Iâ€™m leaning towards the former for ease of use but to the latter for guaranteeing the proper whiff.
I did, however, crank up the phone for the annual jamboree that is the Champions League draw.
Cup draws have certainly taken on a new â€˜importanceâ€™ since the FA Cup draws of my youth, when someone would be glued to their radio in double maths on a Monday morning, but I know which kind I prefer. What purpose does all the farting about serve? Itâ€™s monumentally dull, even if it does give the countryâ€™s media the excuse they need to crank up the live text coverage.
This yearâ€™s draw gives us a relatively benign group â€“ again. From a footballing perspective there are some interesting ties against teams we have not got a lot of previous with, and Iâ€™m all for playing new teams. But in terms of avoiding one of Europeâ€™s heavyweights, weâ€™ve done it again. We drew Inter Milan in the 2003-4 group stage (heh â€“ remember the away leg!). Since then, weâ€™ve had Porto and Seville and a host of tricky away ties, but no group of death as far as I remember. This is, I suppose, what seeding does. Seeding might make the bigger clubs happy, but does it make the competition more interesting?
So Partizan, Braga and Donetsk it is. I must say, Iâ€™ve always fancied a far-flung Champions League journey and Donetsk would fit that bill. Hmmmâ€¦ how am I going to get this one past Control?
Elsewhere, the news is good on the squad strengthening front, with the arrival of the â€˜ancientâ€™ Sebestien Squillaci. It appears the Squillster has got himself a three-year deal and cost a much more plausible fee of Â£3.3m.
And come on, letâ€™s be honest â€“ the relaxing of the over-30 rule is long overdue. Letting Pires go because he had hit 30 seems as nonsensical today as it did back in 2006. A defender at 30 is nothing â€“ look at Sol Campbell.
â€œHe is a real defender and is good in the one-against-one, good in the air, and can score goals on set-pieces as well. I believe he will be suited to the English game. He will train with us tomorrow morning, but will not be involved on Saturday [against Blackburn Rovers].”
Now just the one position left to fill, by my reckoning â€“ and itâ€™s D-Day -4.
Reckon itâ€™ll still happen?
Right, thatâ€™s me tuning out for a few more days.
Gas or charcoal, gas or charcoal. Hmm.