Barca are once again, top of La Liga, thanks in no small part to a pair of Einar Gudjohnsen goals in yesterday’s 4-1 victory at Real Mallorca. An Icelandic consortium is preparing to take over West Ham United. Newcastle’s Glenn Roeder would like it very much if the Gooners would stop calling him “tumor boy”, and Martin O’Neil might’ve taken a life had Villa midfielder Isiah Osbourne scored an own goal in yesterday’s 0-0 draw with Wigan.
But what does any of that matter compared to the urgent issue of Lee Sharpe’s television career? The Guardian’s Martin Kellner elaborates.
Not that Sharpe is short of achievements of his own, not least the contract he has secured to advertise a baldness cure in the newspapers despite having what appears to be a full head of hair. I mean, he’s no Russell Brand, but neither does he seem to be in immediate need of a magic potion. Among Sharpe’s other accomplishments is a brilliant hat-trick at Arsenal in the Rumbelows Cup in the 1990-91 season which, according to a review on Amazon, is mentioned 43 times in his autobiography.
I do not believe that for a moment, although I should declare an interest here. I was commissioned once to write a biography of Lee Sharpe, which a publisher thought would be a cracking story of sex, drugs (alleged) and spats with Alex Ferguson which I, with my minimal experience of all of the above, might be the ideal person to chronicle.
After a few meetings, including a trip to Iceland to watch Sharpey – as it is almost impossible not to call him – at the Icelandic league club Grindavik tossing away one of his many last chances, I abandoned the project simply because he was not in the mood to sit in the psychiatrist’s chair and had no intention of answering the question hinted at in the opening paragraph. He was just too damned cheerful, I suppose, ascribing his failure to win more than eight England caps to bad luck with injuries, pernicious rumours about drug-taking, and unimaginative management, which seemed to me a fairly dull tale.
If Sharpey was unprepared to break down and cry before me, who had left his car at a Travelodge near Glasgow airport and taken a flight to Reykjavik to see him, he was hardly likely to do so for the children’s TV presenter Jake Humphrey – very assured and credible, I thought, on his debut on Football Focus – who asked him to comment on Ryan Giggs’s success (Giggs replaced Sharpe in the United team, and his rise more or less mirrors Sharpe’s fall).
As usual, Sharpey said nothing of any great depth but smiled winningly and looked pleased to be there, which is half the battle on TV. He also suggested impishly that England would win their Euro 2008 qualifier in Israel easily, four- or five-nil, the kind of wrong-headed prediction you never get from your more serious pundit.
When I interviewed him his big hope was that a book about him would kick-start his TV career, which he seems to have achieved in spades. He is cropping up increasingly as a pundit on Sky and BBC, despite appearing to have as much interest in tactical formations as Alan Hansen has in Celebrity Love Island.