LONDON - Where to start? In a week in which all the headlines should have been all about the football, they've been about anything but. As England close in on a World Cup-or-bust qualifying stretch the tabloids have dropped a lot of ink on off-field business.
From Sunday's terrace refrain: “Jack Wilshere smokes when he wants to,” to the Premier League on Wednesday rejecting the FA's plea to sit on a commission whose raison d'être is purely to examine what can be done to mend the England national team the news was definitely hot for off-pitch storylines.
Another such headline was Harry Redknapp's claim yesterday that Steven Gerrard sent him a text congratulating him on his appointment as England manager.
Good one ‘Arry.
Great to see you haven't lost that rogue sense of humour of yours since settling into life as a Championship manager. Again.
For his part Gerrard was quick to deny today at Friday's pre-match presser that he did not send a text to Redknapp's personal mobile phone regarding the England job.
The England job, of course, is a position the media dearly wishes Redknapp had got when Fabio Capello took a walk last February. Their insatiable want, need and desire for Redknapp to take over was not correlated to the ex-Spurs manager being the most abled person to step into Fabio's loafers.
No one provides the media with softer sound bites than the man who can claim amongst his ex-team mates the greatest footballer ever to don an England shirt, Bobby Moore.
Moore, best known as the only Englishman in World Cup history to hold aloft the Jules Rimet trophy was a team mate of Redknapp at West Ham in the late 1960's.
Gerrard didn't, though, get into Redknapp's baseless claim earlier in the week that ‘the FA are clueless.' Sounds like the sourest of grapes.
It's hard to imagine the reason Gerrard was speaking to the media in the first place was purely down to Friday evening's pivotal World Cup qualifier at Wembley against Montenegro. Who would have known?
Which brings us back to that FA Commission, and one man who didn't turn down an approach to join was ex-England guvnor Glenn Hoddle.
Hoddle guided England to the 1998 World Cup but his tenure came to an abrupt halt early the next year after he mocked the afflicted in a London Times newspaper article.
Hoddle brazenly claiming disabled people were paying for their sins in previous lives.
How unreservedly crude of him.
This coming from a man who included a faith healer as part of his team to prepare England for France 1998 and for good measure followed that up with the 11th-hour removal of Paul Gascoigne as Hoddle completed his final culls to the original oversized squad.
Yes Gascoigne was passed his prime, but is the most naturally gifted of footballers England has produced in generations.
Don't believe me?
Read Gazza's highly revealing autobiography where he bares his very troubled soul and freely admits to often drinking a bottle of vodka before going out on the pitch and dominate in his own inimitable style.
Hoddle freshly minted to the FA commission wasted no time in laying into the current England squad when he told the BBC Thursday evening it was unrealistic to expect England to win the World Cup in Brazil next summer.
You been reading them tea leaves again Glenn? How about qualifying first and foremeost?
Not content with rubbishing the current team, Hoddle perfectly performed the 360 pirouette when he went on to claim England could well go on and claim the EURO 2016 crown… rib-tickling stuff.
Obviosuly Hoddle has a fixation with France. Or maybe an Achilles heel.
Speaking of national fixations Jack Wilshire could not have chosen a more inappropriate time than 48 hours ago when he discussed in-depth an absolute need for the England team to ooze Englishness.
By Wilshire's argument, players like Manchester United's latest teenage sensation - the Belgian born Adnan Januzaj - could not ever play for England. Even though in a very short few years Januzaj could be considered for England when he hits that lower hanging football fruit; the FIFA residency mark.
Since Wilshere's ill-timed and inappropriate comments grabbed the headlines and still continue to do so a siege-like mentality has prevailed over Team England.
A plethora of so-called England legends, whatever they are, plus the current England manager and captain have voiced their backing directly or indirectly for the man who only last week was spotted smoking [or was it holding?] a cigarette whilst out enjoying a very late night on the London tiles.
Meanwhile in a another highly affluent area of London - whilst speaking earlier today at this week's Leaders in Football Conference which has been staged at Stamford Bridge - Joseph Barton laid it all bare.
Barton doing what he does best, barking at the FA and Sir Alex Ferguson in equal measure. No one in world football shoots first, and aims afterwards more often than Barton.
Lost in all the accusations and inappropriate comments this week was a quite splendid event held at Buckingham Palace and hosted by the FA President, Prince William himself.
The celebrations were part of the FA's 150th anniversary which will culminate in a Gala dinner in London on the FA's birthday, October 26th. The plush Buck House gardens were transformed into the venue for a re-enactment of a 19th century football match.
Never lost for a quip, “Wills” opened the proceedings with an ominous warning for the players.
“If anyone breaks a window they can answer to her,” he stated as he nodded in the direction of the Queen's personal Buckingham Palace quarters. The oranges at halftime have not ever seen such finer silver platters.
When England step out at Wembley tomorrow against Montenegro, who held the English might to a draw in the corresponding fixture earlier in the campaign, nothing more than victory is required.
That's if they are to stand chance of winning a group the London bookies were reluctant to take bets on when the draw was made.
With the final qualifier set for next Tuesday, England require the maximum points from both Wembley dates to automatically ensure Brazil 2014 is not a made-for-TV event.
Quite remarkably with eight out of their 10 matches played, England have only managed to beat the twin forces that are San Marino and Moldova. Not so much pedigreed football playing nations as they are greedy tax havens.
When Steven Gerrard leads his charges out of that iconic Wembley tunnel Friday night a nation will hold its collective breath. Only releasing it as they make a dash for the kettle or bark orders at the bar keep.
The tea leaves and barley oats will be in an even higher demand next Tuesday when Poland come a-knocking.
If you spot an England shirt on your travels over the coming days you may want to whisper the words: “Jan Tomaszewski and 1973”.
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