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   Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, 13:39 GMT
Don't Beat around the bush!
BBC Sport Online columnist Derek 'Robbo' Robson says striker James Beattie could solve England's problems.

Beattie Barrage

My missus visited the Riverside this weekend because England's next big thing was up front for the Saints.

She insists he should play for England, but I keep telling her if it was a beauty contest, Martin Keown'd be in Woking reserves.

Still, Beattie smacked home a couple of well good goals and we only equalised when pigs flew over the stadium at the same time as the Boro got a pen.

Thing is, I watch Beattie and I think it all looks great - tall, strong, can kick it hard. (By the by, I think that might be Joe Cole's problem at the Hammers - he can't kick it very hard, bless 'im.)

James Beattie
Beattie would be the obvious choice

So is James the foil for Michaelowen? (That's one word if you listen to the commentators.)

Heskey is honest but looks like his boots are made of sponge. Smith starts every match with a towel and a bottle of Wash 'n' Go in his hands.

Fat arse Fowler couldn't outrun Anne Widdecombe. And Vassell has all the awareness of a cross-eyed puppy.

So young Beattie seems to be the man most likely. But I'm worried that there might be a touch of the Bierhoffs' about him. I just wish he didn't greet every goal with surprise.

Mind you how does Shaun Goater score? If anyone can answer that riddle you're a better man than me.

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Olympic Bid-damned

Can we not waste shed-loads of cash trying to get the Olympics in London in 2012?

Haven't we p***ed away enough shekels trying to build stadiums in the South-East without pouring more into the bottomless pit that sits under every London architect's drawing-board?

If we really want to host such an event and build new barns to put the events in, then do it up North.

This would not only be downright fair and about bloody time - and let's face it, Manchester got the Commonwealth Games cos everyone thought the flat-capped whippet-walking numbskulls would cock it up - it would be a lot bloody cheaper, too.

Middlesbrough is made for the glamour of the Olympics

I've got mates in London who have to get a second mortgage out if they need a couple of tiles replacing. They have to sell a kidney before they can call a plumber out. Not up here.

Plus we actually like sport up here - we will go and watch it. And we don't have to spend an hour and a half with our noses buried in some fat toff's merchant banker's armpit before we get there either.

And Teesside 2012 has a good ring to it. Well, what are we waiting for?

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One-day Woe

It seems about 200 years ago that our cricketers set off for Oz with a song in their hearts, a leg in plaster and a stain on their underpants.

Charlie Dimmock
Charlie Dimmock is not good for English cricket

And still the batting looks as strong and supportive as a Charlie Dimmock undergarment.

And quite how they are going to justify playing in Zimbabwe I do not know. Can't at least one England player stand up and be counted or do they all think as clearly off the pitch as they do on it?

Of course, British journalists aren't allowed in Zimbabwe. Maybe that's the reason they are going - maybe it'll be one humiliating defeat that we don't get to hear about.

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Hewitt Won't Do It

It's the result all Australia wants - but it ain't going to happen. Little Lleyton always stumbles on his own patch.

Those weird round shoulders can't carry the weight of expectation. He's already struggling in the first round.

Daffy Safin'll win it. It'll be Kuertens for Hewitt in the 3rd Round. Still, at least the home nation is represented.

Do we have any tennis players now? And does it matter? No. It's a girlie sport any road is tennis and no self-respecting bloke should worry himself too much about being any good at it

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