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Last Updated: Monday, 7 November 2005, 15:05 GMT
Blair on the ball
By Chris Charles

Tony Blair and Mark Lawrenson

The vultures may be circling around Tony Blair, but the canny PM is already lining up his next a football pundit.

Blair has been flapping like David James in the penalty box over the latest terrorist detention proposals, yet he appears to have the golden touch when it comes to the beautiful game.

The prime minister was a guest on Saturday's Football Focus programme and after a shaky start about his childhood days on the terraces at St James Park, he (to use the football parlance) played a blinder.

Presenter Manish Bhasin asked Blair to name his unsung heroes of the Premiership and each one went on to have a fantastic weekend.

First up was Fulham midfielder Steed Malbranque - described as a "really really good player - fantastic" by the PM.

Less than five hours later, the Frenchman was celebrating after scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over Manchester City.

Wigan defender Arjan de Zeeuw was Blair's second choice. "He's really strong, never gives up. I could do with him at the whips' office!" he quipped.

Later that afternoon, de Zeeuw helped the Premiership new boys consolidate second place with yet another clean sheet.

Tony Blair, Alan Hansen, Gary Lineker and Garth Crooks
Can you give us the Lotto numbers, prime minister?

Finally the Labour leader picked out West Ham veteran Teddy Sheringham, who duly stepped up to score the Hammers' only goal in the 1-0 defeat of West Brom.

Incredibly, that was not the end of Blair's Midas touch. Not only did he choose Sir Alex Ferguson as the manager he'd most like to have in his cabinet, he also predicted a win for Manchester United over Chelsea.

And while the panel said it was no surprise the prime minister would choose red over blue, some senior Labour figures might disagree.

Blair appeal to MPs on terror law
07 Nov 05 |  UK Politics

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