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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May 2004, 09:41 GMT 10:41 UK
Hou's sorry now?

By Derek 'Robbo' Robson
The Tees mouth

Hello Robbo.

Hello son, you all right?

I'm fine - you sound like you're in an empty house.

I'm in an empty garage - I'm cleaning it out - it's about time, it's amazing what cack you keep in your garage, some of which I'm ashamed of.

I dont want to know, Robbo! What have you been up to anyway?

Just looking forward to the cricket, having woken up from the Uefa Cup final. Football has turned into a marvellous excuse to have a nap in the last few weeks.

Fabien Barthez brings down Miguel Mista in the Uefa Cup final
Wake up, Mista!

Well I've been on a QPR victory parade - for finishing second in Division Two!

A victory parade for finishing second - do you see what's wrong with that?

Er yes! Now on to the Premiership and Del in Liverpool says: Looks like Houllier could be on the way out - nice guy, rubbish manager.

What odds on Ranieri getting his job - even you might start to like Liverpool then! Seriously, who would you put in charge of that shambles at Anfield?

Well they could do a lot worse than Ranieri.

But you know you sometimes have friends who've been together for a while and you know they don't suit each other?


These couples split up and everyone says "What took you so long?!" and it's the same with Houllier. Once he goes they'll sit back and say actually that was the main problem.

Anyway, who will they get? I reckon they might end up with Captain Mainwaring, Sgt Bilko and Officer Dibble at this rate. A triumvirate of nonsense figures.

You'll be glad to see the back of Houllier though?

Arthur Lowe as Captain Mainwaring
Officer Dibble please

I will, yes. And I think someone like Martin O'Neill will do a smashing job, because he doesn't know how not to.

He'd need to cut out the dead wood, which at Liverpool would leave about two, er, trees.

But I think O'Neill is the favourite. I can see him being tempted by the old reviving a great club yarn.

Now then, somebody who has chosen not to leave a name says: I presume this is some sort of joke, expecting England to win Euro 2004.

You can get annoyed at this if you like, but reaching the quarters would be a good result for a team with maybe three class players.

Well, what about 1966? Moore, Banks, Charlton and a striker who wasn't a great player but hit a bit of form. Three world class players is probably all you need.

Anyway, I don't really think they're going to win it, course I don't. I just believe.

I never thought Boro were going to win a trophy in my lifetime but I believed and after years of blind faith stumbling around in the dark, you wake up and you've won summat.

France are the best team in the world, but they didn't last long in Japan. Tournament begins, va-va voom and out.

Steven Gerrard and David Beckham
England's midfield generals

So to this mystery correspondent I say believe, you tired old cynic, and summat might happen.

OK, if France's forwards click then we're all in trouble, but England are all right - we've probably got the best midfield in the competition. Believe, sisters and brothers, believe!

OK, now Claire in the UK says: Robbo - do you think London should host the 2012 Olympics and more importantly, do you think it will be chosen ahead of Paris and Madrid?

Well it won't be chosen ahead of Paris - you can just feel it in your bones, can't you?

Anyway, it shouldn't be held in London - it should be held in Middlesbrough.

Don't be daft!

Course it should. How long is it since they've had an excuse to build something nice up here? With the amount of waste space we've got you could build something right smart.

But no, they've found another cack field in Essex to build on - what a surprise. How many bloody buildings do you lot need down there?

Listen, this is the capital city mate.

Of course it is - the capital of England that's as far away as you can get from anywhere else.

It's closer to Europe for starters.

Exactly - which is a good enough reason to move it to Middlesbrough. It makes me cross. No wonder we're so chuffed with the Angel of the North - it's the only decent thing that's been erected up here for 40 years.

The Angel of the North
The north's finest erection

Well, me wife could tell you about something else, but I'm not going to go down that road.

The other thing about the Angel of the North, is that it was rusting before they put the damn thing up - that's how much they care.

Be a shame if Britain don't get the Games, though. The British workmen could show the Greeks a thing or two about how to lean on a shovel. If you think the Greeks are slack, you just wait!

Now, in response your end-of-season football round-up we've had loads and loads of Portsmouth fans up in arms about you labelling Alexei Smertin their 'daft apeth'. They reckon he's been their second best player behind Yakubu.

They're also not happy about you saying Wolves had the best fans, when they clearly believe it was them.

Pompey fans have been basking in the fact that they had a good laugh when they got thrashed 5-0 by Arsenal.

Some of your lot also create havoc every time you play Southampton, so I wouldn't call you all a bunch of saints. In fact, I certainly wouldn't call you that because it could get me into all sorts of trouble.

Portsmouth fans
Stay up, Pompey!

But you're having a laugh if you think that one game in which you show a bit of spirit in the face of adversity makes you the top fans. Wolves have been like that all season!

To be fair, I think the Portsmouth fans have been like that all season too.

All right, you might have a point, but what I'm trying to say is Wolves have been doomed from day one, whereas Pompey had a good start, then struggled a bit.

I'm not knocking them too much, they're a good side and they're welcome up at our place any time, but I think the Wolves fans have shown fantastic spirit in the face of what was bound to be disaster.

And what about Smertin? Do you take that back?

No. I just don't like him. I'm sure he's useful - he's one of those five-yard passing men isn't he? Keeps things ticking over. Ex-footballers would describe him as a "valuable cog".

Boro will probably sign him and I'll see the error of me ways as he leads us to a Uefa Cup place next season.

Dream on, Robbo!

Finally, Ivan Taylor in the UK says: I believe that at the start of the season Robbo predicted Villa would be relegated.

I believe I did.

In view of the fact that we finished sixth and only just missed out on Europe due to goal difference, perhaps he should keep his predictions to himself in future!

Perhaps I should. But hand on heart, Ivan, when you read my prediction I bet you didn't think "no chance". I bet you thought maybe.

Terry Wogan
Eurovision - doncha just love it?

I haven't met a Villa fan yet who isn't walking around in a slight daze. And don't get your hopes up too much, because who finished sixth and seventh last season? Blackburn and Everton - I rest my case.

Right, Robbo, that's all we've got time for. Have a great weekend.

And you.

I'm off to Istanbul for a few days, but I'll be back in time to speak to you next week.

Well you enjoy yourself. I enjoyed the sights and sounds of Istanbul on the Eurovision Song Contest. It looks a splendid place. I just hope they're not playing the same music they had on Saturday night. It makes me quite ill just thinking about it.

Hope not! See you then, Robbo.

Ta-ta, son.

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Derek 'Robbo' Robson
"They'll end up with Officer Dibble at this rate"


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