All in the Game: Damien Duff has his caffeinated backup plan

The biggest of honours in Sweden; A Buxton lesson in holiday planning

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“I’ll happily be a barista. I’m half way through my course, so, if it doesn’t work out you might see me in a coffee shop.”

New Shelbourne gaffer Damien Duff on his alternative career plans if things don’t go well.

Number: 1

The number of shots on target Manchester United had on Saturday - half the number they had on their own goal, one of which Eric Bailly put in his own net.

Hot Dog Janne

Sweden have had a very useful start to their World Cup qualifying campaign, a 2-1 win over Spain in Stockholm back in September helping them hold on to top spot in their group ahead of games away to Georgia and the Spanish in the week ahead.

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Even if they were to win those two games, though, all but guaranteeing a ticket for Qatar, it’s doubtful that it would make manager Janne Andersson any prouder than he was last week after being honoured in his homeland.

“I am moved, it feels fantastic,” he said after being saluted by, well, Sweden’s Sausage Academy “for his lifelong love of hot dogs and his masterful PR for sausages”.

Andersson is indeed devoted to hot dogs, and has a superstition about needing to have one before every game. He’s been a manager since 1988, so that’s a lot of hot dogs. “Considering how many I have eaten over the years, I can say that I am a good representative of the sausage,” he said, “but I never expected that I would get this nice prize.”

Among the many gifts that will be presented to him is a statue of a glass sausage on a fork, designed by artist Kjell Engman. Even if Sweden win the World Cup, you suspect Janne will prize his sausage trophy even more.

Word of Mouth

“When you’re at Manchester City, you realise nobody will help you.”

Pep Guardiola - but this was before City met Manchester United’s defence.

“If you’re asking me if I sleep well, yes, I sleep well. I still play well at golf. My wife is still talking to me so, if that answers your question, then yeah, I feel fine.”

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith. And then he was fired, so he’ll probably sleep even more soundly.

More Word of Mouth

“Was just in a lovely little vegan cafe in the west end and saw Greta Thunberg. So surprised by firstly how tall she was, and secondly she didn’t have any security with her at all. But then as I got closer to her I realised it wasn’t actually her.”

Grim and all was that news about Cillian Sheridan’s ruptured Achilles tendon, which is likely to end his season with Dundee, at least he’ll have more time to tweet his quite unique day-to-day experiences.

“I don’t think I will get married again, but maybe in five, ten years’ time, when I’m old and need my nappies changing, I will change my mind.”

Gary Lineker, romantic auld divil.

Holiday Woes

There’s been no shortage of gaffer sackings across the water the last few days, but one of the more surprising came at non-league Buxton, the club parting company with their managerial team of Gary Hayward and Mark Ward despite a 20 game unbeaten run since the start of the season. And just days before their first FA Cup game since 1962.

The problem? Ward was going on holiday so would miss the FA Cup game.

“I had a holiday booked with other families that’s been moved a number of times and had to be used by the end of the year or we would have lost a lot of money. After the last 18 months of a global pandemic and loads of sh*t this was the only chance we could all go. Unfortunately it’s fallen on a big weekend for the club …. however I’m still going to put my family first.”

Quite why the club also bid adieu to Hayward wasn’t clear, unless he had his bucket and spade packed too. Either way, the players seemed to get over the shock quite quickly - they beat York City on Saturday and, if they’re not on holidays, will be playing in the second round of the Cup.