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Associated hype reaches even higher than the Canaries


Norwich manager Alex Neil knows what a challenge awaits in the Barclays Premier League following promotion

Norwich manager Alex Neil knows what a challenge awaits in the Barclays Premier League following promotion

Norwich manager Alex Neil knows what a challenge awaits in the Barclays Premier League following promotion

Sky presenter Simon Thomas stood on the Wembley turf as a camera swooped down on him from above to welcome us all to the King Midas Cup Final on Monday afternoon.

"It quite simply doesn't get any bigger than this," he began as all watching instantly started to compile a list of football matches that are much bigger than the battle to become third in the Second Division.

"After today there will be no second chances, no sharing of the spoils, we will have a winner and we will, of course, have a loser," he added. So, unlike any other final then?

What we did have though was Harry Redknapp in the studio with former Brentford boss Mark Warburton and former Everton winger and part-time gymnast, Peter Beagrie, but who would be head over heels at Wembley?

This is just one of the clichés you can use in Redknapp Bingo, a game where you can pick out a few phrases such as 'at the end of the day' or 'he's a good lad', although Harry's dog may be looking after the prizes.

There's plenty of life in old bulldog 'Arry though, who gave us his philosophical thoughts ahead of Middlesbrough and Norwich City battling it out in the 'insert vastly inflated made-up sum of cash here' match to reach the Premier League.

"The older you get the quicker time goes, unfortunately," said the wise one, before a less wise call from a man made to make a call.

"I can't call it. Normally I have a strong opinion on one team or the other but it wouldn't surprise me if it went all the way, 90 minutes, extra-time, whatever," he clarified.

The bingo started well with a pop at foreign managers in that "you don't have to go abroad to find good managers", which was good news for Norwich's Alex Neil but not so great for Boro's Aitor Karanka, and City captain Russell Martin described as "a real good sort" and Gary O'Neil "a great lad, if he comes on he'll work his socks off".

The Canaries scored twice 'early doors' to wrap things up meaning Norwich Bingo could start in earnest with obligatory shots of Delia Smith celebrating, who was on the pitch at the end praising non-foreign manager Neil.

"He inspires me, never mind the players and I'm 74," said Delia, with Sky returning to dodgy ground with Thomas risking the wrath of feminists the world over by saying "I think we all agree chaps, not looking bad for 74".

Thankfully, post-feminist 'Arry was on hand to smooth things over.

"No, she looks quite fit, she must eat the right food."

Thomas then asked the question we all wanted to know, would the two managers on leave be back soon, 'Arry leaping to the defence of Warburton.

"To do the job he's done and suddenly be out of work is beyond belief," he argued.

"What about yourself, Harry?" pressed Thomas.

"That's not so much beyond belief," chortled 'Arry and we left with Norwich over the moon and Boro as sick as, well, not canaries.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

THE GOOD: Sky’s Mark Robson, the Ulsterman who made it furthest in the PRO12 this season, had a blinder in the semi-final between Munster and Ospreys talking about Dan Lydiate. “He’s made more chops than my local butcher. That’s my effort for pun of the month,” he said. Unlike Ulster, who made a pig’s ear out of it and couldn’t bring home the bacon. Those are my efforts.

THE BAD: The minx that is Gary Lineker cruelly teasing Alan Shearer, a man begging to be teased cruelly, on Match of the Day about Newcastle’s survival. “John Carver, it has been difficult, but he’s managed to keep them up, tell us what that must feel like. Actually, you’d have no idea, would you?” Harsh, but fair. And funny.

THE NOT MARTY MORRISSEY: Poor old Joe Brolly incurring the wrath of sensitive souls across the land by describing Cavan’s footballing style as “ugly as Marty Morrissey”. The RTE commentator is no oil painting I grant you, but Joe, like my good self, is more Arm than Brad Pitt, and he’s a bit like Cavan football now too, best to come in the back door at RTE.

Belfast Telegraph