THE World Cup finals ‘kicked off’ a month early this week, when Samir Nasri’s exclusion from the France squad prompted a potty-mouthed Twitter rant by his girlfriend.
Anara Atanes wasted no time in letting France manager Didier Deschamps know what she felt about her beau’s exclusion.
This being a family newspaper, I don’t propose to quote her outburst here. Suffice to say, it was pithy and to the point, and if I were Samir I wouldn’t be putting a circle around future international dates on my Manchester City calendar for a while.
Let’s just sum it up by saying that Atanes’ tweets – she issued a second re-emphasising her thoughts, not long after the first – have become sufficiently infamous for Deschamps’ detractors to add an extra initial to his name in future, when they want to get a a dig in.
So, in a style like that of FBI founder J Edgar Hoover and Great Gatsby author F Scott Fitzgerald, he is likely to be known in some quarters from now on as F Didier Deschamps, especially when France go crashing out of the tournament amid internal acrimony – remember South Africa 2010?
Apparently Deschamps left Nasri, a Premier League winner with City this season, out of his squad due to his attitude, particularly because he allegedly sulks when left on the substitute’s bench.
Now I am no football insider, but if I were a hugely talented and ambitious player, I would be miffed if I were left on the bench, and if I were the manager, I would be pleased that the player was not happy, as it would demonstrate that they care, and are likely to do everything they can to get into the starting XI.
Nasri attempted to soothe Atanes’ ire by issuing a carefully worded tweet, basically about having to accept and deal with the occasional unfairness of life.
He then announced he was going on holiday. Not hoping for a late call-up in the event of a squad member’s injury then?
All of this of course, served to distract a little from the announcement of, and subsequent picking over of, Roy Hodgson’s England squad, a line-up from which a vital extra member – inspiration – is sadly absent.
As expected it contains teenage Southampton defender Luke Shaw, a young man who has been referred to as a Rolls Royce so often by salivating pundits, I have begun to suspect that he is fitted with a top of the range V12 engine.
Look hard enough and there is some exciting talent among the other 22 names, but any team going out onto the pitches of Brazil in a few weeks’ time in the name of England is not going to have the top opposing nations quaking in their boots.
If I were as financially well-rewarded as Samir Nasri, and had the luxury of a few weeks off before pre-season training begins, I might be following his lead and warming my toes on a faraway beach for the duration of the tournament.
Alas, I must remain on these shores, and so will attempt to dredge up some enthusiasm for Brazil 2014.
Wish me luck.
ACCORDING to the new National Diet and Nutrition Survey, fewer than one in 10 teenagers and less than one third of adults aged under 65 eats five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
Only 10 per cent of 11-18 year-old boys, and seven per cent of girls in the same age range eat five portions a day.
The survey also found that children as young as four eat too much sugar, with an average 15 per cent of their calorie intake coming from added sugar.
While it must be emphasised that the survey analyses yearly figures from just 500 children and 500 adults, it contains enough checks, balances and weightings to give a good idea of the general picture of consumption.
It is also another set of damning statistics that provide an occasion for experts to pronounce gravely that we must begin to make changes to our diets before we all turn into blobs and die - or something like that.
But this is a difficult issue for many families. Food prices are a barrier, for many, while increasingly busy lifestyles mean their is often less time for preparing fresh and healthy meals. Add to that the rise of fast food and prepared meals, and the temptation of a short cut to a full belly that they bring, and it is little wonder that five-a-day is so far off for the vast majority.
And then there is the issue of simply not liking fruit and vegetables. My eldest is by and large a five-a-day fruit and veg teenager, but his younger brother is, to put it mildly, a nightmare.
Grudgingly, he will eat a portion of carrots, if it is put before him in a meal, and occasionally an apple if it is put in his schoolbag. But to return to an earlier theme, England are more likely to win the World Cup than him eat any other fruit or veg.
Some expert opinion of course, suggests that five portions a day is not enough, that it should be seven or more, and in Japan the recommended number is far higher.
But whatever is the right level, clearly in the UK, we have a long way to go.