KEITH NEWBERY Few signs of a thaw in cold war of football

Television and professional football have an odd relationship.

Both parties benefit, yet it is based almost entirely on mutual resentment and mistrust.

The inter-dependence is so strong it resembles that which existed between Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin at the Yalta conference in 1945.

These World War II allies of convenience had gathered in the Crimea, ostensibly to discuss Europe’s post-war reorganisation.

In reality they were there to shaft each other unashamedly and ensure their respective nations gained most from the carnage which had gone before.

At the moment football in general – and the top clubs in particular – have become accustomed to the obscene amounts of money pumped into the sport by Sky.

But the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs will drop Murdoch and his millions without a moment’s hesitation when they eventually come up with a foolproof method of cutting out the middle-man and selling their matches direct to the fans.

In the meantime the present, uneasy relationship will continue to bump along; an uncomfortable mix of faux bonhomie and festering suspicion.

It was exemplified this week when Sir Alex Ferguson graciously decided to talk to the BBC again after a seven-year silence which went unnoticed by most and was greatly approved of by the rest of us.

His surly observations have never added a single scintilla to my enjoyment of a Manchester United match, though I confess to a little chuckle at his comeback performance on Match of the Day.

He presented himself at 45 degrees to the camera, as if he had just been interrupted on a dash to the lavatory and wanted to resume his journey as quickly as possible.

At least Ferguson has a reasonable command of English, which is more than can be said of some of the former players who think punditry is easy and then proceed to prove how difficult it really is.

The latest to commit grievous bodily harm on the mother tongue was Tony Cascarino, who proved as clumsy with a microphone to his mouth as he was with a ball at his feet.

He said of one Arsenal defender who was undergoing a particularly torrid time: “He’s having a holocaust...”

Like many former professional footballers, Cascarino is insensitive, illiterate and ill-equipped to talk for a living.

* Shock revelations from the old gang

Students of politics and human nature are bracing themselves to reel back in a state of shock and horror.

They’ve heard that Alistair Darling has written a book in which he ‘reveals’ that Gordon Brown was ‘brutal, volcanic and duplicitous.’

This follows on from other recent publications which have labelled our former prime minister as bad-tempered, moody and ruthless.

I think we’re beginning to get the message.

No doubt future tomes will reliably inform us Ed Balls is uncouth and aggressive, Peter Mandelson is slimy and manipulative and John Prescott is muddle-headed and inarticulate.

It would appear New Labour is as unimaginative and predictable in its death throes as it ever was while in office.