He was Beck's best man, but Gary is still the weakest link

I was looking for some football, live or dead, highlights or lowlights, on any channel, anywhere on the globe. I wasn't fussed. Spanish football is about the best to watch at present, and I do like that Spanish bloke in the studio - Guillem Balague, I think he's called. His English is so good and his clothes so bad. On English TV, the experts dress up for the studio, often in very expensive flash clothes that strobe so much you have to put on sun specs. But Guillam (as it seems to be pronounced) dresses from Oxfam.

No luck, though. I was just about to switch off and do some work instead when I came across this quiz programme called The Weakest Link. Very easy to come across, quiz programmes. If it's not cookery, it's bleeding quizzes. You can't miss them.

I remember Anne Robinson when she was young and on the Sunday Times. They always had a silly young girl reporter who got sent on silly young girl reporter stories: oh, you know, dress up like a schoolgirl or a nun or Ann Widdecombe and ask for the morning-after pill in ten chemists' shops. The middle-aged male executives loved these girl reporters, gave them a big show in the paper. Much to the jealousy of the silly young boy reporters. We had to do boring stories about who might be the next Bishop of Southwark which never got in the paper.

Tina Brown was later one of the silly girls. I thought she, too, would be a silly person doing silly stories for ever. Like Anne Robinson, she turned out to be a real, talented toughie. Playing a similar role today is Victoria Coren. She'll probably end up DG of the BBC.

I watched The Weakest Link - nothing else to do - and Anne Robinson's acting is brilliant, but then you have to be a good actor to be a TV presenter. I loved the music, the lighting effects, the revving-up of the atmosphere. But the title is stretching it a bit. In the end, they are all competing against each other, not working together. It would apply much better to football. All the players in a team have to work as a unit, and are only ever as strong as their weakest link. So, while watching our lads in Europe last week - and didn't they do well; let's hope they're still in Europe by the time you read this - I found myself looking out for the weakest link.

With Man Utd, I thought at the beginning of the season that it might be Silvestre. He made soft mistakes, gave the ball away, but he has since improved. Wes Brown, as the newest regular, could easily have been the weakest link, but he, too, has got better over the season. Barthez has been lucky, doing silly things that could have rebounded. His weaknesses have yet to be punished. Could Beckham be the weakest link? In one sense he is, because so much is expected of him. He demands the ball, often when others are in better positions. His free kicks have been poor recently. And he can be petty, giving away daft fouls when he loses the ball.

But we are here today to eliminate the weakest player in the Man Utd team, the one most likely to muck things up.

Gary - you are the weakest link.

"Then how come Fergie always picks me?" mutters Gary Neville, walking away, shaking his head. "You've always had it in for me, Hunt, just 'cos I was Becks's best man . . ."

In the Leeds Utd team, Darren Huckerby, who has never knowingly looked up while on the ball, was the weakest, but he has gone to Man City. Jason Wilcox, another winger, once quite sharp, who now staggers up his own exhaust, is usually a sub these days, having already been identified by O'Leary as a weak link. The point of this exercise is to look at the players who are consistently in the first team and decide who is weakest. A sure sign of the strength of Man Utd is that, after Gary Neville, I would find it hard to chuck out anyone else.

With Leeds, there's quite a choice. I wouldn't have Danny Mills in my Leeds team, as he contributes little, nor Michael Duberry, unless I wanted someone clattered. Viduka has become a weak link by being so inconsistent. So much is expected of him that he often disappoints. But he can keep his place, as he is always menacing. Nigel Martyn could become a weak link, despite his sterling work. He is keeping Paul Robinson out of the team - who I think would make Leeds stronger. Having considered these possibles, I have no hesitation.

Michael - you are the weakest link.

"You wanna fight?" scowls Duberry, lumbering away. "I'll see you after the show."

With Liverpool, you might expect McAllister to be a weak link, at his great age, but his role is to fill in for the weakest at any given moment. He doesn't let the team down, is never weaker than the weakest link. Westerveld is currently seen to be weak, but he's their best goalie.

I think I can guess who Gerard Houllier considers his weakest link, yet he was a first choice when he first came.

Christian - you are the weakest link.

"Gott in Himmel, Donner und Blitzen," shouts Ziege, "vy did I ever shave mein hair . . ."

In the Arsenal team, Luzhny is a lump, but he has not quite made it as a regular. Pires has, but is hardly worth his place so far. But it's another Frenchman I would give the heave to, because he is usually anonymous - except when giving away silly free kicks.

Giles - you are the weakest link.

"You're anti-French as well as anti-German," barks Grimandi, ringing his lawyer on his mobile as he leaves the studio. "Also, you can't spell. There's two L's in Gilles."

Now for Spurs. Oh no. If I start on their weak links, there won't be room for the classified ads . . .

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