Andrei’s cultured foot, and other fairy tales

Gather round, children, and I will tell you some Just So Stories for these confusing times.

Rafa went into the Anfield stadium, which, of course, is easy to find, thanks to the sign saying "This is Anfield". But he was looking for something else, something more precise. He walked down corridors (some of which he had not been to since he arrived in June 2004) into the Boot Room. He never liked it here because of the smell and the tales of Bill and Bob, Joe and Roy, which he was fed up with hearing. He had a look behind the Shankly statue, just in case, and checked the museum, the club store and even went out on to the pitch, but no, there was no sign of it. It was clear he now had to face up to what everyone was saying. Benítez had lost the dressing room.

Alex went first to B&Q to get some top-class South American hardwood, then to a builders' merchant for Portuguese steel and some eastern European wrought iron. At home, he got Cathy to help him while he sawed and cut, hammered and soldered, for he had not forgotten those skills he had acquired all those years ago as an apprentice toolmaker in that Clydeside shipyard. Then he took it out into the garden to admire his creation, the best he had made since 1986, solid and reliable, excellent quality all round, sourced from all corners of the world. He glowed with pride and satisfaction. Fergie had now got a very strong bench.

Mark was working in his office for the first few hours, so it was only later in the morning that he went into the dressing room at Carrington. He could hardly believe the sight before his eyes. It had been a strange season so far, with unprecedented riches coming his way, but this was bizarre. As the players came out of the shower, and stood there naked, they started to swell up, to spread out and expand, billowing up to the ceiling, as if they might float away, but fortunately they had pegs in each corner, securing them to the floor. It had all come true. Mark Hughes had made some marquee signings.

Cristiano loved swimming as a little boy growing up in Madeira, especially off the wild beaches of Porto Santo where his parents used to take him on the ferry, telling him tales of how Christopher Columbus once lived there. He would take his Snorkel and flippers and, later on, when he was more adept, his oxygen mask, to explore the depths, plunging straight into areas crowded with fierce sharks and killer rays, evading the tentacles, just to see what he might secure. When he grew up and moved to mainland Europe, it proved invaluable experience. Ronaldo was an excellent diver.

Andrei had a strange experience while still very young in Leningrad. In a horrific car accident, he lost a limb. Because of his innate and exceptional talent, he was still taken on, aged seven, by Zenit St Petersburg's academy, zooming through the ranks. Meanwhile, his limb had been taken in by a middle-class family in Moscow who sent it to the best schools, surrounded it with books, took it on holiday to foreign parts, to all the galleries and the Bolshoi Ballet. Then, wonder of wonders, Andrei was reunited with his missing limb in time for his move to Arsenal, where the whole world exclaimed: "Andrei Arshavin has a very cultured right foot!"