Mathematically-minded football coaches have long studied, or employed someone cleverer than them to study, sabermetrics, the analysis of baseball through obscure statistics, in the hope of using those skills to uncover a killer statistic that they could apply to their own sport and use to romp to world-thrashing glory. Could there really be a hitherto-unknown reason why some teams do well while others fail, why some managers succeed while others flop, and while some players perform brilliantly ever week while others play for Aston Villa? Many considered it impossible, believing that football is less suited to such analysis than more stop-start pastimes such as baseball. But others did not give up hope, prodding about in the darkest recesses of the game in a bid to find a secret golden ticket to success.
And perhaps they have succeeded. Consider this: in 1972 Rangers appointed John "Jock" Wallace as manager, and within a year he had won the first of nine major trophies with the Scottish giants. Back in 1991 Leeds United signed both Raymond "Ray" Wallace and Rodney "Rod" Wallace on a single balmy May afternoon and, boosted by the sudden injection of Wallaceness, duly romped away with the league title the following season. It even worked with Ross Wallace, who won a Scottish title with Celtic in 2006 even if neither Preston nor Burnley appear to have particularly benefited from his presence on the left flank in recent years. So credit must go to Chelsea for being the first club to notice this, and making a swift and decisive move to massively improve their own Wallace quotient, cross their fingers and start organising an open-top bus tour. The first of these three steps to heaven will be the signing of 18-year-old Fluminense right-back Wallace "Wallace" Oliveira dos Santos. "The negotiations are very advanced and the signature is almost certain," trilled his agent. As, indeed, is success.
Also at Chelsea, the defender David Luiz has encouraged the club to spend big to bring Falcao from Atlético Madrid, where he has been idling in obscurity since his 1986 No1 smash Rock Me Amadeus. "He would fit in perfectly," said the bepermed centre-half.
Back to Aston Villa, whose £7m striker Christian Benteke has spoken adoringly of his attachment to the English club of his dreams. Thing is, it's not Aston Villa. "Arsenal are the club I love," he said. "I'm not afraid of making enemies at Villa by saying I love Arsenal. One can say worse things." What's more, Aston Villa's Shay Given has spoken adoringly of his attachment to the club of his dreams. Thing is, it's not Aston Villa either. "I would love to play for Celtic," he said. Tottenham's pricey bench-warmer Hugo Lloris has spoken adoringly of his attachment to the club of his dreams. "I really like this club," he said.
Manchester United's Patrice Evra is conveniently unsettling Manchester City's Mario Balotelli by telling the world: "Mario really misses Italy. I don't know if he will stay in Manchester because he wants to return to his country. I'm not his agent – I am only telling you how he feels." Thanks Patrice, very kind of you.
England goalkeeper news now, and full details of Joe Hart's extremely impolite mid-match habits have been made public, after the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported that the crowd at Wednesday's friendly against England "was so quiet you could even hear when Joe Hart farted at the start of the second half". Meanwhile Blackburn's former international shot-stopper Paul Robinson has been fined £1,000 and given six points for driving at 93mph in Beamsley, North Yorkshire. Talking of harsh punishments, Ray Winstone has come up with a novel motivating tactic for the nation's underperforming stars, suggesting that they "should all be shot".
In Friday's tabloid news sections, meanwhile, the pregnant partner of the Newcastle defender Danny Simpson has blasted X Factor judge Tulisa after the N-Dubz singer enjoyed a series of secret (as in, featured in every single paper whose readers know what Tulisa is) trysts. "She's a home-wrecker and has destroyed my family," she lashed in the Sun. "I asked him if he slept with her but he said no it was just food," she told the Mirror. "As far as I know they were in love," lambasted her grandmother.
And finally the Rumour Mill's pick of the most explosive stories from the front sections: it has been revealed that the Department of Health has spent £1,352,556.33 on tea, coffee and biscuits since the last general election. That's enough to buy approximately 2.8m packets of Tesco bourbon creams, enough to give one to every man, woman and child in Wales, or a couple of biscuits to every human in London. It's a lot of biscuits.