Villa ParkLast season, when Newcastle still had lumbering thug Andy Carroll playing up front, it would have made perfect sense for Aston Villa to make a new signing who was good in the air to combat the aerial threat offered by teams like the Magpies.

Sadly, Carroll is now stinking up Liverpool’s strike force – which means BBM’s laboured attempt to misguide you, dear reader, with clever wordplay sounds more stretched than usual, even by our low standards. Bear with us and it’ll all become clear. Probably.

Villa Park groundsman Jonathan Calderwood has taken the unusual step of bringing in a hawk to scare off pesky magpies who have been tearing up the turf for no good reason.

“The worst problem you could have is with crows who cause major problems with the grass roots,” said groundskeeper Willie. “But over the last few months we’ve had problems with magpies trying their luck with our pitch. They are not after food, like crows, but they are inquisitive creatures and dig holes in the turf which isn’t great.”

Sounds like he might be getting them confused with hobbits. Have Villa signed Tony Cottee recently?

“I think they are attracted to the ultra-violet light machines that we use through the week,” added Calderwood. “They perch on them and then swoop down on to the pitch.”

He may have a point as they certainly aren’t attracted by the standard of football on offer at Villa Park. It’s also no coincidence that the magpies started to arrive just after Emile Heskey left the training field – as the number of close-range shots that were booted high into the sky by the lumbering striker must have acted as a real deterrent for passing birds.

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