The blind - and some say dead - pianist Ray Charles has signed terms with Manchester United.
Mr Charles, 294, added his name to a thousand-year contract yesterday, at the Moss Side home of manager Sir Alex Ferguson. The United supremo said he was "delighted to have a keyboards player of Ray's experience in the side. We have a busy schedule coming up, including a billion FA Cup semi-finals, and Ray may well be included in the starting line-up for any of them, depending upon whether or not he miraculously regains his sight. He saw the club physio on Friday - well, he didn't actually see him - and, if the attempted reincarnation goes according to plan, he'll be wearing a United strip against Brentford Nylons in the European Cup Final. Glessach aye m'chreeks, m'boab".
Football pundits have expressed concern recently over the lack of musical ability in United's defence. Currently, only accordion-player and goalkeeper Ludwig Van Caroli is match fit, with both vocalist Randolpho and full back Zimbabwe out of action due to stage fright. Of the midfield, Tornado and Volcano are injured, and centre-forward Polio is asleep on the couch. Only Onlio gets the all-clear.
Alan Shearer, tipped by some to replace Kevin Fagin at Newcastle, said: "Like, Ray's got a pianna, y'knaa? It gans aalreet anarl, like. Nee sauce on mine, like, aanly vinegar". Vice-sub-under-manager Terry McDermatologist O'Hair added: "The best fans in the world... drone... hotbed of soccer... bore... Sir John's big plans... coma..."
If all goes well, Charles will lead out the Newcastle team for the match against Bontempi Organs on Saturday. The Organs haven't lost a home match since 1969, when they were beaten 3-2 by The Joe Loss Orchestra. Loss himself was sent off during that game for ungentlemanly conduct, when he played the saxophone while a penalty was being taken.