Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day:Â “I think all the other teams have spent a lot of money in the past. I don’t mean 15 years ago but in the last one, two or three years. It is not important for me (what Ferguson says). But I repeat that Manchester United, like Manchester City, have spent a lot of money in the past.” – Roberto Mancini.
Runner-up:Â “It didn’t take too much selling by the boss when you see the players who are already here. The last thing he said to me was ‘be ready to win the Premier League’. That’s my ultimate aim – that’s why I’m here.” – James Milner.
(Former) Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston tells it like it is: “The more I speak to other people at other clubs, the more I realise I am a lone voice. I’m not sure I have the right approach to be in this division. Everyone else seems to subscribe to the way business seems to be conducted and it is a way I find unacceptable. I don’t think any deal should be about the agent. It should be about the player, about giving them a platform to perform under a wonderful manager on one of world’s best stages. There was some support for things I did and said in the Championship but there doesn’t seem to be any in this division. Agents are sometimes denying their clients that chance and, from a long-term perspective, it can’t be a good decision for a player to forego the chance to play in the Premier League under a manager like Ian Holloway.”
Today’s overview: It is a real mixed bag this Thursday morning with the teams playing in the Europa League this evening under scrutiny.
The most intriguing angle on Manchester Cityâ€™s match against FC Timisoara is, as reported in The Sun, â€œFC Timisoara’s stars are on Â£82,000 a man to dump Manchester City out of the Europa League.â€ On Liverpool there are more developments over Kenny Huang and speculation that Javier Mascherano may stay at Anfield.
There is a fair amount of transfer gossip, much of it centring around Neymar and Mark Fleming has an excellent piece on “Who would want to be a young star at Chelsea?”
And there are also features on Blackburnâ€™s likely new owner Ahsan Ali Syed, Craig Bellamy arriving at Cardiff and a new article by Jonathan Wilson on “What is a playmaker’s role in the modern game?”
Manchester City: Colin Young previews tonight’s game. “There is a buzz about City that is spreading across the globe. Adam Johnson would have recognised such a difficult surface from his days in the Teesside league and Carlos Tevez would have called it a luxury when he was a kid. But the barren and uneven surface looks a challenge to any player. Across the car park, around 100 spectators, and only a handful wearing the familiar blue of City, had gathered to see manager Roberto Mancini emerge on a balmy night to lead his players into the neat stadium which was completed just 10 years ago and holds just over 30,000.”
David McDonnell totals up Manchester City’s spending now James Milner has signed. “Milnerâ€™s arrival from Aston Villa, in a Â£26million package that saw Stephen Ireland go the other way, sent Cityâ€™s total lay-out under mega-rich owner Sheikh Mansour through the Â£1billion barrier. The extraordinary spree, described by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson this week as Â’kamikaze’, offered conclusive proof – if any more were needed – of Cityâ€™s relentless drive to become the biggest name in the game.”
Martin Blackburn reports on how City’s Europa League opponents are preparing for tonight’s game. “FC Timisoara’s stars are on Â£82,000 a man to dump Manchester City out of the Europa League. The Romanian side are backed by oil magnate Marian Iancu. And ahead of tonight’s play-off first-leg he said: “My team will play for more money than the Manchester City players. “‘Some can get to Â£82,000 if they help us beat them – they are ready to play the match of their lives.'”
Liverpool: Andy Hunter reports “Kenny Huang, the Chinese businessman attempting to buy Liverpool, is believed to be growing frustrated at the lack of progress in his attempt to gain control of the club from Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Huang is one of several interested parties who submitted an offer for Liverpool ahead of last Friday’s deadline, and the Anfield board is now verifying proof of funding and identifying its preferred bidder. The board will then determine who purchases the club from Hicks and Gillett on a majority vote.”
John Edwards reports on Javier Mascherano’s future at Anfield. “The genial smile was never far away, but mention of Javier Mascherano’s future brought a sharp reminder that Roy Hodgson is not to be trifled with in his role as Liverpool manager. Mascherano received a firm promise 12 months ago that he would be allowed to leave this summer, provided he knuckled down last season, and is now pressing Liverpool to keep their word. But if he goes, says Hodgson, it will be on the club’s terms, not the player’s.”
Brian Moore wonders about Jamie Carragher’s recent fulsome praise for Joe Cole. “Really? Has Cole ascended to stand atop the steps to Olympus? No doubt the faithful will explain away the alleged deification as a slip of the tongue in an unguarded moment, but whilst nothing essential turns on the choice of the word ‘Godâ€™, it is nevertheless interesting that it is used to describe what is, after all, merely the transfer of a footballer and his residence in the city for which he now plays. It is actually a good example, among many others, of the importance which footballers attach to their standing in todayâ€™s society; the lack of media comment an example of how this sort of rubbish is abided.”
Blackpool: Harry Redknapp forgets to mention Young Boys and instead bigs up Ian Holloway. “Ollie is one of those down-to-earth people I love. He tells it like it is, in fact just like the fans on the terrace see it most of the time. He doesn’t have to put on an act, he doesn’t have airs and graces. But what he does have is a really good knowledge of the game and what it takes to win matches. Holloway doesn’t need me to spell out the size of the task facing him this season. And, if he manages to pull off what will be a great escape, Ollie will definitely be getting my vote as the season’s best manager.”
Dan Francis reports “Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston has stepped down, on the same day the club agreed to pay a club record Â£1million for Bournemouth striker Brett Pitman. Oyston, who had put a Â£500,000 ceiling on transfers, quit the job he had held since 1999, but will stay on as acting chief executive until a new chairman is appointed.”
Transfer gossip: The Sun reveal West BromÂ have bid Â£3million for FC Twente’s Ivory Coast midfielder Check Tiote, Mark Hughes has not stopped spending after bringing in Moussa Dembele and Spurs look like missing out on Loic Remy. The Scottish Sun reveals Rangers will sign Vladimir Weiss on loan from Manchester City.
The Guardian claim Chelsea will improve their bid for Neymar, Arsenal are after Sebastien SquillaciÂ and Shay Given may go on loan to Fulham. The Daily Mirror run with Tottenham closing in on William Gallas. In the foreign papers, Zlatan Ibrahimovic could still move to AC Milan and Werder Bremen are after Hatem Ben Arfa.
Neymar to Chelsea: Sam Wallace adds on Neymar, “Chelsea’s attempts to pull off their marquee signing of the summer with the Brazilian teenager Neymar hit an impasse yesterday when the player’s club Santos offered to make him their highest-paid player and refused to consider any offer less than their â‚¬35m (Â£29m) valuation. The negotiations to sign Neymar have reached the stage where Chelsea officials are considering withdrawing to pursue alternative targets or risk being forced to pay way beyond what they consider reasonable for an 18-year-old. The Santos president, Luis Alvaro Oliveira, has briefed the Brazilian media that the player’s price is non-negotiable and he will not budge.”
With Chelsea pursuing Neymar, Mark Fleming asks “Who would want to be a young star at Chelsea?” “Whether Neymar signs for Chelsea or not, this is a key season in the development of the Premier League champions. For the past few months they have been making much of their current crop of young players, such as GaÃ«l Kakuta, Jeffrey Bruma and Patrick van Aanholt, and of how they are all going to get their chance this season. But until that happens, and one of the youngsters from their expensively assembled academy goes on to claim a regular starting place, they will continue to be dogged by their dismal record in promoting young talent.”
Blackburn: Ahsan Ali Syed tells Jamie Jackson what he will do at Blackburn should he take over. “Champions League football, Premier League titles â€“ even the most optimistic of Blackburn Rovers supporters must find the ambitions of the club’s prospective new owner outlandish. Yet Ahsan Ali Syed, the Indian businessman based in Bahrain who is proposing a Â£300m takeover of one of the league’s least fashionable concerns, is bullish regarding his vision for the 1995 champions.”
The Daily Mail add “Indian tycoon Ahsan Ali Syed wants to bring Beckham to Blackburn when he buys the club. The Bahrain-based millionaire is a huge Beckham fan and will promise the former England skipper a massive pay day to end his career at Ewood Park. He said: ‘I was 26 when I started following the Premier League. I used to like Blackburn back then and also used to follow Manchester Unitedâ€™s fortunes because of David Beckham. ‘If my finances allow and his intentions are positive then I would love to take Beckham.'”
Craig Bellamy:Â Louise Taylor defends Craig Bellamy. “With the possible exception of David Beckham, few British footballers arouse more powerful emotions. Were CS Lewis still around to redraft the Chronicles of Narnia as a 21stâ€‘century football fantasy, Becks and Bellers would surely serve as evocative symbols of good and evil. Or perhaps not. Beckham may have Princes William and Harry as well as politicians of all persuasions crowding in his corner, he may have helped win us the Olympics and look like helping secure the 2018 World Cup, yet Bellamy is a wonderful role model too.”
Phil Cadden reports on Bellamy’s arrival at his home town club. “Cardiff ‘s shock capture of Craig Bellamy on loan from Manchester City has given them an immediate boost of nearly Â£500,000. Within three hours the club shop sold 3,000 ‘Bellamy 39’ replica shirts before they ran out of ‘Ys’ and ‘9s’ – so fans bought shirts with ‘Bellam 3’.”
Features: Paul Wilson defends Spurs’ performance at Young Boys, arguing Harry Redknapp’s side should not have had to play on a synthetic surface. “It cannot be acceptable that after their most successful season in decades, when they have finally reached the promised land of the Champions League, or at least the foothills below the sunny plateau, they suddenly find themselves faced with the dreaded plastic pitch. Not because plastic is unplayable but because it is different. If Redknapp really had to rest Ledley King and Aaron Lennon because he thought the surface would be too punishing, then Young Boys were at an unfair advantage.”
Dominic Fifield backs Crystal Palace’s move for Edgar Davids. “Any tip picked up by Alassane N’Diaye, the 20-year-old Frenchman who is the nearest thing Palace have to a defensive midfielder, would surely aid his development. Davids could be as much an educator as an enforcer. For now, it remains to be seen whether initial discussions lead to a short-term deal. The reality is that Davids has been ‘close’ to returning to English football before, with Leicester and Portsmouth mooted as potential destinations last season. Yet, should they pull it off, Palace may yet have a coup on their hands.”
Jonathan Wilson: The thinking man’s journalist asks “What is a playmaker’s role in the modern game?” “I’m in Argentina at the moment and here the question seems facile. The playmaker is the enganche, the hook, the No10, the player who operates behind the front two in the 4-3-1-2 or the 3-4-1-2 that around half the teams still favour. So revered is the position that Boca Juniors have just agreed to pay Juan RomÃ¡n Riquelme $5m over the next four years â€“ including half his tax â€“ despite the fact that he is 32 and increasingly suffers injury problems.”