Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: I must admit I have a little trouble understanding northerners. When we talk about football, the vocabulary is fairly limited. But when we get away from that it becomes more difficult… I won’t sing the national anthem because I feel it is wrong to sing another country’s anthem. I do get goosebumps when I hear it, though.” – Fabio Capello.
Runner-up: “Financially the club’s last offer is fine but that is not everything to me. It’s about my ambitions and how they can be fulfilled in the coming years. Arsenal have promised me they will do everything possible to make that extra step to a level where we win prizes on a regular basis. In the last four years I have only had one prize, the FA Cup, and that’s not enough.” – Robin van Persie.
Today’s overview: There is a sense of anticipation and expectancy in the air this Saturday as the Premier League is gearing up see what Andrei Arshavin and Guus Hiddink bring to the English game.
Salivating, Jamie Jackson gears up for Andrei Arshavin’s Premier League debut against Sunderland. “At 3pm, or possibly a little later, today we will start finding out how successfully Arshavin will be integrated into the Arsenal set-up… the Frenchman hinting that the Russian will operate on the left with Samir Nasri on the right, a combination that “looks good”. reat things are expected from Arshavin” before highlighting the fear that “Arshavin may be too lightweight to succeed in the Premier League.”
Support that the Russian will prosper at the Emirates is offered by Jeremy Wilson. “Having previously brought out the best in Marc Overmars, Freddie Ljungberg and Robert Pires, Wenger appears to have earmarked Arshavin for a wide position within what could be an extremely offensive 4-4-2 formation.”
Jason Burt argues that Guus Hiddink could well become Chelsea’s long-term manager. “After having worked to get him through the door into Stamford Bridge, [Abramovich] will not easily see him exit.” Neil Ashton concurs penning “[Hiddink] insists he is at Chelsea for the short-term, although every man and his dog is aware that the Dutchman will extend his stay if this â€˜no loseâ€™ situation turns into a success story.”
For Matt Hughes, the Dutchman finds himself in a win-win situation at Chelsea. “If he is successful… there will be such a clamour for him to be appointed permanently that even Abramovich… If he fails, he can return to Moscow for a quiet life to steer Russia to next yearâ€™s World Cup finals in South Africa. As Hiddink acknowledged yesterday, his position is as close to bulletproof as it gets.”
The Daily Express’ Bill Bradshaw however disagrees with his fellow hacks, reporting that “Chelsea are poised to move for former Stamford Bridge favourites Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke.”
Alan Gardner reports on the trinkets of information offered by Roy Keane as to why he left the Stadium of Lights, particularly “a change in the board’s stance towards him after the Irish-American Short had taken a majority stake in the club in September.” And staying with the Black Cats, keeper Martin Fulop tells Rob Stewart the story of how his dad appeared in the legendary football film Escape to Victory – “My father, Ferenc, played as centre forward for the baddies’ the Nazi team against the PoW side in a German prison camp but I have had to forgive him for that. Some people might say it was the best football team that has ever been assembled because it had Bobby Moore, Pele and Ossie Ardiles in the line-up but they had a rubbish goalkeeper in Sylvester Stallone and my dad scored twice in a 4-4 draw.”
On Manchester United, David Lacey evaluates how good this current side really is. “This is probably Ferguson’s best equipped squad to date, better even than the early 90s when the wand of youth conjured up a crop of gold. But the greatest Manchester United team ever? Only results will tell and at the moment they are merely promising great things.” Ferguson could reflect on having been blessed by the presence of some of the most loyal yet inspirational players that he could ever wish to have found.”
Carlos Tevez’s future and contract negotiations are again raised in the backpages. According to Oliver Kay, “the impasse over his transfer negotiations [is] leaving him to ponder the offers that his advisers are expecting from Chelsea, Manchester City, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.” But the definitive article appears in the Daily Mail, with Tevez speaking exclusively to Matt Lawton – “This season I have been benched and I find that hard to understand when I am not playing badly. I realise another player has arrived and I realise that this is why I am sometimes not in the team. But I have not been dropped because I have done anything wrong and that is what is difficult.”
Des Kelly rips into Mark Hughes’ job at Eastlands. “Hughes’ side have won none – that’s zero – games from a losing position; have kept the lowest number of clean sheets away from home, have only won one match away in the league this season and claimed no victories in 10 on the road, losing six. That’s ugly.”
In the Saturday interviews Andy Hunter tracks down Sam Allardyce (“It seems foreign coaches are still all the craze for the top jobs and that is a great shame”), Matt Hughes hears out Claudio Ranieri ahead of his return to Chelsea in the Champions League, and Sam Wallace sits down with Nemanja Vidic (“First of all I need to be a defender. Thatâ€™s the way I look at football.”).
Dropping into the Championship, Neil Warnock examines how financial clout affect English’s second highest division. “Money talks at all levels of football, not just in the Premier League.”
In other news, Tom Dart writes about his experience in trying to buy 2010 World Cup tickets online (a bee entered my office through the chimney and kept banging its head against the window. I could empathise.), while n less than a year, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has raised in excess of Â£1.2 million for cancer-related projects under the NHS banner.”