Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “The [Arsenal] board has informed us they are confident that they have adequate financial resources to support the manager to strengthen the squad, to weather the property downturn, to renegotiate the Highbury Square loan on good terms and to deal with the continuing difficult economic conditions. We do not share their view, though are prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt for the moment.” – a statement from Alisher Usmanovâ€™s company, Red and White Holdings.
Runner-up: “Of course the club can pay Â£80m for me. Or more. I think Iâ€™m worth more. Everyone says ‘no’ but I say ‘yes.’ Somebody will have to evaluate me.” – Cristiano Ronaldo.
Today’s overview: John Terry will not be signing for Manchester City, yet in one last hurrah, the papers squeeze the last drops out of the story.
The Daily Mail stir the pot of controversy with Matt Lawton barfing out the claim that “right now Chelsea are no more certain about Terry’s intentions than the player is that Chelsea really are committed to keeping him.”
Jason Burt continues to hint that John Terry’s head could be turned by cash. “Chelsea feel there are no grounds to renegotiate that contract, despite Terry being offered far more money by City, but the club may enter talks if it is what he demands… Terry is understood to be interested, to some extent, in City’s offer but is also torn because of his loyalty to Chelsea.” In a supplementary article, Jason Burt wonders whether “Umbro hold the key to Manchester Cityâ€™s attempts to sign Chelsea’s John Terry?… [Umbro, Manchester City’s new kit-maker] would be delighted to lure Terry from Chelsea whose supplier is Adidas.”
Sam Wallace also believes there is still an outside chance that John Terry could move to City, but argues that money is the central factor in play. “The England captain’s restlessness is not just about the money on offer from City â€“ although that undoubtedly plays a part â€“ but also the ambition that Abramovich is prepared to show in buying the kind of players who can seriously challenge again for the Premier League and Champions League.”
Jamie Jackson, who tries to suggest that JT may still move to Eastlands, nevertheless declared “if Terry goes on the record to confirm his desire to continue at Chelsea, that may, for the time being, be the end of the matter.” Others, like Nick Szczepanik, are already convinced the deal is dead bleating “if Terry has anything to say about Cityâ€™s interest, it is likely to be to thank Ancelotti for his declaration on Monday that his role as Chelsea captain is secure for the duration of his career. Terry is understood to have communicated his satisfaction with the managerâ€™s stance.”
Staying with the Citizens, in a throwaway line in the Independent we learn that “Barcelona have offered Carlos Puyol to Manchester City, who are not interested.” Yet a far more sensational Manchester City-Barcelona link is trumpeted by Danny Fullbrook in the Star, with the hack blubbering “Barcelona will sanction Samuel Etoâ€™oâ€™s move to Manchester City to raise the Â£40m needed to try and lure Cesc Fabregas… [Barca are] happy to accept Cityâ€™s Â£25m offer for the Cameroon striker then move swiftly for Arsenal star Fabregas.”
It may not be a new signing, but Liverpool fans will be ecstatic this Thursday. As explained by Andy Hunter, “Steven Gerrard has taken another step towards ending his career as a one-club man after last night putting pen to paper on a new four-year contract with Liverpool.”
Arsenal, their lack of spending, and potential rift in the boardroom are once again a hot topic this Thursday. Nick Szczepanik investigates how “the split among Arsenalâ€™s main shareholders widened last night after Alisher Usmanov cast doubt on the clubâ€™s ability to deliver sufficient money for the team to challenge for honours… [Usmanov] may attempt to gain fan support if the team begin badly next season. The Russian is unhappy at not being appointed to the board, as Kroenke was last year, and suspects that the American may be receiving preferential treatment.”
The big transfer news in The Times is that “Portsmouth were considering their response last night to Sunderlandâ€™s bid of about Â£11 million for Peter Crouch.” The Black Cats’ recruitment drive stretches further with the Daily Mail printing “Steve Bruce, who signed [Lee] Cattermole for Wigan in a Â£3.5m deal a year ago, is prepared to offer his old club Â£5m for the England Under 21 midfielder.” And the spending doesn’t stop there as The Sun farts “Sunderland will bid Â£2.5million for AWOL Middlesbrough star Mido.”
On the way out of the Stadium of Light, Alan Nixon reports “Blackburn Rovers boss Sam Allardyce is ready to swoop for Sunderland’s giant hit man Kenwyne Jones – if his pal Steve Bruce lands his big-money targets.”
Middlesbrough look set to have their assets stripped from the club sooner rather than later.
Louise Taylor reports that “Aston Villa have contacted Middlesbrough to discuss a possible double deal for Tuncay Sanli and Stewart Downing… The Teesside club want around Â£20m for the pair.” Elsewhere, John Edwards pens that “Adam Johnson is expected to join the exodus from Middlesbrough after emerging as a surprise target for Chelsea.”
Other transfer stories include The Sun’s article that “Spurs are plotting a Â£3million bid for Sheffield United whizkid Kyle Walker,” David McDonnell seemingly invents the story that “Sir Alex Ferguson is weighing up a move for Inter Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic,” and Alan Nixon writes that “Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is planning a Â£2.5million swoop for Crystal Palace kid Victor Moses.”
The most romantic transfer news story of the day is reported by Steve Wilson, who looks at how Ikechi Anya, “a player once deemed to be surplus to requirements at Wycombe,” yesterday signed a two year contract with Sevilla. “Anya was rescued from non-league obscurity and the need for a part-time job to supplement his income from the game by Glenn Hoddle, whose eponymous Academy in southern Spain opened its doors last summer with the aim of giving young players released by mainly Premier League and Championship clubs a second chance.”
The Telegraph’s Rory Smith tries to help out Premier League clubs looking for new recruits by listing 50 alternative European transfer targets.
Its a wonderful day to be a Southampton fan as the Saints have been bought by a new sugar-daddy who is set to turn around the fortune of the South Coasters. Ian Herbert excitedly blabbers “though [Markus] Liebherr’s arrival will not presage an Abramovich-style spending spree on the south coast, he will not be remote from the club and an ownership resembling Randy Lerner’s at Aston Villa is expected â€“ a remarkable turnaround for a club on the brink of going out of business over the summer and in administration when he arrived.”
In other news, ESPN are slowly becoming one of Europe’s sports’ broadcasting powerhouses according toESPN has won the rights to broadcast 46 Premier League football matches in Ireland next season… ESPN has already won the rights previously held by Setanta to broadcast the same 46 Premier League games in the UK… The news comes a day after ESPN announced it would launch a new channel in the UK to show its football coverage.”
Finally, a brilliant article on Romanian football, Jonathan Wilson tells the story of how Gica Popescu was recruited by the secret police during his time at Steaua Bucharest. “Recruiting Popescu was far from the Securitate’s only involvement in football. It funded Dinamo Bucharest and spent much of the 80s fighting a losing battle to end the domination of Steaua, who had the clout of the army behind them. It bugged Steaua’s offices, for instance, throughout the 80s.”