Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “The situation has not affected Carlos at all. He is a fantastic little player and he knows I want him to stay. I had another chat with him today about it and David Gill also had some more meetings today and I’m sure it has progressed further. The situation has never changed. The problem is we are not negotiating with a football club. The terms we have offered Carlos are very good, so we’ll see.” – Sir Alex Ferguson.
Runner-up: “It is true David Gill came to see Mr Joorabchian and they had a cordial meeting. It is categorically untrue that Manchester United made an offer to try to persuade Carlos Tevez to stay at the club. In 2007 Manchester United agreed a two-year loan deal for Carlos Tevez and at the same time agreed the terms that would make the transfer permanent. They have not taken up that option.” – a spokesman for Kia Joorabchian, Carlos Tevez’s agent.
Today’s overview: After seeing Manchester United come from 1-down to win at Wigan, the hacks are all clamouring for the man of the moment – Carlos Tevez.
The praise is uniform, Kevin McCarra penning “Tevez’s introduction changed the complexion of the game. It was as if a switch had been flicked.” Andy Hunter is also in no-doubt about the Argentine’s impact at the JJB, shouting “make no mistake about it, the ÂPremier League leaders were threatening to extend yet another reprieve to Liverpool in this fine title race when Tevez replaced Anderson in the 58th minute.” And the praise continues. Oliver Kay salutes how “Carlos Tevez shook them out of their sorry state and brought a third successive Premier League title to within touching distance.”
Bill Egdar is more universal in his applause of United, flagging up the team’s ability to win matches late on. “It was the eighth time in their past 22 league games that Sir Alex Fergusonâ€™s side have moved ahead in the final quarter… each time that it has seemed Unitedâ€™s blip might turn into something more serious, they have engineered an exhilarating finish.”
On the issue of Carlos Tevez’s future, Matt Hughes contests the assumption that the Argentine is desperate to stay at Old Trafford. “Even if Tevezâ€™s registration was more orthodox, it is by no means certain that he would agree to stay at United… [due to] his grievances at being overlooked for many big matches this season, particularly in the Champions League.” Sam Wallace also suggests that any deal is a way off, saying the statement (see the “Runner-up” quote of the day) from the Tevez camp last night “suggested that United are still a long way from agreeing a transfer fee for Tevez as well as a new contract for the player.”
Taking a step back to view how the title was (virtually) won by Manchester United, Daniel Taylor comments how “Liverpool’s advantage has been lost, however, by their inferior record against the bottom 12 teams, dropping 13 points against Middlesbrough, Hull, Stoke (twice), Wigan and Manchester City.”
24 hours after Steven Gerrard was announced as the Football Writers’ player of the year, and the backlash has begun. It all leaves one wondering who actually voted for Gerrard!
Henry Winter expressed his surprise writing “at the end of a day when Liverpoolâ€™s captain, Steven Gerrard, was inexplicably voted Footballer of the Year, Manchester United showed why they are the team of the year.” While, somewhat patronisingly, Kevin McCarra (who plumped for Vidic to win the award) labelled Steven Gerrard “a prudent choice” before muttering “the quibble would be that Gerrard has not dominated the entire programme.” While Matt Lawton farts “Rooney has emerged as the outstanding player of the season, for his country as well as his club.”
On Gerrard’s absences this season, and offering one of the few defences of Gerrard’s prize, Ian Herbert flips the argument on its head. “Gerrard’s contribution is the more remarkable for this. The injuries have limited his starts to 40 this season, so he has just had to pack the goals in that much faster.” Joining the support choir, Harry Redknapp gushes over the Reds captain. “Iâ€™m delighted he has been voted Footballer of the Year by the Football Writersâ€™ Association – the guys who sit in freezing Press boxes all season long and watch the best we have on parade in front of them. Steven thoroughly deserves it.”
Others try to tackle how Gerrard actually won, with the consensus opinion being one of “default.” According to Mark Odgen, “Gerrard has won this year’s award by default, on the basis that Manchester United’s raft of candidates split the vote to allow Gerrard to claim the prize?” A similiar conslusion was reached by Jason Burt saying “because United have not only had an outstanding season, but have been the outstanding team, then their collective brilliance has overshadowed any individual. And this is a team sport. Gerrard would therefore reason, as he stares at the prospect of not winning a trophy, that he has won by default.”
Arsenal hold their AGM tonight, and Jeremy Wilson writes that “Alisher Usmanov [is] ready to suggest that Stan Kroenke and other major shareholders join him in making a commitment to tackle the company’s Â£318 million debt.”van Gazidis conceded yesterday that the board is not happy with finishing fourth in the Barclays Premier League… Gazidisâ€™s intention was to reiterate the boardâ€™s support for the manager, which remains rock solid, but some of his comments could have the opposite effect.” Looking at how Arsenal intend to turn their fortunes around,
Looking at the issue of sobriety after the Ledley King arrest earlier in the week, Marina Hyde gets angry over the relationship between football and alcohol. “A Merseyside derby might see Everton in their Chang-sponsored shirts meet Liverpool in their Carlsberg ones, perhaps in a Carling Cup tie. Man of the match would be presented with a bottle of champagne… The faintly inconsistent message appears to be that footballers can be used to flog as much alcohol as possible to us, but heaven forbid they should go anywhere near a drop.”
In other news, Marcela Mora y Araujo reviews the new Maradona movie. “The political Maradona, I fear, is full of contradiction and equating his football to anti-imperialist messages diminishes the complexity of the man himself.”
With just weeks left of the season, agents are clearly working overtime to get their so-called talents in the shop window.
In a classic article to demonstrate that point, Mikey Stafford writes with one hand how “Xabi Alonso will not leave Anfield this summer” before coming in from the left with rumours of how “Real Madrid and Arsenal are said to be keen on signing the 27-year-old, and the Spain international has also been linked with a move to with Manchester City.” The Independent also carries a couple of other examples, with one article titled “Ronaldinho’s agent admits player may leave Milan” and a second piece headlined “Saviola to leave Real Madrid says agent.”
The main tabloid lie of the day is circulated by Martin Lipman. “Didier Drogba will leave Chelsea this summer and Arsenalâ€™s Emmanuel Adebayor is favourite to replace him. Carlo Ancelotti, who has given a verbal undertaking to Roman Abramovich that he will leave AC Milan for Chelsea, has named Adebayor as the man he wants to replace Drogba.” And that is not the only signing already made by Ancelotti this Thursday, Ian McGarry delving into the nether regions of his imagination to claim “Carlo Ancelotti has identified Ashley Young as the player to spark his Chelsea revolution.”
The Guardian report how champions-elect “Manchester United are close to signing the Brazilian teenager Dodo in a Â£5m deal.” And more recruits are on their way to Old Trafford with Martin Blackburn announcing that United “are favourites to beat Liverpool in the Â£20million race for Wigan winger Antonio Valencia.”
Other speculative stories begin with Christopher Davies’ claim that “Andriy Shevchenko is being offered a chance to revive his playing career by moving back to his old club Dynamo Kiev.” Neil Ashton invents the story that “Harry Redknapp is planning to beat Manchester City to the signature of Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz this summer,” with a suggestion that Darren Bent could move to Rovers as part of the deal. The Santa Cruz deal is hijacked though according to The Sun, with the Blackburn striker’s perference apparantly being “a move to Manchester City or Liverpool this summer.” And finally Alan Nixon, who takes it for granted that Shearer will continue at the Toon, writes “Newcastle boss Alan Shearer wants Wigan’s Paul Scharner as one of his big signings for next season.”