Back to the Future: Ruud van Nistelrooy (Blackburn) & Patrick Vieira (Birmingham) are linked with Premier League returns

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “The sort of salary that Ruud would be on at Real Madrid may be beyond us, but if he wants to play in England again and take less of a salary, then we’d be interested. There’s no doubt it would be of interest to me and I would want to talk to him. It would be a major coup if I could pull it off. I did that a few years ago with Nicolas Anelka at Bolton. His goals took us up to the next level, but it’s what it did to the rest of the players as well as what he did on the pitch. Who’d have thought Bolton would get Nicolas Anelka? Nobody did, but I went out and did it. It was the same with Okocha, Djorkaeff and Fernando Hierro and it would be nice to do it with a Van Nistelrooy figure at Blackburn. Michael [Owen] is an exceptionally good player, but I just question the injury scenario. If he picked up the injuries he did at Newcastle, I couldn’t afford that.”I need a striker who is going to be available for 30 games next season. That’s not happened for Michael over the last four years at Newcastle.” – Sam Allardyce.

Runner-up: “In my second year, after the match against Liverpool, the coach [Ferguson] started to overlook me. The fans supported me a lot so I thought that something was going on as my performances were also good. I was a professional. I did not feel supported after they signed Berbatov, because I was the man for the job he was bought to do. Last year I was the second top scorer after Cristiano [Ronaldo]. We won two titles [the Premier League and the Carling Cup] and being shut out like this was something that I could not understand. They did not ask me to sign the contract. Ferguson told me not to be worried about Berbatov’s arrival, but I did not like it when he started to put me on the bench often. I gave my life for the Manchester United shirt.” – Carlos Tevez.

Today’s overview: If anybody thought that this summer was a black hole for football fans, the Young Lions success in reaching the U21 European Championships final after a thrilling match with Sweden has manged to whip up national pride in Blighty.

Adopting a panoramic assessment of the defeat of Sweden, a matter for celebration… that England have reached their first final in a quarter of a century, at under-21 or senior level, and the emphasis that Pearce has placed on practising penalties has paid off.” By contrast, Henry Winter appeared caught between euphoria and genuine shock by the achievements of the Young Lions. “Miracles do happen. England have won a shoot-out – the first since Euro 96. England have reached a final – the first for the Under-21s since 1984. Crack open the bubbly, organise the street parties and pass the smelling salts.”

Extrapolating the Young Lions achievements to their maximum, David Hytner makes the case of a new mentality in English football. “Pearce has stated that the team is here to win and anything less would not be worth celebrating. That is not in his mentality. But England’s clearance of what has proved a psychological hurdle in the past has created a feel good factor and Pearce hopes that the ripples will be felt at all levels of the national set-up.”

With the Confederations Cup almost at its end Gabriele Marcotti claims that “the biggest threat to the current Brazil side might actually be a return to form of the big names: Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Adriano. If they start performing again, will Dunga be able to say “no” to public pressure? And, if he can’t, will he find a rational way to integrate them into the side?”

What is wrong with Portsmouth? Why is everything that much harder for the South Coasters? The latest disappointing news for Pompey fans, as reported by Jeremy Wilson, is that “the prospect of Portsmouth being left in limbo until the beginning of next season has been raised after it emerged that the Premier League intends to use corporate intelligence services to analyse the detail of Sulaiman Al Fahim’s proposed takeover.”

Liverpool fans will be dismayed when picking up The Times this Saturday, Tony Evans headlining his article “Xabi Alonso appears ready to leave Liverpool. Liverpool placed a £35 million valuation on Xabi Alonso last night after the Spain midfield player said his goodbyes to some members of the club’s staff. However, Real Madrid, with whom the player has been linked, have not yet made an official offer.”

The Daily Mail lives up to its tabloid reputation this Saturday with a host of non-stories and lies delivered by a faceless group of hacks too scared to have their names associated with the rag.

First off, a no-name piece in the Daily Mail manages to deliver no fresh news in the Manchester United-Real Madrid battle for Karim Benzema’s signature. However the non-article does manege to gain attention when we learn “the ironic problem for Real though is that they don’t want to go above £25m as they have earmarked cash for other targets.” That’s what we call crazy irony!

Keeping in the Mail, Graham Hall cons readers into reading his article thanks to the sexy headline “Birmingham make bold move to sign ex-Arsenal skipper Vieira from Inter.” Seems tasty until Hall reveals in his second sentence “City held talks with Vieira’s representatives but the Frenchman was not keen on a switch to the Midlands.”

The Mail also manage to side-step Big Sam’s quote of the day to claim “Blackburn are weighing up a move for France striker Andre-Pierre Gignac. The 23-year-old from Toulouse, top scorer in France last season, is valued at about £10m.” Elsewhere the Mail barfs that “Besiktas are lining up a triple raid on the Premier League for Roman Pavlyuchenko, Yossi Benayoun and Louis Saha,” while the Daily Mail publishes yet another nameless piece that claims “Everton are moving closer to finalising a £6million deal for Rennes midfielder Stephane Mbia.”

In the Independent’s “Transfer Talk” article we learn that “Newcastle’s Peter Lovenkrands is hopeful of a move to their local rivals Sunderland… [while] Djibril Cisse has joined Panathinaikos for a reputed €8m (£6.8m) fee… [and] Brazil midfielder Felipe Melo will not be leaving Fiorentina according to the player’s spokesperson, dashing Arsenal’s hopes of signing the 25 year-old.”

One of the longest non-transfer sagas in the history of the Premier League raises its ugly head again this Saturday as Rob Stewart farts “Middlesbrough have paved the way for Tottenham target Stewart Downing to leave Teesside by making former Spurs winger Mark Yeates their first summer signing.” However, according to yet another faceless article in the Daily Mail, “Tottenham have made a £6m offer for Inter Milan’s Nigerian star Victor Obinna… meanwhile, Atletico Madrid management are attempting to convince Maxi Rodriguez to accept an offer from Tottenham.”

On the flipside at White Hart Lane, Alan Nixon splashes in the Daily Mirror that “Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is demanding a staggering £18million for Darren Bent. New Sunderland boss Steve Bruce wants to make the striker his first signing at The Stadium of Light… One player definitely leaving is midfielder Tom Huddlestone, after Spurs accepted three bids of £8.5m for the England Under-21 star. Everton, Sunderland and Aston Villa are the sides chasing Huddlestone, who was frustrated at losing his first-team place.”

Onto the rest of the rumours, where according to Brendan Abbott “Fulham are eyeing up a £5million bid for Middlesbrough forward Tuncay Sanli.” The Mirror link the Cottagers with Manchester City striker Jo, while Pat Sheenan spills the beans that “Martin O’Neill is considering a shock move to sign Sol Campbell on a free.”

Finally, Marcela Mora y Araujo delivers an excellent article investigating how the gangs are ruining Argentinian football in the Guardian. “Football violence has been glamorised, celebrated, displayed and judged – but not stopped. In the conundrum “Is it football? Is it society?” everyone has an excuse to distance themselves. Football reflects society. This does not mean what happens in football is above the laws and values of society. We should all, as citizens and fans, see it as our problem. The death of one man affects us all.”