Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I did a bit of research for the penalties. We tried to find out everything we could about Spurs beforehand and, just before the shoot-out, I was looking at a video on an iPod with Eric Steele, our goalkeeping coach, and Edwin. It’s a new innovation he’s brought in since coming to the club and on it were some of Tottenham’s penalties, including one from O’Hara. I was told that, if he was taking one, to stay as big as I can. Edwin hasn’t got a bad record with penalties and he just told me to be as intimidating as possible. I stood up for as long as I could, and it is great it worked out for me.” – Ben Foster.
Runner-up: “We were not that confident with our penalty takers really and you looked over there and they had very confident penalty takers, I thought we were super, fantastic. It was a great performance and it came down to a lottery. We didnâ€™t deserve to lose… It was a poor penalty for a player [David Bentley] who can strike a ball as well as he can.” – Harry Redknapp.
Today’s overview: Showing their age, many journalists get their knickers in a twist this Monday after technology infiltrated the Carling Cup final with Manchester United watching a video on an iPod of Spurs’ penalty-takers just before the spot-kick was played out.
Matt Dickinson, reacting to the iPod-watching, is quick to credit United’s goalkeeping coach Eric Steele for “a level of research and preparation that deserved to be rewarded with the Carling Cup, particularly with Spurs understood not to have practised spot-kicks… The evidence had been presented on video only seconds earlier and, sure enough, Oâ€™Hara put the ball exactly where Foster had been shown that he would. Give a medal to that man Steele.” Jason Burt followed this up by adding “as a revelation, the use of the device is a marketing man’s dream and yet another innovation for the iPod generation. It also guaranteed Foster’s status as United’s hero.”
Daniel Taylor focused on Ben Foster claiming his performance “laid a marker for his future with Manchester United and England.” A downbeat Kevin Garside looked to deflate any hype surrounding yesterday’s final arguing “even the shoot-out lacked drama courtesy of a fine save from Ben Foster.” And Sam Wallace also observed how “there was not a lot else by which to remember this 120 minutes of football which is probably why the Sky cameras were often drawn to the collection of United players whom Ferguson had not even chosen in his squad.”
Others look at the bigger picture for the Red Devils. For Oliver Kay, “nobody at Old Trafford seems sure if United are on course for a quadruple, a quintuple or a sextuple â€” depending on whether the Community Shield and the Club World Cup, already under lock and key, are regarded as trophies or mere baubles â€” but what is certain is that Sir Alex Fergusonâ€™s players have the winning habit, lusting after silver so desperately their victory seemed inevitable.” Henry Winter echoes the same sentiment through a lager metaphor.Â “The Carling Cup may appear small beer when set against Unitedâ€™s intoxication with more celebrated chalices, notably the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup, but there was an undeniable thirst for victory here. Unitedâ€™s DNA ensures they give everything in every game. Fergusonâ€™s men wanted to lift this trophy, and keep the momentum going. One down, three to go. Sunday was all about Carling, Foster and dreams of a four-pack.”
Alan Hansen speculates over SAF’s future at Old Trafford. “Either he goes leaving United in a very strong position, or he thinks in the back of his mind that he has got them into this position, so why should he not take advantage of it?”
It is left to Martin Samuel to pick up the Spurs angle, with the Daily Mail writer ripping into the Lilywhites. “After this result, however, money and the lure of London are the only cards in Tottenhamâ€™s deck. No Europe, no progress and two seasons spent fighting relegation have taken a toll on their standing… There have been too many changes of direction, too many managers, too many people directing football â€” and directing it into a dead end, mainly.”
Liverpool are the subject of attention for Oliver Kay, who will likely upset many Merseysiders claiming “the reality is that Liverpool are just about punching their weight on the pitch while falling dramatically short in all other departments.” Michael Walker sticks the boot into Benitez writing “Keane going, Kuyt on his own, these felt like miscalculations and four years and nine months since his appointment, Benitez must examine his squad and still find it unbalanced.”
According to Stan Collymore, “apart from Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard, there is very little creativity, imagination and guile in Liverpool’s team – and they are just too darn negative.” And Sam Wallace completes the negativity pointing out “no-one is entirely sure what Benitez’s ideal scenario is at Liverpool, other than that it would involve him making all the decisions.”
ou could schedule the replays for large grounds in cities with good transport links. Give something back to the fans. If Chelsea play Juventus, about 60,000 supporters will get to see the tie over the two legs, but if there is a play-off and you hold it at the Stade de France, you will be able to pack 80,000 fans in there on a single night. Sure, it would take some logistical gumption. You would need to â€œpre-bookâ€ certain venues and you would need a modicum of organisation, but the benefits are obvious: another chance to witness the clash, another big match on television and, most of all, another opportunity to settle the tie without recurring to weird artifices such as away goals or penalty kicks.”
Taking his usual position as the Guardian’s lead media-watcher, Martin Kelner rejoices in a series of classic 1960s docu-dramas which remind of us a time when footballers’ lives were poorer but wiser. “The film followed the young stars of a hugely talented Swindon team, like Ernie Hunt and Don Rogers, and offered a unique opportunity to see a young Mike Summerbee â€” then called Mick â€” in a newsagent shop buying a bag of sweets for sevenpence.”
In other news, Auslan Cramb reports on efforts to urge the FA to introduce a “mercy rule” in youth football that would result in games being stopped if a team opens up a nine-goal lead. Chris Irvine blows the lid on TV Chef Gordon Ramsay’s claims to have played first-team football for Glasgow Rangers, with historians and former players at the club claiming this to be a lie.
Lastly, Paul Hayward has an in-depth interview with Chelsea striker Didier Drogba to find out what’s really happening at Stamford Bridge . Drogba: “I said it before, yes, I consider leaving, but this season my real problem was to be fit again, because last year I struggled, I was playing on one leg. What created this situation was what happened against Burnley [in November Chelsea lost on penalties in the League Cup]. I threw this coin back into the crowd and a big mess was created around me. I know I made a mistake and I apologise – it was stupid. Also, because Nicolas Anelka was scoring. I was quiet. I was concentrating on my knee. I can’t stay at home or not train. I can’t create a shit atmosphere in the squad. Most of the time the reason is not the other people, it’s you. It is up to me to do my best for the team and for the fans.”