Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “Wigan is a crappy place. The town is tiny and there is no atmosphere. I go into training, I return home, and that is all I do. When it snowed I felt like it was minus 15, and feared I was going to turn into an ice cube. It is rare to see truly beautiful girls when you go out during the day. But it’s a different story when you go out in the evening. The girls seem to cover themselves up all day, only to be in good-looking mode at night. In Madrid I had the impression that all the women were beautiful.” – Mohamed Diame.
Runner-up: “Should United be worried about us? I think so. In the past we have never given up. United are playing well and getting the right results, getting a bit of luck as well â€” maybe that will turn. We’ve still got to play them twice and if we can win both games then we’re right back in it.” – John Terry.
Politically correct quote of the day: “I’m all for women refereeing in football, discrimination should not happen in our game at all … prehistoric views if u think otherwise.” – Rio Ferdinand.
Today’s overview: Sian Massey, Andy Gray & Richard Keys, and sexism in football remain the hot topics this Tuesday.
While the swell of opinion calls for the Sky duo to be fired from their jobs, Julie Welsh (“Football is sexist, true, but only in the way almost all of life is”) and Henry Winter (“the Sky pair have unwittingly done womenâ€™s football a great service”) provide limited support for the pairing to be handed a reprieve.
Widening the discussion with a horrific piece of journalism, David Lister looks to blacken football’s name further regurgitating some undefined Sky gala dinner in which Matthew Le Tissier once supposedly made an anti-Semitic joke.
Moving on, Chelsea are right back in the title race. Or at least that’s what a glut of journalists try and argue after the Blues battered Bolton on Monday night.
Other op-eds include a discussion of how much Charlie Adam is really worth, while Ian Wright wonders if he’d have been a successful striker in today’s Premier League.
Finally in the transfers, Man United are trying to hijack the Chamberlain deal while Arsenal are linked with a defender.
Sian Massey’s Photos: Imagine if all your social network photos suddenly found themselves on the front and backpages of every national newspaper. That’s the crappy morning which Sian Massey is waking up to with the Daily Mail reproducing a glut of ‘sexy’ photos of Sian Massey on her MySpace page. (To be fair, most of the papers publish some of the photos too.)
Masseygate: Andy Gray and Richard Keys are still in a tailspin following their leaked sexist comments made concerning female linesman Sian Massey.
Nick Parker gassed the latest updates in The Sun. “It is understood Keys phoned Ms Massey last night to apologise to her for his off-air comments about her after he and Gray were were suspended for yesterday’s Bolton and Chelsea clash. Gray and Keys were last night locked in a bitter row over whether to make a public apology for the sexist comments. Campaigners and bosses urged them to say sorry on screen for comments made off air but later leaked by a mole. However sources said the pair – both watching last night’s Bolton v Chelsea match from home after being suspended by Sky Sports – reckon that would be an unnecessary humiliation over what were just private jokes.”
While The Sun stay on the fence over whether the duo will be fired, other seem to prepare the pair’s P45s.
The Mirror’s Mark Jefferies used football terminology to spout “they’ve already had the yellow card â€“ and last night it looked as if TV footie pundits Andy Gray and Richard Keys could end up getting a red… There are calls for them to be axed altogether after new footage emerged showing Gray making yet more sexist comments about pony-tailed lineswoman Sian Massey, 25, in the run-up to Saturdayâ€™s Wolves-Liverpool Premiership clash. In a latest clip released yesterday, Gray is heard discussing her with sports reporter Andy Burton on the pitch.”
Charles Sale and Laura Williamson join forces to bark “the positions of Sky Sports broadcasters Richard Keys and Andy Gray looked untenable as their own network made fresh revelations about their sexist conduct… The widespread furore against the self-styled kings of Sky Sports football shows no sign of abating.”
Laura Williamson then steps out on her own in an article headlined “Do me a favour, love… Sky duo’s attack was no joke.” “Deep down, they did not believe that Massey should have been on the same football stage as them. Didn’t seem to feel she was entitled. Would have been happier with her ironing shirts or making the sandwiches at half-time.”
A no-name piece in the Independent then attacks the off-air side of the story. “They’re right, of course â€“ all those who said that the sexist banter between Andy Gray and Richard Keys was actually more offensive for being “off-mic” than it would have been if it had been “on”. As with Baroness Warsi and her dinner-party test for anti-Muslim sentiment, so the off-mic test is a telling measure of inner prejudice.”
Next to slam down the formerly loved Sky twosome was Martin Samuel. “They are stuck in a world in which girls don’t know the offside rule, every altercation is ‘handbags’ and the first priority of a referee is to let the game flow and keep 11 versus 11. A common accusation on Monday was that Sky’s presenting team were dinosaurs. They’ll be disappointed with that, or rather their bosses will… The fact that Sky News were giving the story legs on Monday with fresh revelations suggests their enemies extend far beyond the sports department. From without, however, a sense of proportion is required. Antiquated opinions can be found in the commentary box, the Press box, the directors’ box and at odd points across every row in every stand. A lesson has been learned here. We could all do with thinking before we speak now and then.”
Citing the Big Ron incident, James Lawton is next to shout off with their heads. “Big Ron didn’t have his wrist slapped. He wasn’t stood down for a night. He was history… If Ron Atkinson was consigned to history Richard Keys and Andy Gray cannot complain if they have to spend rather longer than one night on the cusp of it. Sky should not have to be told this was no yellow-card offence â€“ and a one-match suspension simply will not do.”
Supporting Keys & Gray: Julie Welch steps away from the masses (and arguably her sisterhood) to offer a partial defence to Keys and Gray. “Hang on a minute! What are we talking about here? Two middle-aged men chuntering resentfully about women â€“ not exactly unprecedented, is it? Calling a black player a vile name and denigrating women are not the same sins. Football is sexist, true, but only in the way almost all of life is. To use an old-fashioned phrase, itâ€™s the battle of the sexes. After all, just think of how women talk about men when itâ€™s an all-female gathering. Not exactly showering them with praise, are they?… Women may grumble about glass ceilings and pay inequality, but men donâ€™t have such a great time of things either. Sport, and football in particular, is now one of the very few places where they feel at ease.”
While not going that far, Henry Winter argues that the byproduct of Masseygate will be positive for women in football. “Some good will come of this mess. Gray and Keys make an unlikely Emmaline and Christabel Pankhurst but the Sky pair have unwittingly done womenâ€™s football a great service. Far from damaging the ambitions of women in football, as many people naively claimed on Monday, the duoâ€™s recidivist perspective has opened up the game even more to the talented likes of Massey… The understandably negative reaction to the comments of Gray and Keys should be seen as hugely positive. Far from proving that English football is stuck in the dark ages, it revealed that the game has moved on, that Gray and Keys are the exception, not the rule.”
Airing Dirty Laundry: In perhaps one of the harshest, most stinging criticisms this Tuesday, David Lister drags up a completely unrelated incident to bash footballers as not only sexist but anti-semitic too. “Hearing both footballers and football commentators off-screen can be a shock to the system… [Matt Le Tissier] caused collective jaw-dropping [once saying] ‘I always enjoyed playing at White Hart Lane,’ mentioning the ground of Tottenham Hotspur, whose Jewish fans make up a large proportion of its support. ‘It was the only place where I felt I didn’t have a big nose.’ He was followed by Richard Keys, who gave one of the most witless and sexist speeches I have heard… Keys remarked that he had once glimpsed Cherie at a function. He grimaced, made noises of disgust and wondered aloud how on earth Blair could be attracted to her.”
Chelsea Aren’t Out Of It: Maybe it’s because it sells papers, and maybeÂ becauseÂ it’s true. Hacks across the paper divide try to convince readers that Chelsea are still in the title race.
Shaun Custis bleated “‘Chelsea are back,’ sang the visiting fans. They may well be right. It is a long haul for the current champions to make up the difference on leaders Manchester United, who are seven points ahead having played a game fewer. But the Blues still have to play United twice and victories in both games could yet give this topsy-turvy season an astonishing twist.”
Also jumping on the bandwagon was Martin Lipman. “Given lift-off by a long-range stunner from Didier Drogba, and breathing space by Florent Malouda, Chelsea picked their favourite ground to finally end their away-day toils and perhaps get themselves back into the title race.”
Injecting a more reason approach was Sam Wallace. “There have been false dawns before in the darkness of Chelsea’s decline of the last three months but nothing as encouraging as this, a four-goal victory over a Bolton side with a decent home record. And if Chelsea’s fans were looking for a sign that things really are looking up then Drogba’s brilliant opening goal was a reminder that, for all their problems, this side still has some formidable individuals.”
Henry Winter also paid lip-service to Chelsea’s revived title ambitions. “With Ramires finding the target for the first time for Chelsea, Michael Essien refinding form and work-permit forms submitted for David Luiz, the future looks rather more promising for Ancelottiâ€™s side. ‘Chelsea are back,’ chanted the visiting fans, who had braved the M6 and bitter conditions. They believe. Retaining the title remains a tall order, particularly with Manchester United looking unbeatable… But they have given themselves a chance, lifting their confidence levels by brutally brushing aside a surprisingly effete Bolton.”
Paul Wilson was next to chime in. “If Carlo Ancelotti really intends to win 13 of his last 16Â Premier LeagueÂ games, to keepÂ Chelsea in contention for the title, he is going to need Didier Drogba back to his best. He can only have been encouraged by the way his main striker set the tone for the first victory of the sequence here, putting his side in front with an unstoppable 30-yard shot that must rank as one of the best goals the Ivorian has everÂ scored.”
Heading off on a David LuizÂ tangent, Mark Fleming describes the defender’s attributes. “In many respects he is a classic Brazilian centre-half, someone who is happiest carrying the ball out of defence and sidestepping a couple of challenges before slipping the ball to a team-mate and jogging back to take up his place in the back line with the applause ringing in his ears.”
Charlie Adam: Someone should probably remind the Telegraph’s Thom Gibb that Cesc Fabregas has missed large chunks of the season with injury after the hack compared the Arsenal skipper with Blackpool’s sought-after talisman. “It should not go unnoticed that Adam has made more passes this year than even Cesc Fabregas, a hugely surprising fact given Arsenal’s love for intricate ball-weaving. That Adam’s pass completion rate has suffered is hardly surprising, given that Blackpool generally look to move the ball forward more quickly, which means Adam often looks for more ambitious – and risky – passes… Ultimately, while Adam may be worth Â£16m in the eyes of his likely seller Ian Holloway, his statistics suggest he’s worth a fraction of that to any superior side looking to buy him.”
A Wright Cock-Up: Begging the questioning who is Ian Wright talking too these days, the loudmouth talking-head today wastes his time telling readers that “strikers aren’t in vogue” and questioning the likes of Edin Dzeko. “I’m not sure I’d have been a regular in the Premier League had I been around now. I’m incredibly proud of my record yet out-and-out goalscorers no longer seem to be in vogue. Managers now appear to place as much importance on dropping deep and linking play as actually scoring… I was delighted [Bent] scored on his Villa debut – particularly as it was against Manchester City who have shelled out Â£27million for Edin Dzeko, a player untried in the Premier League. Maybe he will do well but it is still a gamble. Bent, meanwhile, has Premier League pedigree.”
The Transfers: As the final week ticks over, the liesÂ ratchet up.
The Sun kick things off flimsily claiming “Johan Crufff reckons Barcelona are ready to sell Â£25million-rated Dani Alves to Manchester City.” In other news West Ham have snapped up Demba Ba and Gary O’Neil, while Liverpool have had bids for Charlie Adam and Luis Suarez both rejected. The Currant Bun ends saying Manchester United are trying to hijack the Alex Chamberlain transfer saga.
The Daily Mail say Ryan Babel is on the verge of joining Hoffenheim, Real Madrid still want Emmanuel Adebayor, Birmingham’s Â£1.5m offer for striker Shola Ameobi has been rejected, while Rangers are eyeing Pompey’s HermannÂ Hreidarsson as Arsenal weigh up move for Madgid Bougherra.
Over in the Mirror we learn El Hadji Diouf is a West Ham target while Brazilian striker Roniele Gomes dos Santos is on Blackburn’s shopping list. The red-top also link Shaun Wright-Phillips with Bolton, Chelsea’s pursuit of David Luiz has hit (another) financial snag, Spurs still want Phil Neville, and Chelseaâ€™s Patrick van Aanholt may move to Leicester on loan.