Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “We live in a league now where the divers are rewarded. I don’t think the free-kick should have been given. It is not right, but it is like that. It’s down to the referee to do his job. But if you ask meÂ the question of whether Drogba dived, it means you have a doubt in your mind… I don’t believe we put in a bad performance today. That was never a 4â€“1 game… Going forward, we had a very Âinteresting game and created plenty of chances. We made a mistake and were one down, but we missed seven or eight clear-cut chances and every mistake we made wasÂ punished because we were playing a team of quality.” – Arsene Wenger.
Runner-up: “The kid [Wilson Palacios] sat in the lobby with his case packed all that time, which is unbelievable. He said he did not want to wake me. Thatâ€™s the kind of lad he is. He is one of the most respectful kids I have ever known. We organised for him to be driven back to London so he could get a flight home. Things like that bring everything into focus.” – Harry Redknapp on the sad news that Palacios’ younger brother had been found dead over the weekend.
Today’s overview: Two main topics dominate the backpages at the start of the week, the future of Carlos Tevez and a wave of criticism against Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and Emmanuel Adebayor. But we start with Manchester City.
After watching the Manchester derby, Kevin McCarra delivers some home truths. “There is a baleful consistency about City’s away games in the Premier League; only two have been won so far in this Âcampaign. They did not act as if they had any desire to make today’s trip to Old Trafford an exception.” Alan Hansen is equally critical of the Citizens, barking “if the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal need four or five players to close the gap on United, then City need 12… what City really need is a backbone of British players. If they signed Frank Lampard and John Terry and gave them both Â£150,000 a week, there wouldnâ€™t be a problem because they would both be running harder in the 92nd minute than in the first.”
Having thrown a strop after being subbed, the petulance of Cristiano Ronaldo is referenced by several hacks. Daniel Talyor wrote how “the world footballer of the year went through the full Violet Elizabeth Bott routine of threatening to sthcweam and sthcweam until he was sthick. Every time the television cameras panned on him throughout the remainder of the game he seemed to be shaking his head about the indignity of it all.” Mark Ogden added “Ronaldo’s petulant reaction to being substituted by Ferguson on the hour, when he aggressively threw a training top to the ground before mouthing his displeasure on the bench, was a self-centred response to being rested ahead of the trip to the JJB Stadium.”
Speculation over Carlos Tevez’s future is rife this Monday. Kaveh Real have been favourites to sign Tevez, who is on a two-year loan deal, but he hinted yesterday at a preference for staying in England, which may encourage the interest of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City.” Ian Ladyman narrows down the future suitors, reporting the “Argentinian star now looks set to open talks about a move to Manchester City or Liverpool. ” While The Sun’s Shaun Custis announces “Spurs are fighting Manchester City, Chelsea and Real Madrid to land Carlos Tevez.”
Kevin Gardside remains convinced however that United could still retain Tevez if the fees were lowered. “To make his two-year loan deal permanent United are required to part with Â£22 million, a figure that is way out of sympathy with the times. Transfer values are equally subject to the economic correction playing out elsewhere. Gill would not think twice at handing over a cheque for half the price.”
It appears that the Independent’s team of football scribes have swallowed a bucket-load of unhappy pills this Monday.
James Lawton makes the case that losing Tevez will be no great shakes for United. “Poor, misguided Tevez. He is a terrific battler and any club would value his services, worthy and whole-blooded as they are. But is he is worth Â£32m? Does he belong around the top of world football market rates? Hardly.” Sam Wallace then opted to slam both Tevez and Ronaldo, writing “you might have thought that Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo would understand the importance of putting Manchester United before their own priorities. But sadly this self-obsessed, preening pair decided that yesterday was the perfect opportunity to pursue their own tedious personal agendas.”
Some appear to be trying to inform Manchester United fans why the loss of Tevez will not be so damaging.
Richard Williams begins by waxing lyrical over Dimitar Berbatov. “In Berbatov we see the reincarnation of that fabled beast, the man with time to put his foot on the ball.” Patrick Barclay is far more explicit however, pointing out how “in a decade, top-level football has evolved from a team game to a squad game, to the extent that I doubt that even Ferguson knows his best team, or cares. A decade ago, the experts would solemnly have pronounced that a recipe for managerial disaster. Now flexibility could be rated a distinguishing attribute of Englandâ€™s leading exponent… Tevez, by challenging Fergusonâ€™s methods (as he has every right to do, because some players need to feel established), has rendered himself surplus. ”
Following the quote of the day, Dominic Fifield questions the Professor’s sanity. “Wenger remains committed to his vision of the club’s future but his insistence that this was far from a poor performance, and that all remains essentially rosy, did seem delusional.” Amy Lawrence continues to shine the spotlight on the Frenchman asking “at what point will he acknowledge that his idealistic youth project might actually be damaging rather than helping the prospects he so blindingly believes in?”
Matt Hughes continues the Wenger-bashing. “The world as viewed by Wenger must be a beautiful place in which to live, because he sees no problems, only solutions. To him, the recession is probably a good thing that forces us all to go back to basics, swine flu should be welcomed for advancing the cause of vegetarianism and Mikael Silvestre remains a top-class central defender. Then again, even Wengerâ€™s optimism has its limits.”
On Wenger’s claim that Drogba dived, Jason Burt commented “it was a cheap shot [from the Arsneal manager]. Drogba, in this instance, did not dive â€“ unlike Emmanuel Adebayor later in the game â€“ and referee Philip Dowd cautioned Cesc Fabregas for his protests.” While the clamour to tears strips off of Emmanuel Adebayor continues this Monday, David Hytner noting how “plenty of people want Adebayor out and Wenger might be unable to resist a decent offer for him. The striker’s most notable contribution was a lamentable dive.” While Steven Howard urges Arsenal to give Adebayor the boot, claiming the striker “has gone further into reverse this season than any other.”
In an offbeat article, Martin Kelner mocks how “this is the time of the year when football adopts the language of WWE wrestling, when every day is Judgment Day, when you switch on the TV to watch a bit of live football and find yourself witness to some of the most significant events in the history of western civilisation.” Staying with sideways articles, Sam Wallace argues against the tendency to write off managers who have been relegated. “English football’s problem is the stigma that we attach to managers whose teams have been relegated, or managers who have been sacked. It is regarded as a form of professional bankruptcy rather than part of the learning process.”
With on eye on the future, Gabriele Marcotti reviews what happened at the 2009 U17 South American Championships. “This year, the biggest buzz centred around a clutch of Brazilians â€” Wellington, a pacy midfield player valued at Â£5 million, DodÃ³, a wing back linked to Manchester United, and Zezinho, a tricky left-sided player â€” Gonzalo Barreto, a Uruguayan striker rumoured to be on Chelseaâ€™s hit-list, Sergio Araujo a creative, temperamental Argentinian, and Edwin Cardona, a powerful Colombian target man and the tournamentâ€™s top scorer.”
Martin Samuel makes it his mission to talk down the brilliance of Barcelona. “[Barca] are not on a mission from high to save football, they are not above the odd foul, or the odd game that is not so beautiful… Self-praise is no recommendation and every time Barcelona smugly remind us of their wonderfulness, they become less than a club, more a puffed-up pain in the neck.”
We finish with the remaining treansfer gossip.
John Edwards reports that “Djibril Cisse has stunned his Sunderland team-mates by telling them: ‘I’m joining Tottenham in the summer.'” John Cross claims that “Arsene Wenger is eyeing up Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak as a potential replacement for Emmanuel Adebayor.” And the Mirror print that “Fulham boss Roy Hodgson is ready to snap up striker Oli Johnson from cash-strapped Stockport County.”