Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “Working for Real Madrid is the dream of any coach. I was never going to say no.” – Juande Ramos.
Translated video footage of Juande Ramos’ debut press conference at Real Madrid can be seen here.
Runner-up: “I’ve said over the last few days that I’d like to get back into managing a football club and I’m bound to be linked with Sunderland at the moment. There’s been no official contact but I know what a great club it is, we’ll just have to wait and see. I’ve worked there twice before, once as a player and once as a coach with Peter Reid, so I know what it needs. There’s been one or two positions I’ve talked about but haven’t felt it was right for me to go at that particular time. I really feel I’m ready now. Having done almost 16 years on the trot in management, I needed a break, and the break had to be long enough for me to come back with all guns blazing.” – Sam Allardyce.
Today’s overview: Chelsea may have progressed through to the knock-out stage of the Champions League, but their performance against CFR Cluj failed to convince any of the Blues’ doubters. Equally, Real Madrid’s new appointment of Juande Ramos as their manager caught many off-guard, with the British press quick to dredge up his Tottenham failings.
On Chelsea’s progress in the Champions League and Big Phil’s suggestion that failure would have sent him packing back to Brazil, Matt Hughes remarks that while Scolari “may be used to answering to 180 million Brazilians, none of them is as powerful as Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner. For the rest of the season, the gags are likely to be replaced by the growing bags under his eyes.” Henry Winter adds that “Chelsea must get Ricardo Carvalho back in action, pray that Frank Lampard avoids injury and suspension and keep Didier Drogba fit and focused” if they are to win trophies this season. Steven Howard’s demands on the Blues are slightly less, arguing “no one at the Bridge will be booking rooms for Mayâ€™s final at Romeâ€™s Cavalieri Hilton until Essien and Carvalho return.”
On pinpointing where its not quite working at Chelsea, Alan Smith writes “Scolari had wanted Robinho before Manchester City stepped in, which tells you the type of player he feels is missing â€“ someone unpredictable, capable of mixing it up by beating a man with a piece of match-winning skill.” But the harshest analysis on Chelsea was served by Jason Burt, who ripped into Nicolas Anelka – “His movement is appalling. He waits for things to happen, not offering attacking options. Moves break down because of him. He is the opposite of Drogba which, of course, in a sense fuels the argument that the pair could work well together.”
Rob Hughes investigated how Bernd Schuster wrote his own obituary admitting that Barcelona are more superior to Real at present – “Barcelona is to Real Madrid what the United States is to Iran: you never knowingly praise anything in itsÂ ideology.”
Yet, reacting to Juande Ramos’ shock appointment at Real Madrid, Barney Ronay is left with his jaw wide open over how “not so much like a managerial novice, as a managerial saboteur” got arguably the biggest job on the planet. Amy Lawerence points out that while it wasn’t his forte at White Hart Lane, Juande Ramos needs to instill character and prestige back into his new players and fast. Tom Dart sarcastically observed “Real Madrid? In this country, Juande Ramos would struggle to get the Rochdale job, such was the havoc wreaked upon his reputation.” While Pete Jensen jokingly penned “with the kind of comic drama that befits a club who have now sacked seven coaches in the last five years, it was like a perverse This Is Your Life rerun: ‘Bernd Schuster, you thought Juande was back in London counting his severance money, but no, he’s here in Madrid to take your job.'”
Gabriele Marcotti puts a far more positive spin on the appointment, explaining that “Mijatovic and Calderon see Ramos as a technocrat, a ‘nuts-and-bolts’ Mr Fix-it who excels primarily at one thing: getting his players to work together effectively on the pitch.” Phil Barnett pointed to the no-lose situation Ramos faced in taking the job, as “the former Sevilla boss can operate without the pressure of worrying for his long-term future as so little is expected, while rescuing Los Merengues’ title defence would catapult him back to the forefront of the sport.” However, it is questionable whether Ramos will be at the Bernabeu for the long term, Jamie Holland: “reports from Spain last night suggested that Rafael Benitez is the man they really want.”
Henry Winter put forward the case for Liverpool to re-sign Emile Heskey, talking up “the prospect of Heskey holding up play and laying the ball off to Gerrard, encouraging Liverpool’s captain to shoot from 30 yards.” While in other transfer news, the Daily Mail link Chelsea with an “Â£8 million New Year raid on Middlesbrough for Turkish international striker Tuncay Sanli,” and Matt Lawton claims that Spurs are lining up a “Â£16million offer for Matthew Upson and Robert Green.”
In other news, Geoffrey Lakeman reports on the Wayne Rooney lookalike who is facing murder charges for killing a man who taunted him over his resemblance to the Man United striker, while the Telegraph publicise photographs of 16 Tottenham fans suspected of racially abusing Portsmouth’s Sol Campbell.
David Conn reports on the new controversial Hero Global Football Fund, which has formed to “make money from owning slices of footballers’ ‘economic rights.'” In a secondary article, David Conn explains that the fund, “whose paid advisers include the BBC pundit Alan Hansen, former FA executive David Davies and retired referee David Elleray, will be banned from operating in the Premier League because of its rules outlawing ‘thirdâ€“party ownership’ of players.”