Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “If it was any other club aside from Chelsea my answer would be a straight no. But Chelsea is different because I have good relations with the owner, so I would like to help them in this situation if I could. This would be a full managerial role, a day-to-day job. But this would only be for the next two or three months until the end of the season. Of course when Russia play [World Cup qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Liechtenstein on 28 March and 1 April] I would go there to coach them as there won’t be any [Chelsea] games during that time. I have already two jobs before, a couple of years ago when I was coaching Australia and PSV Eindhoven, so I’m familiar with the situation.” – Guus Hiddink.
Runner-up: “If you’re backing a horse that hasn’t won a competition in 40 years and suggest he will win the Grand National, you’ll be called a madman. I don’t believe anyone in the squad thinks what we have at the moment is good enough to win the World Cup. We’ve won in Croatia and Germany, but you had a feeling within the group there’s a realisation our work wasn’t done. One odd result is helpful, but the main drive is to make it to South Africa.” – Stuart Pearce.
Today’s overview: Chelsea have moved quickly to appoint a new manager, with arrangements all in place for Dutchman Guus Hiddink to take over the reigns at Stamford Bridge until the end of the season. Hiddink will continue to manager Russia at the same time.
Martin Samuel is unimpressed by the goings-on at Chelsea. “Unless Abramovich is willing to charge his manager with the power to steer his football team, he might as well let his girlfriend take training… Too many changes, not enough foresight. Next stop fifth place, unless they are careful.”
Oliver Kay and Tom Dart looks at the differences between Scolari and Hiddink. “The difference with Scolari is that Hiddink has been successful just about everywhere he has gone and that success has been achieved by a vast range of tactical and cultural approaches. Where Scolari was accused of rigidity at Chelsea, too unwilling to stray from a 4-1-4-1 formation that did not suit his players, Hiddink is a coach who has shown flexibility, wherever his work has taken him.”
Reacting to the upheavals at Chelsea, Paul Hayward notes how Roman Abramovich’s “grip on Chelsea’s levers has tightened at the moment when Stamford Bridge regulars wondered whether he had become as remote as Malcolm Glazer at Manchester United.” Abramovich’s stranglehold on the Blues may not be doing them any good though, Matt Hughes arguing that “it is time for Roman Abramovich to acknowledge that his methods of conducting business are damaging the club’s long-term goals… Nowhere is the â€œWild Westâ€ culture… more prevalent than at Stamford Bridge, where individuals get rich quick before ending up with a bullet in their heads.”
All the papers pick up on John Terry’s comments that only “two or three” of his team-mates felt upset over Scolari’s departure. For Henry Winter penning that “when Guus Hiddink comes in, the highly respected Dutchman will have to address divisions in the dressing-room.”Terryâ€™s carefully chosen words… go some way to confirming what has long been suspected: that a series of cliques have developed in the camp.” The boo-boys are outed as being Petr Cech, Michael Ballack and Didier Drogba with
But the divisions at the Blues go even further according to Matt Lawton, who reports that Peter Kenyon “considered it more prudent to give Scolari the chance to revive his stuttering side” but with Abramovich disagreeing the Chelsea chief executive now finds his head on the chopping block.
Looking at the longer term future at Chelsea, Matthew Hannah writes “although Guus Hiddink is in talks about taking over at Stamford Bridge until the end of the season, Ancelotti is believed to be owner Roman Abramovichâ€™s top target to succeed Luiz Felipe Scolari in the long term.” Jason Burt also begin looking past the next six months suggesting that the shortlist of candidates to take over on a permanent basis includes Carlo Ancelotti and “surprisingly, Manchester City’s Mark Hughes” as well as Frank Rijkaard. For Sam Wallace however, “should Hiddink perform the kind of miracles with Chelsea that Abramovich clearly expects of him… will the Russian oligarch dare to take him away from Russia permanently?”
Ahead of the Spain-England match, Sid Lowe gives the reaction of the Spanish towards the British fears of racism at tonight’s match. “There can be little more irritating than being told how to behave by the English of all people. And that is how many Spaniards feel.” James Lawton makes it his mission to show why David Beckham is no match for Bobby Moore. “Beckham’s talent has been exceptional, but when you gather together his body of work does it begin to touch the qualities of competitive character and tactical nous so consistently displayed by Moore?” While veering off the general England track, Sam Wallace lauds the fact that “for all his close attention to detail in the preparation, coaching and tactical awareness of his players, there is always a pre-match word from Capello about the good old English spirit. He clearly values it.”
Is the game already up for Setanta? Owen Gibson reports on how the broadcaster is attempting to “broker a deal to regain the rights it lost in last week’s record-breaking TV auction” to show Premier League matches as the “loss-making channel [plunges] further into the red.”
Amy Lawrence waxes lyrical over Brazil having seen them beat Italy during last night’s friendly. “Brazil were in classic super-skills mode. Dunga, in a sheepskin overcoat that was vintage John Motson, looked on so calmly it was difficult not to spare a thought for Scolari, who well appreciates what different worlds the club and international manager inhabit these days.” Tom Dart summed up the match writing “Azzurri? As if. They defended atypically poorly while their opponents produced football that conformed to glorious stereotype.”
On managerless Portsmouth, Gary Jacob claims that Sven-Goran Eriksson is the club’s number one choice. “Erikssonâ€™s wage demands could pose a problem, but the South Coast club… are willing to offer the Swede the incentive of a sizeable bonus… [that] could be worth up to Â£1 million.” Sandy Macaskill echoes the same story, writing “senior first team [Pompey] players, canvassed for their opinion on the future manager, said that former Chelsea manager Avram Grant would not command the respect of the dressing room.” Jamie Jackson offers the dissenting opinion saying Avram Grant remains “Gaydamak’s first choice, despite some reports last night which stated Portsmouth had made an approach to Sven-Goran Eriksson, the Mexico head coach.”
In other football news, it’s another difficult day for Newcastle as the Daily Mail report “Joe Kinnear has been told by doctors that he needs an emergency heart bypass operation, throwing his future as Newcastle boss into doubt,” and both the Telegraph and the Independent report the new initiative which has football considering introducing sin-bins for yellow cards in a format similar to that used in rugby.