Sunday, May 19th, 2013
Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “We’ll see. There’s a plastic pitch next weekend. I ruptured my achilles a few years ago, so it’s not great for it. Like I said, tonight was very special. I’ll be part of the team next week. Whether I play or not, who knows? Tonight was a nice way to go out – in front of my own fans, in front of a capacity crowd that were excited because we’ve won the league. The celebrations have been incredible, so it’s a nice way to walk off the pitch. ‘To go out like I did tonight couldn’t have been any more perfect. That started my emotions kicking in earlier today, when the manager called me in and said “we’ve spoken to the players, it’s the players’ idea – we want to make you captain”. It’s really special for an Englishman to be captain of PSG – especially on a night that meant so much to the club and the players. It was an amazing gesture and one I’ll always be thankful for. It (the emotion) started 20 minutes before then. The emotions started kicking in. It was hard to run, let alone kick a ball. It was an emotional night. To see the reaction of the players, of the fans, when I came off was special. Physically, I feel great. I actually felt great tonight. Physically, I think I’ve made the decision knowing that I wanted to still feel good at the end of my career and I do feel good. But I know it’s the right time.” – David Beckham.
Runner-up: “I think the enormity of the club – he will soon realise that anyways. The global brand and number of sponsors we have here, he has to fit into that. I don’t think that’s an issue, though, and the most important thing is the team. He’s got a good squad of players and he will want to add to that, I’m sure, himself. He will have his own ideas and that’s good. He will be fine. The priority is the football team. Without the football team, they would not have all the sponsorships. The team is the priority – we all know that here. There is no doubt about that.” – Sir Alex Ferguson.
Chelsea tell United to name their price for Wayne Rooney
Wayne Blue-ney: Chelsea tell Manchester United to name their price for Rooney (Matt Law, Sunday Mirror) Roman Abramovich is prepared to pay over £30m for the wantaway striker who is also being chased by Paris St Germain. Chelsea want Manchester United to name their price for Wayne Rooney. Sunday Mirror Sport can reveal Chelsea are refusing to be put off by United’s public insistence Rooney will not be sold. Sources close to Chelsea claim Roman Abramovich would be prepared to splash out over £30million for Rooney and match his £250,000-a-week United salary. It is believed Abramovich is determined not to be outbid by Paris Saint-Germain for Rooney and will blow any interest from Arsenal out of the water. New United manager David Moyes has made Rooney’s future his top priority and will soon speak to the 27-year-old at Old Trafford.
Rooney to miss Ferguson’s final game as United manager… to meet new boss Moyes (Rob Draper & Bob Cass, Mail on Sunday) Wayne Rooney will not travel with the Manchester United squad for Sir Alex Ferguson’s final game — but he does so with the blessing of his retiring manager. Rooney was given permission to miss the trip to West Bromwich as wife Coleen, expecting their second child, went into labour late on Saturday night. The couple already have a three-year-old son, Kai. The player’s future at Old Trafford could become clearer in the coming days when it is expected he will meet new manager David Moyes to plan a way forward. Rooney had become disillusioned after believing that he was being marginalised by Sir Alex and asked for a transfer last month, having become resigned to the thought that his prospects at United were limited. The striker is understood to be keen to start afresh under Moyes, his former manager at Everton, and is seeking reassurance about his future.
Torres on his way out of the Bridge
You’re out Torres (Rob Beasley, Sunday Sun) Chelsea are set to take a £30MILLION hit and sell Fernando Torres this summer. The Blues want rid of their record £50m buy even though he has 22 goals this term, his best season at Stamford Bridge. Torres has netted just seven times in the Premier League, the last coming against Aston Villa in December. And that is why Chelsea hope today’s match against Everton will be his final one. Overall, Torres has 34 goals in 130 appearances since signing from Liverpool in January 2011. That equals more than £2m a goal when you add his £22m pay to the £50m transfer fee.
Have City bagged Falcao?
Totally Rad: Manchester City agree record £54m transfer fee for Radamel Falcao (Dave Kidd, People) Radamel Falcao will become Manchester City’s first signing of the Manuel Pellegrini era after the Etihad club agreed a British record transfer fee for the Atletico Madrid striker, writes the Sunday People. City have met the £54million buy-out clause in the Colombian’s Atletico contract – to snatch him away from incoming Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho. Falcao, has long been one of hottest properties in world football and his signing by City will be a boost for the profile of the Premier League. The deal is also a major coup for Pellegrini, with 27-year-old Falcao keen to work for the Chilean, who is expected to sign a two-year deal at City within a fortnight. Mourinho and Falcao share an agent, Jorge Mendes, and the Special One was hoping Falcao would join him at Chelsea.
Arsenal to spend big on Jovetic & Higuain
Hello kitty! Arsenal will spend BIG in the summer even if they don’t make Champions League (Matt Law, Sunday Mirror)
Arsene Wenger has been promised his biggest-ever Arsenal transfer pot – regardless of whether they qualify for the Champions League today. Wenger will not only be able to spend big on fees, but also has the freedom to increase the Gunners’ current wage ceiling and take a gamble in the market. That means Wenger can afford top targets Gonzalo Higuain and Stevan Jovetic, but may also need Champions League football to lure them to the Emirates.
The chase for 4th
Arsenal expect to make Champions League while Tottenham fear more pain (Dom Fifield, Observer) The buildup to the final afternoon has exposed the lay of the land when it comes to the Premier League’s only lingering conundrum. Over in Enfield the talk revolved around the legend of the lasagne and a cruel miracle in Munich, Michael Dawson shuddering as he recalled the near-misses that have cast Tottenham Hotspur outside the Champions League places in the recent past. A little further round the M25, however, and the buzzwords offered up by Arsène Wenger were “strength” and “belief”, the focus on eye-catching recent progress. Arsenal spy an opportunity in the campaign’s finale. Bitter north London rivals career into contests with under-achieving, yet secure, opponents from the north-east with only a point between them and a place in Europe’s elite at stake. Spurs, unbeaten in seven matches, can muster a Premier League high of 72 points by beating Sunderland and still find themselves fifth, a place lower than last term. If Wenger’s side win at Newcastle, a top-four place is theirs for a 16th season in succession. The Frenchman has watched his team shed only four points from nine games since they succumbed at White Hart Lane. So much for the “negative spiral of results” André Villas-Boas believed was afflicting those across the capital divide at the time.
Missing out on Champions League spot left me feeling physically sick (Harry Redknapp, Sunday Sun) Today we effectively have a North London derby being played on a pitch 280 miles long. Tottenham and Arsenal’s head-to-head for fourth place — and the prize of Champions League football next season — is going to send both managers through the mill and this evening one will be in hell. I have a feeling Spurs are going to come out smiling. They will beat Sunderland, I don’t think there’s any question of that. But, of course, if Arsenal win at Newcastle it won’t make a bit of difference. So, at White Hart Lane this afternoon, the fans and the management of Tottenham will be glued to what’s going on way up at St James’ Park. They will be tuned in on radios, mobile phones and all the wizardry available for instant updates these days. The changing fortunes will then transmit in a split-second to the players and to the Tottenham coaching staff. But I think it will be Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger who will be most nervous.
Alan Pardew on Newcastle’s French players
Alan Pardew orders Newcastle United French players to speak in English (Jason Mellor, Sunday Telegraph) The manager has scrapped the translators employed by the club to help the five Frenchmen who arrived in January, and whose integration into the squad has come under scrutiny in the wake of a struggle for Premier League survival that was only sealed with a nervy 2-1 victory at Queens Park Rangers last week. Total immersion in the language is seen as the best way forward. “Most of the French boys have picked up English pretty well,” said Pardew, who has 10 French players in his squad. Pardew’s players report back for training on July 4, ahead of the start of the new season, and he said: “The initial tactic of bringing in interpreters has gone.
Gary Neville on David Beckham
Gary Neville on his best friend: Playing football is Beckham’s only driving force (Mail on Sunday) When I went to Paris last week to interview David as he announced his retirement from football, there was much to talk about and memories such as that one. But what resonated with me was that when I asked him how he would like to be remembered, he replied: ‘As a hard-working footballer.’ Those words sum it up for me. When people think of David, they often focus on things outside of the game. But in reality he was a footballer, and a brilliant hard-working one at that. In the years since David made his Manchester United debut, football’s popularity has exploded and the money involved increased exponentially. He has ridden that wave better than anyone and has become the most recognisable individual in football. However, we should not forget his sheer level of achievement. He played 115 times for England. He had long careers at United and Real Madrid, winning the leagues, cups and Champions League trophies. He won league titles in his late thirties at LA Galaxy and Paris St-Germain. He was twice runner-up in FIFA’s World Player of the Year, finishing behind Rivaldo and Luis Figo. That award was not voted for by fans. It was voted for by managers of national teams around the world.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s final game
Sir Alex Ferguson wise to the historic virtues of making a clean break (Paul Wilson, Observer) There is no need to spell out the danger to Ferguson. He is familiar enough with the story, and has said on a number of occasions that he would be wary of making the same mistake. On the occasion of his 1,500th and last pre-match press conference at the training ground, Ferguson graciously acknowledged that Busby was the imagination and driving force behind the club’s almost mythical ethos, but he needed only to look out of the window to take in the newly installed water feature and the expensive landscape gardening to be reassured that United have expanded massively in just about every direction since he took over at the somewhat unprepossessing Salford facility that was The Cliff. David Moyes is walking in at the top floor of one of the most sophisticated and successful football operations in Europe and, after Everton, he is bound to notice the difference. While there are no guarantees the transition will be risk-free, Ferguson and United have put a lot of thought into finding the right man to take the club forward.
Tears flowing freely in this season of ceremonial send-offs (Jim White, Sunday Telegraph) It was not just Moyes. Michael Owen, Jamie Carragher, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes, Sir Alex Ferguson, David Beckham: they have all gone to the broadcasters’ sofa, or the training ground or the international lecture circuit with the cheers ringing in their ears. Some, admittedly, enjoyed grander departures than others. Ferguson and Beckham led the national news and prompted souvenir newspaper pull-outs as they were red-carpeted off the stage; even Neville got a guard of honour. And whatever his insistence that he does not do tears, there is unlikely to be a dry eye in Anfield when Carragher is serenaded off this afternoon. Scholes’s departure, on the other hand, was more self-effacing. All he got was an early substitution, albeit one that sparked a lengthy ovation for the English game’s finest talent in a generation. Football has always loved an anniversary, a staging post, a point in history to rally around. It allows the fans to wallow in their favourite condition: nostalgia. And this season’s departures have felt like something important.