Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “If you are asking me if you think one day I will return to Chelsea, I tell you ‘yes, I think so,’ although I’m not saying when. We were so happy together. Chelsea fans have a different feeling for me. It’s a different emotion with them. I always wish them well because they are a special club for me and I have special friends there. I belong to their story and they belong to my story. I hope they get back to what they were because the club has changed.” – Jose Mourinho.
Runner-up: “They think the grass is greener. You’ve seen that at Chelsea with Scolari. A fantastic manager at international level, but the Premiership is a totally different kettle of fish. That is why we are so lucky. You look at O’Neill’s record â€“ it is no coincidence that he goes to Celtic and Aston Villa, and straight away they get success. You ask any Villa or Everton fan, they put a lot of that success down to the manager. It is pretty ignorant really that when the top jobs come round, like the Chelsea job now, and these two don’t get mentioned. You can put both managers, Moyes and O’Neill, into the equation. You are looking for success, continuity, you are looking for someone who has done it over a number of years, and you can put them both in that category. We still, particularly at the top level, keep looking abroad for managers that come in and realistically are only going stay for two or three years. Regardless of success, they only have a two or three-year lifespan. We have a manager who will hopefully be here for life, and Aston Villa probably feel the same.”- Phil Neville.
Today’s overview: Chelsea again form the focal point this Sunday. Despite Jose Mourinho’s insistence that he will one day return to the Bridge, doubts still remain over who will be the long term manager. Critiques of Roman Abramovich’s ownership of the club are a dime a dozen, while in other news, Sven is tipped to join Pompey who themselves are said to be on the brink of a sale.
Duncan Castles delivers some good news to Chelsea fans claiming that Guus Hiddink is ready to lay down long term roots at the Bridge. However that positivity was set off by Joe Lovejoy in his match review of the Blues defeat of Watford. “Welcome to the Roman empire. It is his unenviable, if well-remunerated, task to halt its fall. Wilkins was left in charge yesterday, a decision that prompted cynics to suggest that Chelsea couldnâ€™t risk having their knight in shining armour embarrassed by Watfordâ€™s Brendan Rodgers, who was reserve team coach at Stamford Bridge until November.”
Several pundits look at Roman Abramovich’s behaviour at Chelsea. For James Corrigan expects Roman’s meddling at Chelsea to intensify. “Abramovich was certainly never going to be one of those owners who threw in his roubles, walked to one side and allowed the professionals to do what they do… Chelsea are different; he can exert control at Stamford Bridge, some notable control as well.”day by day it becomes more difficult to recognise what Roman Abramovich has created in west London as a football club or a rational business. Itâ€™s the Chelsea power show.” While
The forever-pompous Piers Morgan blames Chelsea’s current woes squarely on Abramovich’s shoulders. “When Roman Abramovich got rid of that horribly arrogant, and even more horribly successful Portuguese genius, he revealed that he was just like most other billionaires Iâ€™ve met â€” a self-obsessed, paranoid creature who had lost all sense of reality. No amount of roubles can compensate for a boss consumed by his jealousy at a younger, more popular, better-looking employee.” And a similar sentiment is voiced by Sir Bobby Robson. “Jose Mourinho was not good enough after a boring draw against Rosenborg, Avram Grant was not good enough because John Terry missed a penalty in the Champions League final and now Luiz Felipe Scolari is not good enough, even though he has won the World Cup. Where will it all end?”
Further doom-mongering is offered by Rod Liddle, who is left wondering “if the Chelsea arrivistes, the new supporters they have acquired since they looked as though they might at last win stuff, know how precarious and contingent is their lifeline? Bigger clubs than Chelsea have gone bust before; clubs with a more resolute fan-base, too.” Patrick Barclay is left wondering whether Hiddink will be able to gel a “Chelsea squad [that] are not united by national pride like the Koreans or Australians or even Russians. Hiddink must quickly fire them with a genuine belief that a trophy can yet be lifted this season.”
As is becoming an almost daily routine, today it is the turn of Jason Burt and Conrad Leach to predict which stars Chelsea are set to offload. “An end-of-season sale would involve the departure of players such as Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Florent Malouda and Deco while, with contract talks not resolved, the future of Joe Cole is also up in the air as is that of Michael Ballack, one of the three highest earners. And what would happen if Manchester City, as they have considered, tempted Chelsea with a mega-bid, Â£40m plus, for John Terry? It would certainly help Kenyon break even as he has pledged to do by 2010.” And fuel is added to the fire by John Richardson penning “Manchester City will make a Â£20million move for John Terry in the summer â€“ believing that the England skipper is becoming increasingly disillusioned with Chelsea.”
Touching on Chelsea’s desperation and Arsenal’s poor form, Paul Wilson wonders whether the days of the Big Four are over. “Part of the reason the top-four cartel is breaking up is the continued pressure applied from beneath by organised, well-run clubs such as Aston Villa and Everton.”
According to the rumour mill as reported by Jamie Jackson, Portsmouth’s “pursuit of Eriksson which had looked promising last week, is now believed to have been unsuccessful. The Swede has informed friends he now wishes to stay in his current role in charge of Mexico.” But that is contradicted by Bob Cass’ EXCLUSIVE in the Mail on Sunday – “Sven Goran-Eriksson is on the brink of returning to the Premier League this week, providing Portsmouth can work out a satisfactory severance deal with the former England coach’s current employers, the Mexican FA.” But everything at Pompey could be on hold after Alan Nixon announced that “Ramon Vega is putting together a multi-million-pound takeover team in a bid to buy Portsmouth.”
The News of the World’s Rob Beasley delivers the juicy story that Man City have “Scolari in pole position to replace Mark Hughes at Eastlands â€” and act as the perfect bait to lure Kaka from AC Milan.” And staying with the Sunday tabloid, the NOTW confidently report that Yaya Toure “is heading for The Emirates in the summer. The fee for the Ivory Coast player is thought to have been agreed at around Â£12million.”
The Observer’s Paul Hayward salutes the talents of Michael Carrick. “Carrick is one defence against the entirely rational suspicion that Englishmen will never be able to pass or keep the ball as well as the best Europeans or South Americans.” Steve Tongue, referring to Andrea Pirlo as a playmaker who “operates from so deep he would be regarded in British terms as a defensive holding midfielder” wonders whether “Michael Carrick, with his passing ability, could develop in that role.”
Staying with the national team, Patrick Barclay argues that Liverpool are to Spain what Aston Villa are to the England team.
With Italy poised for the Milan derby Ian Hawkey contrasts the two sides fortunes with adding width to their sides. “[Milan] committed almost Â£35m to bring in a pair of footballers who would give them the kind of width that Milan have gained from Beckham, except they hired young, fast wingers: Mancini, the Brazilian from Roma, and Ricardo Quaresma, from Porto. Mancini has started just eight times in Serie A and Quaresma has become such a focus of ire from Inter fans for his erratic displays that he has now sought refuge on loan at Chelsea.”
Staying in Milan, Andrew Warshaw reports that “David Beckham will be offered a stunning 18-month contract to stay with AC Milan… The Italians are drawing up a contract that will take the former England captain through to the eve of the World Cup in South Africa.”