Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “Cristiano Ronaldo is a good-looking footballer, he looks fit and, oh yes, his hair is always in place. But him winning the award [World Footballer of the Year] is too much about glamour. I very much preferred Gerrard. He has superb technical and tactical qualities and I admire his spirit and attitude on the pitch. It has everything to do with his passion for the game and my passion for football. He is a player who fans can identify themselves with and a man who carries the love for his club on his club badge. There is not another player in the world who combines all those qualities. He is the type of player who appeals so much more to me than Cristiano Ronaldo. Of course, Ronaldo entertains the crowds and has great skills. But it is too much glamour and show. Gerrard, Barcelona’s Xavi and Messi are not as much focused on themselves. They focus on the team.” – Guus Hiddink.
Runner-up: “My girlfriend bought me a Stormtrooper outfit but it isnâ€™t as bad as some people say.” – Wayne Bridge.
Today’s overview: With a week to go before the transfer window slams shut next weekend, the Sundays exploit their last opportunity to print a host of spurious rumours.
Richard Bright claims that Man City have earmarked a new marque signing. “Hughes has stepped up his interest in Chelsea forward Didier Drogba, though [David] Villa remains his preferred option, even if that means waiting until the summer.” Any immediate move for Drogba is unlikely to prove successful however, Paul Smith noting “Chelsea have ruled out selling the Ivorian during the January transfer window but will consider offers for the striker in the summer.”
In other transfer news, Steve Bates writes that “Newcastle want Â£3million David James as Shay Given AND Steve Harper head for the exit at St James’ Park.” Richard Bright reports that “Gary Megson will offer Sporting Lisbon a club record transfer fee of Â£12 million for Portuguese international midfielder Miguel Veloso.” And in a story straight out of left-field, Neil Silver announces that “Harry Redknapp is planning a shock swoop for Newcastle striker Mark Viduka.”
And the transfer stories keep coming.
For Rob Beasley, “Carlo Cudicini is set to sign for Tottenham today.” Andy Dunn leads with the news that “Arsene Wenger will make a Â£7million raid for England defender Micah Richards.” According to David Harrison, Man City are tracking Diego for Â£25million, while in a final rumour Portsmouth have linked with a loan-move for Javier Saviola in the NOTW.
For the second day running the Telegraph splash with an article written by the Special One, Jose Mourinho, who today explains why he is happy City missed out on Kaka. “I want my league to be as strong as possible and, of course, Kaka is absolutely top. It would have been very, very bad for Italian football if Kaka had left Serie A. But at the same time I can understand that Manchester City, with such financial power, want first of all to win credibility, to win the respect of football people.”
Ahead of today’s Merseyside derby, Gabriele Marcotti contrasts the relaxed David Moyes with a stressed-out Benitez. “Compared to Benitez, Moyes is the ganja-puffing rastafarian cyclist who pops up out of nowhere in Thelma and Louise… Despite the club’s financial woes, despite the uncertainty of the move to a new ground, despite the injuries which robbed him of his two best strikers, Yakubu and Louis Saha, since the beginning of December, Moyes has consolidated his position as the best British manager not named Alex or Martin.”
Discussion continues to rumble over the effect and merits of Rule 11a, Paul Hayward describing it’s discovery as if “thieves had stolen the old pot and used it as a bed pan” before concluding that “Rule 11a is hardly likely to spread like dry rot.”
Reporting on Manchester United’s defeat off Spurs, Duncan White preferred to conclude “Sign Carlos Tevez… He hustled and bustled, scrapped and shimmied and utterly destroyed the Spurs defence.”Fabio da Silva for special praise. “At 18, via his unexpected performances at right-back this season, Rafael Da Silva is already a sensation. Yesterday it was the turn of Fabio, his twin, to announce himself as a talent of substance.”
And staying with United, Sir Bobby Robson calls on Sir Alex to stay in charge of the Reds for the foreseeable future. “I told him then, as I would tell him now, he would be crazy to give it all up… He has created a dynasty that will take some matching and I just don’t see why he should give it up and hand it over to somebody else.”
Reacting to Harry Redknapp’s latest outbursts against his Spurs’ squad, Piers Morgan celebrates ‘Arry’s straight-talking. “Money has given players all the power and turned most of them into a ludicrous collection of supremely arrogant, absurdly cosseted, indignant, thin-skinned jelly babies. And that’s why I applaud Harry Redknapp today. Because Harry’s thought about all this for a bit and concluded that it’s a ‘load of old b******s’ as they’d say in his beloved East End of London.”
Any takeover of Liverpool today seems far off, Rory Smith writing that “Liverpool face months of uncertainty over their future ownership as potential suitors have indicated they will wait until the last minute to get the best possible price for the club.” The same sentiment is echoed by Rob Draper, reporting “no buyer is likely to be in a hurry to make a bid, with Liverpool facing the threat of passing into the hands of a bank, RBS, when the co-owners’ Â£350m loan expires in July. Every day of delay means the price goes down; only an impetuous or naive buyer would rush now.” Chris Bascombe goes one step further penning the “Kuwaiti consortium pulled OUT of negotiations to buy the club” last night.
Further evidence of Roman Abramovich’s financial clout being on the wane is delivered by Duncan Castles who makes public the news that the Russian has sold Â£49m worth of shares bought 13 months ago for just Â£12m.
Rod Liddle looks at the relegation battle and Middlesbrough in particular. “[Boro] have the look of doom about them now. Threatless up front and, more crucially, without bite in midfield… If ever a club needed Jimmy Bullard, it is Boro – but Bullard has gone elsewhere, to another side becoming ever more rapidly acquainted with the abyss, Hull City. You want the definition of a six-pointer? Boro v Hull on April 11.”Remove all Premier League goals struck from the 86th minute of matches onwards and United would be no higher than fourth. Arsenal would be pressing for the championship. Middlesbrough would be bottom. Manchester City would have few relegation worries.” And staying in the Premier League,
In an offbeat article[Guy] Roux would ask politely to check the match ball before every game. This gave him the chance to spend a few seconds talking with the referee and his assistants, to drop in an observation such as: â€œI’ve got a couple of really quick wingers”… Roux would sidle away, leaving, as Derrien puts it, â€œthe linesmen well warned. Or even manipulated?â€
Lastly, Jasper Gerard salutes Jeff Stelling. “Post Des Lynam, Stelling has been the only genuinely premiership class football presenter, the Kaka in a league of cack. While Gary Lineker’s jocularity can often seem scripted, Stelling is a natural.”