Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I dedicate this win to Mamma. Before the kick-off I knew we would make a fantastic performance. I saw the face of my mother smiling. It was one year to the day yesterday that she passed away. I believe in some sort of energy. It was very emotional. One year ago it was the same situation. I was in the dugout with Swindon the day after she passed away and we won the game. Now it has happened again. So for this I have to thank my mum but also my dad, Ignazio. He is up there next to her and he will be upset if I don’t.” – Paolo Di Canio.
Runner-up: “I would apologise to everyone. Aguero is a great player and I think he needs to be honest with himself and say: ‘I don’t like to do bad tackles, I don’t like to do that.’ I forgive everyone in my life, people are happy when Aguero is scoring goals, doing things in the game. Many people have said to me: ‘sorry this is not me and not good for the football.’ Many kids see the game, watch the game and want to see good things and not bad things.” – David Luiz.
Man City 2 – Chelsea 1
Aguero aggro! (Rob Beasley, Sun) Sergio Aguero faces an anxious wait to see if he will be banned over his two-footed stamp on Chelsea’s David Luiz. Blundering FA Cup semi-final referee Chris Foy only awarded a free-kick for the X-rated challenge when the Manchester City star should have seen red.
Manchester City’s fluidity proves key against Chelsea in semi-final (Michael Cox, Guardian) Mancini has always been reluctant to play natural wingers, preferring his wide players to be more involved in passing moves – and even in the absence of David Silva, this was a great demonstration of his strategy. With Touré moving forward to become the catalyst for City’s best attacks – in particular, the opening goal – they carved Chelsea open repeatedly in the first half.
Rafa lost the plot (Steven Howard, Sun) And then there was one. Just one trophy left at the end of a season where so many of football’s prizes have slipped through their fingers. And if Chelsea start their game in Basel on Thursday week as they set off in yesterday’s semi-final against Manchester City then they can kiss that one goodbye as well. Not a great deal has made sense at Stamford Bridge this season. And here was another afternoon that had you scratching your head.
No rest for Rafa Benitez as Chelsea face next must-win game (Ollie Holt, Mirror) The FA Cup is gone now, lost to a first-half power surge from Yaya Toure and Manchester City. But the Europa League remains, a trophy that would burnish the European reputation of Rafa Benitez and justify his gamble in taking the Chelsea job. Most of important of all, certainly for the club, is the grim struggle to finish in the Premier League top four. Arsenal’s recent tradition of late season rebounds has pushed them above Chelsea into third place. Chelsea are fourth but Spurs are one place below them on the same number of points. Chelsea have a game in hand on both. It is away at local rivals Fulham on Wednesday and it has assumed huge importance.
Toure’s mighty performance at Wembley (Jamie Redknapp, Mail) There are times when Yaya Toure runs and opens his legs and it looks like a wall of bricks wouldn’t stop him. He was mighty at Wembley in an outstanding Manchester City performance. It’s almost like Roberto Mancini has taken the handbrake off The Train.
Newcastle 0 – Sunderland 3
Terrible Toon deserved this (Alan Shearer, Sun) Newcastle did not deserve anything from the game and the biggest concern for any fan was seeing the players in the red-and-white shirts wanting it more. The French guys who came into the Newcastle team have been doing well but it didn’t look like they realised the magnitude of this fixture… Their defending was poor, there was no creativity in midfield and Toon were poor up front as well. They never got started in the first half and deserved to be a goal down at the break.
Back to the dark ages: Geordies run amok after drug-fuelled Millwall battle (Colin Young, Mail) Newcastle United fans went on the rampage in the city centre on Sunday following Sunderland’s shock 3-0 win at St James’ Park. In scenes reminiscent of the dark days of football riots in England in the 1970s and 80s, fans clashed with police. There were 27 arrests and dozens more are expected in the coming days as police study CCTV images of the rioting, which forced Newcastle Central Station to be closed.
Webb lucky his off-day didn’t affect the outcome of the Tyne-Wear derby (Graham Poll, Mail) Howard Webb is a very good referee but this was not his finest performance – some prefer referees to be anonymous, I prefer them to be right.
Should Stoke Sack Pulis?
United’s cruise to the title has Tony Pulis looking poorly (Tim Rich, Independent) Although they performed better than they had against Aston Villa the weekend before, Stoke are an unrecognisable and fast-disintegrating club these days and one of the Sunday papers had predicted that had Manchester United “tonked” them here, Tony Pulis would be asked to resign as manager.
I’d be shocked if Stoke dump Pulis, but he really needs a Plan B (Mark Lawrenson, Mirror) I will be really surprised if Stoke sack Tony Pulis… Maybe the board have looked at the impact Paolo Di Canio has made at Sunderland and are wondering whether they need someone to come in and shake things up. But who would you bring in? Roberto Di Matteo? Mark Hughes? You’re talking about the same old people again. Would they bring the energy Di Canio does? Not for me.
Millwall: Two Days After The Violence
Mill-wall of shame (Chris Pollard, Sun) The Sun yesterday tracked down three Millwall supporters spotted at the centre of violent scenes which stained Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final. Smirking Tony Shannon, 27, was shown on TV tucking a policeman’s cap under his jacket during his team’s Wembley defeat, which ended with 14 arrests. He admitted yesterday: “I thought it was funny — but now I feel like an idiot”… Supporters sickened by scenes reminiscent of hooliganism’s 1970s heyday said fans had been using cannabis and harder substances.
LA For Lampard
Frank Lampard set for LA Galaxy move (David Woods, Star) Frank Lampard has postponed his wedding next month after LA Galaxy stepped up their efforts to land him. The England midfielder was due to marry TV presenter Christine Bleakley on June 12 but he could, instead, be playing in the States on that date.