Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I came here to say what I feel. I’ve waited 23 games to have a look [at the Premier League] and we’ve had maybe five chances to be given a penalty. None. Or, maybe, a red card or yellow card [for the opposition]? No. Now is the time for me to say this… All the clubs who come to Stamford Bridge make 20, 50 or 60 fouls and don’t get cards, red cards. Nothing. Asking for a player to be booked is not a good example, I know. But, when they kill my team, it’s good for me [to protest]. Crosby said I was trying to interfere in the game. All I said was that the rule is there. A handball is a yellow card. I do not have a problem with specific referees, but it has been a problem. My players try to help the referees but, many times, for us is one thing while, for the other clubs, it’s another.” – Felipe Scolari.
Runner-up: “At one time in the summer I was looking to move. I just couldnâ€™t accept the idea of playing at Chelsea without looking up and seeing Mum in the stand. Even now it is a huge gap in my life and very hard to handle. There were a lot of things that we used to do together, go to Harrods for tea, go to a certain restaurant, so suddenly there were shops I couldnâ€™t walk into, all sorts of things from which I needed to get away. I thought: ‘I canâ€™t live like this; Iâ€™ve got to leave London.'” – Frank Lampard in an interview with Martin Samuel.
Today’s overview: There is a sense of deja vu in today’s backpages, with stories of El-Hadji Diouf once again disgracing himself while Tottenham’s long-term love-affair with crippling injuries has once again struck at White Hart Lane.
It’s been a while, but public enemy number one El-Hadji Diouf has offended the backpages again after leaving the Stadium of Light in a whirlwind of controversy. According to Taimour Lay, Diouf “openly criticised his team-mates’ performances both during the game and in the dressing room soon after. When Ferdinand sought to defend his fellow players the dispute escalated into an aggressive confrontation which shocked club officials into action.” While according to Ian McGarry, “Diouf threatened to stab Anton Ferdinand in a vicious fight.”
It a terrible morning for Spurs fans, Matt Dickinson reporting “Jermain Defoe has suffered a suspected broken foot and could be out for at least six weeks and even the rest of the season.” Sam Wallace added “the injury, which often lies undetected, is thought to have been a stress fracture that got worse over time. However, given that he has been suffering with the problem for some time it raises questions over how rigorous Spurs were when checking the player during his medical earlier this month.”
And the bad news for Defoe keeps on coming. The Sun report that Defoe “had a crack at pulling Paris Hilton this week… a source said: ‘Paris clearly had no idea who he was but she chatted to him. She enjoyed the attention but wasnâ€™t interested in taking it further.'”
Harry Redknapp uses his column in The Sun to rule out any more transfers for Spurs. “I donâ€™t think weâ€™ll be making any more signings. Iâ€™ve already got Jermain Defoe, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Darren Bent and Fraizer Campbell up front.” Done deal. Oh, wait. What’s that you say ‘Arry… “unless we can get in someone really special in the next two days then I wonâ€™t bother.” Giles Smith in The Times has an amusing article looking at what might happen if Redknapp continued his policy of bringing back former players to the club.
On the transfer front, Bolton have upped their pursuit of Miguel Veloso with a reported Â£14m bid (Daniel Taylor), Real Madrid are set to sign West Ham reject Julien Faubert on-loan until the end of the season (the Guardian), Sunderland are chasing Sami Hyypia and Tal ben Haim ( Charles Nâ€™Zogbia has got his wish to leave St James’ Park in a Â£6 million move to Wigan with Ryan Taylor moving in the opposite direction ( .
And there is more. The Sun report that “Tottenham have off-loaded flop Giovani Dos Santos to Portsmouth for Â£7million,” Alan Nixon claims “Sir Alex Ferguson is trying to find Â£18million to beat Real Madrid to the signature of Wiganâ€™s Luis Antonio Valencia,” and “David Moyes has made a cheeky attempt to sign Darren Bent on loan to ease Everton’s striker crisis” according to the Mirror.
Glenn Moore expects a frantic last weekend of the transfer window. “History suggests a busy day for the registration offices. Last January there were 42 permanent deals registered on the final day and a further 45 loans.”
According to Oliver Kay, “Manchester City will take their spending in the January transfer window past the Â£40 million mark this weekend by acquiring Shay Given from Newcastle United, but it emerged last night that they failed with perhaps the most audacious bid of all â€” an attempt to recruit John Terry from Chelsea.”
Ahead of the Chelsea-Liverpool match this weekend, Alan Smith wonders which of Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard is the midfield maestro. “Gerrard… leans more towards romance, as close as they come to Roy of the Rovers, more impulse than efficiency as a one-man driving force. Two years younger, he’s probably a bit fitter as well. That’s why, if pushed, I would have him just ahead on points in a straight comparison.”
Talking in broad-brush generalisations, Gary Lineker plays up all the worst stereotypes of foreign investors in his new weekly column for The Times. “It is only natural to have worries when rich businessmen from all across the world are buying clubs with whom they have no affiliation. The majority are on ego trips or are out to make money, which does not mean that they are necessarily bad for business, but so much depends on an ownerâ€™s whim or personal circumstance. My biggest concern is to wonder how many decisions by owners are being made for the good of the game, and particularly for the good of the England team. ”
having played 65 per cent of the 2005-06 season, [Keane] added nearly 12 points to Spurs compared with the average replacement. In 2006-07, he played 48 per cent and added 17.2 points. In 2007-08, he played 79 per cent and added 10.4 points. This season? He has played 66 per cent, adding 3.3 points. So you can see BenÃtezâ€™s point.”
Finkelstein’s data is challenged though by Terry Venables, arguing that Irishman deserves more playing time as “Keane is the dasher, the guy who drops off the centre-forward, an all-action man who makes the runs and creates space in the penalty area.” Jonathan Wilson also gets in on the Benitez-bashing, writing “all managers make mistakes, but Benitez has made more than most and with Keane arriving for Â£20m his old excuse that he did not have the funds to bring in sure-fire successes is no longer applicable.”
Two Premier League managers get the once-over this Saturday. Turning the spotlight on Everton, Kevin McCarra considers that “David Moyes has surpassed expectations but will he get the chance to fulfill his potential?” While focusing on Arsenal, James Lawton criticises Arsene Wenger for his “excess of self-belief and idealism, one in which he has conceived a set of priorities from which he simply refuses to budge. His belief in some current players, like the so far essentially mediocre Denilson and the frequently catastrophic Emmanuel Eboue and the seriously underperforming Emmanuel Adebayor, is surely at odds with the sharpest of his perception.”
In other top-flight news, picking up on the midweek performances of Emile Heskey and David Beckham, David Lacey looks back at a good week for the over-30s. While noticing that Newcastle have collected only one point since Christmas, Des Kelly predicts that “if they cannot escape relegation, the likelihood is that they would fall a long, long way. They are Leeds United Mk II.”
In an offbeat article, John Ley looks at the 20 worst footballing insults.
Lastly, The Times report a question-and-answer sesssion between Manchester United’s celebrity fans and Sir Alex Ferguson. “Dominic Monaghan, actor (Lord of the Rings): Whatâ€™s the most amazing thing youâ€™ve seen in training? The most amazing thing is Paul Scholes, in the morning, when a player goes to have a pee at the side of the training pitch and he fires balls from 40 yards right on top of their head! He got John Oâ€™Shea about two weeks ago, right on the shoulder. He got Gary Neville right in the head and Neville chased him across the pitch!”