Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “It saddens me like any supporter to see the plight the club is in. Like every Newcastle fan I am praying that they can survive this season because the repercussions of relegation are unthinkable. It’s clear that many fans are fearful over what they see as the lack of leadership at the club. The owner has to restore confidence by showing himself in public at St James’s Park and taking a hands-on role. He’s had a lot of flak from disgruntled fans, but they have a right to call it as they see it. I got plenty of stick during my time in charge, but not even my sternest critics can accuse me of hiding. I was always there in the firing line. You’ve got to be brave enough to step up to the plate. Mike Ashley must show leadership in the tricky months that lie ahead… No one should feel sorry for Mike Ashley. He got the club on the cheap. – Freddy Shepherd.
Runner-up: “What Spurs have been doing is completely wrong and so is the amount of pressure that Kenwyne has been put under. What can we do about it? Well, he wonâ€™t be going. Thereâ€™s no way. The ownership of the club know weâ€™re building a team around Kenwyne.” – Ricky Sbragia.
Today’s overview: There are a mixed bag of headlines in today’s papers, ranging from speculation over Robbie Keane’s future at Liverpool, analysis of Tony Adams’ ability to stave off the chop at Pompey, and a discussion of the limited success of Jermaine Pennant’s career to-date.
Are Robbie Keane’s days already numbered at Liverpool? John Edwards fuels speculation that the Irishman could be shipped out of Anfield noting “The manager did little to dampen speculation that Keane could soon be on his way by preferring rookie striker David Ngog, 19, signed for 1.5m from Paris St-Germain, as a substitute. Benitez added insult to injury by suggesting Ngog had done more to merit a place on the bench.” The Sun’s David Facey also stirs the pot adding “Keane’s Liverpool future hangs on a knife-edge after he boycotted the clash with Everton… He has been substituted in all but one of his 16 Premier League starts… [and] it looks like Benitezâ€™s patience is running thin.”
For Oliver Kay, Everton won the Merseyside derby on points. “This was an uplifting afternoon for the blue half of the city… Liverpoolâ€™s job to break down resilient opponents and, alarmingly, for the fourth time in their past five home matches they failed to do so.” Sam Wallace echoes the negativity towards Liverpool writing “to draw one Merseyside derby at home may be regarded as misfortune, to draw two in the space of six days just looks like carelessness.”
David Pleat headed over to his chalkboard to dissect how Everton drew at Anfield. “Solid, deep and narrow across their defensive area, they continually angled their bodies and positioned themselves to encourage the Reds to move the ball wide. Once there, however, Liverpool lacked the craft or penetration to outwit the defence.”
With the sands of time running out, the transfer rumours intensify. For Vic Holly, “Hayden Mullins will become the latest player to quit West Ham by joining Portsmouth in a cut-price Â£1million deal.” David Hytner and Dominic Fifield join forces to report the Spurs are closing in on both Carlo Cudicini and former full-back Pascal Chimbonda. And staying with Spurs, the Mirror claim that “Tottenham are ready to swap Mexican Giovani Dos Santos for [Lyon’s] Brazilian striker Fred.”
According to Alan Nixon, Wigan have reportedly completed the Â£1.8m signing of Crystal Palace’s Ben Watson and “Steve Bruce is ready to make a record Â£6million raid for Cardiff City’s Welsh wonder Joe Ledley.”
Gary Jacob compiles a handy list of Premier League players (including Didier Drogba, William Gallas, Kolo Toure, Gareth Barry and Stiliyan Petrov) whose contracts are set to expire this summer.
Still looking to understand why Kaka turned down Man City, Duncan White pins the blame on Garry Cook. “In the grubby world of football, Cook comes across as naive. As I understand it, the football agents were excluded from the disastrous meeting with Kaka’s father, Bosco, Cook feeling he could sell the move on his own. There is something endearing about his belief that if you are just direct and honest, people will buy into your project. It is just desperately unrealistic.”
Following Pompey’s FA Cup exit at the hands on Swansea, Tim Collings spots the vultures circling Tony Adams. “[Adams’] affable outer skin may provide only superficial protection as the jackals circle in expectation of seeing another inexperienced young Englishman join the list of Premier League management casualties.” Steven Howard tries to find the silver lining for Adams, arguing “it looks very much like a crisis of confidence, something Adams the player always met full on. As a manager he has to do the same, instilling self-belief into a set of players who cannot be allowed to use problems off the field as any excuse for loss of form on it.”
Jermaine Pennant’s claim that he is the victim of some anti-English conspiracy is given little sympathy from Oliver Kay. “When he talks of â€œthe English mentalityâ€, he does a disservice to those who are looking to make the most of their abilities while he appears content to keep squandering his.” However Sam Wallace jumps to Pennant’s defence – “when your father is a convicted crack dealer, and an addict as well, any kind of achievement beyond following in the family trade is to be celebrated.”
He had to go to a supermarket on Friday to replace the stolen antihistamine tablets he needs for the heat rash that refereeing gives him and the man on the customer services desk rushed over to find out if Webb was really who he thought he was.”
And finally, in the latest sign of the economic downturn Peter Jardine reports that “brewers Carling are ready to turn off the tap on their multi-million pound shirt sponsorship of the Old Firm… In the latest sign of the economic depression hitting the Scottish game, both clubs will now try to fill a Â£2million-per-season sponsorship gap.”