England’s troubled 2018 bid, The Domenech factor & Robbie Savage turns up at the airport with his wife’s passport

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “If you want to be known and remembered in world football, I feel you would have to win a World Cup. Obviously there are players like George Best and Cristiano Ronaldo who are geniuses, but personally I feel I have to help England win a World Cup to be considered like that.” – Wayne Rooney.

Runner-up: “To be quite honest I think it’s a myth that sex before games is bad. Each to his own. Gary Neville probably says 48 hours for sex before a match. Actually for him it’s probably a week.” – Dwight Yorke.

Today’s overview: Its a mixed bag on this Friday during an international break. Highlights include Tony Cascarino’s criticsm of Raymond Domenech and Dwight Yorke’s interview in The Independent.

The lead story in The Sun by Ian McGarry details how “The FA face a £900,000 bill after skimping on an economy jet for England stars. Frank Lampard could be out for six weeks with a thigh injury after seven hours cramped on a plane on the way to Qatar for tomorrow’s Brazil friendly. Chelsea are furious and will claim his £151,000-a-week wages in compensation from the FA. Lamps and his Three Lions team-mates were forced to spend the long-haul flight to Doha on a charter plane designed for short-haul only. The superstar players are used to having flat beds for long journeys and were shocked to find seats that barely reclined. Several players complained of cramp and muscle pain after the flight. The squad had their first training session yesterday morning. After an initial warm up, Lamps, 31, burst into a sprint and strained his left thigh. Last season, the midfielder missed six weeks with a similar injury.”

Following the reshuffle of the 2018 World Cup bid team, Matt Dickinson asks “will emergency surgery be enough?” “It is not impossible for England to win but the damage sustained should not be underestimated, nor the doubts about the hierarchy’s lack of unity. Yesterday may have represented a degree of change but as the apocryphal Irishman might have said had he been present at the emergency session to decide the way forward: ‘Well, I wouldn’t start from here.'”

Steven Howard turns the focus on Lord Triesman. “Politicians always think they know best. But Triesman has surpassed the breed. If he has any respect for football or the country that ennobled him, he will do the honourable thing and fall on his sword. And let the professionals get on with it. Before it’s too late.”

Jim White also looks at England’s troubled 2018 bid. “We may not like it, but it is clear from the utterances of Jack Warner that what matters in this contest is flattering the voting members. In which case, instead of rearranging their sub-committees as if they were the seating plan on the Titanic, what the Football Association should do is simply hire Tony Blair, Cheryl Cole and Stephen Fry. Eight days’ work each and the 24 voting egos will be sufficiently smoothed. We know the cake is sound: all that is needed is the icing.”

Amy Lawrence looks ahead to Ireland-France and suggests the Les Bleus conveyor belt of talent is slowing down. “180 minutes against the Republic of Ireland over the next few days represent one last shot at the World Cup. Henry – the only survivor from the 1998 conquerors – surely knows that the current team are not a patch on the one that inspired a renaissance for the French game. A decade on and the conveyor belt of talent looks a little rusty. Who was the last outstanding graduate from the French system? Probably Franck Ribéry. But he is 26 years old. Below him the system is not functioning quite as effortlessly as it once did. In the aftermath of the 1998-2000 generation.”

Tony Cascarino believes the Republic of Ireland have a chance against France due to the Domenech factor. “It’s not just results: losing home and away to Scotland then failing miserably at Euro 2008, finishing runners-up to Serbia in their World Cup qualifying group, which they really should have won. It’s the eccentricity of the man. The stories that his love of astrology influences team selection, his bizarre media persona, his inconsistent team selection and tactics. If he’d been England manager, he’d have been hounded out long ago as a national laughing-stock. Domenech makes Eric Cantona seem normal. He’s serious-looking yet comes across more like a clown, a joke figure lacking authority.”

Michael Walker in the Daily Mail pinpoints Toulouse striker Andre-Pierre Gignac as the danger man to the Irish. “If Henry and Co are famed for the sleekness of their power and movement, Gignac’s brand is less complicated. This is a bullock of a striker, a chunky 23-year-old who knows where the net is and goes there directly.”

Amy Lawrence looks towards the play-off between New Zealand and Bahrain. “Australia seemed to have the monopoly on the region’s hard luck stories for what seemed like an eternity, but now that the ball is in New Zealand’s court it is hard to avoid the question: will they ever have an easier chance to make that final leap?”

Dwight Yorke gives a full and frank interview to Brian Viner in The Independent. Yorke: “I’d like to start in the Championship, I’ve seen [Gareth] Southgate, who was my captain at Aston Villa, and Simon Grayson at Leeds, who I played with, getting the breaks. They haven’t done more than I’ve done in the game. Rather less, maybe. Yet they got huge jobs. Chris Sutton at Lincoln, not such a big job but a nice break. So why not someone like myself or Andy Cole? Les Ferdinand’s another one. I know these guys want to be managers. Why are they not getting the breaks? Why?”

Rob Smyth asks if referees have turned on Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson. “Whether United are being victimised by referees at some level is in the eye of the beholder. Such a process could theoretically work two ways: either as an outright rejection of Ferguson or, more probably, a subconscious desire not to give in to his bullying. Either way, the implications for fair play would be terrifying. Yet the majority of football fans would eschew such rational concerns in favour of an emotional response: that Ferguson has had it coming for years.”

After the Premier League yet again rejected the Old Firm from joining the league down south, David Conn looks at the implications. “The clubs are thought to have seen too many problems – contravening football tradition, practical difficulties over incorporating Celtic and Rangers, damage to the Scottish game, upsetting Uefa and Fifa, taking on the security burden of the Old Firm’s legions of fans – for too little gain. That explains their keenness to reject the idea quickly, outright, rather than allow the discussion to run, and the blunt wording, that the clubs see the Old Firm’s inclusion as ‘not desirable or viable.'”

Following Carlo Cudicini’s motorcycle accident yesterday, Spurs boss Harry Redknapp has revealed “I’m just thankful he’s not dead.” Gordon Banks has backed Cudicini to come back from the crash whilst Spurs were unaware that the Italian owned a motorbike.

It is fairly slim pickings on the transfer gossip front. Thomas Sorensen is set for a new Stoke deal and Fulham are planning a move for Palermo stopper Rubinho. The Mirror suggest Blackburn are after Rasmus Elm even though the Swede only moved to Holland in the summer.

Undoubtedly the story of the day concerns Robbie Savage, who “was left red-faced yesterday – after turning up at the airport at 4am with his wife’s passport.” Full story here.