Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I think [that Premier League chief executive Richard] Scudamore is an absolute disgrace. Iâ€™d love to get him in a room on my own for an hour, no holds barred. If it was any other club, Scudamore would have made sure the facts came out. I find it amazing that he has kept his job. If it had been a big club, the truth would have come out earlier and it would have been sorted.” – Neil Warnock.
Runner-up: “I’m not the type to be thinking it’s significant. It’s for statisticians but I’m joining a very limited club and I’m very proud to be joining some of the names in it. After my first season, for me to still be in management and having done another 950 odd games, in many ways I’m amazed. It’s a tough profession, a results-driven profession and I am proud of a lot things I’ve done during those 1,000 games.” – Steve Coppell ahead of his 1,000th game in management.
Today’s overview: West Ham find themselves back in the mire this morning as a raging Neil Warnock reopens the Carlos Tevez affair. Praise for Liverpool is still a main topic, while focus begins to turn towards the England team ahead of international week.
After several days of positive news from Upton Park, Owen Gibson today ruins the serenity in East London reporting that Neil Warnock and the Sheffield United players are ready to personally sue the Hammers for their culpability in the Carlos Tevez affair. And it gets worse, Gary Jacob reporting that “Wigan Athletic and Fulham have pledged to continue their fight for compensation after missing out on prize money that they would have received had West Ham finished below them.”
Ahead of Arsenal’s meeting with Hull tonight in the FA Cup, Matt Hughes notices how “Arsene Wenger spoke yesterday of his burning desire to end Arsenal’s four-year wait for a trophy, although he continues to regard the FA Cup as a dispensable treasure.”
Still on a Liverpool high, Richard Williams forwards his belief that Mascherano, not Torres, is the real Benitez masterstroke. James Lawton pitches Torres up against Ronaldo to decide who is more effective. “Less speculative is the fact that Benitez has in Torres a brilliant centrepiece to all his hopes while Ferguson in Ronaldo does not. Certainly not for so much of a season which some expected to be nothing so much as an extended coronation; nor, on current evidence, in the foreseeable future.”
Romantic Ian Wright talks up the case of Liverpool winning the league. “Maybe it is written in the stars for Liverpool to begin one hell of a comeback. At least they have given themselves a chance… While I am talking about Liverpool, it would be crazy to forget Chelsea. They are now really beginning to flex their muscles and I think will push United all the way… But this championship is far from over â€” and I am loving it. It could still go to the final day of the season.”
The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor peddles the transfer rumour of a Robinho-John Terry swap deal. “City have reluctantly taken the decision to listen to offers for Robinho at the end of the season, although Hughes is still open-minded and hopes the player will show a greater desire. Failing that, one plan is to offer him as bait to Chelsea in a possible player-plus-money exchange for John Terry despite the England captain’s insistence that he wants to stay at Stamford Bridge for the remainder of his career.”
Having seen Aston Villa fans turn on Gabi Agbonlahor, Louise Taylor asks whether football deserves better fans. “A percentage of fans are horribly ignorant about the exceedingly high level of skill required to be simply a run-of-the-mill Premier League footballer and sometimes forget that the extreme pace of the English game makes individuals look far less technically able than they really are.” Neil Ashton sarcastically wrote “they print the name of their favourite player on the back of a replica shirt â€” and then they get on their backs.”
Heading north, Matt Dickinson compares the standing of Gordon Strachan at Celtic with Martin O’Neill’s lasting legacy. “He has surpassed Martin Oâ€™Neill in winning three league titles in a row… and he has done better than his predecessor in Europe by reaching the Champions League last 16 on two occasions. But Strachan remains popular only for his victories; Oâ€™Neill is revered as a man, the Blessed Martin.” And O’Neill is also referenced by Henry Winter who suggests the Irishman is the likely candidate to replace Fabio Capello as the next England manager.
With international week just around the corner, Sam Wallace predicts an England recall for Aaron Lennon. “Lennon has never been selected by Capello for an England squad but it is understood he is now at the forefront of the Italian coach’s mind for the second right-wing place in the squad â€“ behind Beckham â€“ which should be announced on Saturday night.”
Des Kelly rips into the commercial exploitation of the England football strip. “If cups were handed out for ripping off supporters, then England would possess a trophy cabinet that was the envy of the world. In the 43 miserable years since that 1966 Wembley triumph, the FA have contrived to change the national kit on a staggering 45 occasions.”
Using Joe Royle’s return to Oldham as the catalyst, Phil Gradshore barks “never go back, they say in football. The thinking is that no good can come of going back to a club where you once enjoyed success. This is especially pertinent for managers, yet so many ignore the warning.”
The Daily Mirror offer several spurious transfer rumours. Alan Nixon claims that “Chelsea are ready to make a massive move for Barcelonaâ€™s Brazilian star Dani Alves as Roman Abramovich flexes his cheque book for a spending spree.” The red-top then suggest that “Arsenal are closing in on the ‘new Cesc Fabregas’ after making an offer to sign 16-year-old Pablo Saranova from Espanyol.” And there is more, as the Football Spy writes that “Spurs are reportedly eyeing goalkeeper Yohann Pele.” Lastly, Simon Bird pens that “David Moyes is eyeing a summer swoop for versatile Middlesbrough youngster Matthew Bates.”
The Guardian’s have their standard European round-up on Tuesdays. Paolo Bandini focuses in on the performance of Juventus’ Sebastian Giovinco who “underlined his potential in the hammering of Bologna.” Sid Lowe continues the theme of highlighting youngsters, flagging up Bojan Krkic’s impressive shift for Barca at the weekend. While Leander Schaerlaeckens looks back at Feyenoors’s meeting with PSV to note how “a scrappy encounter between two of Dutch football’s most vaunted sides is a metaphor for their embattled seasons.”