Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “It’s always difficult in football to be absolutely sure of the future because the game has a habit of tripping you up. I don’t have any plans to walk away from what I believe will be something special and worth being around to see. This team of champions is not going away – we are here for the long ride. We will get better and if we apply ourselves in our normal fashion I see our 20th league title as nothing but the start of another decade of success. Whether I will be here to oversee another decade of success remains to be seen. I don’t live in a fantasy world but I believe we have every reason to feel confident about the future of Manchester United.” – Sir Alex Ferguson to the United Review match programme, March 4, 2013.
Runner-up: “You all know that there will be another manager next season. I think everybody knows who will be From Back Page here. It’s not my concern what happens next year but I certainly won’t be here.” – Rafa Benitez.
Ferguson To Quit Man United
Sir Alex Ferguson considers retiring as Manchester United manager before the end of the week is out (Mark Ogden, Telegraph) As rumours of the 71-year-old’s imminent retirement swept Manchester, senior figures at the club failed to respond to repeated attempts to confirm or deny the story, which emerged following United’s player versus coaches golf day at Dunham Massey on Tuesday afternoon… The announcement could come as early as this morning, although there was no hint of anything different from Ferguson as he swept into Carrington, on the outskirts of Manchester, just before 7am.
Sir Alex Ferguson must leave Manchester United completely when he decides to retire (Jim White, Telegraph) Ferguson will be more than aware that if this is really the end then the departure has to be total. There can be no lurking in the corridors, no hostage to cliques or power bases. He has to go completely, turning up only occasionally in the directors box, benevolently ruffling hair and signing autographs.\
Sir Alex Ferguson: ‘The notion of a retirement age is anathema to me’ (Own Gibson, Guardian) It is one reflection of how far football has changed since Ferguson was appointed manager of Manchester United in November 1986 that, under Wall Street rules, clarification of Ferguson’s position will have to be announced to the New York Stock Exchange where a tranche of shares in the club was floated by the Glazers last year.
Fergie in Utd quit frenzy (Shaun Custis, Sun) Manchester United were last night engulfed in a frenzy of speculation about Alex Ferguson’s future. Bookies slashed the odds on the manager’s 27-year reign coming to an end to an astonishing 7-4 ON. And Everton boss David Moyes was rapidly installed as favourite to succeed Fergie, becoming 11-10 ON to take over the Old Trafford hotseat. There were even unconfirmed reports that United’s stars had been warned to expect a “major statement” imminently.
Fergie on the brink! Legendary manager set to end his 27-year Manchester United reign THIS WEEK… but is Moyes his replacement? (Simon Jones, Mail) Sir Alex Ferguson is poised to end his 27-year tenure as manager of Manchester United. Sportsmail understands the 71-year-old is preparing to bow out in front of the Old Trafford crowd on Sunday after United’s game against Swansea, when they will be presented with the Barclays Premier League trophy, the 13th of Ferguson’s illustrious career… Talks are underway to find a replacement and Everton manager David Moyes is among the frontrunners. With United now forced to adhere to the strict rules and regulations of the New York Stock Exchange – which opens at 2.30pm UK time – over the release of significant information relating to the running of the club, any change of management would fall within those requirements.
Wayne Rooney To Bayern?
Herr transplant: Wayne Rooney confides he wants to leave Manchester United for Bayern Munich (John Cross, Mirror) Wayne Rooney has told team-mates he wants to sign for Bayern Munich this summer. The Manchester United striker has grown increasingly frustrated with his role at Old Trafford. And now the German Champions League finalists are believed to be close to sealing a £30million deal to add the England striker to their star-studded line-up.
Arsenal Sign Mega Puma Deal
Hello kitty! Arsenal agree £170m kit deal with Puma.. the biggest in English football (John Cross, Mirror) Arsenal have agreed the biggest kit deal in English football with sports giants Puma. They have struck an agreement worth in excess of £30m-a-year which could see the five year contract worth £170m in total.
Arsenal agree £30m-a-year deal with Puma in most lucrative kit contract in Britain (David Kent, Mail) Arsenal have agreed the most lucrative kit contract in British football with Puma. The Gunners rake in £30m a year from a five-year deal with Emirates. Now they have reached an agreement with the Boston-based firm for £30m a year over five years from the end of 2013/14. The deal tops Liverpool’s £25m-a-year contract with Warrior and will signal the end of Arsenal’s 20-year relationship with Nike, whose deal is worth £55m over seven years.
Arsenal face Liverpool battle in £10m fight for Ashley Williams (James Dickinson, Express) The 28-year-old signed a new contract at the Liberty Stadium in October and Swans have put a £10m valuation on him.
Previews: Chelsea v Tottenham
Martin Keown’s guide to Wednesday’s crunch London derby at Stamford Bridge (Martin Keown, Mail) When Clint Dempsey or Gylfi Sigurdsson play on the left for Spurs, their natural game means they cut inside a lot. That leaves usual left back Benoit Assou-Ekotto without much protection and Everton and Southampton have both exposed the gap well recently. When Assou-Ekotto closes down Ramires – Chelsea’s likely right winger – space appears behind him and balls into that channel cause Tottenham big problems. If Ramires and right-back Cesar Azpilicueta can double up on Assou-Ekotto, they will cause Tottenham problems, or create space for someone clever like Juan Mata to run into. It means centre back Jan Vertonghen is dragged across and further space is created in the penalty area.Spurs often concede like this.
Andre Villas-Boas claims ‘invisible’ Chelsea play without style (Jack Pitts-Brooke, Independent) Asked whether Chelsea continued to be in a state of confusion over which path to take in developing a playing style, Villas-Boas said: “It’s a little bit unfair for me to say that. In the end, it’s brought them success and sometimes success is what matters in football – independent of the style.”
Can AVB’s Tottenham seal a top four spot? We’ll know by 10pm tonight (Steve Stammers, Mirror) So tonight, as the Spanish would say, is about “cojones”. It is not about tactics. It is about whether Tottenham have both the heart and the ability to claim that top four spot… History is against Tottenham. But history was against them at Old Trafford this season when they won against the odds so that should act as a pointer to what is possible.
Why Chelsea could be better off staying with Rafa Benitez than bringing back Jose Mourinho (Ollie Holt, Mirror) [Benitez] has been booed, jeered and ridiculed by fans who resented him for the deeds of a previous job. Sadly, it would be an exaggeration to say that Benitez has earned the grudging respect of those who mocked him. Most Blues supporters are still as keen to see the back of him as they were when he took over. But it has got harder and harder to criticise what he has achieved on the pitch . He has managed Chelsea’s daunting fixture list with great aplomb, juggling his players to try to keep them fresh.
Chelsea abandon Falcao pursuit to focus on Robert Lewandowski (Tony Banks, Express) Chelsea have dropped plans for a £46 million summer move for Atletico Madrid’s Radamel Falcao and instead aim to win a three-way contest with Bayern Munich and Manchester United for Robert Lewandowski.
Trouble On Tyneside
Ashley faces £10m bill to axe Pardew after agreeing bumper eight-year deal (Charles Sale, Mail) Alan Pardew, manager of a Newcastle team fighting to avoid relegation, is in the fortunate position of having a contract that runs until 2020 without a break clause or maximum severance agreement. It means owner Mike Ashley, who awarded Pardew his eight-year deal last September before Newcastle’s form imploded, would have to buy out his £1.5million-a-year wages in full if he parts company with the 51-year-old.
Atletico In For Suarez, Maybe
Atletico consider Liverpool star Suarez as Madrid club prepare for life without Falcao (Simon Jones, Mail) Atletico Madrid are continuing to monitor Luis Suarez’s position at Liverpool as they consider replacements for Radamel Falcao… Bayern Munich and Juventus are preparing offers but Atletico have been keen for over a year as they look to maintain their improvement without star man and Chelsea-bound striker Falcao. Atletico also have Uruguayans Diego Godin and Cristian Rodriguez on their books, both friends of Suarez. Suarez would be sorely missed by Liverpool but he would command a fee of around £40million. Manager Brendan Rodgers has £25m to spend this summer and will look to wheel and deal with striker Andy Carroll a likely bargaining chip.
Barcelona target Liverpool’s José Reina to replace Víctor Valdés (Andy Hunter, Guardian) Barcelona have identified the Liverpool goalkeeper José Reina as first choice to replace Víctor Valdés this summer should their long-serving No1 leave the Camp Nou.
Transfer Lies: Everton Eye Porto’s Boss, Kolo For Milan
Everton on alert as Porto boss Pereira looks to manage in the Premier League (Mail) Vitor Pereira is ready to follow his close friend Andre Villas-Boas into English football, in a development that will alert Everton, amid growing uncertainty over David Moyes’ future. Like Moyes, 44-year old Pereira is out of contract this summer and unsure about signing a new deal, despite two hugely successful seasons since succeeding Villas-Boas as Porto coach. Meanwhile Sheffield United are targeting Motherwell boss Stuart McCall for their vacant manager’s post.
Kolo Toure could reunite with Balotelli as Milan enter race to sign outbound defender (Mail) AC Milan are considering an offer for Manchester City’s Kolo Toure. The 32-year-old defender is out of contract in the summer and has already confirmed he will be leaving the Etihad. Galatasaray, Fenerbahce, Monaco and Paris St Germain have all sounded out the Ivory Coast international, who has been limited to just 16 appearances in all competitions this season.