Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I announce to you from trusted sources: Rooney to PSG is done. He will be there next season.” – former PSG advisor Michel Moulin.
Runner-up: “We’ve got Everton now which is big, a really important one, and if we win then we’re in a good position. But even then we’re definitely not over the line, we’ve got some tough games coming up. Fulham away will be tough, and then we’ve got Manchester United – we obviously don’t want them winning the league at Emirates Stadium, so we’ll be up for that.” – Jack Wilshere.
Wayne’s Future: United Or PSG?
Rooney chasing new United deal as striker says he does not want to leave Old Trafford (Ian Ladyman, Mail) The United striker is baffled by suggestions from a former PSG advisor in France yesterday that a deal with the wealthy Paris club was already in place. Instead, it is understood that the 27-year-old wants to sit down with United at the end of this season and discuss an extension to a contract that will by then have two years to run.
Roo la la (Neil Custis, Sun) Paris Saint-Germain are convinced they will land Wayne Rooney in a £25million summer swoop. And the mega-rich Qatari-backed outfit are ready to make it a £40m double deal to take his Manchester United team-mate Nani. Well-respected former sports advisor to the club Michel Moulin appeared on French TV to claim: “Rooney to PSG is done.”
Is Wayne Rooney the answer to Manchester United’s midfield problem? (Jamie Jackson, Guardian) The decision to drop Wayne Rooney into midfield yields match-winning displays. This act was spied again on Sunday as he ran the show in Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Stoke City from the central berth Sir Alex Ferguson fielded him in. Rooney lined up alongside Michael Carrick and ended the contest with a higher total pass count of 81 to the 75 of the 31-year-old who is the manager’s established midfield don. Seeing Rooney zipping around to find team-mates with a zest and vision that makes him a Paul Scholes with pace – as with the pass that led to Robin van Persie’s converted penalty at the Britannia Stadium – has become familiar as Ferguson utilises his total football abilities to work the corridors between attack and defence.
Everton’s Champions League Quest
They’ve beaten the best, but can Everton dispatch the rest… starting with Arsenal (Dominic King, Mail) When Phil Jagielka leads Everton’s Champions League pretenders out against Arsenal tonight, he knows a telling question will be ringing in their ears: can they handle the pressure?… Everton have the bit between their teeth and there is no sense they will travel to north London feeling trepidation. The players are relaxed and focused and have treated this as just another game.
Can David Moyes finally end his big four hoodoo? (Simon Hart, Independent) Forty-three visits to the big four have brought not a single victory, but Moyes’ team will visit the Emirates tonight knowing they will have to shred that unwanted statistic if they are to keep their hopes of Champions League qualification alive. “I think if we win this one, we will be right in with an opportunity. If we lose it, we will probably be out of that chance of making the top four,” said Moyes. Everton would climb within a point of third-placed Arsenal with a victory and will arrive in north London on a run of four wins from five league matches. But now comes the hard part. Those four victories all came at Goodison; now they need to do the same on their travels – and trips to the Emirates, Anfield and Stamford Bridge, as well as a re-energised Stadium of Light, all feature in a forbidding-looking run-in.
Why Everton have to beat the big teams away if they want to reach the Champions League and change their future (David Anderson, Mirror) The implications for Everton if they could earn a place at football’s top table would be just as big. At a stroke, providing they qualify of course, they would have the cash to buy the regular goalscorer they so badly need. They could attract players again rather than having to fight a constant battle to hang on to them. I don’t think Moyes would be waving goodbye in the summer and he would be desperate to stay and preside over what could be the club’s best time since the mid-80s.
David’s been a Goliath but it’s time to go (Ian Wright, Sun) I am a massive fan of the Goodison boss but I would not blame him if he decides to walk away in the summer. Given the club’s current financial situation, I’m not convinced he can take the club any further.
Chelsea Buys & Sales: De Bruyne, Gomez
Dortmund and Leverkusen look to bring in Chelsea starlet De Bruyne to Bundesliga (Simon Jones, Mail) Borussia Dortmund are in a fight with Bayer Leverkusen for Chelsea winger Kevin de Bruyne, offering £14million for the Belgian. The 21-year-old has impressed on loan at Werder Bremen and Leverkusen may take him as a makeweight in the deal that should bring Andre Schurrle, 22, to Stamford Bridge this summer. But Chelsea are reluctant to sell De Bruyne a year after buying him for £7m.
City and Chelsea could turn to out-of-favour Bayern hitman Gomez if Cavani bids falter (Simon Jones, Mail) Chelsea and Manchester City are following Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez. Both clubs are keen on Napoli’s Edinson Cavani, with City understood to be favourites. The losers in that battle could turn to Germany star Gomez, with Bayern willing to listen to offers for the 27-year-old.
Sports minister calls on police to ‘throw the book’ at hooligans (Owen Gibson, Guardian) The sports minister has called on football authorities and the police to “throw the book” at those involved in “disappointing” and “depressing” outbreaks of football-related violence at Wembley and on the streets of Newcastle last weekend in an attempt to ensure incidents do not snowball.
Outbreaks of hooliganism prove complacency is not an option (Owen Gibson, Guardian) Part of the reason that last weekend’s events seemed so shocking was that they remain, thankfully, comparatively rare. Aided by banning orders, improved CCTV and a much more sophisticated and collaborative approach to policing football, isolated outbreaks of violence have tended to remain relatively contained. Yet, equally, every football fan will know that they exist – and remain a live possibility wherever alcohol and adrenaline mix.
Howard Webb Gets Punished
Ref Webb exiled to Colchester after string of gaffes in Tyne-Wear derby (Adam Crafton, Mail) Howard Webb has been dropped from the Premier League officials’ line-up for next weekend after an error-strewn performance in Sunderland’s 3-0 win against Newcastle at St James’ Park. Sportsmail can reveal that English football’s leading official will instead suffer the indignity of presiding over a League One match between Colchester and Shrewsbury next Saturday afternoon. He will be joined at the Colchester Community Stadium by his two World Cup Final assistant referees, Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey, who also came under fire in the aftermath of an explosive Tyne-Wear derby.
Top referee Howard relegated to League One after having a ‘mare in Tyne-Wear derby (John Cross, Mirror) Meanwhile, Chris Foy will referee QPR v Stoke at the weekend, despite failing to send Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero off for a shocking stamp on Chelsea’s David Luiz in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final.