Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “No one plays well against United because they only play with fear. Every team that plays against United plays very soft because they think this game is difficult, that they can’t beat them. It is not true. If you play strong against United, you can beat them. I don’t think they don’t play 100 per cent but their mentality is poor in those games against United. They think they can do nothing but instead I don’t think that is true. If you play with mentality, in football you can beat every team.” – Roberto Mancini.
Runner-up: “I’ve not had a tougher moment than that in my football career, never mind all season… The players are low, the same as I am. Very low. We played with 10 men for nearly all the game and deserved to win. ” – Harry Redknapp.
Manchester Derby Previews
City lost it in the summer (Alan Shearer, Sun) Manchester City wasted a golden opportunity last summer. And they will be reminded of that tonight when they travel to Old Trafford and take on the champions-elect. Lining up against them will be the one who got away — United’s Robin van Persie — who has proved to be one of the big differences between the two neighbours in this campaign. Meanwhile some of those City did sign, Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair and Maicon will be nowhere near the starting line-up again.
Manchester United and Manchester City clash with eye on next season (Jamie Jackson, Guardian) A question mark remains over the futures of Anderson, Nani, Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand, Darren Fletcher and Wayne Rooney. The latter has two years remaining on his contract and Ferguson has stated he will be offered a new deal, yet a sense persists that Paris Saint-Germain may test the manager’s resolve this summer… As many as 11 players could be heading for pastures new. Carlos Tevez, Nasri, Edin Dzeko, Gareth Barry, Joleon Lescott, Kolo Touré, Roque Santa Cruz, Wayne Bridge, Scott Sinclair, Maicon and John Guidetti are all pondering where they may play next term.
Manchester City won’t win anything without kids, says Gary Neville (Ian Herbert, Independent) “I don’t know why they’ve not created a player in the last five years when Manchester City have won the [FA] Youth Cup and been in the latter stages of that competition,” Neville told The Independent. “I’ve seen players in their youth team when they’ve beaten United. You’ve got to create the pathway and at the moment I don’t see that pathway at City, whether the players are good enough or not.”
Manchester United to sign £180m Aon deal to change name of Carrington training base (Mark Odgen, Telegraph) Manchester United have agreed an eight-year deal worth £180million with Aon to sponsor the club’s training kit and rename Carrington as the Aon Training Complex ahead of tonight’s derby with Manchester City at Old Trafford.
Rodriguez For England?
Rodriguez deserves an England chance (Jamie Redknapp, Mail) I make no apologies for including Jay Rodriguez in this column for a second week in a row. His performance at Reading was clinical and brave and a showcase for his ability. If he continues to play like this, surely an England chance beckons when we are short on quality strikers.
Di Canio’s Sunderland
Paolo Di Canio’s unpredictability could lay path to survival for Sunderland (Mark Lawrenson, Mirror) I can’t help thinking we might be misjudging Paolo Di Canio in terms of whether he can actually do the job at Sunderland. I’m not referring to his beliefs. He still obviously has to answer the tough questions as far as they are concerned. I’m more referring to his experience. Because he has only managed at Swindon, everybody is using the madcap stuff – the way he treated the players – to talk him down. The fact is, however, they are in a really good position now and they could achieve back-to-back promotions on the strength of the job he has done with them. On top of that, from what I’m told, in terms of training and preparation he is excellent.
Paolo Di Canio’s Sunderland debut – direction, delight, deflation, despair (Daniel Taylor, Guardian) For Paolo Di Canio there was at least a sense of progression. Sunderland’s supporters made it loudly clear he is, on the whole, welcome at their club. His chaperone for much of the last week – an increasingly bedraggled press officer – only had to jump in twice during the post-match questions. Di Canio kept his temper and though the run is now nine games without a win, there were at least encouraging signs from a team that had been sleepwalking towards relegation.
Arsenal’s Superteen… Apparently
Arsenal’s superteen Gedion Zelalem to make club debut at Liverpool (John Cross, Mirror) Arsenal’s next big star in the making is hoping to make his debut for the club in the under-21s Premier League at Liverpool tonight. Teenage midfielder Gedion Zelalem, who turned 16 in January, received international clearance last week and is already being compared to Cesc Fabregas at the same age.
North London Hig Battle
Arsenal and Tottenham keep close tabs on Real Madrid ace Gonzalo Higuain (Jack Wilson, Express) Arsenal and Tottenham are on standby after Gonzalo Higuain fuelled speculation he could be about to leave Real Madrid. Reports suggest Higuain could be used as bait to lure Gareth Bale to the Bernabeu, while Arsene Wenger is also interested in securing his services.
Villa Staying Up
What we learned this weekend: Guzan’s safe as houses for Villa (Ralph Ellis, Mail) One of the biggest calls made by Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert was to drop veteran Shay Given and make Brad Guzan his No 1. Guzan, behind an inexperienced defence, has already justified that by making more saves than any other Premier League goalkeeper. But the American’s willingness to come off his line to deal with crosses and long throws at Stoke – highlighted on Match of the Day – was probably a bigger reason for Lambert’s decision. Given caught 36 crosses and punched away another 11 in the entire of last season. This campaign Guzan has punched 25 and caught an astonishing 85.