Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “Marcus pushed Gerrard in the chest and, almost instinctively, Gerrard hit back with his elbow in Marcus’s mouth. Gerrard stepped back and walked away but his mates piled on top of Marcus and one of them smashed a beer bottle over his head. The whole thing lasted less than ten seconds. Gerrard was pulled out of the scrapping and it turned into a free-for-all. The doormen all ran in and the club seemed to empty in seconds. We didnâ€™t see who went where. People were rushing to Marcusâ€™s side. He had a light-coloured shirt on and it was stained with blood.” – “A reveller” as reported in The Sun.
Runner-up: “For the moment, I just have to keep quiet. It’s not because I’ve been here for more than four years that I have the right to demand the status of starter. At the moment there is a man who is scoring and who is piling up goals. I only have to wait my turn. I have always said that I was happy that Nicolas came to Chelsea. But I still don’t understand why coaches are scared to play us together. This summer, I didn’t have a head for football anymore. I had completely lost my fire. I didn’t want to hear talk of objectives or ambition anymore. I felt completely extinguished. For the first time in my career, I lost my passion for football. I was lost. Last season could have been terrific and spectacular, in the end it was just a good season which left quite a few regrets.” – Didier Drogba.
Today’s overview: Steven Gerrard’s arrest dominates the backpages.
Looking at the impact on Liverpool’s title challenge, Andy Hunter wrote “what will have pained Benitez most of all is that the distraction from Liverpool’s outstanding performance on Tyneside and their growing credibility as a title-winning team should come from a player he trusted implicitly.” Sam Wallace also looks at consequences of the episode remembering “when Sir Alex Ferguson had to collect a hungover Roy Keane from Bootle Street police station in Manchester four days before the 1999 FA Cup final. United still won and went on to win the Champions League, albeit without Keane. A night or two in the cells is no disaster â€“ it is what happens afterwards that counts.”
On how the incident occurred, Russell Jenkins claims that “it is understood that the alleged victim, Marcus McGee, who was a DJ at the club, was sitting behind the bar when Gerrard asked him to change the music. He is then said to have asked for the music card that operates the sound system. Mr McGee apparently refused.” James Tozer and Michael Seamark added that allegedly “Gerrard had asked for a particular tune but was told that it was not club policy to play requests. At that point the footballer allegedly pushed past Mr McGee, catching him with an elbow.” The Telegraph report that Mr McGee, “a company director, lost a tooth and needed four stitches to a head wound.”
On a lighter note for the Merseysiders, Jeremy Wilson compares the current Liverpool team with the last Liverpool side to win the league title back in 1989/90 side. “Verdict: Liverpool 1989/90: 99/120 Liverpool 2008/09: 95/120.”
Turning to United’s defeat of Boro last night, and Oliver Kay reports on a post-match scuffle between Ronaldo and Pogatetz in the tunnel. “The players squared up to each other and went forehead to forehead, with witnesses saying that the squabble and shouting continued into the playersâ€™ tunnel, where a member of Middlesbroughâ€™s backroom staff also railed at Ronaldo.” But perhaps Ronaldo should be more concerned with his own form this morning, Ian Herbert noting “the Ballon d’Or winner has not found the net since scoring twice in the demolition of Stoke on 15 November. The tantrums are not helping.”
Analysing the match itself, Paul Wilson offers Berbatov a backhanded compliment saying “the debate over whether the Â£31.5m United paid Tottenham for the Bulgarian was money well spent has not yet been resolved but the home side created 25 chances and someone had to stick one away.”
Sam Wallace picks up on Michael Owen’s decision to see out his contract at Newcastle, arguing “Michael Owen has been loyal to one principle and one person only â€“ and that person is Michael Owen.” And keeping with the Toon, Richard Williams makes light of how Newcastle’s season is panning out commenting “what a new year to look forward to, with a short-term manager and an owner who dare not show his face at the ground.”
The transfer merry-go-round is kicking into gear with Oliver Kay and Jermaine Pennant… [will move to] Wigan Athletic to fill the void left by Luis Antonio Valencia, who is poised to join the Spanish champions.” Should Valencia leave the Latics it will be a big blow for Steve Bruce, whom Peter Ferguson today referred to as “football’s Indiana Jones, tracking down exotic treasures, braving Cairo to bring back Amr Zaki and plucking Maynor Figueroa and Wilson Palacios, an Arsene Wenger recommendation, from Honduras.”
According to Niall Hickman, “Arsene Wenger has tabled an Â£8million bid for Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given in an effort to steal a march on rivals Tottenham.” While in other transfer rumours Alan Nixon writes that “Scolari is planning a shock Â£10million plus move for Marseille star Hatem Ben Arfa,” the Daily Mirror claim that “Heurelho Gomes is wanted by his old club PSV Eindhoven in a cut-price deal,” while arguably the craziest link of the day sees the Daily Mail’s Simon Jones claim that Real Madrid want Jermaine Jenas with the Spurs midfielder reportedly “considering the move.”
Having regard to the global economic downturn, Kevin Easton argues that the transfer window will not be as active as usual. “Now the only word associated with credit is crunch and even footballâ€™s sugar daddies are squealing that enough is enough. If moneybags Chelsea, with Roman Abramovich, their Russian billionaire benefactor, have called a temporary halt to signings while they cut staff and shave spending, what chance have the rest?”
In an interesting article on how Fabio Capello has opted to pick players on form rather than repuatation, Kevin McCarra concludes that “we ought to learn that careers are not predetermined. Those hailed as prodigies often falter and others who initially scuffle for a living can ultimately prosper.”