Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I had a funny feeling before this game. My kit sponsors had given me a pair of bright green boots and I’d tried them on before the match, only for [the coach] Clive Allen to say I couldn’t wear them. So I changed back to a pair of pinkish silver ones, and go and score five. It was like a dream. Brilliant. None of the lads can believe it â€“ scoring nine. But the finishing from all of us was unbelievable. Look at Niko Kranjcar’s finish for the ninth, in off the bar. I looked over at the manager at one stage when the goals were flying in and even he looked shocked. We actually felt as if we needed a second at half-time just to kill [Wigan] off. In the end we felt as if we maybe needed a 10th.” – Jermain Defoe.
Runner-up: “It is one of my pet hates. They [young footballers] donâ€™t know how to set up their own bank account, they donâ€™t know what theyâ€™re spending their money on and they canâ€™t make their own decisions. Not every player is like that, but some are now totally dependent on agents and advisers. For me, life is an education and you learn things as you go through it. I think a footballer should sit down and negotiate with a club, even if his agent is sitting with him. It is in the playerâ€™s best interests to be there and see what is going on. There are some agents who do a good job looking after players, but there are others who stifle and mollycoddle players. Some agents will come into a playerâ€™s life when he is 20, leave his life at 34 and never want to know that player again. Every footballer needs an adviser at some point, but a player doesnâ€™t need to pay between 5 and 15 per cent of his wages to a guy to set up a bank account, buy him a new fridge or ask his clubâ€™s chief executive for a pay rise.” – Gary Neville.
Bigotted quote of the day: “I refused their offer before, but now joining Portsmouth is no longer an option for me. After Portsmouth signed an Israeli player [Tal ben Haim] and also hired an Israeli football director [Avram Grant] a possible move was ruled out. On top of that, no way could I play at Portsmouth with an Algerian [Nadir Belhadj] within in their ranks.” – Amr Zaki.
Today’s overview: History-maker Jermain Defoe laps up the credit across the backpages after hitting five for Spurs against Wigan.
John Ley then reeled off the statistics. “Not since Andrew Cole scored five in Manchester Unitedâ€™s 9-0 win over Ipswich in 1995 had a team scored so many. Defoeâ€™s first three goals, which came in a seven-minute spell, represented the second-fastest hat-trick in the Premier League. He became the first player to score five goals in one half.”ometimes, ever so rarely, a perfect storm gathers when attacking genius meets defensive idiocy. In Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon and Niko Kranjcar, Tottenham Hotspur had three players at the height of their powers. To give you an idea of how bad Wigan Athletic were at the back, they conceded nine times and their goalkeeper played well.”
Spreading the love, Jon West applauded Aaron Lennon’s performance against the Latics. “The afternoon marked Aaron Lennon’s return following a three-match absence through injury and the England winger was a revelation from the first minute. His first foray down the right flank saw him begin a 90-minute tormenting of ex-Spurs player Erik Edman and, although Defoe and Peter Crouch somehow contrived to spurn that chance, only nine minutes had elapsed before the latter managed to convert a tasty offering, with Titus Bramble at fault at the back for the visitors.”
Boldly backing his opinion in print, Alan Hansen coughs up his belief that Liverpool will snatch fourth spot this season. “Despite Tottenham Hotspurâ€™s incredible victory against Wigan and the fact Liverpool have won just one of their last 10 games in all competitions, I still fancy BenÃtezâ€™s side to finish fourth. Their sole objective now is to ensure that they are playing Champions League football next season and, although they still have a slim chance of qualifying from the group stages, I donâ€™t see that miracle happening.”
Attempting to hype up an unlikely sacking, Steven Howard sticks the boot into Mark Hughes’ City. “Almost Â£200million spent in the transfer market and just six points from a possible 18. Not quite the ‘outstanding’ job the Mark Hughes media fan club had been claiming only a fortnight or so ago. More the sort of throw-it-all-away form that earns managers the sack.” Stan Collymore adds his unsubstantiated voice to the mix, chirping with his belief that “Guus Hiddink is set to cast a long shadow over the Premier League in the next few weeks – and if I was Rafa Benitez or Mark Hughes I would be looking over my shoulder for him… Lots of people say Man City are in a transitional period but I think that is baloney. If a team spends Â£200million on new players of international quality, then Cityâ€™s owners from Abu Dhabi must be expecting results. But perhaps rival teams have figured them out after Cityâ€™s blistering start to the season.”
Stan Collymore isn’t finished there, going on to bash Arsenal after the Sunderland loss. “I admire Arsenalâ€™s football but there is no getting away from what the Premier League is all about, which is power, pace and the ability to grind out results. Arsenal blatantly donâ€™t have those attributes and they always give opposition teams a chance. They have dropped points already against teams like Sunderland and West Ham and will no doubt drop more this season before the penny finally drops.”
With his 36th birthday next weekend, Sam Wallace looks back at the amazing career of Ryan Giggs. “Giggs is the most successful player in the history of the English game and he has played at arguably the most powerful club in the land for his entire career… he has seen off so many pretenders to the left wing it is easy to lose count: Keith Gillespie, Ben Thornley, Jesper Blomqvist, Jordi Cruyff, David Bellion, Kieran Richardson, Park Ji-sung and Luis Nani. Good luck, Zoran Tosic.”
Sick to the back teeth of the diving debate, Patrick Barclay looks to put the latest hot controversy into context. “I just wish someone would ask, say, Iain Hume where he stands on divingâ€™s place in the list of evils… My worry is that the monstrous regiment of anti-divers will eventually have their way. I am not sure exactly where they are trying to lead us. We already have mandatory yellow cards for simulation, a punishment that appears to fit the crime in its reprehensible forms (even if it is seldom applied to those who signal that an opponent has dived when he has not). So what do they want Fifa now to prescribe? Capital punishment?”
If you thought debate of Le Hand of Henry was over, think again.
Looking for a fresh twist, Oliver Kay advises his readers to hate Anelka more than Henry. “Henryâ€™s offence during extra time on Wednesday will live long in the memory, but was it really worse than Nicolas Anelkaâ€™s unsuccessful attempt to win a penalty six minutes earlier? Henry handled the ball twice â€” the first time instinctively, the second time deliberately â€” before crossing for William Gallas to score. It did not look a premeditated act, unlike Anelkaâ€™s, as he dangled a leg to initiate contact with Shay Givenâ€™s arm and threw himself to the ground in the hope of winning a penalty â€” and, who knows, maybe getting the Ireland goalkeeper sent off.”
Martin Samuel also refuses to jump on Henry’s back. “While many have taken to despising Henry for what he did against the Republic of Ireland last week, I am afraid I cannot. He was the inspiration for an Arsenal team that, on their day, played the greatest football I have seen from an English club side and I cannot simply erase that because he cheated in one game. As if he is alone in perpetuating footballâ€™s culture of dishonesty.”
Time for the transfer lies.
The Daily Mail pull a fast one by using past tense quotes from Bayern Munich general manager Uli Hoeness to suggest that Franck Robery is up for sale. “Hoeness says Franck Ribery will leave the club if he does not believe they are ambitious enough. Hoeness admitted Chelsea offered Â£58.5million plus Jose Bosingwa for the France forward in the summer but, although it was a tempting bid, it fell short of their valuation for the former Marseille star, who also interested Manchester United.” The Sun’s Ian McGarry also dives into the story, farting “Chesea will try to steal Franck Ribery from under the nose of Real Madrid in the January transfer window. SunSport can reveal the Stamford Bridge club will offer a British transfer record of around Â£45million for the France winger.”
From stoking the fire to putting it out, the Daily Mail then shout “Gennaro Gattuso has no intention of leaving AC Milan [for Manchester City], according to club coach Leonardo.”
And finally, it has taken a few days but the tabloids have uncovered some dirt on bizarre placenta doctor Mariana Kovacevic. According to Ivan Speck, “Serb authorities investigating the mysterious housewife who uses placenta to treat Barclays Premier League players want to question her about possible tax evasion… In a case which is developing the sinister trappings of an underworld operation, Kovacevic has disappeared without trace. The players she is currently treating are also being kept hidden from view by a bewildering combination of subterfuge, private jets, fast cars and eagle-eyed surveillance.”