Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “Sooner or later Cesc will end up coming back [to Barcelona]. We are a club that can sign players because we are respected and solvent.” – Barcelona vice-president Alfons Godall.
Runner-up: “Itâ€™s an issue for me and John Terry. If he needs holiday, he will have holiday. If not, he will play against Cardiff. Iâ€™ve not had any conversation with him yet. For him nothing changes and he continues to play a very good game. Every game heâ€™s living a very good moment and every game he is doing his best.” – Carlo Ancelotti.
Today’s overview: The predictable fourth estate once again round on John Terry after his Chelsea side were held to a draw at Hull in the league.
Unfairly refusing to stress how well the Tigers played against the league leaders, Jamie Jackson skewed his post match analysis to present it through a JT prism. “Terry had an evening he would rather forget. The Chelsea rearguard, which it is his primary job to shepherd, was shaky, while his personal contribution, including a yellow card early in the second half for a clumsy challenge on Jozy Altidore, was hardly rock-solid.”
Piling on the owe for Mr. Chelsea, Oliver Kay finished his match report from Hull with the following observation. “A footnote: at the end, Terry swapped shirts with Hunt, no doubt sparking talk about whether he had shown disregard for another team-mate, this time Cech, in doing so. It is more tempting to say that it was a reward for Hunt for a performance that epitomised Hullâ€™s effort: tigerish, persistent and, for Chelsea and their captain, bloody irritating.”
But not everybody jumped on Terry’s back, with Matt Hughes actually taking the opposite line. “If not quite at his best, [Terry] was by far the most accomplished defender on view… Terryâ€™s biggest test will come when he faces Capello this week, and this latest step into the spotlight was a walk in the park by comparison. The scorn of the Hull fans was never going to trouble him, and their abuse was more pantomime than bear pit.”
Henry Winter point-blank refused to blame Chelsea’s draw at Hull on their captain. “This draw cannot be blamed on all the commotion surrounding Terryâ€™s off-field travails. A longer-standing problem saw them fall behind to Steven Mouyokoloâ€™s header at a corner: of the 20 Premier League goals Chelsea have conceded, 15 have now come from set-pieces.”
Almost boringly, Matthew Syed delivers the daily mantra of why Terry should be stripped of the ENgland armband. “[This] is a scandal not about sex, but about betrayal… Terry, one imagines, is not so naive. The Chelsea defender must have been aware of how his actions would rebound upon the unity of the England team in World Cup year, for why else did he take such stringent steps to conceal them? He recognised that his erstwhile friend would be deeply hurt and humiliated; that he was, by his actions, breaking the one cardinal rule of the dressing room.”
Wrapping up the Terry affair news, The Sun work overtime to smear Vanessa Perroncel by announcing “Perroncel had affairs with FIVE Chelsea stars including England captain John Terry, The Sun can reveal. A source close to the French lingerie model, ex-girlfriend of Wayne Bridge, last night told The Sun: ‘To say she’s a Chelsea Girl is a bit of an understatement.'”
It’s a bitter sweet day for Crystal Palace and Notts County as both lower league clubs dispatched of Premier League opponents in the FA Cup only to find themselves still starring down the financial barrel.
On the Eagles, ominously scrawled “the worst may be yet to come. Earlier in the day, the club were warned by the administrator that they might have to sell more players to balance their books, having already let Victor Moses, the much-admired 18-year-old forward, join Wigan Athletic for Â£2.5 million on Monday.”
Flagging up Notts County’s success, Peter Lansley noted “County, a week after surviving a winding-up order, with a transfer embargo still in place as they chase promotion from Coca-Cola League Two under the caretaker management of Dave Kevan, deservedly beat Wigan Athletic, their Barclays Premier League opponents, to reach the last 16 of the FA Cup for the first time since 1992.”
Staying with clubs in financial crisis, Portsmouth have another day to forget in the backpages.
Russell Kempson announces that “the Premier League will hold on to more than Â£2million from Portsmouth’s player sales in January to cover money owed to other clubs as more financial pressure was today heaped on the south coast side.” And the long-term stranglehold on Pompey tightens after Jamie Jackson reports that “Alexandre Gaydamak will not force Portsmouth into administration even though the club missed last Sunday’s deadline to pay their former owner a Â£9.5m installment on the Â£30m he claims he is owed.”
The final club to find themselves in hot water this Wednesday is Liverpool.
Tony Barrett discloses how the Anfield club is scrathing around for a much needed Â£100 million. “Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr, the Liverpool owners, have less than six months to secure the Â£100 million investment demanded by their creditors or they run the risk of being forced to put the club up for sale… RBS has made it a prerequisite of another refinancing deal being secured that Liverpool cut their debts by Â£100 million. Should they fail to do so, Hicks and Gillett would be faced with two options: find another financial institution willing to enter into an arrangement with them or put the club on the market.”
The dire outlook for Liverpool is fleshed out by Ian Herbert. “Fail to find the cash and the Americans will be out of Anfield after a rocky and largely unhappy three years on Merseyside. The consequences of that for Liverpool could be defining ones â€“ conceivably a fire sale of the club similar to the one which West Ham United have just undergone, with the attendant loss of money, elite players and status as a top side.”
And just in case some Liverpool fans think that the getting the Americans out is the be-all-and-end-all, Ian Herbert explains the pitfalls of the unknown. “There are some among the fan base who maintain that failure to hit the top four this season would be for the best, finally flushing out of Liverpool two proprietors who need Champions League football to meet their interest repayments. But who might the new owner be, with the club for sale at a knock-down price? And what would they invest? Whichever road Liverpool take it looks to be a rocky one.”
Despite the transfer window shutting close, rumours still persist in the backpages.
One deal in fact had been completed, with Neil Gardner reporting that “Benjani Mwaruwari’s loan move from Manchester City to Sunderland has been given the go-ahead by the Premier League.”
Arsenal are set to sign yet another unknown teenager dubbed “the new Vidic,” as Giles Moles reports that “Arsenal have been linked with Montenegro defender Stefan Savic. The 19 year-old, who currently plays for BSK Borca, enjoyed a recent 10-day trial period at Arsenal and talks are reportedly continuing between the two clubs over the fee, which could be around Â£2.25 million.”
But it’s not all good news for Arsenal, as Anthony Kastrinikas crawls out from his hole to fart “Barcelona are piling the pressure on Arsenal as they plan a Â£40million summer capture of Cesc Fabregas.”
According to Tony Barrett, “Liverpool are edging closer towards agreeing a pre-contract deal to sign Milan Jovanovic,” while the Telegraph go one stage further barking “a pre-contract has been agreed for the 28-year-old to join Rafael Benitez’s side in the summer.”
Lastly, after Rory Smith compiles a long list of footballer whose contracts expire in the summer, the scribe explains how Jean-Marc Bosman still haunts the world of football. “The absence of transfer fees is likely to drive wages even higher, as well as leaving players free to demand exorbitant signing-on fees, placing further strain on already precarious bank accounts. Power remains firmly in the hands of the players, even as clubs find football’s freakonomics collapsing and contracting around them. It is a price they may have to pay. Even in the age of austerity, there is no such thing as a free transfer.”