Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “Contrary to media speculation the club can confirm that Phil Brown has not been sacked and remains the manager of Hull City Football Club.” – a statement from Hull.
Runner-up: “If you look at the two squads, you look at us and think, ‘We’re definitely on a par,’ but that will only be judged at the end of the season. If you look at the last four or five years, for some reason Arsenal always got ahead of us slightly, but if you look now, it’s certainly even. And if you look at the squads, the bench that we have is probably a little bit stronger than their bench… We have to believe now that we are as good as the teams that are up there. The mentality around here, and I don’t think this is the players but I’m just saying that the feel of the club, was that they’d be happy to get fifth or seventh, make the Uefa Cup. But I think there’s a different feeling now. The feeling is that we want to get into the Champions League. Certainly the players have that feeling.” – Robbie Keane.
Today’s overview: Phil Brown’s head is nailed down to the Hull chopping board this Thursday.
Louise Taylor reports that “turmoil at Hull City intensified when the struggling Premier League club were forced to issue a statement denying widespread rumours that Phil Brown had been sacked as manager. Yet, although Brown is scheduled to be at first-team training tomorrow morning and in the dug-out at Burnley on Saturday, it may be a mere stay of execution as his grip on the post appears increasingly fragile.”
Muddying the Hull waters further, Gary Jacob announced “a day of turmoil on Humberside yesterday ended with rumours rife that Adam Pearson, the man chiefly credited with turning round the fortunes of Hull City during his first spell as chairman, was poised to return to the role.” Matt Lawton then sticks his oar in, stating “Phil Brown was clinging to his job after it emerged that Hull City chairman and chief executive Paul Duffen had been sacked. He will be replaced by Adam Pearson, their former owner who resigned as Derby chairman to pursue ‘new challenges’ as the KC Stadium intrigue intensified.”
In classic tabloid fashion, Alan Nixon already lines up Phil Brown successor in The Mirror. “The return of Pearson could also pave the way for a managerial comeback for Paul Jewell.”
Also starring down the barrel are Pompey, Jamie Jackson detailing how “Portsmouth have been given an unprecedented ban on transfers by the Premier League over debts that are understood to total about Â£3m, with the highest single installment in the region of Â£700,000.”
So are Portsmouth solvent?
Everything is fine and dandy according to Russell Kempson, who confidently chimes “fears that Portsmouth players would not be paid on time for a second successive month were allayed last night… Portsmouth believe that the League embargo will be lifted quickly, possibly as early as the end of this week.” But, quickly confusing the picture for the South Coasters is Jeremy Wilson, who claims “a television payment of about Â£12 million is due at the beginning of next year but, having already issued an indefinite transfer ban against Portsmouth, the Premier League would be prepared to divert as much of it as necessary to pay outstanding debts to other clubs.”
With all Portsmouth’s woes, Darren Lewis sees a gap to exploit scrawling “Portsmouth boss Paul Hart has emerged as a shock candidate to take charge at Championship side Reading.”
The taboo topic of hooliganism has once again reared its ugly head this week in football, and Oliver Kay reviews the trouble caused by Manchester United fans at Barnsley. “It had many of the ingredients: a heavy police presence, a 6,000-strong away following in a crowd of just under 23,000 and, according to one United supporter, the presence of â€œ50 or so idiotsâ€, who view such matches as a rare opportunity to get tickets and to recreate at least a semblance of the hooliganism that they missed out on in previous decades.”
In a rare criticism of Arsene Wenger’s tactical nous, David Hytner charges the Professor as being unable to pick a keeper. “Wenger has heard the accusation on more than one occasion. His good fortune in inheriting David Seaman when he took over at Arsenal in September 1996 camouflaged the blind-spot for only so long. The manager cannot pick a goalkeeper… Some would argue that Arsenal are the only challengers who lack a world-class performer between the posts.”
Kevin Mitchell welcomes Gordon Strachan back to English football. “There is something life-affirming about a manager who turns up at a new club and announces that, all things considered, he’d still rather be driving around the west coast of Ireland in the rain â€“ and then lets it be known, surreptitiously on a piece of paper, that there are nine players he wants to sign, including United’s Federico Macheda and Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere. You can almost hear the teacups rattling the walls in Manchester and London.”
Staying in the Championship, the Daily Mail report that “Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan has hinted he could be prepared to sell the club to David Gold, once Jordan’s bitter enemy.Â There has been speculation surrounding a Gold takeover at Selhurst Park and Jordan claims the stories originate from the former Birmingham City owner or his associates.” But Sami Mokbel quickly doses cold water on the story, adamant that “David Gold will step up his dream takeover of West Ham next week but warned: I wonâ€™t be held to ransom… if they play hardÂ ball on the price, GoldÂ could drop his interestÂ and focus instead onÂ either Crystal Palace orÂ Charlton.”
Calling it “Real Madrid’s greatest humiliation,” Sid Lowe discusses the latest crisis for Los Blancos. “The neo-galÃ¡cticos made fools of themselves; they had been left looking ludicrous after the 4-0 defeat by third-tier AlcorcÃ³n… Like Lady Macbeth, there’s no way Madrid can properly rid themselves of this stain… The average AlcorcÃ³n player earns â‚¬36,000 a season (although one lucky lad can supplement that with his earnings from the pizza shop). That is less than Ronaldo makes in a day.”
Arriving from left-field, the Telegraph announce that “female police officers are to pose as prostitutes in South Africa in a bid to snare kerb crawlers ahead of next year’s World Cup.” And keeping on a World Cup footing, dumbass Andy Cole uses his column in the Independent to argue that Danny Welbeck could make the England squad. “He is good enough to have an outside chance of gate-crashing England’s World Cup squad… All I can say to Danny is the most obvious sign that he is on the right track is that he is getting picked to play in United’s first team, and they are hardly struggling for world-class players! He is getting his chance and he will take it, of that I’m sure.”
As standard, we wrap up the paper round-up with the transfer lies.
Forgetting the fact that Liverpool’s transfer kitty is said to be bare, the Telegraph trumpet that Valencia’s Juan Mata is on Rafa Benitez’s shopping list, with the Spaniard “reportedly willing to pay up to Â£16.5m for the 21-year-old Spain international.” Taking the story one step further, Geoff Sweet farts “Benitez is ready to sign Valencia left winger Juan Mata – which could spell curtains for Ryan Babel.”
From one Valencia player to another, The Sun then shout “Liverpool and Manchester United are on red alert after David Villa fired his agent for failing to get him a summer move.”
In typically tabloid fashion, a separate article in The Sun discussing Pepe Reina’s new proposed contract undermines the theory that Liverpool have money to burn. After announcing “Pepe Reina will be offered a Â£95,000-a-week contract to pledge the next five years to Liverpool,” the red-top cries “tight purse strings mean any big-name signings in January are unlikely unless fresh investment is found, but the Reds are determined to splash cash to keep their prize assets.”
Elsewhere, in a faceless and quote-less piece, the Mirror appear the invent the story that “Arsenal are lining up a move for 16-year-old Mexican wonderkid Martin Luis Galvan Romo.”