Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I don’t want to say exactly what he [Lassana Diarra] said but he knows what it was, which was a disrespectful comment and it was typical of him, to be honest, and the way that he was. I was hunkered down a little bit when the final whistle went and I saw him walking towards me and I thought he was going to shake my hand. But he made a remark and I lost my head a little bit. You don’t expect that from a fellow professional. It’s a massive two-legged tie, only halfway finished, so for someone to come out like that and say something was bitterly disappointing. But our lads are aware of it and we’ll see what happens on Wednesday.” – Keith Andrews.
Runner-up: “I am probably out for between four to six weeks.” – Robin van Persie.
Today’s overview: It may be hard reading, but, in the wake of Robert Enke’s passing, the must-read article of the day sees Mirror columnist Stan Collymore go public with his battle against depression.
Collymore: “People think sports-stars earn a lot of money and that is an automatic indicator of happiness – well I can tell you it is not. I have had about six major bouts of depression since the age of 18 and I have sat there with a belt round my neck and gone out in a car and chucked a rope over a tree. All were done in absolute calm serenity with no hysterics or behaviour of a wide-eyed mad-man. It was just a solution to a problem that either four in ten people in the UK will either suffer from or know somebody that does.”
With the Three Lions still at the forefront of most people’s minds, Dominic Fifield opens up the old debate on who will keep goal for England in South Africa. “Fabio Capello’s concerns over who will be his first-choice goalkeeper at the World Cup have been further exposed after the England head coach admitted he would not consider David James, his regular No1, for the tournament if the veteran continues to be dogged by a knee problem.”
Patrick Barclay argues that Fabio Capello will be relived after England’s defeat against Brazil. “Capelloâ€™s selection process had just been made a lot easier. To the margins, on the stark evidence of his reservesâ€™ merciful defeat by a Brazil near full strength, had been consigned Darren Bent, Joleon Lescott, Jermaine Jenas and Shaun Wright-Phillips; they ought to make contingency plans for holidays next June. As for the families and close friends of Matthew Upson and James Milner, the best advice would be to book something in South Africa, but avoid game-drives on match days.”
Flipping the analysis, James Lawton takes out Brazil’s main man. “The biggest disappointment of the night was not Wes Brown or Shaun Wright-Phillips, although neither of them was at his best; the biggest disappointment was Kaka. Given the reputation this man carries around, his endless flouncing and, later on, his inclination to shoot from anywhere were a major let-down. In fairness to him, he looked tired and â€“ like the rest of us â€“ bemused as to what he was doing in Qatar.”
In a separate article James Lawton turns his focus on England, happy to draw cast-iron conclusions from a friendly. “This was England’s third defeat by a top 10 nation under Capello and, despite the absence of so many key players, it may well have been the most significant in that the Brazilians underlined all those qualities that in the past have so often hauntingly proved beyond the reach of English teams. The differences between the teams could scarcely have been defined more starkly. They were matters of speed, touch and strength. Inevitably, you could also throw in an implicit coherence.”
Staying with England, Martin Samuel voices his opinion on why England’s 2018 World Cup bid is in shambles. “The problem, quite simply, is PleasedManâ„¢ [i.e Lord Triesman]. A successful bid is about forging alliances, yet he is a man who divides and alienates. He thinks because he is a political player – albeit an unelected one, as every Westminster appointment has relied on the patronage of the Labour Party not the will of the people – he can work the world of sports politics, too.”
Reality seems to be setting in that Ireland’s World Cup dreams are in tatters.
Daniel McDonnell faces up to the gigantic achievement needed from the Irish in Paris. “Is this over? The simple reality is that Ireland will have to achieve their best ever result on opposition soil to turn it around in Paris on Wednesday. There is no precedent.”
Fifa appear to have made an example out of Diego Maradona. Or have they?
As reported by Sid Lowe, “just when Argentina thought it was safe finally to prepare for the World Cup, their coach, Diego Maradona, was banned from football for two months last night. An often surreal, intensely controversial and deeply troubling year will draw to a close with no manager on the bench and a shadow hanging over the troubled national team who were defeated 2-1 here on Saturday by Spain.”
Yet the severity of the ban is laughed off by Ian Chadbrand. “Maradona, following a convincing-enough apology in person to the hearing, was given what amounts to a mere slap on his bejewelled wrists with a 25,000 Swiss francs (Â£14,750) fine and a two-month ban from “any football-related activity”, starting immediately. The fine is a pittance for him and the ban comes in the exceedingly sleepy post-qualification period, taking in only an Argentina friendly next month against the Czech Republic, and the World Cup draw in Cape Town on Dec 4.”
Ewan Murray details how “George Burley will be the only item on the agenda at a hastily arranged meeting of the Scottish Football Association’s board this week, amid a rising expectation that he will be sacked as the country’s manager.” Graham Spiers fails to hold out much hope for the prolonged employment of the current Scotland manager writing “Burley is now in the last-chance saloon. Indeed, at this rate, there is probably already a bullet somewhere that has his name on it.”
Perhaps a little too gung-ho, Peter Jardine shouts in the Daily Mail “SFA office-bearers Gordon Smith and George Peat will meet within the next 72 hours to decide his fate after a wretched 3-0 defeat to Wales. And it is inconceivable that Burley will wriggle off the hook for the third time this season after two previous votes of confidence.” Yet that opinion is supported by The Sun’s Roger Hannah, chiming “George Burley will be sacked as Scotland boss in the next 48 hours.”
Swimming against the tide, Stan Collymore believes Burley should be given a stay of reprieve. “I donâ€™t think Burley should quit because he got a performance out of the side against Holland in their last qualifier as the Scots just failed to make South Africa. But the players should have a look at themselves because if they canâ€™t play an international friendly against one of the other home nations and be up for it, then they shouldnâ€™t wear the shirt.”
Serial transfer liar Alan Nixon continues his reputation of inventing gossip with little chance of it coming true, today farting “struggling Portsmouth are ready to swoop for Amr Zaki – and give the Egyptian bad boy a second chance in the Premier League.” The Mirror’s hack isn’t done there though, Nixon going on to claim “Chelsea are ready to sign brilliant Brazilian wonder boy Lucas Piazon from Sao Paolo – in a bid to beat their transfer ban.”