Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “Gaz has little AVB and is buzzing. I give him stick about her initials. He is the first to give someone banter. So when you have a chance to give it back, you take it.” – Jermain Defoe on Gareth Bale’s 5-month old daughter called Alba Violet Bale.
Runner-up: “Giggsy is going to finish when he’s 50 years old! He’s an incredible player. He’s still fit and still playing in this kind of game. It’s unbelievable. Giggsy is the flag of his club and I’m happy for him.” – Cristiano Ronaldo.
Where is Rooney going?
£25million and Roo can have him (Neil Custis, Sun) Manchester United will listen to offers of £25million for striker Wayne Rooney. That figure is half what they would have expected for the England star a year ago. Rooney, 27, was sensationally axed from United’s Champions League starting line-up against Real Madrid on Tuesday night. And with just over two years left on his current contract, the club are ready to accept a reduced fee. United believe they have seen the best years from a player they signed from Everton for £30m nine years ago.
Matching Ibrahimovic’s £50m wage bill may prove to be a stumbling block for PSG in swoop for Man United star Rooney (Charles Sale, Daily Mail) The details of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s salary at Paris Saint-Germain highlight the financial obstacles that would hinder any plan for Wayne Rooney to move to France. Rooney’s omission from Manchester United’s starting line-up against Real Madrid has increased speculation about a summer transfer. A possible PSG bid for the striker was first mooted by Sports Agenda in January after he was left out at Tottenham. The information came from high-up sources at Nike, who want the biggest seller of their football shirts in the shop window for all the big games. However, the crippling 75 per cent income tax on France’s high earners means PSG have to pay Ibrahimovic €55million a year (£47.5m) for the Sweden striker to take home the annual €13m that brought him to Paris. A similar package would be needed for Rooney’s advisers to contemplate a move – and even PSG’s Qatari backers might baulk at a deal that would mean spending the club’s entire annual turnover on two players.
Wayne Rooney will not be offered escape route by Manchester City (Jamie Jackson, Guardian) Manchester City have no desire to revive their interest in Wayne Rooney despite the uncertainty over his future at Manchester United, with the player’s reputed £300,000-a-week salary pricing them out of the market. City came close to signing the forward in October 2010 when Rooney agitated for a move away from Old Trafford, claiming the club lacked ambition. But despite the wealth at City, they are not prepared to match the salary which, with add-ons, is believed to be around £300,000 a week. Since the collapse of the proposed deal more than two years ago, Uefa’s financial fair play regulations have been introduced and, with City’s intent to adhere to these, they would have to free up a sizeable chunk of their player wage bill to be able to offer Rooney similar terms.
Why does Ferguson want rid of Rooney?
Is Rooney fit for purpose? He is the highest paid star at Manchester United but still Ferguson’s doubts grow (Ian Ladyman, Daily Mail) Rooney’s value to United when he is fit and lean and driven remains enormous. He may not have the style of Robin van Persie or the speed of young Danny Welbeck. But he has the ability to inspire and lift this United team like no other player at the club. His problem, however, is that he no longer has Ferguson’s complete trust. His manager continues to suspect Rooney is not in optimum condition. The player insists his lifestyle is not a contributing factor and there is no concrete evidence either way.
Nevertheless, occasional photographs of the 27-year-old with a beer or cigarette in his hand have not helped soften the irritation felt by a manager who still rarely misses a thing.
On the Wayne: Why there may be no way back for Rooney at Manchester United now (David McDonnell, Daily Mirror) In an interview for the Manchester United vs Real Madrid matchday programme, Wayne Rooney was asked which super-power he would most like to have. “I’d probably like to be able to see into the future,” was his considered response. But after being dropped by Sir Alex Ferguson for the visit of the Spanish champions, a glimpse into the future at United is perhaps the last thing he needs right now. For it seems it is a future without Rooney, whose turbulent relationship with his manager appears to have finally reached the point of no return, with the endgame in sight for both.
Wayne Rooney: an all-action hero running out of time to fulfil potential (Daniel Taylor, Guardian) His exclusion would once have brought outcry but now elicits a different kind of scrutiny. It is a form of regret, almost sadness, that for all his achievement he has not turned out to be the player English football had quite expected: the all-action hero who would terrorise players so devastatingly it would be barely conceivable Old Trafford could witness one of its top five European nights in the Ferguson era without him in the team. The player, one might say, Rooney used to be. Ferguson had his logic prepared but a player of Rooney’s selfless commitment and professional drive might flinch to hear United’s manager considered Danny Welbeck as superior when it comes to tracking back opponents and, in this case, dropping on to Xabi Alonso to negate the most prolific supply line to Ronaldo. That surely is one of Rooney’s great strengths even without the long, powerful stride of his younger colleague. As for their respective scoring threats, Welbeck is still refining his finishing. Rooney, despite reaching an awkward juncture in his professional life, is the more reliable marksman by some distance.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s fatal glare at Wayne Rooney has an air of finality (James Lawton, Independent) Of course, Rooney will continue to produce evidence of a remarkable talent. A few days before his bitter humiliation at Old Trafford, he scored a spectacular goal against Norwich City. But plainly it did not convince his manager that he had a place against Real. If the goal was special by Premier League standards much of his other work wasn’t. Indeed, the consensus was that a lot of it was laboured and when the smoke had cleared from the match against Real so seriously distorted by the red card handed to Nani, there was another blow for Rooney. It was that Ferguson’s team selection and tactical approach had proved impressively judicious. The mobility and poise of Danny Welbeck handsomely repaid Ferguson’s confidence and with Van Persie so entrenched in the role of the new main man, Rooney, at 27, has surely never contemplated a less certain future.
Real Madrid axe means Wayne Rooney is not fit for purpose at Manchester United (Paul Hayward, Daily Telegraph) This was no marginal omission by Sir Alex Ferguson. United’s top players are not left out in home Champions League ties against Real Madrid without prior calculation. Proven match-winners are not discarded on a whim. The selection of Danny Welbeck ahead of England’s foremost player appeared to express the displeasure of his manager, who has always laid before Rooney a simple principle. If any player is deemed to be in insufficiently good shape to meet the fitness levels required by United in this age of intricate conditioning he will not appear in the starting XI. A sighting of Bryan Robson in the press area after the game offered a reminder that less strict criteria applied in earlier times. Before ceaseless running became football’s religion, players could get away with peaks and troughs. In a slower game their talent would carry them through aerobic barriers. But all that changed years ago. Nowadays, at the level United occupy, players are like racehorses, with a sheen and minimal body fat.
Hailing Jose Mourinho & Real Madrid
How José Mourinho trumped Sir Alex Ferguson in battle of tactical wits (Barney Ronay, Guardian) Before United could reorganise properly Madrid had scored two decisive away goals. By the end Ferguson had effectively “won” 165 minutes of this tie. Mourinho, brilliantly decisive with his opponent off balance, won the 15 that mattered, remaining entirely in the moment in the seconds after Nani’s dismissal while Ferguson was standing on the touchline conducting the crowd to greater heights of indignation. When Mourinho says “Modric changed the match” it is clear what he really means: I changed the match. Ferguson’s non-appearance at his post-match press conference may have had something to do with the sense of having been picked off, expertly, in his own backyard. No doubt it had far more to do with the epic-scale anger and disappointment of exiting the Champions League when he will have harboured genuine hopes of a career-defining, and possibly ending, triumph at Wembley. With Madrid and, possibly, Barcelona out of the way only Bayern Munich would have presented opposition with a dangerous air of destiny about them.
Jose Mourinho’s act cloyingly insincere but Luka Modric call marks him out as Sir Alex Ferguson’s heir apparent (Jim White, Daily Telegraph) Mourinho clearly had a purpose in his behaviour. He does not do anything by chance. As one of those who attended put it, his performance after the game was less of a press conference than an audition. He has made it perfectly clear that he wants to come back to the Premier League next season. It is also pretty obvious that, having managed Real Madrid, if he is to return it will not be to take over from Brian McDermott at Reading. There is one club in England he has long felt is his destiny. Sure, there is no official vacancy at Manchester United. But there will be eventually. Perhaps, following Tuesday night’s result. sooner than that. And Mourinho knows, while there are plenty who reckon he is the only plausible candidate with sufficient depth of self-worth to take over from Sir Alex Ferguson, there are senior figures within the club who would prefer to endure root canal work rather than see him in the Old Trafford dugout.
Brilliant Roy Keane
Roy Keane’s compelling critique of Nani’s red card shows he has finally come of age as a pundit (Jonathan Liew, Daily Telegraph) What marvellous television. And while ITV get a lot of stick for their football coverage, when they get it right, they really do get it right. More importantly, it was a glimpse of the hall-of-fame pundit Keane could yet become. In his early appearances for ITV, he appeared laboured, still wearing the sackcloth of the ex-Championship manager rather than the laurels of the seven-time Premier League winner. But just as in everything else – except, ironically, Keane’s management career – he has grown quite magnificently into the role. Those who were in Seville on November 18, 1992 were convinced they were watching an all-time great in the making. Those who were in front of a television on March 5, 2013 may have some idea of how they felt.
Spurs prepare new deal for Gareth Bale
Spurs ready to offer Bale £40m in desperate attempt to keep hold of Welsh wizard (Simon Jones, Daily Mail) Tottenham are drawing up a ‘double your money’ £8million-a-year deal in a bid to keep Gareth Bale from the clutches of Europe’s elite. The 23-year-old forward has been outstanding during the club’s charge towards Champions League qualification, scoring 20 goals in all competitions, and Spurs will make their offer of a five-year deal worth around £40m once they have secured a place in the top four of the Barclays Premier League. Bale signed a four-year contract worth a basic £75,000 a week last season which ties him to the club until 2016, but his increasing influence has prompted Tottenham to reassess that. Chairman Daniel Levy recognises the need to reward his prize asset, who has drawn comparisons with the world’s best players Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, and will propose a groundbreaking offer for the club of around £150,000 a week.
Manchester City want Carl Jenkinson
Join the club: Arsenal-plundering Manchester City are now eyeing up Carl Jenkinson (John Cross, Daily Mirror) Manchester City are keeping tabs on Arsenal full-back Carl Jenkinson. Premier League champions City are committed to buying the best young English talent, and may consider an approach if the promising 21-year-old becomes available. They moved for Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair last summer, and a new right-back is on the agenda for the coming close-season. City were one of the clubs keen on Jenkinson before he joined the Gunners from Charlton for £1million two years ago, but insist they are not currently interested.
Barcelona want Agger & Vermaelen
Barca track Prem pair (Phil Thomas, Sun) Thomas Vermaelen and Daniel Agger are top of Barcelona’s wish-list. The Spanish giants want a centre-back who fits their style of building attacks from the back. Barca know Carles Puyol, 34, and Eric Abidal, 33, are coming to the end of their glittering careers. Borussia Dortmund wanted too much money for Mats Hummels, so Liverpool ace Agger and Arsenal’s Vermaelen are in the frame.