Juve target Defoe, the Toon track Ferguson, while City want Given & Toure

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “This is one of the highlights of my career. It’s dream stuff. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the two games I’ve been in charge and the response of the players. The new manager came into the dressing room afterwards to congratulate us. My job is reserve-team manager and I go back to it on Monday. This is special, but next week I will be taking charge of the second-string for a match against Lincoln reserves. I thought we thoroughly deserved the victory. A good result would have been to have taken them back to the City Ground, but we scored at the right times. Nathan Tyson’s goal was worthy of winning any game. It’s the first time Joe Garner has spoken to me since I left him out. I’m extremely proud of the players.” – Forest caretaker-manager John Pemberton.

Runner-up: “It is a derisory offer [£6 million for Stewart Downing]. Who on earth do Spurs think they are? They bleated away when Dimitar Berbatov left for Manchester United in the summer, but they sold at top dollar. Then they want to snatch other players for derisory offers and try to unsettle players. That is what has happened here. Their offer is a joke. Why would we sell our best players to our nearest rivals? Stewart is going nowhere. Portsmouth are at it as well, sniffing around Gary O’Neil, trying to get him through the back door. We’re close to Spurs and Portsmouth in the table. Why would we sell these clubs our best players?” – Middlesbrough’s chief executive, Keith Lamb.

Today’s overview: Perhaps the biggest story this Sunday is the one that was not written. Despite Manchester City’s humiliating FA Cup defeat at home to Nottingham Forest there is a distinct lack of “Sparky will be out in the morning” headlines. Rather, focus again returns to City’s sizable war-chest and who they are presently targetting.

But before we get there, the Sunday Times lead with the stomach-turning headline, with intention to leave has provoked a vitriolic response from supporters, and he is much concerned by their ability to obtain his mobile phone number and make threats not only to him, but to his family.” But Des Kelly jumps on the anti-Defoe bandwagon arguing “every year, Jermain ticks off the days in his diary until the morning when he can pack his suitcase, flick on the telly and wait to find out which club jersey he will be wearing for the second half of the season.” And perhaps Defoe may look fr salvation abroad with Alan Nixon reporting that “Italian football giant Juventus has tabled a written £20million bid for Jermain Defoe.”

Explaining why Juve are looking to England for signings, Ian Bell picks up on the impact of the economic climate during the current January sales. “Thanks to sterling’s slide against the euro, England’s clubs can no longer treat Europe as a pick n’ mix store. Conversely, the big European outfits suddenly have the edge. If they are not already financial basket cases – Valencia, say – they can now enjoy a 25% currency advantage, and more, over English rivals.”

James Corringan slams the notion of the transfer window. “Simply scrap the new system and go back to the old way of doing business, a way favoured by seemingly everybody in the pyramid except those at the very top.”

On day four of the transfer window, David Harrison claims Stephen Ireland is now Arsene Wenger’s top target. According to Alan Oliver, “Tony Adams wants to rescue Joey Barton from his nightmare at Newcastle United.” And Rory Smith claims that Liverpool are looking to offload Jermaine Pennant and Andrea Dossena in order to fund the £12m capture of Pompey’s Glen Johnson.

Another manager looking to sell before they can buy is Joe Kinnear, Michael Walker reporting that the Toon must “offload recent acquisitions such as £6m Jose Enrique, bought by Sam Allardyce, and £5.7m Xisco” as they try and sign Rangers captain Barry Ferguson. One player the Magpies hope to hold on to is Shay Given, Sir Bobby Robson making an impassioned plea for the Irish goalie to stay in the Mail on Sunday. But according to Martin Hardy Given is heading out the St. James’ Park door in a “£10million switch to Manchester City” after becoming disillusioned with the club.

Reacting to Manchester City’s riches, Paul Wilson explains what it means to be a financial big-hitter these days in the Premier League. “Wealth means being able to hang on to your best players, or contemplate signing new ones without having to sell first… What was basic solvency a few months ago is now luxury. The Premier League still resembled a billionaires’ playground when City’s owners bought in six months ago, now it looks more like an entrepreneurs’ graveyard.” On the transfer front, Emily Benammar writes that “City are reported to have made an £8 million bid for Arsenal defender Kolo Toure as they continue their January spending.”

Looking more specifically at the fallout from City’s FA Cup exit to Nottingham Forest, Rory Smith observed that “if there was any doubt as to whether City’s new owners would unleash a spending spree in the middle of the season, consider it banished. The more pertinent question now is whether it will be Hughes asking them to sign the cheques.”

Jane Dyer tries to lift City spirits by reliving the tale of Bert Trautmann, “the ex-Luftwaffe paratrooper… [whose] signing was so controversial that it sparked a 20,000-strong protest by fans” only for the keeper to become a City legend.

Carlos Tevez could be on his way out of Old Trafford after failing to agree personal terms over his contract. According to Joe Bernstein, “talks between United and the Argentina striker’s advisers have stalled because of £120,000-a-week demands from the 24-year-old… with United offering £80,000 a week rather than placing him among their highest earners.”

In other gossip, Daniel King announces that “Derby want former England coach Steve McClaren to make a sensational comeback to English football. But the appointment could depend on the outcome of a hostile takeover bid by a wealthy Saudi Arabian family.”

Chelsea may not have been knocked out by Southend, but their draw left Steve Thompson commenting that the Blues’ “vulnerability at home, where they have mustered only four league victories, is an increasing cause for alarm.” Financial constraints are also taking hold at Stamford Bridge with Duncan Castles reporting on a series of cost-cutting measures including “First-teamers have had their allocation of free tickets halved to four a game.” Lastly on the Blues, Piers Morgan attempts to rally people against Didier Drogba who he labels “a very self-centered, arrogant, thoughtless and rude man.” (Pot, kettle, black anyone?)

While offering a general defense of Steven Gerrard, Rod Liddle can’t help wondering whether “Benitez would have been quite so indulgent had, say, Robbie Keane been banged up for 20 hours after having been accused of clobbering someone while on the razz at two o’clock in the morning at a nightclub.”

Lastly, Gethin Chamberlain tells the story of 14-year-old Raja Chinnaswamy in the Observer, a street kid how has become the “rising star of Indian football, [and] already being talked about by his excited coaches as a future fixture in the national team.”