Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “If I lose my job, I have another job. Maybe tomorrow, maybe after one year or two years. I have worked for 25 years… In the last five games, we play at 50% of our potential, no more than this. Some players have been at 75 to 80% while others have been at 35 to 40%. The balance for our team in the last five games has been 50%. If you ask me if this team are ready to win things then ‘No’. They are not ready to win a trophy and they know this… I like Chelsea, I like Cobham, I like the school my son is at, I like the people here, even the press, but if I go back to Brazil, I will like Brazil the same. When I was in Kuwait, I loved Kuwait. Saudi Arabia the same. If I lose or not lose my job, I will be the same.” – Felipe Scolari.
Runner-up: “I know nothing about a Manchester City offer for Kaka. I think he’s not transferable and given that is the case, he will stay at Milan.” – Silvio Berlusconi.
Today’s overview: Day 14 of the transfer window and finally we have a serious story to sink our teeth into. Can Manchester City, currently 15th in the Premier League really convince Kaka to leave the San Siro and join them at Eastlands?
Andy Hunter takes the safe option when reporting the Man City-Kaka story, sticking to facts and leaving out specific figures, writing that City have “informed Milan they are prepared to dwarf the Â£46m Real Madrid paid Juventus for Zinedine Zidane in 2001 to bring the 26-year-old to City.” But Rory Smith steams in with his calculator at the ready, announcing that the fee “could rise as high as Â£100 million… [with Kaka standing] to earn a staggering Â£15 million a year net or Â£500,000 a week gross.”
But at the same time Rory Smith is not counting his chickens yet, reminding readers that “the richest club in the world have been linked with more than 40 players from all over the planet” with only Wayne Bridge actually signing, leaving their spending spree “in danger of becoming an anti-climax.”
Marcotti goes on the explain all the facts as they are known on this massive story, concluding “if City can pull this off, they will confirm the clichÃ© that everything has a price. Even KakÃ¡. And even Berlusconiâ€™s pride.”City have “launched a world-record bid of â‚¬100 million (Â£91 million) for Kaka” before observing that “Milan have never sold any of their star players while still in their prime… [but faced with an] offer that would just about cover Milanâ€™s wage bill for an entire season, even an ego as big as Berlusconiâ€™s might be ready to concede.” In a supplementary article,
The Sun’s Antony Kastrinakis and Shaun Custis report City “offered a sensational Â£175million in a bid to land AC Milan superstar Kaka… [whereby] Milan would pocket Â£100m and Brazilian playmaker Kaka almost Â£75m for a five-year deal worth Â£15m a season â€” or Â£280,000 per week.”
Spurious arguments as to why the Rossoneri may sell Kaka are offered by some columnists. Ian Herbert and Jason Burt quote one “school of thought that Berlusconi has sanctioned David Beckham’s arrival to give fans the sense that there is a new superstar to take the place of the outgoing one.” While for Matt Lawton, “it also helps City that Kaka is no longer the darling of the San Siro. That position is now occupied by Pato. Even David Beckham would now appear to appeal more to Berlusconi.”
Aside from the Kaka story, the other main transfer scoop (as reported by Andrew Dillion) is that Harry Redknapp “was in Italy last night preparing a move for Brazilian hotshot Adriano.”
Turning attention to Scolari’s comment on Chelsea, Matt Hughes picks up on the potentially damaging effect of the manager calling out his players for under-performing. “Scolari stopped short of naming the worst offenders. Such discretion, though, is unlikely to limit the damage when news of the managerâ€™s searing honesty is digested in an already fragile dressing-room.” And Hughes continues his analysis in a second article on the Blues – “Most managers accept the blame as a diversionary tactic or shift it on to the players in an attempt to shake them into line, but Scolari has done both.”
Mockingly challenging Chelsea to prove they are the best team in West London, Jim White argues that the core of Chelseaâ€™s problem is that “stuffed with inflated reputations and heavyweight egos, there is no internal competition at the Bridge.” And, almost proving the point, Henry Winter analyses the impact of Didier Drogba’s omission from the squad to play Southend tonight. “Drogba has been left in no doubt about Scolariâ€™s anger. Actions will speak even louder than strong words. Anelka will start against Southend with Drogba left behind in London.” Sam Wallace picks out his failing four at Chelsea, being Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack, Deco and Joe Cole.
Calling Ryan Giggs “the gift that keeps on giving,” Rob Bagchi waxes lyrical over the Welsh wizard. “Giggs is the exception, the one United player it has always been difficult to dislike, largely because he has so much to boast about yet seems to have such little inclination to do so.” And keeping with United, Martin Samuel writes off their chances of retaining the Champions League advising that “a betting man with any respect for the formbook would attempt to buck the recession by placing a large wager on Inter Milan, champions of Italy, to dispatch United in the first knockout round next month.”
Henry Winter sat down with the Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore to discuss whether we are seeing the best Premier League season ever. Scudamore: “You and I have sat here when United won it three years in a row, and you asked me: ‘Is it always going to be like this?’ We have sat here as the Chelsea revolution took place and you go: ‘That’s it, Chelsea are going to win it forever.’ When Arsenal went unbeaten (in 03-04), you said: ‘Nobody’s going to touch them.’ Yet here we are, in a very good place.”
With the Gaza war still raging, James Montague takes the opportunity to write about Israel’s only top flight Arab club, Bnei Sakhnin, who he claims are “increasingly becoming pariahs in their own league.” “Fans of Bnei Sakhnin have hardened their attitude to their Israeli opponents, singing Islamic and, it is claimed, anti-Israeli songs on the terraces.”