Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “We looked at him [Frank Lampard] at West Ham when he was a young player and I regret not doing it — where else could I get 200 goals from midfield? Lampard is fantastic, an incredible player. If he gets the goal record… I don’t think there’s a midfielder who will do that again. He is quite phenomenal. He has that great knack Bryan Robson had of timing when coming into the box. He arrives at just the right time and it’s all about timing for that kind of player. John Wark at Ipswich was another one who could time his runs into the box. That value has got him 200 goals. Plus I can’t remember him ever being injured.” – Sir Alex Ferguson.
Runner-up: “I’ve been in the game a long, long time but I’ve never quite witnessed anything like that. For 10 or 12 minutes, it was ridiculous. I’ve seen people waiting in tunnels, walking in corridors, hiding in toilets. It was really incredible.” – Steve Bruce.
Man United Linked To Bale, Modric, Lewandownski & Ronaldo
Ronaldo: I’d rejoin United (Paul Hetherington, Star) The Daily Star Sunday can reveal that Ronaldo has told a senior player at Old Trafford that he would seriously consider that proposition. And United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has insisted he will have the backing of the club’s owners – the Glazer family – to make a major splash in this summer’s transfer window.
Manchester United get backing for big-name signing.. with Bale, Modric and Ronaldo on list (Simon Mullock, Mirror) Sunday Mirror Sport can reveal that Ferguson has identified a need to recruit a centre-back, a midfielder and a left-back – but he has assured United’s fans that the club’s – American owners will give him their full financial backing if he identifies a big-name signing. United are monitoring Cristiano Ronaldo’s situation at Real Madrid, while Tottenham’s Gareth Bale and Real Madrid’s Luka Modric are also attracting Ferguson’s attention.
Sir Alex Ferguson cleared for huge buy (Jim Karr, Express) Ferguson insists everything is in place for a big-money swoop, especially if any of his major targets, which include Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Dortmund’s Robert Lewandowski, become realistic buys. He said: “I think the owners, the Glazers have done great. Whenever I’ve asked, they’ve delivered. If I was to ask to go for a certain player now, I think they’d do it.”
Manchesters United and City set to battle for Malaga playmaker Isco (Steve Bates, Mirror) The 21-year-old Spain international, who has a £30million buy-out clause in his contract, is wanted by almost all of Europe’s top clubs.
Arsenal: Trying To Get Cesc & Loic
Cesc Fabregas could return to Arsenal (Tony Stenson, Star) Cesc Fabregas will look for a return to the Premier League if he is sold by Barcelona this summer, with Arsenal in pole position to take advantage. Sources in Spain have confirmed that the Gunners have the first option on the midfielder should he leave the Nou Camp. Fabregas has had a poor season and has been singled out for criticism for their humiliating exit from the Champions League.
QPR striker Remy wants to complete dream £6m move to Arsenal (Mirror) Remy will quit QPR at the end of the season and a relegation release clause in his contract means he is available for just £6million. That has alerted a host of clubs, including Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool, Everton and Newcastle.
Gay Footballers Stay In The Closet
Eight footballers say ‘we’re gay’ but keep quiet in fear of fans (Mark Townsend, Observer) Gay campaigners told the Observer that Clarke Carlisle, chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association, had revealed that eight players had approached him to disclose that they were gay. Seven told him that the reason they would not reveal their sexual orientation publicly was not the reaction from the dressing room or club, but the potential reaction from the media and supporters.
The Merseyside Derby Previews
Suarez: I stay (Geoff Sweet, Sun) Luis Suarez has confirmed he will stay at Liverpool. The striker, 26, was thought to be quitting Anfield after his 10-match ban for biting Chelsea star Branislav Ivanovic. But Suarez said: “I have a deal with Liverpool and this is my present — and future.”
You’ll never walk unaided (Neil Syson, Sun) Liverpool’s stars put the Luis Suarez biting scandal behind them by getting their teeth into a ten-hour bender. Eleven players took a £30,000 charter jet to Madrid to raise morale — and as a farewell bash for ex-skipper Jamie Carragher. Daniel Sturridge, Daniel Agger, Glen Johnson, Jordan Henderson and Pepe Reina were among stars partying until 7am, five days before today’s derby with Everton. They were joined in the Spanish capital by Martin Skrtel, Fabio Borini, Stewart Downing, Brad Jones and Jon Flanagan. The players set out on the lash at 9pm on Monday, an hour after checking into their hotel. They spent two hours drinking cocktails at a bar then got taxis to a restaurant where they tucked in to steak and red wine. At 2am they filed into a VIP area at Posada de las Animas — the Inn of Cheer. Carragher was first to leave the club at 4am.
Liverpool set to reignite interest in Barcelona striker David Villa (Mirror) Brendan Rodgers has reignited his interest in Barcelona striker David Villa. Liverpool boss Rodgers has been forced to reassess his forward options after Luis Suarez was hit with a 10-game ban for biting.
Mourinho’s Chelsea, The Return
Jose Mourinho to Chelsea? Road to Special One’s second coming not straightforward (Henry WInter, Telegraph) So many questions need considering by Roman Abramovich and the board. Could Mourinho work with Michael Emenalo, the technical director who drives transfer policy with Abramovich? Could Mourinho persuade Chelsea to keep Lampard? Do any of the players still have issues with him? Not all were heartbroken at his leaving on Sept 20, 2007. Will he give youth a chance? Chelsea boast a string of talented youngsters from FA Youth Cup finalists to Romelu Lukaku on prolific loan at Clarke’s West Brom. Mourinho does not have a reputation of gambling on kids, although he has been rewarded for backing Raphael Varane, one of Europe’s rising stars, at the Bernabeu. And what will his style be?
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich arranges to meet Jose Mourinho on his super yacht to discuss return (David Kidd, Mirror) Roman Abramovich has arranged to meet Jose Mourinho this week to discuss a possible return to Chelsea for The Special One… The Special One would like Lampard to be offered a one-year deal but is unlikely to insist on it. Abramovich is said to be intrigued by the possibility of a Mourinho return but knows his former manager will want the final say on all transfers. And he knows such a move will also cause conflict with others inside the Chelsea hierarchy, including his close ally and technical director Michael Emenalo, whose influence would be sure to wane if Mourinho returns.
Lukaku could be Jose’s new Drog (Harry Redknapp, Sun) I believe there need be only a couple of additions to tip the balance in Chelsea’s favour. For starters, Mourinho might go for a striker. He built his old Chelsea team around Didier Drogba and there is every reason to suspect he will do a similar thing again. He likes a powerful striker who can hold up the ball, use aerial power and terrorise defenders. With that in mind, I would expect to see Romelu Lukaku return from his loan at West Brom after a great season. He has been talked about for a while as the new Drogba and Mourinho’s comeback would probably coincide with him returning to London. I also believe he might go for a holding midfielder in the mould of Claude Makelele.
Why I’d love to see him back in the Premier League (Ian Holloway, Mirror) The return of the Special One wouldn’t just be good for Chelsea – it would give the whole of English football a lift. The moment I read that Jose Mourinho could be on his way back to Stamford Bridge, the hairs on the back of my neck began to rise and my blood started pumping. I am absolutely intrigued by, and in awe, of the fella. Now I hope that his Second Coming really comes to pass – and I won’t be the only one.
As Mourinho lurks, German outfit Schalke set sights on interim Chelsea manager to join football revival (Rob Draper, Mail) Rafa Benitez will be offered the chance to join Germany’s footballing renaissance next season, with Schalke chasing him as their No 1 choice to be new manager… Benitez would welcome the opportunity to work at a club like Schalke in an increasingly high profile league.
The Championship Finale
Last-day drama with 40 goals in 12 matches, THREE keepers in agony for ONE team, another dribbling the ball around his box for the final TWO MINUTES (Adam Shergold, Mail) The Championship reminded us of its status as one of the world’s most captivating leagues in a rollercoaster final day that saw 40 goals in 12 games and the promotion, play-off and relegation pictures shifting on a minute-by-minute basis. Hull City returned to the Premier League after three years away, but despite drawing 2-2 at home to title winners Cardiff City, they were left to endure a nerve-shredding 15-minute wait to see if they would make it. The match at Vicarage Road between Watford – the other challengers for automatic promotion – and Leeds United was delayed by nearly 20 minutes after goalkeeper Jonathan Bond suffered a nasty injury that saw him taken straight to hospital in a neck brace following a collision with Dominic Poleon. It meant that after Cardiff equalised late on at Hull through Nicky Maynard’s penalty, a Watford winner would have sent them up instead.
The German Model Usurps Spain
First it was Spain, now it’s in fashion to copy Germany… but we must never forget our own football identity (Gary Neville, Mail) As far as English football is concerned, the German system is as near to our game as we’re going to get in terms of the strength, power, intensity and high tempo. And what Wednesday night’s performance tells you is that with energy, organisation and structure — all of which are English characteristics — you can achieve plenty. England don’t have to be Brazil, Spain or Argentina. Our club sides don’t have to be Barcelona. Of course, we need to learn from all good football nations and we need more good technical players with the kinds of skills those Latin nations cherish. But while we want to improve those traits, you can never shake off your own footballing identity and nor should we.
Barcelona and Real Madrid are symbolic of Spain’s pain (Sid Lowe, Observer) The shift in power is complete and so, too, is Spain’s subjugation. Economic and political power was one thing, but now this. No Spanish teams reached the European Cup final and none even got so far as the quarter-final of the Europa League. The Germans, by contrast, have two European Cup finalists, full stadiums, cheap tickets, rude economic health … they’ll even have Pep Guardiola next season. What have Spain got?
Galatasaray line up £5m move for unsettled Fulham striker Dimitar Berbatov (Mirror) Galatasaray are willing to match the £5m the Cottagers paid Manchester United to sign the Bulgarian last year. Berbatov, 32, is frustrated by a lack of midfield creativity in the Fulham squad and is concerned the Craven Cottage club will merely be fighting relegation next season having been mediocre this term. With a year left on his Fulham contract he could be open to a move, with Russians Zenit St Petersburg also registering an interest.
West Ham prepare move for Peter Crouch while Stoke turn to Nicklas Bendtner (Mirror) Peter Crouch is being lined up for a move to West Ham, writes the Sunday People. And Stoke City have already started to plan for life without the big striker – by plotting a surprise swoop for Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner.