Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “Clearly it is unrealistic to expect to stay at a club as long as Sir Alex, but I am ready for the next phase of my career. I want to work with a different perspective. At Porto, my objective was to win to earn the right to go abroad. At Chelsea, my ambition was to create a bit of history. But I always knew Chelsea lacked the normal English culture of stability… I love Inter and would love to build for the future here. In fact, I am doing it now, because I am not a selfish coach and Iâ€™m thinking about the future in terms of youth development and the age structure of my first team â€” but Italy is not the country for this. England is the country. And my football is English football.” – Jose Mourinho.
Runner-up: “It’s complicated, there’s my family, the desire to return to Boca Juniors, but I think about it. It crosses my mind to hang up my boots if we win the World Cup, although I have a contract [with Manchester City] until 2014. I’m a bit tired of so much football, so much football. I want to enjoy my family a bit. I’m very keen to stop and get a bit of calm. I’ve already won a lot. Living for football has saturated me.” – Carlos Tevez.
Today’s overview: All hail the Special One!
Following the ‘Quote of the day’ (see above), Patrick Barclay lists all those clubs whose ears will have pricked up on hearing that Jose Mourinho is ready to return to England. “Both Manchester clubs will take interest: City in case patience with Hughes runs out and United for when Ferguson retires, as intimated, at the end of this season or next. A building job will be required – team and stadium – at Liverpool if BenÃtez goes. Tottenham Hotspur, meanwhile, have ambitious plans for a new home. Even Newcastle United may hold some appeal if only a convincing owner with lots of money could be found. All in all, it is a fascinating prospect.”
Keeping with the managerial merry-go-round, Jason Burt suggests that Chelsea’s second best manager in recent history – Guus Hiddink – could also soon be free to return to England. “Hiddinkâ€™s contract runs until next summer but, if Russia fail to qualify [for the World Cup], it can be terminated now. And Hiddink as a free agent is a dangerous, if expensive, proposition… Hiddink. Well, he is Golden Guus. A job at the Bridge, in some capacity, is not impossible. Although Frank Arnesen, a growing influence again, may have a say on that. Then there are other clubs â€” Liverpool (if only they had the money, perhaps) and Manchester City (cash is no problem) who may direct covetous glances at a man who, although 63 last Sunday, has hinted that he may want to return to England and club management.”
Henry Winter drops a bomb ahead of England’s friendly with Brazil, detailing how the Three Lions almost called the match off. “England threatened to withdraw from Saturday’s friendly with Brazil after being refused permission to land at the special terminal at Doha International Airport reserved for the Interior Minister… What should have been a valuable PR trip, helping to jump-start England’s stuttering 2018 World Cup bid, risks deteriorating into an embarrassing own goal by the Football Association.”
With England players dropping like flies ahead of Saturday’s friendly with Brazil in Doha, Dominic Fifield views the match as “a test of the depth of the playing pool available to the England coach as the national team seek only a fourth win against Brazil in 21 matches.” But, if the England also-rans think that Fabio Capello will let them off lightly against Brazil, Kevin McCarra chimes in to report otherwise. “None of the line-up against Brazil can think they will be excused lapses merely because they are stand-ins for injury victims. Even in friendlies England must dread a hostile judgment from Capello.”
Countering the positive pre-match spin,here is a distinct imbalance on the team-sheet. It is a situation that might be best illustrated on Brazilâ€™s right flank, where, in Maicon and Daniel Alves, they have two of the most potent wide players in world football. Marking them, on Englandâ€™s left-hand side, will be Wayne Bridge, in such poor form for Manchester City, and James Milner, starting an international game for the first time.”
Poor James Milner then becomes the focus for one of the most stupid and nonsensical comments of the day made by The Sun’s columnist, Terry Venables. “James Milner could turn out to be Fabio Capello’s very own Alan Ball. I am not suggesting for one second the Villa ace should be compared with one of England’s 1966 World Cup legends. But there is a striking resemblance in the way Milner, 23, is staking a late claim to be in the squad for next summer’s finals in South Africa.”
Looking to find the balance, Simon Barnes wonders what will amount to a successful match for England against Brazil. “The England football team always expect to lose to Brazil. They would have beaten them in the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 2002 if they hadnâ€™t expected to lose. They play Brazil in a friendly in Doha, a fixture that is all about pride and, er, money, in a match in which the result matters comparatively little, but a good, intelligent and cogent performance matters very much.”
Flipping attention to Brazil, James Lawton observes the South Americans tactics. “Brazil are expected to field the 4-2-3-1 formation which has brought a run of victorie… However, there is a deep seated worry about the heavy dependence on the cutting edge of Seville’s quirky, brilliant striker Luis Fabiano. Privately, Dunga agonises over the consequences of serious injury to Fabiano.”
England’s faltering 2018 World Cup bid is again dissected in the backpages,Lord Triesman attempted to draw a line under a torrid week for Englandâ€™s 2018 World Cup bid yesterday by admitting the mistakes that brought the campaign to the brink of crisis. Triesmanâ€™s mea culpa included an acceptance that the bid had lacked focus in recent months because of an unwieldy board and ill-defined roles.”
Yet, Lord Triesman cannot avoid criticism, with Patrick Barclay all-too-happy to point out his faults. “Lord Triesman, it must be said, has made a bad situation worse… Triesman surely rues taking responsibility for the bid as well as the FA, where he had enough on his plate â€” the failing Respect campaign is one example, Burton another â€” without putting himself forward for a task that always demanded a more resonant figure or a pair of them (Gary Lineker, say, with David Dein, the former Arsenal vice-chairman).”
Onto the transfer gossip.
Chelsea, knowing the winter transfer window may be there last chance to sign any players for up to a year, have made their first major move to bring in new recruits. Sam Wallace details how “Chelsea have made their first significant move since their transfer embargo was suspended by making a preliminary Â£14m offer for the Everton teenager Jack Rodwell, which has been rejected by the Merseyside club.”
The Independent report that Palermo have denied receiving offers for Manchester United and Liverpool target Simon Kjaer. The Independent continue to report deals that haven’t happened by reporting how “Barcelona president Joan Laporta has revealed that he rejected an attempt from Inter Milan to buy Lionel Messi this summer.”
In a transfer rumour that seems hardly believable, Matt Lawton farts “Manchester United plan to make a Â£20million bid for West Hamâ€™s Carlton Cole when the transfer window reopens in January.” Staying in Old Trafford, United fans will likely be jumping for when joy reading The Sun. “Juventus and AC Milan are set to battle it out for unhappy Manchester United ace Nani.”
Typically unsubstantiated, The Sun then cough up the rumour “David Moyes has joined the race for Bordeaux strike ace Marouane Chamakh,” before the red-top spreads the news that “Gary Megson is eyeing up a January swoop for Blackpool’s Scotland midfielder Charlie Adam.” Completing The Sun’s transfer lies, Paul Hughes announces how “Spurs are ready to launch a Â£2million bid to land Rangers wonderkid Danny Wilson.”