Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “If you put everyone in a rowing boat, we all have to push the oars at the same time with maximum effort with somebody at the head of the boat with a clear idea of which direction to go in. If everybody is doing their job properly you will go faster. But if somebody is not working as hard, their timing is not correct or they don’t have the same understanding, the boat will run off course.” – Rafa Benitez.
Runner-up: “Every Bolivia goal was a stab in my heart. If we had dreamed this was going to happen before the game, we would have thought it was impossible. We have to give merit to Bolivia who were better than us in every part of the field. There is nothing to say. They beat us well and now we have to start all over again. Bolivia played a great game and hit the target with every attack. They all played well from the goalkeeper to the last substitute.” – Diego Maradona.
Today’s overview: Two main topics dominate the backpages this Thurdsay – England’s victory over Ukraine and a forensic analysis of Alan Shearer’s appointment at Newcastle.
England’s slim victory over Ukraine is quietly celebrated in the papers, Kevin McCarra praising the Three Lions for finding “a solution in the midst of all the muddle.” Oliver Kay reaches a similar conclusion bleating “it was as disjointed a performance as England have produced all season, but they have, under their Italian task- master, developed a winning habit.”
On John Terry’s late winner, Sam Wallace amusingly wrote “after Terry’s mother Sue accepted a caution for shoplifting eight days ago, events had come full circle with the England captain pinching a not entirely deserved victory for Fabio Capello’s team.”
On a more individual level, Richard Williams focuses on Peter Crouch who he termed an “awkward a proposition for all but the best defenders.” A far less supportive opinion was offered by Matt Dickinson who commented “distribution from the goalkeeper and the full backs was alarmingly wayward and we saw why Peter Crouch, even with a goal, fails to offer the pace and punch England need.”
Wayne Rooney is taken to task by Steven Howard for again not keeping his emotions in check. “The Rooney who is a liability to both club and country… Last night his moment of madness arrived in the 64th minute when a niggling contest with Dynamo Kievâ€™s Oleksandr Aliyev turned into malevolence. Rooney decided he had enough of Aliyevâ€™s close attention and went thundering into a challenge. Throwing himself into the tackle, he went through the ball, connected with the Ukraine midfielder and left him in a heap. Ex-pros around me in the press box were united in their opinion that Rooney had done it on purpose.”
One player who didn’t make a significant impression was Aaron Lennon, Paul Wilson charging the Spurs winger as finding “himself outflanked by Steven Gerrard and David Beckham.” Not so says Patrick Barclay, who commented “although doubt persists that he would be a good bet against better sides, Lennon went off looking understandably happy with himself.”
Never happy and always thinking he knows best, pompous James Lawton complains that Michael Carrick was left on the England bench. “With England a goal ahead and beginning to savour the possibility of a fifth straight qualifying victory, Capello was no doubt looking for a little more ball control.”
Taking a step back, Brian Moore observes how England have reformed under Don Fabio. “Capello has reformed the dress code, insisted on respect for hotel staff and guests, made the team eat together and banned mobiles whilst they dine, and removed the WAGs… Capello’s rules are so basic that it is astonishing they are thought remarkable.” Martin Samuel follows suit commenting on Capello’s managerial style. “There is something about the way he stands defiant on the touchline as if daring his team to displease him by coming back without a win. If he had a rolling pin, he would look the dead spit of Andy Cappâ€™s missus.”
A great result for the Irish in Italy is put under the microscope by Irish Independent echo the same sentiment writing “an Irish team comes to Italy, enjoys a monopoly on possession and, despite only grabbing a late equaliser, can feel somewhat disappointed that they came away with just a solitary point. It must have been April Fool’s Day alright.”e point gained or two points lost?… Ireland outplayed Italy for much of an incident-packed match.” The
Further details of Alan Shearer’s appointment as the Newcastle manager are today emerging in the papers.
For Louise Taylor, “Shearer could earn up to Â£2m if Newcastle avoid relegation… [while] Shearer has activated a release clause in his BBC contract enabling him to take unpaid leave from football punditry.” Tom Dart picks up on Shearer’s departure from MOTD to sarcastically note “punditry will not be the same – which may be a good thing.”
Fellow MOTD pundit Alan Hansen gives his euphoric verdict on Shearer’s appointment in the Telegraph. “By bringing him in, straight away Newcastle are in front before they have started.” This is contrasted by Mike Norrish’s hyper-critical assessment of the Magpies. “They appoint Messiahs rather than managers and act as if glorious, winning football is their birthright. You’d think after a lifetime in the gutter, you might start looking at the pavement rather than the stars. Not at Newcastle.” Jamie Redknapp continues the negativity arguing “Shearer should have been Newcastle manager more than a year ago. Now, the odds of him keeping them up are slim.”
Simon Williams speculates over the impact of Shearer’s appointment for Michael Owen claiming “it is understood that Owen had been told about it and even played his part in persuading his friend to accept the chance to take his first manager’s job.” However, on the pitch the task of getting Owen going will not be simple, Louise Taylor writing how “Obafemi Martins might not be overly enamoured at having to sublimate his natural game for Owen’s good.”
Reacting to the changing atmosphere in the North-East, George Caulkin observes “the mood on Tyneside has been transformed by Shearerâ€™s extraordinary return – assisted by the departure of Dennis Wise last night – and that change has already infiltrated the dressing-room.” In a supplementary article, Caulkin goes on to explain how “relegation does not represent the biggest threat to the club. A slow death of hope and the accumulation of fractured dreams have been more corrosive.”
On the changing faces at St. James’ Park, Michael Walker pencilled “Alan Shearer flexed his muscles for the first time as interim manager of Newcastle United last night and Dennis Wise was the immediate casualty.” A slightly different story is spun by Rob Stewart writing “the club made a brief announcement that Wiseâ€™s 15-month spell on Tyneside had come to an end after agreeing a pay-off and dismissed suggestions that Kinnear, currently recovering from heart surgery, could move to the boardroom.”
Michael Walker assesses the overall picture of Shearer’s return to the Toon. “There is a belief that due to the state Newcastle have got themselves into, Shearer is in a win-win situation even if the club is relegated. But a couple of losses soon change opinion. Shearer may be football-smart, possess common sense and natural clout, but this is still a gamble.”
The most outrageous comment arguably comes from Harry Redknapp who, while going giddy over Shearer’s appointment, claimed “management at the top level has never been about coaching and it never will… It is about being a manager… You do not need to be popular as a manager, but it helps if the whole squad is behind you. Bringing in Iain Dowie to help is another smart move. I didnâ€™t know he and Shearer were that close.”
In other news, The Telegraph regurgitate the rumours linking Ashely Young to Chelsea. While, causing muchÂ anger atÂ clubs like Luton, Jeremy Wilson reports on how “the Football League is braced for a backlash from many of their clubs after it emerged they may be powerless to deduct points from Southampton, whose parent company will confirm administration on Thursday.”