“Newcastle were awful, overwhelmed and comprehensively outclassed by Liverpool” – Oliver Kay

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “[Joey Barton] wasn’t unlucky. It was the right decision… He has let the football club down and he’s let himself down, without a doubt… Michael [Owen] wasn’t happy and I wouldn’t want him to be happy. But he’s been very professional about it because he is a great professional. We haven’t been creating chances. That’s been our problem. Is Oba more likely to score one from 15, 20 or 25 yards than Michael? Probably. We knew today we would be likely to feed off scraps.” – Alan Shearer.

Runner-up: “I would have booed myself if I’d been a fan in that situation. They work extremely hard and they pay good money and we didn’t give them enough. We will have to analyse why that’s the case… Fragile, careless, not enough energy, there was not enough effort or desire for me. We had a great opportunity, results went well for us on Saturday, we had a chance to put some daylight between us and the rest.” – Ricky Sbragia.

Today’s overview: The scribes line up to condemn Newcastle and praise Barca in almost equal measure this Monday.

Richard Williams leads the calls barking “it does not take a Nostradamus to conclude that there will be no happy ending.” On Shearer’s management skills Kevin McCarra writes “it is impossible to hold the interim manager accountable for Newcastle’s plight but he has made no discernible difference to it.”

Straight-talking, Oliver Kay continues the Toon bashing. “Newcastle were awful, overwhelmed and comprehensively outclassed by a Liverpool team who refuse to accept that the Premier League title race is over.” And adding to the desperate critique of Newcastle, Mark Ogden points out “there were no glimmers of hope for Shearer.”

Others, including Sam Wallace, opted to focus on Joey Barton’s dismissal. “Barton’s three-match ban signals the end of his season and most Newcastle fans will hope that it will also be the end of his career at the club.” Rory Smith also cannot resist dishing out a cheap-shot to Barton, bleating “his loathsome antics are a stain on the modern game. And that takes some doing these days.”

After watching the home defeat to Everton, Sunderland are panned by Michael Walker. “Sunderland’s gutless performance has to rank as lowly as any. It made Gordon Brown look sure-footed.”

George Caulkin takes a more expansive view of the North-East dog-fight. “Sunderland had joined Newcastle United and Middlesbrough, their local rivals and brethren in despair, in sapping defeat. They call it a relegation battle, but this feels more like competing shades of surrender.” Smart-ass Colin Young follows suit writing “the North East has turned into a soft bed, a place where visitors love to roam and pick up points.”

With the Champions League semi-final second-legs just days away, Barcelona are the toast of Fleet Street after their destruction of Real Madrid in El Classico.

Sid Lowe kicks off the Barca love-in. “They are a side of often mind-blowing precision: there was a smooth simplicity about their goals last night… They were practically walking the ball in, so good it looked easy, Xavi Hernandez completing a ludicrous 97 passes.” Patrick Barclay joins in the chorus adding “although Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea are riveting sides, Guardiola’s Barcelona, even more than Arsene Wenger’s team or Sir Alex Ferguson’s, represent the ideal of pure football.” And Gabriele Marcotti rounds off the praise lauding “the fact is that the match left you thinking that no matter what adjustments Real made, Barcelona would have found a way around them. And done so with class and panache.”

On Chelsea, Sam Wallace asks what does Frank Arnesen have to do to get the sack? “[Arnesen’s] contribution to the current first team squad of Chelsea thus far has been Franco Di Santo and Miroslav Stoch (18 substitutes’ appearances between them) despite a budget to recruit over the last four years that is pretty much unsurpassed in the history of youth development.”

Moving on, just how profitable was Birmingham’s promotion to the Premier League?

According to Conrad Leach, the Blues will receive a “windfall estimated to be worth around £60m over the next three years.” The Times’ £60m. “That is the figure that the Midlands club can expect to reap next season from increased television payments of £35 million and extra revenue from attendances, marketing and associated spin-offs.”

The Daily Mail appear to have misplaced £10m in their report, claiming Birmingham scooped a mere “£50million bonanza.” Although the Daily Express’s John Wragg agrees that “Birmingham secured a £50million place back in the Premier League a year after relegation.”

Martin Samuel uses his Monday column to continue his tirade against Michel Platini and justify why the Premier League is the greatest league in the world. “Platini huffs and puffs about the English game but the biggest problem for the Premier League is UEFA’s money and that is beyond the control of domestic football administrators… As England consistently have four clubs racking up the big numbers in the last 32, it is the Champions League money that seals the first tier of the Premier League.

Changing tracks, Owen Slot reports on how the sack race in England has turned cutthroat. “The average tenure of a managerial position in England hit an all-time low this season at 1.47 years and will probably dip farther as more sackings come out in the post-season wash. Of those managers who have left their first job, only 49 per cent of them get a second.”

Finally, we end off with today’s transfer lies in the tabloids.

Sami Mokbel starts things off scribbling “Steve McLaren could be set for a return to the Premier League after it emerged he is on Sunderland’s managerial shortlist.” John Cross tries to convince readers that “Harry Rednapp is lining up a summer bid to bring [Inter’s] Sulley Muntari back to the Premier League – with Jermaine Jenas heading in the opposite direction.” While Alan Nixon fabricates that “Lucas and Xabi Alonso could both leave Liverpool this summer.”