Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “If you’re talking about finishing fifth or in the top four, [the Spurs’ squad is] well short of that. I’m not going to stand up here and lie to you. So far we’ve got the best out of what we have here but the squad is still well short of the top four and not as good as Aston Villa’s and other teams challenging to be up there. There’s a lot of work to do if we are going to get where we want to be. I bet you wish you hadn’t asked me that question now, don’t you, Mervyn?” – Harry Redknapp.
Runner-up: “We made these players [Ezequiel Lavezzi, Marek Hamsik, Walter Gargano and Fabiano Santacroce] â€” two years ago nobody knew who they were. If they want to go to England then in the end they’re going to go, but they need to understand this: the English live badly, eat badly and their women do not wash their genitalia. To them, a bidet is a mystery.” – Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis (pictured).
Today’s overview: There is a mixed bag of football articles this morning, with a limited amount of fresh tidbits on offer. Newcastle have offered Michael Owen a new, but reduced, contract, while the vultures remaining circling around Paul Ince at Blackburn as reports maintain that the Guv’nor will be sacked.
In a difficult article to digest, Louise Taylor tries to argue that Michael Owen is limited to being just a specialist goalscorer in which “he can spend large parts of games looking a mere passenger before suddenly pouncing.”
Wise before the event, according to Matt Dickinson “when Paul Ince is sacked, there will be a rush to condemn the impatience of club directors. How could Blackburn Rovers give him less than six months? But if English football is to learn anything, the question needs to be redirected to why the Rovers board gave him the job in the first place.” The gloomy outlook for Ince is echoed by Mark Ogden, writing “Ince is understood to be aware that only three points against Tony Pulis’ team can prevent his dismissal â€“ and even a win might yet prove insufficient to stave off the sack.” Ian Herbert claims the replacements have even been lined up, with Graeme Souness and Tugay “favourites to take on the task of managing the club out of their current crisis.”
Beginning by claiming “it is cheering to hear the boos,” Kevin McCarra picks holes in all the Big Four before concluding “for the moment it does not seem utterly outlandish to visualise Aston Villa holding tight to a Champions League spot.” While in other top flight news, Harry Redknapp has some choice words about the Club World Cup. “No one gives a toss, except those ringing the tills at Old Trafford. But it is the world we are in.”
agent Willie McKay has been given a suspended ban for his part in brokering the transfer of Benjani Mwaruwari from Auxerre to Portsmouth and then onto Manchester City. “Agents are not allowed to represent two different clubs in two consecutive transactions involving the same player.”
In today’s transfer rumours, Simon Cass links Real Madrid with a pursuit of Ashley Young and Lassana Diarra and Ian Ladyman reports that Manchester City may have to pay up to Â£20 million for Roque Santa Cruz.
Following El Clasico, Sid Lowe reports on the positive media spin Real Madrid have tried to put on the defeat. “The best team in the country? Madrid aren’t even the best team in the city after AtlÃ©tico overtook them last night. And far from proving Schuster wrong, Ramos had proven Schuster dead right.”
The Guardian’s European round-up sees Raphael Honigstein note that while Hoffenheim go into the winter break on top but a tired draw against Schalke hints at tougher times ahead. On Serie A, Paolo Bandini fears for AC Milan (“four points in their past four games”) after their defeat to Juve.
While on the Eredivisie, Leander Schaerlaeckens writes a brilliant article on how “Feyenoord are the inadvertent guinea pigs of a very interesting experiment. What happens if you can’t sack your manager?… Feyenoord are broke. And not the kind of broke that football clubs sometimes claim to be before bringing in a fresh batch of expensive players anyway. They’re proper broke. They’re also bad. Very bad. They’re in 12th place, only four points above the drop zone, having won just five times in 20 league and Uefa Cup games. But, as several members of the club’s board have confirmed, they can’t even afford to pay off their manager if they sack him. So they’re stuck with him.”