Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: â€œFabregas spat at our assistant manager. I was there, I witnessed it, he spat at my assistant manager down the tunnel. Thatâ€™s their club captain. Hopefully heâ€™s proud of himself. He spat at his feet. My club captain wouldnâ€™t do that and Iâ€™m not bothered if he apologises. For Arsenalâ€™s club captain to spit at my assistant shows you what this club is all about. Arsene never shakes my hand. Itâ€™s normal etiquette, maybe he was a bit sore at us beating them here last time. Itâ€™s very hard to take. The game was turned on its head when the referee succumbed to local pressure. The referee bowed to pressure from the crowd and from Arsene Wenger. Itâ€™s an absolute disgrace, to tell you the truth. Weâ€™ve not been beaten by Arsenal, who are fourth in the Premier League, weâ€™ve been beaten by the linesman. Itâ€™s disgraceful.” – Phil Brown.
Runner-up: “I categorically deny that I spat at anybody after the match. I have never done this in my whole career on the pitch, so why would I do it when I am not even playing? I can understand the frustration of losing a game to a dubious goal, that has happened to me many times in my career as well. But this is not the fault of me or any of the Arsenal players.” – Cesc Fabregas.
Today’s overview: The papers are jam-packed this Wednesday with stories of spitting, a fierce criticism of Sir Alex Ferguson, more on the never ending Carlos Tevez affair plus a spate of fanciful transfer rumours.
Following the fallout from Arsenal’s defeat of Hull last night, Patrick Barclay moans that “the memory of a fine quarter-final deserved better than an instant spattering of petulance from all sides.” Henry Winter poetically whines over how “romance and respect disappeared in a cordite-filled cloud of claim and counter-claim, in allegations of spitting, cheating and officials being swayed by home fans. The FA must today order an investigation into a night that shamed football.”
Revelling in the post match commotion, Sam Wallace barked “the magic of the FA Cup is alive and well at Arsenal” before sarcastically pointing out “nowhere else but English football could one manager accuse another of cheating and then complain when he does not shake his hand.”
In an amazingly angry article,By indulging his tendency to petulance and megalomania, the Premier League has only itself to blame… United have a contractual obligation to put up a senior management figure for interview, as well as a moral responsibility… is it any wonder that Ferguson is so dangerously out of control? That he runs United like his own personal fiefdom?… Give it time and Ferguson will think nothing of banning opposition managers from Old Trafford on the ground that they dared suggest they might beat United.”
The never ending Carlos Tevez affair has taken a new twist, Owen Gibson reporting that “West Ham United have vowed not to pay a penny more in compensation” at the same time as “the list of potential claimants had lengthened to include the Leeds United chairman Ken Bates, the former Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock and 20 members of its relegated 2007 squad.” And reacting to the story in a supplementary article, Gibson comments “there is undoubtedly a degree of ambulance chasing in the ongoing attempts by the Sheffield United players to win compensation. Yet on the face of it, they would appear to have a point.”
Martin Samuel bitches over the Carlos Tevez affair. “Yes, it was Carlos Tevez, then a West Ham striker, who caused Warnock’s team to lose to Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham before he had even joined West Ham, plus Reading (twice), Everton, Birmingham (in the Carling Cup), Chelsea (twice), Manchester United (twice), West Ham (Tevez did not score and stormed away from Upton Park after being substituted on 66 minutes), Portsmouth, Manchester City, Middlesbrough, Swansea (in the FA Cup), Blackburn, Liverpool, Bolton, Newcastle, Aston Villa and Wigan that season.”
Moving onto Chelsea, Stuart James puts two and two together to make five writing “speculation in Russia mounted that [Hiddink] might remain in charge of Chelsea beyond the end of the season after Valery Gazzayev, the former CSKA Moscow manager, announced he was keen to take over as the national team coach for a second time.”
There are two free-standing articles worth a read. Martin Samuel debates why David Moyes is not the right man to replace Sir Alex. “How can the career of a manager punching above his weight at a small club prepare him for the Premier League’s upper echelons?” While Ian McGarry discusses the taboo topic of tapping up players – “tapping up is footballâ€™s pee in the sea: Everyone knows they shouldnâ€™t, they do anyway and nobody gets caught.”
Unsettled players continue to fuel a raft of transfer rumours. The Telegraph announce that “Roman Pavlyuchenkoâ€™s long-term Tottenham future is in doubt after he was demoted to the reserves,” while The Times’ Matt Hughes suggests that the one Chelsea youth team graduate to have emerged in years at the Bridge – Michael Mancienne – may be bought by Liverpool or City. “The Chelsea defenderâ€™s contract expires at the end of next season and both clubs are considering attempting to lure him from Stamford Bridge in the summer with the promise of more regular football.”
And there is more. Christopher Davies claims “Atletico Madrid are set to offer Deco a ticket back to Spain this summer.” The Daily Mail announce “Zenit St Petersburg are targeting Manchester United goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak,” while the same paper also published that “Juventus are lining up an Â£11milion summer swoop for Chelsea forward Florent Malouda.”
The red-tops complete the transfer rumours, the Mirror claiming “Fulham, Manchester City and Tottenham are ready to join Aston Villa in the race to land [Sheffield United’s] Kyle Naughton.” While Martin Lipton almost ridiculously reports that “Jose Mourinho has got the green light for a Â£100million summer transfer assault on the Premier League” as Didier Drogba, Abou Diaby, Jermaine Jenas, John Obi Mikel, Ricardo Carvalho AND Nemanja Vidic are all linked to Inter.
Watching The Damned United, I found myself feeling very protective towards the memory of Brian Clough. Which is a bit strange because for most of his 44 days at Leeds United he was trying to buy Colin Todd to replace me.”
In other news, Matthew Fearon offers his Arsenal Dream Team in the Independent.
Injecting some continental commentary, Rob Bagchi praises Super Pippo on scoring 300 Serie A goals. “He is among the last of a breed with a long tradition in the game. When he and Ruud van Nistelrooy finally retire there will be no one left to take up the mantle as players become increasingly multifaceted and versatile.”
Heading even further afield John Duerden looks at how Asia has reformed its Champions League. “It may be a mistake to follow Uefa in this aspect but the Asian Champions League is set on shadowing, and one day catching, the giant to the west.”