Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “My (eight-year-old) grandson Mateo moves better on the pitch than Andy Carroll. Mateo is very good at golf and tennis. He has better co-ordination.” – Polish legend Zbigniew Boniek.
Runner-up: “We’ll face a very highly motivated team, backed by a very vocal and enthusiastic support, because we are a scalp. England have always been a scalp. Poland will be rubbing their hands with glee at this game, given that this is a match that, if they can win it, would be a real feather in their cap. We have to make sure we’re not the victims of that. It’s going to be a very tough game, a test for us. You’re aware of the fact that when you’re playing against your biggest rivals in the group, it adds that bit of spice. It’ll be a real game – rather than 95 minutes of attack against defence, as it was on Friday against San Marino – because Poland will think they can play well enough to cause us problems and win. Sometimes, away from home, matches are more open, with teams having to come at you and leaving themselves more open. So it’s a game that would be tremendous to win and, if we do, it would make it a very good start to our qualifying campaign.” – Roy Hodgson.
Poland v England
My grandson is better than you, Carroll (Mark Irwin, Sun) Polish legend Zbigniew Boniek has put the boot into England striker Andy Carroll by sneering: “My eight-year-old grandson is better than him.” Boniek, about to be named Polish FA president, is hoping the on-loan West Ham battering ram plays in tonight’s World Cup qualifier here. The man who led Poland to the 1982 World Cup semi-finals said: “My grandson Mateo moves better on the pitch than Andy Carroll and he has better coordination.”
Beware travel sickness! Hodgson must avoid slip-ups on the road – now that Wembley is no longer a fortress (Martin Samuel, Daily Mail) On the surface, a draw in Warsaw is good news. Poland are a young, improving team, playing in front of a noisy, full house. Many teams would settle for a draw in Poland. Germany and Portugal did in friendly matches here last season; Argentina lost in June 2011. Yet, for England manager Roy Hodgson, the problem is this: England can no longer be guaranteed to win at home. Away draws only have worth if accompanied by home victories in the corresponding fixture, and nobody talks of fortress Wembley any more.
Roy Hodgson faces first real test on the road to Rio in World Cup qualifier in Warsaw (Paul Hayward, Daily Telegraph) As England manager, Hodgson inhabits two worlds at once. In one a conversation while strap-hanging on the London Underground is reported and sensationalised – and his best centre-half racially abuses an opponent. In the other, new faces are mass-mobilised, a code of conduct flashes across a projector screen at a brand spanking national football centre and the squad pitch up in Warsaw talking of renewal. In a noise-tastic stadium that sits on a 25-metre depth of Second World War rubble, Hodgson will marshal a squad of three layers: golden generation survivors chasing their hundredth caps, former fringe candidates now elevated to front-line service and a growing band of the untainted and undaunted, led by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck.
England hoping to shrug off history – and Poland – on way to World Cup (Dom Fifield, Guardian) England are a team moving on with very little time even for fond reflection. Hodgson’s team will attempt to impose themselves on Group H on Tuesday evening, making up for a missed opportunity against Ukraine back at Wembley last month and, away from the contrasting five-goal thrashing of the section’s also-rans San Marino, injecting real conviction into their qualification campaign. Victory could also potentially demoralise the Poles even at this early stage on the road to Brazil, knocking another of the contenders for top place off their early stride. Hodgson can take encouragement from an unbeaten 10-game tenure to date, glossing over that Euro 2012 penalty shootout defeat by Italy. Yet departing Warsaw victorious would feel significant.
It’s hard to like Ashley Cole’s personality but even harder to ignore his ability (Ollie Holt, Daily Mirror) If it was not for his quick temper, his fast fingers and the medium of Twitter, Ashley Cole might be winning his 100th cap for England on Tuesday, not his 99th. Maybe it would not have been ideal marking the milestone in front of 45,000 hostile fans screaming abuse at him here at Poland’s National Stadium. Although, come to think of it, that’s probably a warmer reception than he would have got at Wembley. The way Cole has come to be regarded by many in his home country, booed by only 45,000 fans might have been a bonus. England skipper Steven Gerrard, who has also won 98 caps, will get all the plaudits he deserves when he gets to his century. Cole will not.
Neville: Rooney must adapt and improve to stay at top (Sam Wallace, Independent) Gary Neville has challenged Wayne Rooney to reinvent himself as the England striker approaches 10 years in the international game, and a potential conversion into a midfielder for club and country. Rooney, 26, will start in tonight’s World Cup qualifier against Poland in his more customary No 10 position behind the striker – likely to be Jermain Defoe – but Neville said that as the Manchester United player got older he would have to accept that he needs to “improve” in order to face “the next challenge in his career”. In an interview with BBC Sport, Neville, one of Roy Hodgson’s coaches, said that Rooney could still have his best years in the game ahead of him as he approaches his 27th birthday in eight days’ time.
Spain v France
Spain aim to take ‘very big step’ towards 2014 World Cup against France (Sid Lowe, Guardian) It is the third of eight matches that Spain will play in Group I, but the coach Vicente del Bosque has described it as being more akin to the first leg of a cup semi-final. France travel to the Vicente Calderón stadium in Madrid on Tuesday night, while Spain travel to the Stade de France in March 2013. Awaiting them on the other side is a place at the World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014. Since 2006, the holders are not guaranteed qualification. This game will do much to define whether Spain are there to defend their title. Between them, France and Spain have won the last three European Championships and two of the last four World Cups, but only one will automatically qualify for 2014. The other will have to finish among the best eight second-placed teams and win a play-off. Spain knocked France out of Euro 2012 at the quarter-final stage; France are the last side to knock Spain out of a major competition, when Zinedine Zidane led them to victory en route to the 2006 World Cup final.
Croatia v Wales
I wouldn’t swap Bale for anyone – even Rooney, says Coleman (Phil Cadden, Independent) Chris Coleman, the Wales manager, dismisses claims that his side are a one-man team – that man being the sensational Gareth Bale – but concedes that he would not swap the Tottenham winger for any other player in Britain at present. Bale scored a stunning late double in a dramatic win over Scotland last Friday to reignite Wales’s 2014 World Cup campaign. It also extended his remarkable record of having scored Wales’s last five goals in qualifying matches going back over a year.
Cristiano Ronaldo reaches 100 caps
Cristiano Ronaldo to become third youngest footballer in Europe to reach 100 caps (Daniel Alvarenga, Daily Telegraph) At 27 years and 248 days, he will be one of the youngest European footballers to reach 100 caps behind Germany’s Lukas Podolski and Estonia’s Kristen Viikmae. He is Portugal’s third most capped player of all time behind Figo on 127 and centre back Fernando Couto on 110.
Jack Wilshere ramping up comeback
Jack back for more (Phil Thomas, Sun) Jack Wilshere will take the next step towards his Arsenal return tomorrow with a behind-closed-doors friendly against Chelsea. The under-21 fixture has been arranged to speed up the midfielder’s comeback from the crocked ankle which has kept him out for nearly 16 months. Wilshere, 20, has had two run-outs and is expected to play at least 75 minutes at the Gunners’ training ground.
Kos: Suarez is a diver and a cheat (Charlie Wyett, Sun) Luis Suarez was under attack again last night after being branded “a cheat” by Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny. The French defender insists the Liverpool striker – voted the Premier League’s worst diver by Sun readers – goes down incredibly easy. Koscielny said: “He is a cheat. He’s annoying to play. He grabs the shirt, gives some small kicks. “You always want to give some more but you have to be careful not to get a red card. It’s a player who really likes to fall as soon as you touch him.”
Liverpool to redevelop Anfield
Dozens of houses must be bought up to make room for ‘new Anfield’ (David Maddock, Daily Mirror) Liverpool need to buy up 28 houses before they can move forward with plans to redevelop Anfield. The club has unveiled details of an ambitious partnership with Liverpool City Council and the Your Housing group, to invest around £200million in increasing capacity at their famous old stadium and regenerating the area surrounding it. The council have secured a grant of £25million which will underwrite the construction of 800 new homes in the area and the refurbishment of another 500, with additional funding provided by the football club and housing association. But the plans – which Liverpool believe will allow them to eventually compete once again on a level financial playing field with the likes of Manchester United – are dependent on reaching agreement with close to 30 homeowners who live in the shadow of Anfield.
Liverpool must soothe restless residents before expanding Anfield (David Conn, Guardian) In the opulent town hall of a city whose economic glories have faded, Liverpool’s managing director, Ian Ayre, presented as “a huge step forward” the decision to cancel a 10-year aspiration to build a new stadium. Liverpool instead are back where they were 13 years ago; planning to stay at Anfield and expand their main and Anfield Road stands to an overall 60,000 capacity, with plenty of “premium-priced seats”. Ayre was frank about the motivation for such a historic expansion of Anfield, which will require buying and knocking down remaining residents’ houses in the blighted streets around: “It is all about driving greater revenue to allow us to compete.”
Chelsea want rid of Daniel Sturridge
Sturridge next out of Chelsea as striker is told he’ll be sold for £15m with Arsenal and Liverpool ready to pounce(Sami Mokbel, Daily Mail) Chelsea will look to offload Daniel Sturridge as the striker privately accepts that his time in west London is drawing to a close. And Stamford Bridge chiefs will start the bidding for the forward at £15million in January. Sturridge has fallen out of favour at the club since Roberto Di Matteo replaced Andre Villas-Boas as manager in March.
Ivory Coast want Wilfried Zaha
England Under-21 star Zaha wanted by Ivory Coast (Sami Mokbel, Daily Mail) Ivory Coast are plotting a dramatic attempt to snatch Crystal Palace starlet Wilfried Zaha from under England’s noses. Zaha has been a revelation for Dougie Freedman’s side this season – playing a key role in the Eagles’ rise to fourth in the Championship.
Manchester United injury news
ReUnited: Boost for Fergie as injured trio close in on comebacks(David Anderson, Daily Mirror) Sir Alex Ferguson has received a triple injury boost to ease his selection headaches at Manchester United. Chris Smalling and Ashley Young are both set to return for Saturday’s clash with Stoke, while Phil Jones is around a fortnight away from his own comeback. Smalling has been out since the final home game of last season, with a groin injury and then a broken metatarsal.
Liverpool’s social media FAIL: Duncan Jenkins v Jen Chang
Duncan Jenkins was funny and has done no wrong. He doesn’t deserve this treatment from Liverpool (Ian Herbert, Independent) The days of “Duncan” are over, needless to say. This feels like very strong punishment for what – unless there is sudden dramatic evidence to the contrary – seems like the offence of spinning a joke which at least 40,000 people enjoyed. Liverpool, a club who profess a desire to be at the cutting edge of communication for a social media age, have not looked terribly modern in this matter. The old attempts to control information have long gone. A public apology seems the least that is owed.