Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “For sure he [Franck Ribery] will stay with us next year. I cannot tell you more about this other than that I told him ‘you are an exceptional player and you will define the year 2009.'” – Jurgen Klinsmann.
Runner up: “I don’t think I’ve scored a better goal. When the ball comes you only have one or two seconds to make a decision and I think I made the right decision. When I chested the ball I saw where it was and I said to myself: ‘You just have to take it’. And it went in. I always practise them like that in training. I’ve got a friend who is a good mate in Africa, Adamo Baba, he’s one of the best in this situation and once he scored three goals like this in one game.” – Emmanuel Adebayor.
Today’s overview: It’s a Blue Thursday, but rumours are rife the after orchestrating the downfall of Liverpool, Guus Hiddink has already been replaced as the long term manager at the Bridge.
Reacting to Chelsea’s brilliant victory at Anfield, Kevin McCarra asks “how could the owner Roman Abramovich bear to watch him return full-time to his post with Russia now? The Dutchman shone in all areas and his preparation of the set-pieces exposed unsuspected defects in Liverpool’s zonal marking at corners.”
Well, according to the red-tops, ignoring Hiddink is exactly what Roman is set to do. Ian McGarry splashes with the news that “SunSport can reveal the AC Milan coach [Carlo Ancelotti] has promised Roman Abramovich he will join the club this summer… sources at the Italian club have indicated that an agreement has been reached with Chelsea which will see Ancelotti named the new coach. A contract worth around Â£5.8million a season over three years has been discussed and should be signed in June.” Martin Lipton has obviously been speaking to the same source, barking Ancelotti has “agreed a three-year deal to take charge at Stamford Bridge.”
More praise is showered on the Blues by Paul Wilson. “Whether it was Salomon Kalou hustling the ball off Fabio Aurelio to present Didier Drogba with a first-half opportunity from which Chelsea should have scored, or Branislav Ivanovic twice getting the jump on Liverpool defenders at corners to score, Liverpool mistakes were born of the visitors superior vigour and their own dwindling belief.” While still recovering from the shock result, Dominic Fifield penned “not in their wildest dreams could Chelsea have envisaged emerging from Anfield, a graveyard in this competition even for Jose Mourinho’s aspirations, with such resounding success.”
Henry Winter analyses how Chelsea won the tactical battle. “Essienâ€™s marking job on Steven Gerrard drained the life out of Liverpool while Martin Skrtel chose the worst moment to have a shocker in defence. Rafa Benitezâ€™s zonal marking system was also ripped to shreds.”
Some however find room for criticism in the Blues’ moment of glory, Tony Cascarino letting rip on everyone’s public enemy number one. “Despite Chelseaâ€™s excellent performance, Iâ€™d say that Ashley Cole has gone off the boil. Heâ€™s not playing poorly, just that he hasnâ€™t shown the energy he had in his rampaging Arsenal days. He struggled to track Dirk Kuyt, especially in the first half and most obviously for the first goal, when the Liverpool forwardâ€™s clever backheel set up the opportunity.”
AndWe can look at a number of reasons for that but if we had to alight on one, it is that Jose Mourinho is no longer here to cast his Armani-clad shadow. He was not here to stifle Chelseaâ€™s attacking instincts or to turn the pre-match build-up with Rafael Benitez into a ludicrous psychological war â€” a tactic that invariably led to a tactical stalemate: all talk and precious little action.”
On the Reds, there is a real sense in the media that Liverpool may go into an emotional breakdown. Paul Wilson downheartedly forecast that “Liverpool will do well to come back from the psychological blow, never mind the three away goals.” Steven Howard sings from the same hymn-sheet writing “now it remains to be seen how much psychological damage has been done to Liverpoolâ€™s title push.”
Patrick Barclay is found gushing after watching Barcelona destroy Bayern. “Barcelona are purring along like the ultimate football machine. How to describe this performance in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at the Nou Camp? Hard though we should try to avoid the word ‘awesome’ these days, there are times when no other is worth the search.”
Oliver Brown also felt he watched the future Champions League winners win in the Nou Camp. “The hegemony of English teams in the Champions League has been debated long and laboriously but on this evidence its days are numbered. To be precise, it potentially has just 48 days left, until a glorious Catalan coronation in Rome.”
The always coherent Harry Redknapp refuses to criticise Cristiano Ronaldo, only to do just that. “I am not criticising the World Footballer of the Year and which manager wouldnâ€™t jump at the chance to have Ronaldo in their team? The problem is that he sets the bar so high. His standards are unique so when he does have a poor game it sticks out like a Man City fan in the Stretford End.”
Heading into the Premier League, David Conn assesses the boardroom wranglings at Arsenal. “The principle of this Emirates regime, led by Fiszman, supported explicitly by Kroenke, is that Arsenal must be ‘self-sustaining.’ That means the club must run on the money from TV, commercial activities and from fans paying out for tickets, not on contributions from the millionaires in the boardroom.”
Lastly, in the transfer nonsense this Thurday Antony Kastrinakis tries to make himself look clever writing “Harry Redknapp is hot on the heels of Â£5million-rated Porto left-back Aly Cissokho.” And just in case you thought old ‘Arry was making an impulse buy the hack steams in to tell readers “Redknapp has been keeping tabs on the French defender for some time.” The Sun also publish the spurious story that “Manchester City are plotting a move for Atletico Madrid striker Sergio Aguero.”