Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “It’s exciting times at Manchester City with the new owners and this manager. There are big plans for the club. I am very excited to be joining and delighted that Manchester City wanted my services. I’m happy that the two clubs could come to an agreement… I just felt that this was an opportunity for me to come to a club that, in my opinion, is really going to be going places. I am even really excited to be going to training on Monday, it’s a new chapter in my life and one I am looking forward to. The profile of the club has changed dramatically and there are already some fantastic players here.” – Shay Given.
Runner-up: â€œAnton is my man. He just made me mad for one day, but thatâ€™s it. He knows that I donâ€™t like it when someone gives me a headache. Everybody knows my character. If there is something wrong with the team then I want to tell everybody. Anton is a good man. I have spoken to him since and I donâ€™t have an issue with him. I donâ€™t regret what I said. I donâ€™t regret anything. Itâ€™s just that he told me something while I was talking to the gaffer and it was not the right time to do that. He used to come to my house to eat, drink, everything. I used to go to his house to play pool. Me and Anton never had problems. Itâ€™s just when Iâ€™m mad I had a problem with him. Sam was a big reason why I have signed for them, because I know him and he knows me. A lot of people donâ€™t understand me but he does.” – El-Hadji Diouf.
Today’s overview: At 5pm GMT the transfer window will close, and the papers are found feasting on a full platter of transfer rumours. Robbie Keane’s future is the tastiest story on the table, while a raft of strikers are also said to be on the move. There is also reaction to Liverpool’s win over Chelsea, with criticism of Mike Riley’s refereeing performance littered across the backpages.
Are Spurs about to re sign and make a profit on Robbie Keane? According to Andy Hunter “it looks increasingly likely that Robbie Keane will play no part in the team’s attempt to overhaul Manchester United after Tottenham revived their interest in the striker by lodging a Â£15m offer.” Neil Ashton also claims the deal will happen, saying “Sportsmail understands Keaneâ€™s Â£90,000 a week salary was proving to be problematic but a solution has been found… Spurs have also asked to take highly-rated Inter Milan forward Mario Balotelli, 18, on loan.”
Muddying the water is Sam Wallace, who shouts “Tottenham Hotspur last night clinched the Â£15m deal for Robbie Keane to return to White Hart Lane. Negotiations with Liverpool concluded around 11pm with Spurs confident that their former striker will sign today before the 5pm transfer deadline.” Not according to Rory Smith, who reports that Liverpool have rejected a Â£15m bid from Spurs although “Manchester City are also believed to be monitoring the situation in the hope of tempting the boyhood Liverpool fan away from Anfield just six months after he arrived.”
The Guardian report that “Everton are set to add the Manchester City striker Jo [on loan] to their squad.” But before Evertonians begin jumping with joy James Ducker chirped up with “[Jo’s] poor form has been a source of embarrassment for City. He has made only five starts in the past four months and scored three goals in 18 appearances.”
And the rumours continue. According to the Daily Mail, “Blackburn are weighing up an approach for Germany striker Kevin Kuranyi should Manchester City make an improved Â£20m bid for Roque Santa Cruz.” Ashley Gray pens “Bolton will sign Sean Davis from Portsmouth for Â£2million.” Ralph Ellis claims that “Aston Villa are considering a Â£9million bid to snatch Micah Richards” and the Mirror claim that “Sunderland have launched a beat-the deadline bid to land Tottenham striker Darren Bent in a club record Â£10million deal.”
Despite rumours that Avram Grant is waiting in the wings to take charge, Dominic Fifield notes that Tony Adams has moved in the transfer market signing “Theofanis Gekas and hopes to add Tottenham Hotspur’s Giovani dos Santos ahead of the closure of the transfer window.” he could return as manager, or perhaps as technical director in a role alongside Adams, although it is doubtful whether the former England defender would accept having someone imposed on him.”
After Chelsea’s defeat at Anfield, Rob Smyth is happy to call the Premier League a two-horse race between Liverpool and Manchester United. David Pleat is critical of the Reds attacking play, arguing “the reality is that Rafael BenÃtez’s team will continue to be frustrated by draws and low-scoring contests unless they learn to unleash their most threatening talents on the break, and play with a little more adventure.”
Martin Samuel tears into Mike Riley’s poor performance at Anfield, arguing “the referee is quite frequently the most influential figure in the game and so it proved again.” Graham Poll is right behind demanding “Frank Lampardâ€™s red card needs to be overturned and Jose Boswinga should be charged after Mike Riley made some clear errors in yesterday’s Liverpool versus Chelsea clash at Anfield.” While Steven Howard completes the witch-hunt farting “If he isnâ€™t dispatched for some remedial treatment in the Championship after this shocker then when will he ever learn?”
On Chelsea,Chelsea rank as a team in decline â€“ a selling club, even… and the critical question, unlikely to be answered until the summer, is how they respond. Or, rather, how much money they spend. The signs are not promising.”
Oliver Kay analyses Rafa Benitez through a Shakespearean prism. “The Liverpool manager is no Hamlet, driven to madness by a desire for revenge. He is no King Lear, stripped of his dignity as he descends slowly into insanity. BenÃtez would probably prefer to regard himself as King Henry V, a man notable for military genius, a powerful leader whose air of nobility concealed a devilish, scheming side to his character.”
After another disappointing result, Steven Howard focuses on Man City. “This City team has cost Â£93 million with another Â£45m on the bench. On Saturday they were outfought by a Stoke side assembled for less than Â£20m.”
Tim Rich credits Newcastle for earning a draw against Sunderland noticing “the recovery was all the more admirable because Newcastle’s resources are now so thin.” George Caulkin observes how Mike Ashley’s return played out. “The final whistle brought near silence. If Ashley, whose ownership of Newcastle has been consistently tumultuous, had gambled that a Tyne-Wear derby would not be used to wash dirty linen in public, then it paid off. That truce may be temporary.”
“Davide Possanzini and Daniele Mannini, the Italian footballers, received 12-month bans after they turned up late to a drugs test. How late? Twenty-five minutes… Unless you believe that the two of them managed to insert catheters with clean urine in their penises, drain all the drug-infested blood from their bodies and replace it with clean blood, and that they did this all in 25 minutes while standing in a crowded dressing-room with no windows and being yelled at by their coach, the pure and simple fact of the matter is that neither one of these men is a drugs cheat.”
Sam Wallace gives an excellent insight into the SPL’s powers to attract top stars. “Here is a new reality for Scottish football: their Â£125m, four-year television contract that begins in 2010 is exactly what they are worth. That the SPL get a small sum compared to the Premier League’s Â£2.7bn, three-year deal is not English football’s fault. On their budget, Scottish clubs are not able to compete for players with Premier League clubs anymore than PSV Eindhoven or Sporting Lisbon can. But then why should they? What makes them any different to the Dutch or Portuguese leagues?”
Taking his usual sideways approach,More than three quarters of the professional clubs in this country are not in the Premier League and, given that the average player gets away with about eight seasons, thatâ€™s not a lot of time to save for the rest of your life.”