Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “This question [about backing] is for the chairman. I speak with him when he permits. He is a busy man. I don’t know [when] we will speak. This is my job and I am working each day very hard to turn it around. The responsibility is down to all the people at the club. It starts with me and finishes with the last person. I am worried. But this is football. Last season, we won the Carling Cup and everyone was happy. Now I am very sad. I don’t like this situation.” – Juande Ramos.
Runner-up: “They threw a spanner in the works by appointing Dennis Wise, operating from London. The mistake was bringing people in who aren’t attuned to the club and who worked at opposite ends of the country. And whether Dennis has got the skill and expertise and experience in that field is very doubtful… A manager of Newcastle speaking like that? It should never happen. It’s a job of dignity, integrity and responsibility. His arrival was a shock but I truly hope that Joe’s successful because that would mean Newcastle are winning. The quicker the club is sold the better. And then it is crucial that they appoint a top-class manager.” – Sir Bobby Robson.
Today’s overview: After another frantic weekend in the Premier League, the start of the week finds the papers taking stock, starting with calamitous Tottenham.
For Martin Samuel, who says “Ramosâ€™s future must be in serious doubt,” there is little sympathy for Spurs as “the chickens are home to roost, clucking and squawking, and many have brought their mates”. Eurosport’s Early Doors team take their usual cynical approach to analysing Spurs’ troubles, claiming “not since Noah’s Ark has there been so many pairs of rubbish things gathered in the same place.” The dissenting opinon is left to David Pleat, who argues that “Spurs have enough skill and ability to beat most teams in this division and, even with 10 men,” but even Pleat’s starry-eyes were left questioning Ramos’ tactics at Stoke.
In other Premier League news, Matt Hughes notes John Terry’s return for Chelsea was a surprise considering his England absence, Steven Howard looks at how Wayne Rooney has taken over Ronaldo’s mantle at Old Trafford, while William Gray has the story of how Jimmy Hill was asked to move seat this weekend at the Fulham-Sunderland match after becoming involved in a spat with the away supporters. Lastly, Alan Hansen spouts, having regard to the credit crunch, the next TV deal for the Premier League will be central to the league’s future.
Looking back on England’s victories in the World Cup qualifiers, Martin Samuel analyses Emile Heskey’s role, comparing the forward to tonic water. Brian Viner sits down with Sir Bobby Charlton to discuss Fabio Capello’s England, with the United legend comparing the Italian to Sir Alf Ramsey.
Aidan O’Hara looks into the spread of the practice – “BBBOOOOOOOOOOOO. Looks stupid, doesn’t it. Now try saying it out loud. It sounds stupid too. But get a few hundred grown men screaming it together, throw in a footballer who has played a poor pass or a manager not bowing to popular opinion and now it’s called expressing an opinion.”President, Nicolas Sarkozy, who argued that whenever the national anthem is booed before a game the game should be abandoned. And keeping on the topic of booing,
In other news, ahead of tomorrow night’s Champions League clash between Manchester United and Celtic,Sir Alex Ferguson and Gordon Strachan have a longstanding, tense history.
…and finally, the Daily Telegraph report that David Beckham is looking to sell his one-of-a-kind Bentley.
For The Times’ Martin Samuel, who says “Ramosâ€™s future must be in serious doubt,” the problems facing Tottenham were highlighted pre-season. “The chickens are home to roost, clucking and squawking, and many have brought their mates. Luka Modric looks too lightweight for the Barclays Premier League, as predicted by ArsÃ¨ne Wenger, the Arsenal manager, during the European Championship; Roman Pavlyuchenko is struggling to adapt to English football having played the best part of a season in Russia; Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane are sorely missed; the injury problems of Ledley King leave a hole in the heart of defence. These were not unexpected issues. All were identified before this crisis as reasons that Ramos could find his second season in English football difficult. Although maybe not this difficult.”
Eurosport’s Early Doors team take their usual cynical approach when looking back at Stoke’s win over Spurs. “Stoke’s 2-1 win at home to Tottenham proved remarkable not for the scoreline but for having more bizarre coincidences and unexplainable plot lines than an episode of The OC. It also provided ample adolescent tomfoolery courtesy of Gareth Bale (pictured) who, judging by his face, would have to be ‘the funny one’ in any US teen drama. What exactly was most calamitous about the Tottenham performance? Spurs conceded two goals, had two players sent off, gave away two penalties and saw their goalkeeper attempt to maimÂ team-mate Vedran CorlukaÂ twice in the space of about two minutes. They even played 11 minutes of stoppage time, which looks a bit like two in Roman numerals. Not since Noah’s Ark has there been so many pairs of rubbish things gathered in the same place. (Wasps? Tapeworms? What was the Almighty thinking?) Stoke got so cocky towards the end that they started imitating Johan Cruyff. Not with the sublime passing, silky turns and inventive finishing, of course. Goodness no. They might have beaten Spurs but they’re still Stoke. Ricardo Fuller did, however, provide a living embodiment of Cruyff’s quote about the best way to humiliate sub-standard opposition. “When you are 4-0 ahead with 10 minutes to go, it’s better to hit the post a couple of times so the crowd can go ‘oooh!’ and ‘aaaah!’,” Cruyff once claimed.”
A forever optimistic David Pleat (Guardian) still believes “Spurs have enough skill and ability to beat most teams in this division and, even with 10 men” but he was left questioning Spurs’ tactics at Stoke. “This was a demoralising situation for Ramos to find his side in but he might have been better to throw Roman Pavlyuchenko into the fray earlier, particularly once it became clear that Stoke were forcing the play up the pitch. If the visitors had adopted some of the home side’s tactics and gone more direct with two men up front they might have made more in-roads. Experience suggests that, when a team goes a man down it is best to have more than one target up front as a release ball to cope with the pressure that follows.”
According to Matt Hughes (The Times), John Terry’s return for Chelsea was a surprise considering his England absence. “The potential for conflict is heightened by the differing attitudes of Capello and Luiz Felipe Scolari, the Chelsea manager, towards managing injury. Capello insists that all of his players must be fully fit to play, or even travel with the squad to away games, whereas Scolari is prepared to let them play through the pain barrier, speaking in awestruck tones on Friday about Terryâ€™s willingness ‘to die on the pitch.'”
The Sun’s Steven Howard notes how Wayne Rooney has taken over Ronaldo’s mantle at Old Trafford. “While Cristiano Ronaldo seems weighed down by the fall-out from the summerâ€™s Real Madrid transfer saga, Wayne Rooney looks a new man. Almost as if he has been liberated by Ronaldoâ€™s travails. For two years, almost from the moment he was sent off (with some connivance from the Winker) at Germany 2006, Rooney has been blowing hot and cold in Ronaldoâ€™s slipstream. Now, though, Rooneyâ€™s instinct tells him itâ€™s time to regain the crown.”
William Gray (Daily Telegraph) has the story of how Jimmy Hill was asked to move seat this weekend at the Fulham-Sunderland match after becoming involved in a spat with the away supporters. “In a more bizarre incident, former Match of the Day presenter Hill, 80, who was one of the Fulham legends presented to the crowd, was escorted by police to a different entrance to keep him away from the jeering Sunderland fans gathered in the away corner. In 1976, when Hill was managing director, Coventry were reprimanded by the Football League for kicking off their game late and broadcasting the results of fellow relegation battlers. Among those who went down were Sunderland. Football fans sometimes have long and bitter memories.”
In the Daily Telegraph Alan Hansen notes that, having regard to the credit crunch, the next TV deal for the Premier League will be central to the league’s future. “I presented a programme on football finance and when I talked to Sir Alan Sugar about the next TV deal, he said it was impossible for it to be higher than the current one. And we were not discussing this deal, which when it was concluded in 2006 was worth Â£1.7â€‰billion, we were not even discussing the previous deal. It was the one before that… as Mike Ashley may be discovering at Newcastle, it is not such an attractive game for an investor. Anyone wanting to buy a football club now would be well advised to wait for the next television deal to be announced because any lessening of the money coming in would be catastrophic. And if the Premier League’s chief executive, Richard Scudamore, can produce a better television contract than the current one, he will have gone from being a very clever man to a genius.”
Looking back on England’s victories in the World Cup qualifiers, Martin Samuel analyses Emile Heskey’s role, comparing the forward to tonic water, in The Times. “Amr Zaki, of Wigan Athletic, is the top scorer in the Barclays Premier League; Wayne Rooney, of England, is joint top scorer in the European qualifying groups for the World Cup in 2010. The consistent factor here is the support both men receive from a reborn Emile Heskey. On the back of this there is talk of a summer move to a leading club, perhaps Liverpool or Aston Villa… If Heskey were a drink, he would be tonic water. He succeeds as half of a partnership, not as an individual. But as a comedian, he would be Ernie Wise, not Eric Morecambe. He may be the best in the business at what he does, but without the other guy he is just not funny.”
The Independent’s Brian Viner sits down with Sir Bobby Charlton to discuss Fabio Capello’s England. Charlton: “Alf [Ramsey] was ruthless, but he was also a great motivator, a great tactician and a meticulous planner. I haven’t seen anyone else like that until this man. Of all the people mentioned when England were choosing a new manager this time, Capello was the one I picked as most likely to make it work. And he’s done nothing to make me think otherwise. He’s strong, single-minded, and he’s only interested in winning, not making friends. If you’re winning, everything else falls into place.”
President, Nicolas Sarkozy, who argued that whenever the national anthem is booed before a game the game should be abandoned. “The biggest problem is the French Governmentâ€™s stance. A primer in basic values such as free speech ought to suffice but, in this case, it doesnâ€™t: a law in the French penal code forbids the insulting of â€œnational symbolsâ€. So letâ€™s leave the ethical issues aside and focus on the practical: how do you tell 60,000 supporters who have bought tickets and travelled from far and wide that because a handful of idiots booed a song, they should all exit the ground quietly and go home? Does that seem like a safe or clever idea, Monsieur Sarkozy?… These sweeping kneejerk grand gestures are what you would expect from an eight-year-old or a publicity-seeking politician.”
Keeping on the subject of booing at football, Aidan O’Hara looks into the spread of booing for the Irish Independent. “BBBOOOOOOOOOOOO. Looks stupid, doesn’t it. Now try saying it out loud. It sounds stupid too. But get a few hundred grown men screaming it together, throw in a footballer who has played a poor pass or a manager not bowing to popular opinion and now it’s called expressing an opinion…The scary part is that, in grounds throughout Britain and Ireland, they will. There’s a growing phenomenon among home supporters disgruntled at their team’s performance to let it all out at either half or full-time. It has become a sort of Pavlov response to a struggling team — losing at home + referee’s whistle = booing.”
Looking forward to tomorrow night’s Champions League clash between Manchester United and Celtic, Sir Alex Ferguson and Gordon Strachan have a longstanding, tense history. “[Back] in 1985, while agitating to leave Aberdeen much to Fergusonâ€™s fury, Strachan got involved in a daft episode when, via a foreign agent, he promised his services to Cologne the following season. With hindsight, and in a peculiar way, this was only a foretaste of how it would be for footballers of the future, but at the time none of that assuaged Ferguson, despite the political radical that he claimed to be back in 1985. On the contrary, he went berserk at Strachan. When their paths diverged and then met again at Manchester United three years later, another incident took place, with Ferguson again accusing Strachan of being slippery and downright devious while negotiating a transfer away from Manchester United to, of all clubs, Lens in France. It was a second piece of Strachan skul-duggery which fixed in Fergusonâ€™s mind his distrust of his former protÃ©gÃ©, and which later became the origin of the following barbed comments in his autobiography.”
The Daily Telegraph report that David Beckham is looking to sell his one-of-a-kind Bentley. “The customised top-of-the-range Bentley Arnage T has become surplus to requirements following the former England captain’s move to the US. It is the same car Beckham drove to Buckingham Palace with wife Victoria in the passenger seat when he collected his OBE in 2003. And it is one of only two Bentley’s pictured on the historic carmaker’s factory walls â€“ the other being the Queen’s. The car has been fitted with more than Â£70,000 worth of accessories â€“ including Victoria’s name embroidered into the rear centre cushion box.”