Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “[Patrick Vieira] was a legend at Arsenal and he wants to come to Tottenham. It’s not the money, it’s probably a third of the money he is earning at Milan. He wants to come because he wants to play football. That says an awful lot about him. I think he is a fantastic player. He would bring an awful lot to our football club.” – Harry Redknapp.
Runner-up: “There are loads of teams that would want Ashley Young, top continental sides that would want him. And Ashley Young, with a bit of luck, has a fantastic future ahead of him. But he’s absolutely at the right club at this moment. Since he’s joined us he’s been one of the major reasons we’ve finished in the position we have done the last couple of seasons. But I couldn’t be more strong on this. He’s not going anywhere. And the teams that I’ve noticed that have been linked with him couldn’t buy him. If somebody came in with Â£30m, Â£40m or Â£50m? I wouldn’t do it. I’m not in overall charge obviously and it would be up to Randy but the last time I spoke to Randy he wasn’t entertaining anything at any price.” – Martin O’Neill.
Today’s overview: After Steven Gerrard walked away innocent from court against charges of affray, it was the turn of the fifth estate to make sense out of the Liverpool captain’s trial.
Barney Ronay enjoyed how the trial proved how footballers are everyday joes. “Dancing around in a circle, necking Jammy Donut cocktails and becoming disproportionately irate about the music â€“ so the whispers have it â€“ of Phil Collins… The Gerrard affair has offered a reminder that footballers are generally a bunch of fairly average young men, with a fairly average idea of fun.”
But, as may have been expected, a gaggle of self-righteous hacks continue to find Gerrard guilty even after the innocent verdict was declared by the jury.
Owen Gibson notes how “the Liverpool captain’s confused and angry response to being told he could not have control of the music system in a Merseyside nightclub will, for many, confirm their prejudices about the excesses of modern footballers.” Yet, it was left to Jeff Powell to deliver the most damning conclusion of all. “Gerrard was cleared but the images which came out of that club in Southport – those of a booze-swigging, shot-slugging, punch-throwing yob – betrayed our trust in him. Gerrard apologised for his conduct and expressed gratitude for the verdict. Yet words alone are not enough.”
Shifting the focus around Anfield, Oliver Kay notes that the Reds still has a collection of worrying going-concerns. “While one almighty burden may have been lifted, others remain, with a bitter impasse over the future of Xabi Alonso and continuing concerns about the clubâ€™s American owners, who were unable to secure an extension to their Â£350 million loan before last nightâ€™s deadline.” Also focusing on the negatives is Rory Smith, writing “pre-season results are no gauge of a team’s potential, but it is hard not to draw parallels between Liverpool’s stuttering preparations for the new season and the malaise behind the scenes.”
In a purely hypothetical article, Matt Hughes explains how he can see Jose Mourinho taking over at Eastlands. “With a huge budget, passionate fans and the status of chippy outsiders they certainly tick every other box in Mourinhoâ€™s in-tray.”
Sourpuss Des Kelly argues that the Premier League is being eclipsed by La Liga. “The season is fast approaching, but for the first time in years it feels as if there is a better party happening elsewhere, only weâ€™re not invited… As Stewart Downing and Peter Crouch swap shirts here to sighs of apathy and we struggle to summon up a flicker of interest in the employment prospects of David Bentley, a glittering La Liga prepares to welcome Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema to Real Madrid.”
Former Chelsea boss Avram Grant is on the cusp of returning to football, Ewan Murray detailing how the Israeli is set to replace “Anatoly Korobochka as director of sport at Tynecastle.”
James Lawton poses some tough questions to Manchester City ahead of the new season. “The question that must now haunt City manager Mark Hughes, if not Garry Cook… is whether between them Tevez and Adebayor are going to produce anything like value for money at a combined basic cost of Â£50m. Certainly the old question about whether you can buy a team rather than shape one has become the most compelling of the new season.”
Before delving into the transfer toss this Saturday, Jeremy Wilson takes a step back to observe how the Premier League been tamed by the recession. “Take away Manchester City and it is possible to see a pattern in the Premier League that would firmly support the suspicion that the recession is really beginning to bite on football and that some clubs are now extremely mindful of the level of debt they are carrying.”
It’s another day of all-talk, no signings for Spurs.
According to Gary Jacob Spurs have been frustrated in the transfer market having a Â£5 million bid for Sebastien Bassong rejected by Newcastle while “Klaas-Jan Huntelaar wants Real Madrid to pay him about Â£5 million to meet the shortfall in wages offered by Tottenham.” On the plus side Jeremy Wilson quotes ‘Arry as claiming that Patrick Vieira wants to join the Lilywhites, while the Express offer suggestions as to how Spurs may lure Peter Crouch to the Lane. “[Redknapp] may now offer Â£10m or a preferable Â£6m down with defender Pascal Chimbonda and striker Giovanni Dos Santos in part-exchange.”
The Guardian report how Liverpool are set to offload Andrea Dossena to Napoli while Geoff Sweet adds that Alvaro Arbeloa is all ready to move to Real Madrid, Frank Wiechula crows how “Arsenal’s Emmanuel Eboue is a Â£9million target for Fiorentina and several Spanish clubs, (Eboue’s price drops to just Â£6.5million in The Sun), while Darren Lewis links Rasmus Elm to Fulham.
Pompey could be set to spend some money this summer. Peter White writes that “Portsmouth are aiming to boost their strike force by signing Croatia front-man Nikola Kalinic.” And over in the Daily Mail we learn that “Portsmouth risk Premier League fury by signing Olympiakos midfielder Fernando Belluschi, 25, who is part-owned by agent Pini Zahavi.”
The Saturdays carry several interviews as Rio Ferdinand sits down with Tim Rich, Manchester City CEO Garry Cook tells Ian Herbert about the Citizens’ plans for the future, and Dominic Fifield gets some one-on-one time with new Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti.
Finally, keen readers of our blog will have seen the story of how 12-year-old Mauricio Baldivieso was handed his professional debut in Bolivia last week by his dad. A week on, and Simon Burton reports on how manager Julio Cesar Baldivieso has since been fired as a result.