Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “There will be no rivalry with Cristiano. We are compatible and there will no problem between us either on or off the pitch. It’s a great privilege to be able to play with great players, not only with Cristiano Ronaldo, but also with Raul, (Iker) Casillas and Guti. Having talented players is positive, but they must work hard and make sacrifices to win titles.” – Kaka.
Runner-up: “It is with great regret and frustration due to ongoing issues with the Football League that I and in turn those behind the Pinnacle consortium decided to withdraw our interest in purchasing Southampton Football Club. With the ongoing issues with the Football League persisting, our backers have simply refused to provide the requisite funds to complete the takeover. I hope beyond hope that [administrator] Mark Fry can find a buyer for the club. We were unaware of the issues with the Football League when we entered into our agreement to purchase the club and then coming to light so late in the day has resulted in our backer’s decision not to proceed under the terms on offer.” – Matthew Le Tissier.
Today’s overview: There is a mixed bag of stories doing the rounds this Wednesday ranging from criticism of the Young Lions and Stuart Pearce following their final defeat to the old enemy, the latest woes in the proposed takeovers of both Newcastle and Southampton, and a difference of opinion over the champions next target after securing the services of Antonio Valencia.
Having had another 24 hours to digest the 4-nil drumming of the Young Lions in the U21 European Championships final, today Henry Winter whips out his claws against manager Stuart Pearce. “Until Pearce confronts his character flaws he will never mature as a manager… Pearce’s bellicose stance in the technical area, swearing at officials and threatening to throttle opponents, hardly endears him to some of his own players, let alone Uefa.” Matt Barlow also reports on the backlash against England since their final defeat. “England have been accused of arrogance and insularity during the Championship. Much of this stems from Pearce’s intense persona, which is a shame because he had a fine tournament in many ways, taking the Under-21s to their first final in 25 years and cracking the penalty shoot-out jinx.”
A sulky Steve Tongue returns to cliches in his assessment of England’s final defeat. “Now Germany have won more international competitions in 12 months than England have done in 25 years. Compared to creating an economic miracle from the ruins of the Second World War, it must seem like kindergarten stuff.”
Having seen Tony Mowbury head up to Celtic, the Baggies have moved for a new manager with 39-year-old Roberto Di Matteo taking the helm at the Hawthorns. As reported by Jamie Jackson there appears to be some risk in the appointment as “the Italian arrives with just one year’s coaching experience under his belt after being appointed MK Dons manager last summer.”
Looking at Di Matteo’s departure from the MK Dons’ perspective, The Times note that the “MK Dons [are now] looking for a new manager for the fourth successive summer… For Pete Winkelman, the club’s ambitious chairman, the fact that his choices prove their worth and are sought after by other clubs proves his judgment of potential – but must make him wonder why the men he selects do not see his club as a place they can achieve their long-term ambitions.”
When are things going to get better for Newcastle fans?
Louise Taylor delivers the latest bad news for the Toon that “the Guardian understands that Newcastle will not now be sold until next week at the earliest but that three consortiums are ‘seriously interested.’ Seymour Pierce, the investment bank brokering the deal, remains optimistic that there will shortly be at least one formal offer for Mike Ashley, the current owner, to consider.” four groups have been involved in meaningful discussions [to takeover Newcastle], but the bidders remain a matter of some mystery.”
Michael Owen’s future looks brighter though after Sam Wallace claims that Everton and Aston Villa are leading the hunt for the striker.
The Magpies are not alone though in suffering as the Saints have witnessed their main takeover possibility go up in smoke on Tuesday.
Everyone else in football was aware of the issues, and the League had made its position abundantly clear. Many will conclude, rightly or wrongly, that the Pinnacle backing was not, in the end, as solid as had been claimed.”
But the bad news keeps flowing, Dominic Fifield warning Saints’ that more of their player may yet exit St. Mary’s. “Promising midfielder Andrew Surman could move to newly promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers. The experienced goalkeeper Kelvin Davis is on the verge of joining West Ham under the Bosman ruling, while Bradley Wright-Phillips and Marek Saganowski are interesting Crystal Palace.”
Staying on the south coast, Brendan Abbott delivers the old chestnut that “Roberto Mancini, the former Inter Milan coach, has emerged as a strong contender to become manager of Portsmouth.”
The big transfer news in The Times is that “Manchester United were said to be moving closer last night to signing Karim Benzema… Miralem Pjanic, Benzema’s team-mate at Lyons, claimed that the player was on the verge of a British-record move to Old Trafford.” However, like a fountain of lies, Rory Smith spouts a different set of targets for United. “United are thought to be tracking Sergio Aguero, the Atletico Madrid deep-lying forward, as well Luis Fabiano, the Brazilian international currently with Sevilla, but their hopes of landing Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema appear to be receding.” Offering a third way, a faceless article in The Sun claims “United are also poised to bid Â£8m for Hertha Berlin’s Serb star Gojko Kacar, 22 who can play in the centre of midfield or defence.”
Staying with United, Antony Kastrinakis pathetically attempts to hype up a non-existent scoop farting “United were last night facing fresh claims they agreed the world-record transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo MONTHS before it was announced.”
The Manchester City-Samuel Eto’o saga becomes ever more complicated today. Rory Smith attempts to clear up the mess reporting how on the one hand “sources at City are adamant that the Premier League side have no plans to increase their offer to club or player” yet at the same time “City face further complications in their bid to secure [Etoâ€™o after Barcelona] offered him a two-year contract extension, on the same terms as his current agreement.” Ian Herbert doubts whether Barca’s new contract offer to Eto’o will sway matters. “Since Eto’o rejected their last contract offer, in April, because it offered no extra salary, and the new deal does not come with an increase either, the chances of the striker accepting this look slim.”
Picking up on a rumour that started doing the rounds yesterday, Frank Wiechula links Arsenal with a swoop for Marseille skipper Lorik Cana. The Emirates could also see a departure in the not too distant future, the Daily Mail printing “Aston Villa join Â£5m race for Arsenal defender Senderos.” And in a second faceless article in the Daily Mail we learn that “Eidur Gudjohnsen’s father and agent, Arnor, says Aston Villa, Everton and Fulham have all inquired about the Barcelona striker.” The Daily Mail also claim that “new Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has reportedly urged his new employers to push through the signing of Espanyol striker Raul Tamudo.”
Wrapping up the rest on the gossip, The Sun print “Harry Redknapp will bid Â£6million for Scott Loach – despite the Watford keeper’s Euro final woe,” while Danny Fullbrook and Kevin Francis bash their heads together to report “Barcelona will step up their Â£35m move for Cesc Fabregas after missing out on Franck Ribery.”