The “league table flatters” Liverpool & should Ronaldo have won the Ballon d’Or?

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “Sometimes maybe you have a little bit more concentration against a big team, that’s one of the things that we’re going to work on very hard. Those are the things we’re going to discuss a little bit in the dressing-room in the days ahead and see what we can do now against the lower teams. One or two days were not very good, but everyone can see that we keep the title dreams alive and the most important thing is to keep going. I think even if we had lost [to Chelsea], we would never say the title race is finished for us. We want to keep going to the end of the season. We know we have a good team, a good squad and everyone is ready for it.” – Emmanuel Adebayor.

Runner up: “City have good players but the mentality of a small side. They are content with just finishing fifth or sixth. They are content with little, thinking just a draw might be good enough. What they lack is the mentality of champions. I have learnt that being second is worthless so I want to inspire a winning mentality. You can only be content with winning. You need to want to beat Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool. Maybe I have changed this a bit but now City have a project to become big, the mentality has to change.” – Robinho.

Today’s overview: Despite going top of the Premier League, Liverpool finds themselves under a barrage of criticism this morning for their disappointing 0-0 draw with West Ham at Anfield last night. Waking up to far brighter news though is Cristiano Ronaldo.

While noting that Liverpool’s draw with West Ham put them clear at the top, Andy Hunter knows that “a second successive 0-0 draw at home to mid-table opposition was not the response of championship contenders.” Henry Winter argued that the goalless draw exposes Liverpool’s “reliance on Fernando Torres.” And completing the analysis, Ian Herbert claims that “league table flatters” Liverpool, who “minus Fernando Torres and the Robbie Keane that Rafael Benitez imagined he was signing” has serious attacking problems.

Cristiano Ronaldo has won the Ballon d’Or, with Gregg Roughley reporting the extent of his victory – “The 23-year-old’s coronation was a resounding one, with 77 of the 96 writers voting him as their No1 player of the year.” Henry Winter takes the opportunity to wax lyrical over Ronaldo. “From astonishing free-kicks against Portsmouth in the Premier League to imperious headers against Roma and Chelsea in the Champions League, Manchester United’s magnificent winger is worth the admission fee like no other.”

But not everyone is celebrating, Paul Doyle slamming the notion of the award saying “systematically singling out an individual in a team sport is stupid and possibly even evil.” And the biggest critic is James Lawton, who bitterly argues that “Ronaldo is displaying the gravitas and self-awareness not of great men like Pele and Cruyff, who once beat England at Wembley while hardly crossing the halfway line, but a drastically undertrained pup.”

On the future of Roy Keane at Sunderland, Louise Taylor writes that “the compulsive rotation of his squad and an inability to compromise may lead to a parting of the ways on Wearside.” Keano also receives advise from Tony Cascarino, who suggests that the Mackems’ manager should “let everyone know from boardroom to dressing-room to fans that he’s here for the tough times as well as the good ones.”

Matt Hughes details the mixed financial news coming out from Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea are planning to “cut costs by up to 15 per cent across their entire operation in the light of the economic downturn” while moving towards self-sufficiency due to increased revenue from “sponsorship, match-day and television income increasing dramatically since they recorded turnover of £190.5 million for the year ending July 2007.”

Keeping with Chelsea, according to Sam Wallace “senior Chelsea players have pointed the finger at Florent Malouda as one of the team’s major underperforming stars and there is a feeling in the club that Luiz Felipe Scolari should pick Wayne Bridge on the left wing instead.” While an interesting observation is made by David Lewis, who asks “just like his Stamford Bridge predecessor Avram Grant, bumbling Big Phil has posted ten wins, three draws and two losses in his opening fifteen games in charge which begs the question – is Scolari the new Grant?”

Both James Ducker and Andy Hunter publicise how David Moyes is tracking Henrik Larsson in the wake of Everton’s attacking injury crisis, while James Nursey claims that Tottenham are targetting Reading keeper Marcus Hahnemann.

Lastly, in a standout article, Matt Dickinson offers some sympathy for England’s cricketers decision to leave India by speaking with Graeme Le Saux about his decision to bail out on a Chelsea match in Tel Aviv back in 2001. Le Suax: “It was a much harder decision for me not to go, the hardest decision I ever made in football, but who do I upset – the club and a few journalists or my family? That’s what it came down to. I put my family ahead of my football. If any cricketers decide not to go for the same reasons, they will deserve respect not humiliation.”