Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “This is about a discrepancy of around Â£10,000 in income tax. I’ve paid Â£10million in income tax over the past 10 years and this is what it’s come down to. It’s in dispute whether the money is owed anyway and I’ve been totally up front with everyone about this. I’m sick of it… Milan doesn’t feel the money is owed anyway because he made an investment on my behalf in some stocks and shares in America. I told the taxman about it.” – Harry Redknapp.
Runner-up: “The long-term idea of the relationship [with the agents] was we were going to get first option on the best South American kids. That was important to Newcastle. Mike knew everything about it. He was fine with it. Every deal that went through the football club he knew. It’s his money and no one else’s. It was all done the right way… I think he [Mike Ashely] will hold onto the club until they are promoted. I think they’ll go up this year, I genuinely hope they do, then Mike will take a decision next summer.” – Dennis Wise.
Today’s overview: Have Liverpool already blown another league title challenge?
That’s the point made by Dominic Fifield this Monday, writing “no side has lost three of its opening eight league games and gone on to win the title since Manchester United some 42 years ago, though BenÃtez cited the points dropped by the top four to Burnley, Sunderland and Wigan as evidence that the league will be tighter this term.” Patrick Barclay goes even further, arguing that Liverpool are battling to hold onto their Big Four status. “Far from gazing at the title, they must privately confront the possibility of a finish outside the top four, which, for a club accustomed to Champions League glory, would amount almost to relegation… By tonight, if City get anything from their match away to Aston Villa, we shall have a top five â€” but places for only four.”
Steven Howard has no problem calling out Liverpool’s below-par performers. “Of the side Benitez fielded yesterday, Albert Rieira, Lucas and Emiliano Insua are not up to the job. They really shouldn’t be anywhere near any Liverpool side that entertains serious hopes of ending their long title drought. They certainly wouldn’t have been in the past.” Similarly, Alan Hansen criticises the Liverpool players, rather than Benitez, for the Merseysiders poor form. “They are the ones making mistakes on the pitch, not the manager, but the major problem for Liverpool is that they are far too reliant on Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres… Liverpool just need to eradicate the highs and lows and get everything on an even keel.”
As we enter another turgid international week, the omission of Manchester United keeper Ben Foster from the England set-up is the main talking point up for debate.
Kevin McCarra observed how “the Football Association stated tonight that the Manchester United goalkeeper was injured but did not clarify the nature of the problem, despite having done so in the case of Jermain Defoe, who is out with a broken finger.”
On the other noticeable absentees, Matt Hughes commented “Darren Bent can consider himself slightly unfortunate to be ignored after his outstanding start to the season with Sunderland, while Theo Walcott may also feel aggrieved at being left out after marking his return from a back injury with a goal.”
For the first time ever, England fans will only be able to watch the Three Lions match with the Ukraine via the internet for a Â£4.99 fee. But is this a good idea?
Fencing-sitting, Patrick Barclay sees both sides of the debate. “It is certainly an argument that every minute played by the England team should always be freely available to anyone with a television set in England… I cannot see what is wrong with it as an experiment. Just as long as, when the real action starts, the old rules apply.”
With Scottish football at a low ebb, Graham Spiers argues that the Old Firm derby is still top billing. “I still love the Old Firm game. I wouldnâ€™t be without it. It instilled in me, early on in my life, much that I came to love about football. These days, if you donâ€™t get too upset about some of the dross that is the actually on the pitch, it is still an experience to behold.”
Also experiencing a woeful time of it at present are AC Milan, and Gabriele Marcotti surveys the damage crippling the Rossoneri. “The appointment of Leonardo, one of the most admired and loved men in football but also a man with zero experience in management, smacks of finding a human lightning rod to deal with an inherited mess.”
Back to domestic issues, and its another horrific day to be a Portsmouth fan. After headlines of another possible takeover in the Sundays, Gerry Cox now claims that Sulaiman Al-Fahim refuses to sell up. “On BBC Radioâ€™s Sportsweek programme yesterday, a spokesman for Fahim claimed that he had no intention of selling his majority shareholding and would find the money in the next few days from two financial institutions in Europe and the United States. Confused? Who wouldnâ€™t be?”
Following on from the Pompey debacle, Martin Samuel calls for new owners to be forced to stump up a bond when they take over clubs. “Portsmouth’s new owner could not cover the most basic running cost of a company: their wages. We hear a lot about the fans, but the first duty of care is to the employees and that is why a means test in the form of a bond should now form part of being declared a fit and proper person. It could be straightforward. Place 12 times the monthly wage bill in a special account and lodge it with the Premier League, therefore guaranteeing all commitments to employees for a year after any takeover.”
Finishing off with the transfers, and the Daily Mail claim “Aston Villa, Wolves, Hull and Newcastle are monitoring Sol Campbell’s situation after the Premier League said they would look into his appeal to allow him to join a team before the January transfer window opens.” The Mail also spout “Middlesbrough are looking to conclude a loan deal for Bolton defender Andy O’Brien this week.”