Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: ”He [Mancini] was badgering the referee the whole game, the fourth official and linesman. The minute I get up there, he’s at it again. He was complaining about referees the other week. He can’t be complaining now, that’s for sure.” – Sir Alex Ferguson.
Runner-up: “Him? No? He doesn’t do this! He doesn’t talk to the referee to try to get decisions – never! But I never said anything against him. I was only talking to the fourth official… [The key was] that we wanted to win and they wanted a draw. This is the difference. This can happen.” – Roberto Mancini.
Manc Match Reports
Fergie’s got Kompany at the top as rivals grab title advantage thanks to captain’s derby winner (Mail) Here at the Etihad Stadium, on a night when the neighbours have never been noisier, it certainly felt like something truly momentous had happened; something that not only marked an important turning point in what has been a fascinating title race but the end of one era and the beginning of another.
Roberto Mancini: ‘Football is crazy but Manchester City deserve this’ (Guardian) Manchester City, often castigated for being defensive, took their chance while the normally penetrative United were blunt.
Manchester City v Manchester United: five talking points (Jamie Jackson, Guardian) When the team sheets were distributed, they showed that Mancini had gone against his Italian stereotype to pick a strongest XI featuring the attacking forces of David Silva, Samir Nasri, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Agüero, while Ferguson had embraced the safety-first route: Danny Welbeck was left out as Wayne Rooney was asked to operate as a lone striker ahead of a packed five-man midfield. By the close Mancini had clearly got the better of this strategic battle of the two managers and, when the too often isolated Rooney was joined by Welbeck, Ferguson effectively conceded his 4-5-1 had not worked.
Ferguson loses cool as Manchester City move into the box seat for title race (Sam Wallace, Independent) The games of games in the Premier League era, the title decider that did not actually decide the title – call it what you like. It was not the most extraordinary game of the last 20 years but it signified an extraordinary moment in English football, when City moved top of the Premier League on goal difference and are now within touching distance of their first league title in 44 years.
Manchester power shift must send shivers down Sir Alex Ferguson’s spine as City beat United (Telegraph) After a 5-1 defeat at Manchester City in 1989 Sir Alex Ferguson drove home and went straight to bed. After losing this season’s two league derbies 7-1 on aggregate he must be temped to go straight to the Glazers and tell them restraint has had its day.
Fergie’s noisy neighbours have taken over and are threatening to drive him out (Ollie Holt, Mirror) It is a risky business writing the epitaph of the grand old man of the English game but after last night, a few more may feel emboldened enough to have a go.
Gary Neville’s features speak louder than Jim White noise (Jonathan Liew, Telegraph) Afterwards, it was the face of Gary Neville that spoke volumes. Since excusing himself from Sir Alex Ferguson’s faintly bizarre cult of unstinting obedience and flying football boots, Neville has striven to maintain impartiality, but while his words were perfectly sound, there was a dejection in his voice and expression that he had ceased bothering to disguise. It had been a long old day, and you could tell that all Neville really wanted was to drive home and tend his aching heart.
Winners Man City
City show the nerve and the verve to herald a power shift (James Lawton, Independent) As last night wore on, City looked increasingly equipped to achieve a new piece of football history.
City smiles better as Kompany and Co take a leap of faith (Martin Samuel, Mail) It helps to have players who do not recognise City’s reputation as the punchline of a thousand old jokes; they only know the club as they are now. Powerful, vibrant, on the brink of greatness. In the last minute, and all minutes before, United were comfortably repelled by a City team utterly at ease with themselves.
Rob’s Fergie swipe (Sun) Roberto Mancini claimed Manchester United’s negative tactics cost them. Alex Ferguson packed his midfield to frustrate City — but it was the Blue half of Manchester celebrating.
City deployed Yaya Touré effectively to attack and constrict United (David Pleat, Guardian) Manchester United’s abandoning their tactical formation gave Manchester City the base to use the Ivorian to counterattack and eventually close the game down.
Carlos Tévez’s contribution has been small but his impact has been huge (Paul Hayward, Telegraph) Any Premier League medal would glitter on the chests of Kompany, Hart or Agüero, but hang from Tévez’s neck as a symbol of his power – and of the value of pragmatism when a tiring team needs an infusion of talent.
Losers Man United
Angry Alex sees world fall apart (Steven Howard, Sun) If the body of a 70-year-old Scot is discovered face down on the floor of his Cheshire kitchen this morning, do not suspect foul play. It will only be Alex Ferguson having decided it was time to end it all… In a game that had been billed as ‘the mother of all matches’ they went down with scarcely a whimper… A foul by Nigel de Jong on Welbeck caused Ferguson to lose his composure and he had to be restrained by stewards from having a go at Roberto Mancini. It was an unedifying scene with a furious Fergie wagging his finger in Mancini’s face while the Italian made a motion with his right hand suggesting the United manager put a lid on it. Ecstatic City supporters behind the dugout then chanted: “He’s cracking up, he’s cracking up, poor old Fergie’s cracking up.” Even some United fans might concur with that this morning after the manner in which their team have thrown away the title.
Rio Ferdinand should have marked Vincent Kompany (Ian Wright, Sun) Vincent Kompany is City’s strongest, most dangerous player in the air and his goal was obviously crucial. He was too good for Chris Smalling.
Park gamble backfires as Ferguson’s timid team surrender the initiative (Independent) City exploit United’s packed midfield which leaves Rooney isolated and frustrated in attack.
Hodgson: England Manager
Game of two other halves: How Mrs Redknapp and Mrs Hodgson helped to pick the new England manager (Mirror) Sources admit Hodgson may not even have got an interview for the coveted job if it had not been for the intervention of Redknapp’s wife.
Out to get them? No, we don’t hound managers, we just want results (Martin Samuel, Mail) Hodgson’s decisions will split opinion, as Capello’s did, as Redknapp’s would have. Yet to read some of the more outraged responses to criticism of Hodgson’s appointment, one would think the football press lived in Harry’s loft space on a diet of jellied eels. Any resistance to Hodgson is a southern media conspiracy. Truth is, there is no collusion, no cabal, no convergence of interests.
England’s players must open their eyes to Roy Hodgson, a man who is guided by a ‘light that shines within’ (Henry Winter, Telegraph) Football’s growing up. English football’s going to college. The appointment of Roy Hodgson as England manager, and the imminent opening of the Football Association’s university of coaching at St George’s Park, signals a desire for a more thoughtful approach to the game.
Roy Hodgson’s management style is praised by two of his old players (Guardian) Martin Dahlin and Stuart Ripley believe their former manager is the ideal man to lead England and will command respect.
Tall order: Crouch could be a winner under Hodgson…but Johnson is left sweating (Mirror) Peter Crouch could be the biggest winner of Roy Hodgson’s elevation to the England job. But Glen Johnson may be fearing the end of his international career if Hodgson is the sort to bear grudges.
FA’s treatment of Redknapp is nothing short of appalling (James Lawton, Independent) One moment Spurs were potential (albeit long-shot) champions – and slugging it out with Mancester City in a compelling, finely drawn game at the Etihad Stadium, the next their manager and creator was deemed unworthy of the niceties of a formal interview. This was shoddy, demeaning behaviour by the FA, another confirmation, if you like, of an innate capacity to turn a hopeful scenario into the arrival of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Red and buried (Sun) Harry Redknapp could be left in contract limbo by Spurs. The Tottenham boss, snubbed by England, has suffered a second blow with the news the club are no longer in a rush for him to sign a new deal.
Harry Redknapp accepts England talk may have been a distraction (Guardian) As Hodgson sat down with the FA on Monday to discuss becoming Capello’s successor, Redknapp dealt with the humiliation of not even being granted an interview by offering a magnanimous front. “I wish him all the best,” he said. “I don’t hold grudges.”
Managers On The Move
Bag Chris (Sun) Chris Hughton is West Brom’s No 1 target to replace England-bound Roy Hodgson.
Wenger eyes Vertonghen move after hailing arrival of £11m striker Podolski (Mail) Vertonghen is entering the final year of his contract and Arsenal feel they can land the 25-year-old for as little as £7m, despite interest from Newcastle, Tottenham and Chelsea.
Spurs enter fray for Hazard with cash plus Dos Santos offer for Lille star (Mail) Tottenham may offer Giovani dos Santos to Lille in their efforts to prise Eden Hazard from Lille.
Manchester City and United do battle over Eden Hazard (Independent) Rivals keen on midfielder who could cost as much as £40m from Lille.