Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I’ve thought about it many times, especially at the World Cup and European Championship, and I am surprised football has never been targeted here. I don’t understand why it should just be happening in Pakistan. London could be a target, you never know. You have to rely on the internal security of the country you are in and in England our teams don’t get a routine police escort before games any more. It’s more and more difficult to get one. They refuse… I don’t want a big security presence and five doctors. My attitude is, ‘Let’s just go and play football’… We have had alerts before games at home and weâ€™ve kept it quiet.” – Arsene Wenger.
Runner-up: “I was disappointed with Mr Bennett all afternoon, as were my players, because of his attitude towards us and towards them. I know it was Chelsea who are a great team who deserve respect and he let us know that in no uncertain terms. That is not why we lost but I was disappointed with that. He was smug towards us, the way he was talking to my players – my senior players. He was very friendly towards some of the Chelsea boys. I know they are great pros but you are there to do a job and my players are not happy with his attitude.” – Chris Coleman.
Today’s overview: Manchester United sit back and lap up the plaudits this Sunday and the Sundays laud the performance at Fulham. United also find themselves positioned against Arsenal as various hacks link Jose Mourinho’s future to both clubs.
After demolishing Fulham in the FA Cup, the excitement over Manchester United’s quintuple dreams are growing. For Amy Lawrence, “this team is not for turning. This squad is not for weakening. United may not get the luck in every competition this season, but they have just about everything else going for them.” Steve Tongue boasted how United put on “a masterclass of modern football… Internazionale will be given plenty to ponder when they study the videotape of the game ahead of their visit to Old Trafford.”
Paul Hayward continues the United love-festÂ writing: “United have reached the nirvana where injuries, rotation and changes in the nature of the assignment bring no appreciable diminution of rhythm.”
In the latest article bashing the Premier League, Paul Wilson salutes the fact that “United are too good for everyone else” while arguing that “defending the Premier League by highlighting the teams in trouble proves the point.”
Reacting to the subject of dangerous tackles, Paul Hayward bullishly farts “anyone who denies that we have an endemic problem with high, wide and late potentially limb-snapping ‘challenges’ should be excluded right away from the debate” before noting “unchecked machismo is the British disease, and it explains in part why England have not reached the final of a major tournament since 1966.”
It’s make or break time at the Emirates, Duncan White barking that the next week will define Arsenal’s season while admitting that “Arsenal have maintained high standards against elite opponents… [which is] why Jose Mourinho suggested Arsenal could win the Champions League.” George Graham echoed the same sentiment in the Mirror on Sunday backing the Gunners for Champions League success.
Swimming against the standard Arsenal tide, Rob Shepherd challenges the establishment arguing that the Gunners have morphed “from Les Invincibles to Les Invisibles – with their fans doing a passable impression of Les Miserables as they scream for the managerâ€™s head… The myth Arsenal are the ONLY team that plays beautiful football or the ONLY club that brings on young players is, frankly, ludicrous. Wengerâ€™s transfer policy over the last few years has been a shambles and they must change direction unless they are to wither on the vine… One job has Mourinhoâ€™s hand-writing all over it – successor to Wenger.”
The Sunday tabloids stuff in the standard transfer tidbits. Bob Cass tells his Mail on Sunday readers that “AC Milan are lining up a Â£20million bid to snatch centre-back Nemanja Vidic from Manchester United [whilst also having interest in] 21-year-old Jonny Evans, who could cost up to Â£10m.” Coming in to Old Traffprd, David Harrison writes that “United are closing in on Â£4million-rated Argentine midfielder Nicolas Bertolo.” While, writing as if it is gospel, Aidan Magee pens “Martin O’Neill will end David Bentleyâ€™s Spurs hell and take him to Aston Villa in the summer.”
Colin Mafham, avoiding the fact that Hiddink has repeatedly confirmed his summer departure, farted “the futures of Ashley Cole AND John Terry could be on the line if Guus Hiddink stays at Chelsea.”
In a twist to the norm, Simon Mullock EXCLUSIVELY claims that Robinho will not be sold by Manchester City before fellow Mirror hack Paul Smith plunges the red-top back down the toilet reporting “Jose Mourinho is on the brink of losing his job at Inter Milan.”
In other rumours, the Mail on Sunday claim that “Paul Ince is expected to make a dramatic return to management with Championship billionaires Queens Park Rangers.” Paul Hetherington announces the latest setback for Liverpool – “Benitez has been told he will have to sell before he can buy in the summer if he wants to make big-money signings. It is the latest blow for the Liverpool boss in his battle for more control at Anfield and could even trigger his departure.”
With one eye on the Champions League, Ian Hawkey traces the career of Pavel Nedved who has “been playing elite football almost since the Iron Curtain came down.” While Henry Winter picks up the old chestnut of Jose Mourinho’s potential future at Old Trafford, noting that his “tactical approach would need to be more expansive. More dinner jacket, less strait-jacket. A manager who liberated Deco at Porto, Frank Lampard at Chelsea and Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Inter can surely embrace the open game demanded by the Stretford End.”
Keeping with the Mourinho-Manchester United link, David Harrison quotes the Special One’s latest outburst on the subject. Mourinho: “If you want me to rule out ever being Manchester United manager I canâ€™t. Special clubs need special managers so in theory it could work, but nobody knows what the future is in football. The England national team wanted me as coach and that is the biggest job in England, so I am sure when Sir Alex retires they will look at the best managers in the world and I certainly fall into that category. How much time I canâ€™t say, Sir Alex doesnâ€™t look like he is ready to stop. But when you are managing a winning team you donâ€™t want to stop â€” and if you have health then there is no reason to.”
David Beckham will not return to the Galaxy according to Aiden Magee who quotes “sources close to Galaxy boss Bruce Arena say he does not want the Beckham bandwagon to disrupt the club.”
In an offbeat article, Will Buckley explores how Gordon Ramsey got away with his Rangers lie for so long concluding “he gets away with it because his celebrity chums are probably equally hazy with the truth.”
In other news, Simon Turnbull reveals how Usian Bolt has agreed to train Cristiano Ronaldo this summer, quick to point out that “the alliance is no corporate sportswear stunt â€“ Ronaldo is a Nike man, Bolt a Puma athlete. It has come about because Bolt is a big Ronaldo fan.” Alex Duval Smith wonders whether local South Africans will turn up for the 2010 World Cup after organisers “admitted that 80 per cent of applications for the 3 million tickets have come from outside the country.”
In the Sunday interviews, Amy Lawrence sits down with Robin van Persie (“playing for a Champions League place is not enough”), Gareth Southgate lays it all on the table for David Walsh (“This is the worst recession ever and our club has just had its worst ever run of results. Who is going to fight against that negativity?”), and Darren Fletcher tells Jonathan Northcroft about how he tries to keep a competitive edge at Old Trafford.