Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I do not understand this. This theory of Ferguson’s – that I went to Real so the club could persuade Cristiano [to sign] the following summer – is a work of absolute science fiction. Cristiano is a clever person and he decides himself what is best for his own life. I am a good very friend of his. This is true but he always decides his own future. If he asks me a question about Real, then of course I will answer but I am not a bad influence on him… I am actually convinced that Cristiano would offer Madrid even bigger performances than he has for United. That is my personal opinion and it is only natural that I have wanted him to come and play with us here in La Liga. Ferguson cannot stop me talking now because I am no longer at Manchester United.” – Gabriel Heinze.
Runner-up: “Fabregas also took a pop at Spurs when he teased them about playing Arsenalâ€™s ladies. He told ladsâ€™ mag Loaded that Vic Akersâ€™ all-conquering womenâ€™s side would give the White Hart Lane men a tough game. Fab said: ‘They would do really well. Iâ€™m sure they would get a point!'” – The Sun’s Mark Irwin.
Today’s overview: We kick off today’s round-up with a brilliant short from the world of Scottish football as Simon Johnson offers one of the stories of the year in the Telegraph, on how a charity football match between MSPs and sport pundits was abandoned as the game descended into violence.
“The game started with players exchanging aggressive banter, but the flashpoint came after 40 minutes when Labour’s John Park and BBC commentator Chick Young both went for the ball. Mr Park’s tackle was mistimed and Mr Young had to be stretchered off. He labelled the MSP team an ‘absolute disgrace’ and claimed he had been left with six stud marks in his leg. The MSP was ordered from the pitch by the referee and replaced, but relations between the two sides got worse in the second half when at least one punch was thrown. Players from both teams squared up to each other, pushing their opponents in the chest. The referee decided he had seen enough and abandoned the match after about 55 minutes with the score 6-2 to the politicians.”
Tony Cascarino backs Tony Adams’ appointment at Portsmouth, saying “Tony getting the job means they keep the continuity going and that can only be a positive thing.” And in a second article Cascarino compares Adams to Roy Keane – “Both are reformed after wild younger days and both are intense and serious. If Keane can become one of the most promising managers around, I donâ€™t see why Adams canâ€™t do the same.”
Russell Kempson delivered a positive assessment of Adams after his debut press conference as Pompey manager (“It was Adams reborn, not in the pretentious manner that some have accused him of adopting in recent years as he sought to reshape his life, but with a fresh and boyish enthusiasm, his eyes alive and sparkling.”) Leaving the dissenting opinion to Nick Harris, who noted how number 2s have often failed in the top job (“Chris Hutchings (Wigan), Sammy Lee (Bolton) and Les Reed (Charlton) all failed, and failed messily.”)
The Times have an exclusive and rare interview with Sir Alex Ferguson – Fergie on Blatter: “I think Sepp Blatter is in danger… or has reached a point now, where he is being mocked within the game. Whether he’s getting too old, I don’t know. But things can happen to people in power. Look at some of the despots in Africa.”
In Premier League news, Matt Lawton reports that Premier League managers are set to “revolt against the Respect campaign in the wake of a series of controversial incidents that have left them seething,” while ahead of the North London derby, Glenn Moore notes how the form book is completely in Arsenal’s favour (“Spurs have won one league match in 24 against Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal teams, and that was in the last century. Redknapp, meanwhile, has only once been able to offer commiserations to Wenger in 22 managerial contests between the pair, also in 1999.”)
In other news surrounding English football, Rob Hughes takes David Beckham to town for his proposed move to AC Milan – “Beckham is an accurate kicker of the still ball, an earnest runner, but not a great player in terms of spellbinding grace or movement on theÂ ball… He seems bent on disproving the adage that one player cannot be bigger than his club, or in Beckham’s case, bigger than a whole nationalÂ sport.”
Looking at events at QPR after Iain Dowie’s dismissal, Benjie Goodhart points the finger of blame at Flavio Briatore, a man who “has a lot of ground to make up with QPR fans.” And David Conn writes of the pressure group, Fair Pay Network, who are campaigning for a raise in wages to “an hourly wage of Â£7.45 in London, Â£6.80 outside the capital” for football’s programme sellers, cleaners and catering staff.
In an offbeat article, Nick Harris recalls the brilliance of Subbuteo – “Jeff Stelling did it, as did Stan Bowles, Will Self, Alastair Campbell and millions of others. And if you are a man born between 1945 and 1980, the chances are that you did it too. Subbuteo rocked.”
In football news from further afield, James Montague reports on the Palestinian football team, noting that Fifa is “one of the only international bodies to recognise Palestine’s existence.” Jonathan Wilson writes about Romanian football, writing how the interference of the homophobic, right-wing and utterly unsavoury owner Gigi Becali has prompted Steaua Bucharest to appoint their ninth manager since 2003. Lastly, Bob Williams reports that with the identity of Argentina’s new coach set to be revealed later this week, Diego Maradona is leading the pack of candidates for the job.