Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “He’s [Gomes] got a hand on the ball â€“ it was a terrible decision. It was a gift that United didn’t deserve and it put them back in the game. Without that bit of help from the ref, I don’t think United would have come back. If [Webb’s] the best referee in the country, I wouldn’t like to see the worst one. Once again, we’ve been the victims of a poor decision that has changed the course of a game.” – Harry Redknapp.
Runner-up: “I am not a pundit any more. I am now the manager. I don’t really care what people on the outside say, probably like they didn’t care what I said when I sat there on a Saturday night a month ago. Everyone has an opinion. I respect that, because that is what I do – that’s what I did. I respect it, but listen to it? No.” – Alan Shearer.
Today’s overview: The scribes are queuing up to dose lyrical champagne over champions-elect Manchester United this Sunday.
Daniel Taylor kicks-off the party saying “United deserve all the superlatives for the determination, drive and sheer guts of their fightback,” while Paul Wilson chips in with “this was the day, and there’s always one, when the sun bursts from behind clouds at three o’clock precisely and you can see all the way to the end of the season.” While after pointing out “if you cannot defend you may as well attack,” Wayne Rooney was singled out by Jonathan Northcroft saying “Rooney was the pivot upon which every action of Unitedâ€™s comeback turned.”
It was left to David Harrison to make the case that Manchester United only won becuase of the penalty which should never have been. “Webb’s inexplicable intervention unsettled Tottenham to such an extent that they conceded five goals in 22 minutes. Their confidence had been shot to pieces and there was no way back into a match they had controlled up to half-time.”
Reporting on Liverpool’s win at Hull, Duncan Castles spells out the problems for the Tigers. “Hull’s fall from grace has been as precipitous as their ascent was provocative.” Yet Michael Walker finds the silver lining for Hull penning “show this level of commitment in their next home game â€“ against Stoke â€“ and Hull might still have enough to stay up.”
On the Reds, the John Richardson meekly suggests that Liverpool may be about to be sold. “The Sunday Express Sport can reveal that leading members of the Indian-GMR group owned by Grandhi Mallikarjun Rao, who is worth Â£4.2billion, were wined and dined by Hicks and Gillett.” The Sunday Mirror’s Steve Millar also plugs the story printing “Liverpool are now the target of a Â£500million Indian takeaway.”
With the Champions League semi-finals just around the corner, Sid Lowe waxes lyrical over Barcelona. “Everyone is fitter, better organised, brighter and hungrier than before. The identity of the side â€“ the Dream Team’s identity â€“ is clear. It is not just the goals that blow you away but the control. The whole package.”
Keeping with the Catalans. On Barca’s number 10, Rob Shepherd comments “Cristiano Ronaldo may still sprinkle stardust and Kaka is touched with sporadic genius but nobody else embodies the purity of the game at its best. Nobody truly compares with Messi.” Following suit, John Carlin risks making a fool of himself lavishing the ultimate praise on Leo Messi. “Messi is more than merely great, in the rather promiscuous, diminished sense that we use the word when we talk football; he is sensational. After two decades of waiting, a new Messiah (as he is known in Barcelona) has arrived, a player worthy of standing alongside Diego Maradona and Pele, two natural-born geniuses, in a class of their own.”
There is however a dissenting opinion as, after paying lip-service to Barca’s incredible season, Pete Jenson mischievously asks “have they actually faced really strong opposition yet?”
On Chelsea, Duncan White suggests that the Blues, regardless of winning, will remain envious of their Spanish opponents. “Will Abramovich feel envy on at the Nou Camp on Tuesday? There is every chance Chelsea’s physical approach will destabilise Barcelona’s regal demeanour, but then it is not just about winning.”
Jonathan Northcroft makes the case for Arsenal being the smiling clown of European football. “Arsenal â€“ in terms of support, wealth, history and consistently high playing standards during the modern era â€“ may be the greatest club never to win Europeâ€™s primary football competition. Wenger, with Bill Shankly, is surely the greatest manager.”
Staying with the Gunners, Oliver Brown reports on Arsene Wenger’s fears “that the era of foreign domination in the Premier League will ‘soon be over’ due to the declining value of sterling and the imposition by last week’s Budget of a 50 per cent tax rate upon high earners.” Henry Winter concurs with The Proffessor adding “Sterling’s collapse and the hike in income tax makes the Premier League less attractive. We should enjoy the golden age while it lasts.”
Keeping with finances, Martin Hardy reports that “Mike Ashley is facing an Â£840million 12-month LOSS to his fortune by flogging Newcastle if the club go down. The Toon owner, who has poured Â£260m into the Magpies, is ready to sell for Â£120m. That deficit is on top of the Â£700m he is reported to have lost in the recession.”
As usual, rumours, lies and pure works of fiction are churned out by the Sunday tabloids.
Paul Hetherington reports on how “Robert Mancini wants to succeed Mark Hughes as manager of Manchester City.” The People’s Steve Bates goes a step further adding “Roberto Mancini is being lined up to take over from Manchester City boss Mark Hughes this summer. Senior City officials and agents representing Mancini are scheduled to have a meeting this week.” While in other managerial news, Aiden McGee publishes that “Avram Grant has told friends the Portsmouth job is his to turn down.”
And then come the proposed transfers. According to the NOTW, “Tottenham are set to make an Â£8million summer swoop for French striker Djibril Cisse.” Chris Bascombe claims that “Daniel Agger has snubbed a new four-year Liverpool deal worth Â£10million.” While The People link Wolves with Damien Duff, Sami Hyypia, Frazier Campbell and Bristol City midfielder Marvin Elliot.
Commenting on Frank Lampard’s radio rant against James O’Brien, Rod Liddle wonders whether going public was the best course of action. “The red tops will be investigating every nuanced detail of Frankâ€™s tirade and promises to his ex; we will see photos of the Fulham pad and the new house Frankie is planning for his family and there will be ripostes from Elen and her family and her friends, sly comments from Frankâ€™s former girlfriends, a fugue of bitterness emanating from all points.” (But wouldn’t they have done this anyway?)
Paul Hayward challenges Roy Keane’s theory of what constitutes success for managers in football. “For Keane to talk this way about Bruce, Hughes, Paul Ince and Bryan Robson (whose managerial career certainly trailed off) suggests the Darwinian tome he swallowed early in his playing days is still stuck in his throat.” Paul Wilson also mocks Keane’s comment writing “anyone with views so black and white should be managing Newcastle… Keane will be deemed successful if he gets his new club back into the Premier League. If he wins anything else with Ipswich Town, he will be the new Brian Clough.”
Making Tony Cascarino look like the Irishman’s biggest fan after farting “it’s never very edifying watching a once great sporting hero turn into a bitter and twisted twerp,” arrogant toff Piers Morgan predicts that “in all honesty I’d give it until Christmas before he’s off out the door, moaning about how everyone is utterly useless, apart from him. With every new outburst like the one he spewed last week, Roy Keane’s legend and reputation diminish just a little bit further.” While lastly on Keane, Chris McGarth barks “if Keane walks away from difficulties at Ipswich he will be considered about as emotionally robust as Kevin Keegan. Perhaps only Cobh Ramblers would still take him back.”
Finally, The Sunday Times publicise Rio Ferdinand’s latest online venture, #5 Magazine, in which the footballer interview US rapper 50 Cent is the debut edition.