Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “It wonâ€™t happen [Fernando Torres to be sold by Liverpool]. If it did, Iâ€™d resign… We can only buy one or two big, Â£20 million players a year. If we want to have money available, then we have to sell some players. We have to sell expensive and buy as cheaply as possible. Aquilani fit would be Â£20-30 million. We checked with doctors and they said he would be out one, maybe two months. We have lost some time, but I signed the player for five years, not five weeks. We needed to take the risk. When we have spent big, normally itâ€™s been very good business. Torres, Mascherano, Reina, Alonso. Keane is a good player but we had to sell him because he was not playing at the level we knew he could play. Ryan [Babel] was signed for the future and we are waiting for his improvement. He has to be more consistent. With the fringe players, we needed to take a gamble on Bosmans and one, two million-pound players. Some of these players have not been good enough for us. It is a risk you have to accept when there is not too much money about.” – Rafa Benitez. (The full interview can be read here and here.)
Runner-up: “I will fly to the Balkans to meet with a female doctor who helped [PSV Eindhoven midfielder] Danko Lazovic. She is vague about her methods but I know she massages you using fluid from a placenta. I am going to try. It cannot hurt and, if it helps, it helps. I have been in contact with Arsenal physiotherapists and they have let me do it… A scan showed that my ankle ligament was almost completely torn off where Chiellini caught me but it was not intentional. I was lucky, it could be worse.” – Robin van Persie.
Today’s overview: It’s a mixed bag this Tuesday with articles on Fabio Capello’s England, questions over Scotland’s future, analysis of the impact of Van Persie’s injury, and a host of transfer rumours as the window edges ever closer.
Kevin McCarra questions the wisdom in England not playing an international friendly this week. “[Capello is] conceding that there is little more he can offer in developing his England side. It will not have taken the defeat by Brazil to show him that his hopes rest on a very limited number of key performers who have little scope for further improvement. There is nothing more he can do for, say, Frank Lampard, Gerrard and Terry other than go easy on them.”
Looking further down the line, Henry Winter surveys England’s potential group at the World Cup. “Looking at the likely pots, and acknowledging that the final six places will be decided only after an evening of immense tension from Sudan to Slovenia tomorrow, it is possible to describe a nightmare draw for England of Holland (pot two), Australia (three) and Ivory Coast (four). This would surely be the Group of Death, of Kewell and Kuyt, of Poms and circumstance… Another draw setting the alarm bells ringing would be Russia (pot two), US (three) and Nigeria (four).”
So George Burley is gone from the Scotland job. But who will step into the hot seat?
Sour-faced, Ewan Murray notes “a bit like the Scotland team and their football, the list of potential managers is hardly awe-inspiring… Sitting at either end of that scale, Walter Smith and Craig Levein are almost certain to be among the association’s first ports of call.” In a similar fashion, Graham Spiers bemoans that “finding Burleyâ€™s successor may prove to be a more arduous than glamorous task for the SFA hierarchy. The truth is, there appears no captivating name who can take the job, never mind those others who would not touch it with a barge-pole.”
The doom and gloom is continued by Roddy Forsyth. “No matter who succeeds Burley the SFA will not get the one man â€“ a Scot of enormous stature in the game â€“ for whom they would be willing to get down on their knees and beg.”
Moving the conversation back onto Burley, Nick Harris has sympathy for the fallen Scotland manager. “Scotland did not become terrible under Burley: they were more than the sum of their parts before him. They overachieved, or rather achieved at the peak of their potential when their best young players were all available and in form. Yet those and others still have potential. The trick is finding the right managerial key to unlock it.”
In a standout article using the bans meted out to Sir Alex Ferguson and Diego Maradona as his starting point, Matt Dickinson laments football’s “haphazard justice system.” “Crime and punishment in football remains an unfathomable mess of contradictions. An offence can be witnessed by billions on television, and replayed frame by condemning frame, but if the referee did not see it at the time, Fifa reserves the right to say it never happened.”
With Robin van Persie sidelined for several weeks, Dominic Fifield wonders how Arsenal will cope with the Dutchman’s absence. “At first glance Eduardo da Silva might appear a natural replacement… [but] there have been niggling injuries since and a rustiness that has blunted his edge. His time will surely still come but, in the meantime, Wenger has considered utilising Arshavin, the playmaker turned poacher, in the middle of his front trio with pace and trickery from those at his side.”
Jim van Wijk comments on the likelihood of Arsenal now buying a striker in the winter. “Arsenal had been linked with a move for Bordeaux forward Marouane Chamakh in the summer and could renew their interest in January should Wenger decide his squad is light in attack. However, pacey youngsters Carlos Vela – who has impressed as an impact player and in the Carling Cup – and London-born Sanchez Watt, who has been involved with the first-team in Europe this season, already provide some cover.”
On the injured Dutchman, Sam Wallace delves deeper into the weird placenta treatment which Van Persie believes will speed up his recovery. “In one of the most extraordinary attempts by a footballer to recover from injury, Van Persie travelled to Belgrade yesterday to visit the clinic of Dr Marijana Kovacevic who has built a reputation among European footballers for being something of a miracle healer. She uses massage and electrolysis to treat injuries and has worked with many players from Serbia’s national team.”
While the Van Persie situation rumbles in the foreground, the Independent talk up the possibility of Cesc Fabregas leaving the Emirates. “Barcelona will offer Yaya Toure and Bojan Krkic to Arsenal in order to clinch the signing of Cesc Fabregas… It has also been reported in Spain that Real Madrid could come in for 22-year-old Fabregas with an offer approaching Â£50m.”
Dominic Fifield speculates of what signings Chelsea may make in the winter transfer window. “Chelsea are more likely to bring in a number of promising, younger players. Daniel Sturridge and Ross Turnbull arrived last summer and could be followed by Middlesbrough’s Adam Johnson, who has attracted scouts from Sunderland and Wigan in recent weeks. They have also looked at the Brazil youngster Lucas Piazon, whom they watched score twice for his country’s Under-15 side against Bolivia at the weekend and are interested in Everton’s Jack Rodwell.”
Also investigating the Pensioners’ likely moves in the transfer market is Matt Hughes. “Terry believes that Chelsea should begin stockpiling players for forthcoming seasons in case Fifaâ€™s original two-window transfer ban is upheld, while the club are planning for the future by considering moves for Adam Johnson, the Middlesbrough winger, and Jack Rodwell, the Everton midfield player.”
Injecting the standard red-top sensationalism, John Cross hypes up more marquee name signings writing “Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti has got big names on his list including Atletico Madrid striker Sergio Aguero, Benfica winger Angel Di Maria, Bayern Munich superstar Franck Ribery, Evertonâ€™s versatile midfielder Jack Rodwell and Napoliâ€™s Mareck Hamsik.” Danny Fullbrook goes one step further though, printing “Chelsea have targeted Spanish pair David Villa and Sergio Ramos in a Â£50m double deal.”
Without any obvious source for basis, Rory Smith claims that Manchester United’s “Ben Foster may ask for a short-term loan move in an attempt to improve his chances of remaining in Fabio Capello’s England squad for the World Cup finals.” Ian Herbert also picks up on the Foster-loan move story, but the scribe struggles to see where the keeper could go. “Only perhaps Burnley’s Peter Jensen and Hull City’s Boaz Myhill look remotely vulnerable to a loan acquisition in January with most clubs in possession of proven goalkeepers. Dropping down to the Championship for game time is not an option, as it would leave Foster below West Ham United’s Rob Green and Blackburn’s Paul Robinson in the England pecking order.”
The Sun’s Mark Irwin believes he’s location Ben Foster’s new home. “Spurs are lining up a Â£6million New Year bid for England keeper Ben Foster… And Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp is in the market for a new keeper after Carlo Cudicini was seriously injured in a bike accident last week.”
And there are more loan moves tauted for second-rate Manchester United players, as the Daily Mail bleats “Fiorentina are lining up a loan bid for Manchester United winger Nani.”
In a headline which appears structured to gain as many online clicks as possible, the Daily Mail fart “Tottenham, Newcastle and Portsmouth battle to sign Raul Tamudo as Wigan drop out of race for the Spain striker.” And adopting the same how-many-clubs-can-we-name-at-once strategy, Christopher Davies shouts “Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool set for battle to sign Palermo defender Simon Kjaer.”
In the rest of the gossip, Andrew Dillon scribbles “Steve Bruce has launched a Â£5million bid for David Wheater,” and The Sun bark “Spurs have taken Norway’s hottest prospect Havard Nielsen on trial.”