Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “Wayne shouldn’t have to do anything for the FA. I keep telling him he’s too trusting. I told him ‘I don’t know why you do it with the FA’. They’ve not helped him one bit. Every time he does anything they punish him more than anyone in the game. He should be realising that.” – Sir Alex Ferguson tells Wayne Rooney he is being exploited by the FA.
Runner-up: “Messi and Ronaldo may be playing in another dimension but Gareth [Bale] has all it takes to play at the highest level. He is one of the Premier League’s players of the season and is in magnificent form. He is unquestionably the key for Spurs. We need to stop him to avoid problems in our penalty area. We’re not obsessed with Gareth but he’s the one to stop, not just because of his goals but because of all his assists for team-mates.” – Luis Suarez.
Wayne Rooney set for new Manchester United deal
Rooney is promised new deal by Ferguson (but Man United striker will have to take cut on £230,000-a-week salary) (Joe Bernstein, Mail on Sunday) Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says striker Wayne Rooney will be offered a new contract by Manchester United before his £230,000-a-week deal ends in 2015. Keen to end talk of a rift between himself and England’s star player following Rooney’s omission from the Champions League defeat against Real Madrid on Tuesday night, Ferguson claimed the club are ready to work on the striker’s long-term future at Old Trafford. ‘There is no issue with the contract. When it has to be renegotiated, it will be,’ said Ferguson, who may recall the 27-year-old for today’s FA Cup quarterfinal against Chelsea at Old Trafford. ‘We don’t want good players to leave.’ Despite Ferguson’s public stance, United’s money men would expect Rooney to take a pay cut if he is not going to be an automatic choice for the biggest matches, and interest from clubs abroad such as Paris St-Germain would be considered carefully.
We want Roo! Manchester United set to offer Wayne Rooney a new contract (Simon Mullock, Sunday Mirror) Wayne Rooney will be offered a new contract by Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson has moved to kill off speculation about Rooney’s future by insisting that he wants to open negotiations with the striker about extending his current deal. Sunday Mirror Sport understands that Rooney will not hesitate to sign on the dotted line. The 27-year-old, who has just over two seasons years left on the five-year, £250,000-a-week contract he signed in October 2010, wants to spend the peak years of his career at Old Trafford. Rooney’s omission from the United team eliminated from the Champions League by Real Madrid in midweek sparked reports that the England international would be sold in the summer.
Sir Alex Ferguson, Wayne Rooney and the search for truth (Daniel Taylor, Observer) Rooney’s camp, perhaps most tellingly, have not denied there are problems or taken issue with the stories that his future is uncertain. Other associates are talking openly about whether he might leave and it would be wrong to read too much into Ferguson wielding his banning stick again, expelling the Daily Mail and the Independent from Friday’s press conference, other than him wanting to exert an uncommon form of control over the sports pages. Those newspapers have not been shut out for reporting that Rooney might be sold, or is not taking enough care of himself, or has an erratic relationship with his manager. Otherwise it would have been a lot more than two. Instead Ferguson’s temper was pricked because some of the information was attributed to “sources” at Old Trafford when, this season more than ever, he has been trying to eliminate leaks. The Daily Telegraph discovered as much when it reported Ferdinand would miss the opening match of the season at Everton because of injury. It turned out players from both clubs had been gossiping and David Moyes knew anyway. Yet Ferguson banned the newspaper for three months and singed the eyebrows of one if its reporters with a blast of invective the next time he saw him. All of which brings us back to the original point. Sometimes in football the simple fact is they don’t want you to know the truth.
Can United lure Ronaldo back?
Manchester United have two-month window to find money to tempt Real Madrid to sell Cristiano Ronaldo (Mark Ogden, Daily Telegraph) Although Sir Alex Ferguson last week dismissed the prospect of Ronaldo returning to Old Trafford, four years after leaving in a world record £80 million transfer to Real, by claiming the idea to be a “false hope”, it is understood both United and Ronaldo are open to the possibility of a summer transfer. However, United must overcome Real’s plans to begin contract talks with Ronaldo at the end of this season if they are to have any hope of re-signing the player. With United currently negotiating a new kit deal with Nike, whose current contract expires in 2015, the opportunity for the American sportswear giant to restore their leading football player to a Nike-wearing team has given both parties common ground for discussion on the possibility of funding a move for Ronaldo.
Gary Neville interviews Ryan Giggs
When Gary met Ryan… ‘I’ve never, ever experienced a shock like that on the football pitch,’ says Giggs on United’s Champions League exit (Gary Neville, Mail on Sunday) GIGGS: Yeah, it’s weird. Because I probably haven’t felt that disappointed for a long, long time. But somewhere in your head there are so many positives as well. Because I think that we performed so well, we made Real Madrid look ordinary at times. And it was a proper European performance. And you’ve been there, where everything seems right. You’re in control of the match. The manager always says about games in Europe: ‘Be careful because the roof can fall in.’ And it did, but not in a way in which you can really blame the players, tactically or some of the performances. So it was weird. It was silent and everyone was gutted. It was shock really. But there were a lot of positives to take out of it.
‘Arry wants Jose back at Chelsea
I’d love to see Jose back at Blues (Harry Rednkapp, Sunday Sun) Jose Mourinho is CFC: cocky, flamboyant and controversial. And I love him for that, which is why I would love to see him back in English football next season. He returned ‘home’ briefly this week for a flying visit but there is a chance he will be back permanently from the start of next season. Should he leave Real Madrid there are only one or two clubs over here which could possibly accommodate him. And, of course, one of those is Chelsea. If Rafa Benitez leaves in the summer then Mourinho is red-hot favourite to go back to the club where the fans still sing his name, back to an owner with lots of money and back to a squad which only needs a bit of tinkering with to become world class again.
Is Luis Suarez heading to Atletico Madrid?
Is Suarez on the way to Atletico Madrid as Chelsea line up Falcao? (Nick Harris, Mail on Sunday) An exotic cast including Jose Mourinho’s agent, Pep Guardiola’s brother, Roman Abramovich and David Beckham’s nemesis are working on what could be the major transfer deal of the summer — bringing Liverpool pain as Chelsea gain. Chelsea want to buy one of the world’s most prolific strikers, Radamel Falcao, from Atletico Madrid. The Spanish club lie second in La Liga, just ahead of Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid. Atletico are virtually certain to qualify for next season’s Champions League. The club’s directors are planning to cash in on Colombia international Falcao at peak value and replace him with Liverpool’s Luis Suarez. ‘We won’t be making firm approaches until May but our objectives are absolutely clear,’ says an Atletico source. ‘We’ll be back at the top level in Europe and we’re not going to be short of quality when we get there.’ Informal talks involving Falcao’s representative Jorge Mendes — also agent to Mourinho — are under way about a potential roundabout of moves. Manchester City are also interested in Falcao, valued by his club at around £43million. But Chelsea are front-runners because Atletico want to make a permanent signing of Chelsea’s Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who is on loan at the club.
The Real Madrid mega offer for Gareth Bale
Reign in Spain? Real Madrid set to tempt Tottenham with £110m package for Gareth Bale (Matt Law, Sunday Mirror) Real Madrid are putting together a stunning £110million package to capture Gareth Bale. The Spanish giants are preparing a £60m bid for Tottenham star Bale and will offer the Welshman a £10m-a-year, five-year contract. Real know it will take huge money to convince Spurs chairman Daniel Levy to sell and are also aware Bale will be offered an enormous pay rise to stay at White Hart Lane. Tottenham are prepared to shatter their own wage structure and pay Bale up to £170,000-a-week if they qualify for the Champions League. But Spurs will struggle to compete with the kind of money that is on offer in Spain.
Tottenham face Liverpool believing they can avoid another sloppy finish (Paul Doyle, Observer) André Villas-Boas takes his team to Anfield on Sunday believing Tottenham Hotspur have found a cure for their floppy finishes. Spurs have suffered downturns at around this stage in the past two seasons but now they are starting to soar just as the stakes rise. Their powerful form is fuelled by the memories of past agonies and the promise of a glorious future, says the manager. Rather than feel spent after high-octane victories over Arsenal and Internazionale since last Sunday, Villas-Boas believes his team will be buoyed by the knowledge that Liverpool would love to have enjoyed a similar workout. Brendan Rodgers’ side had ambitions of going far in the Europa League too but, having been eliminated in the last round, they could only watch as Spurs swaggered to a 3-0 victory over Inter on Thursday.
Barcelona want Kompany
Kompany man: Barcelona line up £20m Manchester City captain to replace Carles Puyol (Steve Bates, People) Barcelona have put Vincent Kompany on their wanted list as they scour Europe and beyond to replace Carles Puyol, writes the Sunday People. Defender Puyol, 35 next month, is nearing the end of an illustrious career at the Nou Camp, having won three Champions League titles and five La Ligas. But his days as Barcelona’s captain and defensive rock are numbered. And Sunday People Sport understand Barca’s interest in Blues defender Kompany has been mentioned to Manchester City sporting director Txiki Begiristain.
Can Barcelona turn it round v AC Milan?
Barcelona face up to uncomfortable truths after alarming slump in form (Sid Lowe, Observer) There are times when Roura must decide, when he must intervene, and then the risk is that the message becomes mixed. Roura is popular but he does not have the gravitas, the charisma or the authority that Vilanova possesses. Nor does he seek it. This is not his role, it is a responsibility that weighs. Privately, people at the club refer to it as a burden. “I do not have nor do I want more autonomy,” Roura says. “I am just the second coach.” In that context, it is natural that the intensity has slipped from Barcelona’s game, the precision and pace, that competitive edge whose centrality to their success is too often overlooked. Plan B is, up to a point, a red herring if they get Plan A right.
Gazza back in Blighty
Paul Gascoigne: I was dead (Stephen Moyes, Sunday Sun) Booze hell soccer legend Paul Gascoigne said yesterday as he tearfully flew home from rehab: “I was DEAD.” The ex-England idol told of being tied to a bed as doctors agreed alcohol had killed him. His life hung by a thread in the US as vital organs packed in. Sobbing Gazza, 45, recalled begging pitifully as he felt himself slipping away: “I don’t want to die.”