Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “It’s two points dropped because we had the best chances and because we scored a regular goal that was cancelled for an illusionary foul seen only by the referee. I’ve watched it three times on television and I still don’t see what’s wrong. He [the referee Mike Dean] has seen a push from Eboue, in fact it is Woodgate who pushes him as well and who stumbles over Adebayor and falls down. You see it again … it is nothing. It is not acceptable in games like this, it is not serious. I cannot say I am against the referee but he made a big decision wrong. He was the closest [official], he was in the best position and he did not judge the push from Eboue. He judged the fact that Woodgate fell down… for me the referee was not good today… Tottenham created very little and even against 10 men, they never worked us out of position.” – Arsene Wenger.
Runner-up: “I must have been at a different game. I thought I saw Tottenham dominate the game, even when it was 11 versus 11. It was only the last 15 minutes when we really pushed so many forward that they caught us on the break. [Nicklas] Bendtner suddenly came alive but before that, I didn’t think they were a threat. They sat in with 10 men, nine working behind the ball and it’s difficult to break them down. We just lacked that little bit extra to break them down. We were much the better team and you’d have put your life on the little man [Modric] at the end. I felt sure he’d score but it wasn’t meant to be. It was harder for us against the 10 men. When the game was open, there were more opportunities.” – Harry Redknapp.
Today’s overview: The big story this Monday is Portsmouth’s sacking of Tony Adams after just four months at the helm at Fratton Park.
Dominic Fifield has sympathy for Adams after he watched on as “Jermain Defoe and Lassana Diarra sold to Spurs and Real Madrid last month for around Â£35m as he attempted to pick up a squad left shocked by Redknapp’s move to White Hart Lane.” The less politically correct Martin Kelner offers a more probing critique of Adams’ departure. Wondering “if a recovering alcoholic was the best person to manage a Premier League football club,” Kelner commented “Adams has sounded disturbingly like a Church of England vicar, doing his first Thought For The Day.”
Adams is another example of a manager who was promoted too far, too soon and will now be regarded as a write-off. The offers have not exactly flooded in for Ince since he was sacked by Blackburn in December and, as with David Platt, John Barnes and the rest, the perception is that a young English manager has failed and is, as a consequence, to be regarded as damaged goods, tainted, untouchable, beyond redemption.”
So who will jump into the hot seat at Pompey? Taking a step back,” taking over a struggling side with no opportunity to strengthen now that the transfer window has shut might not appeal to some managers.”
For John Ley, “Johnny Metgod, appointed first-team coach to Adams in November, is expected to take over as caretaker manager” while Avram Grant and Alan Curbishley “are among the candidates to replace Adams at Fratton Park.” Neil Ashton offers a different opinion writing “director of youth football Paul Hart is expected to be appointed caretaker manager, but Avram Grant, Alan Curbishley and former England boss Sven Goran Eriksson, now in charge of Mexico, are under consideration.”
Looking at how Arsene Wenger dealt with the dismissal on Eboue in the North London derby, David Pleat observed “rather than going to 4-4-1 [Arsenal] went to 4-3-2, crucially retaining two front players. Wenger’s motive was to make sure Tottenham’s back four never had a completely free ride and to ensure his players more than one front target.” And keeping with Wenger, his reflections on the match itself lent grist to the mill of those who claim that the Frenchman is the most one-eyed leader since Nelson.”
Matt Law rips into Eboue for his dismissal, arguing “Eboue was monumentally stupid in getting sent off, costing his side the chance of beating their neighbours and thereby boosting hopes of qualifying for next seasonâ€™s Champions League.” And also refusing to hold back, Alan Hansen criticises Arsenal’s signing of Arshavin. “I am surprised Arsenal pursued Andrei Arshavin so enthusiastically, because the striker is similar to what they already have. Their money could have been better spent elsewhere.”
On United’s win at West Ham, Oliver Kay notes how goalscorer Ryan Giggs is in preliminary discussions with the club for a one-year extension to his contract which expires at the end of the season, while in a secondary article he wrote “this was just another ordinary afternoon in the extraordinary life of Giggs. It was not just the goal. It was the intelligence, the workrate, the willingness to run the extra mile.”
John Ley reports on the two records set at Upton Park yesterday. “Van der Sar became the first goalkeeper in Britain to go more than 20 hours without conceding a league goal while Giggs, in scoring the winning goal at West Ham, claimed the enviable record of scoring in all 17 seasons of the Premier League.”
While many are purring over United’s shutout record,Guardiolaâ€™s crew are scoring goals at a rate not seen in a big (or even small) European league in years. On Saturday, they had 65 in 21 league matches: roughly 3.1 a game. Contrast this with the rest of Europeâ€™s league leaders: Hoffenheim, 45 in 19 matches (2.37) in Germany, Inter Milan in Italy and Manchester United, both 40 in 23 (1.74), and Lyons, a paltry 27 in 22 (1.23) in France.”
Picking up on the specific case of Joe Hart, David James fears for the future of English keepers. “At the inauguration of the Premier League nearly every club appointed goalkeeping coaches, most of whom were English and charged with the task of overseeing the youth team. So, 17 years down the line why haven’t we reaped the rewards? It makes me wonder where our future generations of keepers are going to come from.” On the case of Hart though, Ian Ladyman points out how “Shay Given made three saves of the highest quality to contribute to Cityâ€™s important win against Middlesbrough. It appears as though Hughes has been vindicated already.”
A similar fear haunts Oliver Kay, who wonders where is “Englandâ€™s lost generation?” “Call it the lost generation, one that includes Jermain Defoe, Jermaine Jenas, David Bentley, Tom Huddlestone, Lennon, Downing and Johnson, none of whom is established as a first-choice player for England and all of whom either play for or, in the cases of Downing and Johnson, seem destined to play for Tottenham Hotspur. In other words, they do not quite seem to have what it takes to play at the very highest level.”
Staying with England, Sam Wallace lauds the emergence of “Barrick.” “Barry and Carrick â€“ or, in the fashion of that name synthesis now applied to famous Hollywood couples, ‘Barrick’ â€“ have introduced a new dynamic to the centre of England’s midfield. For the first time since before Euro 2004, Lampard and Gerrard do not have to be the England manager’s obvious choice.”
And finally, following yesterday’s Steve Bennett revelations, today Russell Kempson writes how “Howard Webb and Mike Dean were said to be singing Youâ€™ll Never Walk Alone in the hotel bar in Spain. The pair can expect a rough ride next time they take to the middle at Old Trafford or Goodison Park.”