Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I would have preferred to finish in the transfer market but it does not work like that.Â We have had some sleepless nights and we were working non-stop through the summer.Â The injuries are making things difficult. We start the season next week and then we have a Champions League qualifier.Â We need to qualify and hopefully we won’t have any more injuries from the international matches. We could be hit hard if we lose any more.Â Cesc is not ready to start a game. He has joined the group again. The rest is speculation.Â Nasri is out with an ankle problem. It is difficult to give Theo a deadline. He might be back for the start of the season.Â Koscielny has a muscle problem but it is not too serious. I am not sure about Jack and his ankle problem.” – Arsene Wenger.
Runner-up:Â “It doesn’t matter how you get them but 84 points will win the league.Â We got less last year but considering the increasing competition it will be a really tough league.” – Sir Alex Ferguson.
Today’s overview: Today’s round-up starts with an excellent article from Sam Wallace who cosiders how football would be if newspapers stopped reporting on the Beautiful Game.
Arsenal’s Champions League draw with Udinese is placed underÂ theÂ microscope, while the hype continues to grow ahead of the theÂ CommunityÂ Shield on Sunday.
Des Kelly defends Newcastle’s axing of Joey Barton, while Paul Newman explores the league-that-is-anyones, the Championship.
We wrap up with the daily transfer lies, including new news that Samir Nasri may leave the Gunners, Tottenham are rumoured to be making wholesales changes in their squad, and Chelsea are closing in on a long term striking target.
What If Papers Stopped Reporting Football: Sam Wallace ponders what life would be like if the fifth estate stopped being interested in football. “Without us, and the other members of our dysfunctional press family, who is left?Â The answer is, the clubs’ own media. I have nothing against the website and TV personnel of our clubs, many of whom started life on our side of the fence and are very capable journalists. But are we sure the clubs are going to strive to give us the real, inside, uncomfortable story on their organisations?…Â We do not always get it right, although we always try our best to do so. The basic aim is: deliver well-sourced stories. Some fans will never be happy and some think that there is an agenda against their club or one individual but I am yet to meet the reporter who would put his or her club loyalty ahead of a cracking news story.”
Arsenal v Udinese: The Gunners got a tough draw in the Champions League.
The Current Bun have some encouraging, but ultimatelyÂ completelyÂ irrelevant, Â stats for the Gunners. “Arsenal will be buoyed by the recent successes they have enjoyed against Italian sides.Â They beat Roma on penalties to get to the quarter-finals of the Champions League two years ago and defeated Milan 2-0 at the San Siro in 2007/08.Â The Gunners also overcame Juventus in the quarter-finals in 2005/06 and thumped Inter Milan 5-1 at the San Siro in 2003/04.”
Mina Rzouki unleashes a tirade of hot air andÂ vacuousÂ statement, vomiting “expect the unexpected from the antithesis of the archetypical Italian side…Â DisciplesÂ of the 3-5-2 formation, Udinese are a well-oiled side that are capable of shifting tasks effortlessly and a squad heavily reliant on their unity. Vicious on the counter-attack and well versed in the art of pressuring their opponents, each player has a great understanding of his and his teammatesâ€™ role making their movements seem effortless… It’s worth noting that while they play mesmerising football and score in abundance, Guidolinâ€™s teams are also notoriously slow starters.”
Hyping The Community Shield: Who wants to bet that it will finish goalless after ninety minutes only to be finished on tedious penalties? TheÂ continuousÂ oversell of theÂ CommunityÂ Shield rumbles on this Saturday.
Dipping into his bottomless collection of cliches, awful pundit Terry Venables poops “RarelyÂ does a fixture that matters so little mean so much.It might only be the Community Shield but expect there to be little love for thy neighbour when the red and blue halves of Manchester renew hostilities at Wembley tomorrow…Â Seldom will this showpiece be more keenly-contested. Seldom will it be viewed by the players and fans as so important.Â Only I reckon victory is more important to one club than the other.Â United boss Alex Ferguson would love nothing more than to win this occasion for theÂ NINTH time.”
Next to fall into the hyperbole trap wasÂ Mark Lawrenson. “Sir Alex Ferguson will be desperate to silence the noisy neighbours at Wembley.Â The Community Shield is often deemed no more than a glorified friendly, but thereâ€™s more spice to it with the Manchester derby.”
Henry Winter scatterguns a long list of questions ahead of kick-off. “The game has edge, the significance etched in numerous sub-plots. Will United silence their Noisy Neighbours? Will Wayne Rooney maintain his terrific pre-season form? Will Ashley Youngâ€™s vibrancy worry Nani? Will Sergio AgÃ¼ero rise from the City bench to test Rio Ferdinand? Will City miss the absent Carlos TÃ©vez, a sign of things to come?So many areas of intrigue. Will Unitedâ€™s youngsters such as Phil Jones demonstrate the depth of Sir Alex Fergusonâ€™s replenished squad? Can David de Gea deal with the pushing and shoving at corners? Will City hint at a more expansive strategy required to win the Premier League? Will Mario Balotelli struggle with the parking/the weather/the grass/the no-showboating order/the bib?”
The Mirror supply some early team news. “Sir Alex Ferguson will leave Â£16million ace Ashley Young on the bench against Manchester City this weekend…Â Ferguson favours starting Nani in Youngâ€™s position on the left and Antonio Valencia on the right at Wembley in the Community Shield.”
Turning to Man City, Andy Townsend manages to go from Balotelli hates Manchester to City are a one-hit wonder in oneÂ erroneousÂ swoop. “I read Balotelli saying he doesn’t like Manchester. Well, tough. Players love it when they come to sign their bumper contracts and then they moan that they don’t like the rain.Â How about doing your homework before you come or – better still – just get on with it. There’s a danger City could be a one-hit wonder.Â The big question for City is whether they have the bit between their teeth in the way United did when they started to win things.Â Are City made of the same stuff? Winning a trophy after so many years was a watershed moment for City, but building on that success is the ultimate test for them. They must not dine out on an FA Cup victory for the next five years.”
How To Abuse Ryan Giggs: Masked in theÂ veneer of journalism,Â John Mahoney acts as the mouthpiece for Man City fans as he writes out the words to a characterÂ assassinatingÂ Ryan Giggs song. “Dave Wallace, editor of City fanzine King Of The Kippax, yesterday unveiled the song they hope will ruin Ryanâ€™s day.Â To the tune of City anthem Blue Moon, it goes: ‘Boo hoo, you dirty old Red, Youâ€™ve sh*gged in your brotherâ€™s bed.Â Boo hoo, we canâ€™t even say your name.'”
Joey Barton: Arriving slightly late to the party, Des Kelly looks at Barton’s Tweeting antics. “[Barton]Â has repaid his employers by slagging them off, undermining his manager Alan Pardew and generally posturing as some fans’ champion.Â Barton is the thrush of Twitter; rash, irritating, yet easily dealt with. And however he dresses it up, with lines from Orwell like ‘In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act’, the bottom line is he was unprofessional.Â Any employee trashing their boss in public would expect to receive a P45.”
The Championship: Paul Newman looks at the cut-throat nature of English football’s second tier. “As the new season kicks off this weekend, six of the managers will be taking their first matches in charge and five more will be starting what they hope will be their first full season. Only six of the 24 men were in the same jobs at the start of last year.Â Pursuit of the Premier League’s television riches has meant that managerial casualties have become commonplace in the Championship…Â Leicester are among the favourites for promotion, but it’s wide open. There are probably only six clubs who could be ruled out of the promotion picture â€“ Barnsley, Coventry City, Doncaster Rovers, Millwall, Peterborough United and Watford. Bristol City, Crystal Palace and Portsmouth would also do well to do better than mid-table, but none of the remaining 15 clubs could be discounted as play-off contenders.”
Signing On: The Sun report that “Joe Hart has been rewarded for a stunning season with Manchester City and England with a five-year deal worth Â£25m.Â Hart, 24, put pen to paper on a new contract that will more than treble his pay to Â£100,000 a week.”
Transfer Tales: The Star say that Man City will landÂ Samir Nasri in a Â£22m deal while also snaring Fiorentinaâ€™s Alessio Cerci, while the Mirror fart that “Samir Nasri last night moved a step closer to the exit door at Arsenal following an apparent row with Arsene Wenger.”
Arsenal have signed striker Joel Campbell for Â£900,000,Â Sunderland are looking at Craig Bellamy whileÂ Shaun Wright-Phillips is again linked to Bolton, QPR still want Peter Crouch,Â Blackburn are closing in on Radosav Petrovic and Vieirinha, andÂ Bolton are ready to hijack Fulham’s bid to sign Cameron Jerome.
ElsewhereÂ Giuseppe Rossi is linked to Spurs while Blackburn eye Robbie Keane,Â Stoke are considering a Â£20m offer to take Peter Crouch and Wilson Palacios from Tottenham,Â Chelsea are near to signing Romelu Lukaku while Zenit want Alex,Â Gabriel Obertan has agreed a five-year contract with Newcastle, andÂ Anzhi Makhachkala have signed Yuri Zhirkov.