Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I don’t think you will ever get Steve [Bruce] going to a club that is run the way Mike Ashley runs it. Ashley has no class whatsoever. The minute he arrived there and turned up in the boardroom in a replica shirt and jeans and pair of trainers, the club was gone. I think he has got what he deserves there. It’s a very proud club and you don’t go in and lower the standards. He cleared out the board and all the dignity has gone out of the club. Whatever you think of Freddy Shepherd, he had great dignity. People say he made a good living out of it but he was also Newcastle through and through.” – Dave Whelan.
Runner-up: “What were you doing punching the corner flag? Youâ€™re a crazy man, a crazy man.” – Fabio Capello to Wayne Rooney.
Today’s overview: The Three Lions are the main focus this Thursday, with the the quality of the national goalkeepers, Harry Redknapp’s support for Ledley King and the new England strips all placed under the microscope.
Indication of England’s love-affair with the national football team is exposed at the end of an article byalthough a total of about 10,000 tickets are unsold for both [England] matches, the FA says it is pleased with the response to its decision to reduce prices.”
The lack of good English goalkeepers is tackled by Kevin McCarra. “It is David James’s aim to play at the 2010 World Cup finals and there are times when it looks impossible for the 38-year-old not to fulfil his ambition.”
On the future of Ben Foster, Matt Hughes explains how the shot-stopper is committed to biding his time at Old Trafford “until Edwin van der Sar is ushered towards a dignified retirement.” But Jeremy Wilson is more critical of Foster’s long-term plans, arguing “the more Ben Foster attempted to untangle the riddle that is his football career, the more he sounded like some sort of high-wire performer rather than the latest great hope for a position once filled by such luminaries as Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton.”
Ahead of the match with Slovakia, Sam Wallace says “the big decisions for the England manager are in goal, where he may choose Ben Foster ahead of David James, and on the right side of midfield, where Aaron Lennon is a strong candidate to start ahead of David Beckham.” And in a second article Sam Wallace delves deeper into the Lennon-Beckham debate. “Those who regard the Lennon or Beckham debate as a straight choice, between pace plus erratic crosses or zero pace plus precision delivery, do not take into account the reality that Lennon’s final ball is not as wayward as it has been in the past.”
Harry Redknapp uses his column in The Sun to back Ledley King’s England future. “King should play for England and should be at the World Cup… If England get to the World Cup finals in 2010 and play in June, one game every week, fantastic. I will even drive Ledley to South Africa myself.”
Marina Hyde veers off the standard England path to moan over the new England kit. “The latest shirt-shaped iteration of the England story has been heralded with the sort of fanfare usually reserved for the development of a cancer vaccine.”
Extending the analysis ahead of the imminent weekend of internationals, Marcus Christenson picks up on the difficulties facing Carlos Queiroz in Portugal. “Scolari was enthusiastic, aggressive and funny, whereas Queiroz seems dull and theoretical. The passion seems to be missing.” And staying with Portugal, John Edwards stirs the pot by noting “Henrik Larsson has branded Ronaldo a diver and admitted he will be taking steps to guard against the Manchester United winger’s antics jeopardising Sweden’s World Cup prospects, when they take on Portugal this weekend.”
Shifting focus back into the Premier League, Louise Taylor puts forward the case for Gareth Southgate walking out on Middlesbrough only to undermine her argument saying “now is possibly the time to expose Boro’s under-achievers to a new voice – a Terry Venables, an Alan Curbishley or maybe even David O’Leary.”
Huw Turbervill puts his neck on the line telling Liverpool to sign Crystal Palace’s Victor Moses. “The speedy left-winger is one of the most skillful players in the Championship, and could do for Liverpool what John Barnes did for them. He really is that good.”
Moving on, the issue of FIFA’s approach to tackling drugs in the sport is questioned by Lawrence Donegan. “Sepp Blatter and friends have decided they want to be both in and out, which is to say they want the benefits that flow from adherence to Wada’s rules (membership of the Olympic movement and so forth) without the inconvenience of having to abide by those rules.”
Keeping the spotlight on football’s governing bodies, Giles Moles announces that “Uefa general secretary David Taylor claims European football’s governing body will bring match-fixing charges against an unnamed club in the coming days.”
Finally, bucking the trend of unconditional support for the new film “The Damned United,” Glenn Moore points out “as football films go it is relatively successful, but the flaws are the usual ones associated with football on film. The players are unconvincing and the playing scenes, while better than most, look odd.”