Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: [On Ryan Giggs’ nomination for the PFA award] “I can only tell you the situation as it is and if you are not happy then if you consider yourself such an expert on ballots perhaps you had better go to Zimbabwe or Russia the next time they have elections and tell everybody how they should vote as they put their votes in the ballot box!” – PFA chairman, Gordon Taylor.
Runner-up: “Big names donâ€™t keep clubs in the Premier League and the appointment of Shearer was a huge risk. Newcastle face some massive games, none more so than Portsmouth this weekend – which if they donâ€™t win, they stand next to no chance of surviving. Having watched the last three Newcastle games, one thingâ€™s for certain, Michael Owen is not contributing in any way, shape or form. When you are down in a relegation scrap you need players willing to roll up their sleeves and fight which Michael is not doing. In fact, he has hardly had a kick, let alone a shot. Newcastle canâ€™t carry players in this predicament which is what they are basically doing with Owen. At the moment they are playing with 10 men and that just canâ€™t happen.” – Tony Cascarino.
Today’s overview: There is contradiction across the various backpages this Saturday as conflicting rumours circulate over Zola’s managerial future at Upton Park, the future of Tomas Rosicky. On the flipside, the red-top unite in reporting how Kaka is now a target for Sir Alex. Sadly, the news ends with the reported murder of Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe’s brother.
David Lacey praises Ferdinand and Vidic for leading United’s title challenge. “If last season’s Premier League was decided… by Cristiano Ronaldo’s 31 goals the contest this time has been more about goals United’s opponents have been denied by the centre-back pair and the reliability of Edwin van der Sar behind them.” And keeping with United, Oliver Kay makes the case for Ryan Giggs’ PFA nomination. “Think of it like the Oscars. There have been four or five decent nominees for the best actor award but no obvious winner. The stand-out performance has been from a veteran who has reminded everyone just how special he was and still is. In a non-vintage year, he gets the academyâ€™s vote.”
While many report how Sir Alex would like hold onto Carlos Tevez for next season, Ian Herbert writes how Tevez’s “craving for regular starts makes Manchester City a far more likely English destination than any other club.”
The Express’ Nigel Clarke farts that “Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke have opened the way for an approach from Chelsea by stalling on signing lucrative new deals at West Ham.” Poppycock according to Paul Jiggins, who pens “Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke will sign new mega-bucks four-year deals next week.Â West Ham boss Zola has agreed a Â£1.6million- a-year contract, while Clarke will become the Premier Leagueâ€™s highest paid assistant with a Â£1m wage packet.”
In a separate manager-merry-go-round story, the Mirror report “Former Chelsea and Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari has been lined up to become the new coach of Angola.”
Patrick Barclay rants against those who bring a referee’s impartiality into question. “When it impinges on refereeing, the time has come to drop the dead joke, because this is the sporting equivalent of racism. Any manager who unjustifiably questions a referee’s impartiality should be suspended. Properly suspended: barred from the stadium, as Uefa did to Jose Mourinho in 2005.”
Focusing on the Magpies relegation battle, Paul Kelso has more bad news for Toon fans announcing “it is understood that at no stage in a chaotic and troubled season has the club budgeted for relegation, meaning Ashley will again have to dig deep to soften the fall, or contemplate a quick sale to cut his already considerable losses.”
James Lawton lays out his opinion on what makes a good chairman. “The good chairman and owners are like the good referees. They tend to escape notice… football success is best left to the talent of a football man.”
Dropping into the Championship, Stuart James notes that even if Birmingham go up, “uninspiring performances, disaffected support and tension between the manager and board” will have tarnished the Blues’ season. Heading in further down the divisions, Faaez Samadi flags up the achievements of Exeter City who “stand on the brink of promotion to League One six years after dropping out of the Football League amid financial turmoil.”
The Times find themselves splashing with transfer gossip,one of several high-profile departures from Chelsea this summer as a new manager attempts to remodel an ageing squad, with the futures of Deco, Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou also in doubt.”
Another player who may have to finds a new home is Arsenal’s Tomas Rosicky, the Daily Mail claiming “Rosicky’s Arsenal days look numbered after it was confirmed the winger will not play again this season.” The Mail though have conveniently ignored Arsene Wenger’s actual quotes, with Paul Jiggins noting the Frenchman words – “Itâ€™s not a serious setback. He will come back. He has the strength.”
The Daily Mail then steal the rumour spotlight, Chris Wheeler reporting that “Manchester United have made the first steps to secure Kaka as replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo should their star player leave this summer.” The Sun’s Neil Custis also peddles the United-Kaka story, penning “the Brazilianâ€™s representatives met United to discuss personal terms which would total Â£35million in wages alone… The talks did not involve any discussion about a transfer fee but Milan expect to get at least Â£70m for their star player.”
In other transfer news, Ian McGarry bleats “Chelsea’s Â£30million flop Andriy Shevchenko is heading BACK to Stamford Bridge. The strikerâ€™s loan deal with AC Milan ends in May and they will not pay the Â£9m fee to keep him.” Andy Devlin claims “Tottenham are ready to end Barry Fergusonâ€™s Rangers hell â€” and team him up with David Beckham in the Premiership.” Andrew Dillion pushes the story that “Michael Mancienne has emerged as a shock target for Real Madrid,” with the Mirror’s Oliver Holt adding “Mancienne has emerged as a shock Â£5million summer target for Real Madrid.” While Matt Sandy lists Europe’s most eligible out-of-contract players including Michael Owen, Carlos Kameni and Maniche.
In distressing news for Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe, Mike Sullivan announcing Defoe’s brother has since passed. “Jade Defoe, 26, suffered a fractured skull and massive brain damage in the attack. He had been on a life support machine in hospital… Detectives are still trying to establish a motive for the assault, and it is not known how many attackers there were.”Defoe’s brother is on a life-support machine after being attacked in broad daylight in east London… The 26-year-old is at a central London hospital after suffering serious head injuries following an attack in Leytonstone on Monday.” The news worsens in The Sun,
In the Saturday interviews, Paul Doyle speaks to Hammer Mark Noble about his England ambitions and paying under Gianfranco Zola, while the pint-sized Italian is found chewing the ear of Jason Burt in the Telegraph. Sam Wallace gives Tottenham’s Alan Hutton a platform to tell his story of recovering from injury in the Independent. Tom Dart meets with former Chelsea and QPR midfielder Gavin Peacock to learn about the ex-footballer’s new passion for religion.