“Zonal marking falls into the Marmite category: loved by its champions, hated by its critics” – Kevin Barrett

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “I don’t subscribe to this, ‘How do you treat millionaire footballers,’ I think that’s bull****, you treat people as you want to be treated. I’m fortunate enough that I’m working with a great schoolmaster in Fabio Capello, who treats the latest one in the squad to John Terry to David Beckham all the same. If you step out of line, you’ll be told. If you step out of line twice, he won’t tell you again — I think you go. It’s a level playing field and footballers respond to that. I think they respond to that more than anything. They like things to be fair, and he’s created that environment where it is fair and even.” – Stuart Pearce.

Runner-up: “I said I would stop at 50. Only other people know if you aren’t good enough any more. I don’t believe in retiring unless you have to. I never have days where I think I can live without it. But I know some day I will do something different. I didn’t know I wanted to be a football manager because when I started to play I couldn’t imagine my life as a player would stop. But it was others who told me to think about it and gradually I realised I was for management. It was the only way I could keep going in football. In our job, you need physical strength and to be a bit of an animal to convince people it’s important to win. But once that physical strength goes, it’s a handicap, although you can compensate to an extent with experience.” – Arsene Wenger.

Today’s overview: It is a real mixed bag this Friday morning with Notts County taking the lead but there is no real runaway theme.

Has there ever been this many column inches written on a League Two club? Notts County continue to dominate the headlines with The Sun this morning revealing that “The powerbroker behind Notts County’s controversial takeover is a former jailbird, The Sun can exclusively reveal. County ‘consultant’ Russell King – who negotiated contracts with club supremo Sven Goran Eriksson and former player Sol Campbell – is a convicted fraudster. King was sentenced to two years in prison for an insurance scam in 1991. The shock revelation comes 24 hours after we published an in-depth probe into who the powerbrokers are behind the mystery company that owns the League Two club, Munto Finance.”

Kevin Eason in The Times also adds on Russell King, “Russell King was sentenced to two years in prison for an insurance scam in 1991. King is linked to a company, the Belgravia Group, that is the subject of a criminal investigation in Jersey, as is Nathan Willett, the son of Peter Willett, a club director. Peter Trembling, the County executive chairman and frontman for Munto Finance — who bought the club three months ago — was also chief executive of a business with links to Belgravia. King was sentenced after faking the theft of a £600,000 Aston Martin that he owned in an attempt to claim the insurance money to boost his ailing business. He was found guilty of attempting to obtain money by deception. The Football League is to hold an inquiry into the takeover of County and this will be another important factor for the eight-man board to consider when it meets next month.”

David Conn also adds his two penneth on the second best club in Nottingham. “The Notts County takeover is now under the spotlight almost three months after its completion but the process highlights general weaknesses in the fit and proper persons test. First and most obviously, the test begins only after a club is taken over and the new owners have become involved in a club’s business. Lord Mawhinney, the League’s chairman, told the government this summer that he would be ‘happy to work with the FA and Premier League’ to see how the rules could be ‘strengthened appropriately, including how they might be applied prospectively’. The Notts County takeover will increase the pressure for that to happen. The Premier League has already committed to applying its test before, not after, deals are done.”

Jim White laments Sol Campbell’s departure from Notts County. “That picture of Sol Campbell playing for Notts County at the weekend, the one in which he appears to be subjected to a nipple tweak by a Morecambe defender, could well become a collector’s item. Not because, now he has severed ties with the venerable old club, it is the only one we will have of him turning out for Notts. But because it might well be the last occasion on which we see a former international superstar playing in the lower reaches of the game. It used to happen quite often.”

Also in the Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter is scathing about Gerry Sutcliffe. “Let me tell you a story about Gerry Sutcliffe’s insignificance in footballing circles. In this fantastic season, brimming with drama on and off the field, a little-known politician seeks to become a big noise on a rare quiet day for football and, surprise, surprise, it’s party-political-conference time. How cynical.”

The lead article in The Times is the crackdown on websites selling fraudulent tickets to the 2010 World Cup. “A team of cyberpolice from New Scotland Yard have helped to save tens of thousands of football fans from being duped into buying bogus tickets for the 2010 World Cup finals. Fifa, football’s world governing body, called in the London-based e-Crime Unit to crack down on the internet fraudsters. The Times has learnt that the unit has tracked down and closed more than 100 sites so far, with as many as 20 based in Britain and the rest spread around the world. But Fifa executives fear that these fraudsters are only the pioneers of an internet crimewave that will become more severe as the World Cup approaches.”

Liverpool’s weaknesses at set-pieces is looked into by Kevin Barrett. “The latest available Opta stats reveal that Liverpool are in good — or, more appropriately, bad — company, with 42 per cent of the goals scored in the Barclays Premier League this season having had their root in a set-piece. Liverpool’s record will surely be a significant concern for their manager, though, because Benítez is not the type to take consolation from the failings of others, especially given that last season only 30 per cent of the goals conceded by his team came in such a manner. Zonal marking falls into the Marmite category: loved by its champions, hated by its critics. It should not be forgotten that in three of the past four seasons, Reina has kept the most clean sheets in the Premier League and Liverpool’s defensive record under Benítez has stood comparison to that of anyone else in the division.”

The Merseyside giants will be boosted by the news that Alberto Aquilani is closing in on his first team debut. Ian Herbert: “Liverpool’s Alberto Aquilani is expected to be ready to launch his Premier League career at Sunderland on 17 October.”

On an ex-Liverpool legend, Paul Wilson speaks with John Barnes who is refusing to give up at Tranmere. “Performing when you are lacking in confidence, according to John Barnes, is the hardest thing in the world. The Tranmere manager should know. Not only is he in charge of a group of players whose confidence is on the floor after six successive defeats and a single league win in the opening eight matches but the bright and breezy Barnes persona is struggling to reach full beam in the face of terrace protests and a petition aimed at forcing him out.”

Newcastle fans wake up to another morning of woe as Kevin Keegan could now be in a position to send the club into bankruptcy. “Kevin Keegan could send Newcastle into meltdown after demanding Mike Ashley pays a staggering £25million to settle their compensation battle. SunSport understands stunned Toon chiefs fear they may have to put the club into administration if former manager Keegan’s huge demands are met by owner Ashley today, when the hearing into his stormy exit ends. He is demanding £9m for the remainder of his three-year deal is also claiming for loss of future earnings.”

Ian Ladyman thinks back to last Sunday’s Manchester derby and Craig Bellamy’s impact both during and after the match. “There are those who don’t like Bellamy. They don’t see the talented, inspirational, selfless footballer. They see only the rabble-rouser, street fighter and malcontent. But what they forget is that this is a man who dragged City to within seconds of a point almost single-handedly at Old Trafford. This is the man who – along with goalkeeper Shay Given and midfield shield Nigel de Jong – did more than anyone to remind Manchester United that there will be two teams in town from now on.” Also in the Daily Mail, Matt Lawton interviews new Sunderland defender Michael Turner.

Brian Viner in The Independent speaks with Dave Jones who feels cheated out of a job as a Premier League manager. “Ann Jones didn’t know, until her husband Dave wrote his autobiography No Smoke, No Fire, that before going on trial nine years ago charged with the sexual abuse of children, he had organised the family finances, in his words “put his house in order”, just in case the court fell for his accusers’ claims and convicted him. Nor did she know that he had decided, in the event of a prison sentence, that he would not let her or their children visit him, to spare them the indignity. These revelations reignited some of the emotions she had felt during the ordeal itself. She read them and screamed at him, he laughed at her for screaming, so she screamed louder. Ornaments were thrown. Maybe that is what is meant by catharsis.”

On a Friday morning where there are a whole host of different subjects on offer, of interest is also how Paul Hart stormed out of a press conference yesterday and Phil Jagielka’s nightmare ordeal of being held at knife-point at his home.

The Guardian have there usual smattering of international football articles. Amy Lawrence details a footballing miracle – how Tahiti ended up at the Under-20 World Cup. “Big hearts and unquenchable commitment have made the island nation the fairytale story of the Under-20 World Cup.” Sid Lowe features Xerez, the worst side in Europe right now and Paolo Bandini writes of a striker in form: Udinese’s Antonio Di Natale.

Obviously there are some transfer lies to cover. According to The Sun “Arsenal are preparing a £2million bid for Osasuna full-back Cesar Azpilicueta.” And Gio Dos Santos can’t leave Spurs until January.


VIDEOS FOR YOU