Can Liverpool win the league, as Ramos stays defiant on his Spurs future

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “This is my job. I am the same whether we win or lose. Any decision on my future is not up to me but I’m determined to put it right. Of course I don’t like the situation we’re in but it is my job and my work to change things. The main problem for us is scoring goals. You have to score to win games and we’re finding that very difficult. But I’m sure if we continue to play like we did against Hull then the win we need will arrive very quickly.” – Juande Ramos.

Runner-up: “It was a bit similar to the Crazy Gang. I was racing down at half-time when the first goal was scored and then I was racing back up again. I wanted to get some information on to the bench and then, of course, the busy police got busy as usual and sent me back upstairs again and in between all that I missed all the goals. But it was a great effort by everybody concerned.” – Joe Kinnear.

Today’s overview: Starting off with the business news, Paul Smith splashes with the news of a takeover bid at West Ham from Indian billionaire Anil Ambani.

Liverpool’s remarkable comeback at Eastlands is dissected. Rob Smyth assesses Liverpool’s title ambitions, claiming “Liverpool will glean an immeasurable psychological boost from the manner of their win.” Daniel Taylor celebrates the Reds’ win, reporting “Their passing was stylish, their spirit one of togetherness and, in arguably the most dramatic game in England’s top division so far this season.” While from a Manchester City point of view, Martin Blackburn goes on the offensive against Robinho, calling the Brazilian both “sublime and ridiculous.”

On Spurs, David Pleat speaks in cliches as he tries to hand out some tactical pointers (“Tottenham must go back to the drawing board and remind one another that ‘simplicity is genius'”), Antony Kastrinakis pipes up with the news that Tottenham are unlikely to sack Ramos for financial reasons, leaving Oliver Brown to focus on Hull, praising manager Phil Brown.

In other Premier League news, there must be a better way of taking Newcastle forward than a cyclical debate over who is the biggest c*** in the room”), the Independent interview Ashley Young, noting Young was only the second best sportsman in his class, and Glenn Moore calls for the resurrection of the GAM£ 39 debate.

On Capello’s England, Henry Winter wonders whether Michael Owen’s England career is over with the emergence of Theo Walcott as the pacey outlet. Matt Lawton sticks up for Owen, calling his omission from the England squad as “madness.”

Other features include Zenit St. Petersburg’s UEFA Cup triumph  was fixed,the Telegraph’s list of the five players to watch in the Championship, Rob Hughes’ assessment of Barcelona and Pep Guardiola’s revival at the Nou Camp, Susy Campanale takes a moment to admire Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal against Bologna, and finally both the Daily Mail and The Sun report on how Roman Abramovich has invested in an anti-missile radar for his new yacht.

The Mirror’s Paul Smith splashes with the news of a takeover bid at West Ham from Indian billionaire Anil Ambani. “Ambani, the sixth richest man in the world with an estimated fortune of £20billion, has been linked to a host of Premier League clubs including Newcastle, Liverpool and Everton. But he flew into Heathrow on Wednesday with the specific intent of making a move for a capital club. It looks likely that he will switch his attention to the troubled Hammers rather than become embroiled in lengthy financial negotiations to purchase Tottenham. Ambani, 49 (above), has been told the Hammers could be purchased for £150million, some £350m less than he would be asked to find to take control at Tottenham.”

The Guardian’s Rob Smyth assesses Liverpool’s title ambitions after their win at Eastlands. “Liverpool will glean an immeasurable psychological boost from the manner of their win. There are still issues with the team, not least at full-back, but this will only reinforce the growing belief on the Kop that this could be Liverpool’s year. Late wins, comeback wins, lucky wins: Liverpool are ticking a lot of the boxes of the potential champion. The force is strong in these ones… Liverpool are gathering force through each game and, as a consequence, gathering an even stronger force for the long-game of the the title race.”

Daniel Taylor celebrates Liverpool’s win in his match report in the Guardian. “Their passing was stylish, their spirit one of togetherness and, in arguably the most dramatic game in England’s top division so far this season, it culminated in that most dramatic and brutal of football moments – the stoppage-time winner that leaves opponents helpless to do anything about… For it to end this way represents a bruising experience. Typical City, you could say. Yet that would be doing a huge disservice to the way Liverpool played in the second half and, in particular, Fernando Torres’s ability to penetrate English defences. The Spaniard was majestic, his fourth and fifth goals of the season bringing the game level, and it was his deflected shot that fell to Dirk Kuyt to complete this remarkable comeback.”

From a Manchester City point of view, Martin Blackburn (The Sun) goes on the offensive against Robinho, calling the Brazilian both “sublime and ridiculous.” “If you pay £32.5million for a striker, you expect him to be able to score from three yards out. Robinho has wowed the Manchester City fans with some magical play since his British transfer record move to Eastlands on deadline day. But they were left scratching their heads when he, somehow, failed to convert Shaun Wright-Phillips’ cross and give his team a 3-1 lead.”

On Spurs, David Pleat speaks in cliches as he tries to hand out some tactical pointers in the Guardian. “Tottenham must go back to the drawing board and remind one another that “simplicity is genius”. They should consider the elements that made Spurs famous for “push and run” – one- and two-touch football, using the ball quickly and dragging defenders out of position. That is the way to beat a resolute rearguard. At present they are playing with genuine honesty but have individuals who are wanting to overelaborate on the ball. Aaron Lennon had countless touches but his final pass consistently fell on stony ground, and Jermaine Jenas and Luka Modric need to remember the importance of keeping the game flowing quickly.”

The Sun’s Antony Kastrinakis pipes up with the news that Tottenham are unlikely to sack Ramos because of the financial implications involved. “Ramos is adamant he will not resign, so Spurs will have to fork out a jaw-dropping £15MILLION to get rid of him as he still has three years left on his megabucks contract.”

Rather than focus on Spurs, Oliver Brown (Telegraph) gives Hull’s Phil Brown praise. “An arch-pragmatist, Brown does not deal in the currency of league positions, but the management of expectations as Hull laid siege to White Hart Lane only eight days after vanquishing Arsenal at the Emirates. His players’ resilience, reflected in such totemic centre-backs as Michael Turner and Kamil Zayatte, found its deserved reward in another sublime strike by Geovanni, conducting a goal of the season competition with himself.”

This type of incident polarises opinion. A good number of supporters, whose initial judgments were every bit as harsh as those in newspapers, now see Kinnear as their champion for creating a siege mentality and attacking the mockery of their club. Damning criticism, however, came from Sir Bobby Robson, a man who suffered far greater torment at the hands of the press, who said that Kinnear’s players would not be motivated by a rant against reporters. He also stated that newspaper coverage of Kinnear’s first week had been fair. Ultimately, there must be a better way of taking Newcastle forward than a cyclical debate over who is the biggest c*** in the room. And if Kinnear cares to be taken seriously, even by c***s, he must continue yesterday’s good work and find it.”

The Independent interview with Ashley Young, noting Young was only the second best sportsman in his class. “The extraordinary thing is that Young is not the most successful sportsman from his year at John Henry Newman School: that distinction belongs to a young man almost exactly six months older, Lewis Hamilton. For some reason, and as other interviewers have found, Young turns instantly sullen, almost hostile, when Hamilton’s name comes up. Lewis played alongside you in the school football team? “Yeah.” Was he a decent player? ‘He was OK.’ You didn’t care for him much, did you (a wild guess on my part, in the hope it might generate a little more animation)? ‘Erm, I tend not to talk about it. He’s doing what he’s doing, I’m doing what I’m doing.'”

Straight out of left-field, the Independent’s Glenn Moore calls for the resurrection of the GAM£ 39 debate. “Contrary to general opinion this correspondent’s first reaction was that it was a brilliantly audacious, potentially thrilling idea – and not because it meant a midwinter jaunt to Sydney or Miami on expenses. That view has not changed. What has altered is the global sporting landscape, which more then ever suggests the Premier League needs to introduce an international round. Since February, cricket’s IPL has arrived. Lalit Modi, the man behind the Indian franchise operation, last week repeated his optimistic belief that he “can see the IPL surpassing the Premier League in years to come”. In addition, Formula One has staged a floodlit grand prix, increasing its ability to expand the sport worldwide.”

Henry Winter (Telegraph) wonders whether Michael Owen’s England career is over with the emergence of Theo Walcott as the pacey outlet. “Owen’s exclusion will stir speculation that a forward who has recorded 40 goals for his country will never represent England again, certainly not under Capello. The Italian believes that Owen does not complement Wayne Rooney, who will again be paired with the selfless Emile Heskey. Owen’s best chance of a recall is if any injury befell Jermain Defoe, a striker who is similar in style. The Heskey-Rooney axis is not brimming with pace, but Capello knows that Theo Walcott can stretch any defence, a strength shown to spectacular effect in last month’s 4-1 thrashing of Croatia in Zagreb. As well as an outlet on the right, Walcott also provides an option for balls played over the top.”

The Daily Mail’s Matt Lawton sticks up for Owen, calling his omission from the England squad as “madness.” “Last time the reason given was fitness. This time, presumably, it is form. Unless, that is, Fabio Capello finally comes clean this week and declares that Michael Owen’s career as an England international is over for as long as he remains the manager. It is madness, of course.  Madness to say that Shaun Wright-Phillips is more worthy of a place in the 23-man squad than a 28-year-old who has scored 40 goals in 89 international appearances. Madness to say Jermain Defoe should be selected as one of four strikers when the Portsmouth forward has not yet proved himself on the international stage. Madness to ignore Owen and include David Beckham when Capello only ever sees the Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder advertising his latest cologne.”

Reacting to the news that Zenit St. Petersburg’s UEFA Cup triumph may have been fixed, What better way to win friends and influence people than by boasting that you are so powerful that you can pay off one of Europe’s biggest clubs? Imagine a powerful underworld figure telling you that he rigged last season’s FA Cup so that Liverpool and Chelsea would lose to Barnsley. What would it take for you to believe him? Would a seed of doubt be planted in your mind? It would in mine. Even if it were not true. Because that is where power comes from: more often than not, it is an illusion. And the most important battles are won without spilling one drop of blood. That said, with the seed of doubt planted in my head (courtesy of Garzón), I watched the highlights of Zenit versus Bayern on YouTube. You can do the same and make up your own mind.”

The Telegraph pick out five players to watch in the Championship. “Matthew Kilgallon, 24, has played a prominent part in Sheffield United’s climb up the table. They are unbeaten at home, and are now starting to convert the draws into wins; in part this is thanks to the former Leeds United central defender’s superb tackling and heading. Club captain Chris Morgan says he could become one of the country’s leading defenders.”

Rob Hughes (IHT) turns his attention to Barcelona and Pep Guardiola’s revival at the Nou Camp. “Less than a month ago, a group of Catalans passed premature judgement on Josep Guardiola. The new coach was too young, too experimental for a team like Barcelona. He should go before he wrecks the club. Less than a week ago, some more Catalans envied the television replays of Ronaldinho – the talisman who Guardiola did not want – scoring his first goal for AC Milan. It was crafted with typical Ronaldinho vision, but finished with a header of power and athleticism that surprised even his friends and admirers in Barcelona. Ronnie was back; Barcelona had chosen to move on. On Saturday night, the doomsayers were in thrall. Their team was doing the wrecking, hammering the best Atletico Madrid of the past decade into 6-1 submission at the Nou Camp.”

Football Italia’s Susy Campanale takes a moment to admire Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal against Bologna. “At first glance it brought back the memories of Roberto Mancini’s spectacular goal for Lazio against Parma in 1999, voted the greatest Serie A goal of the last decade. That one was from a Sinisa Mihajlovic corner kick, the flick with the heel a little more insouciant, his gaze in the other direction. That was Mancio’s style and it shone through. Ibra’s was a little different, reflecting his own personality and characteristics. The Inter striker used his ludicrously long limb to curl round the diving Bologna defender and twist it back in for the flick. It looked for all the world like a taekwondo move, the martial art Zlatan practised as a young man. The power and control in the way the leg snapped back was not something often seen on a football field.”

… and finally, both the Daily Mail and The Sun report on how Roman Abramovich has invested in an anti-missile radar for his new yacht.

According to the Liz Hull in the Daily Mail, “When you have a personal fortune of £11.7billion, you can perhaps be forgiven for feeling the need for protection. In Roman Abramovich’s case, the solution is to order a new armour-plated mega-yacht with missile detection system to offer early warning of attack by pirates or terrorists. At 550ft long, the vessel, costing more than £200million, will be the largest private yacht ever constructed. It is being built secretly at the shipyard in Germany which produced the World War II battleship the Bismarck. The yacht will include radar equipment designed to warn the crew of incoming rockets, together with bullet-proof windows and armour plating on the bridge and around the 41-year-old Russian tycoon’s cabin.”


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