Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “There is one reason and one reason alone why I’ve turned down the chance to take temporary charge at Newcastle – time, Newcastle United means too much to too many people to take the job on a short-term basis. It demands total commitment and dedication from a manager who is prepared to throw himself heart and soul into the club. I didn’t want to move up to Tyneside and find myself surplus to requirements before I’d even had the chance to get my teeth into the challenge. The way the job was offered to me meant that I might be working at St James’ Park for two months, two years – or two weeks. There was far too much uncertainty involved. The Newcastle supporters have suffered more than enough in recent years. I didn’t want them to think I’d gone up there just to pocket a few quid from Mike Ashley and then wave ‘cheerio’ a couple of weeks later.” â€“ Terry Venables.
Runner-up: “I have been too harsh on Arsene. I have been told off by my father who set him on his way at Nancy. When I talk about business what I am talking about is recruiting players when they are 13 or 14. I can’t stand it.” â€“ Michel Platini.
Today’s overview: Terry Venables leads the way this morning, with his column in The Sun finally worth reading as today it is the main news of the day. The former England boss describes why he didn’t take the Newcastle job (see quote of the day).
In a seperate article in The Sun, the tabloid claims Glenn Hoddle is next in line for the Newcastle job and in a sign of just how low Newcastle could stoop they also reveal that: “Dave Bassett, 64, who worked with Wise at Wimbledon in the 1980â€™s, is also a contender.”
Shaun Custis (The Sun) writes of just how hard the Newcastle job would be: “To coin a phrase from the Prime Minister â€” this is no job for a novice.” And Tony Cascarino in The Times also adds his thoughts, “They have relegation written all over them… The whole set-up at St James’ Park is in disarray, from top to bottom, and it is the definitive example of how a club should not be run. It’s a shambles.”
In further bad news for Newcastle, Paul Kelso reports in the Daily Telegraph that “Sunderland have become the latest Premier League club to undergo a change of control after Ellis Short, a Dallas-based millionaire Irish-American fund manager, became the largest single shareholder in the Drumaville Consortium who own the North-East club.” In a seperate article in the Daily Telegraph, Kelso looks at the American influence in the Premier League.
Jason Burt (Independent) writes that Manchester City made an amazing single payment to secure the services of Robinho. And Neil Ashton in the Daily Mail features City’s Carling Cup giantkillers Brighton.
The Carlos Tevez affair continues to take up column inches. Matt Scott in The Guardian questions the judgement: “In seeking Â£30m compensation from West Ham United after they dropped out of the Premier League, Sheffield United have opened a door to all clubs who want to litigate their way out of relegation.”
And Matt Lawton reports that “At least ten of the players who were relegated with Sheffield United have taken the first step in launching their own multi-million pound legal action against West Ham.” The Daily Mail also provide the Tevez affair tribunal judgment in full.
Other articles of interest include, Henry Winter speaking with Watford manager Aidy Boothroyd, Harry Pearson (Guardian) on respecting referees, and Paolo Bandini has a Serie A round-up focusing on Lazio’s 3-0 win over Fiorentina.
The Sun have the exclusive this morning, from their columnist Terry Venables, who reveals why he turned down the Toon job. “Let me make it clear it was Newcastle who approached me about the job rather than the other way around. It was a complete shock when I received the telephone call this week asking me to meet them. I met Dennis Wise, Tony Jiminez and Derek Llambias on Wednesday and we had a long chat about what the job entailed and what they expected from me. A number of senior players had told them that they needed to end the uncertainty as quickly as possible and they immediately moved into action to do that. But Mike Ashley wasnâ€™t there and it was made very clear to me that it is the ownerâ€™s intention to sell control of the club sooner rather than later. And we all know that whenever a new owner takes control of a club, the first thing he does is appoint his own directors and his own manager. Ashley has been hurt and upset by recent events and feels that family issues mean he has no option but to let someone else take charge of Newcastle. We never discussed money, contracts or any sort of payment. I told them that I first needed to decide if I wanted the job. We could settle the financial side of things at a later date. I promised Iâ€™d give them my decision within 24 hours and thought about it long and hard over Wednesday night. But deep down inside I always knew it wasnâ€™t the right job at the right time for me. And I donâ€™t think the Newcastle guys were that surprised when I gave them my answer yesterday. But just because the conditions werenâ€™t right for me doesnâ€™t mean they wonâ€™t be right for someone else.”
In a seperate article in The Sun, the tabloid claims Glenn Hoddle is next in line for the Newcastle job. “Former Chelsea chief Hod was sounded out before Newcastle went for Venables as their new manager.Â And desperate supremo Ashley will try again as he bids to replace Kevin Keegan… Dave Bassett, 64, who worked with Wise at Wimbledon in the 1980â€™s, is also a contender. Ashley has taken a more hands- on role to ensure his Â£350million asking price for the club is not reduced further.”
Shaun Custis (The Sun) writes of just how hard the Newcastle job would be. “To coin a phrase from the Prime Minister â€” this is no job for a novice. But whoever comes in knows he was at best second choice for a temporary job and will be sacked the moment the owner sells up.Â Even David Oâ€™Leary might have to think twice about such an enticing offer. The bottom line is if Newcastle is not sold quickly, the fire will be so far out of control there will be nothing left but the ashes of a once proud football club.”
Tony Cascarino in The Times also adds his thoughts about the troubled Toon. “I laugh when I hear and read pundits talking about relegation at this stage of the season. I mean, we’re only in September. But I’m sorry, when you look at the basket case that is Newcastle United and the predicament that they are in, there is only one way of looking at it. They have relegation written all over them. No owner – or not one that wants to be there – no manager, no team that you could call a team at the moment, no confidence. And perhaps no hope unless the mess is sorted out PDQ. The whole set-up at St James’ Park is in disarray, from top to bottom, and it is the definitive example of how a club should not be run. It’s a shambles.”
The lead story in the Daily Telegraph, by Paul Kelso, is “Sunderland have become the latest Premier League club to undergo a change of control after Ellis Short, a Dallas-based millionaire Irish-American fund manager, became the largest single shareholder in the Drumaville Consortium who own the North-East club… Short, 48, is understood to own more than 30 per cent of the club after being invited to take advantage of a summer rights issue. Along with his fellow investors, the businessman, who was raised in Missouri, is thought to have injected Â£30 million into the club’s summer transfer kitty for the purchase of players including Anton Ferdinand and El-Hadji Diouf. Short has also agreed to underwrite a two-year business plan that allows chairman Niall Quinn to open negotiations with manager Roy Keane over a new contract. His current deal expires at the end of the season.”
In a seperate article in the Daily Telegraph, Paul Kelso looks at the American influence in the Premier League. “By virtue of his stealthily acquired controlling interest in Sunderland AFC, Ellis Short becomes the fifth American-based businessman to take a significant stake in a Premier League football club in the past two years. Unlike his predecessors â€“ Randy Lerner, chairman of Aston Villa, Stan Kroenke, now a board member at Arsenal, and Liverpool’s dysfunctional duo Tom Hicks and George Gillett â€“ Short’s background is not in the sports business. In common with Lerner and Kroenke, however, he has no interest in the publicity that comes with a Premier League club.Â Described as ‘slick’ and ‘hugely impressive’ by those who have come across him in business, he intends to remain behind the scenes at the Stadium of Light and will leave day-to-day management to chairman Niall Quinn and Roy Keane. Nor is his involvement likely to trigger a spending spree such as that seen recently at Manchester City, or an ego trip comparable with Mike Ashley’s adventures at Newcastle.”
Jason Burt (Independent) writes that Manchester City made an amazing single payment to secure the services of Robinho. “Such is the strength of the new financial muscle at Manchester City that the club not only broke the British transfer record to sign Robinho but â€“ in a move unheard of in modern-day football â€“ also paid his Â£32.5m fee in a one-off up-front payment to Real Madrid. To ensure that the deadline day deal went through in time it is also understood that a payment of Â£4.2m was made to Robinho’s agents, led by his fellow Brazilian, Wagner Ribeiro. The extraordinary transfer was secured to make sure that City could steal the 24-year-old from under the noses of Chelsea and appease the demands of the club’s new owners, Abu Dhabi United Group, who had also scattered bids around Europe for players such as Dimitar Berbatov, Fernando Torres and David Villa, that a star signing should be secured before the transfer window closed. Once the player’s wages â€“ which could peak as high as Â£160,000 a week â€“ are factored in over a four-year contract it means that, including all fees, he will cost City a cool Â£70m.”
Ian Ladyman reveals in the Daily Mail that Robinho was in Brazil whilst Manchester City were losing to Brighton. “Manchester City’s new superstar Robinho was thousands of miles away in Brazil while his new team-mates were being dumped out of the Carling Cup by Brighton on Wednesday night.Â Sportsmail understands that Robinho, 23, had been given permission by managerÂ Mark Hughes to fly home to Sao Paulo to sort out some domestic issues while CityÂ lost in embarrassing fashion on the south coast.Â Having arrived at the club only two weeks earlier, Robinho, the Barclays Premier Leagueâ€™s highest paid and most expensive player, played a starring role in last Sundayâ€™s 6-0 thrashing of Portsmouth at the City of Manchester Stadium and then caught a plane to South America.”
Neil Ashton in the Daily Mail features Carling Cup giantkillers Brighton. “It was a remarkable result for a team currently 13th in League One, unable to beat nine-man Walsall last weekend and without a victory at home in the league this season. Manager Micky Adams, who guided the club to promotion from Division Three in 2001, took his players paddling in the sea yesterday. It certainly makes a change for a team who are usually swimming against the tide. They are relying on a youth policy that has produced Adam Virgo, who was sold to Celtic for Â£1.5m in 2005 and recently re-signed on a free. Adam El-Abd, Adam Hinshelwood, Doug Loft, Dean Cox and Tommy Fraser have also progressed from the club’s successful academy.”
Phillip Cornwall (Football365) is full of praise for the Carling Cup. “The League Cup serves other purposes – indeed allowing squad players the chance of a first-team appearance is an end in itself. Look at the crowd who went to the Emirates on Tuesday. Even if attendances elsewhere can be embarrassing, the competition is not going to vanish while it can command the headlines to keep the sponsors happy.Â So is there anything wrong with the League Cup? Well, Middlesbrough’s 2004 win was a principal achievement on Steve McClaren’s CV…I’ve changed my mind. Abolish it.”
Harry Redknapp decides not to concentrate on Portsmouth’s poor form in The Sun, but rather is full of praise for Jermain Defoe. “Jermain Defoe is at the height of his powers â€” even though there is not much height there at all, really.Â Inside he is still the kid I signed at 15 for West Ham. But he has now grown into a man and with his experience he is one of the best strikers in the Premier League. There is a ruthless, selfish streak in that 5ft 7in frame and winning is ingrained in his bones.”
Matt Scott in The Guardian questions the judgement on the Carlos Tevez affair. “In seeking Â£30m compensation from West Ham United after they dropped out of the Premier League, Sheffield United have – through Griffiths’ precedent – opened a door to all clubs who want to litigate their way out of relegation.Â Had Kevin McCabe, Sheffield United’s owner, played a different hand his club might now be in the top flight. Having seen West Ham plead guilty in April 2007 for the illegal registration of Tevez, and suffer a fine of Â£5.5m, Sheffield United appealed to the Premier League in July of that year. That appeal failed, on the grounds that the first judgment, though flawed, was not ‘irrational’ or ‘perverse’. Rather than then engage in a futile and time-consuming challenge through the high court, McCabe might have headed to the Football Association, for his case to be heard before the close season was out. If Lord Griffiths’ judgment is applied, West Ham would have retrospectively been deducted three points, handing back Sheffield United’s top-flight status.”
Gianfranco Zola has also commented on how important Carlos Tevez was for West Ham. Gary Jacob in The Times: “While they will for ever argue whether Carlos TÃ©vez single-handedly ensured West Ham Unitedâ€™s Premier League survival two seasons ago, Gianfranco Zola, the clubâ€™s manager, has said that not even a player of the calibre of Diego Maradona, arguably the greatest player in the history of the sport, was capable of winning a match on his own.” Zola: “I have never seen a game where Maradona won the game on his own, obviously, a great player can make a hell of a difference, but you need all the other players to support you.â€
The lead story in the Daily Mail today is by Matt Lawton who writes, “At least ten of the players who were relegated with Sheffield United have taken the first step in launching their own multi-million pound legal action against West Ham.Â Their Bramall Lane employers are already demanding more than Â£30million after an independent Football Association tribunal concluded that they should be compensated by West Ham in the wake of the Carlos Tevez scandal.Â But now the players who have suffered financially as a result of United’s relegation to the Championship in May 2007 have opened discussions with a leading UK sports lawyer in a bid to make their own claim for compensation.”
The Daily Mail also provide the Tevez affair tribunal judgement in full.
Henry Winter of the Daily Telegraph speaks with Watford manager Aidy Boothroyd. “Little diplomacy could be detected in Boothroydâ€™s response to the Reading ‘goalâ€™ last Saturday, resulting in the FA’s charge. ‘I will get my repercussions but I will wait to see what happens to the officials,’ he observed. ‘Not that I want to start a witch-hunt, but those two points could be massive. I react because I want things to be fair and there was a huge miscarriage of justice. For a Watford game to make News at 10 is quite significant!'”
Harry Pearson (Guardian) weighs into the respect referees debate. “Respect is the keyword. Everyone in football talks about respect endlessly. On Monday Keith Hackett of the Professional Game Match Officials Board (which always sounds to me like an organisation that runs upmarket casinos, or international sporting clubs, as they prefer to style themselves) used the word respect so often it was like he was auditioning for a part in The Godfather: Part IV. I was sure that at any moment he’d draw his hand over his mouth and mumble, ‘You come to me on the occasion of my daughter’s wedding…'”
Mihir Bose (BBC) writes of Poland and Ukraine’s preparations for Euro 2012. “But despite this, and the fact that the Poles have publicly admitted they are more likely to be ready for 2016 rather than 2012, there is I am told no appetite on the executive to say “that’s it” and move the tournament to Spain, which had been the talk in Vienna at the end of Euro 2008. Although Michel Platini in some interviews has been quoted as saying this may happen I am told his words have been mis-translated and in the original French he is not quite as sceptical as he sounds in English. The executive is likely to insist on tighter deadlines and greater monitoring of progress over the next four years. But the overall message is likely to be that although Portugal in 2004 and Switzerland-Austria in 2008 had problems they delivered on time. Interestingly, of the two countries it is Poland that Uefa’s experts seem more impressed with.”
Matt Scott (Guardian) writes about a new crackdown on agents. “The full weight of European law looks set to bear down on agents as the European Union strives to eliminate the risks of child trafficking and money-laundering that taint the transfer market. Last week the European Commission invited tenders for what will be the most influential information-gathering exercise on the activities of sports’ middlemen. The winning bid will have the opportunity to shape the future of the commission’s approach to rogue agents, with the possibility of new laws to govern them not ruled out.Â The study into agents’ activities, one of the key objectives of the European white paper on sport, comes as the commission and its member states recognise the inefficacy of Fifa rules governing player agents.”
Following the shocking decision in the Watford-Reading game on the weekend, Scott Murray (Guardian) picks six shocking refereeing decisions. “2. England 4-2 West Germany (World Cup final, 1966) For the fixture with the highest profile of all, the World Cup final has remained relatively untainted by preposterous refereeing decisions. Jack Taylor’s performance in the 1974 final, for example, qualifies as a minor shocker, but it doesn’t really matter: Gerd Muller had a perfectly good effort ruled out for offside, while even if you accept that Holzenbein dived over Wim Jansen’s leg to earn West Germany’s equalising penalty, he was denied a blatant one in the second half, hacked down by the same player â€“ so whichever way you spin it, the outcome wasn’t affected.”
Paolo Bandini (Guardian) has a Serie A round-up and focuses on Lazio’s 3-0 win over Fiorentina. “Big Five? Pull the other one. Ahead of last night’s fourth round of games in Serie A, Gazzetta Dello Sport’s front page carried a graphical guide â€“ complete with smiley faces, stern faces and sad faces â€“ to the difficulty of the games in prospect for each of the five supposed ‘Champions League hopefuls’. The presumption was staggering. It would take a bold or foolhardy soul, on the evidence so far this season, to wager that last year’s top four plus Milan are the only realistic contenders for the Champions League. The face beside Fiorentina’s name was grimacing yesterday ahead of their trip to Lazio, but that was nothing compared to the scowl on manager Cesare Prandelli’s face as he watched his side get trounced 3-0 at the Stadio Olimpico.”