Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the Day: “Dr Thaksin has been really open. He has said to us, ‘If you need me to resign from this football club because it will serve the needs of the Premier League, I’m fine with that.’ He is embarrassed about the indignity he has brought upon his football club and the Premier League. He never intended this to be the case. Three months ago, it was very different. We are looking at taking him off the board as a director. But can he be a shareholder? Those are two very different issues. The jurisdiction around the term ‘fit-and-proper-person’ needs to be more clearly defined. It is a very loose term, almost tongue-in-cheek, because there have been plenty of unfit and improper people in the league over the last 10 years.” – Garry Cook.
Runner-up: “I want to be the best player in the world and that isn’t possible at Real Madrid. I’ve come to an end of a cycle. I’ve played three seasons at Real Madrid, I’ve scored goals, I’ve won two leagues. I have an offer which is good for me and the club. I dream of playing in the English league. I hope to resolve this situation as soon as possible. It’s not about money, I simply want to leave.” – Robinho.
Today’s overview: The siege mentality is in full effect at the City of Manchester stadium, with chief executive Garry Cook quoted by every single paper today spreading the message of stability at Eastlands.
Cook began his charm offensive speaking to Daniel Taylor about City’s moves in the transfer market, before telling Henry Winter “I worked at a company â€“ Nike â€“ where we were accused of child labour rights issues… Morally, I felt confident in that environment. Morally, I feel comfortable in this environment.” Cook was then back on message when sitting down with Oliver Kay saying “the financial picture at City is far healthier than it appears from the outside.” The proof of the pudding is supplied by Tim Rich who reports on City’s capture of Vincent Kompany and their new target, Thiago Neves.
Manchester City are not the only club feeling the heat this Saturday. Tony Cascarino sticks his head above the parapet and takes a shot at Roy Keane’s transfer policy, while the Daily Mail’s ‘Hatchet Man‘ asks “is Juande Ramos one of the laziest foreign managers in the Premier League?”
The standout article of the day comes from Sam Wallace, who grapples with the current regulations which have hamstrung the efforts of the Premier League’s biggest clubs to develop youth.
Its a tough day for Manchester United in the press. Daniel Taylor reports that Sir Alex is losing hope of signing Dimitar Berbatov at a time when Wayne Rooney needs support. Simultaneously, Neil Custis reports that “Cristiano Ronaldo has dealt Manchester United a savage blow with the news he could be out until mid-November.”
There are a collection of fine interviews to pick from. Daniel Taylor sat down with Aston Villa’s Nicky Shorey (“We had to brush the stands, paint the ground, scrub the toilets, get the mud out of everyone’s boots”), Alan Smith spoke with Hull manager Phil Brown, and Glenn Moore secured a one-on-one with Arsene Wenger (“When we decided to build the stadium I wanted to anticipate the possibility of financial restrictions, so I concentrated on youth.”)
The final hot-topic of the day remains England’s midweek troubles. On the Barwick dismissal, Jeremy Wilson paints a picture of Lord Triesman’s personal involvement in his downfall, which was backed up by Jonathan Wilson who said “it appears Lord Triesman never trusted the business acumen of his chief executive.”
On the England team itself, Neil Warnock leads the criticisms saying “unfortunately, I saw all the second half.” Terry Venables takes the hump with all the negativity asking “do you really want to hear what is wrong with England or do you want to carry on blaming the manager and players until the hatred gets so vile everyone gives up and walks away?” Obviously Venables’ message was missed by fellow pundits Jimmy Greaves, who headlined his column “Game is up for Fabio’s Flops,” and Paul Parker (“clueless England”).
With Manchester City once again on the brink this morning, the Guardian’s Daniel Taylor speaks with executive chairman Garry Cook – who is on a charm offensive – about the future at Eastlands. “There is, he admits, a ‘cash challenge’ in the short term. City have taken out a Â£30m bank loan to help them through, he confirms. ‘Do we have Â£40m in the bank to buy new players? No.’ Yet Cook is encouraged because Thaksin is talking to some of the world’s richest men about investing in the club. They have had ‘Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait on the phone’ and met ‘the second richest man in China’. Funding is on its way. ‘We have five or six different options and we want to get it done in the transfer window because we need three or four players.'”
Garry Cook next sits down with the Telegraph’s chief opinion writer, Henry Winter, in which he explains why he has no moral issues being part of the fabric at City. Cook: “I worked at a company â€“ Nike â€“ where we were accused of child labour rights issues. I managed to have a career there for 15 years and I believed we were innocent of most of the issues. Morally, I felt confident in that environment. Morally, I feel comfortable in this environment. He has not skipped bail. Heâ€™s not gone back to face the charges. He wants to be at this ground on Sunday [for the game with West Ham] but people may want to come and show their support from his country and he doesnâ€™t want to use this as a political platform. And there has been a threat to his safety worldwide.”
Oliver Kay also goes about trying to unmuddle the situation at Manchester City in The Times. “The financial picture at City is far healthier than it appears from the outside, despite a recent flurry of borrowing from the banks and from John Wardle, the former chairman. Thaksin recognises that he made mistakes last summer and is prepared to be realistic, rather than ruthless, with Mark Hughes, the new manager. Even if no outside investment is forthcoming before the transfer window closes in nine days, Hughes has money to spend on new players.”
Proof of Manchester City’s financial status was provided yesterday, with the Telegraph’s Tim Rich reporting on the capture of Vincent Kompany and their new target, Thiago Neves. “Kompany is likely to feature as a defensive midfielder, which may suggest that Dietmar Hamannâ€™s days at Eastlands are numbered. Hughes is believed to be interested in recruiting the Fluminese midfielder, Thiago Neves, who was part of Brazilâ€™s Olympic squad. Neves, 23, had the distinction of scoring a hat-trick in the South American version of the Champions League final, the Copa Libertadores, while still finishing on the losing side. Some might think this an excellent introduction to life at City.”
One player who is taken himself off the transfer radar is Roque Santa Cruz, who, as the Telegraph report, has signed a new 4-year contract at Blackburn. “He was hugely impressive in his debut Premier League campaign after moving to Lancashire from Bayern Munich last summer, scoring 23 goals in all competitions… Rovers gambled on the skilful Paraguayan and paid Bayern less than Â£4 million after a series of serious knee injuries wrecked his time in Bavaria. And the move paid off as Santa Cruz â€“ who scored in Saturday’s 3-2 win at Everton â€“ played 36 of 38 Premier League games last season.”
On The Times’ blog Tony Cascarino sticks his head above the parapet and takes a shot at Roy Keane’s transfer policy. “I hope Iâ€™m wrong but it looks as if Roy Keane is conducting a masterclass in kamikaze management. El Hadji Diouf, Pascal Chimbonda and now Djibril Cisse: itâ€™s hardly a recipe for dressing-room harmony at Sunderland given Keaneâ€™s personality, is it?… Itâ€™s a recipe for trouble and it contradicts the values Roy represented as a player. These look to me like some of the riskiest signings Iâ€™ve seen in a while. Iâ€™m amazed heâ€™s signed these guys. Itâ€™s like throwing oil on a fire. Thereâ€™s no doubting their talent, but theyâ€™re the sort of players that can get you the sack â€“ the kind who will look great when the teamâ€™s doing well but vanish in the heat of battle when a manager needs them most.”
The Daily Mail’s ‘Hatchet Man‘ lays into Juande Ramos. “Is Juande Ramos one of the laziest foreign managers in the Premier League? As he moves towards his first anniversary at Tottenham the Spaniard is not even attempting to speak to the public in English. Luiz Felipe Scolari has been here five minutes and is charming Chelsea fans in the local language after intensive lessons and while Fabio Capelloâ€™s football might not make much sense, his English is improving all the time… Perhaps the Spurs manager doesnâ€™t think he will be around long enough for it to be worth knowing a new language after putting his neck on the line with top four ambitions this season.”
Sam Wallace writes an excellent article in the Independent criticising the current regulations which have hamstrung the efforts of the Premier League’s biggest clubs to develop youth. “Olympic sports recruit, promote and drop talent as they see fit. They are shamelessly elitist and single-minded about success. It is a level of control about which Premier League academy directors can only dream.Somewhere along the way the Premier League â€“ that bastion of greed and self-interest â€“ lost sight of the notion of elitism in developing young players… In England, the best young footballers are stuck, in the most crucial years of their development, playing and training with 15 others their clubs have rounded up from the locality. This parochial system means that clubs such as Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal are instead buying their young talent in, from across the world. At 17, players can sign professional forms, and the academies of our great clubs are increasingly populated by foreign footballers. Buying such youngsters is cheaper than buying their English equivalents because Fifa sets lower compensation tariffs.”
Daniel Taylor (Guardian) reports that Sir Alex is losing hope of signing Dimitar Berbatov at a time when Wayne Rooney needs support. “If United can persuade Spurs to part company with Berbatov Ferguson thinks it will take some of the pressure off Rooney at a time when Louis Saha has injury problems and Cristiano Ronaldo is still five or six weeks away from returning to the side, despite being allowed to step up his training with some light jogging exercises. The talks with Spurs have reached an impasse, however, with the clubs differing significantly in their valuation of the player. The transfer window closes on Monday week and although, in theory, that still leaves plenty of time for a deal to be concluded Ferguson, perhaps strategically, indicated that his transfer targets might be slipping away.
With the Berbatov transfer in the balance, Neil Custis has the EXCLUSIVE in The Sun which Manchester fans will dread to hear. “Cristiano Ronaldo has dealt Manchester United a savage blow with the news he could be out until mid-November… Ronaldo played with pain-killing injections for the last three months of the season and through Portugalâ€™s Euro 2008 campaign to delay any surgery. But that made the initial problem worse and it now looks to have extended his rehabilitation period.”
And in a supplementary article, the Guardian’s Big Interview sees Daniel Taylor sit down with Aston Villa’s Nicky Shorey. Money quote: “I think it’s fair to say that I appreciate football, and everything that comes with it, maybe a bit more than some Premier League players. You get some who go straight into the Premier League and don’t know anything else. But I’ve seen what it’s like in the other divisions too. I came through the youth ranks at Orient and the club was so skint one year we did an entire pre-season on Hackney Marshes. I don’t think they could afford a cleaner. So the young lads did it all. We had to brush the stands, paint the ground, scrub the toilets, get the mud out of everyone’s boots. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s completely different now and maybe some people have it a little too easy.”
Alan Smith speaks with Hull manager Phil Brown in the Telegraph. Brown: “I’ll never forget my first day. Straightaway I saw players I could work with. They were technically gifted, as good as I’d worked with at Bolton. After 15 minutes I stopped the session and said, ‘What the **** are you lot doing bottom of this division?’ They’ve proved me right as well. The likes of Andy Dawson, Boaz Myhill, Ryan France and Ian Ashbee [the captain] have now gone through all four divisions.”
The Independent’s Glenn Moore secured a one-on-one with Arsene Wenger, who discussed his transfer philosophy at Arsenal. Wenger: “When we decided to build the stadium I wanted to anticipate the possibility of financial restrictions, so I concentrated on youth. I also felt the best way to create an identity with the way we play football, to get players integrated into our culture, with our beliefs, our values, was to get them as young as possible and to develop them together. I felt it would be an interesting experiment to see players grow together with these qualities, and with a love for the club.” He pauses, smiles wryly, and adds, “It was an idealistic vision of the world of football.”
The Telegraph’s Jeremy Wilson investigates how it came to be that Brian Barwick was let by of by the FA, with a picture emerging of Lord Triesman personally orchestrating his downfall. “The Daily Telegraph has learned that Triesman initially raised the issue at the FA’s summer meeting in Torquay on the weekend of July 12-13 and acted only after a frank discussion with the board… while Barwick received only limited support from FA board members, it was unlikely that they would oppose their powerful new independent chairman once he had raised the issue. There are fears in the FA of further casualties as Triesman modernises the association. He is assembling the team to lead the bid for the 2018 World Cup and it is understood he also clashed with Barwick over who should fill key roles.”
The same picture is painted by Jonathan Wilson in the FT. “It appears Lord Triesman never trusted the business acumen of his chief executive, who in effect fell between two stools. Although well connected in football from his days as ITVâ€™s controller of sport, he had neither stellar commercial experience nor was he a respected former player, able to play the role of statesmanlike figurehead in the way that Franz Beckenbauer does in Germany.”
Keeping with England, Neil Warnock uses his weekly column in the Independent to vent about the national team. “Fortunately, we had a reserve game on Wednesday, so I missed most of the first half of the England match; unfortunately, I saw all the second half. It just seemed like extracting teeth. If it had still been Steve McClaren in charge he would have got slaughtered, they’d have been throwing their seats on. I bet he was sat there in the Netherlands saying, ‘Thish ish not ze Engleesh vay I vanted to play’. Nothing seems to have changed. We still don’t know who is best in what position. We still haven’t sorted the Lampard and Gerrard issue, or worked out where to play Rooney. I haven’t seen Rooney play a good game since Euro 2004.”
The Sun’s Terry Venables wades into the England discussion, trying to pacify the nation with his words of wisdom. “Do you really want to hear what is wrong with England or do you want to carry on blaming the manager and players until the hatred gets so vile everyone gives up and walks away? The players are rubbish, the players are paid too much, the players donâ€™t care, the players donâ€™t want to play for England any more. Then thereâ€™s the manager. Barely in the job and already Fabio Capello doesnâ€™t know what heâ€™s doing, has no new ideas, is paid too much, blah, blah, blah. Havenâ€™t we heard all this before? Didnâ€™t I experience it first hand alongside Steve McClaren â€” didnâ€™t Sven Goran Eriksson, Kevin Keegan, Glenn Hoddle, Graham Taylor all stand accused of the same incompetence? Was every single one really clueless and did every one of them really select the worst teams and tactics? Like everyone, Iâ€™m sick of living off the memory of 1966 and want England to win so badly I twice put my head on the block to try to make it happen. But the reaction to Wednesday makes me wince.”
Perhaps Venables should of had a quiet word with fellow Sun pundit Jimmy Greaves, who headlines his column “Game is up for Fabio’s Flops.” “The problem is the lack of time devoted to our national side. After Wednesday night Fabio Capello should have been able to say to all his players â€˜Get back in the hotel tomorrow and let us sort out whatâ€™s going wrongâ€™. He cannot do that because clubs rule. Until we learn from how teams in other sports are able to produce their very best when it counts, we will never have an England team to be proud of. We have to remember the state of English football is gauged by what happens with the national team. Until attention is paid to that, things will never change.”
Venables could have also picked up the phone to speak with Eurosport’s Paul Parker, who lays into “clueless England.” “England’s performance against the Czechs was one of the worst I have seen. Things have not improved under Fabio Capello, they have stayed the same… Our players do not have the technique required to cut it at the highest international level. Crossing balls from 35-40 yards out just isn’t good enough. We could pick a team of Championship players who could do that.”
Heading over to Italy, Football Italia’s Dave Taylor looks at Gigi Buffon and Fabrizio Ravanelli’s joint belief that Juventus have the best attack in Europe. “The best attack in Europe undeniably belongs to the European champions Manchester United, with Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez and Ronaldo scoring more than 70 goals between them last season. And can Bayern Munichâ€™s Luca Toni, Franck Ribery, Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski be discounted so easily? Letâ€™s not forget Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelonaâ€™s front lines either. I mean Lionel Messi versus Del Piero â€“ thereâ€™s sadly no contest.”
Marcela Mora y Araujo talks with Argentina’s manager Sergio ‘Checho’ Batista in the Guardian, who expresses his concerns for football in Latin America. “Worryingly for Argentina, the World Cup winner believes the country is losing players faster than it is producing them. We discuss the example of Gago, who left Boca Juniors for Real Madrid and was immediately replaced in Boca’s midfield by Ever Banega, who was then sold to Valencia after less than a season. ‘But look at AgÃ¼ero’ he adds with indignation. ‘AgÃ¼ero has still not been replaced at Independiente.'”