Comment & analysis round up

Quote of the Day: “I think it is hypocrisy personified that Spurs are complaining about things they themselves have done. They took away our manager. I think Tottenham’s style is demonstrated by the way they contracted Juande Ramos.” – Sevilla president, Jose Maria del Nido.

Runner-up: “I am in shock. I never expected she would die now. A day before she died, we spoke at length about her dreams and aspirations for the people living around our house at Orile Iganmu. My mother had planned to make her neighbours more comfortable. I will miss her dearly. She was my pillar and source of inspiration. Her presence brought a lot of goodwill to me. In fact, for me, after God, it was my mum. She was my life. I don’t know what I would have become without my mother.” – Obafemi Martins.

Today’s overview: Its a good day to be an Arsenal fan, as not only have they secured the services of Emmanuel Adebayor, but they are also planning for their Champions League campaign after drawing Steve McClaren’s FC Twente in the qualifiers.

The terms of Adebayor’s contract deal are slightly confused, although all to the benefit of the Gunners. Stuart James says the Togolese striker “has agreed an improved four-year deal with Arsenal that will tie him to the club until 2012.” Kaveh Solhekol believes the new contract extends to 2013, and notes how his salary has been raised to £70,000 a week.

On the Champions League front, Andy Hunter sums up the tough draw for McClaren – “‘Fate’ was what [McClaren] called it in public, though he may have employed a different f-word as he watched the draw unfold in private.” Sam Wallace tries to spin the draw as McClaren “has nothing to lose,” while Kaveh Solhekol analyses how “McClaren has a very poor record against Arsene Wenger as a manager.”

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Two articles reflect on how the Premier League seems to be unaffected by the credit crunch. Glenn Moore asks “credit crunch, what credit crunch?” While Jonathon Wilson suggests that the Premier League may now only have a Big Two.

There are features on Manchester United strikers past and present. Henry Winter has a lump in his throat as he writes ahead of Ole Gunner Solskjaer’s final game for Manchester United. On the downside, James Lawton fears that Wayne Rooney may never live up to his potential.

Other Premier League articles include Andriy Shevchenko, Peter Bills contrasts the journey’s of two goalkeepers, Brad Friedel and Mark Bosnich, Mark O’Brien predicts that this season will be tough for Everton, and the Daily Mail pick “10 teenagers with the talent to impress in the Premier League.”

In the best of the rest, Benjie Goodhart pulls no punches labelling pre-season friendlies as “crap,” Sandy Macaskill reports on the survey that has “revealed” the most and least beautiful fans in the Premier League, and Serafino Ingardia reports on the revamped Coppa Italia.

Emmanuel Adebayor’s transfer saga is at an end according to Stuart James (Guardian), saying the Togolese striker will sign a new deal at Arsenal. “It emerged he has agreed an improved four-year deal with Arsenal that will tie him to the club until 2012. The news will come as a major relief to Wenger following a turbulent summer at Arsenal. The Frenchman admitted yesterday he had become increasingly frustrated with the manner in which a number of the continent’s leading clubs have pursued Arsenal players. Wenger did not name the clubs who he claimed had ‘destabilised’ Arsenal at the end of last season but it is fair to assume that Milan, Barcelona and Internazionale were all uppermost in his mind.”

Kaveh Solhekol has slightly different information about Adebayor’s new contract in The Times. “He will sign a new contract to stay at the Emirates Stadium until 2013… Adebayor has been tracked by AC Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid this summer, but decided to stay in London after Arsenal agreed to increase his wages to about £70,000 a week… Wenger confirmed yesterday that William Gallas would continue as club captain this season.”

Andy Hunter (Guardian) reports of the Champions League tie seeing Steve McClaren’s FC Twente taking on Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal. “‘Fate’ was what [McClaren] called it in public, though he may have employed a different f-word as he watched the draw unfold in private.”

Sam Wallace (Independent) also reports on the tough luck served on Steve McClaren, but the scribe tries to offer a silver lining. “Defeated, lampooned and finally forced to find employment overseas, Steve McClaren probably felt that his luck could not get any worse but that was before the new FC Twente manager found himself drawn against Arsenal in the Champions League qualifiers… When he takes a few moments to reflect on the cruelty of a Champions League draw that has paired him with one of the best teams in Europe, McClaren may not see it as quite so unlucky. For the first time in a long time he has nothing to lose. Defeat for FC Twente is expected – the pressure would have been much greater had he lost to one of the qualifying round’s unknowns after the club finished in fourth place in the Eredivisie last season and won a play-off to get into the Champions League qualifiers.”

The Times’ Kaveh Solhekol analyses the chances of Steve McClaren leading his Twente team to victory. “McClaren has a very poor record against Arsene Wenger as a manager. While in charge of Middlesbrough, he lost nine of ten matches played against Arsenal. Most embarrasing were a 4-0 defeat at the Riverside in his first match at the club in 2001 and a 7-0 hammering at Highbury five years later. McLaren did engineer a two-legged semi-final victory over Arsenal in the Carling Cup four years ago, but they fielded a weakened team.”

Reacting to the transfer dealings in the Premier League, the Independent’s Glenn Moore asks “credit crunch, what credit crunch?” “Sunderland spent £50m last season and just stayed up. Fulham are on course to spend £20m this summer in an effort to strengthen a squad that nearly went down. Promoted Stoke City have shattered their transfer record, previously £1.5m, in paying £5.5m for Dave Kitson, scorer of 10 goals for relegated Reading last season. How can these clubs afford this? Is there not a credit crunch stalking the land? The answer is television money – from deals drawn up before a recession loomed. Last season’s champions, Manchester United, received £49.3m from the distribution of television income but even Derby, who finished bottom with one win all season, “earned” £29.1m. As the average TV income of Championship clubs is less than £2m, the incentive to speculate and, hopefully, accumulate is overwhelming.”

The same topic is picked up in the Financial Times, with Jonathon Wilson looking at how while “the rest of the world may be tightening belts and battening down the hatches against the worsening economic climate, but football proceeds blithely on, sealed in a bubble of staggering wages and transfer fees.” “Since Roman Abramovich’s arrival at Chelsea five years ago, normal financial rules have not applied to football… It is five seasons since a team other than Chelsea or United won the Premier League, and it is four seasons since a team other than these two finished second. Liverpool and Arsenal appear not to have the resources to compete… Liverpool are showing some sort of will to try to compete with the Big Two. For all the money flying around this summer, few others will.”

The Telegraph’s Henry Winter has a lump in his throat as his writes ahead of Ole Gunner Solskjaer’s final game for Manchester United. “As the 35-year-old bows out with a testimonial against Espanyol, all football will miss the man for more than just his goals. Solskjaer has been a wonderful ambassador for the game, and all proceeds from today’s match, and a planned telethon, go towards 10 new schools in Africa… United fans love Solskjaer because he never embarrassed their beloved club, never clamoured to join Real Madrid nor fell out of a nightclub at 3am. Even when that persistent knee injury drained the life from a fine career, even when he toiled for two years in the gym, no self-pity could be detected. United officials would advise youngsters: ‘Look and learn from Ole’.”

From one Manchester United striker to another, James Lawton (Independent) fears that Wayne Rooney may never live up to his potential. “In the last 20 years English football has produced two genuinely world-class talents… One was Paul Gascoigne. The other is Wayne Rooney. One was doomed by his nature and the company it attracted. The other is, it is surely about time to say, in danger of falling a long way short of his promise. We all know how it ended for Gazza – and how severe was the onslaught of the demons that still plague him. Rooney, it is reasonable to believe, has no such threat to his future as an exceptional player. Yet he remains a luminary in default, a still largely undelivered gift to the national game.”

Andriy Shevchenko. “Shevchenko’s traumatic two-year stay at Chelsea reached its nadir last night when he missed a penalty that condemned his side to another defeat in the Russian capital after hearing his manager, Luiz Felipe Scolari, indicate that he has little future at the club… The Ukraine striker had already endured a miserable day, with Carlo Ancelotti ruling out his return to AC Milan and claiming that the player has psychological problems, before his humiliation at the penalty spot.”

The Independent’s Peter Bills contrasts the journey’s of two goalkeepers, Brad Friedel and Mark Bosnich. “You have to be a special person and a special player to earn a three-year contract at the age of 37. Friedel’s new deal is a triumph for all his hard work, consistency and sheer professionalism. By considerable contrast, Mark Bosnich played his first competitive match for four years this last weekend, turning out for the Australian club in a bid to resurrect a career tainted and utterly disrupted by a drugs scandal back in 2002 whilst he was at Chelsea. By coincidence, Bosnich is 36, just 12 months younger than Friedel. Alas, he has never matched the solid professionalism of the American goalkeeper, wasting important years in the fall-out from his drugs escapade.”

Mark O’Brien (Football365) predicts that this season will be tough for Everton. “The general perception of Everton, as a sort of semi-stable club, over their worst years and now looking to consolidate as at least a UEFA Cup side – with a side order of Champions League ambition, given a prevailing headwind – seems to have disappeared quicker than a handbag in a room with Bradley Wright-Phillips… when the manager comes out like he did after the defeat by Chicago Fire and says, essentially, ‘This gig’s goosed,’ then it’s probably safe to assume that all is not as it might be. Thoughts of ‘really kicking on and challenging for fourth spot’ seem a world away at this point.”

The Daily Mail offers an article headlined “From Dos Santos and Ngog to Vela and Sears – 10 teenagers with the talent to impress in the Premier League.”

The Guardian’s Benjie Goodhart is fed up of pre-season friendlies. “Pre-season friendlies are just crap. Total, unmitigated, unadulterated hogwash… But the most jaw-dropping aspect of all of these games is that they make it to television. Here is a press release from Setanta Sports a few weeks back. ‘Setanta Sports have today confirmed some mouth-watering pre-season matches that will be shown on the UK’s favourite sports network.’ (Is that the kind of mouth-watering you get before you’re sick?) They then produce a (depressingly long) list of games that will be screened. They include: Szombathelyi Haliadas v Arsenal, Vitoria Setubal v Sunderland, Cobh Ramblers v Sunderland, Nottingham Forest v Sunderland, Shamrock Rovers v, er, Sunderland, and Sporting Lisbon v … you guessed it. If Roy Keane complains even once this season about fixture congestion, I shall personally take the strongest action, probably writing some sniffy article about it.”

The Telegraph’s Sandy Macaskill writes a spurious article reporting on how Alan Hanson has criticised Jose Mourinho’s fantasy league team. “According to Hansen, winning two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cup trophies during three years at Stamford Bridge will count for nothing in fantasy football. ‘He’s got no chance,’ was Hansen’s appraisal of his adversary’s chances. ‘If he finishes in the top 300,000 then he will be doing well. He won’t beat me. I’ll beat him.’ It was big talk from Hansen, who came 160,877th last season. Why does he think he’ll have the upper hand? He believes that the Portuguese has made ‘the cardinal sin’ of going for balance in his team, as well as carrying his defensive traits as a manager into the game.”

But Sandy Macaskill redeems herself with her second article in which she reports on the survey that has ‘revealed’ the most and least beautiful fans in the Premier League. “According to research by Sky HD, [Portsmouth] have the least attractive fans in English football’s top flight – but Liverpool have at last landed a domestic title, being judged by scouts from model agency D1 Model Management to have the sexiest supporters… As for Portsmouth, Younes Kaboul could be inspired to reconsider his move to the club, especially as White Hart Lane seems to be a bastion of beauty. Indeed, the debate about whether or not Tottenham will break into the ‘Big Four’ can end now, as they come in third, ahead of fierce rivals Arsenal.”

Football Italia’s Serafino Ingardia reports on the revamped Coppa Italia. “Can you imagine the likes of Barletta or Celano facing Juventus or Inter in the knock-out stages of the Coppa Italia? Finally, starting from next season, small teams coming from Serie D or the new Lega Pro [formerly C1 and C2] will be able to meet the giants of Italian football in the national Cup. This is because of the new formula adopted by the Lega Calcio, which we could describe as the Italian version of the English FA Cup. Being one of the most conservative organisations in the game, the Lega felt a radical change in national competition was needed.”

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