Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I’m not daft enough not to know that they’ve tried everyone else and everybody else has turned their back on it. What I intend to do, though, is make an instant improvement. The brief to me is to try to steady the ship, to keep the club out of the bottom three. The fans are going to be disappointed by my appointment but my shoulders are broad enough to take any criticism. Good luck to Kevin if he’s coming back in. He’s the fans’ choice and they call the tune in many respects. I just hope they realise I’m in there doing the best I can. I’ve never been involved in a side that’s been relegated in my life. I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge. And this is a big one. The worrying thing for me is that there are nine players injured long-term and all nine would be in the side.” – Joe Kinnear.
Runner-up: “I don’t appreciate people making the effort to come towards the dug-out to see me. I was looking for him afterwards but he’d disappeared, I wanted to tell him what I thought of him. People should stay in their seats. Fans shouldn’t be approaching managers like that at any football club, they should have more respect. But I’m just talking about two or three idiots here, not two or three thousand, we’ve got great support. There’s absolutely no chance I’ll walk out, why would I do that? I love this club… I’m very, very happy at this football club. I count my blessings that I’m the manager of Sunderland.” – Roy Keane.
Today’s overview: Joe Kinnear’s appointment at Newcastle has stunned everyone, coming straight out of left field with most of observers struggling to digest the news.
The Daily Mail however swim against the tide, splashing with their own exclusive from Paul Sims and Christian Gysin exposing that referee Mark Clattenburg has been banned by the Premier League since the start of the season “after allegations he had sent an email threatening the family of a business associate.”
Yet without question, the Kinnear story is today’s central theme. Kevin McCarra tries to get his head around Newcastle’s appointment, as the “selection was a shock because, if anything, it compounded the sense of risk at Newcastle.” George Caulkin reports on how the locals are calling Kinnear appointment a “joke,” before quoting Michael Martin, the editor of the Newcastle’s true faith fanzine – “Itâ€™s a joke appointment from an owner who has completely lost the plot… At least Venables had a shred of credibility from what heâ€™s done in his career and he has some standing in the game. But Joe Kinnear?”
And the Toon bashing keeps coming. Michael Walker comments “just when fans thought it could get no worse at St James’s Park, when their stock had fallen beneath laughter and into national ridicule,” Jim White investigates Dennis Wise’s role in the appointment (“There is a horrible feeling abroad in the city that the object of their devotion is now being run by an old mate’s cabal, an inside job of mutual back-scratching”), while with the prodigal son Alan Shearer mooted by Kinnear as in-line to help out at Newcastle, Rob Smyth pulls back some myths to show that Shearer was in his prime at Rovers, not the Toon.
Next on the agenda are features ahead of the Merseyside derby. Kevin McCarra wonders what the future is like for David Moyes at Everton, and fear that their delightfully old-fashioned club are in danger of being left behind on the pitch, as well as off it, at a time when overseas investors and sparkling new stadiums are all the rage.” Ian Herbert has the final say on the blue half of Liverppool, noting that today’s fixture is small fry compared to the long term investment problems face the club.
In the Saturday features, Jim White celebrates the role of Martin O’Neill at Aston Villa (“He is that rarity in modern English football: a man allowed to get on with his job”), Daniel Taylor sits down with Djibril Cisse (“when I talked to Roy Keane he made me really feel good”) and Jason Burt has a chin-wag with Spurs’ Gareth Bale.
Lastly, Simon Kuper observes how four leaders of the current generation of footballers recently celebrated their birthdays in the same week, while Football Italia are undertaking the sizable task of determining who has been Serie A’s greatest ever player, Steve Wilson looking at some of the contenders.
Running against the grain, the Daily Mail splash with the exclusive from Paul Sims and Christian Gysin on why referee Mark Clattenburg has been banned by the Premier League since the start of the season. “Clattenburg was suspended after allegations he had sent an email threatening the family of a business associate… Sportsmail can reveal that an investigation into Clattenburg has centred not only on his personal life, but also on business debts of almost Â£175,000 he is alleged to have run up in recent months. A business associate involved in a legal dispute with Clattenburg, who runs his own electrical business, tipped off the football authorities after receiving an email which he deemed to be threatening.”
Kevin McCarra (Guardian) tries to get his head around Newcastle’s appointment of Joe Kinnear. “His selection was a shock because, if anything, it compounded the sense of risk at Newcastle. There must be a few overseas newcomers on the books who have never heard of him and who will be dumbfounded when they realise that his last stint in management was with Nottingham Forest in 2004. If the owner, Mike Ashley, instructed Kinnear to put information about Keegan and Shearer into the public domain, it is a perplexing strategy. Indeed, there was general bafflement about such declarations, with associates of Shearer not only nonplussed but convinced that he would refuse to be part of such a structure. And the prospective purchasers of Newcastle, who may be a Nigerian consortium, cannot be on the verge of completing the formalities if we must wait until the end of next month before they are installed.”
The Times’ Newcastle correspondent George Caulkin reports on how the locals are calling Kinnear appointment a “joke.” “Kinnear was immediately dismissed as a â€œjoke appointmentâ€ by one respected club fanzine editor and the mention of Keegan and Shearer, who have legendary status on Tyneside, will bring accusations of propaganda against Mike Ashley, Newcastleâ€™s besieged owner. As of last night, neither man had been spoken to by the club or their prospective owners. ‘Itâ€™s news to me,’ Shearer said… Kinnear has a close association with Dennis Wise, the clubâ€™s executive director (football), with both men having worked at Wimbledon. Yet it was Ashley who phoned Kinnear, who did not feature in the betting for the post, late on Thursday night. The two men met for further discussions in London yesterday before Kinnear, whose coaching CV includes spells at Wimbledon, Luton Town and Nottingham Forest, was presented with a short-term deal that will earn him up to Â£300,000.”
In a secondary article , the editor of the Newcastle’s true faith fanzine. Martin: “Itâ€™s a joke appointment from an owner who has completely lost the plot. There is a considerable distance between Joe Kinnear and Terry Venables… At least Venables had a shred of credibility from what heâ€™s done in his career and he has some standing in the game. But Joe Kinnear? Goodness knows how much he is going to get paid. Can you imagine what the likes of Shay Given, Nicky Butt and Michael Owen think of this?” Michael Martin
The Independent’s Michael Walker adds his shocked voice to those reporting on Kinnear’s appointment. “Just when fans thought it could get no worse at St James’s Park, when their stock had fallen beneath laughter and into national ridicule, the flailing runner that is Mike Ashley’s regime came up with an unseen uppercut of an appointment. It may only be for six weeks and it is surely the last act of a desperate seller but the reaction on Tyneside, and across the country, was one of understandable dizziness. Kinnear is 61, has a worrying medical history and has not been involved in football for almost four years. Then it was at sinking Nottingham Forest in what is now the Championship.”
The Telegraph’s Jim White investigates Dennis Wise’s role in the appointment of Joe Kinnear. “In his executive search, Wise appears not so much to have headed off down the less-travelled byways of world football as to have applied the speed dial on the keypad of his mobile phone. His short-list looked suspiciously like a bunch of old mates, a round-up of the usual suspects, one which could have been arrived at by anyone who is a regular viewer of Sky Sports. To most observers, Terry Venables, Glenn Hoddle and George Graham â€“ the first names he approached â€“ are television pundits whose active life on the training ground is well behind them. Wise, though, felt they were the people who could steady the tiller at St James’… There is a horrible feeling abroad in the city that the object of their devotion is now being run by an old mate’s cabal, an inside job of mutual back-scratching.”
With the prodigal son Alan Shearer mooted by Kinnear as in-line to help out at Newcastle, Rob Smyth (Guardian) pulls back some myths to show that Shearer was in his prime at Rovers, not the Toon. “The differences between Shearer’s work at Blackburn and Newcastle are startling. At Ewood Park he was, as one blogger put it recently, “some sort of demented machine”; at Newcastle he grew into a caricature of himself, like Oasis’s later albums. At Blackburn he was omnipotent on the field; at Newcastle he was only omnipotent off it, getting rid of managers such as Ruud Gullit and showing such a masterful grasp of politics that you feel it’s not only his anodyne offerings that mean he should be somewhere else other than the Match of the Day sofa… At Blackburn he scored 112 goals in 138 league games; at Newcastle he scored 148 in 303. That’s an extra 165 games for 36 goals: Emile Heskey has suffered years of ridicule for less (or, rather, more).”
With the Merseyside derby today, Kevin McCarra (Guardian) wonders what the future is like for David Moyes at Everton. “Moyes’ anxiety must be that he has already done too well for his own good. Having been appointed initially to haul the club away from relegation, he has seen his squad come sixth and then fifth in the past two seasons. After lacklustre campaigns a vigorous resurgence has followed immediately. Now, however, it is not only the top four that can outspend him comprehensively. Apart from Manchester City, Aston Villa and Sunderland are among the clubs with superior means. Moyes has always had resilience and Everton will be expected to shake off the stumbling form of the last few weeks, but he is bound to have reached the stage in his own life when he wonders if he will ever fulfil himself.”
The Times’Everton are in a curious place, ninth in the Barclays Premier League table but, for the opening weeks of the season, engulfed by a strange sense of restlessness that has stemmed from a frustrating summer. This was supposed to be the season when David Moyesâ€™s team stepped up their attempt to challenge for supremacy on Merseyside. However, the signings of a series of little-known players shortly before the transfer window closed â€” Lars Jacobsen, Segundo Castillo and, at a cost of Â£15 million, Marouane Fellaini â€” have struggled to captivate their fan base. Those supporters fear that their delightfully old-fashioned club are in danger of being left behind on the pitch, as well as off it, at a time when overseas investors and sparkling new stadiums are all the rage.”
Ian Herbert (Independent) also features Everton, noting that today’s fixture is small fry compared to the long term investment problems face the club. “Defeating Liverpool and avenging the controversial defeat in last season’s corresponding fixture would go a huge way to kick-starting the season and putting Everton’s troubles temporarily in the past… But with the most likely route to the billions needed to prosper in the Premier League still a full three years away, the underlying financial problems persist â€“ win, lose or draw. Should not Everton’s aim now be to maintain Premier League respectability until the chance of serious money comes along?”
Goal-shy Robbie Keane talks to Alan Smith (Telegraph) ahead of the Merseyside derby. Keane: “Sometimes you need one of those that comes off your backside or you get a little deflection… But I’m not worried. I know that I’ll always get chances and I’ll always score goals. It’s just a matter of getting that monkey off my back and kicking on from there… The fans have been great with me. I think it would be different if I was a foreigner coming in, but they’ve all seen me score goals in the Premier League. They know what I can do and they’re willing me on. Everyone I meet says that first goal is just round the corner.”
Eurosport’s Paul Parker talks down Liverpool’s title credentials. “If, as expected, Benitez begins his famous squad rotation once the games start coming thick and fast, I fully expect Liverpool to fall away in the Premier League. Liverpool’s past domestic aspirations have suffered because of their involvement in the Champions League and I can see the competition throwing a spanner in the works once again. Benitez loves to do well in Europe and as long as his side are still involved, he will continue to throw everything into the Champions League. It’s not necessarily what the supporters want, but Benitez has already proved where his priorities lie. If Liverpool are to improve domestically – which I’m sure the vast majority of fans want to see, considering the length of time it has been since their team last won the title – Benitez needs to tilt his focus a little more towards the league.”
Jim White celebrates the role of Martin O’Neill at Aston Villa in the Telegraph. “At a time when the old-style football manager, the guy who runs every aspect of his organisation, is under threat from a growing body of impatient owners, O’Neill appears to sit in absolute charge of all he surveys. When Randy Lerner, a representative of the new generation of mega-wealthy foreign owners, arrived at Villa Park he was wise not to alter the way things operated. No new tiers of management were brought in, no go-betweens installed; there is no director of football at Villa Park. No wonder the glances being shot in O’Neill’s direction from Newcastle, from Tottenham, from West Ham grow ever more envious by the day. He is that rarity in modern English football: a man allowed to get on with his job.”
Daniel Taylor sits down with Djibril Cisse for the Big Saturday Interview in the Guardian. Cisse: “There were rumours about Manchester City wanting me but only rumours, nothing concrete. Then I was linked to Roma but Italy is not my cup of tea. And when I talked to Roy Keane he made me really feel good. He’s really straight, he’s passionate and he knows exactly what he wants. He made me think that he really wanted me and that he wanted to get Sunderland as high as possible. He was a big player who has won many titles. We’re really lucky to have a manager like this.”
The Independent’s Jason Burt has a chin-wag with Spurs’ Gareth Bale. Bale: “I’m really into my gadgets and things that keep me entertained â€“ laptop, DVD player, Nintendo DS â€“ and spend a lot of time on the internet, staying in touch with my friends back home in Cardiff. They come up quite a lot to see me and they go to the Spurs home games as well. It’s important for me to stay in touch with my friends and I’m lucky that I’ve got some really good mates who I’ve known for a long time. They mean a lot to me. Because I do a lot of travelling I would say my favourite possession is my laptop. I’m always using it. I’m also into music â€“ various things, nothing in particular, although I must admit that I also spend a lot of time sleeping! A lot of footballers do.”
In an offbeat article, Simon Kuper (FT) observes how four leaders of the current generation of footballers recently celebrated their birthdays in the same week. “Four days after Ronaldo, little Michael Ballack was born in GÃ¶rlitz in the German Democratic Republic, Francesco Totti followed in Rome on September 27, and the quartet was completed when Andriy Shevchenko came to earth in the Ukrainian village of Dvirkivschyna on September 29… We can now chart each manâ€™s peak. Ronaldoâ€™s was in 2002, Shevchenkoâ€™s in 2004 when he was voted European player of the year, Tottiâ€™s in 2006 when he won the World Cup, while Ballack almost won everything this summer. It shows the further forward you play, the more dependent you are on acceleration, the earlier you peak. Ballack, the only pure midfielder of the quartet, has lasted best.”
Finally, Football Italia are undertaking the sizable task of determining who has been Serie A’s greatest ever player, Steve Wilson looking at some of the contenders. “After the Draconian ban on foreign players was lifted in the 1980s we saw a flood of talent – including France’s Michel Platini, Holland’s Ruud Krol, Milan’s Dutch trio of Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard, and of course the Argentine sensation Diego Maradona. El Pibe d’Oro revolutionised Napoli and turned them into Scudetto winners. Many pick him as the best footballer ever to have lived – but do we think he is Italy’s best? Of course, most of you grew up watching Serie A on Channel 4 in the 1990s when Fiorentina had Argentine striker Gabriel Batistuta, Juve boasted French maestro Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo was playing to a samba beat at Inter and Ukraine’s Andriy Shevchenko joined Milan. They were complimented by heroes like Liberian lion George Weah at Milan and Hidetoshi Nakata – who completed the peninsula’s global reach when he arrived from Japan.