It was a red-top special this Sunday, as representatives of The Star, the News of the World, The Sun and the Sunday Express all sat down for coffee and cream cakes.
Presenter Brian Woolnough (The Star) started the show with a quick-fire question. Will Manchester United win everything this year? All the pundits agreed that the clean sweep won’t happen, before they each explained their reasoning.
Andy Dunn (NOTW) forwarded the case that Inter will knock out United in the Champions League. Citing Mourinho’s excellent record against Fergie, the hack argued that the Special One has the edge of Sir Alex and bleated that Inter will “have too much strength for United.” Fellow tabloid journalist John Richardson (Sunday Express) disagreed with the analysis of Inter, believing United will progress, but still maintained the clean sweep isn’t on because of too many matches in the Premier League and Barca and Real Madrid’s threat in the Champions League. The Sun’s Ian McGarry came to the aid of Andy Dunn, concurring that Inter will knock out the defending champions because Javier Zanetti, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Adriano “have all this variation” which United cannot handle.
The panel turned their focus on Chelsea to discuss the future of Guus Hiddink at the the Bridge. Saying “when Roman asks you don’t say no. It’s like being being asked a favour by Don Corleone,” Ian McGarry argued that the Dutchman is likely to stay on in West London past the end of the season, while accepting all the reasons (financial and personal) for why Hiddink may want to leave this summer. Andy Dunn looked at Chelsea’s win at Villa yesterday calling it a “new Hiddink regime, playing like the old Chelsea,” while John Richardson blasted the Blues for not selling Didier Drogba last summer.
Rafa Benitez’s ongoing contract negotiations was the last topic for the talking-heads to mull over. John Richardson threw all out the popularised comments that this is Liverpool’s best season for silverware in years, that Benitez is a control freak, and that the Spaniard is using the media for his own ends, before concluding that it will end in tears for Benitez and that some fans have already turned. Ian McGarry joined in in the Rafa bashing, advising Hicks and Gillett to say “Fine, quit. We’ll drive you to the airport.” Andy Dunn agreed that Benitez has engineered to play out his contract discussions in the public eye, but then he disagreed in his final analysis saying that he expects Rafa to be in charge at Anfield next season but that Hicks and Gillett will be out.