As Patrick Barclay tells Fergie to step aside, Martin Samuel asks “who would you rather trust to send a Manchester United team out to win a football match?”

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “I will say congratulations to Manchester United. They have done well, but I do not want to say too much. Normally you have to be polite and respect the other manager. During the season we have seen a lot of things I didn’t like, so that’s it… They have more points than us, yeah. They have a fantastic squad – they’ve spent big, big money in the last 10 or 15 years. When you pay £20 million or £30 million for players, it is easier. United have won a lot of games 1-0. Next season could be different. We won twice against them this season, which is positive.” – Rafa Benitez.

Runner-up: “With Florentino Perez in charge [at Real Madrid], the project he has put forward would be ­interesting for any coach but I would prefer not to comment on this. In general I usually stay until the end of my contract.” – Arsene Wenger.

Today’s overview: Two topics dominate the paper-talk this Monday. Arsene Wenger’s refusal to deny links to Real Madrid has left the fifth estate frantic, while champions Manchester United receive praise for yet another title winning campaign.

Dominic Fifield attempts to insert some reason into the brouhaha, arguing “while it still seems unthinkable that Wenger might swap Arsenal… for the gálactico culture of Perez and Real, his comments will serve as a timely warning to those on the Arsenal board… that he will seek significant funds to strengthen his team in the close season.” Gabriele Marcotti reaches a similar conclusion writing “the possibility that Wenger might be considering Real must come as a shock, not least because his philosophy of building through youth seems to clash with Perez’s stated goal of immediate success.”

Reviews on Manchester United’s season continue to roll in this Monday.

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Sam Wallace leads the praise, shouting “two days after they landed Ferguson’s 11th Premier League title there can be no doubt that the class of 2009 is the greatest yet.” Kevin McCarra writes how “Sir Alex Ferguson has proved a master at the tactical deployment of his considerable resources at Old Trafford.”

Looking forward, Richard Williams thumbs through the next generation of United stars. “The prospect of integrating Welbeck and Macheda into his side, along with the teenage Brazilian twins Rafael and Fabio da Silva in defence and the two Serbs, the 22-year-old Zoran Tosic and the 17-year-old Adem Ljajic, in midfield, with Ben Foster almost ready to take over in goal, provides the most persuasive of reasons for Ferguson to stick around.”

Patrick Barclay urges the Scot to plan his departure from Old Trafford. “[Ferguson] must try to arrange a smooth transition from stewardship of Manchester United to whatever lies beyond. It may prove the ultimate challenge of his career. No wonder he keeps putting it off.” But Martin Samuel bitterly argues against those who think Fergie should retire. “Who would you rather trust to send a Manchester United team out to win a football match? He has seen them all off. Russian billionaires, Gallic geniuses, mouthy Liverpudlians with their taunts of 18 titles from a different age, the old European order who treated the Champions League as if it were theirs to own by right. Ferguson has beaten the lot.”

On the gap between Manchester United and Liverpool, Oliver Kay encourages his readers not to “ignore the fact that Benitez, like Ferguson when he arrived at Old Trafford in 1986, inherited a lousy squad that he has improved year by year… Over the 19 years since their last league title, the tables have turned. It is not Benitez’s fault, but, as the battle for the nineteenth title begins, it is most certainly his problem.” Henry Winter also flags up Liverpool’s problems, noting “Liverpool clearly will challenge Ferguson’s side strongly again next season but they need to address an enduring weakness to balls delivered in from the wide area, whether from crosses, free-kicks or corners.”

On West Brom’s relegation, David Pleat observed “they are tidy and pleasing on the eye but, as was demonstrated again at the Hawthorns yesterday, short on quality, particularly defensively.” Peter Lansley is far more critical in his assessment of the Baggies’ relegation asking “is the West Brom manager really so immune from culpability? Mowbray has bought Shelton Martis not once but twice.”

But the main headlines surrounding West Brom, as reported by Stuart James, concerns “allegations that the Czech Republic striker [Roman Bednar] had bought cocaine and cannabis from a drug dealer.”

Managers in Holland receive some surprise focus this Monday. Praise for the former “wally with a brolly” comes from Owen Slot, penning “there can be few reputations as battered as McClaren’s, but in Holland, he has gone a considerable way towards mending it.” While Gabriele Marcotti writes of Louis van Gaal, who led AZ to the championship this year – “If football were a religion, Van Gaal would be a true believer, an ayatollah. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, if the end result is beauty and innovation. And if the price is his sometimes prickly personality, it’s worth paying.”

The Telegraph aim to end speculation surrounding Mark Hughes’ future at City announcing “Mark Hughes will remain in charge of Manchester City next season, according to the club’s chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak… City will be expected to be the biggest Premier League spenders this summer, with David Villa and Carlos Tevez the latest names linked with Eastlands.” John Ley adds “Mark Hughes was in Madrid last night on a scouting mission to run the rule over Spain forward David Villa and Argentina striker Sergio Aguero.”

On who will be Chelsea’s new boss, Ian McGarry confidently writes “Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed he will take over at Chelsea this summer.”

Continuing with the transfers, Alyson Rudd reports on how Spurs are already preparing their shopping spree as “Roman Pavlyuchenko and David Bentley could be leaving Tottenham Hotspur this summer.” Sam Wallace cannot help giving Bentley a kicking when he is down – “Out of form, out the Spurs team, out the England reckoning and two goals all season. It cannot be much fun for Bentley at the moment.”

The big rumour in the Daily Mail is “£5million-rated defender Roland Juhasz has emerged as a target for Barclays Premier League clubs this summer. Aston Villa, Arsenal, Tottenham, Bolton and Hull have all shown an interest in the Hungary centre back, who is also being watched by Inter Milan and several top clubs from Germany.” The Daily Mail also print that “Aston Villa are watching Toulouse striker Andre Gignac, fuelling speculation that John Carew’s Villa Park career could be cut short,” as well as reporting “Wigan manager Steve Bruce is trying to hijack Portsmouth’s move for Liverpool reject Jermaine Pennant.”

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