Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “The game is close to meltdown at all levels. Boards are under pressure to gain success and that leads to them paying ridiculous wages. It cannot carry on or it will end in disaster. There is a growing feeling now that some sort of wage cap has to come in.” – Derby chairman, Adam Pearson.
Runner up: “He is rambling about all sorts of things and it’s really ridiculous. He is in serious danger of getting relegated but I think that Roy Keane is beginning to believe the Roy Keane mythology. He is pontificating on everything. He’s lost the plot. I have the highest regard for him, he’s a remarkable, intelligent, family man, but he’s lost the plot big time. He hasn’t had a settled side and I think he is in a fog at the moment. Everyone gets there at some point in your life, when things get too much for you. You don’t know where the levers for control are and he’s making some really silly decisions. He paid all that money for Anton Ferdinand and dropped him. Then there is [El Hadji] Diouf on the bench and out of favour. It has been apparent to me for the last 18 months that Roy Keane isn’t going to be a serious manager. Like a lot of great players he doesn’t appear cut out for management. It’s becoming increasingly apparent. I just don’t think he has the qualities.” – Eamon Dunphy.
Today’s overview: Wednesday kicks off with a frosty start from David Conn, who reports that “Championship clubs are considering a salary cap to help prevent spiralling financial losses as the economy heads into a recession.” In a second article David Conn goes on to explain reasons for the financial plight Championship clubs find themselves in, writing “in the muscular, fiercely competitive Championship, which has no booming television deal and is skewed by the presence of relegated sides with Â£12m per season parachute-payments, clubs are seriously overspending as they chase the gold of Premier League promotion.”
Reporting on Arsenal’s defeat at Turf Moor, James Ducker waxes lyrical that “Arsenalâ€™s kids were simply outplayed by a Burnley team whose football was as splendid as anything that their illustrious rivals had produced in the Carling Cup this season.” Mark Odgen is more critical of Arsene’s babes, penning “the failings of [Wenger’s] own players, combined with the energy and flair of Owen Coyle’s players, that ultimately led to the Championship club booking their first major semi-final for 25 years.”
Barney Ronay rallies behind the award of the Ballon d’Or to Cristiano Ronaldo, heaping praise on the Portuguese labelling him “a throw-back, a high-profile example of a dying breed, and a player who only survived in his current flamboyant and infuriating form because he’s so very good at it.” And keeping with the champions, Sam Wallace speculates about the impact of United’s trip to Japan on their title aspirations, and Matthew Syed pleads with Sir Alex to bow out of football gracefully, comparing the United boss to Margaret Thatcher “who vowed to go â€œon and onâ€ in the late 1980s, before being stabbed in the back by backbenchers and Cabinet ministers, who she would later describe as â€œlily-livered cowardsâ€. It would be a shame if Ferguson went the same way.”
In a rare focus on Wigan, Martin Samuel warns the Latics to hold onto Emile Heskey wondering “What could Wigan get for Â£4million, the top-dollar price, let alone Â£2million, which is where the bidding will start? Nothing with Heskey’s talent, that is for sure. He cost more than that when he arrived from Birmingham City more than two years ago.”
In the transfer rumours, Sandy Macaskill publicises that Randy “Lerner has agreed to provide O’Neill with up to Â£18m in January to secure a striker, with Roque Santa Cruz, currently at Blackburn, and Wigan’s Emile Heskey believed to be favourites, although Swedish striker Henrik Larsson, who has just become a free agent after his Swedish club Helsingborg completed their domestic campaign, is being mentioned in some quarters.” Giles Mole claims AC Milan are tracking Daniel Agger, while Jason Burt writes that “Manchester City’s wealthy Arab owners are determined to try to land a “world superstar” in the January transfer window and have drawn up a list of targets, headed by Kaka and Lionel Messi. The other names that have been discussed are Fernando Torres, Carlos Tevez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Samuel Eto’o, with the Abu Dhabi United Group prepared to pay upwards of Â£70m for a top-name signing.”
Reacting to Manchester United’s imminent signing of Zoran Tosic, Jonathon Wilson writes a superb article on the developments in Serbian football. “The prevalence of Serbian youngsters at top clubs is astonishing. Make no mistake: the Serbs are coming.”