Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “[Cristiano Ronaldo] makes the most of the situation, I suppose. Some referees give free-kicks but some don’t. Diving or not diving, he’s impossible to mark when he’s on form. He’s similar to [Lionel] Messi. If they are on form then they are difficult to stop. He is the best player in the world and he plays the game to his advantage… I don’t admire the way he [Didier Drogba] goes about things… what goes around comes around. You dive around and teams score against you in injury time.” – Richard Dunne.
Runner-up: “Chelsea have spent magic money and they have still not won the European Cup. It is not all down to spending the money. It is down to sticking to a policy and I believe that the next year will tell us more about the efficiency of the policy… If we buy players, it will certainly not be players who lack experience… It’s not a team that is over the hill. It is a team that is at the start of the hill. You have to accept as well what we have done. We are in the last four in Europe and we have not lost a [Premier League] game since November. We have lost in the Champions League semi-final to a team that is better than us, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. United are the world and European champions.” – Arsene Wenger.
Today’s overview: Still reeling from their Champions League exit, Chelsea remain the focus this Saturday, as Didier Drogba comes in for some serious criticism.
The old chestnut of whether Guus Hiddink will continue as Chelsea boss is picked up by Dominic Fifield, the Guardian scribe noting how the Dutchman has had his “mission accomplished… Hiddink may not have been the man to secure Chelsea’s first European Cup after all but theirs will, at least, be an amicable divorce.”
Talking in amphibian terms, David Lacey pinpoints Hiddink’s success at the Bridge. “If Roman Abramovich had appointed Luiz Felipe Scolari to turn a frog into a handsome prince, Hiddink realised that a frog will always be a frog and quickly restored to Chelsea the ribbitting efficiency they had achieved under Mourinho.” And talking of Mourinho, sourpuss James Lawton blames the Special One for Chelsea’s bad-behaviour against Barca. “[Mouinho] created a team in his own image, one in which the traducing of match officials and opponents, even ambulance drivers and paramedics, was just part of the game.”
Another angry hack is Des Kelly, who focuses his entire column in the Daily Mail to prove that John Terry is not fit to skipper England. “The truth is that when events donâ€™t go his way, a petulant, juvenile streak boils to the surface and he can set a dismal example for the next generation.”
Tony Cascarino implores Chelsea to give Drogba the boot this summer. “Didier Drogba is the gladiator who acts like a toddler. So big and strong, yet he rolls around the pitch like a naughty child having temper tantrums… Thanks for what youâ€™ve done, Didier, and goodbye. Whether itâ€™s Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen or Thierry Henry, no matter how big the name, thereâ€™s a point when itâ€™s time to move on.” And, according to Tony Banks, the Blues may have considered Cascarino’s advice reporting “Chelsea are ready to listen to offers for controversial striker Didier Drogba… Inter Milan and Marseille are among the clubs who have been monitoring Drogbaâ€™s position all season and Manchester City have already pledged a Â£180,000-a-week contract.”
Keeping with the Ivorian, Henry Winter observes how “Guus Hiddink was in full Tammy Wynette mode on Friday, all but breaking into Stand By Your Man in support of Didier Drogba, but the waves of opprobrium continued rolling towards his foul-mouthed, referee-chasing centre-forward.”
In other Blues news, Matt Hughes reports “that Michael Ballack has agreed terms on a one-year extension to a deal that includes wages of Â£121,000 a week and will keep him at Stamford Bridge until the end of next season.”
Terry Venables jumps on the Ovrebo-bashing bandwagon for The Sun, spewing the usual nonsense to appeal to uninformed football fans. “I do not blame the Norwegian solely for the farce and fury that compounded Chelseaâ€™s cruel and controversial exit against the Catalans. It is down to his bosses at UEFA who gave him a fixture of such magnitude in the first place. The game was simply too big for him. For me and millions of other TV viewers the alarm bells started ringing before kick-off.”
David Hytner considers Wenger’s policy to refuse to splash the cash, in favour of continuing with the kids. “The doubters can run and jump. Wenger will look to next season with his glass half-full and he is hopeful that Âplayers such as Johan Djourou, Abou Diaby, Samir Nasri, Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott, who yesterday signed a new contract that would keep him at the club until 2013, can improve sufficiently to close what appears to be a yawning gap to Manchester United.”
Heading up to Newcastle, Rob Stewart announces that Mike Ashley is preparing to offer Alan Shearer a Â£3 million a year, four-year contract to stay on as the Toon boss.
Amid proposals by MP Andy Burnham to regulate the commercial aspects of football, Patrick Barclay applauds the government for taking a stance. “They want to make football less of a business and more of a sport, while retaining both aspects.” Nick Harris asks his Independent readers for their feedback on shaking up football. “Do we want to create a more competitive league? The ‘big four’ would argue they have invested time and money into competing with similarly rich clubs such as Barcelona and Milan. Diluting their income would weaken English clubs’ ability to compete in Europe. Maybe, though, we should have other priorities.”
The Saturdays carry their usual interviews. In the Guardian Daniel Taylor has a chin-wag with Nigel De Jong, while Tony Evans allows his column in The Times to be turned into one big come-and-get-me plea by unemployed Tony Adams – “I’ve had a few offers, but none that tick all the boxes. I’m ready for the next step, but Iâ€™ll wait until the right role comes along.”
Over in the Independent, Elano is found shooting his mouth off (“This just proves that what I said was right”) to Ian Herbert, the Brazilian explaining why he feels vindicated by his rise in form after his rows with City manager Mark Hughes.
We end with the Saturday transfer gossip, where there are only slim-picking for a change. The Daily Mail link Genoa striker Diego Milito with a move to either Manchester United, City or Spurs. While George Scott reports how “Real Madrid striker Raul has snubbed the chance of a Â£75m mega-money move to Manchester City.”