Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “How do we stop him [Cristiano Ronaldo]? Maybe we’ll call the police. He’s a top player and, when you come up against someone who can score one or two goals every game, it is difficult. We will need to concentrate. For me Ronaldo deserves to win the Ballon D’Or. He scored so many goals last year and that helped Madrid finish above Barcelona. But I hope he can have a bad night on Wednesday. Maybe they can leave him at home.” – Roberto Mancini.
Runner-up: “Ribery, he continued to poison the group by his attitude as a susceptible diva. When I wanted to thank him, he cold-shouldered me, pulling his arm away: ‘Don’t touch me!’ For everything Ribery stood for I would have gladly strung him up… A senior player from Euro 2008 warned me about Ribery and I gave him the key! What a fool I am.” – an exert from Raymond Domenech’s new book Tout Seul (All Alone).
Galatasaray: ‘Welcome To Hell’
Hell? No bother! Ferguson insists Man United are used to Turkish atmospheres (Mail) Manchester United avoided a predictably hostile reception on their arrival in Turkey as hundreds of Galatasaray fans tried to recreate the infamous ‘Welcome to Hell’ scenes at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport. Nineteen years after Sir Alex Ferguson and his players faced what he admitted was a ‘quite frightening’ experience, United were directed through a private terminal and missed the mayhem that awaited them. Fanatical supporters crammed into the airport’s arrival hall – some chanting anti-Leeds songs in reference to the two English fans who were stabbed to death here 12 years ago – while others set flares alight outside the building.
Fergie foxes Galatasary ‘greeting’ (Sun) Ferguson beamed: “We came underground! We didn’t get the greeting from the fans, we dodged that. In 1993 it was incredible, quite frightening, but we’ve been a few times and are now used to the Turkish atmosphere. It is fanatical, but it is no issue for us.”
Manchester United ready to experiment against Galatasaray (Guardian) For a distinctly callow Manchester United squad Tuesday’s appearance at the Ali Sami Yen Stadium in Istanbul is not so much welcome to hell as, in many cases, simply welcome. With eight players in the squad yet to make their Champions League debut, and with Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, David de Gea, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes not travelling, this is a weakened team that could yet border on the experimental, testimony both to the fact that United have already won Group H with two games to spare and also to the looming Premier League churn of the next six weeks.
Juventus v Chelsea
Get Pep now! Roman wants ex-Barca boss to end break early as Di Matteo faces axe (Mail) Roman Abramovich will try to persuade Pep Guardiola to become Chelsea manager before the summer if he fires Roberto Di Matteo… If Chelsea lose tonight they will be in danger of becoming the first team in the history of the Champions League to win the competition and be knocked out in the group stages the next year.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich must show some loyalty as sharks circle around Roberto Di Matteo (Henry Winter, Telegraph) Dark whispers do the rounds, knives are sharpened and the clock ticks on another Chelsea manager’s tenure. Grim headlines gather like storm clouds around Roberto Di Matteo. He’s been manager only since March. Dark whispers do the rounds, knives are sharpened and the clock ticks on another Chelsea manager’s tenure. Grim headlines gather like storm clouds around Roberto Di Matteo. He’s been manager only since March.
£50m dilemma for Di Matteo: Can Chelsea’s boss afford to stick with misfit Torres? (Mail) Just six months after lifting the European Cup in Munich, it is all unravelling so quickly for Di Matteo, with Chelsea in crisis mode after losing their grip on the Barclays Premier League and starting to feel the pressure in Europe. And one of his biggest quandaries is that Torres doesn’t look fussed either way. The Spain striker is a fading star in European football after losing his appetite for a game he once had licked.
Torres set to be dropped for Chelsea’s Juventus crunch (Mirror) Roberto Di Matteo is set to put his job on the line and omit Fernando Torres for Chelsea’s make-or-break Champions League clash with Juventus.
Staring into the abyss: Why this week really is make or break for Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo (Mirror) Should Di Matteo pick Torres and Luiz, play the “Holy Trinity” of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard, do everything but score a shed-load and still lose to Juventus, his position will be parlous. Were he to make the brave call, leave out two of Abramovich’s favourite players, play a more prosaic, defence-minded game and come away with nothing, it would potentially – given the history of SW6 over the past nine years – leave the Italian staring into the abyss.
Roberto Di Matteo knows Chelsea must rise to task against Juventus (Guardian) While the watching world gasped at the conveyor-belt of chances Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar generated in the autumn, thrilling at the sheer brilliance of their dazzling inter-play, their inclusion has sometimes come at the expense of the team’s overall balance. Full-backs have felt lonely while forward-thinkers remain up-field. Any team counterattacking against Chelsea at pace has benefited, with the freedom granted the trio to meander from flank to centre at a whim confusing matters when the ball is surrendered.
Rumours Spread That Sparky’s Out
Look Hughes missing… under-fire QPR boss skips training but agent denies sacking (Mail) Mark Hughes’ agent Kia Joorachbian and the club have both denied growing rumours that they had already parted company after a winless start to the season that has left the club bottom of the Barclays Premier League. Joorabchian told the BBC that claims the 45-year-old had been removed from his position were ‘not true at all’. Hughes was reportedly absent from QPR training on Monday in the clearest indication yet that his tenure at Loftus Road is set to end.
Hughes hangs on to Hoops job (Sun) Mark Hughes was still clinging to his job at QPR last night after crisis talks with his players AND chief executive. Hughes yesterday summoned his first-team squad to a ‘clear-the-air meeting’ after SunSport revealed a dressing-room rift between some of his 12 new signings and existing senior stars. Hughes then spent TWO HOURS locked in talks with chief executive Philip Beard fuelling talk about the manager’s future.
Becks: Out Of LA
End of the American Dream for Beckham as former England captain quits LA Galaxy(Mail) David Beckham is to leave the Los Angeles Galaxy after next month’s MLS Cup. The 37-year-old is in line to end his six-year Galaxy stay in style as they defend their title against the Houston Dynamo on December 1 before seeking to extend his playing career elsewhere. He told the Major League Soccer website: ‘I’ve had an incredibly special time playing for the LA Galaxy, however, I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career.’
David Beckham to leave LA Galaxy (Sun) Beckham has been linked with a move to Australia’s A-League, where Italy legend Alessandro Del Piero and former Liverpool and England team-mate Emile Heskey are new signings for Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets. Another option could be the Chinese Super League, where ex-Chelsea stars Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka headed for big money at the end of the last Premier League season.
AVB under fire as pressure weighs heavy on Levy (Ian Wright, Sun) I had some sympathy for Villas-Boas against Arsenal on Saturday because his team were in command until Emmanuel Adebayor got himself sent off. But the manager clearly has some work to do. Spurs are certainly not where they want to be. And Levy will be sweating as much as Villas-Boas because he really needs this appointment to work after dismissing Harry Redknapp, who had taken the club to fourth spot.
Liverpool manager Rodgers plots move for Sturridge… again (Mail) Liverpool have contacted Chelsea about Daniel Sturridge’s availability as they aim to make an immediate mark in the January window… Arsenal’s Theo Walcott is a top target but Sturridge, 23, is an acceptable alternative. Liverpool have also been watching Blackpool winger Tom Ince, who was once on the playing staff at Anfield.
Kop in for £15m Daniel Sturridge (Sun) Liverpool have made the first move to sign Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge for £15million in January.
I’m not over Cahill yet (Sun) Tim Cahill is chasing a loan return to Everton in the New Year.
Hughes wants Sweden defender to spark QPR’s fight for survival (Mirror) Mark Hughes is ready to turn to Andreas Granqvist in a desperate bid to rescue Queens Park Rangers. He has entered the scramble for Genoa’s Sweden international defender, who looks set to quit Serie A in January. The Rangers boss wants owner Tony Fernandes to sanction a £4.5million bid for a 27-year-old rated one of the top centre- backs in Italy.
Liverpool eye Sporting Lisbon winger Jeffren for January loan (Mirror) Former Barcelona winger is high on Brendan Rodgers’ hit-list with the Liverpool boss hoping to turn initial loan into a permanent move.
Real and Barca set to swoop for Spurs hotshots (Star) Tottenham face a fight with Real Madrid and Barcelona to keep hold of two of their hottest prospects. Teenage duo Alex Pritchard and Shaquille Coulthirst have caught the eye of the Spanish giants in this season’s NextGen Series – youth football’s equivalent of the Champions League.
Liverpool star Raheem Sterling questioned by police over alleged assault on woman (Mirror) England’s new teenage wonderkid Raheem Sterling has been interviewed by detectives in connection with an alleged attack on a woman. Liverpool winger Sterling, 17, was quizzed under caution after he went to a police station by prior appointment. The player, who made his England debut against Sweden last week, has not been arrested and police say investigations are continuing into the alleged assault.