“England took a step backwards,” while Pompey and Newcastle look for new managers

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “I don’t have to sign one [a contract]. It’s not a question of money. This is a favour to a friend. Abramovich called me personally. He does so much for Russian football that I wanted to do something back.” – Guus Hiddink.

Runner-up: “There is no reason why this should drag on. They [Milan] either want to do it or don’t want to do it. This Friday we need to know if they want to buy Beckham or not. What they [Milan] need to realise is that we are getting very close to the start of our season. We have to figure out what plans we need to make and if Beckham is going to be a part of those plans… I don’t know that it’s a betrayal. We made a decision to loan David to Milan because we believed it was in his best interest to stay in shape during a long off-season. We have a lot of respect for what David’s done to help the league and we wanted to accommodate his request and we believed we were gentlemen in doing that. I don’t regret it at all. I think we did the right thing for our relationship with David. I don’t know that anybody expected him to play the way he is playing.” – MLS commissioner Don Garber.

Today’s overview: Their is a split in opinion over how England performed last night in Spain. Some appear to have been prepared for the defeat, and were accordingly not too disappointed. Others, seemingly riding high on England’s recent upturn, were left more deflated. While domestically, the managerial roles at Chelsea, Portsmouth and Newcastle all come under scrutiny.

Oliver Kay sums up the attitude of Fleet Street towards England’s defeat last night in Spain. “To restore respectability to the England team is one thing. To try to keep pace with a Spain side ranked the best in the world is quite another.” Sam Wallace echoed that conclusion writing “There is nothing shameful about losing to the European champions. Limiting them to two goals from David Villa and Fernando Llorente is not a disaster, not when a side plays with this kind of control.”

Steven Howard gave a more sour appraisal that “against the best last night, England took a step backwards.” And about a tendency to give away the ball needlessly, which cost England yesterday. Picking players who are liable to make mistakes is asking for trouble.”

Sid Lowe urges Liverpool to snap up David Villa. “Rather than vent his fury at Spain, Benitez’s energies could be better channelled into persuading David Villa to reproduce his partnership with Torres on ­Merseyside. A huge outlay and subsequent loss on Keane looks folly against talent like this; Villa might cost more, but he is certain to leave Valencia and goals come guaranteed.”

After David Beckham reached his milestone of 108 England caps, Richard Williams gives his verdict on Goldenball’s legacy. “Beckham could go on to win another 50 caps without jeopardising the reputation of the leader of the heroes of 1966. But… [Beckham] remains the world’s best crosser of a dead ball, which may yet come in useful to Fabio Capello on a more important night than this.” And on future Beckham caps, Matt Dickinson added “the very fact that [Beckham] he was required to start on the bench last night, as understudy to Shaun Wright-Phillips, will have served to remind him of what he told himself the day he was recalled from exile by Steve McClaren. He must treat every cap as if potentially his last.”

Alan Smith picks up on John Terry’s admission that “I know I need to improve – my fitness, my game” not that “Fabio Capello, of course, will be well aware that his captain is not firing on every cylinder. A couple of trips to west London would have quickly told him that.”

Stairing into his crystal ball, Harry Redknapp tells the Sun “Get used to seeing pictures of Guus Hiddink in a Chelsea tracksuit. I think he is here to stay. I just cannot see Hiddink suddenly upping sticks and moving on when the season’s over… I said the same thing about Joe Kinnear a while back. He was only supposed to be in charge at Newcastle for a month. He is still there now, although I wish him well as he recovers from illness.”

Staying on the international front, Paul Doyle investigates Belgium’s new crop of exciting youngsters coming through the ranks while, having watched Brazil-Italy at the Emirates, Amy Lawrence discusses whether England should host the 2018 World Cup. “So here is the pro: ‘What a stadium!’ yelled the man from Gazzetta dello Sport… And here is the con: ‘Ohmigod,’ lamented the man from Gazzetta. ‘The metro.’ He was aghast by his inability to get on to even one of the sardine specials to make his way by tube to the stadium.” Ian Chadband looks at whether Dunga can be only the second person to win the World Cup both as a player and a manager.

The black clouds continue to hover over Peter Kenyon as rumours persist that the Chelsea director could soon be dismissed. Matt Scott reports “so unexpected was Abramovich’s unilateral decision to dismiss Scolari, no one can be sure that his mind has not changed over Kenyon too.” Brian Moore fleshes out why Kenyon should be worried, after his “declarations to make Chelsea the biggest club in the world and independently solvent within five years were embarrassing to many fans, as was his being caught tapping up Sven-Goran Eriksson and Ashley Cole.”

The sense of uncertainty at the Bridge is increased by Marina Hyde’s critique that “does the Chelsea owner have it in his character to look long-term? Abramovich seems to understand remarkably little about game theory. A football match might be a zero-sum game, but building a football club isn’t.”

The new Blues boss is planning to get the behind the scenes inside scoop on activities at the club as “Guus Hiddink intends to speak with his predecessor, Luiz Felipe Scolari, to gauge precisely what awaits him at Chelsea” according to Dominic Fifield.

Many papers seize upon Mexico’s defeat to the United States last night to intensify speculation that Sven Goran Eriksson will be the new Pompey boss. For Jamie Jackson, “Portsmouth hope to hear from Sven-Goran Eriksson today about his thoughts on taking over at Fratton Park as the replacement for Tony Adams.” Brian Kidd, who was Eriksson’s No 2 with England for more than a year, is to work alongside Paul Hart, the caretaker manager at Fratton Park” as well as adding that “Portsmouth are thought to have enough left in the kitty after the January transfer window to make him a handsome offer, with a substantial bonus if he can keep the club up.”

Poor, poor Newcastle look to have also found themselves in the market for a new manager again. means it is highly unlikely that Kinnear will appear in the dugout again this season… Terry Venables and Bryan Robson have been considered as potential coaching troubleshooters for the club.” One person who is unlikely to take over the Toon reins is Dennis Wise, according to Rob Stewart. While Michael Walker claims that “Newcastle United are expected to await the outcome of their next two matches – Everton at home and Bolton Wanderers away – before deciding whether to bring in a new temporary manager… It is a high-risk strategy. Should Newcastle lose to Everton and Bolton and sink into the relegation zone then someone else may be approached on a short-term basis.”

The Telegraph reports rumours breaking in Spain that suggest Real Madrid will borrow €70 million from Spain’s largest bank Santander to help finance the purchase of Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United.

Lastly, Sandy Macaskill lists the Premier League’s top 10 foreign managerial failures.


GAMBLING CAN BE ADDICTIVE, PLEASE PLAY RESPONSIBLY