Hull & Portsmouth face financial meltdown, as United are set to splash the cash on Villa & Silva

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “No one was injured during this time but one officer suffered a minor facial injury. Eight fans were arrested, four Manchester United fans and four Barnsley fans. They have been taken to Barnsley police station.” – a police statement.

Runner-up: “[Sir Alex] has been here all his life and that counts for a lot. At the moment [the FA] have charged him for saying that a referee was not physically up to scratch and the reality is that they have almost begged his forgiveness for punishing him. Anyone else, they would have pounded. Ferguson has his group of loyalists among other coaches -  Steve Bruce, a former player of his, and Sam Allardyce, who thinks he will be his successor at Old Trafford, among others. On the other hand, Benítez stands alone and they throw sticks at him from all sides.” – Roberto Martinez.


Today’s overview: Manchester United may have won the battle, but their fans appear to have disgraced themselves in the process.

According to Paul Wilson, “eight fans were arrested after trouble flared at the Barnsley v Manchester United tie last night, according to South Yorkshire Police. Catering staff were trapped inside a kiosk and had to barricade themselves in a store room for 25 minutes as fans broke in and stole cash from the till and food from the shelves… Barnsley said last night they would launch an investigation, accusing United fans of causing ‘substantial damage’ at the stadium.” Continuing the accusations against the United away fans, nited fans pelted police, some of whom had dogs with them, and stewards with missiles as they lined up in front of the away end towards the end of the second half and the game was twice held up as two fans ran on to the pitch, with stewards initially reluctant to remove them.”

Keeping with United by changing tracks completely, Matthew Syed explains why he believes managers, like Sir Alex, should be allowed to comment on a referee’s performance. “Referees make a lot of mistakes and it would be absurd to stifle the opinions of managers or to ask them to pretend that all is rosy when poor decisions often turn the outcome of matches in a way that infuriates fans. Football, with its partisanship and essential controversy, would not benefit from a situation in which many of the juiciest talking points are swept under a carpet of official censorship.”

Scary news for Hull City fans this Wednesday, as the difficult financial position of the Tigers is spelled out in black and white across the backpages.

Stuart James reports that in order to balance the books accountants Deloitte predict “that Hull will need to raise an additional £16m should they retain their Premier League status this season and a further £7m again if the club, currently ensconced in the bottom three, slip back into the Championship.”

Pompey have been plunged into crisis too, Matt Lawton breaking the news that “Portsmouth’s season has descended yet further into chaos with the Premier League now hitting them with a transfer ban… The Premier League have taken the drastic action because of Portsmouth’s debts to other English clubs that remain outstanding, and not until those debts are paid, Sportsmail understands, will the ban be lifted.”

The fear for Hull will be to avoid the difficulties facing Southend at present, with the Guardian detailing how “Southend have avoided the winding-up order they were due to face tomorrow but face falling into administration instead… The Shrimpers are currently the subject of a Football League transfer embargo due to the case and could also face a 10-point deduction if the administrators are called in.”

Could stability finally be arriving on Tyneside? Don’t be daft!

Louise Taylor and James Callow join forces to announce “Newcastle United’s owner Mike Ashley last night took the club off the market and confirmed that Chris Hughton has been appointed as its permanent manager with a contract running until the end of the 2010-11 season. The club has also announced that it will, controversially, invite bids for the naming rights to St James’ Park and renegotiate its club sponsor and kit deals.” Filling in the details, Rob Stewart adds “[Ashley] has pledged to bolster the Championship leaders’ hopes of promotion by pumping in £20 million of his own money.”

Reacting to Mike Ashley’s latest decisions, Ashley was accused of treating Newcastle United supporters with contempt on Tuesday night after announcing plans to sell the naming rights for St James’ Park, their home for the past 117 years, as he finally took the club off the market.”

Charging English football as being inherently racist, David Conn follows how the Kick It Out campaign “is now opening a new front: calling for more black and minority ethnic people in positions of leadership. Herman Ouseley, the organisation’s chairman, argues this should begin with the FA, whose board is peopled by 12 men, all middle-aged, and white.”

In a standout article, Jonathan Wilson picks up the tactical debate to wonder “why are teams so tentative about false nines?” “English football, with its simplistic tactical shapes, has traditionally struggled with players who don’t stand where they’re supposed to, which in part explains the success of the likes of Eric Cantona, Gianfranco Zola and Dennis Bergkamp in the 90s… [So] why, if false nines are so dangerous, do teams who have used them successfully then turn away from them. It is, frankly, rather puzzling, and there is no easy answer.”

Tackling the issue of football commentary in England, Rob Kelly opens himself up for a barrage of criticism saying “[Alan] Green should be celebrated as the best commentator we have got. Green may be occasionally boorish, dazzlingly arrogant and utterly over-the-top, but he remains a far preferable choice to the sanitised, instantly forgettable options found on TV. With the exception of the avuncular Martin Tyler, BBC TV, ITV and Sky commentators offer a vacuous sea of nothing. Their words do not inform or entertain, their commentary is more often than not a dull drone in the background.”

In the transfers, the Daily Mail regurgitate the long-standing rumour that “Manchester United are closing in on top targets David Villa and David Silva – as Valencia say they are finally willing to cave in and sell.” Added more details to the story, David McDonnell farts “Manchester United are closing in on a £40million double swoop for David Villa and David Silva after Valencia admitted they are prepared to sell.” But Bill Thornton offers a different set of financials, scribbling “Sir Alex Ferguson is poised to use half his Ronaldo cash in a swoop for the £40m-valued Spanish international in the January transfer window. And the United boss may go for a spectacular double and bid for Villa’s team-mate, midfielder David Silva.”

In news that will please Micah Richards, The Sun bark that “Juventus are lining up a £6million January raid for Manchester City full-back Pablo Zabaleta.” While John Cross reports that “Liverpool are tracking Hungarian starlet Vladimir Koman” for a reported £4 million.