Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “Robbie Keane’s departure was undoubtedly the shock of the summer. I personally had an excellent relationship with Robbie and he was one player that I always thought would end his career at the club. I know you all felt the same. I was as disappointed as any of you when he informed me that he wanted to join what he described as his favourite boyhood club. Against this background and despite his obvious professionalism, our coaching staff felt that it would be very difficult to expect Robbie to continue to be such a positive influence in our dressing room when he so clearly wanted to leave us. The decision to sell Robbie was therefore not a financial one, although in such circumstances it was vital for our club to secure the maximum possible value for a player of Robbie’s ability.” – Daniel Levy.
Runner-up: “They did not play better than us but they shot one ball better and they won. In the first half we dominated the game. In the second we had more possession but we crossed many balls. Rafael Benitez is intelligent. He knows and I know that we don’t have a 2m centre-forward, so they gave us space, but when we crossed they have players who are very good at winning the ball. I don’t like to lose, but if we lose we need to touch the ball, not put the ball in the box every time. We were running out of time and the players did not have the confidence to pass the ball. I tried to tell them to play, but they didn’t listen.” – Felipe Scolari.
Today’s overview: Two teams dominate today’s backpages – Liverpool and Spurs.
Steven Gerrard is picked out by David Pleat (“Gerrard’s input cannot be overstated… he excelled in that important space between Liverpool’s solid midfield and their lone front man.”), with Rob Smyth keeping the Reds’ feet on the floor claiming “all they want for Christmas is a title challenge.” Henry Winter was also considered, claiming “this was only one small step in a marathon season, but it felt like a giant stride.” But for Alan Hansen, “one by one, Liverpool are ticking off the attributes you need to win a championship.”
Richard Williams was quick to herald the end of an era following Liverpool’s victory at Stamford Bridge – “Chelsea are currently just a very good Premier League team who must fight it out among the leading pack, with no presumption of superiority.”
Moving onto Tottenham, Martin Samuel was quick to credit Harry Redknapp with moving “Luka Modric, the Croatia playmaker, out of the midfield four and play him behind Roman Pavlyuchenko.” In a second article, Samuel labels Spurs the Daily Express of football clubs – “Tottenham have a philosophy, but not one that they stay faithful to for any length of time. No concept gets the opportunity to flourish. If a plan isnâ€™t instantly successful, it is dumped and a new one is installed; just like the Express.” Finally, on the Times blog Samuel pokes fun claiming Tottenham’s spending could bring an end to global recession – “Tottenham chairman is spending money like it is going out of fashion, paying Â£5 million to Portsmouth to secure the services of Harry Redknapp and agreeing pay-offs totalling Â£15 million with Ramos and his backroom staff.”
Other features on Spurs include Sam Wallace on why Damien Comolli is the fall-guy at Tottenham, charging him with “having wreaked havoc on Jol’s career, Comolli then preceded to do the same with Juande Ramos,” Steven Howard’s happy hindsight article argues that Spurs should have appointed Redknapp 12 months ago, Rob Hughes comments that Ramos “doubled his money and halved his credibility the day he walked out onÂ Sevilla,” while the talking heads at When Saturday Comes applaud Spurs for, “having been largely inept in the transfer dealings in recent years… [appointing] someone who knows the market inside out.”
Moving into the Championship, Neil Warnock tells You get mellower as you get older… Every time I see Scudamoreâ€™s face on the television I feel sick.”) and David Edbrooke looks at the candidates for the QPR job (“the front-runners for the job, namely Terry Venables, former Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli and ex-Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini.”)
In a standout article,Why are athletes given legal drugs and nutritional supplements? So they can perform better. If that wasnâ€™t the case, they wouldnâ€™t take them. But, again, that is also precisely why some athletes take illegal performance enhancers. While the former are OK, the latter are banned. Why? Because we have to draw the line somewhere. But on what do we base that ‘line’? By how much the athletes stand to gain? By how much damage they potentially do to their bodies?”
In other news, Ben Lynfield reported on Palestinian football team’s first home game in their home stadium, Robin Scott-Elliot writes about the Luzhniki Stadium disaster of 1982 and how the USSR hushed it up, Mike Anstead offers his list of the top 10 Brits to have played abroad, and Susy Campanale credits Amauri for silencing Juventus’ critics.