Liverpool attract Saudi attention, El-Hadji Diouf trades punches with Ryan Nelson & Strachan poised to replace Hart at Pompey

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “I knew I would be the club’s first big signing but was told I would be the first of many. Names like Roberto Carlos and Benjani were mentioned. But nothing materialised. And you know when people have money because things happen quickly. The only thing I’m guilty of is taking people at their word. So I’m not embarrassed, not hurt or humbled or anything like that – I am just disappointed. I bought into a dream and I wanted to make that dream a reality. But it took me less than a month to realise that it was all heading to a different conclusion. Let’s leave it at that. I don’t want to say too much. I’m going to remain dignified. I’m not interested in this becoming a slanging match… I want to be back playing as soon as possible.” – Sol Campbell from his EXCLUSIVE interview with the NOTW.

Runner-up: “I’m going to stay. I have been here for seven and a half years. I love this club and I have worked hard for it. When you get a reception like that it makes you feel quite humble. The last nine months have been hard keeping the club going, but we have kept strong and hopefully Sulaiman will take us on to the next level. I wanted to make sure the finances were in place. If there wasn’t going to be any financial backing there was no point. Everybody has worked so hard to keep it going but Sulaiman has confirmed that he has got those funds… How can you say Paul will not remain manager after that performance? It was the best this season and with a little luck we would have won 4-1.” – Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie.


Today’s overview: What is going on with Liverpool’s finances?

Just a few weeks ago all seemed rosy with the announcement of a new mega-rich sponsorship deal, only for Chris Bascombe to today toot “Liverpool are the subject of a possible £200million investment from a Saudi billionaire – and that has re-ignited the bitter war between Tom Hicks and George Gillett.” According to Simon Mullock the value of proposed investment is actually far less. “Liverpool co-owner George Gillett was in talks on Saturday night about selling a 25 per cent stake in the Anfield club to an Arab prince in a deal worth £125million. Sunday Mirror Sport understands that Gillett has met with Prince Khalid al-Faisal and members of of the Saudi royal family about investment opportunities at Liverpool.”

Manchester United are back on top of the Premier League, albeit on goal difference only, but the fourth estate are falling over themselves after Fergie’s boys won at Stoke.

For Ian Herbert, “the afternoon belonged to the 34-year-old Scholes for more laudable reasons. Always allowed to operate with five yards of space in front of him by a Stoke midfield which was part overawed and part technically overwhelmed, he simply batted metronomic 20-yard passes to the flanks and watched United fly.” Duncan White counters by naming Ryan Giggs as United’s star performer. “It took the oldest player in Ferguson’s match day squad to inject a bit of enthusiasm into a flat United team, Giggs coming on for a frustrated and frustrating Nani after 55 minutes, to create two goals and win the game for United, taking them top of the table on goal difference.”

Focusing in on Gary Neville, Henry Winter suggests that the FA should call the full-back’s bluff and offer him a position on their board once he hangs up his boots. “If the FA would gain from his experience and energy, so Neville might also learn that running a sport played and watched by millions from Land’s End to Wallsend is slightly more complicated than standing on a soapbox inside the home dressing room at Old Trafford.”

The downward spiral for El-Hadji Diouf has spun out of control according to the Sunday red-tops, with the Rovers star moving on from abusing ballboys to trading punches with teammates. Neil Ashton chugs “disgraced Blackburn star El Hadji Diouf is at the centre of a new storm following a shameful dressing room punch-up with his own team-mate Ryan Nelsen.” And amazingly there is more bad news for Diouf with Alan Nixon scribbling “Diouf is alleged to have been involved in an altercation at a nightclub in Bolton BEFORE the Everton match, with witnesses claiming he had annoyed some other late-night revellers.”

Staying with one of the most loathed players in the Premier League, Rod Liddle asks “why would you need to racially abuse El Hadji Diouf when there are so many other things you might shout at him? Even a lifelong member of the Ku Klux Klan would surely accept that Diouf’s race is the least objectionable thing about him.”

Sick to the back teeth of hearing managers defend their players even when it is obvious that they should be chastised, Andy Dunn rants for bosses to tell the truth. “Loyalty, dressing-room morale, blah, blah, blah. But it is doing the game a disservice. And driving a greater wedge between the punters and the professionals. It’s that word respect again. The current crop of managers are talented, forward-thinking and passionate. But they would get a lot more respect if they, for once, acknowledged the sins of their own.”

Loudmouth Piers Morgan this week’s takes down Sol Campbell, apparently the “most selfish man in Britain” according to the toff. “I think the sad truth is that Sol Campbell is one of the most selfish men in Britain.Think about his track record for a minute. This was the guy who was captain of Tottenham when he signed for Arsenal… What about the day Sol was substituted at half-time after letting West Ham run riot over Arsenal at Highbury and reacted by throwing his toys out of the pram and marching off home, not playing again for a couple of months? A spineless, pathetic reaction. But what Campbell did to Notts County made what he did to Spurs and Arsenal seem almost heroic by comparison.”

Changing tracks, David Connett reports on a spate of burglaries against London-based footballer. “Detectives are investigating raids on the homes of Premiership football stars in London and Essex. Up to 12 footballers have had their homes ransacked, netting the thieves tens of thousands of pounds in cash, jewellery and expensive cars. Those targeted include the former Tottenham stars Mido and Pascal Chimbonda, the West Ham midfielder Julien Faubert and the former West Ham captain Lucas Neill, who recently signed for Everton.”

Looking to ratchet up some of the attention which his former girlfriend Jordan constantly attracts, Dwight Yorke has turned all tabloid this Sunday with the release of his autobiography, “Born to Score.”

Using the NOTW as his mouthpiece, the former Manchester United striker detailed how “despite winning the Treble and a hat-trick of Premier League titles, Yorke admits he spent the final three months of his glorious Old Trafford career getting drunk every Sunday in a bar while watching his fellow pros on TV.” And in a second this-really-isnt-too-shocking-a-revelation we learn that “when Roy Keane quit Sunderland I sent him a nice text message saying ‘thanks for all your help and best wishes in the future’. He replied… GO F*** YOURSELF.”

Turning to Spain, details the success of Cristiano Ronaldo’s early season form for Real Madrid. “He has seven goals so far for the club he joined for a soaring £80m in July. These are numbers beyond even the most optimistic forecasts of what Ronaldo might bring to a team in which it was reasonable to expect teething troubles, given the scale of their recruiting.”

Once again the Sundays are fully-loaded with never-gonna-happen transfer lies.

Manchester United continue to be on the lookout for a new keeper as Neil Ashton claims that “United  have been given first option on signing Sporting Lisbon keeper Rui Patricio.” Elsewhere, with Boro flying high in the Championship, Bob Harris suggests that one of the Riverside stars is set to leave as “David Moyes is ready to tempt Middlesbrough with £6million offer for winger Adam Johnson.”

With Tottenham’s defensive curse holding strong Rob Shepherd links the Lillywhites with West Ham’s Matthew Upson. Alan Nixon challenges that rumour in the People farting “Spurs boss Harry Redknapp wants to buy Bolton’s England World Cup hopeful Gary Cahill to solve his massive problem at the back. But Redknapp, right, will have to come up with a stunning £20million to land centre-half Cahill in the January transfer window.”

All of a sudden the sack-race has motored into gear, and the gutter press are loving a whole new field of gossip-mongering to feast on.

Sidestepping the small issue that Paul Hart has yet to be removed as the manager of Pompey, Paul Hetherington farts “Gordon Strachan is favourite to succeed Paul Hart as manager of crisis-club Portsmouth… the Scot is available after quitting Celtic at the end of last season and heads the list for Fratton Park – ahead of Alan Curbishley, who is also in the frame.” Rather than make up stories, Steve Tongue notes the bookies position on who may take over at Fratton Park as “Slaven Bilic is the 4-1 favourite with Sky Bet, with the former Southampton manager Graeme Souness the surprise 11-2 second favourite and Alan Curbishley and Gordon Strachan at 8-1.”

Over in the Sunday Express, John Richardson barks “Sven Goran Eriksson is ready to move from his role as Notts County’s director of football – and replace Ian McParland as manager… he County hierarchy to bring in a high-profile coach to assist the Swede. It’s believed that contact has been made with former England star David Platt, who forged a close relationship with Eriksson at Sampdoria, and with the former West Ham and Newcastle boss Glenn Roeder.”