Macheda has become “United’s unlikely talisman,” Chelsea wrestle to hold onto Guus Hiddink & will Barca win the Champions League?

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “He’s [Federico Macheda] got something special that boy. One of the players said that he actually tried it, side-footed it as it came to him. He just has that instinct. He’s got good movement and quickness and he is not fazed by anything.” – Sir Alex Ferguson.

Runner-up: “We’d love him [Guus Hiddink] to stay. He’s been a breath of fresh air… Things have gone very well and I’m sure there will be talks ongoing. If we keep progressing there’s only going to be one option. He’s done brilliantly. He’s on at us every day in training, and he doesn’t let anyone get away with anything. Listen, Jose was a great manager and had some great times here. But it’s someone else’s turn now to kick on. Mourinho is a world class manager, a lot of the players are still in contact with him… But we need stability at the club now. The manager’s done brilliantly and got us playing freely. But it’s down to the board to make those decisions.” – John Terry.

Today’s overview: For the second Premier League game running, Federico Macheda came to the rescue of Manchester United and the young Italian reaps the plaudits once more. The will he, won’t he Guus Hiddink-Chelsea rumours continue to fly every which way, while the merits of Barcelona are given the once over.

For Paul Wilson, “United might be limping towards the Premier League finish line rather than striding out in front, but as long as they have Federico Macheda they seem capable of staying ahead.” Jonathan Northcroft added “when do miracles become mundane?… Call it genius, call it luck, curse it if you are from west London or Liverpool — one thing is certain, it happens too often to be coincidence.” Michael Walker terms Macheda “United’s unlikely talisman.”

By contrast, Duncan White reports on how Ronaldo was dropped yesterday. “Ronaldo was rested here after incurring Alex Ferguson’s displeasure for giving the ball too much against Porto in the week. He remains United’s most potent attacking player but his attitude is becoming a problem – perhaps this demotion will refresh his hunger for the contest.” And Henry Winter keeps the focus on Ronaldo, arguing that CR7 must deliver on Wednesday night. “He must prove to the Portuguese public, United’s passionate travelling fans, and the watching world that he does have the appetite for the daunting occasion, that he can keep possession. Of the 51 passes Ronaldo made in the first leg only 34 reached their intended target, a success rate of 67 per cent.”

The NOTW’s David Harrison delivers worrying news on Manchester United’s financial situation. “United have to pay back a staggering £1.1BILLION of debt in the next nine years. And unless Malcolm Glazer and his family can refinance their borrowing or take drastic action, financial experts believe they are facing meltdown.”

Many believe the Blues could end the season on a high. Lead by Michael Essien, Paul Wilson makes the case for Chelsea winning the Champions League this year. While The Sunday Times also talk up Chelsea’s chances of scooping silverware calling Guus Hiddink “a ghost-buster” capable of bringing home a three-trophy haul.

Against all the excitement in West London, Jim White categorically writes “whatever happens, Hiddink is not sticking around Stamford Bridge.” Nevertheless, Steve Tongue is found stirring the pot questioning how Chelsea can let Guus Hiddink walk at the end of the season. “Why, having found the right man – the one England should have appointed after Sven Goran Eriksson – would Roman Abramovich want to start all over again with Milan’s Carlo Ancelotti or anyone else?”

Newcastle’s point at Stoke is barely credited by Roy Collins, opting to rather flag up “the shambles Shearer found at Newcastle that he has been lauded for enforcing such basic values as punctuality and smartness on his players, as well as insisting that they eat together after training.”

On the relegation battle, Joe Lovejoy refuses to rule out Rovers for the drop. “Blackburn, who are desperately short of quality, are embroiled in the relegation dog-fight and need to improve substantially in their next two games, away to Stoke and at home to Wigan, if they are to get out of trouble.”

Ahead of Manchester United’s return leg with Porto, Amy Lawrence features Hulk. “He is still raw – that bold willingness to just get the ball and thunder towards goal is certainly part of the attraction – but the 22-year-old has already made enough progress for Dunga, the Brazil coach, to take notice.”

Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta have magic in their soles but no special springs in their heels. Valdes is no giant, either, and is prone to errors in higher-profile contests.” Rob Shepherd counters, arguing “taking off the English blinkers, they are a cut above all our contenders at the moment. It would be damned shame if Barca don’t go on to lift the Champions League trophy.”

Onto the transfer gossip.

We start with Chris Bascombe’s claim that “English clubs face being priced out of deals for top foreign stars due to the ailing economy. And top Spanish and Italian sides believe the Premier League could provide rich pickings for bargains due to the slump in the pound’s value against the euro.”

There appears to be little evidence supporting Bascombe’s story in the papers themselves, rather the big tabloid scoop, seemingly with little credibility, is Martin Hardy’s claim that Manchester City are tracking £35million Andres Iniesta from Barcelona. The NOTW continue to roll out the rumours, adding that “Tottenham are lining up a £6million move for Colombian ace Wason Renteria.”

Sadly for Everton, the Mail on Sunday report that “David Moyes has revealed a summer swoop for in-form Jo is financially out of the question.” While according to Aiden McGee, “Paul Ince is set to be offered the QPR job this summer.”

David James hangs up his gloves to vent over the way in which young footballers are treated as ready-meals. “We have created a system that hoovers up and spits out vast numbers of kids, without developing them into great players. It is a numbers game of shameless opulence – why invest in developing a player when you can just buy more in?”