“Manchester United do, as suspected, benefit from an imbalance in the amount of stoppage time that is added to their matches” – Daniel Taylor

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “There has been a lot made about the time-keeping at the end, but they are excuses to us now. We are professionals, and have to look at ourselves individually and collectively – and it just wasn’t good enough. A lot was made before the game about us coming here and winning, and we thought we could do that. But you can’t go to Old Trafford, concede four goals and expect to get anything. It’s something we now have to work on. We made mistakes – in the first four games of the season we kept four clean sheets and everything was rosy but we have now conceded six goals in the last two games, and it’s not great. But it’s something we can work on in training and look to put right.” – Joleon Lescott.

Runner-up: “I know other derbies, but this atmosphere was incredible, with insults flying as soon as we arrived at the stadium. I don’t know about the motives, but it’s certain that during half-time I was hit by a coin on the head when I was just walking calmly down the tunnel. I believe that the target was Carlos Tévez, but I was standing next to him at the time. This was viewed by Manchester United staff, but nobody offered any kind of reason. Manchester City have not provoked any of this controversy and United have created a climate of hostility against us. The shouts against Tevez are normal, but I do not understand why anybody would throw objects during the match. We received insults on the bench throughout the match. It’s very sad.” – Javier Garrido.

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Today’s overview: The hot water surrounding Craig Bellamy is beginning to bubble as the Manchester City striker prepares to be punished for his confrontation with a pitch invader at Old Trafford on Sunday.

According to Bill Thornton, “Craig Bellamy was last night sweating over a possible three-match ban following his clash with a fan at the end of the Manchester derby.” United also face punishment, Ian Herbert reporting that “United may not escape scot-free from the controversies of Sunday afternoon: a one-game ban for improper conduct may also be imposed by the FA on Gary Neville over his inflammatory celebrations at the end of the game.”

In a surprising turn to the norm, Owen Slot argues that “Bellamy is deep misunderstood.” “The Bellamy that you learn about through this African project is so far away from the footballer who put his hand in the face of a ‘fan’ on Sunday, it is hard to work out where the two meet. At what stage does the responsible philanthropist turn into the short-fuse now facing a possible three-match ban? That is one for the psychologists to answer. But while he is certainly guilty of ill deeds under the clouds of red mist, Bellamy is clearly rather different before they suddenly descend.”

The Sun renounce their moral compass by refusing to blame the pitch invader as they splash with the EXCLUSIVE “You thug, Bellamy.” Ben Ashford interviews the rogue United fan Jake Clarke who is unsurprisingly not best pleased with City’s striker. “City ace Craig Bellamy was branded a ‘vicious thug’ last night by the pitch invader he allegedly thumped after Sunday’s 4-3 derby loss to United.”

Not looking to get outdone by their tabloid competition, The Mirror’s Brian Roberts has a full page spread with pitch invader Jake Clarke in which good-boy Jake informs readers, “It’s not in my blood to want to hurt anyone, I just wanted to cheer them up close… I remember being tackled on the pitch and then I saw Bellamy coming over to me. He shouted at me, ‘Get off the f***ing pitch you f***ing knobhead.’ He said it a few times then just shoved me in the face. I said to him, ‘4-3 mate,’ and I think he said something else to me before I was taken away. I’d had a few drinks before the game but I wasn’t drunk – honestly, it was the emotion that got to me.”

Mark Ogden delivers the harsh truth to Mr. Jake Clarke. “United have confirmed that the supporter who entered the pitch will be banned for life from Old Trafford, but attempts to identify the coin-thrower have so far proved unsuccessful, despite the aid of CCTV footage.”

Neil Custis whips up a tabloid storm in a tea-cup by announcing “Manchester City will complain to the FA over the behaviour of fourth official Alan Wiley in Sunday’s heated derby. City are furious with Wiley for shooing away boss Mark Hughes when he questioned where all the added time had come from. Then Wiley stood laughing with United boss Alex Ferguson after Michael Owen’s 96th-minute winner.”

Fuelling Manchester City’s case is Daniel Talyor’s announcement that “it has now emerged that the Premier League champions do, as suspected, benefit from an imbalance in the amount of stoppage time that is added to their matches… the Guardian has looked at all of United’s league matches at Old Trafford since the start of the 2006-07 season and discovered that, on average, there has been over a minute extra added by referees when United do not have the lead after 90 minutes, compared to when they are in front.”

More easily hyped than a kid on Sunny Delight, Ian Wright launches into a pro Little Mickey rant after the striker won the Manchester derby for United. ” When he scored for United, I was delighted for him… and it was against my son’s team! Michael knows this is an amazing opportunity and he has to do something at United. He is still a player capable of doing so much, even though he will not be starting too many games for Fergie. You cannot achieve what he has done in the game without having loads of ability. He is a big-game player and cannot be ignored.” On Owen’s England return, Sam Wallace bursts the bubble of hope. “Owen’s goal on Sunday was a vintage finish but it will never be enough to make it into a World Cup squad as a substitute. Like David Beckham, Owen faces the fundamental problem that the 20 outfield players of a World Cup squad are picked on the basis that one is first choice and the other is an understudy for the position… An impact substitute’s role might be enough for Ferguson, but not for Capello.”

Keeping with Fabio Capello’s England, Kevin McCarra fears for the Three Lions defence. “Fabio Capello, Baldini and the remainder of the national team’s backroom staff will continue to look on the gloomy side of this fixture and others. The standard of domestic football is tailing off just as the England team is being asked to rise to the challenge of the World Cup. Where goals are concerned, there is a pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap approach.”

The topic of child-snatching rears it returns this Tuesday with Manchester United receiving some good news for a change. Mark Ogden announces “Manchester United look set to escape a Fifa investigation into their attempted recruitment of Italian teenager Michele Fornasier following Fiorentina’s failure to supply sufficient evidence to support their complaint.”

John Terry is painted as a money-grabber this Tuesday by Sam Wallace after the Independent scribe learned that “Terry has had the right to a testimonial, worth around £2.5m, written into his new contract at Chelsea. Something tells me, that on his current deal of £160,000 a week, Terry will not have to worry about pulling pints or restringing tennis rackets when his football career ends. The only explanation is that he must intend to give the takings from his testimonial to charity. Any alternative would be obscene. I have no objection to footballers earning big money. They are the stars of a very profitable industry. But to ask the fans to pay their hard-earned for a testimonial match to provide a tax-free nest egg for a modern footballer whose nest is already wallpapered with £50 notes is immoral.”

The Guardian roll out their usual Tuesday European round up, Raphael Honigstein noting “after a title tilt last season, Hertha BSC now prop up the Bundesliga. What has gone wrong?,” while Paolo Bandini focuses in on Italian 100%-ers Sampdoria.

Although the transfer window is firmly shut until the winter the fourth estate happily shoot their mouths off with a host of unsubstantiated rumours.

With Ledley King and Sebastien Bassong falling to injury at the weekend, the tabloids have Spurs scrambling around for new defensive options. James Nursey farts “Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp has made Anton Ferdinand his number one target to boost his injury-stricken defence in January,” and while Redknapp is said to be in the market for new blood John Cross adds “Tottenham are tracking Sampdoria’s Spanish teenage midfielder Pedro Mba Obiang.”

The Sun claim that “Everton will mount a January raid for Gillingham striker Simeon Jackson,” while the Daily Mail report that “Portsmouth face competition from Galatasaray in their bid to sign former Manchester City left-back Michael Ball.”

Finally, Patrick Barclay offers a brilliant observation of yesterday’s fairwell for Sir Bobby Robson. “It had been wonderful to watch the football faces make their way, either by shuttle bus or foot, to the cathedral. Not just world famous ones such as Guardiola, Ferguson and Gary Lineker, whose speech was witty and informative (the long-held notion that Robson was overruled on tactics at the 1990 World Cup was dismissed as mythical); there were physiotherapists and liaison officers, travel agents, television executives, journalists aplenty and the noticeable thing was that relatively few were representatives. People came in their own right.”


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