“Maradona has attacked the job of managing Argentina like a kid given the new FIFA 2010 game on Playstation and a bucket of blue Smarties” – Martin Samuel

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “You get there an hour before the game and he has got his kit straight on, and he is kicking and flicking the balls around, walking around and chatting to everyone like there is not a big game coming up. That is his attitude and it rubs off very well. He is a one-off. If someone else did it you would probably criticise them for not stretching properly or something like that. With Wayne, that is what he is. He is a very effervescent character and only certain players can give you that kind of enthusiasm that he has. He gives it out to people around him, which is a big thing. The only person I remember like that since, and I never played with him, was Gazza. He had that bounciness around the hotel and the dressing room and it got people going around him. Some people are nervous and having Wayne come round to them to have a chat or make a joke is something that’s very relaxing.” – Frank Lampard.

Runner-up: “We’re not so much annoyed but they know what goes on. They have families, families watch games and stuff like that. Where do they get their kicks from? Do you know what I mean? Especially Dunphy, he should know better by now. He’s a skinny rat, a skinny, little rat. Listen, the world champions came to town and, despite what people say, we did OK. There are a certain two or three people who say stuff and they just say it for the sake of saying it – to be the bad cop. What’s the point in that? To get a higher salary in the RTE or wherever they come from? It’s stupid. I’m talking about certain people who say it for the sake of it and it just doesn’t make sense. Why say it? To earn bigger money or to be the man? Silly rat.” – Stephen Hunt.


Today’s overview: Wayne Rooney’s absense from England’s final World Cup qualifier with Belarus is considered by the fourth estate this Tuesday.

Rooney’s importance to the Three Lions is discussed by Jason Burt. “Rooney has started 16 of Capello’s 19 matches in charge and his importance cannot be underestimated. Despite Capello’s declarations that there are no “key” players, Rooney certainly is one – and the manager knows that. But his absence will at least give Capello the opportunity to see who is willing and able to take responsibility.”

For Kevin McCarra, “[Capello] should almost be happy that a calf injury has denied him the services of Rooney on this occasion. It is critical that England develop some idea of how they can exist without him… Whoever is picked should be stimulated by the challenge of proving that there can still be zest and menace to the attack when Rooney is sidelined.”

The knives are out for Diego Maradona.

Almost dumbfounded, Richard Williams goes about dissecting how Maradona coaches Argentina. “Maybe Maradona has succeeded in crafting a side in the image of his own life and career, where chaos and squalor are perpetually redeemed in the eyes of his people by moments of transcendent beauty and glory.” Similarly, Chris McGrath struggles to place Maradona on any type of pedestal. “If things go against Argentina they deserve exactly what they get. Hiring Maradona was an act of folly. Sure enough, he has selected 78 different players in 11 games, even so managing to overlook outstanding candidates in Europe. His team cannot defend; nor can it find a place for Walter Samuel. And he has meanwhile stifled the magic even in Lionel Messi.”

Martin Samuel is equally dismissive of Maradona’s tenure as the Argentine coach. “He has attacked the job of managing Argentina like a kid given the new FIFA 2010 game on Playstation and a bucket of blue Smarties. Imagine Paul Gascoigne in charge of England and you’ve got it. Pablo Aimar is back in favour, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez, not. Neither featured against Peru.”

Heading into domestic news, the feud between Sir Alex Ferguson and the referee’s union continues to rumble with reports that the United boss needs to issue a second apology for labelling Alan Wiley unfit, and events have now been dragging on for so long that apparent Fergie is the one who is “furious.”

ources close to Ferguson have indicated that he is ’90 per cent convinced’ he will be charged and that he holds little hope of receiving a fair and proper hearing because of the publicity surrounding the case. Ferguson is furious at what he perceives to be a media campaign against him and believes a witch-hunt is being fuelled by sources close to senior referees.”

Continuing the analysis, Henry Winter also alludes to a which-hunt against Sir Alex. “Ferguson deserves punishment for his unfounded barbs about Alan Wiley’s fitness but this nationwide race to pillory the Manchester United manager stinks of jealousy, hypocrisy and inconsistency… The frenzy stirred by Ferguson’s comments, and the inadequate apology, says as much about modern society’s sad hunger for turning heroes into zeroes as it does about the Scot’s rather crude, rather obvious attempt to divert attention from United’s poor performance against Sunderland.”

With the dust settling on John Barnes’ dismissal from Tranmere, several scribes now offer their two cents on the incident.

Unsympathetic, ow much did Barnes really want to succeed? Not so much that he was bothered to take a managerial job for nearly ten years after he was sacked by Celtic. Years of “waiting”, he said, but what about chasing?…  There is nothing to stop top players becoming top managers, but they have to want it badly enough to devote themselves to the job at any level, as do lesser lights.”

Taking a more broadbrush approach, is concerned by what Barnes’ dismissal means for other hopeful black managers. “[How] are lesser known black footballers than him expected to get their break if Barnes, arguably the most prominent black English footballer of his generation, found it so hard to get back into management?”

Notts County continue to demand column inches after the League Two club sacked manager Ian McParland yesterday. And the question everyone is asking is is Sven next?

Not according to Louise Taylor. “The former England coach will stick to his director of football role and oversee the appointment of McParland’s replacement at Meadow Lane.” Ian Edwards then suggests that the Swede has already earmarked his next target. “Sven-Göran Eriksson will lead a high-powered delegation that will try to persuade Roberto Mancini to take over as manager… Other candidates include Steve McClaren, the former England manager who also retains close ties with Eriksson, Kevin Keegan and Iain Dowie.”

The Daily Mail manage to conjure up a different set of names for the vacant County job. “David Platt has been installed as the bookmakers’ favourite despite distancing himself from the position, while David O’Leary, Gordon Strachan, Roberto Mancini and even Harry Redknapp have appeared in the running.”

In the transfers, the Daily Mail gossip that “Chelsea have been linked with a move for Italy Under 21 midfielder Andrea Pol,” with the tabloid also announcing “Gokhan Inler is refusing to discuss a new contract with Udinese amid reports of a scrap between Arsenal and Inter Milan for the Switzerland midfielder.” Staying with Arsenal, The Sun claim that “Arsene Wenger is determined to fight off Atletico Madrid and Seville who are eyeing young Spanish star Fran Merida.”

The Sun’s Paul Jiggins splashes news of a mega spending spree imminent at Eastlands. “Manchester City are lining up a £20million bid for Brazil full-back Maicon. The January move is designed to blow rivals Manchester United’s interest out of the water. City also hope to land another Brazil international, Benfica midfielder Ramires, for £25m next summer if they fail with a £65m British record swoop for Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery.”

And finally, after yesterday’s Aston Villa quit threat from Emile Heskey, Sami Mokbel reveals that Rafa Benitez could be interested in bring the forward back to Anfield “but only if he can get the England striker on the cheap.”