“No-one is interested in the Carling Cup anymore – if they ever were” – David Anderson

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “There was one horrible moment [during the match with Stoke] when a racist remark was made to Jason Euell. I have to thank the stewards because they fired him out of the ground as quickly as they could. I thought those days were gone but maybe I am being naive. I hope he is banned for life.” – Blackpool manager Ian Holloway.

Runner-up: “People [during Everton-Blackburn] threw bananas at me, and the referee told me he would report this to the police. I have had problems before but never anything like the ones I had on Sunday. I don’t want to let this matter rest.” – El-Hadji Diouf.


Today’s overview: When is a win not really a win, and a defeat not really a defeat? The answer may lie in last night’s match at Elland Road where Liverpool edged Leeds out of the Carling Cup.

Louise Talyor commented that this was “an evening when Elland Road suggested that Leeds may not be in the doldrums for too much longer. Rather less positively, Rafael Benítez will have cause to reflect that, in terms of quality, his huge squad is worryingly shallow.” The Whites also receive praise from Tony Barrett writing “it could have gone either way and Leeds’s honour remains very much intact thanks to a display full of heart and endeavour that allowed them to stand toe to toe, if only for one night, with a team they once regularly shared a ring with.”

Similar conclusions were drawn by Henry Winter. “Liverpool struggled, reflecting the reality that Rafa Benitez’s squad still requires reinforcing and also that Leeds have decent players, a prodigious work ethic and an inspiring manager… In a way, this was the perfect outcome for Leeds because it allows them to concentrate on getting into the Championship while the memory of a good display will stir even more self-belief.”

Taking a step backwards, David Anderson bitches about the Carling Cup as a whole. “When it comes to pointless and redundant creations, the Carling Cup is up there with the Sinclair C5 and Betamax videos. No-one is interested in the Carling Cup anymore – if they ever were… If the Football League really want a cup competition, then restrict it to their members. Don’t include the Premier League clubs because few of them want to be in it anyway. It might give the competition a new lease of life and give someone else a crack at Wembley rather than just Chelsea or United’s reserves.”

Sol Campbell has set himself up to be a pub quiz question in several years to come after the ex-England international walked out on Notts County after just one appearance.

The Guardian report that “the former England centre-back is said to have told the club that he wants to leave after making his debut in a defeat at Morecambe on Saturday.” Looking for reasons to explain Campbell’s unexpected u-turn, in the 2-1 defeat by Morecambe on Saturday… the former Arsenal defender endured a torrid first half as he was given the run-around. Despite dropping three divisions to play for County there was little evidence of the class that helped the former Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur earn 71 caps for his country.”

More details on Campbell’s walk-out are provided by Leo Spall. “After speaking to McParland and asking for his permission to leave, he packed his belongings, telling colleagues he would not be returning… Campbell had expected to undertake some coaching duties at the club but will be in great demand as a player again because he will be a free transfer.”

The latest storm in a teacup for the fourth estate to devour relates to the FA decision not to sanction Craig Bellamy and Gary Neville for their respective misbehaviour during the Manchester derby.

First to pick apart the FA’s decision is James Ducker. “The FA left itself open to accusations of a whitewash and double standards last night as Craig Bellamy and Gary Neville escaped punishment for their behaviour.” Matt Hughes fleshes out the criticism of the FA. “Taken in isolation, there is a case to be made in support of the FA’s inaction but, in the context of recent incidents, its decision has made it look weak and inept. The problem, as with that of refereeing in general, is one of consistency. How is it possible for the FA to take no action against Neville six days after charging Emmanuel Adebayor with improper conduct for his similarly provocative taunting of Arsenal fans?”

Swimming against the tide, Martin Samuel defends the FA for not issuing more punishments. “Footballers have a duty to behave in a professional manner and certainly Neville and Bellamy did not do that. There is a wider issue here, though, which is that to every action there is a reaction and, after years of violent invective, this is what we are seeing now. The FA will attract accusations of weakness this morning, but the answer is more complex than disciplinary action. Taken against one side, it would only have increased the feelings of injustice among players. In short, everybody needs to wind their necks in; or as they say on Merseyside, calm down, calm down.”

The fallout from Formula One’s “crashgate” scandal has finally started to affect the world of football as the net closes in on QPR owner Flavio Briatore. As explained by awyers believe that Briatore fails by some distance the Football League’s fit and proper persons test after being banned indefinitely from Formula One… with Briatore’s credibility in tatters, few in football believe that he can carry on at QPR, legally or morally, while the pressure builds on football’s regulators not to allow the game to fall into weeks of uncertainty.” The Daily Mail spread the rumour that “there have been suggestions that [fellow owner Lakshmi] Mittal may now buy out [Briatore’s] stake in the club.”

Is it true? Are Newcastle finally about to be sold by Mike Ashley?

Exuding a sense of deja vu, he protracted takeover saga at Newcastle United could finally close this weekend, with Barry Moat increasingly optimistic that his attempts to buy the Coca-Cola Championship club from Mike Ashley will prove successful… Moat’s consortium is believed to have an American influence… Moat’s intention has always been to appoint Alan Shearer.”

As is standard, the close of the transfer window has done little to quell the gossip-mongers from spreading their lies. Today’s chief offender is the Daily Mail who begin by shooting their mouth off reporting “Wigan are expected to sign Cameroon midfielder Modeste M’Bami by the end of the week,” before announcing that “Deportivo la Coruna have made Tottenham Hotspur outcast Giovani dos Santos their No 1 transfer target.”

Finally, if you read just one article today, then it should be Jonathan Wilson’s in The Guardian on the potential rebirth of the sweeper in football. “Looking further ahead, there is also another player who has space, and that is one of the centre-backs. A single central striker is marked by one central defender, leaving the other one as a spare man. Of course that is useful defensively, but there is no reason why the extra player should only be useful defensively.”

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