Rafa v Fergie reignited, Kieron Dyer on his injury depression, and Rooney on the wane?

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day:  ”A couple of their players did apologise. Cristiano Ronaldo was great. He came into the dressing room after the game and sat with the players. It was good. He said that himself [that United were unlucky]. I don’t think Arbeloa was that bad. He didn’t stay down too long. He got up. Sergio Ramos was the one that really influenced the referee, maybe. Nani’s disappointed. He probably has that feeling of guilt but I don’t think he did anything wrong. It’s hard to keep your faith when you see these things happen. That’s three European Cups we’ve been knocked out of due to refereeing decisions. We’d have won two of them. I have no doubt about that.”

Runner-up:  ”I don’t know the situation of the owners any more than I knew the situation of the owner at Portsmouth, who was a young Russian guy who was a friend of Roman Abramovich. When they buy the football club, you don’t know whether he is richer than Abramovich, so when they want to spend money on the team, what do you do? “You don’t say: “I’m sorry you can’t spend that money because I don’t know if you’ve got it or not.’ – Harry Redknapp

Rafa v Fergie, Enemies Reunited

Rafael Benitez and Sir Alex Ferguson: Let the war of words commence (David Hynter, The Guardian) Benítez cannot weep for Ferguson, the man who came to be his nemesis during his six years at Liverpool; rather, he might have perceived a biting irony. To him, Ferguson was the arch-bullier of officials, who would throw his weight around with impunity while United were the club with the political influence. But here they were, undermined by the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir’s questionable decision to dismiss Nani for a high boot and, in the immediate aftermath, they looked powerless to prevent the dream from unravelling.

History of a feud that will spice up Cup clash (Jim White, The Telegraph) As muscular as the rivalry on the pitch will be, it will carry but a hint of the friction between the two managers. Benítez and Ferguson simply do not get on. For them, Sunday will be personal. Across 13 meetings, eight of which have been won by the Scotsman and four by the Spaniard, the rancour has fizzed just beneath the surface, a perfunctory touchline handshake the extent of their contact. These are not men inclined to displays of mutual respect. Largely because there is none.


Former star Kieron Dyer on Brat Pack life, injuries, and depression (Luke Edwards, The Telegraph)  “I would take my injuries home with me, I’d be a nightmare. I’d lock myself away and wouldn’t talk to anyone. It was having a detrimental effect on my family life, on everyone around me. You can get stuck in a spiral of depression. I had to find that balance. I concentrated on being a good father, a good friend. There is more to life than football. Do I feel unlucky? Yeah, of course I do. But, I’m not the only one to have suffered bad luck with injuries. Look at Jonathan Woodgate, look at Ledley King and Michael Owen.”

Why Wigan beating Everton in FA Cup would mean so much to me (Andy Hunter, The Guardian) The septuagenarian’s history with the FA Cup is not rose-tinted. Whelan was in his fourth year as a Rovers defender when, in the 42nd minute of the 1960 final, he committed to a challenge that would alter the course of his life. “There was a ball placed between Norman Deeley and myself,” he recalls. “We both went for the ball. I got the ball and he got me, but I’m not saying it was deliberate because accidents happen when you’re both fighting like hell for the ball. He did come over the top, there’s no question about that. I’ve still got two stud marks in my leg. But I don’t think it was deliberate.

Wayne Rooney: Still Got It?

Wayne Rooney was all powerful when he threatened to leave United – now all he can do is manage descent (Paul Hayward, The Guardian) Power came to Rooney early, when a precocious talent and boxer’s build rendered him a national commodity at 16 years old. Agents fought over him. Outlandish estimates of his worth multiplied. Ailing, underachieving England had found their wunderkind. From Croxteth, as one of his aides remarked at the time, Rooney woke in “another universe”. For more than a decade his story has been underpinned by financial, political and sporting influence. Tuesday night in Manchester was the day a decade of sway expired. Rooney no longer calls the shots in his own career. He will go on earning big money and probably win more trophies at United or elsewhere. His deep competitive instincts may yet prompt a positive reaction to his demotion from the side that faced Real Madrid. But it will not be on his terms now, unless he pulls off a miracle of physical transformation and consistently recreates the best form of his middle-twenties.

Why Man United could struggle to find anyone as good as Wayne if he goes (Kenny Daglish, The Mirror) I don’t agree with the idea that he did it because Rooney has somehow put his nose out of joint.  You can’t afford to think that way as a manager, certainly not one as successful as Ferguson. You can’t afford to meddle with the team purely on the basis of a personal gripe. Sir Alex wouldn’t do that. He made that decision purely and simply because he thought it gave United the best chance of winning the tie. He has had some criticism for it because United lost the match but the sending off of Nani threw his plans into the air. He may well have been planning to bring Rooney on earlier and, anyway, until the sending-off, United seemed comfortable.

The Burgeoning Blogosphere

It takes all sorts to be a football journalist – so now we’re all at it (Barney Ronay, The Guardian) Yes: here comes everyone. And everyone, these days, is a football journalist. Open the curtains and look outside. That man isn’t a bus driver. He’s a football journalist driving a bus. We all are now. In fact, if ongoing conversion rates to the football blogger/tweeter/commenter/online-incontinent community are maintained, current projections suggest five years from now every human being on the planet with fingers and a workable degree of lumpen malevolence will be, on some level, a football journalist.

Deliberate bookings: intelligent or cynical play?

Deliberately seeking a yellow card is a disreputable act – whatever Andre Villas Boas says (James Lawton, The Independent)  Villas-Boas, as a young coach moving impressively towards another high point in his brief but already extraordinary career, proves that indeed you do.You say that it is perfectly fine to do the wrong thing for the right reason, which is to gain some passing advantage over the opposition. In a season which has seen football cynicism advance so quickly on so many fronts, Villas-Boas is the high-profile and hitherto largely idealistic young coach who puts it on the record. Former England coach Glenn Hoddle once hinted to the young Michael Owen that part of international football was a refining of your diving technique and just a few months ago Liverpool’s Brendan Rodgers, another young coach fighting to re-invent a great club, seemed far more exercised by the fact that Luis Suarez had admitted to an egregious piece of diving than the fact that he had done it.