Stevie G is back, can Berba finally stamp his authority, and what really happens during the January window?

Comment & Analysis Round-Up

Quote of the Day: “You do not find players on the planet of Thierry’s quality who are available for two months. Before he had both brains and pace. Now he has to use his brain more. He and I are conscious that he is 34 but he has not lost his class. Nobody expects him to be what he was 10 years ago. I feel there is no special pressure to be the player he was before. You can never take away from people what they have done. That will remain forever.” – Arsene Wenger

Runner-Up: “It’s a concern. He isn’t playing much…there are five months to go to the European Championships, in which everything can turn around. But if the situation doesn’t change it’s going to be difficult for him. Fernando deserves respect for his career, and he has our confidence. But if he doesn’t play…well, time will tell. If he plays and he’s fine he will go to the Euros. He has contributed to the success we’ve had and he has some leeway.” – Vincent del Bosque

Today’s Overview: There is analysis of Liverpool’s defeat of Newcastle, with predictable focus on the performance of Andy Carroll. There are previews of Man United’s afternoon game with Blackburn, with an interesting piece on Dimitar Berbatov.
Elsewhere, there is a revelatory piece on the January transfer window; as well as some reaction to Fabio Capello’s foot-in-mouth moment with Germany.

Liverpool and Newcastle, Oh! Carroll: For Richard Williams, Carroll had more than enough opportunities to score and expresses his concern with the Geordie’s goal drought. ”When Steven Gerrard finally arrived to sort out the lamentable crossing that had hobbled Liverpool’s efforts during the first hour, Andy Carroll began to look like a centre-forward once again. It was as simple as that. Had they enjoyed a full match together, rather than the 30 minutes they were given after Gerrard, who is still working his way back to fitness, arrived as a second-half substitute, they might have managed to complete the transformation of Carroll from an embarrassing joke back into the young colossus he resembled a year ago.” 

Stevie G, back and scoring: Tim Rich details the importance of the return of the Liverpool skipper to Kenny Daglish. ”After his first goal since October helped overcome Newcastle in a 3-1 win that saw Liverpool out of the Champions League places only on goal difference, his manager said there was much more to come from his captain in 2012. When Steven is not playing, he is influential and you could add the word ‘hugely’ in front of influential when he is playing,” Dalglish said. “He is working his way back to full fitness and he has always been a huge asset to this football club. He has got a lot of years to go yet.”

Man United v Blackburn: There’s a nice piece on the enigma wrapped in a riddle that is Dimitar Berbatov by Chris McGrath. ”When his team-mates warm up, covered in synthetics and logos, you half-expect Berbatov to amble on to the field in a velvet dressing gown or smoking jacket. It seemed improper, as he waited to take his penalty against Wigan the other day, that the ball was not conveyed to the spot by a butler carrying a tray. Berbatov is depicted as the Premier League’s Lord Lindsay, who practised his hurdling in Chariots Of Fire with a glass of champagne balanced on each obstacle. Obligingly, he has even been photographed with a cigarette – albeit not, so far, tapping one against an embossed silver case.” 

Kevin McKarra writes a piece on Fergie at 70, and what it is that continues to drive him.

January Window, Much Ado About Nothing: Former Liverpool director Christian Purslow provides his first-hand insight into what really goes on during the January transfer window. ”Imagine. It’s Jan 24. The manager and chief executive officer meet to review how things have gone in the window so far and it couldn’t be worse. None of the targets have been signed. One has gone to a richer competitor who topped your best bid, another has been given a new deal to stay and the third could only be afforded if one of your out-of-favour players was moved on – which hasn’t happened because there are no takers. Oh, and to cap it all, out of the blue a bid has been made for your star striker who has just told the manager that he wants to go.”

Capello : Achtung! Simon Stone relays the reaction in Germany to Fabio Capello’s ill-advised remarks on Mezut Ozil and his ‘stealing’ insinuation. ”The German association (the DFB) has made no public statement on Capello’s comments, but is not happy and privately has accused the Italian of getting his facts wrong. Both Tasci and Ozil – a third generation Turk – were born in Germany and have represented the country at various youth age groups, in much the same way as Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck, who has opted for a career with England despite being eligible for Ghana through his parentage.”