Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “It’s not as if I feel I have walked out of Manchester United or done something wrong. I have done everything I possibly could at Manchester but they have not offered me a contract… I am leaving because the circumstances have created a situation forcing me to leave. I want to be very clear. In the two years I have been at Manchester United I have read that I have asked for ‘Â£6 million, Â£9 million, Â£12 million, Â£1 million, Â£2 million’. But I have never, ever asked [chief executive] David Gill or Alex Ferguson â€“ nor have I had any meeting with anyone about my contract â€“ for money. Therefore when I sign for another club if anyone says ‘it was impossible for Carlos to sign for Man United because he was asking for too much money’ then it is not true. I know that maybe after, when I leave, people will say ‘he left for money’ but listen, no. Be very clear that there has not been one single meeting about my personal contract. And now it’s over…Â I was dropped without explanation and Sir Alex has never given me an explanation… We had success and then I was just dumped.” – Carlos Tevez.
Runner-up: “We’ve drawn too many games at home this season – it’s been slightly frustrating but you’ve still got to give us credit. We’ve done so well to be in the title race. It’s May 9 and it’s the first time we’ve been in it (at this stage of season) for a long time so credit where it’s due. At a club like Liverpool it’s important to win trophies but there’s still been progression. We will learn from where we’ve gone wrong and start putting it right next season.” – Steven Gerrard.
Today’s overview: Before we dive into the crux of today’s content, the big tabloid splash this Sunday, as reported by the Mirror on Sunday’s Jody Thompson, is that “Tottenham captain and England player Ledley King wasÂ arrested outside a nightclub in central London last night on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm.” This story will likey develop over the course of the weekend and into the beginning of the week.
No sooner has Carlos Tevez admitted that his future lies away from Old Trafford than the transfer rumours begin rolling in.
According the Graham Chase, “Tevezâ€™s revelation that he is likely to leave United… combined with his admission that he would like to stay in the Premier League, and a fee of close to Â£30 million, leaves City and Liverpool as his most realistic potential suitors.” The Sunday Times report Kia Joorabchian’s “claims that an offer of more than Â£40m has been made for the player, but it is from a foreign club and Tevez wants to stay in the Premier League which he sees as the best in the world and the one that best suits his style.”
Offering a slightly different opinion is the NOTW’s James Weatherup. “Tevez’s shock bombshell will alert Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton and Aston Villa – while Iranian businessman Kia Joorabchian’s company, which owns the player, has also received a Â£45million offer from a foreign club.”
Having watched the Reds temporarily return to the Premier League summit, Paul Hayward oberserves that “like Arsenal, Liverpool will probably end this campaign with nothing and yet their supporters will wear a glow of satisfaction.” Paul Doyle also talks down any hopes of a Reds’ triumph in the league, pointing to “too many 0-0s explain why Benitez will surely devote the summer to finding a more reliable finisher than Robbie Keane.”
With one eye on today’s fixture at the Emirates, Amy Lawrence encourages Arsenal to buy Didier Drogba. “Drogba Ârepresents Âeverything Arsenal are not. He is spiky, a bulldozer of a player who harasses for a living. He is more than 30 years of age… Arsenal need defensive Âreinforcements more urgently, but would fans prefer to have Drogba chasing and hunting for goals up front or the increasingly lethargic Emmanuel Adebayor?” However both strikers, Drogba and Adebayor, find themselves on the end of a tongue-lashing from Henry Winter. “If Chelsea’s impulsive No 11 needs to learn how to count to 10 in tense situations then Arsenal’s sluggish No 25 must rediscover fifth gear. Fourth would be good. Even third would be a step up.”
Adopting a scatter-gun approach, Lee Dixon claims that Arsenal “need a new goalkeeper… They also need a centre-back, somebody to give them a presence in defence, but more than that they need a defensive midfielder… [while] the team could also do with a new striker.” Rob Shepherd fills in the blanks, suggesting “Wenger already has Â£40m to bolster his squad plus a further Â£28m if Emmanuel Adebayor is sold. And players including Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso, West Ham’s Matthew Upson and Juventus centre-half Giorgio Chiellini are under consideration.”
Keeping with the Gunners, Paul Doyle fears that “the ambition that saw Cesc Fabregas join Arsenal at such a young age may lead him to return to Spain in search of trophies.” However it appears that one Arsenal board member remains bitterly ambitious, Duncan White reporting how Russian-based billionaire Alisher Usmanov is ready to fund Arsenal’s spendingÂ spree.
Chelsea’s Champions League exit is still being chewed over this Sunday.
Will Buckey moans that “there was a sense of disappointment that Ballack did not end his sensational offâ€‘the-ball run with the full Zidane.” While Rod Liddle adopts his usual sarcastic tone to mock the Blues. “I suspect it wasnâ€™t a conspiracy involving Michel Platini, Tom Henning Ovrebo, Fifa and the Zionist Occupation Government that deprived Chelsea of a chance to lose to Manchester United again in the final. It was just that familiar old thing, a close game of football that, by my reckoning, Barcelona shaded over the two legs.”
Seemingly sucking on a lemon, Hugh bleats on how Drogba’s “abuse of Ovrebo impressively met the benchmark of disreputable behaviour so callously set by Mourinho.” While looking forward, Jonathan Northcroft wonders whether Roman Abramovich will refuse to invest further in the club or alternatively “dust himself down after his latest disappointment and go again, reopen his wallet and throw further roubles at their troubles.”
Using the Chelsea-Barcelona game as his premise, Paul Newman barks “football needs to embrace TV technology. Almost every other major sport using a moving ball does, including cricket, rugby, tennis and American football… the introduction of TV technology might help English football shed its reputation for bad losers.”
Lastly on Chelsea, the NOTW report that the Blues “have issued Carlo Ancelloti with a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum over becoming Blues boss this summer.”
Changing tracks, David James considers why so few goalkeepers succeed in management. “For a goalkeeper football is very black and white. Whereas an outfield player can risk a bad pass and expect to be covered, a goalkeeper has no margin for error. It makes us pretty pedantic and intense at times. Anyone who has been on a team with me knows I tend to rant and rave after a bad match. I just boil over. On occasion I’ve criticised people very harshly.”
As has been the case for months now, a series of headline grabbing stories, seemingly with little substance, are published in the tabloids over the future at Manchester City.
Rob Draper kicks off the lies farting “Frank Rijkaard is being lined up as Manchester City manager for next season if the billionaire owners from Abu Dhabi decide that Mark Hughes is not equipped to steer the club to Champions League qualification.” The hacks also line up to spend City’s bucket-load of cash, David Harrison claiming “City are ready to splash Â£18million on Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso. City boss Mark Hughes can get his man for the right price as Kop manager Rafa Benitez edges closer to the Â£8m signing of Aston Villa’s Gareth Barry.”
In other transfer gossip, the NOTW link Michael Owen with a move to Celtic. “Celtic would offer him a significant signing-on fee, plus top drawer wages. And the move could appeal to him, with the prospect of Champions League football and enough goals to persuade Capello to consider a World Cup recall.”
And the grape-vine has more stories.
The Mail on Sunday report that Everton will sell Victor Anichebe as the Toffees “try to raise funds for a new centre-forward, with Peter Crouch a surprise target.” Also looking to raise funds are Liverpool, Chris Bascombe writing how Rafa Benitez will “off-load up to 11 squad players to cover the Barry deal and to generate more funds to compete in the transfer market.”
Seemingly with too many ifs, buts and maybes to give the story any backbone, Carl Eldridge invents the story that “Anton Ferdinand will be a summer target for Fulham boss Roy Hodgson â€“ if the Craven Cottage chief loses Brede Hangeland to Arsenal.” Another highly speculative story sees Martin HardyÂ claim Newcastle willÂ join “the race for Spurs’ Darren Bent.”
Rob Draper claims that “former Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd will try to buy the club back from Mike Ashley if they are relegated.”
Turning to the big screen, Simon Hattenstone talks to Ken Loach and Eric Cantona about the new movie “Looking for Eric.” While, in the other interviews this Sunday, Michael Walker catches up with Habib Beye (“I believe we will stay up and the manager will stay and he will bring this type of stability”) and Rob Draper speaks with UEFA president, Michael Platini – “we have to protect [the game]. I am not anti-British. Football is not a product. Itâ€™s a sport. Maybe this philosophy is old-fashioned, but why is football so popular?”