The Red Knights versus The Glazers, Manchester United fall behind Barcelona in the rich list & Chelsea target Liverpool keeper Reina

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “We are happy to have John around. He is a great player. If we are going to win the World Cup then we need John Terry. He is a big player for us and we need him. John is a great captain and, whether he has the armband or not, he will still be a great leader for us at the World Cup… I do feel unstoppable. I feel I am going to score in every game I play. I am ready for all the attention – it cannot be as bad as before 2006 when the team were preparing and, most days, the focus was just on whether I would be fit. Now I am in the best form of my life, and I’m ready. I hope I can make a difference for England at the World Cup. I know that, if I have a good World Cup, we will have a chance of doing well.” – Wayne Rooney.

Runner-up: “It was worse than any of the pitches we’ve played on in the FA and Carling Cups, even against Championship teams. It was slippery and cutting up. You work hard to get to a cup final at Wembley and it was probably one of the worst pitches you will play on all season. It’s not good enough. I hope it can be rectified because when you’re growing up you watch the old finals at Wembley and people used to say it was like a carpet. At a cup final you want to play at a great stadium, which it is, and on a great pitch, which it isn’t.” – James Milner.

Today’s overview: The battle lines are gradually being drawn in the sand at Manchester United as the Glazers and the Red Knights start their preparations for war over ownership of the club.

According to Owen Gibson, “The Glazer family, under pressure from fans protesting at their ownership, said tonight that Manchester United were ‘not for sale’ after it emerged that a group of influential City figures known as the Red Knights had met to consider a bid for the club. Sources close to the talks said that the discussions, although in their early stages, were serious in their intent. Jim O’Neill, chief economist at the bank Goldman Sachs and a lifelong United fan, is a key figure in the group, which is made up largely of United fans, and is confident of being able to raise the £1bn-plus required.”

Teasing out the Red Knights’ plans further, Oliver Kay suggests that its not all about what they have, but also who they know. “Their plan is to use their contacts across the world to find a number of ‘super-investors’ who could raise the money — estimated at a minimum of £1 billion — needed to make a bid to buy the club from the Glazers. They hope that some of that money would come from supporters’ groups, who would in turn be offered a ‘golden share’ and the prospect of some representation in any new regime.”

More details of the fund raising programme being chewed over by the Knights is presented by Helen Power. “A source close to the group said the draft plan for a takeover bid would be to find around 40 individuals who put up around £20 million each. Then the Knights would borrow several million more to top up the offer, but the plan would be to keep debt to a minimum.”

Leading scribe David Conn delves deeper into the story to wonder whether the Glazers would actually sell Manchester United even if the Red Knights can get their acts together. “Put bluntly, they are: can this group of 40 or so people raise anything like the money required to make a realistic offer and, even if they do, would the Glazers sell?… If the Red Knights can raise the money, and supporters, including corporate subscribers, are motivated to vote by wielding their right not to pour their hard-earned into the Glazers’ business plans, the family could come under sustained pressure. Delivering so huge a club to wealthy supporters in combination with a supporters trust looks a red devil of a project but it could just have legs.”

Chucking another spanner in the works is , who downplays the excitement of Manchester United fans to the latest battle for ownership of their club. “If Red Knights was hoping for an immediate outpouring of support from United’s massive fanbase to galvanise their proposed bid then it did not materialise, although MUST is likely to make a statement of some sort in the coming days and given its avowed desire to see the Glazer family removed from Old Trafford, it would not be a surprise if it was in favour of any financial move to oust the Americans.”

Mark Ogden delivers a sobering assessment of the Red Knights’ hopes of buying Manchester United. “Despite the connections of those considering a move to buy United, their prospects of succeeding at this stage appear bleak and Monday’s talks were merely exploratory discussions aimed at assessing the viability of a bid… The Glazers are understood to have rejected at least three offers to buy United in the past year and a spokesman for the family insisted on Monday night that their position remained unchanged.”

Amid this backdrop, the latest football money list has just been released and Owen Gibson examines how the Spanish giants are leading the way from the Premier League big boys. “[Manchester United] have been overtaken by the [Barcelona] in revenue-generating terms… [while] Real Madrid remain top of the list… becoming the first club in any sport to break through the €400m (£362m) barrier in a single year… Arsenal returned to the top five in the Money League after a one-year absence, climbing one place to replace their London rivals Chelsea, with a 7% increase in revenue to €263m. Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Newcastle United complete the seven English clubs in the top 20.”

With the money side of football very much in the spotlight this Tuesday, Jon Brodkin exposes how “Freddie Ljungberg and Kieron Dyer will have cost West Ham effectively £1m a match, it was revealed in the club’s latest accounts. Ljungberg, who has left Upton Park, and Dyer will have cost £34m over the terms of their contracts, having started a combined total of only 32 matches for West Ham since the summer of 2007.”

From finances to football, and the main issue across the backpages today centres on England’s upcoming friendly with Egypt on Wednesday.

In truth, there is little fresh news to report, with Kevin McCarra found bleating on about the sorry state of England’s goalkeepers, while Jermain Defoe is expected to miss Tuesday’s game after sitting out training on Monday with a groin injury… [while] Franco Baldini, the England general manager, took Ryan Shawcross aside to tell the Stoke City defender not to worry about the tackle that left Aaron Ramsey.”

In a sideways article, James Lawton attempts to draw parallels between the Canadian gold-winning Olympic ice-hockey team and the Three Lions. “Where does England go at this late hour to find a Sidney Crosby? Wayne Rooney may not be a flawless candidate, but there is growing reason to say that he is by far the best bet.”

Unusually, we kick off today’s transfer news we a story the seems nailed on to happen.

Everton Gayle reports in the Guardian that “Deco has told Chelsea he wants to leave the club at the end of the season… Flamengo are among the teams to have expressed an interest in the Brazil-born ace, who plans to quit international football after representing Portugal at this summer’s World Cup.”

In more general news, Tony Barrett announces that “Liverpool are set to offer Javier Mascherano a two-year contract extension that will keep him at Anfield until 2014 in a bid to keep the midfield player out of the clutches of Barcelona.” And staying with the Merseysiders, Phil Thomas lets slip that “talks are ongoing over a new deal for keeper Pepe Reina after rumours he could be a Chelsea target.”

Turning to the complete guff, the Daily Mail should be embarrassed by their pathetic no-name article farting “Manchester United are considering a fresh approach for Benfica’s Angel di Maria.” Staying with the difficult to swallow stories, The Sun claim “Tottenham are ready to bring Diego Alves to White Hart Lane after watching the Almeria keeper three times in the last six weeks.”

John Cross bleats “former Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb is desperate to return to the Premier League – and has put Manchester City and Aston Villa on red alert.” James Nursey splutters “Sunderland, Aston Villa and Blackburn are monitoring Wolves skipper Karl Henry.” And Alan Nixon scribbles that “Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce wants to sign Aruna Dindane in a £2.5million deal.”

In the managerial merry-go-round, Dominic Fifield details how “Crystal Palace’s prospects of maintaining their Championship status were dealt a further blow tonight when Neil Warnock was appointed manager at Queens Park Rangers… Palace would ideally like to reappoint Steve Coppell as manager on a short-term basis.” However John Cross reports that “Steve Coppell has snubbed an emotional return to Crystal Palace – leaving the door open for Paul Hart to take over.”