The rumour mill: £6 Owen to Man City, £9 Glen Johnson to Liverpool?

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “The trouble with this country is that we rip up and discard generations of good coaches. This industry does that to you. Roy Keane left Sunderland, then the wolves moved to Incey’s door. Gareth Southgate is hanging in there because he’s got a great chairman [Steve Gibson] behind him at Middlesbrough. This game can kill you very quickly, and it could be my turn next week.” – Tony Adams.

Runner-up: “I don’t need anyone telling me how to behave or how to live my life as a professional footballer. I know when I am doing things the right way and I know when I’ve got things wrong. I don’t think there is a problem with my temperament. I don’t accept that I need to learn to count to 10 in certain situations because I always feel in control of myself. I do get stuck in during matches, but I like to think that I keep calm both on the pitch and off it. It’s people who don’t know me who like to have a go at me. But I don’t give them a moment’s thought because they’re just not important to me. I wouldn’t like to let my family or my friends down and as long as they’re proud of me that’s all that matters. People who know me will tell you that I am a quiet and shy person at heart. In real life I am the complete opposite of the image that some people have of me.” – Wayne Rooney.

Today’s overview: The transfer rumours are a dime a dozen this Sunday, with Manchester City and Liverpool both quoted as honing in on new signings.

Rory Smith and Jonathan Wilson join forces to report that “City are expected to make a £6 million bid for Newcastle striker Michael Owen when the January transfer window opens on Thursday.” The same story is reported by John Richardson in the Sunday Express, writing “City will this week launch a £6million bid to sign Michael Owen – while Arsenal are looking to snap up Newcastle team-mates Shay Given and Charles N’Zogbia.” A slight difference of opinion is offered by Andy Dunn, penning “City will test Mike Ashley’s resolve by making a £4million bid for Michael Owen.”

Muddying the waters of Owen’s likely future is Rory Smith and Derick Allsop claiming that “it is thought Owen’s representatives will use Liverpool’s visit to St James’s to try to engineer a meeting with both Benitez and Rick Parry” as the striker looks for a return to Anfield. But whether the Reds’ needs an extra forward is in doubt, Michael Walker pointing out that Rafa’s headache over the fact “that Keane has blossomed in Torres’ absence is noted by all. How Benitez accommodates both – or not – could define Liverpool’s challenge.”

One player seemingly on his way to Anfield is Glen Johnson, Tom Hopkinson announcing “Rafa Benitez is keen to land him as soon as possible and Liverpool will pay cash-strapped Pompey £9million.”

Bob Cass, in an article without any supporting quotes, reports that Sparky could be out on his ear after “Jose Mourinho has emerged as the managerial target for Manchester City and their fabulously rich Arab owners.”

With the transfer window almost upon us, clubs who are splurging… [and] their less illustrious rivals who, frustrated and penniless, are forced into a fire sale rather than a buying spree.” In a supplementary article, Jonathan Northcroft offers a club-by-club review of their transfer needs and likely spending budgets. An alternative club-by-club list is offer by Steve Tongue in the Independent on Sunday, and the lists keep on coming with the Mail on Sunday’s Rob Draper looking at what every Premier League wants and what they are likely to get.

Rob Shepherd sticks the boot into Arsene Wenger arguing “the time has come for Wenger to stop picking fights with opposing managers or blaming referees and look at the real reasons Arsenal are struggling. He’ll need a mirror for that. If he can’t see Scrooge staring back, he has a problem which new chief executive Ivan Gazidis may see more clearly.” While difficulties are also in the offing for neighbours Spurs, with Joe Bernstein reporting that “Steve Gibson has blocked £15million-rated Downing from moving… [while] Redknapp admitted his hopes of luring Jermain Defoe back to White Hart Lane had been dashed by a bigger bid from another club.”

Today marks the halfway point of the Premier League season and Paul Wilson credits the newly promoted teams for their role in creating a manic relegation dogfight by “dashing everyone’s comfortable assumption that the Premier League is a tough nut to crack.” Also looking at the Premier League as a whole is Paul Wilson wondering who the standout players of the season are so far, claiming “Nicolas Anelka, Ashley Young and Brad Friedel are doing very well, but are these really outstanding candidates or merely the best of a bad bunch?”

Two of the less revered Premier League managers have the spotlight shun on them this Sunday, as Jon Henderson investigates how Joe Kinnear has steadied the ship at Newcastle while Paul Doyle credits Roy Hodgson’s job at the Cottage noting “Fulham are averaging 52% possession every game, compared to a wasteful 44% under Sanchez, and pass completion in the opposing half is up to 68%, from 59%.”

In an interesting piece by Daniel King, the British managers plying their trade abroad are flagged up. And the focus on the gaffers continues as Tony Adams sat down with Joe Lovejoy for an interview with the Sunday Times, admitting “what I meant was that I wanted his job. I’d love that job. Arsene is showing no signs of moving at the moment but it is my ambition to manage Arsenal Football Club.” (Staying with Pompey, the NOTW report that “Tony Adams is poised to sign Real Madrid midfielder Royston Drenthe on loan until the end of the season.”)

In a typically over the top article, Piers Morgan celebrates David Beckham’s alleged fall at AC Milan. “The Beckham brand died a horrible death in the San Siro. And it died in the most humiliating way possible. Not through anger, or resentment, but through complete and utter disinterest. They just didn’t care about him as a footballer, or as a celebrity.”

And lastly in a standout article looking back at 2008, Rod Liddle labels the last 12 months as being been “characterised by epic delusions and short-term memory loss.” “Gary Megson, a basket case in September, is now a genius. Soon, one suspects, he will be a basket case again. Kevin Keegan wasn’t the messiah, he was just a very naughty boy. Luiz Felipe Scolari, a tactical genius in September, is now apparently not merely unfit to clean the boots of Jose Mourinho, but unfit to clean the boots of Avram Grant. Gareth Southgate was the next manager of England in October and the next manager of Walsall right now.”