The Saints need a miracle, while Ryan Giggs is labelled “the right man at the wrong time”

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “It’s right up there, with personal accolades it’s the best to have as it’s voted by your fellow players. I’ve been fortunate to win a lot of trophies, I won the young player award twice but this is the big one. The manager has been massive in my career from when I first met him when I was 13. That’s over 20 years and he knows me better than anyone and our relationship has been brilliant and just gets better. I’ve been so fortunate to have such a great career in so many great teams, it’s not even worth thinking about what it would have been like without the manager.” – Ryan Giggs.

Runner-up: “I don’t know whether it’s the biggest game for 17 years, but it will be the most important game these players have played for Newcastle, without a doubt, and I suppose from my point of view as well. Hopefully, we’ll have 11, 12, 13 heroes and it’s certainly a chance to make people sit up and say, ‘Newcastle are going to scrap for everything.’ I know we keep asking fans for things and they might get fed up with it, but for our three home games I’m asking them to really turn it on. I understand that they’re as nervous as everyone, but I want the atmosphere to be intimidating.” – Alan Shearer.

Today’s overview: Are Southampton FC about to disappear?

The club appears to be in crisis this Monday, Jeremy Alexander announcing “Southampton will go out of business in eight days unless they find a buyer, ­according to a source at St Mary’s.” Patrick Barclay picks up the slack, identifying where it all went wrong for the Saints. “The sad reflection is that Southampton might have been saved 17 months ago had Lowe and his fellow directors, Michael Wilde and Leon Crouch, accepted a takeover bid from a group led by Ray Ranson, the former Manchester City player now in charge at Coventry City and looking forward to another season in the Championship.”

Having won the 2009 PFA award, the scribes line up to assess Ryan Giggs. For Mikey Stafford, “advocates would point to the influence Giggs maintains in the United midfield – developing a more creative game from a central role to compensate for the loss of his once blistering pace.” Martin Johnson comes steamrolling in for The Times boasting that “[Giggs] is still turning in top-notch performances for Manchester United in an era when the game is even more of a frantic blur than his manager’s demolition of a stick of chewing gum.”

The Times’ Matt Hughes delivers the case against Giggs. “The Manchester United winger is the classic case of the right man at the wrong time. Giggs’s failure to win the award earlier in his career is a historical curiosity, but that is no reason to make amends now.” The analysis of Giggs’ award is ended by The Times publishing a list of who their pundits backed for the prize.

Writing his match report from the Emirates, David Hytner pens “Fabregas’s goals that pressed Middles­brough one step closer to the Championship were of the highest order and Ferguson would have left north London under no illusions about the creative force that his team must nullify.” A similar point is made by Sam Wallace – “[Ferguson] came yesterday to see with his own eyes the bad news for Manchester United: Cesc Fabregas is back to his very best.” While David Pleat focused on the Gunners’ tactics pointing out how “Arsenal’s triangles were too much for Middlesbrough’s square defence.”

But ahead of Arsenal’s Champions League semi-final with United, Alan Hansen has his reservations. “Sure, they are on a 20-game unbeaten run in the Premier League and their form is impressive, but they haven’t won anything for four years…It’s great having a long unbeaten run, but unless that leads to a trophy, nobody remembers it. They just look at the history books and say that was another year Arsenal failed to win a trophy.”

On Rovers’ victory over Wigan, Jeremy Cross salutes Big Sam’s use of Christopher Samba as a makeshift forward. “While Samba may lack the prowess of Fernando Torres or Cristiano Ronaldo, the Congo international is undoubtedly a handful and Allardyce’s bold decision proved justified. Just ask Wigan Athletic’s centre backs, Titus Bramble and Paul Scharner.”

Ahead of Newcastle match with Pompey tonight, Oliver Kay lays out the task for Little Mickey. “Owen has five games to save Newcastle and, in doing so, save himself by proving to the doubters — most notably Fabio Capello, the England manager — that he is still a world-class goalscorer who can play at the highest level.” Paul Kelso is prepared for the worst, warning the Magpies “that failure could prompt the most dramatic decline since Leeds United went into free fall.”

Rather than spouting the usual negativity, Martin Samuel opts to laud the rich array of foreign talent playing in the Premier League. “What the foreign influx has given us is the most exciting league in the world, because it takes the best of English football and the best of the continental game… We are influencing them as much as they are influencing us; it is strange that English football gets least credit from Englishmen.”

Changing tracks, Balotelli-racism issues which have engulfed Serie A. “Welcome to a story about black and white that seems filled with shades of grey… You can call somebody the n-word all day long and not be racist – that is, not be prejudiced towards those of a different race. And, by the same token, you can sit on your hands and say nothing but then find excuses not to employ a qualified black applicant or discourage your sister from dating a man of African descent.”

Sam Wallace rants against summer tours for Premier League teams. “The mania for summer tours has reached a feverish pitch in English football. This psychotic belief in clubs’ marketing departments that if they do not immediately convert the entire population of Busan into football fans then they, and their disposable income, will be lost forever to the NHL or the NBA. Only Arsenal stand alone – and good on them for returning once again to ArsEne Wenger’s bootcamp in Bad Waltersdorf, Austria, for morning runs in the mountains.”

Finally we end with Monday’s nonsense in the tabloids. John Edwards farts in the Daily Mail “Arsene Wenger has given Arsenal a massive boost by rejecting an ambitious bid by Bayern Munich to instal him as their new manager.” While in the transfers, Alan Nixon claims “Manchester United are back in for Karim Benzema” and Ashley Gray writes that “troubled Brazil striker Adriano will be offered the chance to revive his career with Rio de Janeiro club Flamengo.”