Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I’m fed up with seeing Man United winning trophies. I want to push on as a player and win so many more things for this football club. I want to win the Champions League. I swear to God Iâ€™m desperate to win it. But Iâ€™m really desperate to get the title back off Manchester United. Itâ€™s been three years and itâ€™s killed me personally. Going three years without the Prem title isnâ€™t where we want to be as a football club.” – John Terry.
Runner-up: “Tragedy struck Espanyol and the family of Dani Jarque this evening. The player died from a cardiac arrest. The doctor carried out CPR on the player and used a defibrillator, which showed that the arrest was non responsive. RCD Espanyol, broken with pain, wish to put themselves at the absolute disposition of the family of our captain Dani Jarque, to whom go our warmest thoughts.” – an Espanyol club statement.
Today’s overview: With the start of the new season just around the corner, it’s prediction day in the Sundays.
Paul Wilson welcomes the return of the Premier League, however predictable it may turn out. “There is no doubt that the Premier League is skewed in favour of the handful of clubs with most resources and yearly admission to the Champions League cash buffet, yet to drastically paraphrase Woody Allen’s thoughts on sex without love being such an empty feeling, as predictable leagues go, England’s is surely one of the best.”
Less excited is Rod Liddle, who rants that the Premier League is all about one thing – money. “We have become inured to the obscene economics of the whole enterprise. When the money business is brought up, those supporters of the Premier Leagueâ€™s top teams always respond with the accusation of jealousy: come on, you would like to earn that much, you wish your team could afford to pay so much for players, as if that were the only response needed, rendering all other arguments void.”
Steve Tongue lays down his predictions in the battle against the drop. “Hull may not be so lucky this time; Stoke have found it hard to attract the quality they can now afford. Wolves, having bought shrewdly, ought to be able to avoid their neighbours’ fate, leaving Burnley, who conceded 60 goals against Championship opposition, and Birmingham more vulnerable. Neighbouring Blackburn and Bolton might be expected to swap places in the lower reaches and Steve Bruce ought to keep Sunderland safe.”
Also laying down his pre-season predictions is self-centred toff, Pier Morgan. “Portsmouth will be absolutely fine. I know the guy who is buying them, Sulaiman Al-Fahim, and he is not only a very serious businessman, heâ€™s also stinking rich. So relax, Pompey fans.” Pier’s assessment of Pompey is at odds with Paul Smith’s report in the Sunday Mirror, which cries “Gaydamak has become so exasperated by negotiations with Fahim that he has set a seven-day deadline for the deal to be completed.”
Ahead of the Community Shield, Frank Lampard speaks to Matt Hughes about playing for several more years yet. “With the correct training and nutrition I donâ€™t see why I canâ€™t go on until Iâ€™m 37 or 38.”
Aiming to change our perception of history, Henry Winter details how Chelsea are historically one of England’s biggest clubs. “For all their troughs and travails, for all their total of 19 seasons out of the top flight, Chelsea still rank in the top 10 clubs in terms of domestic achievements since the first ball was kicked back when Victoria was a queen not a station.”
And no day would be complete without Newcastle bashing with Paul Hetherington spilling the beans that “Joey Barton was dumped on Newcastleâ€™s subsâ€™ bench for the first game of the season at West Brom last night â€“ after a training ground bust-up with Argie team-mates Jonas Guitterez and Fabricio Coloccini.”
On Manchester United, the big question is who can lead the Red Devils now that Cristiano Ronaldo has left.
Steve Tongue believes the hole left by Ronaldo’s departure is too big for one man to fill alone. “Antonio Valencia, the Â£17m signing from Wigan, will do his best on the right-hand side; in terms of goals, and stature, however, Ferguson is looking to Dimitar Berbatov to improve on his tentative first season.” Similarly, Rory Smith picks on Dimitar Berbatov to prove himself as Fergie’s record signing. “Ferguson is almost beyond criticism at this stage of his career, but one of the few failings generally attributed to him is an inability to spend big money well… The question marks hover… over Berbatov.”
Henry Winter calls on Nani to start becoming a leader at Old Trafford. “The moment has come for Nani. As a slick winger with flamboyant footwork from Sporting Lisbon, it was inevitable that he would be compared with Cristiano Ronaldo, to dwell in his shadow. Now, bathed in the cold light of his compatriot’s absence, Nani is ready to shine, starting with the Community Shield against Chelsea on Sunday.”
Turning to matters international, Steve Tongue explains why Michael Owen is rightly still outside the England reckoning. “The best five strikers in Capello’s opinion… when England rounded off last season… were Rooney, Emile Heskey, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe and Carlton Cole. It would be odd if four goals on a tour of Asia against teams like Hangzhou Greentown suddenly propelled Owen ahead of any two of those and into contention for Wednesday.”
Manchester City remain the big unknown ahead of the new season, but Jonathan Northcroft urges readers to lower the expectations on the Citizens. “The last time City finished in the top six of the Premier League? How about never. Fifth in 1991-92 is their best modern season. Hughes has been asking for patience since beginning his spree and supporters may have to hear that refrain a little longer.” Keeping with City, plucking out “what ifs” from seemingly thin air, Ian Ridley invents a series of scenarios in which Eastlands could implode. “What will be obscene is if all the money being pumped into the club by the new owner, Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, is discovered to be loans to add to the Premier League’s debt… should the club not hit the global heights [Sheik Mansour] expects in the next few seasons, then how strong will be his stickability?”
The Mail on Sunday have a fake exclusive from Rob Draper as the hack barfs “Alan Shearer could return as Newcastle manager as early as next week â€” but only if owner Mike Ashley is willing to accept a Â£70million offer for the club from Geordie businessman Barry Moat.” And in a second spurious article from Mr. Draper we are informed that West Ham are now being forced to sell Matthew Upson “after the clubâ€™s cash-strapped Icelandic owners ordered them to raise Â£10million from player sales before the close of the transfer window.”
A week after the Emirates Cup, Duncan Castles continues to trumpet the talents of Jack Wilshere. “He has demonstrated a rare ability to steal past top-level opponents in the final third of the field. His attacking game awareness and the quality of his left foot are also compelling weapons.” Paul Hetherington then wades in with the typically tabloid hype, shouting “Jack Wilshere could sensationally break into Englandâ€™s World Cup squad.”
Osvaldo “Ossie” Ardiles offers Spurs fans a trip down memory lane in an in-depth interview with the Sunday Times.
With the transfer window slowly approaching its close, the Sunday rags as jam-packed with lies of moves that are unlikely to happen.
Paul Smith delivers the first porky of the day scribbling that “Chelsea have tabled a last-ditch British record Â£40million for Franck Ribery.” Over in the NOTW though we learn that “Carlo Ancelotti will pay an astonishing Â£45million for Alexandre Pato – and then loan him back to AC Milan for a year!”
Moving over to North London, Aiden McGee splashes with news that “Spurs are ready to make a new bid of Â£21million for England winger Ashley Young.”
John Richardson touts Richard Dunne making a Â£5million move to Aston Villa, while according to his fellow Sunday Express colleague Tony Stenson, “Liverpool, Everton, Aston Villa and West Ham are checking out Marseilleâ€™s unsettled playmaker Mathieu Valbuena.”
With Manchester City still tracking Joeleon Lescott, Andy Dunn talks down the qualities of the defender. “Lescott is a competent, if unexceptional, defender. On the Ferdinand scale, more Anton than Rio. For a centre-half, a decent eye for goal. Premier League class, not world class. A stand-in for England, not a shoo-in.” The NOTW also make public that “David Moyes has snubbed Besiktas’ Â£8million bid for striker Louis Saha.”
According to Dave Kidd’s EXCLUSIVE in the People, “David Moyes is the No.1 choice to become the new Manchester United boss when Sir Alex Ferguson decides to retire.”