Wenger’s distaste for spending, new owners at Anfield & Roy Keane’s future at Ipswich

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “At the moment we are looking forward to acquiring 50 per cent of the club’s stake. The deal will be concluded soon and its value will be between £200 and £350 million. If we finalise the deal, it will be something marvellous because Liverpool is one of the best and most famous clubs in England and the whole world.” – Prince Faisal bin Fahad bin Abdullah al-Saud.

Runner-up: “There is money to spend [a reported £80m after last year’s accounts were filed] but at the moment I am very happy with the squad I have. It’s not because I’m against spending money; I have nothing against spending money. It is not a personal thing, it is just that I have a squad that is strong enough to compete.” – Arsene Wenger.


Today’s overview: The backpages lack any consistency this Tuesday as several topics, including Wenger’s distaste for spending, new owners at Anfield and Roy Keane’s future at Ipswich, all battle for the headlines.

Many of the papers carry quotes from Arsene Wenger today as the Gunners’ boss prepares tho make history at the North Londoners. As explained by Jamie Jackson, “Arsene Wenger has described the Arsenal board as ‘crazy’ for appointing him in 1996 as he prepares to become the club’s longest-serving manager, beating George Allinson who took over from the great Herbert Chapman in 1934 and lasted 4,748 days.”

Entrenched in his ways, Sam Wallace applauds the Professor’s latest comments in which he again reaffirmed his decision not to go on a spending spree despite the fullness of the Gunners’ coffers. “Wenger is right not to mortgage Arsenal’s future on chasing trophies but, as with most good things in football, we will probably only really appreciate that long after he has gone. The club’s money is not Wenger’s own, but he definitely treats it as if it were.”

Another day, and another reported foreigner is set to buy into Liverpool.

As reported by an Indian billionaire is the latest wealthy individual to express an interest in investing in Liverpool… Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Abdullah al-Saud, a member of the Saudi Arabian Royal Family who claimed he is ready to offer up to £350 million for a 50 per cent stake in Liverpool at the weekend.” Paul Kelso muddies the waters though by announcing in the Telegraph that “on Monday night, Barry Didato, a director of Prince Faisal’s investment vehicle, F6, said that the company had signed an exclusivity agreement with Gillett and that due diligence was underway with a view to buying Gillett’s 50 per cent stake.”

Something strange is happening this season in the Premier League as draws are virtually extinct in the English top flight, and Stuart James wants to find out why. “Only four of the 66 top-flight matches played have ended as draws. It is a remarkable statistic that has prompted much head-scratching in the world of football following another weekend when not a single Premier League game finished with teams sharing the points… Maybe this is what Jimmy Hill envisaged would happen almost 30 years ago when he proposed the introduction of three points for a win and talked about revolutionising football.”

Over in the Daily Mail, pretty-boy Jamie Redknapp trumpets the old “new ball” excuse as a possible reason for the amount of goals scored this season in the league. “Goalkeepers must be having nightmares. No sooner does Cristiano Ronaldo move to Spain than a new ball arrives with added dip and swerve. It’s called the Nike Total90 Ascente ball, and it has to be one of the reasons behind the flood of goals this season.”

Manchester United’s old guard receive praise this Tuesday as the evergreen elder statesmen outshine the whippersnappers at Old Trafford.

Kevin McCarra claims that Manchester United have filled the void left by CR9. “Manchester United have their successor to Cristiano Ronaldo, even if marketing income is going to be restricted for a greying footballer who turns 36 in November. Ryan Giggs cannot object to a circular career that has brought him round again to a spell in which he is a devastating game-changer.” Over in The Times, waxes lyrical over Paul Scholes. “Scholes is the most accurate passer in the top flight this season. A remarkable 92.6 per cent of his 309 attempted passes have been successful, a statistic that helps to explain why he has overtaken Michael Carrick and Anderson as being Sir Alex Ferguson’s first choice in the centre of midfield alongside Darren Fletcher.”

Contrasting the Indian summers of United’s seniors, over in the blue half of Manchester, Mark Ogden notices how one particular youngster is failing to develop. “[Micah] Richards is now struggling even to earn a start for his club. He is not approaching a crossroads, he is now standing at one… The player’s value has dropped with concerns over his positional sense and ability on the ball now threatening to stifle his unfulfilled potential. But perhaps he now needs a move to relaunch his career.”

Picking up the subject of cheating in football, Patrick Barclay makes the case that strikers are not the worst offenders. “Defenders do infinitely more cheating than forwards (I’d love to read a good thesis on why there is less revulsion towards it) and, until referees start detecting and punishing it, a forward’s duty to the game will be to draw attention to it. Only three categories of people would disagree: those with no understanding of football; those who yearn for all matches to end 0-0; and hypocrites.”

As the sack race continues to speed up, Matt Dickinson wonders how long it will be until Roy Keane walks the plank at Ipswich. “The notion of Keane as a brooding loner is not new but it is particularly pressing at a time when his Ipswich Town team sit one place off the bottom of the Coca-Cola Championship with no victories in nine matches.” But Keano has a plan to get the Tractor Boys out of trouble, Oliver Brown claiming that the proposed solution is to buy even more players. “Keane was involved in meetings on Sunday with owner Marcus Evans to discuss the increasing peril. It is understood that the priority was to bring in two centre-halves on loan in the next week, as a remedy for Ipswich’s defensive ills, and not, as commonly supposed, to plot the manager’s exit strategy.”

For James Lawton, Roy Keane’s biggest problems are self-made. “The most severe problem for Keane is the one he has shaped himself, the one which suggests he has an infallible sense of what is right and wrong in football, which attitudes are true and which are false, with the result that he carries a great burden of expectation.”

The Guardian roll out their usual European round up this Tuesday.

Sid Lowe reports the breaking news from Spain that Barcelona have been found to have been spying on their own directors. “Catalan newspaper El Periódico revealed that Barcelona’s director general Joan Oliver had organised €56,000 (£52,000) worth of surveillance on vice-presidents Jaume Ferrer, Joan Boix, Rafael Yuste and Joan Franquesa.”

Elsewhere, Paolo Bandini chews over the departure of Andrea Della Valle as chairman of Fiorentina and  Raphael Honigstein gives the low-down on the Ruhr derby most notable for being the most heavily policed home game in Borussia Dortmund’s history.

We end with the tabloid lies.

The Sun fart that “Arsenal ace Carlos Vela is a shock January transfer target for Spanish side Xerez,” while the Mirror shout “Nigel Reo-Coker will be offered an escape route out of his Aston Villa nightmare by Fulham. Fulham boss Roy Hodgson is considering a £3m move for the Villa midfielder in the January transfer window.”