Sir Alex Ferguson had had a quiet couple of weeks, all things considered. The furore over the futures of Cristiano Ronaldo & Carlos Tévez had long since died down, the modest signings of Antonio Valencia, Michael Owen & Gabriel Obertan had been completed with minimal fuss, and United’s tour of Asia was underway.
But today, the Manchester United manager has thrust himself firmly into the kind of cross-city-conflict that used to be reserved for the likes of Francis Lee, Mike Summerbee, Paddy Crerand & Nobby Stiles.
Speaking in typically candid, and borderline vitriolic, terms, Ferguson told the Observer that Manchester City’s joy at securing the signature of Tévez- seemingly at United’s expense- smacked of “a small club with a small club mentality”, before going on to claim that City’s other major forward signing- Emmanuel Adebayor- had been “desperate” not to join the club, suggesting that the Togolese international’s representatives had contacted both United & Chelsea in a bid to secure a deal, having already spoken to City.
The Scot had been riled by a poster erected in Manchester city centre showing a grinning Tévez above the slogan “Welcome to Manchester”, and was quick to dismiss the significance of the Argentine’s arrival at Eastlands, saying “For all the buying they have done, they still have to pick a team with balance. That won’t be easy for Mark. What’s he got, 10 strikers? So if he picks a squad to go to Chelsea he has to leave seven behind, or five at least.”
It is a point not too far from the truth. City’s attacking options, as stated elsewhere this week, are plentiful. They have already offloaded Felipe Caicedo & Ched Evans this week, but in Tévez, Adebayor, Roque Santa Cruz, Robinho & Craig Bellamy, they have five £14m plus strikers to shoehorn into an acceptable side. Ferguson’s sneers may indicate a similar lack of class to the one he has often accused other sides and managers of but, like all the best insults, his retain more than a grain of truth.
Sven livens things up
To be perfectly honest, it has been a bit of slow news week with regards to the Premier League. So it was refreshing to see Sven-Göran Eriksson roll into League Two outfit Notts County and their rickety Meadow Lane ground this week, with the plan of bringing top flight football to the club.
Eriksson’s reign as Director of Football (not to be confused with team manager) began with a promising 2-1 victory over the more illustrious side of Nottingham- Forest. On target at a sun-drenched Meadow Lane, in front of a 12,000 plus crowd, was Eriksson’s first signing, the former West Brom, Coventry & Oldham striker Lee Hughes. Hughes has something of a chequered past of course, having served three years of a six year sentence for causing death by dangerous driving, but represents a smart move by the Magpies as they bid to begin a revolution under their smiling Swede.
Steven Gerrard is acquitted
The other story to dominate the news waves in England this week centred on Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, and his own battle with the law. Gerrard was arrested in December of last year after an altercation with a man, 34 year old Marcus McGhee, in a Southport bar. The incident apparently came about when McGhee refused Gerrard permission to change the venue’s music, and resulted in McGhee losing a tooth and suffering cuts and bruises to his face.
Liverpool Crown Court heard a week’s worth of evidence, played out tiresomely in the gaze of the national media, with CCTV footage of Gerrard now engrained in the public’s consciousness, and every man and his dog offering an opinion as to the innocence or otherwise of the star.
In the end, Gerrard was acquitted of all charges- though his five co-defendants (including two Accrington Stanley footballers) all admitted to affray- and was told by the judge that he could walk away “with his reputation intact”. His manager, Rafael Benítez, has said that he is glad his captain can now concentrate on football, and Gerrard responded positively on Friday by turning out for a reserve team at Tranmere Rovers, scoring Liverpool’s first in a 2-2 draw.
Terry commits future to Chelsea
John Terry finally spoke to the press today and confirmed what his manager (and most pundits) had been saying all along – that he will stay with Chelsea. The reason offered for his silence so far was also fairly predictable – that he had been waiting for discussions with the board and the owner (funny how the player has to talk to the owner before deciding his future instead of the manager) before making his thoughts known public.
Terry says that the thought of leaving Chelsea never occurred to him. If we are to take that at face value, then at the very least the offer from Manchester City would have been the stick Terry would have used to to renegotiate his wages to a parity with Lampard.
What do Chelsea fans think though – are they happy that Terry is staying or would they have rather watched him go and taken the money?
And who will City sign at center-back now?