Anorak News | Operating Theatre

Operating Theatre

by | 3rd, September 2002

‘LAST night’s brilliant match at Anfield, in which Newcastle came back from 2-0 down to salvage one point (and almost stole all three), was a timely reminder of why so many millions of people are infatuated by this game.

Hip-Hip Hooray

It is sometimes worth reminding ourselves, especially when the back pages of this morning’s papers are concerned with everything but events on the pitch.

Mostly, it is all about Manchester United skipper and all-purpose lunatic Roy Keane.

The Mail headlines its piece ”Keane Cracks”, which we half expect to be followed by a fellow-player’s cheekbone. But it is actually Keane’s mental state that is under examination, with the paper claiming that manager Sir Alex Ferguson has decided to leave his mini-me out of the match against Middlesbrough tonight because of his state of mind rather than the state of his body.

But it is the state of his body that concerns the other papers, with the Sun reporting that Keane will undergo a hip operation today which will rule him out for three months.

”That means,” the paper says, ”the Manchester United skipper will be able to serve his FA ban for being sent off at Sunderland on Saturday and the expected misconduct rap following revelations in his book – while he recovers.”

The Express makes the same point, saying Keane has effectively outwitted the FA with what it calls ”Operation Freedom”, although as he is expected to miss 19 first-team games it is a curious type of freedom.

England play their first game since their World Cup quarter-final exit to Brazil on Saturday, but will do so without the services of either Steven Gerrard and Kieron Dyer.

The Mirror says Sven Goran Eriksson’s plans for the friendly against Portugal are in tatters following last night’s double blow, although anyone who say Dyer run around so ineffectually for 90 minutes last night will not lose too much sleep over the midfielder’s shin splints problem.

It is a different matter with Gerrard. His absence from England’s World Cup squad cost the country dear – but would it have made any difference to the final result?

With criticism of Sven Goran Eriksson’s laid-back attitude during the campaign under fire from certain players – in particular the complaint that when the players needed Winston Churchill at half-time against Brazil, they got Iain Duncan Smith instead – the Swede has challenged the players to voice their concerns at a showdown tomorrow night ahead of the friendly at Villa Park.

Eriksson told the Star: ”If someone could guarantee we would have played better if I had shouted and screamed at the players, I would have done.”

And it is fair to suggest that if the players are not able to motivate themselves for a World Cup quarter-final against the most famous footballing team in the world, then they should look to themselves for the reasons for their dismal second-half performance, not the manager.

Posted: 3rd, September 2002 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink