Anorak News | Countdown To Kick-Off

Countdown To Kick-Off

by | 4th, August 2003

‘ENGLAND have not even lost the Test series against South Africa yet, but the papers’ attentions are already turning to the country’s proper summer sport – football.

Would the last West Ham striker please close the gates on the way out?

There is now less than a week left before the season kicks off and the papers that briefly flirted with cricket over the past couple of weeks are back in the arms of their one true love.

The Sun celebrates by publishing a special 32-page soccer mag, covering friendly matches as if they matter and predicting that West Ham’s Jermain Defoe will be a Manchester United player by the weekend.

The paper claims that Sir Alex Ferguson is prepared to offer £10m for the 20-year-old, who it says has already bought a house in Manchester.

However, if Defoe does leave, he will be very much second fiddle to Ruud Van Nistelrooy, with the Express claiming that Ferguson wants the Dutchman to commit to Old Trafford for the rest of his career.

‘The United boss is ready to offer his Dutch striker a new six-year deal that would make him one of the club’s highest-paid players on about £80,000 a week,’ it says.

Up to now, it may have been Chelsea who have made all the running in the transfer market, but Ferguson does not expect them to make the running in the Premiership.

Indeed, the United boss happily tells the Mirror that the Blues are not ready to win the title and it will again come down to a battle between United and Arsenal.

One team that we can all agree won’t be challenging are Spurs, who managed to get booed off the pitch in a pre-season friendly yesterday.

They are relying on another striker from West Ham to revive their fortunes, with Freddie Kanoute expected to make the move across London by the end of the week.

All of which leaves Hammers fans wondering who will lead the line this season, given that it looks like they will be without their three first-choice strikers.

And if anyone doubted that October’s crucial Euro 2004 qualifier in Turkey will be a heated affair, Steven Gerrard poured petrol on the flames yesterday by being sent off in Liverpool’s game against Galatasaray.

The Mail says the England midfielder had already been booked for joining in an ugly brawl before he was sent off for dissent.

He is already suspended for the first three Premiership games following his red card at Chelsea on the final day of last season.

And so finally to cricket, where the papers expect to see wholesale changes after England’s dismal innings defeat to South Africa yesterday.

Only Michael Vaughan, Marcus Trescothick, Mark Butcher and Andrew Flintoff (who scored a marvellous 142 yesterday) are considered safe from the axe.

Alec Stewart, Darren Gough and Nasser Hussain should start looking for publishers for their memoirs…

Posted: 4th, August 2003 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink