Ferdinand T-shirt row: Is Rio on Ferguson's Man Utd kill list?

Oct 22, 2012

Premier League talking points from Rio's racism statement to insipid, abject Arsenal

IS IT all over for Rio Ferdinand at Manchester United? Whatever the rights and wrongs of his decision not to don an anti-racism T-shirt this weekend, one thing is clear: by not supporting the Kick it Out campaign, he disobeyed and infuriated his manager Alex Ferguson. Few players last long at Old Trafford once they have done that. Ferdinand could now become the latest player to join the likes of Jaap Stam, David Beckham and Roy Keane on Fergie's 'kill list'. The United manager has backed Ferdinand throughout the John Terry row, but the injury-prone defender is now almost 34 and once the latest Old Trafford injury crisis has passed, and Nemanja Vidic, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are back, he will have plenty of other options at centre-back. Fergie may now decide it's time to wave goodbye to Ferdinand.

Raheem Sterling became the second-youngest goalscorer in Liverpool's history on Saturday, behind Michael Owen, when he netted a much-needed winner against Reading at Anfield. The 17-year-old is now being tipped for greatness, but there is a long road ahead. Sterling is just one of a crop of youngsters being brought into the side by new boss Brendan Rodgers, who is planning for the future rather than harking back to better times. "As a club, Liverpool still talk too much about the past, but in Rodgers at least they have someone who is obsessing about the future. Sterling has now become an emblem of what might be," notes The Daily Telegraph.

It doesn't take long to go from hero to zero in the Premier League. Before the international break there were whispers that Arsenal had rediscovered their mojo and could challenge for honours this season. After 90 frustrating minutes at Carrow Road on Saturday, that notion had gone up in smoke. The Gunners failed to score for the third time this season and ended the game with the grim trio of Andrei Arshavin, Olivier Giroud and Gervinho up front alongside 17-year-old debutant Serge Gnabry. "Abject", moaned The Guardian, "insipid", said The Times, "bereft of creativity", lamented The Daily Telegraph. Even Arsene Wenger admitted he was angry. "Playing for fourth place looks as good as it will get, once again," said the Times.

Chelsea's stellar start to the season continued with an emphatic victory over Spurs, and former boss Andre Villas Boas, at White Hart Lane on Saturday. Such was the vibrancy of Chelsea's football that even the toxic topic of John Terry, serving a four-match ban for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, could be overlooked. "This season, with the addition of fine young talents such as Oscar and Eden Hazard alongside the superb Juan Mata, [Roman] Abramovich may finally be getting to witness the flesh and blood embodiment of his somewhat fantasised football philosophy," sighed Phil McNulty of the BBC.

Manchester City obviously so enjoyed the manner in which they won the title last season, beating QPR with almost the final kick of the game, that they have taken to recreating the drama at every possible opportunity. So far this season they have come from behind to beat Southampton and Fulham and earn draws against Liverpool and Stoke. But against West Brom they produced their greatest comeback yet. Reduced to ten men in the first half and trailing 1-0 with 12 minutes remaining, Edin Dzeko was sent on and struck twice to earn City a win at The Hawthorns. Joe Hart also performed a fine save in injury time to keep City in the game. "Who knows whether Mancini is great, or lucky, or both?" asked The Independent.

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