Premier League - Paper Round: Mancini plans victory tattoo
The time has finally come for the Manchester clubs to decide the Premier League title, and the Sunday back pages suggest Sir Alex Ferguson is already planning for next season.
Arnold Schwarzenegger provides the inspiration for the Mail on Sunday’s final-day coverage, with Ferguson’s renewed vigour during one of the Premier League’s finer title chases triggering the headline: “I’ll be back!”
According to Joe Bernstein, Fergie expects to miss out on league glory this season but has warned United’s bitter rivals ”that their title challenge has made him feel three years younger and only increased his desire to continue as manager at Old Trafford”.
Best story of the day, however, comes from the the Sunday Mirror which reports that Mancini is being challenged by club staff to keep an old promise and have the Manchester City badge tattooed on his leg if he leads the club to their first league title since 1968.
Mancini had the Sampdoria crest inked on his right leg after winning the Serie A title with the Italian side in 1991, and could repeat the stunt.
“Mancini wants magnificent seven”, proclaims the Sun on Sunday, as the Man City boss eyes a match of his seven trophies in four years as Inter Milan coach before the Premier League has even been secured.
Meanwhile, their columnist Roy Keane writes that losing the title to City will haunt United’s players for years.
“You might think I’m exaggerating,” (ghost)writes the former Red Devils skipper. “I can tell you I’m not, because I still get nightmares about losing out on the final day of the season in 1995.
“And if you think United losing a title to Blackburn Rovers is bad, believe me; it would be much, much worse to do it to Manchester City.”
The Observer’s Jamie Jackson writes that “ecstasy or not, the exodus will follow at Manchester City” – with Carlos Tevez at the top of the £200 million-valued list.
The paper tots up the amount spent on the City stars who are thought to be on their way out this summer, figuring that the cost of Carlos Tevez (transfer fee £47m), Edin Dzeko (£27m), Mario Balotelli (£24m), Aleksandar Kolarov (£19m), Kolo Touré (£16m), Adam Johnson (£7m), Stefan Savic (£6m) and David Pizarro (free) plus their wages means that "more than a quarter of a billion pounds of Sheikh Mansour's investment could walk out of the door".
The Sunday Telegraph compares the title duel to a six-act theatrical work.
- Act one in which London is temporarily displaced as the nation’s capital
- Act two in which City discover triumph in adversity
- Act three in which both clubs endure a bleak midwinter
- Act four in which United unearth a midfield gem on their coaching staff
- Act six in which United rip up the history books
In addition they offer a cliff-hanger of a final thought: “If City had beaten United 2-1 instead of 6-1 in October, they would now be level on goal difference.”
And from drama to history, as the Star on Sunday opts for the retrospective approach between what City could achieve today and the last time they were the best team in the land:
“The last time Man City were league champions Harold Wilson was PM, the first episodes of Dad’s Army were showing, the Kray Twins had just been banged up and The Sound of Music was the top film,” the paper says.
“Since 1968 10 different teams have won the league. Not just the usual suspects like Man United and Arsenal, but Derby and Forest as well.
“But 44 years of hurt must surely end just before 5pm today when Roberto Mancini’s men beat QPR and possibly relegate the Londoners.”
In other news, the potential new name on the Premier League trophy takes up a large slice of column space outside of the final game of the season, as Belgian wonderkid Eden Hazard tops the City summer wishlist, according to The Sun on Sunday.
The paper reports that City are set to pounce for £35m-rated Hazard after he tweeted: "Two games more to play in the colours of LOSC [Lille] ... Sniff."
The Sunday Mirror, meanwhile, speculates that Kenny Dalglish’s days are numbered despite Liverpool making it to two domestic cup finals.
Simon Mullock notes that Anfield supremos John W Henry and Tom Werner "feel Dalglish must take some of the blame” after numerous other staff members have received the axe for the club struggling to keep up the pace with the big boys, despite spending heavily in the transfer market.
The Daily Star reckons that Liverpool are eyeing Wigan boss Roberto Martinez as a potential replacement.
According to the Mail on Sunday, John Terry is set to miss out on Euro 2012 as new national coach Roy Hodgson looks forced to choose between the Chelsea captain and Rio Ferdinand due to issues between the two stemming from Terry’s alleged racist abuse towards Rio’s brother Anton.
And finally, Alan Pardew expects his high-flying Newcastle side to lose their top stars unless they can secure Champions League football next season, according to The Observer.
Even if today’s results leave the Magpies in the top four, Chelsea could still consign them to Europa League action in 2012/13 should they defeat Bayern Munich and claim Europe’s ultimate prize.
The Premier League’s manager of the year feels such a turn of events could spell the end for Cheik Tioté, Tim Krul, Papiss Cissé and Yohan Cabaye – though Demba Ba’s degenerative knee condition means the striker is likely to stay put.