The second part of my selection of the best quotes from last season’s Premier League

The ever loyal John Terry

Terry on Ancelotti, May 12: “He’s got my full support. I love Carlo”

Terry on Hiddink, June 3: “Yeah, I would [like to see him back]. He’s obviously a very good guy. I’ve been in contact with him since he left. I kept in contact on a personal level. That speaks volumes for him.”

Terry on Mark Hughes, June 3: “He’s someone that hopefully the club will be talking to. If it’s him he will be welcomed by the players.”

He’s not for sale for any price, wait they have offered how much?

Alan Pardew proving 110% does exist in football, on January 6, when speaking about Andy Carroll: “I can’t say to you strong enough, Andy Carroll will not leave this football club in this window. 100 per cent.”

Alan Pardew, on the January 17: “They can put together whatever they like. He is not for sale. I am going to say it one last time, he is not for sale.”

Alan Pardew, on February 1, after selling Andy Carroll to Liverpool: “We decided with the size of the offer, and what it meant to us, that we would accept.”

Tony Pulis’ paranoia

Despite being just 3 points shy of the magical 40 points mark by March 19, Pulis was taking nothing for granted when asked if his team were safe: “No. It might even be more than 40 points now, if you look at the table.

“We’ve got eight games to go, four games at home. We’ve got to make sure that we pick points up.

It does look really, really tough all the way through, so we certainly need some more points.”

In their next game Stoke moved on to 40 points but the relegation battle in Pulis’ head continued: “We’re not home and we’re certainly not dry.”

The humble Nicklas Bendtner

Bendtner justifies his £50,000 a week wages: “‘There is a price to pay as well for us players. I am not complaining. It’s a natural part of being a professional footballer but it is definitely a price to pay when, for example, you can’t go out to eat in a restaurant with your girlfriend without photographers chasing you. The biggest thing I miss because of football is that I really, really love to go on a skiing holiday but as long as I have my career, I can’t do that because of the risk of being injured.

Bendtner speaking ahead of Arsenal’s visit to the Nou Camp: “Can I lead the line against Barcelona? Of course.” He went on to play 12 minutes as a second half substitute.

Arsenal sports psychologist Jacques Crevoisier: “One of the categories is called ‘self perceived competence,’ i.e. how good the player himself thinks he is. On a scale up to 9, Bendtner got 10!

“When Bendtner misses a chance, he is always genuinely convinced that it wasn’t his fault. You might say that’s a problem, and to a certain degree it can be.


With the season coming to a close, here’s a look back at some of the best of the worst quotes by players and managers from the season.

The wisdom of the West Ham chairmen

David Gold, West Ham co-chairman, on Avram Grant’s appointment: “I have to say that having met Avram and spent some time with him that we have got our man. He is a perfect fit.”

David Sullivan, West Ham co-chairman, after Avram Grant’s sacking: “Avram is a lovely person but the results sadly speak for themselves that it was a bad selection by the board.”

David Sullivan after Grant’s appointment: “We have taken our time over this appointment and are certain we have got the right man.

Sullivan learns his lesson as he searches for Grant’s successor:The sooner the better, that is important.”

Psychic Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard on why Joe Cole is better than Messi: “Messi can do some amazing things, but anything he can do Joe can do as well, if not better. He used to shock us in training by doing footy tricks with a golf ball that most players can’t even do with a football. I really fancy Joe for the [player of the season] award this season.”

Gerrard on Roy Hodgson: “right man for Liverpool.”

The ever changing ambitions of Harry Redknapp

Harry Redknapp in July: “I feel we could contend for the title.”

Redknapp in December: “I think it’s open, I really do.”

Redknapp in February: “At the start of the month, before the window, I felt the championship was up for grabs, it’s going to get harder because the other teams are looking stronger.”

Redknapp in April: “It’s very difficult to retain that top-four spot. But that’s something we’ve got to aim to do at Tottenham.”

Redknapp on his chances of the top four in May: “It will take a miracle.”

Arsene Wenger’s perennial disappointments

Wenger, before the Carling Cup final, on his quadruple chances: “I personally believe we go for every single competition to the end.

“We have the hunger and the talent and are committed.”

Wenger, looking back at the season: “We do not feel that we under-performed overall because we were in the Carling Cup final, the quarter-final of the FA Cup against Manchester United, so we produced quality games and at the end of the day there are objective signs for us that show we have the quality.”

In the past two seasons both Blackpool and Wolves have been fined, by the Premier League, for fielding weakened sides. So can Manchester United expect a fine for resting players in preparation for the Champions League final?

The Premier League’s rule book offers little clarification on the subject, it simply says: “In every League Match each participating Club shall field a full strength team.”

Some would argue that the quality of Manchester United’s squad means that any side they put out is strong enough. This has some validity as the likely starters include Dimitar Berbatov, their top-scorer, and Paul Scholes.

Blackpool turned to Jason Euell (arguably worthy of a fine on his own) and Brett Omerod. Wolves were, perhaps, the most guilty. They went out of their way to ensure their team was weakened by recalling George Friend from a loan spell, just so he could play.

However, the fact remains that, despite the obvious differences in strength in depth, every side has registered a 25-man squad.

So, what’s a fairer way to judge what is weakened?

One way could be to judge it by the same criteria as who gets a Premier League winners medal. If the Premier League deems 10 appearances as a worthy contribution to a title win, then surely playing those players is not weakening the side?

Therefore by applying the 10 game rule would Manchester United, Wolves and Blackpool still be guilty of fielding a side that wasn’t good enough?

Manchester United likely starting line-up for Sunday’s game will be something like Kuszczak, Rafael, Brown, Smalling, Evans, Gibson, Fletcher, Anderson, Scholes, Owen and Berbatov. Of that side only Wes Brown (7) and substitute goalkeeper Kuszczak failed to qualify for a medal.

Similarly Blackpool’s team against Aston Villa contained only three players, Chris Basham (4), Rob Edwards (5) and Jason Euell (5), who haven’t reached at least 10 apperances.

In Wolves’ case Hill (2), Friend (1), Surman (7), Castillo (8) and Maierhofer (8) all failed to make enough appearances. So in their case the fine may have been more justified.

It will be interesting to see whether the Premier League fines Manchester United because by doing so they will be judging 9 winners of this year’s competition as not good enough. However, what’s clear is that there needs to be some clarification of this rule.

Much has been written about West ham since they were relegated, with Avram Grant and the board, justifiably, receiving huge criticism. So here are my five reasons why West Ham’s relegation comes as no surprise.

1) They were never too good down

When they had a mini-revival in February pundits started pulling out the old cliché that West Ham were too good to go down. However, look a little bit more closely and they weren’t.

Their team for the vital relegation battle with Blackburn included Freddie Sears and Luis Boa Morte. Before his return West Ham Sears had spent about 18 months on-loan in the Championship and in 37 appearances had failed to score a single goal.

As for Boa Morte, his best days are long behind him and even then he was never that good.

It was the same story this weekend when their side included Zavon Hines, Jordan Spence and Jack Collison. Spence was making his first start for the club and Collison has only just returned after spending the whole season out injured.

2) Poor singings

 West Ham’s ability to spend terribly goes back far longer than the Grant reign but this season’s summer acquisitions were extremely poor, even by their standards.

Lars Jacobsen arrived on a free transfer. In his two previous seasons the right-back was released by Everton after just 5 appearances and then let go on a free transfer by Blackburn after only 15 appearances. Questions marks must have been raised about signing a player deemed not good enough by Blackburn but West Ham decided to bring in the Dane regardless.

Other summer recruits included two players relegated with Portsmouth last season, Frederic Piquionne and Tal Ben Haim.

However, the transfers that best highlight West Ham’s ability to waste money was the £7 million spent on Pablo Barrera and Winston Reid. Between them the pair have managed just 9 league starts.

3) High wages on flops

The story of Kieron Dyer sums up West Ham’s lack of control over wages. Dyer is still being paid £83,000 a week by the club. His deal also includes £424,000-a-year in image rights. Amazingly since his arrival at the club in 2007 he has yet to complete a full 90 minutes in 30 appearances.

On top of that financial burden they were forced to pay around £2 million to get Benni McCarthy to leave the club.

However, despite money being tight the Hammer’s decided that around £73,000 was a reasonable amount of money to spend a week to get Robbie Keane to the club. The one blessing of relegation is that West Ham would have been obliged to sign Keane for £6 million if they stayed up.

4) Their experienced players didn’t perform

Many of West Ham’s squad fit into this category. Carlton Cole’s miss yesterday summed his season.  Cole has scored 10 league goals in each of the last two seasons. However, this year the strike has managed just half of that tally.

Matthew Upson, their captain, has failed to perform this season as well. A few season ago he was being linked with a move back to Arsenal but now West Ham will be struggling to find a buyer for the England international.

Cole and Upson are not the only ones, Robert Green, Daniel Gabbidon and Robbie Keane must also accept their share of the blame for underperforming.

5) An unbalanced squad

They have a host of striking option with Ba, Cole, Keane, Piquionne, Obinna. They also have decent options in the middle of midfield. However, when it comes to fullbacks and wingers West Ham are severely lacking.

 Their squad only has one recognised right and left-back, Lars Jacobsen and Wayne Bridge. Despite this Herita Ilunga, their first choice left-back last season, was left out of their 25-man squad.

When it comes to wide midfielders West Ham only have Gary O’Neil, Pablo Barrera and Julien Faubert to choose from. This has led to Grant regularly deploying strikers out wide.

Stuart Pearce’s decision to include Jack Wilshere and Andy Carroll in his Under-21 squad has posed one question, is Pearce really doing what’s best for the players or is he more interested in winning the tournament?

The selection of Wilshere, who has already established himself with the senior side, comes with a very big risk of burnout. In his first full season the midfielder has, already, played 52 times, for club and country, and Arsène Wenger has made it very clear he thinks that the youngster should be protected.

Wenger’s concern is that Wilshere will have no break this summer or next, as it is almost certain that he will play in Euro 2012 and then possibly the London Olympics.

Many have argued that Wilshere’s declaration he wants to play should put the argument to bed.

However, did he really have a choice other than to say he wanted to play? Imagine the media backlash Wilshere would have received by saying he didn’t want to feature. There would have been accusations that he was choosing club over country and he would also have been risking his relationship with Fabio Capello.

Even if Wilshere does want to play, it doesn’t mean he necessarily should. Every player always wants to play. So therefore, it is down to the managers to protect their stars from fatigue. Arsène Wenger has been very vocal in saying Wilshere shouldn’t play and that’s because it is his job to know what’s best for his players.

The Wilshere situation could also be another example of the FA and England not learning from their mistakes. After last year’s World Cup it was unanimously agreed that England’s plays were tired. However, it seems that the FA are determined to reduce the recovery time of Carroll and Wilshere, who are certainties for the Euro 2012 squad.

Tournament experience

An argument for the inclusion of Wilshere is that he will benefit from the experience. This seems a strange argument considering he has already proven his ability to handle the big stage. He was widely considered Arsenal’s best player in their Champions League tie against Barcelona and nothing he could face in Denmark would be more daunting than the world’s best side.

Another thing to consider is that Wayne Rooney’s best tournament performance came in Euro 2004, when he had no experience of international competitions. Since gaining, valuable, tournament experience he has actually shown a decrease in performance at World Cups and European Championships.

Stuart Pearce has pointed out that sides that do well at youth level invariably succeed at senior level. This is an argument many have latched on to citing the example to 2009’s winners Germany. That side included Mesut Özil, Sami Khedira and Manuel Neuer. However, it’s also worth pointing out that none of these players had established themselves in the senior side in the way Wilshere has.

It should also be noted that Germany’s opponent in the final of the 2009 under-21 championships was England. Of the England starting XI only five have gone on to make the senior team, two of which Micah Richards and Theo Walcott had already made their debuts. This must show that success at Under-21 level doesn’t shape the senior side, at least in England. The decision to play Walcott in this competition is probably what eventually lead to him missing out on the 2010 World Cup.

Mesut Özil, held up by many as the poster of playing in under-21 tournaments, would still have been eligible for selection for this tournament, had his team qualified. So the question Pearce should really by asking himself is would Germany make the Real Madrid man play now he has proven himself on the biggest stage?

Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson have received huge amounts of criticism this week, for their post-match comments.

The Special One launched an extraordinary rant against Barcelona, in midweek. During which he accused everyone from UEFA to Unicef of being involved in a conspiracy to help earn Barcelona another scandalous European title.

Meanwhile, Ferguson who is just back from a five match ban for criticising a referee was once again criticising a referee, proving he had learnt his lesson.

The remarks have seen the pair suffer a backlash from the media and fans, but, do we really want to see the games characters censored?

Mourinho’s press conference following El Clasico bordered on the ridiculous at times. The highlights included Mourinho’s claim that Pep Guardiola’s Champions League success would ‘embarrass’ him.

However, you can say what you like about Mourinho but he is extremely entertaining.

Much more interesting, in fact, than listening to Owen Coyle telling us how tough the “Barclays Premier League” is, or Roberto Martinez telling us how tough the “Barclays Premier League” is, or Alex McLeish telling us how tough the “Barclays Premier League” is.

These managers may, by and large, adhere to the FA’s rules but the lack of controversy in their press conferences makes them almost irrelevant.

Sir Alex Ferguson is once again in hot water this week. After the defeat against Arsenal he said: “We are not going to get decisions like that in a major game. It’s too big a game and we don’t seem to get these decisions.”

Whilst it’s true Ferguson was very selective, in his post-match review, he did not actually say anything that was untrue. Every pundit that reviewed the decision agreed it was a clear foul, on Michael Owen.

However, it seems the FA will, once again, take action against the Manchester United boss. This only adds to Ferguson’s claims that football ‘is the only industry where you can’t tell the truth’.

In Italy they have the Bidone d’Oro, which translates as golden bin or trashcan, an award given to the worst footballer in Serie A each year.

So, if the Premier League had its own Golden Bin who would be this year’s winner? Here are my top five.

5) Stephen Ireland

Ireland joined Aston Villa from Manchester City in the hope that he could rekindle his impressive form from a few years ago. However, the Republic of Ireland midfielder failed to impress new manager Gerard Houllier, who was unhappy with his level of performance and workrate. During his spell at Villa Ireland never lived up to his £8 million fee and found himself way down the pecking order, below youngsters Ciaran Clark and Barry Bannan. He was shipped out to Newcastle where once again he has failed to have impact. A string of injuries has meant Ireland has made just two appearances for the Magpies. His performances this season look even worse after these claims he made, in August: “I can easily say I’ve got, if not more ability, as much ability as any player they[Manchester City] have signed this year.”

4) Richard Dunne

Richard Dunne is normally one of the Premier League’s most accomplished and reliable centre-backs. In fact, he was selected in the 2010 team of the year. However, this season has been far different from Dunne. He has not been a rock at the back as he would normally be and he has been dropped from the side on two occasions for his off the field behaviour. Dunne’s lack of form is part of the reason for Villa’s disappointing league position, last season they conceeded just 39 goals compared to 57 this.

3) Jermain Defoe

It may seem harsh to include Defoe due to his injury problems this season but the striker has managed only 3 goals this season, in 18 appearances. This represents a poor return for a forward who regularly gets into double figures. Another reason he makes the list is that he has been fit since January, but has still been on unable to remove Roman Pavlyuchenko from the team, despite the Russians unimpressive form.

2) Paul Konchesky

The left-back went from Europa League finalist to Championship player in the space of six months, after a torrid first half of the season with Liverpool. Konchesky, perhaps, epitomises Roy Hodgson’s time at the club as he was not able to fulfill expectations. Even before his move to Nottingham Forest, Dalglish preferred to play the right footed Glen Johnson at left-back, rather than use Konchesky.

1) Fernando Torres

It was inevitable that Torres would be number one on this list. The Spanish striker has endured a lackluster season that included his 14 game run without a goal after moving to Chelsea. His first half of the season with Liverpool was no better either, despite managing 9 goals for them. He has looked off the pace all season and has lacked the sharpness of the Torres of old.