Paper Round: 'Klopp contract is madness, he might not be right man for Liverpool'
Didi Hamann is unconvinced by Jurgen Klopp's contract, Michael Carrick set for a United exit, England start a Grand Slam attempt and Arsene Wenger is miffed.
Hamann: Six-year deal for Klopp is madness
The Sunday Times carry quotes from ex-Liverpool midfielder Didier Hamann, who has kicked in with the backlash against Jurgen Klopp, who yesterday lost to Hull. Hamann said: “I like Klopp, but they lost two finals last season, so I’d be careful. I wouldn’t have given him a six-year contract. That’s absolute madness. They won’t win anything this year, and they may not finish top four.”
Paper Round's view: Hamann is something of a German Joey Barton, in that he is happy to say pretty much anything at any point if the mood takes him. Hamann has no special footballling expertise, especially compared to Klopp, a manager who has proven that he is capable of exceptional things. The only thing that is interesting about this is that Hamann thinks there will be a receptive audience to his quote - which does suggest Klopp is under pressure from some of the less reasonable sections of Liverpool's support.
Wenger fury at Bellerin elbow
In the Mail on Sunday, the paper quotes Arsene Wenger complaining about the elbow on Hector Bellerin from Marcos Alonso, just as Alonso scored Chelsea's first goal against Arsenal on Saturday. 'It was 100 per cent a foul. It was even dangerous play.' Wenger also said that referees are harsher with tackles than they are with aerial challenges.
Paper Round's view: Wenger has a point - the referee could easily have called the Alonso challenge as a foul. It was certainly a strong challenge, and on another day they might have got away with their defensive confusion. The idea that aerial challenges are treated less seriously is perhaps not a straightforward claim to make, though. Referees have been especially strong on awarding fouls in the boxes, especially from set pieces. On this occasion, Arsenal were just on the harsh end of a debatable decision.
Carrick set for United exit
Jose Mourinho was questioned over the future of Michael Carrick, and the Sunday Express says that Mourinho was sanguine about his chances of staying, saying: "I see many positive things in Carrick but I cannot go to his identity cards and delete five years. He is not 30.” The report also includes a mention that Carrick might be asked to reduce his wages if he is to stay beyond this season, but it does appear as if Mourinho is ready to replace him in the summer.
Paper Round's view: Carrick's season has encapsulated his time at United over the last decade. At one point he has been their best midfielder, making the rest of the side function and offering some defensive discipline, too. At other times, he has been unable to track runners either through age or negligence, and has been deeply ineffective going forward. Mourinho must be confident that he can find a player more reliable than Carrick.
England scrape past France to spark Grand Slam hopes
The Independent suggests that England might be on their way to another Grand Slam in the Six Nations, after recording their record 15th victory in a row, this time against France in Twickenham. The report admits that this was a scrappy, tight victory after disappointing showing for much of the match, where England failed to match previous performances under Eddie Jones.
Paper Round's view: Winning 15 games in a row will inevitably include some victories which are harder to earn than others, but England definitely won't want to test another team with a similarly sloppy display. They weren't at full strength, so they might have their reasons for struggling a little, but that is true of any side in this tournament. It is up to Jones and the team to up their game for the future, if they are to have any hope of winning the Six Nations, let alone completing a Grand Slam.