RVP mulls summer move: Robin van Persie is uncertain whether to remain at Manchester United and will consider his future in the summer, according to a report in The Guardian. However, the paper understands the Dutchman has no release clause in his contract, which has two years left to run, and the club will resist any attempt by the player to leave. The Dutchman, who apparently criticised team-mates in the wake of United's defeat to Olympiacos, is reported to have been particularly disappointed when Sir Alex Ferguson retired, given the Scot was integral in the striker's signing from Arsenal.
Paper Round's view: We're not set for another Rooney-esque saga this summer, are we? Van Persie's comments to a Dutch television station were hardly an overt come-and-get-me-plea, but they could well prove to have been the first shot fired in what may become a battle for United to keep hold of him. The fact that his views were conveyed to his manager and team-mates via that typical medium of disgruntlement, the native-speaking interview, suggests the latter. However, United, as they did with Rooney last summer, will be sure to play hardball and stand firm. Given how Rooney's attempts to leave Old Trafford ended up, RVP would do well to remember that.
- - -
Moyes safe for now: Patience is wearing thin after United's abysmal showing in the 2-0 defeat to Olympiacos, but David Moyes' position is safe for now, according to most papers today. The Daily Mail reports that United's manager looked "haunted" as he arrived home from Athens on Wednesday, but the club's board will continue to back the Scot for now. However, with a general mood shift in the corridors of power since Tuesday night, that could change unless the team show signs of progress soon. Most papers agree that the next few weeks will be crucial for Moyes, with the club willing to spend more than £100 million in the summer on new players but wary about handing such a massive transfer budget to the wrong man.
Paper Round's view: These stories are not unexpected, although Moyes must be quaking in his boots at the line that he has 12 games to save his job (in The Independent), given that those include three games in nine days against Liverpool, Olympiacos and Manchester City. Defeat to Liverpool would end United's hopes of a top-four finish, failure to overturn the deficit against the Greek side would rule out winning any silverware this season and defeat to City would just be, well, just plain bad for morale. And considering United, in their current malaise, don't really look like winning any of those games, it's easy to see why the board's faith in Moyes is waning.
- - -
Reds line up Bojan move: Liverpool are plotting an audacious swoop for Barcelona's Bojan Krkic, according to the Daily Mirror. The Reds believe they can lure the Spain international, who was valued at £35m three years ago, for as little as £5m. The 23-year-old's stock dropped dramatically after he signed for Roma, was loaned out to AC Milan, re-signed by Barca and then farmed out on loan to Ajax. Liverpool scouts have been to watch him play in Amsterdam, although he may still sign a permanent deal with the Dutch club.
Paper Round's view: Bojan certainly promised much prior to that big-money move to Roma and it's something of a shame that his talent has not been nurtured perhaps as is should have been. However, at the age of just 23, there is plenty of time to salvage something and at £5m, he would hardly represent a risky investment for Liverpool. Indeed, at that price and given his vast experience around Europe for a man of his age, his signing could well represent a real coup.
- - -
City join Shaw race: Manchester City have joined the race to sign Southampton left-back Luke Shaw, the Daily Mirror reports. Manchester United and Chelsea were already battling it out for the 18-year-old's signature. He is valued at £22m. The youngster, a Chelsea fan, is thought to be holding out for a move to his boyhood club, but City have now emerged as fresh contenders.
Paper Round's view: It's not so much a three-way battle for Shaw as a two-horse race. Given the boy's allegiances and United's failings on the pitch, there was no way he would sign for the outgoing champions, but he could well be tempted by a move to mega-money City. The report claims that the Blues of Manchester will look for a new left-back in the summer and if so, Shaw certainly fits the bill for Manuel Pellegrini.
- - -
Five games for Mel to save his job: Pepe Mel has been given another five matches to lead West Brom to safety, according to the Daily Mail. After next Saturday's visit of Manchester United to the Hawthorns, Mel's side face four fellow relegation candidates in quick succession and the paper claims that the outcome of those games will have a huge bearing on his future at the club.
Paper Round's view: Club chairman Jeremy Peace isn't a man afraid of ushering out a manager - just ask Steve Clarke, who is currently on gardening leave as he sees out the remainder of his contract - and Mel must be aware of that. The club can give as many public assurances to him as they want, but the fear remains that unless he can halt a run of six games without a win, Mel stands to lose his job.
- - -
- Sports & Recreation
- Manchester United
- Manchester City