FROM THE DESERT TO WEMBLEY ACTING LEGEND OMAR TO SUPPORT HULL: They might be regarded as the underdogs in the FA Cup final, but the Mirror brings us news that Hull City won't be lacking some notable support at Wembley. Actor Omar Sharif - most renowned for star turns in Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago - will jet into London from Paris (well, he wouldn't train it now, would he?) to support the Tigers after receiving an invite from Tigers owner Assem Allam. Omar, now 82, has apparently recorded a reading of William Blake's poem, The Tyger, for BT Sport in tribute to the club. Which will probably be a rare highlight if you plug yourself into BT's elongated coverage.
Paper Round's view: A lot of Arsenal fans might appreciate Omar's body of work, but the last thing they want to see is him smiling at full-time. If Omar enjoys his Saturday night as much as yesteryear, there is a fair chance the Gunners will be into a tenth season without a trophy. Omar would rejoice in that, but Steve Bruce won't need to do any acting to muster a large smile.
SAINTS READY TO TREBLE POCH WAGE PACKET: Southampton are willing to offer Mauricio Pochettino £6 million-a-year to prevent him from moving to Tottenham during the close season, according to the Daily Express. Saints are also willing to hand the Argentine coach a transfer fund of £31 million to spend in the summer with the sale of England right-back Luke Shaw expected to fetch around £27 million if he moves to Manchester United. The paper also claims that Saints will try to resist any advance from Liverpool to land Adam Lallana.
Paper Round's view: This sounds good in theory, but it remains difficult to buy the concept that Pochettino will be swayed by personal fortune to remain at Saints. The move to Tottenham is a move to a bigger club, no matter how else you look at it. And he will be able to bring a higher calibre of player to White Hart Lane than St Mary's. In football, you can never say never, but it is doubtful if Southampton will hold their manager if Spurs chief executive Daniel Levy wants a chat.
FA CUP FINAL WILL DECIDE WENGER FUTURE: The Independent claims the future of Arsene Wenger could depend upon carrying off the FA Cup. A win could usher in a new era of success, but defeat could see him head for the exit door. "Victory would cast Wenger as a heroic figure, who led the club safely through the enforced austerity of the new stadium years, emerging out of the other side with status intact and back amongst glittering silver," claims the paper. "Defeat, though, would be a disaster. Not only would it feel worse than any of their other recent final losses – 2006 to Barcelona, 2007 to Chelsea, even 2011 to Birmingham City – but it would dissolve much of the support Arsenal fans have for a new Wenger deal."
Paper Round's view: It is not very clever of a newspaper, especially a broadsheet one, to come up with such a simplistic overview of the situation. In saying that, defeat to Hull City might be one crushing blow too many for Wenger to accept having watched his side snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against Birmingham City in the 2011 League Cup final at the same venue. Time will tell. The Independent's assessment does not bring us anything new. But you can have a quick read below.
WENGER SET TO SIGN NEW CONTRACT: The Daily Star put a more positive spin on Wenger's future health as Arsenal manager by claiming he will sign a fresh deal by the end of May. They say he will sign for 'life'. Which will probably be welcomed by the club's support as long as they don't lose to Hull later today. The super soaraway Star says that the impending departure of Bacary Sagna on a free transfer to Manchester City will not dissuade Wenger's mood as he prepares to pen a new three-year dea that takes him to the age of 67. "The result of the FA Cup Final will have no influence on my future at Arsenal," says Wenger.
Paper Round's view: Will he or won't he? It is all just guesswork, but one suspects the future of Wenger was sorted out long before this FA Cup final. Unless of course there was a special clause inserted into his new deal that reads: 'Lose to Steve Bruce's Hull, and you are out'. We don't think that would be possible. Expect Wenger to sign a new deal, win or lose.
BARCLAYS DISAPPOINTED IN PREMIER LEAGUE CHIEF EXECUTIVE: The Guardian bring us news of Richard Scudamore and his continuing descent into the quicksand of the sexist email row. The Premier League's main sponsor has apparently said that it is deeply disappointed by Scudmore's conduct after an email exchange with a lawyer, who referred to women as "gash". The lawyer involved is a man called Nick West, who could face sanctions that would heighten the pressure on Scudamore and the Premier League, says the Guardian.
Paper Round's view: This is starting to get serious for Scudamore. It is one thing being given a telling off by the Premier League, but when Barclays, who fork out £40 million to sponsor the league, begin to get involved then you know there are real problems. Those sexist jokes Scudamore apparently fraternised with are beginning to sound a lot less funny now. They could easily cost him his job with one member of the Football Association apparently claiming his position has become untenable due to the nature of the allegations against him.
SUAREZ VOWS TO STAY: Apart from endorsing the stance of the Daily Star, the Sun brings Liverpool fans some positive news with Uruguay forward Luis Suarez set to remain at Anfield next season despite interest from clubs such as Real Madrid - an organisation who will always be mentioned in connection with Suarez until he retires. "I signed a contract because I love it here and I am so happy here," says Suarez. "If you are not happy here you do not sign a new contract."
Paper Round's view: This is all sounds very heartening for Liverpool fans, but there is plenty of scope for the situation to change between now and the start of the domestic season. If Suarez impresses at the World Cup finals and Real Madrid offer £100 million for the forward, would Liverpool be able to resist? Would Suarez be able to resist? His agent certainly wouldn't. We are not saying he will leave Anfield, but supporters should always take what footballers say with a large pinch of salt. When large heaps of money are on offer, many footballers suddenly have memories like goldfish.
And finally, here is the back of the Daily Record on Scottish Cup final day between Dundee United and St Johnstone. Rangers occupy the main news with fans being urged not to hand over cash for season tickets with the future of the Glasgow club's Ibrox Stadium and Murray Park training facility still not safeguarded.
- Sports & Recreation
- Omar Sharif
- Arsene Wenger
- Hull City
- Richard Scudamore
- 2011 League Cup final
- Mauricio Pochettino
- Paper Round