Back pages Category
Sports news, sport betting, featuring football and Premier League teams, players from Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United. And David Beckham. Rugby World Cup. Backpage stories from the newspapers and BBC sport
Media Balls – a look at biased footballer reporting. Today Manchester City drew 2-2 with Tottenham. With the game 2-1 in City’s favour, Raheem Sterling was through on the Spurs goal. Spurs defender Kyle Walker was closest to Sterling. What happened next?
The BBC gives us the facts:
Raheem Sterling leaves the Spurs defence smoking exit dust as he breezes onto a through ball – just the keeper to beat with Kyle Walker pedaling hard to catch up..
But Sterling can’t take the chance, he’s off balance as he prods tamely towards Lloris – and it looks like Walker’s hand in the back is to blame.
Foul, then? Red card for Walker. Penalty to City. Nothing given. What do the clubs and their local newspapers says on the matter?
The Spurs website: “Kolarov sent Sterling clear, Walker got back at him, poor finish, easy for Lloris.”
Manchester Evening News: “Walker should have been sent off for a push on Sterling as he was about to pull the trigger. Sterling had raced through for yet another one-on-one with Lloris but it ended up a soft shot into his grateful arms.”
Such are the facts.
Mike Dean is the Premier League referee in the spotlight. In days gone by he’d have been ‘Mr Dean from [insert place here]’. The media would have shown deference to his job. Now he’s Mike and you don’t know his address in case someone puts his windows in.
The Sun loves to give Mike a bashing. And it’s delighted to report that Mike’s been relegated. Adam Jones writes:
What will this do for Mike Dean’s ego? …he’s been dropped to the Championship for this weekend’s fixtures.
Mike’s the referee for the Barnsley v Leeds United match.
Or as the Daily Mail puts it:
Dean asked to officiate in the second tier after doing six consecutive high-profile Premier League games live on TV
So much for Mr Dean’s ego.
Click Balls: a look at dire football reporting designed to trick readers. The Daily Express has news for Arsenal fans. The paper’s headline is a scoop. “CONFIRMED: Arsene Wenger announces new Arsenal deal.” Looks like Wenger will stay at Arsenal for even longer. It’s 20 years and counting.
But wait a minute…
The Daily Star, from the same stable as the Express, has a similar take on the news that defender Per Mertesacker has signed a one-year extension on his current deal. This is how Google sees the story:
And you wonder why the Press is in trouble?
Update: The Express seems to have found an editor who respects their readers and doesn’t seem them as advertisers’ fodder. The headline has now been altered:
Transfer Balls: the Sun leads with Manchester United’s summer bid for Monaco’s Portuguese “ace” Bernardo Silva. On top of the £85m Man United have earmarked for Antoine Griezmann’s signature is £70m for Silva.
Is it true? A year ago, the Express said Barcelona and Chelsea were looking at Bernardo. Have they gone cold on the midfielder?
Silva is managed by – yep – Jose Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes, a man routinely billed as “super-agent”, who vies with Super Banker for the title of World’s Least Admirable Super Hero.
What truth there is in the story of Silva to Manchester United is hard to ascertain because the Sun produces not a single quote to support is claim. Still, it must be great for Mendes to know how much 10% of £70m is and for Silva, worth €15.75 million one year ago, to be linked with a big money move to the Premier League.
Bernardo Mota Veiga de Carvalho e Silva is contracted to Monaco until 30 June 2019.
So why did Joey Barton never get his “dream move” to Arsenal? Barton has a new book to plug and mentioning Arsenal will help it travel. The Daily Mirror picks up the story of Joey’s punctured “dream”.
In No Nonsense, Barton says he was scheduled to meet with Arsenal in 2011. It never happened because during a match between the Gunners and Newcastle, for whom Barton was playing at the time, the querulous Liverpudlian contrived to get Arsenal’s Gervinho sent off.
“No, intermediaries spoke on their [Arsenal’s] behalf,” says Barton to Four Four Two. “There was definitely some low-level interest, and before I got sent off against Arsenal, when the thing with Gervinho happened, I was due to hold some form of discussions with them. But then it never came to be.”
The “thing” that happened with Gervinho went like this, as the Mirror reported:
The Scouser ensured that Gervinhos Arsenals debut ended with a red card, first by provoking a fight with the Ivory Coast forward, then by giving his best impression of a sack of spuds when the new boy aimed a slap at him.
Barton’s behaviour had been “disgraceful”.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger opined: “He wasn’t hit hard enough to lie on the floor for two minutes.”
So much for being a man who takes ‘No Nonsense’.
Still, at least Barton never tried to exact revenge on Gervinho as he had on Xabi Alonso, who prevented his “dream move” to Liverpool.
The Manchester United v Liverpool match was memorable for a number of things, according to the clickbait-mad Press.
The Mirror’s football expert learned “five things” from watching the game, one of which is that Paul Pogba’s “handball handed Liverpool the early advantage”. That was the handball that gave Liverpool a penalty kick, from which they scored their only goal of the game. David McDonnell leaned that. He also learned that Wayne Rooney got a yellow card and “Ibrahimovic keeps on scoring”, which he did when he scored United’s equaliser.
The Express also learned five things, one of which is, “Simon Mignolet put on a solid display.”
Coincidentally, the Sun also learned five things. Fred Nathan delivers his fistful of insight. He watched Pogba give away a penalty and learned that he “must not let silly mistakes creep into his game”.
In the Indy, which didn’t make enough money to remain as proper paper so went web only, there are just four things learned. But Fox News, which has oodles of money, learned seven things. Ryan Rosenblatt learned that when United and Liverpool drop points, their rivals are pleased. The other top sides “love this result” he learned.
But the prize for the biggest Clickbait Balls goes to the dire Daily Telegraph. The once great newspaper is now a clickbait factory. “Martin Tyler accused of ‘bias’ following Manchester United vs Liverpool commentary,” says the headline. It also says just that in the URL for the story:
So who accused Sky TV’s commentator of bias? Liverpool boss Jugen Klopp? Manchester Untied manager Jose Mourinho? Well, no. A clue to how the story was the product of the paper’s clickbait factory is in the now revised headline: “Liverpool fans round on Martin Tyler following Manchester United’s last minute equaliser at Old Trafford.”
They “rounded on” Tyler on Twitter. The Telegraph picks three tweets to back up its story, which beings: “Paranoid Liverpool fans are becomingly increasingly convinced that SkySports’ Martin Tyler is a secret Manchester United fan.”
Martin Tyler just called Zlatan: “THE TOWER OF POWER!” #MUNLIV
Still coming to terms with the fact Martin Tyler just called Zlatan the ‘Tower of Power’, since when has that been a thing?
Lest you think those “paranoid” Liverpool fans are just having a laugh and mocking Tyler’s absurd phrase, @Footy Humour tweets the third piece of evidence.
Martin Tyler: “Rooney here. Is it in the script? Is it in the stars?”
*Rooney gives away posession*
Martin Tyler: *silence*
The troubling thing is that the clickbait works. The story even the Telegraph recognised as bad enough to warrant a chance of headline (but not a change of URL) is the second biggest story on the paper’s website:
Such are the facts.
West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic is upset and let down by Dimitri Payet’s moves to leave the club. In 1997, when Bilic was a player at West Ham, the club’s manager at the time, Harry Redknapp, was also frustrated and upset with his star turn’s machinations.
Everton thumped Manchester City 4-0 in the Premier League today. As ever, we’re on the look out for biased reporting. In the first half, with the scores 0-0, City’s Raheem Sterling went down in the Everton box. No penalty given. But were City robbed?
The BBC says it was a good tackle: “Leighton Baines slid in to deny Raheem Sterling an opening early on.”
The Guardian blames Sterling: “Sterling misses a sitter, and wants a penalty!… He tries to take the ball round the keeper, Baines slides in to block it, and Sterling goes over Robles’ trailing leg!”
So much for the neutral viewpoint. What about the publications with a vested interested in the match?
Manchester Evening Post: “With Robles rushing out, and Baines making a last-ditch challenge, the winger chooses to take a touch and trips over.”
He trips over what? “It’s the slightest of touches from Robles that ultimately brings Sterling down,” the report continues.
So it was a foul. He was tripped.
The Liverpool Echo: “Raheem Sterling went down in the area, with replays seeming to confirm he had been tripped by Joel Robles.”
Replays only “seemed” to show that Raheem Sterling had been fouled.
Everton FC (official website): “Leighton Baines kept a cool head and combined with Joel Robles to thwart the City forward, but the Spanish goalkeeper may have taken the legs of Sterling.”
Only “may”? Was Sterling fouled? Does anyone have a clear answer?
Manchester City (official site): “TV replays proved he’d been caught.”
It was definitely a foul, then – but only if you read the official City website.
What’s Diego Cost been up to this weekend? Some say the Chelsea striker is injured. Others say he’s been dropped for brooding and rowing, behaving off the pitch much like he does on it. As his manager Antonio Costa put it when asked when his main striker will return to the side, “I don’t know how long it will take, I don’t have his pain. We’ll see about this next week.”
Reports abound that Costa is looking for a huge-money move to China. Will he go? Not if his team-mates have anything to do with it he won’t. The Telegraph says Costa’s Chelsea team-mates have asked him to apologise over his reported row with the club’s fitness coaches.
Match of the Day pundit Ian Wright can’t see that happening. “Costa doesn’t seem like the sort of person who cares what people think,” says Wright. “Whatever happens – if it’s his back it’s very hard to detect – something has turned him.”
ESPN hears from Costa’s friends (unnamed) who say he doesn’t want to go to China. The Mirror says Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has no intention to selling Costa.
But in case he does, Roman will find the cash to buy Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid (Sun) and / or Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller (Express).
Unless the Chinese get to them first and back backs prove to be contagious.
Chelsea striker Diego Costa, 28, is off to China in a transfer worth £80m to Chelsea, says the BBC. His move will hand the Premier League title to anyone but Chelsea and earn the striker a mere 576,000 per week.
The pay packet would see Costa elevated to the rank of the world’s second highest paid footballer, one yacht-a-week behind Shanghai Shenua’s Carlos Tevez, says the Daily Express.
The Times says Costa’s departure would be a “blow” to the Blues. It’d be windier than that. Costa’s been rampant this season.
The Guardian notes that Costa might already have played his last game for Chelsea. The PL’s top scorer has been dropped from the Blues squad for their match at Leicester City. Why? Well, the paper says Costa “clashed” with one of Chelsea’s fitness coaches “over an injury he feels he has been carrying… Costa has not trained fully this week and Antonio Conte has become involved in the argument.”
To stir the pot a little further, Costa’s agent, Jorge Mendes, is reportedly in China.
To add another layer of weirdness, on Friday Costa’s Instagram account bellowed “Come on Chelsea!!!!” to his 1.7 million followers. The following message did not add “Come on Chelsea!!!! You scumbags!!!!!! Let me got to the Chinese Super League or I’ll cry, point to my ankle and grass you up to the ref!!!”
Ironic, indeed, that a player notable for his perceived interest in seeing other players sent off should be waving the imaginary red card at himself.
Your move, Chelsea.
More on Graham Taylor in the Sun, where he is “Golden Graham”, “legend” and “hero”. Taylor “never bore a grudge”, says the Sun, “even after this.” The ‘this’ was the paper’s headline ‘Swedes 2 Turnips 1’, dreamt up after Taylor’s England side had lost a big match.
Far from holding a grudge, the Sun says Taylor “admired” the headline that “summed up his failure as England manager”.
But did that headline really sum up Taylor’s tenure as England’s manager? The Sun is being far too modest. Surely the headline that said so much was this one,which called golden Graham “Turnip Taylor’ and for added ooomph superimposed the root vegetable on his head.
The Sun came to bury him.
The image might have escaped the Sun’s eyes today, but The Times, it’s New Corp. stablemate, does recall it. It says far from being delighted with the Sun’s mockery, Taylor was “upset” by it.
The Sun apologises for anyone who read its newspaper and thought Graham Taylor a useless fool. It turns out he was brilliant.
Dimitri Payet is refusing to play again for West Ham United, says Hammers’ manager Slaven Bilic. In “You Can’t Go!”, the Mail says West Ham are refusing to sell the France footballer and club’s most talented player. Bilic says Payet has “probably been tapped up by some clubs”.
Bilic says, “We’re not going to sell him, not whatsoever.”
Payet earns £125,000 a week at West Ham. He’s on a five-year contract signed in February 2016. Happy to sign then and now, apparently, desperate to leave, where will he go?
The Mail says Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal and Manchester United have been linked with Payet. The Sun says Chelsea will move for 29-year-old West Ham playmaker. The Times says West Ham want a transfer fee of between £35m and £40m before they let Payet leave the club. The Mirror says “it could take £30m to persuade the Hammers to sell”.
The Sun says Payet wants to play for Marseilles, who have offered £18m for his services. He is “on strike” in an effort to force through a move to the French club.
But why would another club want him? The Mail says his “standards have slipped this season”. The paper sets out to prove this by showing readers that after 18 games last season, Payet had scored 6 goals. This term after 18 matches, he has 2 goals. But he’s provided 6 assists this season against 4 last season. He boasts a passing accuracy of 81% against last season’s 82%. He has run 108 miles – two miles less than the 110 he’d covered at the same stage last season. Add in a summer spent working so well for France at the Euro 16 and you’d be hard pressed to spot a downward trend in Payet’s play.
The Mail punches more holes in its argument by noting than in 2016, Payet created 144 chances – a Premier League high. He was involved in 21 goals (6 goals plus 15 assists) – also a Premier League high.
The paper’s Neil Ashton says Payet “has barely lifted a leg” this season.
As you try to work out how those stats mark an overall “slip” in form, the Mail says Payet’ is “claiming he was injured and cannot train”.
Whatever the truth of it is, Payet is not playing – and that only helps West Ham’s rivals.
Graham Taylor is a “legend” in the Sun. The former England football manager, who achieved so much at Watford, has died. He was 72. The Sun calls him a “hero”. He was “Golden Graham”.
Sun columnist Ian Wight says the “England boss” gave him his “Number 1 England memory”.
For many Sun readers, the Number 1 England memory of legendary hero was when the paper turned him into a turnip.
Transfer balls: Following news that Bournemouth fancy signing Chelsea’s John Terry on loan til the season’s end, the Mirror says the Blues are in the market for a new centre back. So they’re “lining up Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson as their No.1 target”.
Everton also want Gibson. The Mirror told us on January 4 that should Everton fail to sign Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk, they’ll move for Gibson. Everton wanted him back on April 27 2016, when the Mirror reported: “Everton line up Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson as replacement for John Stones.”
Stones joined Manchester City. Everton never put an offer in for Gibson, “their No1 target… rated in the £4m class.”
Was Gibson really Everton’s number one targets over the summer? No. Because in July 2015, the Mirror told us Everton were chasing Nemanja Vidic and Gibson was the back-up plan. “The Toffees hope to bring the Inter Milan defender back to the Premier League,” said the Mirror, “but are also eyeing Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson in case they can’t.”
Everton never did buy Vidic. They never stood a chance of getting him. Well, not it your read the Daily Mail on March 25, 2015, which stated: “Nemanja Vidic will stay with Inter Milan despite being linked with return to England.”
As for Gibson, Everton must regret not buying the £4m-rated player because he’s now worth a whole lot more. The Express reported on December 6 2016: “MIDDLESBROUGH star Ben Gibson will reportedly cost Chelsea and Everton a staggering £35m – and there’s no chance of a deal in January.”
Such are the facts.
PS: On 4 April 2015, the Mirror reported: “Liverpool and Manchester City to battle for homegrown Middlesbrough starlet Ben Gibson.” How much? Around the £4m the Mirror said he was worth, right? Wrong. “Gibson could command a fee as high as £10million.”
The Mirror leads with news that Liverpool have no intention of selling Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £60m. “NOU CHANCE,” puns the paper.” Liverpool manger Jurgen Klopp says “no amount of money” will force him to sell his star player.
Wishful thinking, of course. Every player has their price. After all on December 26, the Mirror reported: “Liverpool transfer news and rumours: Paris Saint-Germain plotting £40million Philippe Coutinho swoop.” Putting a price alongside a player’s name is simple.
Over in the Sun, the figure of £60m also figures large on the back page. This time it’s the sum Manchester United are willing to invest in Spurs full-backs Kyle Walker and Danny Rose. But United won’t have it easy. The paper adds that Manchester City will fight United for the England players.
Walker and Rose each earn around £70,000-a-week at Spurs. Given that Spurs are better than United and outplayed City this season, it’s surely only money that will make either of them move.
Mark Irwin tells Spurs fans to expect the worst. Needing money for their new £750m stadium, Spurs will cash on on their star turns. Irwin notes that Rose, Walker and other young Spurs players, like Dele Alli Harry Kane, Eric Dier and Christian Eriksen, know they could earn far more at Chelsea, Arsenal or either of the Manchester clubs.
Transfer balls: Manchester United are trying to offload Morgan Schneiderlin, 27. In July 2015, the Frenchman joined Manchester United for £25m rising to £27 million. The 25-year-old midfielder signed a four-year contract with the option to extend it by a further year. He’s paid £100,000 a week.
And now United want him out. According to the Daily Mail, United have told Everton they will have to pay more than £20m for Schneiderlin. The Indy says the Toffees will offer £22m. Other sources say they want the full sum the player has cost them.
Schneiderlin is costing United a fortune and not playing. Every week, his value is going down.
He joined Southampton for £1.2 million in 2008. He was tremendous, topping the Premier League’s rankings in 2013 for both interceptions (he ended up with 139) and tackles (146). So what’s gone wrong? Manchester United erred. They saw the man at the top of the list for tackles and thought he’d do the same for them. Stats were all that mattered to United’s scouts. United lacked vision. A club whose recruitment policy is now driven by box office appeal just tossed money at the problem of how to get the club back on top. Schneiderlin didn’t get worse. United bought the wrong player.
In 2013, Ed Woodward, the United dealmaker, told United We Stand, the United fanzine, how the club targets players in the post-Ferguson era: “I don’t like the fact that there are consistently more players from Spain on the [Ballon d’Or shortlist]. We as a club should be aspiring to have the best players playing for us.”
As Oliver Kay nots in the Times: ‘Under Woodward, it has always seemed more about “the best players” than creating “the best team”.’
Arriving as a teenager, Schneiderlin thrived at Southampton, a club that invests in young talent. The Saints have produced since 2000 – deep breath – Adam Lallana, Gareth Bale, Calum Chambers, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Luke Shaw. What price United nurturing young players to rise through the ranks to form a team under Jose Mourinho?
Media Balls: Does Arsene Wenger regret allowing Jack Wilshere to leave Arsenal for Bournemouth on a season-long loan? Sky says he does. Injury has left Arsenal shot in midfield (plus ca change). Sky‘s headline thunders:
But Wenger doesn’t regret anything. What Wenger actually says is:
“I could use him now. But if he had not played until now, he would not be ready to play now. What looks unfair at some moments in the season is that you know at some stage you could need the player… And still today I think it was the right decision for him to go.”
Wilshere was rotting at Arsenal. He’s played 17 of Bournemouth’s 20 Premier League matches – missing both games against Arsenal because rules forbid him playing his parent club. Of course Arsenal could use his nous now, his give-and-gos and box-to-box style. But with no recall clause in his Bournemouth deal, the Gunners can’t get him back.
“It’s slightly old-fashioned and a step back in time in terms of other Premier League clubs and he deserves huge credit for that,” said Bournemouth manger Eddie Howe when Wilshere picked Bournemouth over a host of other clubs vying for his services. “The fact he’s willing to come here for football reasons, rather than anything else, speaks volumes.”
Wilshere needed games after getting so little football at Arsenal. He’s thriving at Bournemouth. Would he have made the same progress at Arsenal this season or still be off the pace? Wenger knows the answer to that.
Transfer balls: Is Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez ready to leave the Gunners? The BBC says “Arsenal players fear” he is.
The Mail agrees. Sami Mokbel writes in an ‘exclusive’, “Seething Sanchez blows his top at Arsenal.” The Chilean “threw a tantrum” on the pitch as Arsenal came from 0-3 down to draw 3-3 with Bournemouth. That tantrum amounted to Sanchez throwing his gloves to the turf and… And that’s it.
He was “unhappy” the Gunners hadn’t won, reveals Mokbel . He “sulked” in the changing room. He made is “clear” he was unhappy not to have won. Well, quite. Arenal fans and players want him to be keen on winning, surely. Sanchez plays to win. He has an “ultra-determined nature”.
“GUNNER GO?” asks the Mirror in is ‘exclusive’ on the same Sanchez ‘exclusive’ the Mail delivered. No longer sulking, Sanchez is throwing a “hissy fit” in the Arsenal dressing room as “Arsenal suffered a major blow in their title hopes”. Or as the Mirror put it yesterday: “The Gunners looked down and out on the south coast, but they showed a fantastic desire to get back into the game and created a Premier League first in the process.”
John Cross says Arsenal will buy no new players until Sanchez’s contract is sorted out. Ora s the BBC says today:
Hednesford Town youngster Cohen Bramall is to make the move from non-league to Premier League, by signing for Arsenal. The 20-year-old left-back will leave the Staffordshire-based Northern Premier League side for north London.
Cross is an expert on Arsenal stuff. He tells us that Arsene Wenger is out of contract this summer, “but there is a two-year deal worth £8m a year on the table waiting to be signed.”
Or as Cross and the Mirror put it:
Such are the facts.
Media balls: a look at reporting on Bournemouth’s 3-3 with Arsenal. The third Bournemouth goal came after a clear foul by Ryan Fraser. What say the experts?
Matt Barlow (Daily Mail): ” Fraser tore past Bellerin to reach a pass from Daniels and squeeze a shot through Cech’s legs.”
Ian Baker (Daily Express): “The Spanish right-back has recently signed a new £100,00-a-week contract but that looked far to high on this evidence as he was beaten by Fraser…”
Charlie Wyett (the Sun): “Fraser overpowered Bellerin…”
Alex Crook (Daily Star): “… pint-sized Fraser outmuscled the hapless Bellerin…”
Stuart James (Guardian): “Daniels slid a pass into the inside left channel and Bellerin, who is no slouch, had a headstart on Fraser. Yet Fraser not only caught up with the Arsenal defender but was too strong for him.”
Islington Gazette: “Fraser soon made it 3-0 as he powered down the left flank beating another insipid Bellerin half-challenge before slotting past Cech at the near post.”
Henry Winter (the Times): “The outstanding Daniels lifted the ball down the left and Fraser was off and running, shoving Bellerín out of the way with a challenge that Oliver generously deemed more shoulder barge than a push.”
Graham Poll (Daily Mail): “[Oliver’s] excellent display was only marred when he failed to spot Ryan Fraser’s push on Bellerin before scoring Bournemouth’s third.”
Mark Halsey (the Sun): “It should have been a foul to Arsenal as Ryan Fraser pushed Hector Bellerin.. Michael gave a first-half penalty [to Bournemouth] for the dame offence.”
Bournemouth Echo: “Bellerin looked favourite to reach Daniels’ subsequent pass first, but Fraser bundled his way through the Spaniard…”
And what of the foul that led to a red card for Bournemouth captain Simon Francis?
Graham Poll: “‘Oliver finished the game with another correct call as he dismissed Simon Francis for an over-the-top challenge on Ramsey. Overall a very composed display – well done, Michael.”
Mark Halsey: “‘Michael Oliver got two key decisions wrong – especially the red card for Bournemouth captain Simon Francis. The challenge was not dangerous and it did not endanger the player’s safety. It was a challenge worthy of a yellow card.”
Such are the facts.
Media Balls: West Ham United were beaten 0-2 by Manchester United in today’s Premier League game. The match went badly for the Hammers when Feghouli was sent off after just 14 minutes. The official West Ham website says the Algerian was “desperately unlucky to receive a red card following a challenge with United defender Phil Jones”.
Manchester United “make extra man count” laments the headline atop the Hammer’s official match report. “The decision changed the course of the game.”
Or as the Manchester Evening Post calls it: “FINALLY get refereeing decision after Feghouli tackle on Jones.”
Darmian should have earned a second yellow card when United player Arsenal. In its match report the Sun called the player “a walking red card”. Against Crystal Palace, Zlatan Ibrahimovich admitted to using his hand in his pass that set up Paul Pogba to score one of United’s goals in a 1-2 win.
And as the Mirror notes, “for those of you with short memories, Manchester United defender Rojo got away with two different two-footers in December. First, there was this bone-cruncher on Everton’s Idrissa Gueye. Then, just ten days later, he gave us this ankle-weakener, on Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha.”
Finally United get a refereeing decision? Or usually?
Ciaran Kelly, whose memory might be shorter than his Man United blinkers, reports for the MEN:
Manchester United received an early boost in their teatime clash with West Ham after Sofiane Feghouli was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Phil Jones .
Not exactly. This is now the BBC saw it:
Referee Mike Dean showed Feghouli a straight red card after the midfielder’s 15th-minute challenge on Phil Jones.
Replays showed it was more of a coming together between two players committed to winning the ball than a reckless tackle meant to cause harm.
Still, it’s good to know Manchester United and the fearless local paper are on the same side and singing from the same hymn sheet. “I don’t feel sorry for West Ham – I didn’t watch the decisions. I think if you talk about decisions, we are the champions of bad decisions,” says Jose Mourinho after the match.
United have benefitted hugely from poor refereeing. They might even top the table at it.
Never mind that Antoine Griezmann says he’s happy in Madrid with his new baby and wonderful life, the British Press have him packed and ready to join the Premier League very soon. France’s footballer of the year is on his way to, well, all the top clubs. Manchester United have £60m and Chelsea £50m and £90m for Atletico Madrid’s super striker, whose new contract set his transfer fee at a minimum of £86m.
News in the Guardian is that Manchester City also quite like Griezmann – and so do Arsenal. The BBC and Telegraph say that if Mesut Özil or Alexis Sánchez fail to get the £200,000 a week they each want to extend their current contracts and leave the Gunners, Arsenal will swoop for Griezmann by offering him less than the £200,000-a-week City, Chelsea or United would pay.
Should that cunning plan fail, Arsenal will go for Marco Reus or Julian Draxler, although the taller German (Draxler) has apparently agreed to join PSG in France’s Ligue 1. That doesn’t stop the Daily Star says Draxler is on his way to Liverpool.
The tin lid is placed on this Transfer Balls by news that the source for the BBC, Telegraph, Independent and Guardian scoop on Griezmann and Reus being watched by Arsenal is Squawka, a blog whereon we read not a single fact to support the story that Arsenal want either player.
Such are the facts.
Chelsea did not break any Premier League rules in their dealings with former player Gary Johnson, the former player who claims he was sexually abused by coach Eddie Heath as a member of the youth team in the 1970s. When Johnson and his lawyers took the matter to Chelsea in 2014, the club Chelsea agreed to pay him £50,000 and told him never to mention the allegations.
Johnson accepted the deal. But was a man who says his childhood was stolen from him badly advised and badly treated?
Chelsea said the club’s board understood it was “usual practice” to include a mutual confidentiality agreement. They noted that Johnson’s solicitors had not objected to the clause. When Johnson went public, Chelsea waived the confidentiality clause.
Eddie Heath is dead. Chelsea have publicly apologised. They say Johnson “suffered unacceptably” after joining Chelsea as an 11-year-old in 1970. You might well ask what an acceptable level of suffering amounts to, and who gages it?
The matter was put before the Premier League. They have found Chelsea clear of any wrongdoing. The Blues will review their procedures and send a copy of their report to The Premier League. The Premier League board says: “After careful consideration, the board has determined that no Premier League rules were broken by the club not reporting this matter to them in 2014. ‘The League has requested that Chelsea agrees to a full safeguarding audit from an independent safeguarding expert. The league has no reason to have any concerns about Chelsea’s current provisions in this area but, given the seriousness of these historical allegations, feels that such a review is an appropriate course of action.”
Says Gary Johnson to the Mirror: “(Chelsea owner) Roman Abramovich may be one of the richest men in football, but he has been very badly advised on this.” Was he the only one who was?
Transfer balls: Manchester United’s Rashford To West Ham; Payet to Arsenal; Draxler to Liverpool; Virgil to Manchester City?
West Ham United are, says the Daily Telegraph, keen to transfer Manchester United squad members Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford to their goal-shy team. It’s an “ambitious” bid, says the paper. No kidding.
Failure to lure either of them to London will mean West Ham turning to – deep breath – Sassuolo’s Grégoire Defrel, Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi and Porto’s Laurent Depoitre. Yeah, pretty much anyone who can score a goal is on West Ham’s radar.
The Express says West Ham will make space for any of the above by getting shot of six players, including loan strikers Simon Zaza (loaned from Juventus) and Ashley Fletcher (Manchester United). One player not leaving is Dimitri Payet. Or as the Star puts it: “JOSE’S PAYET RAID – United boss in fight with old foe Wenger”. Will Payet leave West Ham for Arsenal or head to Manchester United in a deal involving Marital or Rashford?
In other Manchester United transfer news, the Mirror says Benfica’s Swedish defender Victor Lindelof could be heading to Old Trafford for £37.8million. If he arrives, Chris Smalling will leave United, says the Express. Smalling will be beaten to the United exit by Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Scheweinsteiger.
Away from United, the Guardian says Arsenal are keen on Valencia’s super-fast left-back José Gaya.
The Mirror says Liverpool are looking to sign Manchester City and England goalkeeper Joe Hart. The Times says the Reds are also keen on Wolfsburg’s Germany midfielder Julian Draxler but face competition from PSG and, of course, Arsenal, who seem to have been chasing the player for every one of his 23 years.
The Mail says Manchester City will offer £50m for Southampton Virgil van Dijk. There have been “discreet talks” between the clubs, says the Mail all over its back page. The Dutchman is “aware of City’s interest”.
Good news for those Arsenal fans who can’t abide Arsene Wenger. The Sun leads with news that Paris Saint-Germain want the Arsenal manager to lead their brand. The French are “confident” of getting their man, having failed in two previous bids.
“AW REVOIR,” says the Sun over two more pages. “Time’s ripe for Arsene Wenger’s return to France.” Or maybe he’s past its sell-by date.
No, says Mack Irwin. The “self-entitled” Arenal fans who demonstrate for Wenger’s departure are fools. As “another season of disappointment beckons” Irwin wonder if Wenger has the “appetite to put up with the microscopic scrutiny of his methods”. Arsenal fans will add another question: does Wenger still inspire his team, the fans and the club?
Wenger’s £160,000-a-week deal ends at the end of this season. The club is “in the dark” about his future plans. But if the Frenchman fails to make Arsenal challenge for the Premier League and Champions’ League titles “it will be hard to see how Arsenal or Wenger could justify another new contract”. So much for fans being self-entitled to expect more.
Phil McNulty has a little on what Arsenal fans have been getting:
In the 12 seasons since Arsenal last won the title, in only two of those campaigns has the margin between the Gunners and the champions been in single figures. Twice the gap has been more than 20 points – so a systematic pattern has emerged rather than an extended hard luck story.
As to why PSG wants Wenger and Wenger would want PSG, the Sun says Paris would give him loads of money to go on a spending spree and, er, he likes Paris.
Over in the Mail, four of the paper’s pundit says Arsenal will finish no higher than third this season.
But it’s far from doom and gloom at Arsenal. Wenger has always been an optimist. In defeat he manages to inject circumspection and togetherness into the analysis. Can he bring Arsenal to the boil? Can Chelsea wobble and the Gunners go on a run? Vitally, do the players believe they can do it?
The Mirror says Manchester United want Jose Mourinho to remain at Old Trafford for ‘TEN MOUR YEARS”. United want Jose to “stay for the next decade”. Given that Mourinho has never remained at any club for longer than three years, you might suppose the United headhunters are hopeful, ignorant of what happened with Jose at Chelsea, desperate or a combination of all three.
It’s “Jose’s Big Deal”, agrees the Star. “United want boss to stay for eight more seasons”. They “want him til 2025”. A decade is nine years? Journalists never were much cop at maths.
Nor are they much cop at predictions. On November 9 the Star told readers, “Jose Mourinho is facing the sack from Man United.”
Reading on, the Star says:
“But despite struggling to make a huge impact since replacing Louis van Gaal, club bosses have been so impressed with him that handing him another long-term contract is already on their minds.”
And as the Mirror puts it:
“But United officials have been so impressed with the elf-styled Special One…there is talk of him staying beyond his current deal:
Mourinho’s erratic behaviour on the touchline and in press conferences has been a concern to United bosses, as exclusively revealed in Starsport… United also accept the ranting and raving comes with him being one of the world’s ‘box office’ managers.
And the Mirror:
“The hierarchy accept he will often find himself in hot water with the authorities because of his demonstrative nature”
The two stories are remarkably similar. And you won’t be surprised to know that neither story names it source. Wonder if the insider who loves Jose is someone at United or a mole in the office at Jose’s agent?