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Liverpool balls: ‘pyschotic coward’ Joey Barton, Xabi Alsono and the red mist

Liverpool fans will be gutted. They could have had Joey Barton and not Xabi Alonso in the side. Alsono is a terrific player. Barton has long been underrated as a result of a querulous attitude and pugnacious demeanour. This week he has been banned by his current club Glasgow Rangers following a training ground altercation with Andy Halliday, his team-mate.

He is also plugging his new autobiography. In it he notes, “My behaviour was occasionally psychotic.” And ridiculous.

Talking about his red card in Newcastle United’s 3-0 defeat to Liverpool in 2009, Barton writes in his new book:

“Had things panned out differently, I could have made the obsessive debate about the mutual suitability of the Gerrard-Lampard axis redundant. From what I gathered, Steven Gerrard agitated to get Liverpool to sign me in 2004, because he felt we had the potential to forge a partnership.

“I met with Gerard Houllier at Melwood, and agreed everything verbally. A deal was close to being concluded but then he was sacked that summer. It was never revived.”

Fast forward to the match. Liverpool have Xabi Alonso in midfield:

“Xabi and I had history. He blamed me for knocking him out in what he thought was a deliberate clash of heads in one of our earliest contests, and I blamed him for stealing my move to Liverpool.”

Which he didn’t.

“All that remained to be agreed with [Manchester] City was the fee, when Rafa Benitez took over from Gerard Houllier. I was in Dubai when I was informed that he had instead decided to sign a kid from Real Sociedad who had just broken into the Spanish national team.”

A kid? Alonso was 22.

“…(In 2009) Thirteen minutes remained. Liverpool were two up, cruising and playing keep ball. The Kop conducted an incessant, infuriating chant of ‘Ole, ole, ole!’ Xabi retained the ball near the corner flag fractionally longer than was prudent. That gave me the opportunity to fly in, and disguise my malicious intent as best as I could. Alonso milked the moment with a barrel roll. I expected a yellow and was shown a red.”

You can read more of this sort of thing in Barton’s book, No Nonsense, including how in the aftermath of this foul, Alan Shearer, Newcastle’s interim manager, called Barton a “f***ing coward” and when Iain Dowie, Shearer’s assistant, stepped in to prevent things from getting out of hand, Barton quipped: “You keep it shut, boxing-glove head.”

You might not like Barton, but he is entertaining.

Posted: 21st, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Arsenal: Barcelona rewrite Bellerin’s history as they move to tap him up

Following on from yesterday’s news that Manchester City are looking to sign Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, the Sun says The Citizens are ready to shake the massive wad of cash at Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin.

And that is not all.

Bellerin joined the Gunners from Barcelona in 2011. And Barcelona fixer Jordi Mastre wants him back. He tells SPORT:

“We’ve already seen him as a Cule! He’s a great player, there’s no doubt about that. Wenger convinced him to move [in 2011] and promised him something which we couldn’t. We could not promise him that within two years he would be playing in Dani Alves’ place.”

Er, Alves (now with Juventus) played in defence for Barcelona. When at the club, Bellerin was a winger. “When I was at Barcelona I always used to play on the right wing,” he said.

Bellerin told the Standard: “When I first came to Arsenal, I didn’t know how to defend. If there was a person who I had to identify as helping me a lot, that would have to be Steve Bould.  I was a winger but from the under-18s up, I remember him just showing me the basics. Even then, I remember him sometimes holding his head like, ‘What is Hector doing?’ He’s been one of the key people in my career. He’s one of the reasons I’m here now.”

Barcelona could not promise Bellerin he would be the new Dani Alves because they thought he wasn’t good enough to play in their attack.

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 21st, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comments (2)


Manchester City War: Guardiola sees off Yaya Toure’s limp attack

Manchester City are at WAR. Have the club’s owners co-opted players into Middle East conflict? Is Pep Guardiola’s mastery of formations and attacks be be employed in Abu Dhabi’s invasion of Saudi Arabia? Don’t be so stupid. It’s bigger than that. It’s football.

The newspapers lead with this war, headlines rooted in Yaya Toure’s apparent declaration: “If Pep wants a war he can have one.”

awr yayaya

 

Toure is upset at being left out of Manchester City first teams – a move not exactly damaging to the club who are playing great football and currently boast a 100% record in all competitions.

 

war yaya

 

It turns out that Toure has said nothing in public. Dimitri Seluk, his agent, is talking. Speaking to the Daily Mirror, the agent said:

“If Pep Guardiola wants a war, then he can have one. Pep didn’t like my opinion? But what does he expect me to say when he does this to Yaya? I spoke out because I felt that Pep was being vindictive to Yaya. Unfortunately for Pep, we live in a world where you have the right to free speech. He has reacted to what I have said about him by punishing Yaya again. But I’m not surprised.”

What Pep said was:

“He must apologise to his team-mates, to the club. If he doesn’t, he won’t play. It was difficult to leave him out of the Champions League squad but [the] day after, his [agent] went to the media. He has not had the courage to call me. From that moment he was out. I know him, I know he’s a good guy, but it was difficult for me as well to put Aleix García out.

“I cannot imagine in my period when I was a football player, my manager going to the media and speaking against Johan Cruyff, about this and about that. If he has a problem call the club, and they can talk. Until he speaks, Yaya is not going to play.”

The issue is with the agent, who antagonised Pep by wondering aloud if Guardiola, who omitted Toure from City’s Champions’ League squad, had “the balls to say that he was wrong to humiliate a great player like Yaya” should City fail to win the Champions League.

 

war

 

So. It is war. And the problem is that Pep has the throne, the high ground, the money and the owners’ and fans’ support. Yaya has his agent, a hole and a big spade. He also has £220,000 per week in wages for not playing. How’s that humiliating?

At 33, and in the final year of his City contract, Yaya needs to play and his agent needs him to shine, as he can when in his pomp. How this spat helps anyone is moot.

 

 

Posted: 21st, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Jose Mourinho’s double ‘Red-olution’

It’s been a topsy-turvy season for Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Of course the Premier League season is just a few weeks old – but in the Sun it’s been a few weeks of shocks and revolutions.

On 6th September 2016, the paper’s Neil Curtis told us about the “RED-OLUTION” at Old Trafford. “Jose Mourinho has turned Manchester United around to become the force of old in just three months,” cooed Curtis. Mourinho has “lifted the clouds” at United. “Mourinho is trusting the players abilities, letting them breathe.”

Adding: “From the moment he arrived, the message has been positive… Nothing on philosophies or things taking time.”

 

Jose Mourinho the sun Manchester United

 

The man has cracked it. He’s no Louis Van Gaal. Mourinho has made United the top club again. No he hasn’t – says the Sun, which has also reported – and these just a few of the paper’s barrage of Mourinho stories:

Sept 18 – Geoff Sweet: “LVG V MOU Fact: Louis Van Gaal was a much better Manchester United manager than Jose Mourinho”

Sept 18: Sam Peoples: “‘EMBARRASSING’ Manchester United news: Jose Mourinho has no idea what his best XI is…and Paul Pogba was very muted yet again”

Sept 19 – Neil Ashton: “The Special One’s story is already unravelling at Old Trafford”

Sept 19 – Danny Higginbotham: “ROUND POGS, SQUARE HOLES Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho’s tactics just aren’t working – but how can he fix them?

Sept 19 – Ian Wright: “LAST CHANCE SALOON Jose Mourinho: Manchester United boss could be facing last chance at a top club, says Arsenal legend Ian Wright”

Sept 20 – Neil Ashton: “MOUR MISERY Jose Mourinho win record: Manchester United manager has a worse win percentage than Slaven Bilic and Francesco Guidolin since start of last season”

Sept 2 – Alec Shilton: “MOUR MISERY Jose Mourinho win record: Manchester United manager has a worse win percentage than Slaven Bilic and Francesco Guidolin since start of last season”

It’s been a revolution – twice!

 

Posted: 21st, September 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester City to move to Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez

Transfer balls: ‘Is Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez heading to Manchester City,’ asks the Guardian. No. He plays for Arsenal.

But the paper says the “word on the street” is that Sanchez is reluctant to sign a new deal with Arenal because he wants to join Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. There are no named sources. But the paper adds that Pep will go for Sanchez should he fail to sign Messi or Neymar. ESPN says Sanchez wants to win the European Cup, so the former Barcelona player fancies playing for Manchester City, who have never won it.

The Express says Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger “is desperate to keep Sanchez at the Emirates Stadium”. The Chilean wants around £200,000 a week to stay at the club. That would break Arsenal’s wage structure. Mesut Ozil, who earns around £140,000 a week, is Arsenal’s top earner. But he also wants a substantial pay rise.

So it Sanchez batting his eyelids at the Etihad? No. The Express told readers: in August “Gunners forward Alexis Sanchez has told the club he wants to leave to secure a move to Serie A champions Juventus.”

As for the German, the Sun says “Ozil has the look of a player going through the motions, already resigned to the fact that he will have to find a new club if he wants to get his hands on the European Cup.”

Problem with that is that current European Champions Real Madrid sold him. Which super-rich club will he go to? Manchester City? PSG? Manchester United – who aren’t even in Europe’s top club competition.

In other Arsenal transfer news, the Sun says Jose Mourinho will offload defender Phil Jones in January. The BBC notes that Liverpool and Arsenal both interested in the 24-year-old.

 

Posted: 20th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Manchester United: Mourinho publicly slams injured Luke Shaw as fear factor returns to Old Trafford

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho continues to win hearts and minds. The Times says United defender Luke Shaw, 21,  was suffering from a groin injury during his side’s defeat at Watford. He was playing through the pain.

Shaw made an error that allowed Watford to score their second goal in a 3-1 victory. Mourinho, as ever, points the finger:

“I knew I had a task. But the first Man City goal [during the 2-1 defeat last weekend] and this second goal, you can find incredible similarity. [Aleksandar] Kolarov has the ball in a difficult situation in the corner and my player instead of going up and pressing decides to give him space. Today for the second goal, [Nordin] Amrabat on the right side, our left back is 25 metres distance from him, instead of five metres.

“But even at 25 metres, then you have to jump and go press. But no, we wait. This is a tactical but also a mental attitude. In a couple of weeks, everything like this becomes perfect. That’s my job.”

The defeat was not Mourinho’s fault. Blame Shaw. But when it is “perfect”, it will be Mourinho’s doing. Got it? When United win a match, Shaw should write his manager a letter of thanks.

Of course, Shaw has history with Mourinho. In 2014, Mourinho, the then Chelsea manager, said Shaw’s excessive wage demands put him off signing the 19-year-old from Southampton. The Star added:

The Special One didn’t make a good impression with Shaw’s family and the player felt intimidated, according to The Sun.

The Sun claimed:

LUKE SHAW felt intimidated by Louis van Gaal and he will be entitled to feel apprehensive about Jose Mourinho’s arrival. The Special One did not leave a favourable impression on Shaw’s family when they met for talks during his second spell at Stamford Bridge.

Shaw, 20, a Chelsea fan as a kid, had his heart set on a move from Southampton. But he changed his mind and opted to join United after meeting with Mourinho.

Two minutes after Watford’s second went in, Shaw was substituted two minutes later by Mourinho. Did the chippy Portuguese manager know Shaw was carrying an injury when he criticised the player to the Press?

The Times recalls that Shaw has already suffered many hamstring and groin-related injuries and suffered an horrific broken leg at the start of last season. Readers learn that he has had “regular sessions with a sports psychologist after admitting to struggling with the pressure of playing for United.”

Cue Mourinho.

Former Manchester City manager Stuart Pearce is unimpressed. “He blamed Luke Shaw for the second goal [against Watford],” Pearce told Sky Sports. “You think he’s probably better off not having a pop at the youngsters. What he needs to do is probably pull [Shaw] aside, get him in front of a video and educate him on how to play the game. It’s difficult for me to tell Mourinho how to coach and educate – he’s the best in the world at it.”

He is? If he is, then expect lots of film nights at Old Trafford. United have lost their last three matches.

Movie Night with referee Michael Oliver (Defeat 3): “The referee’s and the linesman’s mistake is not under my control.”

Movie Night with referee Jesus Gil Manzano (Defeat 2): “Feyenoord you know that goal was in an offside position, we are punished by these mistakes.’

Movie Night with Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mhkhitaryan (Manchester City):  Mourinho was talking about “some really poor individual performances” after their 2-1 derby defeat.

But with the right money spent and lots of hard work, United will give Mourinho reason to rejoice in his own abilities. The fear factor is back at Old Trafford – the fear of being singled out for blame.

Posted: 19th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Media Balls: Arsenal reject Jack Wilshere was 100% awful

Max Miller has news for Arsenal fans looking to see how Jack Wilshere is getting on during his loan spell at AFC Bournemouth. Well, Bournemouth were thrashed 4-0 by a vibrant Manchester City. Miller tells his Metro readers:

The Arsenal loanee gave the ball away on several occasions, and was caught out numerous times by the speed and creativity of his opponents

 

JAck Wilshere flops

 

Wilshere did not play well. But, then, Bournemouth were overrun in midfield. But that part telling us Wilshere “gave the ball away on several occasions” is odd. Eddie How, the Bournemouth manager, said:

“It was difficult for Jack in the first half, because he’s at his best when he has the ball, and we didn’t have too much of it.”

 

But he lost it on “several occasions”, right? Wrong. He lost the ball twice. We found another report that tells us:

Wilshere was the only player to complete 100% of his passes…

And where did we read that? Yep, in The Metro.

 

Posted: 19th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


How Chelsea’s Conte and Manchester United’s Mourinho manage failure

blame mourinhoFollowing Chelsea’s home defeat to Liverpool in the Premier League, the BBC says Blues’ manager Antonio Conte “subjected his players to an angry dressing-down”. Conte “accused his players of failing to play as a team.”

The Times says Conte read the “riot act to his players after the Liverpool loss”. He and the team took part in “an animated post-match exchange in the dressing room”.

But Conte is no Jose Mourinho, the former Chelsea coach who explained his Manchester Untied’s 3-1 defeat to Watford by blaming the players publicly. “Some individuals probably feel the pressure and responsibility too much,” said Mourinho. We started the season very well…  I was completely aware that we were not perfect, with lots of players who are not end products and can make their own mistakes.”

And after Manchester United lost to Manchester City, Mourinho was pointing the finger:

“I had two or three players in the first half that, if I know what is going to happen, I don’t play them. This is football, though, and sometimes players disappoint managers.”

Compare and contrast to Conte who told the Chelsea FC website:

“I’m guilty because I’m the coach and it means I have to work more. We must feel the danger in every single moment of the game if we want to win and think like a great team. We must pay attention and be focused.”

Is it better to criticise your team in public or in private?

Matthew Syed notes:

“When pilots experience a near-miss with another aircraft, or have been flying at the wrong altitude, they file a report.  Providing that it is submitted within 10 days, they enjoy immunity…Openness and learning rather than blaming is the instinctive response – and system safety has been the greatest beneficiary.”

Conte the pilot?

“Contrast that with the healthcare scene, in which mistakes are very threatening to surgeons who have big egos, and the culture is very litigious – preventable medical error is now the third-biggest killer in western countries.”

Mourinho the surgeon?

Syed concludes:

“We love to think of ourselves as smart people, so we find mistakes, failure and sub-optimal outcomes challenging to our egos.”

We love to look around for someone else to blame. But the smart listen to advice, look at the data and learn not to repeat mistakes.

Posted: 19th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Dele Alli signs new Spurs deal as Real Madrid go cold

Daily Express readers will be shocked to learn that Spurs and England player Dele Alli has signed a new deal at the London club. Alli’s new contract keeps him at Spurs until 2022.

This is at odds with the Express‘ reports of May 2016: “Real Madrid: Spanish giants plot summer swoop for Alli.”

One month earlier, the Sun told its readers: “Tottenham news: Dele Alli in sights of Real Madrid as transfer process begins.” The Sun said Madrid “mouthpiece” Marca had created “momentum which results in the club getting their man.”

Madrid never did bid for Alli,

Posted: 19th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Liverpool chase the Manchester United supporting Borussia Dortmund ‘wonderkid’

Transfer balls: the BBC says Liverpool are on course to sign 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic. They’re not.

The Bleacher Report says Liverpool tried and failed to bring Pulisic – the “wonderkid” –  to Anfield over the summer with an £11m bid. They are looking to bid again next summer.

The Mirror says the 17-year-old is “one of the most highly-rated prospects in world football”. With such a billing, is £11m a cheeky offer? The Mail says Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea have “followed his emergence in recent months”. You can add any number of other clubs to the list.

ESPN FC says Dortmund “are not willing to sell him due to his potential”.

Other clubs had their chance to sign him. 442 reports:

He played for the PA Classics, a U.S. Soccer Development Academy program which has produced several MLS players. And although Pulisic enjoyed training stints at Barcelona, Chelsea, Porto, PSV Eindhoven and Villarreal while playing with the PA Classics, he chose to continue to play close to home – for a while, anyway.

 

Pulisic is under contract at Dortmund until 2018.

Does he want to leave? His father told Bild in August: “Christian has no interest in leaving the club. He had a good half year last season, and wants to continue to break through.”

How good is he? USA Today says:

Pulisic has a ways to go. He isn’t Lionel Messi, not even close. But he’s young, confident, he’s still growing, and he has an attacking spark and creativity that American players aren’t supposed to have, if you believe the accepted soccer wisdom

And finally know that Pulisic supports Manchester United, “loves” Wayne Rooney and says his favourite player at dortmund was Henrik Mkhitaryan.

Pulisic to United it is, then.

 

Posted: 16th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Media training be damned: Joey Barton entertains the trolls

Thrashed 5-1 by Glasgow Celtic in the Old Firm match, Glasgow Rangers wanted to regroup. So the club’s “marquee signing” (source: BBC) Joey Barton thought it an idea to  engage in “some sharp disagreement” with team-mate Andy Halliday.

“Some of the things I said were inappropriate and for that I apologise unreservedly,” Barton, 34, tweeted.

Nonetheless, his manager, Mark Warburton, thought it best for Barton to stay away from training until Monday.

You might think Barton should not say any more, go off an fight in a Nando’s, text pictures of his bellend to aspiring models or engage in some other sad hobby mainstream media trolls thinks all footballers do when away from the pitch. But he can’t help himself. He talks. Having apologised unreservedly, he then reserved the right to review his apology:

“I regret what happened and on Monday I will report for training and I will do what it takes to help the team draw a line under it so that we can get back to the task at hand.”

Draw a line. Move on. Not quite. On he went, adding a sympathetic backstory to his unreserved apology:

“I cannot, however, apologise for caring deeply about winning and for wanting to perform better myself and for Rangers to do much better.”

He then added a non-denial denial:

“Apologising doesn’t always mean that you’re wrong and the other person is right. It means you value your relationship more than your ego.”

All befitting a man who once tweeted: “In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act. George Orwell.”

We love it, don’t we. As Barton said:

“I’ve made mistakes, but I’ve dealt with them. I’ll tell you one thing I am proud of; when I’m finished I’ll be able to look back at my career and know that I was never this media-hyped ponce who was manufactured.”

Media training be damned!

Posted: 16th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Manchester City balls: Sergio Aguero’s Champions’ League ‘vow’

Big news: Sergio Aguero, 28, has signed a one-year contract extension at Manchester City, says the BBC.

The Daily Mirror ups that with more amazing news: “Aguero has vowed to remain at City until they are crowned kings of Europe”.

 

Aguero Manchester City newpsapers

 

Very good of him to make a solemn promise. But at 28, would City want, says, a 38-year-old playing up front for them? We know age is just a number (see: Zlatan Ibrahimovich) but would City’s owners not fancy a younger striker in the next decade?

Of course, should City not win the Champions’ League by 2020, when Aguero’s deal ends, they might not want to renew it. But Aguero has made a “vow”. He’ll be there for as long as it takes.

Of course, Aguero is no fool. He made no vow. What he said was:

“I still have four years more here,. I hope to achieve it at some point as it’s really important for any player. Obviously the Champions League is not easy; there are a lot of other fantastic teams. But my idea and club’s idea is the same, to try to win this competition… we are ready to reach a Champions League final. I don’t know if it’s going to be this year, but we will try.”

Vows made: none.

Posted: 16th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal want Sanchez, Wilshere stays and Ozil confuses the experts

Transfer Balls: The BBC says Arsenal’s  Chile forward Alexis Sanchez, 27, will sign a new deal at the club – if he gets a wage increase.

The Daily Mirror adds that he also wants a new contract to feature a buyout clause. Why? For his ego? Those things are not worth a dime. When Arsenal offered Liverpool £40million plus £1 for Luis Suarez – so triggering his release, as per contract – Liverpool asked the Gunners ‘what they were smoking’ and refused to honour it.

The Daily Mail says Sanchez and German midfielder Mesut Ozil, 27, will extend their stays at Arsenal. But is unsure what next for Jack Wilshere, 24, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 23, and 26-year-old Kieran Gibbs.

Their stock at Arsenal is boosted by the Premier League’s home-grown rule, which states clubs must include eight home-grown players out of a squad of 25.‪

A home-grown player will be defined as one who, irrespective of his nationality or age, has been registered with any club affiliated to the Football Association or the Football Association of Wales for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons or 36 months prior to his 21st birthday (or the end of the Season during which he turns 21).

Gibbs is no world beater. Oxlade-Chamberlain doesn’t improve. And Wilshere, well, the Bleacher Report said last week: “Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he wants Bournemouth loanee Jack Wilshere to stay at Arsenal his entire career.”

Which is little odd, given that he now plays for Bournemouth, albeit on loan.

You might wonder if the Mail knows anything? It would appear not:

 

daily mail arsenal

 

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 15th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: rubbish Mustafi is the Gunners’ top passer

Arsenal balls: A quick look at reporting on Arsenal’s Champions’ League match again PSG. The focus is on Arsenal’s new boy Shkodran Mustafi. How did he do?

Rubbish!

“…gave the ball away cheaply and put Arsenal’s midfielders under pressure. He  does not look like the big-hearted leader Arsenal need at the back. Is he worth £35m? Not on this showing” – Neil Ashton, The Sun.

2/10 –  L’Equipe

Confused!

“Cavani had planted his header emphatically into the corner from Aurier’s glorious cross on the charge with Shkodran Mustafi apparently distracted by the presence of a second ball on the pitch, albeit on the distant touchline.” – The Guardian

Pretty good!

“…was solid enough throughout” – Sami Mokbel, Daily Mail

“Mustafi was competitive and strong. Has the makings of a good signing” – John Cross, Daily Mirror.

Awesome!

“Mustafi continues to show he’s a pass master against PSG – Mustafi stood out once again with his passing ability” – Daily Cannon (Arsenal fan blog)

Such are the facts.

Posted: 14th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment (1)


Transfer balls: Eric Dier’s new contract at Spurs and Bayern Munich’s dossier

Transfer Balls: In June, the Express told readers that Spurs and England player Eric Dier was being watch. “Carlo Ancelotti eyes Tottenham swoop,” thundered the headline. News was that the new Bayern Munich manager wanted Dier. “Bayern will have to mount a fight to prise Dier away from Spurs,” continued the story.

The Indy agreed: “Tottenham Hotspur braced for move for England midfielder this summer.”

The Sunday People said the German champions are putting together a dossier on Dier.

The Sun went further. “BAYERN WANT NEW BECKS,” it declared.

Tottenham midfielder has the nickname Becks and the attention of the German giants after his stunning free-kick

And so to today’s news: “Tottenham midfielder Eric Dier has signed a new five-year contract, which runs until 2021.”

Number of bids made for Dier over the summer: nil.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 13th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Media balls: Injured Spurs player named man of the match

danny rose metro

 

Football journalism finds its nadir in the Metro, which when not writing hundreds of clickbait articles every week, is making up its Team of the Week. This week’s team features Tottenham’s Danny Rose.

Spurs tonked Stoke last Saturday. And anyone who saw the match will have spotted Danny Rose… sat in the cheap seats nursing his injured hamstring.

The Metro’s analytical expert appraised his every move:

Tottenham are back! Or so it seems after a convincing 4-0 win over Stoke.

Rose was one of the many Spurs stars to finally hit their straps after a steady start to the campaign, contributing at both ends of the pitch to ensure the north Londoners came away with all three points.

Ben Davies was at left back.

 

Posted: 13th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment (1)


Is failed manager Gary Neville waiting for the Manchester United job?

Former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville is moaning. Sacked by the La Liga club Valencia in March after less than four months in charge, Neville also lost his job as England assistant manager after their dismal showing at Euro 2016.

He tells Sky Sports, for whom he works as a pundit:

“The FA invested in me for four years. I’m the most experienced I’ve ever been yet you get chucked overboard. I’m only 41 years of age and you’re regarded as a failure and the reality of it is the investment has to come through defeat and victory.

“I’ve been to eight tournaments as a player, three as a coach, I’m probably the only English coach that’s managed in La Liga at a top four club in the last 15 to 20 years, even if it’s only for four months.”

Of course, Gary, having managed unsuccessfully at Valencia, a club owned by his mate – he left with the worst win percentage of any coach in the club’s La Liga history – and been part of a management team that turned out a poor England side – England 1, Iceland 2 – Neville could step down a league or two and hone his skills at a smaller club with ambition.

Or is he waiting for the United job to restore his credibility?

Posted: 13th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


Media balls – Swansea v Chelsea: Diego Costa’s dive, Leroy Fer’s foul and a red card

Talking Balls: a look at media bias in football reporting. Today’s game is Swansea v Chelsea in the Premier League. The game finished 2-2, thanks to a late goal from Diego Costa.

DIEGO COSTA:

Chelsea FC:

Conte’s men were dominant now – tenacious in the tackle, composed in possession and a threat going forward. Leroy Fer and Federico Fernandez were booked for cynical fouls on Diego Costa (also carded before the break for a late tackle), and Cesar Azpilicueta drew a near-post stop from Fabianski after overlapping.

No dive is mentioned.

BBC:

Costa, who might earlier have been sent off, capitalised on poor defending to fire the dominant visitors in front…

It was a small wonder he and Jordi Amat both stayed on the pitch having bickered throughout the game, and Costa was perhaps fortunate to escape a second yellow card for what appeared to be a dive under pressure from Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski in the second half.

The Times:

If Swansea had real cause for frustration it was that Costa was still on the field to equalise. Already booked for a foul on Leroy Fer, Costa was guilty of clear simulation when contesting a ball with the Swansea goalkeeper, Lukasz Fabianski, who gestured a diving motion at an opponent also assailed by boos.

LEROY FER’S GOAL

Chelsea FC:

“Cahill was unfairly dispossessed by Fer, who raced clear and just about squeezed his shot through Courtois and over the line. In a flash, the Blues were behind.”

BBC:

Fer appeared to foul Cahill as he dispossessed the Chelsea defender, and Swansea’s Netherlands midfielder ran clear before squeezing his shot past Courtois and over the line.

It did look like a foul. But:

South Wales Evening Post:

Leroy Fer stole possession from a dawdling Gary Cahill and bundled the ball through Thibaut Courtois legs and over the line.

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 12th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Chelsea Star calls Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho ‘The Gifted One’

One Watch: a look at Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho’s branding. The Sun calls him ‘The Gifted One’.

THE SPECIAL SCHLONG Jose Mourinho has a big tackle… in his trousers, says Jamie Redknapp on Manchester United manager

Adding that Redknapp heard the news from his cousin Frank Lampard, who player for Mourinho at Chelsea. The Sun then coins a new ‘One’.

United boss is nicknamed The ‘Gifted One’ by his players for being so well-endowed

The Sun then adds:

Jose Mourinho reportedly is the Special One in more ways than one

Add it to the list.

The Nervous One.

The Generous One

The Right One 

The Impatient One 

The Hungry One

The Happy One

The Obsessed One

The Tamer One

Posted: 11th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Chelsea and Manchester United delight Griezmann’s agent

Transfer balls: how much is Atletico Madrid’s France striker Antoine Griezmann worth? The BBC says Chelsea manager Antonio Conte “wants the club to sanction a world-record bid” for Griezmann.

As negotiating tactics go, telling Atletico they should expect no less than the £89.3m Manchester Untied paid for Paul Pogba – and you are willing to pay it – is not exactly canny.

The Sunday Express says “Conte is ready to go above the £86million release clause in Griezmann’s contract to head off interest from Manchester United.”

Of course, it’s not Conte’s money. And as for release clauses, well, are they rally worth their salt? And there is another factor. On September 8, the BBC reported:

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have lost appeals against Fifa bans on signing players in the next two transfer windows. The clubs contested a decision by world football’s governing body to punish them for breaching rules over the transfer of foreign players under 18…

“Both clubs are to serve a transfer ban that prevents them from registering any players at national and international level for the next two complete and consecutive registration periods,” said a Fifa statement.

The Spanish sides will now appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. If that fails, will Atletico sell the France international who signed a new five-year contract with Atletico in June 2016?

These bans have form. In 2014, Barcelona were banned from signing any players in 2015 after their appeal against a transfer ban was dismissed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Barcelona were, like Real and Atletico, found guilty of breaching Fifa’s rules on the transfer of players aged under 18.

Of course, there are ways:

Barca went on a summer spending spree this year while the suspension went on hold during the appeals process, splashing out more than 150m euros (£117.5m) on Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Thomas Vermaelen, Claudio Bravo, Jeremy Mathieu and Alen Halilovic.

If you drag any appeal out until the next transfer window opens, look out for Atletico not selling big but buying bigger.

The Manchester Evening News says Chelsea will get no clear run at splurging massive amounts of cash on one player.

M.E.N. Sport understands United have earmarked Atletico Madrid goalscorer Griezmann, 25, as their primary target for the 2017 summer transfer window.

Griezmann’s agent must be delighted.

Posted: 11th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United and Manchester City create an instant Classico

The Manchester Derby was a cracker. Writing in the Sunday Times, Jonathan Northcroft muses: “An instant Clasico? It felt that way… For once, in our overhyped world, an event lived up to its billing.”

There was interest all over the pitch:

Bravo – deemed to be much better than England’s Joe Hart – dropping the ball to give Zlatan Ibrahimovic a well-taken goal.

Bravo taking a poor touch with his fabled feet before flying into Wayne Rooney and getting away with it. It looked a clear penalty.

Marouane Fellaini giving Aleksandar Kolarov a reminder of the day by knocking his tooth out.

Referee Mark Clattenburg having the biggest ego on the pitch.

Kevin de Bruyne playing superbly well.

And then there was the “WAR” between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. That never came. The two men high-fived and hugged one another.

After the match, Mourinho was reflective and finger pointing:

“I had two or three players in the first half that, if I know what is going to happen, I don’t play them. This is football, though, and sometimes players disappoint managers. It’s my fault because I’m the manager and it’s always my fault because it’s my choice.”

Adding:

“The two halves were completely different. In the first half we were below the level to play this match. You have to be completely ready in terms of the speed of your thinking and decision-making. The second half was completely different. We were a team that had the courage and honesty and dignity to chase with pride the result which I think we deserved – we deserved a goal in the second half.”

Nothing out of the ordinary there, then. Mourinho did not rant and rave. He thought his team deserved two penalty kicks, neither of which was given. His skill is in galvanising players to want to join him in giving it all for the cause. The “aggressive” approach he takes towards winning gives fans reason to believe.

The Telegraph says Mourinho branded his players “bottlers”.

 

Mourinho b

 

The Express says Mourinho is “moaning”. It might have said that the referee made a crucial error.

 

Mourinho a

 

Anyone who enjoys football will look forward to February 25, when these clubs are scheduled to meet again. The media has a few months to whip the match into a war.

Posted: 11th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Liverpool were cheated by Leicester: Vardy’s goal gets over-analysed

Liverpool FC tonked Leicester City 4-1 in the Reds’ first home match of the season. Looking on was Howard Webb, one of the platoon of former referees earning money as a pundit. Webb works for BTSport, where he analyses decisions to deadline. He told viewers that Jamie Vardy’s goal should not have stood.

Webb says Leicester’s Shinji Okazaki broke the rules when his pressing panicked Liverpool’s Lucas into a dreadful pass across an empty area that gave Vardy an easy finish. According to the absurdly picky Webb, Okazaki was illegally inside the penalty area before the ball had left it following Mignolet’s goal-kick.

As Law 16 states:

Opponents must be outside the penalty area until the ball is in play…

The ball is in play when it leaves the penalty area..

 

Vardy

 

This is the same Howard Webb who told readers of his Times column:

If all decisions can be reviewed by video, referees on the pitch become nothing more than remote-controlled referees.

And how many of them will go on tot have a media career?

 

Posted: 11th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, TV & Radio | Comment


Media balls: Arsenal beat Southampton with a ‘slight tug’ that saw Giroud ‘hauled down’

Talking Balls: a look at media bias in football reporting. Today’s game is Arsenal v Southampton in the Premier League. Arsenal won 2-1, thanks to a very late penalty.

Daily Echo (Southampton):

But in injury-time they conceded a penalty after the slightest of tugs on Olivier Giroud’s shirt by Jose Fonte. Fonte, understandably furious as Giroud was giving as good as he got, was booked – and Santi Cazorla sent Fraser Forster the wrong way.

Standard: (London):

There was definite contact between Fonte and Giroud but the decision incensed Southampton manager Claude Puel and his players, with the situation further complicated by Koscielny lying strewn in the goalmouth having taken a kick to the face moments earlier.

Islington Gazette (Arsenal):

Giroud then tangled with Fonte in the box on 90 minutes – and referee Madely awarded a penalty. And despite a delay as Koscielny was treated for an injury Cazorla then struck the winner to make it 2-1 to The Arsenal.

Only the local Southampton newspaper says Giroud was “giving as good as he got”. No other newspaper – national or otherwise – mentions Giroud fouling.

As for the clubs’ websites:

Arsenal:

Olivier Giroud was hauled down by Jose Fonte and Cazorla kept his nerve to beat Fraser Forster.

Arsene Wenger (Arsenal):

 “It is a relief, because we missed many chances and they had one or two opportunities having thrown everything forward. Honestly, everyone is telling me it was a penalty, but I’ve not yet seen it again.”

Claude Puel (Southampton):

“It’s very hard for my players, a big disappointment. For me, with the penalty both players went to play the ball – it’s very hard to take.”

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 10th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Peace breaks out before Manchester United and Manchester City war

It’s Manchester Untied v Manchester City in the Premier League. It’s WAR! It is. The media has told us as much.

In the Mail Jose Mourinho tells Pep Guardiola “WE’RE READY TO RUMBLE”.

 

Manchester United fight

 

It’s WAR says the Sun:

 

Man United Man City the sun

 

 

The Week sums up: “Man Utd vs Man City: Mourinho and Guardiola prepare for war”

Or as the Express puts it:

 

Manchester derby

 

And Henry winter writes in the Times:

Such was the public love-in of Mourinho and Guardiola yesterday — and the Premier League insists that no missive was launched from London demanding common courtesy — that it would be little surprise to find half-and-half scarves featuring the pair for sale outside Old Trafford.

It’s PEACE before the WAR.

Posted: 10th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Real Madrid resign four Manchester United players in clickbait frenzy

The BBC says Real Madrid players Cristiano Ronaldo, 31, Gareth Bale, 27, midfielders Toni Kroos, 26, and Luka Modric, 30, are all on course to extend their contracts with Real Madrid.

The Daily Mirror agrees.

 

daily mirror football

 

That’s the Mirror that just two days ago thundered: “Manchester United have made a staggering wage offer to Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale in a bid to lure the Welshman away from the Bernabeu.”

The Mirror that reported in the summer of 2015: “Cristiano Ronaldo is ready to return to Manchester United... Sunday Mirror Sport understands that Ronaldo is excited by the prospect of once again wearing United’s red shirt… Madrid know that the world player of the year will seek a new challenge next summer.”

The Mirror that reported in December 2015: “Manchester United on alert as Toni Kroos seeks Real Madrid exit.” Adding in April 2016: “Manchester City set for transfer battle with rivals United for Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos.”

The Mirror that reported in 2013: “Luka Modric still has his heart set on a move to Old Trafford this summer, after he has struggled for first team action at Real Madrid.”

Manchester United never did sign any of them.

Posted: 9th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment