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Transfer balls: Are Manchester United buying Neymar?
The Sun says Barcelona will offer the Brazilian £500,000-a-week.
Can United top that?
In another article the Sun says Man United will “play the long game”. Neymar is 23, Will United wait until he’s, say, 43, before swooping?
In a remarkable spout of balls, Neil Curtis writes:
IT WAS thought the pull of Manchester United in world football had diminished since Sir Alex Ferguson bowed out at Old Trafford. The very fact that Neymar is about to have his wages doubled at The Nou Camp to £500,000 a week shows it hasn’t.
Eh? Is the thinking that because United want Neymar, Barcelona have been panicked into making him the third best played player in the world, after Messi and Ronaldo?
Such is the concern surrounding United’s interest in the Brazilian star, 23, that he will be propelled into the same wage brackets as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Two other players who United would not hesitate in trying to get to Old Trafford.
This isn’t news. It’s PR. We’re told United would love to buy the world’s top players. Well, so would every other club. Would the players want to join United?
Any indication from the Messi camp that he is after pastures new and they would be straight in there.
Looking desperate and assuring the Argentinean that his national team-mate Angel Di Maria loved living in Manchester and playing under Louis Van Gaal.
Twice they have attempted to get Ronaldo back to Old Trafford and there is still a romantic view that he will play out his final couple of years as a professional back at the club where he made his name.
And twice they have failed. As for romance, surely Ronaldo returning to Sporting Lisbon, from where United bought him, would be a sweeter story.
There was much scoffing on social media when SunSport broke the story that United had tried to get Neymar.
Tried. And failed. Such is that “pull” of Manchester United.
It remains tempting for someone who would be happy to be THE star at another club on the same level as Barca. United are a club under the executive vice chairman Ed Woodward who are not afraid to ruffle the feathers of the likes of Real and Barca.
Real and Barca then puff our their plumage and strut off with the world’s best players. After such puffery, Curtis then reads Neymar’s mind:
Whether United get Neymar any time soon or not, they have put down a marker for the future. By making that shock move, they have made the player think about options that were not previously there. They have made him think about a future elsewhere.
Yeah, because one of the world’s best players had no idea other clubs would like him to play for them.
Madeleine McCann: a look at the missing child in the media.
The Sun (front page): “Cops in hunt for Maddie slashed”
The “search” has been “drastically cut back”. Reducing the number of police officers on the case from a platoon-sized 29 to a small office-sized 4 is “a huge blow to parents Kate and Gerry”.
This news is shared with the other front-page police matters that “Britain’s tops cops” have warned that “huge spending cuts will spell the end for bobbies on the beat”. It’s cost The Met Police not much under £11m since 2011 to find out what happened to Madeleine McCann. The Sun’s juxtaposition of the two stories is not accidental.
Page 9: “FEAR OF LOST GIRLS PARENTS – IS THIS END OF COP HUNT FOR MADDIE?”
Answer: No. Four police remain on the case.
We hear from a “source close to Mum Kate and dad Gerry”. They say: “They know it can’t go on forever. They’re preparing for it to be shelved for good in coming months.”
We hear their official “statement”: “We remain hopeful she may still be found…”
Daily Mail (Page 25): “”Maddie probe team is slashed from 29 detectives to just 4.”
Just 4. Just?
We learn that the Government “initially set aside 5m for the Met probe”. We are reminded that the Portuguese investigation was “marred by blunders”.
It has also sold a lot of newspapers and garnered online clicks.
Daily Express (front page): “MADDY: POLICE RUN OUT OF CLUES”
Did they ever have any?
The Express agrees that there will “just” four offices working full-time on the case.
Page 9: “McCanns cling to hope as inquiry is cut back”
To illustrate how this story has gone nowhere, this is the Daily Express headline from 29 April 2009: “Madeleine’s parents still cling to hope.”
The paper notes:
Since the little girl, who would now be 11, vanished, every possible theory has been explored including that she was kidnapped by a peadophile [sic], killed during a botched burglary and her body dumped, snatched by traffickers and sold to a childless couple and she wandered out of the apartment and died in a tragic accident.
The Express, of course, indulged in another theory that cost it dear when it libelled the McCanns:
The question of what happened to the little girl has not only become a personal tragedy for the McCann family, but a national obsession in the UK and in Portugal. However, to date, not one shred of proof of what happened to Madeleine has been unearthed.
Not everyone has been as obsessed as the Express:
Daily Mirror (front page): “MADDIE – Police scaling down hunt”
Page 11: “Maddie Cops Cut From 29 To Four – But Met says investigation continues”
Not shelved, then. But there are – get this – “just four” detectives on the case.
Daily Star (front page): “Search for Maddie cut”
Page 6: “Family’s agony as cops slash Maddie squad”
Agony? Surely the agony was the child vanishing. The case remains open. The parents “remain hopeful”
The Met said the “vast majority” of the work in its inquiry into Madeleine’s disappearance had been completed. It said no conclusion had been reached but it was now following a “small number of focused lines of inquiry” which was why the team had been cut.
Four full-time officers on one case still sounds a lot, no?
Spokesman for the McCann family Clarence Mitchell says the the case into her disappearance is not drawing to a close.
If only it were. We all want closure. The story foes on and on.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, from the Met, said: “The Met was asked to take on this exceptional case as one of national interest.”
Less time was spent looking for Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.
“We were happy to bring our expertise to bear only on the basis that it would not detract from the policing of London; and the Home Office have additionally funded the investigation above normal grants to the Met. That will continue at the reduced level.”
As ever, we are left looking at the parents:
Madeleine’s parents Gerry and Kate McCann praised the “meticulous and painstaking work” done by police. They said: “We are reassured that the investigation to find Madeleine has been significantly progressed and the Met has a much clearer picture of the events in Praia da Luz leading up to Madeleine’s abduction in 2007. Given that the review phase of the investigation is essentially completed, we fully understand the reasons why the team is being reduced. We would also like to thank the Home Office for continuing to support the investigation. Whilst we do not know what happened to Madeleine, we remain hopeful that she may still be found given the ongoing lines of inquiry.”
The investigation has been huge:
Officers have investigated more than 60 persons of interest, the Met said, adding that a total of 650 sex offenders had also been considered as well as reports of 8,685 potential sightings of Madeleine around the world. Having reviewed all of the documents, “7,154 actions were raised and 560 lines of inquiry identified”, the Met said. It said more than 30 requests had been made to “countries across the world asking for work to be undertaken on behalf of the Met”.
No arrests have been made, despite officers investigating 60 people of interest, taking 1,338 statements, collecting 1,027 exhibits and investigating 560 lines of enquiry. The Met said it had investigated 650 known sex offenders in connection with the case, as well as reports of 8,685 potential sightings of Madeleine around the world, receiving 200 emails a week from members of the public.
Chelsea balls: The Sun sticks its napkin into its collar, picks up a knife and fork and tucks into Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho. Stoke – a Premier League playing at home – beat Chelsea on penalties in the League Cup.
The Sun’s back page tells us that the result means Jose Mourinho is “on the brink” of leaving Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho is “clinging to his job by a thread”. Chelsea did a “crash ‘n burn”. Chelsea “plumbed new depths”.
To recap: Stoke City are a top-flight side playing at home. They won in a penalty shoot-out.
The Sun’s match reports goes:
It cannot be disputed his [Mourinho’s] players gave their all for him last night. This time, unquestionably, they threw everything at it.
Sure, they showed new levels of commitment, determination and dogged resistence [sic] as they clawed their way back from the loss of a sensational Jon Walters goal. Of course, they kept going to deservedly snatch a stoppage-time equaliser through sub Loic Remy. But that should really be a given from the reigning champions.
Can a team plumb news depth by playing as champions should? Apparently, yes.
Not many people are listening any more. Mourinho, who was never as interesting as some lickspittles imagined, has become a bore
So boring is Mourinho that he occupies most of the Mail’s back page. Chelsea were knocked out the League Cup by Stoke City – but both clubs are overshadowed by the boring one.
Matt Lawton’s match report is headlined:
“THAT PUTS JOSE ON THE SPOT”
Chelsea lost on penalty kicks. But the pun plays second fiddle to Mourinho’s first name – like all legends he only needs one – the mad bore.
Also in today’s entertaining Daily Mail – these stories all from just TODAY:
Jose Mourinho walks out of Chelsea post-match interview after refusing to answer ‘negative’ question about team’s defending in Capital One Cup defeat by Stoke – Simeon Gholam
Guus Hiddink hints at interest in Chelsea job if Jose Mourinho leaves, saying ‘top class football is always attractive’ – Adam Shergold
Loic Remy wants Jose Mourinho to stay at Chelsea and has backed the boss to lead Stamford Bridge club to top four finish – Press Association Reporter
Chelsea have lost HALF of their 14 games since Eva Carneiro row… where has it gone wrong for Jose Mourinho’s champions? – Jonny Singer
Mourinho still the right man for Chelsea, says Remy – Reuters
Loic Remy tells Chelsea not to sack Jose Mourinho – Press Association
Defiant Mourinho doesn’t need ‘assurances’ as Chelsea exit Cup – Reuters
Jose Mourinho’s job as Chelsea manager hangs by a thread… but Blues boss insists he does not need further reassurance from owner Roman Abramovich over his future – Chris Wheeler
Stoke 1-1 Chelsea (AET: 5-4 on pens) PLAYER RATINGS: So, who played his heart out for Jose Mourinho? – Chris Wheeler
Under-fire Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has no luck once again as holders crash out – Press Association Reporter
In any other business, Chelsea’s suffering boss Jose Mourinho would get a sabbatical to save him – Martin Samuel
Get a load of all those lickspittles on the Mail’s payroll.
And get a load of some other Henderson bon mots:
Like some footsore wanderer, beset by vagabonds, Jose Mourinho stands at the crossroads, looking for the path that will be his salvation. In vain, alas. One sign reads ‘disgrace’, the other ‘despair’. And both lead, as night follows day, to ‘dismissal’.
Jose inspires journalist to 19th Century epiphany!
Charged on Monday by the FA with misconduct, following his latest acts of petulance on Saturday, when Chelsea lost their fifth league match of this wretched season at West Ham, Mourinho is once again wearing a face longer than a day without breakfast.
All over by brunch!
It appears, from his extraordinary behaviour in the past three months, that he wants to be released from his bondage at Stamford Bridge, and it shouldn’t be long before his wish is granted.
Jose in S&M Hell!
Will angels pluck a thousand harps to send him on his way? Will the tears of loyal supporters run like rivers along Fulham Road? Hardly. It has been clear for some time that many Chelsea fans find his narcissism as tiresome as the rest of us. When he goes, next week, next month, next year, it will be with everybody’s blessing.
Jose in Homer-erotic reverie!
Harsh, you say? Not harsh enough. In terms of pots won, Mourinho has been a remarkably successful manager. Nobody can take those titles away from him, and nobody ever will. Yet, apart from the supporters of Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, who can say, hand on heart, that the teams he has sent into the field have raised spirits?
Well, aside from every single Chelsea fan, how about this chap, who writes for the, er, Daily Mail:
And still Henderson goes on:
Mourinho’s teams are not designed to delight, or even entertain.
Or as the Mail’s Pete Jenson outs it:
Besieged by foes, he sits in his bunker, cursing all who would doubt him. But not many people are listening any more. Mourinho, who was never as interesting as some lickspittles imagined, has become a bore. We are approaching the final act, not with tears but mocking laughter. To borrow from My Fair Lady: ‘Poor Jose, how simply frightful. How humiliating. How delightful.’
Editorial meetings at the Mail must be a riot. Hendeson v the Mourinho Lickspittles – hundreds of them all writing about the most boring man in the world.
Chelsea balls: the media continue to guess about Jose Mourinho’s future at Stamford Bridge.
You might see English football’s champions losing matches as a sign of the Premier League’s strength. But the narrative is that the top teams who spend the most must always win. Anything less than the predictable procession has the media’s nodding heads demanding the bigger club’s manager is sacked. So it is for Jose Mourinho. Chelsea have lost five from 10 matches so far. They are nine points off a Champions’ League berth. There are 28(!) matches to go.
It would be nuts to sack Mourinho. But all papers have an agenda. Just look at the Mirror’s back page: Stoke beat Chelsea and the entire back page is dedicated to the losing club’s manager.
Having decide that Mourinho must go,. the paper pick his successor.
The now dire Daily Telegraph says Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola is not free until next summer. Carlo Ancelotti is “expected to reject a return to Stamford Bridge on a temporary basis”. But former Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink could fancy it. You know, maybe. The Daily Mirror says Ancelotti, 56, would consider the Chelsea job if he was offered it on a permanent basis.
One persistent whisper in football circles is that Ancelotti, out of work since his departure from Real Madrid, is the obvious go-to man should Abramovich find himself looking for another interim manager (or even a permanent one). Those close to Ancelotti insist otherwise; the Italian does not look back on his second and final season at Chelsea, which culminated with an unedifying dismissal in a stairwell at Goodison Park, with the slightest fondness.
In other words: no-one has a foggiest what will happen next but to some it’s fun to guess when a man will lose his job.
Indiana Z. Jones of Rushville, New York, was pulled over by police. Rather than leaving the vehicle, Indy put his foot down. Police gave chase. Other police up ahead tossed down “stop sticks” that blew his tyres.
Jones, 21, was charged with unlawfully fleeing a police officer, obstructing governmental administration, reckless operation, speeding, speed not reasonable and prudent, failure to comply with a lawful order, failure to keep right, moving from lane unsafely, driving an uninspected and unregistered vehicles, improper licence plates, driving without insurance and multiple vehicular equipment infractions.
In his defence he cite nominative determinism: Indiana Jones alway runs.
We only read Playboy for the articles (which since Hugh ‘Housecoat’ Hefner’s throbbing organ swore off naked women is truer than ever), and we only watch vintage skin flicks for the music. French music producer Drixxxe has made compilation tapes of ‘70s softcore pornographic films. Called Sextape (natch.) you can tune in to them all on Flashbak.
Tory MP David Amess will chair the bill committee for the Government’s Psychoactive Substances Bill.
Good choice. Right man for the job. After all we all asked ‘What’s he on?’ when Amess popped up on TV’s Brass Eye in 1997 to warn us that Cake was “a big yellow death bullet”. Cake was “a new legal drug from Czechoslovakia”. He told us:
“Look at that, a £100,000 in the pocket of the filth that sells it. A big yellow death bullet in the head of some poor user – or custard gannet as the dealers call them.”
Jamie Oliver wants us to pay a “sugar tax”. The TV chef wants us to pay a tax on sugary drinks and snacks. He says:
“The discussions that I’ve had haven’t implied that that is written off. I think the discussions that have I’ve had are been robust. Mr Cameron is reviewing everything and seems to be interrogating it really well. We need to make sure that he’s brave.”
And then – shudder:
“It’s symbolic of a government that is willing to fight tooth and nail for public health and most importantly for child health. We need to be bold and brave and frankly act like a parent.”
Josef Fritzl? Princess Diana? Osama bin Laden? Jamie Oliver? Which parent is the model?
“Who is running the country? Is it the businesses who are profiting from ill-health of our children or is it us?”
In the Anorak Inbox today, this missive form a desperate
A UK betting site has offered odds on which England football will come out as gay, following the news over the weekend that two Premier League footballers are set to do so. Players such as Luke Shaw, Daniel Sturridge and James Milner all appear in the low tier with odds of 10/1 or lower, whilst the likes of Joe Hart, Jordan Henderson and Wayne Rooney all appear at odds of 20/1 or lower.
More information can be found below, but please do get in touch if you require any further information.
Following the news over the weekend that two Premier League footballers (one of whom allegedly plays for England) are ready to come out as gay, a betting website based in the UK has become the first to offer customers the chance to bet on which footballers might do so. Visitors to the site can take a punt on which footballers they think will make the announcement; with the sportsmen split into low, medium and high tier odds according to the perceived likeliness of their involvement in a potential upcoming announcement.
The odds for different players vary according to likelihood, as judged by Win Cash Live’s trading team…
Speaking about offering odds on which footballers are likely to come out as gay, Ashley Faull (founder of www.WinCashLive.com), said the following:
“…there’s no denying that this is a very hot topic right now and we couldn’t see that any gambling sites were offering odds on which footballers will come out as gay, following the news and rumours over the weekend. We know that there is a lot of speculation and the public will want to see if they can guess correctly, so we’re offering them the chance to get a return on their inklings.”
You think you’ve reached rock bottom but there’s always someone with a new spade whose ready to dig….
What do you do when you see racists? Yeah. you remove their targets to a cage. Pies reports on life in go-ahead Ukraine:
The executive director of Dynamo Kiev’s Olympic Stadium has gone on record as saying that segregated stands for black fans may be a “good idea” in the wake of Eastern European football’s latest shameful dalliance with racist abuse. The problem came to the fore once again last week when damning footage circulated of four black fans being attacked in the terraces during Kiev’s 0-0 draw against Chelsea in the Champions League.
Now, in his tireless quest to rid the NSC Olimpiyskiy of such disgraceful scenes, executive Volodimir Spilchenko believes he’s come up with the solution.
“We are trying, maybe, to make a special sector [for black fans] in order to avoid the manifestation of racism,” Spilchenko is quoted as saying in an interview by the Washington Post.
Gob-smacking, isn’t it? You really couldn’t make it up.
Referring to the aforementioned black fans specifically, Spilchenko explained that his administration attempted to make amends on the night but saw their apologetic gestures snubbed. “Representatives of the stadium administration came to these guys and offered them to change seats, even to more expensive ones, but our proposition was ignored,” he added.
Here’s a better idea: let’s segregate Dynamo Kiev from the rest of European football.
Transfer balls: as the Press pile in on Jose Mourinho, the Telegraph says Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola, 44, is Chelsea’s first-choice replacement for the argumentative Portuguese.
He is? Says who?
Matt Law reports:
Intermediaries, working independently and not at the request of Abramovich or Chelsea, are already attempting to gauge whether Guardiola would be interested in taking over at Stamford Bridge when his Bayern Munich contract expires at the end of the season. They want to be in a position to hand Guardiola to the Blues owner if Mourinho is sacked.
The Sun: “‘£100,000 fraud’ on Maddie fund – WHISTLEBLOWER EXCLUSIVE: Search money rip-off claim”
THE fund to find Madeleine McCann was ripped off by up to £100,000, whistleblowers claim.
Ripped off by whom?
Documents alleging the huge fraud have been handed to her parents Kate and Gerry.
How do we know this? Why is a claim news?
It is claimed a person connected to the hunt for the three-year-old used public donations to fund his own lifestyle. He is said to have duped the McCanns into thinking the cash was spent looking for their daughter.
How did he do that, then? Is he a private detective? Psychic? Copper?
Two whistleblowers named the man in sworn affidavits which The Sun passed to the couple.
Ok. The Sun has a scoop.
One said: “What made the fraud so disgusting was money came from people who shed tears over her disappearance and wanted to do their little bit.”
There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Kate or Gerry who thanked The Sun for the evidence.
We hear from the couple’s spokesman:
“Madeleine’s Fund takes extremely seriously any suggestion monies intended for the search have been obtained fraudulently. Kate, Gerry and the other directors of Madeleine’s Fund will co-operate fully with authorities to ensure these claims are fully investigated.”
No news on the actual child. No news on the search for the innocent girl who went missing in 2007.
The Mirror: “Madeleine McCann detectives examine man’s pictures after Sunday People probe”
It can only be a good thing that the tabloids are investigating.
Wojciech Krokowski’s flat was searched after the three-year-old vanished but he was ruled out and has now given us snaps he took around the time she went missing. Officers are scouring dozens of images from the camera of businessman Wojciech Krokowski, from Poland.
Krokowski’s flat was searched after the three-year-old vanished. Portuguese cops later ruled him out.
They never ruled him in. He never was an aguido.
The images British detectives are looking at is in a batch of hundreds handed over to us by the Pole during an interview.
That’s two mentions of his being foreign in the first few lines of a story of an innocent man helping with enquiries.
It bears a resemblance to the image of a man walking with a sleeping child – an artist’s impression of the kidnap which was released in September 2007.
This one below? A family friend of the McCanns helped with the sketch of the figure on the left. Police have determined it was a father returning his child to an apartment from a late-night creche.
The picture was publicised widely in the hope it would jog memories about Madeleine. But British police agreed the picture was not Mr Krokowski.
Sure. And then this:
Mr Krokowski told our investigators he liked taking pictures of children while he was on trips abroad.
He said he was amazed he had not been contacted since police reopened the case in 2011. The Pole insisted: “ I am ready to speak to them any time they want.”
So says ‘the Pole’.
Mr Krokowski said he wanted to remove a shadow that has been hanging over him since he became the subject of an international manhunt over Madeleine.
He will remove the stain on his name by talking to the Mirror, which will present him as a Pole who “liked taking pictures of children while he was on trips abroad”.
Mr Krokowski and his wife Anetta, 50, stayed in the Solimar apartments in Burgau just two miles from Praia da Luz between Saturday April 28 April and Saturday May 5 in 2007. We tracked Mr Krokowski to his office in the Polish capital.
Tracked. As in looked up his name on the web. We did it. It took four seconds to “track him down”.
He admitted he enjoys taking pictures of children on holiday but that it was for artistic purposes.
In his first-ever newspaper interview he said: “I take photos of old people, young people, landscapes and I have a lot of pictures from places like Thailand, Greece, Portugal, France, with kids on them. But I never thought about kids as a sexual object. Nothing like this, never, never never. I am a simple man with normal sexual orientations.”
He didn’t say he likes taking photos of kids. He said he likes taking photos of pretty much everything and anyone he encounters on his travels. He did not “admit it”, as one might admit to an addictions, perversion or crime. He merely said it.
Mr Krokowski revealed that although Polish police officers quizzed the couple and searched their apartment and the home of his father, they never confiscated his camera or inspected his pictures.
Goncalo Amaral, the controversial detective who led the original Portuguese investigation before he was replaced, has said he regretted that the Polish police probe into the couple was not taken further and that they did not seize Mr Krokowski’s camera and look at his holiday pics at that time.
But Mr Krokowski, who describes himself as an “obsessive photographer” told us he still had every single picture he took the day Madeleine vanished and handed them over so we could pass them to Operation Grange.
He tells the paper:
“We are not the type of people to lie on the beach so we travelled a lot in that area between Sagres and Burgau and I have plenty of photos from our time there but the police never asked for them. I thought once maybe I should show those photos. They are not just landscapes, there are lots of people. Maybe something in there could be helpful. I collect all my photographs, I still have them from that trip, of course you can have them if they could help in anyway.”
Transfer balls: Is Paul Pogba leaving Juventus to join a Premier League club? Let’s see what the newspapers have been telling us:
June 30 2015: The Daily Express says Pogba has agreed to join Barcelona.
But is £64m too much or not enough? The tabloids were wondering:
On October 24, 2015 the ever trusty Daily Express had an update on that Barcelona agreement:
The agent told us:
“Those who want him should sit with Juventus and then we’ll see. This summer, there were three or four clubs interested, but he chose to stay at Juventus.”
But the Star told us Pogba wanted to play for Chelsea:
Pogba named his price, said the Daily Mirror:
And why stop at Chelsea? The Manchester Evening News reported in August 2015 that Pogba was wanted by Man City:
Juventus chief Giuseppe Marotta says the Italian club are powerless to stop Manchester City target Paul Pogba leaving if he decides to. City last month cooled their interest in in the French midfield ace after Juve demanded a whopping £71m fee.
But the Daily Express told us Chelsea had bid £80m for Pogba:
Manchester United and Manchester City played out a match so dull it must make all those Americans, Chinese and oil-rich sheikhs tuning in wonder if the Premier League is just hype and more hype, less a sport than a televised festival of consumerism. Let’s compare the marketing with the fact:s
Before the match the talk was of passion, history and cash.
Transfer Balls: The Sun on Sundaysays Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, 24, could be on his way to Paris Saint-Germain. Below the rather icky headline “Hazard snatch”, the Sun reports:
French giants PSG are preparing a massive January bid to test the playmaker’s relationship with Jose Mourinho… PSG are willing to offer an improvement on the Belgian’s £200,000-a-week wages and a return to France.
The Daily Star on Sunday then adds that Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and Manchester United “could” all bid for Hazard.
The Premier League is little sad, no? For all the hype and hoopla, any foreign player worth their salt wants to play in Spain. And the British Press know it.
CHRISTIAN BENTEKE has revealed his pal Eden Hazard dreams of playing for Real Madrid.
Thee years ago, Benteke said:
“I am not surprised at Eden’s success with Chelsea — and he can do even better. He has the qualities needed to become an even greater player. His dream is to join Real Madrid — so I don’t see why he can’t join them in a year or two.”
In 2015, the Star added:
But in 2014, Hazard said:
“Paris [Saint-Germain] have huge players, but Chelsea have more experience and more players in certain positions. And we also have a better experience in the Champions League. I never said that if I left Chelsea it will only be for Real Madrid. The only club that makes me dream is Chelsea.”
Hazard’s a terrific player. He’s one of the best players in the Premier League. The continuing tabloid tales linking him to Spain and PSG only serve to undermine the fable that the Premier League is the ultimate place to watch football. It isn’t. It’s bloated and greedy. If the actual play matched the hype just imagine how fantastic the games would be.
It shows what Blackwell’s called “the exacting nature” of Tolkien’s creative vision: he corrects place names, provides extra ones, and gives Baynes a host of suggestions about the map’s various flora and fauna. Hobbiton, he notes, “ is assumed to be approx at latitude of Oxford”; Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University.
The novelist also uses Belgrade, Cyprus, and Jerusalem as other reference points, and according to Blackwell’s suggests that “the city of Ravenna is the inspiration behind Minas Tirith – a key location in the third book of the Lord of The Rings trilogy”.
“The map shows how completely obsessed he was with the details. Anyone else interfered at their peril,” said Sian Wainwright at Blackwell’s. “He was tricky to work with, but very rewarding in the end.”
West Ham United beat Chelsea 2-1, and José Mourinho spent the second half watching from the stand. Why? Because it was claimed that he tried to speak to the referee during the interval, following the dismissal of Chelsea’s midfielder Nemanja Matic.
With such crass behaviour can it be long before Mourinho is given the boot from Stamford Bridge?
“You’re getting sacked in the morning,” sang the West Ham fans at the Portuguese manager, who then put the tin lid on his day out by failing to attend the post-match press conference.
Matthew Syed is not a fan, writing in the Times:
His motivational technique is based upon something very different: me, me, me. It is about the cult of the individual — Mourinho himself. This is predicated, in turn, upon creating a sense of permanent crisis. He sees conspiracies everywhere. The referees, the Premier League, Uefa, the ballboys, the team doctor, Uncle Tom Cobley: whatever it takes to get his players to feel like they are enduring a siege.
In the short term, this technique works. Nobody wants to be in a siege, fighting for one’s life, and so the players respond. But over the long-term, it begins to grate. It is like a narcotic or a sugar rush: you need ever more crises to recruit ever dwindling amounts of emotional response, particularly when the players begin to see through the underlying charade. In the end, it becomes cloying.
Chelsea are the current Premier League champions. Mourinho has talent. But he is so utterly graceless in victory and defeat. Syed adds:
They say that the Real Madrid players eventually became bored of Mourinho, but the truth is that they became ashamed of him. They saw him stab a finger into the eye of Tito Vilanova, his Barcelona rival. They observed him name four referees over whom Barcelona, supposedly, had “special power”. They watched as he was banished from the dugout during a Copa del Rey final and how he stormed out of the stadium without bothering to collect his loser’s medal from the King of Spain. They noted how he insulted the referee again in the car park.
Over three seasons, they saw him traduce, malign and infect — and, in the end, they couldn’t bear it. They were exhausted by the caricature running their club and his juvenile approach to leadership. And with the clarity that comes with time, they saw through it.
If he goes, he won’t be as missed as he think he should be. Well, at least not by fans who don’t support Chelsea. Better than sacking The Special One is to help him with an able sidekick, say, Steve Clarke, Gianfranco Zola or Roberto Di Matteo. Or all three.