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Sports news, commentary and scores with wit and added value. We compare and contrast the best and worst sports reporting in the mainstream press, blogs, TV and online. We love the English Premier League (Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs, Manchester United and Manchester City) and all things football but we cover cricket, rugby, the Olympics, tennis, golf, F1 and highlights of the sporting year.

Paul Pogba agrees to leave Manchester United and memories of Ashley Cole

Paul Pogba is going to leave Manchester United to play for Barcelona. Pogba won’t let a contract with three years left to run at Old Trafford spoil things. You see, the Daily Mail says Pogba has “told Manchester United teammates that he wants to leave” and “agreed terms with the Catalan giants”.

That’s the story – but, if it’s true, isn’t the biggest story one of alleged tapping up?

 

paul pogba barcelona

The Mail ‘understands’ Pogba has agreed to break his contract?

 

The Premier League rules are clear:

“Subject to Rule T.7, a Contract Player, either by himself or by any Person on his behalf, shall not either directly or indirectly make any such approach as is referred to in Rule T.5 without having obtained the prior written consent of his Club.”

But how can an agent can get the best deal for their client without testing the market?

As Pogba manoeuvres towards the exit door, we turn once more to the greatest episode of a player finding himself signed to one club but being wooed by another. This from the extraordinary My Defence by Ashley Cole, whose transfer from Arsenal to Chelsea encompassed the following scene:

I LOOK back now and still can’t get my head around half of it; how, in the space of 18 months, the dream was undone so fast. It does my head in thinking about it all: the mess I found myself in, the storm that whipped up around me, the abuse of the fans, the charges laid against me. Overnight, they stopped singing my name and the party ended as abruptly as someone pulling the plug out of the wall. I became the treacherous Ashley Cole, the Judas of Highbury.

I was well down on the day when I drove into town to see Jonathan Barnett (my agent) at his offices. We jumped in Jonathan’s Bentley and he told his driver our destination: the Royal Park Hotel. It was Thursday, January 27, 2005.

We walked by reception and into a meeting room called the Green Room where we found Pini (Zahavi, Chelsea’s agent) sat alone. We must have been in there about 20 minutes when Pini suddenly flicked his wrist to look at his watch — “Time! Time! My next meeting . . .” and he started to get up out of his chair. The door opened and José Mourinho and Peter Kenyon walked in.

I remember noticing Jonathan was gearing up to leave, reaching around his chair for his coat. The small talk, the pleasantries and the goodbyes lasted another 15 minutes as I genuinely saw no harm in being there for a few extra minutes as these two meetings overlapped.

Mr Mourinho pulled out a chair and sat at the head of the oval-shaped table and Jonathan was sat to my right. It was normal chit-chat from then on. I mentioned how well Chelsea were doing in the league. “Yes, and we are going to buy two more players — a midfielder and a left back,” he said.

And that’s when Pini made a flip remark, “Well, we are sat with the best left back in the world!” and Mr Mourinho smiled and said, “Yes, I agree.”

Jose Mourinho is the current manger of Manchester United.

Posted: 8th, August 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Paul Pogba Manchester’s United clues

Paul Pogba was terrific in the World Cup final post-match celebrations. He danced, sang and hugged with abandon. But when he stopped being loud he became “cryptic”, speaking through his shirts. “Could France midfielder be sending cryptic hint to manager Jose Mourinho during summer transfer window?” posed the Sun. The paper continued: “Maverick Paul Pogba continues to enjoy his post World Cup-winning downtime – by bizarrely posing in an Argentina shirt.”

Have you made the link yet? Too cryptic for you? The Sun then analyses the shirt and provides some clues to what it could mean:

Pogba starred for Les Bleus in Russia as they lifted the famous trophy but he sported different colours on holiday in LA this week, wearing Paulo Dybala’s No21 shirt. The two midfielders became good pals when they played together at Juventus before Pogba left to rejoin Manchester United in 2016.

Are you, like Jose Mourinho, still scratching your head?

They experienced vastly different World Cups with Dybala making just one appearance as Argentina were dumped out in the round of 16 by eventual champions France. Dybala didn’t even make it off the bench in that game with Pogba, who scored in the final against Croatia, perhaps wanting to help raise his friend’s profile a bit by pulling on a replica shirt.

And that’s it.

And so to today’s Paul Pogba no-news. The BBC says:

Manchester United and France midfielder Paul Pogba’s agent is expected to tell the Red Devils he can broker a £100m move for the 25-year-old World Cup winner to Barcelona.

Who expects him to do that? The source for the BBC’s story is the Daily Star (owner: Reach media). The paper tells of Barcelona “rumours”.

 

paul pogba transfer

 

What Barcelona rumours? The ones the agent is “expected” to discuss?

Over in the Express (owner: Reach media), we learn of the “REAL” reason Pogba “wants Barcelona switch”.  It’s because he… thinks Barcelona a good team. And how do we know Pogba wants to play for Barcelona. Get this:

According to the Sunday Star, Raiola is hoping to broker a £100m deal with the Catalan club to rescue his client’s career.

It’s a human catepillar of utter balls.

Posted: 5th, August 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Chelsea lead race for Real Madrid bound Lewandowski

After a disappointing World Cup, Poland striker Robert Lewandowski should console himself with his imminent relocation from Bayern Munich to Real Madrid. “Robert Lewandowski’s manager, Pini Zahavi, has come to an agreement with Real Madrid over his client moving to Los Blancos at the end of the season,” trilled Joe.ie in June. “Man Utd news: Robert Lewandowski agrees personal terms with Real Madrid,” echoed the Metro. “CHELSEA and Manchester United have been dealt a huge transfer blow after Robert Lewandowski agreed personal terms with Real Madrid,” announced the Star.

But hold on a moment. It turns out that all that news was bunkum. “Striker ‘tells Bayern Munich he wants to leave’ as Chelsea consider bid,” says today’s Sun. So much for the “huge blow” to Chelsea.  Or not. Because a few days ago Bild told its readers that Lewansdowski has decided tor remain at Bayern. Or as talkSport puts it: “Chelsea are ahead of Real Madrid and Manchester United in the race to sign Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski this summer.”

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 30th, July 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Steven N’Zonzi ‘agrees’ Arsenal deal but joins Roma for less

Transfer Balls – a look at shoddy football reporting. Is Steven N’Zonzi heading to Arsenal? The BBC tells its readers today that the former Blackburn Rovers and Stoke player now at Sevilla is “close to joining Roma” for “£29m”. The trusty BBC cites its unimpeachable source: the Daily Star. The tabloid says Arsenal “have been dealt a major blow” because N’zonzi has “secured a deal” to play for Roma. Its source is Calciomercato. And over there we are told:

Roma are close to signing Sevilla midfielder Steven N’Zonzi but the Giallorossi need to sell one midfielder before signing the Frenchman who is also wanted by Arsenal.

In the hunt for facts, after clicking through the BBC and the Daily Star to reach an Italian website, we finally reach two:

Sources have told Calciomercato.com that Sevilla are tempted to accept Roma’s €25 million bid… Roma, however, need to sell Maxime Gonalons before signing N’Zonzi.

We know the BBC is no fan of Brexit and talks up the economic collapse that will follow but €25m is not £29m. It’s also less than the £35m Arsenal paid for N’Zonzi last January. This is the URL from the Daily Mail’s report of December 13 2017:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-5174491/Arsenal-agree-35m-deal-Sevillas-Steven-NZonzi.html

Done deal the Mail tells the bots. The clicks support the news that Arsenal signed N’Zonzi. But they didn’t. And now he’s off to Roma for less money, right? No. Marca (Spain) says the Frenchman is going to play for one of Arsenal or Barcelona for €40m.

Such are the facts…

Posted: 29th, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Martial leaves Manchester United (and stays)

Is Anthony Martial leaving Manchester United? The media don’t know. Here are some scoops from the past few days: “Jose Mourinho still believes he can be a star,” says the The Sun (July 22); “Fed-up Jose Mourinho is ready to let whingeing Anthony Martial leave Manchester United,” says The Sun (July 23); “Anthony Martial has put Chelsea on alert – because he plans to defy Manchester United and stay in England,” says The Sun (July 25).

 

martial agrees manchester untied transfer

Martial agrees to leave – says every publication without offering readers a shred of proof

 

 

Today’s Sun tells us Martial “has left Manchester United’s pre-season tour to.” Why? He’s left “to join girlfriend Melanie Da Cruz ahead of imminent birth of son”.

 

martial agrees manchester untied transfer

Martial agent says: “It is obvious and very important to be reminded that he is under contract, that Manchester United will have the last word and that we will respect the decision of the club, he will go until the end of his engagement.”

 

Martial property news follows the Sun’s scoop that Martial has “dropped a huge hint that he is staying at Manchester United after cancelling a short-term lease on a luxury flat the city.”

“Martial had planned to move into one of the luxury Number One Deansgate apartments this summer. Him and his partner, who is due to give birth in the coming weeks, wanted to stay in the flat on a short-term lease for three months while his future was sorted out. But he has axed the move and will stay in his Cheshire mansion, as he expects to still be a United player next season.”

We don’t know why Martial was looking at renting a flat in Manchester. Maybe his in-laws are coming to stay and he didn’t want them in the mansion? Was the mansion on sale? No. Is Jose Mourinho leaving United because he still lives in a hotel? No. Is Martial house hunting in London or Milan No. Does the Sun know what Martial plans to do? No.

Posted: 26th, July 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Liverpool goalkeeper Karius is the eternal victim

You can’t even laugh at a footballer’s failure these days. No sooner had Liverpool’s 25-year-old German goalkeeper Loris Karius made a delicious hash of his side’s Champions League final match against Real Madrid than the medics pronounced him concussed. Karius wasn’t rubbish when it mattered most. He was a victim. And that’s worse.

When Karius was a calamity ‘keeper, we could relate to him. He was human. Time would heal the fans’ disappointment and his sense of regret. One day he’d pretend not to save something and become that most rare of things: a German the country loves. He’d explain how it all went wrong and produce a string of great saves to show that having reached the nadir the only way was back up. We will see that the Champions League final was a freak event that adds texture to a career it does not define. If Gareth Southgate can recover from missing a crucial penalty at Euro 96, Karius can rise again. You don’t get to be Liverpool’s first choice without displaying some degree of talent and skill. The clangers would be out of kilter in the video montage of a terrific life between the sticks, the two big non-saves adding a layer of interest to any autobiography. But when doctors in Boston assessed him a few days after defeat to Real, Karius’ became a man beyond redemption. Something had gone wrong that nothing could ever fix. You can’t laugh at concussion and self-deprecate. You can’t move on because what happened is defined as something beyond your control.

Lured into victimhood, Karius tis tipped to leave the club. Liverpool have paid an absurd sum to recruit Brazil international Alisson, 25, as the club’s new number one. Karius can sit on the bench and wait or hope another big club wants him and go. But who wants a victim?

In Liverpool’s pre-season games, Karius has made a few slips. Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat against Borussia Dortmund in North Carolina featured Karius conceding two goals he should have stopped. Sensing the mood, Karius tweeted pathetically: “To those who take joy in seeing other people fail or suffer, I feel for you. Whatever it is that’s happening in your life to hold this much anger and hate, I pray that it passes and good things come to you.”

No humour. No chance of salvation – unless he believes in his own agency. To take delight in another’s failure is part and parcel of football. In Karius’ world, we should not celebrate the opposition’s red card, own goal or error. We should hold hands and form a prayer circle.

Karius evokes god. And the divine Mohamed Salah, his brilliant Liverpool’ colleague, damns him, tweeting: “Stay strong Karius. It has happened to the best players. Ignore those who hate.” The problem is that you, Karius, and neither God nor Mo is the last line off defence. It’s not we who need to learn from our mistakes. It’s not us who needs to rediscover our nerve. It’s you.

Posted: 24th, July 2018 | In: Key Posts, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: ‘hijacked’ by Arsenal Malcolm ‘agrees’ to join Spurs after Manchester United ‘deal’

Roma have moved to sign Malcolm from Bordeaux. The Brazilian winger will cost the Italians around £36 million. And baring a late and successful bid from Barcelona, the deal will go through. But not so very long ago the press was telling us that Malcom wanted to play for Spurs. ​90mins.com told its readers: “Bordeaux winger Malcom has agreed a summer move to ​Tottenham after meeting manager Mauricio Pochettino.”

 

malcolm spurs

 

In the Sun, Malcolm was “hinting” at joining any one of Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool and Manchester United. The story was first-class balls:

BORDEAUX winger Malcom’s agent hinted a January Premier League transfer could be underway after sharing a snap of himself in London.

Agent takes holiday photo. Read on…

Leonardo Cornacini of Elenko Sports – an agency representing the Brazilian – posted a picture to Facebook of himself in the capital.

It was a “teasing picture”. And the teasing caption to the photo?

Cornacini captioned his post: “This is @elenko_sports… invading the land of Royal Majesty #PremierLeague.”

And..? And nothing. Undaunted by the lack of news in this scoop, the Sun added: “One social media user asked: “Does it have anything to do with Malcom to Arsenal?” And the response from Cornacini? Nothing. But he did go to the Albert Hall to watch a show.

Over in the London Evening Standard the story went: “Tottenham and Arsenal target Malcom reveals Premier League dream.” And, indeed, Malcolm did say last January: “It is true that England is a dream for every player.” That was a rare moment of fact. Although he never mentioned a club.

Goal.com told its readers: “Manchester United are ready to make a £40 million opening bid for Bordeaux forward Malcolm.” They weren’t. But The Metro told its readers that Arsenal had hijacked United’s £44m  “deal” for Malcolm – you know, the deal they never made:

 

malcolm roma arsenal

And then the Sun said Malcolm was off to…Fulham or Inter Milan.

 

malcolm trasnfer

 

Such are facts.

Posted: 23rd, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Bayern Munich president says Ozil is ‘shit’ at Arsenal

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has been swift to appraise Mesut Ozil’s contribution to German international football.  Ozil, 29, has retired from the German side, citing the fierce reaction to that photo he took alongside Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and racism as reasons to call it a day. Ozil says he is “German when we win but an immigrant when we lose”.

Hoeness says Ozil quit years ago. He’s been “shit for years”. Sport Bild reports (via the Google Translate mangle):

Ozil has been playing like shit for years. I think he won his last tackle before the 2014 World Cup.

All he is doing on the field is playing cross passes.

No-one questioned he was playing crap at the World Cup. His 35 million follower boys, who of course do not exist in the real world, all think that he has played excellently if he plays a cross pass.

Whenever we played against Arsenal, we played on him because we knew he was the weak point.

Now he hides himself and his crap performances behind this photo.

Ozil was the weak point at Arsenal? Not the defence, the goalkeeper, the strikers, the manager..?

Posted: 23rd, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


‘Racists’ force Arsenal star Ozil to quit Germany team

In news to hearten online trolls and bigots, Arsenal footballer Mesut Ozil intends to stop playing for Germany. Ozil, part of the German side that won the 2014 World Cup winner, says a combination of online harassment and the asinine behaviour of the German Football Association (DFB) means he “no longer want to wear the German national team shirt”.

 

ozil erdogan gundogan

 

The attacks are not all related to Ozil’s performances for Germany, which have been mixed. In May he was criticised after being photographed with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan inLondon. Ozil and Manchester City’s German international Ilkay Gundogan are of Turkish descent. Both were invited to meet Turkey’s authoritarian leader who used photographs of him and the footballers to boost his governing AK Party in the build-up to elections in the country. Well over a million people in Germany with a Turkish background are eligible to vote in the election, which Erdogan won (natch.).

 

ozil erdogan gundogan ozil erdogan gundogan

 

Ozil said he would have been “disrespecting his ancestors’ roots” had he not agreed to be meet Erdogan. Gündoğan, who like Ozil holds German and Turkish passports, presented Erdogan with the signed shirt bearing the legend: “To my president, with my respects.”

The background is relevant:

World Cup winner Özil was awarded an “integration” prize by the Hubert Burda Media group in 2010. That year the president of Germany’s football association (DFB) had complained about politicising football after Merkel made an unscheduled visit to the Germany changing room following a 3-0 win over Turkey. Photographs of the German chancellor were distributed by the government to the press afterwards.

So much for the politics and football. Incidentally, the above segment is taken from the Guardian, the paper in which a writer looked at the England World Cup team and opined: “If this team represents anyone, it’s the 48 per cent of Remainers.” This is because the England squad for Russia featured “11 players of colour”. That’s good thing, you see, because in the eyes of the knowing and enlightened being “too white”, an accusation levelled at the Russia team, is a bad thing. You were watching the football; they were studying the ethnic and racial make up of the team. Germany is not so far removed from the UK when it comes to the weak game of identity politics.

DFB chief Reinhard Grindel goes on the record: “The DFB of course respects the special situation for our players with migrant backgrounds, but football and the DFB stands for values that Mr Erdoğan does not sufficiently respect.” So much for not politicising football.

Ozil repsonds on Twitter:

“For me, having a picture with President Erdoğan wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country.

“My job is a football player and not a politician, and our meeting was not an endorsement of any policies. The treatment I have received from the DFB and many others makes me no longer want to wear the German national team shirt. I feel unwanted and think what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten…

“People with racially discriminative backgrounds should not be allowed to work in the largest football federation in the world that has players from dual‑heritage families. Attitudes like theirs simply do not reflect the players they supposedly represent. In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win but I am an immigrant when we lose.

“It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect. I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement, but now I don’t. I feel unwanted and think that what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.

“I am disappointed but not surprised by [Grindel’s] actions,” the 29-year-old added. “But when high-ranking DFB officials disrespect my Turkish roots and selfishly turn me into political propaganda, then enough is enough.”

“The 29-year-old added that he had received abuse online, and claimed he was racially abused by a supporter after the match against Sweden.

“A German fan told me after the game, ‘Özil, fuck off you Turkish shit, piss off you Turkish pig.’ I don’t want to even discuss the hate mail, threatening phone calls and comments on social media that my family and I have received.

“They all represent a Germany of the past, a Germany that I am not proud of. I am confident that many proud Germans who embrace an open society would agree with me.”

Good for him.

Posted: 23rd, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


‘Traditional’ new Spurs kit ‘is the Barcelona training kit’

Spurs are looking a lot like Barcelona. No, not in their style of play – and Barcelona actually win things. The two clubs’ kits ate remarkably similar. Nike’s marketing guff for the new Spurs kits tells us: “Binary blue and polarised blue knit sleeves reinforce the team’s heritage and values as they pay homage to the secondary blue used in many past kits.”

But this “special reinforcing of heritage and values” from Nike looks not a lot unlike the kit Nike supply for Barcelona to train in.

 

spurs kit barcelona

Spurs kit

 

Spurs Barcelona kit

Barcelona training kit

 

Listen out for chants of “Are you Tottenham in disguise” should Barcelona fail to win a trophy next season.

Posted: 22nd, July 2018 | In: Sports, Spurs | Comment


Liverpool sign Alisson

Liverpool will sign Alisson, the Roma and Brazil goalkeeper, for an eye-watering and absurd £66.8m. Alisson, 25, has only been at Roma for two years, joining from Brazilian side Internacional for €8 million. Thanks to Liverpool’s desperation to recruit a decent keeper, Alisson will become the world’s costliest stopper, beating the €53m Juventus paid Parma for Gianluigi Buffon in 2001.

So it is goodbye to Loris Karius, the hapless 25-year-old German. He’s not a bit crap (see Champions’ League final) – he’s a little concussed (see Champions League final).

Offers for Karius on a postcard to he usual address…

Posted: 18th, July 2018 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Chelsea want Arsenal’s Cech and Liverpool target Alisson

Goalkeepers are the subject of today’s transfer news round-up. It turns out that Liverpool will not be sticking with Loris Karius, who, as the BBC puts it, was “found” to be suffering from concussion when he gifted Real Madrid two goals in the Champions’ League final. Cynics suggested the discovery of Karius’s concussion might be part of a plan to keep his stock high when it comes to flogging the hapless German. That view was boosted by his performance against Preston when the 25-year-old German “spilled a free-kick” that allowed the hosts to score in Liverpool’s 3-2 win.

There was tabloid talk of Liverpool sticking with Karius, backing the man and who cannot be blamed for his medical plight. But then Liverpool tabled a £62m offer for Roma’s Brazil goalkeeper Alisson. Last time Liverpool went shopping in Rome they brought back Mo Salah. Can they strike gold with Alisson?

And will they get him? News from Italy is that Chelsea want Alisson, a pursuit linked to Real Madrid’s intention to sign Thibaut Courtois, 26, for £31m. Should Chelsea fail to get Alison, the Blues will move to re-sign 36-year-old Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech from Arsenal or Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel, 31.

Posted: 18th, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United, Gareth Bale and Ronaldo in clickbait horror

As Cristiano Ronaldo unpacks his wash bag in Turin, the Manchester Evening News works out how it can continue to milk the tired and desperate story of the Portuguese one day playing for Manchester United. After years of headlines and utter tosh about Ronaldo (born: Madeira Portugal) coming ‘home’, the paper cooks up the headline: “Cristiano Ronaldo transfer to be answered by Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.”

 

man united bale

 

The English is mangled but the headline the robots read is what the MEN is really interested in. The URL for the paper’s clickbait nonsense is:  “https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/transfer-news/cristiano-ronaldo-manchester-united-juventus-14911995.” No word of what Jose Mourinho’s “answer”, just the words “Transfer”, “Cristiano Ronaldo” and “Manchester United” in the same link. Whamo!

The teaser adds: “Man Utd manager Jose Mourinho is set to meet the press for the first time this summer, with Cristiano Ronaldo high on the agenda.” A player who does not play for Manchester United is at the top of topics up for discussion?James Robson says “his first press conference since a rather irritated affair following the FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea promises to be a fascinating one”.

And Ronaldo? Well, Robson tells us that “it’s understood United never seriously threw their hat into the ring when it became clear the five-time Ballon d’Or winner was ready to leave Real Madrid”. United didn’t want Ronaldo. Ronaldo didn’t want United. But Robson says “United have watched on [?] as Neymar and Ronaldo have proved eminently gettable.” The tin lid on this dire story is carried by “the belief” that United has “prioritised” the signing on Gareth Bale.

What chance have United of signing Bale?

“Bale’s own wishes could be the determining factor. His post-Champions League final ‘come and get me’ plea felt like a game-changer – and have certainly been enough to make United spring into action.”

A plea? Nothing of it. The Guardian reports:

Gareth Bale is set to be handed the challenge of replacing Cristiano Ronaldo as Real Madrid’s driving force when he meets his new coach, Julen Lopetegui, for talks in the next two weeks.

Pretty much every media outfit agrees with the Guardian that Bale is set to stay at Madrid. But over at the MEN clickbait farm, the news becomes:

 

 

What is the ‘one question” Bale must have answered? We click and get:

 

bale man united

 

James Robson once more has the scoop:

Once again the Manchester United executive chairman’s pursuit of Gareth Bale comes down to a simple question of stick or twist. That is the dilemma on Bale’s mind after he held his first face-to-face with new Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui this week.

The “one question” for Bale is should be stay or should he go? And United “are ready to move as soon as they get the go-ahead from Bale’s representatives.” Which they won’t.

More shameless ball in the MEN every day.

Posted: 17th, July 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United disappointment Paul Pogba offered to Barcelona

Like most of you, we think Paul Pogba’s been a disappointment since rejoining Manchester United for a massive transfer fee. But in the eyes of the marketing business that runs football, Pogba remains a unique talent good enough to play for Barcelona. Indeed, his agent has apparently told Barcelona that the France international is unhappy with life under Jose Mourinho and is ready to join them just as soon as they offer United a fortune for his services.

Pogba was offered to Manchester City last season. And if Barcelona don’t bite, just as City didn’t, chances are he’ll be offered to Real Madrid, PSG, a Chinese shopping mall and Juventus, where he’ll be telling everyone about the club being close to his heart and never really wanting to leave (see United guff 2016).

And who gets the money from Pogba’s moving on? United paid Juventus £89m for Pogba in 2016. His agent, one Mino Raiola, scored a reported £41m cut of the fee.

Isn’t modern football great.

Posted: 15th, July 2018 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


Liverpool: Lovren bests Modric and Henderson slumps

As Luka Modric prepares for his move to Liverpool (source: Daily Express clickbait factory), he can look forward to playing with Jordan Henderson and his Croatia teammate Devran Lovren, self-declared “one of the best defenders in the world”. Lovren t0ld BeIN Sportsafter a Modric-inspired Croatia had overcome England: “I took Liverpool to the final of the Champions League and now with my national team we are in the (World Cup) final. I think people should recognise that I am also one of the best defenders in the world and not just talk nonsense.” He said that “without being arrogant”.

As football fans the world over watch Lovren highlight tapes (and the rest of us roll our eyes and look at Mo Salah) the rest of can look back at how Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Marcelo Brozovic bossed the midfield, barely letting Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli touch the ball. The England players’ limitations were baldly exposed by the Croatian midfield that grew stronger as the game went on. No Englishman was less influential than Henderson. Some kind soul has illustrated Henderson’s contribution with a “Regista” compilation of the Liverpool man’s lumpen passing.

 


 

Good job there’s Lovren to caress the ball and play with such cool and calm authority:
 

Posted: 13th, July 2018 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Spurs ‘flop’ Modric to Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool

A headline is an opinion, which is why the Daily Express can call Croatia’s brilliant midfielder Luka Modric a “Spurs flop”. The full headline used to seduce readers to click on the paper’s story runs: “From Spurs flop to World Cup semi – the rise of Luka Modric.” Total balls, of course. Modric was great at Spurs. He joined Spurs on April 26, 2008 for around £17 million. He was good enough to attract the attention of Chelsea – who offed £40m for him – and Real Madrid, who signed Modric for a fee in the region of £30m. “Luka has been a terrific player for us and, while we preferred not to part with him, we are pleased that it is to Real Madrid, ” said Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy. At Real, Modric has been instrumental in the club winning the Champions League four times in the last six seasons.

And so to the Express’s story about this “Spurs flop”. Matthew Dunn calls Modric a “prodigious talent”. It “pained Tottenham to lose their midfield gem”. “His energy in midfield coupled with his reading of the game meant that whenever a team-mate was in trouble, Modric was always an out-ball.”

 

modric spurs

 

Others spotted the chasm between headline and story. Dunn responded to criticism on twitter:

“Thanks to all who’ve taken the trouble to say what they think of me based on one word in a headline, since changed, that I didn’t even write. By my reckoning, only one of you took the trouble to read the 842 words I did write. Thanks btw @chilly_spurs”

Sure enough, the Express clickbait factory did change the headline to: “Luka Modric: How the quiet Croatia star evolved from Tottenham to become a World Cup hero.” Time for Dunn to have a word with the hacks to run the website. But it’s unlikely the clickbaiters will listen. The paper’s other news on Modric is that he is joining Arsenal:

 

daily express modric arsenal

 

And the story?

Modric is likely to leave Real Madrid at the end of the season with the Croatia international’s form waning this season… And Spanish website Diario Gol say the veteran could make a stunning move to Arsenal.

He’s a flop!

The story contains no link to the source of the scoop. And the paper of record does not stop there. Modric is heading to Arsenal AND Liverpool, says the Express:

 

modric liverpool

 

That story contains not a single fact linking Modric to either Arenal or Liverpool. But the Express does not stop there. Modric is also going to play for Manchester United:

 

 modric manchester united

 

What is the “one reason” Modric will join United? Want to know what it is? Is it that he loves Manchester? Not quite. Jack Otway has the facts:

It is claimed Real will offer the player a new deal.

Who made that claim? Otway doesn’t say. But he does tell us:

But that will only be until 2020 and Modric, who feels he can play at the top level for many more years, may want a longer contract.

He may. He may not.

That is where United can intervene. However, whether Real allow another key asset to leave the club remains to be seen.

More shameless tosh in the Express every day.

Posted: 13th, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer Balls: Ronaldo to Facebook, Higuain to Chelsea, Dybala to Liverpool

All that guff about Cristiano Ronaldo returning ‘home’ to Manchester United is over – well, it is until his four-year contract with Juventus ends, at which point the British Press will doubtless rekindle the story of the then 37-year-old fulfilling his ‘dream’ move to Old Trafford.

At Juventus, Ronaldo will earn around £73,000 a day at Juventus, plus the huge fee he earned as part of the £99.2m transfer fee that prised him away from Real Madrid.

The shiny one is due another huge payday should he sign a deal allowing Facebook to broadcast a 13-part reality show on on his depilation techniques and other key life moments. Facebook will pay £9m to watch and report on Ronaldo’s every waking moment. This is about £9m more than the rest of us get to have Facebook spy on us.

As Ronaldo buffs Turin, more big moves are expected to follow. Former Real Madrid and England manager Fabio Capello says Juventus’s Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain, 30, is now a dead cert to leave for Chelsea. There are no such things as done deals until the deal is done, of course, something the Sun nows only too well, it having reported Higuain’s move to Arsenal (a story that still sits as fact on the paper’s website).

 

higuain transfer arsenal

 

 

And Liverpool will offer £80m for Juventus’ Argentine forward Paulo Dybala, 24. The Reds have the cash but why would Juve sell their two star strikers?

There’s also a lot of talk of Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, 27, moving to Real Madrid. Chelsea are in a state of disarray. So the sensible thing would be to sell their best player, right?

Posted: 11th, July 2018 | In: Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal buy fighting French midfielder

Transfer balls: every so often a player the media experts know nothing of makes a move. And so it is with Arsenal’s hiring of Lorient’s 19-year-old France Under-20 footballer Matteo Guendouzi. At the Daily Mirror’s clickbait factory, journalists scratch around for information. And they come up with this:

 

Matteo Guendouzi Arsenal

Matteo Guendouzi: midfielder and defender par excellence

 

Guendouzi plays in midfield.

News of Guendouzi’s arrival at Arsenal is rooted in a report by RMC Sport, who brand him the “French nugget”.  Another French site reports that Guendouzi’s contract at Lorient ends in June 2019, and he’s been agitating for the move away from the club for some months. Adding:

The contacts were broken in the autumn, irreversibly, before Mattéo Guendouzi was removed from the first team for three months, following an incident in the locker room at the half-time match against Valenciennes, November 24 .

What happened was bad enough for manager Mickaël Landreau not to select Guendouzi for 1st team action for 10 matches, as reported by Ouest-France. Sounds like Arsenal are buying players with a bit of pluck.

Posted: 9th, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Wilshere confirm move to West Ham AND Fenerbahce on Monday

Former Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere is “set to finalise” his transfer to West Ham, says the BBC. Wilshere’s move from Arsenal to West Ham is “set to be confirmed on Monday” says the Mirror.  It is? The story of where Wilshere will resume his career is confusing.

On June 15, the BBC said West Ham were only willing to offer Wilshere a one-year contract. Today’s Mirror says he will sign a three-year-deal worth £100,000 a week.

On May 9, the Mirror’s John Cross told readers: “Jack Wilshere is set to stay at Arsenal.”

 

jack wilshere Fenerbahce west ham

 

On June 25, the Sun told us that Wilshere was in Turkey “finalising a move to Fenerbahce”. He wasn’t. But on July 2, talksport said Wilshere was heading to Turkey – “according to Turkish journalist Volkan Demir, Wilshere has signed the contract and his switch will be announced on Monday“.

The Express agreed: “JACK WILSHERE is set to join Fenerbahce after leaving Arsenal, according to transfer expert Volkan Demir.” Who is Demir?

 

jack wilshere Fenerbahce west ham

 

Demir’s not quite as big on Instagram

 

On twitter Demir has an incredible 49million followers. Disappointingly given his gargantuan following on twitter – he’s far less popular on Instagram – his tweets are not viral monsters. But if he says Wilshere is off to Fenerbahce, then the British Press are not ones to argue.

 

Posted: 8th, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Chelsea buy Higuain who joins Arsenal and waits for Ronaldo

The Daily Mail says that Chelsea are to sign Juventus and Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain for £53m. Just as soon as Chelsea tell Antonio Conte to vet thee hence, they will recruit Maurizio Sarri from Napoli as their new manager and get Higuain. Or not.

Sky Sports hears Higuain’s agent say that nothing has been agreed and his man has not spoken to Chelsea. And the Times says Conte is not going quietly. The paper says someone on Chelsea’s technical staff emailed players not involved at the World Cup to tell them to report to the club’s training ground this weekend for fitness tests. Conte saw the missive and told everyone that the manager – him – doesn’t want to see any players until the following Monday.

As Chelsea’s pre-season implodes, it’s worth noting that Higuain plays for Arsenal. The Sun told us he does:

 

higuain arsenal sign

 

That was 2013. And the story is still on the Sun’s website, having been updated in 2016 – when Higuain still wasn’t playing for Arsenal.

Says the Sun:

ARSENAL last night smashed their transfer record when they agreed a £23million fee for Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain….

The Argentine will undergo a Gunners medical today…

The deal, which has been confirmed by the player’s father Jorge…

Now Wenger wants to build on Higuain’s imminent arrival by pressing ahead with negotiations for Wayne Rooney and Julio Cesar.

 

higuain arsenal

 

Now the Sun has more to say about Higuain:

 

chelsea higuain

 

Higuain to Chelsea is a done deal. Fact.

Or as, er, the Sun says one day later:

 

chelsea higuain

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 5th, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Torreira is the only thing missing from his Arsenal move

Arsenal will sign Lucas Torreira, 22, for a transfer fee of around €30 million just as soon his his Uruguay side get knocked out of the World Cup (or win it). “Arsenal offered to do the medical in Russia,” says Lucas’s father Ricardo on Fox Sports, “but we decided against it because we felt it was inconvenient. It is as good as a fact that Lucas will join Arsenal. There are many clubs who contacted us but we have given our word to Arsenal. We are very satisfied with what they offered. The deal is virtually done and only Lucas’ arrival is remaining.”

The only thing missing from the transfer is the player. But Torreira and his people are coming. “There will be people that will accompany him,” says Ricardo. “He won’t be alone. It’s a big change [going to England] and we don’t want to think about it yet because we’re scared. The truth is it’s tough to manage the language, adapt to the [London] society and customs and at the same time not lose ours. But there’s a whole programme getting readied for Lucas.”

Of course, we at Anorak not only bring you the latest Arsenal transfer news but also the clickbait that might be termed ‘fake news’. The Daily Express heard the words of Ricardo Torreira and mangled them into:

 

torreira clickbait fake news

 

To recap: Torreira’s dad says the deal is done; the ‘big worry’ is about the player learning the language; and Torreira is not a ‘target’ because the player has given his word. The rest is clickbait.

Posted: 5th, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


England’s win over Colombia as celebrated by a ‘naked’ Ross Kemp

TV soap actors aren’t really acting. They’re just cast to play themselves in a studio setting. This is why Shane Richie gets to be Red Coat on EastEnders, Hollyoaks is about middling students learning to get a job, Emmerdale is no longer called Emmerdale Farm – how many actors know the right end of a sheep? – and Ross Kemp can play a bullet-headed, muscular meat sock on EastEnders with genuine empathy.

So here’s Kemp reacting to England beating Colombia in the World Cup:

This sums it up well:

Posted: 5th, July 2018 | In: Celebrities, Sports | Comment


Maradona condones Colombia cheating; England love it

You know you’re doing something right when you get up Diego Maradona’s nose. The Argentine operating as a FIFA ambassador, says England’s penalty shoot-out victory over Colombia is tantamount to theft. Maradona, who watched the match dressed in a Colombia shirt in a tribute to, well, it’s anyone’s guess, told TeleSUR: “I saw a monumental theft. I apologise to all the Colombian people, but they must know the players are not to blame. With all due respect, Pierluigi Collina, as the man who designates the referees, he is very bad. He must apologise to the Colombian people. It is the man who decides who the referee is who is to blame. A man like that [Geiger] should not be put in charge of a game of that magnitude.”

What should Mark Geiger, the American referee, be doing? Maradona has career advice: “The referee will know a lot about baseball, but he has no idea about football. The Colombian players asked for VAR and he did not give it to them. Twice, the English threw themselves to the ground and he did not admonish them. This was theft.”
 

THEM:

US:

 

He’s right about that. Harry Maguire dived in the box and Jordan Henderson went down hard holding his eyes when he was caught on the chin by Wílmar Barrios who should have been sent off. Maguire made the VAR sign, to draw attention to the Colombians’ physical approach as Henderson writhed in agony. No VAR was forthcoming, which was lucky for the Colombians. And as for England making a meal of things, well, isn’t that what every other team does? England is a team replete with divers.

But none of that matches the Colombians, who were a lesson in gamesmanship. Hulking Yerry Mina made out he’s been hit by little Raheem Sterling, Santiago Arias shoved his elbow into Kane’s shoulders. Colombians surrounded the ref when he rightly gave England a free kick. They roughed up the penalty spot and made Kane wait an age to take his spot kick given for a blatant foul on him – one Kane made the most of; just look at how he rolls his man:

 

 

England manager Gareth Southgate had a word: “Maybe we are getting a bit smarter, and maybe playing our game by the rules the rest of the world are playing. But we kept our dignity and our sportsmanship and if we were down it was because we were fouled. I am proud of the discipline. We kept our composure in a really difficult environment.” “We should not only look to Colombia but also England’s players,” said José Pékerman, the Colombia coach. “We were on the receiving end [too]. It’s been so obvious, too obvious.” Like that nastiness from John Stones on Radamel Falcao that more monocular sections of the British Press chose to ignore.

FIFA says Maradona’s comments are rubbish, stating: “Fifa strongly rebukes the criticism of the performance of the match officials which it considers to have been positive in a tough and highly emotional match.”

 

Good stuff. England roll on and the even better news is that Maradona is upset.

 

Posted: 5th, July 2018 | In: Sports | Comment


World Cup Watch: Stones, Maguire and Henderson might be cheating Colombians

stones falcao
 

Last night as England beat Colombia in the World Cup John Stones “rose above the nastiness, the skulduggery, the crying, the whingeing, the play acting, the pulling, the pinching, the pushing” – “none set a better example than Stones”. So says the Mirror’s Andy Dunn. Or as the Daily Mail’s Riath Al-Sammaria puts it: “John Stones looked as though he might have left a little boot on Radamel Falcao”. And as for the moaning, cheating Colombians, “Henderson held his eye when Barrios’ contact was with his chin” and “Harry Maguire dived for a penalty”.

Former referee Graham Poll says Stones was “no angel and “caught Rademal Falcao in the head.

 

 
Good old England rising above those cheating foreigners:
 

 

Your chin bone’s connected to your eye bone…
 

Posted: 4th, July 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


World Cup Watch: Daily Mail singles out Sterling for criticism

Raheem sterling england colombia

Raheem Sterling is rubbish in the Daily Mail

 

Did you know Manchester City and England striker Raheem Sterling has not scored for England in 1000 days? It’s a fact Matt ‘Statto’ Lawton wants to share with his Daily Mail readers. Sterling could have scored last night as England defeated Colombia on penalties to progress to the World Cup quarter-final but he was “hooked” off after 88 minutes. Sterling was replaced by Jamie Vardy, who in the Mail’s all-important “Jamie Redknapp’s Big Match Ratings” scores 6.5 – the same as Sterling gets. Sterling was not the worst England player on the pitch according to Redknob. He scored higher than Kyle Walker (6), Deli Alli (6) and Ashley Young (6). But why does Sterling feel the hatchet between his shoulder blades and the rest do not?

And what of Eric Dier’s scoring a 7? He had a “pass completion rate of less than 25 per cent in his first 24 minutes on the pitch” (source: Martin Samuel, Daily Mail) and was “ordinary” against Belgium. He did score in the penalty shoot-out, a shot that was a “bit scuffed and [David] Ospina got a hand to it”. But there he is on the Mail’s back page “The Coolest Man in Moscow”.

 

Raheem sterling england colombia

Sterling was “dangerous” in the Daily Mirror

 

He was cool? No. In the Mirror, Dier says he was “nervous”. Andy Dunn says “Sterling at least remains one who can dash past a defender, take a risk, create splash of chaos”, factors described as “rarities” in a game big on “chaos”. The Mirror gives Sterling a 7 – the same as Pickford, Trippier, Henderson and Kane. Only John Stones with 8 scores higher. Sterling was “dangerous”.

 

Raheem sterling england colombia

The Sun

Raheem sterling england colombia

The Sun says Sterling was “lively”

 

Over in the Sun, Sterling gets a 6. That’s a higher mark than Lingard and Henderson, and the same as Pickford, Walker, Young and Dele. The Sun says Sterling was “slippery and lively” and “darting”.

 

Raheem sterling england colombia

Sterling is “lively” in the Daily Express

 

In the Express, “lively” Sterling who “caused  Colombia all kinds of problems” scores a 7 – that’s more than Pickford, Stones, Maguire, Henderson, Dele and Young. Only Harry Kane (8) scores higher.

So why is Sterling derided in the Mail? Has the Mail got a problem with Sterling?

It’s been while since Sterling scored in an England shirt, his last goal coming on 9th October 2015. But only Sterling gets compared to a “mascot” and a “jockey” in the Mail. No other player is so diminished.

Posted: 4th, July 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Manchester City, Sports, Tabloids | Comment