Anorak

Sports Category

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.

Raheem Sterling: of course it’s racism

Is Manchester City footballer Raheem Sterling singled out for special attention because he’s black? At Stamford Bridge last weekend, he was verbally assaulted by four people in the section reserved for Chelsea fans. A fan at Stamford Bridge allegedly called Sterling a “fucking black cunt”. Sterling says the abuse is driven by a racist media that portrays black footballers in a bad light. John Barnes, who had bananas lobbed at him by Liverpool fans when he joined the club, says “black people in the inner cities go through this [discrimination] every day”. Don’t blame the media for appealing to its readers’ prejudices. Look at the bigger picture. And wonder this: why are black kids seen as cool, an act of rebellion for whites to like black fashions and music? Is it something to do with blacks as the perpetual outsiders, their existence something other and less wholesome than the rest of civilised society?

 

raheem sterling man city the sun

The Sun goes for Raheem

 

Musa Okwonga wonders.

You think this is your England because you read the most popular newspapers in the country and they agree with you – they agree with you that black footballers, like children, must be seen and not heard, that the second they decide to do anything more than score spectacular goals they become a threat. Those newspapers remind you daily that there is no aspect of criminality to which a black footballer cannot be connected.

 

raheem sterling drugs

Story on drugs and crime: Nothing to do with Raheem Sterling

 

But sticking with media, in the Times Henry Winter looks at how tabloids focus on the bling:

Breaking news: for those in the media reporting that Raheem Sterling’s new house in Cheshire boasts a three-car garage, well it did when he bought it but doesn’t now, as the fitness-conscious Manchester City and England player quickly transformed it into a gym to work out after training. For those in the media obsessing about the size of Sterling’s garden, well he’s redesigned part of it into a pitch with full-sized goals so he can practise finishing…

Sterling’s not flash. He’s not extravagant. He’s an exceptional professional, pivotal to club and country, a role model to a generation and deserving of proper respect.

I’d take issue with one point: Sterling’s no role model to anyone but his children. Sterling’s his own man, an exceptionally gifted athlete possessed of the talent and drive to make it in top-level sport. He’s no more a role model for the great unwashed than Winter is.

Will Winter consider the Sun’s take on “Obscene Raheem“, the boy who did well enough to buy his mum a house and was attacked for doing so? Yes. Although not by name. “Why do media outlets publish breathless pieces dripping with sanctimony about his new house being close to a dogging site,” wincers Winter, “ignoring the fact that some well-known neighbours live closer. They’re white by the way. No one mentions them.” Winter can make a short walk to find out – the Times and Sun share an owner and office space. Winter gamely takes on the The Times’ sister paper. “Whereas some white players down the years are forgiven for their excesses as loveable rogues, Sterling receives the “Obscene Raheem” opprobrium. The media really needs to look at itself at times and it was encouraging to hear some contrition from concerned parties after Sterling’s powerful calling out of the media yesterday.”

What says the Sun? Lots. Sterling has touched a nerve. The Sun has responded with a host of stories in support of Sterling. Its picked up the mood and run with it, as all good tabloids must:

 

the sun raheem sterling

The Sun man’s up

 

 

What about the Mail? Sterling used two screenshots, one of a Daily Mail story and one of a Mail Online story, to support his claim that the press treated black footballers unfairly compared to their white peers. The Mail says Sterling is wrong to claim reporting in Mail titles is racial motivated:

 

 

raheem sterling racism

 

 

The Press Gazette has news:

A story by former Mail Online reporter Anthony Joseph was among those shared by Sterling. He said Sterling had raised “some very valid points” that the media “needed to listen to”. Defending his own story, Joseph said: “The story was done at a time when BT had a documentary on teenage footballers earning millions.

“It was topical and there was a huge debate about it. The same day there was at least an hour segment about it on Talksport. The original story, which I followed up, appeared in The Sun. I spoke to the player’s agent, who had no issue with story and how it was represented. Reporters don’t do headlines, but I still don’t feel it vilifies him. It was just topical at the time, nor did I even make a connection of his colour – it didn’t even cross my mind.”

Joseph added that Sterling raised “some very valid points” that the media “needed to listen to”.

Good stuff, then. Sterling has spoken out and the media has responded. Racism is an evil that sticks and corrodes. The better news is that the story of racism is newsworthy because it is now rarer now than it was. Next up: why are there no black editors of national newspapers – not one; never has been? 

Posted: 11th, December 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester City star Raheem Sterling realises he’s black amid tabloid onslaught

England and Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling says media bias does “fuel racism”. Sterling was allegedly racially abused by Chelsea fans at the weekend. We’ve long pointed out how ‘Obscene Raheem” (source: The Sun) is treated differently in the media to other players – also here, here and here. And it appears Sterling has noticed. “I just want to say, I am not normally the person to talk a lot but when I think I need my point heard I will speak up,” he posted on his Instagram page. “Regarding what was said at the Chelsea game, as you can see by my reaction I just had to laugh because I don’t expect no better.”

 

obscene raheem the sun

The Sun saw the house Raheem bought his mum

 

Sterling invited us to compare and contrast two Mail articles. One shows Tosin Adarabioyo under the headline: ‘Young Manchester City footballer, 20, on £25,000 a week splashes out on mansion on market for £2.25m despite having never started a Premier League match’; the other shows another City teenage midfielder, Phil Foden, and the headline  “Foden buys new £2m home for his mum.” Tosin is black. Phil is white. Tosin is a lucky swine. Phil is a loving son. 

 

 

raheem sterling black racism

 

Says Raheem:

“You have two young players starting out their careers – both play for the same team, both have done the right thing, which is buy a new house for their mothers who have put in a lot of time and love into helping them get where they are,” wrote Sterling. “But look at how the newspapers get their message across for the young black player and then for the young white player. I think this is unacceptable, both innocent, have not done a thing wrong but just by the way it has been worded.

“The young black kid is looked at in a bad light. Which helps fuel racism an[d] aggressive behaviour. So for all the newspapers that don’t understand why people are racist in this day and age all I have to say is have a second thought about fair publicity an[d] give all players an equal chance.”

Is Raheem Sterling black? Let’s see some other Raheem news: 

 

raheem sterling drugs

The Sun’s story on drugs had nothing to do with Raheem Sterling

 

raheem sterling tattoo gun

Sterling gets a tribute to his late father – it’s an anti-gun tattoo. The Sun went to town on him. 

 

raheem sterling m16 tattoo

The Sun told us about Raheem and his part in the Vietnam War

 

daniloa taylor raheem sterling

Damiloa Taylor was stabbed to death when he was 10. Sterling must apologise, says the Sun.

 

raheem sterling the sun

And the Sun’s Star letter is… GET STERLING!

 

England players would never glorify guns. Sterling shames the shirt.

 

raheem sterling mirror dog

The Mirror writes the most trite sentence ever:  “Sterling follows a number of Premiership stars to buy dogs’

 

 

Here’s more on Foden and the new home he bought this mum and dad. The Mail said:

The 18-year-old’s parents, Phil and Claire, are thought to have been involved in choosing the house and he is determined to keep the close-knit family together despite his emergence as one of England’s outstanding talents.

We never were told if Raheem’s mum, who raised him in less than salubrious surrounds, helped chose the bricks and furnishings for her “obscene” home (price: £3.5m), nor how the new home kept the pair together. But for Phil it’s all terrific:

The move is likely to change little for the player who has always lived at home, doesn’t drink and doesn’t yet drive. He takes cash, rather than cards, on nights out and is thought to have taken out a substantial mortgage on the new house.

 

phil foden money

Foden’s cake was not the least bit flash, tacky and obscene.

 

That really takes the cake. 

As for Sterling’s point about the media fuelling racism, is he right?

 

anti-Semitic new statesman kosher conspiracy

The Labour Party supporting New Statesman had a question that might have been rhetorical.

 

Discuss.

Posted: 9th, December 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Manchester City, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Frenkie de Jong dreams of Barcelona, signs for Manchester City and picks PSG over Spurs

Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong, 21, wants to play for PSG. He prefers the French champions elect over Manchester City. So he’ll head to France this summer sats the BBC. This is same BBC that told us Manchester City had agreed a £61m transfer, pipping Barcelona to his signature. The Sun says it’s his “dream” to play for Barcelona. Confusion reigns, then over the player who is talking about as being every bit as good as – get this –  Johan Cruyff, and in a single Guardian article: Franz Beckenbauer, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard. Yeah, he’s that good. 

And he’s off to play for Manchester City (if you read the BBC and the Mirror; the Sun  said the deal was done) and PSG (if you read the BBC and Dutch newspaper De Telegraph). The Dutch paper says PSG will pay 75m euros (£67m) to sign the Netherlands international. It’s almost a done deal. That tells us how much the great Cruyff would be worth in today’s transfer market. He’s a bargain.

 

Frenkie de Jon signs for Manchester City -

Frenkie de Jon signs for Manchester City – The Sun

 

So he’s off, then? No. “No official decision has been taken and while there is no transfer, my main focus is on Ajax,” says De Jong. “There are five games to go until the winter break, I only want to think about the game against PEC this weekend and the next Champions League match against Bayern Munich. I can’t be worried about saying ‘I’m going here or there’. That wouldn’t show any respect on my part for Ajax or my team-mates.”

In other news, the Mirror today says Spurs want him. No word on Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid wanting De Jong, but give it time…

Posted: 8th, December 2018 | In: Broadsheets, Manchester City, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Liverpool cheat against Bournemouth – and we love it

More on how football is all better for the mistakes and the cheating. Liverpool scored the opening goal of their match at Bournemouth – but goalscorer Mo Salah was offside. Sure he “reacted first” as the Liverpool twitter line says, but he had the extra yard on the Bournemouth defence because he was offside.There will be calls for VAR – but they should be ignored. It’s not a computer game organised by maths.

 

 

What says Bournemouth manger Eddie Howe? “many complaints. He [Mo Salah] was offside [for the first goal]. It has a huge bearing on the match. We were fine until that moment. It changes the game.”

And the Liverpool twitter page says…

 


 
Words on his being offside: nil. Mistakes and cheating are never a problem when you’re the beneficiary. And because we all like the emotion and the theatre, we all win. Don’t let VAR spoil football. It’s not a leisure activity not risk analysis.

Posted: 8th, December 2018 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment


The joy of cheating

cheating football

Cheats never prosper – but Maradona went on to win the World Cup after his ‘Hand of God’ moment

 

We love cheating, referee errors, good goals disallowed and bad goals that were. A Manchester United player was just offside for their first goal against Arsenal last week. The officials missed it. Arsenal’s first goal crossed the United goal line by the width of a cigarette paper. Again the referee missed it. But the robots didn’t. Goal given. Last night West Bromwich Albion cheated in their 2-2 draw with Aston Villa. “Jay Rodriguez just threw himself at the cross,” Baggies head coach Darren Moore told BBC Sport. “He admits that it did hit his arm but he didn’t know much about it. And you’ve got to admire his honesty.” 

How can you not admire the footballer who scores with his hand? Not the part about his being honest. That’s guff. Cheating is cheating. We should admire Rodriguez because he pushed the rules to the limit, found them wanting and in so doing created emotion and a story from a small moment in a distracting leisure activity. Isn’t football great.

Well, enjoy it while it lasts. VAR is an abomination. Football is fast. Mistakes happen. Fans and players feel feted or hard done by. The joy surges. The antagonism builds.

At another recent Arsenal match, this time against Spurs, the Tottenham striker Son dived to win a penalty. No VAR was used. Arsenal felt aggrieved. The home fans seethed. The visitors taunted. The stadium throbbed like Terry Waite’s bladder. It was great. What a show. This was the theatre of football. It’s not an insurance seminar on risk reduction. 

So congratulations to Rodriguez, Son and all the players and refs who keep the game human. Don’t let the robots in. They’ll kill it. 

PS:  If football is to become an extension of the classroom, will that stop cheating? Nope. James M. Lang argues that place and time can trigger cheating: 

[C]heating levels are fairly high, but they have always been so. The better question to ask is why. Duke University researcher Dan Ariely and his colleagues have conducted dozens of experiments designed to see what makes people willing to engage in acts of cheating and dishonesty in their everyday lives. Their findings have been remarkably consistent: most people, under the right circumstances, are willing to engage in small acts of dishonesty. This seems to be a part of our human nature.  With enough incentives in front of us, most of will cheat at least a little bit.

Cheating is natural. The temptation to cheat is human:

As it turns out, almost anyone will cheat when given even minor, consciously imperceptible behavioral cues. For instance, in a series of three experiments, a group of psychologists found that lighting could affect cheating. In one study, participants in a dimly-lit room cheated more often than those in a lighter one. While both groups performed equally well on a set of math problems, students in the darker room self-reported that they correctly solved, on average, four more problems than the other group—earning $1.85 more as a result, since they were being paid for each correct answer. The authors suggested that the darkness created an “illusory anonymity”: even though you aren’t actually more anonymous in the dark than in the light, you feel as though you are, making you more likely to engage in behaviors you otherwise wouldn’t. Similar effects have been observed with a variety of situational factors that don’t seem directly related to cheating. We cheat more, for instance, when we’re in a messy environment—one that has more signs of socially deviant behavior, like litter, graffiti, and other rubble.

And then – and then – you think of the spirit and what happens next. What reputation do you want? Matthew Syed cites a sporting great:

In the World Cup semi-final between Australia and Sri Lanka at St George’s Park in 2003, the Aussies were on 34 after five overs when Aravinda de Silva was brought on to bowl. On his second delivery, Adam Gilchrist stepped forward to sweep, edged the ball on to his front pad, and watched it sail into the hands of Kumar Sangakkara, the wicketkeeper. The Sri Lankans made a sustained appeal. Rudi Koertzen, the umpire, shook his head. “Not out,” he said.

In True Colours, his wonderful autobiography, Gilchrist would later recall that he felt “strange” at that moment, perhaps a little confused. “So much discontent about umpiring, video decisions, and trust between players had been bubbling away,” he said. He then heard an emphatic voice in his head. “Go,” the voice said. “Walk”. As he made his way towards the pavilion, something odd happened. The Port Elizabeth crowd started cheering. They knew that he had made a gesture more important than mere winning and losing.

We love the cheats. And we love the heroes. The best bit is that in the rough and tumble of sport, in the complexity and contradiction of what it is to be human, you can be both. And there’s always the drugs…

Posted: 8th, December 2018 | In: Arsenal, manchester united, News, Sports, Spurs, Technology | Comment


Arsenal players in legal high role model shocker

Arsenal crack

 

PSST! Wanna see young men inhaling nitrous oxide, you know, like medical students and junior doctors used to do? Well, you can, reportedly. Photos of Arsenal players inhaling balloons of what is allegedly nitrous oxide are all over the Sun. Lest you suppose young men larking about during their summer holidays is no big deal, the Sun tells us the men are “role models” – for who is unsaid; maybe their children – and the gas is “hippy crack”, a nickname that manages to make light of actual crack cocaine – the crap that erodes your head – and gives laughing gas a dangerous edge.

The images will, says the paper, “horrify fans”. No, not drugs fans upset that that this airy rubbish, this balloon juice is being likened to Grade A ‘good stuff’. The “fans” are football fans who looks for life guidance to Mesut Ozil or Matteo Guendouzi. For them this is a disaster. Of course, anyone who considers a stranger and not a big brother, mum, uncle or someone they meet regularly a “role model” most likely has other issues that need professional help.

Over pages 4 and 5, we learn that the “aces” were at private do where alcohol – that legal poison – was freely sold at exorbitant prices. There was scotch – aka Hippy Buckfast –  champagne – aka Vagrants Thunderbird – and vodka – aka Peasant Fuel. All legal to possess – just like hippy crack!

 Yes, folks, the story is grim – men break no laws at private do! The horror! The horror! 

Posted: 7th, December 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United will pay £40m for Pochettinho

Having left Southampton for Spurs with barely a glance back over his shoulder and a toodle-oo, you wouldn’t bet against Mauricio Pochettino leaving his current club in the not too distant future. Real Madrid are favourites to recruit Pochettinho – a likelihood that will only increase should Spurs defeat Barcelona in their must-win Champions League match. But rumours from Manchester United say they want Poch and are prepared to pay £40m to get him.

In the Premier League era, Teddy Sherinham, Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov have all swapped Spurs for Manchester United, moving north for more money and a lot more silverware. Poch is on £8m-a-season at Spurs, Jose Mourinho, Manchester United’s current boss, earns almost double that. And under his guidance, United are a turgid long-ball team. Spurs buzz. 

The question for Pochettinho is whether he will win the league at Spurs. No. He won’t. Not unless the London club matches Manchester United’s investment in talent. Which they won’t do. They can build the big new stadium, but Spurs will always be a smaller club than United. Surely he’ll go. and Sours, well, they just better hope their owners don’t agree to take Mourinho in a swap deal. Transferring football mangers makes sense. But under Mourinho, the only way is down…

Posted: 7th, December 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Spurs balls: falling crowds should worry club

spurs debt

 

As Spurs continue to build their new municipal stadium, news is that the Premier League’s highest-placed London club’s victory over Southampton was watched by 33,012. Mauricio Pochettino, the Spurs manager, says: “We cannot ask more of our fans.” Not the ones that turn up, no. But surely the relatively small crowd in a cavernous Wembley Stadium is a worry for the Spurs moneymen. Last season, the same fixture on December 26 was witnessed by 57,297 fans.

Spurs’ average attendance in the 2016/17 PL was 31,639. They then moved into Wembley. Spurs’ lowest league attendance in the 2017/18 season is the 50,034 that watched them take on West Ham United on January 4, 2018. Tottenham’s lowest Wembley attendance in 2017/18 was the 23,826 who saw them beat Barnsley 1-0 in the League Cup on 19 September, 2017. 

They don’t just come to see Spurs. It’s pretty fair to say the fans come to see who Spurs are playing. This season, the Spurs v Liverpool match was watched by 80,188 fans. But around half that number – 43,268 – saw the Lillywhites play Cardiff. 

When it comes to the Champions’ League, the identity of the visiting club is vital. On 3 October 2018 82,137 saw Spurs take on Barcelona. That figure dipped to 57,132 fo their must-win match with Inter Milan. 

The club’s new ground has a capacity of 62,062. There should be plenty of tickets available.

 

Posted: 6th, December 2018 | In: Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Real Madrid break rules to sign Chelsea’s Hazard

Big news for Chelsea fans is that the slowest burning seduction in football is reaching a climix: Real Madrid have agreed personal terms with Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. The BBC brings that news but supports it with no facts. Hazard is under contract at Chelsea. Do the rules permit him to agree terms with another team? Surely not. FIFA’s rules are clear:

Regulation 18.3 of the FIFA Regulations:

“A club intending to conclude a contract with a professional must inform the player’s current club in writing before entering into negotiations with him. A professional shall only be free to conclude a contract with another club if his contract with his present club has expired or is due to expire within six months. Any breach of this provision shall be subject to appropriate sanctions.”

Hazard’s Chelsea contract runs until June 2020. Did Real break the rules or did Chelsea allow them to speak with Hazard?

And just two days ago, the BBC told us: “Chelsea are ready to “immediately” agree a new contract with Eden Hazard, but are waiting for the forward to make a decision, says boss Maurizio Sarri.” Confused?

Admittedly, Hazard hasn’t helped things by telling us: “Sometimes in my head, I wake up in the morning and think I want to go. Sometimes I think I want to stay.” Adding: “Real Madrid are the best club in the world. I don’t want to lie today. It is my dream since I was a kid. I was dreaming about this club.”

 

hazard chelsea

It’s true – I read it on Google

 

As the BBC plays fast and loose with the facts, Spain’s AS reports: “Onda Madrid claims that Real Madrid have reached an agreement with Eden Hazard as they seek to take the Belgian to LaLiga in the summer.”

What is Onda Madrid? Well, it’s a radio station based in the Spanish capital. The website features football stories exclusively about Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. It’s pretty partisan. But its site has no news on Hazard. You’d suppose signing a player for 170m euros would a pretty big story. But no. Nada. But one local news station’s uncorroborated claim is still reported as fact all over the web. Clickbait rules – even at the BBC.

 

Posted: 6th, December 2018 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: the myth about Wenger’s Mbappe monument

Huge News on the BBC that Paris St-Germain and France forward Kylian Mbappe, 19, rejected the chance to play for Arsene Wenger at Arsenal in 2017. France Football had the scoop that pretty much every knew already, but the BBC points its readers towards the Metro website. Thereon we can enjoy the wonders of Google Translate. Metro can’t be arsed to put Mbappe’s words into more erudite English, so it just repeats what Google Translate burps out. Mbappe is talking in French to the French magazine about the French manager Arsene Wenger:

 

Mbappe Arsenal

 

“He is a real French football monument who has left Arsenal. I have not seen many people in this world being viewed in such a unanimous way. When the entirety of Europe gets on its knees in front of him to celebrate him, that certainly means something. A little while ago, before I signed for PSG, we were in contact in 2017. I chose a different direction but he wasn’t annoyed at me. He was a gentleman about it and wished me good luck.”

How close did Arsenal come to signing Mbappe? Not very. He joined Paris Saint-Germain for £166million instead of the buttons the Gunners were offering. 

PS: The Sun and the Mirror also have the exact same quotes in mangled English that Mbappe gave to France Football in his native French. Does no-one check anything anymore?

 

Posted: 5th, December 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Lucas Torreira looks smaller on the telly

Arsenal are back. Well, so says Mark Irwin in the Sun. Unai Emery has “brought the nastiness” back to the Gunners, he tells his readers. The Gunners are no longer a “soft touch with diminutive midfielders who can be trampled all over”. If size was everything, Manchester United’s giants would be top of the table. It isn’t. This we know because the best player on the pitch at the weekend’s North London derby which Arsenal won 4-2 was Lucas Torreira. The 22-year-old from Fray Bentos, Uruguay towers 1.66m in his socks and weighs in at 60kg. In post-Brexit terms, Torreira is 5ft 4 inches high and tips the scales at under nine and a half stones. 

Yesterday the FA changed Arsenal and Spurs with failure to control their players. Even the little ones… 

Posted: 4th, December 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Media Bias: Son dives for Spurs but Arsenal prosper

son dive spurs arsenal

 

Arsenal beat Spurs 4-2 in the North London derby in which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was sensational. Both sides scored from the penalty spots. But should the Spurs penalty for a foul on’ Heung-Min Son been given? Let’s look at the match reports for signs of bias.

Arsenal FC says “contact looked minimal”. The game turned on “Son’s elaborate fall for the penalty”. The penalty was “controversial” .The official Spurs website says “Son was clipped in the box by the sliding Rob Holding”.

Clipped? Really? No.

The neutral’s view comes to us via the Guardian:

There was controversy when Spurs went ahead. Son had sprinted through again and Rob Holding jumped into a risky tackle but, when Son checked back, there was no contact from the Arsenal defender on him.

The Indy:

If contact had been made, Son was guilty of at least jumping and appealing as if he’d been deeply injured from a graze. What was worse, TV replays showed that no strong contact had been made whatsoever. It appeared Holding had not even touched him.

The Sun gives us the tabloid view:

SON HEUNG-MIN was given a dressing down by Arsenal ace Sokratis Papastathopoulos at full-time over his disgraceful dive to win a penalty for Tottenham.

The Spurs ace was guilty of a shocking bit of simulation which tricked referee Mike Dean into pointing to the spot during the North London derby.

What about the red card awarded to Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen with the score at 4-2? Arsenal says he was sent off late on “for a lunge on Lacazette”. Spurs make it more benign:

Insult to injury followed five minutes from time as Vertonghen slid the ball out to substitute left-back Danny Rose but was involved in a collision with Lacazette as he did so, which resulted in the Belgian international picking up a second yellow card.

One team’s lunge is another’s collision. As for the dive, well here it is:

 

Posted: 2nd, December 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: David de Gea makes Manchester United sweat

Should David de Gea leave Manchester United for Paris St-German, the Red Devils will splash out £70m on Everton’s England international Jordan Pickford, 24. If he’s worth that much it makes you wonder at De Gea value in the open market – twice that; three times? The Sunday Mirror counters earlier news that United’s best player had agreed new contract at Old Trafford and was also on his way to PSG

In other news, the Times says David de Gea won’t let Manchester United sell him in the final year of his current contract. The Spaniard will sign a new contract at Old Trafford if the Premier League club agrees to make him their best paid player. That sum is a matter of debate, waving between the £300,000-£500,000-a-week United lavish on the irritating Alexis Sanchez. 

The paper says De Gea’s camp are confident of securing a “hugely lucrative signing bonus” from one of Europe’s wealthiest clubs should no new deal be agreed with United by January 2020, when he will be free to sign a pre-contract agreement elsewhere.

Over in the Mail we’re told Napoli have rejected Manchester United’s £91m offer for Senegal international defender Kalidou Koulibaly, 27. The sums are impressive. The quality less so. 

Posted: 2nd, December 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United: medics investigated for prying into Alex Ferguson’s medical records

Can it be that the joy of spotting a famous face is not confined to the well? I’m talking not of grave hunting, rather of the two medics and a senior hospital consultant under investigation for allegedly and illegally spying into former Manchester United manger Sir Alex Ferguson’s medical records. At the time, Fergie was very ill in hospital with a brain haemorrhage.

The matter appears to be founded on fact because the Sunday Times says the hospital has “apologised unreservedly to the patient and their family”.

Dr Chris Brookes, chief medical officer for the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group, which runs Salford Royal where Ferguson  was treated, tell media: “Investigations are ongoing to determine if the individuals have accessed a patient’s record electronically without a clinical requirement or authorisation to do so.” If found guilty, they could be struck off.

You wonder what they were looking for? The paper says the alleged prying was born of “personal curiosity”. And we can forgive that, can’t we? We all like a sneaky gawp at the famous.

Posted: 2nd, December 2018 | In: manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Chelsea and Manchester City rethink business as FIFA gets tough over loan players

Fifa wants to stop big clubs stockpiling talent. From the start of the 2020-21 season, clubs will be able to loan out 6-8 players; the exact figure has yet to be agreed. This is will hit Chelsea hardest. The Blues have a whopping 39 players out on loan. Fifa want to create “the loans of players for the purpose of youth development as opposed to commercial exploitation”. 

These are the top Premier League clubs with players on loan:

Chelsea 39
Man City 28
Wolves 27
Brighton 16
Watford 14
Everton 14

Easy to sneer at Chelsea, who have turned a tidy profit from recruiting young players and selling them on. But none of the young brood had to sign for the club. And maybe having Chelsea on their CVs helps their careers? The worry is that the young player won’t improve at lesser clubs, where they train and play with less talented players. Stay at Chelsea or Manchester City and you play with Eden Hazard or David Silva, respectively. Chelsea have three players on loan at Vitesse Arnhem. Will they improve as quickly at the fourth best side in Holland? 

Oliver Kay has a tale from June 2018:

Matej Delac and even fewer would recognise him. He is the Croatian who signed for Chelsea in September 2009, four weeks after his 17th birthday, as one of the most promising young goalkeepers in Europe. He left last month without making a first-team appearance, without even having qualified for a work permit to play in the United Kingdom.

He was the club’s longest serving player. Chelsea loaned him out nine times. He’s now at Horsens in the Danish Superliga. He recalls:

“They [Chelsea] said to me: ‘We are buying you for the future. You will go on loan, gaining experience at a better level than the Croatian league. Then you will come back, maybe as No 2 goalkeeper. Then after that, anything is possible.'”

They might even make a profit on you. 

Posted: 30th, November 2018 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: David Gea should thank Alexis Sanchez for Manchester United wage hike

Transfer Balls: The BBC leads with news that Spain international De Gea wants Manchester United to offer him a five-year contract worth about £350,000 a week. Why so little? The wage will, says the Beeb, match what Alexis Sanchez earns. Odd, no. Doesn’t Sanchez earn £500,000-a-week? BBC journalist Simon Stone told us Sanchez was costing Manchester United half a million quid every week:

 

 

The numbers are utter tosh, then. But the media loves to guess. The Sun says: “De Gea will then be offered a new £400,000-a-week, five-year deal.” The Mail agrees with the BBC that it’s £350,000 a week. And the Standard says the deal “could be worth up to £300,000-a-week”.

And just a few days ago Joe Bernstein told Mail readers: 

 

de gea manchester united

daily mail de gea

 

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 29th, November 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer Balls: Liverpool want shot of Fabinho and Manchester United target Militao

Let’s kick off today’s Transfer Balls with news of Ousmane Dembele’s desire to leave Barcelona and play for Arsenal, Liverpool or any other side that can afford* a £100m transfer fee for a player who enjoyed one decent season at Borussia Dortmund before being flogged for an eye-watering sum to the Spanish giants. The BBC has news: “France forward Ousmane Dembele, 21, has told Barcelona he does not want to leave in January.” That’s according to an unnamed source talking to ESPN. It might be the same source who gave the Mail the story just two days ago: “Ousmane Dembele asks Barcelona if he can leave in January.”

Google News updates the breaking non-story:

 

transfer balls dembele

Two non stories = two exclusives and Liverpool ‘news’

 

In other transfer gossip, former England, Chelsea and Arsenal left-back Ashley Cole, 37, has been offered a new deal by LA Galaxy – just days after being released by the club. But he fancies swapping LA for life in Birmingham. Aston Villa want him. Why is uncertain. Experience counts – but if he can’t make the LA Galaxy side, why would an ambitious Championship club seek his services? 

At Liverpool, missing midfielder Fabinho is to be the subject of a post-match chat with Paris St-Germain when the sides meet in the Champions League. PSG will offer a lot of money for the Brazilian. And Liverpool will wonder who they’re talking about. Fabinho joined Liverpool for around £40 million in July. He’s been less than spectacular. But that’s what £40m buys you these days: a squad player who can afford a well-paid agent.

In the obligatory news on Manchester United’s search for a defender, Jose Mourinho wants to sign Porto defender Éder Militao. He’ll be great – right up until Mourinho calls him rubbish, unfit, fat and useless. 

* Not Arsenal.
 

Posted: 28th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United cheat and win: blatant Fellaini handball secures Champions League win

manchester united cheating

 

Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Young Boys sees them progress in the Champions League. Their winning goal scored in stoppage time by Marouane Fellaini should have been ruled out for handball. When will VAR be used in big games? It cannot come soon enough.

Here’s Fellaini using his hand to control the ball, which is against the rules of the game:

 

 

But did the media see the cheating? Marca, the Spanish newspaper, says Fellaini’s handball was blatant. His goal not only put United through to the next round but knocked Spain’s Valencia out.

The Manchester Evening News: “Belgian international Fellaini touched the ball with his hand before he unleashed a ferocious effort into the net, however the player insists there was no intent behind the action.”

He’s got a twitch that makes his hand control the ball involuntarily? And “ferocious”? The MEN continues:

“No,” he [Fellaini] told BT Sport when asked if he had handled the ball. “For me it was not a handball, I controlled the ball. If it touched my hand it was not on purpose. I think it was the right moment to score a goal in the end.”

The Valencia coach, Marcelino, is quoted by Marca as saying: “If the goal of Manchester United featured a handball then you become even angrier. The little details matter. What is strange is that VAR isn’t present in such a big competition. It’s no consolation to us. But this is football.”

Manchester United march on. Valencia go into the Europa League. And Fellaini, well, he’s no Raheem Sterling.

 

 

 

Posted: 28th, November 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Ozil victim of tabloid copy and paste factories

The Daily Express’ report on Arsenal’s 1-2 win at Bournemouth is the same report you can read in the Daily Mirror. Both are written by Neil McLeman. The Express and Mirror are both owned by Reach. Surely this sharing spells the end for one of the titles. A clue to which tabloid is getting sidelined comes on the Express‘ back page. In a story about Spurs player Dele Alli, the paper tells readers the article continues on page 55, column 3. But page 55 doesn’t mention Alli once. In fact, it doesn’t mention football at all, preferring to focus on England’s win over Australia in the rugby union. There is news of Alli on page 53, column 2. 

 

daily express

DailyExpress: Dele Alli story is continued on Page 55

 

daily express football

Page 55 contains not a single word on Dele Alli

 

As for the Ozil story so good it’s repeated in two daily tabloids, well, it’s some balls about Mesut Ozil being left in the “cold”. The German was an unused substitute in Arsenal’s win. Asked why Ozil didn’t play, Emery replied: “It depends how the match is going, what the result is. I decided for other options.” He added: “The match was very demanding…with physicality and intensity.” Put that though the tabloidese machine and you get: “Unai Emery admitted he needed players who could cope with the physicality and intensity of Bournemouth.” Can anyone think of a Premier League game that isn’t intense and physical? Answers to the Mirror and Express. Two cover prices – but one second-class stamp should cover it. 

Posted: 26th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer Balls: De Gea Manchester United leaves for PSG and signs new deal

Transfer Balls: Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea “will join Paris St-Germain in the summer” says the BBC. He will? The Spain international’s current deal at Old Trafford runs out at the season’s end, we’re told. You’d suppose Man Untied would do their utmost to keep hold of their best player – and use that one-year extension. But the BBC says his leaving is a done deal.

The Mail on Sunday agrees. It says David De Gea is set for a “sensational move” to Paris Saint Germain. He’ll earn “£60million” on a four-year deal in Paris. He is “poised to join Paris Saint Germain when his current contract expires”, says the Mail. “Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is resigned to losing his star goalkeeper.” 

But after the facts, we get to the truth: no deal has been signed. Three paragraphs into the Mail’s story, we’re told David de Gea “could be set to earn around £15.5m a year in wages with the French giants… if he were to sign a four-year deal in Paris.” Could. If.

All utter tosh, then. But enough for the Daily Express to tells its readers: “Man Utd news LIVE: Jose Mourinho agrees to January transfer, £60m David de Gea deal.” Nope. No deal.

 

manchester united david de gea

The gospel according to the Sport Bible website

 

Manchester United fans need not worry. Indeed, on June 15, the Manchester Evening News declared: “Manchester United agree new contract with David de Gea.” The paper told us: “David de Gea has agreed a new five-year deal with Manchester United.” talkSport told us, also in June 2018: “DE MAN Manchester United agree new contract with goalkeeper David De Gea.” Did no-one tell the BBC, Express and the Mail that de Gea was not heading to PSG?

Such are the facts.

Posted: 25th, November 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Media bias: Chelsea denied clear penalty, Hazard tumbles and lucky Spurs

Spurs tonked Chelsea 3-1 in the Premier League. At 1-0 to Spurs, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard was felled in the Tottenham box. Penalty! No. None given. But should one have been? Let’s look for any signs of bias in the media: 

BBC: “Chelsea will be furious at a soft free-kick for Spurs’ first goal and a failure from Martin Atkinson to give them a penalty when it was only 1-0 when Juan Foyth appeared to foul Eden Hazard in the 18-yard box.”

Chelsea website: “We had our moments in the first half, with Eden Hazard denied what looked like two clear penalties”

And again:

Chelsea website: “The Blues had what looked like a legitimate penalty appeal turned away when Hazard was bundled over in the box by Juan Foyth”

Former referee Peter Walton was in the studio for BT Sport: “…when you re-run it there’s a knee-on-knee and the foul comes when Foyth’s knee touches Hazard and that’s enough to put him over. For me that was a penalty.”

Guardian: ” Eden Hazard ought to have had a penalty on 14 minutes when Juan Foyth went into him from behind ”

Chelsea blog We Aint Got No History: “An early goal from a dubious foul, then a clear penalty uncalled on Hazard, then an unlucky second goal.”

And on the Spurs website? Only this: “13 mins – Hazard over in the box, appeals waved away.” No word on how he went over. 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 24th, November 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Spurs | Comment


Manchester United sell kit that does not actually exist

man-utd-fourth-kit-leopard

 

Dreaming up news to market the band is hard graft. But Manchester United are very good at it. The Brand are selling a replica kit that does not exist in the real world. The kit is a “digital concept” within the world of FIFA 19. The “Adidas x EA Sports Manchester United” kit has been designated as the club’s fourth kit. But it only exits in the the computer game. The horror show continues as Adidas announce that only “limited quantities” of the hideous neon leopard skin shirt will be produced and put on sale. So if you want to dress like a video game avatar pretending to an actual footballer, get in there fast. Yours for €90.

Bayern Munich, Juventus and Real Madrid are also prepping to flog digital kits to the slack-jawed masses. 

 

Posted: 23rd, November 2018 | In: Fashion, manchester united, News, Sports, Technology, The Consumer | Comment


Transfer Balls: Rashford makes Manchester United an offer they can refuse and a Liverpool move is back on

Good news for Chelsea fans: N’Golo Kante has signed a new five-year deal. “It has been two beautiful years and I wish for more to come,” he said after signing the news contact. “Since I came, I have completely improved as a player, challenged myself and got some awards I never thought about. I like the city, I like the club and I am happy to be here for more time.” Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia hails him for his “tireless and unselfish displays”. Kante is the player every other side wants in their team. 

Liverpool, however, are still chasing Nabil Fekir. Jurgen Klopp is said to be keen to rekindle a move for the France midfielder. Fekir was on his way to Liverpool in the summer. He never arrived. But Liverpool still want him. They also fancy Dortmund’s Julian Weigl. Arsenal like him, too, chiefly because they like pretty much anyone that plays for Dortmund with a hard to spell name. If he comes to the Emirates, Weigl will join fellow ex-Dortmund players: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and head of recruitment Sven Mislintat. 

Over at Old Trafford, news is that Marcus Rashford would find it hard to refuse a move to Real Madrid. He would also find it hard turn down the job of Prime Minster, the manager for Victor Secrets On Tour, £1bn in spun gold and the French throne. The odds of Rashford playing for Real are slim. But with two years to go on his current deal, rumours abound that United must do more to keep him happy or else another huge club will. So Real Madrid it is. Or Wolves. Or maybe Everton. Or, well, anywhere that will give him a game. “Manchester United’s England striker Marcus Rashford, 21, is ready to talk to Real Madrid if he fails to win a regular first-team place at Old Trafford,” says the BBC. To which the obvious answer from United is: “Let us know how it goes.”

Finally, Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez wants to sign Atlanta United’s attacking midfielder Miguel Almiron. Arsenal, West Ham and Everton also like the Paraguay international. Magpies owner Mike Ashley will surely swoop to get his man, sealing the deal with a 10% discount is one of his Debenhams stores (not applicable with any other promotion) and a Saturday job for any of Almiron’s loved ones in Sports Direct.  

Posted: 23rd, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Spurs balls: Eriksen contract countdown and stadium move in January

The inability to finish a stadium on time is costing Spurs money and stress. The new White Hart Lane won’t be completed until “January or February”, says Spurs manger Mauricio Pochettino. For £1bn, you’d expect a firm answer on a moving in date. Wasn’t Daniel Levy, the Spurs chairman, supposed to be a master negotiator, the smartest man in the room?

Just in cast the ground’s not ready, Spurs have taken out an option to play at Wembley until the end of the season. “We are so disappointed because we expected to play in 2018 at the new stadium and it should have been ready to play before the end of the year but that is not going to be possible and we need to wish and hope that in January or February we can move there,” says Pochettino.

“Yesterday afternoon we were there, checking the facilities, the changing rooms, everything, and we are so excited, we cannot wait to move there. We understand that it is a fantastic project for the future of the club that will be for ever. To wait maybe one or two months more – we need to have patience.”

Spurs play Chelsea at Wembley this weekend. They’ve lost their last three home fixture to Top 6 rivals – it’s four matches if the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester United is included. Are they going to win the title? No. 

And will the players stay at a club that isn’t winning cups? Christian Eriksen is out of contract in June 2020. “When Christian signed, he was a prospect, a very good player but still young and Tottenham provided a very good platform to develop his quality,” says Pochettino. “Eriksen and Tottenham, and Tottenham and Eriksen, was a very good mix. Good for Tottenham and good for Christian Eriksen. That’s why I hope Christian continues to develop his career with Tottenham.” Eriksen is 26. He’s one big transfer left in his career. Spurs need to start winning. 

 

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


Liverpool Balls: Salah to Barcelona for €100m and some loose change

If the absurd, greedy, money-soaked world of football, Liverpool and Barcelona have struck a bizarre deal: the Spaniards must pay a 100m euro (£89m) surcharge on top of any transfer fee if they want to sign a Liverpool player before 2020. The BBC says the deal was agreed when Barcelona signed Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho for £142m in January.

The Times says the extra charge was brokered by Liverpool’s sporting director Michael Edwards. And you wonder what the point of it is? Did Barcelona agree to the deal because they don’t want any of the current Liverpool side? Or is it to ensure that if the Spaniards go for, say, Mo Salah, they must pay at least €100m plus 1 euro – an echo of the £40m plus £1 Arsenal bid for Liverpool’s Luis Suarez before he also joined Barcelona for £75m? 

If for some reason this deal works, will other clubs follow suit? Perhaps Southampton, Liverpool’s feeder club, can slap a £100m surcharge on any sales to the Reds? It’s all such such huge sums of money that you wonder where it’s all heading and if the fans will tire of watching their money making the very rich ever richer?

 

Posted: 21st, November 2018 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment