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.
Transfer balls: the saw Rodrigo Bentancur, 19, is not heading to Manchester United. The Uruguayan is off to Juventus, who bought half his rights for £6.7m.
The Sun says the Italians got fist dibs on the “Argentine player” when they sold Carlos Tevez to Boca Juniors in 2015. The paper says Juventus are “at the front of the queue for Boca players until April 2017”.
Juventus wanted Bentancur included in a swap deal for Tevez. But Juve settled on first-refusal.
Boca president Daniel Angelici told TyC Sports: “It is already signed. When I was in Switzerland recently Juventus informed me that they were going to activate the option so I will travel to Turin soon in order to complete the deal. I think it’s very good business for Boca. Juventus will pay £6.7m for 50 per cent of his rights… He must have something because there were a lot of clubs interested. Real Madrid made a proposal, Manchester [United] also came and Milan made a €14m formal offer to sign him.”
In January, the Mail told its readers Bentacur was off to Real Madrid. He never did go.
Interestingly, 442 magazine reported: “Jorge Mendes is interested in buying his [Bentacur’s] economic rights before loaning him to a European club.” That’s the same Jorge Mendes who manages Jose Mourinho, the Manchester United manger.
Football transfers really are very peculiar business.
Harry Redknapp was dropping his wife Sandra in Westbourne, a suburb of Bournemouth, when her coat got caught in the door of his Range Rover. The Indy says the 69-year-old [Sandra] “screamed with agony on the pavement after being dragged along the road”.
An eyewitness tells the Sun:
“I was in a shop and a couple of people came in and said, ‘Crikey, there’s a lady who’s been dragged along the road’, then someone else came in and said it was Harry Redknapp who had just dropped his wife off. I heard as he drove off she got her coat caught in the door. She was dragged along the road before he realised. I think she has been badly injured.”
The Indy says there was lots of blood.
The Telegraph identifies the car: “Harry Redknapp drags wife along road in ‘freak accident’ in his Range Rover.”
This private horror is then given the Daily Mail treatment. Can it be possible to attack a man who has been left “shaken” buy seeing his wife hurt? Yes, The Mail sees fit to include this in its report:
In 2006, the BBC’s investigative programme Panorama showed Mr Redknapp on camera expressing his interest in approaching a player illegally in order to arrange a transfer.
Following an investigation by HMRC in 2010, he was charged with two counts of cheating the public revenue, but was later found not guilty at a trial.
It then concludes:
Last night, representatives for Mr Redknapp denied that an incident had taken place.
Get well soon, Sandra.
Money in football is always a news story to get people angry and agitated. The BBC says Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis will face “intense questioning from shareholders” over his salary .
The BBC says he earns £2.65m a year. Better perhaps to break his salary down into weekly components, much as the media does for players. It’s about £51,000 a week.
The Daily Mail picks up the story. “Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis faces flak over £1m jackpot,” says the headline. Charles Sale tells of Ivan’s “extraordinary” salary. Is it that extraordinary?
In 2014, the HuffPost told us Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre earns a basic £1,311,975 salary and a £500,000 “supplement” for each full year he completes after his 60th birthday. The Mail’s chief executive earns over £2m a year.
So what is extraordinary about a top executive at a large company earning such a sum?
The Mail told readers in March 2016, Aston Villa’s chief executive Tom Fox earned £1.25m.
Maybe Ivan’s being underpaid.
In 2016, the Guardian reported: “UK’s top bosses received 10% pay rise in 2015 as average salary hit £5.5m.” (Guardian chief David Pemsel gets a £600k salary.)
Sale then takes a flight of fancy:
The Emirates Stadium summit…is normally used by Arsenal fans to interrogate manager Arsene Wenger about his transfer plans. But with the Gunners joint top of the table, Gazidis will be in the firing line instead.
Fans will more worried about the chief exec’s pay than they will playing matters?
No. They won’t be.
Manchester United’s Anthony Martial says he didn’t refer to ‘Anthony Martial’ in ‘fake’ Daily Mirror interview
Did you see the Anthony Martial interview in the Daily Mirror? The Manchester United player did, tweeting:
In “Anthony Martial insists Manchester United fans haven’t seen him at his best yet”, the Mirror’s Chris Hatherall shares Martial’s words. No sources are cited. As for the player’s comments, well the highlight is when he talks of himself in the third person: “I don’t think you have seen the true Martial at Man United yet. I know I can perform better, I know I can do more.”
That line is repeated in the Sun:
Martial told the Mirror: “It’s a big season for me and I want to be better than last year. I don’t think you have seen the true Martial at Man United yet. I know I can perform better, I know I can do more.
“But I’m convinced this season can be my year. It’s a feeling I have.”
Maybe another Anthony Martial spoke to the Mirror?
The Daily Mirror’s headline is unequivocal: former Manchester United and Aston Villa striker Dwight Yorke is a victim of racism. The headline states: “YORKE: I’m Being Held Back By Racism.”
To further drum the point home, the Mirror adds: “Wannabe manager Dwight Yorke insists racism is stopping him even getting INTERVIEWS for jobs.”
The story begins:
“You keep hitting a wall, keep constantly not getting anywhere” says ex-Man United star who has the coaching badges but cannot get his foot in the door
That’s a pretty big claim. Football is just about the least racist industry in the UK – a quarter of Premier League playing staff are black. Why should Yorke, discovered by the then Aston Villa manager Graham Taylor on a tour of the West Indies in 1989, think racism is stopping his career?
The Mirror is adamant:
Ex-Manchester United striker Yorke insists racism in football has stopped him and other retired stars breaking into management.
Only racism has prevent Yorke from becoming a manager? No. Reading on we get a qualifier:
He says he has completed his coaching badges but is convinced his colour has played a part in stopping him from building a career in England.
The Mirror did not get the story. It is repackaging Yorke’s words to beIN Sports, in which he said:
“I’m still looking to get in. I’ve done all the coaching badges at St George’s and the one thing I find very difficult, let alone get a job, is to even get an interview. I’m finding it very, very difficult at the moment. Yes, you are doing all your coaching, all your badges, but then when it comes to getting a job, you are not even getting an interview. It’s all about who you know as well, that has to play a role. Despite all my experience of being a player, I’ve never had the experience of being a manager which is a different concept from being a coach.”
So a lack of experience and not knowing the right people are factors in his failure to secure a managerial job.
BeIn Sports not Yorke brought up race. Yorke responded:
When asked whether it was down to his lack of managerial experience or his colour, Yorke replied: “I think there’s a bit of both there. I genuinely think there’s a bit of both. It’s often been discussed, no-one has really taken it up, but I do have a tendency when I speak to everybody, certainly black players who are trying to break into managerial department are coming up against the same concept because of your race.”
There are no black managers in the Premier League. There are, however, many foreign-born managers. Only six of the current crop are British.
“You keep constantly hitting a wall, keep constantly not getting anywhere and even with all the noises that I’ve made, I’ve even tried to get in at Villa at this point. What I’m saying is that it would have been nice to just have your thoughts heard.
“OK, maybe you will never get a chance to be a manager but it would be nice to go in there, present yourself, get to know that person and [have them] say, ‘OK, Dwight, we like your concept, but you’re not experienced enough. Go away and do this or do that.'”
It’s hard to comment on York’s efforts to get a managerial job without knowing to which clubs he’s applied. Were Villa ever likely to take on an ex-player with no managerial track record to be their figurehead?
The Indy twists Yorke’s words a little to deliver the headline:
Dwight Yorke says being black is stopping him becoming a manager after missing out on Aston Villa job
To link Aston Villa with racism is absurd and unfair. And it wasn’t simply missing out on the Villa job that shaped his thoughts.
The Indy adds:
Ryan Giggs does not have a large managerial history to fall back on though, and the fact that he was installed as the bookmakers’ favourite for the Swansea job when Francesco Guidolin was sacked does support Yorke’s argument, given he has not been able to secure an interview at clubs in the lower tiers of English football.
Again that’s absurd, too. Giggs didn’t get that job. He tried and failed. Swansea appointed a foreigner. The bookies made Giggs the favourite because, well, he’s Welsh. What other reason was there? Swansea is owned by Americans – and they appointed one of their own. Gary Neville scored his first managerial job at Valencia on the strength of coaching a poor England side and being mates with the Spanish club’s owner.
Worse than that is the hype that misrepresents Yorke, who was circumspect and measured in his words. The tabloid twist makes for sensation. Rather than investigating racism in football’s boardrooms, they could look at racism on what passes for Fleet Street. See any top-flight editors, chairmen of the board, managing editors, new editors and so on?
But Yorke’s views do make us wonder why with so many black players there are so few notable black managers?
Former player turned media pundit Jason Roberts said it was due to “unconscious bias” at best or “possibly racism” at worst.
Cyrille Regis opined: “As a player, it’s tangible. You can hear the racist chants, you can see the bananas on the pitch and you can react to it, but when you are going for jobs and interviews and putting your CVs in, you can’t really tell somebody’s heart where they’re coming from, what prejudices they have inside of them.”
The football league is looking to introduce The Rooney Rule:
The ‘Rooney Rule’ was established in 2003 and named after Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the chairman of the NFL’s diversity committee. It requires NFL teams to interview at least one black or ethnic minority candidate for head coaching and senior football operation opportunities that become available, as part of a transparent and open recruitment process
Brian Collins noted in the New York Law Review: “A decision-maker harbouring unconscious bias is forced to confront his own partiality by meeting face-to-face with a candidate he might never have considered.”
Time to help black managers and would-be black managers – and with it encourage more black faces to consider a role in management.
Last night Liverpool and Manchester United bored the watching public to their second 0-0 on Premier League history. Manchester United were unambitious, carrying 35% possession, their lowest total in a Premier League match since Opta began recording this data in 2003-04.
Jose Mourinho side have won their lowest points total after his first eight league games with a new club since his time with Uniao de Leiria (10 points).
The BBC say the game was “rubbish”.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says: “No one will show this game in 10 or 20 years.”
Chris Crocker adds: “Reality is if Van Gaal’s team had played like that every ‘expert’ would be slating him for weeks. Jose does it he is a genius.”
Not everyone. But some, yes.
This is what Neil Curtis said in the Sun on the morning of the big match:
JOSE MOURINHO is desperately trying to rid Manchester United of the memories from the Louis van Gaal era. That is why he will never serve up a borefest like the Dutchman with his much vaunted ‘philosophy’…
Mourinho is up for another tactical masterclass just like he delivered two years ago…
The Portuguese said: “Last season Liverpool vs United and Liverpool had 14 shots on target and United had one and the result was 0-1. I don’t think that is going to happen again.”
It didn’t. Last night United had one shot on target and failed to score. Under Van Gaal United player Liverpool four times in the Premier League. They won them all.
It’s all about Mourinho in the media. The BBC holds a debate on the United manager with itself:
“Is this a new United way?” asks the BBC. Yes there is, says the BBC.
How United fans will be thrilled by supporting a pragmatic team.
Says Jose Mourinho:
“I think was a positive performance. If you analyse the game see the reason why did it, playing Young and Fellaini. We had control of the game – there were two amazing saves by David de Gea it’s true but they were out of context. The reaction from their crowd was permanent disappointment. People expected us to come here and be really in trouble, which we were not.”
To recap: United were boring when they won at Liverpool with a philosophy; United are exciting and new when they draw 0-0 with a “masterclass” and a “new way”.
Still, at least Jose has won over the media. Van Gaal never did.
Transfer balls: Are Barcelona’s Javier Mascherano, formerly of Liverpool and West Ham United, and Brazil’s Neymar heading to the Premier League? The media has been full of news and views that both want to play in the PL.
Sky Sports brings news that Mascherano has signed his contract extension at Barcelona, committing to the club until June 2019.
A statement on Barcelona’s official website reads: “Javier Mascherano put pen to paper on his improved contract extension with FC Barcelona that will keep him at the club until June 30, 2019.”
Daily Mirror, March 22, 2016: “Barcelona utility man Javier Mascherano tipped for Premier League return this summer.”
Tipped by whom? The Mirror never said.
Daily Mirror, March 25: “Barcelona’s Javier Mascherano agrees personal terms with Juventus in stunning blow to Nou Camp club.”
Juventus do not play in the Premier League. They play in Italy.
Daily Mail, May 25, 2016: “Barcelona defence in turmoil as Javier Mascherano agrees three-year deal with Juventus”.
He didn’t. He stayed at Barcelona. There was no news.
In readiness for Liverpool v Manchester United – now horribly billed ‘El Classico UK’ – the Sun’s Man Neil Custis is here to praise United boss Jose Mourinho.
‘JOSE MOURINHO is desperately trying to rid Manchester United of the memories from the Louis van Gaal era.”
He is? Under Van Gaal. United did pretty well against the Reds.
On the match Liverpool 1 – Manchester United 2, for example, Alan Shearer noted on Match of the Day: “United moved the ball quickly and they passed it well too – their one or two-touch football has clearly improved massively of late. But the most impressive part of their performance in the first 45 minutes at Anfield was their intensity when they did not have possession.”
Van Gaal’s record against Liverpool:
December 14th 2014
Manchester United 3-0 Liverpool
Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata, Robin van Persie
March 22nd 2015
Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United
Juan Mata x 2
September 12th 2015
Manchester United 3-1 Liverpool
Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial.
January 17th 2016
Liverpool 0-1 Manchester United
United: W4 D0 L0 GF9 GA2
Liverpool: W0 D0 L4 GF2 GA9
The BBC said of the last encounter:
This was every inch a game between sides sitting sixth and ninth in the Premier League before kick-off.
This time round, Liverpool are fourth and United are seventh. But free football maestro Mourinho is here to enliven and thrill.
“That is why he [Mourinho] will never serve up a borefest like the Dutchman with his much vaunted ‘philosophy’.”
This is what Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has to say in the Times about when Mourinho’s Chelsea came to Anfield on April 27, 2014.
“I will never forget the way they played the game. It was very slow, they sat in. It was difficult to watch. Throw-ins, goal kicks, they were taking forever and that got everyone worked up in the stadium and it worked to their advantage because they got the result they came for — one that had a big impact on us not winning the league.
“It wasn’t a nice game to watch…”
Not boring. Just awful. Still, a win’s a win, right?
Transfer balls: Will Arsenal keep Mesut Ozil beyond his contract, which expires in 2018? The media has been chattering about this for months.
Today Sky Sports says Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger “believes challenging for titles” will “convince” Ozil to sign an Arsenal contract extension.
Or as Wenger puts it, “I don’t think he needs convincing.” Ah. “He wants to stay here. If you have a good bank, call me! It’s not just money. Arsenal can win titles of course. But that’s what we have to show. We are in a league where Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea, everybody fights and you cannot guarantee that.”
The BBC says says Arsenal “will have to spend big” to keep the German.
The Daily Mirror says Ozil wants £200,000-a-week.
In May he got it because back then the Mirror told us: “Wenger is ready to make Mesut Ozil Arsenal’s first £200,000-a-week player.”
The Independent says Özil “wants £250,000-a-week“.
The Metro says, “Gunners confident Mesut Ozil will sign new £180,000-a-week deal.”
The Metro also says Ozil wants a “£160,000-per-week contract”.
They haven’ got a clue, have they.
Ahead of the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United the temperature is being cranked up. In the Times, we read “Klopp antics are mocked by Mourinho”. The paper says United manager Jose Mourinho has “ridiculed” Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp.
“I’m on the touchline to try to coach,” says Mourinho, who “then waved his arms in the air, mimicking Klopp”. “I’m not on the touchline . . . [doing this].”
This is Mourinho, of course, who makes a big play of not commenting on other teams and only ever talking about his players (Anorak ad passim).
Mourinho added to his pre-mach snark by wondering aloud if the game’s referee, Anthony Taylor, who lives a few miles from Old Trafford, would have a “a very good performance”. “I think Mr Taylor is a very good referee,” judged Mourinho, “but I think somebody with intention is putting such a pressure on him that I feel that it will be difficult for him to have a very good performance.”
In other ‘Look at me’ news, Mourinho manager talked about one of his player, albeit to blame the Press for Wayne Rooney’s poor form. “I think what hurt you could do, you did already,” Mourinho said. “I don’t think you can do more than what you did, so I think in this moment it is time for him to recover from what was done to him and the best place for him to do that is feeling like he feels at home here.”
All typical siege mentality stuff from Jose: insult your rival; question the referee’s abilities; blame everyone else.
And the Press love it.
One paper does lead with Klopp. The Star has the Liverpool manger sticking up for Mourinho.
It’s not hard to see which of Mourinho or Klopp is more worried.
Media bias: a look at monocular football reporting. when Southampton beat Burnley 3-1, the away team’s goal came via the penalty sport. Should it have been given? What was it given for? The reporters reveal all:
Daily Star: “Definitely not what you’d call a stonewall penalty.”
Southampton Echo: “Referee Mike Dean felt Tadic had fouled Ben Mee, allowing Sam Vokes to become the first to score against Southampton in 612 minutes.”
Southampton Echo Live blog: “Looked soft, but referee Dean is in no doubt… Dusan Tadic shoved over Ben Mee in the box.”
Burnley Express: “Clarets striker Sam Vokes scored a late consolation from the spot for the Clarets after Ben Mee had been felled by Tadic.”
Lancashire Telegraph: “Southampton 3 Burnley 1. Mike Dean gives a pen for a block on Mee from a corner. Vokes sends penalty down the middle.”
The Guardian: “Don’t pull an opponent’s shirt when Mike Dean’s in town. Tadic has done so, and it’s a penalty to Burnley.”
The Indy: “Referee Dean took pity on Burnley, awarding a very soft penalty after Ben Mee collided with Tadic”
Daily Mail: “Dusan Tadic did nothing more than stand his ground as Ben Mee goes to ground underneath him”
The Sun: “Classic Mike Dean. He’s given one against Dusan Tadic for giving the slightest nudge to Ben Mee in the box at a corner. Never a spot kick.”
The penalty was given for a feeling, a shove, felling, a block, pulling a shirt, colliding, standing your ground and nudging.
Such are the facts.
Sat with his fiancée, Natasha Massey, and two dogs, footballer Ched Evans – not a rapist – talks to the Sunday Times about his ordeal.
“This has never been about me as a footballer but [about me] as a person, a human being. A father who wants to take his son to the park knowing that no one can look at me and say, ‘He’s a rapist.’ That’s why I wasn’t going to stop until I was proven innocent. From the first day, I would have agreed never to kick another ball in return for people accepting I was not a rapist.”
But to many it was about his role as footballer. Why else was the news on the front pages? One line stuck. Evans told police: “We could have had any girl we wanted … We’re footballers.”
“I have got mixed emotions really. The fact is I cannot say she has ever accused me of rape. She hasn’t. She went to the police, believing her bag had been stolen. When me and Clayton got arrested [Clayton McDonald] we told the truth straight away and still to this day five years on she has never claimed that she had been raped.
“My belief is that it got put to her that she had been raped by two footballers. But my feelings towards the girl involved is that I can’t actually say I am angry, because – if she genuinely doesn’t remember – it doesn’t mean that we raped her. It doesn’t mean she didn’t consent. It just means that she can’t remember.
“I’d be lying if I said I feel some hatred towards her. I don’t. It would probably be more [correct] to say I feel sorry for her because of what she has been put through.”
‘I have gone in the room and at the time Clay is having sex with the woman. As soon as I walked in, and I will never forget this, the door bangs behind me and they have both looked at me…
“It escalated into sex and as soon as I did that, I started to think, Tash [girlfriend Natasha] was coming up the next day and I’d better get home because I couldn’t have explained why I’d stayed in the hotel. Clay decided to come with me and he stayed at my house.”
“Tasha’s life would have been easier if she just cut all ties with me the moment I told her I cheated on her. She knows me, she knows I wouldn’t commit a crime like that. She didn’t stay with me for money, that’s for sure… My behaviour that night was totally unacceptable but it wasn’t a crime.”
Evans has also been talking to the Mail on Sunday.
Ched the activist?
“I was young at the time and I was stupid and I wasn’t aware of the situations you could potentially find yourself in that would land you in trouble. I have never been taught about anything like that. You get your gambling and drinking training but nothing else on top of that. In this day and age people need educating on alcohol and consent.
“I read somewhere you would have to get signed consent. That wouldn’t be realistic but someone needs to come up with something. The best thing is just to be educated. And when they are drunk to think twice about it. How would it look in a court of law?”
This was big news because footballers are portrayed as scum. When you have one whose depravity is manifest, he gives lie to the top-down use of footballers as “role models”. Evans appears to have fallen into the trap of believing the hype. The Guardian notes: “Footballer acquitted this week of raping waitress says he wants to speak to young players about risks they face.”
No. Young footballers can speak with their mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. Thanks but no thanks, Ched. Save it for your book.
Ched Evans is not a criminal. That much is fact. Why the police and CPS pursued him and sought his conviction is debatable.
Media Balls: a look at reporting on Arsenal v Swansea City in the Premier League. Arsenal won the pulsating game 3-2.
Arsenal’s Xhaka was given a straight red card in the 70th minute for a cynical trip on the half-way line. What says the media?
Arsenal saw Xhaka sent off for a petulant trip and despite seeing Walcott squander two late chances, they held on as Swansea equalled their worst start to a league season.
The Sun employs two journalists – two – (Duncan Wright and Sam Morgan) to report:
THEO WALCOTT was cruelly denied a hat-trick…
No. Walcott was denied a hat-trick because having scored a brace he bhit a post and then missed a simple chance from about five yards out. The BBC calls it “one of the misses of the season”.
The Sun then delivers a typo – “the ball ruled across the line without going in“. got that – it ‘ruled’ [rolled?] across the line but did not go in.
The Guardian says of the Xhaka red card:
Barrow had outstripped Xhaka and the Arsenal player’s reaction was cynical in the extreme.
The Mail notes:
Xhaka lunged at him from behind and brought him down. Referee Jon Moss showed him a straight red card, which seemed harsh.
Says Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “It looked harsh to me. A dark yellow. But the referee went for a bright red.”
In the Islington Gazette (Arsenal’s local rag) the red card is headline news:
Ten man Arsenal beat Swansea City 3-2 after open game marred by Granit Xhaka’s harsh sending off
Layth Yousif writes:
Yes it was a cynical trip. But a straight red when there were plenty of men covering and no apparent danger. If new rules were designed to clarify situations such as these, the fear is that changes – however well-intentioned – have only served to muddy the waters. Again.
In the South Wales Evening Post (Swansea’s local news source), the headline accentuates the positives:
Arsenal 3 Swansea City 2: Bob Bradley’s team proud in defeat against 10-man Gunners
Xhaka’s afternoon then went from bad to worse, the Swiss hardman seeing red for a cynical challenge on Modou Barrow. Arsenal protests were waved away by referee Jon Moss.
And Walcott’s hat-trick, the one the Sun says he was “cruelly denied”?
Walcott misses a sitter just before the full-time whistle. Swansea gave 10-man Arsenal a massive fright here
As for the red card, the rules were altered, as the BBC writes:
Players who commit a foul to deny a goalscoring opportunity will no longer automatically be sent off, football’s rule-making body has confirmed. The previous ‘triple-punishment’ rule required a red card – and therefore a suspension – as well as the award of a penalty under those circumstances.
However, players committing accidental fouls that deny a goalscoring chance will now be cautioned instead. But deliberate fouls will still incur a red card.
Those include holding, pulling or pushing, not playing the ball, serious foul play, violent conduct or deliberate handball in order to deny a goalscoring opportunity.
Was this a goalscoring opportunity?
Xhaka red card pic.twitter.com/YtUU9NXHJU
— Terje (@AFCTerje) October 15, 2016
Have you seen the ‘New Messi”, a player the Sun dubs “Mini Messi” after the brilliant Barcelona player? He’s called Marcus Edwards. He’s 17. And he plays for Spurs. Well, Spurs reservers because this new Messi isn’t good enough play for the first XI.
Having dubbed him Mini Messi, the Sun then says, “When he’s got a bag full of Ballon d’Ors like his La Liga nick-namesake you can compare him with Messi.”
Or when you’ve got column to fill.
PS: The Mini Messi tag is attributed to a few words Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino shared on 5ft 5-inches of Marcus Edwards. He said: “His qualities … it’s only looks – his body and the way that he plays – remember a little bit from the beginning of Messi.”
Yeah, he’s a little bit like Messi was before he became exceptional.
PPS: The real Messi was 16 years, four months, and 23 days old when he made his debut in the Barcelona first team. Spurs’s Messi is 17 and still waiting.
Is Gareth Bale obscene? The only comment beneath the Times’s article on the likeable Wales and Real Madrid player says he is. The story is that “Bale expects Real to match Ronaldo’s £750k a week.” The comment says: “Obscene amounts milked from the fans – disgusting!”
There is is again, that footballer’s salary being delivered in terms of money-per-week. It’s a huge number when delivered in terms of yearly wage: £39m. But it’s too big for all but a very few of us to relate to. Break the cash into weekly instalments and readers can easily compare it to their own yearly wage.
How dare Bale – the player who quickens the pulse and gives us “I was there’ moments – earn vast sums of money for kicking a ball. How dare a man who adds a crackle of excitement to weekends and summers make so much cash. Better the club kept the huge sums and used the money to invest in grounds and pay bigger dividends to shareholders. How dare a working-class lad who never went to college earn so much money.
The Times says Bale earns a net salary of “£260,000 a week”. He wants to join Ronaldo in “an elite group of global sports stars who earn £20 million a year after tax, with gross weekly wages of £750,000.”
Wow, indeed. Bale will pay £19m a year in tax – £365,000 every week to the Spanish government!
Do you find that obscene?
Liverpool are keen to prevent the “too much, too young” culture that infects professional football by bringing a wage cap for younger players.
The Telegraph says Liverpool will not allow a footballer age 17 or under to earn more than £40,000 in their first season as a professional.
Too often players go off the rails when they are given the financial power that comes with being a professional footballer, and Liverpool are looking to try and reduce the risk of young and talented players going to waste.
The youngsters will be allowed to boost their salaries with performance-related bonuses and breaking into Under-23 and senior sides.
Is 40k too low? Too high? In 2016 the Daily Mail reported the average wages paid in British football.
Last season, first-team average salaries were around £1.7million a year
Average basic pay in the Championship was £324,250 per player per year
Figure dropped to £69,500 in League One and £40,350 in League Two
Would you prefer to earn £40,000 playing for Liverpool youth sides or the Plymouth Argyle first team in League Two?Should wages be more performance-related?
In 1960, Jimmy Hill was embarked on in his campaign to abolish the Football League’s maximum wage which stood then at just £20 a week. Hill won. A wage bill from August 17, 1960, shows that Liverpool’s Roger Hunt took home £22 after bonuses, tax and insurance. He’d go on to be part of the England team that won the World Cup in 1966. What would he earn in these post-Bosman times?
In The Football Man, Arthur Hopcraft says such wages were “derisive in comparison with what could be earned by entertainers performing in front of much smaller audiences in, say, the theatre or cabaret… [and] small beer to what could be earned on the production lines of the country’s post-war, streamlined factories.”
Nowadays players earn a fortune. In 2009, Premier League clubs spent £1.2 billion on players’ wages in 2007-08, so passing he billion mark for the first time.
The game is rich with TV cash and owners’ money. But if the players don’t get the cash, who will? Will club owners use it to reduce ticket prices or pay dividends to shareholders?
Oliver Kay writes:
It is obscene, obviously, but it would be more obscene to see the money generated by the Premier League — whether through television, sponsorship or ticket sales — simply sit on the balance sheet as profits go up and up. Football clubs do not exist to make profit. They exist to give something back to communities. Unless the clubs’ intention is to give more and more back to the grassroots, which sadly seems unlikely, then it would be indecent to suggest that the benefit of this latest television deal would not be felt by the players.
He’s right. Footballers can get paid very well. But so do many other workers, top talents in their fields. Do we know what others earn a week, like TV’s Ant and Dec or a soap opera actor? Why do footballer always have their wages discussed in terms of what they earn a week?
The first thought on hearing a player’s weekly earnings is to measure it against your annual salary: why, that little bastard makes more in a week than I do in a year.
The second reason is snobbery. Wherever there is an anomaly in British life, check out snobbery before anything else. The wages of working men — rough types from the working class, you must have heard of them — have always been calculated in weeks.
He notes that the wages are paid by us, the fans who buy the TV packages, tickets and tat.
What do we get from all this money? Not much. Only beauty. Only incomparable skill. Only great bravura performances of mental and physical strife. Only individual and corporate levels of brilliance and defiance. Only the chance to identify with such people, to revel in the fact that they belong to us, that we are part of them and they are part of us.
Only the opportunity to watch as the myths and legends of our times are forged before us. Only the chance to participate in great dramas of will against will, skill against skill. Only anguish, only elation, only inconceivable joy, only the chance to taste despair without any actual suffering. Only the chance to drink down Life in great big gulps.
Do young footballers get too much too soon? Yes. Some do. But we enable them to get it. We invest in them because unlike most of us, these tyros have a chance to shine at something many of us would pay to do.
Did you read the news that Chelsea are all set to sack Antonio Conte, their manager? It’s nonsense. He isn’t being sacked. The Sun has confirmed that Conte is not being sacked by Chelsea:
Antonio Conte sacked: Chelsea boss’ future at Stamford Bridge is safe after betting firms spark sack rumours
Which betting firms started that rumour then?
The Sun had more:
Which bookmakers were no longer taking money on Conte’s sacking? The paper told readers:
Sun Bets, Betway and Paddy Power have both suspended betting on Conte being the second Premier League boss to get the boot.
Three betting companies have “both” suspended betting on Chelsea sacking Conte?
But only one bookmaker was talking to the Sun. Can you guess which one?
A spokesperson for Sun Bets said: “We’ve currently suspended the next Premier League manager to go until the rumours about Antonio Conte’s future at Chelsea settle down… Diego Simeone is Sun Bets 7/2 favourite to take over the reigns.”
There is no word from any other betting companies.
To recap, then. Antonio Conte has not been sacked. He was never going to be sacked. It was all just a rumour rooted in bookmakers’, like Sun Bets, and amplified by that company’s sister publication The Sun newspaper, which thoughtfully reproduced the odds on something not happening for its readers to study.
And, boy, did the Sun milk the non-news news story about its betting arm:
Such are the facts.
Is Gareth Bale moving to Manchester United? No. We told you he was staying at Real Madrid. Every story you ever read about Bale wanting to join Man United is wrong. Stories like these from the Sun in recent days:
28 Aug 2016 – MANCHESTER UNITED are plotting an audacious £100million move for Real Madrid’s Welsh wizard Gareth Bale.
23 Sep 2016 – Gareth Bale to Manchester United: Real Madrid star wants to leave Bernabeu with Old Trafford preferred destination.”
And so to today’s Sun news that Bale is not going to play for any club other than Real Madrid. He does not want to leave the Bernabeu.
And how does the Sun present this story. Yes, as a story about Manchester United story:
Gareth Bale to Manchester United: Real Madrid superstar to sign new contract at the Bernabeu until 2022
In tomorrows news: “Manchester United: Ronaldo not signing for Man United either.”
Much chatter over Wayne Rooney’s future. The BBC says, Manchester United “could look to offload captain Wayne Rooney, 30, in the summer”. They could. Or they could not.
The BBC adds that getting rid of Rooney “may” mean United paying him the 20 months of his £300,000-a-week contract.
The Mirror adds that this is United’s £26m dilemma.
Eh? United will either pay Rooney and maybe let him play or pay Rooney and sell him to another team. Is that a dilemma?
Over in the Sun we hear from “CAPTAIN FANTASTIC”, former United and England captain Bryan Robson. He says: “At least United fans will show him the love and respect he deserves. Wayne’s always given everything for England… and that should always be appreciated. He doesn’t deserve to be booed like he was against Malta and one thing I do know is that the United supporters will stick by him. Wayne will know that the next time he pulls on a United shirt the fans will be right behind him – as they should be.”
United fans support the club they have seen reach the heights and raise the heart rate. When Rooney goes, other gilded stars will replace him. Manchester United fans expect the next best thing to arrive at any moment.
England fans expect nothing but more dross.
They did have the young Rooney, a lightning rod of hope and expectation. He was England’s Roy of the Rovers, a winner in a sea of mediocrity. “Our country love it, creating a drama around one player,” said Gary Neville. “I’ve never known there not be an obsession around one player. It was Gascoigne from 1996 to 1998, Beckham from 2000 to 2006. From 2006, it was Rooney and Beckham. Now it’s Rooney to 2014. Unfortunately – or fortunately, because he is a big player – this time it’s Wayne Rooney.”
We put him on a pedestal. And now we’re hacking away at the legs.
England fans crave more. But all they see is an underachieving team of pampered individuals get outplayed by Iceland. This shambolic England team is currently managed by Gareth Southgate. The FA are paying him £500,000 to manage four England internationals, including matches against – deep breath – Malta, Slovenia and Scotland. In the greedy, overpaid world of football that’s not a lot when compared to the £400,000 his predecessor Sam Allardyce thought a speaking engagement was worth.
See anything to cheer about? No, not you, Gareth and Sam, rather the fans who watch the team of overpaid solo acts?
So, there’s the captain, the ineffectual Wayne Rooney, who no longer a striker sits marooned in England’s midfield. Rooney hasn’t played well in a tournament for England since 2004, when he was sensational. His presence reminds us of all the false dawns and hype that surrounds the now dubbed ‘Three Lions’. He is yesterday’s great hope in a team that holds no promise of a bright future. Fans can boo him because his declining form represents failure. And, besides, anyone mad enough to pay to watch this current England team in the flesh needs to make their own entertainment.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is subjected to the Sun’s “Hendo Watch”. The paper kept a constant eye on the likeable and hard-working Henderson as he captained England in Slovenia.
The Liverpool midfielder led from the front..
But it was still a decent audition from Henderson…
Hendo was the player organising the troops and trying to get something on a tricky night…
He dropped really deep to try to dictate play from the back, a role he could adopt in the future instead of raiding forward…
And that’s it. The BBC didn’t operate a Henderson Watch. But it notes:
He [Joe Hart] twice denied Josip Ilicic when he was played in by poor backpasses from Eric Dier and captain Jordan Henderson
The Sun never saw that pass. The BBC mentions it twice:
Hart – who was the clear man of the match in this game – looked back to his best, rescuing Dier and Henderson when dreadful backpasses let in Ilicic.
Make that three times:
Shambolic England… The errors by Dier and Henderson would have been punished by opposition of a higher calibre and England threatened to crumble in the early moments of the second half – only to be saved by Hart.
Is there any reason the Sun – a paper hated by the Reds’ faithful following its hideous Hillsborough coverage – failed to see the error from Liverpool’s captain as it watched his every move?
Becauae Germans are good at taking penalties, when one of them says an Englishman is the ‘best penalty taker ‘ he’s ever seen, we take notice. The penalty king is none other than Liverpool’s James Milner, who hasn’t missed any of the seven spot kicks he’s taken for the Reds.
This season he’s scored four from four.
The BBC has the headline news that Milner is the King. But in the Liverpool Echo, we get more. The German with the praise is Emre Can.”I’m young but I haven’t seen in any of my teams so far such a good penalty taker,” says Can. “In training, every ball is in the net. He’s a very, very good penalty taker.”
Milner is the powerhouse player any manager would love to have in their squad.
When James Milner announced his retirement from international football, he robbed England of a versatile player who has, as George Caulkin puts in in the Times, “always valued proficiency ahead of individuality”.
What does that make him sound like? Yeah, a German. And you now how good they are at football – and penalties.
We love peculiar job titles in football. Chelsea have “loan player coaches“. QPR have “kit monitorers”. Liverpool used to have “director of football strategy”. What that means is unclear. But at one point the man with the job was Damien Comolli.
When Comolli got the job in 2010, the BBC explained what it was, in the words of Liverpool owner John Henry:
“Today’s announcement is just the first step in creating a leadership group and structure designed to develop, enhance and implement our long-term philosophy of scouting, recruitment, player development and all of the other aspects necessary to build and sustain a club able to consistently compete at the highest level in European football. Damien has a proven track-record of identifying exciting young footballing talent and we are delighted that he has agreed to join Liverpool.”
He had us right up to “philosophy”, then we kind of zoned out. Conelli is not the manager, not the coach and not entirely just a scout. ‘Director of football strategy’ seems to be job made in the corporate world, a title based on presentation over presence.
In March 2011, we got more:
Comolli’s role has been extended to oversee all football-related matters outside of first-team training and selection, which are under the remit of the caretaker manager Kenny Dalglish, who replaced Hodgson on 8 January.
“It covers pretty much all of the football side,” added Comolli. “It’s basically a day-to-day relationship with the manager and his coaching staff, it’s also medical and sports science, performance analysis, player liaison, team travel, scouting and negotiating transfer contracts. A big part of it is the academy.”
We’re talking about Conelli because he’s told Talksport:
“The day I got sacked they [Liverpool’s owners] told me I had made a big mistake on Jordan and he was a waste of money.
“Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but I think we paid the right price. He was a young English, British player and we know very often that British players are overvalued. But we were more than happy to pay the price because we thought he would become an outstanding player.
“I never said it publicly, but I was convinced he would be the future captain. People will say it is easy to say now, but I was convinced at the time that he would become the Liverpool captain. Now he is and he is also the England captain.”
Manchester United looked at Henderson. And passed. In his autobiography, former United manager Alex Ferguson had issues with Henderson’s gait:
In 2015, the Telegraph reported:
Henderson has a condition known as Plantar Fasciitis, a problem that deteriorated last April. Despite consultations with renowned surgeons, and even taking advice from the Royal Ballet about how to deal with a problem that afflicts dancers as well as sportsmen, Henderson has accepted he will have to manage pain rather than rid himself of it…
Henderson is well aware comments made in Sir Alex Ferguson’s book that his running style would cause injury problems will be seen as prophetic. In fact, it is believed a change in boots was the catalyst for the issue last season allied to a work overload which has prevented the 25-year-old having a summer break for 14 years. “I don’t think it has anything to do with my gait, it might have, but I very much doubt it,” said Henderson.
The trade in footballers is about making an educated guess. Players can be lucky and unlucky, careers ended by injury and elevated by chance. To say you knew for certain Henderson was going to be the Liverpool captain is nonsense. It was a good guess – and one realised by the luck of Henderson, a talented player, being part of a very poor England team and a Liverpool side with few options.
And as for Henderson’s rise being foreseen by Comelli, this is what Kenny Dalglish said after the Frenchman left the club:
“He’s been really helpful in every transfer target we’ve gone for. Everyone who has come into the club since Damien has been here was of my choice. Once I made the choice who I wanted. Damien went away and did a fantastic job of bringing them in. It’s sad to see anyone leave the club and he goes with my best wishes.”
Such are the facts.
Much hoo-ha over the appointment of Manchester-based referee Anthony Taylor for the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United. The idea is, presumably, that Taylor will favour Man United over their rivals? Or maybe he’s a diehard United loyalist who hates the club owning Glazers and wants their version of United to fail and will favour Liverpool? Or maybe his loved ones support Manchester City or Everton and to keep them happy Taylor will go studs-up on United’s David De Gea and red card Paul Pogba for having non-regulation hair?
Twitter user @TheLFCPoll investigates another options: “Manchester born referee Anthony Taylor will be in charge of the Manchester United game. His wife is a Manchester United fan. Seems neutral.”
Taylor doesn’t support Manchester United, preferring the allure of non-league Altrincham. The rules state that referees can only be barred from officiating matches featuring a club they support.
So what of the criticism of Taylor? Former referee Keith Hackett says Taylor’s treatment has been “grossly unfair”. Ex-ref Graham Poll says Taylor “should certainly not raise any eyebrows despite him living and working in the Manchester area”.
Former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was fined in January 2014 for pointing the finger at Bolton-based referee Lee Mason and his officiating of the Reds’ 2-1 defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad. “I was surprised that we are playing in Manchester and we had a referee from Greater Manchester,” Rodgers said. “Hopefully we won’t have a Greater Manchester referee with Liverpool-Manchester games in future. We had nothing that went our way at all. I never go on about officials but I thought they were horrendous.”
A referee’s address is not a factor in selecting them for matches.
Keith Hackett explains more:
“At the beginning of every season the referees’ background information is audited. They complete a form that includes who they support, the history of if they’ve played the game and with the addresses where they are residing. That gives you a picture that comes into use when you’re appointing.”
Anyhow, if you want to know which ref supports which team, here you are:
Mark Clattenburg (County Durham): Newcastle
Mike Dean (Wirral): Tranmere
Roger East (Wiltshire): Unknown
Kevin Friend (Bristol): Bristol City
Simon Hooper (Wiltshire): Swindon
Mike Jones (Chester): Chester
Robert Madley (Wakefield): Huddersfield
Andre Marriner (Birmingham): Aston Villa
Lee Mason (Bolton): Bolton
Jon Moss (Sunderland): Sunderland
Michael Oliver (Ashington): Newcastle
Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire): Sheffield United
Graham Scott (Oxford): Swindon
Keith Stroud (Dorset): Luton
Neil Swarbrick (Preston): Preston
Anthony Taylor (Wythenshawe): Altrincham
Paul Tierney (Wigan): Wigan
Conclusion: If you want to be a top-flight referee, the advice is to support a team that is either never there or one prone to relegation.
Manchester United fans looking for news have been treated to a welter of clickbait balls today. We’ll round-up a few gems – and save our favourite for the end.
Metro: “Agent Pogba: Man Utd fans get excited as star is snapped with TWO top targets.”
Neyma? Ronaldo? George Bellshaw dishes the goods:
Every time Paul Pogba goes on international duty, he seems to be snapped with Manchester United target Antoine Griezmann, which sends Red Devils fans into a frenzy.
Raphaël Varane took a selfie in the changing room following France’s 0-1 over holland. Pogba and Grteizman are in the background. The contracts are being drawn up as we speak.
Metro: “Manchester United target Antoine Griezmann admits he could join Paris Saint-Germain ‘someday’”
Daily Express: “Manchester United midfielder makes unexpected return to former club.”
Mata started his youth career with the Spanish second-tier side before being snapped up by Real Madrid in 2006. And it seems the 28-year-old hasn’t forgotten his roots and made a return to Oviedo on Sunday during the international break.
Yeah, Mata went on holiday to see his old club play.
And now the top story:
Daily Mail: “Paul Pogba danced on a plane while Memphis Depay rejected croissants as the Manchester United duo prepared to meet in Holland vs France showdown.”
After the international break, the Premier League begins again very soon. The Press cannot wait.
More BBC Transfer Balls as the State broadcaster tells readers to its website – and why doesn’t the BBC just publish a newspaper? – “Manchester United target Isco has hinted he may leave Real Madrid at the end of the season.”
With not a single fact to support its headline news, we follow a link to the Manchester Evening Post, which declares: “Manchester United get Isco boost as he explains Real Madrid situation.” What said the player who started one league match for Real last season? “If I’ve still only made a few appearances by the end of the season, I’ll look elsewhere,” says Isco. “At 24 years of age I have to right to better myself.”
Over on TalkSport that becomes: “Tottenham transfer news: Top target Isco admits he could leave Real Madrid if his situation doesn’t change.”
The Metro is less precise, saying all top-flight clubs are in for the players: “Isco puts Premier League clubs on red alert by revealing he could leave Real Madrid.”
Bournemouth, Hull and Swansea have heard Isco’s words and sounded the klaxon.
Is Isco really leaving Real? The Press hasn’t got the foggiest.
The Mail told us on October 6: “Real Madrid midfielder Isco ‘is primary transfer target for Juventus’.”
That followed the Express’s news of 19 Sep 2016: “JUVENTUS are not interested in signing Tottenham target Isco from Real Madrid.”
In June, El Confidential reported that Isco had agreed to join Manchester City 25 million euros.
In March, the Metro had other news: “Isco is a priority for Guardiola, with City now seemingly ready to beat the Gunners to his signature.”
They didn’t. Isco stayed at Real Madrid.
Time, then, to hear from the player himself. On October 5, Sky Sports told us: “Isco determined to fight for Real Madrid place under Zinedine Zidane.”
Asked by Marca if he considered an exit, Isco said: “Not really, I have two years left on my Real contract, the club said nothing and I never looked for anything to leave… In the end, if I’m not the star man with (Carlo) Ancelotti, (Rafa) Benitez or Zidane, I will not be foolish and look for problems where there are none. In the end, I’m responsible and that’s where I must improve. There are ups and downs and I won’t give up, I fight to the end and want to prove that I’m fit for Madrid.”
Turn the red alert off. He’s going nowhere.