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

Jamie Vardy’s skittles vodka and Sam Allardyce’s pint of wine

Jamie Vardy is plugging his autobiography. The Leicester City and England striker tells a good story in From Nowhere.

I had a three-litre vodka bottle at home I would put loads of Skittles sweets in. After that, you can drink the vodka neat and it tastes just like Skittles. When I was bored at home in the evening I’d pour myself a glass, sit back and enjoy. The vodka was decent but it wasn’t doing much for my dead leg, which didn’t stop bleeding for ages.

Dave Rennie, the physio, said he couldn’t believe it wasn’t improving. He’d seen a torn calf muscle heal quicker. He pulled me aside one day when nobody else was about.

“What are you doing?” Dave asked.

“Nothing I wouldn’t normally do,” I replied. Then I explained that what I’d normally do was drink Skittle vodka.

“Well, that will be why, then,” Dave said.

In other news, during a sting which has caused England manager Sam Allardyce to be investigated by the FA, he appears to have drank a pint of wine. The Guardian notes:

One question our useful feature doesn’t answer is what exactly is the England boss drinking in the picture on the front page of the Telegraph. The beverage is in a pint glass but it’s definitely not beer and doesn’t look like lager. Football365 are suggesting it’s wine…

A pint of wine? Skittles vodka. It’s like the football revolution with it microbiotic diets and image rights never happened. Football might have been repackaged for the lentil-munching classes, telling us to sit down, shut up and pay up, but here is evidence that something of the old game lingers. And you know what – we love it, don’t we.

Posted: 27th, September 2016 | In: Books, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Transfer balls: what Manchester United understand about selling Juan Mata

Transfer Ball – Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata is “desperate” to stay at Old Trafford, says the BBC.

The Sun says the likeable 28-year-old, who has two years left on his  “£130,000-a-week contract”, wants Jose Mourinho to sanction a new deal. We know this because an unnamed “United source” says “Juan is still in the dark over his future at the club”.

Why would a source at the club speak up on behalf of one player? this story has the player’s agent’s fingers all over it.

It was only back in July, we read: “Daley Blind and Juan Mata will be high-profile victims of Jose Mourinho’s arrival at Manchester United this summer, Sky Sports News HQ understands.”

Sky Sports was wrong. It understood nothing. Blind is key part of Mourinho’s team. Mata is playing well. But it went on. Sky “understood Mourinho would approve the sale of both players this summer”.

Also in July, the Sun told its readers: “ose Mourinho tells ex-Chelsea outcast Juan Mata he can stay at Manchester United – but will only play one in three matches.”  The paper said Mata would be sold to Spain but “La Liga sides do not have the money to match his £150,000- a-week wages”.

As the Sun works out how much Mata earns and listens to understanding sources, the player took a moment to explain what’s going on to a young Untied fan. His advice: “Don’t believe the media.”

 

Posted: 27th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Greedy Sam Allardyce trapped in ‘slavery’ sting and ‘Woy’ Hodgson insult

England manager ‘Big’ Sam Allardyce wraps the Sun in a choke hold. He’s embroiled in an alleged “dodgy deal”. The FA have launched a “probe” into his affairs.

 

Allardyce sam sting money

 

Allardyce is accused of trying to cash in on his England position – one that pays a mere £3m a year plus bonuses for tournament wins (so that’s £3m a year, then). Undercover reporters from the Daily Telegraph posed as foreign businessmen keen to deliver overseas players to England. Allardyce, 61, told the stingers “how they could circumvent FA rules which prohibit third parties ‘owning’ players”.

The key point is not that Allardyce comes across as greedy and thick, but that third-party ownership of players was banned by the FA in 2008 for being akin to “slavery”.

 

Allardyce sam sting money

 

The BBC lays it on:

During the meeting with the businessmen, who were undercover reporters, it is alleged Allardyce – who was only named England boss in July – said it was “not a problem” to bypass the rules and he knew of agents who were “doing it all the time”.

It is alleged by the paper that a deal was struck with the England boss worth £400,000, which could represent a conflict of interest if he is paid by a company whose footballer clients could benefit from preferential treatment by an international manager.

The Mail says this is the end of Allardyce who should be “axed”.

But it’s the Telegraph that has the big scoop.

 

allardyce scoop sting

 

In the “England manager for sale” readers are told

Before he had even held his first training session as England’s new head coach, Allardyce negotiated a deal with men purporting to represent a Far East firm that was hoping to profit from the Premier League’s billion-pound transfer market.

He agreed to travel to Singapore and Hong Kong as an ambassador…

Unbeknown to Allardyce, the businessmen were undercover reporters and he was being filmed as part of a 10-month Telegraph investigation that separately unearthed widespread evidence of bribery and corruption in British football.

Allardyce really is in the mire.

But that bit about his calling Roy Hodgson “Woy” makes us chuckle. After all, this is what the Sun said when Hodgson got the job:

 

Rop Woy Hodgson the sun allardyce

 

What a load of Wubbish!

 

Posted: 27th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets, Key Posts, Money, News, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Media balls: Spurs concede 6 goals all season, Chelsea beat Manchester United and Liverpool are pipped by Arsenal

Filling in the dull bits between transfer windows when the Daily Express’ clickbait bots can link Arsenal to every striker over 10 years of age, the ‘World’s Greatest Newspaper’ has created a Premier League predictor. Using the technical marvel of guessology and powerful maths, the Express makes some bold statements.

Bournemouth, Sunderland and Stoke are all relegated – Stoke scoring 6 times all season.

In the world of the Express, The Cherries are worse than Hull City – who are better than Southampton – and West Ham. Everton, who Bournemouth just beat 1-10, finish runners up. Chelsea finish above Manchester United.

Spurs finish third, conceding – get this – 3 goals.

Manchester City win the title.

 

daily express premier predictor league

 

Oh, yeah – Arsenal finish fourth, naturally. Even robots can be right some of the time.

 

Posted: 26th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Billionaire planning to buy Arsenal tweets: I am alive

DAngote arsenalAfrica’s richest man is Nigerian Aliko Dangote, says the Sun. He wants to use some of his £8.3billion fortune to buy Arsenal football club within four years.

Dangote, described by Newsweek as “a lifelong Arsenal fan”, tells Bloomberg: “Maybe three to four years. The issue is that we have more challenging headwinds. I need to get those out the way first and start having tailwinds. Then I’ll focus on this.”

As Arsenal fans lick a collective finger and hold it in the air, Dangote adds: “It’s not about buying Arsenal and just continuing with business as usual. It’s about buying Arsenal and turning it around. I’ve run a very successful business and I think I can also run a very successful team. Right now, with what we’re facing, over $20 billion of projects, I cannot do both.”

Turning it around? According to Forbes, Arsenal are doing ok:

Here are the top 10 with profits (using June, 2015 exchange rates):

1. Manchester United: $190 million

2. Real Madrid: $162 million

3. Manchester City: $131 million

4. Arsenal: $122 million

5. Liverpool: $115 million

Looking around for more news on Dangote, the top story right now is: “Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote is not dead.”

Is he resting? No. He’s tweeting: “I am hale, hearty and alive. Please disregard malicious report saying otherwise. Thank you.”

Arsenal fans – what can go wrong?

 

Posted: 26th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Fat, thick and ugly: the Sun wil miss Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney

What next for Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney? The Sun has often seen the footballer as figure of fun, an Aunt Sally to knock and deride. Below are a few ways the Sun has dressed up and insulted the cut-put-and-keep Rooney doll:

 

wayne-rooney-fat

Fat-rooney

 

rooney

 

Fat. Thick. Ugly. All charming stuff.

Dropped to the bench for Manchester United’s victory over Leicester City yesterday, the Sun says Rooney will have fight to win his place in the starting XI. Jose Mourinho pointed to Rooney’s lack of pace as reason for his relegation: “When our main striker is Zlatan, we need fast people around him. Against Leicester that was the best solution for us.”

Later that night, Rooney went to see boxer Anthony Crolla in world title defence against Jorge Linares. Crolla lost. But the Sun wasn’t watching the fight. It was watching Rooney watching the fight. He was, says the paper, “stern faced.” But the picture shows that he wasn’t.

 

Rooney dumb

 

Indeed, the Sun tells readers that “stern-faced” Rooney and his wife “were later joined by United team-mate Michael Carrick, with the two footballers sharing a laugh and a joke.”

You wonder what the Sun will do when Rooney becomes marooned on a golf course or an ITV studio panel and is no longer a player. The Sun will miss Wayne Rooney when he’s gone. The next England captain will have to up his game.

 

Posted: 25th, September 2016 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Media balls: Ozil flukes Arsenal’s third, Chelsea have no shots all game and Coquelin hurts his what?

Media Balls: a look at bad and monocular football reporting. Today we look at Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Chelsea in the Premier League.

Mesut Ozil scored Arsenal’s third goal. Was it lucky?

The Guardian says it was a fluke: “Ozil watched it carefully onto his left foot, mishit his sidefoot volley completely – and saw it bounce over Courtois and in off the far post.”

The official Arsenal website has an alternative version of events. That shot was deliberate: “The World Cup winner ran on to the ball and met it on the volley, smashing it into the ground, beyond Courtois and in off the far post.”

The BBC agrees, saying, “Mesut Ozil then left N’Golo Kante trailing to expose Chelsea on the counter-attack and steer home Arsenal’s third“.

Was it smashed in? No, says the Times: “Ozil obliged, his goal creeping in off Courtois’ left-hand upright.”

 

cheslea media balls

 

 

Were Chelsea any good?

The Sun says: “Chelsea improved in the second half but rarely threatened a comeback – and couldn’t even muster a shot on target.”

Maybe the Sun’s man in the know went home early. The BBC says, “Chelsea’s first shot on target came in the 82nd minute.”

That’s right. Chelsea had two shots on target.

Ouch! Where does it hurt, Francis?

The Indy: “Coquelin put in another 100 per cent effort to block N’Golo Kante’s effort shortly after the half hour mark, and an ankle injury sustained in the clash forced him off two minutes later.”

The Standard looks at Coquelin’s injury: “Arsene Wenger admits he is ‘worried’ by Arsenal midfielder’s knee injury.”

The Star says Coquelin and Kante “had a nasty collision of knees“.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 24th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Manchester United balls: Jose Mourinho’s deconstructive criticism

Compare and contrast Jose Mourinho’s views on criticism. The Manchester United manager says critics have hurt Wayne Rooney. Mourinho says Rooney has been damaged by reactions to England’s 1-0 victory in Slovakia on September 4.

“I think there was a Wayne before the Slovakia, and a Wayne after the Slovakia,” says Mourinho. “I am not blaming Sam [Allardyce, the England manager], not at all. I am blaming the people that after the Slovakia game were, in my opinion, too strong with somebody that is a very important player in the history of English football, is the captain of England, has the record number of goals and almost has the record of matches.”

Criticism can hurt a player. So says Mourinho, the United manager who has this season publicly criticised Luke Shaw, Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Of that he has a different view.

“It’s a learning process,” Mourinho says. “You make a mistake, especially the kind of individual mistake, you have to learn with what that means for the team, a team that works during the week on a gameplan. The critique is part of the evolution, the critique is part of the process, the critique helps people to learn how to cope with critics. It’s their life.”

And so today’s United match: Mourinho has dropped Rooney. And it’s your fault.

Posted: 24th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Manchester United drop ‘rubbish’ Rooney

How rubbish is Manchester and England captain Wayne Rooney? Rooney has heard the barbs. The 30-year-old player (where does he play?) is on the front foot. “I listen to my coaches and my teammates, the people around me, and I don’t really listen to what a lot of people out there are saying because a lot of it is rubbish.”

He’s bullish. But the Mirror hears those words and says he’s “broken” by his critics:

 

Mirror manchester united

 

In the Times, Tony Cascarino says Wayne Rooney “may want to be dropped… It would be a relief for him to be taken out of the firing line.”

Balls. Rooney’s the captain. He;s been a battler his entire career. If Rooney’s not up for it then he should quit the game not breathe a sigh of relief at not having to face Leicester.

So what next? Rooney said of Jose Mourinho’s view of him: “I feel I can play in all positions but I think the manager has made it clear either I’ll play up front or in the No. 10 role and that’s where he sees me playing.”

But not now.

In today’s Daily Mirror we also read that Mourinho says he is “prepared to drop captain Wayne Rooney to the substitutes bench”.

Prepared to. And done. Today’s Manchester United v Leicester City match features Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard either side of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with Juan Mata in the number 10 role.

Is Rooney on the slide? Yes. Is he better than Rashford and Lingard? Yes. He’ll be back.

Posted: 24th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Arsenal’s Wenger puts Mourinho in his place

Having piggybacked on Arsene Wenger’s 20th anniversary as Arsenal manager to promote a new book on Jose Mourinho by Rob Beasley, the Daily Mail has triggered a news flurry.

You can read how, while working at Chelsea, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho threatened Wenger – a pensioner! – and told Beasley that he would break Wenger’s face. Now the BBC reports: “Arsene Wenger: Arsenal boss ‘will not read’ book about Jose Mourinho.”

What did Wenger say? Sky Sports reports he said nothing: “Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger refuses to comment on Jose Mourinho book claims.”

Nonsense. No comment is always a comment. Wenger responded. “I talk about football – that’s all I do,” he said. “I’m not in a destructive mode, never. I’m more constructive. I am focused on Saturday’s game against Chelsea.”

The Guardian is more circumspect, telling its readers that “Arsène Wenger refuses to enter into war of words with José Mourinho”. And that’s about right. But will Mourinho like being dismissed by the man the Mail says he ‘hates’?  Will his “bitterness (Times) be abated by Wenger saying Mourinho is unworthy of attention? The Times says Wenger “shrugged” off the nastiness.

“For me it was always just a big game and the personal rivalry was never a big concern,” the Arsenal manger told the Press. “I have no personal problem with anyone, I respect everyone in the game.”

No word from Mourinho yet, but the dark part of the street by Wenger’s home has bad phone reception.

PS: For those who missed it, Mourinho apparently said of Wenger: “I will find him one day outside a football pitch and I will break his face.” The spoils go to the agonist who keeps his cool. Wenger wins.

 

Posted: 23rd, September 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Jose Mourinho invited Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger to fight him in the street and ‘break his face’

Manchester United’s unlikeable manager Jose Mourinho says he would “break” Arsene Wenger’s face. So claims the Daily Mail, which says the Portuguese was so angered with the Arsenal manager he vowed to “break his face”.

 

Mourinho wenger

 

 

The Daily Mail has an extract from JOSE MOURINHO: UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL by Robert Beasley. The story goes:

When you publicly denounce someone as a ‘specialist in failure’ and a ‘voyeur’, it is abundantly clear you don’t like them much.

What must Jose Mourinho’s views on Arsene Wenger be like away from the cameras and microphones? Unsurprisingly, they’re even more damning and the gloves have been well and truly off whenever the matter of Monsieur Wenger has been raised.  A couple of times Jose even talked about wanting to physically fight the Frenchman. That’s how bitter and basic their rivalry has become over the years.

Jose Mourinho in a physical fight? Would the opponent be allowed to see him coming?

 

 

The book continues, focusing on the managers’ tiff when the sides met on October 5, 2014.

I asked Jose what had happened and he revealed: ‘He was asking for a red card and pressing the ref in my technical area. I told him to go back to his area. He pushed me.
‘I told him, “Here you do that, you know I can’t react, but I will meet you one day in the street”.’

Just you watch it, Arsene, next time he’ll get you. If Jose ever sees you wandering about his Belgravia manor, it’ll be the worst for you.

You can call Jose sexist but he’s not ageist. He will break a pensioner’s face.

Keep up the charm offensive, Jose.

 

Posted: 23rd, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Transfer balls: Manchester Untied swoop for another reject

Transfer balls: Manchester United are waiting to spend £30m on Leicester City’s Danny Drinkwater in January, reports the Sun.

Manchester-born Drinkwater could be making a return to the club that sold him for a nominal fee in 2012, following loan spells with Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Watford and Barnsley.

The Guardian says after Manchester United bought back Paul Pogba, the club will “continue their policy of spending vast amounts of money on players they previously had on their books” with a winter window move for Drinkwater, who only recently signed a new five-year deal at Leicester.

“I’m very surprised because it often happens a month before the open of the market, not now,” said Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri. “He signed a new contract and everything is normal. “But it’s good for him, for us, when I have players who a lot of big teams want. It means we’re working very well. Sometimes I think, maybe the newspapers don’t have enough news and they write some. It’s okay. One year ago, nobody was asking about our players.”

In other United news, the BBC says The Red Devils will compete with AC Milan for Real Madrid midfielder Isco, 24.

 

Posted: 23rd, September 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Jose Mourinho opens Manchester United’s school of science

Jose Mourinho says the world is full of football Einsteins. No, not Socrates. Einsteins. Following Manchester United’s defeat of Northampton in the League Cup, Mourinho shared with MUTV his thoughts on the brains trust who analyse his skills:

“I know that some football Einsteins – football is full of Einsteins – I know that they tried to delete 16 years of my career. They tried to delete an unbelievable history of Man United football club and to focus on a bad week with three bad results. But that’s the new football – it’s full of Einsteins.”

The obvious thought is that Mourinho is being sarcastic in calling pundits who say his United are not all that good Einsteins. But he might also be spot on, given that Albert Einstein knew nothing of Wayne Rooney. That might be, you say, because Rooney was alive after Einstein was dead, but in the space-time continuum where E=mc2, can we be certain of that, or if Rooney is worth his place anywhere in the United starting XI, relatively speaking? And that’s the Rooney who was educated at Everton, The School of Science.

 

science everton

 

Mourinho loves to snipe and attack anyone who dares who disagree with him. Last season at Chelsea he told the Press: “In football I’m ready to be criticised, even the stupid ones (sic). Private life, stupid things you bring to light, I don’t like it. So we go to a different level of professional relations.”

He has already spent a portion of this season moaning about referees, criticising his players in public and being every bit as joyless and pouty as he was during his final months at Chelsea.

Mourinho should belt up, stop blaming everyone else and realise that the buck stops with him.

Posted: 22nd, September 2016 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


When Arsenal picked Arsene Wenger the British Press mocked them

Arsène Wenger has been manger of Arsenal for 20 years. The 66-year-old manager joined the club on this day 1996.

The Sunday Mirror took the rise out of this new foreign manager, rolling it eyes and wishing the club the best of luck “persuading us that the lanky M’sieur Wenger, despite sounding like Rory Bremner auditioning for ‘Allo ‘Allo, is ‘ow you say fantastique!”. That the British media had not heard of Wenger was a sign of their parochialism. “Arsene who?” quipped the Standard, a new take on “Dr Who?”, the question asked by the Press when Aston Villa hired Dr Josef Venglos in 1990.

George Weah had explained who Wenger was one year earlier at the Fifa World Footballer of the Year award, stating: “Arsène Wenger made me not just the player I am today, but also the man I am.”

WEnger was far from unfazed. “I felt quite a lot of scepticism,” he said. “That’s normal, especially on an island. This phenomenon is more emphasised on an island because people have historically lived more isolated. They are more cautious about foreign influences.”

In Wenger’s first full season, Arsenal on The Double.

And then? Well, his Arsenal side has never finished outside the top 4. But after a decade of success, recent years have hardly been filled with glory:

 

WEnger top 4 arsenal

 

And now? Well, Arsenal fans will miss him when he’s gone.

Posted: 22nd, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Paul Gascoigne becomes an anti-free speech role model

Paul Gascoigne is not in the best of health. This we know because the tabloids love to feature Gazza in various stages of trouble. He’s back in the news for the criminal offence of telling a joke. At Dudley Magistrates Court, the former England footballer’s joke was appraised. It was found wanting. Gascoigne was deemed guilty of using ‘”threatening or abusive words”. Those words also cost him a £2,000 fine.

By now you all want to know what Gascoigne said. What does a £2000 joke look like? At An Evening With Gazza at Wolverhampton Civic Hall last year, the show’s eponymous star told a black security guard, Errol Rowe: “Can you smile please, because I can’t see you?”

Anyone heading to an evening with Gascoigne, a man who seemed to run on nervous energy, is unlikely to attend expecting a night of coherent thought and incisive wit. Nonetheless, District Judge Graham Wilkinson was outraged, telling Gazza, “it is not acceptable to laugh words like this off as some form of joke… We live in the 21st century — grow up with it or keep your mouth closed.”

The 21st Century looks a a draconian place. Gascoigne’s joke was sad, weak and, worst of all, unfunny. And that’s crucial to the crime. The advice is that if you’re unsure of what is and what is not acceptable to the state, you should not speak. You should censor yourself lest you cause the State to be offended.

And take care not to be famous and unfunny. Wilkinson told Gascoigne that his punishment is a warning to us all. “A message needs to be sent that in the 21st century,” said the Beak, “such words will not be tolerated.”

Intolerance will not be tolerated. How’s that for freedom?

PS: If you want to look for racism. you can find in a pathetic joke, if you want. But what about in the judiciary?  Wilkinson told Gazza: “”It is the creeping ‘low-level’ racism that society still needs to challenge.” And what about the institutional racism?

Dame Linda Dobbs opines:

Posted: 22nd, September 2016 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which he didn’t.

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

A kid? Alonso was 22.

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

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

You might not like Barton, but he is entertaining.

Posted: 21st, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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

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

And that is not all.

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

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

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

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

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

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 21st, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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

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

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

awr yayaya

 

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

 

war yaya

 

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

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

What Pep said was:

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

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

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

 

war

 

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

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

 

 

Posted: 21st, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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

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

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

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

 

Jose Mourinho the sun Manchester United

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s been a revolution – twice!

 

Posted: 21st, September 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Posted: 20th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sun claimed:

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

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

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

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

Cue Mourinho.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted: 19th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Manchester United endorse Michael Oliver’s magic foam party

Enjoy the game, then? We watched mediocre Watford take on gilded Manchester United in hope that the hubris that pricked so many Premier League egos last season would continue. We were not disappointed. Moneyed Jose Mourinho’s ‘galaticos’ were defeated. Seeing Mourinho beaten is delectable. The ‘One’s’ ties to branded watches, executive cars, endorsed teas and official casino chains were a little loosened by Troy Deeney, a man unlikely to seduce punters to dress in his line of lingerie.

Of course, everything in the Premier League is now gold covered in more gold – the aforesaid Deeney is on £100,00 a week.

And what, then, of Michael Oliver, the match referee, a budding personality surely desirous of the now traditional post-match career as a media expert employed to run the rule over working refs? No referee has secured a job as front-line pundit sat by an illuminated coffee table on the main TV panel, but it can only be a matter of time before one does.

Signs are that Oliver is positioning himself as the fun one, the bubbly Ian Wright figure to Mark Clattenburg’s egotistical Gary Neville and Graham Poll’s hyperbolic Robbie Savage. As Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his way into the United wall, Oliver, doubtless realising he was in the presence of the TV cameraman’s go-to figure, squirted the vanishing foam into his own face.

Brilliant. The Gillette contract is his to own, as is a role as the official face of the Ibiza Foam Party industry:

 

Posted: 19th, September 2016 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Media Balls: Arsenal reject Jack Wilshere was 100% awful

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

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

 

JAck Wilshere flops

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Posted: 19th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew Syed notes:

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

Conte the pilot?

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

Mourinho the surgeon?

Syed concludes:

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

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

Posted: 19th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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

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

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

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

Madrid never did bid for Alli,

Posted: 19th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0