I am Sorry about the picture , we didn’t realize it
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: Will Arsenal ever hire Shkodran Mustafi? Do they want to? How much is he worth? Questions for media experts:
Arsenal are clearly in the market for a central defender. The Star says they are are letting one already on the books go: “ARSENAL have reportedly told Calum Chambers he can leave the club on loan.” The Star adds that Chambers could be leving permanenetly.
The Daily Mail says any move will be a loan. Arsenal want to keep the player they signed for £17m. It’s not new news because in June the Mail said “Chambers is closing in on a deal to spend next season at Watford”.
Also in June, the Mirror added: “Arsenal’s Calum Chambers close to transfer back to Southampton on season-long loan 2 years after leaving.”
The Star says he’s off to West Brom. The Telegraph says it’s Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Swansea.
In short: they don’t know.
Transfer balls: Spurs are after Newcastle United’s Moussa Sissoko, or at least they fancy the version of the Magpies’ midfielder who played well for France at Euro 2016.
The BBC says “Tottenham may offer midfielder Nabil Bentaleb, 21” as part of any deal. Or they may not. Bentaleb ‘may’ have read the news on ESPN that he “will not be sold by Tottenham this summer”. Things are far from certain.
Have Spurs seen enough of Bentaleb, of whom the Mirror reported in 2014, “Tottenham’s Nabil Bentaleb: I’m getting my revenge on the clubs that snubbed me”? He’s now playing for the Tottenham Under 21s. Revenge is a dish best served cold.
As for Sissoko, well, he was once batting his eyelashes at Arsenal. Sky Sports reported in June: “Moussa Sissoko wants to leave Newcastle and join Arsenal.” Arsenal were on “red alert” said the Sun. Sissoko was very keen, cooing: “…Arsenal is the club of my heart… The beautiful Arsenal. We will see. I cannot tell you if I am going to go to Arsenal.”
We can. You’re not.
As Arsenal didn’t call, Sissoko looked again. “I hope Real will come for me, I’m still waiting,” Sissoko told World Football in August. “If Real Madrid are interested in you then of course you will be happy, but right now I am still a Newcastle player.”
But he’s off to PSG. We know that because the Mirror wrote: “Paris Saint-Germain preparing move for Moussa Sissoko – once Paul Pogba joins Manchester United.”
Such are the facts.
In “ARSENE WONGA”, the Mirror says Arsenal’s manger Arsene Wenger (geddit?!) “finally admits he treats the club’s money as if it was my own”. No, he’s not admitting to embezzlement. Wenger just says he’s cautions with spending tons of cash on players.
Of course, Wenger should spend, spend, spend because the Mirror has already told us this will be his last season at Arsenal.
Wenger has been quoted in Game Changers: Inside English Football, written by former Charlton boss Alan Curbishley: ”
“I personally believe the only way to be a manager is to spend the club’s money as if it were your own, because if you don’t do that you’re susceptible to too many mistakes. You make big decisions and I believe you have to act like it’s your own money — like you’re the owner of the club and you can identify completely with the club, because if you don’t do that I think you cannot go far.”
Some revelation there. At least it will be to the Mirror readers who didn’t see the paper’s story from one year ago:
Arsenal manager admits being tight with transfer cash because he feels club BELONGS to him
He has often been accused by his club’s frustrated fans of treating Arsenal’s money as if it is his own…. Now, for the first time, Arsene Wenger has unashamedly pleaded guilty to the charge and given a rare insight into the hurt he feels when his work is questioned at the Emirates Stadium.
As ever, Wenger was not talking with the Mirror, but with a magazine in France.
The Frenchman said: “I’ll give myself merit for one thing: I’ve always treated Arsenal as if it belonged to me. I have sometimes been criticised for it — because I am not enough of a spender, not carefree enough… My great pride will be to be able to say the day that I leave, that I am leaving behind a good team, a healthy situation and a club capable of performing in the future. I could have said to myself: ‘I am here for four or five years, we win everything’, [then] I leave and leave the club on the verge of bankruptcy. For me, consistency at the highest level is the true sign of great clubs.”
When he ‘admits’ it to the Mirror, that might be the end of the story.
When the Sun led with news that Liverpool’s American owners had rebuffed Chinese attempts to buy the club we enjoyed the headline “You’ll Never Wok Alone”.
Readers were told that “Liverpool chiefs will reject moves from the Far East to buy a stake in the club”.
It all looked an exercise in PR. Liverpool’s foreign chiefs are much more in tune with the Reds than other foreigners who want to be chiefs. The club is in safe hands.
The Chinese are a “state-backed group called Everbright”, who “value the club at £700m”. Liverpool chairman Tom Werner, part of the Fenway Sports Group, says the club would work with the right partner and offers are made “just for the publicity”.
Today the Times has more.
Liverpool, or Liwupu as it is rendered in Chinese, has received admiring glances in China. Over the weekend it emerged that China Everbright, a state-backed investment company, was looking into making a bid with Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners.
You wonder how these things emerge?
The club has also caught the attention of Fosun and Dalian Wanda, Reuters reported yesterday. Both are Chinese conglomerates with a proven taste for western consumer brands with Chinese cachet, counting Club Med and a Hollywood studio among their most recent deals.
How depressing to have your beloved football club bracketed with Club Med and cinema chains.
Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, insist that the club is not for sale despite the £800 million approach said to be in the works. However, leading figures have indicated that they would take a proposal for a minority stake seriously from investors who could open doors for the club commercially.
£700million has now become £800m. That figure could go up and up.
Nick Davis, chief executive of Memery Crystal, a law firm that advised on the sale earlier this month of West Bromwich Albion to Yunyi Guokai, said that Chinese interest in Liverpool was part of a trend established at the top of the Chinese hierarchy. Xi Jinping, the president of China who last year posed for a selfie with Sergio Aguero, the Manchester City striker, has said he wants China to become a “world football superpower” that could win the World Cup by 2050.
China buys Liverpool. China picks the Liverpool team?
David Shambaugh, a China expert at George Washington University, said that the explanation was partly domestic. “China has so much pent-up money looking to be invested abroad and the Premier League is a very sound financial investment,” he said. “It also offers excellent opportunities to expand China’s ‘brand’ abroad.”
An £800 million valuation for Liverpool compares with the £300 million paid by Fenway Group in 2010.
And what is China’s brand? Well, Amnesty International says:
A series of new laws with a national security focus were drafted or enacted that presented grave dangers to human rights. The government launched a massive nationwide crackdown against human rights lawyers. Other activists and human rights defenders continued to be systematically subjected to harassment and intimidation. Five women’s rights activists were detained for planning to mark International Women’s Day with a campaign against sexual harassment. Authorities stepped up their controls over the internet, mass media and academia. Televised “confessions” of critics detained for investigation multiplied. Freedom of religion continued to be systematically stifled. The government continued its campaign to demolish churches and take down Christian crosses in Zhejiang province. In the predominantly Muslim Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, the regional government enacted new regulations to more tightly control religious affairs and ban all unauthorized religious practice. The government maintained extensive controls over Tibetan Buddhist monasteries. The UN Committee against Torture regretted that previous recommendations had not been implemented.
All very fit and proper.
MP Heather Wheeler, assistant whip in Theresa May’s government, bigs it up for Great Britain’s post-Brexit Olympians.
Or as the European Union put it:
Dod the British cheer for Australian swimmers? Do Belgian root for German cyclists? Does America always win?
Footballers love to take photos of themselves in the changing room. The other day Middlesbrough’s Cristhian Stuani marked his side’s2-1 derby win over Sunderland in the Tees-Wear derby by showing the world a group shot featuring team-mate Adam Clayton’s left gonad.
Stuani later tweeted:
Transfer balls: With the business over Paul Pogba to Manchester United sorted to great relief at the Daily Mirror – the paper said Pogba had signed for United three weeks before he did – we look at Arsenal’s pursuit of Valencia’s German defender Shkodran Mustafi.
Daily Mirror, July 28:”Arsenal target Shkodran Mustafi has a release clause of €50million, MirrorFootball can reveal, but Valencia would sell him for half that as they look to recoup losses from missing out on the Champions League.”
Valencia are willing to sell a player worth €50million for €25million. That’s just over £21m.
Daily Mirror, August 11: “Muatfi has a £42m buy-out in his contract and Valencia are ready to accept around £30m, but Arsenal have yet to agree a fee”
Sorry, Arsenal. The fee’s gone up.
Daily Mirror, August 13: “Injury-hit Arsenal set to recall Mathieu Debuchy for Liverpool visit to fill in for trio of absent centre-halves.”
Arsenal have no need to buy anyone new. Debuchy to the rescue. (He was not picked.)
Daily Mirror, August 15: “Arsenal move for Shkodran Mustafi stalls as Valencia demand £25million for German defender”
Is that around £30m?
Daily Mirror, August 16: “Arsenal transfer news and rumours: Jeremy Mathieu emerges as Arsene Wenger’s top target.”
Arsenal no longer want Mustafi. It’s Mathieu for the Gunners.
Daily Mirror, August 17: “Arsenal are hoping to sign Mustafi for around £20million… Valencia have been holding out for closer to £30million for Mustafi.”
Wasn’t it £25m they wanted?
Daily Mirror: August 20: “Liverpool are in full negotiations with Valencia over the German’s availability and could beat the Gunners to the deal.”
Go for it, Liverpool. Arsenal don’t want him.
Daily Mirror, August 22: “Arsene Wenger has been quoted a staggering £50million for Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi.”
And on its goes…
In ‘LACK OF REMORSE'”, the Sun reports on “Love Island boob flash duo Jessica Hayes and Katie Salmon”.
News is that the topless twosome have been “banned for life from horse racing”. They will never ride a nag at Aintree nor enliven a dull day at Ascot by flashing their nipples. It is the sports great loss.
The paper adds that the pair “bared their boobs again at a nightclub just days after the Cheltenham incident in March”.
It is to their eternal shame that photographers were there to see both incidences.
The British Horseracing Authority says the ladies’ antics were “unacceptable, offensive and detrimental to the good reputation of the sport”.
Indeed they were. As anyone versed in Jilly Cooper’s work and the history of Lady Godiva, full nudity is the true form at the point to point. These ignorant girls must try harder.
And they’re orf!
Patrick Vieira, the former Arsenal captain now working for the Manchester City project, is critical of the Gunners. He tells The Telegraph.
“In the last five or six years, Arsenal went with more of this type of technical players. The Invincibles had it all. Now when I watch Arsenal, they play good football, but I just have a feeling they are missing something – the physical presence, the personality. The team is not doing as well as it used to and you need to win football matches. They’ve been disappointing, losing games they should have won.”
Yes. Yes. All true. But what Vieira fails to mention is money. Manchester City, for instance, are doing rather better than they were when Vieira’s Arsenal were top of the pile. Back then the idea of City winning a cup was a joke, a pretty good one for those who can recall the brilliant banner displayed at Manchester United – the one that counted the years since City had won something.
“I’m disappointed not to have ex-Arsenal players working at Arsenal. It is good for the young players could see a Thierry Henry, a [Freddie] Ljungberg, or a [Martin] Keown who have been at the club a good few years working in the academy, or working somewhere. I think they can do it a bit more, players want to do it but do not have the opportunity. I don’t understand it, the perfect example is Ajax. You see all the old players working for the club, on the field, in the office – the door is always open for them – but Arsenal don’t do it and I don’t know why.”
Well, Henry was at Arsenal but left because, reportedly, Wenger wasn’t happy with him pontificating on Arsenal players’ flaws in his other job for Sky Sports. Freddie Ljungberg coaches the U15s. Keown did coach at Arsenal but now works as pundit on the BBC.
The Sun says “Freddie Ljungberg and Steve Bould are the only former players on their staff.” No. The current Arsenal set-up also includes Kwame Ampadu.
Vieira does not work at Arsenal. Might he be a little bitter? In 2009, Wenger explained why he had let Vieira leave the club for Juventus:
“When Cesc Fàbregas was 18, 19, I would play him in a 4–4–2 with Patrick Vieira and I saw it did not work. Then I had the decision to make about letting Patrick go, because Gilberto Silva and Vieira worked, Fabregas and Silva worked, but I could not play Fàbregas and Vieira. But Fàbregas was 19 and if he did not play I knew he would want to go, so we risked destroying everything, all the work we had put into this player.”
And who says a great player makes for a good coach? Not Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho, Alex Ferguson…
Dalian Atkinson: a look at repotting on the former Aston Villa footballer who died after being hit by police tasers.
The Guardian: “Dalian Atkinson death asks hard questions of police and football”
Can football be blamed for one man’s death in unusual circumstances?
Death of former Aston Villa striker focuses spotlight on Taser use, racial stereotyping and support for ex-professionals
Are we in danger os stereotyping the police? Atkinson was black. Press TV, the biased Iranian broadcaster, leads with: “Two British police officers are under criminal investigation over the death of black English footballer Dalian Atkinson.” The Guardian has linked Atkinson’s death to the Black Lives Matter movement.
For the past year, the 48-year-old had been receiving hospital treatment for a serious liver and kidney condition, with his family making increasingly desperate pleas for help from the football community.
What is the football community? Atkinson played for Ipswich Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Aston Villa, Manchester City, Real Sociedad, Metz, Fenerbahçe, Al-Ittihad, Daejeon Citizen and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. Manchester City, for one, are not exactly hard up. The BBC says “Sociedad fans applauded throughout the ninth minute as a tribute to their former striker Dalian Atkinson.” A sign behind the Aston Villa dugout reads: “Dalian Atkinson – Never Forgotten.”
Geoff Scott, the CEO of the football welfare charity Xpro Life After Sport, told the Guardian that Atkinson’s family had sought financial assistance for his medical care and wanted help to move him to a private hospital.
The charity could not help. But the Professional Footballers’ Association arranged his travel to hospital for more than a year. Atkinson spoke personally to Gordon Taylor, the PFA chief executive, last Friday.
He had been due to see a specialist on Monday, the day he died after being Tasered by police on his father’s doorstep in the quiet Telford suburb of Trench, in Shropshire.
The paper then sees fit to add:
Neighbours have described how Atkinson, who also played for Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday, pulled up outside his father’s house in his Porsche 4×4 around midnight on Sunday.
Nice car. Sounds pricey. But why mention the make and model?
The Sun does the same:
The retired striker, who drove a Porsche, had spells with Ipswich, Sheffield Wednesday and Manchester City and joined Villa for £1.6million in July 1991.
The Birmingham Mail: “Dalian Atkinson new witness: Ex striker was struck with a baton after being tasered”
It has been reported that Atkinson had stumbled towards officers shouting, “I am the Messiah”, before a Taser, capable of 50,000 volt shocks, was used.
We hear from Dave Lewis, who lives across the road from Dalian Atkinson’s father. He says:
“It’s very easy to be wise after the event, but everything had to be done in a split second. The officer who used the Taser had a very difficult decision to make.”
It is. That’s why police are trained to make the right decision.
In the Sun “a man who claimed to be Dalian’s nephew, Fabian Atkinson” says:
“If the police are turning up to a scene where someone is having an argument, they have to be prepared to calm that person and not just go straight for the taser. As soon as you deploy the taser they have to call an ambulance straight away, and try to find out the person’s medical history.
“My uncle was having kidney dialysis, which would have made his heart weaker. The police knew nothing about that. How can they taser someone without calling an ambulance first?”
Is is because “everything has to be done in a split second”? As we wonder why the Sun bothered with that quote, the Birmingham Mail returns to Dave Lewis:
His account differs dramatically from that of another witness, described as a neighbour in national newspapers… Mr Lewis, who lives directly opposite, says he saw one officer draw back a foot as if to land a kick but, if that was the intention, he says it was never carried out. Despite reports that the Taser was used five times on 48-year-old Atkinson, he only saw it used once.
But she heard “boots kicking him”. Mr Lewis:
“His dad let him in and the police came. There was a policeman and a policewoman, no blue lights, and one backed away. It was one-to-one with the other officer. If I was that police officer, I’d have a very difficult decision to make. He was approaching the policeman. If someone rushes at you and they’ve already smashed a door in and the state they are in… well, you’ve got a difficult decision to make.
“I didn’t see the other officer touch him with a boot. The officer did draw a baton, though, and hit him with the baton. Right after that, the sky went blue with the lights from all the police cars and vans.”
Daily Mail: “Dalian Atkinson: The tragic final days of Aston Villa hero who died after being Tasered by police”
Sportsmail can reveal that the Dalian Atkinson struck by the 50,000-volt weapon was a fragile, ill man, suffering not only from kidney and liver problems but also from pneumonia, who had become convinced that only a doctor across the Atlantic could help him.
The Times: “The tragic silence of Atkinson’s final years”
He had arrived at the house that he had bought for his parents in Meadow Close, Telford, in the early hours of Monday morning. According to his father, Ernest, and his brother, Kenroy, he claimed that he had already killed his siblings and attempted to throttle his father. Kenroy told The Sun that his brother was “in a manic state and depressed, out of his mind and ranting, not in his right mind.” Ernest said he “did not know if he was drunk, or on drugs”.
A neighbour called the police, concerned “for the safety of an individual”. When officers arrived, they struck Atkinson with a Taser, reportedly on as many as three occasions.
And before that.
Atkinson got in contact with the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), the body that looks after players during and after their careers. He applied to their benevolent fund for help covering rent. On his behalf, they struck a deal with his landlord that he would pay three months’ rent but be allowed to stay in New Woodhouses for six.
Football did not let Dalian Atkinson down. That narrative is too simple.
Transfer balls: The Indy says Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger “hopes to sign Shkodran Mustafi before deadline day”. Adding: “Personal terms are believed to have been agreed with the German defender.”
Only believe? Maybe the Indy didn’t read its own news on August 11: “Arsenal have agreed personal terms with Valencia centre-back Skhodran Mustafi.”
Such are the facts.
Presented her Olympic gold medal by the same organisation that will look to restrict her future in the sport, Caster Semenya stood on top of the podium and smiled broader than ever before.
The finest 800m runner the world has seen for almost decade, there was little doubt that she would depart these Rio Olympics with a gold medal round her neck.
There were three people in that race with what can be termed ‘intersex’ characteristics.
AP says the “result that will only stoke the complex debate over whether women with much higher levels of testosterone than normal should be allowed to compete unchecked.”
Do women who have much higher levels of natural testosterone than normal have an advantage over other women in athletics, and if so, is it unfair?
The athlete said in 2010:
“I have been subjected to unwarranted and invasive scrutiny of the most intimate and private details of my being. Some of the occurrences leading up to and immediately following the Berlin World Championships have infringed on not only my rights as an athlete but also my fundamental and human rights.”
No one is accusing Semenya of using illicit substances. Quite the opposite: Some have suggested she should be taking drugs in order to bring her hormone levels more closely in line with those of average women.
Semenya was raised and identifies as female. But according to a leaked medical test, Semenya’s testosterone levels are three times as high as those of most women, and she has internal testes instead of ovaries.
Is surgery the solution? The New York Times:
At the London Olympics, four female athletes, all 18 to 21 years old and from rural areas of developing countries, were flagged for high levels of natural testosterone. Each of them subsequently had surgery to remove internal testes, which produce testosterone, as well as procedures that were not required for resuming competition: feminizing vaginoplasty, estrogen replacement therapy and a reduction in the size of the clitoris.
Olga Khazan wonders:
Still, it’s not considered unsportsmanlike to simply be strange-looking. Countless Olympians are celebrated for unorthodox features that give them an edge in their sports. Much has been made of Michael Phelps’s preternatural wingspan and ultra-flexible feet that turn into “virtual flippers.” Biostaticians have said Usain Bolt’s 6-foot-5-inch height and fast-twitch muscle fibers make him perfectly suited to sprinting. Other athletes have less obvious advantages, like high levels of hemoglobin or diminutive heights tailor-made for tumbling passes.
What to do? Can you make a new division of competition: men, women and intersex?
Media Watch: a look at monocular football reporting. In today’s match we look at biased views on Arsenal’s away draw at Leicester City. The game ended o-0.
THE PENALTY CLAIMS
Leicester City…can feel aggrieved they weren’t awarded a late penalty. Hector Bellerin appeared to trip substitute Ahmed Musa inside the penalty area but referee Mark Clattenburg, who had earlier waved away City’s appeals for a penalty after Danny Drinkwater went down in the area, again said no.
Should it have been a penalty, or two?
There was drama on 42 minutes after Drinkwater appeared to have been tripped by Koscielny as he burst into the box following Cech blocking a Vardy burst, but referee Mark Clattenburg decided it was a fair challenge – much to the displeasure of the vociferous home fans and their execrable paper clappers that seem to be needlessly encroaching on our game. It has to be said the referee made the right decision – just.
Only one penalty claim is mentioned.
Drinkwater claimed a penalty, but replays suggested Mark Clattenburg made the right call.
No mention is made of the second penalty claim.
The loose ball fell to Danny Drinkwater, and while the midfielder appeared to be tripped by Laurent Koscielny in the area, there was nothing given.
A draw is probably the right result overall, though Leicester should certainly have had a penalty in the 88th minute.
Leicester City had two penalty appeals turned down – one in the first half, which he [the referee] got right by ruling that Koscielny poked the ball away from the feet of Drinkwater. But in the second half he got it horribly wrong. Substitute Musa skipped past Bellerin and the Spanish defender brought the winger down with a clumsy challenge.
The Star was watching a different match:
Shame referee Mark Clattenburg got booed off by home fans. He’d hardly put a foot wrong but has to be said his decision to turn down penalty appeals when Musa was clipped by Holding near the end, looked dubious.
Such are the facts.
Media Watch: a look at monocular football reporting. In today’s match we look at biased views on Liverpool’s away defeat to Burnley. The game ended 2-0.
Ragnar Klavan’s cross-field pass didn’t do Nathaniel Clyne any favours and as Burnley pressed, the full-back coughed up possession cheaply.
Nathaniel Clyne, Liverpool’s England full-back, was badly at fault, with a poor pass deep in his own half finding only Gray who, in turn, fed Vokes.
Gray picked up the pieces from Nathaniel Clyne’s poor pass, fed the ball in to his strike partner and, with Dejan Lovren or Ragnar Klavan not even in close proximity, Vokes swept the ball beyond Simon Mignolet from the edge of the box.
Nathaniel Clyne’s pass infield from the right flank was stolen by Gray…
Clyne was not at fault. Clyne was robbed!
Media Watch: a look at monocular football reporting. In today’s match we look at biased views on Watford’s home defeat to Chelsea. The game eded 1-2.
THE WINNING GOAL
The difference was to be two mistakes. Heurelho Gomes let a Eden Hazard shot squirm away from his body which substitute Michhy Batshuayi pounced on for the equaliser and with three minutes of normal time remaining, a poor pass from Adlene Guedioura was seized on by Cesc Fabregas and within seconds Diego Costa had netted the winner.
A poor pass and a mistake led to the second Chelsea goal, says the Watford local newspaper.
Fabregas was the instigator, winning possession on the edge of his own box and instantly threading a beautiful, bending pass that sent Diego Costa racing clear. The striker kept his cool as he bore down on goal, slipping his shot under Gomes and putting the Blues ahead very late on. He was quick to thank Cesc for the stunning through ball.
A great pass and cool led to the second Chelsea goal, says the Chelsea FC website.
THE NEW PLAYERS
Yet, as if they were Hertfordshire’s most ardent Trotskyists, Watford exist in a state of permanent revolution and yet more change is afoot: before kick-off new arrivals Younes Kaboul and the Argentine winger Roberto Pereyra were paraded to muted delight.
An already upbeat atmosphere was lifted when new signings Roberto Pereyra and Younes Kaboul were paraded on the pitch before kick-off
Such are the facts.
The Evening Standard reports that LA Galaxy defender Ashley Cole, 35, “says he wants to work for Chelsea after his playing career is over rather than Arsenal.”
It would take a touch of lunacy for Arsenal to offer Cole a job, presumably one tutoring young players in the way of modern football. As he says:
“I enjoy scouting, watching the young lads come through. I have done a little for my agent, but I’d like to do something a bit more serious. I’d love to go back to work at Chelsea somewhere, somehow.”
It was Cole, of course, who provided the words that more than any others sum up the greed rife in modern football. In My Defence, Cole wrote:
“Ash! Are you listening?” said a virtually hyperventilating Jonathan [his agent]. “I’m here in the office and David Dein is saying they aren’t going to give you £60k a week. They’ve agreed £55k and this is their best and final offer. Are you happy with that?”
When I heard Jonathan repeat the figure of £55k, I nearly swerved off the road. “He is taking the piss, Jonathan!” I yelled down the phone. I was so incensed. I was trembling with anger. I couldn’t believe what I’d heard.”
All yours, Chelsea. (Best to sort of Ashley’s fee first, though.)
Transfer balls: The BBC says Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, 23, “will turn down Chelsea to stay at Goodison Park for at least another season”.
The BBC claim links to the Daily Mirror, which is adamant:
Romelu Lukaku is staying with Everton… The news is a massive boost for new boss Koeman.
All good news, then, for Everton fans. Much better than when the Mirror told them:
29 Jul 2016 – “Chelsea closing on transfer of Everton’s Romelu Lukaku as Toffees accept the striker wants Stamford Bridge return.”
27 June 2016 – “Arsenal transfer news and rumours: Romelu Lukaku wants Gunners move – but is the price too high?”
Chelsea have had a £57million bid for Romelu Lukaku rejected by Everton – but are confident of agreeing a deal to re-sign him this summer. The two clubs are haggling over a fee, with the Toffees holding out for a club-record £75million. But they have finally accepted the 23-year-old striker is determined to rejoin the club they bought him off two years ago.
All wrong. Lukaku is a Toffee.
But hold on. The BBC has more news:
But Koeman has admitted that he is preparing a Plan B, in case the Belgium forward leaves the club.
That story links to the Daily Mail, which says:
Everton are planning for life without Romelu Lukaku in the eventuality their striker departs this month. Chelsea are heavily interested in the 23-year-old and Ronald Koeman has targets lined up should they bow to a mega offer, as with John Stones and Manchester City.
Such are the facts.
“People think these photos from the Olympics look a lot like pornography,” writes Joe Vesey-Byrne in the Indy.
NBC has been censoring Olympic swimmers with the infamous ‘black bar’, and now the games look rather smutty.
Not as smutty as the Indy’s lead photos, however, which was from a gay porn film.
Is sex an Olympic sport yet?
That Arsenal are looking fore a centre-back is daily news in the Press. Arsène Wenger’s side have been talking with Atlético Madrid over Uruguayan stopper José Giménez.
Is he the man to full the voice caused by long-term injuries to Gabriel and Per Mertesacker? Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi was supposed to arrive at the Emirates this week. But there has been no sighting of the German international.
Although the Telegraph says: “Shkodran Mustafi to have medical on Monday after £29.5m fee agreed.” It also says former Manchester United player Jonny Evans is “free to make Emirates move”. Why would Arsenal want him?
They need something fast. Arsenal look soft. The opening-day defeat against Liverpool showed that the Gunners are no longer a tough act.
Richard Williams sees a bigger problem:
Wenger’s past decade has also demonstrated that, in football at least, good husbandry can be an overrated virtue. Arsenal built a 60,000‑seat home at a cost of £390m. But where once they had a proper football ground, vibrant with history and designed to allow the fans’ passion to influence the mood of a match, now they have an elegant bowl where the emotions are easily disengaged and the most familiar one is dissatisfaction.
“If Mertesacker and Gabriel had not been injured in pre-season, we would have been less under pressure to sign a defender but once you are under pressure everybody knows you are, so it makes you weaker. We have been in the market a long time but, if you look around in Europe, all my friends I call are all looking for centre-backs but they cannot find them.
“That is why we also buy young centre-backs to develop, because when you have one or two of the quality to make it to the top it is fantastic because it is a position that is difficult to find, especially at the big clubs.”
True enough, Calum Chambers and Rob Holding, who partnered so ineffectively in Arsenal’s opening-day defeat to a pretty ordinary Liverpool side, point to the future. But neither look like win-hungry tough nuts in the mould of Tony Adams, Martin Keown or Steve Bould.
Only one game into the season and Arsenal look like disappointing all over again.
What news of Manchester City’s ranting goalkeeper Joe Hart?
The BBC says Hart will “join Everton on loan”.
The Daily Mirror agrees that Hart will leave on loans because Manchester City have are buying Claudio Bravo, 33, from Barcelona for £17.4m.
But the Sun says Manchester City are “refusing to let England goalkeeper Joe Hart leave on loan”. They want him gone for good.
Or as the Richmond and Twickenham Times puts it: “Joe Hart’s Manchester City future remains unclear.”
Such are the facts.
When watching the Olympics, did you think I wonder if she’s on her period? Ross George did. She tells Guardian readers:
My gold medal goes to Fu Yuanhui – for talking openly about her period
Well, if dressage can be a sport, why not your body clock?
The swimmer’s admission of what affected her Rio Olympics performance shouldn’t be a big deal, but it is. It’s one more step towards stamping out a pathetic taboo
It’s not a taboo in the Guardian:
Menstruation: the last great sporting taboo
When Heather Watson crashed out of the Australian Open this week, she put her poor performance down to starting her period – publicly breaking the silence on an issue that affects all sportswomen. But why is it still something we never hear about?
My period may hurt: but not talking about menstruation hurts more, Rose George
Menstrual taboo is bad enough for female athletes such as Heather Watson.
On the second Menstrual Hygiene Day, Ellie Mae O’Hagan looks at what NGOs are doing to break the taboo around periods
Bad blood: the taboo on talking about periods is damaging lives
Is the great female athlete Serena Williams wrong?
When not shouting like the loon on the night bus, Joe Hart is letting in goals for England. Manchester City have seen enough, and are looking to offload the goalkeeper. The Mirror says Hart has told City teammates he will leave before the current transfer window shuts.
On Talksport, former City player Joey Barton says City’s treatment of Hart is “disgusting”. In the pantheon of disgusting behaviour, telling an overpaid footballer prone to clangers he is no longer first choice for his club is not disgusting. It’s sport. Disgusting might be, of instance, stubbing a lit cigar into the eye of young team-mate Jamie Tandy (as Barton did in 2004, when he was on City’s books), exacting common assault and affray in Liverpool city centre (Barton was jailed for his crimes in 2008), and assaulting Ousmane Dabo during a training match row in which the other player was knocked unconscious and punched repeatedly while on the ground (yep, Barton did that).
“It is not the club I left. The club I left and watch now are two totally different organisations. The club I played for wouldn’t have treated a player that has been a servant for as long as Joe has in the manner that it has. It is disgusting.
“He is a full international, somebody who, probably before City took the money, could have gone on to bigger and better things himself but stayed and wanted to be at City.
“I don’t see what he has done wrong to be treated the way he has. His attitude isn’t terrible. I don’t like this.
“It is common human decency, regardless of how good a coach you are. Why treat him like that?”
If Manchester City are taking lessons in common decency from Joey Barton, they really are in trouble.
Modern football fans are in crisis. Get a load of the Arsenal fan who bought a replicate top and had the name “MAHREZ” stuck across the back. That’s Leicester City player Riyad Mahrez, who still plays for the Premier League champions.
The Metro says, “Asad Balal, a long-suffering Gooner, was clearly confident that Arsene Wenger would swoop in to bring the Le Havre winger to the Emirates and even claimed to have inside information on the Algerian’s move to north London.”
Balal knew nothing, which makes him a good candidate for a career in journalism – at the Metro:
Unabashed by it own dire prediction and reporting, the Metro mocks Balal:
However, Balal was forced into an embarassing [sic] backtrack today after Mahrez signed a new four-year deal with the Foxes and he quickly took to Twitter to jokingly put his Arsenal no.26 shirt up for sale before deleting the tweet and saying he’s sending the shirt to a charity shop.
Embarrassing stuff all round.
PS – buying players is not the same thing as buying players for form a team. The modern fans’ desperation for big-money signings is pathetic.
Transfer balls: what news of Cesc Fabregas, the former Arsenal captain who left for his beloved Barcelona and now warms the bench at Chelsea? The Daily Express has some, reporting on August 15:
Chelsea have offered star [Fabregas] to Real Madrid
The Mirror confirmed the news:
One day one and the Sun added:
Chelsea transfer news: Cesc Fabregas wants Real Madrid move and has contacted Florentino Perez
Blimey! Can a the former Barcelona player, a local boy done good, really join the Catalan club’s arch rivals? Have the pig’s heads on order.
No. Wait a moment. The Sun has more news. One day on from the scoop that Cesc wants Real, we read:
Chelsea transfer news: Cesc Fabregas will stay and fight for his Blues starting spot despite being dropped in favour of N’Golo Kante. Blues sources told SunSport Fabregas is NOT seeking a move away from Stamford Bridge and that it is highly unlikely he will leave this summer.”
Not quite, says the Star:
Cesc Fabregas is set to stay at Chelsea after being snubbed by Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.
Such are the facts.
Transfer balls: Are Arsenal set to sign a new defender? Given the Gunners’ season debut against Liverpool, you’d think hiring another four would be ideal. But the Mil says one is enough, reporting: “Arsenal to sign Shkodran Mustafi for £30m from Valencia on five-year deal in next 48 hours.”
That was published on August 12:
More than 48 hours later, the Mail reported:
As Arsenal haggle over £30m fee for Shkodran Mustafi… will he join Luis Suarez, Gonzalo Higuain and Co on list of stars Arsene Wenger missed?
In other words, the Mail was utterly wrong.
Today’s Express adds: “Arsenal have not yet bid for Valencia star Shkodran Mustafi.”