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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.

University of Iowa’s Athletics mascot Herky the Hawk lacks motional depth

Is the University of Iowa’s Athletics mascot, Herky the Hawk, a little lacking in emotional depth?

 

Herky

Botox?

 

“I believe incoming students should be met with welcoming, nurturing, calm, accepting and happy messages,” Resmiye Oral, a clinical professor of paediatrics at UI, writes in an email to UI athletic department officials. “And our campus community is doing a great job in that regard when it comes to words.  However, Herky’s angry, to say the least, face conveying an invitation to aggressivity and even violence is not compatible with the verbal messages that we try to convey to and instill in our students and campus community.”

Oral is big on words. She wants to “bring diversity” to how Herky emotes.

“UI athletic department officials are aware of this request and are in the process of formulating a response in regard to Herky,” replies Steve Roe, the department’s director of communications.

Says Herky: “I have no regrets about using Botox. But I deny having had cosmetic surgery. My face is my fortune.”

Posted: 30th, August 2016 | In: News, Sports, Strange But True | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Jack Wilshere seeks new Arsenal deal by demanding to leave the club

So, goodbye Jack Wilshere. Arsenal are happy for their midfielder to leave the club on loan. Of course, were a club to offer a loads of money for the England player, then Arsenal would sell him. In an inflated transfer market, what is Jack Wilshere worth – £40m? £50m? £60m?

Although the Telegraph says “Wenger has no intention of selling Wilshere”.

That’s an theory expanded on by the Sun, which reports that “Wilshere demanded a loan move during crisis talks with manager Arsene Wenger”. The paper adds:

The injury-jinxed midfielder, 24, is yet to start a game for the Gunners this season and has been axed from the England squad… Wilshere was hoping to win a new contract at the club. But talks were shelved following another season spent on the sidelines through injury.

Is that demand to leave from Wilshere part of a play to secure that new deal? His current contract that earns him £90,000-a-week has two years left to run.

In May, the Telegraph said: “Arsenal are ready to reward Jack Wilshere for a positive showing at this summer’s European Championship with a contract extension.”

The Sun echoes: “Jack Wilshere set to be offered new deal at Arsenal — but only if he comes through Euro 2016 unscathed.”

We all know how well that tournament went for Wilshere, who was poor.

In April, the Mirror wondered about Wilshere’s off-filed activities:

Arsenal have reportedly shelved plans to hand Jack Wilshere a new contract after he was caught up in a nightclub fracas in the early hours of Sunday morning. The 24-year-old, who is yet to play this season after breaking his leg last August, was thrown out of London hotspot Cafe de Paris at 3am before being questioned by police.

He vehemently denies claims he threw a punch during the incident. Arsene Wenger is running out of patience with the £80,000-a-week midfielder, and the Sun claim he has instructed the club to put renewal talks on hold.

Wilshere’s current deal will expire in the summer of 2018.

Of course, Wilshere could stay at Arsenal and fight for his place in the side. But in the pecking order, he’s behind the hugely promising Granit Xhaka Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny and Aaron Ramsey. 

So what next for Jack, the 2011 PFA young player of the year and the one Arsenal player who identifies with the club, signing off his tweets “Gooner” and goading rivals Spurs? Surely Arsenal will aim to keep the 24-year-old, whose best years lie ahead of him?

Posted: 30th, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Spurs and Crystal Palace both want Wilfired Zaha on the cheap

Wilfried_Zaha SpursThe BBC says Crystal Palace have rejected an £18m bid from Tottenham for Wilfried Zaha, 23. Palace want £25m.

Palace chairman Steve Parish says the offer is “ridiculous”.

The Mirror says Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke “admits he is desperate” for Zaha to remain at Palace. He is? What he said was: “I came to Palace because of the way that they play. Everyone knows Wilf’s ability on the ball and he helped us a lot when he came on. Of course we’d like him to stay. I’ve tried to convince him to stay, but that’s football.”

So not desperate, then, just answering a journalist’s question about a teammate and answering with no little diplomacy. Or as the Mail puts puts in hyperbolic terms: “Christian Benteke pleads with Wilfried Zaha to stay.”

Over in the Telegraph readers get “The curious case of Wilfried Zaha and a very weird transfer window”.  We learn that Spurs manger “Mauricio Pochettino considers Zaha to have the potential of a Cristiano Ronaldo”.

Sam Wallace says Spurs are doing what Spurs do:

It should be said that his Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, wants to pay a Ronaldo-sized fee – although the fee in question is not the record-breaking £80 million Real Madrid paid in 2009. Rather it was the £12.25 million Manchester United paid Sporting Lisbon for the 18-year-old Ronaldo in 2003.

Was it just Levy doing what Levy does so well? That being, antagonising the competition with derisory bids for their best players while simultaneously demanding top dollar for Spurs’ own collection of waifs and strays? The early signs would suggest so.

So Levy wants a “bargain”. Don’t all clubs want that? Well, not Manchester United, obviously, who paid well over the odds for Paul Pogba. Wallace says if Levy were “serious” he’d start the bidding at £30m.

Maybe it’s all just a way for Zaha to get a fat raise?

Certainly Zaha, on around £40,000-a-week already, will get a new contract out of this wrangle, despite having four years left on his existing deal, which he signed last year when his move back from Manchester United was made permanent. Palace are one of many clubs who are now paying new signings such as Andros Townsend the kind of wages that they have never paid before, and if one talented, erratic winger can earn big money, then it is only a matter of time before the other talented, erratic winger wants the same.

Fair point. When Jamie Vardy’s agent offered his client to Arsenal, the Leicester City striker ended up getting a pay rise to stay at Leicester.

Andros Townsend’s wages at Palace are close to £80,000 a week.

Are Palace getting Zaha on the cheap?

Palace manager Alan Pardew is quoted in the Guardian:

“I’ll try and be as fair and honest as I can be with Wilf and try and take his game forward. I’ve worked so hard with him this year. I’ve probably spent more time with Wilf and [Yannick] Bolasie than with any other player at the training ground, and I’d like to think there’s been an improvement in both. One I’ve lost [to Everton]. I don’t intend to lose the other one, and the chairman’s feelings have obviously enhanced that.”

In September 2015, Bolasie signed a new deal at Palace that saw his wages double from around £20,000 a week to £40,000. At Everton he earns around £80,000-a-week, and very probably secured a percent of the signing-on fee.

Pardew adds:

“At the end of the day, sport is a business, and there are business decisions to be made. But I’ve been at other clubs where the business sometimes comes first. Here I generally feel we try and do it the right way, and we’re trying to help Wilf to become a better player. We think his ambitions to play for England can be realised here, and there’s no reason why that can’t happen.”

Pardew can’t guarantee that Zaha will get better, but Palace can guarantee one of their best players more money in an inflated market.

Posted: 30th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Transfer balls: Arsenal in for Antoine Griezmann, Kostas Manolas and Oliver Burke

Transfer balls: No sooner have Arsenal splashed a huge amount of cash on Shkodran Mustafi (£35m) and Lucas Perez (£17m), than Sky Sports says they are in for the excellent French striker Antoine Griezmann and Greek defender Kostas Manolas.

Sky says Atletico Madrid’s Griezmann rejected a move to Arsenal earlier this summer, but Wenger is still keen on the pint-sized scorer, whose six goals won him the Golden Boot at Euro 2016.

The Indy says Wenger was informed that Griezmann “was settled in Spain and would not consider a move to England”. Not even for – get this – £80m, which one site says Arsenal were happy to bid.

The Sun adds that Arsenal “also made a move for Bayern Munich ace Robert Lewandowski, but could not match his huge wage demands.” Well, quite. Arsenal can make a move for lots of players, but if they can’t afford the wages, any approach is at best hopeful.

Instead of the superb Pole, Arsenal are “in the race to sign Nottingham Forest sensation Oliver Burke”, according to the Sun on Sunday. The only other team in the ‘race’, says the Sun, is Manchester United. Which is odd because Burke has just joined Bundesliga newcomers RB Leipzig.

 

Posted: 29th, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Chelsea’s new ground held up by bats

The Times says “Chelsea’s new stadium has been delayed by “quiet assassins on the wing”. Surely the noise police don’t have a problem with Chelsea expanding their ground. That place has been quiet ever since the old die-hards were priced out of the place.

The story is not about people who enjoy the quiet. It’s about creatures who are quiet:

A colony of bats in the neighbouring Brompton cemetery, a Grade I-listed Victorian burial ground…threatens to derail the project and make the proposed completion date of 2020 appear optimistic.

The local council, Hammersmith and Fulham, has asked the club managers to explain how they propose to protect the cemetery and the denizens of its catacombs before approving the new stadium, which the architects claim is inspired by Westminster Cathedral.

Easy. Rebrand the cemetery as a stand. The bodies should up the crowd for those mid-week matches.

 

 

 

 

Posted: 26th, August 2016 | In: Chelsea, News, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Manchester United: Luke Shaw on the tackle that nearly ended his career

Manchester United’s Luke Shaw has been talking with the Guardian. His return from a badly broken leg has been arduous – a double break caused by a tackle when United played PSV Eindhoven on September 15 2015.

Is he angry with the tackler, PSV’s Héctor Moreno?

“I partly blame myself. I’d run into their penalty area and I should have shot with my right foot but I wanted to come inside. I wanted to be on my left foot. And then, obviously, the tackle. I don’t even want to think about the tackle, to be honest. At the time I thought: ‘Give him the benefit of the doubt, it wasn’t actually a bad tackle.’ But the more I’ve seen it since, the more I think: ‘You know, that was actually a really bad challenge.’..

The memory has not faded.

 “To be fair to him, he did come to say sorry. He came to the hospital and I saw him face to face in my room. I was quite sympathetic at the time – ‘Aah, look, you can come in, it’s fine’ – but at the end of the day it was me lying there with a broken leg, and I went through so many bad times since then I did start thinking about it some more. It really annoys me they [Uefa] gave him man of the match. Some people were saying it was a good challenge, others were saying it was a bad challenge. For me, it’s a bad challenge.”

Immediately after the tackle, Shaw felt little or no pain.

“Then, that night, lying in hospital, I swear to God the pain was something else. Oh God, the worst you could ever imagine. My mum was next to me and I remember saying to her: ‘They have to do something because I actually can’t keep going with this amount of pain.’ They had to open up my leg to pull out all the clotted-up blood. They put me to sleep, but it didn’t stop the pain when I woke up again.”

And now?

“I still get aches. I don’t go a day without feeling it. It’s 100% better but it’s normal, apparently, to feel it after such a bad injury. In the first three or four weeks when I started training outside it felt good, but then all of a sudden it started aching. It didn’t hurt, but it was aching and aching and even before I went out I could feel it and I was thinking: ‘Fuck … is it ever going to go away?’”

Such an horrendous injury affects the mind.

When Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsay had his leg broken in a bad tackle from Stoke City’s Ryan Shawcross, he told the Indy:

“I realised how much football actually means to me. When you are watching all the games, while sitting on your settee, you think: ‘I should be there’. That’s one of the most difficult parts of it.”

Read it all…

Posted: 26th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Transfer Balls: ‘shrewd’ Arsenal ‘panic buy’ ‘star’ striker Lucas Perez

Arsenal have hired Lucas Perez. The Mirror says it is a “PANIC BUY”, which is odd because Arsenal are usually criticised for being over cautious in the transfer market.

 

Lucas Perez Mirror Arsenal

 

The paper goes on to say that Arsenal “compiled several scouting reports on the Deportivo La Coruna striker”. So not a panic buy, then, but something they considered at length.

The Mirror adds: “Arsenal’s first offer was rejected by Deportivo on Thursday after they tried to pay the modest fee in two instalments.” Paying a “modest fee” does not suggest panic, either. It suggests the Gunners have done a good deal for the player the Mirror has called a “star striker”, hailing him as “a relative bargain for a man who scored or assisted 25 goals in La Liga last season”.

In yet another Mirror story on Perez, the paper show him “scoring a nuclear thunder volley” and says he is a “shrewd buy”.

Today’s headline is utter balls.

 

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


Transfer balls: Arsenal get Lucas Perez and line up Mustafi for £26m

Arsenal can have Valencia’s German defender Shkodran Mustafi for £26m. so says Sky Sports, who describe Mustafi as the ” wantaway defender”.

The Star says the deal has been agreed.

No news elsewhere that is has been. The Telegraph says it hasn’t, noting that Arsenal are keen on Mateo Musacchio and Kostas Manolas. “It is unclear whether the third target…is still Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi or another player,” says the paper.

The BBC has news of another Arsenal target, reporting that the Gunners “are hoping to beat Everton to the £17m signing of Deportivo La Coruna striker Lucas Perez Martinez”. The Telegraph says Perez “has been compared to Leicester forward Jamie Vardy”, who rejected a move to Arsenal in the summer.

But unlike Vardy, who rejected Arsenal, Perez is on his way to the Emirates. The Indy says “Gunners agree deal to sign Lucas Perez”, adding: “Arsene Wenger has finally got his hands on a striker after reportedly agreeing a £17m deal to sign the Spaniard from Deportivo.”

The Telegraph says “Arsenal have reportedly gazumped Everton in the race for his signature”. The Mail says “Arsenal beat Everton to signing Lucas Perez after agreeing £16.9m fee”.

The Express says “Arsenal to announce £17m La Liga striker signing tomorrow”.

Or as the Metro and Sun put it: “Lucas Perez move could be off because Arsene Wenger wants to pay release clause in two instalments.” Says the Sun: “Deportivo striker is on the brink of Emirates move but stingy Gunners boss is arguing over fee.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 25th, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Transfer Balls: Arsenal, Manchester United and a ‘row’ over Phil Jones

The narrative that Manchester Untied boss Jose Mourinho and Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger are not best pals backs the Standard’s story: “Manchester United to snub Phil Jones bid as Jose Mourinho refuses to do business with Arsene Wenger.”

The paper says Arsenal are “believed” to have enquired about Jones, 24, as they search for a central defender.

Jones’ career has stalled since he was being hailed as the new Duncan Edwards. In 2011 the Manchester Evening News wrote: “When no less a judge than Sir Bobby Charlton talks about the striking similarities between Phil Jones and the late, great Duncan Edwards, you know United have secured a special talent.”

Jones is now a United squad player. There is no proof that Arsenal want him. The Standard says the Gunners first pick is Skhodran Mustafi, available for the a mere £43m from Valencia. It’s an absurd amount of money for a very good but far from brilliant player.

As for Jones, well:

Mourinho is already under pressure to trim a bloated squad having made four summer signings and the arrival of Fonte would place further scrutiny on Jones’ position, having become a peripheral figure since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

In April of that year, Ferguson made the remarkable claim that Jones could become the best player in United’s history but although he has started 58 Premier League games in the subsequent three seasons, he has not featured since January through injury and Mourinho has since signed centre-back Eric Bailly for £30m from Villarreal.

So what next for Jones?

Standard Sport understands Mourinho will not sanction the sale of Jones to his bitter rival, even if he is not central to his plans for the season ahead.

The story is total balls, then. Mourinho has not said he won’t sanction any sale because he loathes Arsene Wenger. Mourinho has said nothing. Arsenal have made no bid for Jones. The Standard has produced a story from dust. But other news sources are keen to pick up unchallenged:

Man Utd news: Phil Jones was not allowed to leave for Arsenal because of Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho’s feud – Metro

Football transfer rumours: Arsenal to sign Phil Jones from Manchester United? – Guardian

The Guardian adds:

José Mourinho needs to sign the extra defender that he wants for Manchester United. Except the urge to act vindictively is so strong, and the opportunity to act vindictively is so available, so Mourinho has decided to do what he does best, refusing to sell a player to Arsène Wenger, even though he’s not bothered about having him.

That would be the same Guardian that just two days ago reported: “Phil Jones is content to stay at Manchester United, and José Mourinho has no desire to see him leave, despite Stoke City being the latest club to express an interest.”

From being loyal to his player, Mourinho is now “vindictive”.

As we marvel at that, the Mail says: “Manchester United defender Phil Jones could depart for Stoke.”

But he won’t do because the Sun said back in June: “Jose Mourinho tells Phil Jones he has a future at Manchester United and wants defender to become club’s own version of John Terry.”

No hint of spite. Mourinho just wants a talented player to stay and work hard for the team.

As for Arsenal making a move for Jones, well the Mail also said: “Manchester United have told interested clubs that Phil Jones will stay at Old Trafford. Stoke, Watford and Hull City are among around a dozen clubs to have made enquiries for the 24-year-old”.

No mention of Arsenal. And we are left to wonder if Mourinho hates Mark Hughes and the manager’s of all those clubs he won’t let Jones join?

More transfer balls every day.

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


Arsenal tells Calum Chambers he can leave on loan

Transfer balls: Will Arsenal ever hire Shkodran Mustafi? Do they want to? How much is he worth? Questions for media experts:

The Daily Mirror has news: “Shkodran Mustafi will cost a staggering £50million as Valencia play hard-ball over German defender.” The Mirror hasn’t the foggiest what Mustafi is worth.

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.

 

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


Transfer balls: Spurs want Arsenal fan Moussa Sissoko who joins PSG after Real Madrid

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.

 

 

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


Arsenal: ‘guilty’ Wenger admits his transfer policy (again)

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.

 

Arsenal Mirror

 

Of course, Wenger should spend, spend, spend because the Mirror has already told us this will be his last season at Arsenal.

 

Daily Mirror wenger quits 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.”

 

wenger daily mirror 

 

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.

 

wenger daily mirror

 

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.

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


Liverpool for sale: China courts the Reds and the media plays ball

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.

Kerching!

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.

 

Posted: 23rd, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Money, News, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


EU and Brexit politicians row over who won the Olympics

MP Heather Wheeler, assistant whip in Theresa May’s government, bigs it up for Great Britain’s post-Brexit Olympians.

 

Heather MP Olympic medals

 

Or as the European Union put it:

 

Olympic medals

 

Dod the British cheer for Australian swimmers? Do Belgian root for German cyclists? Does America always win?

 

Posted: 23rd, August 2016 | In: News, Politicians, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Middlesbrough: Adam Clayton’s left testicle says ‘hi’ in changing room photo

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.

 

Adam Clayton testicle

 

Stuani later tweeted:

I am Sorry about the picture , we didn’t realize it

We live in censorious times. In the old days the Press used to take the pictures:

 

ArsenalLiverpoolNorwich

here

More here and here.

Posted: 22nd, August 2016 | In: News, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Transfer balls: Shkodran Mustafi to Arsenal for £21m, £25m, £30m and £42m

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…

 

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


Jessica Hayes and Katie Salmon given life ban for sub-Godiva behaviour at Cheltenham

Jockeying for attention

Jockeying for attention

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!

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


Arsenal Balls: bitter Vieira snipes at Wenger

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.

 

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 27: Manchester United fans display a banner taunting Manchester City during the Carling Cup Semi Final second leg match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on January 27, 2010 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

 

Vieira adds:

“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…

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


Dalian Atkinson: Black Lives Matter, stereotypes and blaming football

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.

Posted: 22nd, August 2016 | In: News, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Transfer Balls: Arsenal hope and believe in Shkodran Mustafi

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.

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


Caster Semenya is clean: the’dilemma’ of being yourself

Well done, Caster Semenya for winning Olympic gold in the women’s 800m. Much has been made of Semenya’s gender.

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.”

Asking:

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.”

NBC calls her competing a “dilemma”. The New Yorker called her “breathtakingly butch”.

The Atlantic:

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?

Posted: 21st, August 2016 | In: News, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Media Balls: Arsenal fail to pay penalty at Leicester

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 Mercury:

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?

Islington Gazette:

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.

The Times:

Drinkwater claimed a penalty, but replays suggested Mark Clattenburg made the right call.

No mention is made of the second penalty claim.

Leicester City FC website:

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.

The Guardian:

A draw is probably the right result overall, though Leicester should certainly have had a penalty in the 88th minute.

Daily Mirror:

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.

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


Media Balls: Liverpool robbed by Burnley

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.

CLYNE’S ERROR

Liverpool Post:

Ragnar Klavan’s cross-field pass didn’t do Nathaniel Clyne any favours and as Burnley pressed, the full-back coughed up possession cheaply.

The Times:

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.

Burnley Express:

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.

Liverpool FC website:

Nathaniel Clyne’s pass infield from the right flank was stolen by Gray

Clyne was not at fault. Clyne was robbed!

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


Media Balls: Chelsea benefit from ‘stunning’ ‘poor pass’ to beat Watford

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

Watford Observer:

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.

Chelsea FC website:

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

The Times:

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.

Watford Observer:

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.

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


Ashley Cole will ‘snub’ Arsenal to help Chelsea kids understand greed

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.)

 

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