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.
So why did Joey Barton never get his “dream move” to Arsenal? Barton has a new book to plug and mentioning Arsenal will help it travel. The Daily Mirror picks up the story of Joey’s punctured “dream”.
In No Nonsense, Barton says he was scheduled to meet with Arsenal in 2011. It never happened because during a match between the Gunners and Newcastle, for whom Barton was playing at the time, the querulous Liverpudlian contrived to get Arsenal’s Gervinho sent off.
“No, intermediaries spoke on their [Arsenal’s] behalf,” says Barton to Four Four Two. “There was definitely some low-level interest, and before I got sent off against Arsenal, when the thing with Gervinho happened, I was due to hold some form of discussions with them. But then it never came to be.”
The “thing” that happened with Gervinho went like this, as the Mirror reported:
The Scouser ensured that Gervinhos Arsenals debut ended with a red card, first by provoking a fight with the Ivory Coast forward, then by giving his best impression of a sack of spuds when the new boy aimed a slap at him.
Barton’s behaviour had been “disgraceful”.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger opined: “He wasn’t hit hard enough to lie on the floor for two minutes.”
So much for being a man who takes ‘No Nonsense’.
Still, at least Barton never tried to exact revenge on Gervinho as he had on Xabi Alonso, who prevented his “dream move” to Liverpool.
The Manchester United v Liverpool match was memorable for a number of things, according to the clickbait-mad Press.
The Mirror’s football expert learned “five things” from watching the game, one of which is that Paul Pogba’s “handball handed Liverpool the early advantage”. That was the handball that gave Liverpool a penalty kick, from which they scored their only goal of the game. David McDonnell leaned that. He also learned that Wayne Rooney got a yellow card and “Ibrahimovic keeps on scoring”, which he did when he scored United’s equaliser.
The Express also learned five things, one of which is, “Simon Mignolet put on a solid display.”
Coincidentally, the Sun also learned five things. Fred Nathan delivers his fistful of insight. He watched Pogba give away a penalty and learned that he “must not let silly mistakes creep into his game”.
In the Indy, which didn’t make enough money to remain as proper paper so went web only, there are just four things learned. But Fox News, which has oodles of money, learned seven things. Ryan Rosenblatt learned that when United and Liverpool drop points, their rivals are pleased. The other top sides “love this result” he learned.
But the prize for the biggest Clickbait Balls goes to the dire Daily Telegraph. The once great newspaper is now a clickbait factory. “Martin Tyler accused of ‘bias’ following Manchester United vs Liverpool commentary,” says the headline. It also says just that in the URL for the story:
So who accused Sky TV’s commentator of bias? Liverpool boss Jugen Klopp? Manchester Untied manager Jose Mourinho? Well, no. A clue to how the story was the product of the paper’s clickbait factory is in the now revised headline: “Liverpool fans round on Martin Tyler following Manchester United’s last minute equaliser at Old Trafford.”
They “rounded on” Tyler on Twitter. The Telegraph picks three tweets to back up its story, which beings: “Paranoid Liverpool fans are becomingly increasingly convinced that SkySports’ Martin Tyler is a secret Manchester United fan.”
Martin Tyler just called Zlatan: “THE TOWER OF POWER!” #MUNLIV
Still coming to terms with the fact Martin Tyler just called Zlatan the ‘Tower of Power’, since when has that been a thing?
Lest you think those “paranoid” Liverpool fans are just having a laugh and mocking Tyler’s absurd phrase, @Footy Humour tweets the third piece of evidence.
Martin Tyler: “Rooney here. Is it in the script? Is it in the stars?”
*Rooney gives away posession*
Martin Tyler: *silence*
The troubling thing is that the clickbait works. The story even the Telegraph recognised as bad enough to warrant a chance of headline (but not a change of URL) is the second biggest story on the paper’s website:
Such are the facts.
West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic is upset and let down by Dimitri Payet’s moves to leave the club. In 1997, when Bilic was a player at West Ham, the club’s manager at the time, Harry Redknapp, was also frustrated and upset with his star turn’s machinations.
Everton thumped Manchester City 4-0 in the Premier League today. As ever, we’re on the look out for biased reporting. In the first half, with the scores 0-0, City’s Raheem Sterling went down in the Everton box. No penalty given. But were City robbed?
The BBC says it was a good tackle: “Leighton Baines slid in to deny Raheem Sterling an opening early on.”
The Guardian blames Sterling: “Sterling misses a sitter, and wants a penalty!… He tries to take the ball round the keeper, Baines slides in to block it, and Sterling goes over Robles’ trailing leg!”
So much for the neutral viewpoint. What about the publications with a vested interested in the match?
Manchester Evening Post: “With Robles rushing out, and Baines making a last-ditch challenge, the winger chooses to take a touch and trips over.”
He trips over what? “It’s the slightest of touches from Robles that ultimately brings Sterling down,” the report continues.
So it was a foul. He was tripped.
The Liverpool Echo: “Raheem Sterling went down in the area, with replays seeming to confirm he had been tripped by Joel Robles.”
Replays only “seemed” to show that Raheem Sterling had been fouled.
Everton FC (official website): “Leighton Baines kept a cool head and combined with Joel Robles to thwart the City forward, but the Spanish goalkeeper may have taken the legs of Sterling.”
Only “may”? Was Sterling fouled? Does anyone have a clear answer?
Manchester City (official site): “TV replays proved he’d been caught.”
It was definitely a foul, then – but only if you read the official City website.
What’s Diego Cost been up to this weekend? Some say the Chelsea striker is injured. Others say he’s been dropped for brooding and rowing, behaving off the pitch much like he does on it. As his manager Antonio Costa put it when asked when his main striker will return to the side, “I don’t know how long it will take, I don’t have his pain. We’ll see about this next week.”
Reports abound that Costa is looking for a huge-money move to China. Will he go? Not if his team-mates have anything to do with it he won’t. The Telegraph says Costa’s Chelsea team-mates have asked him to apologise over his reported row with the club’s fitness coaches.
Match of the Day pundit Ian Wright can’t see that happening. “Costa doesn’t seem like the sort of person who cares what people think,” says Wright. “Whatever happens – if it’s his back it’s very hard to detect – something has turned him.”
ESPN hears from Costa’s friends (unnamed) who say he doesn’t want to go to China. The Mirror says Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has no intention to selling Costa.
But in case he does, Roman will find the cash to buy Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid (Sun) and / or Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller (Express).
Unless the Chinese get to them first and back backs prove to be contagious.
Chelsea striker Diego Costa, 28, is off to China in a transfer worth £80m to Chelsea, says the BBC. His move will hand the Premier League title to anyone but Chelsea and earn the striker a mere 576,000 per week.
The pay packet would see Costa elevated to the rank of the world’s second highest paid footballer, one yacht-a-week behind Shanghai Shenua’s Carlos Tevez, says the Daily Express.
The Times says Costa’s departure would be a “blow” to the Blues. It’d be windier than that. Costa’s been rampant this season.
The Guardian notes that Costa might already have played his last game for Chelsea. The PL’s top scorer has been dropped from the Blues squad for their match at Leicester City. Why? Well, the paper says Costa “clashed” with one of Chelsea’s fitness coaches “over an injury he feels he has been carrying… Costa has not trained fully this week and Antonio Conte has become involved in the argument.”
To stir the pot a little further, Costa’s agent, Jorge Mendes, is reportedly in China.
To add another layer of weirdness, on Friday Costa’s Instagram account bellowed “Come on Chelsea!!!!” to his 1.7 million followers. The following message did not add “Come on Chelsea!!!! You scumbags!!!!!! Let me got to the Chinese Super League or I’ll cry, point to my ankle and grass you up to the ref!!!”
Ironic, indeed, that a player notable for his perceived interest in seeing other players sent off should be waving the imaginary red card at himself.
Your move, Chelsea.
Transfer balls: Following news that Bournemouth fancy signing Chelsea’s John Terry on loan til the season’s end, the Mirror says the Blues are in the market for a new centre back. So they’re “lining up Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson as their No.1 target”.
Everton also want Gibson. The Mirror told us on January 4 that should Everton fail to sign Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk, they’ll move for Gibson. Everton wanted him back on April 27 2016, when the Mirror reported: “Everton line up Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson as replacement for John Stones.”
Stones joined Manchester City. Everton never put an offer in for Gibson, “their No1 target… rated in the £4m class.”
Was Gibson really Everton’s number one targets over the summer? No. Because in July 2015, the Mirror told us Everton were chasing Nemanja Vidic and Gibson was the back-up plan. “The Toffees hope to bring the Inter Milan defender back to the Premier League,” said the Mirror, “but are also eyeing Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson in case they can’t.”
Everton never did buy Vidic. They never stood a chance of getting him. Well, not it your read the Daily Mail on March 25, 2015, which stated: “Nemanja Vidic will stay with Inter Milan despite being linked with return to England.”
As for Gibson, Everton must regret not buying the £4m-rated player because he’s now worth a whole lot more. The Express reported on December 6 2016: “MIDDLESBROUGH star Ben Gibson will reportedly cost Chelsea and Everton a staggering £35m – and there’s no chance of a deal in January.”
Such are the facts.
PS: On 4 April 2015, the Mirror reported: “Liverpool and Manchester City to battle for homegrown Middlesbrough starlet Ben Gibson.” How much? Around the £4m the Mirror said he was worth, right? Wrong. “Gibson could command a fee as high as £10million.”
The Mirror leads with news that Liverpool have no intention of selling Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £60m. “NOU CHANCE,” puns the paper.” Liverpool manger Jurgen Klopp says “no amount of money” will force him to sell his star player.
Wishful thinking, of course. Every player has their price. After all on December 26, the Mirror reported: “Liverpool transfer news and rumours: Paris Saint-Germain plotting £40million Philippe Coutinho swoop.” Putting a price alongside a player’s name is simple.
Over in the Sun, the figure of £60m also figures large on the back page. This time it’s the sum Manchester United are willing to invest in Spurs full-backs Kyle Walker and Danny Rose. But United won’t have it easy. The paper adds that Manchester City will fight United for the England players.
Walker and Rose each earn around £70,000-a-week at Spurs. Given that Spurs are better than United and outplayed City this season, it’s surely only money that will make either of them move.
Mark Irwin tells Spurs fans to expect the worst. Needing money for their new £750m stadium, Spurs will cash on on their star turns. Irwin notes that Rose, Walker and other young Spurs players, like Dele Alli Harry Kane, Eric Dier and Christian Eriksen, know they could earn far more at Chelsea, Arsenal or either of the Manchester clubs.
Transfer balls: Manchester United are trying to offload Morgan Schneiderlin, 27. In July 2015, the Frenchman joined Manchester United for £25m rising to £27 million. The 25-year-old midfielder signed a four-year contract with the option to extend it by a further year. He’s paid £100,000 a week.
And now United want him out. According to the Daily Mail, United have told Everton they will have to pay more than £20m for Schneiderlin. The Indy says the Toffees will offer £22m. Other sources say they want the full sum the player has cost them.
Schneiderlin is costing United a fortune and not playing. Every week, his value is going down.
He joined Southampton for £1.2 million in 2008. He was tremendous, topping the Premier League’s rankings in 2013 for both interceptions (he ended up with 139) and tackles (146). So what’s gone wrong? Manchester United erred. They saw the man at the top of the list for tackles and thought he’d do the same for them. Stats were all that mattered to United’s scouts. United lacked vision. A club whose recruitment policy is now driven by box office appeal just tossed money at the problem of how to get the club back on top. Schneiderlin didn’t get worse. United bought the wrong player.
In 2013, Ed Woodward, the United dealmaker, told United We Stand, the United fanzine, how the club targets players in the post-Ferguson era: “I don’t like the fact that there are consistently more players from Spain on the [Ballon d’Or shortlist]. We as a club should be aspiring to have the best players playing for us.”
As Oliver Kay nots in the Times: ‘Under Woodward, it has always seemed more about “the best players” than creating “the best team”.’
Arriving as a teenager, Schneiderlin thrived at Southampton, a club that invests in young talent. The Saints have produced since 2000 – deep breath – Adam Lallana, Gareth Bale, Calum Chambers, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Luke Shaw. What price United nurturing young players to rise through the ranks to form a team under Jose Mourinho?
Media Balls: Does Arsene Wenger regret allowing Jack Wilshere to leave Arsenal for Bournemouth on a season-long loan? Sky says he does. Injury has left Arsenal shot in midfield (plus ca change). Sky‘s headline thunders:
But Wenger doesn’t regret anything. What Wenger actually says is:
“I could use him now. But if he had not played until now, he would not be ready to play now. What looks unfair at some moments in the season is that you know at some stage you could need the player… And still today I think it was the right decision for him to go.”
Wilshere was rotting at Arsenal. He’s played 17 of Bournemouth’s 20 Premier League matches – missing both games against Arsenal because rules forbid him playing his parent club. Of course Arsenal could use his nous now, his give-and-gos and box-to-box style. But with no recall clause in his Bournemouth deal, the Gunners can’t get him back.
“It’s slightly old-fashioned and a step back in time in terms of other Premier League clubs and he deserves huge credit for that,” said Bournemouth manger Eddie Howe when Wilshere picked Bournemouth over a host of other clubs vying for his services. “The fact he’s willing to come here for football reasons, rather than anything else, speaks volumes.”
Wilshere needed games after getting so little football at Arsenal. He’s thriving at Bournemouth. Would he have made the same progress at Arsenal this season or still be off the pace? Wenger knows the answer to that.
Transfer balls: Is Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez ready to leave the Gunners? The BBC says “Arsenal players fear” he is.
The Mail agrees. Sami Mokbel writes in an ‘exclusive’, “Seething Sanchez blows his top at Arsenal.” The Chilean “threw a tantrum” on the pitch as Arsenal came from 0-3 down to draw 3-3 with Bournemouth. That tantrum amounted to Sanchez throwing his gloves to the turf and… And that’s it.
He was “unhappy” the Gunners hadn’t won, reveals Mokbel . He “sulked” in the changing room. He made is “clear” he was unhappy not to have won. Well, quite. Arenal fans and players want him to be keen on winning, surely. Sanchez plays to win. He has an “ultra-determined nature”.
“GUNNER GO?” asks the Mirror in is ‘exclusive’ on the same Sanchez ‘exclusive’ the Mail delivered. No longer sulking, Sanchez is throwing a “hissy fit” in the Arsenal dressing room as “Arsenal suffered a major blow in their title hopes”. Or as the Mirror put it yesterday: “The Gunners looked down and out on the south coast, but they showed a fantastic desire to get back into the game and created a Premier League first in the process.”
John Cross says Arsenal will buy no new players until Sanchez’s contract is sorted out. Ora s the BBC says today:
Hednesford Town youngster Cohen Bramall is to make the move from non-league to Premier League, by signing for Arsenal. The 20-year-old left-back will leave the Staffordshire-based Northern Premier League side for north London.
Cross is an expert on Arsenal stuff. He tells us that Arsene Wenger is out of contract this summer, “but there is a two-year deal worth £8m a year on the table waiting to be signed.”
Or as Cross and the Mirror put it:
Such are the facts.
Media balls: a look at reporting on Bournemouth’s 3-3 with Arsenal. The third Bournemouth goal came after a clear foul by Ryan Fraser. What say the experts?
Matt Barlow (Daily Mail): ” Fraser tore past Bellerin to reach a pass from Daniels and squeeze a shot through Cech’s legs.”
Ian Baker (Daily Express): “The Spanish right-back has recently signed a new £100,00-a-week contract but that looked far to high on this evidence as he was beaten by Fraser…”
Charlie Wyett (the Sun): “Fraser overpowered Bellerin…”
Alex Crook (Daily Star): “… pint-sized Fraser outmuscled the hapless Bellerin…”
Stuart James (Guardian): “Daniels slid a pass into the inside left channel and Bellerin, who is no slouch, had a headstart on Fraser. Yet Fraser not only caught up with the Arsenal defender but was too strong for him.”
Islington Gazette: “Fraser soon made it 3-0 as he powered down the left flank beating another insipid Bellerin half-challenge before slotting past Cech at the near post.”
Henry Winter (the Times): “The outstanding Daniels lifted the ball down the left and Fraser was off and running, shoving Bellerín out of the way with a challenge that Oliver generously deemed more shoulder barge than a push.”
Graham Poll (Daily Mail): “[Oliver’s] excellent display was only marred when he failed to spot Ryan Fraser’s push on Bellerin before scoring Bournemouth’s third.”
Mark Halsey (the Sun): “It should have been a foul to Arsenal as Ryan Fraser pushed Hector Bellerin.. Michael gave a first-half penalty [to Bournemouth] for the dame offence.”
Bournemouth Echo: “Bellerin looked favourite to reach Daniels’ subsequent pass first, but Fraser bundled his way through the Spaniard…”
And what of the foul that led to a red card for Bournemouth captain Simon Francis?
Graham Poll: “‘Oliver finished the game with another correct call as he dismissed Simon Francis for an over-the-top challenge on Ramsey. Overall a very composed display – well done, Michael.”
Mark Halsey: “‘Michael Oliver got two key decisions wrong – especially the red card for Bournemouth captain Simon Francis. The challenge was not dangerous and it did not endanger the player’s safety. It was a challenge worthy of a yellow card.”
Such are the facts.
The latest person to be publicly shamed by what they said on Twitter is Hitchin Town footballer Alfie Barker, 19, who thought it a good idea to abuse Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter in odious fashion. Tweeted Barker: “Big hype just for a disappointment like the nine months leading up to your child’s birth.”
After last night’s Bournemouth v Arsenal fixture in the Premier League ended 3-3 – the Cherries had led 3-0 – Barker added: “At least you didn’t lose your kid.”
Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter’s baby daughter died in 2015.
That the tweet was designed to wound is clear. Arter has been candid about the “devastation” he felt at the loss of his child. “To be honest, at times I felt a bit envious when I’d see the lads with their families,” said Arter, “a lot of them had babies around that period, which was just a coincidence. It was strange – if I heard them talking about things to do with their children, for example, someone saying, ‘I haven’t had any sleep tonight, it’s doing my head in,’ I would think: ‘I’d do anything to have a restless night.’
When questioned over his tweet, Barker did the cowardly thing and “initially claimed his account had been hacked,” says the BBC. But it was him. And now he’s an ex-player with Hitchin FC. The club has issued a statement saying: “In the light of the player’s irresponsible and anti-social behaviour, we are terminating Alfie Barker’s registration and relationship with the club with immediate effect.”
And Codicote FC, where Barker is on loan, adds: “We have no choice but to terminate our relationship with him.”
That Alfie Baker is a prat is beyond question. But does he deserve to be sacked? Does his punishment equal the gravity of the offence? Barker did apologise. What now for him? Ugly tweets designed to cause offence – could they be termed ‘sick jokes’? – have defined him at just 19.
“The truth is, rarely can a response make something better,” writes Dr. Brené Brown in The Gifts of Imperfection, “we what makes something better is connection.”
Will any club now dare connect with Barker?
Deep on page 9 of the Daily Mirror is the story of four Chelsea fans found guilty of racist violence and given suspended prisoner sentences by a French judge. The four white men were accused of pushing a back man off a Metro train in Paris ahead of Chelsea’s Champions’ League match with PSG. “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it,” belched fans as the video rolled.
A nasty little event was then amplified beyond all proportion. The Sun led with the news:
Readers were ordered to “FIND PIGS OF PARIS”. The Sun said “an international hunt” was under way for the bellends who also chanted the refrain “Where were you in World War 2?”. It was the type of cross-border hunt usually reserved for jihadis and master criminals. It was that serious.
The then Prime Minister, David Cameron, lifted his blinkers away from Syria and the EU Referendum to tell us that the matter was “extremely worrying”. “These are very, very serious matters.” Nick Clegg said, without irony given his career: “‘I was so ashamed.”
The United Nations – no, I’m not making this up – thought it wise to comment. “It is important to build on the outrage created by this snapshot of the ugly face of racism, to re-energize the effort to combat it in all its forms wherever it occurs,” said a spokesman. It was, he said, “cruel”. The United Nations is hot on cruelty, human rights and racism, after all just look at the members who sit on its panel: Bangladesh (“Security forces continue enforced disappearances, killings, and arbitrary arrests with impunity”), China (“Uighur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists and Falun Gong practitioners have faced particularly severe repression in recent years, including forced conversion, torture and imprisonment”), Qatar (“Discrimination against women remains entrenched in both law and practice) and Saudi Arabia (“Members of other faiths can worship privately, but non-Muslim houses of worship may not be built”).
Across the global feelings were hurt by oafs on a Paris tube train. Idiots had been caught behaving sadly. But the elite in Westminster and what used to be Fleet Street wanted more. They held the video up as being a sign of much greater ills. And once again football – the great meritocratic melting pot watched by slum people – was in the dock.
There are no black faces on the Government’s front benches; no black editors of national newspapers; no black faces on the Metropolitan police leadership team; but get a load of those berks on the Paris Metro. There’s your racism. Happily for the elite who use football as a extension of Moral Health UK, the Chelsea fans were wearing club colours.
The elite like their racists white, preferably working class and always obvious.
The Daily Mail (number of black faces on board: nil), knows racism when it sees it. It delivered the time-honoured “LEAGUE OF SHAME”, a list of football fans arrested for “racist and abusive chanting”. The Daily Star (which once supported the EDL) said the “Hate thugs face 3 years’ jail”. “There is a greater shame here because we foolishly, naively, believed the issue of racism among our football supporters was a thing of the past,” wrote Neil Ashton in the Daily Mail. The Guardian’s Barney Ronay opined in the paper’s 40-odd articles on the incident: “For decades this kind of thing has happened, continues to happen, and most troubling, appears to be happening a little more now.”
One by one these wrong ‘uns were lined up to be shot at. Josh Parsons came to epitomise racism. The Sun led with a picture of Parsons. The Times showed us photo of his home in Dorking. He was an ex-public schoolboy. He was a “City high-flyer”. He had studied at “30,000-a-year” Millfield school. He worked for the Business and Commercial Club in Mayfair. And in case you still couldn’t find him, the Sun said his office was on Mayfair, Central London.
Grab your torches! Saddle up! Let’s roll!
And as you journeyed to the lynching, know this – Star told readers: “Meanwhile, season ticket holder Josh Parsons, 21, one of those filmed, is a UKIP supporter who enjoyed a pint with Nigel Farage”.
Damned in print and monstered by the highest offices in global diplomacy, the men who abused Souleymane Sylla, 34, are now buried deep in the papers. Parsons, billed as a”trainee scaffolder”, Jamie Fairbairn, a civil engineer, Richard Barklie and William Simpson are no longer the apogee of all wrongs. They were ordered to pay about £9,000 to My Sylla.” That’s a pretty steep fine for being a prat, and far less than the lengthy custodial terms some were hoping for.
You might supposed the story is front-page news elsewhere. But you’d be wrong. It does not appear in the Star. It’s on page 8 of the Mail (“Chelsea yobs told to pay £9k for racist Paris attack”). The Sun shows the story on page 8. In its version Barklie is not 50 years old, as the Mirror says he is, but 52 and an “ex-cop”. We also get more details of the punishment:
Barklie: Tried in his absence, the County Antrim man got a suspended year long jail term. He denied racist violence.
Simpson: Tried in his absence, he got a suspended year long jail term.
Parsons: He went to court and got an eight months suspended sentence.
Fairbairn: He went to court and got a six months suspended sentence.
The Guardian has more. We get to know what happened to Parsons, public enemy Number 1:
Parsons told the court the Métro was packed and the atmosphere was “hot and hostile”. He said Sylla was “bigger than me” and when the commuter tried to get on the carriage “I pushed back”. He said the pushing was not related to the colour of Sylla’s skin. “The only time I knew the skin colour was when I saw the video afterwards,” he said.
Questioned by the state prosecutor, Parsons said that after he pushed Sylla the first time, he chanted “Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea,” and after he pushed him a second time, he chanted “Fuck the IRA”. He said the chant “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it” was shouted in another carriage; he did not sing it and he “did not like that chant”.
Parsons said: “I’m very sorry for Mr Sylla but I wasn’t racist in any way.”
Parsons’ lawyer said his life had been affected by the “total hysteria” of the media, members of which had arrived at his home after he was identified as one of the fans in the video. Parsons, who once posed for a photograph with Nigel Farage, said journalists had come on to “my land” and rung his grandmother’s doorbell every half an hour.
He said he had lost his finance job in Mayfair, London, and had briefly moved to Cornwall where he retrained as a scaffolder. His lawyer said Parsons’ entourage described him as a “well-brought-up boy” and two former dormitory friends from his boarding school, who were not white, had testified that he was not racist.
Such are the facts.
Media Balls: West Ham United were beaten 0-2 by Manchester United in today’s Premier League game. The match went badly for the Hammers when Feghouli was sent off after just 14 minutes. The official West Ham website says the Algerian was “desperately unlucky to receive a red card following a challenge with United defender Phil Jones”.
Manchester United “make extra man count” laments the headline atop the Hammer’s official match report. “The decision changed the course of the game.”
Or as the Manchester Evening Post calls it: “FINALLY get refereeing decision after Feghouli tackle on Jones.”
Darmian should have earned a second yellow card when United player Arsenal. In its match report the Sun called the player “a walking red card”. Against Crystal Palace, Zlatan Ibrahimovich admitted to using his hand in his pass that set up Paul Pogba to score one of United’s goals in a 1-2 win.
And as the Mirror notes, “for those of you with short memories, Manchester United defender Rojo got away with two different two-footers in December. First, there was this bone-cruncher on Everton’s Idrissa Gueye. Then, just ten days later, he gave us this ankle-weakener, on Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha.”
Finally United get a refereeing decision? Or usually?
Ciaran Kelly, whose memory might be shorter than his Man United blinkers, reports for the MEN:
Manchester United received an early boost in their teatime clash with West Ham after Sofiane Feghouli was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Phil Jones .
Not exactly. This is now the BBC saw it:
Referee Mike Dean showed Feghouli a straight red card after the midfielder’s 15th-minute challenge on Phil Jones.
Replays showed it was more of a coming together between two players committed to winning the ball than a reckless tackle meant to cause harm.
Still, it’s good to know Manchester United and the fearless local paper are on the same side and singing from the same hymn sheet. “I don’t feel sorry for West Ham – I didn’t watch the decisions. I think if you talk about decisions, we are the champions of bad decisions,” says Jose Mourinho after the match.
United have benefitted hugely from poor refereeing. They might even top the table at it.
Media Balls: a look at biased football reporting. Did Sunderland deserve to draw 2-2 with Liverpool in the Premier League? Were Liverpool lucky?
Sunderland’s goals came via two very good penalties from Jermain Defoe.
The first Sunderland penalty:
Liverpool FC (official website): “But the Black Cats responded to the setback quickly and were awarded a penalty when Didier Ndong tumbled in the area under pressure from Ragnar Klavan and Wijnaldum.”
He wasn’t fouled. He tumbled.
Sunderland FC (official website): “Ndong was felled after he went through two Liverpool players.”
He was felled, like a blameless tree.
Liverpool Echo: “..a soft penalty when Ndong wasn’t going anywhere.”
Sunderland Echo: “Defoe levelled from the spot after Dider Ndong was brought down in the area”
The penalty that wasn’t given.
On 58 minutes the ball hit a Liverpool hand.
Sunderland (official website): “The referee waves play on despite strong appeals for a penalty. Replays show Januzaj’s cross did hit the arm of Can. That could so easily have been a penalty and probably should’ve been.”
No word on the incident on the Liverpool FC website.
Sunderland Echo: “Jermain Defoe the hero as he scores two penalties to earn his side a deserved point.”
Sunderland won a point!
The Guardian: “Liverpool drop two points as Jermain Defoe strikes twice from the spot.”
Liverpool lost two points by, er, winning one point.
Such a e the facts.
Olivier Giroud scored a pretty decent scorpion goal in Arsenal’s home match against Crystal Palace. With the ball well behind him, Giroud stuck out a foot and the ball went in. That it hit the underside of the bar on its way to the net made it look even better.
Jammy? Well, you make your own luck:
WHAT AN AMAZING GOAL.. If Mkhitaryan can do it Giroud can also do it! pic.twitter.com/fjtP66jPy3
— 🌏 (@naqeebhapiz) January 1, 2017
Never mind that Antoine Griezmann says he’s happy in Madrid with his new baby and wonderful life, the British Press have him packed and ready to join the Premier League very soon. France’s footballer of the year is on his way to, well, all the top clubs. Manchester United have £60m and Chelsea £50m and £90m for Atletico Madrid’s super striker, whose new contract set his transfer fee at a minimum of £86m.
News in the Guardian is that Manchester City also quite like Griezmann – and so do Arsenal. The BBC and Telegraph say that if Mesut Özil or Alexis Sánchez fail to get the £200,000 a week they each want to extend their current contracts and leave the Gunners, Arsenal will swoop for Griezmann by offering him less than the £200,000-a-week City, Chelsea or United would pay.
Should that cunning plan fail, Arsenal will go for Marco Reus or Julian Draxler, although the taller German (Draxler) has apparently agreed to join PSG in France’s Ligue 1. That doesn’t stop the Daily Star says Draxler is on his way to Liverpool.
The tin lid is placed on this Transfer Balls by news that the source for the BBC, Telegraph, Independent and Guardian scoop on Griezmann and Reus being watched by Arsenal is Squawka, a blog whereon we read not a single fact to support the story that Arsenal want either player.
Such are the facts.
Chelsea did not break any Premier League rules in their dealings with former player Gary Johnson, the former player who claims he was sexually abused by coach Eddie Heath as a member of the youth team in the 1970s. When Johnson and his lawyers took the matter to Chelsea in 2014, the club Chelsea agreed to pay him £50,000 and told him never to mention the allegations.
Johnson accepted the deal. But was a man who says his childhood was stolen from him badly advised and badly treated?
Chelsea said the club’s board understood it was “usual practice” to include a mutual confidentiality agreement. They noted that Johnson’s solicitors had not objected to the clause. When Johnson went public, Chelsea waived the confidentiality clause.
Eddie Heath is dead. Chelsea have publicly apologised. They say Johnson “suffered unacceptably” after joining Chelsea as an 11-year-old in 1970. You might well ask what an acceptable level of suffering amounts to, and who gages it?
The matter was put before the Premier League. They have found Chelsea clear of any wrongdoing. The Blues will review their procedures and send a copy of their report to The Premier League. The Premier League board says: “After careful consideration, the board has determined that no Premier League rules were broken by the club not reporting this matter to them in 2014. ‘The League has requested that Chelsea agrees to a full safeguarding audit from an independent safeguarding expert. The league has no reason to have any concerns about Chelsea’s current provisions in this area but, given the seriousness of these historical allegations, feels that such a review is an appropriate course of action.”
Says Gary Johnson to the Mirror: “(Chelsea owner) Roman Abramovich may be one of the richest men in football, but he has been very badly advised on this.” Was he the only one who was?
Transfer balls: Manchester United’s Rashford To West Ham; Payet to Arsenal; Draxler to Liverpool; Virgil to Manchester City?
West Ham United are, says the Daily Telegraph, keen to transfer Manchester United squad members Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford to their goal-shy team. It’s an “ambitious” bid, says the paper. No kidding.
Failure to lure either of them to London will mean West Ham turning to – deep breath – Sassuolo’s Grégoire Defrel, Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi and Porto’s Laurent Depoitre. Yeah, pretty much anyone who can score a goal is on West Ham’s radar.
The Express says West Ham will make space for any of the above by getting shot of six players, including loan strikers Simon Zaza (loaned from Juventus) and Ashley Fletcher (Manchester United). One player not leaving is Dimitri Payet. Or as the Star puts it: “JOSE’S PAYET RAID – United boss in fight with old foe Wenger”. Will Payet leave West Ham for Arsenal or head to Manchester United in a deal involving Marital or Rashford?
In other Manchester United transfer news, the Mirror says Benfica’s Swedish defender Victor Lindelof could be heading to Old Trafford for £37.8million. If he arrives, Chris Smalling will leave United, says the Express. Smalling will be beaten to the United exit by Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Scheweinsteiger.
Away from United, the Guardian says Arsenal are keen on Valencia’s super-fast left-back José Gaya.
The Mirror says Liverpool are looking to sign Manchester City and England goalkeeper Joe Hart. The Times says the Reds are also keen on Wolfsburg’s Germany midfielder Julian Draxler but face competition from PSG and, of course, Arsenal, who seem to have been chasing the player for every one of his 23 years.
The Mail says Manchester City will offer £50m for Southampton Virgil van Dijk. There have been “discreet talks” between the clubs, says the Mail all over its back page. The Dutchman is “aware of City’s interest”.
Good news for those Arsenal fans who can’t abide Arsene Wenger. The Sun leads with news that Paris Saint-Germain want the Arsenal manager to lead their brand. The French are “confident” of getting their man, having failed in two previous bids.
“AW REVOIR,” says the Sun over two more pages. “Time’s ripe for Arsene Wenger’s return to France.” Or maybe he’s past its sell-by date.
No, says Mack Irwin. The “self-entitled” Arenal fans who demonstrate for Wenger’s departure are fools. As “another season of disappointment beckons” Irwin wonder if Wenger has the “appetite to put up with the microscopic scrutiny of his methods”. Arsenal fans will add another question: does Wenger still inspire his team, the fans and the club?
Wenger’s £160,000-a-week deal ends at the end of this season. The club is “in the dark” about his future plans. But if the Frenchman fails to make Arsenal challenge for the Premier League and Champions’ League titles “it will be hard to see how Arsenal or Wenger could justify another new contract”. So much for fans being self-entitled to expect more.
Phil McNulty has a little on what Arsenal fans have been getting:
In the 12 seasons since Arsenal last won the title, in only two of those campaigns has the margin between the Gunners and the champions been in single figures. Twice the gap has been more than 20 points – so a systematic pattern has emerged rather than an extended hard luck story.
As to why PSG wants Wenger and Wenger would want PSG, the Sun says Paris would give him loads of money to go on a spending spree and, er, he likes Paris.
Over in the Mail, four of the paper’s pundit says Arsenal will finish no higher than third this season.
But it’s far from doom and gloom at Arsenal. Wenger has always been an optimist. In defeat he manages to inject circumspection and togetherness into the analysis. Can he bring Arsenal to the boil? Can Chelsea wobble and the Gunners go on a run? Vitally, do the players believe they can do it?
The Mirror says Manchester United want Jose Mourinho to remain at Old Trafford for ‘TEN MOUR YEARS”. United want Jose to “stay for the next decade”. Given that Mourinho has never remained at any club for longer than three years, you might suppose the United headhunters are hopeful, ignorant of what happened with Jose at Chelsea, desperate or a combination of all three.
It’s “Jose’s Big Deal”, agrees the Star. “United want boss to stay for eight more seasons”. They “want him til 2025”. A decade is nine years? Journalists never were much cop at maths.
Nor are they much cop at predictions. On November 9 the Star told readers, “Jose Mourinho is facing the sack from Man United.”
Reading on, the Star says:
“But despite struggling to make a huge impact since replacing Louis van Gaal, club bosses have been so impressed with him that handing him another long-term contract is already on their minds.”
And as the Mirror puts it:
“But United officials have been so impressed with the elf-styled Special One…there is talk of him staying beyond his current deal:
Mourinho’s erratic behaviour on the touchline and in press conferences has been a concern to United bosses, as exclusively revealed in Starsport… United also accept the ranting and raving comes with him being one of the world’s ‘box office’ managers.
And the Mirror:
“The hierarchy accept he will often find himself in hot water with the authorities because of his demonstrative nature”
The two stories are remarkably similar. And you won’t be surprised to know that neither story names it source. Wonder if the insider who loves Jose is someone at United or a mole in the office at Jose’s agent?
Transfer balls: The Sun leads with news of Manchester United’s £60m bid for Atletico Madrid’s Antione Griezman. It’s an exclusive. But we’ve read of Grizeman heading to United before: here, here and here.
The Press have also told us Griezman was joining Chelsea for £50m.
They told us he rejected a move to Arsenal and declared that he’d never play in England, not even for £80m. Griezmann “was settled in Spain and would not consider a move to England”, said the Indy.
On June 23, the Sun reported: “GRIEZ STAYING – Antoine Griezmann will STAY at Atletico Madrid after signing a new five-year contract.”
The Sun also told readers that Griezmann, 25, was looking at a release clause worth “£78m”.
On September 11 this year the Express reported:
“EXCLUSIVE: Chelsea to make record bid for Manchester United target Antoine Griezmann. ANTONIO CONTE has asked Chelsea’s power brokers to sanction a world-record bid for Atletico Madrid hitman Antoine Griezmann next summer…
That release clause, the one worth £78m?
Conte is ready to go above the £86million release clause in Griezmann’s contract to head off interest from Manchester United. And that means splashing out more than the £89m that United paid Juventus to take Griezmann’s close pal Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford.”
And just yesterday the Standard reported:
“For Arsenal, he [Koscielny] speaks to me about them often,” he told France Football. “But I feel good at Madrid. I do not want to leave. I feel calm here. The little one [his daughter] has just arrived, I am playing matches, I feel good. Sorry, I am going to stay. But Arsenal is a wonderful team. They play great with the ball.”
And today the Daily Star says:
Starsport understand that both Manchester giants as well as Chelsea and Arsenal are all interested in signing Griezmann in the summer. The France international is one of the finest players in the world and valued at around £80m but that would not put off any of England’s top sides.
And so the Sun’s exclusive::
Griezmann has a contract with Atletico until 2021 but his relationship with the club and coach Diego Simeone has soured this season. After losing the Champions League final to city rivals Real twice in the last three years, Atletico look like a team which has peaked.
From feeling calm yesterday (in his own words) to feeling sour today (in the Sun’s words) it’s been a busy few days for the Frenchman.
How was the Liverpool derby? Liverpool won the match 0-1 thanks to very late goal from Sadio Mane. The Liverpool Echo says it was terrific.
As Everton’s shell-shocked players trudged off at the end of another crushing derby defeat some of the home fans offered a ripple of polite applause. They felt as though they should show their appreciation for the effort the Blues had put into a blood and thunder game…
The Daily Mirror’s David Maddock watched a different performance:
Yet the problem with the skillful yet sanitised world of the Premier League, is the lack of blood and thunder, even when things get gritty and dour. Just look at Everton’s performance in this contest…
He adds that “despite the obvious drama of that injury time winner… so little came before it.” It was pretty dull.
But in the Express, Gideon Brooks likens the match to a “battlefield”. The mood in the arena was “ferocious”. Neil Squires say the foreigners in both sides felt “the primal pull” the match delivers.
In the the Star, Chris McKenna watched “tackles flying in from all angles”.
Martin Samuels tells Mail reader this was a”full-blooded derby”. Although “it wasn’t much cop” and “failed to deliver excitement”. Liverpool were “tame”. Ian Ladyman says the match was “lacking in substance”.
Not so says Phil Thomas in the Sun. It was “explosive.” To illustrate the point the paper zooms in on Ross Barkley’s tackle on Jordan Henderson. Although, it was, says Thomas, “one of the few few moment that genuinely got the blood up”.
As for the foul, what say the clubs’ official websites?
Everton: “Tempers frayed after Barkley went in on Henderson and was booked for his troubles.”
Liverpool: No word.
To conclude: it was explosive, full of the bloody and thunder, lacking in blood and thunder and dull.
Transfer balls: a look at the football transfer gossip. The BBC says Arsenal want to sign Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus if they fail to commit Mesut Ozil or Alexis Sanchez to new deals.
Reus was once the name on very big side’s wish list.
In January 2015, the Metro told its readers: “Chelsea target Marco Reus has snubbed a move to the Premier League to agree to join Real Madrid”. The same paper later said Reus wanted to join Liverpool. He stayed at Dortmund.
That the Press have no idea is clear. But the Telegraph says it’s all true. Reus to Arsenal will happen if the Gunners fail to extends Alexis Sanchez’s deal.
As Arsenal fans wonder why the club doesn’t buy Reus anyhow the BBC says another old favourite is on the Arsenal radar: Julian Draxler. The Express says the Gunners have scraped together £30m for Wolfsburg’s 23-year-old Germany midfielder.
It was back in January 2014, the Mirror reported: ” Arsenal and Schalke agree fee for midfielder Julian Draxler.” They didn’t.
In July 2016, the Sun said: “Julian Draxler to Arsenal: Gunners bid £43m for Euro 2016 star.” A few months later and that star has fallen by £13m.
On August 3, the Mail told readers: “Julian Draxler confirms he’s asked to leave Wolfsburg as Arsenal and Juventus continue to show interest.”
Or as the Sun put it on that very day: “JU CAN HAVE HIM Arsenal transfer news: Julian Draxler wants to leave Wolfsburg but Juventus move is off after Italians cool interest.”
Juventus don’t want Draxler. It’s Arsenal or no-one. Which brings us to October 9, when the Mirror added: “Arsenal and Juventus to battle it out for wantaway Wolfsburg star Julian Draxler.”
So will Draxler come to Arsenal? The Sun links his transfer to Ozil’s future at the club. “Mesut Ozil ‘wants Arsenal to sign £30million Julian Draxler’ so he will extend his own contract,” says the paper. “Germany midfielder has pleaded with Emirates bosses to snap up the Wolfsburg star who looks set to leave in January.”
If Arsenal can get Draxler or Reus, and secure Sanchez and Ozil on new deals, the future looks promising. But as we’ve seen, nothing is certain.