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.
Matt Hughes and Tony Barrett explain the Liverpool transfer policy, one dictated by committee. Having missed out on the wonderful Alexis Sanchez to Arsenal, Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool looked around for a player:
The oddity is that, given that a player of Sánchez’s style is so fundamental to the way Rodgers wants his team to play, Liverpool’s response to missing out was the move for Loïc Rémy, a different type of forward altogether. That they ended up feeling the need to sign Mario Balotelli, even though he certainly does not fit the profile that Rodgers was looking for, was also bizarre, providing another indication of an inadequate strategy. These failings have been undermining Liverpool ever since, and even if they pull off a morale-boosting win this afternoon, these are unlikely to go away…
West Ham United bigshot Karren Brady writes a ‘Football Diary’ for the Sun (prop R. Murdoch). Let’s pick out a couple of comments:
SUNDAY, DEC 14
ONCE more, no Premier League player even makes it to the top ten of the increasingly self-indulgent BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.
Whereas the prompter of a dancing horse and the steerer of a sledge do.
I am positive there are plenty of richly talented footballers in Britain, so it does not say a lot for the general standard of our coaching that — since Ryan Giggs won the award five years ago — we have not had a footballer within a sniff of it.
As for the 150-minute television show itself, the BBC make their little bit of sport go a long way.
Surely Hartlepool want to sign the footballer Ched Evans. Or do they think the team will benefit from a rapist?
Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli is the subejct of the Sun story: “Kop star’s secret”:
TROUBLED Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli has shown signs of suffering from attention deficit disorder since he was a youngster, SunSport can reveal.
Nice, eh. Balotelli, the man who holds down a good job and has no criminal record is “troubled”. And it;’s a “secret”, implying that he knows he’s “troubled” but doesn’t want you to know it, too.
The Italian’s mood swings and outrages have been a feature of his life on and off the field and have affected his career with Inter Milan, Manchester City, AC Milan and now Liverpool.
The most ridiculous football club Christmas presents: the Norwich City Tambourine, Liverpool Coffee Tin and more
Over on Pies: the most ridiculous football club-themed gifts for Christmas.
Also featured in Pies’ 2014 Christmas Football Gift Guide…
#1: Dion Dublin’s New Xmas Album – “Christmas Presents”
#2: Tino Asprilla Own-Brand Condoms
#3: Official Sunderland USB Travel Adaptor
#4: Tottenham Vodka
#5: Official Wolfsburg Tomato Ketchup
#6: Fenerbahce Hairdryer
#7: Newcastle United Toilet Mat
#8: Sporting Lisbon Swimming Cap
#9: Huddersfield Town Tea Bags (Box Of 80)
#10: Werder Bremen Nesting Box
#11: Norwich City Tambourine
#12: Liverpool’s Iconic ‘This Is Coffee’ Coffee Tin
#13: Real Madrid Etch-a-Sketch
#14: Birmingham City Play-Dough Fun Box
#15: FC Dnipro Bucket & Spade
This way for more Christmas gift ideas from yesteryear.
So. Why did Alexis Sanchez choose to play for Arsenal? The Daily Star has the truth. The headline declares:
Arsene Wenger reveals the REAL REASON why Alexis Sanchez chose Arsenal over Liverpool
What is the real reason. We thought it was a combination of money, London and Champions’ League football.
Paul Brown writes:
ARSENE WENGER claims Alexis Sanchez chose Arsenal over Liverpool because only the Gunners could match his Champions League ambitions.
Is that what Wenger said? No. He said:
“Transfers at that level take always time to get every detail right, so because it takes time, you think always that somebody else can come in – PSG, Bayern Munich. We met his agent in Brazil a few times and talked about the transfer. In Europe we did it with Barcelona. Once we got the decision he would like to join us we were happy. He had maybe not had number of games he wanted at Barcelona and I tried to convince him I could help him develop the quality of his game, that the way we play would suit him.”
But what is the ‘REAL REASON” Sanchez joined Arsenal. Brown has failed to deliver on the headline.
Over on Arsenal.com, Wenger says:
“I don’t know why he has chosen us and not anybody else, but we are very happy that he has done that.”
Such are the facts…
Transfer Balls: a look at utter drivel being presented as breaking football news.
The Daily Star reports that German star Marco Reus is on his way to Manchester United:
Also on the 18th of December, the Star’s Chisanga Malta yelled that Reus was heading to Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool AND Manchester United.
Wow! Two scoops on Reus in just one day. And it would all be great news for United were it not for what Malata actually writes in the story:
Meanwhile, Manchester United have been dealt a huge blow in their pursuits of Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus.
Malata says the star is going nowhere:
Such are the facts in the trusty Star…
It’s Newcastle United v Sunderland in the big north-east inter-city derby.
The Telegraph reports:
Newcastle vs Sunderland: Adam Johnson joins Alan Pardew in calls for calm – The Black Cats winger hopes tempers will not boil over during Sunday’s derby, but is aware that may be wishful thinking
Luke Edwards reiterates the call for calm:
Sunderland winger Adam Johnson has echoed Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew’s call for calm ahead of Sunday’s Tyne-Wear derby
That soothing echo is picked up by the Mail:
Says calming Johnson:
‘It’s better when you win away,’ says the player who has scored in both of Sunderland’s back-to-back 3-0 victories at St James’ Park… ‘Afterwards, you realise you’ve done it, the music is turned up and you’ve won the game. You get on the bus and you can see everybody there is fuming. That’s the best part. It just makes it a better feeling winning in front of their fans.’
Such are the facts…
Football balls: Bale eyes Arsenal, RVP ‘snubs’ Di Maria at Manchester United, a Liverpool flop and a Chelsea dive
The tabloids are a hotbed of football news. Let’s look at today’s offering. We’ll kick off with the Express news that Gareth Bale has a “SHOCK admission”.
The SHOCK is that Bale has a telly and watches Arsenal and Spurs scores:
Bale has revealed he keeps a close eye on goings on in the Premier League from Spain.
The Daily Mirror wants to know about Liverpool:
We adhere to the tabloid rule: the answer to any headline questiosn is always ‘no’. So. No.
And it was 39 passes.
Robbie Savage has news – hard-hitting news – on Chelsea:
Diving, simulation – call it what you will – is not a disease exclusive to Stamford Bridge, nor is it confined to foreign players.
English players dive? Who knew?
The Daily Mail hears one shoe drop:
Well, he was pretty average at Manchester City, at the World Cup in Brazil, at AC Milan, at Inter Milan, at…
The Daily Star has a question:
Also in the Star, a Manchester United ‘Snub”:
What did he do? A fight?
When asked who would play in his five-a-side team, RVP said:
“I will go for David [De Gea] in goal. I need one defender so I will go with Michael Carrick because he can play in both positions [defence and midfield], then I’ll go for strikers so Wayne [Rooney]. I’m involved as well? I’m not on the bench?! So me, David, Michael, Wayne and… this is very hard because you have Juan [Mata], you have [Angel] Di Maria and you have Falcao… I’ll go for Falcao.”
More football balls every day…
Last night Liverpool beat Bournemouth 3-1 in the Capitol Cup. Liverpool scored one goal after a long bout of passing. But how many passes did the experts count?
Daily Mirror: “Raheem Sterling lifted the pressure on Brendan Rodgers after an astonishing 52-pass move from Liverpool’s kings of keep-ball”
The Times agrees: 52 passes.
Daily Mail: ‘There were a staggering 51 passes in the build up to Sterling’s opener”
Daily Telegraph: “A lengthy move led to the goal, comprising 39 passes”
INJURY-PRONE players are unfortunate. It isn’t their fault that their bodies betray them and stop them from doing their high-performance job. If a Formula One car has a misfiring engine, everyone understands because the car is in perfect balance to go really fast. When a football hurts his toe in the super-masculine world of professional football, he’s expected to shrug it off or be labelled a weakling.
Everyone remembers the various jokes about the winger of yore, Darren Anderton, who would be out for a fortnight with a broken eyelash and the like.
These days, we’ve got Manchester United’s Phil Jones.
He’s made only 5 appearances since Louis van Gaal took over at Old Trafford and, in his three seasons at Manchester United, he’s suffered 12 separate injuries, including the almost quaint complaint of shin splints.
Jones says: “I could stand here and list 10 players who are always out injured. That is just the nature of football. People don’t wake up one morning and say: ‘I fancy being injured today.’
So now, he’s focusing on getting fit and staying fit. What’s he doing about it? He’s gone toward something a little more spiritual: “It is strength work on the reformer, yoga and pilates and loads of stuff. I will do anything I can to improve myself and hopefully that will stand me in good stead for the rest of the season. Hopefully I can stay fit, look after myself in games and make sure I stay fit.”
While most people hit the gym and lift, bro Jones is going to stretch his legs, work on his core and get all that negative chi out of his legs like he’s football’s most famous Buddhist, Roberto Baggio.
And while Baggio was dubbed Il Divin Codino (translates as ‘The Divine Ponytail’), our Phil can now call himself The Blessed Hamstring, as he finds inner peace on his yoga mat, letting the troubles of Premier League football melt away to his wind-chimes tape, reinforcing the Manchester United team with his powerful chakras.
Now Manchester United have a guru in the ranks, can they win the title against all odds, thanks to Swami Jones?
Can it be that Spurs – home to the ‘Yid Army’ – are to be owned by the Qatari government in a £1billion takeover?
The Sun reports:
The Arabian nation’s sports minister Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali says they want a Premier League club as the Gulf state’s next sporting investment.
But Spurs… The Yids?
Al-Ani promised any takeover would include pumping in the kind of money that helped them transform Paris Saint-Germain from chronic under-achievers to French champions and an emerging European giant.
Nice idea. Problem is that PSG play in a one-team league. The Premier League is a bit trickier.
And with Tottenham owner Joe Lewis ready to talk business if a buyer meets his asking price, the North London side could be the next under foreign ownership.
Al-Ani said: “Of course Qatar wants to own a Premier League club. One hundred per cent. Here in Qatar we are very, very good in taking something and really transforming it into something very, very good. Even if it’s good we take it to another ste.”…
Al-Ani hinted they are looking at clubs ripe for plucking — and Spurs would head that list, especially with a new 56,000- capacity stadium coming.
Middlesbrough ‘Superfan’ Julie Philips banned from every ground in England for ripping up pages of the koran
Middlesbrough ‘Superfan’Middlesbrough ‘Superfan’ Julie Philips, 51, has been banned from entering every football ground across the country after being caught tearing pages out of a Koran in the crowd during her side’s 2-2 draw away against Birmingham City last December.
Boro fan Julie Phillips, 51, was found guilty and fined for using “religiously aggravated threatening or insulting behaviour” by Birmingham Magistrates’ Court back in May, with Teesside Magistrates’ Court following up today by banning her from every single football ground in England and Wales for the next three years.
As the Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard, Phillips was caught on stadium CCTV producing a copy of the Koran from her handbag during the game at St. Andrews before proceeding to tear up the pages and throw them into the air “like confetti” while reportedly chanting adorable little ditties about stabbing Muslims with bayonets.
In her defence, Phillips explained that football fans often tear up paper to use as confetti and that she had absolutely no idea the book she was carrying around in her handbag was the Islamic holy text.
Philips is a vicious idiot. But are her antics thought crimes?
Looking to buy tickets for the Bournemouth v Liverpool game at south coast’ club’s Goldsands stadium, (capacity: 11,700) Anorak was not all that surprised to see that the Capitol One Cup quarter-final clash was sold out. More intersting is how far AFC Bournemouth have come.
Wow! It’s big enough for France:
EVERYONE is queueing up to pay tribute to Thierry Henry, who announced his retirement from football today.
In his time at Arsenal alone, his stats were preposterously great. For the Gunners, he bagged a whopping 175 Premier League goals, and during his time there, he found the back of the net every 122 minutes. He also landed two Premier League titles, three FA Cups and two Community Shields, was part of the Invicibles, won four Golden Boots, hit 226 goals in all competitions, chipped in with over a century of assists and everyone kinda fancied him.
Not bad for a player who Arsene Wenger signed as a winger.
If you include the rest of his career, where he played for Monaco, Barcelona, Juventus and New York Red Bulls, Thierry managed to score 360 club goals in 792 games and bagged 51 goals in 123 matches for France.
His colleagues have been quick to tip praise all over him. Cesc Fabregas tweeted: “Sad to see the end to the career of one of the best players I’ve ever played with. A true legend.” Mesut Ozil said: “Once you enchanted all of us – now I can only say: Thanks for everything!”
Jamie Carragher added: “Defenders everywhere will be breathing a sigh of relief that he has hung his boots up. He was certainly the toughest opponent I ever faced and possibly the best player the Premier League has seen. I would have loved him to be on the same team as me during my playing career.”
With all that taken into account, let us look at some of the best (and worst) of Thierry Henry’s career!
Henry’s Finest Moment
For everything Henry has done, he’ll never top this photo of himself with a boombox.
Volley versus Manchester United
Possibly Henry’s most famous goal. Certainly one of the best goals ever scored on English soil.
Henry’s hat-trick against Liverpool
Henry could pretty much do everything, but his second goal in his famous hat-trick against Liverpool takes some beating.
Henry sees red
Thierry was no wimp and could throw himself around if needed. In the World Cup in 2002, he was Sent off for a late tackle against Uruguay during France’s disappointing tournament.
Henry wasn’t too shabby at Barcelona, winning the Champion’s League with them. His goal against Celtic is one of his best in the famous shirt.
When in the USofA, Thierry didn’t stop being brilliant and getting fans out of their seats. He scored a number of great goals, but our favourite is his effort against FC Dallas.
The Hand of Frog
Henry’s handball against Ireland in the World Cup play-off saw France on the plane to South Africa. The Irish were heartbroken and the thing that hurt most was the fact it was one of the most loved players on the planet who cheated an underdog out of the game.
How much do Arsenal love Titi? So much so, that they unveiled a bronze statue of him outside the Emirates Stadium. Weeks later, Henry returned to play for The Gunners during their 125th anniversary celebrations for a couple of months.
The King of Madrid
Trying to win at Real Madrid is difficult enough, but Henry popped up to score an inspired winner for a famous Arsenal victory in Spain!
The Comeback Goal
When Henry returned to Arsenal, he knew how to make a proper comeback. Getting behind the Leeds’ defence, he smoothly knocked the ball into the back of the net and the Gooners went properly wild. Magical moment.
Va Va Voom
Most footballers do advertisements that make you want to die. Not Thierry Henry. He suavely said “Hey! Bobby! What’s the French for Va Va Voom!” and played jazz drums with Animal from The Muppets. Brilliant.
Manchester City play Barcelona in the Champions’ League and the Sun talk is of war and fighting. The paper’s headline declares:
“I’ll Mess You Up”
Antony Kastrinakis has read Lionel Messi’a Facbeook page. Be afraid, City:
“Looking forward to playing in the next round of the Champions League. It’ll be really nice to face my friend Sergio Aguero as I always beat him at FIFA. But let’s see what happens on the pitch.”
EVERYONE who isn’t a Manchester United fan is currently irritated that they’re 3rd in the Premier League table as, after a long period of success, it would’ve been nice if they could’ve suffered just a bit longer.
Seeing as fans can’t mock their league position, here’s something to enjoy – one of their players has been dragged into a match-fixing scandal.
Man U midfielder Ander Herrera, along with Japan coach Javier Aguirre and Atletico Madrid captain Gabi and 38 others, have been named in a case of matchfixing involving a La Liga match in the 2010-11 season. Now, of course, everyone involved may well be innocent, which means we’ll have to say ‘allegedly’ a lot and, of course, enjoy this while it lasts.
So what’s the deal?
Well, Spain’s anti-corruption prosecutor has filed their case in a Valencia court today, following a probe into Real Zaragoza’s 2-1 win at Levante on the final day of the campaign. Fans of Spanish football will know that Zaragoza avoided relegation and that Aguirre was coach of the team at the time, which included Herrera and Gabi in the team.
Former Zaragoza president Agapito Iglesias and the club itself were also named as defendants, along with the rest of the players from both sides.
At the time of writing, a Real Zaragoza official had no comment to make, apart from the reiteration of the statement Zaragoza made on September 25th which said that they were “completely unaware” of events being investigated by the public prosecutor. Handily for them, the match occurred under a different board of directors, which means they’re probably telling the truth.
But what about the players?
In its court filing published today, the prosecutor alleged that the Levante players were paid a total of €965,000 (£766,000) in cash to deliberately lose the game.
It seems like a small amount of money for top flight football doesn’t it? It is almost quaint. You can imagine the defence in court might say: ‘Seriously though. These lads don’t need the money.’
The prosecutor added that they suspect Zaragoza first made bank transfers to its players and officials, including Aguirre, Herrera and Gabi, and they then took the money out of their accounts in cash and passed it on to the Levante players. It all sounds incredibly murky and if it is true, there could be some very damning penalties.
Of course, the team’s that were relegated instead of Zaragoza could seek compensation, just like Sheffield United did when it transpired that there were irregularities when West Ham signed Carlos Tevez, and he scored a goal that kept the Hammers in the league.
Where do we stand on footballers surrounding the referee, getting in his fave when a decision goes against their team? Today Manchester United profited from the linesman’s flag. The referee’s assidtant declined (wrongly) to raise his flag and Juan Mata’s headed goal stood. Should Liverpool have gone nuts, harranging the referee?
Henry Winter says they should’ve:
As United celebrated, as social media devoured footage of the incident, Liverpool players did not appeal, did not vent any anger. They accepted the injustice, a worrying sign for Rodgers as he seeks fight in his players. He would also have every right to question his players’ marking of Mata too.
As Manchester Unted play Liverpool in the Premier League, the Sun wonders what the most offensive thing United manager Louis Van Gaal has heard:
The Manchester United boss will be ready for anything from the stands when his side take on bitter rivals Liverpool. It would be difficult to top the Feyenoord sickos who taunted him when he was at Ajax and his first wife was dying of cancer.
Should they try to?
The ‘Iron Tulip’ was at the centre of an ugly episode with sections of supporters on his way to the title with Ajax in 1994. His wife, Fernanda, was dying of cancer and Feyenoord fans taunted LVG from the stands with a banner that translated as “cancer b****”.
After she passed away from liver and pancreatic cancer, LVG was targeted again with chant of “Louis van Gaal, he lives alone”.
At the time he said: “They were singing loud, I was the victim, that’s true. But I was able to analyse it and not let it get to me. That’s why I could bear it. It was just a group of the fans who sang.”
Over to you, Liverpool fans…
Robbie Savage is sticking up for Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers in the Daily Mirror:
Kop boss knows it’s not been good enough this season but Reds were closer to the Championship than the Champions League just three years ago
Three years ago – season 2011-2012 – Liverpool finished 8th. But, true enough, Liverpool were 17 points off a Champions’ League spot and 16 points of the relgation zone.
New Jersey’s The Record has news. It is “number one for breaking local news”:
“Nothing like 8-year-old file photos for Wichita State-Seton Hall,” tweets Wichita Eagle news editor Josh Wood.
artin Gottlieb, editor of The Record (Bergen County, NJ) apologises:
It was a deadline mistake by a remorseful night desk in sports that we’ve corrected online and run a correction about in print today. Everyone knows it should not have happened. Best, Marty
The unnamed man just happens to be Charlie Austin, Premier League side QPR’s main striker.
Such are the facts…
A college has been branded ‘offensive’ for arranging a trip to a Millwall football match so that students can observe ‘working class culture’.
Varndean College in Brighton says the trip will give students the chance to learn about ‘working class culture and habits’, ‘issues around sexuality, race and ethnicity’ and ‘women challenging gender norms’.
A poster displayed at the sixth form college also urges students to enjoy pies and Bovril and ‘even talk to fans’ at Brighton and Hove Albion’s American Express Community Stadium.
Writing in the Sun, Martin Blackburn has news on Manchester City’s affable manager Manuel Pellegrini:
Two years ago this month, City were beaten by Borussia Dortmund on a low-key night in Germany. They knew they were out of the Champions League — but it meant their three-point total was the lowest by an English team in the competition.
True enough. But…:
From then on, it was very tough going for ex-boss Roberto Mancini, even though he won the title seven months earlier. His side’s title defence was already in ruins, with city rivals United running away with the Premier League.
THE mess that has befallen the supporters of Hereford United took a fresh turn today, as the club have now been suspended “from all football activity” by the FA.
Hereford and club official Alan McCarthy have been punished for failure to comply with regulations under the owners’ and directors’ test and a statement from the FA said: “Having failed to comply with the orders of the Independent Regulatory Commission, both Hereford United and Alan McCarthy are suspended from all football and football activity with immediate effect.”
“The club and Mr McCarthy, Officer of Hereford United FC, were ordered to fully and correctly comply with their obligations under the Owners’ and Directors’ Test Regulations by 4pm on Thursday 4 December 2014.”
Arsenal fans calling for Arsene Wenger’s head. The naysayers who want Wenger out. The doom merchants and plastic fans who crave only success and weep and wail when they don’t get it. Piers Morgan.
This is not for you.
For all true Gooners who know that pain is part of the journey towards elation, cop a load of this refulgent strike by the wonderful Aaron Ramsey.