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Transfer Balls: Real Madrid in for Harry Kane at Spurs and Liverpool want Demirbay

Transfer Balls: undaunted by their apparent failure to recruit Aaron Ramsey from Arenal – he’s on his way to Bayern Munich, reportedly – AC Milan have begun talks with another player with ‘Arsenal captain’ on his CV, this time former Gooner and Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas. The 31-year-old has had enough of warming the bench at Chelsea and Italy beckons. 

Manchester United are ready to offer Roma’s 22-year-old Italy midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini twice his weekly wage. We’ve no idea what that amount to but estimates put it shy of Alexis Sanchez’s £500,000-a-week but north of what Marcus Rashford pockets by way of a monthly goal bonus. We are told, however, that Pellegrini will cost United £26m in transfer fees.

You can expect to hear lots about Harry Kane or Eden Hazard heading to Real Madrid because the Spaniards are desperate for a goalscorer, having worked out that Cristiano’s Ronaldo’s 50 goals a season were hard to replace. Gareth Bale, 29, and France’s Karim Benzema, 30, are not quite up the task. so Kane it is. A huge money offer will surely tempt Daniel Levy, the Spurs chairman. 

Finally, Hoffenheim central midfielder Kerem Demirbay is wanted by Liverpool. Another centre back for the Reds? Why not? 

Posted: 19th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Clickbait Watch: how to BAFFLE an Arsenal fan

baffled footballWriting clickbait for football fans is hard graft. All those budding hacks who dream of talking truth to power are reduced to spinning for clicks at sister newspapers the Daily Express, Daily Star and Daily Mirror.

Language is mangled. Simple facts are “revealed”. “Five things” are learned from watching paint dry. Rumours are mutated into ‘fact’. But every so often, clickbait talent emerges to connive a new meme for the SEO gurus running websites to applaud. Right now everyone at Arsenal – fans, players, Gunnersaurus – is “baffled”.

“Arsenal fans left baffled by Graeme Souness’ comments about Mesut Ozil” – Daily Mirror, October 23

“Lucas Torreira baffles Arsenal fans with what he did in training”  – Daily Mirror, October 10

“Arsenal fans left BAFFLED at staggering claim: ‘Are you mad? He can’t be serious'” – Daily Express, November 14

But it’s not just Arsenal being “baffled”:

“Jurgen Klopp baffled by remarkable Liverpool statistic” – Daily Mirror, Oct 19

“Graeme Souness leaves Manchester United fans baffled” – Daily Mirror, Oct 22

“Mohamed Salah leaves Liverpool fans baffled with social media post” – Daily Mirror, Oct 24

“Matteo Darmian leaves Manchester United fans baffled” – Daily Mirror, October 25

“Cesar Azpilicueta baffled by inconsistent Chelsea’s struggles” – Daily Mirror, Oct 26

“Celebrity Gogglebox: Fans baffled by Dele Alli’s composer comment” – Irish Mirror, Oct 26

“Man Utd news: David De Gea baffled by what Jose Mourinho said” – Daily Express, October 31

“Chelsea news: Sky Sports pundit baffled by one Maurizio Sarri” – Daily Star, Nov 4

“Manchester United fans left baffled by Paul Pogba’s ‘heartbreak’ haircut” – Manchester Evening News* Nov 4

* The MEN is sister title to the Star, Express and Mirror. It’s true? Unless you’re a football fan, in which case it’s baffling!

Posted: 16th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Key Posts, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer Balls: Spurs and Arsenal in for Bailly as Manchester United get a new defence

Transfer Balls: José Mourinho will change Manchester United’s defence early next year. From “When we win it’s all down to me; when we lose it was everyone else”, the new defence will feature new defenders. United plan to bring Toby Alderweireld and Diego Godin to Old Trafford in January, and get rid of Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo. Spurs and Arsenal both like Bailly; Everton fancy Rojo; and Smalling could return to Fulham. Godin, 32, could cost £53m. 

In London, Arsenal will be waving a none-too-teary adieu to Aaron Ramsey, the midfield who resisted signing a new contract for so long that even Arsene Wenger left. He’s off to play for Bayern Munich. Either than or Ramey will be a sub at Chelsea or Liverpool. Arsenal and Chelsea are both looking at spry Atlético Mineiro right-back Emerson. And reports from Italy says AC Milan want to sign Liverpool’s Brazil midfielder Fabinho, 25, (who he?) in January. 

Over at West Ham, Marko Arnautovic, 29, wants a weekly living wage of £200,000 to continue working at the London Stadium. If he does;t get it then he could be off, possibly to Manchester United. 

Posted: 16th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Martial offers 45m reasons to stay at Manchester United

Transfer Balls: how much is Anthony Martial worth to Manchester United? Whoah, there. That’s a rhetorical question. The answer is £45m. That’s a lot of money for a player who was on his way out when his current contract expires at the season’s end. United do have an option to extend that by one year. But Martial holds the cards. So United will sign him up on a new deal and then flog him when Jose Mourinho starts calling him names. The Sun says the new deal will last for five-year deal and earn the Frenchman £190,000-a-week. The paper doesn’t say if that figure includes extra cash for doing his job – scoring goals; being on the winning team; getting selected – or the absurd ‘loyalty bonus’. But it’s decent money, albeit not in the Alexis Sanchez bracket of more than double that figure. You get real value at United.

Manchester United also fancy Sampdoria’s 22-year-old Danish defender Joachim Andersen. No idea what his fee would be, but Inter Milan’s 23-year-old defender Milan Skriniar, a player wanted by United, is reportedly worth £100m, according to the club’s manager Luciano Spalletti.

Away from Old Trafford, Chelsea and Bayern Munich are chasing Lyon’s Nabil Fekir. The Star says the man who looked to be on his way to Liverpool last summer could arrive in London. Joining him in the Smoke is Lille winger Nicolas Pepe, 23, who has “welcomed speculation linking him with Arsenal”, says the BBC. How that plays out with his team-mates is moot.

 

Posted: 8th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Spurs fear, Dembele to Liverpool, Newcastle wait and Sanchez plots Manchester United escape

Tottenham players “fear” Mauricio Pochettino is to leave the club for Real Madrid or Manchester United. Which Spurs players are in dread of the Argentine leaving, and maybe taking them along for the ride and the huge hike on wages that would come with it, is unsaid by the BBC. Over in the Telegraph that “fear” is reduced to a mere “feeling”. The Sun tell us that Real Madrid will double Pochettino’s wages to £17m a year. How it knows that is moot. It just does. It feels it.

But why would Pochettinho want a job with a shorter shelf life than a Halloween pumpkin? AS tells us that former Real Madrid star Michael Laudrup has rejected down the chance to become the club’s new manager. Fair enough. After all, Marca told us former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte would be appointed as soon as Real sacked Julen Lopetegui as manager. He wasn’t. Meanwhile, the Mail says Belgium manager and former Everton and Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is the white-hot favourite to become the next Real Madrid chief. Or as the Guardian puts it: “Mauricio Pochettino has emerged as Real Madrid’s No 1 choice.”

To recap: they don’t know.

In other news, Alexis Sanchez is off to play at PSG, says the BBC. Manchester Untied will replace their striker by digging huge hole in the ground and pouring £600,000-a-week into it.

And then some bigger news in Spain’s Sport. Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé is to be shunted out of the club this January. He turned up late for a game, we read, and Barcelona “have decided to act strongly on the issue”. Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea all want the Frenchman. Will it happen? Dunno. Back in August the Express told its readers: “Arsenal transfer news: Gunners make £90MILLION bid for Barcelona star Ousmane Dembele.” They didn’t.

And finally, get this from the BBC: “Newcastle are understood to be ready to offer Rafa Benitez the contract extension he wants – providing he is prepared to wait for certain requests.” Such as his discount voucher for Sports Direct and a chance to win the Championship.

 

Posted: 31st, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Martial wants to stay at Manchester United

Do Manchester United buy players to fit the team or advance the global brand? Rumours abound that Manchester United want to sell Paul Pogba but any exit would blow a big hole in the club’s marketing scheme. The trick for United is less who wants Pogba, but which mega-star replaces him and why they’d want to? The Mail says the marketeers who run United are stuck on who could match Pogba’s commercial value. Think less of the overrated player and more of how much merchandise he shifts.

The media is full of stories about how Pogba would leap at the chance to join Barcelona – he’d leap higher than he did when he lost Antonio Rüdiger at a corner for Chelsea’s opening goal last weekend. The bigger question is: why would Barcelona want the hype-powered France footballer whose shown few signs of being worth a fraction of his £90m fee that took him from Juventus to United? The still bigger question is: why would Barcelona spend £200m for the privilege?

Another Frenchman less than chuffed with life at Manchester United is French forward Anthony Martial, 22. Last week he was all set to see out his contract and leave on a free. Today the BBC says he’s ready to to stay at the club. First Jose Mourinho heaps prise on Luke Shaw, a man he once branded a brainless plodder, seeing to it that the asset nearing the end of his contract was awarded a new contract; now Jose starts praising and picking Martial just as he looked all set to leave for nought. Who picks the side at United: Mourinho or the moneymen who run the club?

The Sun says LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks set to rejoin Manchester United on loan during the MLS off-season. He’s one for the future.

Across town, Manchester City fancy Juventus’ Brazilian full-back Alex Sandro, 27, and Japan midfielder Ritsu Doan. Down south, a resurgent Arsenal are monitoring Ajax’s Argentina left-back Nicolas Tagliafico, 26. Chelsea are closing in on 18-year-old Italian midfielder Sandro Tonali. And Crystal Palace like Inter striker Gabriel Barbosa, whose on loan at Santos having failed to command a place with the Italians. Barbosa tells Marca his “intention is to go to a place where I can be as happy as I am here [at Santos]”. Palace it is, then.

And Wolves – they’re after Inter Milan’s 25-year-old Portuguese midfielder Joao Mario and a striker. Maria is also liked by Leicester and Southampton.

Posted: 25th, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Chelsea’s Ross Barkley gets rid of his tattoos

Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley says he got his tattoos removed because he “got them at a young age and sometimes when you are young you do stupid things and not think about it. But I went into it too quick and over the years I felt I wanted to get them removed, so I went through the process in the last couple of years.”

 

Barkley got his first cry for help and sign of low-self esteem, sorry, tattoo, when he was 14. He just kept filling in the gaps with crosses, words, faces, stars and swirls until his armed looked as confusing and unnecessary as a Where’s Wally cartoon, only without the purpose.

But not of that lasering and scabbing off means Ross is off tatts forever. “I would never rule out getting another,” he says, “maybe when I have kids I might have something done to go with that. I don’t know.”

Whereas once we had the high-street portrait photographer to serve up awkward family photos, we now have the inkologists who can draw the face of your beloved nipper on your arms, back, chest or, well, face, leading to the full meta line, “He looks just like his dad.”

Posted: 22nd, October 2018 | In: Chelsea, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United chase Koulibaly, Arsenal take Malcolm on loan from Arsenal and Chelsea underpay Hazard

Cancel the trip to Jose Mourinho’s hotel room in Manchester and the one-way ticket to Real Madrid, Eden Hazard will stay at Chelsea. The BBC says Chelsea will offer their best player £350,000-a-week to stay at the club. This, says the Express, will make Hazard “the highest-paid player in the Premier League”. Which is odd because the Express says Alexis Sanchez is the league’s number one earner on £500,000-a-week.

 

daily express sanchez

Daily Express facts by Dany Wilson October 2 2018

 

As the Express delivers the facts and then fact that counter those facts in a SEO blizzard of utter balls, the Express also says struggling Real Madrid want to hire Raheem Sterling to bolster a forward line missing Cristiano Ronaldo’s 50-odd goals a season. There are no facts to support the claim. The Mirror says Sterling wants more money to stay at Manchester City, who will of course find it down the back of the sofa.

Finally, the Star says Arsenal fancy taking Barcelona’s Brazilian winger Malcom, 21, on loan in January. That’s be the same Malcolm the press told us had agreed to join Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester United before he went to Spain.

More facts from the twilight zone of football reporting every day…

Posted: 21st, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Hazard to Manchester United because he loves Chelsea

Is Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea for Manchester United? Surely not. But the Manchester Evening News implies that United is on the brilliant Belgian’s radar. The Twitter feed for the Manchester Evening News dedicated to Manchester United news – “Manchester United Football Club news from the Manchester Evening News” – tweets a photo of Hazard and a link to a story on the paper’s site. In anyone still can’t understand the story that Hazard is looking at his “future plans” which seem to included a move to Manchester United, the paper includes the tag ‘#mufc”.

 

eden hazard manchester united

hazard mufc

 

Taking the bait, we click the link and are told:

 

hazard cheslea

 

Words form Hazard on playing for Manchester United: nil. In fact, the MEN merely ping readers a post by Sky Sports, in which Hazard says he loves Chelsea and could end his playing days there:

 

hazard chelsea

 

So what is the story on Hazard that will be of interest to Manchester United fans? Oh:

Eden Hazard reveals his future plans
The Chelsea superstar previously revealed he would love to work with Jose Mourinho again, but that’s not going to happen unless the United boss ends up back at Stamford Bridge for a THIRD spell it seems:

Total tosh from the trusty MEN.

Posted: 19th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United, Spurs and Chelsea in a ‘bidding war’ for Ake

Manchester United, Spurs and Chelsea are all in for Netherlands international Nathan Ake, 23. Well, so says the BBC. And United and Spurs “will have to wait” to see if Chelsea want to re-sign the player they sold to Bournemouth. So that’s three top clubs who all want Ake in a story that has taken on a life of its own.

Over in the Telegraph we learn that as part of Ake’s £20 million transfer to Bournemouth, Chelsea negotiated “a gentleman’s agreement that would allow them to re-sign him for a fee of around £40m”. What utter tosh. Football club’s do not employ lawyers on multi-million pound deals to work with a handshake. And then this:

There has not yet been any sign that Chelsea are ready to try to take Ake back to Stamford Bridge and any move to re-sign him would have to be agreed by the player. But a summer bid from either Spurs or United would force Bournemouth to offer Chelsea the opportunity to make a move and leave the other two clubs sweating.

This transfer news is tosh. But that doesn’t top the Express from milking the balls to produce the gem: “Man Utd news: Nathan Ake transfer battle takes fresh twist, Chelsea hold the key.”

When asked if he’d read the story of his transfer to Spurs, Ake told Football Oranje: “I’ve also seen it pass by, but of course it’s rumours. At the moment I play everything at Bournemouth and that goes well, so I focus on that. If I’ve already signed in London? No, certainly not. This does not say much about my status yet, they are rumours that come on the internet and as long as I do not hear anything myself, I will not go into that.” The story on the Dutch website was titled: “Ake to Tottenham: its only rumours.”

Mentions of Manchester United: nil. The story is about interest from Spurs. But the Daily Star hears the same words and manages to report:”NATHAN AKE has addressed the rumours surrounding his future amid reported interest from Manchester United.” In The Metro it’s: “Nathan Ake speaks out on Manchester United transfer speculation.” “Nathan Ake breaks silence on Manchester United speculation as Bournemouth defender addresses future,” chimes the Mirror.

All newspapers connive to omit the part where Ake says he’s not signed “in London“. Worse still, the Metro thunders: “Man Utd transfer news: Nathan Ake responds to Jose Mourinho interest.” Words from Mourinho: zero. But as the Mail says in a story about a “bidding war” for Ake, “Jose Mourinho, who worked with Ake at Chelsea, wants to revamp his defence with Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof failing to impress the Portuguese tactician.”

Ake did play for Chelsea nine times. But he was loaned out to Reading, Watford and Bournemouth. Aké made his Premier League debut on 26 December 2012 – when Rafa Benitez was Chelsea manager. Under Mourinho, Ake only made one league appearance, as a substitute in a 3–0 loss at West Bromwich Albion on 18 May.

Such are the facts.

 

 

Posted: 16th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester City’s Foden to Dortmund, Hazard’s Chelsea dream and Manchester United want Ake

Borussia Dortmund are keen to hire Manchester City’s cake-loving reserve Phil Foden to keep Jadon Sancho company. All the noises from those with vested interests in young Foden earning loads money at City say he’s very happy at the club. But he hardly plays for the first team, and if a big name in his position became available, City would surely swoop and push Foden further down the hierarchy. RB Leipzig and PSG also want Foden, but Dortmund with their reputation for developing young talent must be the pick.

Bournemouth’s Nathan Aké is talking about a rumoured move to Manchester United. “I’ve seen it pass by but of course it’s rumours,” says the former Chelsea loanee. “At the moment I play at Bournemouth and that is going well, so I focus on that. This does not say much about my status yet. They are rumours on the internet and as long as I do not hear anything myself, I will not go into that.” No comment is still a comment, Nathan. But he’s not heard anything himself about the things he’s chatting about to Dutch journalists so let’s just leave him alone.

Still at Chelsea is Eden Hazard, who having stated it his childhood “dream” to play for Real Madrid, no says he won’t head to Spain in January. He also says he won’t ever force a move to Madrid. Instead, he’ll just keep on talking about his ambitions in Spain, batting his eyelashes and seemingly talking abut Madrid every single day.

Heading back to Chelsea is midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, 24. Reports are that AC Milan have “threatened” to cancel his loan deal because of “defects in his game”.

Arsenal are looking at cheaper options than Hazard, like Rennes’s Ismaila Sarr and Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz. They’re said to be promising, young, athletic, skilful and cheap. You know the story. Some things at Arsenal never change.

At the other end of the pay scale, Manchester United are all ready to offer Spain goalkeeper David de Gea a new deal that would make the 27-year-old the club’s highest earner – m re than the £600,000-a-week they pay Alexis Sanchez to kiss the badge.

As for Spurs, well, Madrid captain Ramos says Harry Kane would be great in La Liga, and Mousa Dembélé will quit the cub at the season’s end to live out his own fantasy at Beijing Sinobo Guoan in the Chinese (Not So) Super League.

Posted: 15th, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Chelsea offer fans free trips to Auschwitz

Chelsea are to send their racist fans on a free holiday to Auschwitz instead of banning them. In the 1980s, that would have meant a large group booking. But the days when Chelsea was a recruiting round for the NF are long past. The few remaining goons and would-be gassers able to afford tickets to a club owned by a Russian Jew are being addressed by Chelsea’s chairman, Bruce Buck, who says educating racists by way of visits to a Nazi death camp can “make them want to behave better”.

 

chelsea thugs

We’ve come a long way, baby

 

“If you just ban people, you will never change their behaviour,” says Buck in the Sun. “This policy gives them the chance to realise what they have done, to make them want to behave better. In the past we would take them from the crowd and ban them, for up to three years. Now we say: ‘You did something wrong. You have the option. We can ban you or you can spend some time with our diversity officers, understanding what you did wrong.’

Ban me. Ban me now! Are the fans singing nasty songs all bigots, or are they just letting off steam and trying to wind up the opposition, most notably the self-styled ‘Yid Army’ who follow Spurs? Context matters. Don’t real racists boycott clubs owned by Jews and staffed by players from all over the world, many of whom are black?

No-one sane goes to the football to be re-educated. But Chelsea have a cause. Last week, the Blues showed a new film at the Houses of Parliament, which featured offensive chants, social media posts and images from the Holocaust. Said Buck: “We are just trying to make a dent in the antisemitism in this world. Over time we hope to make a real contribution for good to society.”

And you thought football was just a fun leisure activity.

Posted: 12th, October 2018 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Abramovich wants $3billion for Chelsea and Manchester United offload Pogba

“We’re the biggest sports team in the world,” declared Ed Woodward, the Manchester United chief executive. A few hours after that boast, Derby County arrived at Old Trafford and booted United out of the Carabao Cup. That was preceded by Jose Mourinho, United’s miserabilist manager telling the club’s most expensive recruit, the well-marketed Paul Pogba, he’ll never captain the club again. Pogba wants to play for Barcelona, just as he wanted to leave United to play for Juventus, which he did, before coming “home” for £89m and earning the chance to fulfil his dream. The Mirror says Pogba will cost Barcelona £200m – which would give money-mad United a massive profit on a player who, if style and putting bums on seat, should outlast Mourinho at the club.

In other news, Cristiano Ronaldo is to return to Real Madrid after he’s used up the Touche Eclat at Juventus. “He is one of those that one day will come back,” said Real Madrid president, Florentino Pérez. “I think that he is one of those players who will be in the hearts of the Madrid fans and will be remembered from generation to generation.” But when will return? Who knows but expect lots of stories on ifs and whens.

To finish: Arsenal like the look of Rennes’ 20-year-old Senegal winger Ismaila Sarr, who, says the Mirror, has been “likened” to Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele. In what way the cheap young blade is like the very pricey Barcelona star we’re not told. Maybe he just looks like him and the Arsenal board will sign the lad, print ‘Dembele’ on his shirt.

But the biggest transfer news of all is that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich wants at least £3bn to sell the club, according to Bloomberg.

Abramovich bought Chelsea out of near-bankruptcy in 2003 for £140 million (about $223 million at the time) and has since loaned the club more than £1.1 billion. Until he came along, Chelsea hadn’t won the top domestic trophy, the Premier League title, since 1955. His big spending changed all that and set off a kind of arms race in English football. In some ways, it was similar to the U.S. model: Buy talent, buy titles, and sell merchandise and media rights. But unlike owners of American sports teams, Abramovich didn’t seem bothered by racking up huge losses. (And he didn’t have to contend with caps on spending, until new rules came into force in 2010.) At the Arsenal game, Chelsea supporters taunted their rivals with the chant “We’ve won it all!” to which Arsenal fans sang in response, “You’ve bought it all!”

Chelsea fans still love their high-rolling owner, even as the U.K. government hits back at the Kremlin. Now Abramovich is mulling a sale of Chelsea, frustrated by his British visa problems and concerned about the potential fallout should the U.S. expand sanctions against wealthy Russians and target him. He’s already rejected bids for the club in excess of $2.3 billion—which would be a world-record price for a sports team—according to people familiar with the talks. Earlier this year, Abramovich hired Raine Group LLC, a merchant bank in New York, to advise on the possibility of a full or partial sale of the club. A person familiar with the discussions says Abramovich wants £3 billion. Abramovich’s representatives declined multiple requests for comment for this story and insisted all communication go through his lawyers, who also declined to comment.

If Chelsea is worth that much, imagine what the world’s biggest sports brand, Manchester United, are worth? And then try to work out the motives of the person who’d buy it…

Posted: 26th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal, West Ham and Manchester City can’t find enough bankers to fill their grounds

The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) says every empty seat at the Emirates is “a tragedy for those who want to watch but can’t get in”. Too true. The suits buy the pricey seats then can’t be arsed to attend. And it could be a scam. Just as Facebook promises to show your advert to a defined number of accounts, a large proportion of which turn out to be operated by robots not humans, thus making the deal much more costly per head than advertised, Arsenal say the official average crowd for home games last season was 57,054. Balls, says the AST. It says the real average attendance was around 46,000. Any advertisers and sponsors are paying potentially 20% over the odds to reach the fans.

The BBC has  more:

West Ham: Newham council says the average attendance at West Ham was 42,779 based on the 12 games it attended – which is 12,530 fans fewer than the club’s season average figure of 55,309.

Manchester City: Greater Manchester Police’s average figures were 7,482 lower than club figures, again based on 12 games.

Southampton: Hampshire Police figures were an average of 4,246 fans lower than figures issued by the club.

Tottenham: Brent Council says crowds at Wembley Stadium were on average 3,740 less than the club’s stated numbers.

Chelsea: Hammersmith and Fulham council says its average was 3,505 fans lower than club numbers, based on six games.

And the most honest club whose figures were shared with the BBC was Manchester United. Trafford Council and Greater Manchester Police both said United’s published attendance figures matched its own, based on 12 games.

Why does it happen?

Most teams in the Premier League choose to publicise the number of tickets sold for a game rather than the number of people actually in the stadium. That means they include season ticket holders who don’t attend, and complimentary tickets that are not used.

If only you could still pay on the gate and just rock up with your mates. It’s all so corporate and organised. Where is the next generation of fans coming from?

 

Posted: 12th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


West Ham guarantee Pellegrini £15m for losing every match

Do managers who score a job at a Premier League club need to try hard? Players on contracts of £50,000 a week have no need to perform to the best of their abilities, train with an obsessive desire to be the best and give it 110%. The managers job is to make them want to win. Bu what if the manager is Winston Bogarde in a suit?

Bogarde signed for Chelsea, hardly played and rather than seek opportunities at another club reasoned: “Why should I throw fifteen million Euro away when it is already mine? At the moment I signed it was in fact my money, my contract.” By the time his four-year £40,000 a week deal had ended, Bogarde had played 11 times. “This world is about money,” said Bogarde, “so when you are offered those millions you take them. Few people will ever earn so many. I am one of the few fortunates who do. I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership but I don’t care.” He is now – get this – a coach at Ajax in his native Holland.

So to the news that Manuel Pellegrini is due £15m if he’s sacked by West Ham. Played four, lost four is not an inspiring start to Pellegrini’s Hammers career. West Ham’s owners, doubtless thrilled by Pellegrini’s results at Hebei China Fortune, gave him a £5m-a-year three-year deal that means his contract is paid in full unless both sides agree a severance package. Why would Pellegrini change terms that are so favourable to him? West Ham can lose every match, but their manager cannot be defeated.

And what of the players? West Ham invested £98 million on new blood over the summer. And someone thought it a good idea to get Jack Wilshere from Arsenal on a three-year contract worth £15 million. Have they seen his injury record?

But no fear. West Ham have time to recover and make their elegant but soulless home ground a fortress. Their next three Premier League matches are Everton (away), Chelsea (home) and Manchester United (home).

Posted: 4th, September 2018 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Chelsea lead race for Real Madrid bound Lewandowski

After a disappointing World Cup, Poland striker Robert Lewandowski should console himself with his imminent relocation from Bayern Munich to Real Madrid. “Robert Lewandowski’s manager, Pini Zahavi, has come to an agreement with Real Madrid over his client moving to Los Blancos at the end of the season,” trilled Joe.ie in June. “Man Utd news: Robert Lewandowski agrees personal terms with Real Madrid,” echoed the Metro. “CHELSEA and Manchester United have been dealt a huge transfer blow after Robert Lewandowski agreed personal terms with Real Madrid,” announced the Star.

But hold on a moment. It turns out that all that news was bunkum. “Striker ‘tells Bayern Munich he wants to leave’ as Chelsea consider bid,” says today’s Sun. So much for the “huge blow” to Chelsea.  Or not. Because a few days ago Bild told its readers that Lewansdowski has decided tor remain at Bayern. Or as talkSport puts it: “Chelsea are ahead of Real Madrid and Manchester United in the race to sign Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski this summer.”

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 30th, July 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Chelsea want Arsenal’s Cech and Liverpool target Alisson

Goalkeepers are the subject of today’s transfer news round-up. It turns out that Liverpool will not be sticking with Loris Karius, who, as the BBC puts it, was “found” to be suffering from concussion when he gifted Real Madrid two goals in the Champions’ League final. Cynics suggested the discovery of Karius’s concussion might be part of a plan to keep his stock high when it comes to flogging the hapless German. That view was boosted by his performance against Preston when the 25-year-old German “spilled a free-kick” that allowed the hosts to score in Liverpool’s 3-2 win.

There was tabloid talk of Liverpool sticking with Karius, backing the man and who cannot be blamed for his medical plight. But then Liverpool tabled a £62m offer for Roma’s Brazil goalkeeper Alisson. Last time Liverpool went shopping in Rome they brought back Mo Salah. Can they strike gold with Alisson?

And will they get him? News from Italy is that Chelsea want Alisson, a pursuit linked to Real Madrid’s intention to sign Thibaut Courtois, 26, for £31m. Should Chelsea fail to get Alison, the Blues will move to re-sign 36-year-old Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech from Arsenal or Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel, 31.

Posted: 18th, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Spurs ‘flop’ Modric to Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool

A headline is an opinion, which is why the Daily Express can call Croatia’s brilliant midfielder Luka Modric a “Spurs flop”. The full headline used to seduce readers to click on the paper’s story runs: “From Spurs flop to World Cup semi – the rise of Luka Modric.” Total balls, of course. Modric was great at Spurs. He joined Spurs on April 26, 2008 for around £17 million. He was good enough to attract the attention of Chelsea – who offed £40m for him – and Real Madrid, who signed Modric for a fee in the region of £30m. “Luka has been a terrific player for us and, while we preferred not to part with him, we are pleased that it is to Real Madrid, ” said Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy. At Real, Modric has been instrumental in the club winning the Champions League four times in the last six seasons.

And so to the Express’s story about this “Spurs flop”. Matthew Dunn calls Modric a “prodigious talent”. It “pained Tottenham to lose their midfield gem”. “His energy in midfield coupled with his reading of the game meant that whenever a team-mate was in trouble, Modric was always an out-ball.”

 

modric spurs

 

Others spotted the chasm between headline and story. Dunn responded to criticism on twitter:

“Thanks to all who’ve taken the trouble to say what they think of me based on one word in a headline, since changed, that I didn’t even write. By my reckoning, only one of you took the trouble to read the 842 words I did write. Thanks btw @chilly_spurs”

Sure enough, the Express clickbait factory did change the headline to: “Luka Modric: How the quiet Croatia star evolved from Tottenham to become a World Cup hero.” Time for Dunn to have a word with the hacks to run the website. But it’s unlikely the clickbaiters will listen. The paper’s other news on Modric is that he is joining Arsenal:

 

daily express modric arsenal

 

And the story?

Modric is likely to leave Real Madrid at the end of the season with the Croatia international’s form waning this season… And Spanish website Diario Gol say the veteran could make a stunning move to Arsenal.

He’s a flop!

The story contains no link to the source of the scoop. And the paper of record does not stop there. Modric is heading to Arsenal AND Liverpool, says the Express:

 

modric liverpool

 

That story contains not a single fact linking Modric to either Arenal or Liverpool. But the Express does not stop there. Modric is also going to play for Manchester United:

 

 modric manchester united

 

What is the “one reason” Modric will join United? Want to know what it is? Is it that he loves Manchester? Not quite. Jack Otway has the facts:

It is claimed Real will offer the player a new deal.

Who made that claim? Otway doesn’t say. But he does tell us:

But that will only be until 2020 and Modric, who feels he can play at the top level for many more years, may want a longer contract.

He may. He may not.

That is where United can intervene. However, whether Real allow another key asset to leave the club remains to be seen.

More shameless tosh in the Express every day.

Posted: 13th, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer Balls: Ronaldo to Facebook, Higuain to Chelsea, Dybala to Liverpool

All that guff about Cristiano Ronaldo returning ‘home’ to Manchester United is over – well, it is until his four-year contract with Juventus ends, at which point the British Press will doubtless rekindle the story of the then 37-year-old fulfilling his ‘dream’ move to Old Trafford.

At Juventus, Ronaldo will earn around £73,000 a day at Juventus, plus the huge fee he earned as part of the £99.2m transfer fee that prised him away from Real Madrid.

The shiny one is due another huge payday should he sign a deal allowing Facebook to broadcast a 13-part reality show on on his depilation techniques and other key life moments. Facebook will pay £9m to watch and report on Ronaldo’s every waking moment. This is about £9m more than the rest of us get to have Facebook spy on us.

As Ronaldo buffs Turin, more big moves are expected to follow. Former Real Madrid and England manager Fabio Capello says Juventus’s Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain, 30, is now a dead cert to leave for Chelsea. There are no such things as done deals until the deal is done, of course, something the Sun nows only too well, it having reported Higuain’s move to Arsenal (a story that still sits as fact on the paper’s website).

 

higuain transfer arsenal

 

 

And Liverpool will offer £80m for Juventus’ Argentine forward Paulo Dybala, 24. The Reds have the cash but why would Juve sell their two star strikers?

There’s also a lot of talk of Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, 27, moving to Real Madrid. Chelsea are in a state of disarray. So the sensible thing would be to sell their best player, right?

Posted: 11th, July 2018 | In: Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Chelsea buy Higuain who joins Arsenal and waits for Ronaldo

The Daily Mail says that Chelsea are to sign Juventus and Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain for £53m. Just as soon as Chelsea tell Antonio Conte to vet thee hence, they will recruit Maurizio Sarri from Napoli as their new manager and get Higuain. Or not.

Sky Sports hears Higuain’s agent say that nothing has been agreed and his man has not spoken to Chelsea. And the Times says Conte is not going quietly. The paper says someone on Chelsea’s technical staff emailed players not involved at the World Cup to tell them to report to the club’s training ground this weekend for fitness tests. Conte saw the missive and told everyone that the manager – him – doesn’t want to see any players until the following Monday.

As Chelsea’s pre-season implodes, it’s worth noting that Higuain plays for Arsenal. The Sun told us he does:

 

higuain arsenal sign

 

That was 2013. And the story is still on the Sun’s website, having been updated in 2016 – when Higuain still wasn’t playing for Arsenal.

Says the Sun:

ARSENAL last night smashed their transfer record when they agreed a £23million fee for Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain….

The Argentine will undergo a Gunners medical today…

The deal, which has been confirmed by the player’s father Jorge…

Now Wenger wants to build on Higuain’s imminent arrival by pressing ahead with negotiations for Wayne Rooney and Julio Cesar.

 

higuain arsenal

 

Now the Sun has more to say about Higuain:

 

chelsea higuain

 

Higuain to Chelsea is a done deal. Fact.

Or as, er, the Sun says one day later:

 

chelsea higuain

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 5th, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Chelsea and Belgium’s Michy Batshuayi celebrates by kicking ball into his own face

Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi celebrated Adnan Januzaj’s winning strike for Belgium in their 1-0 win over a palsied England by slamming the ball against the post. The post responded by firing the ball at Batshuayi’s face.

 

 

In other news: England are still England.

PS: Adnan Januzaj used to be English:

Posted: 28th, June 2018 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Asensio ‘agrees’ to Chelsea, secretly wants Manchester United and courts Arsenal and Liverpool

Transfer balls round-up now, readers, as Liverpool are linked with a £158m move for Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio. The Guardian says Asensio, 22, has “refused” to rule out any move. This usually means the player said nothing on the matter. But the player who signed a six-year contract with Real last September – it has a £442m buyout clause – did speak. When asked at a press conference if he was heading to Liverpool, Asensio looked perplexed and replied: “When the World Cup is over, we’ll talk about that sort of thing.” But according to Metro, Asensio is to hold  “crunch talks” with Real Madrid.

Should it not go to plan, Liverpool will splurge a massive wedge of cash on the midfielder who played a full minute in the Champion’s League final.

As the Daily Star tells British reader that Liverpool are “preparing” to buy Asensio, AS (Spain) rubbishes any link. “Asensio only has eyes for Real,” says the paper. “The forward is determined to fulfil his lifelong dream and be a success at the Santiago Bernabéu and, as things stand, no offer – no matter how enticing – will change his mind.” In a world where Neymar can leave Barcelona and then agitate for a move to their great rivals, Real, Asensio has a price. The trick for his agent is to find it. Good idea, then, to see his name being linked to the world’s richest clubs:

 

asensio transfer

 

The guff about Asensio leaving the glory for Real to play for Arsenal worked. He scored a great new longterm contract.

So why not see if that can be improved upon? Liverpool want shim. And so too do:

 

 

asensio transfer

 

asensio arsenal

 

asensio transfer

Asensio agrees’ — nothing

 

So that’s Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United all in for Asensio. Yeah – what about moneybags Man City? The Express has that covered:

asensio transfer

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 27th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Clickbait balls: Hazard keeps agreeing to leave Chelsea for Real Madrid

On a break from advertising biscuits, Chelsea and Belgium footballer Eden Hazard is doing his best to alienate the club’s fans. Well, he is if the BBC and Sun’s back-page headline is to be believed. “Belgium forward Eden Hazard, 27, has warned his club side Chelsea that ‘Real Madrid could interest me’,” says the BBC. The Sun leads: “EDEN WARNING – Eden Hazard has warned the club he will quit unless they sort things out in the summer.” Warning your employer to work hard to please you is an iffy move. But is that what Hazard really said in an interview with L’Equipe before he flew to Moscow for the World Cup?

What can we believe? Reporting on Hazard is so much more clickbait than fact.

 

hazard chelsea the sun real madrid

 

On January 11, the Sun reported: “EDEN HAZARD has NOT agreed to join Real Madrid in the summer, despite reports.”

Reports like… this one in the Sun from July 2o17. The word ‘agrees’ is in inverted commas but fro SEO purposes hazard to Real Madrid is a statement of fact.

 

hazard chelsea the sun real madrid

 

Not that the Sun is alone in milking the ‘Hazard has gone nowhere for years’ story. In January the Independent said Hazard was staying at Chelsea. Fact.

 

hazard chelsea the sun real madrid

 

The Express told its readers: “…the Belgium international has now quashed rumours that he will leave the Blues by confirming he intends to sign a new deal…However, he has claimed he will not do so until his fellow countryman Thibaut Courtois has also extended his stay at Stamford Bridge.”

Really? No. He said nothing of the sort.

So much for the trusty Express, then, which performed the same trick as the Sun in gearing news for the robots. Like the Sun, the Express said Hazard ‘agrees’ to join Real Madrid. But because Google’s bots don’t read those conniving inverted commas, Hazard to Real is a statement of fact:

 

express hazard transfer

 

So will Hazard remain at Chelsea or leave for Real Madrid? This is what he said when pressed on his future as quoted in the Sun:

“I will stay at Chelsea if the team is better than it was last season. I don’t want to stay if we are less good,” says Hazard, who might reflect on is role in the team and how you can know next season is better before its been played? “It would be too easy for me to say that I want to leave because I have done it all. I have won everything bar the Champions League in London. I am where I am in my career thanks to Chelsea. Above all I would love to know what will happen at the club next season. I will wait and see whether the manager stays or goes. As everybody knows, Real Madrid could interest me. But if tomorrow they don’t want me, I won’t talk about them any more. If they want to buy me they know what they have to do.”

And this is what he said in May, as quoted by the Guardian:

The 27-year-old knows his next contract could well be the last in his prime. “That’s why I’m taking my time,” he said. “It’s something big, so I need to think about a lot of things. But one thing is for sure: I’m happy here.”

Asked to elaborate on the factors that would influence his decision, he added: “I’m waiting for new players next season. I want good players, because I want to win the Premier League next season.

“Like I’ve said many times before, I think the FA Cup final is not my last game for Chelsea. It’s the last game of the season, that’s it. After the World Cup then we will be ready for the next season. But, for me in my mind, I’m here. I have one week to play now. Saturday is a massive game, I just want to win, for me and them also.”

He’s not warning Chelsea over anything, is he? Hazard’s Chelsea contract runs til 2020. He’s not going anywhere unless Real Madrid or any other club pay a huge transfer fee.

NOTE: Maybe he just wants more money? Chelsea are to offer him £300,000 a week says the Sun:

 

hazard chelsea

 

Although according to the Sun they made the offer last year:

 

hazard chelsea wages

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 19th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Key Posts, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal play Chelsea in Dublin in readiness for European super league

Arsenal will play Chelsea on 4 August in a pre-season rubber in Dublin as part of the – get this – International Champions Cup (ICC). Neither club is the Premier League champion. Other Premier League clubs in the competition are: Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool. The so-called ‘Big Six’ are all in the ICC to play one another in the same month as the PL season proper begins. When you know the other teams in this marketing campaign are Real Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter, Roma, PSG, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Benfica it becomes clear that the whole thing is a precursor to some European Super League.

It’s billed thus:

It boasts the two largest crowds in U.S. soccer history, the only Clásico ever played on American soil and a list of former champions as regal as any tournament in the world: Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Inter Milan, Barcelona. A roster of top scorers that includes Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luis Suarez, Neymar, and Franck Ribéry. This year, it includes 18 of the world’s most iconic and influential clubs, 90 out of 100 of the world’s top-ranked players and all eight of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinalists.

How long before the European Cup final is played in the USA or China?

It’s the International Champions Cup, the summer’s biggest club competition, and its mix of megastar glamour and debutante mystery is as compelling a proposition as the game has to offer.

Want more of this tosh?

The ICC, now in its sixth edition, is a crucial component of the soccer calendar for both the game’s luminaries and its next generation of stars. It’s been a launching pad for numerous emerging standouts over the years. Christian Pulisic—aged just 17—scored an injury-time equalizer for Borussia Dortmund against Manchester City in 2016.

He did?

American Julian Green registered a hat trick against Inter Milan that same summer, just weeks after his twentieth birthday. Sergi Roberto, then a Barcelona reserve, scored the decider in Barça’s 2015 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy in front of 93,000 at the Rose Bowl. Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mané and Ousmane Dembele each took their ICC opportunity to announce themselves as global footballing forces, and Marcos Asensio—perhaps most famously—did the same by finishing off a stunning end-to-end move to score for Real in Miami’s spectacular 2017 Clásico.

It is utter balls. These are brand-building matches played after the the World Cup before the teams’ domestic seasons begin. The only point of it must be the get us used to an elite league of European sides.

Posted: 13th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United and Chelsea fight for Robert Lewandowski who dreams of Real Madrid

Chelsea are keen on Robert Lewandowski, who wants to leave Bayern Munich (Mirror). Manchester United are favourites to sign the Poland striker, says the Daily Star. Lewandowski’s a gem of a player. And for some time now he’s bene linked with other clubs. So can we believe the stories that he’s heading to the Premier League?

Robert Lewandowski has agreed to join Real Madrid this summer – The Metro, March 19 2018

Chelsea and Man Utd dealt transfer blow: Robert Lewandowski and Real Madrid agree terms – Daily Star, March 19, 2018

Real Madrid news: Robert Lewandowski ‘agrees deal’ after Harry Kane pursuit fails – Daily Express, March 17 2018

Lewandowski agrees Madrid move – Goal, March 16 2018

Real Madrid transfer news: Robert Lewandowski ‘dreams’ of signing for club – Daily Express, December 9 2017

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has his heart set on moving to Real Madrid next summer – The Metro, September 17 2017

Robert Lewandowski to snub Manchester United, Chelsea and Man City by leaving Bayern for Real Madrid – The Independent, January 27 2016

WHERE TO, LEW? Robert Lewandowski latest: Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City, Manchester United or Chelsea? At which Premier League club could he end up? – The Sun, June 16 2016

Clickbait all the way.

 

Posted: 31st, May 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment