As the summer arrives so too does the newspapers’ obsession with Paul Pogba, the former Manchester United player now starring for Juventus and France.
The Daily Mirror says Manchester United “must” pay £78m if they want Pogba back at Old Trafford. The Mirror says news United manager Jose Mourinho wanted Pogba when he was at Chelsea last season. But Chelsea and Manchester City baulked at the £71m asking price.
The Sun spots the Premier League’s “scramble” for Pogba. The clubs need not bother. The Sun says Pogba’s “dream is to play in La Liga for Real Madrid or Barcelona”. The Juventus player is “waiting on Spain’s big two before making any decisions”.
Not so says the Manchester Evening News’s Rob Pollard: “Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and Chelsea have all been linked with him in the last 18 months – but it seems the path has cleared somewhat and United are now clear favourites to land him.”
So United will pay £78m? No, says the Express : “JOSE MOURINHO will offer Matteo Darmian as part of a deal to try and land Paul Pogba.” The deal is Darmian plus £60m cash. So says the Express, which has also told its readers that Pogba has agreed to join PSG and Barcelona.
Such are the facts.
Dr Eva Carneiro turned to the courts when Chelsea failed to take a stand against her co-worker Jose Mourinho, who publicly humiliated her. Having rejected the club’s offer of £1.2 million to shut up and go away, Dr Carneiro continued to sue for justice.
Yesterday she settled her dismissal claim against Chelsea on confidential terms. She had claimed constructive dismissal against Chelsea. In addition she reached a discrimination settlement against Jose Mourinho.
Chelsea said it apologised “unreservedly”for its treatment of its former first-team doctor.
“The club regrets the circumstances which led to Dr Carneiro leaving the club and apologises unreservedly to her and her family for the distress caused. We wish to place on record that in running onto the pitch Dr Carneiro was following both the rules of the game and fulfilling her responsibility to the players as a doctor, putting their safety first.”
Mourinho, who denied calling the medic “daughter of a whore” (she alleged that he did) never issued a public apology. The Chelsea statement merely noted:
“Jose Mourinho also thanked Dr Carneiro for the excellent and dedicated support she provided as first team doctor and he wishes her a successful career.”
But why should Jose says sorry? The Manchester United manager (£15m a year) remains good ol’ Jose in the Mail, whereas the victim is a moody woman who got lucky:
Former Chelsea team doctor Eva Carneiro is at an employment tribunal. Did former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho call her “daughter of a whore” who was only suited to working with the juniors or the “ladys [sic]”? Mourinho, now at Manchester United, might not care about the ruling. After all, the case hasn’t prevented him from joining Manchester United.
The Times says Carneiro rejected an offer for £1.2m to settle out of court. She claims constructive dismissal against Chelsea. She also claims, in another case, that Mourinho targeted her for sexual discrimination.
You will recall, of course, how this nasty row started last August, when Mourinho, the then Chelsea boss, hurled abuse at Carneiro as she raced onto the pitch to treat Chelsea player Eden Hazard. Mourinho says he yelled “filho da puta” (son of a bitch). She says he yelled “filha da puta” (daughter of a bitch or daughter of a whore).
What Mourinho did say, after Carneiro was banished from the bench, was, “She works in academy team or lady [sic] team not with me.”
Such are the facts.
And what of the reporting on alleged sexism in football? Well, the Star pretty much carries on regardless. An educated women in her early middle-age is a “girl doc”:
The only things standing between United and Pogba are: Juventus trying to trigger a bidding war for their star player; Barcelona; United’s failure to appear in next season’s Champions’ League; Barcelona; any other big team with pots of cash; Manchester City; the fact that the bid is actually £48m plus bonuses, which values him less than Manchester City paid for Raheem Sterling; and did we mention Barcelona?
On the plus side, the Sun “understands” that Pogba likes Mourinho and his plan to make United “great again”.
Of course, we have read news of Pogba’s movements before in the Sun. There was the time he was joining Chelsea:
CHELSEA have agreed a stunning £69million deal to sign Juventus’ Paul Pogba. – August 2015
PAUL POGBA is ready to snub Manchester City and extrend his deal with Juventus. The Frenchman is wanted by a host of top clubs but would come with a huge £75million-plus price tag. – March 2016
Paul Pogba ready to snub Manchester United, Real Madrid and Manchester City as he aims to cement his legacy at Juventus – May 2016
CHELSEA are in constant contact with Juventus star Paul Pogba over a possible £76million transfer – May 2016
Manchester United target Paul Pogba ‘buys house in Barcelona’ as Jose Mourinho looks set to miss out on Juventus star – June, 2016
Such are the facts.
Transfer balls – a look at iffy reporting in the mainstream media. News is that Arsenal are still after Alvaro Morata.
The Mirror says “Arsenal and Chelsea could go head to head in the race to sign 23-year-old Juventus striker Alvaro Morata.” So only two clubs are in for the striker. It is a head-to-head race.
The Mirror adds:
Alvaro Morata has sparked an auction between Arsenal and Chelsea after admitting he believes the Premier League would be a “great destination.”
Or as the player wanted by PSG (source: The Mirror) and who has an agreement to re-sign for Real Madrid should they want him says:
“Hopefully everything will be resolved before then, because it is uncomfortable to be helping your country with phone in hand. My wish is to succeed in Madrid… There are some offers from England that are tempting, not only because of the contract. I think my characteristics mean the Premier League would be a great destination.”
If Real don’t want him, then maybe he’ll look to the PL. It’s a head-to-head-to-head race – and one club has a massive head. As Spain’s AS put it:
Alvaro Morata wants a return to Real Madrid
In other news:
The Evening Standard and Manchester Evening News saysManchester United have added their head to the race – and United have a real bighead in charge:
And the Liverpool Echo say Liverpool want him:
Of course, Morata already plays for Arsenal. The Daily Star told us that:
Such are the facts.
What does new Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho smell like? The Star reports on “Chelsea’s ban on Jose aftershave”. In the changing room, yes. Unsettling for new Chelsea manager Antonio Conte to contend with the Portuguese winner’s legacy without picking up his essence as John Terry splashes the masking Jose for Him and Her all over (spoiler alert: Revenge by Jose smells of top notes of silver polish over base notes of bile, pith and whicker basket).
This story turns to the essence not of Jose’s scraped and diffused bed linen, rather to the story of who owns what in football. Do Chelsea or Manchester United own the rights to sell Jose Mourinho perfumes, suntan lotions, toothpaste, mouthwash, lipstick and nail polish? Which of Chevrolet (sponsors of Man United) and Jaguar (sponsors of Jose Mourinho) get to market the official in-car scent?
And can you ever own someone if you don’t possess their smell?
After all, in Patrick Süskind’s Perfume: The Story of a Murderer the killer who smelled of nothing “succeeded in being considered totally uninteresting… Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.” Scent is “the invincible power to command the love of mankind.”
Get the smell of Jose or get nothing.
Meanwhile, at Chelsea, Conte may care to invest in odor-eaters for all staff, install a wet basset hound in the Chelsea dugout and refrain from washing his hair for months.
In March 2005 Chelsea secured the legal rights to Jose Mourinho’s trademark for 20 years. This means that should Manchester United hire Mourinho, a move that seems as certain as Katie Price sleeping on her back, the Red Devils will be unable to stick their new manager’s name on such items as teddy bears, aftershave, computer games and all manner of tat. But how important is the Jose moniker?
In an “exclusive”, the Times says Chelsea’s ownership of the Mourinho trademark “will not delay his appointment at Old Trafford”.
Or as the Mirror puts it: “Jose Mourinho’s appointment as Manchester Untied manager is being delayed because Chelsea still own his signature.”
Not so, say the Times, which states: “Until recently Mourinho’s former employers [Chelsea] also owned the rights to reproduce his signature, but that ten-year trademark expired earlier this year…”
The Mirror then says United “face a six-figure bill to secure the rights to his signature and name”.
The Times says Chelsea could demand “several million pounds”.
The Sun says United will have to “£1million -plus” to use the name Jose Mourinho on merchandise.
The Mail says the 20-year licence Jose signed with Chelsea in 2005 expires in, er, 2013. That Mail says it’s between 2013 and 2015. The Times says it’s 2025.
Such are the facts.
As the Premier League season ends big media turns to transfer rumours. One issue is deciding how much each club has to spend on new players. With every club in line for a £99m bonus next season, you’d suppose every PL club can spend large on recruitment.
Sunderland: “Sam Allardyce will demand a summer war chest of up to £50million” – Sun
Spurs: “Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino to be handed £60m war chest to strengthen squad” – Mail
Arsenal: Arsene Wenger £75m transfer fund this summer to bolster fragile defence and midfield” – Daily Telegraph
Everton: “£100m war chest to fund spending bonanza” – Daily Mirror
Liverpool: “Liverpool boss handed £100m summer transfer warchest… and targets have been identified” – Daily Star
Chelsea: “Chelsea to use chunk of £130m warchest to beat Arsenal to Alexis Sanchez replacement”
Manchester City: “Manchester City to hand Pep Guardiola a huge transfer chest for the summer” – Manchester Evening News
Manchester United: “Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal to get £150m war chest even without top-four spot” – Daily Express
Manchester United: “United Uncovered: Jose Mourinho’s £300m warchest” – Daily Express
Such are the facts…
£20m over three years (Mail)
£18m over three years (Sun)
15m over three years (Guardian)
£6.5m a year (Guardian)
£9m a year (Times)
As the papers do the sums, Dominic Fifield looks at what new faces Chelsea fans can expect to see that the Bridge:
While Conte is also pushing for the addition of Roma’s Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan, who is available for €35m, and further experienced defensive cover such as Leonardo Bonucci, Kostas Manolas, Kalidou Koulibaly and Antonio Rüdiger have been scouted at Juventus, Napoli and Roma respectively, where the latter is on loan from Bayer Leverkusen, it is perhaps telling he is to adopt the title head coach rather than manager. That would appear to reinforce Emenalo’s position at the club despite Chelsea’s patchy recent record on recruitment.
The Mirror says Conte will get shot of John Terry and Thibaut Courtois, replacing the latter with Southampton’s Fraser Foster. The Times points to Everton’s Romelu Lukaku making a pricey return, Edinson Cavani, Gonzalo Higuain and Artuo Vidal.
But Conte’s “top priority” (Mirror) is keeping Diego Costa. The Sun says Conte will “demand, discipline, decency and respect”. He might consider recruiting a psychologist to get Costa to fit the mould. And then order a personality transplant for the sneaky striker. But not matter because the Telegraph says Costa’s on his way to PSG.
And Conte has another pressing issue, says the Mail in the lead story “match-fix trial dogs new Chelsea boss”.
Conte’s legal team were in court in Cremona on Monday for the latest hearing of the match-fixing trial in which he is embroiled. It continues on Tuesday, when he will learn if the prosecution are seeking a fine or a prison sentence — though the latter is unlikely. Conte maintains his innocence and a decision is expected by mid-May.
If any fine is linked to his salary, you wonder what newspaper the judges will use as their source?
It represents a coup for the Arsenal academy who have traditionally not competed with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City for the top teenage talent in Europe and beyond.
The Mail says that the deal has not yet been done:
Arsenal to complete signing of Chelsea starlet Domingos Quina in next 48 hours
The Indy then takes the Telegraph’s fact that isn’t and slips inverted commas around it:
Domingos Quina to Arsenal: ‘Gunners win race’ for teenager after he quits Chelsea
Just three days ago, the Metro told its readers:
Manchester United are clear to sign Chelsea wonderkid Domingos Quina
Two days ago the Sun said:
“Chelsea starlet Domingos Quina quits club and plans to join Premier League rival – Ace walks out on Blues with Man Utd, Spurs and Liverpool closing in”
Not deal is done until it’s done.
Wonderful work in the Daily Mail, which takes a break from appraising women’s bodies with a sneering look at Chelsea footballer Eden Hazard. Jeff Powell spotted Hazard swapping shirts at half-time with PSG’s Angel Di Maria when the clubs met in the Champions’ League last week. Powell wrote:
The tell-tale elements of that picture are the roll of blubber around the belly and the first signs of man boobs on the young Belgian who we elected as this country’s Footballer of the Year last season. At only just 25, Hazard looks as if he would be more at home propping up saloon bars along the King’s Road than kicking a ball around the pitch at Stamford Bridge.
Get a load of that bloater:
Jeff Powell is rarely pictured with his shirt off.
‘Fat’ Frank Lampard is away.
For a few hours yesterday the big talking point was England’s unexpectedly exiting win over Wales in the Six Nations rugby. But then the story broke that Chelsea’s Diego Costa had bitten someone on the BBC’s FA Cup coverage. After England had made a meal of beating a late-arriving Welsh team, the Chelsea striker was making a meal of Everton’s Gareth Bale. Well, so goes the allegation, which Costa denies.
The papers lap up the meaty juices. To the Mail this is “Costa’s Shame”, which is tabloidese for “Thank god we didn’t have to lead with the rugby”. So excited is the Mail that the Costa ‘bite’ features on two issues:
It’s all delicious stuff.
We’re awaiting a few words from David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn to break from talking over the future of the EU, the economy, war and the planet to tell us how much sports matters and that Costa is a role model.
As it is, if you can’t tell a bite form non-bite, it can’t have been much of bite in the first place.
PS: Was it a bite? No. Gareth Bale says it wasn’t. Which makes us wonder why Diego Costa nuzzled Gareth Barry, and when being over-friendly becomes sexual harassment?
Chelsea’s former doctor Eva Carneiro wants Chelsea’s former manger Jose Mourinho to give her a public apology. She wants the public apology as part of any settlement in her employment case, reports the Guardian.
Carneiro is suing Chelsea for constructive dismissal and has a separate but connected personal legal action against Mourinho, the team’s former manager, for alleged victimisation and discrimination. The case appears destined for a full employment tribunal pencilled in for 6 June after a private mediation hearing in Croydon… did not yield a compromise over a financial package for compensation and damages.
What looked like a minor disagreement escalated. Jose’s pride had been wounded.
The doctor had been criticised by Mourinho and demoted from first-team duties after she and the physio Jon Fearn, waved on by the referee, entered the field of play to treat Eden Hazard in stoppage time at the end of a 2-2 draw with Swansea City on the season’s opening day last August. The Portuguese, manager, who was sacked by the struggling Premier League champions four months later, branded the pair “impulsive and naive”, with their actions having, in effect, left his side, already depleted, down to nine men for the final seconds.
Carneiro’s barrister, Mary O’Rourke QC, told ITV News:
“We’re not expecting a resolution today. The two sides are so far apart financially. And we want Mr Mourinho to make a public apology.”
She seeks control over Mourinho, the master media manipulator.
Rosy Smith notes in the Times:
Anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with the Portuguese notes just how proud he is. Most managers believe they are always right. They have to if they are to survive. Mourinho exists in a profession where pride is a necessity. And even by those standards, he is quite enormously proud….
Even if he knows, deep down, that he went too far with Carneiro, that he over-reacted, that he let the situation slip from his control, he is not likely to admit it publicly. That is not what Mourinho does…Instead, his approach seems to have been a relentless session of double-or-quits: not content with criticising her, he removed her from the front-line; not content with that, he banned her from the hotel. If Carneiro made a mistake, it was a minor one: acknowledging the support she had received by posting a message on Facebook. It was an entirely understandable thing to do – she is not, remember, used to being in the public eye in the way she has been – but it gave Mourinho a pretext to continue his draconian approach. She had broken the circle of trust. She could not be allowed back in.
So, about that public apology…
The Sunday Times says Chelsea have made a “shock” move to “tempt” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino. He’s been added to Chelsea’s “shortlist” of future managers.
The Sunday Times has been informed that Chelsea officials approached representatives of the Tottenham Hotspur manager towards the end of last month to discuss the possibility of him filling the vacant position.
Shocking stuff- but not to Independent readers who read the same story back on January 26:
Mauricio Pochettino to Chelsea: Tottenham manager added to Blues wish list
It was also shocking in February, when the Daily Star reported on the rumour:
Shock of shocks…
Photo choice and caption work from the Telegraph is A++today, says @ashleyconnick
Chelsea captain John Terry has show the home shrine he keeps to his career. It’s full of trophies, England caps, shirts, bottles of man-of-the-match champagne, and what could be joss sticks (second shelf down).
He likes order, doesn’t he. The place looks like a smart changing room at an expensive health club.
Bobby Charlton was a bit more fun:
The newspapers are torn: did Manchester City throw their FA Cup tie against Chelsea, losing the match 5-1? The Telegraph says Manuel Pelligrini’s decision to field a greatly inexperienced side “backfired”. The inference is that the City manager thought an experimental City youth side could defeat the Chelsea first team at Stamford Bridge. Surely not. City came to chance their arm and gain experience for their young players.
Chelsea v City was scheduled for late yesterday, before the Manchester side play Wednesday’s Champions League match against Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine. Then City play Liverpool in the Capital One next Sunday.
City have higher priorities.
The Mirror accuses City of being the “Cup Killers”.
Pelligrini has hammered another nail into the demise of football’s oldest Cup, says the Mirror. Says Pellegrini:
“We were forced to select that team, we couldn’t play another day and didn’t have any more fit players. We knew it was a difficult chance to carry on in the FA Cup. We cannot do anything more. If we play on Saturday, it is better for us, then we play in the Champions League for England. We have six players injured and cannot take any more risks. We played against a very good team and that’s why they won.”
The Sun mocks Pelligrini’s claim that city did it for England:
Is Pelligrini wrong to claim England came first? Not entirely, no.
The Barclays Premier League claims four spots in the Champions League. Italy’s Serie A has three. That could change. Slots are allocated according to how well a nation’s sides fare in both European competitions. The Uefa club association co-efficients are:
1 Spain 85.142
2. Germany 66.749
3. England 65.034
4. Italy 60.605
5. Portugal 44.582
(Top three associations currently have four Champions League places)
The Times notes:
The Italians cut the deficit by more than half last season, thanks to Juventus reaching the Champions League final and a strong showing by Napoli and Fiorentina in the Europa League.
Should England’s representatives struggle again this year, it is conceivable that Italy might catch them at the end of the campaign – meaning England would only be able to send three teams to the Champions League in 2017/18 – though the following season is more likely.
So, Pelligrini might not be “kidding”, as the Sun puts it.
Meanwhile, Chelsea move on, travelling to Everton on March 12 – three days after they play PSG in the Champions’ League.
This is tremendous. Former Sky Sports pundit Andy Gray now works in Dubai with BeIN Sports. On those fascistic sandy wastes, Gray talks footy matters with his old Sky mucker, the absurd Richard Keys. Last week, while listening to a post-match interview with PSG defender David Luiz after the French side had played Chelsea, Keys and Gray attempted to translate the Brazilian’s words.
Gray was all barstool expert – until Graeme Souness told him that,er, Luiz was speaking Portuguese.
Transfer Balls: The Daily Star has conjured a headline to seduce fans of the five biggest Premier League clubs to a non-news story:
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City and Man Utd in epic transfer fight for German whizz
Alex Harris writes:
Mundo Deportivo claim Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United are all in the hunt for the Schalke attacking midfielder.
The SEObot that might well be operating Harris won’t bother to follow the link. But we will. Over there we hear from one Oriol Domenech, who says Real Madrid and Barcelona are in for Leroy Sane.
Number of quotes to support his story: nil. Number of facts of any sort in either story: nil.
In other news, the Mail asks today: “Is Leroy Sane really worth £42m?”
But the clickbait-bonkers International Business Times say he isn’t, declaring in a headline: “Barcelona spy on Schalke 04 starlet Leroy Sane in Bundesliga match ahead of £28.8m summer move.”
A summer move – but to where – and for how much?
The Daily Mirror is at pains to tell its readers how good a football Angela Di Maria is. The aim is less to praise the Argentine player than it is to make his disappointing time at Manchester United look like the fault of his former manager, Louis Van Gaal. Last night Di Maria was part of the PSG side that defeated Chelsea 2-1 in the Champions League. Ben Burrows lays it on thick:
Manchester United should be kicking themselves
Whatever Louis van Gaal thinks, Angel Di Maria is an exquisitely fine footballer. Tonight in Paris the Argentine showed everyone, including his former employers, all of the quality that made him the Champions League final’s man of the match just two short seasons ago. In the hosts’ early blitz, the 28-year-old was central to everything PSG did well, which was an awful lot.
And he was tremendous thereafter too, providing the game-winning assist no less. Unsettled or homesick or whatever, he certainly looks a player United could do with right about now.
Whatever Louis Van Gaal thinks… What about what the Daily Mirror thinks?
Di Maria was, according to the Mirror, the worst PSG player on the pitch.
On the BBC, Chelsea Alan from Twickenham is worried that the soul is being “ripped out” of Chelsea. He fears the Blues are becoming “a Man City who are full of mercenaries”.
“I look at Hazard and I look at Costa and I don’t like what I see, I don’t like their behaviour,” says Alan. “I look at the team and wonder where’s the soul of it?”
Did the soul of Chelsea vanish when Roman Abramovich bought the club and tossed a billion pounds of interest-free cash at it? Those millions bought great players who won lots of cups. Is City’s soul a concern for the club’s fans who watched that brilliant homemade Old Trafford clock click the years over and over since the Citizens last won a cup – the fans who stuck with their team, waiting for the sublime moment when Sergio Aguero would score that goal to win the title on the final day of the 2012 season?
A few years back I went to a FA Cup even sponsored by Budweiser. At a Q&A session with John Barnes, a prosperous looking man asked a question. He had a broad US accent. The compere, also an American, invited him to speak. “Hey, Barnsey,” he said, “What do you think of The Blues’ chances this time?” Another journalist sat beside me muttered, “More chance than you have of recognising John Hollins.”
It was easy to see that new Blue as part of the problem, a soccer fan who’d adopted the winning club as his own. But so what if he had? This new globalised Premier League is exciting. As Gary Lineker put it after Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck had scored a last gasp winner against Leicester City, “There is nothing quite like football for filling you with joy one minute and tearing your heart to shreds the next.”
Who can blame the American for wanting in to all that emotion?
Alan the Chelsea fan you can hear in the audio above is a whiner. At one time or another, most fans are. He wants his team to win. When they don’t, he looks for the problem. Right now he wants soul. But Chelsea have only the Belgian Hazard, a player unable to recapture last season’s brilliance. Ask a fan of the once mighty Leeds if they’d swap Hazard for a local lad who can run and play a bit, who sleeps under a Leeds duvet and can give you the name of Billy Bremner’s milkman, and they’d not refuse the offer – even the player’s mother, if she were a true Leeds fan, would wish her lad well as he packed his bags.
Hazard and Costa are not hollow-eyed mercenaries here to kill the game. They’re here because football fans pay to see them play.
Fans come to see the thrilling and the unexpected. Did Chelsea look like future Champions’ League winner when they were relegated to the then second division in 1988? Was that night at an expectant Anfield in 1989, when Arsenal won the title with pretty much the last kick of the match, more or less thrilling because it was so utterly unexpected? Arsenal fans who made the journey didn’t go to see their team win; they went because something extraordinary might just happen.
And the unexpected has been happening with increasing frequency. The Economist revealed that up until December 19 2015, the Premier League had the highest number of games won by underdogs in history:
Last season’s Blues were the first team in EPL history to lead the league wire to wire: they held at least a share of first place every day from start to finish. They were often compared to the unbeaten Arsenal “Invincibles” side of 2003-04 and Manchester United’s treble-winning squad of 1998-99, albeit without emulating either feat. In fact, most gambling companies wouldn’t have offered the bet: you could have taken 250 to one for Chelsea to finish in the bottom half, or 7,500 to one for the club to be relegated. Perhaps a generous bookie might have staked a mere 1,000 to one against Chelsea dropping into the bottom six in the depths of December…
Leicester’s improbable rise and Chelsea’s unprecedented fall have certainly been the biggest shocks of the 2015-16 season. But they are far from the only ones. Plucky West Ham have beaten Arsenal (at odds of 11 to one), Manchester City (11 to one) and Liverpool (eight to one) away from home. In the last fortnight, tiny Bournemouth have vanquished Manchester United and Chelsea, whilst struggling Newcastle have beaten both Tottenham and Liverpool—combinations that according to bookmakers were respectively 3% and 2% likely. Perhaps the only predictable feature of the Premier League in 2015-16 has been the regularity with which pundits have described it as the most unpredictable season ever. According to the betting lines, 42 of 160 games (26%) thus far have been won by the underdogs; since the turn of the century, no Premier League season has ended with the unfavoured teams winning more than 23% of matches.
It’s great when your team wins. And when they win when you least expect it, it’s magic. Will Chelsea come again? Sill Spurs rekindle those glory glory days? Are Leicester on the cusp of a coruscating victory?
We don’t know. And that’s that makes the Premier League so captivating.
The Star has news of Vladimir Howard who “lost his entire memory” of last year’s season at Chelsea, when the Blues won the Premier League. “I can’t remember the title-winning season at all,” says Vladimir, who lost his memory after being attacked.
Chelsea fans watching their team this season are experiencing much the same sensation.
Big news is that China is buying up footballers, spunking even more cash than desperate foreign-owned English clubs do on mediocre foreign talent.
The Sun leads with “The Great Haul of China”. The shock news is that foreign footballers don’t come to England just for the weather and lap-dancers – they come for the cash. And China has oodles of the stuff. Can Chinese money usurp the Premier League hype factory? The Sun says Chinese club Jiangsu Suning bid £57m for Chelsea’s Oscar.
The Telegraph and Daily Star says that’s not true:
Is it £57m or is it £75m? Or doesn’t £18m matter in the ugly football meat market?
The facts are murky but the money is there. This week Alex Teixeira joined Jiangsu Suning from Shakhtar Donetsk in a €50m move. Jiangsu, coached by the former Chelsea defender Dan Petrescu, earlier invested €21.5m Ramires from Chelsea.
Jiangsu was established in March 1994. It became Jiangsu Suning F.C in 2015, when the Suning Commerce Group bought it. Suning operates about 1,600 shops in China. It has a market cap of $16.2billion.
Could China pop the Premier League bubble? Would English football fans welcome the end of the money game?
On February 1, Manchester City manager Manuel Pelligrini told the Press he’d know for ages that Pep Guardiola was replacing him next summer. That news came as shock to Chelsea fans who seeking information about their club’s next boss turn to the Daily Star and Daily Express.
Transfer balls salutes the Daily Telegraph, which declares: “Everton close in on Niasse.” That’s Oumar Niasse, the Senegal international who has now joined Everton in a £13.5m move from Lokomotiv Moscow.
What’s odd about the Telegraph’s report is that it features on the paper’s “Chelsea transfer news and rumours” page. Niasse has no links to Chelsea – he’s not one of their myriad loaned players. So why is he on the Chelsea page? Helpfully the Telegraph explains:
“What does this have to do with Chelsea?” I hear you ask. Well, quite a bit, actually.
You see, Chelsea are a team who get googled a lot, so if you have the word “Chelsea” in your headline you’ll get lots of clicks and the sweet, sweet literal fractions of pence that accompany each one. I mean, they’re googled enough to warrant a transfer blog all to themselves even though they’re not going to do anything (where’s my SJA nomination, come to think of it?). Anyhow, that means that a bunch of websites are retrospectively making Niasse a Chelsea target when reporting that Everton are going to sign him, even though they’d never mentioned Chelsea’s interest in the past.
This is how transfer deadline day reporting works. Lap it up.
Having earned clicks from Chelsea fans for that report and misleading headline, we wonder what the Telegraph has said about Niasse? Well, on January 9 this year, the paper of record stated:
Chelsea transfer news and rumours: Chelsea poised to make £15million swoop for Oumar Niasse…Whilst Manchester United prepare to launch a £40million bid to sign his compatriot Sadio Mane… Chelsea are hoping to pick up more of a bargain in signing Niasse for around half of that figure.
Having learned that £15m is about half of £40m, readers were also told that Chelsea and Tottenham wanted to sign the player. Mentions of Everton’s interest: nil.
Such are the facts in the Telegraph.