Arsenal forwards Alexis Sanchez is on his way to Chelsea. Maybe. The Mirror leads with news that should Arsenal fails to give Sanchez the massive pay hike he wants, Chelsea will dip him, his dog, his mum and his house in Russian gold.
The root of this story is not guessology, but something close to it. The Mirror says Chelsea manager Antonio Conte really likes Sanchez, arguably the Premier League’s best player. And, er, that’s it.
This ‘news’ follows yesterday’s ‘news’ that Chinese investors are willing to spirit Sanchez to the Far East an pay him £400,000-a-week to kick a ball. You’d imagine that any club willing to pay that much will also pay an enormous transfer fee.
As Arsenal wonder what Sanchez is worth if someone is willing to pay him £50m a year, the rest of the media slavishly follow the Mirror’s fact-free scoop:
“Arsenal and Chelsea fans lose their minds on Twitter as Sanchez is linked with Blues move” – Express
“Chelsea prepare swoop for Alexis Sanchez amid contract stalemate” – IBTimes
“Chelsea chase Gunners superstar Alexis” – The Sun
Of course, we only know about the Chinese interest because Sanchez’s people have dropped it into conversation with Arsenal over a new deal. It’s a bit desperate from them. If he fancies it, he’d already have agreed to go and Arsenal would be talking about that massive transfer fee.
So Sanchez won’t head to China. He’ll stay in Europe, and if he and Arsenal are smart he’ll stay at the Emirates and earn closer to the £200,000 a week he wants.
Posted: 8th, December 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
Jose Mourinho is “the rich one” in the Sunday Times’ look at the Manchester United manger’s financial affairs. The allegation is that “a complex offshore structure” has allowed Mourinho “to dodge tax on his image rights income”.
Is it all legal? We should suppose it is. But after the words “criminal investigation”, the paper looks at the cash – pots of it. The paper says since arriving in the UK in 2004 Mourinho has been paid – get his – £120m in salary. Much of that cash came from Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea. Perhaps the paper would be best served looking at the owner’s sources of income. In 2015, the Times‘ Matthew Syed was scathing of the Russian:
The money that has bankrolled Chelsea these past 12 years, which has brought multiple trophies while sanitising the image of one of the most dubious individuals ever associated with British sport, was corruptly amassed
Back to the Mourinho, then, and his cash:
An investigation by The Sunday Times has found evidence suggesting that the Manchester United boss’s advisers misled the tax authorities in Britain and Spain during inquiries into more than £10m in earnings hidden through a Caribbean tax haven.
In an attempt to reduce his tax bill, Mourinho’s advisers appear to have fabricated more than £1m in costs run up by a British Virgin Islands shell company with no employees.
They also withheld from the tax inspectors the fact that Mourinho’s family were the true owners of the shell company.
The story is based on a “1.9-terabyte cache of data was originally handed to Der Spiegel, the German news magazine, by a whistleblower who does not wish to be named”. We are told why he’s leaked the data. “It is time to finally clean up football,” he says. “The fans have to understand that with every ticket, every jersey they buy and with every television subscription, they are feeding an extremely corrupt system that is only in it for itself.”
As is the way with big scoops of the past years – politicians’ expenses; the US embassy cables; Hillary Clinton’ emails – the source is huge wad of data dropped on the media’s mat. It;s quickly packaged up as story of bad versus good. But how many of us see the Tax Man as a force for righteousness?
The paper notes:
It shows how the super-rich can employ highly paid advisers and lawyers to shield them from the tax laws that apply to everyone else. The public rarely gets a glimpse into this world. Until now.
Of course it all boils down to one thing: greed. But let’s not too be hard on Mourinho. Football relies on talent. The more talented the football name the more more they get. Revenues run to the workers. Jeremy Corbyn should enjoy that.
Whether or not Mourinho is overpaid or underpaid is neither here nor there. You could defend Mourinho by looking at the vast amounts of tax he has paid. You could say that a foreigner deciding to spend and invest his cash overseas is to be expected. You could see the taxman as an arbitrary force of state power.
What makes us curious is the power Mourinho enjoys. If the man who was indulged at Chelsea so long as he was winning – witness his hideous treatment of referees and Dr Eva Carneiro – is mired, it is not so much down to him as it is the clubs that stuck him on a pedestal and ignored and deflected criticism of odious behaviour that in any other industry would get him sectioned.
Mourinho’s people say they and he have done nothing wrong. But if he has cheated, the clubs that poo-pooed criticism of his antics and in so doing encouraged belief that he is free to exist outside the laws of acceptable behaviour, need to answer questions, too.
Posted: 4th, December 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Money, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
The Mirror leads with the “FOOTY Paedophile Scandal”. We hear from former Chelsea player Gary Johnson, who says he was paid £50,000 last year to keep quiet about the abuse he suffered at the hands of a club scout in the 1970s.
Over pages 4,5,6, and 7, Gary Johnson claims he was sexually assaulted by Chelsea scout Eddie Heath “hundreds of times in three years”.
Eddie Heath is dead.
Says Johnson of Chelsea: “I think that they were paying me to keep a lid on this.” If they did, will Chelsea be asking for their money back? Johnson says Chelsea “asked him to sign a gagging order”. “They may have paid others for their silence,” he adds. We then learn that Chelsea “waived the clause in Gary’s settlement banning him from speaking about abuse after details of his claim were leaked to the media.”
Did Chelsea know Johnson was being abused in 1973 when he was a 13-year-old at the club, continuing until Gary was “around 16 or 17 and happened two or three times a week”, as he says?
Gary Johnson says Heath got him to perform in threesomes with other boys, “so I know there are mother victims out there.” He adds: “it is now up to them if they come forward”.
Do we expect them to?
Brendan O’Neill writes:
In these post-Savile times, we’ve come to think that all former victims of child abuse have some kind of responsibility to parade their wounds. We have come to expect, somewhat greedily, even perversely, that the abuse of decades ago must be relived, as publicly as possibly, in order to ‘raise awareness’. I’m sorry, but I think it’s possible there’s an element of moral titillation to all this. And I think it’s possible that it makes abuse victims even less likely to get over their experiences by making them go through it all again for our viewing or reading pleasure.
We learn that in 2014, Gary Johnson contacted the Met Police’s Operation Yewtree. He says he was “advised to go back to Chelsea with his case”. The police palmed him off to the club? If so, that’s abhorrent. Did they investigate? We’re not told. Mr Johnson says the “Professional Footballers’ Association did not return his calls”. So he contacted lawyers, who asked Chelsea for compensation.
Says Gary Johnson: “What makes me so angry is that I went to them to say I had been abused an they basically said, ‘prove it’,” Was that wrong of them? Chelsea are no longer owned by the Mears family, as they were in the 1970s. Why should the new owners take anything on face value alone when a man is asking for money and claiming to have been the victim of heinous crimes by a former employee? Gary Johnson says Chelsea’s “attitude when I came forward was to sweep it under the carpet”.
His claim was supported by Roger Kennedy, who says: “Mr Johnson has been haunted by the abuse for most of his life, but the intensity of the flashbacks have increased since he has become more aware of the nature of what happened due to the publicity around Jimmy Savile.”
The Mirror is quick to blame the club, saying Chelsea used its “financial might to cover up abuse”. It is the “tip of the iceberg”. Did Chelsea behave badly? All we know of the money and the deal is that Mr Johnson says: “I think that they were paying me to keep a lid on this.”
The Mirror says the story “implies they [Chelsea] cared more about commercial rights and sponsorship deals than helping survivors cope with the torment of abuse”. The paper says Chelsea are “morally questionable”.
What of the police, then, and the PFA, two institutions Mr Johnson says failed him? What of the lawyers who accepted an worked on the deal?
Writing in the Mail, Martin Samuel confronts the matter of a club’s role. He says the current Chelsea owners are part of the club’s heritage.
Yes, the sport is different now. Yes, stricter protocols and procedures are in place, and those in charge of youth development may protest that the past is a foreign country. But it isn’t.
Modern clubs must assume responsibility, be the custodians for all those years. Everything, from the fanbase, to the location, to modern revenue streams, and items in glass cases that directors view with pride, they owe to those ancient dates and what followed. And much of it may have been good.
But what isn’t, what is almost too poisonous to contemplate, cannot be disowned.
When you buy a club, you buy the heritage, the good and the bad.
It’s a shame we don’t know the full terms of Mr Johnson’s deal and how the £50,000 sum was agreed upon. Chelsea are investigating. Hopefully, Chelsea will be transparent and we will know more soon. Dare they be anything but? The Mail leads with the headline: “FA VOW TO HIT CHELSEA HARD.” Any club “who have given a child abuse victim hush money will be punished”. Chelsea are “in the dock”, says the paper. The club may well ask, “On what charge?”
By way of a footnote, the Mirror says Eddie Heath trained Barry Bennell, the convicted paedophile, when he was a 14-year-old at Chelsea. The Mirror says there is “no suggestion” Bennell was a victim of Heath’s.
Heath is dead. Also dead is Frank Roper, a man who former footballer Paul Stewart says abused him “every day for four years”. Gary Johnson says Paul Stewart encouraged him to tell his story.
We can expert to hear others.
Posted: 2nd, December 2016 | In: Chelsea, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
How are things going for Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho? “From the moment he arrived, the message has been positive, about winning the title. Nothing on philosophies or things taking time,” said the Sun’s Neil Curtis on 6th September 2016. Philosophy is for losers, like Louis Van Gaal, Jose’s predecessor at United, whose “attempts to reprogramme everyone with his much-vaunted ‘philosophy’ succeeded only in inhibiting all their natural instincts”.
Philosophy is balls.
Unless it isn’t. On November 15 the Sun thought philosophy and football were a good blend. “Johan Cruyff’s debut 52 years ago today: Inventor of Total Football whose philosophy influenced Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola,” chimed the headline.
On November 22, the Manchester Evening News agreed, reporting: “Daley Blind’s view on Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho’s philosophy.” Said Blind of Mourinho: “He is pretty similar to Van Gaal when it comes to their commitment to the team. They used to work together so I reckon that is no coincidence.” He adds: “…his philosophy is slightly different to that of Van Gaal. He is very direct, it is all about winning.”
And as Jose Mourinho put it in 2013: “You need stability in methods, in philosophy within the club. With FFP [Financial Fair Play], and Chelsea wants to go in that direction, you also need stability. You cannot change manager and philosophy every few years.”
So much for much-vaunted philosophy.
Posted: 25th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
Chelsea striker Diego Costa is playing well. Ian Wright has noticed. He says Chelsea are riding high in the Premier League because of Costa above all else. The former Arsenal striker writes in the Sun:
“I have a message to all those who say Diego Costa has finally got his game under control: It always was. There are plenty of people who reckon it’s all down to the fact he has calmed down. Yet to me, even when Costa was picking up yellow cards, he remained massively in control…. he always knew how far to push it. He’d have picked up far more than a single red card in his time at Stamford Bridge if that wasn’t the case.”
In Marxh 2015, Costa was sent off in the FA Cup at Goodison Park. It was his first red card in a Chelsea shirt. It was his first because he’d been lucky / sneaky. Before that red card, Costa was banned twice in a Chelsea shirt, both retrospectively, by the FA for incidents missed by the officials during games against Arsenal and Liverpool.
So much for the facts, then. And what about all those who say Costa is a hothead? People like Ian Wright, who opined in 2015:
“I would sell him at the first opportunity I get for Costa. I’d sell him… He’s antagonised at the moment. If I was a defender I would just keep talking to him, it takes him away from his game.”
“Martin Keown… would have relished the challenge of Costa. Whatever we say about Costa, he plays on the edge. His hold up play and the runs he makes, honestly, he’s good. Martin could deal with all that and the foolishness as well.”
Such are the facts.
Posted: 24th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
Transfer balls: West Ham United are keen on Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas, 29. The former Arsenal captain has played just 87 minutes for the Blues in the Premier League this season.
The Daily Mirror leads with the news that The Hammers wants Cesc in the January transfer window. But why would Cesc want the Hammers?
The Mirror says Chelsea are “even ready” to subsidise Fabregas’s £160,000-a-week wages in order to get shot of him. But there is little on what pull West Ham hold to the World Cup winning midfielder. Indeed, the Mirror says “Fabregas remains determined” to remain at Chelsea.
But the Sun says Fabregas “looks certain to leave Chelsea in January and could replace Dimitri Payet at West Ham”.
Payet recently told a French TV station: ”Leave in January? I’m asking other questions but I’m not closing the door to anything. It’s always the sports project that interests me. I work like that and until I play at a level like this, it will be the case.”
It’s all speculation.
Back in September the Express was reporting that Cesc had agreed to join AC Milan.
On August 16 2016, the Sun and Star reported that Cesc, who played for Barcelona (the club of his heart), wanted to join their fierce rivals Real Madrid and also stay at Chelsea.
Such are the facts.
Posted: 8th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
Did you read the news that Chelsea are all set to sack Antonio Conte, their manager? It’s nonsense. He isn’t being sacked. The Sun has confirmed that Conte is not being sacked by Chelsea:
Antonio Conte sacked: Chelsea boss’ future at Stamford Bridge is safe after betting firms spark sack rumours
Which betting firms started that rumour then?
The Sun had more:
Which bookmakers were no longer taking money on Conte’s sacking? The paper told readers:
Sun Bets, Betway and Paddy Power have both suspended betting on Conte being the second Premier League boss to get the boot.
Three betting companies have “both” suspended betting on Chelsea sacking Conte?
But only one bookmaker was talking to the Sun. Can you guess which one?
A spokesperson for Sun Bets said: “We’ve currently suspended the next Premier League manager to go until the rumours about Antonio Conte’s future at Chelsea settle down… Diego Simeone is Sun Bets 7/2 favourite to take over the reigns.”
There is no word from any other betting companies.
To recap, then. Antonio Conte has not been sacked. He was never going to be sacked. It was all just a rumour rooted in bookmakers’, like Sun Bets, and amplified by that company’s sister publication The Sun newspaper, which thoughtfully reproduced the odds on something not happening for its readers to study.
And, boy, did the Sun milk the non-news news story about its betting arm:
Such are the facts.
Posted: 14th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
Transfer balls: a look at football reporting. The BBC says Chelsea are looking to cash in on Eden Hazard, the player once billed as the “new Lionel Messi”. The BBC says Chelsea will tie a big bag of cash to the 25-year-old Belgium and offer to swap the lot for Juventus and Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci, 29.
The Sun says Juventus don’t want Hazard. They want Cesc Fabregas and an even bigger bag of cash – £50m – for Bonucci.
In other Chelsea news, the Star says the blues are keen on Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Manchester City also want him. Aubameyang doesn’t want to play for either of them, preferring a move to Real Madrid.
City have loads of cash. Will they outbid Real? News is that last summer they offered £170m for Barcelona’s Neymar. The Citizens thought they’d get their man. Mundo Deportivo says Manchester United, Real Madrid and Paris St-Germain matched that bid. And all failed. Odd, indeed, that no other news sources got wind of these bids.
Maybe City will have better luck with Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin, 21. Marca says Barcelona head the queue for the Arsenal flyer, who is happy at the Emirates.
As for the Gunners, well, Napoli chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis says Arsenal made a good offer for striker Gonzalo Higuain over the summer. “We received a request from Arsenal,” he told the Evening Standard. “Personally I also received a request from Atletico Madrid but they didn’t put enough money on the table. We were not ready to sell him – for me Higuain was not for sale.”
He was for sale. Higuain went to Juventus for £75.3m.
Of course, Sun readers know that Higuain joined the Gunners years ago:
And Manchester United a few years later:
Such are the facts.
Posted: 10th, October 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
The BBC says Manchester United are “kicking themselves”. No, not because one of their myriad sponsors has slapped own a big wad of cash and told them to. They are kicking themselves, says the BBC, because they failed to add a sell-on clause to Burnley defender Michael Keane’s contract.
Keane, 23, joined Burnley from United for £2.5m in 2015. He is now being eyed by Chelsea. And in the mad world of football transfers, Keane is worth £25m.
Given that one other option is for Chelsea to give Juventus Cesc Fabregas plus £50m for Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci, 29, (source: BBC), Keane’s fee looks a little more reasonable.
The Sun picks up the story of Keane to Chelsea and that sell-on clause. It says “United are believed to have not been able to get Burnley to agree to deal which means they will receive cash if he moves to another club.” Believed. In other words, the Sun and the BBC don’t know.
The M.E.N. says there is no sell-on clause.
If Keane is so good, why don’t United buy him? The Sun confronts that: “It is not known whether United have first-option to buy-back Keane if a fee is agreed.”
The BBC and Sun’s story add up to a lot of nothing – unless:
a) You’re a rival news organ keen not to miss out on a non-story. “Man United gossip: Red Devils having huge regrets over Michael Keane sale,” says the Mirror. “Michael Keane’s emergence is another indictment of the Louis van Gaal reign at Manchester United,” says EuroSport. Which makes you wonder what EuroSport has to say about Paul Pogba, a player overlooked by Sir Alex Ferguson who rejoined United for a king’s ransom.
Having been loaned out to Leicester, Derby and Blackburn, on 2 September 2014, Keane was loaned to Burnley. On 8 January 2015, Keane joined Burnley on a permanent deal. Van Gaal replaced David Moyes as the new Manchester United boss on 19 May 2014, managing his first game on 24 July. The hammer-headed Dutchman was not a raving success at United but the club was hardly fighting to keep Keane, let alone make him a Premier League starter.
b) You’re a Burnley fan facing the prospect of losing one of their best players in January – a player who has improved under the excellent Sean Dyche. As Keane has said, “Burnley gave me the platform to showcase myself and show my talents in the first place.”
Manchester United have no regrets. They wouldn’t have picked him.
Posted: 8th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
Transfer balls: The BBC says Chelsea’s owners Roman Abramovich has sanctioned a move for Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci, 29. The Blues will offer the Italians £60m.
The Telegraph says this would be a world-record fee for a defender, beating the current record £50m PSG paid for Chelsea defender David Luiz – they bought him back for £30m.
Bonuccio is, says the paper, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte’s “dream signing”.
Bonucci has been full of praise of Conte, who managed him at Juventus and Italy. “Conte will be a big success in England, Chelsea are already a very good team and he will have them challenging both in England and in Europe,” said Bonucci, who might care to look again.
But the British Press know not all that much about Bonucci.
In June, the Metro said the player had agreed to join Chelsea.
The Sun said a “three-year deal for defender Bonucci, worth around £130,000 a week, has been accepted by the player and his agents.” The headline tol readers: “ANTONIO CONTE is plotting an amazing £57million double swoop for Italy stars Antonio Candreva and Leonardo Bonucci.”
Three months ago Bonucci cost £25m.
He’s now apparently worth £60m.
And in July he singed for Manchester City. The Sport Bible told us that:
Such are the facts.
Posted: 6th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, News, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
Chelsea have a ‘loan player technical coach’. Eddie Newton fills the role that perhaps no other coach has ever held before. Chelsea have hundreds if not thousands of footballers out on loan, young men playing for other clubs in the forlorn hope they will make it to the Blues first XI, but realistically expecting to be flogged for a tidy profit to a less wealthy side.
What technique Newton can teach these loanees no longer in touching distance is moot.
A friend who supports the mighty QPR showed me this season’s official club photo (below). It features the following non-playing team members: Jasper Clinkscales (Sports Therapist), Sam Perrin (Equipment Monitorer), Sam Harwood (First Team Therapist), John Phillips (Head of Performance), Jack Sharkey (First Team Sports Scientist), Matt May (Head of Medical Services), Gary Doyle (Kit Manager), Chris Barnes (Performance Enhancement Consultant), David Oldfield (Assistant Manager), Les Ferdinand (Director of Football) and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Manager).
Eleven in total. And that does really include a man whose job title is ‘Equipment Monitorer’.
Back to Eddie Newton, then, who gets a big write up in the Chelsea FC website:
Loan player technical coach. Eddie Newton works predominantly with our players out on loan, liaising closely with them and coaching staff at their temporary clubs.
He’s not the only one nannying Chelsea players playing for other clubs. Paulo Ferreira and Joe Edwards mean Chelsea have three people performing the role of Loan Player Technical Coach, aka Excess Staff Monitorers (note to QPR: call me, I have ideas). What do they cost do hire? And could the players’ mothers make better a job of it for less money?
Posted: 4th, October 2016 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
Filling in the dull bits between transfer windows when the Daily Express’ clickbait bots can link Arsenal to every striker over 10 years of age, the ‘World’s Greatest Newspaper’ has created a Premier League predictor. Using the technical marvel of guessology and powerful maths, the Express makes some bold statements.
Bournemouth, Sunderland and Stoke are all relegated – Stoke scoring 6 times all season.
In the world of the Express, The Cherries are worse than Hull City – who are better than Southampton – and West Ham. Everton, who Bournemouth just beat 1-10, finish runners up. Chelsea finish above Manchester United.
Spurs finish third, conceding – get this – 3 goals.
Manchester City win the title.
Oh, yeah – Arsenal finish fourth, naturally. Even robots can be right some of the time.
Posted: 26th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
Media Balls: a look at bad and monocular football reporting. Today we look at Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Chelsea in the Premier League.
Mesut Ozil scored Arsenal’s third goal. Was it lucky?
The Guardian says it was a fluke: “Ozil watched it carefully onto his left foot, mishit his sidefoot volley completely – and saw it bounce over Courtois and in off the far post.”
The official Arsenal website has an alternative version of events. That shot was deliberate: “The World Cup winner ran on to the ball and met it on the volley, smashing it into the ground, beyond Courtois and in off the far post.”
The BBC agrees, saying, “Mesut Ozil then left N’Golo Kante trailing to expose Chelsea on the counter-attack and steer home Arsenal’s third“.
Was it smashed in? No, says the Times: “Ozil obliged, his goal creeping in off Courtois’ left-hand upright.”
Were Chelsea any good?
The Sun says: “Chelsea improved in the second half but rarely threatened a comeback – and couldn’t even muster a shot on target.”
Maybe the Sun’s man in the know went home early. The BBC says, “Chelsea’s first shot on target came in the 82nd minute.”
That’s right. Chelsea had two shots on target.
Ouch! Where does it hurt, Francis?
The Indy: “Coquelin put in another 100 per cent effort to block N’Golo Kante’s effort shortly after the half hour mark, and an ankle injury sustained in the clash forced him off two minutes later.”
The Standard looks at Coquelin’s injury: “Arsene Wenger admits he is ‘worried’ by Arsenal midfielder’s knee injury.”
The Star says Coquelin and Kante “had a nasty collision of knees“.
Such are the facts.
Posted: 24th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
Following Chelsea’s home defeat to Liverpool in the Premier League, the BBC says Blues’ manager Antonio Conte “subjected his players to an angry dressing-down”. Conte “accused his players of failing to play as a team.”
The Times says Conte read the “riot act to his players after the Liverpool loss”. He and the team took part in “an animated post-match exchange in the dressing room”.
But Conte is no Jose Mourinho, the former Chelsea coach who explained his Manchester Untied’s 3-1 defeat to Watford by blaming the players publicly. “Some individuals probably feel the pressure and responsibility too much,” said Mourinho. We started the season very well… I was completely aware that we were not perfect, with lots of players who are not end products and can make their own mistakes.”
And after Manchester United lost to Manchester City, Mourinho was pointing the finger:
“I had two or three players in the first half that, if I know what is going to happen, I don’t play them. This is football, though, and sometimes players disappoint managers.”
Compare and contrast to Conte who told the Chelsea FC website:
“I’m guilty because I’m the coach and it means I have to work more. We must feel the danger in every single moment of the game if we want to win and think like a great team. We must pay attention and be focused.”
Is it better to criticise your team in public or in private?
Matthew Syed notes:
“When pilots experience a near-miss with another aircraft, or have been flying at the wrong altitude, they file a report. Providing that it is submitted within 10 days, they enjoy immunity…Openness and learning rather than blaming is the instinctive response – and system safety has been the greatest beneficiary.”
Conte the pilot?
“Contrast that with the healthcare scene, in which mistakes are very threatening to surgeons who have big egos, and the culture is very litigious – preventable medical error is now the third-biggest killer in western countries.”
Mourinho the surgeon?
“We love to think of ourselves as smart people, so we find mistakes, failure and sub-optimal outcomes challenging to our egos.”
We love to look around for someone else to blame. But the smart listen to advice, look at the data and learn not to repeat mistakes.
Posted: 19th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
Talking Balls: a look at media bias in football reporting. Today’s game is Swansea v Chelsea in the Premier League. The game finished 2-2, thanks to a late goal from Diego Costa.
Conte’s men were dominant now – tenacious in the tackle, composed in possession and a threat going forward. Leroy Fer and Federico Fernandez were booked for cynical fouls on Diego Costa (also carded before the break for a late tackle), and Cesar Azpilicueta drew a near-post stop from Fabianski after overlapping.
No dive is mentioned.
Costa, who might earlier have been sent off, capitalised on poor defending to fire the dominant visitors in front…
It was a small wonder he and Jordi Amat both stayed on the pitch having bickered throughout the game, and Costa was perhaps fortunate to escape a second yellow card for what appeared to be a dive under pressure from Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski in the second half.
If Swansea had real cause for frustration it was that Costa was still on the field to equalise. Already booked for a foul on Leroy Fer, Costa was guilty of clear simulation when contesting a ball with the Swansea goalkeeper, Lukasz Fabianski, who gestured a diving motion at an opponent also assailed by boos.
LEROY FER’S GOAL
“Cahill was unfairly dispossessed by Fer, who raced clear and just about squeezed his shot through Courtois and over the line. In a flash, the Blues were behind.”
Fer appeared to foul Cahill as he dispossessed the Chelsea defender, and Swansea’s Netherlands midfielder ran clear before squeezing his shot past Courtois and over the line.
It did look like a foul. But:
South Wales Evening Post:
Leroy Fer stole possession from a dawdling Gary Cahill and bundled the ball through Thibaut Courtois legs and over the line.
Such are the facts.
Posted: 12th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
Transfer balls: how much is Atletico Madrid’s France striker Antoine Griezmann worth? The BBC says Chelsea manager Antonio Conte “wants the club to sanction a world-record bid” for Griezmann.
As negotiating tactics go, telling Atletico they should expect no less than the £89.3m Manchester Untied paid for Paul Pogba – and you are willing to pay it – is not exactly canny.
The Sunday Express says “Conte is ready to go above the £86million release clause in Griezmann’s contract to head off interest from Manchester United.”
Of course, it’s not Conte’s money. And as for release clauses, well, are they rally worth their salt? And there is another factor. On September 8, the BBC reported:
Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have lost appeals against Fifa bans on signing players in the next two transfer windows. The clubs contested a decision by world football’s governing body to punish them for breaching rules over the transfer of foreign players under 18…
“Both clubs are to serve a transfer ban that prevents them from registering any players at national and international level for the next two complete and consecutive registration periods,” said a Fifa statement.
The Spanish sides will now appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. If that fails, will Atletico sell the France international who signed a new five-year contract with Atletico in June 2016?
These bans have form. In 2014, Barcelona were banned from signing any players in 2015 after their appeal against a transfer ban was dismissed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Barcelona were, like Real and Atletico, found guilty of breaching Fifa’s rules on the transfer of players aged under 18.
Of course, there are ways:
Barca went on a summer spending spree this year while the suspension went on hold during the appeals process, splashing out more than 150m euros (£117.5m) on Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Thomas Vermaelen, Claudio Bravo, Jeremy Mathieu and Alen Halilovic.
If you drag any appeal out until the next transfer window opens, look out for Atletico not selling big but buying bigger.
The Manchester Evening News says Chelsea will get no clear run at splurging massive amounts of cash on one player.
M.E.N. Sport understands United have earmarked Atletico Madrid goalscorer Griezmann, 25, as their primary target for the 2017 summer transfer window.
Griezmann’s agent must be delighted.
Posted: 11th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
Chelsea players Eden Hazard and Gary Cahill have “stuck the knife into former manager Jose Mourinho”, says the Express. (It’s a mere flesh wound in the Sun – a “sly dig”). Jose is “UNDER FIRE” as Chelsea players “lash out” at their former coach, the Express continues.
The quotes come. Cahill says Chelsea “lost our way tactically” under Mourinho.
Hazard says: “[Antonio] Conte puts trust in his players. Now we are good after an ugly season last year. I’ve always been the same player. But Conte knows how to treat players having played at the highest level himself.”
Is that a dig at Mourinho’s lack of success as a player? If it is, it echoes Johan Cruyff, who opined, “What I don’t like is that he always puts himself on the first row. He should be on the second row. It’s probably because of his background, where he has never been cheered by 100,000 people, or whistled at by 100,000 people.”
Over in the Mail, Cahill’s quote is given more context. Was he really knifing Jose? No. What he said was:
“We needed organisation. Everyone saw what happened. We went from winning the league, having stayed at the top all year, to the disaster of last season. We lost our way tactically, everyone’s head was in different directions. When I say about pulling together as a team, I felt everyone had different situations going on individually – whether that be if you’re playing or not, the manager, or this or that. Different distractions are never healthy.”
Not all Mourinho’s fault, then. Cahill says everyone at Chelsea played a part in last season’s failures. Although it was Mourinho who got the sack.
Posted: 8th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
The Times says “Chelsea’s new stadium has been delayed by “quiet assassins on the wing”. Surely the noise police don’t have a problem with Chelsea expanding their ground. That place has been quiet ever since the old die-hards were priced out of the place.
The story is not about people who enjoy the quiet. It’s about creatures who are quiet:
A colony of bats in the neighbouring Brompton cemetery, a Grade I-listed Victorian burial ground…threatens to derail the project and make the proposed completion date of 2020 appear optimistic.
The local council, Hammersmith and Fulham, has asked the club managers to explain how they propose to protect the cemetery and the denizens of its catacombs before approving the new stadium, which the architects claim is inspired by Westminster Cathedral.
Easy. Rebrand the cemetery as a stand. The bodies should up the crowd for those mid-week matches.
Posted: 26th, August 2016 | In: Chelsea, News, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
The Evening Standard reports that LA Galaxy defender Ashley Cole, 35, “says he wants to work for Chelsea after his playing career is over rather than Arsenal.”
It would take a touch of lunacy for Arsenal to offer Cole a job, presumably one tutoring young players in the way of modern football. As he says:
“I enjoy scouting, watching the young lads come through. I have done a little for my agent, but I’d like to do something a bit more serious. I’d love to go back to work at Chelsea somewhere, somehow.”
It was Cole, of course, who provided the words that more than any others sum up the greed rife in modern football. In My Defence, Cole wrote:
“Ash! Are you listening?” said a virtually hyperventilating Jonathan [his agent]. “I’m here in the office and David Dein is saying they aren’t going to give you £60k a week. They’ve agreed £55k and this is their best and final offer. Are you happy with that?”
When I heard Jonathan repeat the figure of £55k, I nearly swerved off the road. “He is taking the piss, Jonathan!” I yelled down the phone. I was so incensed. I was trembling with anger. I couldn’t believe what I’d heard.”
All yours, Chelsea. (Best to sort of Ashley’s fee first, though.)
Posted: 20th, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
Transfer balls: The BBC says Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, 23, “will turn down Chelsea to stay at Goodison Park for at least another season”.
The BBC claim links to the Daily Mirror, which is adamant:
Romelu Lukaku is staying with Everton… The news is a massive boost for new boss Koeman.
All good news, then, for Everton fans. Much better than when the Mirror told them:
29 Jul 2016 – “Chelsea closing on transfer of Everton’s Romelu Lukaku as Toffees accept the striker wants Stamford Bridge return.”
27 June 2016 – “Arsenal transfer news and rumours: Romelu Lukaku wants Gunners move – but is the price too high?”
Chelsea have had a £57million bid for Romelu Lukaku rejected by Everton – but are confident of agreeing a deal to re-sign him this summer. The two clubs are haggling over a fee, with the Toffees holding out for a club-record £75million. But they have finally accepted the 23-year-old striker is determined to rejoin the club they bought him off two years ago.
All wrong. Lukaku is a Toffee.
But hold on. The BBC has more news:
But Koeman has admitted that he is preparing a Plan B, in case the Belgium forward leaves the club.
That story links to the Daily Mail, which says:
Everton are planning for life without Romelu Lukaku in the eventuality their striker departs this month. Chelsea are heavily interested in the 23-year-old and Ronald Koeman has targets lined up should they bow to a mega offer, as with John Stones and Manchester City.
Such are the facts.
Posted: 20th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, News, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
Transfer balls: what news of Cesc Fabregas, the former Arsenal captain who left for his beloved Barcelona and now warms the bench at Chelsea? The Daily Express has some, reporting on August 15:
Chelsea have offered star [Fabregas] to Real Madrid
The Mirror confirmed the news:
One day one and the Sun added:
Chelsea transfer news: Cesc Fabregas wants Real Madrid move and has contacted Florentino Perez
Blimey! Can a the former Barcelona player, a local boy done good, really join the Catalan club’s arch rivals? Have the pig’s heads on order.
No. Wait a moment. The Sun has more news. One day on from the scoop that Cesc wants Real, we read:
Chelsea transfer news: Cesc Fabregas will stay and fight for his Blues starting spot despite being dropped in favour of N’Golo Kante. Blues sources told SunSport Fabregas is NOT seeking a move away from Stamford Bridge and that it is highly unlikely he will leave this summer.”
Not quite, says the Star:
Cesc Fabregas is set to stay at Chelsea after being snubbed by Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.
Such are the facts.
Posted: 17th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, News, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
Transfer balls: Has Romenlu Lukaku rejoined Chelsea from Everton? No. But the papers keep reporting that he could, telling readers of failed bids and makeweight players in swap deals.
The Sun, May 18: “Manchester United and Chelsea target Romelu Lukaku expects to leave Everton in £65million deal before Euro 2016”
Sky Sports, July 22: “Will these transfers happen: Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea, Jamie Vardy to Arsenal, Paul Pogba to Real Madrid?”
Answers: Maybe. No. No.
Daily Express, July 30: “Chelsea rebuffed in £57m Lukaku offer: Everton want £75m but accept departure is likely”
Daily Mirror, July 31: “Chelsea preparing £68million Romelu Lukaku bid”
Daily Mail, August 1: “Romelu Lukaku has told his Everton team-mates he wants to leave this summer. Chelsea have offered £68million for the Belgium international but Everton want £75m as reported in Sportsmail last month.
The Sun, August 6: “BEG-ING FOR ROM Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea: Antonio Conte’s Blues to offer Asmir Begovic and Loic Remy in bid to snap up striker”
The Sun says Chelsea “have already had a £65million offer turned down”.
And so to today’s news. The BBC says Chelsea have not made a single offer for the big Belgian striker.
The BBC, August 7: “Everton have been angered by what they see as Chelsea’s attempts to unsettle striker Romelu Lukaku, with the Blues yet to bid for the 23-year-old.”
Such are the facts.
Posted: 8th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
Paul Pogba has finally signed for Manchester United says most of the media. Well, maybe:
August 5 – Daily Telegraph: “Will Mourinho announce Paul Pogba’s signing today?”
August 4, Daily Express: “PAUL POGBA will be confirmed by Manchester United today”
August 2, Yahoo!: “Manchester United to make official Paul Pogba announcement today”
July 29, Independent: “Paul Pogba continues to dominate the headlines and his world-record … will be confirmed once Pogba’s medical in LA is completed later today.”
He never did arrive ‘today’. Other sources wee just as wrong.
July 29, Daily Mail:
July 20, Daily Mirror:
Pogba to Manchester United was all beaten by the story of Pogba to Chelsea. It too was a done deal.
August 22, 2015, Daily Telegraph: “Chelsea transfer news and rumours: Blues agree £69 million deal with Juventus for Paul Pogba”
August 21 2015, The Sun:
CHELSEA have agreed a stunning £69million deal to sign Juventus’ Paul Pogba. The champions made the Italian giants an offer they cannot refuse for the French midfield powerhouse…
Barcelona were in pole position to sign him, with Manchester City also said to be in the running. But Chelsea gazumped everyone with a huge statement of intent from owner Roman Abramovich.
Since the Blues slumped to a 3-0 defeat at City on Sunday, the Russian has sanctioned a huge seven-day spree, signing Abdul Baba Rahman, Pedro and now Pogba.
Chelsea did not sign Pogba.
When he appears for Manchester United, then we’ll believe Pogba has rejoined the club he left four years ago.
Posted: 5th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
Trasnfer balls spots the Sun’s report on “Chelsea transfer target Joao Mario”.
On Jul 14, it was disappointing news for the Blues. Mario “snubs Blues to seal Inter Milan move” stated the Sun.
Two Sun journalists told readers:
The Portugal star, 23, has agreed a five-year deal with the Serie A giants, after Sporting Lisbon accepted a £29million bid for the midfielder.
Today the Sun delivered an update. The agreement was no agreement after all. The “exclusive” was utterly wrong.
Anthony Chapman had new news:
MUST BE JOAO-KING Joao Mario to Chelsea: Manchester United target won’t be on the move this summer as Sporting Lisbon rule out transfer away
Euro 2016-winning Portugal midfielder linked with Premier League duo and Inter Milan but looks set to stay put.
Such are the facts.
Posted: 19th, July 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0
And so begins the break-up of the Leicester City team that one with Premier League. The Telegraph says Chelsea have agreed to sign Leicester midfielder N’Golo Kante, 25, at the weekend for £29m. Kante, we read, will soon tell Foxes manager Claudio Ranieri he wants to leave Leicester.
Of course nothing has been decided. Kante has signed no contract.
Jamie Vardy, Kante’s Leicester team-mate rejected a £20m move to Arsenal and committed to Leicester earlier this summer. Or did he?
The Express told readers on June 7, “Jamie Vardy verbally agrees three-year Arsenal deal”.
Today the Express says, “Arsenal have already missed out on Jamie Vardy, who has verbally agreed a new contract with Leicester.”
Verbal agreements appear to be no agreements at all. Can we deduce from the news that Vardy to Arsenal remains on?
Posted: 15th, July 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0