Manchester City Category
Media Balls – a look at biased footballer reporting. Today Manchester City drew 2-2 with Tottenham. With the game 2-1 in City’s favour, Raheem Sterling was through on the Spurs goal. Spurs defender Kyle Walker was closest to Sterling. What happened next?
The BBC gives us the facts:
Raheem Sterling leaves the Spurs defence smoking exit dust as he breezes onto a through ball – just the keeper to beat with Kyle Walker pedaling hard to catch up..
But Sterling can’t take the chance, he’s off balance as he prods tamely towards Lloris – and it looks like Walker’s hand in the back is to blame.
Foul, then? Red card for Walker. Penalty to City. Nothing given. What do the clubs and their local newspapers say on the matter?
The Spurs website: “Kolarov sent Sterling clear, Walker got back at him, poor finish, easy for Lloris.”
Walker recovered. Sterling is rubbish. Lloris makes it look easy.
Manchester Evening News: “Walker should have been sent off for a push on Sterling as he was about to pull the trigger. Sterling had raced through for yet another one-on-one with Lloris but it ended up a soft shot into his grateful arms.”
Such are the facts.
Everton thumped Manchester City 4-0 in the Premier League today. As ever, we’re on the look out for biased reporting. In the first half, with the scores 0-0, City’s Raheem Sterling went down in the Everton box. No penalty given. But were City robbed?
The BBC says it was a good tackle: “Leighton Baines slid in to deny Raheem Sterling an opening early on.”
The Guardian blames Sterling: “Sterling misses a sitter, and wants a penalty!… He tries to take the ball round the keeper, Baines slides in to block it, and Sterling goes over Robles’ trailing leg!”
So much for the neutral viewpoint. What about the publications with a vested interested in the match?
Manchester Evening Post: “With Robles rushing out, and Baines making a last-ditch challenge, the winger chooses to take a touch and trips over.”
He trips over what? “It’s the slightest of touches from Robles that ultimately brings Sterling down,” the report continues.
So it was a foul. He was tripped.
The Liverpool Echo: “Raheem Sterling went down in the area, with replays seeming to confirm he had been tripped by Joel Robles.”
Replays only “seemed” to show that Raheem Sterling had been fouled.
Everton FC (official website): “Leighton Baines kept a cool head and combined with Joel Robles to thwart the City forward, but the Spanish goalkeeper may have taken the legs of Sterling.”
Only “may”? Was Sterling fouled? Does anyone have a clear answer?
Manchester City (official site): “TV replays proved he’d been caught.”
It was definitely a foul, then – but only if you read the official City website.
The Mirror leads with news that Liverpool have no intention of selling Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £60m. “NOU CHANCE,” puns the paper.” Liverpool manger Jurgen Klopp says “no amount of money” will force him to sell his star player.
Wishful thinking, of course. Every player has their price. After all on December 26, the Mirror reported: “Liverpool transfer news and rumours: Paris Saint-Germain plotting £40million Philippe Coutinho swoop.” Putting a price alongside a player’s name is simple.
Over in the Sun, the figure of £60m also figures large on the back page. This time it’s the sum Manchester United are willing to invest in Spurs full-backs Kyle Walker and Danny Rose. But United won’t have it easy. The paper adds that Manchester City will fight United for the England players.
Walker and Rose each earn around £70,000-a-week at Spurs. Given that Spurs are better than United and outplayed City this season, it’s surely only money that will make either of them move.
Mark Irwin tells Spurs fans to expect the worst. Needing money for their new £750m stadium, Spurs will cash on on their star turns. Irwin notes that Rose, Walker and other young Spurs players, like Dele Alli Harry Kane, Eric Dier and Christian Eriksen, know they could earn far more at Chelsea, Arsenal or either of the Manchester clubs.
Never mind that Antoine Griezmann says he’s happy in Madrid with his new baby and wonderful life, the British Press have him packed and ready to join the Premier League very soon. France’s footballer of the year is on his way to, well, all the top clubs. Manchester United have £60m and Chelsea £50m and £90m for Atletico Madrid’s super striker, whose new contract set his transfer fee at a minimum of £86m.
News in the Guardian is that Manchester City also quite like Griezmann – and so do Arsenal. The BBC and Telegraph say that if Mesut Özil or Alexis Sánchez fail to get the £200,000 a week they each want to extend their current contracts and leave the Gunners, Arsenal will swoop for Griezmann by offering him less than the £200,000-a-week City, Chelsea or United would pay.
Should that cunning plan fail, Arsenal will go for Marco Reus or Julian Draxler, although the taller German (Draxler) has apparently agreed to join PSG in France’s Ligue 1. That doesn’t stop the Daily Star says Draxler is on his way to Liverpool.
The tin lid is placed on this Transfer Balls by news that the source for the BBC, Telegraph, Independent and Guardian scoop on Griezmann and Reus being watched by Arsenal is Squawka, a blog whereon we read not a single fact to support the story that Arsenal want either player.
Such are the facts.
Transfer balls: Manchester United’s Rashford To West Ham; Payet to Arsenal; Draxler to Liverpool; Virgil to Manchester City?
West Ham United are, says the Daily Telegraph, keen to transfer Manchester United squad members Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford to their goal-shy team. It’s an “ambitious” bid, says the paper. No kidding.
Failure to lure either of them to London will mean West Ham turning to – deep breath – Sassuolo’s Grégoire Defrel, Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi and Porto’s Laurent Depoitre. Yeah, pretty much anyone who can score a goal is on West Ham’s radar.
The Express says West Ham will make space for any of the above by getting shot of six players, including loan strikers Simon Zaza (loaned from Juventus) and Ashley Fletcher (Manchester United). One player not leaving is Dimitri Payet. Or as the Star puts it: “JOSE’S PAYET RAID – United boss in fight with old foe Wenger”. Will Payet leave West Ham for Arsenal or head to Manchester United in a deal involving Marital or Rashford?
In other Manchester United transfer news, the Mirror says Benfica’s Swedish defender Victor Lindelof could be heading to Old Trafford for £37.8million. If he arrives, Chris Smalling will leave United, says the Express. Smalling will be beaten to the United exit by Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Scheweinsteiger.
Away from United, the Guardian says Arsenal are keen on Valencia’s super-fast left-back José Gaya.
The Mirror says Liverpool are looking to sign Manchester City and England goalkeeper Joe Hart. The Times says the Reds are also keen on Wolfsburg’s Germany midfielder Julian Draxler but face competition from PSG and, of course, Arsenal, who seem to have been chasing the player for every one of his 23 years.
The Mail says Manchester City will offer £50m for Southampton Virgil van Dijk. There have been “discreet talks” between the clubs, says the Mail all over its back page. The Dutchman is “aware of City’s interest”.
Arsenal lost to Manchester City in yesterday’s battle of the Middle Eastern Airlines – Etihad 2, Emirates 1 – and look well set to secure 4th place, a slot they’ve occupied so many times you wonder when the Premier League will award it to them in perpetuity. But Arsenal manger Arsene Wenger is unhappy. It’s a “REFFFING DISGRACE”, says the Sun as Wenger “rages at officials” over City’s two “offside” goals.
“There is a real problem of refereeing in England, they are a bit in their comfort zone,” says Wenger. “Referees are protected like the lions in the zoo… I looked at the goals – both are offside. The second is five yards offside but what can you do?”
The second strike, by Raheem Sterling, was clearly offside. Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech says David Silva’s dash into his line of vision – making the Spaniard around 5 yards offside – meant he could not see the shot that beat him at the near post. In “Offside? No way” the Sun lets former ref Mark Halsey rule on the goals. He says Leroy Sane, who scored City’s first, was “fractionally offside”. The story should be headlined ‘Offside? Yes.’ But Halsey decides the officials got it right in getting it wrong. He then says Cech is wrong – Silva’s run across him for goal number two did not interfere with his line of vision.
On pages 52 and 53, David Kidd says Wenger is just a moaner, Arsenal are “not fit to lace” Chelsea’s boots and Sane was “onside”.
Picking up the “lions” theme, the Star says Arsenal are more “pussycats” than kings of the jungle. The team lack “bottle and fight”. They need a “miracle” if they are to win the Premier League. As ever, says the paper, Arsenal started well and then faded as the home side got improved. Arsenal “shied away from the scrap”. Arsenal’s most expensive player, Mesus Oil “was anonymous”. No. He was worse than that. He was a liability, failing to chase the ball and close down the opposition. Players will run through walls for Chelsea boss Antonio Conte. For Wenger, they won’t step through a puddle.
The Express also leads with the match. We read that Leroy Sane was offside and David Silva was “clearly in an offside position – and distracting Petr Cech – as Raheem Sterling fired home the second”. But “there is no excuse for Arsenal’s failure to force a save out of Claudio Bravo in the second half”. The result, says Richard Tanner, underlines the “difference in attitude” between the two sides. Manchester City wanted it. Arsenal not so much. For that lack of desire, the club must look at Arsene Wenger. Can he still inspire his team to the title? No. Can he make more money for the bankers who run the club as a cash cow? Yes.
In “MANCS FOR NOTHING”, the Mirror’s Dave Kidd looks at how Manchester United and Manchester City have failed to live up to the hype.
“Remember all that Pep Guardiola v Jose Mourinho hype,” he begins. We do.
“Remember how Manchester became the undisputed centre of the football universe?” We do.
Kidd then tells us who we can blame for all that balls. “Maybe we were all sucked in by the famously agenda-driven Manchester-centric media, led by Salford- based BBC Sport, who persuaded us to ignore poor unfashionable London”.
Kidd tell us that the biased media ignored Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, whose side are top of the Premier League.
To which we ask one question of our own: is the Mirror part of the Manchester-centric media?
September 5 2016: The Mirror asked: “Jose and Pep are set to renew acquaintances… but is the Manchester derby the world’s biggest?
September 8: “It’s his first Manchester derby, and even at this early stage it’s a game that could have a bearing on the outcome of the Premier League.”
September 8: “Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola have made Manchester derby even bigger.”
September 9: “Clash of the titans: Pep vs Mou XVII.”
With just over 24 hours now until kick-off, Mourinho and Guardiola clash once again in one of modern football’s most engrossing rivalries in recent times.
Throughout the rest of the day we will be reminding you of the past encounters between the Special One and the master of tiki-taka as they bid for supremacy in both Manchester and the Premier League.
September 10: “Manchester City’s derby display proved why we are so lucky to have bewitching Pep Guardiola in English football.”
September 16: “I believe City are English football’s best hope of winning the Champions League this season – that’s mainly because of the Pep factor.”
Expect more hype as soon as City and United start winning matches again.
The peado-hunt has reached football. Following the grim news that young players were molested by coaches, the Mail leads its sports coverage with a story that Manchester City are in a “sex abuse probe”. Is the entire club is in some way linked to paedophilia? Surely not. It makes you hanker for those wholesome days of randy footballers, glamour models, spit roasts at the Grosvenor hotel and super-injunctions. Seedy stuff it was was, but always between consenting adults.
The Mail’s story is overblown. City are looking at the club’s links with convicted paedophile Barry Bennell, who “coached junior teams connected to City”. The club is doing the sensible thing and looking into if Bennell ever represented City. We don’t know if he did, let alone if he abused any youngsters on City’s books.
The Mail seems to be linking a Premier League club with a lower-league scandal – Bennell was employed by Crewe Alexandra.
Over in the Mirror, which has twice this week led with the story on its front page, page 9 features a remarkable headline: “Rooney tells footy sex victims: Don’t suffer in silence.” That’s Manchester United and England’s Wayne Rooney. He wants anyone who has suffered to contact the new NSPCC hotline. ‘NSPCC chief Peter Wanless hoped Rooney would “give courage to those who may be afraid of coming forward’,” says the paper. How? Rooney was not molested. How does Rooney’s endorsement help middle-aged men confront their past? It all carries a faint whiff of PR, a chance for leading figures to be on the side of the right against a wrong anyone sane should know is criminal and revolting. Creating a sense of moral purpose from the pursuit of child-abusers is crass. But that’s how the peado-panic has been manifest for years. Child abuse stopped being about the victims and listening to someone regardless of age and social rank with respect when they make an allegation and into the nation’s defining characteristic.
And so the Sun. Over two page it invites readers to work out an answer to the headline poser: “Is beast Bennell the Jimmy Savile of football world?” The helpful bit about getting to any answer is that Bennell is alive and we know where he is: (Milton Keynes, says the Mirror; he’s in “hiding”, says the Sun). That makes him only half like Savile, who is decomposing, having died a blameless national treasure. The unhelpful bit is that the Sun’s story contains not a single fact linking Bennell to Savile. Other than in the headline, the Sun’s story on a convicted paedophile contains only one mention of the gibbering Yorkshire DJ – “the scandal now described as “potentially worse than Savile“.’
It’s lamentable that something as abhorrent as child abuse should be sensationalised. When being against child abuse is your media’s campaign, the bar has been set lower than Savile’s upturned toes.
Transfer balls: Messi agrees new Barcelona deal, heads to Manchester City for £200m and makes Arsenal fans laugh
Transfer balls: Manchester City are planning to offer over £100m for Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, 29, next summer. This we know because the BBC says so. Messi will be delighted to learn that City will offer him £500,000-per-week.
The Sunday Mirror says the full package will amount to a £200,000m investment in Messi.
How the Mirror knows this is moot. But it can read minds, adding that “the prospect of linking up with Guardiola again is a huge attraction” for Messi.
All very odd because the Daily Mail told us in July: “Barcelona agree new contract with Lionel Messi’s father as Catalan giants aim to tie down superstar to new Nou Camp deal.” Messi’s current deal expires in the summer of 2018. But he’d agreed a new one. Alex Bywater had the scoop:
Bywater then supplied a few facts to prove how much Messi loves Barcelona.
Messi’s partnership with Neymar and Luis Suarez is at the heart of Barcelona’s success, with Brazilian Neymar having committed to the club on a fresh five-year deal this month.
Barcelona’s new 155 million euros sponsorship deal with Nike begins in 2018 and the cash-rich status of the club means they’re able to ward off interest from other clubs.
Messi has been occasionally linked with moves to the Premier League, but it remains likely he’ll see out his career in Spain.
But on October 8, the Sun reported: “WHAT A MESS – Lionel Messi wants new release clause allowing him to leave Barcelona for one club.”
Which club? Yeah, it’s Newell’s Old Boys, Messi’s boyhood club. The Sun notes:
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is unlikely to leave Barcelona any time soon, but it says something about his determination to play for his boyhood club that he is already trying to lock the terms of his Nou Camp departure into the contract.
At the foot of a meandering article in which JJ Bull wonders where Messi could go next – Man City, Man United, er, Arsenal (ridiculous reason: “…it’s in London, which is where Messi’s friend Cesc Fabregas lives” – that’s the Fabregas most Arsenal fans are less than fond of and who plays for Chelsea), PSG, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Newell’s, somewhere in China, MSL – the Telegraph writer realises what utter balls everything he’s just written is by stating: “But he’s definitely going to end up signing a new deal at Barcelona. Can you really imagine Messi in a different team’s shirt?”
Imagine it? Yes. Think it’s going to happen? No. But don’t that let stop you writing about it.
Manchester City spare part Samir Nasri was farmed out to Sevilla, told to lose weight (he has) and play well enough to earn a City recall (maybe: he has three goals in 10).
Talking to L’Equipe, Nasri spoke about his experiences working with Pep Guardiola:
“When I returned from holiday having had a year out with injury problems and personal life problems, I was a little out of shape. Not as much as what was said but a few, maybe, four kilos overweight. For Guardiola, over 2.5 kilos and you do not you train with the group.”
In July, we read that Guardiola has “established weight parameters for each individual”. “They are not overweight, but I want my players fit,” said the Spaniard. “The weight is so important. When you are not fit, danger is coming. You’re not fast enough or quick enough in the head. That’s why you need to be fit.”
Nasri links his fat to personal problems and ill health. Right now Public Health England is working out how Pep can run Government policy. “Sorry,” says Pep, “you’re too fat for benefits.” The Government will then give the fattest people tiny council flats to move into – and fit into just as soon as they shed the proscribed amount of fat.
“Guardiola told me that I was a mess, he told me several times and even kicked me in the butt, literally.”
Well, it was either that or hit a barn door with a banjo.
And then this is illuminating:
“He told me with your qualities you should not be at Manchester City, you should be at Barcelona.”
City beat Barcelona 3-1 in the Champions’ League. Is Barcelona a step down in class?
Having bigged himself up and slimmed himself down, Nasri talks of sex.
“There is the ‘midnight rule’. For him, his players’ sexual activity must take place before midnight in order to get a good night sleep – even if they are free the next day.
“He [Guardiola] said that he placed this rule on Lionel Messi and his muscles have improved since.”
Which night explain why Match of The Day finishes at five to midnight
Media Balls: a look at reporting on Manchester City 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough in the Premier League.
Manchester Evening News: “Man City 1-1 Middlesbrough LIVE De Roon stuns Guardiola after Aguero opener”
The Gazette (Middlesbrough): “Man City 1 Middlesbrough 1: Boro show their Premier League steel”
Sergio Aguero’s goal:
MEN: “Almost 80 per cent possession and a shot count of 19-0 was rewarded shortly before the break as Sergio Aguero times his run to slot home Kevin De Bruyne’s through ball.”
TG: “…a simple cross from the right, and Aguero ghosted into the area between Antonio Barragan and Calum Chambers to stab home.”
Manchester City website: “Kevin De Bruyne picked a pearl of a pass, curling a low ball into the six-yard box for Sergio Aguero to guide home”
Middlesbrough website: “De Bruyne delivered an exquisite cross low from the right and Sergio Aguero nipped in between Antonio Barragan and Calum Chambers to tuck home from close range.”
The late equaliser:
MEN: “Aguero and De Bruyne both missed good chances in the minutes just before Boro equalised. City left ruing them.”
No details on the goal.
TG: “All 3,000 Boro fans were sent home delighted as Marten de Roon’s bullet header lifted the roof off the Etihad Stadium. George Friend’s sizzling ball from the left was as good as you’ve seen all season, and the Dutch midfielder just had to get his effort on target to give Boro a point.”
Man City: “…the cruellest of sucker punches came in added time when Marten de Roon powered home a header from close range. It may have been undeserved…”
MFC: Marten de Roon arrived in the box to plant home a powerful header from George Friend’s whipped cross.”
Such are the facts.
Media balls: a look at reporting on last night Champions’ League match between Manchester City and Barcelona, which City won 3-1.
The Times says Manchester City were”brilliant”. The BBC says Manchester City were “outstanding”.
In Spain, Mundo Deportivo says Barca “ran out of batteries and watched as De Bruyne, Silva, Gundogan flew past them”. It was a”blackout”. SPORT says Barcelona were “tangled”, caught in the City trap. L’Esportiu says “City smelled blood” in the second half.
The Manchester Evening News says: “City absolutely HAMMERED Barcelona – Messi and co were lucky to escape without more of a hiding.”
James Robson reports for the MEN:
It is no exaggeration to say City could have scored six or even more against the Spanish champions. Raheem Sterling should have won a first half penalty and wasted a golden chance shortly after Kevin de Bruyne fired City ahead in the second half.
It is an exaggeration. Sterling should have had a penalty instead of a yellow card for diving. But Robson’s monocular report makes no mention of Barcelona chances. The Guardian does, however:
65 min: So close from Barcelona, as Andre Gomes rattles the crossbar from just outside the penalty area with a free shot on goal. Luis Suarez nutmegs John Stones, advances and squares the ball for Gomes who really should have scored.
Had he scored, that would have made it 2-2.
Sky notes that after Barcelona opened the scoring:
Barcelona then began to dominate, missing several chances to double their lead as City’s defence opened up.
Busquets then hit the bar with a left-footed effort which seemed destined for the goal, but City got their two-goal cushion with 16 minutes left.
City were terrific. But to claim it was one-sided affair is absurd.
By way of a footnote, Marca says Messi was involved in a post-match incident in the tunnel, in which he responded to something by calling a City player “stupid”.
Such are the facts.
Much talk of football returning to the 1980s. As West Ham and Chelsea fans clashed last night – aggro that included a nasty twist on donating to good causes by throwing coins with malice at disabled children – up in Manchester fans of Manchester City reacted badly to defeat in the League Cup at Manchester United by breaking sinks.
The Sun reminds us that earlier this season Rangers fans broke toilets after defeat to Celtic.
— Football Away Days (@footyawayday) October 27, 2016
Smashing up toilets and sinks used by your own fans is a bit odd, no? How else will fans be able to wash their hands after going? Football is now so sanitised it’s not far-fetched to think of stewards checking hands for germs before allowing fans inside the ground.
And tempting, perhaps, for United to leave the away fans’ Old Trafford bogs like that and pass the destruction off as an oversight. In May 2016, United managed to miss a fake bomb tied to a toilet door.
If all this argy-bargy marks a return to the 1980s, fans unable to find a toilet or sink to urinate in will doubtless be using the old method of wazzing in the pocket of the fan in front.
Liverpool are keen to prevent the “too much, too young” culture that infects professional football by bringing a wage cap for younger players.
The Telegraph says Liverpool will not allow a footballer age 17 or under to earn more than £40,000 in their first season as a professional.
Too often players go off the rails when they are given the financial power that comes with being a professional footballer, and Liverpool are looking to try and reduce the risk of young and talented players going to waste.
The youngsters will be allowed to boost their salaries with performance-related bonuses and breaking into Under-23 and senior sides.
Is 40k too low? Too high? In 2016 the Daily Mail reported the average wages paid in British football.
Last season, first-team average salaries were around £1.7million a year
Average basic pay in the Championship was £324,250 per player per year
Figure dropped to £69,500 in League One and £40,350 in League Two
Would you prefer to earn £40,000 playing for Liverpool youth sides or the Plymouth Argyle first team in League Two?Should wages be more performance-related?
In 1960, Jimmy Hill was embarked on in his campaign to abolish the Football League’s maximum wage which stood then at just £20 a week. Hill won. A wage bill from August 17, 1960, shows that Liverpool’s Roger Hunt took home £22 after bonuses, tax and insurance. He’d go on to be part of the England team that won the World Cup in 1966. What would he earn in these post-Bosman times?
In The Football Man, Arthur Hopcraft says such wages were “derisive in comparison with what could be earned by entertainers performing in front of much smaller audiences in, say, the theatre or cabaret… [and] small beer to what could be earned on the production lines of the country’s post-war, streamlined factories.”
Nowadays players earn a fortune. In 2009, Premier League clubs spent £1.2 billion on players’ wages in 2007-08, so passing he billion mark for the first time.
The game is rich with TV cash and owners’ money. But if the players don’t get the cash, who will? Will club owners use it to reduce ticket prices or pay dividends to shareholders?
Oliver Kay writes:
It is obscene, obviously, but it would be more obscene to see the money generated by the Premier League — whether through television, sponsorship or ticket sales — simply sit on the balance sheet as profits go up and up. Football clubs do not exist to make profit. They exist to give something back to communities. Unless the clubs’ intention is to give more and more back to the grassroots, which sadly seems unlikely, then it would be indecent to suggest that the benefit of this latest television deal would not be felt by the players.
He’s right. Footballers can get paid very well. But so do many other workers, top talents in their fields. Do we know what others earn a week, like TV’s Ant and Dec or a soap opera actor? Why do footballer always have their wages discussed in terms of what they earn a week?
The first thought on hearing a player’s weekly earnings is to measure it against your annual salary: why, that little bastard makes more in a week than I do in a year.
The second reason is snobbery. Wherever there is an anomaly in British life, check out snobbery before anything else. The wages of working men — rough types from the working class, you must have heard of them — have always been calculated in weeks.
He notes that the wages are paid by us, the fans who buy the TV packages, tickets and tat.
What do we get from all this money? Not much. Only beauty. Only incomparable skill. Only great bravura performances of mental and physical strife. Only individual and corporate levels of brilliance and defiance. Only the chance to identify with such people, to revel in the fact that they belong to us, that we are part of them and they are part of us.
Only the opportunity to watch as the myths and legends of our times are forged before us. Only the chance to participate in great dramas of will against will, skill against skill. Only anguish, only elation, only inconceivable joy, only the chance to taste despair without any actual suffering. Only the chance to drink down Life in great big gulps.
Do young footballers get too much too soon? Yes. Some do. But we enable them to get it. We invest in them because unlike most of us, these tyros have a chance to shine at something many of us would pay to do.
More BBC Transfer Balls as the State broadcaster tells readers to its website – and why doesn’t the BBC just publish a newspaper? – “Manchester United target Isco has hinted he may leave Real Madrid at the end of the season.”
With not a single fact to support its headline news, we follow a link to the Manchester Evening Post, which declares: “Manchester United get Isco boost as he explains Real Madrid situation.” What said the player who started one league match for Real last season? “If I’ve still only made a few appearances by the end of the season, I’ll look elsewhere,” says Isco. “At 24 years of age I have to right to better myself.”
Over on TalkSport that becomes: “Tottenham transfer news: Top target Isco admits he could leave Real Madrid if his situation doesn’t change.”
The Metro is less precise, saying all top-flight clubs are in for the players: “Isco puts Premier League clubs on red alert by revealing he could leave Real Madrid.”
Bournemouth, Hull and Swansea have heard Isco’s words and sounded the klaxon.
Is Isco really leaving Real? The Press hasn’t got the foggiest.
The Mail told us on October 6: “Real Madrid midfielder Isco ‘is primary transfer target for Juventus’.”
That followed the Express’s news of 19 Sep 2016: “JUVENTUS are not interested in signing Tottenham target Isco from Real Madrid.”
In June, El Confidential reported that Isco had agreed to join Manchester City 25 million euros.
In March, the Metro had other news: “Isco is a priority for Guardiola, with City now seemingly ready to beat the Gunners to his signature.”
They didn’t. Isco stayed at Real Madrid.
Time, then, to hear from the player himself. On October 5, Sky Sports told us: “Isco determined to fight for Real Madrid place under Zinedine Zidane.”
Asked by Marca if he considered an exit, Isco said: “Not really, I have two years left on my Real contract, the club said nothing and I never looked for anything to leave… In the end, if I’m not the star man with (Carlo) Ancelotti, (Rafa) Benitez or Zidane, I will not be foolish and look for problems where there are none. In the end, I’m responsible and that’s where I must improve. There are ups and downs and I won’t give up, I fight to the end and want to prove that I’m fit for Madrid.”
Turn the red alert off. He’s going nowhere.
Transfer balls: Chelsea want to sell Hazard, Manchester United offered £170m for Neymar, Arsenal re-buy Higuain
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.
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.
Manchester CIty’s Raheem Sterling is “THE HATED ONE” So says the Sun ,which says the Manchester City “star”, a player “reborn under Pep Guardiola despite coming under attack from fans this summer”. The paper laments the “torrent of abuse” heaped upon Sterling, who says the attacks “hurt”.
Under attack from fans? What about attacks from the Press. Guess which paper called Sterling “Obscene” after he showed his social medial followers around the house the “failure” bought his dear old mum?
Such are the facts.
Media balls: Spurs concede 6 goals all season, Chelsea beat Manchester United and Liverpool are pipped by Arsenal
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.
Manchester City are at WAR. Have the club’s owners co-opted players into Middle East conflict? Is Pep Guardiola’s mastery of formations and attacks be be employed in Abu Dhabi’s invasion of Saudi Arabia? Don’t be so stupid. It’s bigger than that. It’s football.
The newspapers lead with this war, headlines rooted in Yaya Toure’s apparent declaration: “If Pep wants a war he can have one.”
Toure is upset at being left out of Manchester City first teams – a move not exactly damaging to the club who are playing great football and currently boast a 100% record in all competitions.
It turns out that Toure has said nothing in public. Dimitri Seluk, his agent, is talking. Speaking to the Daily Mirror, the agent said:
“If Pep Guardiola wants a war, then he can have one. Pep didn’t like my opinion? But what does he expect me to say when he does this to Yaya? I spoke out because I felt that Pep was being vindictive to Yaya. Unfortunately for Pep, we live in a world where you have the right to free speech. He has reacted to what I have said about him by punishing Yaya again. But I’m not surprised.”
What Pep said was:
“He must apologise to his team-mates, to the club. If he doesn’t, he won’t play. It was difficult to leave him out of the Champions League squad but [the] day after, his [agent] went to the media. He has not had the courage to call me. From that moment he was out. I know him, I know he’s a good guy, but it was difficult for me as well to put Aleix García out.
“I cannot imagine in my period when I was a football player, my manager going to the media and speaking against Johan Cruyff, about this and about that. If he has a problem call the club, and they can talk. Until he speaks, Yaya is not going to play.”
The issue is with the agent, who antagonised Pep by wondering aloud if Guardiola, who omitted Toure from City’s Champions’ League squad, had “the balls to say that he was wrong to humiliate a great player like Yaya” should City fail to win the Champions League.
So. It is war. And the problem is that Pep has the throne, the high ground, the money and the owners’ and fans’ support. Yaya has his agent, a hole and a big spade. He also has £220,000 per week in wages for not playing. How’s that humiliating?
At 33, and in the final year of his City contract, Yaya needs to play and his agent needs him to shine, as he can when in his pomp. How this spat helps anyone is moot.
Big news: Sergio Aguero, 28, has signed a one-year contract extension at Manchester City, says the BBC.
The Daily Mirror ups that with more amazing news: “Aguero has vowed to remain at City until they are crowned kings of Europe”.
Very good of him to make a solemn promise. But at 28, would City want, says, a 38-year-old playing up front for them? We know age is just a number (see: Zlatan Ibrahimovich) but would City’s owners not fancy a younger striker in the next decade?
Of course, should City not win the Champions’ League by 2020, when Aguero’s deal ends, they might not want to renew it. But Aguero has made a “vow”. He’ll be there for as long as it takes.
Of course, Aguero is no fool. He made no vow. What he said was:
“I still have four years more here,. I hope to achieve it at some point as it’s really important for any player. Obviously the Champions League is not easy; there are a lot of other fantastic teams. But my idea and club’s idea is the same, to try to win this competition… we are ready to reach a Champions League final. I don’t know if it’s going to be this year, but we will try.”
Vows made: none.
The Manchester Derby was a cracker. Writing in the Sunday Times, Jonathan Northcroft muses: “An instant Clasico? It felt that way… For once, in our overhyped world, an event lived up to its billing.”
There was interest all over the pitch:
Bravo – deemed to be much better than England’s Joe Hart – dropping the ball to give Zlatan Ibrahimovic a well-taken goal.
Bravo taking a poor touch with his fabled feet before flying into Wayne Rooney and getting away with it. It looked a clear penalty.
Marouane Fellaini giving Aleksandar Kolarov a reminder of the day by knocking his tooth out.
Referee Mark Clattenburg having the biggest ego on the pitch.
Kevin de Bruyne playing superbly well.
And then there was the “WAR” between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. That never came. The two men high-fived and hugged one another.
After the match, Mourinho was reflective and finger pointing:
“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. It’s my fault because I’m the manager and it’s always my fault because it’s my choice.”
“The two halves were completely different. In the first half we were below the level to play this match. You have to be completely ready in terms of the speed of your thinking and decision-making. The second half was completely different. We were a team that had the courage and honesty and dignity to chase with pride the result which I think we deserved – we deserved a goal in the second half.”
Nothing out of the ordinary there, then. Mourinho did not rant and rave. He thought his team deserved two penalty kicks, neither of which was given. His skill is in galvanising players to want to join him in giving it all for the cause. The “aggressive” approach he takes towards winning gives fans reason to believe.
The Telegraph says Mourinho branded his players “bottlers”.
The Express says Mourinho is “moaning”. It might have said that the referee made a crucial error.
Anyone who enjoys football will look forward to February 25, when these clubs are scheduled to meet again. The media has a few months to whip the match into a war.
After all the hype, Manchester untied and Manchester City eventually played the world’s richest ever football match. With City 0-2 ahead, the Citizens’ news goalkeeper Claudio Bravo dropped the ball. Zaltan Ibrahimovich pounced to make it 1-2.
— Red Related (@RedRelated) September 10, 2016
On Sky, Gary Neville (formerly Manchester United), lays into Bravo, who was making is United debut.
Barry Glendenning tweets:
Gary Neville slaughtering Claudio Bravo on Sky, much like he did with David De Gea when he arrived. Joe Hart generally got a free pass
Joe Hart, or course, was shunted out of Manchester City. The thinking is that he’s now laughing his socks off. Claudio Bravo has a reputation as being a keeper with reliably nimble feet but how good is he with his hands?
What next for Bravo? Well, if it means anything, there players all made their debuts in the United – City derby:
It’s Manchester Untied v Manchester City in the Premier League. It’s WAR! It is. The media has told us as much.
In the Mail Jose Mourinho tells Pep Guardiola “WE’RE READY TO RUMBLE”.
It’s WAR says the Sun:
The Week sums up: “Man Utd vs Man City: Mourinho and Guardiola prepare for war”
Or as the Express puts it:
And Henry winter writes in the Times:
Such was the public love-in of Mourinho and Guardiola yesterday — and the Premier League insists that no missive was launched from London demanding common courtesy — that it would be little surprise to find half-and-half scarves featuring the pair for sale outside Old Trafford.
It’s PEACE before the WAR.
It’s Manchester United v Manchester City. It’s the game between Pep Guardiola v Jose Mourinho, what the Guardian calls a “poisonous rivalry”.
The media is awash with hype and hoopla. The game will be cagey, and very probably not all that thrilling. But to the Sun it is “WAR”.
As Zlatan “swipes” Maroune Fellaini sharpens his elbows. “It will be a war, with a lot of intensity,” says the big Belgian. “I expect it will be a beautiful match in a special atmosphere. I do not dare speak out about who will win. It’s really 50-50.”
Not exactly Churchillian, eh. We will fight them on the beaches and, at the end of the day, it will be 50-50.
The Guardian leads with the handbags:
Paul Hayward writes in the Daily Telegraph.
“The United-City duel arrives without the political intensity of the Clasico, but a league which feeds on personality clashes was never going to pass up the chance to frame Saturday’s protagonists as two warring princes who moved their battleground to England.”
Oliver Kay hones in on the money in The Times.
“In the land where cash is king, prepare for the ultimate demonstration of the Premier League’s wealth and power. For all the inevitable focus on the geniuses in direct conflict in the respective dugouts, the one record that Saturday’s Manchester derby is certain to break is for the two most expensive starting line-ups, which at a total of just under £600m are set to make it the most expensive match in history.”
As for the actual football, Jonathan Wilson has insight:
If both managers go in as they have until now, it will be United’s 4-2-3-1 against 4‑1‑4‑1, two shapes that match up straightforwardly for marking purposes…
It’ll be a thriller, then.