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Arsenal 2, Newcastle United 4 and Manchester United beat Watford on paper

mark lawrenson bbc pundit prediction premier league

 

In his weekly predict the scores for the BBC, ‘football expert’ Mark Lawrenson says Newcastle United with beat Arsenal. He reasons:

I just have a feeling it might work this time. Arsenal’s players are not the only ones who have been away on international duty of course, but this might be a good time for Newcastle to play them.

How many Arsenal played an international fixture in the last week? Five. They were: Granit Xhaka, Stephan Lichtsteiner (both Switzerland) Danny Welbeck (England), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Greece) and Takuma Asano (Japan). Two of those were in the Arsenal first XI for their last Premier League match at Cardiff City.

Two.

On the other side, Salomon Rondon played for Venezuela in the early hours of Wednesday (BST), Fabian Schär played for  Switzerland on Tuesday evening, Ki Sung-yueng played for South Korea, and DeAndre Yedlin appeared as an 85th minute substitute for the USA in Nashville. Ciaran Clark was an unused substitute as Republic of Ireland drew 1-1 in Poland.

Five players. Of those, Rondon, Sungg-yueng, Yedlin and Clark played for Newcastle in their last PL match.

Four.

But Lawrenson says it’s a good time to play Arsenal because their players have been away.

Total balls.

The other odd prediction is Watford’s home match with Manchester United. Watford – powerful and full of confidence – have won four in four. United – dull and functional – have lost two in four, winning the last match against a Burnley side feeling the effects of defeat a few days earlier in the Europe League. Here’s Lawrenson:

Watford are flying, and much has been made of the part in that played by Troy Deeney’s partnership with Andre Gray up front.

This will be a real test for Manchester United’s defence, but it is one I think they will pass.

United’s win at Burnley last time out was a big result for them, not just because they needed the three points after losing two games in a row, but because they needed to stop all the chatter around Jose Mourinho’s future.

I am going to go for another United win here, although I think it will be close.

Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

Watford have scored 9 and conceded 3; United have scored 6 and conceded 7. Any football experts want to back the smaller club..?

Posted: 14th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, manchester united, Sports | Comment


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

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

The BBC has  more:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why does it happen?

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

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

 

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


Manchester United’s loss, Leicester City’s again and why newspapers are cheaper by the dozen

Harry Maguire, aka ‘Slabhead’ to his Leicester City teammates was great for England at the World Cup, Manchester United wanted him. But he stayed loyal to Leicester City and signed a new £80,000-a-week-deal, not too shabby but still less than a desperate Man United would have paid him. Last night in England’s 1-0 win over a limited Switzerland at Leicester City’s home ground, the Mail rated Maguire the third best England player on the pitch, awarding him 6.5 out of 10. He was “England’s most assured defender”.

 

daily mirror reach copy and paste

Buy one newspaper and get two free

 

Over at the cost-saving Daily Mirror, which now owns the Daily Express, and Daily Star the verdict was unanimous: “HARRY MAGUIRE – 5: Big gaps between him and Tarkowski meant England’s defence looked vulnerable at times.” Which newspaper survives this copy and paste approach to journalism remains to be seen (maybe they’ll be sold in bundles; buy one get the other two free?) – but the least the Mirror and Express attributed the comment to John Cross, whereas the Star omitted to name any writer.

Over in the Sun, Maguire scores a 6. He was “saluted by Leicester fans when he walked out on his home turf, inexplicably rolled the ball out of play off his studs to the left. It was an elementary error, schoolboy stuff from a player England’s head coach genuinely believes is one of the best central defenders in the world.” And as the paper’s Neil Ashton snarks: “Put it this way, you don’t see Sergio Ramos doing that.”

Nah. Ramos never puts a foot wrong:

 

 
He’s no Harry Maguire:
 

Posted: 12th, September 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United fans and the Ronaldo fake news pledge

manchester evening news clickbait

 

On May 8, 2017, the Manchester Evening News was “Fighting fake news”. Readers were assured that “Trust is name of the game in sports journalism – whatever team you support…” The MEN was not bullshit.com. Clickbait, be gone. The paper invited readers to answer the question: “what is a sports journalist in 2017?” But it was rhetorical, and the MEN said what readers “crave” is “authenticity”.  It is “trusted by the people who go to games and know our teams inside out… It’s a matter of trust.”

And then the crux: the MEN does not chase easy traffic on the web because it is here to stay:

Fake news is fly-by-night, being a fan is for life. We know what fans want because we are them ourselves. But we also know that fans want facts – no matter how much we’d all want to believe that Ronaldo is about to sign for our club. That’s what sets us apart from those organisations who just want your click. We want your trust.

Indeed, we often report on transfer rumours and gossip, but with a critical eye borne out of local knowledge, ears to the ground and great contact-building by our journalists. If supporters are talking about it, then so are we.

No Transfer Balls, then.

September 6 2018: “Manchester United had the chance to sign their dream No.7 this summer.”  The URL Google reads runs: “https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/transfer-news/man-utd-transfer-cristiano-ronaldo-15114577”

But United had “the chance” to sign Ronaldo, right. No. Wrong.

“Cristiano was never on my table to say yes or not to Cristiano to come to us. It was never on the table,” Mourinho replied before getting up from his seat in the press room at Turf Moor.

The rest of the story was not delivered by anyone who needed to go anywhere, least of all to a game: it was a quote from former Man United captain Bryan Robson about how good Ronaldo is. It came in the shape of a press release: “Bryan Robson was speaking after Manchester was named ESPN’s Greatest Sporting City 2018 in the UK. The in-depth research, now in its fourth year, discovers the best place in the UK to be a fan. Full results are available on ESPN.co.uk, and on the ESPN app.” Keeping it local, lads.

July 11 2018: “Why Manchester United ‘rejected chance to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo'”

Is it because it “never on the table”?

Manchester United rejected the opportunity to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo before the forward completed his transfer to Juventus.

This we know because of one uncorroborated tweet:

…one journalist has claimed on Twitter that United had the chance to seal Ronaldo’s return but Jose Mourinho didn’t fancy him.

Football reporter Sam Pilger wrote on Twitter: “United were offered the chance to make a bid for Cristiano Ronaldo, but declined it and decided to spend their funds elsewhere this summer.”

The URL for this scoop ends “man-utd-transfer-news-ronaldo”. And Pilger?

July 10 2018: “Has Man Utd manager Jose Mourinho dropped hints about Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire?”

No.

June 1 2018: “Cristiano Ronaldo wants Manchester United reunion with Jose”

And what of Gareth Bale?

July 12: “Manchester United Gareth Bale transfer talks advance.”

July 14: “Real Madrid ‘set Manchester United Gareth Bale asking price.” They didn’t. But they ‘might’ want over £150m for him.

.

 

Posted: 6th, September 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united | Comment


Respected Manchester United Jose Mourinho gets a suspended jail sentence for greed

Just one more reason to admire and respect Manchester United manager José Mourinho: he’s earned one-year suspended sentence (two six-month prison sentences) in a long-running tax fraud case with the Spanish government. Spain’s El Mundo newspaper says Mourinho has been fined €2m.

The graceless manager stood accused of failing to pay over €3m in undeclared image rights earnings for 2011 and 2012. At the time he was manager of Real Madrid. Mourinho disputed the claim.

He won’t got to prison. Any sentence of under two years for a first offence can be served on probation.

But what does it mean for the all-important Manchester United brand? Tax evasion, especially when you’re stinking rich, is not a good sell. But then, United are all about the money so look out for The Brand finding an official ‘tax efficiency’ partner and a club tour of The Cayman Islands…

Posted: 4th, September 2018 | In: manchester united, Money, Sports | Comment


Sadiq Khan blimp looks like Manchester United’s Mourinho

sadiq-khan-blimp-mourinho

 

Watching the Donald Trump baby blimp fly over London as the US president visited us, his fans had an idea. Why not get a blimp and fly it over London? And why not make it the likeness of a leading politician? It was a bold, innovative and original idea. And so the creative minded Trumpers have bought a blimp of London Mayor Sadiq Khan. It’s dressed in a yellow bikini, to make his absurd decision to ban a ‘Beach Body Ready’ advert in 2016.

Sadiq Khan sees the balloon and quips: “If people want to spend their Saturday looking at me in a yellow bikini they’re welcome to do so – I don’t really think yellow’s my colour though.”

The thing is that it looks a lot like Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.

Posted: 30th, August 2018 | In: manchester united, Politicians, Sports | Comment


Manchester United rift as Martial bids to outlast Mourinho

The less he plays, the better Anthony Martial gets. Manchester Untied’s French forward has been offered a five-year deal worth £130,000 week. Not too shabby for a 22-year-old whose played once for United this season. Martial’s current deal ends in 2020, and the feeling is that keeping him on a longer contract is more about resell value than loving the man. A young player on a long-term contract is worth more than young player with a year to go on his contact. But all said, Martial remains a player full of promise.

When Martial joined United from AS Monaco in 2015, the transfer deal stipulated that should Martial make the Ballon d’Or shortlist during his Old Trafford career, Monaco would get another €10m. Both clubs thought it highly possible. He was that thrilling.

Martial, who wanted to leave United in the summer, must be tempted to take the deal. He can reason that five-years will see him outlast manager Jose Mourinho.

Indeed, the Mirror leads with news of “Martial War”, claiming that the offer is a “huge slap in the face” for Mourinho. Deal away, then. Mourinho, a graceless winner and caustic loser, could do with a bit of tough love. News is that Mourinho wanted to get shot of Martial this summer. The offer of a new deal for the player once tipped as a world beater has upset Mourinho, a challenge akin to looking at a puppy sat next to a pile of poo and being asked ‘whodunnit?’

 

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


Manchester United fans delighted with Spurs loss

“So Manchester Utd fans… How are you feeling after Spurs loss?,” asks the BBC on its newspaper-style website. (Why doesn’t the BBC just publish a newspaper and be done with it?)

 

manchester united

 

The answers come thick and thicker. As do the questions, one of which is: “Are Spurs now a bigger club than Man United.” Spurs will always be at best the fifth or sixth biggest club in England. But that’s a side issue. The current Spurs side is terrific – this might be there year. And if you want to know how most modern United fans feel about losing to Tottenham, well, take  look at this:

 

 

They’re delighted.

Posted: 29th, August 2018 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United’s vanishing £60m agreement for Spurs star

In the shadowlands where transfer news and transfer gossip merge into clickbait balls was the summer’s news that Manchester United were dead keen on Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld. Today the BBC tells its readers that Man United “made no attempt” to sign Alderweireld, 29, from Spurs.

Really?

The Metro told us on August 6:

Tottenham were demanding £75million for Alderweireld, but a compromise has been reached and United are poised to complete the deal.

One day on the Daily Star had reduced the fee by a mere £20m – still £15m more than the United “bid”:

 

Toby Alderweireld transfer

 

Confusing stuff. Maybe the Mirror can help. It’s the source of the BBC’s story that United never did bid for Alderweireld. The paper reports:

Manchester United made NO attempt to sign Toby Alderweireld or Danny Rose in the summer transfer window… despite reports claiming otherwise.

In fact, it’s emerged that it was Spurs who informally approached United, their hosts for Monday night’s Premier League game, to ask if there was interest in either of their stars in the lead up to deadline day.

Fact. But on August 5 the Mirror said United were “set to sign” the Belgian for – get this – £60m.

 

Toby Alderweireld transfer

 

Just two days later and the “final offer” form United was down to £40m:

 

Toby Alderweireld transfer

Total balls, then.

Posted: 27th, August 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment


Paul Pogba agrees to leave Manchester United and memories of Ashley Cole

Paul Pogba is going to leave Manchester United to play for Barcelona. Pogba won’t let a contract with three years left to run at Old Trafford spoil things. You see, the Daily Mail says Pogba has “told Manchester United teammates that he wants to leave” and “agreed terms with the Catalan giants”.

That’s the story – but, if it’s true, isn’t the biggest story one of alleged tapping up?

 

paul pogba barcelona

The Mail ‘understands’ Pogba has agreed to break his contract?

 

The Premier League rules are clear:

“Subject to Rule T.7, a Contract Player, either by himself or by any Person on his behalf, shall not either directly or indirectly make any such approach as is referred to in Rule T.5 without having obtained the prior written consent of his Club.”

But how can an agent can get the best deal for their client without testing the market?

As Pogba manoeuvres towards the exit door, we turn once more to the greatest episode of a player finding himself signed to one club but being wooed by another. This from the extraordinary My Defence by Ashley Cole, whose transfer from Arsenal to Chelsea encompassed the following scene:

I LOOK back now and still can’t get my head around half of it; how, in the space of 18 months, the dream was undone so fast. It does my head in thinking about it all: the mess I found myself in, the storm that whipped up around me, the abuse of the fans, the charges laid against me. Overnight, they stopped singing my name and the party ended as abruptly as someone pulling the plug out of the wall. I became the treacherous Ashley Cole, the Judas of Highbury.

I was well down on the day when I drove into town to see Jonathan Barnett (my agent) at his offices. We jumped in Jonathan’s Bentley and he told his driver our destination: the Royal Park Hotel. It was Thursday, January 27, 2005.

We walked by reception and into a meeting room called the Green Room where we found Pini (Zahavi, Chelsea’s agent) sat alone. We must have been in there about 20 minutes when Pini suddenly flicked his wrist to look at his watch — “Time! Time! My next meeting . . .” and he started to get up out of his chair. The door opened and José Mourinho and Peter Kenyon walked in.

I remember noticing Jonathan was gearing up to leave, reaching around his chair for his coat. The small talk, the pleasantries and the goodbyes lasted another 15 minutes as I genuinely saw no harm in being there for a few extra minutes as these two meetings overlapped.

Mr Mourinho pulled out a chair and sat at the head of the oval-shaped table and Jonathan was sat to my right. It was normal chit-chat from then on. I mentioned how well Chelsea were doing in the league. “Yes, and we are going to buy two more players — a midfielder and a left back,” he said.

And that’s when Pini made a flip remark, “Well, we are sat with the best left back in the world!” and Mr Mourinho smiled and said, “Yes, I agree.”

Jose Mourinho is the current manger of Manchester United.

Posted: 8th, August 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Paul Pogba Manchester’s United clues

Paul Pogba was terrific in the World Cup final post-match celebrations. He danced, sang and hugged with abandon. But when he stopped being loud he became “cryptic”, speaking through his shirts. “Could France midfielder be sending cryptic hint to manager Jose Mourinho during summer transfer window?” posed the Sun. The paper continued: “Maverick Paul Pogba continues to enjoy his post World Cup-winning downtime – by bizarrely posing in an Argentina shirt.”

Have you made the link yet? Too cryptic for you? The Sun then analyses the shirt and provides some clues to what it could mean:

Pogba starred for Les Bleus in Russia as they lifted the famous trophy but he sported different colours on holiday in LA this week, wearing Paulo Dybala’s No21 shirt. The two midfielders became good pals when they played together at Juventus before Pogba left to rejoin Manchester United in 2016.

Are you, like Jose Mourinho, still scratching your head?

They experienced vastly different World Cups with Dybala making just one appearance as Argentina were dumped out in the round of 16 by eventual champions France. Dybala didn’t even make it off the bench in that game with Pogba, who scored in the final against Croatia, perhaps wanting to help raise his friend’s profile a bit by pulling on a replica shirt.

And that’s it.

And so to today’s Paul Pogba no-news. The BBC says:

Manchester United and France midfielder Paul Pogba’s agent is expected to tell the Red Devils he can broker a £100m move for the 25-year-old World Cup winner to Barcelona.

Who expects him to do that? The source for the BBC’s story is the Daily Star (owner: Reach media). The paper tells of Barcelona “rumours”.

 

paul pogba transfer

 

What Barcelona rumours? The ones the agent is “expected” to discuss?

Over in the Express (owner: Reach media), we learn of the “REAL” reason Pogba “wants Barcelona switch”.  It’s because he… thinks Barcelona a good team. And how do we know Pogba wants to play for Barcelona. Get this:

According to the Sunday Star, Raiola is hoping to broker a £100m deal with the Catalan club to rescue his client’s career.

It’s a human catepillar of utter balls.

Posted: 5th, August 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Chelsea lead race for Real Madrid bound Lewandowski

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

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

Such are the facts.

 

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


Transfer balls: Martial leaves Manchester United (and stays)

Is Anthony Martial leaving Manchester United? The media don’t know. Here are some scoops from the past few days: “Jose Mourinho still believes he can be a star,” says the The Sun (July 22); “Fed-up Jose Mourinho is ready to let whingeing Anthony Martial leave Manchester United,” says The Sun (July 23); “Anthony Martial has put Chelsea on alert – because he plans to defy Manchester United and stay in England,” says The Sun (July 25).

 

martial agrees manchester untied transfer

Martial agrees to leave – says every publication without offering readers a shred of proof

 

 

Today’s Sun tells us Martial “has left Manchester United’s pre-season tour to.” Why? He’s left “to join girlfriend Melanie Da Cruz ahead of imminent birth of son”.

 

martial agrees manchester untied transfer

Martial agent says: “It is obvious and very important to be reminded that he is under contract, that Manchester United will have the last word and that we will respect the decision of the club, he will go until the end of his engagement.”

 

Martial property news follows the Sun’s scoop that Martial has “dropped a huge hint that he is staying at Manchester United after cancelling a short-term lease on a luxury flat the city.”

“Martial had planned to move into one of the luxury Number One Deansgate apartments this summer. Him and his partner, who is due to give birth in the coming weeks, wanted to stay in the flat on a short-term lease for three months while his future was sorted out. But he has axed the move and will stay in his Cheshire mansion, as he expects to still be a United player next season.”

We don’t know why Martial was looking at renting a flat in Manchester. Maybe his in-laws are coming to stay and he didn’t want them in the mansion? Was the mansion on sale? No. Is Jose Mourinho leaving United because he still lives in a hotel? No. Is Martial house hunting in London or Milan No. Does the Sun know what Martial plans to do? No.

Posted: 26th, July 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: ‘hijacked’ by Arsenal Malcolm ‘agrees’ to join Spurs after Manchester United ‘deal’

Roma have moved to sign Malcolm from Bordeaux. The Brazilian winger will cost the Italians around £36 million. And baring a late and successful bid from Barcelona, the deal will go through. But not so very long ago the press was telling us that Malcom wanted to play for Spurs. ​90mins.com told its readers: “Bordeaux winger Malcom has agreed a summer move to ​Tottenham after meeting manager Mauricio Pochettino.”

 

malcolm spurs

 

In the Sun, Malcolm was “hinting” at joining any one of Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool and Manchester United. The story was first-class balls:

BORDEAUX winger Malcom’s agent hinted a January Premier League transfer could be underway after sharing a snap of himself in London.

Agent takes holiday photo. Read on…

Leonardo Cornacini of Elenko Sports – an agency representing the Brazilian – posted a picture to Facebook of himself in the capital.

It was a “teasing picture”. And the teasing caption to the photo?

Cornacini captioned his post: “This is @elenko_sports… invading the land of Royal Majesty #PremierLeague.”

And..? And nothing. Undaunted by the lack of news in this scoop, the Sun added: “One social media user asked: “Does it have anything to do with Malcom to Arsenal?” And the response from Cornacini? Nothing. But he did go to the Albert Hall to watch a show.

Over in the London Evening Standard the story went: “Tottenham and Arsenal target Malcom reveals Premier League dream.” And, indeed, Malcolm did say last January: “It is true that England is a dream for every player.” That was a rare moment of fact. Although he never mentioned a club.

Goal.com told its readers: “Manchester United are ready to make a £40 million opening bid for Bordeaux forward Malcolm.” They weren’t. But The Metro told its readers that Arsenal had hijacked United’s £44m  “deal” for Malcolm – you know, the deal they never made:

 

malcolm roma arsenal

And then the Sun said Malcolm was off to…Fulham or Inter Milan.

 

malcolm trasnfer

 

Such are facts.

Posted: 23rd, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United, Gareth Bale and Ronaldo in clickbait horror

As Cristiano Ronaldo unpacks his wash bag in Turin, the Manchester Evening News works out how it can continue to milk the tired and desperate story of the Portuguese one day playing for Manchester United. After years of headlines and utter tosh about Ronaldo (born: Madeira Portugal) coming ‘home’, the paper cooks up the headline: “Cristiano Ronaldo transfer to be answered by Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.”

 

man united bale

 

The English is mangled but the headline the robots read is what the MEN is really interested in. The URL for the paper’s clickbait nonsense is:  “https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/transfer-news/cristiano-ronaldo-manchester-united-juventus-14911995.” No word of what Jose Mourinho’s “answer”, just the words “Transfer”, “Cristiano Ronaldo” and “Manchester United” in the same link. Whamo!

The teaser adds: “Man Utd manager Jose Mourinho is set to meet the press for the first time this summer, with Cristiano Ronaldo high on the agenda.” A player who does not play for Manchester United is at the top of topics up for discussion?James Robson says “his first press conference since a rather irritated affair following the FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea promises to be a fascinating one”.

And Ronaldo? Well, Robson tells us that “it’s understood United never seriously threw their hat into the ring when it became clear the five-time Ballon d’Or winner was ready to leave Real Madrid”. United didn’t want Ronaldo. Ronaldo didn’t want United. But Robson says “United have watched on [?] as Neymar and Ronaldo have proved eminently gettable.” The tin lid on this dire story is carried by “the belief” that United has “prioritised” the signing on Gareth Bale.

What chance have United of signing Bale?

“Bale’s own wishes could be the determining factor. His post-Champions League final ‘come and get me’ plea felt like a game-changer – and have certainly been enough to make United spring into action.”

A plea? Nothing of it. The Guardian reports:

Gareth Bale is set to be handed the challenge of replacing Cristiano Ronaldo as Real Madrid’s driving force when he meets his new coach, Julen Lopetegui, for talks in the next two weeks.

Pretty much every media outfit agrees with the Guardian that Bale is set to stay at Madrid. But over at the MEN clickbait farm, the news becomes:

 

 

What is the ‘one question” Bale must have answered? We click and get:

 

bale man united

 

James Robson once more has the scoop:

Once again the Manchester United executive chairman’s pursuit of Gareth Bale comes down to a simple question of stick or twist. That is the dilemma on Bale’s mind after he held his first face-to-face with new Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui this week.

The “one question” for Bale is should be stay or should he go? And United “are ready to move as soon as they get the go-ahead from Bale’s representatives.” Which they won’t.

More shameless ball in the MEN every day.

Posted: 17th, July 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United disappointment Paul Pogba offered to Barcelona

Like most of you, we think Paul Pogba’s been a disappointment since rejoining Manchester United for a massive transfer fee. But in the eyes of the marketing business that runs football, Pogba remains a unique talent good enough to play for Barcelona. Indeed, his agent has apparently told Barcelona that the France international is unhappy with life under Jose Mourinho and is ready to join them just as soon as they offer United a fortune for his services.

Pogba was offered to Manchester City last season. And if Barcelona don’t bite, just as City didn’t, chances are he’ll be offered to Real Madrid, PSG, a Chinese shopping mall and Juventus, where he’ll be telling everyone about the club being close to his heart and never really wanting to leave (see United guff 2016).

And who gets the money from Pogba’s moving on? United paid Juventus £89m for Pogba in 2016. His agent, one Mino Raiola, scored a reported £41m cut of the fee.

Isn’t modern football great.

Posted: 15th, July 2018 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


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

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

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

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

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

 

higuain transfer arsenal

 

 

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

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

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


Transfer balls: Ronaldo to Juventus but Manchester United lead

All that talk of Cristiano Ronaldo heading ‘home’ to Manchester United is trumped by news that he’s been talking with Juventus. The BBC says the Italians have “opened talks” with Ronaldo, 33, to Italy. They have? Well, Marca agrees with the Beeb that Juventus want Ronaldo:

 

ronaldo juventus

 

Over on Marca, however, news is that Italian media are only “speculating” that Ronaldo could be on his way to Juventus. Slap the scoop through Google Translate and we learn:

  • “Italian media speculating that Juventus could be his next destination.”
  • Ronaldo was “incredibly flattered when some Juve fans gave him a “standing ovation after his stunning overhead kick in the Champions League”. Although some others called him a *****.
  • It’s an option that can now be discussed given that Ronaldo is out of the World Cup. “It’s not the time to talk about the future,” the player said after losing to Uruguay. Er…
  • Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes, is the “Tom Cruise of agents.” He a Scientologist?

Over in Italy, the headline is:

 

ronaldo italy

 

TuttoSport is the source of the BBC’s scoop and Marca story. Once again we look at he news through the prism of Google Translate:

Any reasoning deserves a premise: the chances of seeing Cristiano Ronaldo with the Juventus shirt in the next season are few. But being the strongest player on the planet, even the few make noise, especially if there is Jorge Mendes , his agent, who will now start a glowing phase of his summer: on one hand waiting for the relaunch of Real Madrid for a consistent retouching of the engagement, on the other the search for alternatives for his client, now on vacation.

In short: Ronaldo and his agent want more cash from Real. Will they get it at Juventus?

To avoid mistakes, CR7 greeted Real Madrid in Kiev , where he said: “It was nice to play in this club” , just a few minutes after raising the third consecutive Champions League . Now you look around. What are you looking for? First of all, more money: a folly for those who earn 21 million a season, but in the logic of his infinite (and partly irrational) long-distance challenge with Messi wants to take more of him, set new records, get ahead of everyone even at the economic level so he wants at least 40 million net per season, even if they say that to Florentino Perez, president of Real, he asked for 50.

And this for Juventus would be the main problem. Almost insurmountable, because the top salary is now 7.5 million net per season (received by Dybala and Higuain) and to give 40 to CR7 would mean putting 80 gross into the budget. Too many. This is why a complex commercial operation would be necessary, in which the FCA of the Juventus shareholder John Elkann could enter , which, through advertising contracts, could contribute substantially to the achievement of the quota.

To conclude: Ronaldo to Juventus would be nice for Juventus but Juventus don’t have the money to get him. Or as the BBC outs it: “Juventus have opened talks with Real Madrid to take Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo, 33, to Italy.” And in the Sun: “Juventus begin negotiations to sign Real Madrid star Ronaldo.” And in the Express: “Ronaldo could leave Real Madrid with Manchester United spearheading the list of teams aiming to snap him up.”

Fake news or just utter balls? Read all about it…

 

Posted: 3rd, July 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Lyon ‘trick’ Liverpool with Fekir to Manchester United talk

This summer’s transfer saga centres on Nabil Fakir’s move from Lyon to Liverpool. The transfer was so far progressed that Fakir was filmed wearing a new Liverpool shirt. But the £52m transfer (£48m plus extras) collapsed amid Liverpool’s concerns over the state of Fakir’s knee – the player suffered a bad injury to his knee in 2015.

And  then it all got a bit weird. Lyon president Jean-Michael Aulus told us: “I was with Jose Mourinho the other day. We had long discussions. Personally, I am no longer in discussions with Liverpool. At the moment, we are waiting for France and Nabil to have a fantastic World Cup.”

Can it be that Fakir, who has had a very ordinary World Cup on the France bench, is now off to Manchester United? In “Man Utd transfer news” the Express reads Aulus’s words and conjures the story: “Why Nabil Fekir is likely to snub Liverpool for Manchester United.” As the Express reads Fakir’s mind, the Mirror goes with: “Nabil Fekir could be forced to choose between Manchester United and Liverpool if he leaves Lyon.” Eurosport goes further. “United pounce for Liverpool target Fakir,” it yells.

 

fakir transfer

 

And then the Manchester Evening News tells us; “Nabil Fekir receives Manchester United transfer offer.” Well, that’s the headline. The truth is something very different. Deep into the MEN clickbait, the paper wonders why United want Fekir when they already have Fred, Fellaini, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Paul Pogba as attacking midfielders. It adds:

The Fekir tales are probably just that and there is no concrete evidence United want him. He only has two years left on his contract, so Lyon would prefer to sell the 24-year-old this summer while he is coveted by a big Premier League club, rather than in a year’s time when his value will have dwindled.

Clubs have previously fabricated United’s interest in a player to smoke out a bidder and the biggest sucker for the ruse tends to be Liverpool.

It’s all a trick?

If it is, it’s hard luck on all you readers who have followed the story of Fakir to Manchester United, like those told over and over in the, er, MEN:

 

 

But will Liverpool resurrect the deal? Well, yesterday the Sun said Liverpool had ‘resumed” talks with Lyon:

 

 

fekir liverpool

 

They have? No, says the Times. They have not:

 

fekir liverpool

 

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 2nd, July 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Bale to Manchester United is more if than when

The Week magazine’s news on Manchester United transfers begins: “If Gareth Bale leaves Real Madrid…” And if he doesn’t? Well, then we will repeat the line next year, and the next and keep on repeating it until Gareth Bale is too old even for a desperate United to recruit. (See Anorak passim).

The Express says United manager Jose Mourinho “is intent” on recruiting the 28-year-old. Intent enough to lend United a few million of his own cash to bolster what would be a huge transfer fee? Or is intent measured in how many times Mourinho can moan about not being able to pick a side made up of  the world’s costliest first XI? The Times says Mourinho has told the club’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward that Operation Get Bale is of paramount importance to his plans.

The nadir of this hopeless balls is found in the Star, wherein we learn that Bale’s agent “breaks his silence” over Bale to United – because if there is one thing agents are known for it is their decorum. Jonathan Barnett, chairman of the player agency Stellar Group,  says: “I think we need to talk to Real Madrid to see what’s going on, he wants to play more, that’s top priority for him. He’s one of the top three or four players in the world. So he has to play, it’s not about money.”

Mentions of Manchester United: nil.

Oh, and here’s what Barnett had to say in April: “Gareth is a Real Madrid player and loves Real Madrid and Real Madrid love Gareth. All this talk about leaving is written by reporters who have no idea what is going on and who need to write something and don’t care if it is true or not.”

More Bale to United to follow…

Posted: 28th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


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

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

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

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

 

asensio transfer

 

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

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

 

 

asensio transfer

 

asensio arsenal

 

asensio transfer

Asensio agrees’ — nothing

 

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

asensio transfer

 

Such are the facts.

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


Transfer balls: Bale and Ronaldo to Manchester United (again)

Transfer Balls likes how every summer a player is the primary focus of all the chatter. Remember when Marco Reus was leaving Borussia Dortmund for the Premier League. The Telegraph told its readers it was a sure thing, reporting that “Arsenal planning to hijack Liverpool’s £50 million bid”. He never came. He never even left Borussia.

 

reus agrees arsenal

 

And then there are the transfers that crop up every year, like Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United. The Guardian says that – yep – this summer the move is on:

Having proved beyond sane dispute that he is the GOHG, Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly heading back to where it all started. No, not his mother’s womb; we mean Old Trafford!

Not even his mother’s womb. Ronaldo out at started Sporting Clube de Portugal – in the B team. Manchester United did not hatch the world;’s greatest player. They bought him for £12.24 million, outbidding all rivals. “We have been negotiating for Cristiano for quite some time, but the interest in him from other clubs accelerated in the last few weeks so we had to move quickly to get him,” said United manager Alex Ferguson at the time. “It was only through our official association with Sporting that they honoured our agreement.”

ronaldo manchester united the sun newspapers

 

The money was the key factor in Ronaldo choosing to join Man United. At the time, it was widely reported that Sporting received just two-thirds of the transfer fee. The rest went to Ronaldo’s advisers. And now the talk is that he wants to return. He wants United over Sporting because:

a) His heart is in Manchester

b) United are desperate and would pay a shedload of money to get him

c) He misses the weather back ‘home’

bale manchester united

 

In other Ronaldo news, the Manchester Evening News thunders: “Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo odds to join Manchester United – Manchester United are favourites to land Real Madrid star Gareth Bale”.

Quick! Place your bets. And tell the bookmaker to place the same bet every summer. You can’t lose.

Posted: 23rd, June 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Gareth Bale to Manchester United and Real Madrid chatter

Stop the back page bilge about Gareth Bale leaving Real Madrid for Manchester United. The BBC says Bale’s career at Real Madrid has been given “a lifeline”. Why? Because Real’s new manager Julen Lopetegui “can speak English”. Zinedine Zidane, his predecessor who led Real to three successive Champions’ League triumphs, could not, as the Beeb.

The BBC links to the Express, which bills Lopetugui’s ability to speak English as an “Exclusive”. Presumably up til now the Spanish manager has been pretending not to speak English or else using Stephen Hawking’s old voice system. But now the Express‘ Bruce Archer can “reveal the truth”:

bale transfer

 

As readers wonder if Jose Mourinho can speak England as well as Lopetugui can, and if the pair should compete in a Spelling Bee to see which one is best for Bale, the Express reports:

It has already emerged that Bale is now happy to stay and expects to be given a life line but Express Sport can reveal the reason why.

Bale feels more comfortable in his position because Lopetegui can speak English, whereas Zidane couldn’t.

Bale tried to learn Spanish when he first moved to the Bernabeu but has made little progress despite being there since 2013 and winning four European Cups.

Or to repackage the story: Bale can’t speak Spanish, something that’s hardly prevented him from being terrific. His first goal in the Champions’ League final looked good in any idiom.

And so having told us in an “exclusive” that Bale can now talk to his manager in English, deep into the story the Express adds: “Manchester United are ready to make their move if it is indicated Bale is available, but they are also tracking Willian and would be keen on Neymar if a deal was possible.”

How do you say “total balls” in Spanish?

Posted: 17th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal play Chelsea in Dublin in readiness for European super league

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

It’s billed thus:

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

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

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

Want more of this tosh?

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

He did?

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

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

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


Transfer balls: MEN dupes Manchester United fans with fake news

“Justin Kluivert completes Roma move,” declares the Manchester Evening News in its “live” blog of “Manchester United transfer news”. Ciaran Kelly is scathing of the fools who thought Kluivert was heading to Old Trafford.

 

manchester evening news fake manchester united

 

 

Kelly writes on the page for Manchester United transfer news:

Amazing how that friendly word at the end of the Europa League final between him and Mourinho, who knew him as a kid from his time at Barca, sparked hundreds of articles and rumours.

Kluivert never was heading to Man United, you saps. All he did was have a chat with an old pal – which you can read about at the following links to Manchester Evening News stories:

Justin Kluivert gives major update amid Manchester United transfer links – 18 May 2018

Manchester United target Justin Kluivert and more transfer rumours – Manchester United are planning a summer move for Ajax forward Justin Kluivert, according to reports. – 11 May 2018

Justin Kluivert’s dad advises him over Manchester United transfer – Justin Kluivert has been advised to snub a move to Manchester United by his dad Patrick.

What did dad say? Said Patrick:

“I’m very proud of him. He’s doing very good at Ajax,” Patrick Kluivert told Omnisport, speaking courtesy of Hublot. “He’s now a first XI player. If he’s playing like this in the long-term, he could be one important player in the future. Of course, I prefer that he goes to Barcelona but in football everything can happen. He’s an adult, he can make his own decisions but he’s already said it’s a dream for him to play for Barcelona. But you never know in football.” – 23 March 2018

Mentions of Manchester United: zero.

Manchester United ‘target’ Justin Kluivert subject of Jorge Mendes talks claims Ajax insider – Man Utd have been tipped to sign Ajax wonderkid Justin Kluivert and an Ajax insider has revealed Jorge Mendes has asked about him – 20 Feb 2018

Justin Kluivert talks up Manchester United move – 13 Feb 2018

Justin Kluivert speaks out on Manchester United transfer rumours – United manager Jose Mourinho was filmed commiserating Kluivert after the Europa League final last season and a satirical Dutch programme released a mock transcript of the exchange, suggesting the Portuguese wanted to sign the young forward – 5 Feb 2018

The Manchester Evening News writes lots of story linking Justin Kluivert to Manchester United and then tells readers on the day the player signs for Roma it knew they were all utter balls.

Local paper treats its readers like mugs. Nice.

Posted: 12th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment