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Transfer balls: Martial to Spurs and Griezmann goes cold on Manchester United

Is Anthony Martial all set to make the move from Manchester United to Spurs? The Mirror says Martial is on course to become the first player to make the move from Manchester United to Spurs since Teddy Sheringham sealed the lid on his medal cabinet and returned to White Hart Lane on a free transfer in 2001.

Spurs are on the up, but however large their stadium gets and their squad swells they will always be a smaller club than Manchester United and win less, if anything. Add the lack to gongs to a reduction in wages and the Mirror’s story is absurd.

Staying with Manchester United and the Mirror, news is that Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann, 25, is having “doubts” about moving the England. Not that the France forward ever said he was keen to leave Spain in the first place. Greizmann told French radio:

“With Real Sociedad, I felt that I needed to leave. For the moment, I do not know where that desire came from. Who knows how the season will finish. If it finishes badly, maybe I will ask myself the question. For the moment, it is not relevant…

“Aside from that, I am asking myself where I could go. In Spain, there is Barcelona and Real Madrid. Barcelona have the three up top. Real Madrid, that is impossible because of the club I am at. I think that between them, there is a pact.

“Germany, the league does not attract me much. France, not for the moment. And England, I have a lot of doubts about my private life. Everything like rain, bad weather… I need to feel happy outside.”

What’s wrong with rain, low skies, having the Press label your lover a ‘WAG’ , making the obligatory trip to Wing’s Chinese eatery in the full glare of the cameras and living in a mock Tudor mansion behind huge gates on a footballer-friendly estate in the provinces? Where’s his sense of romance?

Last up in this Manchester United round-up is David de Gea. On the heels of news that the former Atletico Madrid ‘keeper is  in line for a move to Real Madrid – so much for any transfer between the two big Madrid clubs being “impossible” – are reports that he wants a big hike in his £200,000-a-week pay packet, asking for £300,000-a-week.

Expect to read that a Chinese club you’ve never hear of are offering him more.

 

Posted: 15th, February 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Manchester United balls: Mourinho’s run brings back Ferguson’s glory days

The Sun continues to work as an extension of Jose Mourinho Inc., telling readers: ‘Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is bringing back the glory days after matching a record last achieved by Sir Alex Ferguson.’

Still in his first season at Man United, Jose’s yet to win anything. United are sixth in the Premier League. Given the vast sums lashed out on ‘the brand’ which now values stars over continuity, you wonder what the Sun are driving at. And then it comes: the glory days amount to Manchester United going more than ten league games unbeaten, something David Moyes and Louis van Gaal failed to achieve in the post-Ferguson era.

Under the peerless Ferguson, Manchester United twice managed to go 29 league games without defeat. That was a record. Mourinho’s recent run isn’t.

The Sun then adds a dig at Van Gaal:

…the Dutch legend could do nothing to stem the tide, with United consistently churning out a display or dreary performances across his two terms, finishing well adrift of the leading pack in both.

Van Gaal was no great success, but in two seasons at the club his Manchester sides qualified for the Champions League once and missed out on goal difference once. Under Van Gaal, United finished 17 points and 15 points behind the PL champions, respectively. Under Mourinho, United are 14 points behind the current leaders.

The glory days are back, indeed.

Posted: 9th, February 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Transfer balls: Antoine Griezmann moves to Manchester United for the branding opportunities

The Sun continues to link Antoine Griezmann with a move to Manchester United. In ‘MAD FOR IT’, the paper’s lead sports story is that Atletico Madrid’s star striker ‘wants to be the new Becks’. Griezmann has ‘dropped a hint’ he wants to play for Man United.

He did? No. The only person talking is Griezmann’s ‘image advisor’ Sebastien Bellencontre, who, according to the Sun ,’says Griezmann wants to follow hero David Beckham by wearing the iconic No7 shirt at the Theatre of Drams.’ He doesn’t want to follow his hero (?) Beckham to Real Madrid, PSG or LA Galaxy. The Frenchman wants to be Beckham II at Old Trafford.

In the fifth paragraph of the story continued four pages inside the Sun, readers get to hear what the marketing man actually said. Bellencontre told So Foot magazine: “When I read articles about  a hypothetical transfer to Manchester United I think it would be the ideal commercial scenario.”

Feel the passion, United fans. But not everyone will be non-plussed. Whereas Ferguson went for continuity, the current Manchester United hierarchy wants only to buy big, buy bigger and buy biggest.  Bellencontre is talking their language. “I don’t like the fact that there are consistently more players from Spain on the [Ballon d’Or shortlist],” said Manchester United’s chief executive Ed Woodward. “We as a club should be aspiring to have the best players playing for us.” Not the best team. The players with the biggest public profiles. The players who can flog stuff best.

 

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What the Sun doesn’t report is that Bellencontre also said (and this via Google translate):

“He would play club Beckham, his idol, with the same legendary number 7 in the back … Still without any consideration sport, PSG would be interesting to Franco-French level, but it has already happened to International …  ”

So he quite fancies PSG, then.

Le Figaro has more from Bellencontre (again via Google translate):

“The model would be a mixture of Beckham and Zidane. Beckham because it is his idol, but also because I would like to make it a fashion icon that survives his career. Zidane for French DNA, simplicity, family values, fidelity too … We want Antoine to finish his career at Puma for example. (…) For the Beckham card, the young European blonde, tattooed, talented. (…)

On ESPN, Bellencontre is billed as Griezmann’s ‘former image consultant’. Although on his company website and twitter bio, Bellencontre is billed as Griezmann’s branding guru.

The upshot is that is should United opt to throw the best part of £100m at Griezmann, they won’t just get a striker, they will get a striker with Zidane’s hair and fashion nouse, and Beckham’s fidelity and French DNA. Or something like that. Anyhow, it will be totally amazing and ensure another season of great business in the United soccer superstore.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 7th, February 2017 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Manchester United balls: good guy Mourinho blows his top

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Last night Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was ‘furious’, says the Daily Mail. His side had drawn 0-0 with Hull City. Mourinho ‘blows his top on TV’, says the paper. The ‘irate’ Manchester United boss ‘stormed out of a TV interview’.

How does the Sun cover the Manchester United boss’s latest hissy fit? It doesn’t. Nowhere in its reports on the match does the Sun mention Mourinho’s moodiness and ‘his hasty exit at the first opportunity just 90 seconds into his post-match interview’ (BBC).

Is the Sun a tad biased in Jose’s favour? After all, on January 26, the paper was sure Jose was on the up. His hair spoke volumes:

NEIL ASHTON – Jose Mourinho is back: Back to his old self. Back in the hunt for trophies. Back to his devilish, mischievous best

And on it went:

Jose Mourinho, what with his latest grade-one haircut from the Lowry Hotel barber, is looking razor sharp again. The good behaviour bond is almost into a third month, trouble-free after serving a one-match ban for booting a water bottle when he had a wobbly against West Ham.

Focused, and firmly in control again, Mourinho is on to something good.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 2nd, February 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Manchester United: what did Bastian Schweinsteiger’s celebration really mean?

Media balls: why did Manchester United’s Bastian Schweinsteiger celebrate a goal against Wigan Athletic by pretending to play tennis (or was it squash)? His bespoke goal celebration is causing the Press to wonder why he did and what it all meant.

It would be easier, of course, if the German could be more precise. An overheard serve and loud grunt would have dismissed the squash interpretation, and the donning of an headband (removed from a sleeve or sock) or skirt (ditto) helped further still. As it was Bastian played two air shots, and any offence to Jeremy Bates or Tim Henman, two nearly men of British tennis, is regrettable.

On the plus side, when lining up his forehand, Schweinsteiger did not hit a teammate dashing in to celebrate his goal nor deliver a backhand cuff to the unmentionables. Although had he done the headlines – ‘New balls, please’ – write themselves.

Anyhow, to the Press.

The Daily Express knows why he did it:

‘The 32-year-old German then stole the show with a celebration in tribute to Australian Open champion Roger Federer, who beat Rafael Nadal in five sets earlier during the day’

The Daily Mail knows:

‘Schweinsteiger stuck the ball in the net and then celebrated with a swing of an imaginary racquet in front of his wife, retired tennis star Ana Ivanovic’

The Daily Star knows:

Schweinsteiger, a keen tennis fan and husband of Ana Ivanovic, celebrated his goal with a nod to Australian Open champ Roger Federer.

The Guardian knows:

Schweinsteiger celebrates by playing a tennis forehand and backhand, which is either a tribute to his wife Ana Ivanonic or Roger Federer, or both.

In conclusion: more practice in front of the wardrobe mirror, Bastian.

Posted: 31st, January 2017 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Transfer balls: Arsenal outbid Chelsea for Manchester United-bound Griezmann and Sanchez ‘escapes’

Transfer balls: a look at bad football reporting. Having been told for ages that Antoine Griezmann tops Manchester United’s list of transfer targets – and that Chelsea were buying the French striker for £40m and then £50m – the BBC reports that Arsenal will try to get him for £85m.

The BBC’s source is the Mail on Sunday. But its report is very light on facts. Readers are told that Manchester United “believe they are in pole position to land Antoine Griezmann”. Arsenal “are expected” to bid for the Atletico Madrid star. It is “widely expected” rich clubs will bid for Griezmann this summer.

The Sun expands on the ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’ by saying that should Griezmann leave, Atletico will buy Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez. This will be – get his – Sanchez’s “escape route” out of Arsenal.

So will Sanchez from part of a cash and flesh deal for Griezmann? No, says the Sun. “The Spaniards are resigned to losing Antoine Griezmann to Manchester United this summer.”

The Sun says Atletico will offer Sanchez £220,000 a week. That’s much better than the “£160,000- a-week deal currently on offer for Sanchez to sign a new contract with the Gunners”.

But Sun told readers back in November that Arsenal will have to “stump up £200,000-a-week each if they want Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to sign new deals with the club.” That’s a lot of money – but less than the £250,000-a-week the Express reported Sanchez was seeking in October.

In December, the Mail told its readers, “Sanchez wants £250,000 per week, while Arsenal’s current offer is £180,000”. That was Arsenal’s “opening offer”.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 29th, January 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Liverpool Balls: tabloids want Klopp out but heap praise on Manchester United under Mourinho

When is it safe to write off Liverpool’s Premier League chances?

Jeremy Cross tells Daily Star readers that Jurgen Kloop ‘doesn’t deserve the sack’. Who said he was being sacked? Liverpool are fourth in the Premier League – two points off second place and 10 points from the top. They made it to the semi-finals of the EFL Cup. Last season, Liverpool finished runners-up in the EFL Cup and the Europa League.

Liverpool are one point behind Tottenham, of which the Star wrote On January 24, Dele Alli is “the key to Tottenham winning the Premier League”.

Spurs on 46 points can win the title but Liverpool on 45 points are thinking of sacking their manager? That’s one hell of a big point.

Says Cross:

‘Having lost twice to Southampton in the EFL Cup semi-finals, Klopp resembles a man on the run as the critics round on him.’

Liverpool fans might care to compare and contrast those words with Neil Ashton’s opinion of Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, whose plucky side last night lost 2-1 to big-spending Hull City last night but still progressed to the EFL Cup final. Wrote Ashton of Mourinho four days ago.

‘He is back. Back to his old self. Back in the hunt for trophies. Back to his devilish, mischievous best. Focused, and firmly in control again, Mourinho is on to something good.’

Manchester United are four points behind Liverpool:

And there was Rio Ferdinand in the Daily Mirror:

“The next window is a big one for United in terms of getting players out and getting some in who will invigorate his squad and be able to carry out his methods. I like what Mourinho has done. He has shown again he is a top manager. We have seen with Pep Guardiola how difficult it is to get right…Jose is doing that really well.”

Chelsea fans might well scoff. Blues’ manager Antonio Conte is in his first season at the club. Chelsea are eight points clear at the top of the table. If Mourinho is doing really well in sixth, what’s Conte doing? Incidentally, Ferdinand said of Conte at the start of the season:

“Conte will need time to find his feet. I don’t think he will win the Premier League in his first season because he has a big job on his hands there.”

The Mirror also has a pop at Klopp., who has ‘run them into the ground’. ‘German’s training regime “too intense” say critics.’

In the Sun, the aforesaid Ashton says with Steven Gerrard back at Liverpool, Klopp’s days are numbered. ‘The problem will be when the people at Anfield start wondering out loud whether the iconic figure in the stands could do a better  job than the fella currently in it,’ he writes.

To recap: Liverpool are in fourth place, two points off second spot, ahead of both Manchester United and Manchester City.

Posted: 27th, January 2017 | In: Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Arsenal v Manchester United: Wenger and Mourinho on new FA panel show

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has called for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to be banned. “Jose call for Wenger ban,” announces the Star’s back-page headline.

Wenger is waiting to learn what punishment the FA will deliver for his sending off last weekend. Rather than vanishing down the tunnel, as he should have done, Wenger dallied by the pitch and then shoved the fourth official.

But did Mourinho, a man known for run-ins with officialdom and his dislike of Wenger, really add his opinion that his rival should be banned? No. He didn’t. What happened was that at the Manchester United press conference ahead of their EFL Cup semi-final tie with Hull City, a journalist asked him about Wenger. Should Wenger be banned? Mourinho replied: “I have no idea.”

 

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Over in the Mail, there’s a different twist on the same no-news story. “As Jose heads for Hull all eyes are on the FA…Can Mourinho keep his cool over Wenger?” asks the headline. We know the League Cup is no great shakes but when it takes second billing to a disciplinary hearing, you’re in trouble. Marketing departments would be better served adding company logos to the FA’s judgements and the leave the un-loved tin-pot alone.

If the Supreme Court can be televised, why not he FA’s? Slap it on the telly and you’ve got must-see TV.

Call me, the FA, I have ideas.

 

Posted: 26th, January 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Transfer balls: Manchester United have £70m for Bernardo Silva

Transfer Balls: the Sun leads with Manchester United’s summer bid for Monaco’s Portuguese “ace” Bernardo Silva. On top of the £85m Man United have earmarked for Antoine Griezmann’s signature is £70m for Silva.

Is it true? A year ago, the Express said Barcelona and Chelsea were looking at Bernardo. Have they gone cold on the midfielder?

Silva is managed by – yep – Jose Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes, a man routinely billed as “super-agent”, who vies with Super Banker for the title of World’s Least Admirable Super Hero.

What truth there is in the story of Silva to Manchester United is hard to ascertain because the Sun produces not a single quote to support is claim. Still, it must be great for Mendes to know how much 10% of £70m is and for Silva, worth €15.75 million one year ago, to be linked with a big money move to the Premier League.

Bernardo Mota Veiga de Carvalho e Silva is contracted to Monaco until 30 June 2019.

Posted: 19th, January 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Clickbait Balls: Daily Telegraph tricks ‘paranoid’ Liverpool and Manchester United fans

The Manchester United v Liverpool match was memorable for a number of things, according to the clickbait-mad Press.

The Mirror’s football expert learned “five things” from watching the game, one of which is that Paul Pogba’s “handball handed Liverpool the early advantage”. That was the handball that gave Liverpool a penalty kick, from which they scored their only goal of the game. David McDonnell leaned that. He also learned that Wayne Rooney got a yellow card and “Ibrahimovic keeps on scoring”, which he did when he scored United’s equaliser.

The Express also learned five things, one of which is, “Simon Mignolet put on a solid display.”

Coincidentally, the Sun also learned five things. Fred Nathan delivers his fistful of insight. He watched Pogba give away a penalty and learned that he “must not let silly mistakes creep into his game”.

In the Indy, which didn’t make enough money to remain as proper paper so went web only, there are just four things learned. But Fox News, which has oodles of money, learned seven things. Ryan Rosenblatt learned that when United and Liverpool drop points, their rivals are pleased. The other top sides “love this result” he learned.

But the prize for the biggest Clickbait Balls goes to the dire Daily Telegraph. The once great newspaper is now a clickbait factory. “Martin Tyler accused of ‘bias’ following Manchester United vs Liverpool commentary,” says the headline. It also says just that in the URL for the story:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/2017/01/15/martin-tyler-accused-bias-following-manchester-united-vs-liverpool/

 

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So who accused Sky TV’s commentator of bias? Liverpool boss Jugen Klopp? Manchester Untied manager Jose Mourinho? Well, no. A clue to how the story was the product of the paper’s clickbait factory is in the now revised headline: “Liverpool fans round on Martin Tyler following Manchester United’s last minute equaliser at Old Trafford.”

They “rounded on” Tyler on Twitter. The Telegraph picks three tweets to back up its story, which beings: “Paranoid Liverpool fans are becomingly increasingly convinced that SkySports’ Martin Tyler is a secret Manchester United fan.”

Tweet 1:

@dreamteamfc
Martin Tyler just called Zlatan: “THE TOWER OF POWER!” #MUNLIV

Tweet 2:

@StephenDuffy6

Still coming to terms with the fact Martin Tyler just called Zlatan the ‘Tower of Power’, since when has that been a thing?

Lest you think those “paranoid” Liverpool fans are just having a laugh and mocking Tyler’s absurd phrase, @Footy Humour tweets the third piece of evidence.

Tweet 3:

Martin Tyler: “Rooney here. Is it in the script? Is it in the stars?”

*Rooney gives away posession*

Martin Tyler: *silence*

 

The troubling thing is that the clickbait works. The story even the Telegraph recognised as bad enough to warrant a chance of headline (but not a change of URL) is the second biggest story on the paper’s website:

 

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Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 16th, January 2017 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Transfer balls: Liverpool see Coutinho’s price soar as Manchester United swoop for Spurs duo

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

Posted: 10th, January 2017 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Transfer balls: Everton should wait for Manchester United reject Schneiderlin

Transfer balls: Manchester United are trying to offload Morgan Schneiderlin, 27. In July 2015, the Frenchman joined Manchester United for £25m rising to £27 million. The 25-year-old midfielder signed a four-year contract with the option to extend it by a further year. He’s paid £100,000 a week.

And now United want him out. According to the Daily Mail, United have told Everton they will have to pay more than £20m for Schneiderlin. The Indy says the Toffees will offer £22m. Other sources say they want the full sum the player has cost them.

Schneiderlin is costing United a fortune and not playing. Every week, his value is going down.

He joined Southampton for £1.2 million in 2008. He was tremendous, topping the Premier League’s rankings in 2013 for both interceptions (he ended up with 139) and tackles (146). So what’s gone wrong? Manchester United erred. They saw the man at the top of the list for tackles and thought he’d do the same for them. Stats were all that mattered to United’s scouts. United lacked vision. A club whose recruitment policy is now driven by box office appeal just tossed money at the problem of how to get the club back on top. Schneiderlin didn’t get worse. United bought the wrong player.

In 2013, Ed Woodward, the United dealmaker, told United We Stand, the United fanzine, how the club targets players in the post-Ferguson era: “I don’t like the fact that there are consistently more players from Spain on the [Ballon d’Or shortlist]. We as a club should be aspiring to have the best players playing for us.”

As Oliver Kay nots in the Times: ‘Under Woodward, it has always seemed more about “the best players” than creating “the best team”.’

Arriving as a teenager, Schneiderlin thrived at Southampton, a club that invests in young talent. The Saints have produced since 2000 – deep breath – Adam Lallana, Gareth Bale, Calum Chambers, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Luke Shaw. What price United nurturing young players to rise through the ranks to form a team under Jose Mourinho?

 

Posted: 9th, January 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Media balls: Manchester United and the referee beat West Ham

Media Balls: West Ham United were beaten 0-2 by Manchester United in today’s Premier League game. The match went badly for the Hammers when Feghouli was sent off after just 14 minutes. The official West Ham website says the Algerian was “desperately unlucky to receive a red card following a challenge with United defender Phil Jones”.

He was.

Manchester United “make extra man count” laments the headline atop the Hammer’s official match report. “The decision changed the course of the game.”

It did.

Or as the Manchester Evening Post calls it: “FINALLY get refereeing decision after Feghouli tackle on Jones.”

Finally?

Darmian should have earned a second yellow card when United player Arsenal. In its match report the Sun called the player “a walking red card”. Against Crystal Palace, Zlatan Ibrahimovich admitted to using his hand in his pass that set up Paul Pogba to score one of United’s goals in a 1-2 win.

And as the Mirror notes, “for those of you with short memories, Manchester United defender Rojo got away with two different two-footers in December. First, there was this bone-cruncher on Everton’s Idrissa Gueye. Then, just ten days later, he gave us this ankle-weakener, on Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha.”

Finally United get a refereeing decision? Or usually?

 

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Ciaran Kelly, whose memory might be shorter than his Man United blinkers, reports for the MEN:

Manchester United received an early boost in their teatime clash with West Ham after Sofiane Feghouli was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Phil Jones .

Not exactly. This is now the BBC saw it:

Referee Mike Dean showed Feghouli a straight red card after the midfielder’s 15th-minute challenge on Phil Jones.

Replays showed it was more of a coming together between two players committed to winning the ball than a reckless tackle meant to cause harm.

Still, it’s good to know Manchester United and the fearless local paper are on the same side and singing from the same hymn sheet. “I don’t feel sorry for West Ham – I didn’t watch the decisions. I think if you talk about decisions, we are the champions of bad decisions,” says Jose Mourinho after the match.

United have benefitted hugely from poor refereeing. They might even top the table at it.

Posted: 2nd, January 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Transfer balls: Arsenal for Griezmann and Reus and Liverpool for PSG’s Draxler

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.

Posted: 23rd, December 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


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”.

Well, yes.

Posted: 22nd, December 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Liverpool, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Manchester United balls: Mourinho stays for 10 years (win, lose or bore)

The Mirror says Manchester United want Jose Mourinho to remain at Old Trafford for ‘TEN MOUR YEARS”. United want Jose to “stay for the next decade”. Given that Mourinho has never remained at any club for longer than three years, you might suppose the United headhunters are hopeful, ignorant of what happened with Jose at Chelsea, desperate or a combination of all three.

It’s “Jose’s Big Deal”, agrees the Star. “United want boss to stay for eight more seasons”. They “want him til 2025”. A decade is nine years? Journalists never were much cop at maths.

 

Mourinho newspapers Manchester United

 

Nor are they much cop at predictions. On November 9 the Star told readers, “Jose Mourinho is facing the sack from Man United.”

 

Jose Mourinho Chelsea

 

Reading on, the Star says:

“But despite struggling to make a huge impact since replacing Louis van Gaal, club bosses have been so impressed with him that handing him another long-term contract is already on their minds.”

And as the Mirror puts it:

“But United officials have been so impressed with the elf-styled Special One…there is talk of him staying beyond his current deal:

The Star:

Mourinho’s erratic behaviour on the touchline and in press conferences has been a concern to United bosses, as exclusively revealed in Starsport… United also accept the ranting and raving comes with him being one of the world’s ‘box office’ managers.

And the Mirror:

“The hierarchy accept he will often find himself in hot water with the authorities because of his demonstrative nature”

The two stories are remarkably similar. And you won’t be surprised to know that neither story names it source. Wonder if the insider who loves Jose is someone at United or a mole in the office at Jose’s agent?

Posted: 21st, December 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Transfer balls: Griezmann to Manchester United for £60m but Chelsea offer more

Transfer balls: The Sun leads with news of Manchester United’s £60m bid for Atletico Madrid’s Antione Griezman. It’s an exclusive. But we’ve read of Grizeman heading to United before: here, here and here.

The Press have also told us Griezman was joining Chelsea for £50m.

They told us he rejected a move to Arsenal and declared that he’d never play in England, not even for £80m. Griezmann “was settled in Spain and would not consider a move to England”, said the Indy.

On June 23, the Sun reported: “GRIEZ STAYING – Antoine Griezmann will STAY at Atletico Madrid after signing a new five-year contract.”

The Sun also told readers that Griezmann, 25, was looking at a release clause worth “£78m”.

On September 11 this year the Express reported:

“EXCLUSIVE: Chelsea to make record bid for Manchester United target Antoine Griezmann. ANTONIO CONTE has asked Chelsea’s power brokers to sanction a world-record bid for Atletico Madrid hitman Antoine Griezmann next summer…

That release clause, the one worth £78m?

Conte is ready to go above the £86million release clause in Griezmann’s contract to head off interest from Manchester United. And that means splashing out more than the £89m that United paid Juventus to take Griezmann’s close pal Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford.”

And just yesterday the Standard reported:

“For Arsenal, he [Koscielny] speaks to me about them often,” he told France Football. “But I feel good at Madrid. I do not want to leave. I feel calm here. The little one [his daughter] has just arrived, I am playing matches, I feel good. Sorry, I am going to stay. But Arsenal is a wonderful team. They play great with the ball.”

And today the Daily Star says:

Starsport understand that both Manchester giants as well as Chelsea and Arsenal are all interested in signing Griezmann in the summer. The France international is one of the finest players in the world and valued at around £80m but that would not put off any of England’s top sides.

And so the Sun’s exclusive::

Griezmann has a contract with Atletico until 2021 but his relationship with the club and coach Diego Simeone has soured this season. After losing the Champions League final to city rivals Real twice in the last three years, Atletico look like a team which has peaked.

From feeling calm yesterday (in his own words) to feeling sour today (in the Sun’s words) it’s been a busy few days for the Frenchman.

Posted: 21st, December 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Manchester United balls: Jose orders team to toughen up by stripping in the cold

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says it’s thanks to him that a few Manchester United fans who made the trip to West Bromwich Albion’s The Hawthorns ground went home wearing an extra layer of clothing. Jose says of the shirts his players tossed into the stands,”I told them to do that. It is Christmas time”.

Indeed, it’s wintry December when watching football can be at its most testing, not least of all in Ukraine, where Mourinho complained about the “near-freezing temperatures” for United’s Europa League match. Accused of being soft, Mourinho might have used the Midlands to harden his players. First The Hawthorns in December, then Hull in January before United launch a full assault on the Arctic tundra in March dressed in shorts and Alice bands.

So Wayne Rooney, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford all took their shirts off and threw them into the happy throng after the game had ended in United’s favour.

Mourinho kept his shirt on, moreover his thick coat, sensible shoes, socks and vest. “A shirt for a fan coming directly from the game with sweat means a lot,” added Mourinho. “It is a pity that not everyone can get one but for the ones that can get it, it is a great feeling.”

It feels clammy to wet, mostly, although in Rooney’s case, given the man’s recent athleticism, box fresh.

Posted: 18th, December 2016 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Manchester United cheat Zlatan Ibrahimovich adopts the classic non-denial denial

More on cheating footballers in the form of Zlatan Ibramovich, who in Manchester United’s Premier League match at Crystal Palace handled the ball in the build up to the visitors’ first goal. Having pushed the ball towards Paul Pogba in the Palace box, who duly scored with the next touch, the Swede said post-match: “I think it touched my hand a little bit, then my stomach.”

As with Robert Snodgrass, the Hull City player who dived to win a penalty against the luckless Palace, Zlatan is at pains to construct a sympathetic back story for his offence. We see his hand move towards the ball, but Zlatan presents his body as the benign victim of a molesting force, which only touched his hand a little.

“The situation went fast,” he continues. “I tried to forward the ball to Paul because I saw he was free.”

This plea for understanding can make you hanker for the days of the straightforward denial. But Zlatan’s use of the dramatic-reconstruction-admission is very much in vogue. As Chis Ayres notes, “This uses Hollywood plotting techniques to combine a low-level acceptance of guilt with a backstory and a motive — thus making the acceptance of guilt look unnecessary, and therefore needlessly gracious.”

And just like in Hollywood, Zlatan has his people to protect him. Compare and contrast these match reports.

Crystal Palace FC official website :

Matta clipped it into the area where Ibrahimovic, with a hint of handball, used his torso to nudge the ball onto Pogba, who despite being slightly offside was allowed to continue his celebrations after he poked it past Hennessey from close-range.

Manchester United FC official website:

With just seconds remaining before the break, the Reds’ patience finally paid off, as Ibrahimovic chested Mata’s free-kick into Pogba’s path, allowing the Frenchman the easiest of finishes from six yards.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 16th, December 2016 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Manchester United pundits antagonise Liverpool

More on the news that when a Manchester United fan who hates Liverpool lays into a Liverpool player as part of his job as a Sky TV pundit, the Liverpool manager might get a tad miffed. And so it is that Jurgen Klopp thinks Gary Neville is a bit of a wally in his harsh criticism of Reds’ goalkeeper Loris Karius. For good measure, Gary’s brother Phil opined from the BBC sofas that Karius, who had spoken to the Press about Gary’s criticism, should “keep his mouth shut and do his job”.

“I don’t care what Gary Neville says,” said Karius in reply to a question from Mail journalist Ian Ladyman. “He was a top player, then was a manager for a short bit and now he is back to being an expert again.” Karius was making reference to Gary Neville’s failure as manager of Valencia, a team owned by the former Manchester United man’s mate.

Ladyman says Karius was “not animated or emotional”. He was “just being gown up”. Agreed. He came across well, refusing to hide after his howler had given Bournemouth victory over his side. Phil Neville was not neither measured nor insightful in his response. He simply told Karius to “shut up”. As punditry goes, Phil is very much in Gary’s shadow. Working in the media is about taking part in a conversation. Phil is advised to keep the chat alive rather than putting it in a bland box and sitting on the lid.

Says Klopp, “[Gary Neville] is not interested in helping a Liverpool player, I can imagine, but that makes the things he says not make more sense. He showed he struggled with the job to judge players when he was manager, so why do we let him talk about players on television? I don’t listen to them. Obviously the Neville brothers don’t like Liverpool, I have no problem with that and if they can cause bigger problems than we have already they have tried.”

The Press laps it up, making the row the lead sports story. “YOU FAILED SO SHUT IT,” thunders the Mirror’s back page. “KLOPP has POP,” puns the Mail’s. “Klopp has launched a double-blast at the Neville brothers,” says the Sun. “Angry Klopp blasts Neville,” says the Star.

And all the while the BBC and Sky celebrate good old fashioned journalism. “I am absolutely not interested in creating headlines so you can write what you want,” said Klopp. He isn’t. But Gary Neville is. And he’s making a grand job of it.

 

Posted: 13th, December 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Manchester United’s Gary Neville enjoys piling the pressure on Liverpool’s Karius

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville  – “I suppose it came from jealousy through my childhood – jealousy, hatred, passion for your own club. You don’t want them [Liverpool] to win anything” – has been criticising Loris Karius, the Liverpool goalkeeper. Neville – “I can’t stand Liverpool and everything to do with them” – says Karius “transmits anxiety”. According to Neville – in October 2006, he celebrated a Man United goal against Liverpool at Old Trafford by running up towards the away fans to celebrate wildly on his own –  Karius is untrustworthy and unreliable. “Karius] isn’t good enough,” says Gary Neville.

Karius heard the attack and thought it unfair. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Karius said of Neville: “He was a top player, then he was a manager for a short bit and now he is back to being an expert again… But he is always very critical. I think he does it to everyone. I just hope that when I do well he will comment on that. We will see in the future.”

Compared to Neville’s diatribe, Karius comes across as sober. But Neville can’t leave it there. He tweets: “‪My sincere apologies Karius. You’re right. A failed manager hasn’t a clue. I won’t copy your great fan, pundit and club legend again. ”

The “club legend” is Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher, who has also been critical of Karius, albeit in more measured tones. The difference between Carragher and Neville is that one pundit wants the best for Liverpool and one does not.

Karius’s errors are inevitable. The trick is to focus on what went wrong and seek to improve. Neville’s criticism comes across as kneejerk. It offers no scope for improvement only a wall of negativity. Neville has been a fine pundit, but might his dislike of Liverpool have clouded his view of the Liverpool goalkeeper to a degree that rather than investigating the cause he’s simply taking pleasure in the player’s mistakes and nerves? His sarcastic response to Karius’ response suggests as much.

Posted: 12th, December 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


One Watch: Mouinho is ‘The Frozen One’

One Watch: a look at media corruptions of Jose Mourinho’s self-billing as The Special One. Yesterday, Mourinho’s Manchester United were in Ukraine for a Europe League match they won 2-0.

Chris Wheeler begins his report for the Daily Mail: “On a night when Jose Mourinho became the ‘Frozen One’.”

Later we lean that Mourinho wasn’t all that cold, “beating the chill by being lively on the touchline.”

Anyhow, add ‘The Frozen One’ to the list.

 

Posted: 9th, December 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Media balls: soft Manchester United players get it in the neck

Manchester United players show Daily Mirror readers “the most modern football thing you’ll see today”. More modern than Atletico Madrid’s new stadium being named after a chain of Chinese cinemas? The new gin bar at Fulham? The clickbait balls that mean all newspapers now look the same?

No. The most modern football thing you’ll see today are, as the Daily Mail exclaims, “Manchester United’s tired stars arrive back from Ukraine at 2.30am… with their own club-branded neck pillows!”

Is this a “a step too far?” wonders the Mirror.

No. It’s a pillow. It suggests the onboard flight is not as comfortable as it might be for elite athletes returning from a Europa League match. It was different back then, of course, when United players rested their heads on blocks of wood and coal dust.

 

Posted: 9th, December 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Media balls: BBC blamed for Manchester United and Manchester City hype

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.”

 

manchester-daily-mirror MAnchester United Manchester City

manchester city manchester united daily mirror

What no Conte?

 

Expect more hype as soon as City and United start winning matches again.

Posted: 6th, December 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Jose Mourinho’s tax problems shame Manchester United and Chelsea

Jose Mourinho is “the rich one” in the Sunday Times’ look at the Manchester United manger’s financial affairs. The allegation is that “a complex offshore structure” has allowed Mourinho “to dodge tax on his image rights income”.

Is it all legal? We should suppose it is. But after the words “criminal investigation”, the paper looks at the cash – pots of it. The paper says since arriving in the UK in 2004 Mourinho has been paid – get his – £120m in salary. Much of that cash came from Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea. Perhaps the paper would be best served looking at the owner’s sources of income. In 2015, the Times Matthew Syed was scathing of the Russian:

The money that has bankrolled Chelsea these past 12 years, which has brought multiple trophies while sanitising the image of one of the most dubious individuals ever associated with British sport, was corruptly amassed

Back to the Mourinho, then, and his cash:

An investigation by The Sunday Times has found evidence suggesting that the Manchester United boss’s advisers misled the tax authorities in Britain and Spain during inquiries into more than £10m in earnings hidden through a Caribbean tax haven.

In an attempt to reduce his tax bill, Mourinho’s advisers appear to have fabricated more than £1m in costs run up by a British Virgin Islands shell company with no employees.

They also withheld from the tax inspectors the fact that Mourinho’s family were the true owners of the shell company.

The story is based on a “1.9-terabyte cache of data was originally handed to Der Spiegel, the German news magazine, by a whistleblower who does not wish to be named”. We are told why he’s leaked the data. “It is time to finally clean up football,” he says. “The fans have to understand that with every ticket, every jersey they buy and with every television subscription, they are feeding an extremely corrupt system that is only in it for itself.”

As is the way with big scoops of the past years – politicians’ expenses; the US embassy cables;  Hillary Clinton’ emails – the source is huge wad of data dropped on the media’s mat. It;s quickly packaged up as story of bad versus good. But how many of us see the Tax Man as a force for righteousness?

The paper notes:

It shows how the super-rich can employ highly paid advisers and lawyers to shield them from the tax laws that apply to everyone else. The public rarely gets a glimpse into this world. Until now.

Of course it all boils down to one thing: greed. But let’s not too be hard on Mourinho. Football relies on talent. The more talented the football name the more more they get. Revenues run to the workers. Jeremy Corbyn should enjoy that.

Whether or not Mourinho is overpaid or underpaid is neither here nor there. You could defend Mourinho by looking at the vast amounts of tax he has paid. You could say that a foreigner deciding to spend and invest his cash overseas is to be expected. You could see the taxman as an arbitrary force of state power.

What makes us curious is the power Mourinho enjoys. If the man who was indulged at Chelsea so long as he was winning – witness his hideous treatment of referees and Dr Eva Carneiro – is mired, it is not so much down to him as it is the clubs that stuck him on a pedestal and ignored and deflected criticism of odious behaviour that in any other industry would get him sectioned.

Mourinho’s people say they and he have done nothing wrong. But if he has cheated, the clubs that poo-pooed criticism of his antics and in so doing encouraged belief that he is free to exist outside the laws of acceptable behaviour, need to answer questions, too.

 

Posted: 4th, December 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Money, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0