Anorak

Sports | Anorak - Part 10

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Sports news, commentary and scores with wit and added value. We compare and contrast the best and worst sports reporting in the mainstream press, blogs, TV and online. We love the English Premier League (Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs, Manchester United and Manchester City) and all things football but we cover cricket, rugby, the Olympics, tennis, golf, F1 and highlights of the sporting year.

Manchester United pay through the nose for Arsenal’s bargain Sanchez

When Emmanuel Petit isn’t spending time with his hair, the former France and Arsenal player is creating to-deadline ‘news’ for Paddy Power, the bookmakers. On the firm’s website ‘writes’ that Arsenal “could have sold him [Alexis Sanchez]  last summer and received at least double the amount they’ll get now.” Er, no. The £60m Manchester City offered the Chilean last summer also included a signing on payment and a cut for the player’s agent, a man widely reported to be getting £10m from the £35m Manchester United have offered Arsenal. Arsenal were not getting £60m.

But, say it was £40m to Arsenal (the £60m less £10m to the agent and £10m to the player), the £20m Arsenal will get for Sanchez is boosted by Henrikh Mkhitaryan going the other way. He cost United £30m in 2016. Arsenal will get a player worth around that price – it’s what he would have cost them – plus £20m. That’s not too shabby. Factor in not paying Sanchez the £300,000 a week Arsenal offered him in a new contract – he’s on £130,000 a week; about the same sum Mkhitaryan earns at United – and that Sanchez is free agent in the summer, and Arsenal’s bankers aren’t jumping from top-floor windows just yet.

Petit goes on:

As for Mkhitaryan, since he signed for United he hasn’t been involved enough. I’m not sure he has a winning mentality, and sometimes he reminds me of Ozil: you really have to push him to show his character and put him under pressure to display his best qualities. There’s no doubt he has great skill, but I’m not sure he’s the kind of player that Arsenal need – they should be focused on other positions.

Put that through the tabloid mincer and it comes:

 

 

When the Armenian signed for United, he was greeted by his new manager Jose Mourinho thus:

“We have brought in the player who was voted the best player in the French league [Zlatan Ibrahimovic] and with Micki we have brought the player who was voted the best player of the Bundesliga. He was voted not by the fans, not by the journalists but voted by the fellow players and that is what means more, I believe, because when your fellow players are the ones that choose you then it means a lot.

“Micki is a fantastic player and what I like more is something that is undeniable, which is the number of goals that he scores by not being a striker. His number of goals per season is really high for somebody that is not a striker. The number of assists is also very clear because it shows clearly his creativity, his vision and his concept of collective play, and that is something that I believe is really important for a club like us.

“We try to be dominant and will, for sure, face teams with a very defensive profile which is his capacity of acceleration of the game. He has a change of speed with the ball and without the ball, and that is very, very important for a club like ours.”

“Mikhi Mouse”? Petit’s words are being manipulated, of course. But there’s no need because what else he says is entirely stupid and needs no sensationalising:

Arsenal are struggling to bring in top-quality players, and also to keep the ones they have. It has been like this for a long time. They must be more competitive on the market, both when buying and selling. Times have changed since I left Arsenal, but I’m pretty sure Arsène is still heavily involved when it comes from to the transfer market.

Can you keep a player earning £130,000 a week from being attracted to earning £500,000 a week at a different club?

…but with the money Arsenal have, they should be aiming higher. Because they are not competitive on the pitch at the moment, they need to be more competitive with wages: if you can’t guarantee trophies or at least compete to win them, then you must offer players more in order to come to the club. That’s just the way it works.

It helps if you have as much money as your rivals. Gary Jacob explains the “way it works”:

United earn and can spend much more money on wages, while City have a mega wealthy owner….Arsenal have championed a sustainable model built on being able to generate more income from tickets and corporate activities, but trail United in commercial income.

The model means Arsenal’s top earners are not way ahead of their lowest earners.

The bulk of Arsenal’s players earn between around £60,000 a week and £70,000 a week. Arsenal handed Alex Iwobi a contract worth around £35,000 a week when he put in some positive performances as they were keen to tie him down. At other clubs, inferior players earn relatively less by comparison….

In short: Arsenal take more of a punt than the two Manchester clubs or Chelsea on younger, less experienced players.  As Arsene Wenger has said:

“We have to revisit the way we structure our club, and our scouting policy. You look at world-class players now, you look at [Cristiano] Ronaldo, Neymar, Sanchez, their level of financial demands and the level of their costs, you have to go younger and certainly these players are not affordable.

“[Finding future stars] is more difficult nowadays because the competition is everywhere, it is very big. What is important today is that we are the club that can maybe give them a chance, more than many other clubs.”

Arsenal cannot compete with mega-rich owners who see the clubs as a branding exercise. But they can find stars of tomorrow. Indeed, when Sanchez joined the Gunners from Barcelona, didn’t they recruit a bargain, arguably paying under the odds for a top talent?

Posted: 19th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal transfers: Aubameyang and Sanchez news reveals Wenger’s lack of power

The facts are clear. Arsenal have not recruited Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund. Alexis Sanchez has not joined Manchester United. “These kind of things, it’s better when it’s secret and when you don’t come out on it, and when you announce it when it’s over the line. Apart from the deal we just spoke about, Alexis and Mkhitaryan could happen, yes, but nothing else is close,” says Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

Announcing deals before contracts are signed is foolish. Media can rush the gun and guess. Remember this:

 

 

No deal is ever done until the player is kissing the badge and checking his bank account.

Of course, Wenger might not know anything. Oliver Kay explains in the Times:

Wenger rejected a series of proposals last year over the appointment of a director of football.. but essentially that role, the one that the manager felt would be a threat to his authority, has been created and split in two. Transfer strategy is being driven by the new head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, formerly of Dortmund, and the start of next month will bring the arrival of Raul Sanllehi, the former Barcelona director of football who, in what looks a diplomatic nod to Wenger, will be called head of football relations.

Wenger can speak about deals but he’s no long setting the agenda.

Posted: 19th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Paul Pogba goes to pot

On the Sun’s website, news that Manchester United’s Paul Pogba owns a pool table.

And what game can we see him playing on said table in photos the player publishes on Instagram – photos which thanks to marketing guffers bigging up Brand Pogba  eagle-eyed journalists whose diligence helps those of us not interested enough in Pogba to follow his Instagram account keep tracks of his every move in the Sun?

Paul Pogba looks relaxed as he plays billiards in his Cheshire mansion

 

paul pogba pool tabel

 

Next week, Pogba plays tennis on a squash court.

Posted: 18th, January 2018 | In: manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United’s fee for Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez confuses the Daily Mirror

Manchester United are going to pay an “incredible” £182m for Alexis Sanchez. So says the Daily Mirror. And it’s wrong, of course. A desperate and rich United have agreed to pay a £35m transfer fee for the 29-year-old Chilean. That’s pretty much it.

But the Mirror tots up the £500,000-a-week ages Sanchez will earn before tax on a four-and-a-half year contract and adds £117m to that £35m. It then adds a further £20m Sanchez will get by way of a “signing on payment”. That’s £172m. But the Mirror conjures £182 by double counting £10m Sanchez’s agent will earn, which is already incorporated in the £35m transfer fee.

 

daily mirror sanchez

£10m becomes £20m at the stroke of a pen

 

But aside from the pisspoor accounting, readers have to imagine that United will pay Sanchez over four years wages in one tranche. They won’t, of course.

And there’s the wages. The Sun says Sanchez will earn £505,000 a week. The Mail says it’s £450,000, a week – £350,000 basic plus £100,000 in image rights. That’s a licence for United to exploit Sanchez’s name commercially on stuff like mugs and other merchandising spin-offs. Buying Sanchez is not just about buying his ability on the pitch. United will earn from Sanchez’ name. It’s not wages. It’s a partnership.

Sanchez stands to earn a fortune. But the Mirror thinks his vast income is simply not sensational enough and needs inflating.

But you can get to £180m if you include wages, fees and tax:

 

 

Posted: 18th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, manchester united, Money, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment (1)


Arsenal: Wenger laments Walcott sale

Everton have signed Theo Walcott from Arsenal. Walcott has joined on a £20m on a three-and-a-half year contract. This is good news for all parties. Walcott has stagnated at Arsenal. Everton could be the flip he requires to restart a career that promise much and delivered less. In his 12 seasons at Arsenal, Walcott has scored 108 goals in 397 appearances. Not too shabby at all. But the feeling persists that the stats should have been more impressive.

“It felt like it was time for me to move on [from Arsenal],” says Walcott. “It was sad but it’s exciting at the same time and I want to reignite my career and push Everton to win things as they have done before. The manager is very hungry and it’s just what I need. I’ve had a couple of chats with him and straightaway I felt that hunger and that desire that he wanted from me.”

In a statement, Arsenal said: “We all thank Theo for his contribution to the club and wish him well for the future.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he did not want Walcott to leave. But if you don’t give a player with ambition a starting berth in a team of journeymen, he has to go.

 

Posted: 17th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment (1)


Police investigate Chelsea’s payment of £15m for Everton’s Ross Barkley

“The Assistant Chief Constable of @MerseyPolice has contacted @mayor_anderson to tell him no criminal offence took place in Ross Barkley’s move from #Everton to Chelsea. The Mayor of #Liverpool wrote a letter to them asking them to investigate if any fraud took place.” So told the BBC tweet at 11:25 AM on Jan 16, 2018.

Sleep well in your beds, perps. And keep ’em peeled. Merseyside Police will leave no stone unturned in investigating Barkley’s departure to Stamford Bridge. A top copper has assured Liverpool’s Everton supporting mayor that Ross Barkley was not abducted. The £15m Chelsea paid for him was not part of any ransom. And Everton are not set to unveil Barkley’s identical twin brother, also called Ross.

Mayor Joe Anderson reportedly wrote to the FA, the Premier League and the Police, requesting they look into the transfer. He thought it to cheap for such a bright talent. And, incredibly, what with Liverpool being crime free, the police did.

Posted: 16th, January 2018 | In: News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal transfers: Daily Mail writer doesn’t read the Daily Mail

Do journalist read their own newspapers? Writing in the Daily Mail about Arsenal transfers, Adam Shergold writes today:

 

arsenal transfers

It is a measure of how far Arsenal’s stock has fallen that they are spending the January transfer window trying to hold on to key assets rather than looking to strengthen their squad.

Rally? Because the Mail also reports in the past 24 hours that Arsenal are looking to sell Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott. And the club is looking at new faces:

 

 

Story 1:

Borussia Dortmud striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has already got one quality to be an Arsenal legend – he hates Tottenham.

Story 2:

The United boss omitted the Armenian from the squad to face Stoke on Monday night, with a potential swap deal with Arsenal for Alexis Sanchez being touted.

Story 3:

After Wenger’s initial apprehension towards a move, Arsenal are now working to complete the deal for the Gabon striker who would replace Manchester United-bound Alexis Sanchez.

Story 4:

Arsenal are reportedly keen to take Manchester United striker Anthony Martial in part-exchange for Alexis Sanchez. United have moved ahead of Manchester City in the race to sign the Chilean.

Story 5:

Premier League heavyweights Arsenal and Chelsea have identified Watford attacker Richarlison as a potential signing during the summer transfer window.

Story 6:

Alexis Sanchez set to leave Arsenal ‘in the next 48 hours’ with £35million transfer to Manchester United close as Arsene Wenger demands Henrikh Mkhitaryan is involved in any deal

Story 7:

Bordeaux’s Brazil forward Malcolm has been heavily linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium

Shergold was watching Arsenal play and beat Manchester United in an Under 23 clash last night. His reports tells us:

The other notable moment of the night saw January signing Konstantinos Mavropanos make his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt.

Either Shergold is right or all those stories on the Mail’s website are balls?

Posted: 16th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer news: Sanchez to Manchester United or Chelsea as Manchester City pull out?

Manchester City will not be recruiting Alexis Sanchez this January. The club run on a trillion dollar shoestring budget say the 29-year-old Chilean is too expensive.

Sanchez wants £400,000 a week. And City feel that giving him that gigantic sum would upset the rest of the squad, who are all be on less.

City say the decision to forgo the man who in the summer they were willing to invest £60m in was taken by Pep Guardiola and the club’s owner Khaldoon al Mubarak.

Which surely means that Sanchez is off to Manchester United, where he’ll be paid in excess of £300,000 a week. United are offering Arsenal £30million plus Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the talented Armenian who joined the club for around £30m in the summer of 2016.

But hold on a moment… Sky are reporting that Chelsea are now in for Sanchez, although reports contain no details.

Posted: 15th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal waiting on Mkhitaryan, Malcolm and Aubameyang as Sanchez accepts Manchester United’s money

Arsenal’s best signing of the season could be Sven Mislintat, the scout who introduced Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Borussia Dortmund. Arsenal have offered a fee rising to £53.3m for the striker who has scored 141 goals in 212 appearances for the German club. Dortmund want shot of the Gabon star. And Arsenal are in dire need of players with style, spirit and presence. Should Alexis Sanchez move to Manchester United, as is expected – Manchester City have dropped out of the race for his signature – Aubameyang would be a terrific replacement. Mislintat would be a familiar face in new surroundings.

And there’s more hope for Gunners that their team of journeymen is to be upgraded. Disappointing Theo Walcott could be heading to Everton for a fee in excess of £20m. And the exciting 20-year-old Brazilian Malcolm looks set to arrive from Bordeaux for around £40m.

And there’s more. Mislintat could help persuade another Borussia player, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, to join Arsenal. The Armenian international has been left out of Manchester United’s squad for their Premier League match with Stoke City.

When asked about Mkhitaryan’s absence, Mourinho replied: “I would lie if I said it was a pure tactical decision…It was just a choice of the players that we know, in this moment, they have 100 per cent their heads in Manchester United. No doubts about the future. I don’t think it’s easy for a player to play when there are doubts about his future. It’s added pressure that a player doesn’t need, so I think it’s the best for him and for us, while the doubt is in the air, to protect him.”

And to keep him injury free should all parties accept United’s offer of the brilliant Armenian plus £30m for Arsenal’s dynamic Sanchez. The Chilean is being offered in excess of £300,000 a week to kiss the badge at Old Trafford.

This is all exciting for Arsenal fans. The squad is weak. The manager is an immovable object. But at least Arsenal are trying to bolster a team drifting into mid-table torpor. The Gunners surely hope their best player, Mesut Ozil, sees the investment and signs a new contract. The new recruits can’t come soon enough.

 

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


Referee Tony Chapron admits mistake after trying to kick player in Nantes v PSG match

Ligue 1 referee Tony Chapron took a starring role in Nantes’ 0-1 home defeat to PSG on Sunday night. Chapron cut across  Nantes defender Diego Carlos while sprinting after Kylian Mbappe and fell to the ground. He then aimed a kick at Carlos. To put the tin lid on thing, Chapron awarded the blameless Brazilian a second yellow card. He was off.

We have video footage of the incident.

 

 

The French Football Federation (FFF) says Chapron will be “withdrawn until further notice” .

Now Chapton has issued an apology, albeit wrapped in a sympathetic backstory. Humility ranks low in his statement to AFP, translated via the BBC:

“During the Nantes-PSG match, I was barged by Nantes player Diego Carlos.”

Victimhood established.  (What happened: You cut across him. Your legs tangled. You were not barged.)

“As a result of the impact, I felt a sharp pain from a recent injury. I reacted badly by moving my leg towards the player.”

Victimhood. Low level acceptance of blame.

“I have sent a report to the (LFP) disciplinary commission so that the [second] booking received by the player can be withdrawn, because having seen the images his action did not seem deliberate.”

Fairness. It did not seem deliberate. But it might have been. (It wasn’t. But your kicking out was.)

The LFP has rescinded the card. Chapron is recovering.

Posted: 15th, January 2018 | In: News, Sports | Comment


Daily Express uses fake Sanchez story to seduce Manchester United fans to Bullshit.com

As Alexis Sanchez prepares to sign a new deal with Manchester City or Manchester United – something that looked unlikely before Arsenal made the Barcelona reject look a bargain – the Daily Express gets the scoop, as ever it must. No fewer than two hadlin es scream that Sanchez to United is a done deal.

 

Alexis Sanchez to Man Utd: Romelu Lukaku 'confirms' transfer on Snapchat

 

Alexis Sanchez to Man Utd: Romelu Lukaku confirms transfer on Snapchat

Alexis Sanchez to Man Utd: Fans rage at each other as Lukaku confirms deal

The clue to this being total balls is in thoes inverted commas about ‘confirms”. You might spot them, but the Google bots that serve content to the world do no. In terms of getting traffic, inverted commas are the fake news’ friend.

The story, such as it is, is classic clickbait.

…on Lukaku’s personal Snapchat, the Belgian posted an image with three emojis. The Chile flag had an arrow next to it with a devil emoji in a black background.

The image was swiftly deleted but not before fans spotted Lukaku’s apparent confirmation and fans on social media believe it’s a clear sign that Sanchez has chosen United over Manchester City.

And so after two headlines and eight paragraphs, the fact emerges:

…eagle eyed fans spotted that the image was fake. Lukaku’s Snapchat account is Romelu.Lukaku10 but the image has Lukaku’s username as rLukaku9.

Ha. Yeah. The Express should put Romelu Lukaku’s name in inverted commas, too, because the story has nothing to do with him.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 15th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Sanchez left out of Arsenal squad at Bournemouth as Manchester United wait

The Daily Sanchez: a look at the future of footballer Alexis Sanchez, currently stinking up the place at Arsenal. Let’s kick off with the Star’s scoop that Liverpool have joined Manchester City and Manchester United in the chase for Sanchez.

 

liverpool sanchez daily star

 

“Flirty Sanchez,” declares the Star, the headline a pun on ‘Dirty Sanchez’, which according to the “Top Definition” on Urban Dictionary means: “its when a man and a woman engage in anal sex, then the man takes his penis and rubs it on the girls upper lip leaving a moustache.” Is that the bitter taste Arsenal fans taste in the air when Sanchez plays?

The Mirror has the same story. But given that Sanchez wants around £300,000 a week plus a huge signing on bonus, do Liverpool want to upset other players at the club? The paper tells us:

Armed with the cash from the £142million sale of Philippe Coutinho , Liverpool have no worries about meeting the £35m the Gunners want for Chilean Sanchez.

Good for Arsenal. But those wages?

Coutinho was paid around £200,000 by FSG so stepping up to £300,000 would be a big hike — but Liverpool know that’s the going rate for world-class talents.

They do? Because the Mirror also says Coutinho earns £200,000 a week at Barcelona. Isn’t the £142m players world class?

Over in the Mail comes news that desperate Manchester United are “prepared to sacrifice summer moves for Atletico Madrid’s 26-year-old France striker Antoine Griezmann and Real Madrid and Wales forward Gareth Bale, 28, in order to sign Sanchez on wages of £350,000 a week.” But Griezmann and Bale need not panic. United have given Sanchez an ultimatum, says the Express: sign up Friday or the deal’s off.

But a deal looks very much on. Sanchez has been “dropped” (Mirror) from Arsenal squad for today’s match at Bournemouth. Good. The paper adds: “The 29-year-old is now closing in on a stunning transfer to Manchester United after being dropped from Arsenal’s squad.”

In other news, Goal says Sanchez’s family are in London to help him pack. When you see his agent rubbing his hands together and ordering a spare jet, you’ll know the deal’s done.

Posted: 14th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Liverpool, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Spurs manager Tim Sherwood explains Stoke City’s malaise in classic Coleman Balls

On Sky Sports, Tim Sherwood, the former manager of Spurs, Aston Villa and Swindon Town, turns his mind to Stoke City. Mark Hughes is no longer with Stoke, sacked after spending five seasons building a team. When still in the role, Sherwood explained what Hughes needed to do to continue.

 

 

“Mark Hughes cannot win. The only time he can win is by winning this football match”
– Tim Sherwood

Spotter: 

Posted: 14th, January 2018 | In: Sports, TV & Radio | Comment


Will Sanchez leave Arsenal for Manchester City glory of Manchester United desperation?

Would Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez thrive at Manchester United? Jose Mourinho calls Sanchez “phenomenal” as he attempts to woo the player with honey and tons of cash. But Sanchez wants to join Manchester City.

It’s easy to see why. Under Pep Guardiola, with whom he worked at Barcelona, Sanchez would play for a fluid team going places. Under United, he’d be part of a big club’s desperate attempt to catch City.

Phil Neville, says United signing Sanchez would be a coup every bit as big as when Alex Ferguson recruited Eric Cantona from Leeds United. Cantona was the catalyst for United’s resurgence. Would 29-year-old Sanchez have the same effect on Mourinho’s dreary side?

As ever the reporting is based on guesswork.

The Sun (prop. R. Murdoch) says: “Sky Sport Italia [prop. R Murdoch] are now reporting that the Red Devils have agreed a financial package with Sanchez.” On January 9, the same Sun reported: “Arsenal news: Alexis Sanchez ‘agrees deal to join Manchester City’… it’s now just a matter of when.” And over on Fox Sports (Prop. R Murdoch) we are told: “Sanchez to Manchester United.” Beyond the Murdoch bubble, the Indy adds: “Alexis Sanchez: Manchester City ready to walk away from deal even if it means United sign him instead.”

The one thing we can all agree on: Arsenal can’t hang on to their best players and always tease their fans with the hope of a better tomorrow. Here’s Arsene Wenger: “It looks like Sanchez will not extend his contract, but we want to keep Jack and if we have an opportunity maybe to keep Ozil, the rebuild will be less deep than if all three left.”

Yeah, maybe. Or maybe not.

Posted: 13th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Manchester City, manchester united, News, Sports | Comments (2)


Transfer balls: Manchester City won’t pay Arsenal star’s wages up front

It’s not just the Mirror online that seduces online readers with news that exists in headline form only. Today’s back page lead is that Manchester City are going to hijack Manchester City’s bid to recruit Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez. And the fee? Well, it’s an eye-popping £124m!

 

sanchez mirror

 

And after the headline the facts: Arsenal want £35m for their player. But before you can work it out how £35m becomes £124m, the Bleacher Report has echoed the Mirror’s “exclusive”. “Manchester United ‘Close to Agreeing’ Alexis Sanchez Deal Worth £124m,” yells the website.

 

How close? The BR doesn’t know. It’s story is based on the Mirror’s story. And over there we read:

Blues are baulking at paying £124million this month for striker who is set to be a summer free agent — and Jose Mourinho is lining up a stunning player-plus-cash deal involving Henrikh Mkhitaryan

On what planet are Arsenal getting £124m for Sanchez? They’re not. The Mirror has added up the “striker’s demand for a three-and-a-half-year contract worth £400,000-a-week” and his “£15million signing-on fee”.

Do all clubs pay the entire wage packet up front?

The other part of the news is that Manchester City “believed a £20m fee and contract worth £300,000-a-week would be enough to land Pep Guardiola’s No 1 target”.

Well, £20m is tad low. And just three days ago the Sun told us: “Arsenal news: Alexis Sanchez ‘agrees deal to join Manchester City’… it’s now just a matter of when.”

And a bit of if. Arsenal have said they will only sell Sanchez if they have a replacement lined up, which is why they didn’t flog him to Man City in the summer.

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 12th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal fans rejoice: Walcott might be off to Everton

There are signs of progress at Arsenal. Theo Walcott is in negotiations with Everton. Everton manager Sam Allardyce says Walcott would be a “fantastic addition”, who would offer “goalscoring threat”. Yeah, good luck with that, Sam. This is good news for only one team: Arsenal.  Having jettisoned Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool for the inflated sum of £40m, the Gunners are getting shot of that other nice middle-class boy with all the durability of a wet paper bag.

Walcott has featured 395 times for Arsenal. And you’d be hard press to recall many occasions when he shone. Two moment from his career at the club: signalling Arsenal were 2-0 up to Spurs fans as he was stretchered off; and in the Champions’ League quarter-final at Anfield in 2008, going on a delicious run and setting up Emmanuel Adebayor for a tap in.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he wants Walcott to stay at the club, and has told him as much. “We still have a good relationship and I don’t want him to be frustrated or lose any opportunity to play in the World Cup, because Theo went to the World Cup in Germany in 2006 and we are now in 2018 and he’s not been since for different reasons,” says Wenger. “That of course is a sensitive subject.”

Walcott joined Arsenal for £5m from Southampton in 2006. Back then he had promise. Time for Arsenal to get an upgrade.

Posted: 12th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Wenger watch: Arsenal manger swore at Chelsea player and never flinched

How did Arsene Wenger find life sat in the Chelsea press box for Arsenal’s League Cup match semi-final tie? Well, last time we discovered that he has a huge garden:

A year ago, when he was also serving a touchline ban, Wenger crept to his seat beside the corporate area in the East Stand at Stamford Bridge and was welcomed with a handshake by an Arsenal supporter.

“I said, ‘Good afternoon’ and he replied, ‘I’m your gardener at your house’,” Wenger said. “I didn’t even know him. I do have a big garden.”

And this time, what did we learn?

Here’s Jeremy Wilson in the Daily Telegraph:

Spending 90 minutes literally just a few feet from Wenger ensured a fascinating insight. Not for anything he said, but simply the magnified perspective provided by his body language. We hear so often of how football managers live every moment of a match that we become almost immune to the draining reality of that statement. Yet to see Wenger fidgeting with each pass, almost straining to make every tackle and, even surrounded by media, still letting out the occasional shout of encouragement or kick of frustration was to feel just how much it all means.

Phil McNulty was there for the BBC:

Wenger remained relatively calm, even when Lacazette wasted a presentable first-half chance, only rising from his seat once during the game when Welbeck was penalised for a foul on Moses, but it was also easy to detect the strains and stresses.

He banged the table in front of him when Granit Xhaka committed a foul against Eden Hazard, shifted constantly in his seat, throwing back his head in frustration when opportunities came and went, such as Lacazette getting carelessly caught offside and when a promising free-kick position was wasted.

The Islington Gazette:

“I was two rows down so I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but colleagues reported him kicking the backs of their chairs and using the odd swear word, especially when possession was lost or the ball hoofed into the air.

“Whatever you think of him you simply can’t deny his passion.”

Jack Polden in the Mirror:

Commenting on referee Martin Atkinson blowing up for a foul on the Spaniard, Wenger shouted: “Every time Alvaro Morata goes down it’s a f****** free-kick.”

Gary Jacobs dedicates an entire column to Wenger Watch. Highlights include:

Wenger gently leans back in his seat, as Arsenal look more comfortable…

Wenger’s presence is noticed by Chelsea fans to his left. They stand, thrust their arms towards him and chant, “We want you to stay.” There is no response

Jack Wilshere is injured — again. Wenger never flinches

Such are the facts.

Posted: 11th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Broadsheets, Chelsea, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comments (2)


Australian role models upset by cricketers smoking

Fresh from swatting England 4-0 in The Ashes, Australia’s cricketers decamped to Sydney’s Coogee Pavilion for a “relatively low key and good natured” celebration, where “the players happily chatted with fans and posed for selfies”.

In the hunt for sensation, the Mail picks up a scent, noting that the venue was festooned with “admiring female fans” – a scoop that amounts to a few of the players “chatting to a group of women”.

It’s all sedate stuff, despite the Mail’s attempt to spin a story of sex and excess at a “boozy” do from a few long lens photos.

But the paper missed the scoop. Australia’s Telegraph brings shocking news:

Two of Australia’s leading players Shaun Marsh and Jackson Bird were captured smoking during the team’s celebrations in Sydney on Tuesday following their 4-0 Ashes win …

The pair freely puffed away in public as other players chatted nearby.

Puffing on…tobacco!

At which point we recall when England won The Ashes in 2005. After a night’s drinking followed by a champagne breakfast, Mike Gatting asked Freddie Flintoff whether he had had anything to eat. “Yes,” replied Flintoff, “a cigar.”

So, about those ciggies. Well, Dr Michael Gannon, president of the Australian Medical Association, is unimpressed. “One answer is that they are private citizens but the truth is they are role models at an elite level that are looked up to by boys and girls and men and women across Australia and they expect a certain level of behaviour.”

Personally speaking, my kids look to Dr Michael Gannon for guidance. They can’t throw a ball for toffee but with dedication they should be able to purse their lips and pass judgement with the very best of them.

Dr Sarah White from Quit Victoria, verbalises: “It is really poor judgment and really poor role modelling for them to be doing this in public.”

For the want of a bike shed, where smokers can go bike shedding.

Dr Sarah, whose photo hangs over a millions children’s beds, adds:

“Cricket in Australian presents itself as family friendly but this is at direct odds with that given that smoking is the biggest cause of preventable death and disease in Australia. I would expect better judgment. It goes against their elite sports modelling and their healthy behaviour on the field. Smoking is against social norms in Australia and these players are doing damage by virtue with the regard they are held in by young Australians.”

David Chalke, a personal hero of mine, adds: “Smoking really is beyond the pale these days. It is not simply having a bit of fun. It is very anti-social. The players are role models… It’s not cool and it is not fashionable. If they are doing this, if they have to do it, they should not be doing it in public, they should be doing it in private.”

Time, surely, to make doctoring and therapy spectator sports, and give us the chance to see our role models at work and play. Call me Sky, I have ideas…

 

Posted: 11th, January 2018 | In: News, Sports | Comment


Clickbait Balls: Liverpool to replace Coutinho with a goalkeeper says Daily Express

More clickbait in the nadir of journalism (surely apogee of clickbait? – ed) that is the Daily Express website. The headline offers: “Philippe Coutinho replacement: Most likely Liverpool transfers in January.”

Who is “most likely” to replace Coutinho, now at Barcelona? Well, the fifth player on the list of people to replace the Brazilian playmaker is… Kevin Trapp. Given that the story is based on the science of guesswork, you’d suppose the Express’s writer would at least look at Wikipedia for some info. Had they done sso the hack would have discovered the following:”

Kevin Trapp (born 8 July 1990) is a German professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Paris Saint-Germain and the Germany national team.

WOW! I know some ‘keepers are good with their feet, but who knew one could operate as Liverpool’s playmaker? Daring stuff at Anfield…

 

Posted: 10th, January 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Clickbait balls: Arsenal and Man City fans tricked by Daily Express Sanchez fakery

The Daily Express online is clickbait mire. Arsenal and Manchester City fans checking up on news of Alexis Sanchez’s move from London to the champions elect are seduced by the headline: “Transfer news LIVE updates: Sanchez deal agreed; Man Utd, Liverpool, Barcelona, Chelsea.”

The Express appears to have a scoop when you search for Sanchez news on Google News. No other news source has the story that a Sanchez deal has been “agreed”. Indeed, Sky Sports says City haven’t even bid for the Chilean.

 

Here’s the that Express headline again on the paper’s website:

 

Stuart Ballard has the scoop! But to save you clicking, we’ll not pick out the words relevant to Sanchez’s transfer to City.

Here’s the first mention of Sanchez is Ballard’s story:

Sanchez ‘no bids’
10.00: Arsene Wenger has claimed Arsenal have received no offers for Alexis Sanchez and he fully expects him to stay until the end of the season .

When asked if the Gunners had received any offers, he replied: “No and I expect nothing.

“I am focused on tomorrow’s game. When solicitations happen you respond to it. At the moment it’s very quiet. I have nothing to add.”

Come on, Wenger, keep up with things. Read the Express. The deal has been “agreed”. But what’s this? Reading on we find no word on the agreed deal.

We

05:30: Manchester City could complete a deal to sign Alexis Sanchez this week after opening talks over a £30million deal.

 

Could? What happened to “agreed”?

Express Sport understands the Chile international has been told City will be making a bid for him in the coming days.

What about what readers understand by the phrase “Transfer News: Sanchez Dal Agreed”?

But Ballard has nm’t finished. Let’s not be hasty. What else?

05:00: Arsene Wenger has reignited Arsenal’s interest in Thomas Lemar in the fear they could miss out on him with Alexis Sanchez seemingly on his way out of the club, according to reports…

And with Sanchez constantly linked with a move to Manchester City, Arsenal are prepared to enter the race once again to sign Lemar.

 

Total balls, then. It might even be fake news.

 

Posted: 9th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comments (3)


If Harry Kane is worth 194.7m why is he playing for Spurs?

The facts are in and it’s clear: Spurs striker Harry Kane,24, is the third most valuable player in the world. Well, he is according to CIES’ Football Observatory, which calculates that Kane is worth 194.7m euros. Ahead of him are Paris St-Germain’s forward Neymar, 25, and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, 30.

In euros, this is the Top Ten:

1. Neymar (PSG) – 213m
2. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
3. Harry Kane (Tottenham)
4. Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
5. Paulo Dybala (Juventus)
6. Dele Alli (Tottenham) – 171.3m
7. Kevin de Bruyne (Man City) – 167.8m
8. Romelu Lukaku (Man Utd) – 164.8m
9. Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid) – 150.2m
10. Paul Pogba (Man Utd) – 147.5m

The most valuable Arsenal player is Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) – 97.6m. Which pretty much sums it up. As Arsenal tie themselves in knots over Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, the clear message is that both wantaway players should have been sold the start of the season. The Gunners rejected Manchester City’s £60m in the summer. Since then Sanchez has been average and Arsenal are now trying to offload him for £40m, which in the inflated world of football transfers equates to one uninspiring Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain . Ozil has said to be winding down his contract and thinking of joining Manchester United.

But as Arsenal’s palsied board, absentee owner and spent manager make a mess of things, Spurs fans should contain their delight. Harry Kane knows his value. His wages of £100,000-a-week are roughly a third what he over-hyped Paul Pogba gets at Manchester United. And Spurs win nothing. As Kane says, “I’ve always said, just keep progressing, keep getting better. We want to start winning trophies so that’s the aim. As long as the club keeps doing that then I’m happy here.”

But other clubs are winning trophies. And each week Kane  and his agent know how much money he’s forgoing to remain at Spurs. “If a player wants to go then why would you stop him?” Kane adds. “He’s not going to be at the club, he’s not going to want to play every game, he’s not going to put his heart on the line.” See Ozil and Sanchez. And if he has a decent World Cup. next year it’ll be Kane…

Posted: 9th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Money, Sports, Spurs | Comments (4)


Liverpool balls: Mahrez guff, Coutinho paid to leave and Nike called the shots

So keen was Philippe Coutinho to quit Liverpool than he paid part of his own £142 million transfer to Barcelona. The Times says it’s “understood” the Brazilian invested £9 million “out of his own pocket and is committed to paying another £2.5 million in the future”.

Of course, it’s not hard to understand anything in the world of big business than now owns top-flight football: it’s all about the money. As Liverpool were reiterating their desire to keep hold of their best player, Nike, which sponsors Barcelona, Coutinho and Brazil, last month published a photo of a Barcelona shirt with the player’s name across the back. “Where the magic happens,” said Nike. “Philippe Coutinho is ready to light up Camp Nou. Get your 2017/18 FC Barcelona kit with the Magician’s name on it. Act fast – free personalisation only available until January 6.”

 

Liverpool looked strong when they blocked Coutinho’s mover to Barcelona six months ago. At the season’s start, after Liverpool had rejected three Barcelona bids for their playmaker, Jurgen Klopp told media: “I wasn’t manager when Suarez was sold, I wasn’t manager when Sterling was sold, and we’re not selling Coutinho.”

Faced with predators from Nike and Barcelona, Liverpool caved in, waving a not-all-that-fond farewell to the player who now joins another former Anfield star, Luis Suarez, in attack.

Minds now turn to what Liverpool will do with all that money. Well, £75m has been invested in Virgil van Dijk. And the rest? We, the Times says, “There is no appetite, as it stands, to pursue AS Monaco’s Thomas Lemar or Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez”.

Or as the Mirror puts it: “Liverpool to test Monaco’s resolve over Thomas Lemar transfer with January bid.”

 

 

Which on Sky Sports becomes:

 

 

As for Mahrez, well, the BBC reported on January 7: “Liverpool are set to sign Riyad Mahrez, with the 26-year-old Leicester City and Algeria forward expected to have a medical on Sunday.”

The story echoed a report on BeIn Sports, which guffed:

 

Total balls, then. Who Liverpool sign next is unclear, but one thing is certain: they’ll pay well over the odds.

 

Posted: 8th, January 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal balls: Arteta invests in a watch to replace Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he always sees out his contracts. But the BBC says the Frenchman “could cut short his latest contract and move into the boardroom in the summer”. The source for this speculation is the Mirror, which tells readers:

Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger could quit as manager THIS summer — and is eyeing Mikel Arteta as hand-picked successor

Well, he could. But surely the Mirror’s job is to tell us if he will? Right now there is nothing to say that Wenger will leave Arsenal this summer. And it’s not as if the Mirror has a faultless track record is saying what Wenger’s planning:

 

Daily Mirror wenger quits Arsenal

 

As for Arteta taking the role, a man who played for the Gunners but has never managed a club:

One of the names in the frame is former Gunner Mikel Arteta, who is impressing as a coach alongside Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

Arteta certainly left a lasting impression with Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis, using some of the money raised in club fines to buy the American a prestigious watch.

Eh?

As official collector of the money from players’ misdemeanours, the ‘present’ came as a surprise to some of Arteta’s team-mates.

But Arteta’s organisational skills on and off the training ground have impressed Wenger as he contemplates his future.

Forget Fergie time, this is Arteta time. The Mirror’s seems to be to show that Arteta is good with money. And because this is the modern media in which no scoop, however shallow, can pass unrepeated by rivals, the Sun reads the Mirror’s non-story and thunders:

QUICK TURNAROUND – Arsene Wenger ready to quit Arsenal and leave Manchester City coach Mikel Arteta in charge at the Emirates

Form something that “could” happen to Wenger being “ready ” to leave all in a morning. The paper looks at Arteta’s watch:

And the retired playmaker apparently impressed Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis by buying him a posh watch during his time as Gunners bursar.

Arteta was in charge of collecting fines at Arsenal and he put the money toward a watch for Gazidis – to the surprise of his team-mates.

Anyone know any facts about this watch, which is quickly passing into folklore?

Posted: 7th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Broadsheets, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Barcelona puts Premier League in its place with £142m deal for Liverpool Philippe Coutinho

Liverpool have have sold Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £142m – and reassured the world that the Spanish league is bigger, better and starrier than the hyped Premier League. The mighty Reds will get £105m up front for the 25-year-old Brazilian and more should he win cups in the Nou Camp, which he will do.

It’s a huge profit for Liverpool, who paid Inter Milan £8.5m for the player in January 2013. It was also a big profit when Liverpool sold Luis Suarez to Barcelona for £64.98 million in 2014. Suarez went on to win:

La Liga: 2014–15, 2015–16
Copa del Rey: 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17
Supercopa de España: 2016
UEFA Champions League: 2014–15
UEFA Super Cup: 2015
FIFA Club World Cup: 2015

Liverpool have in that time won nothing.

The top players don’t dream of playing for Liverpool. They dream of playing for Real Madrid and Barcelona. Unless Liverpool can compete with mega-buck Manchester City and pay huge wages to hire talent the big Spanish clubs don’t want or can’t find room for, they won’t win titles.

Cheerio, Philippe. You’ll be missed…

Posted: 6th, January 2018 | In: Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment (1)


Arsenal v Chelsea balls: Jack Wilshere’s ‘outrageous dive’ wasn’t a dive say top refs

One day with video technology being a football referee will be easy. Mistakes will no longer be made. To emphasise the point, former refs have been reviewing the tapes of the Arsenal v Chelsea match for newspapers. Take the incident when Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, already on a yellow card, was hit the turf on the edge or the Chelsea box. Did he fall or was he tripped?

Former referee Mark Halsey reviews the tape. He tells Sun readers:

I also felt Taylor [referee Anthony Taylor] did well by not handing a second caution to Jack Wilshere when he went down under a challenge from Andreas Christiansen [sic]. Taylor saw the incident and played on which was the correct thing to do. He didn’t go looking for trouble. It wasn’t simulation or a foul – it was just normal contact. Not every time a player goes down is simulation.

 

Or as former referee Graham Poll puts it in the Daily Mail:

Jack Wilshere should have been sent off for an outrageous dive but luckily for him, referee Anthony Taylor’s view was blocked by a number of players…. But knowing he was on a yellow card, he was stupid to dive over Andreas Christensen in the second half.

Also commenting on the match was former referee Dermot Gallagher, who tells Sky News:

The referee is in a position there where if he gambles and gambles wrongly he’s got a red card. It’s not possible to send somebody off for something you didn’t see. There is no way the referee can see that situation clearly enough to make a decision to send the player off. He’s waved it away and play has gone on. I think that’s exactly the right decision for that situation.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 4th, January 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, News, Sports | Comment