Sports | Anorak - Part 20

Sports Category

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.

Transfer Balls: Harry Kane and Spurs happy to be at loggerheads

Harry Kane, the Spurs and England striker, is at “loggerheads” with his club. Well, so said the Sun on November 14. All “talks ware on hold” Tottenham, are “refusing” to make Kane one of the club’s top earners.


Harry Kane Spurs The Sun


Says Kane today:

“I am happy at the club and want to be here for a long, long time. We are in talks and I’m sure we will get something sorted. I’m not panicking and I’m not demanding anything as I’ve read in the paper.” We’re having a conversation and I have no doubts that we will get it sorted.”

Or as the Sun puts it:

Harry Kane the sun


Harry Kane isn’t cool. Harry Kane is “in a contract stand-off” and “pleading” with the club to give him a rise.

“Hopefully we will have no issues with the contract – we have only just started talking about it. Get that down and get that wrapped up,” says Kane on the BBC. “I’m happy,” said the Spurs player four times in the Mail. “Kane pledging future to Spurs, ” says the Express.

In other words: no news. But lots of balls.

Posted: 21st, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Transfer balls: Messi agrees new Barcelona deal, heads to Manchester City for £200m and makes Arsenal fans laugh

Transfer balls: Manchester City are planning to offer over £100m for Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, 29, next summer. This we know because the BBC says so. Messi will be delighted to learn that City will offer him £500,000-per-week.

The Sunday Mirror says the full package will amount to a £200,000m investment in Messi.

How the Mirror knows this is moot. But it can read minds, adding that “the prospect of linking up with Guardiola again is a huge attraction” for Messi.

All very odd because the Daily Mail told us in July: “Barcelona agree new contract with Lionel Messi’s father as Catalan giants aim to tie down superstar to new Nou Camp deal.” Messi’s current deal expires in the summer of 2018. But he’d agreed a new one. Alex Bywater had the scoop:


messi contract


Bywater then supplied a few facts to prove how much Messi loves Barcelona.

Messi’s partnership with Neymar and Luis Suarez is at the heart of Barcelona’s success, with Brazilian Neymar having committed to the club on a fresh five-year deal this month.

Barcelona’s new 155 million euros sponsorship deal with Nike begins in 2018 and the cash-rich status of the club means they’re able to ward off interest from other clubs.

Messi has been occasionally linked with moves to the Premier League, but it remains likely he’ll see out his career in Spain.

But on October 8, the Sun reported: “WHAT A MESS – Lionel Messi wants new release clause allowing him to leave Barcelona for one club.”

Which club? Yeah, it’s Newell’s Old Boys, Messi’s boyhood club. The Sun notes:

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is unlikely to leave Barcelona any time soon, but it says something about his determination to play for his boyhood club that he is already trying to lock the terms of his Nou Camp departure into the contract.

At the foot of a meandering article in which JJ Bull wonders where Messi could go next – Man City, Man United, er, Arsenal (ridiculous reason: “…it’s in London, which is where Messi’s friend Cesc Fabregas lives” – that’s the Fabregas most Arsenal fans are less than fond of and who plays for Chelsea), PSG, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Newell’s, somewhere in China, MSL  – the Telegraph writer realises what utter balls everything he’s just written is by stating: “But he’s definitely going to end up signing a new deal at Barcelona. Can you really imagine Messi in a different team’s shirt?”

Imagine it? Yes. Think it’s going to happen? No. But don’t that let stop you writing about it.

Posted: 20th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Media balls: West Ham hard done by as Spurs trip over the line

Media Balls: a look at biased football reporting in Tottenham’s 3-2 victory over West Hm United in the Premier League.

This is how the Tottenham Hotspur website described the deciding goal, a penalty strike by Harry Kane:

Hammers substitute Harvard Nordtveit tripped Son in the area and the referee again pointed to the spot.

The BBC sees not a clear trip but a dash of the dark arts:

[Son was] smart enough to invite a wild challenge from fellow substitute Nordtveit, cutting inside and leaving his standing leg invitingly in the path of the defender’s needless lunge

The Newham Recorder (in West Ham’s manor):

Havard Nordtveit – on for Payet – was harshly adjudged to have brought down Son as the two jinked and jostled in the area

The Tottenham Independent:

West Ham sub Havard Nordviet clumsily brought down Heung-Min Son, giving Mike Dean no option but to award the second penalty of the afternoon

No opinion or harsh? Having dealt with the last goal, the game’s first penalty, one awarded to West Ham, is couched in caveats.

The Tottenham website: “Janssen was adjudged to have pulled down Reid in the area at a West Ham corner”

The Newham Recorder: “Janssen dragged down Reid

Such are the facts.

Posted: 20th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comments (3) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Media Balls: great penalty decision robs Manchester United as gritty Arsenal ride their luck

Media Balls: a look at reporting on Manchester Untied v Arsenal in the Premier League.  In the first half ManchesterUnited had a shout for a penalty. It wasn’t given. Was that the right decision? Let’s see what the not-at-all-biased experts in the media say:

Mark Lawrenson – the former Liverpool defender was talking on BBC Radio 5 live: “I think it’s good refereeing from Andre Marriner with the penalty appeal – it’s borderline and he’s reffed the game trying to let the teams play.”

Phil McNulty – BBC Sport chief football writer at Old Trafford: “Jose Mourinho had every right to be aggrieved at that penalty refusal. Clumsy from Nacho Monreal in a very dangerous position.”

Phil Neville – ex Man United player on twitter: “It’s a rugby tackle”

Gary Nevill – ex Man United: “I don’t think it’s a penalty, I wouldn’t be comfortable with it”

The Arsenal website: “Valencia had a big shout for a penalty turned down after getting in a tangle with Monreal”

The Manchester Untied website: “Then came the big talking point of the first half as Valencia, who was making his first appearance since braking his arm in the EFL Cup win over Manchester City, seemed to be clearly pulled down by Nacho Monreal in the penalty area, but referee Marriner said waved his arms in disapproval of United’s claims. ”

The Guardian: “And although Jose Mourinho jigs around on the touchline, holding his head in theatrical exasperation, it’s probably a good decision having seen the replay.”

Manchester Evening News: “Andre Marriner was booed as he headed down the tunnel and it was deserved. United have suffered some terrible non-decisions against them this season: Bravo on Rooney, the foul on Martial at Watford in the build-up to their goal, Luiz’s challenge on Fellaini, the non-penalty after Flanagan clipped Darmian and now today’s. Mourinho might be talking about another ‘campaign’ later.”

London Evening Standard: “Penalty surely? Valencia goes down under contract from Monreal, Mourinho is livid as Marriner gives nothing! Replays suggest the referee may just have got that spot on, the attacker was already on his way down when he connected with Arsenal’s left-back.”

Mark Lawrenson (again):”No, I have to say in that position, it’s quite natural. No penalty.”

And one other decision – one not mentioned by the Manchester Evening News at all:

BBC live blog: “Matteo Darmian was unlucky to be booked earlier but he’s perhaps even luckier now to still be on the field. He catches Carl Jenkinson high and late and should get a second yellow. Referee Andre Marriner has let him off the hook there.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 19th, November 2016 | In: Arsenal, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Ugly, fat and thick: Manchester Untied’s Wayne Rooney takes a wedding night bashing in the Sun

How the Sun will miss Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney when he’s gone. This week the Sun spotted the England captain enjoying a drink at a Watford hotel as a wedding party made merry. It was “ROO’S BIG FAT TIPSY WEDDING”.


rooney wedding drunk



Lest anyone think that mere pun on the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which spawned TV’s My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, we refer you to past comments made by the Sun’s on Wayne Rooney’s girth and looks.



rooney wayne shrek fat

rooney wayne shrek fat

rooney wayne shrek fat

rooney wayne shrek fat


Rooney ugly


As for the news of Rooney’s drinking, the report shares the best eye-witness quote of the week, “He was shit-faced”. Wedding guest said – get this – “Wayne was “not a petty sight”.


rooney drunk


How they’ll miss Rooney when he’s gone.


Posted: 18th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Transfer balls: Barcelona and pundits conspire to push Philippe Coutinho out of Liverpool

Football reporting wears the cloak of respectability. But in the 21st century, new organs use players to get clicks and earn cash. The sad thing is that the advert-free BBC is full of this balls. The Beeb has told us – and these five news items have all appeared over the past month:

Liverpool need to give playmaker Philippe Coutinho, 24, a new contract and pay rise to fend off interest from Barcelona.

The Reds are confident of keeping the Brazilian as the player does not have an buy-out clause in his contract.

Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho, 24, wants to stay at Anfield despite reported interest from Barcelona, says his former youth coach.

Former Brazil striker Ronaldo is keen to see 24-year-old Liverpool and Brazil midfielder Philippe Coutinho at Real Madrid.

Liverpool are ready to offer Brazil playmaker Philippe Coutinho, 24, a new contract to fend off interest from Barcelona.

In all that time, amid all that utter tosh, the BBC has produced not a single word from Philippe Coutinho expressing any desire to play for any club but Liverpool. Today the BBC has more on one of the Premier League’s brightest talents.

Brazil international Coutinho, 24, has been influential in helping the Reds go top of the Premier League table… His form has led to links with Spanish sides Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Links made by the BBC.

Today Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp tells media firing question about Coutinho’s future: “We all hope and think his future is here at Liverpool. What everybody forgets about Phil is that he is still very young. At 24, he has a long way to go and lot of space for improvement.”

But: “At the end, it will not be money. If there is a club who can play double what we pay then I bring the player there. Who am I to say ‘no, don’t think about your family, kids, grandkids and all that stuff’. But I don’t know a lot of clubs in the world who can do this.”

And that’s the thing, no? The narrative of Coutinho’s departure to Spain continues in spite of any facts. It’s a media story only. Get this from former Liverpool defender and jobbing pundit Mark Lawrenson. He’s been talking to the Press Association:

“Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid to a certain degree, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich are the clubs continually successful in Europe. You can’t keep those top players if those clubs come in for them.”

“I don’t think, apart from arguably Manchester City, anyone can stop them. The clever thing is to plan for it. Rather than say ‘Coutinho might be going, what are we going to do?’ you have something in place already.”

And this from former midfielder Xavi: “There are not many players that can improve Barcelona, but if you are asking me if he [Coutinho] is one of them.”

It’s a pincer movement of nodding heads opining on a man’s career and life to deadline and Barcelona stooges doing the same old trick of talking up a player they hope will join them. They negate the fact that at the heart of the chatter is a professional athlete who wants to do his best.

And they should ask themselves why just one season after Leicester City won the Premier League – a club whose turnover amounts to less than Manchester United’s kit sponsorship, who had won nothing of note in 132-years, and whose first XI were bought for less than one Paul Pogba – the talk is so little about glory and creating something new, exciting and unexpected. It’s about the same old teams winning at all costs.



Posted: 17th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Dead Lions: Vardy gives the Press a dummy

The Press should write a not of thanks to Jamie Vardy, who followed his England goal by doing the Mannequin Challenge. For those of you not suffering from rigamortis, the Mannequin Challenge is a millennial version of dead lions, a parlour game which, in these offence-seeking times, even ISIS and conservationists can find no fault. No music. No hunting. You just stop.

You see how useful it was for headline writers and reporters for England to freeze at Wembley in a friendly against a Spanish side.

Henry Winter writes in the Times:

Vardy had done the Mannequin Challenge after scoring but unfortunately England’s defence then followed suit, freezing late on.

The Mirror, Sun and Mail go for the obvious. England, who tossed way a two-goal leads, are “DUMMIES”.


Mannequin challenge england vardy spain


Mannequin challenge england vardy spain Mannequin challenge england vardy spain


In case you missed it:



Not that there’s much wrong with freezing on the pitch. After all, English football has been on freeze-frame since 1966.

Posted: 16th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Manchester City boss in Messi Sex Curfew

Manchester City spare part Samir Nasri was farmed out to Sevilla, told to lose weight (he has) and play well enough to earn a City recall (maybe: he has three goals in 10).

Talking to L’Equipe, Nasri spoke about his experiences working with Pep Guardiola:

“When I returned from holiday having had a year out with injury problems and personal life problems, I was a little out of shape. Not as much as what was said but a few, maybe, four kilos overweight. For Guardiola, over 2.5 kilos and you do not you train with the group.”

In July, we read that Guardiola has “established weight parameters for each individual”.  “They are not overweight, but I want my players fit,” said the Spaniard. “The weight is so important. When you are not fit, danger is coming. You’re not fast enough or quick enough in the head. That’s why you need to be fit.”

Nasri links his fat to personal problems and ill health. Right now Public Health England is working out how Pep can run Government policy. “Sorry,” says Pep, “you’re too fat for benefits.” The Government will then give the fattest people tiny council flats to move into – and fit into just as soon as they shed the proscribed amount of fat.

Nasri adds:

“Guardiola told me that I was a mess, he told me several times and even kicked me in the butt, literally.”

Well, it was either that or hit a barn door with a banjo.

And then this is illuminating:

“He told me with your qualities you should not be at Manchester City, you should be at Barcelona.”

City beat Barcelona 3-1 in the Champions’ League. Is Barcelona a step down in class?

Having bigged himself up and slimmed himself down, Nasri talks of sex.

“There is the ‘midnight rule’. For him, his players’ sexual activity must take place before midnight in order to get a good night sleep – even if they are free the next day.

“He [Guardiola] said that he placed this rule on Lionel Messi and his muscles have improved since.”

Which night explain why Match of The Day finishes at five to midnight


Posted: 15th, November 2016 | In: Manchester City, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Transfer balls: Daniel Levy holds the cards as Spurs play Harry Kane

The news cycle has lots more on Harry Kane, the Spurs player at “loggerheads” with his club over a new pay deal.  The Mail leads with the story that Kane is demanding parity with Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy, currently trousering £120,000 a week. But Spurs are “not prepared” to give Kane that kind of cash.

Spurs might have noticed that before Vardy signed his new bumper deal, he was on fire. At this stage last season, hungry Vardy had scored 12 goals. Over the summer he got a new contract. Vardy has now gone 14 matches without scoring. Big pay does not always equate to big performances.

Facts then become a little murky. The Mail says Spurs’ top earner is Hugo LLoris, who earns £90,000 a week. But yesterday the Sun said Spurs midfielder Moussa Sissoko gets £95,000 a week.

The paper says Daniel Levy, the Spurs chairman, is a “shrewd” operator. His method is to give improving players “incremental pay rises while adding a year or two to the deal”.

(And who cannot agree that Levy gets value? In today’s Express, David Kidd reminds us of Spurs’s battle with West Ham over the Olympic Stadium. Levy wanted to rip up the running track and joint-fund the venture with AEG. He’d also revamp the Crystal Palace stadium for athletics. Instead of that, the taxpayer now funds a soulless bowl where fans sit a long way from the action. “As for West Ham’s claim they would make football more affordable – well, for their first category A Prem home match with Arsenal, even kids and OAPs must pay £50-£80.” Levy was right.)

The issue for Spurs is that Kane wants a big lift on the £60,000 a week he now earns. The good news, we’re told,  is that Kane is not “demanding” to be paid the £200,000 a week the likes of Raheem Sterling earns at Manchester City. He’s happy to be on par with Vardy and Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge.

On the flip side, the Mail says Manchester United and Chelsea can pay that sort of cash and both want Kane. If they want him that badly, they will need to cough up. Spurs have shown they are prepared to sell their top talent for big money. It’s not far-fetched to think of Kane leaving – and Spurs doing very well from the deal.

Posted: 15th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Transfer Balls: Spurs and Kane ‘agree’ to be at ‘loggerheads’ over bumper new deal

Spurs fans will tremble at the news that Harry Kane – “he’s one of there own” (insert picture of young Harry in his Arsenal short – ed) – has “KO-ed” a new deal at the club.

Harry Kane Spurs The Sun


Reading the Sun’s headline might lead you to suppose Kane will not be extending his Tottenham contract. The deal has been knocked out. Talks have been “called off”. Surprisingly the story does contain a muon of fact, albeit dressed in speculation, clickbait balls and hype.

Tottenham striker puts contract talks on hold with two parties at loggerheads as Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City circle

From being knocked out and over, the Sun sniffs the smelling salts and says talks to keep Kane at White Hate Lane are “on hold”. Not knocked out, then. Paused. The Sun then pretty much does Kane’s negotiations for him  by name-checking a few other clubs and noting: “Kane is paid £60,000-a-week, £35,000 less than Moussa Sissoko.” And, of course,  Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United can offer far higher wages than even the Frenchman trousers.

Oh, and so too can Arsenal. After all, the Express reported that Kane had agreed to join the Gunners:


Harry Kane Express Arsenal Spurs


Neil Ashton writes in the Sun:

HARRY KANE and Spurs have agreed to put all talks over a new contract on hold.

So both parties are in agreement. Ashton counters that in the every next line:

The England striker’s future is increasingly uncertain as the two parties are at loggerheads.The England striker’s future is increasingly uncertain as the two parties are at loggerheads.

News that Kane and Spurs have “agreed” to be a “loggerheads” will be a “massive worry for Spurs supporters”, says Ashton. Why? Kane’s contracted to Spurs until 2020 and currently earns £60,000 per week. Spurs have no need to rush.

It all amounts to a lot of nothing. But it’s enough for the Mirror to read the Sun’s story and cry: “Harry Kane and Tottenham at loggerheads.”

This is the same Mirror that reported in September:

Kane’s £50,000-a-week basic will be at least doubled in the wake of the money that has flooded into Premier League clubs due to the bumper new television deal.

And back to Sissoko. In today’s Sun, Ashton writes:

There is a feeling at White Hart Lane that Kane’s loyalty is being tested, especially with the club offering Moussa Sissoko £95,000 a week to sign from Newcastle in the summer.

But the Mirror said Sissoko is good news for Kane:

Sissoko’s arrival will see Kane’s basic weekly wage jump to around £120,000 – with bonuses and image rights he could end up taking home a cool £7.5m-a-year – meaning his entire package is likely to be in excess of £35m.

In conclusion: The tabloids haven’t got a clue.

Posted: 14th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Transfer balls: Liverpool won’t be drawn on Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona

The news media works in a pack. The BBC says Barcelona fancy Liverpool’s Phlippe Coutinho. The Beeb’s news is based on a reprot in the Liverpool Echo that Liverpool “need” to offer Coutinho, 24, a new deal to see off interest from Barcelona. The Echo says Coutinho to Barcelona is just a “rumour”, albeit one fuelled by the player’s friendship with Barcelona’s Neymar and Luis Suarez.

We read that Coutinho visited Suarez at the Barcelona team hotel in Manchester to collect tickets ahead of their Champions League clash at the Etihad. And there it is. To keep their best player, Liverpool need to be in the best competition. But having given air to the rumours, the Echo tells readers, “Coutinho has never shown any signs of agitating for a move away from Anfield.”

So where does the rumour come from? And it’s growing. The Metro says, “Luis Suarez and Neymar are speaking to Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho about Barcelona transfer.” Well, maybe. Maybe not. The source for that spot of room bugging is Sport, more of which later.

On October 31, the Sun told its readers: “Liverpool transfer news: Philippe Coutinho wants Barcelona move as Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain show interest.”

Having name-checked three of the wealthiest clubs in Europe, we’re interested to know how Coutinho expressed his desire to leave Liverpool and play for Barcelona? Over to Spanish newspaper Sport, thenwhich claims the Brazilian “tried to force a move to the Nou Camp in the last transfer window. His representatives apparently sounded out Barcelona over a transfer but Luis Enrique wanted to strengthen other positions instead.”

Sport reports: “He’s a player who has been liked by Barcelona for a long time and he’d love to wear the Blaugrana shirt.”

He would?

The reality is that Coutinho would like to play in Barcelona, where his style would fit in. His agents, Kia Joorabchian and Giuliano Bertolucci, sounded out the possibility last year, but Barça ruled out any deal due to the price and the fact they had other priorities. They consider his position well covered, but anything’s possible in the future.

Bit murky, no? No quotes from Liverpool, Barcelona or the player. But it’s enough for the Indy to declare: “Barcelona have made Philippe Coutinho their priority for next summer’s transfer window.” They read that in, yep, Sport.

It might be worth noting that Sports’ slogan is “Sempre amb el Barça”. The paper is printed in Barcelona.

On another note, the Times reports: “Liverpool sure Coutinho will not join Barcelona.”

Liverpool are confident of keeping Philippe Coutinho, despite the attentions of Barcelona, because their influential playmaker does not have an escape clause in his contract.

He’s contracted to Liverpool until 2020. The paper adds:

Coutinho’s eye-catching displays will be recognised by Liverpool should he maintain his high standards. Yet there are no plans in place to rip up his existing contract, which was agreed 18 months ago, and an extension would not necessarily safeguard his future.



Posted: 12th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Transfer balls: Arsenal’s Ozil to Manchester United and Peter Gwargis arrives

Is Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil all set to join Manchester United? The Guardian fans the rumour by musing, “are Manchester United eyeing Mesut Özil?” If the news media don’t know, the answer should be ‘no’.

Jacob Steinberg says Manchester United “have been alerted to Mesut Özil’s hesitation” in agreeing a new deal to lengthen his stay at Arsenal. How they’ve been alerted is moot. Did Ozil’s agent tell United. Did Arsenal? And why mention this now, just a few days before Manchester Untied host Arsenal in the Premier League?

The thinking is that United manager Jose Mourinho “wants a reunion with Özi”, whom he managed at Real Madrid.

The Sun says United will offer Ozil £250,000 a week, far higher than the £200,000 a week the Gunners are reportedly willing to pay.

It’s a story built on wet sand. We know United pay bigger wages than Arsenal. We know that Ozil is happy in North London. We know that Man United are not soaring ion the Premier League.

Maybe Jose can get a new model Ozil, as the Metro says Peter Gwargis – “dubbed the new Mesut Ozil” – is attracting interest from Gunners? “Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has his eye on Mesut Ozil’s apparent successor,” says the paper. How good is this younger Ozil. “The teenager is yet to turn out for Husqvarna’s first-team,” says the Metro. Oh, that good, then.

Finally, ESPN assures Arenal fans that Ozil “won’t betray Wenger”. It then delivers a host of reasons why Ozil to United is non-starter. They can be distilled into one salient point: he’s under contract at Arsenal.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 12th, November 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Transfer balls: Antoine Griezmann wants to join Paul Pogba at Manchester United, PSG, Atletico Madrid or somewhere else

Transfer balls: France and Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann, 25, says he “would like to play alongside Manchester United midfielder and France team-mate Paul Pogba, 23, at club level”. So says the BBC.

Which club, Griezmann doesn’t day. But the media klaxon has been sounded. The Daily Star has Griezmann playing at Manchester United.


Griezmann manchester united


The Indy says, “Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann has talked up a potential move to Manchester United.”

Over on Sky Sports, we hear what Griezmann said in reply to a journalist asking him about Man United:

“I always ask Paul Pogba about Manchester United. I think they are a huge club with a really good infrastructure. I ask Paul about some of the players, and if they’re really that good, or if Jose Mourinho is really that good.

“You hear a lot of things [speculation] about Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain but right now I don’t see me moving to a new club. But it would be awesome to play alongside Paul one day.”

Adding via the Star:

“A future transfer depends on how I feel. Right now, I’m a father and moving to another city would the right thing. I’ll see If want to do something else in the future, but right now I’m very happy with Atletico Madrid and I still want to win trophies with this club.”

Pogba to Atletico Madrid it is, then.

Posted: 10th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Manchester United: Mourinho scapegoats Smalling and Shaw and demands belief in his way

In today’s episode of Jose Mourinho’s life, the Sun has an exclusive on the Manchester United manager:

Jose Mourinho: Manchester United stars backing boss over incredible bust-up with Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling

Mourinho picked out the England players for his “slurs”, as the Times calls them. They are “bewildered” by his attack on their professionalism.

As it his style, Mourinho builds a siege mentality and invites players to prove their loyalty to him through unstinting effort. After a couple of seasons of believing and running til empty for Mourinho, the team is covered in glory but spent, and Jose moves on.

Neil Ashton writes: “Senior players have accepted that the only way to succeed under the Special One is to accept his ruthless regime. Incredibly, they supported his public attack on Shaw and Smalling, who insisted they were not fit to play in Sunday’s 3-1 win at Swansea.”

Were they fit? “Both have played with pain-killing injections this season but boss Mourinho claims that is common practice for a top-level footballer.”

You run and run and run for Jose. And then you collapse.

The Special One said they refused to be in the match-day squad and had betrayed United’s “culture”.

United culture, or Jose’s way?

In other news the Sun notes:

Manchester United transfer news: Jose Mourinho to axe Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw after bust-up

Mourinho said of the duo: “I have a friend who is a big tennis player and he tells me when he remembered more the times he plays with pain than the times he plays without pain. To compete you have to go to the limit. It is cultural for some – and that is not my culture. More than me, it is Man United. We have players with ‘problems’. At every sport – and I know because I have friends in others sports and they play at the highest level in their sport, and how many times they play when you are not 100 per cent.”

And so it is, as ever it was, that Jose Mourinho divides to conquer. Do you believe in Jose? Is he the one, as the United banner declared on his first day as manager? If you don’t believe utterly in his, it’ll be your fault when it fails.

PS: Shaw and Smalling have been left out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad.

When asked whether he thought Smalling and Shaw were “flaky”, Southgate said: “That wouldn’t be my impression, having worked with Chris, and I know Luke well. He’s had a really tough injury.”

Is Luke Shaw Mourinho’s scapegoat, or the guinea pig on whom the manager can test out his abrasive style of man management?

Posted: 8th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Transfer balls: Chelsea offload Arsenal turncoat Fabregas to West Ham and AC Milan

Transfer balls: West Ham United are keen on Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas, 29. The former Arsenal captain has played just 87 minutes for the Blues in the Premier League this season.

The Daily Mirror leads with the news that The Hammers wants Cesc in the January transfer window. But why would Cesc want the Hammers?


Cesc WEst ham


The Mirror says Chelsea are “even ready” to subsidise Fabregas’s £160,000-a-week wages in order to get shot of him. But there is little on what pull West Ham hold to the World Cup winning midfielder. Indeed, the Mirror says “Fabregas remains determined” to remain at Chelsea.

But the Sun says Fabregas “looks certain to leave Chelsea in January and could replace Dimitri Payet at West Ham”.

Payet recently told a French TV station: ”Leave in January? I’m asking other questions but I’m not closing the door to anything. It’s always the sports project that interests me. I work like that and until I play at a level like this, it will be the case.”

It’s all speculation.

Back in September the Express was reporting that Cesc had agreed to join AC Milan.

Cesc Chelsea


On August 16 2016, the Sun and Star reported that Cesc, who played for Barcelona (the club of his heart), wanted to join their fierce rivals Real Madrid and also stay at Chelsea.


Cesc Chelsea


Such are the facts.

Posted: 8th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

One-eyed reporting on Rob Van Persie: former Arsenal and Man United striker not blind

Is Robin Van Persie blind? Has the former Arsenal captain and Manchester United striker succumbed to a dreadful eye injury? The Sun suggests there are “fears he will never see again”.


robin van persie eye


A click on the story and we’re told:

There were fears that the Dutchman could have lost his sight in the clash.

Well, yes. Fears not exactly discouraged by the Sun’s reporting:


van persie eye the sun


Inverted commas (just like question marks – see pretty much every transfer news story in the Mirror) don’t show up in Google News. So what is complete balls can be presented as fact.

Will Van Persie see again? Yes. First up, he damaged one eye – a ripped eyelid. Van Persie has two eyes. His being blinded was never likely.

The Sun reports: “Fenerbahce doctor Burak Kunduracıoğl seemed to quash fears…”. He seemed to quash fears? Not quite. He quashed them flat. He said: “After the investigations we learned that nothing important happened… His condition is good.”

Says Van Persie: “My eye is not damaged.”

Robin Van Persie is not blind – but the Sun’s reporting is a tad monocular.


Posted: 7th, November 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Manchester United balls: angry Jose Mourinho demands we believe in his waning abilities

Is Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho being indulged at Old Trafford? Yesterday’s  3-1 win over Swansea eased some of the pressure on the Portuguese. But Under his guidance, his sides are averaging just 1.15 points per game. The BBC looks at Jose’s average points haul since the start of 2015-16. Let’s compared the Man United boss’s record to other managers who have taken charge of 10 or more Premier League matches in that time.

Francesco Guidolin – Swansea: 1.26 points (sacked)
Sam Allardyce – Sunderland: 1.20 (given England job)
Roberto Martinez – Everton: 1.19 (sacked)
Quique Sanchez Flores – Watford: 1.18 (sacked)
Jose Mourinho – Chelsea/ Man United: 1.15

Compare the lavish resources at those managers’ disposal and Mourinho looks a dud.

Of course, the Manchester United supremo is new to his role. But, then, look at the man who took over the failing and spent Chelsea team Jose left behind:

Antonio Conte – Chelsea: 2.27

And another new boy:

Pep Guardiola – Man City: 2.18

And if you want real value for money:

Claudio Ranieri – Leicester: 1.94

But it’s not him at fault. It never is, according to Jose. It’s them. Says Mourinho:

“There is a difference between the brave that will be there at any cost and the ones that a little pain can make a difference.

“Great football people – great sportspeople – many, many times play without being 100 per cent. For the team you have to do anything – that’s my way of saying. If one day I meet the big ones [players] of this club who have had great success – for sure, they are going to tell me that many times they put their bodies on the line even with pains everywhere.

“It’s not just the players but it’s the people that surround the players. It will take time to change [the mentality] but with the help of players like Phil Jones, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney, it will be a possible mission.”

Is abrasive Mourinho a man who guarantees success, as United hope he does? Frank Lampard, who Mourinho managed at Chelsea, says he is “creating storms to protect” his team. It’s so much about fomenting a siege mentality, imparting his own burning anger and sense of injustice in his players.

Rory Smith notes:

In his autobiography, Zlatan Ibrahimovic recounted Mourinho’s showing his Inter team videos of poor displays, suggesting the players on the screen “must be your brothers,” angering them so much they went out and played “like rabid animals” to prove him wrong.

This time Jose is talking of creating a legacy at United. But he so often leaves toxicity behind. If you believe in Jose’s way – the world is against him and thus against his loyal team – you will fight for him. When the players and fans start to question his methods, and the barbs hurt more than inspire, the anger and with it the momentum dies.


Posted: 7th, November 2016 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Media Balls: Harsh Spurs’ penalty equalises Arsenal’s offside goal

Media Balls: Arsenal draw 1-1 with Spurs in the Premier League.

Spurs scored from a penalty. Should it have been awarded? 

BBC: “Koscielny was harshly penalised for a foul on Mousa Dembele in the box”

Spurs website: “…the excellent Mousa Dembele was brought down in the box by Laurent Koscielny.”

Arsenal website: “Dembele’s slaloming run into the box provoking a mistimed challenge from Koscielny.”

The Guardian: “This looks controversial as well. Dembele falls over just inside the box after a tackle from Koscielny, and Mark Clattenburg gives a penalty. Replays suggest it was a good decision.”

The Mirror: “A lazy, brainless challenge from Laurent Koscielny on the impressive Mousa Dembele resulted in a penalty.”

The Arsenal goal, scored by Tottenham’s Kevin Wilmer:

The Telegraph: “Spurs could rightly be aggrieved that at least two Arsenal players were offside when Ozil swung his set-piece in but the goal stood and Arsenal held the lead at the interval.”

The Guardian: “Arsenal’s pressure has told. Ozil’s inswinging free-kick is headed down into the corner of his own net by Kevin Wimmer. He was stretching towards his own goal, and had to do something with two Arsenal players behind him – but those two players were offside, so Spurs will feel pretty aggrieved.”

Sky: “Arsenal took the lead three minutes before half-time as Ozil’s free-kick was diverted by Wimmer’s head into his own goal, though the replays showed that Sanchez, who did not touch the ball but was arguably involved in play, was offside from the German’s cross.”

The Express: “Both Sanchez and Laurent Koscielny were in offside positions next to him but judged not to be interfering – as if the derby needed a bit of controversy to feed the emotions – and moments later an unseemly squabble led by Jan Vertonghen and Theo Walcott set things up nicely for the second half. At least referee Mark Clattenburg got the first big decision of the second period right – spotting Koscielny’s trip on Mousa Dembele just inside the area and pointing to the spot.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 6th, November 2016 | In: Arsenal, Sports, Spurs | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Transfer balls: Arsenal line up huge bid for Jose Maria Gimenez as Paulista vanishes

Transfer balls:  The Mirror says Arsenal are “lining up a bid” for a “£54million Uruguay starlet”. Who is he?

It’s Atletico Madrid and Uruguay “starlet” Jose Maria Gimenez.

The Sun is the Mirror’s source. It says Manchester United also monitoring the 21-year-old “wonderkid”.

The Sun offers up no source for this news that Arsenal are going to bid a record sum for the young player. But it does note:

Arsenal are building their Premier League title challenge with Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny at the heart of his defence. But German international defender Per Mertesacker has had knee trouble while Brazilian Gabriel Paulista has fallen down the pecking order. That leaves just former Bolton trainee Rob Holding as cover.

No. It leaves Paulista and Holding as cover for the first choice pairing. And then there’s Calum Chambers, out on loan at Middlesbrough. As for Paulista, he was high up the pecking order until he got injured before the season began. Now fit, he’s been on the bench for Arsenal Premier League matches – indeed, he was ahead of Holding when the Gunners last played at home.

PS: for today’s North London derby versus Spurs, Gabriel is on the bench. Holding didn’t make it that high up the pecking order.

Posted: 6th, November 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Media balls: steely Middlesbrough get ‘undeserved’ equaliser after Manchester City score soft goal

Media Balls: a look at reporting on Manchester City 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough in the Premier League.

The headlines:

Manchester Evening News: “Man City 1-1 Middlesbrough LIVE De Roon stuns Guardiola after Aguero opener”

 The Gazette (Middlesbrough): “Man City 1 Middlesbrough 1: Boro show their Premier League steel”

Sergio Aguero’s goal:

MEN: “Almost 80 per cent possession and a shot count of 19-0 was rewarded shortly before the break as Sergio Aguero times his run to slot home Kevin De Bruyne’s through ball.”

TG: “…a simple cross from the right, and Aguero ghosted into the area between Antonio Barragan and Calum Chambers to stab home.”

Manchester City website: “Kevin De Bruyne picked a pearl of a pass, curling a low ball into the six-yard box for Sergio Aguero to guide home”

Middlesbrough website: “De Bruyne delivered an exquisite cross low from the right and Sergio Aguero nipped in between Antonio Barragan and Calum Chambers to tuck home from close range.”

The late equaliser:

MEN: “Aguero and De Bruyne both missed good chances in the minutes just before Boro equalised. City left ruing them.”

No details on the goal.

TG: “All 3,000 Boro fans were sent home delighted as Marten de Roon’s bullet header lifted the roof off the Etihad Stadium. George Friend’s sizzling ball from the left was as good as you’ve seen all season, and the Dutch midfielder just had to get his effort on target to give Boro a point.”

Man City: “…the cruellest of sucker punches came in added time when Marten de Roon powered home a header from close range. It may have been undeserved…”

MFC:  Marten de Roon arrived in the box to plant home a powerful header from George Friend’s whipped cross.”

Such are the facts.



Posted: 5th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Manchester United Transfer Balls: Godin’s pension, Depay flops out and Martial’s moans about Zlatan

Transfer balls: the BBC is reporting that Manchester United “will trigger Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin’s £30m release clause in January”.

The Beeb says Man United manager Jose Mourinho has earmarked the 30-year-old Uruguayan “to provide his team with leadership”.

The Sun says United will throw loads cash at Godin, topping his current £70,000-a-week wages “by a distance”

Can money lure Godin from the superb Atletico to pressurised and underwhelming Man United? In 2013, Godin opted to extend his Madrid contract.  “This is my home,” he said. “They make me feel great despite being away from my country, my home, my friends. What better than to be here with people who love you and make you feel like one of them.”

In 2015, he signed another contract extension.

In 2014, the Express reported: “MANCHESTER UNITED may have to abandon their plans to sign Diego Godin in January.” Said the player:

“I would like to stay for many years here [at Atletico Madrid]. But it is true that I also have an attraction from my country and at some point in the future I would like to return to Uruguay.”

In the summer of 2015, the Mail reported: “Manchester City have identified Atletico Madrid’s Diego Godin as the man who can help alleviate their pre-season malaise.”

The Indy added:

According to Marca, Manchester City were willing to trigger the 29-year-old’s €40million (£28m) release clause to bring the Uruguayan to the Etihad, but he turned down the chance to move. The paper reports that City offered the centre-back around £4.5m (£90,000-a-week) to join.

As Godin ages and considers United’s pension package, and Untied grow ever more desperate for a quality centre-half, the Guardian says the club are ready to offload Memphis Depay, who cost Manchester United a mere £31m in May 2015. The 22-year-old, we learn, is open to a loan move to Fenerbahce in January.

And United forward Anthony Martial was “surprised and disappointed” to lose his No 9 shirt to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, says his agent. Martial was number 9 during his first season at United but he now wears the No 11 after Ibrahimovic took over the No 9.

“I am not going to lie to you,” says M. 15%. “Yes, this has affected him, yes this surprised him, yes it disappointed him… for a few days. But he is a professional. He then got back into the swing of things.  Personally, I have not accepted this decision that I deemed uncalled for and disrespectful towards my player. This feeling, I have directed this towards Manchester United’s directors. We turn the page and move on but it’s hard to digest it….

“They have a very professional relationship. I am sure that Jose Mourinho will know how to bring the best out of Anthony like Louis van Gaal did before him.”

Ah, yes, Louis Van Gaal. Anyone miss the hammer-headed Dutchman?

Posted: 5th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Chicago Cubs: six million fans rejoice (if you double count everyone in the city)

Like you we too are delighted the Clubs Cubes Cubs won the World Series of baseball for the first time since in ages – but still faster than is takes Theresa May to make a decsion.  The Mail sees the celebrations:

The fall classic! Daredevil Cubs fans risk their lives with crazy ‘trust falls’ as SIX MILLION pack the streets of Chicago to celebrate their World Series win 108 years in the making



Chicago Cubs millions


Six million people on the streets of Chicago, a city with a population of 2,720,546?

The Chicago Tribune is circumspect

By Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communication’s count, an estimated 5 million people lined the 6-mile parade route and gathered at the rally in Grant Park. But — like other official crowd counts — there’s reason to be skeptical, experts say…

“The guesstimates are almost always vast exaggerations,” said Clark McPhail, a sociology professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Such are the facts.


Posted: 5th, November 2016 | In: Reviews, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Desperate Manchester United get saddled with ageing and overpaid star

Footballers, eh. News is that Manchester United are, says the BBC, “prepared to release 32-year-old midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger” with a £10m severance deal.

You read that right. Manchester United are so desperate to rid themselves of the German they will pay him £10m to go.

The Sun adds a caveat: United will pay the £10m  “if they can find someone to take him in January”.

United have all but resigned themselves to the fact they will have to give 32-year-old the staggering payoff – despite the fact he’s been allowed to train with the first-team again.

Now the maths:

The ex-Bayern Munich star is on £180,000-a-week and is owed around £18m in wages with two years left on his Old Trafford deal.

This is how desperate Manchester United are to spunk cash on anyone they think might build the brand.

Schweinsteiger will pocket a staggering £4m or so between January and the end of the season, which the Red Devils are reluctant to pay him.

That’s about £120,000-a-week less than Wayne Rooney gets at United; £70,000 less than Zlatan Ibrahimovich; and £130,000 less than Jose Mourinho.

United are happy for him to leave Old Trafford on a free, having written his £6m fee from Bayern Munich off their books. If another club come in for him in January, they’ll have to give him around £10m and save themselves a fortune. Currently, nobody wants him, but a move to America or China could be on the cards as clubs can afford his huge wages.

Um, no. Lots of clubs would like to pick Schweinsteiger. It’s just that every few clubs can match the absurd wages United pay.


Posted: 4th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Manchester United: Mourinho vows to stay and be better than Moyes

PHEW! The Sun hears news that Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says he will remain at Old Trafford “for many years”.

The Sun says Mourinho is “determined to take Manchester United back to the top.”. Good to know. Manchester United are currently eighth in the Premier League.

“I am at the club I want to be at and I am so happy to be here,” Mourinho tells media. “I want to stay here until the end of my contract and then who knows?”

His contract runs for three years with an option for a further year.

“But I will be here for many years. I am a football man and I am still young,” Jose continues. “Sometimes people think I am 75 but I am 53 and I have passion for the game.”

Can he make United improve? Having lobbed tons of cash at the squad, United are playing less than thrilling football. Getting thrashed 4-0 by Chelsea answered the question, ‘What’s Jose’s best team?’ Answer: Chelsea.

But the Press have been a tad hasty to damn Jose. The Sun has accused Jose of “entering David Moyes territory”. And the Mail placed him bottom in a table of United managers in the post-Ferguson era:

Mourinho Daily Mail


Officially worse? No. Because in this first season in charge, Jose’s United have 15 points from 10 PL matches. At the same stage in his predecessors’ first seasons at Old Trafford, Moyes’ United had 17 points and Van Gaal’s side 13 points; the following season Van Gaal’s team picked up 20 points.

Mourinho is not the worst. He’s better that David Moyes, whose Sunderland have two points from 10 played – a Premier League record low. High praise, indeed.

The only way is up for Jose.

Posted: 3rd, November 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Media balls: Manchester City could have had six against Barcelona and ‘stupid’ Messi

Media balls: a look at reporting on last night Champions’ League match between Manchester City and Barcelona, which City won 3-1.

The Times says Manchester City were”brilliant”. The BBC says Manchester City were “outstanding”.

In Spain, Mundo Deportivo says Barca “ran out of batteries and watched as De Bruyne, Silva, Gundogan flew past them”. It was a”blackout”. SPORT says Barcelona were “tangled”, caught in the City trap. L’Esportiu says “City smelled blood” in the second half.


manchester city


The Manchester Evening News says: “City absolutely HAMMERED Barcelona – Messi and co were lucky to escape without more of a hiding.”

James Robson reports for the MEN:

It is no exaggeration to say City could have scored six or even more against the Spanish champions. Raheem Sterling should have won a first half penalty and wasted a golden chance shortly after Kevin de Bruyne fired City ahead in the second half.

It is an exaggeration. Sterling should have had a penalty instead of a yellow card for diving. But Robson’s monocular report makes no mention of Barcelona chances. The Guardian does, however:

65 min: So close from Barcelona, as Andre Gomes rattles the crossbar from just outside the penalty area with a free shot on goal. Luis Suarez nutmegs John Stones, advances and squares the ball for Gomes who really should have scored.

Had he scored, that would have made it 2-2.

Sky notes that after Barcelona opened the scoring:

Barcelona then began to dominate, missing several chances to double their lead as City’s defence opened up.

And (wrongly):

Busquets then hit the bar with a left-footed effort which seemed destined for the goal, but City got their two-goal cushion with 16 minutes left.

City were terrific. But to claim it was one-sided affair is absurd.


man city barca spain man city barca man city


By way of a footnote, Marca says Messi was involved in a post-match incident in the tunnel, in which he responded to something by calling a City player “stupid”.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 2nd, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0