Anorak

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.

Arsenal balls: Wenger wants the England job, a new Arsenal contract and to quit

Is Arsenal manger Arsene Wenger to become the next England saviour? The Mirror says Wenger has “admitted” that he wants the job.

John Cross’ report begins: “Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits interest in England job after Sam Allardyce departure.”

The trouble is that more we read the more that headline admittance reduces in potency. Cross adds: “The Gunners boss had admitted it could interest him to take over the Three Lions once his work at the Emirates is done.”

Can you admit something that could not happen?

Of course we know when Wenger’s Arsenal work will be done because John Cross told us the man will leave the Gunners at this end of this season:

 

Daily Mirror wenger quits Arsenal

 

Wenger will quit on June 30 2017, said John Cross in the Mirror.

Or as John Cross tells us today in the third Wenger admittance of a short story: “Wenger admitted his priority is to stay at Arsenal and get a new contract as his current £8m-a-year deal expires this summer.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 30th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Media balls: Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovich beats Zorya Luhansk on his holiday

Yesterday the Mirror reported that Zlatan Ibrahimovich had left Manchester United for a holiday. The Mirror said the “holiday” would mean Ibrahimovich missing Manchester United’s Europa League match with the mighty Zorya Luhansk.

The Sun agreed: “Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks set to miss Thursday night match vs Zorya as he holidays in Milan.”

 

zlatan europa manchester

 

So what did Zlatan do on his holiday? Well, he played for Manchester United in the Europa League and scored the winner.

 

zlatan man united

 

Update: The Mirror has now changed its story to read: “Zlatan Ibrahimovic returns for Manchester United’s clash with Zorya Luhansk after holiday in Italy.”

Update 2:  When the big media speaks the websites follow. Get a load of this terrible reporting on Sports Mole.

 

media balls

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 29th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Gareth Southgate wants the England job he says he’s unqualified for

With greedy Sam Allardyce defenestrated, new England manager Gareth Southgate has four matches to prove himself. If he does well, the England job could be his for keeps. And he wants it. In today’s Times, we read: “Southgate eyes England job full time.”

Gareth Southgate wants to be the next permanent England manager and is viewing his four matches in temporary charge as an opportunity to stake a claim for the job on a full-time basis.

This is the same Gareth Southgate who opined on September 5:

“I can see the logic in terms of the odds but it wasn’t a route I felt I was ready to take. I’m pretty clear on what I’m comfortable with but also I know to take that role wasn’t something I think I’ve got the experience for. I think it’s one of the ultimate jobs and you want every skill set possible when you go into it. Sam obviously has years and years of experience. I think with England there are one or two other things that I would want to have had experience of before I took that role”

One new thing he experienced is Sam Allardyce getting caught in a newspaper sting. What else Southgate’s experienced in the past 24 days is for him and his priest.

Posted: 29th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Arsenal Wenger ‘sets the date’ for Arsenal departure but keeps everyone guessing

How do you follow Sam Allardyce? With a broom, perhaps. The Football Association has a better idea: wait for caretaker boss Gareth Southgate to fail and then appoint Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. The BBC says that’s the plan. The London Evening Standard agrees. It’s Wenger for England.

Wenger’s current Arsenal contract expires at the end of this season. Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke and the club’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis want him to sign a new deal.

The FA has chased Wenger for some time. The Telegraph says Wenger was the FA’s first choice to  succeed Roy Hodgson after the European Championship. But they failed to get him.

The Daily Star says Wenger will say ‘yes’ if the FA ask him again: “EXCLUSIVE: Arsene Wenger open to becoming England boss.” The exclusive is anything but.  While “Starsport understands the Arsenal boss is interested in taking charge in the build-up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia”, Wenger tells Sky Sports:  “My priority is always Arsenal and I have to assess how well I do until the end of the season.”

Mentions of England by Wenger: nil.

Put that through the headline generator and the Mail delivers: “Arsene Wenger keeps door open for England job.”

The apogee of no-news is in the Independent, which declares, “Arsenal could be poised to extend Arsene Wenger’s contract with the club after the Frenchman was linked to the new England job.”

The media has no idea what Wenger will do next. Well, all apart from the Mirror:

 

wenger quits sack resigns arsenal

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 29th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Failure is healthy: Arsenal’s Theo Walcott is clear and expecting

Arsenal’s Theo Walcott has grown up. “I’ve worked hard from the back end of last season and I’ve just continued to do that throughout the whole summer and that’s all I’m doing,” says the player who at just 16 was drafted into England’s World Cup squad. Injury and form mean he’s not appeared at the World Cup since. Does that make him a failure, a man frustrated by what might have been?

Walcott could be forgiven for feeling melancholy, that life, however glorious it appears to many, has been a tad disappointing. But Walcott wants to be better. He’s driven. Failure can be inspirational. Learning from failure is a quality that sets the best apart. You might not make it – there are no guarantees – but negative thinking encourages change and innovation. You learn to move on.

“Me and the manager sat down and I’ve just looked at myself,” he tells the Times. “There’s no point dwelling on the past, that’s what I’m like. I know what I can do and I don’t mind what people say because I do know that as long as I work hard, I know what I’m going to be. It’s just come down to that.

“The manager has shown tremendous faith in me and I just want to repay that. You can see that in my desire and the way that I’m playing at the moment. I want it more than anyone else, but that’s just me and the way that I work now. It’s a shame that it only hit me a few years ago because there’s been a slight change in my attitude ahead of big games.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is effusive in praise of his attacker.

“Why did I always stick with him?” he tells the Arsenal website. “Because I think he is ambitious but he is intelligent and with intelligent people there is always a chance. He has what the big players have. They have a fair assessment of their performances and their weaknesses…  I think he was clear, and in all our lives that clarity is the most important factor. He had clarity in his head. Once you have that you have a chance.”

Failure is healthy is you embrace it.

Paulo Coelho, the author of The Alchemist, puts it well:

I’m never paralyzed by my fear of failure… I say “Ok, I’m doing my best… ” And, from the moment that I can say that I’m doing my best … I sit down, I breathe, and I say “I put all of my love into it, I did it with all my heart.” … And whether they like [the book] or not is irrelevant, because I like it. I’m committed to the thing that I did. And so far nobody has criticized or refused it. When you put love and enthusiasm into your work, even if people don’t see it, they know it’s there, that you did this with all of your body and soul, so that is what I encourage you to do.

Go for it.

Posted: 28th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Manchester United balls: Zlatan’s finger food

Are footballers indulged? The Daily Mirror says Manchester United have allowed Zlatan Ibrahimovic to go on “holiday”. Six Premier League matches into the season and Zlatan is off to work on his tattoos.

Ibrahimovic has travelled to Milan. The Mirror repeats a Gazzetta story. The Italian organ says that on September 25th Zlatan ate at the city’s Finger’s Garden restaurant. The Mirror says this ‘holiday’ (aka meal) means Zlatan will miss Man United’s Europa League match against Zorya Luhansk.

Two things about this story stand out. Who calls their restaurant Fingers Garden? It sounds like a Buzzfeed-style website. A quick look around the internet reveals it to be a Japanese restaurant. Do the Japanese eat fingers? The Yakuza engage in Yubitsume – amputating bits of fingers to atone for indiscretions.

Secondly, is Zlatan really on holiday? The Sun wonders, “Why does the 34-year-old need a rest with the upcoming international break coming up?”

You can fly to Milan in a few hours from Manchester. What a man who earns over £200,000-a-week did was go out for dinner in a foreign country. It’s the kind of thing minted footballers do.

Now stop biting your nails, Zlatan, the main course is coming…

Posted: 28th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


‘Big’ Sam Allardyce was the manager English football deserved

‘Big’ Sam Allardyce left the England manager’s job in a hurry. It takes most a bit longer to realise how hopeless the team is and mutate into a root vegetable. Allardyce says he is “deeply disappointed” to have left the job after just 67 days. He had hoped to win a few matches against the might of Malta and Slovakia, qualify for a big tournament and then have his lack of tactical nouse pilloried in the Press. Instead his apparent greed has fast-tracked him to a foreign side with less scruples than England.

Allardyce “mutually agreed” with Football Association chairman Greg Clarke and chief executive Martin “I am not a football expert” Glenn it was time for him to go.

 

Sam Allardye sting

 

Allardyce has made a “wholehearted apology” for being caught in a newspaper sting mouthing off about Prince Harry’s arse, mocking Roy Hodgson’s speech impediment and discussing how to circumvent rules governing player transfers. He said it was “not a problem” to bypass rules on third-party player ownership, and claimed he knew of agents who were “doing it all the time”.

Claims against him include a £400,000 deal he allegedly agreed to represent a company to Far East investors and speak at events.

Sam Allardyce did nothing illegal. He talked about a rule he found “ridiculous” and opined how it could be got around. He was chatting over drinks with ‘businessmen’ in a hotel bar. He said he would speak to the FA before taking the speaking engagement.

The Press are loving it. And they should do. The Telegraph’s sting is a cracker. What is unclear is why they thought Allardyce was open to offers in the first place? And we’d like to see the full video and transcript, not just a few snippets.

 

sam allardyce

We can see you sneaking out

 

But what next for England?

Ray Parlour, formerly of Arsenal, says Steve Bruce should be the next England boss. Henry Winter says Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe is the best fit. Martin Samuel wants Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Neil Ashton says Princess Anne look-alike Gareth Southgate would be a sound option.

 

Sam Allardye sting

 

But why not take this as the ideal chance to give up, take a break from international football and start again in a few years, perhaps in 2066, when the marketeers who run the national game could package new England as a celebration of the World Cup centenary ? England aren’t all that good at football and a few years of quiet reflection would be therapeutic and save excited fans from watching too many players for whom money and adulation are their football goals.

Or the FA could go for Plan B: sell England as a franchise to wealthy overseas buyers, it being the Premier League way to see football less as a sport than a cash cow, flogging off clubs as vanity plates for billionaires?

The FA called Allardyce’s behaviour “inappropriate”. When you look at what football has become, you can sympathise with greedy Sam. Wasn’t he the manager English football deserved?

Posted: 28th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Reviews, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Jamie Vardy’s skittles vodka and Sam Allardyce’s pint of wine

Jamie Vardy is plugging his autobiography. The Leicester City and England striker tells a good story in From Nowhere.

I had a three-litre vodka bottle at home I would put loads of Skittles sweets in. After that, you can drink the vodka neat and it tastes just like Skittles. When I was bored at home in the evening I’d pour myself a glass, sit back and enjoy. The vodka was decent but it wasn’t doing much for my dead leg, which didn’t stop bleeding for ages.

Dave Rennie, the physio, said he couldn’t believe it wasn’t improving. He’d seen a torn calf muscle heal quicker. He pulled me aside one day when nobody else was about.

“What are you doing?” Dave asked.

“Nothing I wouldn’t normally do,” I replied. Then I explained that what I’d normally do was drink Skittle vodka.

“Well, that will be why, then,” Dave said.

In other news, during a sting which has caused England manager Sam Allardyce to be investigated by the FA, he appears to have drank a pint of wine. The Guardian notes:

One question our useful feature doesn’t answer is what exactly is the England boss drinking in the picture on the front page of the Telegraph. The beverage is in a pint glass but it’s definitely not beer and doesn’t look like lager. Football365 are suggesting it’s wine…

A pint of wine? Skittles vodka. It’s like the football revolution with it microbiotic diets and image rights never happened. Football might have been repackaged for the lentil-munching classes, telling us to sit down, shut up and pay up, but here is evidence that something of the old game lingers. And you know what – we love it, don’t we.

Posted: 27th, September 2016 | In: Books, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Transfer balls: what Manchester United understand about selling Juan Mata

Transfer Ball – Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata is “desperate” to stay at Old Trafford, says the BBC.

The Sun says the likeable 28-year-old, who has two years left on his  “£130,000-a-week contract”, wants Jose Mourinho to sanction a new deal. We know this because an unnamed “United source” says “Juan is still in the dark over his future at the club”.

Why would a source at the club speak up on behalf of one player? this story has the player’s agent’s fingers all over it.

It was only back in July, we read: “Daley Blind and Juan Mata will be high-profile victims of Jose Mourinho’s arrival at Manchester United this summer, Sky Sports News HQ understands.”

Sky Sports was wrong. It understood nothing. Blind is key part of Mourinho’s team. Mata is playing well. But it went on. Sky “understood Mourinho would approve the sale of both players this summer”.

Also in July, the Sun told its readers: “ose Mourinho tells ex-Chelsea outcast Juan Mata he can stay at Manchester United – but will only play one in three matches.”  The paper said Mata would be sold to Spain but “La Liga sides do not have the money to match his £150,000- a-week wages”.

As the Sun works out how much Mata earns and listens to understanding sources, the player took a moment to explain what’s going on to a young Untied fan. His advice: “Don’t believe the media.”

 

Posted: 27th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Greedy Sam Allardyce trapped in ‘slavery’ sting and ‘Woy’ Hodgson insult

England manager ‘Big’ Sam Allardyce wraps the Sun in a choke hold. He’s embroiled in an alleged “dodgy deal”. The FA have launched a “probe” into his affairs.

 

Allardyce sam sting money

 

Allardyce is accused of trying to cash in on his England position – one that pays a mere £3m a year plus bonuses for tournament wins (so that’s £3m a year, then). Undercover reporters from the Daily Telegraph posed as foreign businessmen keen to deliver overseas players to England. Allardyce, 61, told the stingers “how they could circumvent FA rules which prohibit third parties ‘owning’ players”.

The key point is not that Allardyce comes across as greedy and thick, but that third-party ownership of players was banned by the FA in 2008 for being akin to “slavery”.

 

Allardyce sam sting money

 

The BBC lays it on:

During the meeting with the businessmen, who were undercover reporters, it is alleged Allardyce – who was only named England boss in July – said it was “not a problem” to bypass the rules and he knew of agents who were “doing it all the time”.

It is alleged by the paper that a deal was struck with the England boss worth £400,000, which could represent a conflict of interest if he is paid by a company whose footballer clients could benefit from preferential treatment by an international manager.

The Mail says this is the end of Allardyce who should be “axed”.

But it’s the Telegraph that has the big scoop.

 

allardyce scoop sting

 

In the “England manager for sale” readers are told

Before he had even held his first training session as England’s new head coach, Allardyce negotiated a deal with men purporting to represent a Far East firm that was hoping to profit from the Premier League’s billion-pound transfer market.

He agreed to travel to Singapore and Hong Kong as an ambassador…

Unbeknown to Allardyce, the businessmen were undercover reporters and he was being filmed as part of a 10-month Telegraph investigation that separately unearthed widespread evidence of bribery and corruption in British football.

Allardyce really is in the mire.

But that bit about his calling Roy Hodgson “Woy” makes us chuckle. After all, this is what the Sun said when Hodgson got the job:

 

Rop Woy Hodgson the sun allardyce

 

What a load of Wubbish!

 

Posted: 27th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets, Key Posts, Money, Reviews, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Media balls: Spurs concede 6 goals all season, Chelsea beat Manchester United and Liverpool are pipped by Arsenal

Filling in the dull bits between transfer windows when the Daily Express’ clickbait bots can link Arsenal to every striker over 10 years of age, the ‘World’s Greatest Newspaper’ has created a Premier League predictor. Using the technical marvel of guessology and powerful maths, the Express makes some bold statements.

Bournemouth, Sunderland and Stoke are all relegated – Stoke scoring 6 times all season.

In the world of the Express, The Cherries are worse than Hull City – who are better than Southampton – and West Ham. Everton, who Bournemouth just beat 1-10, finish runners up. Chelsea finish above Manchester United.

Spurs finish third, conceding – get this – 3 goals.

Manchester City win the title.

 

daily express premier predictor league

 

Oh, yeah – Arsenal finish fourth, naturally. Even robots can be right some of the time.

 

Posted: 26th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Billionaire planning to buy Arsenal tweets: I am alive

DAngote arsenalAfrica’s richest man is Nigerian Aliko Dangote, says the Sun. He wants to use some of his £8.3billion fortune to buy Arsenal football club within four years.

Dangote, described by Newsweek as “a lifelong Arsenal fan”, tells Bloomberg: “Maybe three to four years. The issue is that we have more challenging headwinds. I need to get those out the way first and start having tailwinds. Then I’ll focus on this.”

As Arsenal fans lick a collective finger and hold it in the air, Dangote adds: “It’s not about buying Arsenal and just continuing with business as usual. It’s about buying Arsenal and turning it around. I’ve run a very successful business and I think I can also run a very successful team. Right now, with what we’re facing, over $20 billion of projects, I cannot do both.”

Turning it around? According to Forbes, Arsenal are doing ok:

Here are the top 10 with profits (using June, 2015 exchange rates):

1. Manchester United: $190 million

2. Real Madrid: $162 million

3. Manchester City: $131 million

4. Arsenal: $122 million

5. Liverpool: $115 million

Looking around for more news on Dangote, the top story right now is: “Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote is not dead.”

Is he resting? No. He’s tweeting: “I am hale, hearty and alive. Please disregard malicious report saying otherwise. Thank you.”

Arsenal fans – what can go wrong?

 

Posted: 26th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Reviews, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Fat, thick and ugly: the Sun wil miss Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney

What next for Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney? The Sun has often seen the footballer as figure of fun, an Aunt Sally to knock and deride. Below are a few ways the Sun has dressed up and insulted the cut-put-and-keep Rooney doll:

 

wayne-rooney-fat

Fat-rooney

 

rooney

 

Fat. Thick. Ugly. All charming stuff.

Dropped to the bench for Manchester United’s victory over Leicester City yesterday, the Sun says Rooney will have fight to win his place in the starting XI. Jose Mourinho pointed to Rooney’s lack of pace as reason for his relegation: “When our main striker is Zlatan, we need fast people around him. Against Leicester that was the best solution for us.”

Later that night, Rooney went to see boxer Anthony Crolla in world title defence against Jorge Linares. Crolla lost. But the Sun wasn’t watching the fight. It was watching Rooney watching the fight. He was, says the paper, “stern faced.” But the picture shows that he wasn’t.

 

Rooney dumb

 

Indeed, the Sun tells readers that “stern-faced” Rooney and his wife “were later joined by United team-mate Michael Carrick, with the two footballers sharing a laugh and a joke.”

You wonder what the Sun will do when Rooney becomes marooned on a golf course or an ITV studio panel and is no longer a player. The Sun will miss Wayne Rooney when he’s gone. The next England captain will have to up his game.

 

Posted: 25th, September 2016 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Media balls: Ozil flukes Arsenal’s third, Chelsea have no shots all game and Coquelin hurts his what?

Media Balls: a look at bad and monocular football reporting. Today we look at Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Chelsea in the Premier League.

Mesut Ozil scored Arsenal’s third goal. Was it lucky?

The Guardian says it was a fluke: “Ozil watched it carefully onto his left foot, mishit his sidefoot volley completely – and saw it bounce over Courtois and in off the far post.”

The official Arsenal website has an alternative version of events. That shot was deliberate: “The World Cup winner ran on to the ball and met it on the volley, smashing it into the ground, beyond Courtois and in off the far post.”

The BBC agrees, saying, “Mesut Ozil then left N’Golo Kante trailing to expose Chelsea on the counter-attack and steer home Arsenal’s third“.

Was it smashed in? No, says the Times: “Ozil obliged, his goal creeping in off Courtois’ left-hand upright.”

 

cheslea media balls

 

 

Were Chelsea any good?

The Sun says: “Chelsea improved in the second half but rarely threatened a comeback – and couldn’t even muster a shot on target.”

Maybe the Sun’s man in the know went home early. The BBC says, “Chelsea’s first shot on target came in the 82nd minute.”

That’s right. Chelsea had two shots on target.

Ouch! Where does it hurt, Francis?

The Indy: “Coquelin put in another 100 per cent effort to block N’Golo Kante’s effort shortly after the half hour mark, and an ankle injury sustained in the clash forced him off two minutes later.”

The Standard looks at Coquelin’s injury: “Arsene Wenger admits he is ‘worried’ by Arsenal midfielder’s knee injury.”

The Star says Coquelin and Kante “had a nasty collision of knees“.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 24th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Manchester United balls: Jose Mourinho’s deconstructive criticism

Compare and contrast Jose Mourinho’s views on criticism. The Manchester United manager says critics have hurt Wayne Rooney. Mourinho says Rooney has been damaged by reactions to England’s 1-0 victory in Slovakia on September 4.

“I think there was a Wayne before the Slovakia, and a Wayne after the Slovakia,” says Mourinho. “I am not blaming Sam [Allardyce, the England manager], not at all. I am blaming the people that after the Slovakia game were, in my opinion, too strong with somebody that is a very important player in the history of English football, is the captain of England, has the record number of goals and almost has the record of matches.”

Criticism can hurt a player. So says Mourinho, the United manager who has this season publicly criticised Luke Shaw, Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Of that he has a different view.

“It’s a learning process,” Mourinho says. “You make a mistake, especially the kind of individual mistake, you have to learn with what that means for the team, a team that works during the week on a gameplan. The critique is part of the evolution, the critique is part of the process, the critique helps people to learn how to cope with critics. It’s their life.”

And so today’s United match: Mourinho has dropped Rooney. And it’s your fault.

Posted: 24th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Manchester United drop ‘rubbish’ Rooney

How rubbish is Manchester and England captain Wayne Rooney? Rooney has heard the barbs. The 30-year-old player (where does he play?) is on the front foot. “I listen to my coaches and my teammates, the people around me, and I don’t really listen to what a lot of people out there are saying because a lot of it is rubbish.”

He’s bullish. But the Mirror hears those words and says he’s “broken” by his critics:

 

Mirror manchester united

 

In the Times, Tony Cascarino says Wayne Rooney “may want to be dropped… It would be a relief for him to be taken out of the firing line.”

Balls. Rooney’s the captain. He;s been a battler his entire career. If Rooney’s not up for it then he should quit the game not breathe a sigh of relief at not having to face Leicester.

So what next? Rooney said of Jose Mourinho’s view of him: “I feel I can play in all positions but I think the manager has made it clear either I’ll play up front or in the No. 10 role and that’s where he sees me playing.”

But not now.

In today’s Daily Mirror we also read that Mourinho says he is “prepared to drop captain Wayne Rooney to the substitutes bench”.

Prepared to. And done. Today’s Manchester United v Leicester City match features Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard either side of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with Juan Mata in the number 10 role.

Is Rooney on the slide? Yes. Is he better than Rashford and Lingard? Yes. He’ll be back.

Posted: 24th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Arsenal’s Wenger puts Mourinho in his place

Having piggybacked on Arsene Wenger’s 20th anniversary as Arsenal manager to promote a new book on Jose Mourinho by Rob Beasley, the Daily Mail has triggered a news flurry.

You can read how, while working at Chelsea, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho threatened Wenger – a pensioner! – and told Beasley that he would break Wenger’s face. Now the BBC reports: “Arsene Wenger: Arsenal boss ‘will not read’ book about Jose Mourinho.”

What did Wenger say? Sky Sports reports he said nothing: “Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger refuses to comment on Jose Mourinho book claims.”

Nonsense. No comment is always a comment. Wenger responded. “I talk about football – that’s all I do,” he said. “I’m not in a destructive mode, never. I’m more constructive. I am focused on Saturday’s game against Chelsea.”

The Guardian is more circumspect, telling its readers that “Arsène Wenger refuses to enter into war of words with José Mourinho”. And that’s about right. But will Mourinho like being dismissed by the man the Mail says he ‘hates’?  Will his “bitterness (Times) be abated by Wenger saying Mourinho is unworthy of attention? The Times says Wenger “shrugged” off the nastiness.

“For me it was always just a big game and the personal rivalry was never a big concern,” the Arsenal manger told the Press. “I have no personal problem with anyone, I respect everyone in the game.”

No word from Mourinho yet, but the dark part of the street by Wenger’s home has bad phone reception.

PS: For those who missed it, Mourinho apparently said of Wenger: “I will find him one day outside a football pitch and I will break his face.” The spoils go to the agonist who keeps his cool. Wenger wins.

 

Posted: 23rd, September 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Jose Mourinho invited Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger to fight him in the street and ‘break his face’

Manchester United’s unlikeable manager Jose Mourinho says he would “break” Arsene Wenger’s face. So claims the Daily Mail, which says the Portuguese was so angered with the Arsenal manager he vowed to “break his face”.

 

Mourinho wenger

 

 

The Daily Mail has an extract from JOSE MOURINHO: UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL by Robert Beasley. The story goes:

When you publicly denounce someone as a ‘specialist in failure’ and a ‘voyeur’, it is abundantly clear you don’t like them much.

What must Jose Mourinho’s views on Arsene Wenger be like away from the cameras and microphones? Unsurprisingly, they’re even more damning and the gloves have been well and truly off whenever the matter of Monsieur Wenger has been raised.  A couple of times Jose even talked about wanting to physically fight the Frenchman. That’s how bitter and basic their rivalry has become over the years.

Jose Mourinho in a physical fight? Would the opponent be allowed to see him coming?

 

 

The book continues, focusing on the managers’ tiff when the sides met on October 5, 2014.

I asked Jose what had happened and he revealed: ‘He was asking for a red card and pressing the ref in my technical area. I told him to go back to his area. He pushed me.
‘I told him, “Here you do that, you know I can’t react, but I will meet you one day in the street”.’

Just you watch it, Arsene, next time he’ll get you. If Jose ever sees you wandering about his Belgravia manor, it’ll be the worst for you.

You can call Jose sexist but he’s not ageist. He will break a pensioner’s face.

Keep up the charm offensive, Jose.

 

Posted: 23rd, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Transfer balls: Manchester Untied swoop for another reject

Transfer balls: Manchester United are waiting to spend £30m on Leicester City’s Danny Drinkwater in January, reports the Sun.

Manchester-born Drinkwater could be making a return to the club that sold him for a nominal fee in 2012, following loan spells with Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Watford and Barnsley.

The Guardian says after Manchester United bought back Paul Pogba, the club will “continue their policy of spending vast amounts of money on players they previously had on their books” with a winter window move for Drinkwater, who only recently signed a new five-year deal at Leicester.

“I’m very surprised because it often happens a month before the open of the market, not now,” said Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri. “He signed a new contract and everything is normal. “But it’s good for him, for us, when I have players who a lot of big teams want. It means we’re working very well. Sometimes I think, maybe the newspapers don’t have enough news and they write some. It’s okay. One year ago, nobody was asking about our players.”

In other United news, the BBC says The Red Devils will compete with AC Milan for Real Madrid midfielder Isco, 24.

 

Posted: 23rd, September 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Jose Mourinho opens Manchester United’s school of science

Jose Mourinho says the world is full of football Einsteins. No, not Socrates. Einsteins. Following Manchester United’s defeat of Northampton in the League Cup, Mourinho shared with MUTV his thoughts on the brains trust who analyse his skills:

“I know that some football Einsteins – football is full of Einsteins – I know that they tried to delete 16 years of my career. They tried to delete an unbelievable history of Man United football club and to focus on a bad week with three bad results. But that’s the new football – it’s full of Einsteins.”

The obvious thought is that Mourinho is being sarcastic in calling pundits who say his United are not all that good Einsteins. But he might also be spot on, given that Albert Einstein knew nothing of Wayne Rooney. That might be, you say, because Rooney was alive after Einstein was dead, but in the space-time continuum where E=mc2, can we be certain of that, or if Rooney is worth his place anywhere in the United starting XI, relatively speaking? And that’s the Rooney who was educated at Everton, The School of Science.

 

science everton

 

Mourinho loves to snipe and attack anyone who dares who disagree with him. Last season at Chelsea he told the Press: “In football I’m ready to be criticised, even the stupid ones (sic). Private life, stupid things you bring to light, I don’t like it. So we go to a different level of professional relations.”

He has already spent a portion of this season moaning about referees, criticising his players in public and being every bit as joyless and pouty as he was during his final months at Chelsea.

Mourinho should belt up, stop blaming everyone else and realise that the buck stops with him.

Posted: 22nd, September 2016 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


When Arsenal picked Arsene Wenger the British Press mocked them

Arsène Wenger has been manger of Arsenal for 20 years. The 66-year-old manager joined the club on this day 1996.

The Sunday Mirror took the rise out of this new foreign manager, rolling it eyes and wishing the club the best of luck “persuading us that the lanky M’sieur Wenger, despite sounding like Rory Bremner auditioning for ‘Allo ‘Allo, is ‘ow you say fantastique!”. That the British media had not heard of Wenger was a sign of their parochialism. “Arsene who?” quipped the Standard, a new take on “Dr Who?”, the question asked by the Press when Aston Villa hired Dr Josef Venglos in 1990.

George Weah had explained who Wenger was one year earlier at the Fifa World Footballer of the Year award, stating: “Arsène Wenger made me not just the player I am today, but also the man I am.”

WEnger was far from unfazed. “I felt quite a lot of scepticism,” he said. “That’s normal, especially on an island. This phenomenon is more emphasised on an island because people have historically lived more isolated. They are more cautious about foreign influences.”

In Wenger’s first full season, Arsenal on The Double.

And then? Well, his Arsenal side has never finished outside the top 4. But after a decade of success, recent years have hardly been filled with glory:

 

WEnger top 4 arsenal

 

And now? Well, Arsenal fans will miss him when he’s gone.

Posted: 22nd, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Paul Gascoigne becomes an anti-free speech role model

Paul Gascoigne is not in the best of health. This we know because the tabloids love to feature Gazza in various stages of trouble. He’s back in the news for the criminal offence of telling a joke. At Dudley Magistrates Court, the former England footballer’s joke was appraised. It was found wanting. Gascoigne was deemed guilty of using ‘”threatening or abusive words”. Those words also cost him a £2,000 fine.

By now you all want to know what Gascoigne said. What does a £2000 joke look like? At An Evening With Gazza at Wolverhampton Civic Hall last year, the show’s eponymous star told a black security guard, Errol Rowe: “Can you smile please, because I can’t see you?”

Anyone heading to an evening with Gascoigne, a man who seemed to run on nervous energy, is unlikely to attend expecting a night of coherent thought and incisive wit. Nonetheless, District Judge Graham Wilkinson was outraged, telling Gazza, “it is not acceptable to laugh words like this off as some form of joke… We live in the 21st century — grow up with it or keep your mouth closed.”

The 21st Century looks a a draconian place. Gascoigne’s joke was sad, weak and, worst of all, unfunny. And that’s crucial to the crime. The advice is that if you’re unsure of what is and what is not acceptable to the state, you should not speak. You should censor yourself lest you cause the State to be offended.

And take care not to be famous and unfunny. Wilkinson told Gascoigne that his punishment is a warning to us all. “A message needs to be sent that in the 21st century,” said the Beak, “such words will not be tolerated.”

Intolerance will not be tolerated. How’s that for freedom?

PS: If you want to look for racism. you can find in a pathetic joke, if you want. But what about in the judiciary?  Wilkinson told Gazza: “”It is the creeping ‘low-level’ racism that society still needs to challenge.” And what about the institutional racism?

Dame Linda Dobbs opines:

Posted: 22nd, September 2016 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, Reviews, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Liverpool balls: ‘pyschotic coward’ Joey Barton, Xabi Alsono and the red mist

Liverpool fans will be gutted. They could have had Joey Barton and not Xabi Alonso in the side. Alsono is a terrific player. Barton has long been underrated as a result of a querulous attitude and pugnacious demeanour. This week he has been banned by his current club Glasgow Rangers following a training ground altercation with Andy Halliday, his team-mate.

He is also plugging his new autobiography. In it he notes, “My behaviour was occasionally psychotic.” And ridiculous.

Talking about his red card in Newcastle United’s 3-0 defeat to Liverpool in 2009, Barton writes in his new book:

“Had things panned out differently, I could have made the obsessive debate about the mutual suitability of the Gerrard-Lampard axis redundant. From what I gathered, Steven Gerrard agitated to get Liverpool to sign me in 2004, because he felt we had the potential to forge a partnership.

“I met with Gerard Houllier at Melwood, and agreed everything verbally. A deal was close to being concluded but then he was sacked that summer. It was never revived.”

Fast forward to the match. Liverpool have Xabi Alonso in midfield:

“Xabi and I had history. He blamed me for knocking him out in what he thought was a deliberate clash of heads in one of our earliest contests, and I blamed him for stealing my move to Liverpool.”

Which he didn’t.

“All that remained to be agreed with [Manchester] City was the fee, when Rafa Benitez took over from Gerard Houllier. I was in Dubai when I was informed that he had instead decided to sign a kid from Real Sociedad who had just broken into the Spanish national team.”

A kid? Alonso was 22.

“…(In 2009) Thirteen minutes remained. Liverpool were two up, cruising and playing keep ball. The Kop conducted an incessant, infuriating chant of ‘Ole, ole, ole!’ Xabi retained the ball near the corner flag fractionally longer than was prudent. That gave me the opportunity to fly in, and disguise my malicious intent as best as I could. Alonso milked the moment with a barrel roll. I expected a yellow and was shown a red.”

You can read more of this sort of thing in Barton’s book, No Nonsense, including how in the aftermath of this foul, Alan Shearer, Newcastle’s interim manager, called Barton a “f***ing coward” and when Iain Dowie, Shearer’s assistant, stepped in to prevent things from getting out of hand, Barton quipped: “You keep it shut, boxing-glove head.”

You might not like Barton, but he is entertaining.

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


Arsenal: Barcelona rewrite Bellerin’s history as they move to tap him up

Following on from yesterday’s news that Manchester City are looking to sign Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, the Sun says The Citizens are ready to shake the massive wad of cash at Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin.

And that is not all.

Bellerin joined the Gunners from Barcelona in 2011. And Barcelona fixer Jordi Mastre wants him back. He tells SPORT:

“We’ve already seen him as a Cule! He’s a great player, there’s no doubt about that. Wenger convinced him to move [in 2011] and promised him something which we couldn’t. We could not promise him that within two years he would be playing in Dani Alves’ place.”

Er, Alves (now with Juventus) played in defence for Barcelona. When at the club, Bellerin was a winger. “When I was at Barcelona I always used to play on the right wing,” he said.

Bellerin told the Standard: “When I first came to Arsenal, I didn’t know how to defend. If there was a person who I had to identify as helping me a lot, that would have to be Steve Bould.  I was a winger but from the under-18s up, I remember him just showing me the basics. Even then, I remember him sometimes holding his head like, ‘What is Hector doing?’ He’s been one of the key people in my career. He’s one of the reasons I’m here now.”

Barcelona could not promise Bellerin he would be the new Dani Alves because they thought he wasn’t good enough to play in their attack.

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 21st, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comments (2) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Manchester City War: Guardiola sees off Yaya Toure’s limp attack

Manchester City are at WAR. Have the club’s owners co-opted players into Middle East conflict? Is Pep Guardiola’s mastery of formations and attacks be be employed in Abu Dhabi’s invasion of Saudi Arabia? Don’t be so stupid. It’s bigger than that. It’s football.

The newspapers lead with this war, headlines rooted in Yaya Toure’s apparent declaration: “If Pep wants a war he can have one.”

awr yayaya

 

Toure is upset at being left out of Manchester City first teams – a move not exactly damaging to the club who are playing great football and currently boast a 100% record in all competitions.

 

war yaya

 

It turns out that Toure has said nothing in public. Dimitri Seluk, his agent, is talking. Speaking to the Daily Mirror, the agent said:

“If Pep Guardiola wants a war, then he can have one. Pep didn’t like my opinion? But what does he expect me to say when he does this to Yaya? I spoke out because I felt that Pep was being vindictive to Yaya. Unfortunately for Pep, we live in a world where you have the right to free speech. He has reacted to what I have said about him by punishing Yaya again. But I’m not surprised.”

What Pep said was:

“He must apologise to his team-mates, to the club. If he doesn’t, he won’t play. It was difficult to leave him out of the Champions League squad but [the] day after, his [agent] went to the media. He has not had the courage to call me. From that moment he was out. I know him, I know he’s a good guy, but it was difficult for me as well to put Aleix García out.

“I cannot imagine in my period when I was a football player, my manager going to the media and speaking against Johan Cruyff, about this and about that. If he has a problem call the club, and they can talk. Until he speaks, Yaya is not going to play.”

The issue is with the agent, who antagonised Pep by wondering aloud if Guardiola, who omitted Toure from City’s Champions’ League squad, had “the balls to say that he was wrong to humiliate a great player like Yaya” should City fail to win the Champions League.

 

war

 

So. It is war. And the problem is that Pep has the throne, the high ground, the money and the owners’ and fans’ support. Yaya has his agent, a hole and a big spade. He also has £220,000 per week in wages for not playing. How’s that humiliating?

At 33, and in the final year of his City contract, Yaya needs to play and his agent needs him to shine, as he can when in his pomp. How this spat helps anyone is moot.

 

 

Posted: 21st, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0