Anorak

Sports | Anorak - Part 3

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.

World Cup: Gareth Southgate meets with triumph and disaster

You might have heard that England won a penalty shoot-out – their first at the World Cup – and saw off a feisty, underhand Colombia team. England manager Gareth Southgate had been there before, as a player, of course. At Euro 96 in front of a partisan and packed Wembley, Southgate took a penalty against the Germans. It was the semi-final. And he missed. His penalty CV was short: one missed effort for Crystal Palace three seasons previously. When Terry Venables, the England manager, asked him to take one, it hit him like “a bolt from the blue”.

“It will never be off my back, sadly,” says Southgate. “That’s something that will live with me for ever but today is a special moment for this team. It’ll hopefully give belief to the generations of players that will follow. We always have to believe in what is possible in life and not be hindered by history or expectations. I think these young players are showing that. They’re enjoying the tournament, and we’re looking forward now to the quarter-finals.”

Sometimes the nice bloke wins:

 

 

Can England win the World Cup? Yes.

This was England’s second win on penalties at a major tournament in eight attempts, the only previous success being against Spain at Euro 96. Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle missed penalties at the semi-final of Italia 90 (Germany again won); Paul Ince and David Batty missed at France 98; David Beckham and Darius Vassell missed at Euro 2004; Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher missed at the 2006 World Cup; Ashley Young and Ashley Cole missed ay Euro 2012. Souhgate has watched them all. “There was a different movement about his [Cole’s] hips if you watch his last stride — he almost fell away,” says Southgate.

Are the players better prepared now for the walk “into the darkness”? “Absolutely, no question. I’ve had a couple of decades thinking it through. In defence of the staff there at the time, penalty shoot-outs weren’t as regular then,” he says. “The depth of knowledge and understanding, we didn’t have as much information as we do now. FA Cup ties went to two, three replays so we weren’t in those situations as often as we are now.

“Definitely it’s not about luck. It’s not about chance. It’s about performing a skill under pressure. There are individual things you can work on within that. We have studied it. There is lots we can do to own the process and not be controlled by it.”

A win and confidence becomes contagious.

 

Posted: 4th, July 2018 | In: Key Posts, Sports | Comment


World Cup: Liverpool congratulate Mingolet on a clean sheet for Belgium against Japan

Simon Mignolet was congratulated by his employer’s at Liverpool for Belgium’s victory over Japan in the World Cup. Well done “Simon Mingolet’s Belgium” for keeping a clean sheet:

 

mingolet liverpool world cup

 

The pesky fact is that Mingolet was more fan than player in the match, appearing for not a single second of action.  He didn’t even play when Belgium dropped nine first team players for their match with England, the Belgians preferring to stick with Thibaut Courtois.

Courtois is not as good as Mingolet, of course, because whereas the Liverpool man kept a clean sheet and has yet to be beaten in the World Cup, Courtois – the useless lunk – has let in a hatful. Why Real Madrid are said to be after Courtois and not the brilliant Mingolet is beyond reason…

In other news: Loris Karius is the Liveepool Number 1.

 

 

Posted: 3rd, July 2018 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Ronaldo to Juventus but Manchester United lead

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

 

ronaldo juventus

 

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

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

Over in Italy, the headline is:

 

ronaldo italy

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


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

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

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

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

 

fakir transfer

 

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

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

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

It’s all a trick?

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

 

 

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

 

 

fekir liverpool

 

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

 

fekir liverpool

 

 

Such are the facts.

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


Liverpool stick with Karius as concussion vanishes

Hard cheese on any Liverpool fans hoping for an upgrade on goalkeeper Loris Karius, whose errors cost the reds so dear in the Champions’ League final. The Sun says Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has given up on signing Roma’s Alisson Becker and wants Karius to remain as his number one. Karius “made two horrendous mistakes” as Liverpool lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League final, says the Sun.  It was “his calamitous Champions League final where he gifted Real Madrid two goals”. At no point does the Sun mention the claim that Karius was suffering from concussion.

Is that an oversight? The Mirror adds: “Karius’s errors in the Champions League final had appeared to highlight the Reds’ need for a new man between the sticks.” Again no word on any concussion. Why is it that something so serious as concussion is now dismissed?

 

karius concussion the sun liverpool

 

The Sun once thought it serious enough to explain Karius’ injury in full and advise its readers to go to hospital if the’ve suffered a bang to the head. “The effects usually only lasts up to a few days or weeks,” said the paper, “although in severe cases sufferers will need emergency treatment and can be left with longer-lasting symptoms.

It’s all balls, anyhow. Because Sky Sports notes: “Liverpool’s may see long-term target Alisson pinched from under their noses, with Chelsea planning a £65m offer for the Roma goalkeeper.” Can you pinch something the victim never owned and doesn’t want, according to the Sun and Mirror?

Posted: 1st, July 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal Transfer balls: Wilshere out to Turkey, Sokratis, Torrerira and Golovin in

Departing Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, 26, is off to Turkish club Fenerbahce. There’s been much chatter about Wilshere wanting to stay close to London. And, in truth, you can reach Istanbul from London in just under four hours flying time. If he makes the move, Wilshere will follow in the footsteps of other British footballers to have played for Fenerbahce, like Horace Armitage and Dalian Atkinson. 

As Wilshere leaves for the mayhem of Turkish league football, and the shops – does anyone think he won’t be injured? –  Arsenal will parade Borussia Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 30, in a XXL shirt and then buy a much smaller shirt to fit Sampdoria and Uruguay midfielder Lucas Torreira, 22.

Not that anything is done until the money is in the bank. “I have spoken to the boss and he says he will speak to me – I’m sure it will get done,” said Wilshere about a new Arsenal deal last season. The Gunners offered him one, which Wilshere rejected. But not regrets, Jack. Right?

Arsenal are also looking to sign Aleksandr Golovin of CSKA Moscow and Russia, but Chelsea are after him, too. the Gunners also fancy Real Madrid midfielder Lucas Vázquez.

 

Posted: 29th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Chelsea and Belgium’s Michy Batshuayi celebrates by kicking ball into his own face

Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi celebrated Adnan Januzaj’s winning strike for Belgium in their 1-0 win over a palsied England by slamming the ball against the post. The post responded by firing the ball at Batshuayi’s face.

 

 

In other news: England are still England.

PS: Adnan Januzaj used to be English:

Posted: 28th, June 2018 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


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

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

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

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

Mentions of Manchester United: nil.

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

More Bale to United to follow…

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


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

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

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

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

 

asensio transfer

 

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

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

 

 

asensio transfer

 

asensio arsenal

 

asensio transfer

Asensio agrees’ — nothing

 

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

asensio transfer

 

Such are the facts.

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


Are Arsenal launching a top-shelf adult magazine?

The latest edition of the official Arsenal magazine is very much a top-shelf affair. Unless it’s all a terrible misunderstanding? Spurs fan Iain Aitch thinks it might be, tweeting: “Good to see Arsenal have abandoned sub-editing and proofing.”

 

Arsenal magazine fail
 

As the Arsenal magazine sells well in certain niche ‘communities’, we recall the 2011 Scunthorpe FC calendar (yours for just £12.99). It included an unusual entry for September. The slogan ‘Scunthorpe United No1 Fan’ had been cropped – the ‘S’ was missing. Fan Jamie Muir told us his mum had bought him the ‘cunthorpe’ calendar “I had to rub my eyes. I thought I was seeing things. Initially, I thought the publishers had made a mistake with mine. But then I got a letter and a sticker. They asked us to put it over the mistake, but I reckon I’ll keep it as it is.”

* No-one from Peru’s Deportivo Wanka was available for interview.

Posted: 27th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Gareth Southgate is a living god

Gareth Southgate is a living god. The England manager is rightly venerated. There will be statues and churches. And then they will be smashed. He will be ordered to get three hence. We will see him again on a World Cup magazine show, in which he will provide a great anecdote about how waistcoats gave him purpose. The Times sums up:

 

gareth southgate god gareth southgate god

 

Elsewhere in the Times, Southgate is called “awkward and ordinary”, “the most timid of Englishmen”, “an International Man of Non-Mystery” and and his side a “secret order of style-conscious executive pillocks with flat caps and art chat”.

Amen.

Posted: 26th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


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

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

 

reus agrees arsenal

 

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

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

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

ronaldo manchester united the sun newspapers

 

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

a) His heart is in Manchester

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

c) He misses the weather back ‘home’

bale manchester united

 

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

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

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


Transfer balls: Gareth Bale’s agent over the moon to join Arsenal

Is former Spurs forward Gareth Bale heading to Arsenal? Is Bale going to swap glory in Real Madrid for the Europa League with the Gunners? When Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett was invited to respond to the notion of his client joining Arsenal, he replied: “I’d love him to play there but it’s got as much chance as me going to the moon.”

Slap it through the mincer and it’s a sensation:

gareth bale arsenal

 

“Arsenal transfer news: Shock Bale claim, third Emery signing today, Argentina star wanted” – Daily Star

“Is Gareth Bale moving to Unai Emery’s Arsenal? –  former Tottenham star turning out for north London rivals Arsenal are very slim” – Evening Standard

“Bale’s agent provides update on Real Madrid future – and possible Arsenal move” – Daily Mirror

Gareth Bale’s agent has admitted the Welshman will look to leave Real Madrid if the club cannot offer him assurances over regular game time.

But the chances of the former Tottenham star turning out for north London rivals Arsenal are very slim.

“Bale’s agent discusses chances of Arsenal move” – Standard

Chance of the agent heading to the moon: “very slim.” But there is a chance he will.

Posted: 21st, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Spurs striker Kane in heartbreaker horror

harry kane daily mail

 

The Daily Mail is not alone is praising Harry Kane, the Spurs and England footballer. His bare chest fills the Sun’s back page. “Everybody loves Harry,” says the Mirror on its. But only in the Mail is there a focus on Kane’s looks. Over pages 10 and 11, David Jones and Sarah Rainey gells readers that Kane is -“Shock horror!” – a footballer “England can be proud of”.  His list of accomplishments are headlined:

  • no tattoos
  • polite
  • patriotic
  • engaged to his child his sweetheart

And handsome. “What a heartbreaker cooed one devoted fan on twitter.”

 

harry kane daily mail

 

They did? Sort of. A search on twitter delivers this:

 

 

 

No-one called Kane a heartbreaker on twitter.

Posted: 20th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Arsenal balls: Jack Wilshere leaves the Gunners

Jack Wilshere is leaving Arsenal.

 

Says Wilshere on Instagram:

 

jack wilshere arsenal

 

Will Arsenal fans miss him? Not much. Not if a player arrives who can do more than run from the centre circle to the edge of the opposition box before being fouled.

Wilshere’s terrific technique enabled him to shows the ball to opponents and pull it away. But then he slowed and the opponent too often nicked the ball and clattered him. Injury robbed Wilshere of many games; and under Wenger he never improved.  He was good enough to make the England World Cup squad. It’d have been a punt to take him to Russia, of course. Wilshere’s fitness makes picking him a risk. But what other English player can make the team tick to a rhythm?

One thing is for sure: the Press didn’t have a clue the talented Englishman was leaving the club where he’s been since age 9:

 

wilshere arteta

The Sun says

 

See yer, Jack. Best of luck.

Posted: 19th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Lehmann leaves and forgets Ljungberg

Arsenal’s new broom Unai Emery has retained Steve Bould as assistant head coach (a job he will share with Juan Carlos Carcedo), but booted out Jens Lehmann as goalkeeping coach, The German, a former Gooner (2003-2008), lasted just one year in the role. He took the news well. “Dear Arsenal fans…

 

lehmann-arsenal-coach

 

Poor Jens is victim of ageism?

In other news: 2004 veteran Freddie Ljungberg (1998 -2007) is the news head coach of the Arsenal Under-23 side.

Also departing: First team coaches Neil Banfield, Tony Colbert, Gerry Peyton and Boro Primorac; Head of Medical Services, Colin Lewin; Physiotherapists Andy Rolls and Ben Ashworth; Osteopath Dr Philippe Boixel and Travel Manager Paul Johnson. When Wenger left, lots of other people’s jobs were affected. That’s a tough call.

Posted: 19th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Arsenal sign Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno

Arsenal have agreed to spend 22m euros (£19.3m) on Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno. The 26-year-old German’s arrival will hasten the departure of Petr Cech and / or David Ospina.

Arsenal are also hoping to parade 22-year-old Sampdoria midfielder Lucas Torreira before his next match for Uruguay at the World Cup. The midfielder has been offered a 5-year-contract.

Exciting times at the Emirates.

Posted: 19th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Clickbait balls: Hazard keeps agreeing to leave Chelsea for Real Madrid

On a break from advertising biscuits, Chelsea and Belgium footballer Eden Hazard is doing his best to alienate the club’s fans. Well, he is if the BBC and Sun’s back-page headline is to be believed. “Belgium forward Eden Hazard, 27, has warned his club side Chelsea that ‘Real Madrid could interest me’,” says the BBC. The Sun leads: “EDEN WARNING – Eden Hazard has warned the club he will quit unless they sort things out in the summer.” Warning your employer to work hard to please you is an iffy move. But is that what Hazard really said in an interview with L’Equipe before he flew to Moscow for the World Cup?

What can we believe? Reporting on Hazard is so much more clickbait than fact.

 

hazard chelsea the sun real madrid

 

On January 11, the Sun reported: “EDEN HAZARD has NOT agreed to join Real Madrid in the summer, despite reports.”

Reports like… this one in the Sun from July 2o17. The word ‘agrees’ is in inverted commas but fro SEO purposes hazard to Real Madrid is a statement of fact.

 

hazard chelsea the sun real madrid

 

Not that the Sun is alone in milking the ‘Hazard has gone nowhere for years’ story. In January the Independent said Hazard was staying at Chelsea. Fact.

 

hazard chelsea the sun real madrid

 

The Express told its readers: “…the Belgium international has now quashed rumours that he will leave the Blues by confirming he intends to sign a new deal…However, he has claimed he will not do so until his fellow countryman Thibaut Courtois has also extended his stay at Stamford Bridge.”

Really? No. He said nothing of the sort.

So much for the trusty Express, then, which performed the same trick as the Sun in gearing news for the robots. Like the Sun, the Express said Hazard ‘agrees’ to join Real Madrid. But because Google’s bots don’t read those conniving inverted commas, Hazard to Real is a statement of fact:

 

express hazard transfer

 

So will Hazard remain at Chelsea or leave for Real Madrid? This is what he said when pressed on his future as quoted in the Sun:

“I will stay at Chelsea if the team is better than it was last season. I don’t want to stay if we are less good,” says Hazard, who might reflect on is role in the team and how you can know next season is better before its been played? “It would be too easy for me to say that I want to leave because I have done it all. I have won everything bar the Champions League in London. I am where I am in my career thanks to Chelsea. Above all I would love to know what will happen at the club next season. I will wait and see whether the manager stays or goes. As everybody knows, Real Madrid could interest me. But if tomorrow they don’t want me, I won’t talk about them any more. If they want to buy me they know what they have to do.”

And this is what he said in May, as quoted by the Guardian:

The 27-year-old knows his next contract could well be the last in his prime. “That’s why I’m taking my time,” he said. “It’s something big, so I need to think about a lot of things. But one thing is for sure: I’m happy here.”

Asked to elaborate on the factors that would influence his decision, he added: “I’m waiting for new players next season. I want good players, because I want to win the Premier League next season.

“Like I’ve said many times before, I think the FA Cup final is not my last game for Chelsea. It’s the last game of the season, that’s it. After the World Cup then we will be ready for the next season. But, for me in my mind, I’m here. I have one week to play now. Saturday is a massive game, I just want to win, for me and them also.”

He’s not warning Chelsea over anything, is he? Hazard’s Chelsea contract runs til 2020. He’s not going anywhere unless Real Madrid or any other club pay a huge transfer fee.

NOTE: Maybe he just wants more money? Chelsea are to offer him £300,000 a week says the Sun:

 

hazard chelsea

 

Although according to the Sun they made the offer last year:

 

hazard chelsea wages

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 19th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Key Posts, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal will miss Jack Wilshere if the go-to Gooner leaves for Crystal Palace or West Ham

More Jack Wilshere news now. The Arsenal midfielder is wanted by Crystal Palace. Wilshere might take the offer. He wants to remain in London, and confronted with the choice of playing for vibrant Palace or desperate West Ham the choice should be simple.

Palace wanted to take Wilshere on a season-long loan in 2016. He opted for Bournemouth. Should he move to Palace, Wilshere will once more hook up with former England manager Roy Hodgson, who picked him to play in the Euro 2016 championships. Hodgson reasoned that a not fully fit Wilshere was still better than anyone else. England were dire. Wilshere’s performances were in keeping with the trend.

But he might stay at Arsenal. He’s been offered £110,000-a-week – plus a £65,000 win bonus at Arsenal. He won’t start many matches, but the money’s not too shabby for player so often out through injury; and surely playing for Unai Emery offers a restart of sorts. Wilshere’s career has been stalled by injury and a sense that he has long considered himself to be the finished article. He can move to West Ham and keep chugging along; head to Palace and be the fulcrum in Hodgson’s exciting team, but not learn much; or adapt to new regime and new team-mates Arsenal.

One thing: behind the scenes at Arsenal, Wilshere is the go-to Gooner. Henry Winter has a word:

It never gets publicised but frequently after home matches Wilshere goes straight from the dressing room to a private meeting with young Arsenal fans suffering from sickness, some with cancer, others wheelchair-bound.

Wilshere talks away, giving them shirts or other match-day mementos, and patiently satisfies all the selfie and autograph requests. Away from the ground, he is an assiduous backer of the life-changing Arsenal In The Community, assisting initiatives with Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Centrepoint homeless charity, among others.

After the Carabao Cup final humiliation to City, Wilshere was one of the few players who made the effort to go over to salute those lingering stoics in the Arsenal end. Wilshere leaned over the advertising boards and threw his shirt to a kid. Few of his team-mates ventured near, fearing a deserved slating.

When Arsenal won the FA Cup against Aston Villa in 2015, Wilshere celebrated on the pitch and then went back inside to continue the party in the changing room. An Arsenal official was alerted to a poorly young fan still waiting in the deserted stadium with his father, hoping the players would return. The club knew which player wouldn’t think twice about heading back out to see the fan. Wilshere grabbed his playing shirt, ran back out and gave it to the boy.

Wenger’s gone. He was the only Arsenal manager Wilshere, 26, has played under, having joined the club age 9. Time’s changed. Will Jack, tipped as a future Arsenal coach, stay, learn and fight?

 

Posted: 18th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal fans rejoice: Jack Wilshere is leaving

Jack Wilshere is leaving Arsenal on a free transfer. TeamTalk says Arsenal manager Unai Emery has told the player he’s  not a guaranteed starter. The website says this means Wilshere’s Arsenal career is coming to a “heartbreaking close”. Grab your little violins, readers, as Wilshere rejects a derisory £100,000-a-week contract to remain at the club of his youth and his dreams. We read that “given his love and affection for Arsenal” Wilshere has sat on his sun lounger and thought long and hard about accepting the deal.

The Mirror also has the “exclusive” news that Emery has told Wilshere –  injury prone; largely ineffectual in the penalty box; predictable; talented but lacking in pace; can’t beat a man which is why he gets fouled so much; and years since his debut as 16-year-old still talked about as having potential – that he won’t be a regular starter. This means, says the paper, Wilshere is off to West Ham, Wolves, Everton, Sampdoria, AC Milan or Juventus.

The Sun says the Hammers are favourite to sign Wilshere with a pay package worth £130,000 a week. Wilshere hasn’t improved at Arsenal for years. He won’t improve at West Ham.

Arsenal fans won’t miss him. Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Kieron Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were first XI players full of promise who too rarely delivered.  Wilshere is the last of that clutch of England journeymen. Arsenal can do better. They need to if they are to compete for the league title.

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


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

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

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

bale transfer

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you say “total balls” in Spanish?

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


Arsenal fall foul of GDPR

One Arsenal fan received a season ticket renewal form featuring the details of a stranger. “Richard’s” letter about his gold season ticket listed another fan’s full name, date of birth, address, home and mobile phone numbers, email address and membership number. Whoops! The error is in breach of the new GDPR rules on customer data. Of course, it’s pretty much what Facebook knows about its users. But no-one cares much about that. And one form sent out by Arsenal is “worrying”.

An Arsenal spokesman (name withheld) tells the Telegraph: “We are well aware of our responsibilities under the GDPR regulations and apologise to the fans who were impacted. We launched an investigation as soon as this was brought to our attention and have established that this was a manual error by a supplier. There is no suggestion this was a system issue.”

Reports are that around 4 fans received the completed forms.

Note: At least it makes a change from Arsenal’s usual behaviour at season ticket renewal time: when fans start to hear rumours that Wenger will leave and a superstar – last season it was some tosh about £90m for Thomas Lemar – is on his way. At least this time there’s genuine hope…

Posted: 16th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


England in gun outrage; Prince George in gun outrage; Raheem Sterling in doodle outrage

Raheem Sterling’s gun tattoo caused the Sun to shunt all other news from its front page and channel the fury. It was that bad. A few days on after the the Sun had given lots of space for people to slam the Manchester City and England forward, we saw photos of Prince George and his bang-bang stick. Like Sterling, the gun young Windsor’s gun also featured at a sporting event, notable a polo rubber.

 

raheem sterling tattoo gun

 

raheem sterling m16 tattoo

Raheem and his part in the Vietnam War

 

raheem george gun

Draw!

 

Said the Sun:

Playful Prince George takes aim with a toy gun as he and sister Charlotte – gripped by watchful mum Kate – enjoy a day in the sun watching dad William play polo today.

The Duke of Cambridge was taking part in the Maserati Royal Charity Polo Trophy at Beaufort Polo Club in Gloucestershire, where he was cheered on by the Duchess of Cambridge and the family.

Sterling (picture of a gun; black; working-class; self-made) got a very different press from George (toy gun; white; uber alles; never worked a day in his life). Whereas Sterling was linked to murder and the Vietnam war – no kidding! – George is just fun, fun and more fun. Photos of the ole model promoting gun crime and mayhem captioned:

The Duchess of Cambridge beams as son George plays with his plastic pistol

Prince George shows off his sharpshooting skills as he takes aim with a toy gun

And there is more gun larks. The England football team, of which Sterling is one, pretended their fingers were guns when they posed for photos at their World Cup training camp. The Mail has a photo of Eric Dier and Del Alli is “Charlie’s Angels pose.

 

england world cup guns

england world cup guns

england world cup guns

 

Is that red on their shirt blood? And will Putin take this as a declaration of war? Over to the Sun to discuss…

 

Posted: 15th, June 2018 | In: Manchester City, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal and Liverpool both favourites to sign Mario Gotze

With two Borussia Dortmund players already on the books, and another scheduled to be announced on July 1, Arsenal are looking at recruiting Mario Gotze. The  Germans want £18m for the 26-year-old Dortmund – the kind of money Arsenal can afford. The Mirror says Everton and West Ham are “among the clubs keeping tabs” on the man once hailed as Germany’s answer to Lionel Messi.  The same paper then adds in a separate story that Gotze wants to play for Jurgen Klopp again. We’ve been here before:

 

Liverpool Gotze klopp

The Daily Express got it wrong

 

 

This latest story of Gotze to Liverpool is rooted in the players words on the DAZN documentary Being Mario Gotze. Gotze left Dortmund for Bayern Munich in 2013. He made the reverse trip in 2016, picking Dortmund over Liverpool.

Says Gotze: “I decided to leave Bayern and Jurgen Klopp was interested in getting me to Liverpool. And I was also interested in working with him again.. He is a world-class coach and that’s why it’s always an option. I decided to join Borussia Dortmund, but it was not a decision against Liverpool or Jurgen Klopp.”

Churn that through the journalism mincer and the Metro can declare: “Mario Gotze drops Liverpool transfer hint and reunion with Jurgen Klopp.” “Mario Gotze still keen on reunion with ‘world-class’ Jurgen Klopp,” says Goal.com. “Liverpool transfer news: Mario Gotze talks up reunion with former manager Jurgen Klopp,” yodels The Independent’s clickbait factory.

In March 2016, the Guardian told its readers: “Liverpool confident of signing Mario Götze because of Klopp connection.”

Liverpool are confident of completing the marquee signing of Mario Götze this summer with the World Cup winner understood to be keen on a reunion with Jürgen Klopp.

 

Liverpool Gotze

The Express got it wrong…again

 

gotze klopp

Gotze ‘snubs’ Liverpool in 2016 – the Sun

 

This dire reporting on a player being touted round the Premier League by his agent is summed up on Google, where a search for ‘Gotze Liverpool’ guffs out these three top stories:

 

mario gotze liverpool

 

Liverpool are favourites to sign Gotze, says the Express – because, er, Gotze, who turned Liverpool down in 2016, says Klopp is a good coach. Liverpool should not want Gotze says the Liverpool Echo. Liverpool and Arsenal both want Gotze says the Star.

Type ‘Arsenal Gotze’ into the world’s largest search engine and you get:

 

arsenal gotze

 

The Metro’s news that Gotze wants to play in the Premier League is a “boost” to Arsenal but, oddly, not a boost to Everton and West Ham. The Guardian just wonders if the Gunners will sign him. They don’t know.

In other news, ESPN says Arsenal not Liverpool are favourites to sign Gotze:

 

gotze arsenal liverpool

 

Such are the facts…

 

 

Posted: 15th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Jack Wilshere hints at Arsenal stay

Jack Wilshere has lots of time on his hands. Not picked for England’s World Cup squad, the Arsenal midfielder is posting things on the web. The Telegraph reads one of his missives and creates a story around it. “Jack Wilshere hints at Arsenal exit with cryptic social media message,” says the paper of record. Wilshere is cryptic? The player who asked Arsenal fans what they thought of Spurs and replied “Shit!” has now taken to talking in codes. What did he say?

Daniel Zeqiri writes:

Jack Wilshere has hinted he could leave Arsenal for pastures new this summer with a suggestive late-night message on social media.

Wilshere is out of contract at the end of June. Arsenal have offered him around £100,000-a-week to carry on playing for the club he loves. He’s thinking about it. Feel the love, eh. On Wednesday, Wilshere told Instagram: “There comes a time when you have to choose between turning the page and closing the book.”

Some books are too boring to bother with. Aside from the books, what did Jack says about lacing Arsenal? Nothing. That was it. That is the long and short of his “cryptic message”.

Look out for another story in the Telegraph based on Wilshere’s message:

Jack Wilshere has hinted he could stay at Arsenal with a suggestive late-night message on social media.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 14th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment