Anorak

Sports | Anorak - Part 30

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.

Manchester United balls: Zlatan’s farewell party

Nursing an injury that that pretty much ended his career at Manchester United, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is, according to The Sun, planning to take “50 club staff and players out for a ‘thank you’ dinner.”

“The Swedish striker, 35, is paying for the first team, coaches and support staff, including masseurs and groundsmen to join him for the meal.”

As of Q1, 2016, Manchester United PLC employed 837 full-time employees. Making a list of who’s in and who’s out might be more problematic than its worth. Zlatan might be better off going with option b: a gold statue of himself stood in the centre circle.

PS: the restaurant picks itself.

18 Jul 2016 – “Louis van Gaal and wife Truus take one more trip to Wing’s Chinese restaurant in Manchester.”

9 August 2016: “WING WIZARD Paul Pogba toasts record £109m move with Chinese takeaway from famous Wing’s”

17 Feb  2017: “‘LA POGBANCE’ Paul Pogba, brother Florentin and family have a rave in Old Trafford tunnel before heading out to Wings restaurant for dinner in Manchester”

All in the Sun.

Posted: 1st, May 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Media Bias: Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford ‘dives’ in Swansea but soars in Manchester

Congratulation to the talented actor and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford for redefining the phrase “honest English footballer” and in the words of Swansea City manager Paul Clement going “down way before there was contact” and “deceiving” the referee. Rashford’s performance earned United a penalty, and with it another goal for Wayne Rooney. Thankfully, Rashford’s slippery shoes did not cost Swansea City too dear, as the Swans scored late on to tie the match.

So how did the clubs’ respective websites see the incident?

Swansea City FC: “Marcus Rashford got in behind, prompting Fabianski to race off his line. The Swans keeper slid out only to stop himself making contact with Rashford, yet the young striker stuck out a foot to catch Fabianski and then tumbled to the turf.”

Manchester United FC: “…Lingard unleashed a rasping effort which flew wide of the far post, before he then played in Rashford, who was brought down by Fabianski in the box after poking the ball past him.”

What about the local Press?

Wales Online: “Replays showed Lukasz Fabianski had pulled out of his challenge on Marcus Rashford, and that the United striker was already falling to the deck before making contact with the Poland international.”

A dive, then.

The site delivers “Chris Wathan’s verdict”:

Well that is a disgraceful decision and you only fear how costly that will prove. A horrible dive from Rashford who made the decision to go down before Fabianski pulled out. Referee Swarbrick seemed to take an age to point to the spot and the linesman in Swansea’s half was the opposite side of the pitch, blinded by bodies.You can’t say this is what Clement would have wanted because somehow Swansea find themselves behind to a hugely controversial decision when they probably should be ahead.

Manchester Evening News: “PENALTY!”

Rashford frustrated by lack of passes to run onto but first time he really does and Swansea defence panicked.

 

manchester united bias

 

 

Of course, Rashford’s English and an England player, which means he’s not a diver. Take this from Michael Owen, formerly of Manchester United and England, as quoted on the MEN’s live blog:

“The keeper has made a bad decision and you think,’I’m going to find the contact somewhere’. You see Rashford – his knees buckle and he realises Fabianski’s pulled his arms away. Yes. It ends up a dive. Your waiting to be hit. You’re never going to plant your foot that situation. I’ve done it before and had my foot broken. If your foot’s off the ground, you’re not going to get hurt – you just ride the challenge. It’s a situation where you don’t want to get hurt however you still want a penalty. It ended up a dive but your sort of protecting yourself.”

It’s not cheating. It’s being sensible. Unless you’re a dirty foreigner, in which case, it’s disgusting.

 

Posted: 30th, April 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Victim blaming Arsenal’s Sanchez and Manchester City’s Aguero is just about understandbale

The talk is of faking it. First Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez was accused of making too much of being hit by the ball. Sanchez was standing close to the edge of the pitch as Leicester City’s Christian Fuchs was set to throw a long one into the mixer. This upset the Leicester man, causing him to send the ball hard into the Chilean’s face. Sanchez went down in stages, as they stay, and held his face. When Sanchez finally got to his feet, the referee booked him and awarded Leicester a free kick.

 

 

Questions were asked. Why had Fuchs not been booked? Had Sanchez gone down easily? Why hadn’t he performed the classic manoeuvre favoured by nearly all top-flight footballers of holding his face and then checking the hands for signs of blood, eyeball and brain? Is someone called Fuchs more liable to produce a XXX-rated challenge on primetime telly and would he risk a similar balls-in assault on Marseille full-back Rod Fanni?

 

 

The other incident of  “letting him know you’re there” came in the Manchester derby. Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was upset that Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero had gone to ground after being headbutted by Marouane Fellaini, who was sent off for his brazen foul.

Given the impressive bounce of hair on the big Belgian’s head, you’d suppose a headbutt from him would be akin to being wrapped in cashmere towels by a flash mob of cuddlers. Mourinho thinks as much. “I didn’t watch but probably I can guess it’s a bit of a red card and that it’s a bit of a very experienced, smart Argentinian player,” he opined with customary bitchiness. “Marouane says it was a red card because he is Marouane, Martin Atkinson told me in his opinion it was a red card but I saw Aguero in the tunnel – no broken nose, no broken head, his face is as nice as always. So, I am not so sure. I think if Sergio doesn’t go to the floor, for sure it is not a red card. But if Marouane gave him the chance to do that… I don’t know.”

Fellaini hit the baths early, where we hope he took more than one bottle into the shower, possibly three or four to ensure that any future clash of heads would be softer than a Labrador’s loo roll. One wonders what would occur if the big clumsy Belgian went curls to curls with Chelsea’s spring-topped David Luiz. Some see a hideous tangle resulting in the world’s first Siamese-style twin footballers; while others go for the huge ricochet sending each man hurtling into the stands at opposite sides of the ground.

As for Sanchez and Aguero, well, you could call them innocent parties on the wrong end of victim blaming. But Sanchez was being irritating. And Aguero did make the most of it. It’s not black and white. If you are a footballer interfering with a member of the opposition’s attempts to salvage something from a match his side are behind in, the likelihood of your being smacked in the face with the ball is higher than if you had retreated. Likewise, staring up into the eyes of the man who has just committed a yellow-card worthy foul on your person seconds after he’s been carded and calling him names, raises the prospect of further mischief.

This does not remotely mitigate the guilt of the fouler, but it does place the offence in context*.

*Unless you’re Joey Barton.

This post was sponsored by Smart Bets.

Posted: 29th, April 2017 | In: Arsenal, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comments (2)


Mafia used SMS text-message ticker at the bottom of a sports broadcast to get reach mob bosses

To Italy, where TV show Quelli che il Calcio (That which is Football) is announcing the latest breaking news on its below the faces ticker. It slo show SMS messages sent in by fans. The potential for upset is clear. But the Mafia saw an opportunity for messages to communicate with mob bosses in their prison TV lounges.

The show’s presenter, Simona Ventura, said she was “shocked” by the revelation, and said fans would no longer be allowed to send text messages when the programme goes back on air on Sept 12.

“It strikes me as pretty ingenious,” she told La Repubblica newspaper. “We opened up a line of communication with our viewers in order to give them direct contact with the show. It proved to be all that I had expected apart from the fact that it was apparently used to send messages to mafia bosses.”

Mafia bosses looking to communicate with their minions will now revert to the old methods of bribing the referee and letting the result do the talking, allegedly.

Spotter: Telegraph

Posted: 28th, April 2017 | In: Sports, Strange But True, TV & Radio | Comment


Chelsea captain and the non-celebrity sex tape story

The Daily Star leads with the news “JOHN TERRY IN VILE SEX TAPE”.  Bit of tautology there. It’s hard to think of sex with John Terry being anything other than vile. But each to their own – and in the case of married John Terry, who allegedly shagged a team-mate’s girlfriend, a little bit of everything to John. But before you wonder who else features in the Chelsea captain’s sex tape, or if it’s a solo act, the Star says the tapes doesn’t feature John Terry. It;s got nothing to do with him  whatsoever. Apparently, what is does show is a “lookalike of his mother”.

Knowing what John Terry’s mum looks like clothed or otherwise, let alone watching a sex film because someone in it reminds you of her, adheres to Rule 34 – “The 34th rule of the Internet, which states that any object, character, or media franchise imaginable has porn associated with it.”

On Pages 6 and 7, Star readers get to see a photo of Sue Terry, identified as “not the woman the X-rated sex video”, and  hear from her son, who is quoted: “It’s not her. We will go legally unbelievable hard on anyone suggesting it is her.” As a conniving porn producer cuts the quote and slaps “Unbelievably hard – John Terry” on the video’s cover, we wonder if the Star can create more news from non-celebrity sex tapes, and if Camilla Parker Bowles has quashed rumours about her looking a bit like the star of Debbie Does Dallas.

 

Posted: 27th, April 2017 | In: Chelsea, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Spurs fans beat up one of their own after mistaking him for a Chelsea fan

Spurs supporter Michael Voller, 23, was attacked by Spurs fans when his club played Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley last weekend. Police says the idiots who set about him thought he was a Chelsea fan. Voller, nursing a broken cheek-bone, eye-socket and skull, is now out of hospital. The violent berks who punched him is at large.

 

michael voller spurs michael voller spurs

 

 

Posted: 27th, April 2017 | In: Chelsea, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal’s Wilshere rides to China on a human caterpillar of fake news

Transfer Balls is watching fake news: Working on the principle that no denial means it could be true, the Daily Star lead its sports season with news that Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere is on his way to China. Maybe. Wilshere was playing on loan at Bournemouth until another injury – a leg fracture – ended his season.

 

jack wilshere news china

 

The paper days that “if” talks with Arsenal do not go well for the former PFA Young Player of the Year (2010–11), he could be off to play in China.

Where in China, the paper does not say. It’s just China, a place where a young English blade looking for adventures can experience the thrill of the exotic and immerse himself in an ancient culture. Or just cash in as some local tycoon spunks loadsa cash on surplus English flesh. Jack is not looking to expand his horizons in the Far East, says the Star. Jack is “desperate”.

China is the British Press’s ‘f9’ – just hit the button and whichever player who like can be off to China. The Star’s story contains no word from Arsenal nor Wilshere but that doesn’t stop the other tabloids wading in.

The Express thunders: “ARSENAL midfielder Jack Wilshere is open to a shock move to China, according to the reports.”

It knows this because – get this – the Express read the story in the Daily Star.

The Sun also read the Star’s fact-free news story and tells its readers: “FREE WILLY – Arsenal transfer news: Jack Wilshere open to Chinese Super League switch if crunch Arsene Wenger talks go badly this summer.”

No facts needed for the trusty news media to pass on the scoop untested. It’s a human caterpillar of football reporting.

Posted: 25th, April 2017 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


Sexism row: Kim Kardashian’s arse takes on Angela Akins’ short skirt

“It’s Kim Kardashian as you’ve never seen her before.” throbs the Daily Star on its front page. “Wait until you see the rear view,” ploughs the Sun on its cover. Both tabloids lead with the same picture of Kim Kardashian in:

a) a burqa

b) an orgy

c) a Job Centre

d) a bikini

e) panto

It’s ‘d’, which is a disappointment for all of you who’ve seen Kim K. in a bikini more than you’ve seen your own feet.

 

Kim Kardashian the sun arse

 

 

As for the story, well, on Page 7 the Star dubs the reality TV star Kim “Lard-Ashian”, on account of her figure. The Sun calls it a “rear treat”.

One oddity about the Sun’s ogling is that on April 10 the paper was aghast at the BBC’s perceived sexism. In “SKIRTY OLD MAN”, the BBC’s golf commentator Peter Alliss is admonished for making “disgraceful” comments about the length of Masters winner Sergio Garcia’s fiancee’s skirt.

Paul Revoir writes:

Peter Alliss caused a sexism row by referring to the short skirt worn by golf hero Sergio Garcia’s fiancee… As images were shown of Angela Akins, 31, reacting to Sergio’s win, Alliss’s muffled voice was heard saying: “She’s got the shortest skirt on the campus”…

This is the latest in a string of sexism rows to engulf the long-serving commenter.

 

The Sun’s outrage was supported by no fewer than 6 photos of Angela Akins in her short skirt. Indeed, you can read about the BBC’s sexism alongside two stories based on photos of Kim in her bikini:

 

angela akins skirt

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 25th, April 2017 | In: Celebrities, Reviews, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Joe Hart to Liverpool and £20m written off

Transfer balls: a look at fake news football reporting. Is Joe Hart heading to Liverpool?

 

joe hart liverpool

 

The Sun April 19: “Joe Hart is on his way back to the Premier League with Liverpool.”

KLOPP LOVES HART – Joe Hart set for Liverpool move as Jurgen Klopp signs off £20million swoop for Manchester City goalkeeper

Having scored a “exclusive”, the rest of the online media play catch up.

Joe Hart to Liverpool: Man City star set for £20m switch, Jurgen Klopp  – Daily Star

7 things that will definitely happen if Joe Hart signs for Liverpool – Daily Mirror

Or as Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp out it one day late: “He’s a fantastic keeper, the highest quality, but it’s not for us at the moment, nor in the future.”

No harm done. No-one in Liverpool reads the Sun.

 

Posted: 24th, April 2017 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Media Bias: Arsenal praise the referee but Manchester City are robbed

Media Balls: a look at biased football reporting. Today Arsenal beat Manchester City 2-1 to make it into the FA Cup final, where they will play Chelsea.

Should Manchester City have been awarded a penalty?

Arsenal website:

The game had been free of any controversy, but soon the officials were in the spotlight as Koscielny poked the ball in beyond Bravo – but was flagged offside.

It may have disappointed the Arsenal fans, but replays showed it was the correct call – as was referee Craig Pawson’s decision to wave play on when Raheem Sterling went down in the box after a tangle of legs with Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Manchester City website:

Aguero tripped by Oxlade-Chamberlain inside the area. Clear penalty – nothing given.

What about Manchester City’s disallowed goal?

Arsenal website:

…as Sane raced on to a through ball and chipped the ball back across goal from the left byeline, which was knocked back in by Aguero only to be saved by Cech. Sterling knocked the loose ball home, but the flag was up – much to our relief. Replays highlighted that Sane’s cross may – or may not, depending on whether you’re red or blue – have gone out of play…

Manchester City website:

The officials got it wrong but it was very tight, in fairness.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 23rd, April 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Tires down a ski jump – alternative Olympic sports

tyres down a ski jump

 

With the UK’s olympic-sized Olympics budget under review – can we just embrace technology and go long on drugs and short on training? – Anorak’s on the look out for cheap and cheerful alternative events.

And here is one: tyres down a ski jump.

Posted: 23rd, April 2017 | In: Sports, Strange But True | Comment


Transfer balls: Morata to Chelsea (if Arsenal let him leave)

Transfer Balls – fake news for football: The BBC says Chelsea “have reached an agreement” to sign striker Alvaro Morata, 24, from Real Madrid. The Beeb’s source is Spanish site Diario Gol. As ever, I like to use Google Translate to tell the source’s story.

 

morata real madrid

 

The headline’s a belter: “Morata lynch to a crack of Real Madrid: the checkmate to Zidane.”

The teaser’s good too: “The one of The Factory explodes against the mister.”

Diego Castro’s words according to Google Translate are:

The worst. Karim Benzema was signing one of the weakest seasons since joining Real Madrid in 2009 . The goalkeeper has scored the same goals as Álvaro Morata in almost double the number of minutes played. The canterano has played 1,593 minutes , while the French accumulates 2,597 ‘ .

Benzema is no goalkeeper. But the gist is that Morata is the better striker of the two.

But what about Chelsea? Well, Morata has “never been the first choice of Zizou”. Adding: “The French strategist always opted publicly for his compatriot, regardless of the level of his players… Zidane always put him ahead of the team’s needs.”

And Chelsea? Only this: “Morata has been wanting for Chelsea for weeks, with more than a verbal agreement.”

It’s not exactly done and dusted. The Week says Morata is only “among potential targets” for Chelsea. The Daily Star says Morata might be heading to Manchester United. And Corriere dello Sport says AC Milan will outbid Chelsea for Morata’s signature.

So there’s no agreement, then. Which makes it odd that the Daily Star can announce that the deal taking Morata to Chelsea has been done:

alvaro morata chelsea daily star

 

And let’s not forget that according to these fine sources, Morata plays for Arsenal:

alvaro morata arsenal

Such are the facts.

Posted: 20th, April 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Daily Mirror news trust: Arsenal and Theresa May are both for turning

How about this for wraparound newspaper cover. The Daily Mirror’s front page leads with Theresa May’s “U-turn”. Having said there would be no General Election before 202o, May has called one for June 8 2017.

 

daily mirror u-turn may theresa

 

If it’s all about trust, what are Mirror readers to make of the paper’s back page news story that Arsenal have made it clear Arsene Wenger will still be manager next season? The paper says Schalke defender Sead Kolasinac, 23, has been been told Wenger will remain at Arsenal for a further two seasons.

June 8 is one for the diary. And while you’re on that page, you might care to put a line through another event scheduled for that month. On June 30 2017, Arsene Wenger is to quit the club. We read that in the Daily Mirror.

 

Daily Mirror wenger quits Arsenal

 

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 19th, April 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Politicians, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Karim Benzema to join Arsenal for a third time

As predictable as a dog sniffing a lamppost and Simon Cowell licking his eyeballs and telling a cabaret act “That. Was. Incredible”, the tabloids herald the summer season of football transfer rumours with news that Karim Benzema is heading to Arsenal.

“Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema to be Alexis Sanchez replacement,” thunders the Daily Mirror. “Karim Benzema linked with Arsenal as doubts soar over the future of Alexis Sanchez,” says the Sun.

Newspaper readers will know that Benzema joined Liverpool in 2014 (Daily Star) and Arsenal in 2015 (Metro, Daily Star (twice), Daily Telegraph, The Sydney Morning Heraldand again in 2017 (The Sun).

He never left Real Madrid. And today the papers are having another crack at the Benzema to Arsenal story.

The source of the Sun and Mirror’s scoop is donbalon.com. Over there we learn that Arsenal have offered Benzema twice his current salary. No quotes are given. But according to the Star, Karim Benzema earns £270,000 a week at Real. So Arsenal will pay him £520,000 a week – more than the £280,000-a-week Alexis Sanchez – the man he will replace – wants to stay?

Understand that? No, us neither.

Posted: 17th, April 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Dirty tackle: Manchester United’s Ander Herrera gets inside Chelsea’s Hazard

Manchester United beat Chelsea 2-0 in yesterday’s Premier League clash. The result puts United in position for a charge into the top four and thus qualification to next season’s Champions League and reduces Chelsea’s lead at the top of the table to just four points over a buoyant Spurs.

The game also coughed up two images, both of which feature on the back pages.  The Mirror calls is “Squeaky Bum time”, a headline more suited to the image on the Times’s back page.

 

manchester united chelsea manchester united chelsea

 

As United’s Ander Herrera finds work as proctologist, we recall an other great Manchester United meeting, when the club’s Rio Ferdinand got a thorough going over from Man City’s Carlos Tevez.

 

Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League

 

File under: Dirty Tackle.

Posted: 17th, April 2017 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Kelvin MacKenzie calls Everton’s mixed-race footballer Ross Barkley a ‘Gorilla’

They’ve only gone and called the police to investigate Sun columnist Kelvin Mackenzie on suspicion of being a racist. Former editor Kelvin MacKenzie used his column in the paper to liken Everton footballer Ross Barkley to a gorilla. Barkley is mixed race by way of a Nigerian grandfather. MacKenzie, reviled on Merseyside for his leading part in the Sun’s appalling Hillsborough coverage, has behaved despicably. The Guardian says he claimed Barkley “had deserved to be punched at a nightclub because he was similar to an animal in a zoo”.

MacKenzie wrote in the Sun:

“Perhaps unfairly, I have always judged Ross Barkley as one of our dimmest footballers. There is something about the lack of reflection in his eyes which makes me certain not only are the lights not on, there is definitely nobody at home.

“I get a similar feeling when seeing a gorilla at the zoo. The physique is magnificent but it’s the eyes that tell the story.”

Hideous, reprehensible comment. For added spite – and this on the eve of the Hillsborough anniversary –  Mackenzie aimed a few low blows at the people of Liverpool:

kelvin mackenzie ross everton gorilla

 

It’s pathetic tripe.

But narking to the police is weird and unsettling. It suggests we can’t police ourselves, that we aren’t robust enough to spot a berk in the crowd when we see one and treat them with derision and ridicule. We need official back up. We need our words policed.

The Bizzies.

The same police who treated dying fans at Hillsborough as a public order problem will now police speech and thoughts. The State’s enforcers who perpetuated the biggest police cover-up in British history have been called in to investigate a man who approved and defended a shameful article that smeared the innocent dead. (Although, a mere 23 years after “The Truth” even Mackenzie apologised.) Never mind that Hillsborough can be linked to the State’s war on football fans, on whom all draconian forms of control could be tested, just get a load of that big mouthed media goon. He’s the real problem. Well, so says the media, which likes nothing more than talking about itself.

The Troll

The Sun’s “The Truth” report on Hillsborough was revolting. To anyone sane the paper’s lies always have been indefensible. The Sun‘s infamous headline and lies weren’t produced in isolation – the paper colluded with police and politicians to criminalise the victims. Society raged loudly about the paper. Meanwhile, it took decades for the dignified bereaved to drag the police to court. After a mere 27 years of struggle, the State decided the dead were blameless. What we knew was only now official. Even now the survivors and the people who lost so much in 1989 are waiting for justice.

In the meantime, Kelvin Mackenzie makes for an inviting (and deserving) Aunt Sally.

 

kelvin mackenzie ross everton gorilla

 

The Allegation

Merseyside police say they received an online complaint from a member of the public alleging that “comments written about a third party constituted a racial hate crime”. If you think it’s a hate crime, then it is one. Maybe.

And it’s politicised. Liverpool mayor, Joe Anderson, tweeted to say he had reported the article to Merseyside police and the Press Complaints Commission for being a “racial slur”.

He then criticised Everton for not copying Liverpool, which banned the Sun from matches and press conferences. Liverpool has also blocked the Sun from interviewing its manager and players. “@Everton 😱Your lack of action in banning the S*n from your press conferences is a smack in the face to our City”, he tweeted.

MacKenzie might well worry when Joey Barton, someone who knows more than most about smacks to the face, becomes the voice of reason. The Scouse footballer tweeted: “Those comments about Ross Barkley, a young working class lad are disgusting. Then add in the fact he is mixed race! It’s becomes outrageous.”

It is. It’s abysmal. It’s incredible the Sun published it. But it’s not a crime. It’s one man’s idiotic, rude and ugly to-deadline opinion.

UPDATE: the Sun has suspended Kelvin MacKenzie.

Posted: 14th, April 2017 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Manchester United: failing Mourinho uses Luke Shaw as his ‘punchbag’

Jose Mourinho might be every bit as irritating, self-serving and sly to his Manchester United team as he appears to most football fans. On Monday, before Manchester United drew 1-1 with Everton, Mourinho was using Luke Shaw as a cautionary tale to the rest of his squad.

“It’s difficult for him [Luke Shaw] to be on the bench,” said Mourinho. “Because I cannot compare him with Ashley Young, or with Matteo Darmian, or with Daley Blind. I cannot compare the way he trains, the way he commits, the focus, the ambition. I cannot compare. He is a long way behind.”

Or to put it another way, they are a long way ahead in the contest to be United’s left back. So all eyes were on Shaw where he played in the Everton match, coming on as replacement for Ashley Young with 25 minutes to go and United trailing. “He had a good performance,” said Mourinho,” but it was his body with my brain. He was in front of me and I was making every decision for him. He was in front of me and I was making every decision for him. He has to change his football brain.”

Is this kind of public humiliation going to help Shaw improve? Is yet another verbal attack going to help a talented but rusty player striving for form and confidence after the trauma of a double leg break two seasons ago? The feeling is that Shaw has become Mourinho’s “punchbag”, as TV pundit Trevor Sinclair put it. The feeling’s right. It’s ugly.

Posted: 5th, April 2017 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


The righteous fight to give David Moyes a slap

Sunderland manager David Moyes is sorry for telling a BBC Sport reporter she “might get a slap” with her line of questioning. Following Sunderland’s 0-0 draw with Burnley, journalist Vicki Sparks asked the former Everton and Manchester United coach if the knowing club owner Ellis Short was looking on from the stands made him feel uncomfortable.

“No, none at all,” said Moyes. With the BBC cameras no longer filming, he continued: “Just getting a wee bit naughty at the end there so just watch yourself. You still might get a slap even though you’re a woman.”

But someone was filming on a camera phone.

 

 

Sparks made no complaints. But others were upset. The Sunderland spokesman tells us: “David and the reporter spoke to one another subsequently and the matter was resolved amicably.”

Vivki Sparks, a woman in a man’s world, where undemanding, bland, blokey banter is the rule, is robust. Let’s hope Moyes’ questionable humour doesn’t stymie her journalism and she keeps asking challenging questions. She’s not there to do David Moyes’ PR – there’s already a silo of clubby ex-pros sat on the BBC’s cosy Match Of The Day chairs to deliver anodyne match summaries and big up their mates. She’s also not there to be the BBC’s token ‘bird’ who needs looking after and watching lest a footballer say something inappropriate to her delicate ears. She’s a journalist after a story. That someone else chose to make her the story is odd.

And it isn’t over. The Football Association has invited David Moyes in for a light interrogation. They want to know if Moyes is a sexist. What they might be better off asking is why football is now so corporate that an off-the-record chat can blow up into a scandal. A pundit on Sky News this morning said Moyes “deserved to be reputationally damaged”, making this not a story of being civil to one another and gender equality – “even thought you’re a woman” is a crass comment –  but about branding.

Fans of rival clubs might laugh. One popular chant aimed at Sunderland fans chimes, “You all beat up your women, you’re all the fu**ing same.” So much for cheeky irreverence. Football is the nation’s role model. Mind your language. Football’s not a fun leisure pursuit and a chance to let off steam. It’s very serious stuff.

Posted: 4th, April 2017 | In: Key Posts, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal fans will only get change when the owners lose money

Arsenal have the exact same Premier League points tally as they did at this stage of last season. Arsène Wenger is both the model of consistency, Old Father Time pointing the way forwards to more of the same, and the staid boss of a club becalmed in routine.

Ivan Gazidis , the club’s uninspiring chief executive, assures supporters that if Wenger accepts the two-year contract he’s been offered, there will be big changes on the field. Tomorrow will be much better or else, says Gazidis as he pleads with Wenger to sign the deal that will see the fading manager earn over £8m a year. Gazidis is talking to the fans, of course. It’s season ticket renewal time. Only a fool would think the same manager will bring about dramatic improvement when the familiar is enough for the greedy shareholders and dividend takers who want him to stay.

Gazidis hopes fans take the bait. The pursuit of money not glory is the Arsenal way under the current regime.

After the Gunners had stumbled to a 2-2 draw the Manchester City, a number of fans went on an anti-Wenger match. There was a van bedecked with anti-Wenger slogans, leaflets urging supporters to contact the club’s sponsors and tell them to stop backing the club until Wenger goes.

“I must say, despite all that happens on the fans front, I felt our fans were fantastic today,” said Wenger at his monocular best. “In the very difficult moments in the first half, I felt they could have turned against us but they were absolutely sensational and helped the team to get through those difficult moments.”

The fans support the club through thick and thin. It’s not the players they want gone; it’s the manager and the palsied board that can’t see the decline and move strongly to check it.

Arsenal look set to miss out on the Champions League for the first time in Wenger’s tenure. They are behind Man City, in fourth place, by seven points with a game in hand. Can they rally and come fourth, giving the fans another season of Champions’ League football? Many fans will be hoping they don’t. If the board can’t see that what Wenger once brought to the club no longer cuts it, a decline in their considerable income should.

 

Posted: 3rd, April 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Media balls: Arsenal on course for second after a lucky draw with hopeful Manchester City

Media Balls: a look at biased football reporting. Today in the Premier League, Arsenal drew 2-2 with Manchester City. Arsenal are in no state of crisis, whatever the media tell us. The Gunners have the same number of points after 28 games this season as they did in season 2015/16.

Last season after 28 matches players, Arsenal were on 51 points – just 6 points behind eventual champions Leicester City. This term, the Gunners are on 51 point – 17 behind Chelsea. Arsenal under Arsene Wenger are the very model of consistency.

Can the Gunners secure that top four spot that secures Champions’ League football next season?

Manchester City, under a new manager, are a project. Pep Guardiola, for it is he, is no flop, despite the the Sun naming him “the biggest disappointment in the battle of the Premier League managerial superstars”. City are fourth in the PL table – five points ahead of Manchester United – and in the semi-final of the FA Cup. What else do the reporters tell us?

Manchester City’s first goal – the game’s opening strike.

The London Evening Standard: “Kevin de Bruyne… played a hopeful ball forward…”

The Manchester Evening Post: “Leroy Sane raced onto Kevin De Bruyne’s fine ball out of defence…”

A prod forward or a lovely pass?

Manchester City penalty appeal.

In the game’s finale minutes, did the ball strike Nacho Monreal on the hand as he defended in the Arsenal box?

London Evening Standard: “Arsenal were fortunate to escape a strong handball appeal in stoppage time”

Manchester City website: “Late penalty appeals against Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal were waved away as City pushed for the winner”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola: “I know this referee because we have had him before but I don’t want to discuss the penalty.”

The BBC: “Handball? Did Nacho Monreal punch that? That looked very, very much like a hand in the box…”

The Guardian: “It was clumsy and really did seem like it struck his flailing arm. Arsenal appear to have been lucky to get away with that there.”

Arsenal website:  Not a word on the incident.

Islington Gazette: No word on the appeal.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 2nd, April 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City | Comment


England, Millwall and Spurs fans sing what they want to

Still no news on what the police and FA are going to do about Millwall fans shouting “DVD” at Spurs’ South Korean “labrador muncher” * Son Heung-Min. No news either on those Spurs fans who called Millwall supporters “pikies”.

You’d think that with Spurs and Millwall “in the dock” over such terrible racism, England’s other football fans would button their collective lip. But no. They only went and sung songs when England played Germany in the Fatherland. The Independent was horrified. “English football dragged through the mud once again by braying beer-fuelled scum who sing anti-German war songs,” the paper chimed.

 

achtung germany england

 

One writer on the Sun, the paper which this week beamed its logo onto the White Cliffs of Dover to mark Brexitnoted: “There, hundreds of boorish, inebriated men continued to glory in a world war which ended 70 years ago, bellowing out tedious chants about German bombers and swaying around, mimicking aircraft.”

Right now the Football Association is studying police videos for signs of a member of The England Supporters Travel Club making offensive chants and not simply joining those righteous minds in “do-do..do-do-do-do..da-da..da-da..da-da,da,do-doing” along to the god-awful supporters’ bands’ rendition of the theme to Escape to Victory.

“Unfortunately, little of the wit and imagination that goes into our club football songs is reflected at England games,” stated the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF). Crap songs, yes. But crap fans?

Surely the point is to goad the opposition. Spreading your arms like one of those “Ten German Bombers” or hymning the historical fact of “Two World War One World Cup” could do with an update. But until some bright spark creates songs mocking the Germans’ EU-backed battering of Greece or Boris Becker’s latest jacket, we might have to make do with the jingoism.

It’s not easy coming up with insults that are catchy and popular but not insulting enough to be offensive. Maybe the Germans can help? After all, their English is often better than ours. As an Arsenal fan it’s often been my lot to be serenaded by Bayern Munich fans’ chants of “You’re not very good”, “We can see you sneaking out” and “Can we play you every week?”.

Of course, what this is is the latest episode in the State’s purge on people like ‘them’ at football grounds.  Those “scum” who use vulgar words and say nasty things, who emply mockery and insults to taunt other fans in the pantomime of football need hosing down.

But the people who dish it at the match can also take it. “The Germans I spoke to were not offended by the puerile chanting, they were just embarrassed for us,” said one Daily Mirror writer. If grown men and women want to behave sadly, let them. It’s their right to sing what they want to, however stupid, witless and arcane.

* That’s how some Tottenham fans refer to Son in the chant: “He’ll shoot / He’ll score / He’ll eat your Labrador / Son Heung-Min.”

Posted: 31st, March 2017 | In: Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


New Cristiano Ronaldo statue captures his trademark squint

ronaldo statue

 

A statue of Portuguese legend Cristiano Ronaldo has been unveiled at Maderia’s international airport, now called the Cristiano Ronaldo Airport. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa met the Real Madrid superstar and looked on as a statue was unveiled on the concourse outside.

Reaction to this latest Ronaldo statue has been mixed.

Some see a dynamic footballer, one of the world’s greatest athlete’s captured in his native deep bronze. Others wonder if the artist did justice to Ronaldo’s trademark cross-eyed squint, bulging forehead and teeth any red snapper would be proud to call their own.

 

ronaldo statue

 

Statues divide opinion, which is why its always safer to make them in retrospect once the subject has shuffled off and can’t be stood next to it.

Of course, what and who we see in the Ronaldo statue can reveal more about us than it does the player. Football website Pies sees Raoul Moat, the murderer. Our Marbella correspondent, Alex Ness, sees Niall Quinn. One of our writers sees Chelsea defender Gary Cahill watching David Luiz putting his hair in a bun. Another looked at it and said she never does any ironing and neither does Ronaldo because it looks as though he’s swallowed his iron.

Meanwhile, that bloke in Bridlington who says he looks a bit like Ronaldo if you’ve had a few pints and the lights are dimmed can now point to the statue and say: “You see. It is me!”

Posted: 29th, March 2017 | In: Sports | Comment


Chelsea ‘nark’ sets the police on rude Manchester United supporters

Looking for offence in dust is a full-time job. Today brings news that one sensitive Chelsea fan has given full throat to his upset that Manchester United fans referred to the Blues as “Chelsea rent boys” during the teams’ recent FA Cup match.

Rent boys is an old-fashioned term, for sure, but it is entirely in keeping with the way football fans model chants to the tunes of 1960s songs. The correct and up-to-date term is “male sex worker”. And it’s not even a term of abuse. It’s a career choice and should be legalised and taxed.

manchester united

 

The Sun says a police officer told the complainant that the chant “Chelsea rent boys” is “unacceptable” – but not for the reasons mentioned above. It’s because calling Chelsea fans “Chelsea rent boys” is offensive and intended to cause upset.

Writing in the Sun, Mick Hume wonders: “What next? Chelsea fans probed for animal welfare offences for shouting ‘sheep, sheep, sheep-s******s’ at supporters of less fashionable provincial clubs?”

Winding up the opposition is part and parcel of the game. The FA says it is bent on “eradicating all discriminatory and offensive chanting from football”. Mick adds: “But equating discrimination and offence is like giving a player a red card for nutmegging an opponent.”

We’d advocate going for the full Cruyff turn. Go beyond those arcane and sanitised rent-boy chants. That one only upset one Chelsea fan. It’s time fans upped their game.

PS: Stand up for free speech and the right to be offensive by buying Boy Mick Hume’s book here.

 

Posted: 28th, March 2017 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Key Posts, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal’s Ozil needs to be more like Spurs’ Dele Alli if he wants to succeed says BBC pundit

News from Germany is that Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, 28, will “talk soon” to the club about extending his current deal.  The Mirror says Arsenal have offered the German midfielder £280,000-a-week to stay at The Emirates. Having previously said he’d be inclined to remain at the club if Arsene Wenger did likewise, and with the Frenchman now committed to a further two years in charge, Ozil looks set to stay.

Although if Ozil does leave, the Sun says Jack Wilshere is keen to prove he is a “ready-made replacement”. Arsenal fans booing Ozil should read that and wonder how Wilshere, currently being mediocre at Bournemouth, would make the Gunners a better side.

But to BBC pundit Lee Dixon the biggest question is how Ozil can improve his game? And Dixon knows how. He says the German needs to learn from Deli Alli, the Spurs tyro and red-card-in-waiting.

“He’s playing in the first team long-term because he’s doing something right,” says Dixon of Alli on the BBC. “The fact that he’s come into the Tottenham team and they’re building a team around him, his talent is unlimited. If he [Ozil] had half of what Dele Alli has got, that nasty streak, he would be ten times a better player than he is because he hasn’t got what Dele Alli has.”

He’d also be getting sent off for nasty fouls and, well, not win anything. It’s tempting to think that the biggest asset Alli has over Ozil is a British passport and the right to wear an England shirt.

Posted: 27th, March 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Clickbait balls: Express tricks Liverpool fans with bullshit.com Alonso story

Click Balls: The Daily Express is at the forefront of the dead tree press’s battle for online clicks. Yesterday the self-styled “World’s Greatest Newspaper” had news to set Liverpool fans’ hearts aflutter. “Liverpool News: Xabi Alonso reveals he will be at Anfield next season,” declared the newspaper.

Alonso, the terrific Spanish midfielder playing at Bayern Munich, who was no less excellent in Liverpool red, is going to rejoin the Premier League club? Sounds like it. He has, after all, “revealed” his return to Anfield next season.

 

DAily Express SEO

 

One clue that this story was constructed in an SEO’s wet dream comes via the URL at the top of the page. It runs:

http://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/783228/Liverpool-Xabi-Alonso-News-Anfield-Jurgen-Klopp-Premier-League-Bayern-Munich

It’s just a collection of SEO-happy buzzwords. There is no story anything other than a Google bot can make any sense of.

 

daily express seo

 

And then comes the small print below that seductive headline:

Xabi Alonso: I will be at Liverpool next season

XABI ALONSO has revealed he will visit Liverpool next season.

Alonso is not coming to Liverpool to play for the club. Express writer Jack Otway tells his readers that some people have made that link:

The ex-Spain international has often been linked with an emotional return to Anfield.

Failing to add “See above”, Otway then explains the substance of his story:

And the 35-year-old veteran has admitted to still loving his former club and revealed a visit to watch them play with son Jontxu next season is on the cards.

Xavi Alsono might take his son to watch Liverpool net year. That’s a story first reported in the Liverpool Echo. “We are really looking forward to going back. I have heard great things about the new Main Stand,” Alonso tells the paper. “My son is desperate to go. He’s Liverpool born and always asks: ‘Dad. when are we going to Liverpool?’ I say: ‘Okay, but at the moment I have busy weekends! We will go, don’t worry.’”

The SEO-led Daily Express reports Alonso’s trip to see the new stand at Anfield as: “Liverpool News: Xabi Alonso reveals he will be at Anfield next season.”

The trend is to talk about fake news – but it’s good to see the Express going with the tried and tested bullshit.com model.

 

Posted: 25th, March 2017 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment