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

Manchester United balls: Sanchez beats Mourinho to the exit and Pogba stays

Is Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho lacking in self-awareness? Odd to ask, I know, given his crushing narcissism.  But when he said before United’s defeat at West Ham the club is bigger than anyone, he wasn’t referring to himself was he. We’re pretty sure Mourinho thinks he is bigger than Manchester United, or at least the club’s human equal. His words were answer aimed at Paul Pogba, the World Cup winner and United’s priciest asset he’s fallen out with.

The problem for Mourinho is that on the all-important United balance sheets Pogba is worth more to United than he is. Pressured by the marketeers and debt managers who control United, Mourinho cosets the player, making him captain, letting him take the penalties and telling media the Frenchman is the best in training. Pogba understands his value. Mourinho appears weak – all the more so when he then told Pogba he’d never captain the team again, and was met with belligerence when he schemed to broadcast his authority by admonishing Pogba in front of the cameras.

None of this is aided by Mourinho pragmatic tactics, anathema to United’s traditions of free-flowing, attack-minded football – but, then, United’s owners should have done their homework and realised what they were getting with Mourinho, a man whose success is built on nicking a lead and hanging on to it with grim determination.

And so it’s no surprise to read in the Sun that the Manchester United manager is worried about his future at Old Trafford. He’s “convinced” club officials have sounded out former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane. But Italian press says Zidane is to be the new chief executive at Juventus. ESPN hears United deny reports they have approached Zidane to replace. United says it’s “nonsense”.

The Star says one figure on his way out is Alex Sanchez, the ball-hogging attacker United were at pains to recruit from Arsenal. Having watched Sanchez, who never made it at Barcelona, shine in a team of journeymen at Arsenal, Mourinho thought the Chilean was the man to get United firing. He wasn’t. Indulged at Arsenal, where Arsene Wenger allowed Sanchez to wander all over the pitch, often picking the ball up in front of the defenders, waving his hands about at the rest of the team before trying to score on his own, Sanchez was given a more fixed role at Old Trafford. You can pay Sanchez £600,000-a-week, as United do, but Mourinho can’t get him to play like he did for the Gunners.

But maybe even he’ll outlast Mourinho, who is surely nearing the end of his time at United.

Posted: 1st, October 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: United ready to part with Pogba or Mourinho

Former Real Madrid manager and French legend Zinedine Zidane is learning to speak English so he can get the Manchester United job when job Jose Mourinho gets the chop, says the Sun. There is much talk of player unrest under Mourinho’s stultifying and divisive regime. So the Portuguese is to be thanked for his time and shown the door.

The Sun says Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic have adopted the roles of peacemakers in the Old Trafford dressing room. But pressure is building on Mourinho, who used his press conference before United’s trip to West Ham to remind Paul Pogba that “no player is bigger than the club”. He then added: “Manchester United is bigger than anyone. I have to defend that.” It’s bigger than Mourinho, who went on: “After weeks of analysing and changing opinions with my coaching staff, we made the decision that from now Paul is just a player and not a captain.”

Just a player. You see how language matters. Mourinho’s public words come too often loaded with negativity and snark. Zidane will do well to stick to plain English and leave his attacking for the match.

And what of that row between Mourinho and Pogba, filmed at United’s training ground last week? Did Mourinho need to admonish the World Cup winner in front of the cameras? “I don’t care about the cameras,” said Mourinho, who knew they were there. He was surely playing to them, seeing the chance to reassert his authority. Pogba’s reaction undermined Mourinho’s plan. “What confrontation? It’s not a confrontation,” says Mourinho. Adding: “Nobody trained better than Paul on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Some trained as well as, nobody better.” Well, no-one will pay a huge premium for a difficult player. Mourinho seems to be talking to the club’s owners and asset managers. He won’t devalue a player who cost United £89m and could fetch much more if sold.

But why not keep Pogba and get shot of Mourinho? Pogba is hardly cowed by Mourinho’s public criticism of him. He recognises his presence and value to United. And Mourinho, master of deflecting blame away from himself, can leave with his head held high. The fans might pick Mourinho ahead of Pogba, but would the players? And in the drive to market Manchester United, who is worth more, Pogba or Mourinho? How about this: which clubs want Pogba? PSG, Manchester City, Barcelona. And which clubs would want to spend £15m in wages a year on Mourinho?

Posted: 29th, September 2018 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Aaron Ramsey takes his one goal a season and heads to Italy

Yesterday Arsenal fans learned something that had escaped them. The Mirror’s John Cross told them and readers of his Daily Mirror “exclusive” that Aaron Ramsey is “one of Europe’s top goal-scoring midfielders”. Last season, Ramsey scored one goal in the Premier League. Are goals from midfield so hard to come by that one represents the apogee? That question to David Silva, Mo Salah, Deli Alli, Kevin de Bruyne, James Maddison, Bernardo Silva, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Pascal Groß. We could go round Europe looking at goalscoring midfielders, but the point is made: Ramsey is not as effective as his PR says he is.

But the impression that he hits the net pervades. Last night, former Arsenal star Ian Wright told Sky Sports: “…Aaron Ramsey is captain material… It should have been done ages ago. Ivan Gazidis [the Arsenal chief executive who left for AC Milan] has got a lot to answer for for this to happen because Ramsey should be a focal point in the team… He’s somebody that I’d like to see stay because I think he is that player who is never afraid. He scores goals.”

He scores very few goals. And another player on the big money Ramsey’s after might score more goals than him. Arsenal’s habit in recent years of sticking with players on the drift has seen them not challenge for the title and slip out of the Champions League slots. Unai Emery is building his own team. Why does he need Wenger’s journeymen?

So Ramsey’s off in search of vast riches and loyalty payments elsewhere. As soon as Arsenal agreed to pay £350,000 a week to Mesut Ozil, every other player; on Arsenal’s books thought themselves worth more. But they’re not. So Arsenal withdrew their contract offer to Ramsey – the one he hadn’t agreed to sign.

The Standard says he’s booking a one-way flight this January to Juventus or AC Milan. Or maybe it’ll be Chelsea or Manchester United? Anyone in the market for a skilful but slowing midfielder who scores one goal a season knows his agent’s number.

Posted: 28th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal prepare to sell overrated Aaron Ramsey

Transfer Balls spots this gem of an “exclusive” on the Daily Mirror’s back page: “Aaron Ramsey to leave Arsenal next summer.” The midfielder’s current deal runs until the end of this season. He’ll then be free to pick up a huge wad of cash at another club.  But after the original statement, the facts become , well, less factual.  We read that the Mirror “understands there is now NO new contract offer on the table”. Is understanding the same as knowing? No. Or ‘NO’, as the Mirror might put it.

 

ramsey arsenal leaves tranfer

Fact!

 

And then we pick up the powder and dust the story down for the agent’s fingerprints:

Midfielder Ramsey had been ready to stay and commit himself to a new contract, with the club confident of reaching agreement with the past few weeks. But there has been a sudden change and talks have completely broken down — to the point that there is now nothing for the 27-year-old Wales international to sign.

A sudden change from which side? The inference is that it’s not from fiercely loyal and not-in-the-least-bit greedy Ramsey who is holding his pen with “nothing” to sign. “Ramsey appears likely to play just one season under new boss Unai Emery,” we’re told. Appears. Likely. Not all that factual. This is less than 50 words after readers were told, “Aaron Ramsey will leave Arsenal at the end of the season”. Now it “is not known whether the Spaniard [Arsenal manger Unai Emery] wants to keep him.”

Arsenal’s wage bill has been escalating out of control with Mesut Ozil now on £350,000-a-week, but Ramsey has been keen to stay and this breakdown is not because he has turned down a new deal.

Maybe Arsenal think he’s not all that good?

It will be a massive blow to lose one of Europe’s top goal-scoring midfielders on a free, and once again the north Londoners’ dealings in the market and over contracts will come under the spotlight.

One of Europe’s top-scoring midfielders is, according to the Premier League’s stats-based Fantasy Football game, the joint 19th best midfielder in the PL. According to Wales Onlinewhich like the Mirror is owned by Reach – Ramsey isn’t one of the best midfielders in the PL. As for goals scored, Ramsey hasn’t scored this season. He did score 7 PL goals last season – the same number as: Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford), Pascal Groß (Brighton) and Marcos Alonso (Chelsea). In season 2016-17, Ramsey scored – get this – one Premier League goal. In 2015-16 he scored 5; in 2014-15 he got 6; and in 2013-14 he scored 10. Is he one of the continent’s best goal-scoring midfielders? He was. But is he now? No.

Ramsey’s a good player. But Arsenal would be nuts to break the bank to keep him. And if he wants to go now, surely they’ll cut him loose in January. But the Mirror says:

They allowed both Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to get into the final year of their deals, and now they face an even more embarrassing own goal over Ramsey.

Ozil stayed. Sanchez went to Manchester United on a £600,000-a-week deal and Arsenal got the less difficult Henrikh Mkhitaryan in return. Arsenal are currently above United in the league. Sanchez has been poor. Embarrassing?

The tin lid on this balls comes in the next line:

Meanwhile, former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has turned down offers from China, Japan and France because he is enjoying his new-found freedom after leaving the club last summer.

Oh, him – the bloke who didn’t leave when the Mirror told us he would be:

 

daily mirror wenger quits sack resigns arsenal

2017?

 

See yer, Ramsey. First went fading Theo Walcott, then oft-injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the ordinary Kieran Gibbs. They were followed out the door by the pace-free Jack Wilshere and now Ramsey is set to leave. Arsenal fans, listen up, things are getting better. Tough players with presence can get in touch with Emery at the usual address…

Posted: 27th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Pogba laughs at Mourinho as players prepare mass exodus

It’s the Daily Paul Pogba, a look at news on the likeable, over-hyped French midfielder, who told the United board before the World Cup that he wanted to leave Old Trafford. He wasn’t allowed to go, of course. And now Pogba’s a World Cup winner with France, United are cherishing their biggest name, realising that in their ultimate desire to be Marketing Week’s Brand of the Year, Pogba is a route to new markets. Not quite. Because Jose Mourinho has just told Pogba he will never again captain the team. It won’t be him lifting the Premier League trophy when Mourinho’s masterplan to nick a lead and then defend it pays off.

And it’s worse. The Sun says Pogba and Mourinho “clashed” at training yesterday because the irritating Portuguese manager thought the France international had posted a video of him laughing after Manchester United’s defeat by Derby County in the League Cup. The result is, according to ESPN, that senior Manchester United players think Mourinho’s a bit of a pillock and his man-management techniques to blame the players and pick on individuals in public are neither helpful nor pleasant.

But here’s the good news for United fans: the owners are backing the charismatic Pogba over the stultifying Mourinho. No. Sorry. Remove the bunting. It’s the other way around.  Manchester United vice-chairman Ed Woodward has backed Mourinho, says the Star. But, apparently, a “number” of players want to leave if Mourinho stays. But neither Pogba nor Mourinho is going anywhere, says the Times. Unless a club offers over £200m for Pogba, in which case, United will call him a taxi.

Back in the Sun, we hear that Mourinho wants the Manchester United board to support him as they once supported Sir Alex Ferguson. And just as soon as Mourinho produces a coherent side of dash and swagger that wins things, they most probably will.

Posted: 27th, September 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal banned Low from speaking to Ozil

“NO PRONUNCIATION IN LONDON,” declares the headline on Bild, the German tabloid. The headline is viewed through the Google Translate mangle. But the next part is clear: “Löw locked out at Özil training.” News is that Germany coach Joachim Low, on a mission to see Mesut Ozil, rocked up uninvited to the Arsenal training ground and wasn’t let in. The story goes that Low wanted to make up with Ozil, who retired from the German national team after feeling the victim of “racism and disrespect” over his Turkish roots. So he flew to London for a chat.

You can picture Low stood with a few autograph hunters by Arsenal’s London Colney training ground, picking his nose, eating his bogies, scratching his arse and sniffing his fingers. And there’s Ozil in the security guard’ cabin watching the live CT footage and vowing never again to shake Low’s hand.

 

low germany bogie low germany bogie low germany bogie

 

Shake!

But it’s not quite true. The Standard says the trip to Arsenal was “pre-planned”. Low was invited to London Colney by Per Mertesacker, the Arsenal coach and former German international. It’s just that Ozil wasn’t there that day.

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


Transfer Balls: Abramovich wants $3billion for Chelsea and Manchester United offload Pogba

“We’re the biggest sports team in the world,” declared Ed Woodward, the Manchester United chief executive. A few hours after that boast, Derby County arrived at Old Trafford and booted United out of the Carabao Cup. That was preceded by Jose Mourinho, United’s miserabilist manager telling the club’s most expensive recruit, the well-marketed Paul Pogba, he’ll never captain the club again. Pogba wants to play for Barcelona, just as he wanted to leave United to play for Juventus, which he did, before coming “home” for £89m and earning the chance to fulfil his dream. The Mirror says Pogba will cost Barcelona £200m – which would give money-mad United a massive profit on a player who, if style and putting bums on seat, should outlast Mourinho at the club.

In other news, Cristiano Ronaldo is to return to Real Madrid after he’s used up the Touche Eclat at Juventus. “He is one of those that one day will come back,” said Real Madrid president, Florentino Pérez. “I think that he is one of those players who will be in the hearts of the Madrid fans and will be remembered from generation to generation.” But when will return? Who knows but expect lots of stories on ifs and whens.

To finish: Arsenal like the look of Rennes’ 20-year-old Senegal winger Ismaila Sarr, who, says the Mirror, has been “likened” to Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele. In what way the cheap young blade is like the very pricey Barcelona star we’re not told. Maybe he just looks like him and the Arsenal board will sign the lad, print ‘Dembele’ on his shirt.

But the biggest transfer news of all is that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich wants at least £3bn to sell the club, according to Bloomberg.

Abramovich bought Chelsea out of near-bankruptcy in 2003 for £140 million (about $223 million at the time) and has since loaned the club more than £1.1 billion. Until he came along, Chelsea hadn’t won the top domestic trophy, the Premier League title, since 1955. His big spending changed all that and set off a kind of arms race in English football. In some ways, it was similar to the U.S. model: Buy talent, buy titles, and sell merchandise and media rights. But unlike owners of American sports teams, Abramovich didn’t seem bothered by racking up huge losses. (And he didn’t have to contend with caps on spending, until new rules came into force in 2010.) At the Arsenal game, Chelsea supporters taunted their rivals with the chant “We’ve won it all!” to which Arsenal fans sang in response, “You’ve bought it all!”

Chelsea fans still love their high-rolling owner, even as the U.K. government hits back at the Kremlin. Now Abramovich is mulling a sale of Chelsea, frustrated by his British visa problems and concerned about the potential fallout should the U.S. expand sanctions against wealthy Russians and target him. He’s already rejected bids for the club in excess of $2.3 billion—which would be a world-record price for a sports team—according to people familiar with the talks. Earlier this year, Abramovich hired Raine Group LLC, a merchant bank in New York, to advise on the possibility of a full or partial sale of the club. A person familiar with the discussions says Abramovich wants £3 billion. Abramovich’s representatives declined multiple requests for comment for this story and insisted all communication go through his lawyers, who also declined to comment.

If Chelsea is worth that much, imagine what the world’s biggest sports brand, Manchester United, are worth? And then try to work out the motives of the person who’d buy it…

Posted: 26th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Worst US Soccer Kits!

WITH Stevie Gerrard looking like he’s off to play football in the United States of America, most likely to live in the sunny climate of Los Angeles to play for David Beckham’s old lot at the Galaxy, it is worth remembering just how weird it’ll be, seeing Gerrard in a kit that isn’t England or Liverpool’s.

And speaking of kits, America has had some of the most dismal jerseys imaginable. With everyone being fans of retro kits these days, it is nice to imagine the Anfield legend playing in some of these abominations.

Here’s some of the most stomach turning kits in American soccer’s history.

Kansas City Wizards

The Wizards’ kit is a funny one because, even though it is clearly an absolute howler of a kit, there’s something that is borderline nice about it. Obviously, you have to have an eye for all things ’90s, but those rainbow sleeves are as pleasing as they are vomit-inducing.

1997KansasCity

Colorado Caribous

Perhaps the worst/best kit in football’s long history, the Caribous turned out in a beige number which had delightful tassles on the chest. They didn’t exactly light up the North American Soccer League. They played for one season and lost 22 of their 30 games.

Colorado Caribous

USA ’94

When America was awarded the FIFA World Cup in 1994, they didn’t play in that lovely all-white we see them in now. The home kit was red and white stripes, like the stripes of the star spangled banner. The away kit completed the flag with a pretty awful blue thing covered in stars.

usa-away

San Jose Clash

The San Jose Clash clearly took the ‘clashing’ element of their name and applied it to this horror show. A lovely minty teal with urine yellow and ketchup red. Nike’s design room clearly knocked this up at 5 to 5 on a Friday when they all wanted to get down the pub.

san jose clash

Detroit Express

Even though this lovely photo of Trevor Francis doesn’t really do it justice, the Detroit Express kit was a particularly horrible shade of orange, that was only found in the 1970s. Admiral, the kit makers, were known for their bold designs, so in a way, there’s a certain charm to it,

Express

New England Tea Men

To really ram home the name of the New England Tea Men, Umbro thought it might be a fun idea to stick a gigantic letter ‘T’ on all the kits. The awkward design was only matched by the awkward perms as displayed by some of the players.

Tea Men 78 Head Mike Flanagan 2_small

San Diego Sockers

While not the most disgusting kit in memory, you have to include the mighty San Diego Sockers because, when the players ran across the pitch, if the material folded, it looked like they were called the ‘Suckers’.

Sockers

Tampa Bay Mutiny

The kit was a disaster and so too, was the Tampa Bay Mutiny franchise. No surprise really as what player would want to run out in this garish number? Fans weren’t likely to be too keen on it either.

tampabaymutiny

Posted: 26th, September 2018 | In: Fashion, Sports | Comment


Manchester United: Pogba shunts Mourinho closer to the exit

Anyone in any doubt that Paul Pogba’s words were all about Jose Mourinho is obviously not Jose Mourinho, a man for whom everything is always and essentially about him. Responding to Pogba’s comments post a 1-1 with the mighty Wolves that United should “attack, attack. attack” at home, Mourinho has told the club’s most expensive player ever he will never captain the team again.

In his programme notes for Tuesday’s Carabao Cup game with Derby County, Mourinho sniped: “[The game against Wolves was] an important lesson; a lesson that I repeat week after week after week, a lesson that some boys are not learning. Every team that play Manchester United are playing the game of their lives, and we need to match that level of aggression, motivation and desire – 95% isn’t enough when others give 101%.”

Joyous, no, to see United imploding, the manager blaming the players for his side’s dullness and inability to win every match. Either Pogba or Mourinho will surely leave the club soon. But which one? Who would the fans miss most: the charismatic young, over-hyped blade who offers promise or the chippy former Chelsea boss surfing a tsunami of braggadocio who masterminds a tired, pragmatic style of football that seeks to nick a lead and hold it; the manager who having told Mo Salah and Kevin de Bruyne they were not good enough for The Blues is doing his best to make World Cup winner Pogba feel inferior?

But who cares, right? Aside from United supporters, fans of all other teams are hardwired to enjoy the country’s biggest team failing. We used to enjoy and envy Fergie’s swashbuckling sides, but now United have invested vast sums in a team coached into stultifying plodders by a man who has always favoured negative tactics. Mourinho is the man who bought Pogba, Alexis Sanchez et al and invited them to play like the ambulatory elbow that is Marouane Fellaini. What was once viewed as hauteur and charisma been stripped back to reveal nothing more than Mourinho’s petulance, sarcasm and insults.

Who do you want to stay, United fans? The rest of us want Mourinho to…

Posted: 25th, September 2018 | In: Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Pogba ruins Mourinho’s swashbuckling ‘Red-Volution’

pogba-moutinho

 

The Sun’s Neil Curtis blames Paul Pogba for Manchester United’s 1-1 home draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers. United were leading until the 53rd minute – Fred scored following a super touch by Pogba – when Joao Moutinho hit a superb shot from the edge of the penalty area that arched and dipped past David De Gea.

Here’s the goal. You might notice how Luke Shaw fails to block the cross. And Wolves worked the ball very well, getting forward in numbers and unnerving United with their power and precision. But to Curtis this was all about Pogba’s “gaffe”, for which Jose Mourinho gave him a “dressing room dressing down”.

 

 

Inside the paper and Ian Wright joins in the attack on Pogba. In a double-page spread entitled “Pogba must stop putting the boot into Jose, Wright says Pogba must “end his war of words with Jose Mourinho”. He talks of Pogba’s “latest public attack” on his manager. He “threw his gaffer under the bus”. This harks back to yesterday’s Sun story in which Pogba “launched an astonishing attack on Jose Mourinho’s tactics”. What did he say? “At home we should attack, attack, attack,” said Pogba. “That’s Old Trafford. We are here to attack. Teams are scared when they see Man United attacking and attacking. That was out mistake.” So why aren’t they attacking? “I can’t tell you because I’m a player,” says Pogba. “It’s not me… we should move better.”

Astonished? No. United are dull to watch. Pogba’s a very good player but not the world beater the marketeers tells us he is. And Mourinho at United is an uneasy fit. But from the off the Sun has been cheering on Mourinho like a well-paid PR:

 

the sun mourinho jose Manchester United Neil Curtis

 

The “Red-olution”:

United look strong and positive. The first pass is forward once more not sideways or backwards merely to keep possession. Mourinho is trusting the players abilities, letting them breathe.

Phew!

 

eric baiily transfer

 

In his £250m splurge, LVG made two that excited but could not get the best out of either in Angel Di Maria and Memphis Depay. Mourinho has made four and so far Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly have been immediate hits. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is yet to start.

Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan have left. Pogba apparently wants to leave. And Bailly has been a disappointment. But in the Sun Mourinho is much better than Louis Van Gaal.

 

 

Mourinho newspapers Manchester United

 

Jose really can do no wrong in the Sun

Posted: 25th, September 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Liverpool’s Salah wins and Ronaldo goes missing at FIFA Best awards

Compare and contrast the Daily Mirror’s stories today on Cristiano Ronaldo and the FIFA Best awards. Ronaldo was up again for the top gong he won last year and the year before that. This time he was against Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. Who won? Modric did. He’s been brilliant for Real and Croatia. The Mirror’s reporting has been less than great.

 

ronaldo best fifa

 

Story 1: “Why Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi won’t be attending the FIFA Best awards in London.”

Why?

It had been reported that Messi would be attending despite not being nominated for Best Men’s Player, but now he won’t be at the awards

Why?

The Portuguese played for Juventus at Frosinone on Sunday night , and has another fixture for his new club at home to Bologna on Wednesday.

 

ronaldo best fifa

 

ronaldo best fifa

 

Story 2: “Cristiano Ronaldo delivers for Juventus in telling reminder of his greatness before Best FIFA Awards”

Cristiano Ronaldo delivered a telling reminder of his greatness just before the Best FIFA Awards. On Monday, Ronaldo will be suited and booted and on his way to the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank.

So he will be there?

PS: The awards are bunkum. To illustrate how silly they are, Salah won for the Puskas award for the best goal last season – better than Gareth Bale’s strike in the Champions’ league final, when the pressure as on and it really mattered. Oh, puh-lease…

The Fifa Puskas nominees were voted for by the public:

Here were the 10 nominees:

Gareth Bale (vs Liverpool – Champions League final)
Denis Cherychev (vs Croatia – World Cup)
Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (vs AEK Athens – Greek Cup semi-final)
Cristiano Ronaldo (vs Juventus – Champions League quarter-final)
Giorgian De Arrascaeta (vs America MG – Brazilian Serie A)
Riley McGree (vs Melbourne City – A-League)
Lionel Messi (vs Nigeria – World Cup)
Benjamin Pavard (vs Argentina – World Cup)
Ricardo Quaresma (vs Iran – World Cup)
Mohamed Salah (vs Everton – Premier League)

 

Posted: 24th, September 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Media balls: Aubameyang was onside and Everton were lucky

Media Balls: a look at biased reporting in the weekend’s Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton, won 2-0 by the Gunners. The Mirror calls Arsenal’s second goal, scored by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a “flipping disgrace”. The Arsenal striker was well offside when he received the ball before planting it neatly past Jordan Pickford. The Express leads with news that Everton manager Marco Silva was “left seething” following the offside goal. He was “livid” says the Sun on its front page. The paper concurs that Aubameyang was “a yard offside”. The Mail says the goal “should not have stood”.

On the Arsenal website, we’re told this: “Auba…finishes off a swift counter involving Ozil and Ramsey.”

Offside? Not a bit of it: “Lacazette started the move for the second, stealing the ball and sending Ozil free. The German broke into the box, looked to pick out Ramsey, but the ball was slightly behind him, where Aubameyang was lurking to tuck home his third goal of the week.”

And in the Islington Gazette – the local Arsenal newspaper: “Aubameyang doubled the lead after getting on the end of a sweeping move to make it 2-0 as Arsenal revealed their attacking power, even if Moss should have called offside earlier in the move.”

The Everton website and Liverpool Echo both says the goal was offside. Much bias in north London, then.

And by way of evening up the reporting, a little, there was that moment when Arsenal could / should have had a penalty. The Islington Gazette reports:

Aubameyang should have won a penalty after Jonjoe Kenny reacted to a header coming towards him by lifting his arm. Yes it was instinctive but the laws of the game make it clear that type of action should be penalised with a spot-kick.

The incident is neither mentioned on the Everton website nor the Echo’s.

Posted: 24th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Liverpool: Arsenal didn’t miss Virgil van Dijk, they just lack Southampton’s coaching skills

News that Arsenal rejected Virgil van Dijk, 27, before Southampton bought him comes as no great shock. The final years of Arsene Wenger’s leadership at Arsenal are punctuated with a myriad bad decisions and indifferent coaching. The BBC says Arsenal could have bought the now Liverpool star for £12m from Celtic but thought him “too nonchalant”.

Former Celtic assistant manager John Collins, told BeIn Sports that Arsene Wenger liked Van Dijk but the club’s then chief scout, Steve Rowley, was less impressed. “Arsenal’s chief scout thought he was too nonchalant,” said Collins. “Maybe that was part of his game but he ticks so many of the other boxes. He’s got pace, power, balance, distribution and he’s good in the air. He can be a bit nonchalant but he is a quality player.”

Easy to see this this as an Arsenal misstep. But given how Arenal stagnated under Wenger, what evidence is that that Van Dijk would have improved under the Frenchman? Yesterday former Gunner Santi Cazorla told the BBC Wenger’s Arsenal lacked belief. We needed to believe in ourselves more,” he told Football Focus. “To believe that we were capable of competing with the big sides in the Premier League and not just settling for third or fourth.”

Moreover, Collins says Van Dijk, who would up costing Liverpool £75m, wasn’t rated by Brendan Rodgers when he was in charge at Anfield. “He would’ve cost around £12m,” says Collins. “Every team watched him regularly but the worry was he was showing it against Scottish players but you could tell he was strong, powerful and a well balanced player.”

He was presumably all those thing when Celtic bought the Dutch national captain from Groningen for £2.5m. He did well there but it was at Southampton where he flourished. And what Collins does not say is how well he was coached at the innovative south coast club. Southampton’s system has produced Gareth Bale, Calum Chambers, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw. And players have improved at the Saints: Saido Mane, Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren (all now at Liverpool) and Toby Anderweireld. Name one academy player who really improved under Wenger in his final four or five years at Arsenal, or a new recruit who looked like a bargain. It’s not easy.

Why did Arsenal fail? Matthew Syed took a look:

“We visited the Yehudi Menuhin Music School to see how they think about purposeful practice,” Edd Vahid, the head of coaching, said. “We also visit Saracens a lot. They do not have the best facilities in the world, particularly when compared to some Premier League football clubs, but they are fantastic when it comes to culture and innovation.”

Partly inspired by Saracens, Southampton now have an educational and skills programme running alongside the usual academy functions…

“If you want leaders on the pitch, you have to develop their qualities off the pitch,” Les Reed, the technical director, said. “In many academies, education is seen as a waste of time, a distraction from the game. We think that it is central to player development. We need England players who don’t crumble when they are on a big stage and go one-nil down.”

Southampton also have a Black Box Room, modelled on the aviation industry, so that they can constantly analyse the data from training and matches, just as aviation learns from the cockpit recorders. The analysts are striving to build better metrics to improve recruitment, despite the statistical challenges. They have studied a number of outside organisations, including Google.

Would Van Dijk have gotten that development at Arsenal under Wenger? No. Southampton (plus a dash of Liverpool desperation on paying such huge fee) turned him from a decent player into the world’s most expensive defender.

Posted: 23rd, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Key Posts, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Aston Villa adopt John McGinn’s weird FIFA avatar as his official twitter photo

Aston Villa FIFA

 

The official twitter account for Aston Villa FC noticed that their team’s John McGinn looks not a lot like his Fifa 19 avatar. That’s McGinn on the right in the above photo. Today, McGinn scored as Villa lost 1-2 to Sheffield United. This is how Villa’s tweeter-in-chief celebrated:

 

Aston Villa FIFA

 

Ha.

Posted: 22nd, September 2018 | In: Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Ronaldo banned, unbanned and never banned for Champions League match

When Ronaldo was sent off on his debut for Juventus in the Champions League, not only did he weep like a child being told off by his mum in front of his mates (source: @BeadedGenius), but he was sure to miss the games at Manchester United. The Daily Mirror announced: “Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off in tears as his Champions League debut for Juventus turned sour. The Portuguese superstar will miss the chance to tackle his former club Manchester United at Old Trafford.”

Problem was that the Mirror doesn’t know the rules. The Premier League’s dishes out an automatic three-game ban for violent conduct. Uefa gives only a one-game automatic ban, with no right of appeal. Uefa regulation 50.01 says “in case of serious offences, the Uefa control, ethics and disciplinary body is entitled to augment this punishment”.

 

Uefa rules red card ronaldo manchester united

 

Ronaldo’s red card-worthy offence was softer than Jordan Henderson’s bikini line. So an earl bath and a one-match ban is most likely the sum of his punishment. One day on and the Mirror has picked up the story, reporting today: “Ronnie is clear to face Reds. Cristiano Ronaldo can play against former club Manchester United in the Champions League despite his midweek red card.”

ronaldo manchester united

 

The Mirror makes no mention of its earlier error, nor does it identify the source of its new-found knowledge. Compare and contrast the following:

BBC – September 20:  “The Portugal forward appeared to pull Valencia defender Jeison Murillo’s hair…”
Mirror – September 21: “[Ronaldo was sent off] after appearing to pull Valencia defender Jeison Murillo’s hair…”

BBC: “But former Red Devils midfielder Darren Fletcher expects the Champions League’s all-time top scorer to play both games against his old side. It was a soft sending-off for Ronaldo, but the letter of the law says you probably cannot do that, so I think the one-match ban will probably stick,” the Stoke player told BBC Radio 5 live. “He will feel like he was letting his team-mates down in that moment, but I expect him to play in both games against Manchester United.”
Daily Mirror: The exact same quote but with no source attributed.

 

Posted: 21st, September 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Spurs balls: Pochettinho sack and Lloris’ imagines an injury

spurs poch sacked

 

It’s remarkable how little pressure Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino is under. He wants to win trophies, of course, having won nothing at Spurs since his arrival from Southampton in May 2014. Other managers on a run of three defeats on the bounce, as Pochettino’s Spurs are, would be under far more pressure, their jobs hanging by a thread. But Pochettino’s Spurs punch above their weight, consistently outperforming bigger spending rivals. Spurs would be nuts to get rid of him. But there he is in the Mirror’s back page saying, “I could get sacked.”

What he actually said was:

“I am going to stick with the club, I am not going to criticise the club. All the decisions are our decisions and of course always with the club until the end. Maybe we are still here in five years or maybe in one week we are not here, but we will always be talking well about the club and helping them to achieve all they want.”

Put that through the tabloid mincer and it becomes: “I could be sacked.”

From the same press conference, the BBC delivers its own shocker: “Pochettino claims Tottenham’s 31-year-old goalkeeper Hugo Lloris’ thigh injury is down to the stress of the Frenchman’s drink-drive conviction.” Got that? The Sun shouts the same: “Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has put Hugo Lloris’ thigh injury down to induced stress from his drink-drive shame.”

A psychosomatic injury? The thigh bone is connected to the camshaft… Not quite. What he said was: “I think he was under stress during the game against Manchester United [the last game before his court date]. I think the injury and with the added stress maybe created that injury.” Clear?

Posted: 21st, September 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Gooners delight: Jeremy Corbyn vows to boycott Arsenal matches

More on Jeremy Corbyn’s obsession with the world’s one Jewish state. The story goes that the Labour leader mired in accusations of antisemitism was so upset by Arsenal FC’s 2006 deal with the Israeli tourist board he wanted fans to boycott the club. Corbyn is, of course, an Arsenal fan. So did he boycott any matches? Corbyn has voiced his support for BDS – the movement that wants to censor anything Israeli, including people – like, for instance, Yossi Benayoun, the Israeli who played for Arsenal in 2011.

“We must campaign against and boycott Arsenal football club for their arrangement with the Israeli tourist board,” said Corbyn to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign Trade Union Conference in 2006, as reported in the Mail. The paper pins the story to the noticebaord with this gem:

The £350,000 deal was approved by Dubai-based Emirates airline, Arsenal’s main sponsor, before going ahead. The UAE is known for its hostility to Israel and has never recognised its right to exist.

Ah, the noble Emirates, hosted in enlightened Dubai. Here’s what Human Rights Watch has to say about the United Arab Emirates:

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) arbitrarily detains and in some cases forcibly disappears individuals who criticize the authorities. The UAE plays a leading role in the Saudi-led coalition which has carried out scores of unlawful attacks in Yemen, some likely war crimes. The UAE was implicated in detainee abuse at home and abroad. Labor abuses in the UAE persist. Migrant construction workers face serious exploitation. Domestic workers’ rights are now enshrined in law, but some provisions are weaker than those accorded to other workers under the labor law. The UAE has denied activists and international human rights organizations’ access.

A Labour spokesman is cited: “Jeremy has never boycotted an Arsenal game.”

 

Posted: 20th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Politicians, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Ozil’s not a patch on Federico Fernandez and Matteo Guendouzi

Mesut Özil’s agent, Erkut Sögüt, says Germany’s Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller and Toni Kroos are wrong in their to-deadline assessments of the Arsenal midfielder’s decision to quit international football. Kroos told Germany’s Bild that he’s studied Ozil’s lengthy statement about his reasons for quitting the German national team and spotted a “lot of nonsense”. In that statement Ozil spoke of the “racism and disrespect” he felt had been meted out to him by the German fans and FA.

Sögüt told German magazine 11Freunde: “Neuer indirectly accused Mesut of not having worn the German jersey with pride. This is unacceptable. Müller did not understand the whole discussion. And Kroos, as a seasoned national team player, should explain what he means by ‘nonsense’.” Adding: “There are only two explanations: they are either naive or scheming.”

All a bit messy. But that’s not all. As Germans debate to what extent if any they had it in for Ozil, the Daily Mail‘s Craig Hope makes Ozil the main thrust of his report on Arsenal’s 2-1 victory at Newcastle United, in which the German scored the decisive goal (A “cool finish” – Evening Standard). Below the headline “OZIL THE ORDINARY”, Hope writes:

“He scored and won the acclaim of his teammates, but to assume all is right now in the complicated world of Mesut Ozil would be premature… Ozil was just about superior to anyone on the opposition”.

He was. But not when you look at the scores the Mail gives for each player: Ozil gets a 6.5 out of ten, making him worse than Newcastle’s Federico Fernández (7) and on a par with Newcastle’s Dummett and Ritchie. The Newcastle Chronicle says of Fernandez (6): “Had a great first half but blotted copybook with needless foul on Aubameyang to concede free-kick which turned the game on its head.” The Mirror (Ozil 7; Fernandez 5; Ritchie 4, Dummett 6) says of Ozil: “GOAL. Buzzed around linked up play and a lovely calm finish to polish the game off.”

But here’s Hope in the Mail:

There was some good, some bad about Ozil here. One smart Cruyff turn on halfway left his minder floundering. But that is what he does, his ability on the ball acting as deception against his indifference off it. There was one instance where he refused to chase back, seemingly miffed at the non-award of a free-kick after a palm in his face, while his number of attempted passes – 38 – was less than teenager Matteo Guendouzi managed in 45 minutes.

Well, those numbers of passes might be because Ozil tries most of his in the opposition’s half – often around a packed penalty box – and Gunedouzi makes a lot of his in his own half, most often to Arsenal defenders stood behind him. Does Hope think Guendouzi should get the chance his passing deserves and play in Ozil’s position?

Posted: 19th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Ivan Gazidis: the towering force who took Arsenal from 1st to 6th

Say it ain’t so. Arsenal’s chief executive has been transferred to work for a US hedge fund which took ownership of AC Milan after the outfit it loaned money to defaulted. These reluctant football club owners see in Ivan Gazidis the perfect talent to make their investment bear fruit. Ivan gets a few million quid a season to make AC Milan sellable; and if the once mighty Italians become really in demand a stake in the brand should make him millions. Just a few words Ivan: shut the door on the way out, mate. Ok, yep, if you must leave your ‘message to the fans’, keep it brief. Want to hear it? Go on, then:

“For the last 10 years I have been privileged to dedicate myself to this great club. Arsenal is entering a new chapter and I have done everything I can to ensure that it is strongly placed to take on that challenge. This includes world-class facilities and outstanding leaders in every sector who carry the values of the club, including, of course, Unai Emery, Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham in whom I have enormous faith.”

They were all employed in very recent times – Sanllehi in November 2017;  Emery in the summer 2018; and Venkatesham, who today begins his salute to the club by stating, “Although I joined Arsenal just months ago…”. They only came once the Arsenal owners realised that Arsene Wenger’s failure was impacting on their dividend cheques. Not competing for the Premier League title was fine, but when those Champions League pay days ran out, the board freaked. They finally had some work to do.

Gazidis then guffs on about “primary partnership deals” and the “new league broadcast deals” – things a mechanical rabbit running on an inferior battery could have managed to sort out. Arsenal have “updated our stadium” (let’s hear it for the toilet paper!) and “rebuilt our training facilities so that they are now world class”. What were they before Unai Emery arrived? He then comes over all X Factor and thanks one and all for being on “the journey”. And he thanks “Stan and Josh Kroenke for their support and guidance on everything we have done”. They’re the owners that have taken the club into private hands – theirs.

Time to hark back to what Gazidis said when he arrived at Arsenal in November 2008:

“The great thing about Arsenal is that it has been run to sustain itself. It is not dependent on an outside investor to pump money in year after year. That position is inherently a little bit unstable because it depends on one individual. Arsenal has positioned itself not to be dependent on one individual.”

But now they are. Cheers, Ivan, for helping make that possible. For good measure he said of himself (he was born in South Africa): “This is not going to be an American coming with no understanding of Arsenal looking to make it in to a Disneyfied version of Arsenal.” Go, Josh Kroenke! Whoop!

Let’s end with this – the Premier League table when Gazidis joined the club:

 

gazidis arsenal table

PL table on Saturday November 24 2007 – the week Gazidis joined Arsenal

 

And here’s the table at the end of Gazidis’ last full season of improvement – 2017-2018:

 

PL table season 2017 - 2018

PL table season 2017 – 2018

 

 

Ivan. Bye.

Posted: 18th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Arsenal dodge a bullet as Wilshere has surgery at West Ham

Jack Wilshere has been poor at West Ham. Yesterday he had ankle surgery which could keep him out of action for six weeks. The story goes that the West Ham United owners only wanted to offer the injury-prone midfielder a one-year contract. But David Sullivan was reportedly coerced by new manager Manuel Pellegrini and his staff into offering the former Arsenal player a three-year deal worth an overly generous £80,000 a week.

The money is huge but just take a look at what Jack could have earned had all that early career promise panned out. According to Football Leaks: Uncovering The Dirty Deals Behind The Beautiful Game, Wilshere’s former Arsenal teammate, Alexis Sanchez, scored a £6.7m signing-on fee at Manchester United for leaving Arsenal. Factor in that 29-year-old Sanchez wanted to leave and his wage rocketed to just shy of £400,000 a week, and that signing on bonus looks unhinged. He also gets £75,000 for each game he starts. This is doubtless seen as an incentive for the titchy Chilean who shone in a plodding Arsenal side to turn up for work and not reason that £20m a year to watch daytime telly is living the dream.

The money lashed out on players by desperate clubs is ludicrous. And in light of what some players earn – and we didn’t even get to the absurd clauses marked ‘loyalty bonus’ and ‘win bonus’ –  Wilshere, who commanded no transfer fee and always played with passion and personality, might look like a bargain. But he wasn’t good enough for an ambitious Arsenal team. So why should he start for West Ham who invested £100m over the summer in nine other players? And don’t West Ham have keen-as-mustard youth players who can be brought into the first team?

“Manuel and I identified him as a target as soon as we joined the club and we are delighted to have succeeded in securing Jack’s signature above a number of other teams,” said West Ham’s new director of football, Mario Husillos, a former sporting director at Malaga, when Wilshere arrived at West Ham in July. “On the biggest stage, he has shown that he has game-changing abilities, as well as having the creativity and intelligence to make a real difference to our squad.” A few seasons ago, yes. But recently? No.

Get well soon, Jack. But he’s unlikely to get better.

Posted: 18th, September 2018 | In: Sports | Comment


Time for Spurs and England to drop Harry Kane

Goals can conceal the truth. Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane scored 6 for England at the World Cup finals. The haul won him the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer, and with all the predictability of a glamour model professing shock at her married footballer lover’s infidelity, Kane next appeared for England dressed in a pair of gold-coloured boots. For a player loved for his lack of ego, those boots looked borrowed.

And despite that nod to riches, Kane was poor. And yesterday he was poor against Liverpool. But what about those six goals against the world’s best? Well, three were penalties (Panama x 2 and Colombia); one was a jammy deflection (Panama); another was a tap in (Tunisia); and there a very smart finish (Tunisia). The haul came from the 14 shots Kane took all the tournament.

Before yesterday’s plodding performance for a largely palsied Spurs – Kane attempted 13 passes all match against Liverpool – who only came to life when Son came on for Winks, Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettinho told Sky: “I think he [Kane] is fit. I do not read and do not listen to what is going on around… For me, there is no doubt that he is one of the best strikers in the world… It is only time before he starts to score goals. For us, Harry Kane is so important. I have no doubt that he is one of the best players in England and in Europe.”

On his day maybe. But not today. Once irreplaceable for Spurs and England, Kane should be dropped.

Posted: 16th, September 2018 | In: Sports, Spurs | Comment


Liverpool: that photo of Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen massaging Roberto Firmino’s brain

firmino eye spurs liverpool

 

As Spurs lost 1-2 at their adopted Wembley home to Liverpool, many people noticed the moment when Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen appeared to massage Roberto Firmino’s brain.

Did he mean to do it? Gouging usually involves the thumb. Fingers are used to gain purchase on the target’s head. But here Vertonghen leads with the index finger on his favoured left hand. The risk of a long finger nail or one coated in Shellac coaxing Firmino’s eyeball from the socket cannot be overlooked. And there’s the position of Vertongen’s middle finger, pressed as it is below Firmino’s nose in a kind of ‘smell this’ gesture. Add a touch of banter from the Spurs man (“Hand ball!”) and you’ve got a full on assault of the senses.

PS: In rugby union the minimum punishment should be 12 weeks, according to the laws of the game. In 2016, Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele was banned for six games after appearing to gouge the eye of Chelsea’s Diego Costa.

 

Posted: 15th, September 2018 | In: Liverpool, Sports, Spurs | Comment


West Ham: leaks, Wilshere is injured and Champions League glory

Who is behind @exwhuemployee, a twitter account leaking the West Ham starting lineup before it’s common knowledge? For anyone keen to know which plodding midfield formation West Ham will field, @exwhuemployee is the account to follow. They’ve named the correct side more than 60 matches on the bounce.

Is Manuel Pellegrini, the West Ham manager with the look of an accountant in the market for a new Jaguar, concerned?   “It’s not true; I’m not angry about that,” said Pellegrini. “I’m not aware of the team being leaked. In every team I have managed, the day before the game I work the set pieces so all the players know the day before who will play and who will not. So many players can talk with others and I am not keeping the starting XI three or four hours before the game. We work every day so there are a lot of reasons why people can know the team.”

Today West Ham take on Everton. You wonder if the Toffees can gain anything from knowing the Hammers’ line-up a few hours before its published?  “I don’t think it’s the most important thing,” says Pellegrini. “If you’re going to play against Chelsea, Watford or Liverpool, you are sure it will be the same starting XI as they played the last game and they play exactly the same way. I don’t hide too much about the starting XI.”

Defeat at Everton would mean West Ham losing their opening five league games for the first time but Pellegrini insisted that he is not panicking.

“I have been in this position before,” he said. “I started with Villarreal and we had three points from the first 15 and we finished third in the table.”

In his first season in charge of Villarreal, El Submarino Amarillo qualified for the UEFA Champions League after finishing third in the league. The next season, Villarreal reached the semi-finals of the 2005–06 UEFA Champions League, losing to Arsenal. Hope for West Ham, then.

PS: West Ham United midfielder Jack Wilshere is injured. Wilshere signed on a three-year deal at £100,000-a-week You read it here first (see Injury News passim ad nauseum).

Posted: 15th, September 2018 | In: Sports | Comment


Arsenal 2, Newcastle United 4 and Manchester United beat Watford on paper

mark lawrenson bbc pundit prediction premier league

 

In his weekly predict the scores for the BBC, ‘football expert’ Mark Lawrenson says Newcastle United with beat Arsenal. He reasons:

I just have a feeling it might work this time. Arsenal’s players are not the only ones who have been away on international duty of course, but this might be a good time for Newcastle to play them.

How many Arsenal played an international fixture in the last week? Five. They were: Granit Xhaka, Stephan Lichtsteiner (both Switzerland) Danny Welbeck (England), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Greece) and Takuma Asano (Japan). Two of those were in the Arsenal first XI for their last Premier League match at Cardiff City.

Two.

On the other side, Salomon Rondon played for Venezuela in the early hours of Wednesday (BST), Fabian Schär played for  Switzerland on Tuesday evening, Ki Sung-yueng played for South Korea, and DeAndre Yedlin appeared as an 85th minute substitute for the USA in Nashville. Ciaran Clark was an unused substitute as Republic of Ireland drew 1-1 in Poland.

Five players. Of those, Rondon, Sungg-yueng, Yedlin and Clark played for Newcastle in their last PL match.

Four.

But Lawrenson says it’s a good time to play Arsenal because their players have been away.

Total balls.

The other odd prediction is Watford’s home match with Manchester United. Watford – powerful and full of confidence – have won four in four. United – dull and functional – have lost two in four, winning the last match against a Burnley side feeling the effects of defeat a few days earlier in the Europe League. Here’s Lawrenson:

Watford are flying, and much has been made of the part in that played by Troy Deeney’s partnership with Andre Gray up front.

This will be a real test for Manchester United’s defence, but it is one I think they will pass.

United’s win at Burnley last time out was a big result for them, not just because they needed the three points after losing two games in a row, but because they needed to stop all the chatter around Jose Mourinho’s future.

I am going to go for another United win here, although I think it will be close.

Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

Watford have scored 9 and conceded 3; United have scored 6 and conceded 7. Any football experts want to back the smaller club..?

Posted: 14th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Serena Williams: anti-bigots should just blame all men

The anti-bigots should be out in force when Carlos Ramos umpires his first tennis match since being outed as a “liar”, “thief” and “sexist” by Serena Williams as she lost the US Open final to another woman. To the anti-bigots seeking intolerance in a muon of dust, any criticism of feted, multi-multi-millionaire Williams is misogynistic and most likely racist. It’s not she who is privileged and punching down when she threw a tantrum, it is Ramos, who in his role as umpire sat in his lifeguard’s chair who holds the real power. (A top tennis umpire earns around £50,000 a year; Williams earned a £1m for losing one match).

 

 

Katrina Adams, president of the US Tennis Association, understood that. Having bravely stood up for Williams in the face of Ramos’ mighty power, she late opined of tennis, “There’s no equality.” True enough. There were 86 code violations handed out to male players at the 2018 US Open, and 22 to women. As noted: “Now, a more detailed analysis of the past 20 years of grand-slam events has revealed a long-term split of 1,534 to 526.” Horrendous, says the bigot hunters. Why can’t these unreconstructed sexists treat women as equals? Umpires must be guilty of overlooking female tennis players’ rule breaking because they think women can’t take it and will cry or feint – a craven agenda that damns women as the weaker sex.

The only area of violations where women tennis players out-perform men is when it comes to coaching. In this area, women are almost twice as likely as men to be censured.

When Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou was caught coaching her from the seats, he was on trend. Yeah. Patrick’s a man. And:

Some have overbearing father-coaches, such as Carolina Garcia’s father Louis-Paul, who kept signalling to her during last year’s Wimbledon

Men are keeping women needy and insecure. Can we just blame the patriarchy for Williams’ hissy fit (surely righteous, fearless stand – ed)?

Posted: 14th, September 2018 | In: Sports | Comment