Anorak

Sports | Anorak - Part 4

Sports Category

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

Arsenal play Chelsea in Dublin in readiness for European super league

Arsenal will play Chelsea on 4 August in a pre-season rubber in Dublin as part of the – get this – International Champions Cup (ICC). Neither club is the Premier League champion. Other Premier League clubs in the competition are: Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool. The so-called ‘Big Six’ are all in the ICC to play one another in the same month as the PL season proper begins. When you know the other teams in this marketing campaign are Real Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter, Roma, PSG, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Benfica it becomes clear that the whole thing is a precursor to some European Super League.

It’s billed thus:

It boasts the two largest crowds in U.S. soccer history, the only Clásico ever played on American soil and a list of former champions as regal as any tournament in the world: Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Inter Milan, Barcelona. A roster of top scorers that includes Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luis Suarez, Neymar, and Franck Ribéry. This year, it includes 18 of the world’s most iconic and influential clubs, 90 out of 100 of the world’s top-ranked players and all eight of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinalists.

How long before the European Cup final is played in the USA or China?

It’s the International Champions Cup, the summer’s biggest club competition, and its mix of megastar glamour and debutante mystery is as compelling a proposition as the game has to offer.

Want more of this tosh?

The ICC, now in its sixth edition, is a crucial component of the soccer calendar for both the game’s luminaries and its next generation of stars. It’s been a launching pad for numerous emerging standouts over the years. Christian Pulisic—aged just 17—scored an injury-time equalizer for Borussia Dortmund against Manchester City in 2016.

He did?

American Julian Green registered a hat trick against Inter Milan that same summer, just weeks after his twentieth birthday. Sergi Roberto, then a Barcelona reserve, scored the decider in Barça’s 2015 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy in front of 93,000 at the Rose Bowl. Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mané and Ousmane Dembele each took their ICC opportunity to announce themselves as global footballing forces, and Marcos Asensio—perhaps most famously—did the same by finishing off a stunning end-to-end move to score for Real in Miami’s spectacular 2017 Clásico.

It is utter balls. These are brand-building matches played after the the World Cup before the teams’ domestic seasons begin. The only point of it must be the get us used to an elite league of European sides.

Posted: 13th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Journalist mocks French-only rule at Antoine Griezmann press conference

Atletico Madrid’s France striker and anti-dandruff activist Antoine Griezmann was the star of a press conference in which the rule was that all question should be in French. This was not some attempt to keep French relevant, rather to stymie journalists from asking Griezmann is he is leaving Atletico and heading to Barcelona. French-speaking journalist aren’t interested in which club he plays for, apparently. But Spanish reporter Pedro Morata is. He typed his question about Griezmann’s future into translation software on his mobile:

 

Posted: 13th, June 2018 | In: Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal agree deal with Sampdoria’s Lucas Torreira

Arsenal have agreed to splurge £26.4m on Sampdoria’s Lucas Torreira. The Gunners are working to secure the hard-working 22-year-old Uruguayan on a five-year deal.

Torreira is in Russia for the World Cup with Uruguay. His agent is in Milan talking to Arsenal’s deal makers about wages, image rights and deals on a new right-hand drive car.

Arsenal paid over the odds. They could have bought Torreira by triggering the €25m (£21.4m) release clause in his contract but offered an extra £5m to see off competition from Napoli. The Gunners will pay the fee in tranches over three years. This allows the club to stretch a relatively slim summer transfer budget. Arsenal have also recruited Stephan Lichtsteiner on a free transfer from Juventus.

Fun Fact: Torreira signed a contract with Pescara in early 2014. The Guardian notes: “While there coaches thought he might have a minor foot injury and sent him to a specialist, who discovered seven warts on one of his feet.” The verruca treatment deal is his for the taking.

Posted: 13th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: MEN dupes Manchester United fans with fake news

“Justin Kluivert completes Roma move,” declares the Manchester Evening News in its “live” blog of “Manchester United transfer news”. Ciaran Kelly is scathing of the fools who thought Kluivert was heading to Old Trafford.

 

manchester evening news fake manchester united

 

 

Kelly writes on the page for Manchester United transfer news:

Amazing how that friendly word at the end of the Europa League final between him and Mourinho, who knew him as a kid from his time at Barca, sparked hundreds of articles and rumours.

Kluivert never was heading to Man United, you saps. All he did was have a chat with an old pal – which you can read about at the following links to Manchester Evening News stories:

Justin Kluivert gives major update amid Manchester United transfer links – 18 May 2018

Manchester United target Justin Kluivert and more transfer rumours – Manchester United are planning a summer move for Ajax forward Justin Kluivert, according to reports. – 11 May 2018

Justin Kluivert’s dad advises him over Manchester United transfer – Justin Kluivert has been advised to snub a move to Manchester United by his dad Patrick.

What did dad say? Said Patrick:

“I’m very proud of him. He’s doing very good at Ajax,” Patrick Kluivert told Omnisport, speaking courtesy of Hublot. “He’s now a first XI player. If he’s playing like this in the long-term, he could be one important player in the future. Of course, I prefer that he goes to Barcelona but in football everything can happen. He’s an adult, he can make his own decisions but he’s already said it’s a dream for him to play for Barcelona. But you never know in football.” – 23 March 2018

Mentions of Manchester United: zero.

Manchester United ‘target’ Justin Kluivert subject of Jorge Mendes talks claims Ajax insider – Man Utd have been tipped to sign Ajax wonderkid Justin Kluivert and an Ajax insider has revealed Jorge Mendes has asked about him – 20 Feb 2018

Justin Kluivert talks up Manchester United move – 13 Feb 2018

Justin Kluivert speaks out on Manchester United transfer rumours – United manager Jose Mourinho was filmed commiserating Kluivert after the Europa League final last season and a satirical Dutch programme released a mock transcript of the exchange, suggesting the Portuguese wanted to sign the young forward – 5 Feb 2018

The Manchester Evening News writes lots of story linking Justin Kluivert to Manchester United and then tells readers on the day the player signs for Roma it knew they were all utter balls.

Local paper treats its readers like mugs. Nice.

Posted: 12th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Torreira is Arsenal’s new one-man midfield

In what TeamTalk calls a “boost” for Unai Emery, a “€25m Serie A star” Lucas Torreira has  “agrees” to transfer to Arsenal.

 

Lucas Torreira

Done deal!

 

Teamtalk says Lucas Torreira’s arrival jeopardises Granit Xhaka’s Arsenal future. Why Arsenal would replace a man who likes playing higher up the pitch with a defensive midfielder is moot. Another site says Torreira will replace Elneny. The Mirror says: “Why Lucas Torreira can be Arsenal’s very own N’Golo Kante.” Presumably because like the Chelsea harasser, The Uruguayan is short.

In other news away from Torreira being as good as three players and goo enough to constitute the entire Arsenal midfield: no deal has been done.

And in other Arsenal transfer news, Portuguese newspaper A Bola says Arsenal “insist” on signing Sporting winger Gelson Martins. Gelson, we read, if willing to buy out his own contract in order to secure his transfer to Arsenal, who have offered €30m for the winger.

 

Posted: 11th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Fekir rejects Liverpool

No News – Breaking! France forward Nabil Fekir is not joining Liverpool. Fekir will remain at Lyon. Fekir was supposed to join Liverpool for 60m euros. He even wore the Liverpool shirt in readiness. But he not signed a contract to join the Reds. Nothing has happened. It’s no news news.

The Press said he signed yesterday:

 

fekir liverpool

 

 

“Although Liverpool has been the priority of a possible transfer of Nabil… Olympique Lyonnais is delighted to be able to count on the presence of their captain in 2018-2019,” say Lyon.

As said, Lyon fans must be chuffed to know their captain wanted to leave. Liverpool fans will wonder why the club wasted so much time chasing a player who dreams of playing for Barcelona.

 

Posted: 9th, June 2018 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Fakir kisses the Liverpool badge but still plays for Lyons

Liverpool have not signed Nabil Fakir for £53million. News is that the Reds stalled after the Lyon took his medical with the club. Fekir performed media duties in a Liverpool strip, says the Mirror. And then nothing happened.

The Telegraph says “Liverpool are offering no indication as to the nature of the problem”. But there is a problem? Speculation focuses on Fekir’s right knee, which he injured playing for France three years ago. But it’s guesswork. The Mirror cites reports in France, which “claimed an issue related to Lyon and their accounting practices”. They Express says Lyon “are reluctant to sell Fekir before the World Cup because they are listed as a publicly listed company”. So..? “It means they are also supposedly planning to use funds from his sale in their financial report for next season.”

Lyon says: “The information on the transfer of Nabil Fekir is false. Olympique Lyonnais categorically denies the false information disseminated by many media about the transfer of Nabil Fekir to Liverpool. In this period of transfers where the slightest rumour is often presented as a reality, Olympique Lyonnais recalls that only the information disseminated by the club on its website is authentic.”

FFF president, Noel Le Graet, has a theory. “It’s under negotiation, I think it will be done,” he says. “I spent a quarter of an hour with him this morning (Saturday), and his main focus is France. He (Fekir) was rather optimistic because the meeting he had will prove to be positive. It’s always like that when you talk about a transfer. Everyone tries to raise their price, to lower their price, and when a little issue flares up, it’s part of the game.’

Lyon’s fans must be delighted to hear that their captain has been wearing another club’s shirt. And since when has £53m bene not enough for a talented but not out-of-this-world player?

Isn’t modern football balls.

Posted: 9th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Higuain and Lewandowski to Chelsea; Arsenal still waiting

Whenever Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain pop up in transfer chatter, we laugh a little. It’s been five years since the Sun told its readers that Arsenal had “smashed their transfer record” and signed Higuain from Real Madrid for £23m. On 27 July, Napoli signed Higuain.

 

higuain arsenal sign

 

Today’s Higuain transfer news comes to us via the BBC, which hears the player say the Premier League “fascinates me a lot” and links him with move to Chelsea.

The Mail reports:

Gonzalo Higuain has fuelled the speculation that he could be leaving Juventus by saying he ‘would love to play in the Premier League’.

The Argentina striker has been on Chelsea’s radar this summer and has already reportedly been offered to the west London club.

This news stems from what said Higuain told ESPN in Argentina. It tells us: “In the next few days the Argentine striker could receive a formal offer from a European top-level club.” The Sun has him saying: “I am relaxed. I have a contract with Juventus and no one has told me anything about my future. Right now, I am happy in Turin and I think my daughter will grow up here, but one day I would like to play in the Premier League, where the games are all spectacular.”

What he said was: “I am calm, I have a contract with Juventus and nobody has told me anything about the future, I am happy in Turin but someday I would like to play in the Premier League.”

Italy’s Corriere dello Sport says Juventus will let Higuain leave if they can sign Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski. But that won’t happen because one Spanish website says the Pole has agreed to join Real Madrid. But the Sun says Lewandowksi’s decision to leave Bayern “is a massive boost” to Chelsea.

Which means, presumably, that Higuain stays at Arsenal?

Posted: 8th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Nabil Fakir wants Liverpool; dreams of Barcelona

Joyous transfer balls balls on the BBC.  The national broadcaster picks up the tale of Nabil Fakir’s move from Lyon to Liverpool. Get a load of this: “Lyon will allow forward Nabil Fekir, 24, to join Liverpool this summer – but only at the right price.” No s***, Sherlock.  Of course, if you read some sources, the deal is done. This from Sky on 7 May 2018: “Lyon have agreed to sell Nabil Fekir to Liverpool when the transfer window opens in a deal reported to worth be in the region of €70m. And there was the time Fakir was joining Arsenal. On 13 Nov 2017, the Daily Express told its readers: “ARSENAL are close to completing the £60million capture of Lyon playmaker Nabil Fekir.”

Over in today’s Daily Mirror, we are told: “Fekir has been identified as the marquee signing of the transfer window, and a natural replacement for Philippe Coutinho.” A marquee is a large tent.

And then the facts: “…it is understood a breakthrough of sorts has been made, with the player indicating he will only go to Liverpool – and the president conceding he will do a deal with the Reds if he feels the price is right.”

Like us, we got as far as “understood”, the word that means sod all in the world of clickbait football reporting. “Understands” is shorthand for “maybe or “maybe not”.

But he wants to play for Liverpool. that much is understood and indicated. Or as he said: “My favourite club is Barcelona. But I need to work a lot, I am aware of that.” If he plays well enough at Liverpool, he may yet achieve his dream of playing in Barcelona.

All hail the new Coutinho, then.

 

Posted: 7th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Yacine Adli joins Arsenal at 18; Higuain still missing

Have Arsenal signed Yacine Adli for just £223,000? The Metro and Sun says they have.

 

Yacine Adli arsenal

 

The media seem confused. The Sun says:

RMC Sport claim he has penned a three-year deal, with the option of two more, with the Gunners to become their second signing of the summer.

Neither Arsenal nor PSG have confirmed the move, but the report states it will be announced when the teen turns 18 next month.

Over on RMC Sport, we learn (via Google Translate):

Yacine Adli in Arsenal, it’s done!
It’s official, the PSG has lost Yacine Adli. While three weeks ago, the young 17-year-old midfielder was close to signing his first pro contract with the champion of France, it is for Arsenal that he signed a three-year contract with two other optional. Adli, who was in touch with the Londoners even before the arrival of Unai Emery, was seduced by the Gunners project.

But there’s been no announcement? Why can’t Arsenal announce the transfer until Adli turn 18? Seems odd. What are the rules on minors?

FIFA bans the international transfers of players under the age of 18 unless their parents have emigrated for reasons not connected to football or both the player and club are based within 50 kilometers of a national border.

The only other exception is for transfers within either the EU or European Economic Area (EEA), where the minimum age is 16.

In those cases, clubs must still ensure that the player continues his education and studies for an alternative career, as well as making sure he has a high living standard.

Caution should be exercised when dealing with transfer reports. RMC also has few words today about Gonzalo Higuain, the Juventus striker:


Gonzalo Higuain arsenal

 

Yep. That’s the same Higuian who, according to the Sun, plays for Arsenal:

 

higuain arsenal sign

 

 

Such are the facts. No deal is done until the player is photographed kissing the badge.

Posted: 6th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Liverpool balls: Karius ‘dumped’ and remade in Chelsea

Yet another “exclusive” in the Daily Star, which brings news of Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius. He’s been “dumped after girlfriend gets death threats over Champions League howlers“. Before we get to Ianthe Rose Cochrane-Stack, for it is she, a bit of background.

 

karius girlfriend liverpool

 

Karius played a pivotal role in Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League final. The current theory is that he was suffering from concussion. In the Times, Matthew Sayed, who earlier said Karius erred because he’d been focusing too hard and missed a big Frenchman standing a foot from his shoulder, now says Real’s Sergio Ramos “had driven his elbow into the jaw of Loris Karius”, something backed up by “video evidence”. It isn’t. All we see is two players colliding. We don’t know if that collision led to any concussion – indeed, we don’t know for certain if concussion caused Karius to keep goal with less composure than a man shouting on the night bus or Joe Hart. The medics at the US hospital who checked Karius did so five days after the match at Liverpool’s behest. Michel D’Hooge, chief executive of Headway, the brain injury association, says he can “imagine” concussion was at the root of Karius’s hapless performance. But he can’t be certain. No-one can.

 

karius girlfriend liverpool

Nope

 

Karius lover

Nope

 

And so to the dumping. The full story is:

Ianthe Rose Cochrane-Stack revealed trolls had threatened to stab her after his bungles cost his team two goals in last month’s 3-1 defeat by Real Madrid.

The Made In Chelsea beauty was photographed with Karius just weeks ago.

But she has now moved to distance herself from the shamed stopper by posting on social media that she has been single for a year.

Can a woman dump a man she’s never dated? The Star says she can. L0ok out for more exclusives: ‘I dumped George Cooney, says mum-of-seven Maude’; ‘Prince Harry’s girlfriend upset by wedding’; ‘I’ve been secretly dating David Beckham since he was 16  – Piers revels all.’

As for Karius’ love life, The Independent tells us:

The sight of his mother staring into middle distance, looking away from the game while it was still going on as she held his sobbing girlfriend prompted Klopp’s wife Ulla to move a few rows and try to offer some reassurance. At the end of the game, while Karius lay on the floor the three women – all of them connected by the desperation of it all – stood there, wrapped in each other’s arms.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 6th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Clickbait transfer news: Manchester United ‘told to SACK’ Mourinho

“Man Utd transfer news: Bigwigs told to abandon plans and sack Jose Mourinho – EXCLUSIVE.” So thunders the Daily Star.  “MANCHESTER UNITED need to focus on changing their manager – not the players.” Says who? Says Lee Sharp, who apparently has the ear of the Manchester United kingmakers and tells them what to do.

 

manchester united clickbait

 

Sharp “exclusively” told the paper. “I think they might need a new manager. It’s a tough one because they’ve got some unbelievable players. Mourinho wouldn’t have been my first choice if I’m honest.”

At the foot of this clickbait nonsense, the paper tells its readers: “Lee Sharpe was speaking at the McDonald’s & Lancashire FA Community Football Day in Astley.”

 

How Google sells the story to readers: “Old Trafford board told to SACK Jose Mourinho.”

 

Sharp was at the event on May 26. The Star’s “exclusive” was on June 5.  Were the words of the McDonald’s “ambassador” all that “exclusive”? These words were from the same “exclusive” event. They were written by the Press Association, which sells content to newspapers and websites:

For me, it was a pretty disappointing season and not entertaining enough,” said the former England winger. “There are clubs with certain identities and United have never been a 1-0 team that sits back and rests on its laurels.

“You’ve got the blue side of Manchester under Pep, you’ve got Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool playing some of the best football in the league and United are playing slow, pragmatic, boring and even dated football.

“Maybe it’s time Mourinho reassesses things tactically. He’s been one of the most successful managers in the game over 10-12 years, trophies everywhere he’s gone, so I can understand him saying, ‘I’m doing it my way’.

The 9 players Jose Mourinho has signed from Portuguese clubs since leaving Porto – and how they got on
“But times have changed and if it doesn’t start well next season, he could find himself under pressure from the fans.”

You can read those words on websites run by The Daily Mirror (May 30), EuroSport, Goal, The Independent and Metro. As for sacking Mouirnhio,well, the Star seems little obsessed:

 

sack mourinho
 

Look out for Jose Mourinho extending his stay at Manchester United.

Posted: 6th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Sergio Ramos explains why Liverpool lost the Champions League final; ‘it wasn’t me’

A: Liverpool lost the Champion’s League final with Real Madrid because Mohammed Salah injured himself and Loris Karius is useless. B: Liverpool lost the Champions League final because Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos chucked Salah to the ground with a judo-style throw and collided with Karius’s face, causing the Egyptian to leave the field of play and the goalkeeper to lose his bearings and let in two soft goals.

Says Ramos to AS: “Bloody hell, they have given this Salah thing a lot of attention. I didn’t want to speak because everything is magnified.”

So he speaks and everything is magnified.

“I see the play well, he grabs my arm first and I fell to the other side, the injury happened to the other arm and they said that I gave him a judo hold,” says Ramos, getting in the sympathetic back story.

“After that the goalkeeper said I dazed him with a clash,” he adds. Karius went to Massachusetts General Hospital in the USA – a place where Liverpool owner J Henry has co-chaired a fund-raising campaign. The hospital says Karius most likely suffered concussion during the match. His two clangers that cost Liverpool two goals in a 3-1 defeat were the result of a brain injury? He’s not rubbish. He’s dazed and confused.

Ramos continues: “I spoke with Salah through messages, he was quite good. He could have played if he got an injection for the second half, I have done it sometimes but when Ramos does something like this, it sticks a little bit more. I don’t know if it is because you are at Madrid for so long and win for so long that people look at it a different way.”

Ramos talks about himself in the third person. Karius, if the medics are to be believed, likely sees both of them at once. Salah has had surgery for his injured shoulder. He might not play for Egypt in the World Cup.

The hospital that saw Karius has issued a statement:

We have received numerous calls today regarding the health status of Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius. With Mr. Karius’s permission, we are providing information about his medical situation in an effort to prevent, where possible, the dissemination of incomplete or erroneous information.

On May 31, 2018 Mr. Karius underwent a comprehensive examination by Dr. Ross Zafonte and Dr. Lenore Herget in Boston at Massachusetts General Hospital and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

After carefully reviewing game film and integrating a detailed history – including his reported present and immediate post-contact subjective symptoms – physical examination and objective metrics, we have concluded that Mr. Karius sustained a concussion during the match May 26, 2018.

At the time of our evaluation, Mr. Karius’s principal residual symptoms and objective signs suggested that visual spatial dysfunction existed and likely occurred immediately following the event. Additional symptomatic and objectively noted areas of dysfunction also persisted. It could be possible that such deficits would affect performance.

We also note that Mr. Karius has reported significant and steady improvement since the concussive event, and we expect him to make a full recovery based on the results of the examination. We expect that with treatment and by following prescribed activity protocols he will continue to improve. We have encouraged vigilance and an emphasis on safety in his eventual return to full activity.

This is the only comment we will be making in relation to this matter. All future media inquiries should be directed to the Liverpool FC Press Office.

Dr. Ross Zafonte

Senior VP of Medical Affairs, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

Chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Massachusetts General Hospital

Not all that conclusive, then.

The NHS tells you what to do if you’ve experienced concussion:

When to go to hospital
Go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department if you’ve injured your head and have:

woken up after being knocked out
problems with your memory
a headache that doesn’t go away
been vomiting since the injury
changes in your behaviour, such as becoming more irritable
had an operation on your brain in the past or are taking blood-thinners (like warfarin)
been drinking alcohol or taking recreational drugs

Concussion is a serious thing.

Former Northwestern goalkeeper Anna Cassell has described why she retired from football after multiple head injuries:

Unfortunately, the harm of these concussions extend beyond the field. I suffered severe headaches, bouts of anxiety and depression, and balance problems, which all contributed to my falling weeks behind in my pre-med studies. As I think about this sad trend, I am struck by two things. The first is the lack of convincing research regarding concussion prevention. … I am also bothered by the lack of consequences for the opposing players who commit fouls that cause concussions. While referees are instructed to “protect the goalkeeper,” neither of the players who gave me my concussions had any sort of meaningful consequences, despite the fact that both were flagrant fouls where neither of them made any contact with the ball. While their team merely lost possession of the ball, I was losing my soccer career.

And then there’s the damage caused by repeatedly heading the ball…

Posted: 5th, June 2018 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Arsenal: Papastathopoulos and Fellaini reject Manchester United; Lichtsteiner joins; Gunners go tall

Who will be Unai Emery’s first signing at Arsenal? If media chatter is any guide, it’ll be someone tall. The large Sokratis Papastathopoulos looks to be on his way. The centre-back should complete a £16m transfer from Borussia Dortmund very soon.

And the still larger Marouane Fellaini is also tipped to be become a Gunner, having rejected the chance to remain at Manchester United.

Papastathopoulos has also turned down an offer to play for José Mourinho’s team. The defender’s father, Charalambos Papastathopoulos, told Greek radio station 24/7: “There was interest from United but he had to wait until July for them. United have a very good relationship with Dortmund, the teams talked but Sokratis chose to go to Arsenal.”

 

Transfer-News-Arsenal-Stephan-Lichtsteiner

 

But wait a mo… Arsenal has just signed Stephan Lichtsteiner from Juventus. It’s been over a week since Wikipedia announced  Lichtsteiner was a Gunner. And now he is one.

Lichtsteiner is 6ft tall. Papastathopoulos is a hair under 6ft 2. Fellaini is closer to 6ft 5 than he is to 6ft 4. Arsenal are going big.

Posted: 5th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Spurs kill Pochettino’s dream to manage Real Madrid

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino has been talking about Real Madrid. He told us he’d have to listen if the Spanish club offered him the manager’s job. He gave Real a heads up about Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, saying the tough negotiator “bites”. Now the Mail says “Pochettino was, for all intents and purposes, offered the vacant manager’s job.” And: “He turned his back on his dream, knowing it would lead to questions over loyalty.”

That’s Pochettino who cut short his Southampton contract to manage Spurs.

The Mail then hammers home its point that Pottechino rejected Real not because he didn’t want the job, rather because he is principled:

Mauricio Pochettino rejected the chance to become Real Madrid’s next manager because he didn’t want to labelled a mercenary.

And:

Pochettino was offered the vacant position after Zinedine Zidane’s (right) departure.

Says who?

But sources claim the Argentine turned his back on a dream switch to Real, knowing such a move would lead to serious questions over his loyalty.

What sources? The Mail mentioned none.

Knowing chairman Daniel Levy would rebuff any approach from Spain, Pochettino knew he would have to force the issue if he wanted the Real job. It’s now apparent that Pochettino was unwilling to risk his reputation, fearing his integrity would suffer an irreparable blow.

It all reads like a PR missive. Only yesterday Guillem Balague was talking. The Spurs manager had been on a trip to Spain to plug his new book, Brave New World: Inside Pochettino’s Spurs – by Guillem Balague. Balague said Levy had scuppered any hope Pochettino had of managing Real. Now we get “sources” telling us that Levy and the manager’s conscience ended Pochettino’s “dream”.

Words from Real Madrid: nil. Facts to support the sources claims: nil.

PS: Real Madrid usually get their man. 

27 Jun 2012: Tottenham’s Gareth Bale signs new four-year contract.

23 May 2013: “Gareth Bale to sign new Tottenham contract worth £150,000 a week” (Guardian)

1 September 2013:  Gareth Bale agreed a £300,000 per week to join Real Madrid.

It’s not over yet. Everyone has their price at Spurs.

Posted: 5th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Manchester City star says Pep was jealous and will fight racism with a cake

Yaya Touré is joyously chippy about his time at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. The man whose agent once complained about a lack of cake and singing at his client’s 31st birthday is upset. This is the Yaya Toure who signed a new one-year contract extension to continue playing under Guardiola. Pep praised Toure when it was announced the 35-year-old would be moving on. But Yaya expects more. Cake-friendly Yaya thinks Pep took the biscuit.

Pep and Yaya’s spat goes back to their time at Barcelona. Toure lost his place to Sergio Busquets. Now Toure is talking to France Football.  “I want to be the one who breaks the myth Guardiola,” trills the headline put through the language shredder that is Google Translate. Well, the other Premier League clubs failed to prick the Pep bubble as Man City stormed to the title. Maybe Yaya can succeed. Let’s read it through Google’s universal translator:

“I tried to understand. I even asked softly my stats to physical trainers. And when I realized that they were as good or better, both in training and match, as those who played and were younger than me, I understood that it was not question of physics… I do not know why but I have the impression that (Pep Guardiola) I was jealous, he took me for a rival. (…) As if I made him a little shade.”

Pep was jealous of Yaya?

“He was cruel to me. Do you really think Barcelona could have done that with Iniesta? I came to wonder if it was not because of my color… I am not the first to talk about these differences in treatment. In Barça, some have also asked the question. Maybe we Africans are not always treated by some in the same way as others. (…) When we realize that he often has problems with Africans wherever he goes, I ask myself questions … “

Hymned multi-million pound footballer was a victim of racism? Does Pep Guardiola have problems with black players?

“He pretends not to have any,” says Yaya Toure in his interview, because he is too intelligent to be trapped. He will never admit it. But the day he will align a team in which we find five Africans, not naturalized, promised I will send him a cake! In the meantime, it is possible that he who also admits in this interview not to be insensitive to the OM project receives in return for this speech some more bitter “sweets” from Manchester City.

One question, Pep: any regrets about cutting Toure from the first XI in the season when City won the title by a huge margin with the biggest points tally of all time?

Posted: 4th, June 2018 | In: Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Samuel Umtiti and the Manchester United transfer delivered in code

News that France international centre-half Samuel Umtiti has agreed a new five-year contract with Barcelona should disappoint tabloid-reading Manchester United fans. Umtiti, who joined Lyon for €25m in 2016, will remain at the club until 2023.

umtiti balls man united

 

But on March 4 2008, the Daily Star told readers: “Lionel Messi furious at Barcelona as Samuel Umtiti agrees deal with Man Utd.” The source for the Star’s total balls was Spanish website Diario Gol. Of it, the Star says in a story published on March 4 and headlined “Man Utd News: Messi ‘chooses’ Umtiti replacement”: “Diario Gol often make sensational transfer claims.” Many of them are repeated verbatim in the Star.

 

The Star:- repeating utter tosh

 

One month after Umtiti had “agreed” to join Man United in the Star, the Metro announced: “Samuel Umtiti sends clear message to Manchester United during Barcelona’s victory over Roma.” This “message” was delivered not by email, rather by a gaol for Barcelona. The story has nothing to do what Manchester United. These are its lowlights:

Samuel Umtiti sent an emphatic message to Manchester United during Barcelona’s comprehensive 4-1 victory over Roma in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final…

Umtiti, who has been heavily linked with a £53million move to United in recent weeks, appeared to double Barca’s lead in the 55th minute. However, replays showed it was another own goal from Roma..

Kostas Manolas got the final contact on the ball but this didn’t stop Umtiti wheeling away to claim the goal by grabbing and pointing at Barcelona’s crest on his chest. Sorry, United…

“Sorry United?” Sorry, Metro readers, more like.

 

umtiti balls man united

 

Over in the Sun, Umtiti was off:

Manchester United close in on Samuel Umtiti signing as Barcelona refuse to meet French international’s demands – March 26

SO LONG SAM – Barcelona already looking at replacement for Samuel Umtiti, with Manchester United closing in on French defender – March 29

umtiti balls man united

 

Meanwhile…in the real world:

 

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 4th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Real want Spurs boss Pochettino; fans want Liverpool’s Klopp; Balague eats himself

The BBC says Real Madrid are no longer interested in Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino. Sky Sports adds a little more: “Real Madrid end interest in Mauricio Pochettino, says Guillem Balague.” Ah, him. Balague is the expert who told us Alvaro Morata had signed for Arsenal, Santi Cazorla would join Atletico Madrid, Juan Mata was joining Liverpool and Cristiano Ronaldo was returning to Manchester United. None of those things happened. In January, Sky reported: “Real have shortlisted the Spurs boss to take over at the Bernabeu, according to Guillem Balague.”

One enjoyable oddity to Sky’s latest reports is that Balague cites himself as the source of his own story. Balague’s source is Balague:

 

balague spurs real

 

Says Balague to Balague in a case of football reporting eating itself:

Real Madrid have abandoned their pursuit of Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, says Guillem Balague.

The European champions made Pochettino their number one target following Zinedine Zidane’s decision to quit on Thursday.

However, the lack of a release clause in the Argentine’s contract, coupled with the prospect of dealing with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy – who proved a tough negotiator for Real in the transfers of Luka Modric and Gareth Bale – resulted in them ending their interest.

Or as the Sunday Times puts it:

 

spurs real madrid

Spurs boss ‘keen’ to mange Real Madrid – Sunday Times

 

The Spurs manger was recently talking about Real Madrid on a trip to Spain where he’s plugging his new book, Brave New World: Inside Pochettino’s Spurs – by Guillem Balague! Pochettino told Radio Marca in Spain that Daniel Levy “bites“. And now Balague says Levy has scuppered any hope Poch had of managing Real. Coincidence?

In other news, the Express says Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has emerged as Real Madrid’s new number 1 target. No. He hasn’t. The story tells readers: “Pochettino has given himself a five-day deadline for any approach by Real Madrid to be made… The Argentine is believed to be the favoured option of Real president Florentino Perez.”

Klopp is only mentioned because a poll of Real Madrid fans has Klopp as the one most of them would like to be the club’s next manager. The Express fails to say where this poll was conducted. We found out that it was conducted by Marca, the Spanish newspaper two days ago.

The German received 29 percent of the votes in a MARCA poll… This placed him ahead of the second favourite Mauricio Pochettino, who had 23 percent, while Castilla coach Guti was just behind on 20 percent. Joachim Low claimed 14 percent, while Michel had nine percent. The only other option on the poll was for none of the above, which took a share of five percent.

It was a poll of 6 choices. how many Barcelona fans voted for Klopp is not stated.

Posted: 3rd, June 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal have £88m for Dembele; Liverpool have tea with his mum

Arsenal are using Borussia Dortmund as a feeder club, chasing the German side’s former star Ousmane Dembele. The Gunners want the forward to play with his former teammates Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Ex-Dortmund chief scout Sven Mislintat is now head of recruitment at the Emirates. The Gunners have offered Dortmund £16m for their 29-year-old centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos.

Demeble joined Barcelona last summer for £97m. News in the Sun is that he ‘could’ be on his way to Arsenal for £88m. Arsenal fans will know huge money buys get mentioned around the same time season ticket renewal notices go out. Last season Arsenal wanted to splurge £90m for Monaco’s Thomas Lemar. The Liverpool Echo now says of him: “The demise of Thomas Lemar – from nine-figure bids to being on the fringes of the French national team squad.”

“I’m very happy to be here, said Dembele when he joined Barcelona on a five-year contract. “It has always been my dream to be at Barcelona and now I’m here I’m very happy. It is the best club in the world with the best players in the world.”

What’s he going to say when he joins Arsenal? And where were Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal scouts when Dembele joined Dortmund from French side Rennes on a five-year deal in May 2016 for £13m?

Liverpool also want him. Sky says former Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp “will attempt to meet Dembele’s mother to help convince the player his future lies at Anfield”. Dembele’s mother Fatimata “is who will decide Ousmane’s future,”, says the player’s agent.

To say nothing of Barcelona, who hold the player’s contract for four more seasons…

Posted: 3rd, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


England’s World Cup kit made by starving waifs in Bangladesh

The headline is roughly the story from the Telegraph, that the workers who make the England replica kit over there in Bangladesh are starving helots who deserve very much better. It’s also not quite true. Those garment factory workers have a pretty good deal – by the standards of Bangladesh that is. That’s why they flock to work in those factories. And yes, I have been there, I have seen it.

England’s World Cup football kit is being made in a factory in Bangladesh where workers are paid as little as 21 pence an hour, an investigation by The Telegraph can disclose.

The official England shirt and shorts, part of the most expensive England kit ever, are made at a factory inside a restricted government-controlled zone where employees are paid as little as £1.68 a day and described having to live “hand to mouth”.

The currency of Bangladesh is “taka.” The minimum wage in Bangladesh is 1,500 taka a month. The minimum wage in the garment factories is 5,000 and change taka. They’re doing pretty well by the standards of the time and place that is. That’s around and about £50 a month, true, which we’d think to be not very much at all. But then Bangladesh is a ery poor couontry still. It’s about as poor as Britain was back in 1700 AD or so.

No, really, that’s where they are and we were. That’s after we account for inflation. They’re 300 years behind us in economic development. Not their fault and all that but there’s the truth of it. And that’s why wages are shite – just as they were in England in 1700 in fact.

It’s also not much of a Telegraph investigation that uncovered this. For this is really a press handout from an NGO:

The Clean Clothes Campaign, which strives to improve conditions in the global garment industry, said: “With the minimum wage set at 5,300 BDT (£47), garment workers in Bangladesh are some of the most poorly paid in the global garment industry.

“Their wages do not even cover basic needs, much less enable them and their families to have decent lives.”

The group said that a living wage in Bangladesh would amount to 37,661 BDT (£335). This equates to £1.62 per hour.

The problem here is that that is higher than near all wages in Bangladesh. It’s about what a Commander (the same as a Major in the Army) gets per month. It’s about twice what a teacher preparing people for A Levels gets, four ties what a state school teacher does. The insistence is that the girl sewing zippers on a month after walking out of the paddy field should get that much?

It’s not a sensible demand, is it? As I’ve said elsewhere the last time this point came up, a year back:

What our doughty fighters for fashion equality are arguing is something very different. They’ve constructed an income that they think it would be nice if people had. This much food, that much leisure, this sort of housing and so on. It would undoubtedly be nice if we could guarantee a minimum quality of life for everyone. But people can only have that if production can support it. Which, in the still poor places of the world, it can’t. The demand is akin to insisting that people in 1800 should have had lives as rich in physical consumption as those in 1950 did.

The 30,000Tk demand is asking that garment workers in Bangladesh should be earning the same amount as garment workers in Malaysia, a country well over 10 times richer. This does not show a great deal of economic understanding.

Wages are lower in a poor country because productivity is lower. It’s a poor country because productivity is lower and, to complete the circle, low productivity means poor wages. They’re all different versions of the same statement of fact.

Frankly, they’re nutters and the Telegraph has been taken in by them. Wages are low on Bangladeshi garment factories because wages are even lower in Bangladesh in general. The reason for that is that it’s a poor country.

Oh, and the thing that’s making it richer? Richer about as fast as any place, ever, has become richer, at 6 to 8% a year? That we all buy those clothes made in those factories. If you’re really concerned about those wages the answer is clear. Check the labels, see where something is made. If it’s in Bangladesh then buy two, not just then one. Because that is what makes poor people richer, that we buy what poor people, in poor countries, make.

Posted: 2nd, June 2018 | In: Money, News, Sports | Comment


Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino flirts with Real Madrid

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino says he very happy to be with Spurs. He said that after stating that if Real Madrid came calling he would “have to listen”.  Pochettino said that in Spanish at the launch of his new book. Hours after Zinedine Zidane quits as boss at the Bernabeu, Pochettino in Spain talking about Real Madrid. What are the odds?

 

Mauricio Pochettino

Come and get me

 

Marca says “There is an agreement between Pochettino and Levy which should make talks easier if Perez [Real Madrid president Florentino Perez] were to make the call to London”.  The BBC says no agreement exists. But Marca says  Pochettino “has also made it clear that it is not impossible to say no to Real Madrid”. He did? Not exactly, no. He told Marca’s journalist:

“If I see myself on the bench of the Bernabéu? Someday, like any other team, of course, or the selection of my country They are teams that I’ve been following since I was little, in your head, logically, in the future, like any person who feels passion for this sport, I do not want to create any controversy, I would also like to direct Argentina, Newell’s, back to Espanyol, to Madrid. .. if someday if the possibility is given, why not? “

And of that decision to sign a new five-year deal to stay at Spurs? Says Pochettinho: “We all have dreams, but I’ve renewed ten days ago and I’m happy in London.” Not exactly settling minds at Spurs, is he?

The Spanish paper recalls that when Gareth Bale and Luka Modric both made the move from Spurs to Real Madrid talks dragged on until very late August as Spurs chairman Daniel Levy made the Spaniards sweat. But doing that again could leave Spurs without a manager or with an unhappy one. “Daniel bites,” said Pochettinho of the chairman’s negotiating style. Is that come kind of heads up to Madrid?

“It would be disrespectful to Daniel for me to force a move,” he continues. “I’ve just renewed with Tottenham and I am happy. I live in the present – there is nothing more important than that. I enjoy what is happening and what has to be will be. The link now with Madrid is normal and I take it with all normality. I’m committed to Spurs and still have a long contract with them I just signed.”

Is he “ready for a challenge like Real Madrid”. Yes? No? “Right now I am ready to go to lunch. I’m looking forward to going back to London,” Pochettino replies.

This one’s going to run and run…

Posted: 2nd, June 2018 | In: Sports, Spurs | Comment


Media still gunning for Manchester City striker Raheem Sterling

Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling is a “great example” to us all, says England manger Gareth Southgate. His tattoo of a gun is no-one’s business but his own. The Sun and other media have been monstering Sterling for some time, focusing on how he spends his money and using his image to illustrate a story on crime. This week the paper linked his tattoo to the Vietnam War and children being stabbed to death.

 

daniloa taylor raheem sterling

Damiloa Taylor was stabbed to death when he was 10 – and Raheem Steling was 5.

 

raheem sterling m16 tattoo

Raheem and his part in the Vietnam War

 

raheem sterling the sun

And the Sun’s Star letter is… GET STERLING!

 

Sterling said the tattoo was about his father, who was shot dead.

Says Southgate: “”He knows what it [the tattoo] means to him and he’s comfortable he has done nothing wrong. He has always been a resilient boy from when I worked with him in the under-21s, to even younger than that He is tough and I have no doubts that he can more than cope and thrive in the environment we are going into…

“He knows he has our support. He understands how some people perceived the tattoo. In my view a tattoo is like any work of art – it’s a very individual meaning…

“The personal story of a lot of our players is quite remarkable. People highlight the issues and faults of all of the squad but for so many of them it’s incredible that they have got to the point they have. They are a great example to young kids of what you can achieve with your life if you are dedicated and focused. Of course they have talent, but there is so much more that is needed to become a professional and a top one. Raheem embodies that. Nothing is given to you in life and you have to fight all the way.”

 

raheem sterling drugs

The Sun tweets: Nothing to do with Raheem Sterling

 

And how does Sky Sports, which corrupted Sterling’s explanation, report on the player: “Sterling apologies to England team-mates.” About the tattoo?

 

Sterling

 

No. It;’ nothing to do with any tattoo. So why was he late?

“He was given off until the Tuesday night and he arrived on the Wednesday morning, so he was late,” Southgate said. “There was a mix-up on flights and a connection. In fairness to him he wanted to apologise to the group, explained his commitment to the team, and it’s done. That was accepted and everybody has moved on.”

Sterling had been given permission to return a day later than the bulk of the England squad to attend to a personal commitment in Jamaica.

However, a mix-up with his return flights – which included a stop off in Miami – saw him arrive 12 hours later than agreed.

In the Sun tomorrow: Why can’t Raheem Sterling get a private jet like everyone else?

Previously:

 

raheem sterling plane

 

More to follow…

Posted: 2nd, June 2018 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Zidane leaves Real Madrid; Spurs fret over Pochettino; Wenger hopeful

Zinedine Zidane is leaving Real Madrid boss, going out on an almighty high after leading the to a third straight Champions League triumph. He says the club needs “a different voice”. Replacements are quickly pushed to the fore: Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino; Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri; out of work Arsene Wenger; and Maurizio Sarri, most recently of Napoli.

How hopeful must Wenger be that having turned Real down a few times, they now come for him? And what of Pochettino, who surely could not resist the chance to manage the world’s biggest club? Marca says Real want Pochettino. Spurs should worry.

The media did not see this one coaming. “Zinedine Zidane says he wants to stay as Real Madrid boss amid speculation over future,” said Sky Sports on March 30. “Zinedine Zidane has put his future firmly in Real Madrid’s hands by stating he wants to remain head coach at the Bernabeu next season,” readers are told.

“Yes, I would still like to stay as coach of Real Madrid,” Zidane told everyone. “Here we depend on the results, it has not changed, it will not change, it is the requirement of this club and I accept it. I’ve been here 18 years, I how Real Madrid functions. I do what I like doing, I do it thoroughly and if the question is, do you want to continue? Then yes I will continue. I do not feel tired, not at all.”

Real Madrid finished third in La Liga, well behind winners Barcelona and beaten into second by city rivals Atletico Madrid.  Just as beaten CL finalist Liverpool are only the fourth best side in England, Real are not the best side in Spain. The club wants better. Zidane told the Real Madrid website: “My future is independent of that (Champions League success).” It’s about being the best side in Spain. And Real aren’t.

 

Posted: 31st, May 2018 | In: News, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United and Chelsea fight for Robert Lewandowski who dreams of Real Madrid

Chelsea are keen on Robert Lewandowski, who wants to leave Bayern Munich (Mirror). Manchester United are favourites to sign the Poland striker, says the Daily Star. Lewandowski’s a gem of a player. And for some time now he’s bene linked with other clubs. So can we believe the stories that he’s heading to the Premier League?

Robert Lewandowski has agreed to join Real Madrid this summer – The Metro, March 19 2018

Chelsea and Man Utd dealt transfer blow: Robert Lewandowski and Real Madrid agree terms – Daily Star, March 19, 2018

Real Madrid news: Robert Lewandowski ‘agrees deal’ after Harry Kane pursuit fails – Daily Express, March 17 2018

Lewandowski agrees Madrid move – Goal, March 16 2018

Real Madrid transfer news: Robert Lewandowski ‘dreams’ of signing for club – Daily Express, December 9 2017

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has his heart set on moving to Real Madrid next summer – The Metro, September 17 2017

Robert Lewandowski to snub Manchester United, Chelsea and Man City by leaving Bayern for Real Madrid – The Independent, January 27 2016

WHERE TO, LEW? Robert Lewandowski latest: Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City, Manchester United or Chelsea? At which Premier League club could he end up? – The Sun, June 16 2016

Clickbait all the way.

 

Posted: 31st, May 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Raheem Sterling: Sky Sports joins The Sun in monstering the Manchester City striker (again)

Raheem Sterling’s tattoo continues to make news in the Sun (prop. R. Murdoch) and on Sky Sports (prop R. Murdoch). Manchester City striker Sterling has told everyone why he’s got a tattoo of a gun on his leg:

 

Raheem STerling apology guns

NEVER

 

Ot as Sky Sports put it: “…I would never touch a gun again.”

 

raheem sterling apology guns again sky

‘AGAIN’?

 

PS: Sky regrets the error.

 

To recap: it’s a drawing of a gun. Raheem Sterling is very much anti-guns. Here are pictures of England footballers with real guns:

 

 

Previous hatchet jobs on Sterling: here, here and here. No need for guns for a character assassination.

Posted: 30th, May 2018 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports, Tabloids | Comment