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.
THE London Evening Standard reports that “Arsenal will join race for former Barcelona boss when Spaniard leaves Bayern Munich”. That former Barca boss is Pep Guardiola.
But how does Writer Paul Smith know Arsenal will be after the Spaniard?
Pep Guardiola is expected to quit Bayern Munich at the end of next season – just when Arsene Wenger might be ready to relinquish his role as manager of Arsenal.
MANCHESTER United great Gary Neville has made a name a talented TV pundit. His writing , however, is less pointed. In the Telegraph, Neville bemoans the lowering of Premier League defences.
The death of an ex-playing TV pundit is when he continually says: “In my day it was like this – and it was better”. I find myself feeling that the Premier League is a far superior place than when I set out in 1992 – but one area of slippage is defending, as Sunday’s Manchester derby may illustrate.
Manchester United and Manchester City are leaking goals. City have let in 10 in 9; United 13 in 9.
United are in a state of flux at the back. But City remain formidable, and have the better players. Manchester United would break the bank for a Vincent Kompany.
Both clubs have amassed a vast array of firepower. Yet each is currently struggling to balance defence with attack at a time of huge change in the way the game is played. If you look at the Premier League goalscoring chart, it bursts into the thousands from 2010 on. There were 942 goals in 2009 and 1052 last season. That’s a huge shift. Once you have a five-year trend of more goals being conceded and more scored it starts to look irreversible. It points to a permanent change in the sport.
COMPARE and contrast the wit and wisdom of QPR manager Harry Redknapp:
“I’ve never read it [Twitter]. I don’t know where you get it from. Every day someone has got something to say on Twitter. I don’t understand. It would be easier – it would save all the hassle – if no one was on Twitter”
In a move that definitely won’t end in tears, Harry Redknapp is doing a Twitter Q&A today using the hashtag #AskHarry£#
He was mercilessly trolled.
Liverpool Balls: Steven Garrard And His Fans Could Sign For Manchester United, Everton Or Major League Soccer
NEWS from Liverpool FC is that Steven Gerrard is thinking about leaving. Would Liverpool fans mind if he went? Professional sport is a brutal business. And Gerrard is a fading force.
Other than that mid-2000s wobble when he briefly flirted with joining Chelsea only to be sent death threats from his adoring public, Steven Gerrard has stuck by Liverpool through thick and thin his entire career to date having first joined the club at the age of eight.
IAN Dennis recalls advice the BBC’s John Motson gave him 26 years ago.
TRANSFER Balls: Anorak’s look at football speculation passed off as sensation and fact. Let’s see ehat the mesi has been saying about Sami Khedira and his move from Real Madrid to Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City or anywhere else.
It sesm that Arsenal need Khedira most, with former Gunner Perry Groves (he of the Perry Groves world) quoted in the Evening Standard:
“If Arsenal can get their injured players back while making sure the gap to the top doesn’t get too big with Chelsea and City then they have a chance to challenge for the title. If they can get to within six or seven points by the time the January transfer window opens and then sign Khedira, they could win it.”
TRANSFER Balls: The Daily Star says “Liverpool suffer HUGE blow as Arsenal move a step CLOSER to signing Gonzalo Higuain”.
ARSENAL are leading the race to sign Napoli star Gonzalo Higuain.
NEW YORK COSMOS have had a bewildering array of fantastic players, and the latest in the club’s bumpy history is the Spanish legend, Raul. The Real Madrid superhuman decided to come out of retirement to play for the club made famous by Pele.
As well as being a player, Raul is all set to take on the role of technical adviser to the club’s soon-to-be opened youth academy, which he’ll look after when he’s retired.
“Everyone throughout the soccer world knows the Cosmos name and the legacy of the players that played for this team previously,” Raul said in a statement. “They helped establish soccer in America and I’m honoured to follow in their footsteps. I believe in this club’s vision and I’m excited to be a part of that.”
Of course, moving to New York doesn’t hurt either, and no doubt, he’ll be on fantastic amounts of money. You’d be mad not to!
Likewise, back in the ’70s and ’80s, footballers from all over the world saw the footballing goldrush of America. When the NASL started to become more popular and investors started throwing their money around, everyone started taking notice.
It was the arrival of Pele at NY Cosmos that saw the floodgates open and a huge number of footballers going Stateside for a huge paycheck and all the coke and champagne they could stomach in America’s disco clubs.
So with that, let us look at some of the true greats that moved to America, just like David Villa and Frank Lampard are doing in the winter of their careers right now.
And be sure to watch all the videos because there’s a corker tucked away in there.
The mighty Cruyff left Europe to play in the sunshine, ending up playing for the Washington Diplomats and LA Aztecs. He, of course, scored one of the most memorable goals in the league’s history.
The player that really opened America up was Pele when he moved to the NY Cosmos. Little needs to be said about that, other than it must’ve been absolutely brilliant in New York with all those superstars dossing about the place.
Post Manchester United, it feels like Georgie Best played for just about everyone. Somewhere in there, he managed to sup his way around America, working on his tan at Los Angeles Aztecs, Fort Lauderdale Strikers and San Jose Earthquakes. Between one-night stands and hangovers, he managed to score the NASL’s greatest goal.
Also at NY Cosmos was the technical brilliance of Der Kaiser. You can imagine he took it all quite seriously, which must have been borderline hilarious to everyone else there.
Eusebio left his beloved Benfica and decided to get one last payday. America beckoned and he found himself lording it up with the Boston Minutemen, Toronto Metros-Croatia and Las Vegas Quicksilvers. Openly in it for the money, but no-one minded. He’s Eusebio. He can do what he wants.
Napoli legend, Chinaglia rocked up at the New York Cosmos like he owned the place, regardless of who was there. Arrogant, bullish and egocentric, Chinaglia was the disco strut of that famous team and he knew it. However, he wasn’t Pele, which drove him mad. Cue: sporting soap operas galore!
World Cup winner Geoff Hurst buggered off to play for the Seattle Sounders. He banged some goals in and picked up his money. Below, you can see his debut. He must have wondered what he’d let himself in for.
Pele’s captain, Carlos Alberto also went to the NY Cosmos. It doesn’t matter what he did or didn’t do, because he’s Carlos Alberto who scored perhaps the most perfect goal in World Cup history.
The brilliant Munich hitman, Gerd Muller, went to Ft Lauderdale and thrashed a load of goals in while growing an absolutely magnificent beard (as seen above with a disappointingly clean-shaven George Best). 38 goals in 71 appearances, and then he rightly put his feet up.
Peter Withe made his way to America, playing for the Portland Timbers. The best record of his time there is getting involved in a tussle the a player and squaring up to a referee just after a cameraman gets taken out with a thunderous clearance from close range. Bravo lads. Bravo.
MANCHESTER City fan of the day is Harry Parrot.
Making Manchester United striker Radamel Falcao’s pet parrot Coco look monosyllabic, Harry can cheer on Manchester City with the best of them.
If Harry can add two more stock phrases to his repetoire, he can replace Jamie Redknapp on the Sky Sports sofa.
BBC TV Match of the Day pundits Robbie Savage and Alan Shearer are playing catch-up…
Spotter: Sky Sports
MICHAEL Owen is talking about Liverpool FC striker Mario Balotelli.
Today Owen tells Daily Telegraph readers:
Brendan Rodgers will probably never admit it publicly, but he must already be considering alternatives as he looks for strikers more suited to his style of play… I felt when he joined he was not a ‘Liverpool type’ player, and have not changed my mind…
LIVERPOOL Balls: Daniel Sturridge says his injuries could be down to genetics. He tells TalkSport:
“I’ve been unfortunate this season to pick up injuries. Maybe it’s my body type and hereditary… My uncle Dean had a lot of muscle problems when he played, uncle Simon the same, and my dad. Maybe it’s the Caribbean vibes. [I have] fast-twitch muscles, I am more vulnerable to muscle injuries. As to whether I will be one of the best player in Europe or the world, for me, as long as I continue to work hard everything will take care of itself.”
Rob Bagchi has noticed that Hands Off In The Box, the Daily Mail’s campaign to stop footballers using force in the penalty box, is a non-starter. You can read more about the Mail’s campaign to pressure referees here. And learn that it’s backed by the paragon of the clean tackle and noble virtues, former Arsenal defender Martin Keown.
TRANSFER Balls: Splendid balls in the Daily Star which links Manchester United with a move for Gareth Bale. Let’s take a look at how the Star’s scoop breaks down.
The headline is informative:
Man Utd FREE to sign Gareth Bale as Real Madrid reveal they are willing to sell
Real want to sell the superb Gareth Bale? The Metro puts a price on the deal:
Real Madrid happy to sell Gareth Bale to Manchester United in £90m transfer deal
THE Daily Mail has campaign. It wants readers to:
Join Sportsmail’s Hands Off In The Box campaign by parading the logo at matches.
You can just see football fans holding up the Daily Mail’s logo with pride. To date, the only newspaper referenced at football matches is the Sun. Liverpool fans upset over the Sun’s Hillsborough coverage ask fellow fans not to buy it.
IT is bad enough conceding a goal when you’re a goalkeeper, as the only thing you’re interested in is protecting the netting from bulging with a football hitting it.
Well, things could be worse than letting a striker get the better of you.
Burnley’s Tom Heaton clawed desperately at the air as Samuel Eto’o’s super strike flew into the goal during Everton’s 3-1 victory over the Clarets.
As the crowd went nuts, Everton’s Steven Naismith followed up the goal and whacked the ball in celebration. Normally, a player will crack the ball into the net for good measure, and initially, it looked like Naismith had messed his celebration up.
THERE’S been a lot of trouble around former Liverpool player Luis Suarez, the last being a rather peculiar bite on an opponent when Uruguay played Italy in the World Cup.
However, off all the things that Suarez has done, the racism row where he used the word “negrito” in a spat with Manchester United’s Patrice Evra is the one that looms largest. And Suarez is adamant that he is not a racist and that he was simply misunderstood by non-Spanish speakers. While admitting that a row took place, he says he is “absolutely not” a racist.
JOHN Alder was a passenger on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 17, 2014, the day it was shot down over Ukraine. Mr Alder, his friend and fellow Newcastle United fan Liam Sweeney and 296 other people were killed. John and Liam were going to the match, on their way to see Newcastle United play a pre-season friendly in New Zealand.
That’s fans for you. John Alder only ever applied for a passport because he needed to see Newcastle play overseas.
Joyce Robbins, Mr Alder’s sister, is talking to George Caullkin in the Times:
“Those first few days were surreal. You’re suddenly reading and watching things at an intense rate, to try and glean as much information as possible and then you hear that they can’t even get on the crash site — it’s heartbreaking . . . You’re seeing this site and thinking: ‘My brother’s there.’ The inside of you is just screaming all the time.”
For four decades John Alder never missed a Newcastle United match. He ammassed a large collection of Newcastle United memorabilia. Joyce has graciously decided to offer the lot for auction, all proceeds going to The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
FOOTBALL Balls: In his Daily Mail Football Grapevine. Rob Shepherd has facts for QPR fans:
Tony Pulis is being lined as Harry Redknapp’s successor at QPR.
QPR fans might have mixed feelings about Pulis, Redknapp’s colleague from his Bournemouth days. But he did well for Crystal Palace last year.
TRANSFER Balls: The Daily Express says “Mesut Ozil wants to quit Arsenal for Manchester City”.
Rally? He wants to leave Londron to plays for Manchester City?
City are set to launch a £32m bid for Ozil in January.
Gilbert The Gull is Torquay United‘s mascot. The Torquay Herald Express reports that Hilbert enjoyed / endured “a clash with fans and some choice words not befitting a friendly Gull being exchanged”.
Gulls are bin-raiding, shrieking, bullies. We’d argue that Gilbert was in character.
Torquay’s chief executive Andrew Candy (Andy Candy!) tells the paper:
“There was an exchange of views between Gilbert and the fans in the Popside. Gilbert was trying to generate some support and get the fans behind the team but it appears that there was a small altercation with the fans. There was no malicious intent in what was said but things were said that, in hindsight, should not have been. Gilbert has been spoken to and been told that this should not have happened and that this will not happen in the future.”
TRANSFER Balls: The Daily Express says Real Madrid’s suplus German, Sami Khedira, “has lowered his wage expectations in order to engineer a move to Arsenal”.
A talented, injury prone talent could be on his way to the Gunners. Well, so says the Express’ Charles Perrin.
The Real Madrid ace has been continually linked with a move to the Premier League, with Chelsea also vying for his signature.
So. Chelsea want Khedira. But Khedira wants to play for Arsenal so badly he’ll accept a slighly less massive pay packet.
But fresh reports surfacing on the continent indicate that Khedira is prepared to accept a pay cut and has dropped his wage demands to £80,000-a-week to force through a move to north London.
SPURS Balls: Last night on the Europa League, Erik Lamela gave us all reason to regret not tuning in when he scored a sublime goal. What would have been Tottenham’s routine 5-1 win over Greek side Asteras (it Tripolis (it says her) was burnished with Lamela’s stupendous ‘rabona’-style strike from 20 yards.
LIVERPOOL Balls: Will it help Mario Balotelli to better settle into life at Anfield if he is continually singled out for treatment? Balotelli could go on a PR drive following his stupid decison to swap shirts at half time with Real Madrid’s Pepe, perhaps reminding kids about the Fireworld Code (never return to a lit bathroom towel etc.).
Or he could just be allowed time and space to repay some of £16m Liverpool invested in him?
In the Times, Liveprool fan Tony Evans writes benath the headline “Mario Balotelli faces fight to rescue Liverpool career”.
TRANSFER Balls: The Daily Express has news for Manchester United fans longing for the Red Devils to finally spunk a shedload of cash on a player (it’s been weeks since the last splurge).
The Express reports:
The VIDAL DEAL IS ON
Because the media are a herd, the Mirror reads that and chimes:
Manchester United are set to finally complete the signing of Arturo Vidal…
THIS instalment of He’s No Gary Neville Is He stars former Liverpool player and manager Phil Thompson, now offering expert insight and nouse on Sky Sports. In readiness for Liverpool’s Champions’ League match against the mighty Real Madrid, Thompson told viewers:
“It’s going to be a sensational night at Anfield for the first Real Madrid game. They will up the ante, the players. Everybody will be up for it and they’ll make it difficult for Real. Liverpool will win that game. Absolutely, it happens, it’s at Anfield. It will be an incredible night, they’ll turn it on, crank up the pressure and it will be totally different.”
He’s no Gary Neville, is he.
(Liverpool lost 0-3).