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 Balls: The Sun’s Steven Howard has more to say on Mesut Ozil, who suffered a hamstring injury against Bayern Munich:
EURO FOOTNOTE: MESUT OZIL has been flayed alive after his poor display at the Allianz Arena.
Mainly by reporters who filed their copy before it as realised the German player was injured. One writer went as far as to say hurting your hamstring is an “humiliation”. We look out for footballers being shamed by broken limbs and embarrassed by concussion.
SPURS Balls: Last night at White Hart Lane, Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood was upset by Benfica manager, Jorge Jesus’s perceived “lack of class”. As Benfica went 3-1 up in the teams’ Europa League last-16 first-leg, Jesus appeared to hold up three fingers.
LIVERPOOL FC fan Brian Reade wants to talk about Spurs in the Daily Mirror:
For a club that reminds you at every opportunity that “To Dare Is To Win”, which has a tradition of playing attacking football and which spent £110million on mostly offensive talent last summer, one statistic damns the past year’s poor decision-making by Daniel Levy and Franco Baldini: A goal difference of zero.’
Got that? An investment in attack means you should always have a positive goal difference. One word Brian: defence.
After that balls, readers may recall what Reade said waaaaaay back in August 2013:
…fans will be massively relieved Bale’s loss has been minimised by the exceptional work of Franco Baldini and Daniel Levy.
At least Spurs are consistent…
WHAT did the Press say about Arsenal’s Champions League exit at the hands of Bayern Munich? Well, most focused on Mesut Ozil:
In the rush to be first with the news The Metro posted this:
The Germany play-maker, who scored and turned in a fantastic shift for the Gunners against Everton at the weekend, had to come off at half-time during the clash with Bayern. It was initially thought that the substitution was tactical, with Tomas Rosicky coming on, but it later emerged that Ozil has picked up a knock.
No. Not a knock. He was carrying an injury.
ADRIAN Durham is the TalkSport opinion baiter with a column to fill to deadline for the Daily Mail. This week, Durham comes up with a system whereby big teams automatically get into the Champions’ League.
United BELONG in the Champions League and if they finish fifth or sixth they should snub Europa… it’s a tournament for losers
Spurs Balls: Redknapp’s Pal Blames Funny Foreigner AVB For Chelsea Thrashing Sherwood’s Mirthless Men
MARTIN Samuel has written a monocular article about Spurs in the Daily Mail. Tottenham haave just lost 4-0 to Chelsea. Spurs losing to Chelsea is no big shocker. Games between the clubs are akin to watching the best bits from classic TV sit-coms.
Spurs are managed by Tim Sherwood. He’s English. To Samuel that is crucial:
Having lost 4-0 to Chelsea, the young manager appeared emotional. He told his employers to wake up from their dreams of Champions League football, claimed his team lacked character and talked about individuals in the group that he could not trust. It is fair to assume he is feeling the pressure.
IN the 1980s, cricket was violent, thrilling, angry, captivating and utterly fantastic. When the mighty West Indies played England at Lord’s in June 1980, I was by the Tavener’s pitch-side pub. It smelt of warm body, smoke and beer.
A West Indian steward saw me trying to get a view and invited me to sit by the rope. In the bright sunlight, I stepped over the low barriers and onto the grass. Joel Garner was bowling. At 6ft 8inches tall, running in fast with the ball held high in his hand, Garner was the most fearsome, magnificent human being I had ever seen.
ARSENAL’S big German defender Per Mertesacker was pleased to find a book all about him at his local Islington library.
ARSENAL Balls: The Sun leads with an “exclusive” on “Arsenal misfit” Thomas Vermaelen.
DAVID MOYES has targeted Arsenal misfit Thomas Vermaelen to replace Manchester United hero Nemanja Vidic. The Belgian central defender is no longer a regular at the Emirates, but the Gunners would still demand a £12million fee from one of their rivals.
He is a close pal of Robin van Persie and the pair share the same agent in Kees Vos.
Why Arsenal would sell another captain to a rival side – and why the Belgian would want to play for an average United team from which Van Persie might well depart in the summer – is a mute point for the Sun’s Charlie Wyett. As is the news that his exclusive is that the player said back in 2012:
“I have no intention of leaving this club. I feel at home in London and I feel that I have become a real Gunner. Arsenal is my club. In my eyes, they belong to the absolute elite of European top clubs. When I was young, I dreamed of playing for Ajax and Arsenal. Both dreams have come true.”
In November 2013, he said:
“I keep reading stories that I want to leave. But that’s not the case.”
THE three Tottenham Hotspur fans charged with criminal offences for using the word “Yid” will not be taken to court and have their lives ruined by the Met Police’s anti-free speech division. The Crown Prosecution Service says the three have no case to answer.
Gary Whybrow, 31, Sam Parsons, 24 and Peter Ditchman, 52, appeared in – get this – Highbury Court on Friday, after being accused of racial harassment in connection with the “Y-word”.
ON Sky Sports, German Sky TV journalist Christopher Lymberopoulos calls Arsenal’s tall Per Mertesacker “a big f****ng German”.
And with that a chant is reborn. Cue the BFG:
THEO Walcott is going to be adad for the first time. The Arsenal winger is delighted.
His wife, Mrs Melanie Walcott, is simply amazed. She tells Hello!:
“I was quite taken aback by how quickly it happened.”
THE wisdom of Chelsea’s chatty manager Jose Mourinho:
On February 10 2014, Mourinho snipes at Manchester City’s Manuel Pellegrini:
“Everybody knows what Manchester City are. Pellegrini was talking about the money we’ve spent. He’s a fantastic coach, and I respect that, and he’s a qualified engineer. I don’t think an engineer should need a calculator to see that we sold Juan Mata for £37 million and Kevin De Bruyne for £18m – so that’s £55m brought in. Then we bought Nemanja Matic for £21m and Mohamed Salah cost £11m. That’s £32m spent.”
On February 26 2014, Jose Mourinho snipes about Galatasaray manager Roberto Mancini:
“I’m not good at maths. And football is not maths. If football was maths, I’d be coaching in the Third Division. Because football is not maths, I coach Chelsea.”
Such is the consistency…
ANYONE who saw England play against Denmark last night or, indeed, have ever seen England play in any tournament of any kind, will know that everyone’s going to be treated to some spectacularly dull football.
In Brazil, it is pretty obvious that the English will wilt like old salad in the tropical heat. It’ll be a marvel if they even get out of their group, which features Luis Suarez’s Uruguay, the mighty Italy and Costa Rica.
With England’s Crapenaccio on offer, we need a song that will befit England’s laboured performances.
So step forward Gary Barlow – the dowdiest of popstars – alongside Mel C and Emma Bunton, Kimberley Walsh and Gary Lineker – who together, will record England’s official 2014 FIFA World Cup single.
FOOTBALL flashback to April 29th 1972: Norwich City celebrate winning the Second Division Championship in the dressing room: (l-r) Graham Paddon, trainer, Doug Livermore, Kevin Keelan, Terry Anderson, Duncan Forbes, manager Ron Saunders, Trevor Howard
Paper plate: model’s own.
COMPARE and contrast the wisdom on NEwcastle United manger Alan Pardew (more on him using his head here.)
December, 13, 2013, said Pardew:
“The Europa League is a massive problem to Premier League teams.”
On March 4, 2014, the Newcastle Chronicle reported:
FLASHBACK to 09/02/1968: (L-R) Birmingham City’s George Moore and Tommy Bell prepare to paste up a poster advertising the forthcoming fixtures taking place at St Andrew’s.
ALAN Pardew’s ‘head pushing’ antics raised heckles in some quarters and smiles in others.
Whether it deserves to butt into our arbitrary Ten Great Football Headbutts list is for you to decide. Judge for yourselves, dear readers…
1994: Duncan Ferguson on John McStay
Rangers’ 4-0 victory over Raith Rovers was overshadowed by Big Dunc’s sticking the heid on McStay. The referee didn’t see it, but the police did, and he was eventually convicted of assault.
HIGHLIGHTS from Striking For Soccer, Jimmy Hill’s 1963 book on his part in the end of the maximum wage. In 1961, Hill, the then Professional Football Association chairman, led footballers to victor in the abolition of the maximum wage with the threat of a players’ strike. The top wage a player could legally earn was…£20 a week. Hill’s Fulham teammate Johnny Haynes soon became the first £100-a-week player.
The book was published by The Sportmans Book Club, a members-only, mail-order publisher based in London and Letchworth Garden City.
MANCHESTER United have sent this letter to their fans. It states:
The deadline to buy your seat for Olympiacos FC is Wednesday 26th February 2014 at 8pm. Please note that not buying this ticket will result in your Season Ticket being suspended for the Manchester City game. We look forward to hearing from your shortly.
You’ve got to like the menace of that last line.
Modern football really is all about greed.
SOBS and moans filled the air from Plymouth to Plymouth Rock, from York to New York, from Wales to New South Wales, from Surrey to Salford. Even a few people in the city of Manchester could be heard above the general laughter. So many questions were raised by Manchester United’s performance in Greece this week that we’ll restrict ourselves to just one. Is it the reds’ worst defeat of the modern era?
Here are 11 others that give it a run for its money…
December 1972: Crystal Palace 5-0 Manchester United
Don Rogers ‘did a Pele’; United did something unpleasant in their shorts. But it was Palace themselves who were relegated, and the Red Devils lived to be relegated another day.
April 1974: Manchester United 0-1 Manchester City
That day came at the next available opportunity: the following season, to be precise. Contrary to popular myth, former United legend Denis Law’s back-heeled goal for City didn’t actually send United down –other results meant they would have been relegated anyway. But it became an enduring emblem of the club’s post-Busby demise. United fans invaded the pitch – another symbol of the Red Army at the time.
May 1976: Manchester United 0-1 Southampton
The late Bobby Stokes caused a major FA Cup upset – and won a car – by scoring the Wembley winner for second division Saints, thus depriving United of their first serious silverware of the Seventies.
September 1989: Manchester City 5-1 Manchester United
Chants of ‘Ferguson out’ at the match are often attributed to cheeky City fans, on the grounds that United’s supporters had all left the stadium by then…
The Maine Road Massacre was one of a series of results in the early stages of the season that led the United faithful to lose patience with their as yet unsuccessful manager Alex Ferguson, and prompted the infamous ‘tara’ banner.
September 1990: Liverpool 4-0 Manchester United
Liverpool were reigning champions when they crushed United at Anfield in this early season fixture, and looked likely to continue their dominance. United, by contrast, looked as far from being champions as ever. As it turned out, Liverpool didn’t win the league and haven’t done so since. United, on the other hand, were just three years away from a period of unprecedented success.
January 1992: Manchester United
New Year’s Day brought a result which suggested that United’s 26-year wait for the championship would continue for another season. And so it proved, as Leeds United overhauled their lead in the final season of the old First Division. The Premier League began later that year, and over the next two decades United would make the competition their own.
November 1994: Barcelona 4-0 Manchester United
Group A of the Champions League turned into a nightmare as Romario and Stoichkov tormented United. Keeper Gary Walsh, who remembers being unrecognised by United fans on a coach at the airport afterwards. The result had significant consequences, as United were ultimately eliminated after finishing in third place on goal difference.
May 2002: Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal
Arsenal clinch the title at Old Trafford with a goal by Silvain Wiltord (remember him?) back in the days when Arsène Wenger didn’t regard fourth place as a trophy.
March 2009 Manchester United 1-4 Liverpool
Losing to their hated rivals is as bad as it gets for United, but this defeat in the run-in proved to be just a blip, and Fergie’s boys went on to clinch their 18th title – thereby finally equaling Liverpool’s tally.
May 2011: Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United
The score-line is convincing, yet it doesn’t convey the gulf in class between the two sides on this warm evening at the magnificent new Wembley stadium. Barcelona dominated this Champions League final, and established themselves as the undisputed kings of Europe.
October 2011: Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City
The ‘noisy neighbours’ put United firmly n their place with this stunning display at Old Trafford, and the goals tasted extra sweet when they went on to pip them to the title on goal difference in the last seconds of the season. And here are the reactions of a man from the south of England and one from Manchester…
WAS Cassius’s Clay shock victory over Sonny Liston in the heavyweight championship of the world a fix? Clays had been 7-1 to defeat the reigning champion, who was backed by the mob.Ali won by technical knock-out when Liston remained in his corner at the start of the seventh round.
Now we get to read the FBI’s nots on the bout. A 1966 memo written to J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI at the time, mentions one Ash Resnick as the organiser of many fixes.
The note alleges that a Barnett Magids believed Resnick and Liston each made $1 million by betting on Clay to win.
“At about noon on the day of the fight, [Magids] reached Resnick again by phone, and at this time, Resnick said for him to not make any bets, but just go watch the fight on pay TV and he would know why and that he could not talk further at that time. Magids did go see the fight on TV and immediately realised that Resnick knew that Liston was going to lose. A week later, there was an article in Sports Illustrated writing up Resnick as a big loser because of his backing of Liston. Later, people ‘in the know’ in Las Vegas told Magids that Resnick and Liston both reportedly made over $1 million betting against Liston on the fight and that the magazine article was a cover for this.”
Resnick and Liston are both dead. Hoover is dead. This site alleges a link between the gamblers and the FBI:
Other information suggests Meyer Lansky obtained hard proof of Edgar’s homosexuality and used it to neutralize the FBI as a threat to his own operations. The first hint came from Irving “Ash” Resnick, the Nevada representative of the Patriarcha family for New England, and an original owner-builder of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. As a high-level mob courier, he traveled extensively. In Miami Beach, his Christmas destination in the fifties, he stayed at the Gulfstream, in a bungalow next to the one used by Edgar and Clyde. “I’d sit with him on the beach ever day,” Resnick remembered. “We were family.”
Another source claims:
Meyer Lansky, a Polish immigrant, was considered the head of the Mafia.
But really, what happened?
Florida State Attorney Richard Gerstein initiated an investigation of the fight to focus on Liston’s shoulder injury, for which he enlisted the services of his office’s medical/legal adviser and the Dade County Medical Examiner. A Florida state law provided for a prison term of up to ten years for anyone found to have fixed or thrown a boxing match.
The boxing commission in Sonny’s home state of Colorado suspended him immediately after the bout. “I’m not gonna look at any medical examination and let that guide me wrongly on account of his being injured,” said one commission member. Some people suggested that Sonny should be barred from the ring for life.
Four weeks after the bout, the results of Gerstein’s investigation confirmed the findings of the eight doctors who had examined Sonny after the fight. “While Liston’s injury is beyond doubt, there is also little doubt that he went into this fight with a sore or lame arm,” stated the report. It also noted that none of the pre-fight information was imparted to the Miami Beach Boxing Commission. That means the commission chose not to mention the fact that they had turned down Sonny’s request for an injury-related postponement. The investigation revealed no evidence that the fight had been fixed, and Gerstein’s office found no fluctuation in the betting odds anywhere in the country.
But the story rumbles on… You can see the fight and the photos from the build up to it here.