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.
Why did 96 Liverpool fans lose their lives on15 April 1989 at the FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium? We had thought it was to do with treating football fans as sub-human scum, a problem to be solved through new forms of control. How else was it that when the innocent were dying in cages the police called not for the ambulances but for the attack dogs? Why else was it that with the dead not yet buried and the dying in hospital, the Press felt able to continue the theme that all football fans deserved it?
Football was “a slum sport watched by slum people”. Well, so said the Sunday Times newspaper. But the Times was only right about the stadiums, neglected and inadequate. In May 1985, the Bradford City stadium fire in May 1985 killed 56 people.
In 1985, 38 Italian fans died following a charge by Liverpool supporters at the Heysel stadium. The dead were killed when a faulty wall collapsed.
So. Why were Liverpool fans given the Leppings Lane end at Hillsborough while their less well-supported opponents Nottingham Forest stood in the bigger end of the ground? Because that was how the police wanted it.
You can read my views on that horrific day in “Hillsborough: 96 Liverpool Fans Killed By ‘A Slum Sport Watched By Slum People In Slum Stadiums’“. Everyone who went to a football match in the 1980s will understand that the Liverpool fans who died could have been them. Amid all the guff about the “football family”, this is one truth that binds all fans.
And so to today’s news in of all places The Sun, the newspaper that more than any other bought into the lies that depraved, grave-robbing Liverpool fans had instigated their own deaths. In 2012, the paper apologised for colluding with the police lies.
Appearing at the Hillsborough inquests in Warrington, Cheshire, David Duckenfield, the Hillsborough police match commander, says his failure to close a tunnel “was the direct cause of the deaths of 96 people”.
He was wrong. He made a terrible error. But that error was triggered by the top-down monstering of all football fans. David Duckenfield did not act in isolation.
The dead were libelled. At the coroner’s court, details of the deceased were read out together with their blood alcohol reading. That horror included the blood alcohol reading of a dead 10-year-old boy. The verdict was that the 96 had perished in an “Accidental Death”. No charges would be brought against anyone. Only the dead were to blame.
Suck it up. Move on. Years later the elite joined the bereft and abused in a minute’s silence. Your pain was now their pain, too. The conniving never stops.
The lies were maintained. Evidence presented without contest by the State propped up the narrative of drunkeness and violence.
Now David Duckenfield says he “froze” during the afternoon of the 1989 football disaster.
Mr Duckenfield is 70.
The wheels of justice turn slowly. We now see an old man in the dock. He is full of remourse. But he’s no longer a serving copper. But he was when he made a witness statement on 5 May 1989. He said:
Now he says he is sorry for his lie about fans forcing an exit gate open to enter the ground. He said it was a “lie of omission” when he said gates to the ground had been forced. “He claimed he was referring to the first opening of gate C, at 2,48pm, when he wrongly believed it had been forced and about 150 fans gained access”. He says:
“I am now very much older, very much wiser and very much more understanding of the events of the day and have decided to tell the whole truth.”
So says the old man no longer in uniform.
You wait long enough and if you’re lucky you get to hear the truth just before God makes his judgement…
NEWS is that the police have raided the Sunderland dressing room. No, not looking for mogodon or any other drugs that lead to malcoordination and apathy. They were seeking anything that can aid the investigation into claims that Adam Johnson had sexual contact with an underage girl.
The Sun announces:
Adam Johnson cops raid Sunderland dressing rooms
Officers have now scoured for evidence the club’s 49,000-capacity Stadium of Light and its 60-acre Academy of Light.
When 17-year-old Australian Islamic State fighter, Jake Bilardi, died in a suicide bombing attack, we all saw the photo. There was Jake in his Chelsea kit.
Cheslea’s marketing men must have been delighted by the repeated exposure Bilardi has given their brand.
Fans of other clubs can only smirk when they see a miscreant wearing a rival team’s kit.
When Craig Meehan was arrested during the Shannon Matthews affair, he was photgpahed in his Manchester United kit. Meehan was subsequently convicted of possessing indecent images of children on a computer found in the home he shared with Karen Matthews.
If you see an embarrassing endorsement, please let us know at @theanorak on twittter.
Transfer Balls looks at Paul Pogba news. The Daily Express says Pogba has dealt Cheslea huge “BLOW”.
Charles Perrin has news on Pogba, the Frenchman who, according to the Express was sold to Chelsea for £40m, to Arsenal also for £40m and £80m, for £77m to Manchester United, to Arsenal if Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and PSG don’t want him and has agreed to join PSG.
Chelsea and Manchester United have been handed a potential blow in their efforts to sign Paul Pogba.
Not if you ‘ve been reading the Express they haven’t.
The Juventus star has been valued at £77m, but Paris Saint-Germain star Marco Verratti has entertained the idea of a possible swap deal involving the Frenchman… “If PSG were to force me to leave in order to make room for Pogba, then that’s different.”
So. Verratti to Juventus it is. Unless you read the Daily Express, whih says he’s off to Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester United.
And Verratti is not going to Juventus:
No wait a minute, he is:
Such are the facts…
The Sun has an “exclusive”. News is that Raheem Sterling has yet to sign a deal to prolong his stay at Liverpool.
In September 2014, the Sun had an “EXCLUSIVE” to quicken the hearts of Liverpool FC Fans: “LIVERPOOL are finally ready to open contract talks with Raheem Sterling.” Yeah, finally! The 19-year-old player with three years left to run on his current contract was finally going to have his future sorted out.
QPR-schooled Raheem Sterling was ready to sign a new deal.
But now the Sun says he’s m ioght be off to play for Bayern Munich.
Talking Balls: Is Manchester United manger Louis Van Gaal going to remain at Old Trafford or be sacked?
The media experts have been informing their readers.
David McDonnell tells Daily Mirror readers on March 10:
Louis van Gaal’s fate as Manchester United will be decided in the next month…
Mark Ogden in the Daily Telagraph March 11:
Manchester United have spent too much money and time giving Louis van Gaal everything he has asked for this season to begin to contemplate dispensing with their Dutch manager this summer – even if he fails to achieve the club’s target of Champions League qualification.
Neil Curtis in The Sun, March 11:
LOUIS VAN GAAL’S job is safe even if Manchester United fail to make the Champions League. The board trust in his long-term plan despite the prospect of missing out on the top four.Louis van Gaal’s job is safe even if Manchester United fail to make the Champions League. The board trust in his long-term plan despite the prospect of missing out on the top four. The club do not want another summer of turmoil
Such are the facts…
Talking Balls: just how large is Arsenal’s “war chest”?
On March 111 2015, Sami Mokbel told Daily Mail readers that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will “target a central defender, a holding midfielder and a goalkeeper this summer with a £50million transfer war chest.”
When Chelsea lost to PSG in a tetchy, dramatic and acrimonious Champions’ League match last night, some of the newspapers picked sides.
The Times not only comes up with the best headline (“Chelsea polished off by Silva” – PSG’s Thiago Silva scored the decisive goal) but also reports that counter much what we read elsewhere.
Readers learn that Zlatan Ibrahimovich was “extermely unfortuante to be sent off” for a foul on Oscar. He was.
Oliver Kay notes that PSG’s Edinson Cavani performed a “blatant trip” on Diego Costa in the box. Result: No penalty. Matt Dickenson notices David Luiz swing his arm into Costa’s face. It was “disgraceful and blatant”. It “should have been a red card”. Result: no foul. “Devilish” Costa then flew into a “wild challenge” on Thiago Silva. He should have been sent off, says the Times. Was he? No.
Transfer Balls catches the Daily Star’s news that Arsenal and Liverpool are all set to sign Sami Khedira.
Paul Brown says Arsenal and Liverpool will both try to sign the German player when his Real Madrid contract ends on June 30. Offering no proof that they will, Brown then says Chelsea could afford to buy him. Why Chelsea would want Khedira and why Kehdira would want Chelsea are not things that bother the writer. And readers can also imagine what other clubs could afford Khedira.
Maybe Bayern Munich can? After all it was the Daily Star that rold us Khedira was heading to the German champions:
But that would be odd because whilst Brown says Arsenal baulked at Khedira’s wage demands, the, er, Daily Star told us that they didn’t:
But then came Daily Star news that Khedira had gone back on that Arsenal agreement and agreed to join Bayern Munich:
So. He agreed to Arsenal. He agreed to Bayern Munich. Which brings us to the Daily Star’s news that next season Kehedia will be playing for Manchester Untied, Liverprool or Chelsea:
Such are the facts…
The Asian Age has the story of the Liverpool fan who said two Muslim fans praying during the team’s FA Cup quarter-final clash against Blackburn Rovers were “a disgrace”.
The paper has the photo. But the tweet has been delated. Stephen Dodd’s tweet went:
“Muslims praying at half time at the match yesterday #DISGRACE.”
Still, it was up long enough to attract a few comments:
One shock is that the fans had waited until half-time to pray in the game that ended 0-0. The other is that the mat is not an offical Liverpool FC prayer mat. Call us Liverpool marketing. We have ideas.
How football journalism works: the Dail Mail v the Daily Star Sun. Last night Manchester United lost 2-1 to Arsenal in the FA Cup. Danny Wellbeck, formerly of United, scored the winning goal.
Neil Ashton is dishing out points in the Daily Mail:
Danny Welbeck: Kept his composure to put Arsenal back in front when her took the ball round De Gea with class and conviction. Good on him for that. 8
That’s the game’s highest score.
In the Daily Star, Jeremy Cross saw a different Wellbeck:
Welbeck struggled to make an impact… The first pass he received was badly mis-controlled and the same happened the next one he got…
Maybe Neil Ashton is trolling? As he wrote previously:
Life would be easier if I followed the golden rule – give the highest mark to the player who scored the winner, or set it up – and you won’t get clubbed to death on Twitter.
But so good was Wellbeck that all the Manchester United fans cheered him off. Well, so says Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail:
The locals will not begrudge Welbeck his moment either, or resent his celebration. They did not want him to leave and confirmed that support by applauding him all the way to the bench when he was replaced by Olivier Giroud after 72 minutes
Neil Curtis in the Sun heard other noises:
Even the Arsenal fans gave him some generous applaus after initial boos
David McDonell in the Mirror also used two ears:
Welbeck was treated to a mixture of boos and cheers from United fans…
Such are the facts in the tabloids. And in the more high-brow newspapers, the facts are even more challenged. The Times tells us that 8 is better than 7:
Football used to be just about the scoreline…
The All Hair Hockey Team 2015 are ready to be appraised:
No football match is complete without newspapers awarding players a score out of 10. Last night’s match between Manchester United and Arsenal was no different.
The Daily Mail says the game’s best player was Danny Welbeck, who scored 8 out of 10. The Mirror says Francis Coquelin was the best player. He gets a 7 out of 10. And in the Times, the best player was Mesut Ozil, who scores an imprssive 8 out of 10.
But hold on. That same Times column says the game’s best player was Santi Cazorla. He scored 7 out of 10.
We know journalists are bad at maths but when seven beats eight it’s time to get the fingers out and get back to school…
Writing on Arsenal’s FA Cup win over Manchester United, Martin Samuel turns to the matter of diving. Two Manchester United players – Angel Di Maria and Adnan Januzaj (who now has more bookings for diving than goals for Manchester United – five yellow cards for diving; four goals scored) were both yellow carded for cheating.
Samuels is unimpressed, telling his Daily Mail readers diving is not the English way:
“Januzaj has been around the English game long enough now to know better.”
Is Samuel seriously suggesting that only foreingers dive? That it’s not the English to truy to con the referee? If he is, he could do worse than look at Manchester United and England cpatain Wayne Rooney, who in the previous FA Cup match won a penalty for this tumble:
Transfer Balls catches sight of the Daily Star’s lead sports story that Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere is off to Manchester City for £30m.
This story is billed as an “EXCLUSIVE”.
Paul Hetheington has the exclusive facts:
England ace Wilshere, 23, is one of the potential targets mentioned by Etihad Stadium bosses.
Transfer balls: A look at the Daily Star’s scoop that Paul Pogba has “ROCKED” Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea by agreeing to play for…Bournemouth! No, only joking. The Star says Pogba has “agreed” to leave Juventus and plays for PSG.
You might suppose Manchester United are not all that rocked given that the Star reported recently:
Although a day before that the Metro said Pogba was heading to United and Chelsea:
And the Mirror said Pogba dreams of playing for Arsenal:
The source of this latest story is Pogba’s loquacious agent Mino Raiola, who opines:
Speaking to Le Parisien, he said: “No, Ligue 1 is not too small for Paul Pogba. For Paul, all the big clubs are interesting regardless of which championship they play in. We respect the Spanish championship, the French championship, England, Italy and Germany.”
Transfer Balls: a look at rubbish being presented as fact and scoops in the mainstream media.
The Daily Mirror says Alvaro Morata is off to Arsenal. The fee: £60m.
Arsenal news and transfers: Gunners given Alvaro Morata go-ahead – for £60million.
Having produced a sensational headline, the Mirror then defers to The Metro:
The Metro report Arsenal have been given the green light to sign Alvaro Morata with Juventus ready to cash in on his services. Morata, only moved to Juve last summer from Real Madrid and Madrid have a buy-back option to re-sign him at the end of the season, it’s reported they’re willing to pass on that.
The Metro believes that Juve and Real have agreed to let the striker join either Arsenal or Liverpool for £60million instead – and split the cash.
The Metro story has been written by Jamie Sanderson (more of his stella work here). The headlines trills:
Arsenal ‘clear to seal Alvaro Morata transfer, Juventus will accept £60m’
Good of Juventus to accept that. And then the facs:
It’s believed Juve and Real have agreed to let the striker join either Arsenal or Liverpool for £60million instead – and split the cash.
Believed by who? You? Me? Them? Anyone other than Jamie Sanderson, whose story contains no link to any source.
Previously Sanderson has told readers that Morat was worth £25m:
And he’s agreed top join the Gunners.
And his fee was…£15m.
Such are the facts…
The tabloids can hardly contains their excitement that Manchester United’s Jonny Evans denies spitting at Newcastle United’s Papiss Cisse.
Cisse has held his hands up to the offence, apologised and accepted his seven-match ban. But Evans is digging in. The Sun calls his stance “amazing”. Louis Van Gaal, Evans’ manager at Manchester United, has delivered the outstanding defence: “…he was not aware he was spitting.”
As we look for signs of drool from mouth-breather Evans, the tabloids go to work.
The Sun fill up 7 pages in the Evans spit, including its font and back pages:
If you discount the adverts, the Sun’s 68 pages are reduced to around 54 pages. Seven pages deal with Jonny Evans’ drooling – that’s around 13% of the entire paper. And not a single word on Westminster paedos, Iraq, Syria or phone hacking in the Daily Mirror.
To the Sun, ‘Jonny is Evans sent’…
Transfer Balls: a look at the nonsense written about William Carvalho, the Sporting Lisbon midfielder.
Yesterday the Daily Mirror told its readers that Carvalho could be on his way to Liverpool.
That will come as some news for Manchester United fans because according to reports in the Daily Mirror, Carvalho plays for the Red Devils, who he joined for £37m before the last World Cup:
News of Carvalho’s move to Manchester United was confirmed by the Daily Express, although there it was for a lower fee:
And there was the earlier news in the Daily Star that Carvalho was on the point of signing for Arsenal:
As for the player himself, well, the Daily Express had news that he doesn’t want to play for Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester United.
Such are the facts in the mainstream Press…
In the Premier Lesgue match between Newscastle United and Manchester United, Johnny Evans and Pappis Cisse appeared to exchange bodily fluids. No, the players – one white, the other black – did not get off with each other to further please fans looking for evidence of moral enlightenment at the match. It seems that they spat at each other, and not in any way that can be construed as good for the game.
No-one has moved to claim the spitting was rooted in racism. And in the curent climate where racism is sought in a speck of dust, for that we must be thankful.
The referee missed the spitting.
But the papers didn’t. They wade in, telling their readers how long the Evans and Cisse could be banned for:
The Guardian says one-match, maybe:
The BBC looks to recent history: “Last season, George Boyd was given a three-match ban for spitting at Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart”.
The Daily Telegraph says: “Jonny Evans and Papiss Cisse [are] facing six-match ban after spitting row in Newcastle v Manchester United clash.”
The Daily Mirror wants more: “Papiss Cisse apologises for Jonny Evans spitting storm as he faces SEVEN game ban.”
lan McInally: “If you get tackled and somebody injures you, I think you take it. If somebody spits on you, as a footballer player, that’s not happening … maybe six games isn’t enough. If you give them 10 games, they take the wrath of their football club.”
The Times: “Jonny Evans is not that kind of guy,” Paul Scholes, a former team-mate of the Ulsterman, said. “What Papiss Cissé did afterwards is unforgivable.”
Unforgivable. A life ban it is, then.
(Cisse has accepted a seven-match ban. Evans is holding out.)
Is any of it a big deal? Maybe spitting is as much a part of the game as the leg-breaking tackle, verbals, biting or the headbutt? Maybe one day they’ll just make a statue or fountain to spitting, like this tribute to Zinedine Zidane, whose World Cup final red-card earning butt was immortalised in bronze:
Football Balls loves those space-filling lists. The Daily Mail delivers news on Manchester United. Mike Keegan lists “10 things Louis van Gaal must fix before next season”.
Here, Sportsmail looks at what Van Gaal needs to do to ensure it is mission accomplished at Old Trafford.
Mission accomplished at Old Trafford is not like George Bush’s famous ‘Mission Accomplished’ in Iraq, where a swift defeat of the less well-armed enemy is followed by grandiose statements, trebles all round and chaos. Manchester United need to win the Premier League and then conquer Europe to accomplish any mission. Anything less for such a rich, free-spending club is failure.
Sky News has been discussing racism. And that always means racism in football, the obvious stuff when white, working class people in man-made fibres are filmed ranting and raving about a soft target.
Eamonn Holmes, the Sky News anchor, was chairing the debate, which quickly turned to Chelsea fans (club owner: Jewish Russian; supstar striker: black African), a few of whom had been filmed behaving badly on the Paris Metro.
Holmes, a Manchester United fan, puffed up, sat up straight and told viewers that things were rosy at Old Trafford, because sat close to the manager’s dug-out are a few obvious ethnic fans. Said Holmes:
“The group of guys in turbans at Manchester United sends out a lovely message.”
Transfer Balls: Is Paul Pogba heading to Arsenal? Is Paul Pogna, the Juventus and France star, going to pull on the Arsenal strip after an £80m transfer?
Wriing in the Metro, Lee Hurley is disbelieving:
Spending £80million is a lot for a player, any player, even one as good as Paul Pogba. In fact, I roll my eyes every time I see Arsenal linked with him as I think about Arsene Wenger saying to himself ‘I could buy one-fifth of a new stadium for that!’
Yeah, it does sound like utter balls. And good on the Metro’s man in the know to call it. But where could he had read such utter drivel?
Over to you, Jamie Sanderson…
As the Press loads the argument against Adam Johnson – guilty of being a Premier League footballer but presumed innocent to sex crimes against a 15-year-old girl – we wondered what his home is worth. It’s a key fact. appearing in every news story on the Sunderland player arrested on suspicion of sexual activity with an underage girl.
The Daily Mirror began the valuations, saying that the property was worth £1.5m.
Any child of David and Victoria Beckham will want for nothing save talent. You can fake it in the world of fashion and pop music, but in sport, there is no auto-tune or PR-wrangling to make the mundane appear masterful.
And the media is watching their every move.
On February 20, the Daily Mail told us just how fantastic the Beckham boys are doing in the Arsenal youth teams:
Brooklyn Beckham is a hot prospect for the Arsenal academy, but brothers Romeo and Cruz could be even better
And Cruz, age 10, must be brilliant because Brooklyn is ace. As Sami Mokbel told readers:
The teenager has caused quite a stir at Arsenal’s youth HQ over the past few months. At the age of 15, he was named on the bench for last weekend’s Under-18 clash against Leicester, raising hopes that he may well have the substance to back up his name.
A mere five days later, Sami Mokbel had more news:
However, Sportsmail can reveal that Beckham was one of only a few Under 16 and Under 17 players still at the club’s Hale End academy that weekend as the rest travelled to the Al Kass youth tournament in Qatar.
Having ‘revealed’ that Beckham had been called up on merit, the Mail then ‘reveals’ that young Beckham was called up to make up the numbers.
No pressure, Romeo. But do we detect a touch of snark benath the Star’s photo?
“David and Victoria will be told how good their son it”
And not only by the Press. But what’s this “good” rot? In the media, the Beckhams lads must be nothing short of brilliant let they be gleefully portrayed as failures.