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.
TODAY, Manchester United legend Sir Alex Ferguson opened Sir Alex Ferguson Way, Trafford.
A Way? Surely Ferguson is more suited to Alex Ferguson Cross. Or Sir Alex Ferguson Passage. Or how about Sir Alex Ferguson Trail, a track of tears, beaten opponents (Kenny Dalglish, Kevin Keegan, Roberto Mancini and many more), banned journalists, vanquished nations, abused match officials and even entire nations slighted: “When an Italian tells me it’s pasta on the plate, I check under the sauce to make sure”; and “Typical Germans. It was only a slip, a slight tug at the boy, but they saw the opportunity and forced the referee. The ref wasn’t going to do anything, but they forced him to get a card out”?
A great winner. A terrific tactician. But Ferguson was the man for whom the phrase “incandescent with rage” might have been coined.
PS: The one great pity was that he never managed England. They’d have named a motorway after him.
THE English language is Britain’s gift to the colonies and the world. Panama’s Critica newspapers is well-versed in English. No other language will do when those Mexicans have defeated Panama in a CONCACAF World Cup qualifier. The decisive goal in a 2-1 win was a whirling bicycle kick (chilena) from Raul Jiménez.
HOW good has Spurs’ Andros Townsend become since he scored in England’s 4-1 win over Montenegro?
Tony Cascarino (Times):
I felt for Theo Walcott on Friday, sitting in a TV studio watching his replacement have a great game. Walcott would have wanted Andros Townsend to do well for England — just not too well! It’s a strange mix of feelings when you see your rival excel.
The 20 indignities at English football grounds (featuring Arsenal, Aston Villa, Celtic, Charlton, Fulham, Newcastle, QPR, Spurs and Wolves)
FOOTBALL fans and all decent people everywhere will have been cheered to hear that Fulham Football Club has finally got round to taking down the statue of Michael Jackson that has besmirched Craven Cottage for the past few years. Former owner Mohamed Al Fayed, who erected the statue in 2011, is apparently considering selling it to raise money for charity.
Good news for all those who believe that sporting establishments should be treated with respect and dignity.
Kuwait’s gay test gets Qatari World Cup approval: homosexuals can’t play football in face-melting heat
KUWAIT has banned entry to gay dancers, ice-skaters, TV talent show judges and footballers. It will test anyone coming into the country for gayness. That includes members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, of which World Cup hosts Qatar are members. What happens to gay football fans and players heading there, then? Qatar thinks homosexuals are against the law. It locks them up. But will it test all fans?
AS the world debated Jack Wilshere’s claim that England should be just for the English – and Ian Wright tied himself in knots and Tony Dorigo raised an eyebrow – it was overlooked what else he said. To Jack an Englishman is a no-nonsense, pie and potatoes bloke:
“We are English and we tackle hard. And we are tough on the pitch and are hard to beat. We have great characters. You think of Spain and you think technical, but you think of England and you think they are brave and they tackle hard. We have to remember that.”
Manchester United’s teenager Adnan Januzaj is just like Tony Dorigo – the Italian-Australian who became English for glory and money
IAN Wright and Jack Wilshere agree that only players born and blooded in England should play for England at football. How Wilshere’s views will pan out with Liverpool and England’s Jamaican-born Raheem Sterling have yet to be established. Manchester United’s teenager Adnan Januzaj should not play for England, they say.
Fair enough. He might not want to. But Anorak recalls one foreign-born player who did pull on the England shirt. Australian-born Tony Dorigo, for it is he, played in the same England team as Ian Wright. We can find no record of Wright saying back then in 1993 that victory over Brazil would have been “hollow” with a foreigner in the team. Playing with a non-England born player is “just cheating” says wright.
“KEVIN PIETERSEN let his country down — but Jack Wilshere hasn’t, say Ian Wright, who adds in his Sun column:
The flak Jack copped for his views on foreign players representing England is outrageous. And I agree with everything Jack said. You MUST be English to play for England. KP can say whatever he wants but he was born in South Africa — it isn’t the same him having the Three Lions on his chest…
It’s like cheating. Any victory that requires foreign help is hollow. If you’re English and not good enough to play for England you don’t just go and play for Ireland.
THE pressure on Arsenal player Jack Wilshere’s shoulders so no signs of abating. The current Best English Player to Look a Bit Like Kevin Keegan is the subject of this balls in the Daily Mail:
‘The midfielder has been hailed as the future of English football and dropping him would represent arguably the biggest gamble by an England manager manager since Glenn Hoddle left David Beckham out of the opening 1998 World Cup game.”
WHEN Rafa Benitez left Liverpool, the club lost a great manager. But they never did build a statue to his name. Rafa was one of the things that made Liverpool great; they should have made a statue of him in the Tate. At Chelsea, Rafa did well. No statue, of course, but many appreciative Blues’ fans did tell him to get stuffed and offer to mount his head on a spike at Stamford Bridge. And then to Naples: a very slightly unsettling full 1:1 life-size terracotta figurine of Napoli manager Rafa Benitez, complete with ultra realistic signature paunch has ben spotted in the arcades.
HARY Redknapp continues to make friends with his latest book. Via the Daily Mail, he makes a claim that might well interest the police:
His wife tried to run me over
When I left Bournemouth and went to West Ham as assistant manager in 1992, I’d had enough of being the bad guy. When you are the manager, you put up that team-sheet and, straight away, half the club hates you. Their wives hate you, too.
At Bournemouth, Shaun Teale’s missus nearly ran me over after a row over about one hundred quid. She marched down to the training ground over some minor contractual issue, gave me a mouthful, I told her to p**s off, and the next thing I knew she was reversing out of the car park so fast she nearly took me with her.
So. Redknapp stops well short of saying she tried to run him over. The Mail’s headline is overly spiced. But the story is out there, and it travels. One tweeter takes an interest:
— Joe Bradford (@Joe_Bradford_05) October 10, 2013
Shaun Teale responds:
@Joe_Bradford_05 difficult when not in a car .yet another lying tw*t it was the other way round
— shaun teale (@ShaunTeale) October 10, 2013
Such are the facts…
Photo: Bell’s Whisky Divisional Football Managers of the Year at London’s Savoy Hotel, after being presented with their silver salvers and a cheque for Â£1,000. (L-R): Harry Redknapp, of AFC Bournemouth (third division), Arthur Cox, of Derby County (Second division) and Graham Carr of Northampton Town. Date: 15/05/1987
HARRY Redknapp has called the FA “clueless“. He says they no nothing about football. Now David Bernstein has responded to the words of the man who was not picked to be England manager (before not being picked, Redknapp said you could trust the FA to make the right decisions). The former FA Chairman tells the BBC:
“There were four people who made this decision [to appoint Roy Hodgson]. One of them was myself, and I’ve been involved with running Manchester City for ten years, and chairman of that club for five years, and have since been involved with the FA and Wembley Stadium.”
“Sir Trevor Brooking, who has a lifetime in football and also managed, and done a great deal in football.”
“Adrian Bevington, who has huge football knowledge, amazing football knowledge – he may not have managed but he has.”
“And Alex Horne, the general secretary.”
WHEN Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere (born: Stevenage, Herts) said only English-born players should represent the national team, England cricketer Kevin Pietersen (born: Pietermaritzburg, South Africa) tweeted him a question:
“Interested to know how you define foreigner?”Would that include me, [Andrew] Strauss, [Jonathan] Trott, [Matt] Prior, Justin Rose, [Chris] Froome, Mo Farah?”
Pietersen is, as ever, self-aggrandizing. He and Trott ended up playing for England – albeit with English ancestry – specifically as a result of coming here to pursue a professional career for financial gain. Mo Farah came to the UK when he was boy to live with his British-born father. They are not the same.
The debate is a huge grey area. But it’s clear that football is viewed in a more cynical light then other sports, where foreign-born players are readily accepted.
And the list Pietersen cites is one of winners. We all love a champion. It’s very easy to adopt a foreigner who was part of a successful team. But what about the others who don’t win but occupy a slot in place of a British-born athlete? Were they cheated?
Finally on Twitter will keep everyone up to date… Looking forward to getting to know you guys and showing you the real Gazza !!
— Paul Gascoigne (@gazzaofficial) October 8, 2013
EVERYONE loves Paul Gascoigne. He was supremely talented but a wreck of a human. He’s brings out the older sibling in us all, where we want to cuddle him and fix him, fearful that he’s going about his life in a fashion which suggest he’s not long for this Earth.
ARSENAL’S Jack Wilshere says only Englishmen should play for England:
“We have to remember what we are. We are English. We tackle hard, are tough on the pitch and are hard to beat. We have great characters. You think of Spain and you think technical but you think of England and you think they are brave and they tackle hard. We have to remember that. The only people who should play for England are English people. If I went to Spain and lived there for five years, I’m not going to play for Spain.”
That was triggered by the conversation that Manchester United’s teenager Adnan Januzaj could play for England if he passes Fifa’s five-year residency requirement. (He has to live in the Country for five years after turning 18. In five years, Adnan will no longer be the teenage tyro. He’d be mad to wait.)
MORE cracking wit and wisdom from QPR manager Harry Redknapp, who writes in his autobiography:
‘The squad I inherited in November last year was poorly balanced, undisciplined and short of confidence. The directors and owners were nice people but they were naive in football terms and I think certain people they had trusted – agents and advisers – had let them down quite badly. They had probably never been around players, or indeed football before, did not know the market and had spent unwisely on some very average foreign imports.
‘They had players on astronomical wages, being watched by crowds of 18,000 at Loftus Road. It wasn’t sustainable; it wasn’t right.”
THE word grudge has been used a few times in the last few weeks. First Alex Ferguson told us never to hold a grudge. Then Harry Redknapp told us he holds no grudge against the FA. Now Newcastle United’s Yohan Cabaye says he’s not bitter that his move to Arsenal never materialised.
Cabaye wanted the move, refusing to play for Newcastle in a bid to push through the £10million transfer. Says Cabaye:
“The only person who can explain what happened is Joe Kinnear. If he is honest, he will tell it. Otherwise it will not get out of my mouth. Was my failed transfer to Arsenal difficult to swallow? At first, yes. But you have to quickly get focused again, because if you go on thinking about it you have a grudge against a lot of people and that is useless. ‘I quickly forget about it and go back to work…. I bear no grudge against no one. I accept it, it is in the past.’
If he’s honest? Yep, that sound like a strike for harmony…”
FIFA 14 is doing its bit for gay rights in football. Well, possibly not. After Andy Carroll, then of Newcastle United, kissing Arsenal’s Lukasz Fabianski in FIFA 12, this season’s title has upped the ante.
ENGLAND batsman and general talented poser, Kevin Pietersen, has accepted a large but undisclosed amount of money for libel damages after a Specsavers advert implied he may have tampered with his bat during this summer’s Ashes series against Australia.
COMPARE and contrast Harry Redknapp with these two extracts from his new book:
“Daniel Levy) was the first person to ring me up to wish me luck when I took over at QPR, and even on the night I left Tottenham, the car phone rang and it was Daniel. “Harry, let’s keep in touch,” he said. “I hope we can still be friends.” I thought, He’s got some front. He’s just sacked me and now he wants to be mates. But we have stayed in touch. I’m not one for grudges.”
HARRY Redknapp’s new book, “My Top, Top, T’riffic Autobiography”, is being serialised in the Daily Mail this week and today’s excerpt is a corker – containing the story of the day our compelling protagonist found himself with £30,000 of Paul Merson’s money hidden down his trouser leg for the entire duration of Portsmouth’s game against Millwall at the New Den back in March of 2003.
SMELL that? Jose Mourinho does. The Chelsea manager says he can “smell” various phases of football matches including when a goal is about to be scored. Says Jose of Chelsea’s left-it-late win over Norwich City:
“During the game I am not nervous. I have feelings. I smell things, and when that easy (open) goal was missed (by Demba Ba), I had a smell that they would score a goal. We could have won or lost it at 1-1 because we, at that moment, didn’t want a point. We are trying to be top, so we tried to win it.”
Do you, like us, detect the grassy smell of GOAL!, the signature scent of the Premier League’s top strikers? As the ball hits the net, sensors are triggered that mist the stadium in the smell of fresh-minted bank notes, warm socks and champagne. The away fans get a waft of police horse manure and train carriage toilet. So much for goal line technology and trusting your eyes. It’s the smell that decides if the ball has gone in or not.
TODAY Buckingham Palace hosted a football match. The Duke of Cambridge and members of the Royal household were there to see Polytechnic FC take on the Civil Service FC. The Duke of Cambridge, president of the FA, helped organise the event, the first of its kind at Queen Elizabeth II’s London home, as part of the Football Association’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
The game ended in a draw: One-one-one-one-one etc…