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.
HOW well did Manchester United do in securing a 1-1 draw against Shakhtar Donetsk?
The Sun’s Neil Curtis writes:
No English team has ever won in the Donbass Arena.
True. But, then, the Donbass opened on 29 August 2009. Before United visited, Shaktar had beaten Arsenal in 2010 and Chelsea last season.
For ever need not be all that long…
Manchester City: Bayern Munich destroy the team and their fans give a masterclass in taking the mick
ONE problem of playing German sides is that their fans speak good English. They can torment the English fans with strains of “You’re not very good” and memorably at one Arsenal match “Glory, Glory Tottenham Hotspur”. Last night., Bayern Munich’s Intelligentsia mocked Manchester City’s Poznan celebration as their team won 1-3 in the Champions’ League.
SKY Sports reports that a “30-strong mob of Italian football fans have stormed into a restaurant used by Arsenal supporters, smashing windows, breaking chairs and injuring at least one person.”
Witnesses described how the men, described as Napoli fans, had team scarves tied round their faces and started shouting in Italian at those inside the busy restaurant. One worker at the Piebury Corner eatery described how they had to duck for cover and how one customer had been attacked with a belt leaving “blood all over the floor”…
The gang attacked ahead of the Champions League clash between Arsenal and Napoli at the Emirates Stadium.
The Piebury Corner is on Holloway Road.
So. what happened?
The Mirror sees more:
Up to 100 Italian thugs tore through Piebury Corner restaurant on Holloway Road near Arsenal’s stadium in scenes Tim’s pal Richard Morey described as being like something out of the early 80s
TOM Cowan and Robbie Fowler are the latest pundits to find that a casual remark or a casual prejudice can get you into hot water.
‘Banter’ is no longer an acceptable excuse for inappropriate sentiments however lightly expressed, and woe betide anyone who steps over the line into heartfelt abusive opinion.
BBC pundit Cowan’s crime was to make disparaging comments about women’s football in a column for the Daily Record, headed ‘And Now A Message From the Dark Ages’. In it, he remarked that “Fir Park should have been torched on Thursday in order to cleanse the stadium after it played host to women’s football”.For this, he has been suspended by the Beeb.
When you look at it objectively, there’s nothing earth-shattering about a video game company (EA) releasing their annual ‘upgrade’ of one of their most famous gaming franchises albeit one they didn’t care about at the start. As long as they can reasonably improve and refresh the game to make it interesting to spend your free time on, it comes down to brand loyalty.
WHAT was the secret of Manchester United’s success under Sir Alex Ferguson? Well, Fergie has told the Charlie Rose Show on PBS:
“…never hold a grudge – it’s very important”
MANCHESTER United Watch: Manchester United: David Moyes sees shades of Preston in his United team
“I’ve been in situations very similar to this at my old clubs Everton and Preston North End”
So says Moyes on the eve of inconsistent United’s Champions’ League match.
United are arguably biggest club in world football, with millions 0f fans and a pressure to win that would turn a lump of coal into a diamond. Preston are not…
YOU want more harmony than David Cameron puts in his hair? Against Steaua last night, Chelsea defensive pillars John Terry and David Luiz performed a synchronised little jump together. It really is quite mesmerising
Arsenal: ‘Arsene Who?’ and what else they said of the man who came from nowhere to take over at Highbury
ARSENE Wenger marked 17 years as Arsenal manager with a Champions’ League win over Napoli. When he arrived at Highbury in in 1996 a few eyebrows were raised and nails bitten at the man from Japan:
“I remember when Bruce Rioch was sacked, one of the papers had three or four names. It was Terry Venables, Johan Cruyff and then, at the end, Arsène Wenger. I remember thinking as a fan, I bet it’s fu*king Arsène Wenger, because I haven’t heard of him and I’ve heard of the other two. Trust Arsenal to appoint the boring one that you haven’t heard of.”
LAST night Newcastle United lost to Everton. The Magpies featured no English players in their starting XI. No big deal, there. Many other teams have done the same. But hen Arsenal became the first team to do it, Alan Pardew was upset:
“I saw a headline saying Arsenal are flying the flag for Britain. I kind of wondered where that British involvement actually was when I looked at their team. It’s important that top clubs don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s the English Premier League and English players should be involved. Foreign players have been fantastic. We have learned from them and from foreign coaches. But, to some extent, we could lose the soul of British football – the English player.”
C’est la vie, Alain Pardieu.
FORMER Labour party leader Neil Kinnock, now working as Baron Kinnock of Bedwellty is, allegedly, a football hooligan. Kinnock was was reportedly kicked out of his seat while watching Cardiff City play Fulham at Craven Cottage this weekend after upsetting home fans by “wildly celebrating” his side’s goals.
According to the Telegraph, Kinnock provoked “angry responses” from the Fulham fans sitting around him by jumping up and down following Steve Caulker’s 12th-minute opener and was then seen again “going bonkers” – having already been escorted (along with his two grandchildren) to a different part of the stadium – when Jordon Mutch scored his sublime 90th-minute winner.
Manchester United watch: Moyes is King of the Nowhere Men, Ander Herrera is exposed and the Glazers’ pain
MANCHESTER United watch: an at-a-glance look at United in today’s news:
The Times: “American owners ready to fund manager’s call for world-class players”
Why didn’t they buy Gareth Bale?
David Moyes will be given substantial funds to reshape his Manchester United squad with the Glazer family recognising that the manager requires world-class reinforcements to help to maintain Sir Alex Ferguson’s legacy of success.
The United manager is expected to make a foray into the transfer market in January providing leading targets become available as the Barclays Premier League champions look to put the frustrations of a miserable summer behind them…
The Glazers are thought to share Moyes’s view that the squad needs strengthening in key areas and will not balk at spending well in excess of £100 million to ensure they remain successful in the coming years.
Who do they buy?
United continue to keep tabs on Ander Herrera, whom they have been monitoring for 2½ years, but the £25.6 million bid they had rejected for the Spain Under-23 midfielder last month was at the upper limit of their valuation. As such, it seems unlikely at this stage that the club would be prepared to meet the €36 million (£30.2 million) release clause in his contract with Athletic Bilbao.
Andrés Iniesta’s situation at Barcelona is being watched from a distance but there is little expectation of the Spain midfielder leaving the Nou Camp. Ilkay Gundogan, the Borussia Dortmund midfielder, also has his admirers among United’s coaching staff.
It remains to be seen whether United make a renewed effort to buy Leighton Baines or Fabio Coentrão, the Everton and Real Madrid left backs for whom they had bids rejected in the summer, or pursue a younger target, such as Luke Shaw, of Southampton.
Eliaquim Mangala, the highly regarded Porto centre half, is regarded as a potential successor to Ferdinand, although Moyes faces competition from Chelsea, City and several leading European clubs for the 22-year-old, who has a reported €45 million release clause in his contract.
Matt Dickinson says it’s more complicated than that. He looks at how Moyes traded players at Everton:
…chronicled in detail by Michael Calvin in The Nowhere Men, his original book about the scouting business. It is a fascinating glimpse into Moyes’s methods and how Everton used scouting to punch above their weight.
The book takes us behind the locked doors of Everton’s recruitment room under Moyes… Every manager collects scouting data, but none with the zeal of Moyes, whose head of technical scouting, James Smith… kept a database of thousands of reports on the abilities of more than 1,000 players. The long wall in this office was covered in an array of whiteboards, detailing targets, positions, ages, contracts and ratings; hundreds of players listed in various different inks from foreigners under review to “live” targets under constant monitoring. Another board showed the ideal Premier League choices, all aged under 26, with votes from scouts to establish which was top choice; another had a list of players under 23 in English lower leagues.
There was a board of those players Moyes was actively seeking to sign next to another showing how the manager envisaged the development of the first team, with players phased out and how new recruits would come in (which is why the room was strictly off limits to his squad).
This dazzling detail was merely an easy checklist. The real data was kept on computer in the vast bank of reports and profiles. Moyes would demand an “MOT test” for serious targets, with up to 50 reports compiled by as many scouts and coaches on a single player — on top of his own trips.
How does that prudence and intelligent buying fit with spending massive sums at United?
At United there is regret, for example, that they did not bid £50 million for Cesc Fàbregas to see if Barcelona could have been persuaded to negotiate. Moyes, understandably in his first window, was cautious. They wonder now whether they should have closed the deal for Thiago Alcantara instead of allowing the Barcelona schemer to slip away to Bayern Munich. Moyes, though, wanted to stay true to his habits of amassing multiple reports. Without those, he was not sure.
Now they agonise over Ander Herrera, the target at Athletic Bilbao, but must do so without enjoying the secrecy of the recruitment room.
It’s not Everton:
Tony Evans in the Times:
Moyes was bequeathed the worst United squad since his predecessor broke the club’s 26-year title drought in 1993… United should have the fiscal firepower to compete with the biggest clubs in Europe. Yet since the Glazer takeover, too much of the prodigious income that flows into Old Trafford has been diverted to pay interest fees, debt repayments and bank charges. In the accounts released this month, there were £71 million outgoing in financial costs. That knocks a severe hole even in a business that generated an income of £363 million.
Ferguson’s management masked the poisonous impact of the leveraged takeover. The Americans borrowed £525 million to buy United. They have spent £680 million servicing the debt. The former manager’s brilliance meant the impact of this drain on club cash was barely noticed. Until now.
Ferguson’s departure may have been the eye of a perfect storm that began forming in 2005 . Moyes may not be the man to ride it out.
Mark Ogden in the Telegraph looks at the weakened Moyes:
The narrative of the season so far from Moyes has been one of lowering expectations. The squad, he insists, is not strong enough in key areas and the Scot even suggested in the wake of the 4-1 defeat at Manchester City last week, which he described as “embarrassing”, that he required two new players to go straight into his starting 11.
Moyes is undoubtedly correct in his assessment, United do lack quality, particularly in midfield, but there is a danger that he is giving his players an excuse for failure by repeatedly highlighting their frailties.
Ferguson, in contrast, would never talk his team down. He would often exaggerate the potential of his players simply to instil the belief that they could achieve great things.
Phil McNulty tells BBC readers:
It is unlikely Ferguson would have talked down Champions League expectations but this is the different world Moyes now occupies and even his fiercest critics must accept he will take time to fully acclimatise.
One thing is certain: Moyes has the most exciting and toughest job in club football. How does he follow Ferguson?
Photo: English Premier League soccer team Everton’s new signings, John Heitinga, left, Sylvain Distin, second left, and Dinijar Bilyaletdinov, right, pose for photos with team manager David Moyes, second right, at the Everton training ground, Liverpool, England, Friday Sept. 11, 2009.
POPE wears funny hat! Katie Price sleeps on back! And now in other news to shock and amaze: Phil Neville says Manchester United players Roy Keane, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes used to kick lumps out of the best players. The actual shocker is that they used to practice ‘Plan B’ by hacking away at Cristiano Ronaldo.
Speaking to ITV reporter Gabriel Clarke as part of an imminent Ronaldo documentary, Neville Bites Yer Legs says:
“[Ronaldo] dived a lot. He tried to buy fouls and he came in for a lot of criticism. The boys [at Man Utd] were hard on him for his diving and it was putting us under pressure. I’d say the first 12 months there was a massive toughening up process. In training at the time you had Keane, Butt, Scholes, and every time he got the ball they kicked him and they kicked him – not just once, they kicked him every day, every week, all season.”
WHEN Huddersfield Giants star Danny Brough (seen here with his bestselling blueberry bonbons) revealed his other life as co-owner of the Hull confectionery shop Sweeet Shack (with an extra ‘e’) some people may have raised an eyebrow or two.
Once upon a time, however, there was nothing unusual about celebrities operating a sideline. Former footballers, boxers and cricketers opened newsagents, sports shops and pubs. And they weren’t the only ones. Even the Beatles got in on the act.
THE Daily Mirror are reporting Exhibit X/Y/Z (we forget which letter we’re down to these days) in the “Proof if proof were needed that Paolo Di Canio is an angry, incomprehensible, barely coherent goon balloon” file this afternoon, claiming that the Italian “spat in his own face several times” as part of the dressing room rant that eventually culminated with his sacking as Sunderland manager last week.
With the allegations coming by way of Sunday People scribe Alan Nixon, Di Canio is said to have spat in his own face a few times after Sunderland’s defeat at West Brom; taking swigs of water, spraying it into the air, letting it fall on his face, rubbing it in and then yelling at his players “that is what you have done to me, spat in my face” before telling them all to do it to themselves.
Arsenal: Mark Lawrenson looks in the Mirror for the fools who said Manchester United were going great and the Gunners were doomed
“While Arsenal go backwards, the big clubs have started the new season as they mean to go on…I have no idea what Arsenal are doing…it is all just a mess at the Emirates…just shows you how far Arsenal have fallen behind.”
“I have no idea what Arsenal are doing.”
And those are the truest words he has ever said.
MANCHESTER United lose at home to West Bromwich Albion. Some shock. But what did David Moyes say at the start of the season:
“I think it’s the hardest start for 20 years that Manchester United have had. I hope it’s not because Manchester United won the league quite comfortably last year the fixtures have been made much more difficult. I find it hard to believe that’s the way the balls came out of the bag, that’s for sure. But if it is a hard start for Manchester United, it is a hard start for everyone else because they have to play us.”
Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea in the first five matches is tough. But United earned one point from those three matches. They’re not that hard to beat.
He then added:
“To win the Champions League, you need five or six world-class players. Look at Bayern Munich, they have it. Look at Barcelona, who had it in the past and Real Madrid, who have maybe got it now. That’s the level you have to be at to win it. We’ve not got that yet.”
HOW bad are things for Manchester United?
Well, under Moyes, they’ve have dropped 11 points in the Premier League. Last season they didn’t drop that many points until mid-January.
POOR old Robbie Fowler. Back in his day a footballer could poke his backside out at another professional he accused of being ‘gay’ and laugh. Now Fowler’s landed a job as a pundit on the BBC’s Final Score. His mind turned to the Tottenham-Chelsea game, where Fernando Torres and Jan Vertonghen were, as he opined, “pulling at each other like a pair of girls”.
We think we know what he means. But people complain on Twitter and the BBC gets upset. Fowler feels a need to apologise, which makes him look weak as well as off-message. Says Fowler:
“I made a comment about women’s football. I do apologise. I’m a big, big fan of Liverpool Ladies, who have got a chance of winning the [Women's Super League] tomorrow and I’ll be watching. Obviously, anyone at home who was offended, I am deeply sorry. Hope that’s the end of that.”
CAN Liverpool’s Luis Suarez be allowed to move on by the partisan anti-foreigner, righteous English press? No. This is how the Sun reported on Suarez’s two-goal salvo that saw Liverpool beat Sunderland and move to second in the Premier League:
WHEN Liverpool played Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, England’s Daniel Sturridge scored the first goal with his elbow. Handball, surely. But the goal stood. Was it cheating, then? When Uruguay’s Luis Suarez scored with his hand against Macclesfield last season he was labelled a “cheat“.
In the 27th minute Gerrard curled in a corner from the left which was met by the unmarked Daniel Sturridge six yards out, who was unable to make a connection with his head, but the ball bounced off his outstretched arm and beat Larsson on the line.
TO Stockholm for the local derby between Djurgården and AIK. Supports from both teams have hit the train station at the same time. A mass of rowdy fans have assembled by the escalators. What to do? Well, the police make the stairs run faster. The fans are despatched in record time. BritishTransport Police are free to try this at the next Arsenal v Spurs match. And then sit back to wait for the insurance claims to come flooding in.
Manchester United: Moyes sent to Gibraltar, West Bromwich Albion are shameful and Man City pounce on Januzaj
MANCHESTER United Watch: a round-up of the day’s United news in the media. United have made their worst start to a Premier League season in 24 years.
David Moyes wants more is United are to win the Champions’ League:
“To win the Champions League you have to have five or six world class players. If you look at Bayern Munich, they have five or six, nearly, world class players. To be considered to win it, you might have to have that in your squad. Look at Barcelona, who had it in the past, and Real Madrid have maybe got it now. That’s the level you have to get at to win it.
“We’ve not got that yet but what we have got is experience and several players who are in that category or close to it.”
In the celebrity Petri Dish with Kelly Brook, Cheslea’s Ashley Cole, Danny Cipirani and Katie Price fan Jemma Henley
The mother-of-three has said of her protegee: ‘She has fierce model written all over her.”
Well, you pick your surgeons and tattoo artists and you take your chances.
You may also recall her Jemma from a 2005 TV about US Brat Camps and this 2011 report in the Oxford Mail:
A FORMER wild child teenager whose behaviour shocked TV viewers has marked turning her life around by getting a tattoo of her idol… the 22-year-old, who was expelled from five schools but has since posed for Nuts, Zoo, Maxim and Loaded, has had a full-length portrait of Jordan tattooed on her right arm.