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.
JOHN Dillon says Manchester City’s Manuel Pellegrini “realises being cool doesn’t count if you can’t add up”. Had City scored more they would have topped their Champions League group. This, it turns out, is a sign of foreign stupidity.
Here’s something that English coaches can do which apparently not all of their highly exalted foreign rivals can manage. They can count.
If Pellegrini’s oversight is a sign of foreign idiocy are Alan “exciting” Shearer’s bon mots symbols of English brain power?
Pelligrini might look like an accountant, but it turns out he’s not all that good with numbers.
Pellegrini, however, belied his suave, refined image and miscalculated… The fashion during the last decade or so has been for imported bosses. They are seen as more sophisticated, cooler, more advanced and more tactically inventive and flexible than their British counterparts.
THE Football Association are very disappointed that numbers of people taking up football are dwindling. It seems less kids want to run around in dreadful weather, getting lumps kicked out of them and paying their subs for the privilege.
In completely unrelated news, football took over Twitter in 2013 and dominated the spikes of activity the site had.
HOW bad or good were Arsenal in last night’ Champions League defeat to Napoli? The Gunners qualified the contest’s knock-out stages in second place.
Daily Mail: “Napoli 2 Arsenal 0: Slack Gunners are let off the hook after Higuain and Callejon bag a goal apiece as Arteta sees red”
Arsenal had looked so assured, so accomplished as they saw off the threat of Napoli’s braying mob up in the stands and the willing figures doing the running for them on the field. Then it went wrong — badly wrong. Gonzalo Higuain scored for Napoli after 73 minutes and Mikel Arteta was sent off two minutes later for a second booking. As captain of Arsenal he ought to know better.
The Serie A side began brightly, but were restricted to few opportunities by a resilient Arsenal defence in the first-half…
Arsenal started to become more of a threat and in-form striker Olivier Giroud had a superb chance to silence the home fans, but saw his shot stopped by Napoli goalkeeper Rafael Cabral. As the first-half went on the Gunners continued to frustrate and restricted the home side to few clear cut chances.
As the match entered the final 18 minutes, Arsenal began to unravel slightly as Higuain turned Metesacker and struck a low effort into the bottom corner to give Napoli the lead. Only three minutes later Arteta, already on a booking, brought down Callejon and was given his marching orders by referee Viktor Kassai.
Arsène Wenger’s team are in the knockout phase of the Champions League for the 14th season in succession and, in truth, their progress was never in doubt…
Arteta and Flamini exerted their influence, Santi Cazorla delighted in little bursts and Laurent Koscielny showed his composure on the ball, Arsenal gained control…
Arsenal kept their composure and, although Callejón went through to lob Szczesny, the die was cast.
Arsenal stood firm early on. Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny were stoic in central defence, while Mathieu Flamini, Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky marshalled the midfield with quiet defiance.
Or as the Mirror puts it: Arsenal were “dire” and have suffered a “devastating” set back”.
If you want to see just how devastating it all was for Arsenal, look at Gonzalo Higuain weeping in the above photos. And, of course, as the Sun tells us, Gonzalo is a Gunzalo the Gooner…
NELSON Mandela Balls: Golf 365 talks about golf:
The great man who was Nelson Mandela strongly believed that sport could be one of the most inspirational unifiers of a nation and so it may be more than a mere coincidence that the Nelson Mandela Championship, presented by ISPS Handa, is set to be played this week.
HOW was Manchester United’s match at Old Trafford last night? Well, the Red Devils won their Champions’ League match. Shakhtar Donetsk
United’s supporters continue to give Moyes their full backing, both vocally and with banners such as the one that read: “Believe in yourself Moyes, the rest will follow.” The manager was also backed by a rendition of “Come on David Moyes, play like Fergie’s boys” and “David Moyes’s red and white army”. He can at least count on the fans as he attempts to arrest United’s slump.
WHY was Chelsea’s John Terry shopping in Poundland?
JT is not with Oscar, the Brazilian wonder, but 17-year-old Knaphill Atheltic winger and Chelsea fan Jack Jeffrey, who tells Get Surrey:
“My mate asked him if it was OK to have a picture. He was happy to let us. It was weird just walking in there and seeing him. He had a lot of stuff in his basket but I didn’t really see what it was. When I told my friends they were shocked and wished they had met him as well. He’s probably one of my favourite players.”
TRANSFER Balls: Did Manchester Untied get snubbed by Brazilian wonderkid (it says here) Bruno Gomes? The Daily Mail seems to think so. Hell, it says so:
He’s met Fergie and the players, taken a tour of Old Trafford and posed wearing the shirt… but Brazilian teenager Bruno Gomes is the latest star to snub United move
The silly sod. United are huge. Adam Crafton (as in craft on a story to a headline or photo) adds:
Manchester United have missed out on signing long-term target Bruno Gomes, after the striker declared that he has agreed to join Internacional.
ROBBIE Savage writes on the BBC “How David Moyes can save Man Utd’s season”. Before going on, we should notes that, as TV’s Tess Daly put it following Savage’s outing on pro-celebrity’s Strictly Come Dancing, “You came here a footballer and you’re leaving a dancer.”
Savage’s response was to tell us what to think of him: “I was not a nice person on the football pitch. Hopefully I changed people’s perception. I’m just an ordinary decent guy.”
JOSE Mourinho is doing a masterful job of talking down his team and talking up his own abilities. Limit expectations and when glory returns to the Bridge, claim credit. Says Jose:
“My team in the last two or three years in December was 15 to 20 points behind the leaders.”
Manchester United and Chelsea Balls: BBC And The Sun Portray Mourinho And Moyes As Blithering Idiots
FOOTBALL reporting is all about conjuring a story from pretty much nothing. In certain hands it’s all about extremes.
On Saturday, the BBC reported on Manchester United’s home defeat to Newcastle United. News was that Man United’s David Moyes was saying his team could still win the Premier League:
MANCHESTER United were beaten by Newcastle Untied in the Premier League on the same day that Liverpool moved into second spot, Stoke scored three to beat Chelsea and an injury ravaged Southampton draw with big-spending Manchester City.
And all the papers lead with Manchester United and their manager David Moyes. It’s not all over for United, who continue to set the news agenda. The club’s fans will know the game’s up when defeats are no longer the nations’s lead football story:
The Sunday People leads with a picture of Moyes and news that Luis Suarez plays for Uruguay.
THE World Cup is a glamorous, slick affair these days… but that wasn’t always the case. Back in 1982, the World Cup draw was an absolute shambles.
The draw for the 1982 World Cup in Spain suffered from a numerous cock-ups and technical problems while small boys in capes waddled around nonplussed.
And overseeing it all? A young Sepp Blatter, now president of FIFA, but at the time, merely the general secretary. It’s not like Blatter to make a hash of something surrounding football, is it?
JAMIE Redknapp uses his Daily Mail column to contemplate Liverpool’s Luis Suarez:
I’m not a big fan of comparing players from different generations.
Kenny Dalglish was an icon in that No 7 shirt, he was tough and he had everything in his game. Luis Suarez has been breath-taking at times this season but he has a way to go because of the trophies Kenny won.
Maybe in King Kenny had played in this Liverpool team, he’d not have won quite so much.
IN which Spain manager Vicente del Bosque photobombs Fabio Capello at the World Cup 2014 shindig:
BEFORE Everton defeated Manchester United at Old Trafford, David Moyes said this about the Toffees’ new manger Roberto Martinez:
“He is doing a very good job..
“He has very good players there.”
TOM Daley is gay. You might have read the news that Olympic diver Tom Daley is gay on the front pages of the national Press, or heard it on the national news bulletins.
Daley made his announcement because the caring Sun was about to out him as being a hypocrite or in denial, or whatever a 19-year-old can be when he’s growing up.
GARTH Crooks, the most earnest man in sport, for whom every comment is weighed with the wisdom of Solomon and the pressed palms of a Saint contemplating the spiritual meaning of a John Terry header. And then he pauses. As if deep in thought. And then speaks slowly in short sentences, so that scribes may best be able to jot down his words exactly. He picks. His team. Of the week. For the BBC. It’s not a team, of course. It’s just XI names who have done well over the previous Premier League weekend. This week he made his choices.
Garth gaze upon Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey:
I don’t think there can be any greater accolade than when a former player acknowledges respect for his former club by not celebrating a goal.
IN this video a Spurs fans frots Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, who is doing his infamous impression of a lap-dancer:
TOM Daley the London 2012 bronze-medal winning diver is gay. Yep, finally, Tom has cottoned on to the news that everyone else new. Keeping it a secret from him was getting hard.
The Sun, leads with the news, as do most papers. And the pretty much explains why Daley chose to come out of the closet on YouTube last night.
Tom’s big night OUT – Olympic diving star at gay club hours before coming out on YouTube
He spiked the newspaper’s scoop.
PAUL Scholes misses the old days when he used to amble about on a football pitch, scoring some goals and scything other humans down who wanted to have a go with the ball.
He misses them so much that he still likes a kickabout. Of course, while all his Man Utd mates are doing really exciting things – The Neville Brothers and Nicky Butt are all coaching, David Beckham is stupidly famous and Ryan Giggs is [comment redacted thanks to injunction] – leaving ol’ Scholesy to wander around Oldham like he’s on the dole.
SIR Bradley Wiggins has apologised after cracking an unfortunate joke at the Firecracker Ball in aid of Barnado’s.
Wiggo had donated a signed shirt and when his face appeared on the giant screen he turned to auctioneer Jon Hammond, and said: “You’ve got a posh voice, I like posh voices. Suck me off.”
DOES Andre Villas-Boas read Anorak? Maybe. The Spurs manager used part of his post-match press conference to criticise Daily Mail journalist Neil Ashton. Following a lively 2-2 draw with Manchester United – in which Spurs gave away two soft goals – AVB eyed Aston. He said: “A couple of people insult my integrity, my human values, my professionalism and one of these people is sitting over here. It insults the success that I have achieved in other clubs and I don’t think it’s fair. I think it’s a lack of respect and an attack on a person’s integrity.”
Ashton asked what he though was “personal” about the recent criticism of his team.
THERE has been alleged match-fixing in English football. Singapore national Chann Sankaran, 33, and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, 43, a UK national from Singapore, have been charged with conspiracy to “defraud bookmakers by influencing the course of football matches and placing bets thereon” between 1 November and 26 November this year.
The maximum sentence for this offence is 10 years in prison, the National Crime Agency said. Four other arrest have been made. They are three former lower-league footballers plus a former Premier League player who is now an agent. None have been charged.
GRAEME Souness is still talking about Spurs in his dire Sunday Times column. This is the same Souness who opined on August 31:
Spurs raise stakes and shame Wenger
WE HAVE had two ends of the spectrum on summer transfers over the past few months from Tottenham and Arsenal: how to do it and how not to. The difference could prove the key to deciding which of them finishes fourth this season to secure the coveted pathway to Champions League football.
He now writes:
Spurs must wish they could borrow some creative midfielders from Arsenal…
Andre Villas-Boas lacks such range and quality….
Their central midfielders are too similar…
And on he goes.until eventually he arrives at Manchester United:
If they want to see how quickly and simply a ball can be fed through midfield to make chances and goals, then I refer them to the masterclass Ryan Giggs gave against a woeful Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday…
You may recall that Souness used his expertise to tell us before United’s tonked Bayer 5-0:
“They will go to Germany with the mindset of not getting beat – and that’s a strange attitude for Manchester United because their approach under Sir Alex Ferguson was to try to win every game…”
Would a 40-year-old get in Barcelona’s midfield? In Bayern Munich’s? In Real Madrid’s? No, no and no.
Is he saying those clubs are ageist because they don’t have the remarkable Giggs? Dunno. But soon he’s back to talking down Spurs:
Bale does get in Real’s midfield and he has a star quality Tottenham’s recruits don’t possess.
Or as he said at the season’s star:
…Spurs have raised the stakes with their signings and I think the challenge to finish fourth will be greater than it was last season.
Tottenham are not going to make fourth this time…
And asking, as all pundit must:
Are they stronger group than they were with Harry?
COMPARE and contrast the world of Gareth Bale, formerly of Spurs and now knocking them in for Real Madrid:
When the final whistle went Bale collected the match ball and took it to the centre circle, holding it aloft to salute the Madrid supporter. - Sunday Times, December 1, 2013
“He’s not an over-ambitious lad” – Harry Redknapp, June 9, 2013
”I think he’s a little bit young to go abroad. I doubt he’d find it easy” – David Pleat, July 30, 2013
“I don’t think Gareth Bale wants to leave yet – unless it was to one of the Manchester clubs. He’s had a new baby and I’m not sure if he’s ready for a move abroad. You have to be settled off the pitch before you get your form on it” – Glenn Hoddle, June 16, 2013