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.
THE Manuel Pellegrini story is getting to be a bit like George Bush’s plastic turkey. You know that story.? It’s the one about the then President George ‘Dubya’ Bush feeding the US troops a Thanksgiving dinner of plastic turkey. It was utter balls. But the media had a fact they would not let go of. So. Dubya’s plastic turkey became true. Though palpably false, the story lives on.
And so we get to the affable Manchester City manager, Pelligrini. In February 2013, he said:
“If we only consider this season, there is just one club in Manchester and it’s ours.But you cannot forget what United has done in the previous years.”
THE El Clasico football rubber between Real Madrid and Barcelona was at 2-2 when Cesc Fabregas and Pepe executed the fabled double face-grab. It is the peek-aboo.
The face grab, for those of you not au fait with football’s dances, sees the player place two hands onto his face as if holding it in place after being the victim of an horrific act of violence. The crucial elements of this move are:
A) He’s not been hit in the face
B) If he has been hit in the face, it was with the force of a butterfly’s wing wafting a petal
C) If it was an actual hit on the face it was accidental
READERS who recall stories of Chelsea footballer Ashley Cole’s vomit-fuelled extra-martial sex will enjoy the Sun’s report on the player’s love affair with “Ex-Towie star” Pascal Craymer:
ROMEO Ashley Cole has been made to wait THREE MONTHS for sex with his new flame.
Is that Romeo the symbol of doomed eternal love? Romeo who wrote in his book:
When I heard Jonathan Barnett (player’s agent) repeat the figure of £55K, I nearly swerved off the road. He (former Arsenal Director David Dein) is taking the piss Jonathan! I yelled down the phone. I was so incensed. I was trembling with anger. I couldn’t believe what I’d heard.
Who Ate All The Pies has this wonderful clip of former Manchester United player and current Cardiff City manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer talking about Liverpool’s chances for the Premier League title after the Reds tonked his side 6-2.
All post-match interviews will be like this, with the man once nicknamed The Baby-Faced Assassin translating other managers’ words into what they really mean to say.
And, given his brusque manner, is the Norwegian the man to replace Alex Ferguson at United?
ARSENAL were two goals down to Chelsea when referee Andre Marriner sent off Kieran Gibbs for playing goalkeeper. Gunners fans will ague that the ball wasn’t going in, so it can’t be a red-card offence.
But any argument directed at Marriner will fall on deaf ears. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain tried to tell the ref that it was he and not Gibbs who’d used a hand to stop the shot going out for a goal kick. Oxlade-Chamberlain could be seen telling Marriner “It was me”.
WEST Ham United are playing Manchester United, and Hammers’ boss Sam Allardyce has a view:
“We’ll try and burst their bubble. Obviously it’s a big challenge – but normally we do well against United.”
Define normally: West Ham last defeated Man United in the Premier League on December 29, 2007. Since then, they have played each other 11 time sin the league, with United winning 10 times.
Normally United win.
YOU stick up for Andre Villas-Boas – sacked by Spurs and Chelsea – and then he tells his new paymasters and the Zenit St Petersburg fans that he pretty much won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012.
“I’ve always had success wherever I’ve been… When I didn’t finish the season with Chelsea, the club ended up winning the Champions League. You have to give the players credit, but I was the one who built the team.”
He did not say it was his lifelong dream to manage in Russia, but it can’t be long…
AS the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 people died and hundreds more were physically injured, the Reading Chronicle produced this front page:
The other face of football
This turns out not to be a story of people playing sport and keeping fit. The story goes on:
Football hooliganism may be thought of as a relic from a previous age when gangs of denim-clad skinheads held the game to ransom and names like Hillsborough and Heysel were symbols of its ills.
Manchester United Balls: David Moyes Says Van Persie And Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner Are Special Players
MANCHESTER United manger David Moyes is delighted with Robin Van Persie, the former Arsenal captain who kept the Red Devils on track for Champions’ League glory with three decisive goals in a 3-2 win over the mighty (it says here) Olympiacos.
“To score a hat-trick in Champions League football is a big thing,” said a giddy David Moyes. “Only certain players in the world are capable of doing it – and Robin is one of them.”
Just RVP and 68 other special players, like Juul Ellerman, Mike Newell, Uwe Rösler and – a role on the drums – Nicklas Bendtner.
UNEXPECTEDLY to most, the Human League’s ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ went top ten midweek. No-one really knew why, especially die-in-the-wool Human League fans. Everyone was pleased all the same.
However, what had happened was Aberdeen FC fans (with excellent taste it has to be said) had been buying the song in droves after they rejigged the famous chorus into “Peter Pawlett baby!”
So with that, let us look at Aberdeen fans being brilliant and some of the other magnificent football fan reworkings of famous pop songs. Some of them might even be better than the originals!
Spurs Balls: Daily Mail’s Neil Ashton Says Fifth Is Good If You’re Tim Sherwood But Bad If You’re AVB
Last season, for example, Tottenham had the sixth biggest budget (£90m) for salaries in the league behind Manchester City (£202m), Chelsea (£173m), Manchester United (£162m), Arsenal (£143m) and Liverpool (£119m). On that basis you could argue that Tottenham’s fifth-placed finish under Andre Villas-Boas was an over-achievement.
So. AVB did well?
‘This season, if Tottenham’s coach Tim Sherwood finishes fifth, where they are currently positioned in the Premier League, that would be about right based on their current wage structure…”
THE Daily Mail’s Neil Ashton was no fan of Andre Villas-Boas, picking holes in the soon-to-be-sacked Spurs manager.
But things at White Hart Lane improved when AVB was dismissed and trust Englander Tim Sherwood was appointed manager.
On December 19, Ashton wrote in the Daily Mail:
“To fund their ambitious project, Joe Lewis, the club’s principle owner, is relying on the riches from regular Champions League football. All they need is a manager to guide them there. Step forward, Tim Sherwood.
MANCHESTER United are in the mire. David Moyes’ team have been thumped 0-3 at home to Liverpool.
Taxi for Moyes!
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.”