Sports | Anorak - Part 6

Sports Category

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.

Arsenal Balls: The changing styles of Arsene Wenger

It looks like being another season of barely held together crisis for Arsenal – just for a change, writes Sunil Singh. 

After winning the FA Cup again in May, Wenger should probably have walked away from the job he has held for more than 20 years.

Instead, Wenger signed a two-year contract to extend his stay at the Emirates and Arsenal’s start to the season has been typically predictable.

After a rollicking 4-3 home win against Leicester City got the new Premier League season off to a flyer, Arsenal promptly lost back-to-back away games at Stoke City and Liverpool, the latter a humiliating 4-0 hammering.

A run of four clean sheets in a row in the league, with 10 points taken from those games, suggested Arsenal could have turned a corner. But Arsenal were too Arsenal-y for that.

Leading at Watford last weekend, they collapsed to a 2-1 loss at Vicarage Road and sit sixth in the table as a result – level on points with Burnley, of all teams.

But can we predict Arsenal’s twists and turns via Wenger’s wardrobe? Let’s give it a go!

The coat – an investigation

We have to start with Arsene’s coat, of course. It is arguably the most iconic piece of manager-wear of the Premier League era.

The sight of Wenger, ordinarily a very dapper man – he is French, after all – struggling to do up the zip on his jacket is a familiar one to all football fans. It’s a cliche these days.

Wenger’s coat in the 2014-15 Premier League season was a beauty. So long it would swallow a man of normal height hour, it billowed down below Wenger’s knees.

And he couldn’t do it up. Every game, it seemed, the television cameras would capture him grappling with the zip as his team fell apart in front of him. It was all too easy to draw a parallel.

The coat looked great, but it didn’t really work – or at least Wenger couldn’t get it to work. Just like this team, it was almost perfect. But not quite.

What Wenger’s coat says about him

Manager style is going through a big change in the Premier League right now.

While it used to be Wenger who brought massive innovations to English football – like eating right – now it is a new foreign influence who is educating us all over again.

Pep Guardiola sports trainers on the touchline, often with chinos and a nice v-neck jumper. It’s pure style – just like his Manchester City team.

Another manager has seen his fashion choices pored over in recent weeks – Antonio Conte.

The Italian donned stunning suits for most of last season as Chelsea romped to the Premier League title in his first season at Stamford Bridge.

But Conte appeared on the sideline for the first game of his side’s title defence in a shabby club tracksuit – with his team looking similarly out of sorts.

Burnley turned Chelsea over that day, running out 3-2 winners in a game that saw two of Conte’s players sent off. It is impossible to argue that the defeat was solely down to Conte ditching his suit for trackies, but it might well have been a small factor, at least.

How a manager dresses says a lot about him. To Wenger, his coat is all about function. It looks a bit naff, but it keeps him warm. It does the job just about well enough.

But when it doesn’t do the job – when he fumbles with the zip yet again – it makes you wonder why Wenger does not ditch it and upgrade for a better model. Just like his midfield.

Ryan, the editor of a highly respected online publication had this to say, “Wenger used to be a favourite of ours here at Gamblingkingz, but these days he is a relic that the Premier League could certainly do without. And the bookmakers feel the same way. While Arsenal used to be perennial title contenders under his leadership – with the odds reflecting that – now they are also-rans.”

How the other Premier League managers compare

In hindsight, Frank de Boer was always destined to fail when he was appointed at Crystal Palace as the replacement for Sam Allardyce after his shock departure.

De Boer rocked a blue blazer and cream chinos on the sidelines as he watched his Palace side struggling to get to grips with his Total Football style. It just wasn’t a good fit.

Mauricio Pellegrino also does not look quite right in his ‘athleisure’ gear consisting of a polo top and tracksuit bottoms. The colours of his club-branded gear make him look more like a Sainsbury’s assistant manager than the boss of a Premier League football club.

Some managers can pull off the casual look however, with Tony Pulis certainly among them.

The Welshman’s baseball cap is up there with Wenger’s billowing coat as one of the most iconic clothing items in Premier League history.

Pulis is rarely seen without it, pairing the hat with a tracksuit despite him approaching his 60s.

Another tracksuit boss is Jurgen Klopp. He is always in Liverpool-branded gear, giving the impression he is a manager who likes to get stuck in on the training ground. The defending of his team suggests otherwise, however.

Eddie Howe is a fan of the tracksuit too. The Bournemouth boss is so young – still somehow just 39! – that he probably would look like a child dressing up in his dad’s clothes if he wore a suit.

What about Jose Mourinho? Wenger’s old rival is not afraid to rock a tracksuit but he is usually smart in a suit on the touchline.

Opposition fans used to sing “that coat’s from Matalan” at Mourinho earlier in his career, but there is no doubt the United manager is one of the best dressed coaches in the league now.

Mauricio Pellegrino switches between the suit and the tracksuit as well – and he is one of the few Premier League managers who both looks comfortable in either outfit and pulls it off.

Some managers don’t quite suit the style of their team – Burnley’s Sean Dyche, for example. While he is never seen out of a dark suit, his team is much more rough round the edges.

Dyche’s smart style, of course, continues to make him look even more like a nightclub bouncer than his scary face and voice suggest.

So what can Wenger learn from his peers? Ultimately it doesn’t matter. Wenger has shown time and time again he has no interest in learning from anyone else. It’s his way or nothing.

Even if Wenger’s way is a ludicrously long coat that he can’t do up.

Posted: 14th, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Manchester United Balls: Mourinho accepts defeat

Football moves pretty fast at the Sun, where the paper continues to cheer for Jose Mourinho, currently turning Manchester United into a pragmatic, defence-minded grinding machine. Second in the Premier League, a not inconsiderable 8 points behind Manchester City after just 11 games played, the Sun explain that none of it is Jose’s fault.

On November 8, Sun readers were told:

“JOSE MOURINHO is heading for a clash with the Manchester United board over further backing in the transfer market. Mourinho has spent £300million in less than 18 months — but still wants more to strengthen his squad as they fight on four fronts… Now he is concerned he may not get the funds he needs to boost his squad in the New Year and next summer.”

One day on and United are in a panic. Mourinho’s off to PSG:


mourinho the sun psg


Things move pretty fast. After all, way back in August, the Sun was telling us that Mourinho was living the dream:

“JOSE MOURINHO has told his Manchester United players to do the Double this season. He said their aim had to be to win the Premier League and FA Cup and at least reach the last eight of the Champions League. But as Sunsport today reveals, Mourinho was so confident of what this squad could do he had raised the bar ahead of the new season”

Nothing a few hundred million can’t fix.


Posted: 9th, November 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Media bias: Spurs beat Real Madrid with a vanishing offside goal

In this edition of biased football reporting, we look at Tottenham’s 3-1 victory over Real Madrid 3-1 in the Champions League. Spanish newspaper Marca describes the game’;s crucial opening goal:

Replays showed that Tripper was in an offside position when he received the ball, but there was no call from the linesman and the goal stood.

Now rod of any offside in the official Spurs website’s report:

Dele got the ball rolling in the 27th minute when he tucked home Kieran Trippier’s cross from close range

And the BBC:

Dele Alli gave Spurs the lead after 27 minutes when he turned in Kieran Trippier’s cross from close range


Not much bias, as it turns out. A 3-1 defeat for Real Madrid tells its own story. And, well, you make your own luck in a sport where luck plays a role:



Posted: 1st, November 2017 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal clickbait: Daily Mirror ‘spots’ Sead Kolasinac in a Christmas jumper

How bad is sports writing? Like everyone else who cares – and many more who do not – we too saw the Arsenal squad wearing their Christmas jumpers to highlight the work of Save the Children. Since 2011, the club has raised over £2million for the charity.

But to the Daily Mirror, this is a reason to produce “7 things we spotted from Arsenal’s charity Christmas jumper team photo”.



The Mirror provides no link to the charity nor does it mention Christmas Jumper Day (December 15), which is why the Arsenal were wearing seasonal sweaters.

Says Arsenal:

Theo “Woolcott”, “Sweater” Cech, “Gra-Knit” Xhaka and the rest of the Arsenal squad have donned festive jumpers for a special squad picture with mascot Gunnersaurus.

To help raise funds for our global charity partner Save the Children, we have created a range of exclusive Christmas Arsenal knits, which each carry a 20 per cent donation of the RRP to Save the Children.

The Arsenal Christmas jumpers are available from and from the club’s three superstores while stocks last – in sizes for menwomen, children and … dogs!

Swap your kit for a knit and sign up for Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day on Friday, December 15.

Weak of the Mirror not to link their dire article to the charity. But they do notice that team manager Arsene Wenger is in the photo (Spot 4 on the paper’s list). That’s the same Wenger who, according to the Mirror, left the club on June 30.


Daily Mirror wenger quits Arsenal


Such are the facts.


Posted: 1st, November 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal’s missing striker Gonzalo Higuain hits 100 goals in Italy

Congratulations, Gonzalo Higuain. The Argentinian today scored his 100th Serie A goal, hitting the net twice as Juventus beat AC Milan. Higuain, 29, has scored 101 goals in 153 games in Italy’s top flight since arriving in Italy from Real Madrid in July 2013. You will recall that Higuain joined for €40 million. In 2016 he moved to Juventus for €90 million.

But none of that happened if you read the Sun. According to the paper of record, Higuan plays for Arsenal, who he joined for £23m in 2013.


higuain arsenal sign


He then went to Liverpool:


Higuain liverpool


Such are the facts.

Posted: 28th, October 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Spurs fan throws cup of wee at West Ham fans

Who threw the urine? Stories abound that a fan of Tottenham Hotspur allegedly threw a cup of urine during Wednesday’s Carabao Cup defeat to West Ham.

This video has been doing the rounds.



A Spurs spokesperson tells everyone: “This behaviour is completely unacceptable. We are currently investigating and working to identify the individual.”

How hard can it be?

You can profile the man using this colour chart favoured by Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who evaluates the chracter of his players based on their urine.



Turns out he’s a ‘champion’…

Posted: 26th, October 2017 | In: News, Sports, Spurs | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Huge bird of prey spotted flying over Austin F1 Grand Prix

Austin Eagle F1


You all saw, of course, the gigantic eagle / buzzard hovering over Austin, Texas, as the city’s F1 race neared its end.




Posted: 26th, October 2017 | In: Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Carabao Cup balls: Arsenal and Manchester City in fake news epidemic

You can make a story out of anything. Take the Sun’s news that “Arsenal and Manchester City face disqualification from [the] Carabao Cup”.Why?  Well, the Sun says they stand accused of “making too many substitutions in extra-time”. It’s the ‘CARABAO KO”.


the sun arsenal carabao cup manchester city


Readers are told:”Arsenal needed extra-time to beat Norwich 2-1 and City saw off Wolves in a penalty shootout but both are waiting to discover if they broke rules over subs.”

The rules are, according to the Sun:

‘The Premier League giants made four changes — two in extra-time — and the Canaries will demand clarification from the Football League. Four subs are a novelty for cup ties this season but the rules imply only one can be used after 90 minutes.’

Arsenal and City have ready-made defences should the matter reach the legal stage. Bristol Rovers, Bournemouth, Brighton Burnley, Brentford, Portsmouth and Cardiff City all made two changes in extra-time in the Cup’s earlier rounds.


carabao cup arsenal man city


A quick look at the rules tell us that Arsenal and Manchester City did nothing wrong:

10 Substitutes

10.1 Subject to Rule 10.2, in all matches, each team is permitted up to seven substitutes of whom not more than three may take part in the match.

10.2 Where any match goes to extra time (in accordance with the provisions of Rules 14.4, 14.5 and/or 14.6), then subject to the League having obtained the prior approval of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to the application of this Rule, each Club participating in that match will be permitted to use an additional substitute (in extra time only).

And having suggested that Arsenal and Manchester City could be booted from the competition because it failed to understand the rules, the Sun then notes:

‘The Gunners made a total of four subs, making use of the rule that you can use one added change when a tie heads to extra-time. Arsenal made TWO in extra-time, causing some debate among Twitter users to suggest that Arsene Wenger had broken the rule.”

Isn’t new media crap and full of fake news, eh. It’s nothing like the trusty, subjective and truthful old media, is it? (Yes, it is, ed).


Posted: 25th, October 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Media bias: Manchester City Silva’s inconsequential ‘no dive’ cons the ref and pains Burnley

Bernardo Silva will not be retrospectively yellow carded for ‘diving’ when his Manchester City beat Burnley 3-0 in the Premier League. Silva “fell theatrically” in the box “under the slightest of touches from the Burnley goalkeeper”, says the Times.

“If I kicked my kid in the garden, I don’t think he would fall like that,” says Burnley boss Sean Dyche. “For him to get that high off the floor with his arms above his head is almost a skill in itself. I was quite impressed with how far he travelled.”

The Burnley Express says of Silva:

You could question why Pope gave the referee a decision to make, with Silva’s touch taking him away from goal, and his knee did connect with the former Monaco man’s right ankle.

But Silva exaggerated the contact.


Roger East bought it, and after Burnley showed their disgust with Silva

The Manchester Evening News has an odd take on the incident:

Pope tried to withdraw from his challenge and the contact between his knee and Bernardo’s foot seemed inconsequential.

Eh? What does the mean? There was a consequence: City got a penalty that allowed them to score that always vital first goal.

But get a load of how the official Manchester City website reports on the controversial spot kick:

The Portuguese playmaker then won a penalty when Pope brought him down inside the box. David Silva’s sublime throughball for Kevin De Bruyne put the Belgian in on goal, but his effort was parried by Pope. Bernardo, attempting to control the follow up, was then caught by the sprawling Pope, and Roger East pointed to the spot.


burnley fc silva dive


Over at Burnley FC, the penalty is at the top of the match report, presented as the game’s key moment:

Controversial penalty sets up leaders’ win as Clarets unbeaten away run ends


Burnley’s first defeat since the second weekend of the season came with a note of frustration and something of a sour taste for the way City got the all-important opening goal from the penalty spot…

Sergio Aguero scored it to equal Eric Brook’s club-record tally, but the way Bernardo Silva seemingly convinced referee Roger East to award the penalty following a brush with Clarets’ goalkeeper Nick Pope did not go down well in the visitors’ camp.

It wasn’t a dive. The FA will only says it was a dive “where there is clear and overwhelming evidence to suggest a match official has been deceived by an act of simulation”. What’s clear to one is not clear to another…


Posted: 23rd, October 2017 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comments (2) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal: Ozil to Manchester United, 32 million followers and one anonymous source

Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil, 29, wants to join Manchester United when his deal with Arsenal expires at the end of the season, says the Daily Mail. “Ozil will be a free agent for next season after telling Arsenal he will not sign a new contract,” says the paper.

But hold on a moment. Ozil has not told anybody Arsenal he wants to move to Old Trafford, says the Sun. And he’s not rejected a new Arsenal contract. A “close friend of Ozil” has “revealed”:

“Mesut has not had any contract offer from Arsenal. There were talks about a modest pay rise last season but all those talks ended in March. There’s been nothing since then… Mesut is adamant he has never spoken to any player about going to Manchester United. He has no idea if United want him but he wants to stay at Arsenal. Look, he just bought a new house in London.

“Mesut had been renting but he decided to buy a house because he both expects and wants to stay.

“But he is angry that people are briefing against him and feels there seems to be some sort of campaign against him. His intention has always been to remain at Arsenal. Mesut, though, does feel he is being isolated and kept in the dark. He is worried that there is a game going on and he is left in the middle of it.”

You still there? Anonymous sources are ten a penny. Mesut Ozil has a mouth. He has 18.8 million followers on Twitter.



Ozil has 14.3 millions followers on Instagram.

If only there was some way for poor Ozil to speak for himself and stop all the game playing…

Posted: 21st, October 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Everton balls: Oh, come on, we loved Williams chucking his dummy

Argy-bargy at Everton, where the Toffees lost 1-2 to Lyon in the Europa League. The lowlight features the unforgettable sight of an Everton fan in the Gwladys Street end “trying to shove Anthony Lopes, the Lyons goalkeeper, with his right hand” (Times). The idiot compounded his behaviour by cradling a toddler sucking a dummy at the time. There’s thick and there’s wading into a fight against professional athletes whilst holding a child levels of thick.

We’ll get to know this dangerously thick man is. As the Times notes, “The shame game has begun.”

But before that, what happened? As ever the Press seem incapable agreeing on the most bald fact.


Everton fight fan toddler


Everton fan carrying a CHILD slaps Lyon goalkeeper on his head – Daily Mail

Merseyside Police investigating Everton-Lyon brawl which saw man throw punche while holiding a kid [sic] – the Sun

An Everton fan who appeared to slap a Lyon player while holding a child during last night’s Europa League game has been banned by the club while police investigate the incident. – Daily Mirror

One fan was seen trying to throw a punch while holding a child. – Daily Express

…a fan carrying a child appeared to aim a punch at Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes. – Daily Telegraph

Punch? Slap? Hit or miss?



Lyons were unimpressed with the Everton showing:



As for the shame and the horror, the players have spoken:

Everton captain Williams, who was shown a yellow card, told media: “It’s what happens, it’s football. It is what it is. It’s high emotions. We want to win the game, they want to win the game and stuff happens. That was just one of those times.”

He later told Everton FC’s website – where the incident is a described as a “heated exchange – “We want to show fight for ourselves, but more than anything for the Club and the fans especially. We’re disappointed we haven’t got a result tonight because I thought we showed good attitude in how we went about it.”

And Lopes opined: “I don’t think it is part of the English atmosphere to hit an away player. It was no big deal, it happened and that was it. For me it seemed to wake up the fans and they seemed to love it.”

They did. And so did the media. Fans and media love a mass brawl. Chuck in a streaker, a few red cards and the match would have been yet more entertaining – albeit not up there with Zidane’s headbutt or Cantona’s kung-fu kick.

Posted: 20th, October 2017 | In: Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal balls: Sanchez and Wenger meet in secret and all about that handshake

Alexis Sanchez Watch: an at-a-glance look at the Arsenal striker in the media. Today the Mail leads with a question: “Was this the moment Alexis Sanchez ignored his Arsenal manager ahead of training?” We, of course, adhere to Ian Betteridge’s law of headlines, which states: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”

So, no. And, indeed, after clicking the link, the Mail delivers a further headline:

Alexis Sanchez appears to snub Arsene Wenger at Arsenal training as contract dispute rolls on

The dispute is, of course, nothing of the sort. Sanchez has not gone on strike. Arsenal are not sacking him, nor suing him. The Gunners want him to stay. Sanchez wants a lot more money to play for the Premier League’s fifth best team. Negotiations are ongoing.

Sam Morshead then adds:

Was this the moment Alexis Sanchez ignored his Arsenal manager ahead of training?


The Chilean striker, whose Gunners future remains up in the air, appeared to blank his boss prior to a session at the club’s London Colney facility on Wednesday.

Wenger, who was embarking on his ritual of shaking each of his players’ hands before putting them through their paces, was acknowledged by Nacho Monreal and Mesut Ozil – but a short video clip shows Sanchez apparently walking on by.

Take a video clip. Remove it from context, Stick it into a pre-ordained narrative. And write a clickbait headline. Bingo! And having seduced Arsenal fans with total ball, Morshead then notes:

They saw Sanchez head on towards a group of his team-mates instead of approaching Wenger, though the Gunners manager did not offer his hand to his star striker and appeared to say ‘I’ve already done you’.

To put it another way, then:

“Arsene Wenger appears to snub Alexis Sanchez at Arsenal training as contract dispute rolls on”


“Wenger does not shake Sanchez’s hand twice”

Or how about:

“Sanchez happy with team-mates and life at Arsenal”

Or as Morshead puts it:

…given reports about a frosty relationship between player and coach in the past, moments like these always give rise to speculation.

What frosty relationship? Oh, the one the tabloids keeps harping on about. Because no sooner has one tabloid conjured total balls from a non-event than the rival organs are reporting the tosh as fact:


alexis sanchez handshake snub wenger arsenal


We do like the Daily Star’s idea Sanchez is “troubled”, in the manner of a recovering drug addict or a Hollywood wild child is ‘troubled’.


And here’s the video of the huge happening that excited the national Press:




So, what really heppened? Well, Sanchez was one of the first players who arrived at training, and Wenger greeted him well before the video was shot.

In other words: “Wenger and Sanchez meet in secret!”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 19th, October 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

#StayBritish – Richard Keys has sage advice for Leicester City

When Leicester City sacked Craig Shakespeare – the Foxes earned the Premier League’s seventh biggest haul of points during his 8 months as manager – former Sky Sports anchor Richard Keys took to twitter to opine:



That’s Richard Keys, the Britisher who lives in Qatar (not in Britain) where he works for Al Jazeera (owned by Qatari royalty) talking about Leicester City, the club owned a Thai billionaire, which won the Premier League title under the guidance of an Italian.

#StayBritish, indeed.

Posted: 18th, October 2017 | In: News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Liverpool balls: the mighty Maribor

All’s well at Liverpool FC. Last night the mighty Reds swatted Maribor 7-0 in the Champions’ League. It was the biggest away win by an English team in the entire history of the European Cup.

Watching the thrashing was the Daily Mirror’s David Maddock. He was keen to show readers that Maribor are a top side. They are “seasoned Champions League performers”.

Really? The Slovenians are hardly competitive:

Ten-year European record (UEFA Champions League unless indicated otherwise)
2016/17: UEFA Europa League play-offs
2015/16: second qualifying round
2014/15: group stage
2013/14: UEFA Europa League round of 32 (having transferred from UEFA Champions League play-offs)
2012/13: UEFA Europa League group stage (having transferred from UEFA Champions League play-offs)
2011/12: UEFA Europa League group stage (having transferred from UEFA Champions League third qualifying round)
2010/11: UEFA Europa League play-offs
2009/10: UEFA Europa League play-offs (having transferred from UEFA Champions League third qualifying round)
2008/09: did not take part in UEFA club competition
2007/08: UEFA Intertoto Cup second round

Not all that good are they. Indeed, in 2014, when Chelsea thrashed Maribor 6-0, the Mirror called the Slovenian side “minnows”.

Posted: 18th, October 2017 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

The Sun: boring Liverpool have great PR and Mourinho is a genius

Liverpool v Manchester United continues to make news for all the wrong reasons. They game was a dirge. It was very much a Jose Mourinho match: slow, niggly, functional, pragmatic and dull. Over in the Sun, however, there’s a difference of opinion.

Gavin Newsham gets it right in his apprasal:

Do you remember when Sam Allardyce took West Ham to Stamford Bridge in 2014, stuck everyone behind the ball and escaped with a goalless draw and a point? “This is football from the 19th Century,” moaned then Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.

Fast forward three years…Jose’s United managed just one shot on target in a game when Mourinho’s men did little or nothing to try and win the game, playing the kind of unsightly, anti-football that’s completely at odds with the way they tend to do things at Old Trafford.

Or as the Sun’s Neil Curtis told Sky Sports:

I think he got it absolutely spot on. I can’t remember a time when going to Anfield was a given for any away team, no matter how good they are. This man is supposed to be anti-football but has scored four goals on four occasions in the last seven games…

There were two chances in that game – Manchester United one and Liverpool had one – but it’s Mourinho’s fault that it was 0-0. Mourinho was inviting Klopp to take a risk yesterday – but he didn’t take one…

Where the plan fell down, for me, was with Romelu Lukaku. He couldn’t hold the ball up when it came out. Yes, he had men around him and what have you but if he holds the ball up, he can then feed it off to people and they can play on the break. Lukaku was poor yesterday and Henrikh Mkhitaryan went missing but that’s not Mourinho’s fault.

It’s easy to criticise him, it’s easy to blame him but Klopp wasn’t taking any great risks yesterday either. He’s got a great PR team

He’s not the only one…

How many chances? One each, right, says Curtis. Wrong, says the Daily Mirror:

For all the grim reality of that pragmatic approach, United still should have lost, with David De Gea making a world-class save from Joel Matip and both Mo Salah and Emre Can spurning wonderful chances – while even at the end, Matip and Dejan Lovren had clear headers they put over.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 16th, October 2017 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Watford’s Troy Deeney says Arsenal have no balls

It’s hard to play football if you’ve no balls, says Watford’s Troy Deeney. He’s right. Arsenal are horribly toothless, a bunch of nice boys playing nice football in a nice stadium. They are every inch Arsene Wenger’s side.

Posted: 15th, October 2017 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Mourinho inspires Manchester United to another boring encounter at Liverpool

It’s Liverpool v Manchester in the Premier League, which means one thing: 0-0. Before today’s bore drawer – Liverpool were the better side but wasted opportunities in a game the BBC describes as “marginally better” than the “drab stalemate” when Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool last hosted Jose Mourinho’s United in the PL – the Sun was assuring readers it would be a thriller:

“JOSE MOURINHO has warned Jurgen Klopp he will be facing a much stronger Manchester United than 12 months ago. Then Mourinho took the Red Devils to Anfield and shut up shop for a tedious goalless draw to stop a free-scoring Liverpool.”

He shut up shop this time, too. Manchester United managed a single shot on target to Liverpool’s 6; committed 13 fouls to Liverpool’s 7; and just 38% possession. Dullsville stuff from United. But this is how Mourinho’s cheerleaders at the Sun trailed last season’s match that ended 0-0, in which United had 35% possession, committed 20 fouls and had  – yep – one shot on target.

JOSE MOURINHO is desperately trying to rid Manchester United of the memories from the Louis van Gaal era. That is why he will never serve up a borefest like the Dutchman with his much vaunted ‘philosophy’.

A pox on Van Gaal!

Mourinho’s side travel to Anfield tonight where Van Gaal somehow squeezed out a 1-0 win last January. But as so often with LVG it was the way it was done and that is certainly not the Mourinho way.

You know how many shots on target United had that day? One.

Plus ca change at Old Trafford. (Although under Van Gaal the annual shot went in and enjoyed 47% possession. Not quite ‘Bing Back Louis’ but the hype over Mourinho is absurd. He’s George Graham with lots more money.)

Posted: 14th, October 2017 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal balls: Sanchez talks progressing well and Manchester City worry

When Arsenal manger Arsene Wenger talks, the tabloids churn his words though the mangle and spit out sensation. Discussing the futures of the team’s Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez – both players in the final year of their current deals – Wenger said:

“The fact we didn’t agree last year doesn’t mean he [Ozil] wants to leave… Both players look happy and overall I hope the situation can be turned round, but at the moment we are not close enough to announce anything. Talks are going well.”

The headline news is that talks to keep Sanchez and Ozil at Arsenal are “going well”.

A journalist than asks if there’s deadline to the talks. “No,” says Wenger, “not at this moment.” The journo asks if it gets to the January transfer window and no deals have been agreed Arsenal will “count their losses” and sell bother players.  Wenger says you “envisage every solution”.  Will they leave? “It’s possible,” says Wenger.

Of course it is. That much is not new. The news is that talks are progressing with both players. Indeed, Ozil’s agent says his man wants to stay in the Premier League.

But in the Manchester Evening News the story that Arsenal are working to keep Sanchez becomes: “Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez hands Pep Guardiola transfer dilemma.” This apparent dilemma is whether Manchester City should buy Sanchez in January. But it’s not a dilemma in the Mirror, which announces: “Manchester City plot cut-price £20m transfer swoop for Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez in January window.” Neither the Mirror nor MEN cite a single source for their stories.

Over in the Daily Mail, the Chilean has already made his mind up. “Alexis Sanchez set to leave Arsenal in January,” says the paper.  “Arsene Wenger is resigned to Alexis Sanchez leaving Arsenal in the January transfer window,” says the paper.

Is that what he said? No.

Such are the facts.




Posted: 13th, October 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comments (2) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Transfer Balls: Spurs Harry Kane to Manchester United says one source and £170m

Huge news for Manchester Untied and Spurs fans. The Sun says “MANCHESTER UNITED boss Jose Mourinho is eyeing a record £170m swoop for Tottenham star Harry Kane’”.

The story of how United will recruit a rival club’s best player is rooted in a nameless “Old Trafford source”. And in between the headline and the readers’ poll (“Should Spurs cash on on £170 Harry Kane?”, Daniel Cutts delivers his “exclusive”: Jose Mourinho thinks Kane is good at football. And that’s it.

Cutts does note that it’s “understood” Spurs will “offer Kane a new contract next summer, upping his wages to around £150,000-a-week to keep him at White Hart Lane.” Kane is currently on just under £100,000-a-week.

It’s an easy story to reveal that a rich club that pays wages of £250,000-a-week plus will try to entice Kane. So easy isnit that thewher one tabloid leads, the rst dutifully follow:

“Manchester United plotting £170m swoop for Tottenham’s talisman Harry Kane” – The Metro

“Manchester United prepared to rival Real Madrid with £170m transfer bid for Tottenham striker Harry Kane” – Daily Mail

“Man Utd news: Jose Mourinho plots £170m bid for Tottenham star Harry Kane” – Daily Express

“Jose Mourinho wants Harry Kane in £170m deal to partner Romelu Lukaku at Man Utd – report” – Daily Star.

Such are the facts.


Posted: 12th, October 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Spurs | Comments (2) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal balls: Theo Walcott leaves Gunners in tabloids betting scoop

Arsenal are ready to sell nice middle-class boy Theo Walcott in January, says The Week. “Gunners are getting ready to blast the dead wood from the Emirates and top of the flops is Theo Walcott,” thunders the review magazine.  The mag’s source is The Sun, which says Arsenal are “preparing to sell Walcott in January”.



Who wants Theo, then? Well Walcott, has “attracted interest” from “West Ham and Everton”. On the Sun’s website, we  read: “He has 18-months left on his £110,000-a-week contract, and is one of the club’s highest earners, according to TeamTalk.”

Over there we learn that “Arsenal are reportedly preparing to sell Theo Walcott in January, unless he can cement himself in Arsene Wenger’s first team.” The source for this TeamTalk story is The Gambling Times.

The Gambling Times mentions a betting company in its report, which carries no source to support its well-travelled scoop, which features unchallenged in the Sun, The Week, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Star. What The Gambling Times does cite in its Arsenal news is a betting company. “We spoke to BetVictor and their Head of antepost Football Michael Triffitt about Walcott and their market on his future, with West Ham, Everton and Southampton the favourites to land him,” says the paper, which tags BetVictor in its SEO. Indeed, BetVictor features in many of the site’s articles, including a daily horse racing tips sheet – and Triffitt is a not infrequent source of opinion.

Is it news or is it affiliate marketing? It’s worrying that the national press don’t make any attempt to differentiate between the two…

Posted: 4th, October 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Manchester United balls: Marcus Rashford’s silver hatchet

Does the Sun like Manchester United and England’s Marcus Rashford? Compare and contrast the following words from the Sun’s Neil Ashton:

September 6:

They do the right thing at Manchester United. Nobody gets big-headed, nobody is allowed to get carried away with little bit of success. That is the way they bring them through and Marcus Rashford is no exception.

October 3:

SOMEBODY, somewhere has tried to tuck him up. Everybody, it seems, is pretending to be Marcus Rashford’s best mate these days…

The hysteria is nowhere near the levels that once saw Georgie Best mobbed by mini-skirted women and bespectacled kids in parkas hunting for autographs when he walked down Deansgate. Nobody expects Rashford, who is due to start England’s World Cup qualifier at Wembley against Slovenia on Thursday, to go down that road. He appears too smart, too streetwise, too level-headed for that. Instead, he is trying to lead a quiet life, spending the afternoons in the Trafford Centre with his girlfriend or meeting his pals for peri-peri chicken in Nando’s.

That is the way Rashford rolls.

Can this be the same Neil Ashton who wrote waaaaay back in April 2017:

These United boys, what with their status, their lifestyle and their super-sized salaries, want for nothing…

Rashford, a Euro 2016 wildcard with England, has lost his way since the big bucks started to roll in.

His new home, a sprawling six- bedroom pad being built in Bowden, Cheshire, is almost ready for the forward to move into.

It has sprung up on the same street as Joe Hart and is close to the house Zlatan Ibrahimovic rents from former Manchester City star Micah Richards.

The £30,000-plus Rashford spends annually on car insurance for the fleet of motors that started arriving when he signed a new deal barely touches the sides. Last month he splashed out £14,500 on a Rolex Santos wristwatch for his mother Melanie’s birthday.

He has an obsession with Balenciaga — a luxury French fashion brand — and has more than 30 pairs of their £400-a-pop shoes to choose from each morning.

Buys his mum a watch! The swine.

Dave Horrocks, development officer at Manchester junior club Fletcher Moss Rangers where Rashford started out as a youngster, says of the player he actually knows: “Marcus comes form a lovely family. He is a smashing kid, very humble and so quiet and unassuming.”

Well, that’s the way he rolls.

Posted: 3rd, October 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Media bias: Bournemouth robbed as Leicester’s Simpson tucks his hands onto his arms

When Bournemouth hosted Leicester City in the Premier League, the Cherries were hard down by when a clear handball by the Foxes’ Danny Simpson in his own area went unpunished.

The official Leicester FC website reports on that early goalmouth action:

Defoe connects with a King cross and turns his effort onto the underneath of the bar. Pugh’s follow up is deflected wide and City clear the corner.

No word on how the shot was deflected wide.

Leicester says the game’s “major moment” was Shinji Okazaki missing a good chance –  not the handball.

Over on the Bournemouth FC website, it’s a different story:

Within three minutes there was high drama. Joshua King’s low cross was directed onto the crossbar by Defoe, and as the ball rattled loose Marc Pugh’s close-range shot was deflected wide by the hand of Danny Simpson.
Pugh’s shouts for a penalty were sustained, but referee Graham Scott was unmoved in signalling for just a corner.

Let’s see if a local newspaper can give us the facts?

The Leicester Mercury reports:

The tone was set in the third minute when a sweeping move carved City open and Jermaine Defoe struck the underside of the bar form close range and Marc Pugh struck Danny Simpson’s arm with the follow-up.

As Simpson nurses his arm and #pray4Danny trends in Leicester, we see what the BBC made of it:

The home side dominated the game and will feel they should have had an early penalty when Leicester defender Danny Simpson appeared to handle inside the box.

Can you handle something with your arm? No. The Times explains:

Early on, Defoe exchanged passes with the impressive Josh King whose low cross was turned against the bar by the England striker. Marc Pugh looked certain to score from the rebound, but his effort was deflected wide by the palm of Danny Simpson.

Handball, then. Bournemouth were robbed. But not if you get your news from Leicester, in which case we wish Danny Simpson well.

Posted: 30th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, News, Sports | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Ben Stokes reminds the country that people still play cricket

England cricketer Ben Stokes has been making news ever since he was arrested following a bout of alleged fisticuffs with Ryan Hale, a former soldier who served in Afghanistan, on a night out in Bristol.

Everything about Stoke’s life to date is being examined for signs of mania. He wore comfi-Slax and a jumper for his interview for the England captaincy; the winner, Joe Root, wore a suit and tie, and most likely tucked his vest into his Y-fronts. He did an impression of Katie Price’s disabled son Harvey, which someone filmed. In 2011, Stokes was arrested and cautioned for obstructing the police. He’s ginger. He was rusticated from a tour of Australia for boozing. He achieved four speeding offences in one month.



The big shock, of course, is that a cricket should be on the front pages at all. Cricket usually attracts less media attention than Wayne Rooney’s urine; it’s f7 on the keyboard when there’s no football on. And that’s the international stuff. Cricket at country level has less pull than Ann Widdecombe in a moist tent.



The MCC, ECB and all other cricket boards should write a letter to Stokes thanking him for making cricketers and cricket worthy of our attention. Cricket needs exposure even more than the aforementioned Katie Price and her Jordans.

As for Stokes, a player who often eschews the cloying professionalism in favour of the amateur spirit, we,, he should save his aggression for the match.


Posted: 30th, September 2017 | In: News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal riot, stroll and stumble at BATE Borisov

Arsenal ran out pretty easy winners in their Europa League match against BATE Borisov, winning 4-2, having been 3-0 up after 25 minutes. Arsenal are the first team to beat Bate on their own patch in European competition since Barcelona defeated them in 2015 – a run of seven games.

What do the newspapers have to say about the match?


The Daily Mail calls it an “Arsenal stroll”. The Sun agrees that it was a “stroll”. The Gunners, boasting a squad of nine players aged 20 or younger, “ran riot”. The Express saw Arsenal “picking apart the BATE defence at will”. The Daily Star says it was “stunning stuff from Arsenal”.


The Daily Mirror says it “wasn’t an easy ride” for the Gunners in Belarus.

And the Times:

Times Arsenal


One man’s stroll is another reporter’s stumble.

Such are the facts.




Posted: 29th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Broadsheets, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Manchester City star Aguero fractures rib in car accident

Manchester City’s Argentinean star Sergio Aguero has been injured in a car accident in Amsterdam. The 29-year-old fractured a rib when the taxi he was taking to the airport struck a lamp post. Aguero was in Holland to watch a concert by Colombian singer Maluma.

Reports in Argentina estimate Aguero will be out of action “for at least three months”, noting that the “seat belt saved his life”. The Sun calls it a “horror smash” and says he “cheated death”.


It could have been worse, then. We wish Aguero well, of course. But look out for fans of rival clubs being delighted.


And let’s not forget the jokes:


But don’t worry City:



Posted: 29th, September 2017 | In: Manchester City, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0