Anorak

Sports | Anorak - Part 8

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.

Manchester City: Phil Foden shames ‘obscene’ Raheem Sterling

When 21-year-old Raheem Sterling bought his mum a house the Daily Mail was unimpressed. Sterling was the “£180,000-a-week England flop” showing off a “blinging house he bought for his mum… hours after flying home in disgrace from Euro 2016.” Disgrace? Surely the Mail means disappointment at getting knocked out of the tournament only monocular die-hards thought England would win?

 

obscene raheem the sun

The Sun also saw the house

 

Fast forward two years and another Manchester City player is buying his dear old ma a house – cost: £2m. It’s 18-year-old Phil Foden. The teenager has yet to play for the full England team. And until he does he will be the great white hope. He’s only played 8 times for City in the Premier League. The Mail will surely goggle at the obscenity of it all. Or not:

The 18-year-old’s parents, Phil and Claire, are thought to have been involved in choosing the house and he is determined to keep the close-knit family together despite his emergence as one of England’s outstanding talents.

We never were told if Raheem’s mum, who raised him in less than salubrious surrounds, helped chose the bricks and furnishings for her “obscene” home (price: £3.5m), nor how the new home kept the pair together. But for Phil it’s all terrific:

The move is likely to change little for the player who has always lived at home, doesn’t drink and doesn’t yet drive. He takes cash, rather than cards, on nights out and is thought to have taken out a substantial mortgage on the new house.

Cash is king – he’s not in the least bit obscene.

 

More in how it different for Raheem Sterling here, here, here and here.

Posted: 5th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United balls: Mourinho sacked when noodle deal goes cold

That the Press have no idea what Manchester United’s moneymen will do about Jose Mourinho is no clearer than in the BBC’s news that the club “could” sack the draining Portuguese “if his side lose to Newcastle United on Saturday”. Could and if are not news. But the Sun goes further. It says senior boardroom figures have lost faith in Mourinho. No names are revealed. No boardroom suit has given the rumours of top-level discord a face.

Are they upset by Mourinho’s dire man-management of Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Marcus Rashford and Eric Bailly? Before he criticised those current members of the United squad in public, Mourinho sniped at Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Bastian Schweinsteiger, although of the later he did say, “He’s in the category of players that I feel sorry for something I did to him.”

Or are the suits voicing dissent over the dull style of play and poor results? Most likely they’re fretting about sponsors. Under the Glazers, United are a brand for hire. Mourinho, like Pogba, was recruited for his market appeal. Mourinho’s the man with a range of perfumes, whose name was licensed for Jose Mourinho briefcases and umbrellas. Jaguar and Hublot have paid big money for Mourinho to advertise their stuff. As one Times writer notes, the Glazers’ yes man, Ed Woodward, “can nail a noodle deal but not provide any heavyweight footballing guidance or astute succession planning.”

If Mourinho is deemed to have lost his cache in the luxury goods arena, he’s toast. If it’s all abut football, why did United ever hire the man whose teams are set out to pinch a goal and hang on? Sack the suits, right, for neglecting Manchester United’s footballing history.

 

spurs

 

But who if not Mourinho?

The BBC says Mauricio Pochettino is “Manchester United owner Ed Woodward’s preferred candidate”. The reporting is shockingly bad.

And over in the Manchester Evening News, we learn that when Zinedine Zidane was at Real Madrid, he was an admirer of David De Gea, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial. So much did he admire them that moneybags Real never recruited any of the trio. But they all play for United and Zidane’s between jobs, so the story must be that the great Frenchman wants to take over at United – noodle deal permitting.

 

Posted: 5th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Liverpool: Naby Keita’s back injury was not a heart attack

Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita was stretched off the pitch in the Reds’ 1-0 Champions League defeat by Napoli. Keita was taken to hospital in Naples. He “underwent a number of precautionary health checks”, says the Liverpool official website. So what’s wrong with Keita? “It is his back,” says Jurgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager.

And then the speculation began. Liverpool fans’ website Empire of the Kop says “Keita might have paid the price” for Napoli’s pitch, which they say was “really poor and nowhere close to being appropriate for a top-level game”. The Mirror says he “caught” his foot on the “rough” playing surface. But Keita has a history of back problems, having missed some of Liverpool’s pre-season tour to the United States last July after aggravating an existing back problem on a flight. Why blame Napoli?

But for top-level speculation, website Football Italia wins. “Sky Sport Italia and Radio Marte both confirm he was rushed to the Cardarelli hospital for tests on his heart,” says the site. No links to Sky Sport Italia is provided. But another Liverpool fan site does have links. It ups the ante, screaming:  “According to confirmed reports, the Guinean felt faint and there were concerns within the medics that he was suffering a heart attack.” Confirmed reports? No. A single tweet:

 

 

 

Any concerns over Keita’s heart were routine. Medics most likely also checked his breathing, blood and urine. Look out for headlines telling of “Keita Kidney Scare”, “Keita Lung Horror” and “Keita Mystery Virus”. The Sky Sports Italia website makes no mention of any heart issues. The mention was made by Gianluca Di Marzio, a reporter for Sky Italia, who tweeted the above: “#Liverpool, Naby #Keita trasportato d’urgenza in ospedale: scongiurati problemi cardiaci, gli aggiornamenti.” Which simply says, there were no heart problems. put that through the SEO blender and the Bleacher Report can thunder: “Jurgen Klopp: Naby Keita Has Back Injury After Heart Scare Initially Feared.”

Another tweeter adds:

 

One moment you’ve a bad back, the next they’re carrying you off to the morgue. Such are the facts.

Posted: 4th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal balls: Aaron Ramsey’s massive wage demands are not his fault

It’s Aaron Ramsey and Avid Sports & Entertainment Group versus the forces of nature. Responding to news that Ramsey will be leaving Arsenal at the season’s end when his current deal expires, Avid reportedly tweeted: “There is nothing we can do, the club made a decision. Life goes on. It’s right [the grass] isn’t always greener and he [Aaron] didn’t want to leave but now there’s no other option.” We can’t find the tweet. It appears to have been deleted. But if true it’s refreshing to realise that football is not the agent-drive football market in greed we’ve held it to be, but an exercise in existential laissez-faire.

Arsenal’s decision was not to offer the low-scoring, injury prone midfielder Ramsey a four-year contract worth up to £250,000 a week.  His agent’s decision was to lower their client’s fee and realise that the £140,000-a-week Arsenal were reportedly prepared to invest in Ramsey was absurdly good money. No. Of course not.

 

 

Fans comments are not all pro Ramsey:

I know his agent is making it sound like Aaron has been totally shafted by the club but if you’re going to run down your contract for big money you run a risk…

Exactly what I was thinking as I was reading that “we had no choice” crap. They had plenty of chance for a long time to sign a contract and show some loyalty but it wasn’t enough and now Arsenal is like the Ex who doesn’t want to put up with your shit anymore.

Life goes on and I’m sure Ramsey will be looking at how life has gone on for Alexis Sanchez elsewhere. You don’t realise what you have at Arsenal until you’re 10 months into it and haven’t scored more than twice.

Life goes on, her, for the poor, selfless, sainted agents, who looked on helplessly as their player lost track of time and forgot to tell them his contract was running out and then asked for £13m a year to live his dream.

In other agent news, humble, down-to-earth Ramsey is an “ambassador” for a company that rents out private jets:

 

 

Oh, and here’s the chance to win one of Ramsey’s old shirts – no doubt with pre-kissed badge:

 

Modern footballers. They really are above the rest of us…

Posted: 3rd, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Manchester United captain apologises for calling for Mourinho to be sacked

Antonio Valencia, the Manchester United captain, liked an Instagram post declaring “time for Mourinho to go”. Valencia, one of the many United players said to have fallen out with the draining Portuguese manager, liked a photo of himself which carried the caption: “It’s time for Mourinho to go”.

 

Valencia sack Mourinho

 

When others noticed, Valencia backtracked. “These are not my views and I apologise for this,” said Valencia on Twitter. “I am fully supportive of the manager and my team-mates. We are all giving our everything to improve the results.”

Put it down to narcissism. At least Valencia and his manager share something in common.

 

Posted: 3rd, October 2018 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


England players admits getting sent off to avoid playing away from home

So worried was Joe Marler about playing for England and being away from his family, he tried to avoid the call by getting himself sent off in club matches thus earning a ban. Marler, now retired from international rugby at just 28 and with 58 caps, told The Rugby Pod about the stress of playing top-level sport:

“The anxiety I would get about having to leave and go away again would manifest itself in giving away more dull penalties and looking for outs, looking for a yellow card, looking for a red card. If I could pick up a ban, that’s an easy way out without actually pulling the trigger…”

But doesn’t the club suffer? And what the other players on the receiving end of a red card offence?

“I played like an absolute helmet, which often happened around England time. That mindset manifested itself. After that game, I said, ‘I can’t keep doing this. It’s not fair on my family, it’s not fair on the club.’ ”

Marler is not a slab of rampaging kitted-out meat. He says his behaviour was “irrational”:

“I have never deliberately done anything on a rugby pitch – or off it – to get a ban. I was simply reflecting on my occasional irrational behaviour when England camps were looming and trying to understand my actions a little better.”

It’s easy to understand. Marler says when he had children his priorities “flipped”. Which reminds me of an old boss in The City who used to command workers to stay late and arrive early. The ones with a loving family were hit hard. He, a single blade, thought them fools. But when he had children, things altered. He realised he’d behaved like a “dick”.  The one difference is that unlike Marler’s story, no married broker struck their manager in the head with an elbow. Opportunities missed…

Here’s Marler:

 

Posted: 3rd, October 2018 | In: Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: £52m Ramsey bid but his replacement comes cheap

Dust off the piano, Arsenal, Alexis Sanchez is being linked with a return to the Gunners. Having been told by Manchester United’s negative and draining manager Jose Mourinho that he could never play for United again, Sanchez is considering his options. The Daily Star reasons that this includes the £600,000-a-week man taking a huge wage cut to rejoin Arsenal and seize the dream of coming fourth and winning the Europa League.

The Manchester Evening News says “Manchester United fans think Arsenal robbed them with Alexis Sanchez deal”. Nothing but desperation impelled United to give Sanchez a fortune. Clubs should be careful what they wish for.

Meanwhile, the Gunners are looking to replace Aaron Ramsey, who was seeking about £250,000-a-week to sign a new Arsenal deal. Ramsey told the fans it wasn’t about the money. Right. And Sanchez joined United to shop at the Arndale Centre. It’s all about the money.

Arsenal reasoned that paying a fading player £52m in wages over a four-year contract was too much – and that might not include loyalty payments. Ramsey turns 28 in December. Last season he missed 11 games though injury. The seasons before that he missed: 22 matches, 11 matches, 15 matches and 21 matches, respectively. Ramsey leaving Arsenal is being talked of as a disaster. The Daily Mirror called Ramsey one of the best goal-scoring midfielder in Europe. Last season Ramsey scored how many goals for Arsenal in the Premier League? Fifteen? Ten? No. One. He scored one goal.

Factor in any resale value in the transfer market and giving Ramsey a shedload of cash to stay looks nuts. So he leaves for the Liverpool treatment room or Real Madrid’s reserves, and the Gunners can look at getting a replacement, like Napoli’s Poland midfielder Piotr Zielinski. He’s 24. He’s no history of injuries. He’d have a resale value. And he’d a command a transfer fee of around £25m plus up to £100,000-a-week wages.

It’s not all about player power.

Posted: 3rd, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Woman blinded by stray ball at Ryder Cup sues

Corine Remande, 49, lost an eye at the Ryder Cup when a tee shot by Brooks Koepka on the sixth hole hit her. Remade was standing by her husband when the ball struck. She is now blind in one eye, although with her eyeball (no, it’s not the golf ball; they checked) now stitched up, there is a chance she will regain some sight, albeit minimal.

“It happened so fast, I didn’t feel any pain when I was hit,” she said. “I didn’t feel like the ball had struck my eye and then I felt the blood start to pour. The scan on Friday confirmed a fracture of the right eye-socket and an explosion of the eyeball… They told me I’d lost the sight in my right eye, and this was what was confirmed to me today.”

Grim stuff. And now she’s suing the PGA European Tour. When I first read that I thought she must be an American, it being the American way to reach for the lawyer and find blame. But she’s French. “Quite clearly, there is responsibility on the part of the organisers,” she says. “Officials did not shout any warning as the player’s ball went into the crowd. More than anything I want them to take care of all the medical bills to make sure there is no risk of infection.”

That seems fair. Why should she pay? Golf is not a poor sport. The PGA European Tour, who run the Ryder Cup, can afford it.  And Remade sounds like a good sport. When Koepka dashed over to comfort her, she was selfless. “I tried to stay positive with him so that he didn’t lose his concentration,” she said. “But once I was taken away, I didn’t hear anything from the organisers.”

Being hit with a golf ball whilst watching the golf is not all that uncommon. Ryder Cup winner Rory McIlroy once hit three people during one round at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. “When you see blood, the one on 18 shook me a little bit, but she reassured me she was okay,” said McIlroy. “It’s never nice. I remember playing the final round here in 2014, and Pablo Larrazabal hit a lady on the left-hand side of 11 and basically didn’t hit a shot for the rest of the round. It’s tough. You can say sorry and maybe give them a glove but that’s not going to do anything for them. I’m just thankful my ball didn’t go where it was heading and I just hope they’re okay.”

A hit on the head is nasty. How many fingers am I holding up? Yep. FORE!

 

Posted: 2nd, October 2018 | In: Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Pogba and Sanchez out

The Manchester Evening News is in Team Mourinho in the draining, negative Manchester manager’s row with, well, most of this side, not least of all star turns Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba. The paper tells readers “more damage would be done if Zinedine Zidane is appointed”. You might wonder why the Frenchman’s name is being linked with a job at United at all.

The Sun says Zidane has heard the rumours and called Mourinho to say he’s not after his job. This has led Mourinho to deduce that United are doing the courting. Are Manchester United’s kingmakers that sly? In July, Mourinho’s predecessor, Louis Van Gaal, spoke about his time at United. Words are through Google Translate from the original Dutch:

“I find the way in which Manchester has dealt with me horrible. And false…

“All those old footballers from Manchester suddenly came to tell me that I played boring football. So that was remarkable; that was directed. After a while I started thinking: how can I still be the authority for the players?”

He then talked about getting the sack and with a big cash settlement from United. Van Gaal was so bitter about his treatment at United, he turned down the Belgium job because taking it would have meant United could stop paying him:

“But the first year I could not go into anything because of the conditions that Manchester imposed on my lump sum. That is why I have run Belgium for example. While I thought that was a great challenge… I was so vindictive that I let it go. Actually stupid, because the sporting consideration is the most important. But that’s how I stood back then… It was more about revenge for me: that they had to pay for everything.”

How much blame can be apportioned to United’s board in making such a mess of things? David Moyes lasted just 10 months, Van Gaal was sacked for coaching dull football only to be replaced with the stultifying Mourinho? Not much blame at all, according to the MEN, which explains:

There is no panacea for Woodward [United chairman Ed Woodward]. Zinedine Zidane inherited such a superb squad at Real Madrid in 2015 that the XI in his third and last Champions League final in May comprised completely of players he inherited. United have one world-class player and the post-Ferguson task has broken two managers of different repute already, with a third likely.

Which world-class player is that? David de Gea? Paul Pogba? Alexis Sanchez? “We have world-class players in every position and I think that’s very important to have, ” said Victor Lindelof in March, the United defender Mourinho recruited. As for Zidane inheriting a team of Champions’ League winners, doesn’t he take credit for taking player who weren’t his choice and making them serial champions?

Posted: 2nd, October 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Barcelona don’t want whinging Pogba

Don’t panic, Paul Pogba. Sure, you’re a destabilising present at Manchester United who criticised the team in public after a 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers, in which you set up United’s goal and then were easily dispossessed in the build up to the equaliser. You could still be on your way to Barcelona. Although a word of caution: Barcelona’s board are not unanimous in their desire to recruit you, says ESPN. Some suits might think a huge fee of well over £100m for a over-hyped player who went “home” to United to finish the job and has succeeded in all but finishing Jose Mourinho, not worth the effort.

And Mourinho had best leave, or else. The Sun hears Pogba say he will leave United in January if Jose Mourinho stays as manager. Did he really say that? And how does the Sun know it – the Sun being the paper that has cheered longest and hardest for Mourinho at United?

 

the sun mourinho jose Manchester United Neil Curtis

The Sun loves Jose – and all the access loving him might get to other of agent Jorge Mendes’s starry clients

 

 

The Sun says Pogba told team-mates “he cannot be bothered to argue with the manager any more”. So he told them and they told the Press. And then he told them that it’s not his fault: “He is embarrassed at being played in formations and with tactics that none of the team can get to grips with.” None of them can work out how to play? Or just one of them? As the Sun continues: “Pogba had a wretched game and was hooked after 70 minutes to a chorus of jeers from home supporters.”

Those home supporters were West Ham fans, not United fans, who are told: “The Hammers’ first goal was offside while there was a ­possible foul in the build-up to their third.” So United were unlucky? Or as the Sun put it on Sunday after the match, West Ham were “inspired” and United were “dismal”. As for Pogba, “the whinging France midfielder put on another abysmal display in a United shirt before he was subbed in the 70th minute.”

The Sun is gunning for Pogba. But Mourinho, a draining presence, is the man who looks like he’s got nowhere left to go…

 

Posted: 2nd, October 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United players betrayed Mourinho – it’s Chelsea 2015 all over again

mourinho betrayed manchester united

 

Is Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho looking to be sacked? Asked how his team are responding to a poor run of results, he told media “some [players] care more than others”. Which players are actors only pretending to care? He won’t say. Does he think his job’s on the line? “No.”

“Every player is different, no player is the same,” said Mourinho apropos of something self-serving. “I see different actions but what you see is not really inside. I see upset people, some people that don’t look like they lost a game. I see so-so but in the little two sessions of training we had [since Saturday] everything was normal, desire to work and play.”

 

mourinho betrayed manchester united

 

Can anything be done? Yes, says Mourinho: “What I can do to improve things I do, and I will improve the things that depend on me and my work.” Got that? Now hark back to his departure from Chelsea – the second time he was sacked by the Blues – when he told media in December 2015 following defeat to Leicester City:

“The only thing I can say is that I want to be. I have no doubts and I think you know me well enough, three years this time, plus three years another time, that I am not afraid of a big challenge, and in this moment this is a real big challenge. I want to stay, I hope Mr Abramovich and the board want me to stay.”

See a pattern? What about now:

“My board, my club I don’t think it’s right that I go to them and say these players are not good, we need to spend £50m or £100m or whatever, I don’t think it’s fair. We have these players and it’s with these players we have to go. The players that are not performing well, they must feel attacked in their pride and their self-esteem and they have to do everything to get results in a humble way.”

And his main point:

“I feel my work is betrayed. I worked four days in training for this match. I identified four movements where Leicester score a lot of their goals and in two of the four situations I identified they scored their goals. I went through it all with the players, you can ask them.”

Don’t blame Mourinho. He’s not changed. He’s certainly not improved. Just wonder what the Manchester United board who recruited him thought they were getting.

Posted: 1st, October 2018 | In: Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Sanchez beats Mourinho to the exit and Pogba stays

Is Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho lacking in self-awareness? Odd to ask, I know, given his crushing narcissism.  But when he said before United’s defeat at West Ham the club is bigger than anyone, he wasn’t referring to himself was he. We’re pretty sure Mourinho thinks he is bigger than Manchester United, or at least the club’s human equal. His words were answer aimed at Paul Pogba, the World Cup winner and United’s priciest asset he’s fallen out with.

The problem for Mourinho is that on the all-important United balance sheets Pogba is worth more to United than he is. Pressured by the marketeers and debt managers who control United, Mourinho cosets the player, making him captain, letting him take the penalties and telling media the Frenchman is the best in training. Pogba understands his value. Mourinho appears weak – all the more so when he then told Pogba he’d never captain the team again, and was met with belligerence when he schemed to broadcast his authority by admonishing Pogba in front of the cameras.

None of this is aided by Mourinho pragmatic tactics, anathema to United’s traditions of free-flowing, attack-minded football – but, then, United’s owners should have done their homework and realised what they were getting with Mourinho, a man whose success is built on nicking a lead and hanging on to it with grim determination.

And so it’s no surprise to read in the Sun that the Manchester United manager is worried about his future at Old Trafford. He’s “convinced” club officials have sounded out former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane. But Italian press says Zidane is to be the new chief executive at Juventus. ESPN hears United deny reports they have approached Zidane to replace. United says it’s “nonsense”.

The Star says one figure on his way out is Alex Sanchez, the ball-hogging attacker United were at pains to recruit from Arsenal. Having watched Sanchez, who never made it at Barcelona, shine in a team of journeymen at Arsenal, Mourinho thought the Chilean was the man to get United firing. He wasn’t. Indulged at Arsenal, where Arsene Wenger allowed Sanchez to wander all over the pitch, often picking the ball up in front of the defenders, waving his hands about at the rest of the team before trying to score on his own, Sanchez was given a more fixed role at Old Trafford. You can pay Sanchez £600,000-a-week, as United do, but Mourinho can’t get him to play like he did for the Gunners.

But maybe even he’ll outlast Mourinho, who is surely nearing the end of his time at United.

Posted: 1st, October 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: United ready to part with Pogba or Mourinho

Former Real Madrid manager and French legend Zinedine Zidane is learning to speak English so he can get the Manchester United job when job Jose Mourinho gets the chop, says the Sun. There is much talk of player unrest under Mourinho’s stultifying and divisive regime. So the Portuguese is to be thanked for his time and shown the door.

The Sun says Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic have adopted the roles of peacemakers in the Old Trafford dressing room. But pressure is building on Mourinho, who used his press conference before United’s trip to West Ham to remind Paul Pogba that “no player is bigger than the club”. He then added: “Manchester United is bigger than anyone. I have to defend that.” It’s bigger than Mourinho, who went on: “After weeks of analysing and changing opinions with my coaching staff, we made the decision that from now Paul is just a player and not a captain.”

Just a player. You see how language matters. Mourinho’s public words come too often loaded with negativity and snark. Zidane will do well to stick to plain English and leave his attacking for the match.

And what of that row between Mourinho and Pogba, filmed at United’s training ground last week? Did Mourinho need to admonish the World Cup winner in front of the cameras? “I don’t care about the cameras,” said Mourinho, who knew they were there. He was surely playing to them, seeing the chance to reassert his authority. Pogba’s reaction undermined Mourinho’s plan. “What confrontation? It’s not a confrontation,” says Mourinho. Adding: “Nobody trained better than Paul on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Some trained as well as, nobody better.” Well, no-one will pay a huge premium for a difficult player. Mourinho seems to be talking to the club’s owners and asset managers. He won’t devalue a player who cost United £89m and could fetch much more if sold.

But why not keep Pogba and get shot of Mourinho? Pogba is hardly cowed by Mourinho’s public criticism of him. He recognises his presence and value to United. And Mourinho, master of deflecting blame away from himself, can leave with his head held high. The fans might pick Mourinho ahead of Pogba, but would the players? And in the drive to market Manchester United, who is worth more, Pogba or Mourinho? How about this: which clubs want Pogba? PSG, Manchester City, Barcelona. And which clubs would want to spend £15m in wages a year on Mourinho?

Posted: 29th, September 2018 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Aaron Ramsey takes his one goal a season and heads to Italy

Yesterday Arsenal fans learned something that had escaped them. The Mirror’s John Cross told them and readers of his Daily Mirror “exclusive” that Aaron Ramsey is “one of Europe’s top goal-scoring midfielders”. Last season, Ramsey scored one goal in the Premier League. Are goals from midfield so hard to come by that one represents the apogee? That question to David Silva, Mo Salah, Deli Alli, Kevin de Bruyne, James Maddison, Bernardo Silva, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Pascal Groß. We could go round Europe looking at goalscoring midfielders, but the point is made: Ramsey is not as effective as his PR says he is.

But the impression that he hits the net pervades. Last night, former Arsenal star Ian Wright told Sky Sports: “…Aaron Ramsey is captain material… It should have been done ages ago. Ivan Gazidis [the Arsenal chief executive who left for AC Milan] has got a lot to answer for for this to happen because Ramsey should be a focal point in the team… He’s somebody that I’d like to see stay because I think he is that player who is never afraid. He scores goals.”

He scores very few goals. And another player on the big money Ramsey’s after might score more goals than him. Arsenal’s habit in recent years of sticking with players on the drift has seen them not challenge for the title and slip out of the Champions League slots. Unai Emery is building his own team. Why does he need Wenger’s journeymen?

So Ramsey’s off in search of vast riches and loyalty payments elsewhere. As soon as Arsenal agreed to pay £350,000 a week to Mesut Ozil, every other player; on Arsenal’s books thought themselves worth more. But they’re not. So Arsenal withdrew their contract offer to Ramsey – the one he hadn’t agreed to sign.

The Standard says he’s booking a one-way flight this January to Juventus or AC Milan. Or maybe it’ll be Chelsea or Manchester United? Anyone in the market for a skilful but slowing midfielder who scores one goal a season knows his agent’s number.

Posted: 28th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal prepare to sell overrated Aaron Ramsey

Transfer Balls spots this gem of an “exclusive” on the Daily Mirror’s back page: “Aaron Ramsey to leave Arsenal next summer.” The midfielder’s current deal runs until the end of this season. He’ll then be free to pick up a huge wad of cash at another club.  But after the original statement, the facts become , well, less factual.  We read that the Mirror “understands there is now NO new contract offer on the table”. Is understanding the same as knowing? No. Or ‘NO’, as the Mirror might put it.

 

ramsey arsenal leaves tranfer

Fact!

 

And then we pick up the powder and dust the story down for the agent’s fingerprints:

Midfielder Ramsey had been ready to stay and commit himself to a new contract, with the club confident of reaching agreement with the past few weeks. But there has been a sudden change and talks have completely broken down — to the point that there is now nothing for the 27-year-old Wales international to sign.

A sudden change from which side? The inference is that it’s not from fiercely loyal and not-in-the-least-bit greedy Ramsey who is holding his pen with “nothing” to sign. “Ramsey appears likely to play just one season under new boss Unai Emery,” we’re told. Appears. Likely. Not all that factual. This is less than 50 words after readers were told, “Aaron Ramsey will leave Arsenal at the end of the season”. Now it “is not known whether the Spaniard [Arsenal manger Unai Emery] wants to keep him.”

Arsenal’s wage bill has been escalating out of control with Mesut Ozil now on £350,000-a-week, but Ramsey has been keen to stay and this breakdown is not because he has turned down a new deal.

Maybe Arsenal think he’s not all that good?

It will be a massive blow to lose one of Europe’s top goal-scoring midfielders on a free, and once again the north Londoners’ dealings in the market and over contracts will come under the spotlight.

One of Europe’s top-scoring midfielders is, according to the Premier League’s stats-based Fantasy Football game, the joint 19th best midfielder in the PL. According to Wales Onlinewhich like the Mirror is owned by Reach – Ramsey isn’t one of the best midfielders in the PL. As for goals scored, Ramsey hasn’t scored this season. He did score 7 PL goals last season – the same number as: Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford), Pascal Groß (Brighton) and Marcos Alonso (Chelsea). In season 2016-17, Ramsey scored – get this – one Premier League goal. In 2015-16 he scored 5; in 2014-15 he got 6; and in 2013-14 he scored 10. Is he one of the continent’s best goal-scoring midfielders? He was. But is he now? No.

Ramsey’s a good player. But Arsenal would be nuts to break the bank to keep him. And if he wants to go now, surely they’ll cut him loose in January. But the Mirror says:

They allowed both Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to get into the final year of their deals, and now they face an even more embarrassing own goal over Ramsey.

Ozil stayed. Sanchez went to Manchester United on a £600,000-a-week deal and Arsenal got the less difficult Henrikh Mkhitaryan in return. Arsenal are currently above United in the league. Sanchez has been poor. Embarrassing?

The tin lid on this balls comes in the next line:

Meanwhile, former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has turned down offers from China, Japan and France because he is enjoying his new-found freedom after leaving the club last summer.

Oh, him – the bloke who didn’t leave when the Mirror told us he would be:

 

daily mirror wenger quits sack resigns arsenal

2017?

 

See yer, Ramsey. First went fading Theo Walcott, then oft-injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the ordinary Kieran Gibbs. They were followed out the door by the pace-free Jack Wilshere and now Ramsey is set to leave. Arsenal fans, listen up, things are getting better. Tough players with presence can get in touch with Emery at the usual address…

Posted: 27th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Pogba laughs at Mourinho as players prepare mass exodus

It’s the Daily Paul Pogba, a look at news on the likeable, over-hyped French midfielder, who told the United board before the World Cup that he wanted to leave Old Trafford. He wasn’t allowed to go, of course. And now Pogba’s a World Cup winner with France, United are cherishing their biggest name, realising that in their ultimate desire to be Marketing Week’s Brand of the Year, Pogba is a route to new markets. Not quite. Because Jose Mourinho has just told Pogba he will never again captain the team. It won’t be him lifting the Premier League trophy when Mourinho’s masterplan to nick a lead and then defend it pays off.

And it’s worse. The Sun says Pogba and Mourinho “clashed” at training yesterday because the irritating Portuguese manager thought the France international had posted a video of him laughing after Manchester United’s defeat by Derby County in the League Cup. The result is, according to ESPN, that senior Manchester United players think Mourinho’s a bit of a pillock and his man-management techniques to blame the players and pick on individuals in public are neither helpful nor pleasant.

But here’s the good news for United fans: the owners are backing the charismatic Pogba over the stultifying Mourinho. No. Sorry. Remove the bunting. It’s the other way around.  Manchester United vice-chairman Ed Woodward has backed Mourinho, says the Star. But, apparently, a “number” of players want to leave if Mourinho stays. But neither Pogba nor Mourinho is going anywhere, says the Times. Unless a club offers over £200m for Pogba, in which case, United will call him a taxi.

Back in the Sun, we hear that Mourinho wants the Manchester United board to support him as they once supported Sir Alex Ferguson. And just as soon as Mourinho produces a coherent side of dash and swagger that wins things, they most probably will.

Posted: 27th, September 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal banned Low from speaking to Ozil

“NO PRONUNCIATION IN LONDON,” declares the headline on Bild, the German tabloid. The headline is viewed through the Google Translate mangle. But the next part is clear: “Löw locked out at Özil training.” News is that Germany coach Joachim Low, on a mission to see Mesut Ozil, rocked up uninvited to the Arsenal training ground and wasn’t let in. The story goes that Low wanted to make up with Ozil, who retired from the German national team after feeling the victim of “racism and disrespect” over his Turkish roots. So he flew to London for a chat.

You can picture Low stood with a few autograph hunters by Arsenal’s London Colney training ground, picking his nose, eating his bogies, scratching his arse and sniffing his fingers. And there’s Ozil in the security guard’ cabin watching the live CT footage and vowing never again to shake Low’s hand.

 

low germany bogie low germany bogie low germany bogie

 

Shake!

But it’s not quite true. The Standard says the trip to Arsenal was “pre-planned”. Low was invited to London Colney by Per Mertesacker, the Arsenal coach and former German international. It’s just that Ozil wasn’t there that day.

Posted: 26th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Abramovich wants $3billion for Chelsea and Manchester United offload Pogba

“We’re the biggest sports team in the world,” declared Ed Woodward, the Manchester United chief executive. A few hours after that boast, Derby County arrived at Old Trafford and booted United out of the Carabao Cup. That was preceded by Jose Mourinho, United’s miserabilist manager telling the club’s most expensive recruit, the well-marketed Paul Pogba, he’ll never captain the club again. Pogba wants to play for Barcelona, just as he wanted to leave United to play for Juventus, which he did, before coming “home” for £89m and earning the chance to fulfil his dream. The Mirror says Pogba will cost Barcelona £200m – which would give money-mad United a massive profit on a player who, if style and putting bums on seat, should outlast Mourinho at the club.

In other news, Cristiano Ronaldo is to return to Real Madrid after he’s used up the Touche Eclat at Juventus. “He is one of those that one day will come back,” said Real Madrid president, Florentino Pérez. “I think that he is one of those players who will be in the hearts of the Madrid fans and will be remembered from generation to generation.” But when will return? Who knows but expect lots of stories on ifs and whens.

To finish: Arsenal like the look of Rennes’ 20-year-old Senegal winger Ismaila Sarr, who, says the Mirror, has been “likened” to Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele. In what way the cheap young blade is like the very pricey Barcelona star we’re not told. Maybe he just looks like him and the Arsenal board will sign the lad, print ‘Dembele’ on his shirt.

But the biggest transfer news of all is that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich wants at least £3bn to sell the club, according to Bloomberg.

Abramovich bought Chelsea out of near-bankruptcy in 2003 for £140 million (about $223 million at the time) and has since loaned the club more than £1.1 billion. Until he came along, Chelsea hadn’t won the top domestic trophy, the Premier League title, since 1955. His big spending changed all that and set off a kind of arms race in English football. In some ways, it was similar to the U.S. model: Buy talent, buy titles, and sell merchandise and media rights. But unlike owners of American sports teams, Abramovich didn’t seem bothered by racking up huge losses. (And he didn’t have to contend with caps on spending, until new rules came into force in 2010.) At the Arsenal game, Chelsea supporters taunted their rivals with the chant “We’ve won it all!” to which Arsenal fans sang in response, “You’ve bought it all!”

Chelsea fans still love their high-rolling owner, even as the U.K. government hits back at the Kremlin. Now Abramovich is mulling a sale of Chelsea, frustrated by his British visa problems and concerned about the potential fallout should the U.S. expand sanctions against wealthy Russians and target him. He’s already rejected bids for the club in excess of $2.3 billion—which would be a world-record price for a sports team—according to people familiar with the talks. Earlier this year, Abramovich hired Raine Group LLC, a merchant bank in New York, to advise on the possibility of a full or partial sale of the club. A person familiar with the discussions says Abramovich wants £3 billion. Abramovich’s representatives declined multiple requests for comment for this story and insisted all communication go through his lawyers, who also declined to comment.

If Chelsea is worth that much, imagine what the world’s biggest sports brand, Manchester United, are worth? And then try to work out the motives of the person who’d buy it…

Posted: 26th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Worst US Soccer Kits!

WITH Stevie Gerrard looking like he’s off to play football in the United States of America, most likely to live in the sunny climate of Los Angeles to play for David Beckham’s old lot at the Galaxy, it is worth remembering just how weird it’ll be, seeing Gerrard in a kit that isn’t England or Liverpool’s.

And speaking of kits, America has had some of the most dismal jerseys imaginable. With everyone being fans of retro kits these days, it is nice to imagine the Anfield legend playing in some of these abominations.

Here’s some of the most stomach turning kits in American soccer’s history.

Kansas City Wizards

The Wizards’ kit is a funny one because, even though it is clearly an absolute howler of a kit, there’s something that is borderline nice about it. Obviously, you have to have an eye for all things ’90s, but those rainbow sleeves are as pleasing as they are vomit-inducing.

1997KansasCity

Colorado Caribous

Perhaps the worst/best kit in football’s long history, the Caribous turned out in a beige number which had delightful tassles on the chest. They didn’t exactly light up the North American Soccer League. They played for one season and lost 22 of their 30 games.

Colorado Caribous

USA ’94

When America was awarded the FIFA World Cup in 1994, they didn’t play in that lovely all-white we see them in now. The home kit was red and white stripes, like the stripes of the star spangled banner. The away kit completed the flag with a pretty awful blue thing covered in stars.

usa-away

San Jose Clash

The San Jose Clash clearly took the ‘clashing’ element of their name and applied it to this horror show. A lovely minty teal with urine yellow and ketchup red. Nike’s design room clearly knocked this up at 5 to 5 on a Friday when they all wanted to get down the pub.

san jose clash

Detroit Express

Even though this lovely photo of Trevor Francis doesn’t really do it justice, the Detroit Express kit was a particularly horrible shade of orange, that was only found in the 1970s. Admiral, the kit makers, were known for their bold designs, so in a way, there’s a certain charm to it,

Express

New England Tea Men

To really ram home the name of the New England Tea Men, Umbro thought it might be a fun idea to stick a gigantic letter ‘T’ on all the kits. The awkward design was only matched by the awkward perms as displayed by some of the players.

Tea Men 78 Head Mike Flanagan 2_small

San Diego Sockers

While not the most disgusting kit in memory, you have to include the mighty San Diego Sockers because, when the players ran across the pitch, if the material folded, it looked like they were called the ‘Suckers’.

Sockers

Tampa Bay Mutiny

The kit was a disaster and so too, was the Tampa Bay Mutiny franchise. No surprise really as what player would want to run out in this garish number? Fans weren’t likely to be too keen on it either.

tampabaymutiny

Posted: 26th, September 2018 | In: Fashion, Sports | Comment


Manchester United: Pogba shunts Mourinho closer to the exit

Anyone in any doubt that Paul Pogba’s words were all about Jose Mourinho is obviously not Jose Mourinho, a man for whom everything is always and essentially about him. Responding to Pogba’s comments post a 1-1 with the mighty Wolves that United should “attack, attack. attack” at home, Mourinho has told the club’s most expensive player ever he will never captain the team again.

In his programme notes for Tuesday’s Carabao Cup game with Derby County, Mourinho sniped: “[The game against Wolves was] an important lesson; a lesson that I repeat week after week after week, a lesson that some boys are not learning. Every team that play Manchester United are playing the game of their lives, and we need to match that level of aggression, motivation and desire – 95% isn’t enough when others give 101%.”

Joyous, no, to see United imploding, the manager blaming the players for his side’s dullness and inability to win every match. Either Pogba or Mourinho will surely leave the club soon. But which one? Who would the fans miss most: the charismatic young, over-hyped blade who offers promise or the chippy former Chelsea boss surfing a tsunami of braggadocio who masterminds a tired, pragmatic style of football that seeks to nick a lead and hold it; the manager who having told Mo Salah and Kevin de Bruyne they were not good enough for The Blues is doing his best to make World Cup winner Pogba feel inferior?

But who cares, right? Aside from United supporters, fans of all other teams are hardwired to enjoy the country’s biggest team failing. We used to enjoy and envy Fergie’s swashbuckling sides, but now United have invested vast sums in a team coached into stultifying plodders by a man who has always favoured negative tactics. Mourinho is the man who bought Pogba, Alexis Sanchez et al and invited them to play like the ambulatory elbow that is Marouane Fellaini. What was once viewed as hauteur and charisma been stripped back to reveal nothing more than Mourinho’s petulance, sarcasm and insults.

Who do you want to stay, United fans? The rest of us want Mourinho to…

Posted: 25th, September 2018 | In: Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Pogba ruins Mourinho’s swashbuckling ‘Red-Volution’

pogba-moutinho

 

The Sun’s Neil Curtis blames Paul Pogba for Manchester United’s 1-1 home draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers. United were leading until the 53rd minute – Fred scored following a super touch by Pogba – when Joao Moutinho hit a superb shot from the edge of the penalty area that arched and dipped past David De Gea.

Here’s the goal. You might notice how Luke Shaw fails to block the cross. And Wolves worked the ball very well, getting forward in numbers and unnerving United with their power and precision. But to Curtis this was all about Pogba’s “gaffe”, for which Jose Mourinho gave him a “dressing room dressing down”.

 

 

Inside the paper and Ian Wright joins in the attack on Pogba. In a double-page spread entitled “Pogba must stop putting the boot into Jose, Wright says Pogba must “end his war of words with Jose Mourinho”. He talks of Pogba’s “latest public attack” on his manager. He “threw his gaffer under the bus”. This harks back to yesterday’s Sun story in which Pogba “launched an astonishing attack on Jose Mourinho’s tactics”. What did he say? “At home we should attack, attack, attack,” said Pogba. “That’s Old Trafford. We are here to attack. Teams are scared when they see Man United attacking and attacking. That was out mistake.” So why aren’t they attacking? “I can’t tell you because I’m a player,” says Pogba. “It’s not me… we should move better.”

Astonished? No. United are dull to watch. Pogba’s a very good player but not the world beater the marketeers tells us he is. And Mourinho at United is an uneasy fit. But from the off the Sun has been cheering on Mourinho like a well-paid PR:

 

the sun mourinho jose Manchester United Neil Curtis

 

The “Red-olution”:

United look strong and positive. The first pass is forward once more not sideways or backwards merely to keep possession. Mourinho is trusting the players abilities, letting them breathe.

Phew!

 

eric baiily transfer

 

In his £250m splurge, LVG made two that excited but could not get the best out of either in Angel Di Maria and Memphis Depay. Mourinho has made four and so far Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly have been immediate hits. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is yet to start.

Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan have left. Pogba apparently wants to leave. And Bailly has been a disappointment. But in the Sun Mourinho is much better than Louis Van Gaal.

 

 

Mourinho newspapers Manchester United

 

Jose really can do no wrong in the Sun

Posted: 25th, September 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Liverpool’s Salah wins and Ronaldo goes missing at FIFA Best awards

Compare and contrast the Daily Mirror’s stories today on Cristiano Ronaldo and the FIFA Best awards. Ronaldo was up again for the top gong he won last year and the year before that. This time he was against Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. Who won? Modric did. He’s been brilliant for Real and Croatia. The Mirror’s reporting has been less than great.

 

ronaldo best fifa

 

Story 1: “Why Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi won’t be attending the FIFA Best awards in London.”

Why?

It had been reported that Messi would be attending despite not being nominated for Best Men’s Player, but now he won’t be at the awards

Why?

The Portuguese played for Juventus at Frosinone on Sunday night , and has another fixture for his new club at home to Bologna on Wednesday.

 

ronaldo best fifa

 

ronaldo best fifa

 

Story 2: “Cristiano Ronaldo delivers for Juventus in telling reminder of his greatness before Best FIFA Awards”

Cristiano Ronaldo delivered a telling reminder of his greatness just before the Best FIFA Awards. On Monday, Ronaldo will be suited and booted and on his way to the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank.

So he will be there?

PS: The awards are bunkum. To illustrate how silly they are, Salah won for the Puskas award for the best goal last season – better than Gareth Bale’s strike in the Champions’ league final, when the pressure as on and it really mattered. Oh, puh-lease…

The Fifa Puskas nominees were voted for by the public:

Here were the 10 nominees:

Gareth Bale (vs Liverpool – Champions League final)
Denis Cherychev (vs Croatia – World Cup)
Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (vs AEK Athens – Greek Cup semi-final)
Cristiano Ronaldo (vs Juventus – Champions League quarter-final)
Giorgian De Arrascaeta (vs America MG – Brazilian Serie A)
Riley McGree (vs Melbourne City – A-League)
Lionel Messi (vs Nigeria – World Cup)
Benjamin Pavard (vs Argentina – World Cup)
Ricardo Quaresma (vs Iran – World Cup)
Mohamed Salah (vs Everton – Premier League)

 

Posted: 24th, September 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Media balls: Aubameyang was onside and Everton were lucky

Media Balls: a look at biased reporting in the weekend’s Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton, won 2-0 by the Gunners. The Mirror calls Arsenal’s second goal, scored by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a “flipping disgrace”. The Arsenal striker was well offside when he received the ball before planting it neatly past Jordan Pickford. The Express leads with news that Everton manager Marco Silva was “left seething” following the offside goal. He was “livid” says the Sun on its front page. The paper concurs that Aubameyang was “a yard offside”. The Mail says the goal “should not have stood”.

On the Arsenal website, we’re told this: “Auba…finishes off a swift counter involving Ozil and Ramsey.”

Offside? Not a bit of it: “Lacazette started the move for the second, stealing the ball and sending Ozil free. The German broke into the box, looked to pick out Ramsey, but the ball was slightly behind him, where Aubameyang was lurking to tuck home his third goal of the week.”

And in the Islington Gazette – the local Arsenal newspaper: “Aubameyang doubled the lead after getting on the end of a sweeping move to make it 2-0 as Arsenal revealed their attacking power, even if Moss should have called offside earlier in the move.”

The Everton website and Liverpool Echo both says the goal was offside. Much bias in north London, then.

And by way of evening up the reporting, a little, there was that moment when Arsenal could / should have had a penalty. The Islington Gazette reports:

Aubameyang should have won a penalty after Jonjoe Kenny reacted to a header coming towards him by lifting his arm. Yes it was instinctive but the laws of the game make it clear that type of action should be penalised with a spot-kick.

The incident is neither mentioned on the Everton website nor the Echo’s.

Posted: 24th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Liverpool: Arsenal didn’t miss Virgil van Dijk, they just lack Southampton’s coaching skills

News that Arsenal rejected Virgil van Dijk, 27, before Southampton bought him comes as no great shock. The final years of Arsene Wenger’s leadership at Arsenal are punctuated with a myriad bad decisions and indifferent coaching. The BBC says Arsenal could have bought the now Liverpool star for £12m from Celtic but thought him “too nonchalant”.

Former Celtic assistant manager John Collins, told BeIn Sports that Arsene Wenger liked Van Dijk but the club’s then chief scout, Steve Rowley, was less impressed. “Arsenal’s chief scout thought he was too nonchalant,” said Collins. “Maybe that was part of his game but he ticks so many of the other boxes. He’s got pace, power, balance, distribution and he’s good in the air. He can be a bit nonchalant but he is a quality player.”

Easy to see this this as an Arsenal misstep. But given how Arenal stagnated under Wenger, what evidence is that that Van Dijk would have improved under the Frenchman? Yesterday former Gunner Santi Cazorla told the BBC Wenger’s Arsenal lacked belief. We needed to believe in ourselves more,” he told Football Focus. “To believe that we were capable of competing with the big sides in the Premier League and not just settling for third or fourth.”

Moreover, Collins says Van Dijk, who would up costing Liverpool £75m, wasn’t rated by Brendan Rodgers when he was in charge at Anfield. “He would’ve cost around £12m,” says Collins. “Every team watched him regularly but the worry was he was showing it against Scottish players but you could tell he was strong, powerful and a well balanced player.”

He was presumably all those thing when Celtic bought the Dutch national captain from Groningen for £2.5m. He did well there but it was at Southampton where he flourished. And what Collins does not say is how well he was coached at the innovative south coast club. Southampton’s system has produced Gareth Bale, Calum Chambers, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw. And players have improved at the Saints: Saido Mane, Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren (all now at Liverpool) and Toby Anderweireld. Name one academy player who really improved under Wenger in his final four or five years at Arsenal, or a new recruit who looked like a bargain. It’s not easy.

Why did Arsenal fail? Matthew Syed took a look:

“We visited the Yehudi Menuhin Music School to see how they think about purposeful practice,” Edd Vahid, the head of coaching, said. “We also visit Saracens a lot. They do not have the best facilities in the world, particularly when compared to some Premier League football clubs, but they are fantastic when it comes to culture and innovation.”

Partly inspired by Saracens, Southampton now have an educational and skills programme running alongside the usual academy functions…

“If you want leaders on the pitch, you have to develop their qualities off the pitch,” Les Reed, the technical director, said. “In many academies, education is seen as a waste of time, a distraction from the game. We think that it is central to player development. We need England players who don’t crumble when they are on a big stage and go one-nil down.”

Southampton also have a Black Box Room, modelled on the aviation industry, so that they can constantly analyse the data from training and matches, just as aviation learns from the cockpit recorders. The analysts are striving to build better metrics to improve recruitment, despite the statistical challenges. They have studied a number of outside organisations, including Google.

Would Van Dijk have gotten that development at Arsenal under Wenger? No. Southampton (plus a dash of Liverpool desperation on paying such huge fee) turned him from a decent player into the world’s most expensive defender.

Posted: 23rd, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Key Posts, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Aston Villa adopt John McGinn’s weird FIFA avatar as his official twitter photo

Aston Villa FIFA

 

The official twitter account for Aston Villa FC noticed that their team’s John McGinn looks not a lot like his Fifa 19 avatar. That’s McGinn on the right in the above photo. Today, McGinn scored as Villa lost 1-2 to Sheffield United. This is how Villa’s tweeter-in-chief celebrated:

 

Aston Villa FIFA

 

Ha.

Posted: 22nd, September 2018 | In: Sports | Comment