Anorak

Sports | Anorak - Part 9

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.

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


Manchester United balls: Ronaldo banned, unbanned and never banned for Champions League match

When Ronaldo was sent off on his debut for Juventus in the Champions League, not only did he weep like a child being told off by his mum in front of his mates (source: @BeadedGenius), but he was sure to miss the games at Manchester United. The Daily Mirror announced: “Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off in tears as his Champions League debut for Juventus turned sour. The Portuguese superstar will miss the chance to tackle his former club Manchester United at Old Trafford.”

Problem was that the Mirror doesn’t know the rules. The Premier League’s dishes out an automatic three-game ban for violent conduct. Uefa gives only a one-game automatic ban, with no right of appeal. Uefa regulation 50.01 says “in case of serious offences, the Uefa control, ethics and disciplinary body is entitled to augment this punishment”.

 

Uefa rules red card ronaldo manchester united

 

Ronaldo’s red card-worthy offence was softer than Jordan Henderson’s bikini line. So an earl bath and a one-match ban is most likely the sum of his punishment. One day on and the Mirror has picked up the story, reporting today: “Ronnie is clear to face Reds. Cristiano Ronaldo can play against former club Manchester United in the Champions League despite his midweek red card.”

ronaldo manchester united

 

The Mirror makes no mention of its earlier error, nor does it identify the source of its new-found knowledge. Compare and contrast the following:

BBC – September 20:  “The Portugal forward appeared to pull Valencia defender Jeison Murillo’s hair…”
Mirror – September 21: “[Ronaldo was sent off] after appearing to pull Valencia defender Jeison Murillo’s hair…”

BBC: “But former Red Devils midfielder Darren Fletcher expects the Champions League’s all-time top scorer to play both games against his old side. It was a soft sending-off for Ronaldo, but the letter of the law says you probably cannot do that, so I think the one-match ban will probably stick,” the Stoke player told BBC Radio 5 live. “He will feel like he was letting his team-mates down in that moment, but I expect him to play in both games against Manchester United.”
Daily Mirror: The exact same quote but with no source attributed.

 

Posted: 21st, September 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Spurs balls: Pochettinho sack and Lloris’ imagines an injury

spurs poch sacked

 

It’s remarkable how little pressure Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino is under. He wants to win trophies, of course, having won nothing at Spurs since his arrival from Southampton in May 2014. Other managers on a run of three defeats on the bounce, as Pochettino’s Spurs are, would be under far more pressure, their jobs hanging by a thread. But Pochettino’s Spurs punch above their weight, consistently outperforming bigger spending rivals. Spurs would be nuts to get rid of him. But there he is in the Mirror’s back page saying, “I could get sacked.”

What he actually said was:

“I am going to stick with the club, I am not going to criticise the club. All the decisions are our decisions and of course always with the club until the end. Maybe we are still here in five years or maybe in one week we are not here, but we will always be talking well about the club and helping them to achieve all they want.”

Put that through the tabloid mincer and it becomes: “I could be sacked.”

From the same press conference, the BBC delivers its own shocker: “Pochettino claims Tottenham’s 31-year-old goalkeeper Hugo Lloris’ thigh injury is down to the stress of the Frenchman’s drink-drive conviction.” Got that? The Sun shouts the same: “Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has put Hugo Lloris’ thigh injury down to induced stress from his drink-drive shame.”

A psychosomatic injury? The thigh bone is connected to the camshaft… Not quite. What he said was: “I think he was under stress during the game against Manchester United [the last game before his court date]. I think the injury and with the added stress maybe created that injury.” Clear?

Posted: 21st, September 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Gooners delight: Jeremy Corbyn vows to boycott Arsenal matches

More on Jeremy Corbyn’s obsession with the world’s one Jewish state. The story goes that the Labour leader mired in accusations of antisemitism was so upset by Arsenal FC’s 2006 deal with the Israeli tourist board he wanted fans to boycott the club. Corbyn is, of course, an Arsenal fan. So did he boycott any matches? Corbyn has voiced his support for BDS – the movement that wants to censor anything Israeli, including people – like, for instance, Yossi Benayoun, the Israeli who played for Arsenal in 2011.

“We must campaign against and boycott Arsenal football club for their arrangement with the Israeli tourist board,” said Corbyn to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign Trade Union Conference in 2006, as reported in the Mail. The paper pins the story to the noticebaord with this gem:

The £350,000 deal was approved by Dubai-based Emirates airline, Arsenal’s main sponsor, before going ahead. The UAE is known for its hostility to Israel and has never recognised its right to exist.

Ah, the noble Emirates, hosted in enlightened Dubai. Here’s what Human Rights Watch has to say about the United Arab Emirates:

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) arbitrarily detains and in some cases forcibly disappears individuals who criticize the authorities. The UAE plays a leading role in the Saudi-led coalition which has carried out scores of unlawful attacks in Yemen, some likely war crimes. The UAE was implicated in detainee abuse at home and abroad. Labor abuses in the UAE persist. Migrant construction workers face serious exploitation. Domestic workers’ rights are now enshrined in law, but some provisions are weaker than those accorded to other workers under the labor law. The UAE has denied activists and international human rights organizations’ access.

A Labour spokesman is cited: “Jeremy has never boycotted an Arsenal game.”

 

Posted: 20th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Politicians, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Ozil’s not a patch on Federico Fernandez and Matteo Guendouzi

Mesut Özil’s agent, Erkut Sögüt, says Germany’s Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller and Toni Kroos are wrong in their to-deadline assessments of the Arsenal midfielder’s decision to quit international football. Kroos told Germany’s Bild that he’s studied Ozil’s lengthy statement about his reasons for quitting the German national team and spotted a “lot of nonsense”. In that statement Ozil spoke of the “racism and disrespect” he felt had been meted out to him by the German fans and FA.

Sögüt told German magazine 11Freunde: “Neuer indirectly accused Mesut of not having worn the German jersey with pride. This is unacceptable. Müller did not understand the whole discussion. And Kroos, as a seasoned national team player, should explain what he means by ‘nonsense’.” Adding: “There are only two explanations: they are either naive or scheming.”

All a bit messy. But that’s not all. As Germans debate to what extent if any they had it in for Ozil, the Daily Mail‘s Craig Hope makes Ozil the main thrust of his report on Arsenal’s 2-1 victory at Newcastle United, in which the German scored the decisive goal (A “cool finish” – Evening Standard). Below the headline “OZIL THE ORDINARY”, Hope writes:

“He scored and won the acclaim of his teammates, but to assume all is right now in the complicated world of Mesut Ozil would be premature… Ozil was just about superior to anyone on the opposition”.

He was. But not when you look at the scores the Mail gives for each player: Ozil gets a 6.5 out of ten, making him worse than Newcastle’s Federico Fernández (7) and on a par with Newcastle’s Dummett and Ritchie. The Newcastle Chronicle says of Fernandez (6): “Had a great first half but blotted copybook with needless foul on Aubameyang to concede free-kick which turned the game on its head.” The Mirror (Ozil 7; Fernandez 5; Ritchie 4, Dummett 6) says of Ozil: “GOAL. Buzzed around linked up play and a lovely calm finish to polish the game off.”

But here’s Hope in the Mail:

There was some good, some bad about Ozil here. One smart Cruyff turn on halfway left his minder floundering. But that is what he does, his ability on the ball acting as deception against his indifference off it. There was one instance where he refused to chase back, seemingly miffed at the non-award of a free-kick after a palm in his face, while his number of attempted passes – 38 – was less than teenager Matteo Guendouzi managed in 45 minutes.

Well, those numbers of passes might be because Ozil tries most of his in the opposition’s half – often around a packed penalty box – and Gunedouzi makes a lot of his in his own half, most often to Arsenal defenders stood behind him. Does Hope think Guendouzi should get the chance his passing deserves and play in Ozil’s position?

Posted: 19th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Ivan Gazidis: the towering force who took Arsenal from 1st to 6th

Say it ain’t so. Arsenal’s chief executive has been transferred to work for a US hedge fund which took ownership of AC Milan after the outfit it loaned money to defaulted. These reluctant football club owners see in Ivan Gazidis the perfect talent to make their investment bear fruit. Ivan gets a few million quid a season to make AC Milan sellable; and if the once mighty Italians become really in demand a stake in the brand should make him millions. Just a few words Ivan: shut the door on the way out, mate. Ok, yep, if you must leave your ‘message to the fans’, keep it brief. Want to hear it? Go on, then:

“For the last 10 years I have been privileged to dedicate myself to this great club. Arsenal is entering a new chapter and I have done everything I can to ensure that it is strongly placed to take on that challenge. This includes world-class facilities and outstanding leaders in every sector who carry the values of the club, including, of course, Unai Emery, Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham in whom I have enormous faith.”

They were all employed in very recent times – Sanllehi in November 2017;  Emery in the summer 2018; and Venkatesham, who today begins his salute to the club by stating, “Although I joined Arsenal just months ago…”. They only came once the Arsenal owners realised that Arsene Wenger’s failure was impacting on their dividend cheques. Not competing for the Premier League title was fine, but when those Champions League pay days ran out, the board freaked. They finally had some work to do.

Gazidis then guffs on about “primary partnership deals” and the “new league broadcast deals” – things a mechanical rabbit running on an inferior battery could have managed to sort out. Arsenal have “updated our stadium” (let’s hear it for the toilet paper!) and “rebuilt our training facilities so that they are now world class”. What were they before Unai Emery arrived? He then comes over all X Factor and thanks one and all for being on “the journey”. And he thanks “Stan and Josh Kroenke for their support and guidance on everything we have done”. They’re the owners that have taken the club into private hands – theirs.

Time to hark back to what Gazidis said when he arrived at Arsenal in November 2008:

“The great thing about Arsenal is that it has been run to sustain itself. It is not dependent on an outside investor to pump money in year after year. That position is inherently a little bit unstable because it depends on one individual. Arsenal has positioned itself not to be dependent on one individual.”

But now they are. Cheers, Ivan, for helping make that possible. For good measure he said of himself (he was born in South Africa): “This is not going to be an American coming with no understanding of Arsenal looking to make it in to a Disneyfied version of Arsenal.” Go, Josh Kroenke! Whoop!

Let’s end with this – the Premier League table when Gazidis joined the club:

 

gazidis arsenal table

PL table on Saturday November 24 2007 – the week Gazidis joined Arsenal

 

And here’s the table at the end of Gazidis’ last full season of improvement – 2017-2018:

 

PL table season 2017 - 2018

PL table season 2017 – 2018

 

 

Ivan. Bye.

Posted: 18th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Arsenal dodge a bullet as Wilshere has surgery at West Ham

Jack Wilshere has been poor at West Ham. Yesterday he had ankle surgery which could keep him out of action for six weeks. The story goes that the West Ham United owners only wanted to offer the injury-prone midfielder a one-year contract. But David Sullivan was reportedly coerced by new manager Manuel Pellegrini and his staff into offering the former Arsenal player a three-year deal worth an overly generous £80,000 a week.

The money is huge but just take a look at what Jack could have earned had all that early career promise panned out. According to Football Leaks: Uncovering The Dirty Deals Behind The Beautiful Game, Wilshere’s former Arsenal teammate, Alexis Sanchez, scored a £6.7m signing-on fee at Manchester United for leaving Arsenal. Factor in that 29-year-old Sanchez wanted to leave and his wage rocketed to just shy of £400,000 a week, and that signing on bonus looks unhinged. He also gets £75,000 for each game he starts. This is doubtless seen as an incentive for the titchy Chilean who shone in a plodding Arsenal side to turn up for work and not reason that £20m a year to watch daytime telly is living the dream.

The money lashed out on players by desperate clubs is ludicrous. And in light of what some players earn – and we didn’t even get to the absurd clauses marked ‘loyalty bonus’ and ‘win bonus’ –  Wilshere, who commanded no transfer fee and always played with passion and personality, might look like a bargain. But he wasn’t good enough for an ambitious Arsenal team. So why should he start for West Ham who invested £100m over the summer in nine other players? And don’t West Ham have keen-as-mustard youth players who can be brought into the first team?

“Manuel and I identified him as a target as soon as we joined the club and we are delighted to have succeeded in securing Jack’s signature above a number of other teams,” said West Ham’s new director of football, Mario Husillos, a former sporting director at Malaga, when Wilshere arrived at West Ham in July. “On the biggest stage, he has shown that he has game-changing abilities, as well as having the creativity and intelligence to make a real difference to our squad.” A few seasons ago, yes. But recently? No.

Get well soon, Jack. But he’s unlikely to get better.

Posted: 18th, September 2018 | In: Sports | Comment


Time for Spurs and England to drop Harry Kane

Goals can conceal the truth. Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane scored 6 for England at the World Cup finals. The haul won him the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer, and with all the predictability of a glamour model professing shock at her married footballer lover’s infidelity, Kane next appeared for England dressed in a pair of gold-coloured boots. For a player loved for his lack of ego, those boots looked borrowed.

And despite that nod to riches, Kane was poor. And yesterday he was poor against Liverpool. But what about those six goals against the world’s best? Well, three were penalties (Panama x 2 and Colombia); one was a jammy deflection (Panama); another was a tap in (Tunisia); and there a very smart finish (Tunisia). The haul came from the 14 shots Kane took all the tournament.

Before yesterday’s plodding performance for a largely palsied Spurs – Kane attempted 13 passes all match against Liverpool – who only came to life when Son came on for Winks, Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettinho told Sky: “I think he [Kane] is fit. I do not read and do not listen to what is going on around… For me, there is no doubt that he is one of the best strikers in the world… It is only time before he starts to score goals. For us, Harry Kane is so important. I have no doubt that he is one of the best players in England and in Europe.”

On his day maybe. But not today. Once irreplaceable for Spurs and England, Kane should be dropped.

Posted: 16th, September 2018 | In: Sports, Spurs | Comment


Liverpool: that photo of Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen massaging Roberto Firmino’s brain

firmino eye spurs liverpool

 

As Spurs lost 1-2 at their adopted Wembley home to Liverpool, many people noticed the moment when Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen appeared to massage Roberto Firmino’s brain.

Did he mean to do it? Gouging usually involves the thumb. Fingers are used to gain purchase on the target’s head. But here Vertonghen leads with the index finger on his favoured left hand. The risk of a long finger nail or one coated in Shellac coaxing Firmino’s eyeball from the socket cannot be overlooked. And there’s the position of Vertongen’s middle finger, pressed as it is below Firmino’s nose in a kind of ‘smell this’ gesture. Add a touch of banter from the Spurs man (“Hand ball!”) and you’ve got a full on assault of the senses.

PS: In rugby union the minimum punishment should be 12 weeks, according to the laws of the game. In 2016, Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele was banned for six games after appearing to gouge the eye of Chelsea’s Diego Costa.

 

Posted: 15th, September 2018 | In: Liverpool, Sports, Spurs | Comment


West Ham: leaks, Wilshere is injured and Champions League glory

Who is behind @exwhuemployee, a twitter account leaking the West Ham starting lineup before it’s common knowledge? For anyone keen to know which plodding midfield formation West Ham will field, @exwhuemployee is the account to follow. They’ve named the correct side more than 60 matches on the bounce.

Is Manuel Pellegrini, the West Ham manager with the look of an accountant in the market for a new Jaguar, concerned?   “It’s not true; I’m not angry about that,” said Pellegrini. “I’m not aware of the team being leaked. In every team I have managed, the day before the game I work the set pieces so all the players know the day before who will play and who will not. So many players can talk with others and I am not keeping the starting XI three or four hours before the game. We work every day so there are a lot of reasons why people can know the team.”

Today West Ham take on Everton. You wonder if the Toffees can gain anything from knowing the Hammers’ line-up a few hours before its published?  “I don’t think it’s the most important thing,” says Pellegrini. “If you’re going to play against Chelsea, Watford or Liverpool, you are sure it will be the same starting XI as they played the last game and they play exactly the same way. I don’t hide too much about the starting XI.”

Defeat at Everton would mean West Ham losing their opening five league games for the first time but Pellegrini insisted that he is not panicking.

“I have been in this position before,” he said. “I started with Villarreal and we had three points from the first 15 and we finished third in the table.”

In his first season in charge of Villarreal, El Submarino Amarillo qualified for the UEFA Champions League after finishing third in the league. The next season, Villarreal reached the semi-finals of the 2005–06 UEFA Champions League, losing to Arsenal. Hope for West Ham, then.

PS: West Ham United midfielder Jack Wilshere is injured. Wilshere signed on a three-year deal at £100,000-a-week You read it here first (see Injury News passim ad nauseum).

Posted: 15th, September 2018 | In: Sports | Comment


Arsenal 2, Newcastle United 4 and Manchester United beat Watford on paper

mark lawrenson bbc pundit prediction premier league

 

In his weekly predict the scores for the BBC, ‘football expert’ Mark Lawrenson says Newcastle United with beat Arsenal. He reasons:

I just have a feeling it might work this time. Arsenal’s players are not the only ones who have been away on international duty of course, but this might be a good time for Newcastle to play them.

How many Arsenal played an international fixture in the last week? Five. They were: Granit Xhaka, Stephan Lichtsteiner (both Switzerland) Danny Welbeck (England), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Greece) and Takuma Asano (Japan). Two of those were in the Arsenal first XI for their last Premier League match at Cardiff City.

Two.

On the other side, Salomon Rondon played for Venezuela in the early hours of Wednesday (BST), Fabian Schär played for  Switzerland on Tuesday evening, Ki Sung-yueng played for South Korea, and DeAndre Yedlin appeared as an 85th minute substitute for the USA in Nashville. Ciaran Clark was an unused substitute as Republic of Ireland drew 1-1 in Poland.

Five players. Of those, Rondon, Sungg-yueng, Yedlin and Clark played for Newcastle in their last PL match.

Four.

But Lawrenson says it’s a good time to play Arsenal because their players have been away.

Total balls.

The other odd prediction is Watford’s home match with Manchester United. Watford – powerful and full of confidence – have won four in four. United – dull and functional – have lost two in four, winning the last match against a Burnley side feeling the effects of defeat a few days earlier in the Europe League. Here’s Lawrenson:

Watford are flying, and much has been made of the part in that played by Troy Deeney’s partnership with Andre Gray up front.

This will be a real test for Manchester United’s defence, but it is one I think they will pass.

United’s win at Burnley last time out was a big result for them, not just because they needed the three points after losing two games in a row, but because they needed to stop all the chatter around Jose Mourinho’s future.

I am going to go for another United win here, although I think it will be close.

Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

Watford have scored 9 and conceded 3; United have scored 6 and conceded 7. Any football experts want to back the smaller club..?

Posted: 14th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Serena Williams: anti-bigots should just blame all men

The anti-bigots should be out in force when Carlos Ramos umpires his first tennis match since being outed as a “liar”, “thief” and “sexist” by Serena Williams as she lost the US Open final to another woman. To the anti-bigots seeking intolerance in a muon of dust, any criticism of feted, multi-multi-millionaire Williams is misogynistic and most likely racist. It’s not she who is privileged and punching down when she threw a tantrum, it is Ramos, who in his role as umpire sat in his lifeguard’s chair who holds the real power. (A top tennis umpire earns around £50,000 a year; Williams earned a £1m for losing one match).

 

 

Katrina Adams, president of the US Tennis Association, understood that. Having bravely stood up for Williams in the face of Ramos’ mighty power, she late opined of tennis, “There’s no equality.” True enough. There were 86 code violations handed out to male players at the 2018 US Open, and 22 to women. As noted: “Now, a more detailed analysis of the past 20 years of grand-slam events has revealed a long-term split of 1,534 to 526.” Horrendous, says the bigot hunters. Why can’t these unreconstructed sexists treat women as equals? Umpires must be guilty of overlooking female tennis players’ rule breaking because they think women can’t take it and will cry or feint – a craven agenda that damns women as the weaker sex.

The only area of violations where women tennis players out-perform men is when it comes to coaching. In this area, women are almost twice as likely as men to be censured.

When Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou was caught coaching her from the seats, he was on trend. Yeah. Patrick’s a man. And:

Some have overbearing father-coaches, such as Carolina Garcia’s father Louis-Paul, who kept signalling to her during last year’s Wimbledon

Men are keeping women needy and insecure. Can we just blame the patriarchy for Williams’ hissy fit (surely righteous, fearless stand – ed)?

Posted: 14th, September 2018 | In: Sports | Comment


Spurs goalie Hugo Lloris inspires millions of kids to get drunk and drive slowly in a Porsche

Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has been found guilty of drink driving. It’s amazing that someone on big money bothers to drive when they can surely get blotto and hail a taxi. Lloris was fined £50,000 for his idiocy – police spotted him driving at 15mph in a 30mph zone in Mayfair, London, and banned from driving for 20 weeks. But this is about reporting on the matter – and it’s as confused as Lloris.

What car was he in?

A £140,000 Porsche Panamera – Daily Mail
“The goalkeeper’s £115,000 Porsche was seen veering across the road” – London Evening Standard
A £65,000 Porsche – The Sun
“A new Porsche Panamera” – The Guardian

You can buy a new Porsche Panamera from £68,0000.

Day of Chunder

“His 2018 Porsche Panamera was covered in vomit” – Daily Star
“There was evidence of vomit at the scene” – the Sun

 

Will Spurs fine him?

Spurs will dock him two-weeks wages, around £300,000 – Daily Mail
“Spurs have fined Lloris £250,000 – two weeks wages – Daily Star

And The Role Model Balls

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for the charity Brake, told media: “It is disappointing to see that someone who is a role model to many thousands of football fans has admitted breaking the law by drink-driving. We expect the captain of Tottenham Hotspur and his national team to be setting a good example, not flouting the law in such a manner.”

Said no young football fan ever: “When I grow up I’m going to buy a fast car, get pissed and drive him very slowly because everything Hugo Lloris does Im going to do too.”

Lloris is not a role model. He’s a footballer. He’s no more of a role model than anyone else caught drink-driving, unless it’s your mum or dad…

Posted: 13th, September 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Arsenal, West Ham and Manchester City can’t find enough bankers to fill their grounds

The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) says every empty seat at the Emirates is “a tragedy for those who want to watch but can’t get in”. Too true. The suits buy the pricey seats then can’t be arsed to attend. And it could be a scam. Just as Facebook promises to show your advert to a defined number of accounts, a large proportion of which turn out to be operated by robots not humans, thus making the deal much more costly per head than advertised, Arsenal say the official average crowd for home games last season was 57,054. Balls, says the AST. It says the real average attendance was around 46,000. Any advertisers and sponsors are paying potentially 20% over the odds to reach the fans.

The BBC has  more:

West Ham: Newham council says the average attendance at West Ham was 42,779 based on the 12 games it attended – which is 12,530 fans fewer than the club’s season average figure of 55,309.

Manchester City: Greater Manchester Police’s average figures were 7,482 lower than club figures, again based on 12 games.

Southampton: Hampshire Police figures were an average of 4,246 fans lower than figures issued by the club.

Tottenham: Brent Council says crowds at Wembley Stadium were on average 3,740 less than the club’s stated numbers.

Chelsea: Hammersmith and Fulham council says its average was 3,505 fans lower than club numbers, based on six games.

And the most honest club whose figures were shared with the BBC was Manchester United. Trafford Council and Greater Manchester Police both said United’s published attendance figures matched its own, based on 12 games.

Why does it happen?

Most teams in the Premier League choose to publicise the number of tickets sold for a game rather than the number of people actually in the stadium. That means they include season ticket holders who don’t attend, and complimentary tickets that are not used.

If only you could still pay on the gate and just rock up with your mates. It’s all so corporate and organised. Where is the next generation of fans coming from?

 

Posted: 12th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Manchester United’s loss, Leicester City’s again and why newspapers are cheaper by the dozen

Harry Maguire, aka ‘Slabhead’ to his Leicester City teammates was great for England at the World Cup, Manchester United wanted him. But he stayed loyal to Leicester City and signed a new £80,000-a-week-deal, not too shabby but still less than a desperate Man United would have paid him. Last night in England’s 1-0 win over a limited Switzerland at Leicester City’s home ground, the Mail rated Maguire the third best England player on the pitch, awarding him 6.5 out of 10. He was “England’s most assured defender”.

 

daily mirror reach copy and paste

Buy one newspaper and get two free

 

Over at the cost-saving Daily Mirror, which now owns the Daily Express, and Daily Star the verdict was unanimous: “HARRY MAGUIRE – 5: Big gaps between him and Tarkowski meant England’s defence looked vulnerable at times.” Which newspaper survives this copy and paste approach to journalism remains to be seen (maybe they’ll be sold in bundles; buy one get the other two free?) – but the least the Mirror and Express attributed the comment to John Cross, whereas the Star omitted to name any writer.

Over in the Sun, Maguire scores a 6. He was “saluted by Leicester fans when he walked out on his home turf, inexplicably rolled the ball out of play off his studs to the left. It was an elementary error, schoolboy stuff from a player England’s head coach genuinely believes is one of the best central defenders in the world.” And as the paper’s Neil Ashton snarks: “Put it this way, you don’t see Sergio Ramos doing that.”

Nah. Ramos never puts a foot wrong:

 

 
He’s no Harry Maguire:
 

Posted: 12th, September 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Why Harry Kane is underperforming for Spurs and England

Harry Kane, the Spurs and England striker, kicked the ball 20 times in England’s 1-2 defeat to Spain. Of those touches, accumulated over 90 minutes, just three were in the Spaniard’s penalty area. Drop him? No chance. Kane is by far and away the best English striker. Behind him are Marcus Rashford and Danny Welbeck. So Kane it is. Analysis is thin on the ground, as pundits demand more from players who are tying their best. Take this from the Sun’s Neil Ashton: “Even if Southgate does stay beyond 2020, committing his future to a World Cup in Qatar, it is obvious that he does not have the resources to challenge the top nations.” Or as he put it waaaay back in July, when England made it to the semi-final of the World Cup: “This is England, our England for goodness sake, and this football-crazy country demands a group of players who can compete with Brazil, with France, or Uruguay. That’s just the way it is.” England have now lost three in a row. This, says the Mirror’s John Cross, “gives him an idea of how far his side are behind the world elite.” Don’t you think he knows that? And the appraisal of Kane is that he “looks absolutely knackered”.

After such balls, let’s look at a terrific report by James Gheerbrant in the Times, who reasons that Kane is not the same player since succumbing to injury on March 11 when playing for Spurs. Kane next started for Spurs on April 7. Kane is taking less shots and competing less in the box:

In 19 matches for club and country since his return, he has only averaged 2.57 shots per 90 minutes – by far the lowest level of his career. To put it even more starkly: Kane played 42 matches prior to his injury last season and hit five or more shots in 29 of those games. He was regularly shooting eight or ten times a match. But in the 19 matches since his injury, he has only hit five shots once: against West Bromwich Albion in May…

Last season, before he got injured, he was getting off 2.46 shots on target per 90 minutes. But since he came back after his injury, the frequency with which Kane works the keeper has dwindled – he is averaging 0.99 shots on target per 90 minutes since his return. His expected goals – a measure of the chance quality of the shots Kane takes – have also been cut in half, from 0.85 per 90 minutes prior to his injury last season, to 0.43 since his return…

Last season prior to his injury, he was taking an average of 7.20 touches in the opposition box per match. Since his return, the figure has dropped to 4.35. Unlike strikers blessed with extreme pace, Kane doesn’t often get clear in behind – he scores a lot of his goals in the crowded spaces of the penalty box, with defenders in close attendance. It may be that the lingering effects of his injury, either physical or psychological, are making him more reluctant to prowl in those heavily policed areas where strikers risk getting crunched.

Read it all…

Posted: 10th, September 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Serena Williams inspires a generation of girls to behave like entitled shits

Two things we learnt from The US Open Women’s final. Firstly, Serena Williams, the brilliant, ungallant, tantrum-tossing loser and her enablers – the President of the USTA pretty much ignored the winner to tell Williams: “Perhaps it’s not the finish we were looking for today, but Serena, you are a champion of all champions….This mama is a role model and respected by all ” – has a baby.  Who knew? “You owe me an apology. I have never cheated in my life. I have a daughter and I stand for what’s right!” Williams yelled at umpire Carlos Ramos after receiving a point penalty. We don’t know if Ramos has any children, and thus if he innately knows the difference between right and wrong, moreover Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who admitted to coaching her during the match, offering the noble explainer that it’s ok because everyone cheats.

 

serena williams US open correct

Girls are inspired by Williams message to a female line judge at the the 2009 US Open

 

Without rules, there is no sport. “I don’t cheat to win,” Williams told Ramos. “I’d rather lose.” She called him a “liar” and a “thief” for docking her a point.  “You stole a point from me!” she bellowed, jabbing a finger at him. But Ramos had acted fairly. His children, if he has any, must be proud. The only winner was Naomi Osaka, who won fair and square. But there was Williams inspiring her daughter by spoiling what should have been Osaka’s most joyous moment, stopping the surge of unbridled elation that comes with victory. “Let’s try to make this the best moment we can,” Williams told a partisan crowd. “We’re gonna get through this and let’s be positive, so congratulations, Naomi.”

Er, yeah, whatever.

 

serena-williams bad sport

In the 2011 US Open final, chair umpire Eva Asderaki warned Williams for hindering opponent Stosur for shouting “come on” before the Australian had reached the ball. Williams called her a “hater” and “unattractive”

 

And so to the second thing we’ve learned: women’s tennis is worth watching. If other sports can embrace Williams’ sense of entitlement and bad sportsmanship, the sponsors will be lining up. How disappointing it is to watch the England women’s national football team fail to berate the referee at every turn. When the England women’s cricket team won the BBC Sports Personality Team of the Year Award 2017, there was, shamefully, not one story about their sledging and ball tampering. It was an opportunity missed to attract a bigger audience.

But if you don’t feel comfortable yelling at the referee, calling him a sexist and vowing to end his career, ladies, think of the next generation. Do it for the girls.

 

Posted: 10th, September 2018 | In: Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Manchester United fans and the Ronaldo fake news pledge

manchester evening news clickbait

 

On May 8, 2017, the Manchester Evening News was “Fighting fake news”. Readers were assured that “Trust is name of the game in sports journalism – whatever team you support…” The MEN was not bullshit.com. Clickbait, be gone. The paper invited readers to answer the question: “what is a sports journalist in 2017?” But it was rhetorical, and the MEN said what readers “crave” is “authenticity”.  It is “trusted by the people who go to games and know our teams inside out… It’s a matter of trust.”

And then the crux: the MEN does not chase easy traffic on the web because it is here to stay:

Fake news is fly-by-night, being a fan is for life. We know what fans want because we are them ourselves. But we also know that fans want facts – no matter how much we’d all want to believe that Ronaldo is about to sign for our club. That’s what sets us apart from those organisations who just want your click. We want your trust.

Indeed, we often report on transfer rumours and gossip, but with a critical eye borne out of local knowledge, ears to the ground and great contact-building by our journalists. If supporters are talking about it, then so are we.

No Transfer Balls, then.

September 6 2018: “Manchester United had the chance to sign their dream No.7 this summer.”  The URL Google reads runs: “https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/transfer-news/man-utd-transfer-cristiano-ronaldo-15114577”

But United had “the chance” to sign Ronaldo, right. No. Wrong.

“Cristiano was never on my table to say yes or not to Cristiano to come to us. It was never on the table,” Mourinho replied before getting up from his seat in the press room at Turf Moor.

The rest of the story was not delivered by anyone who needed to go anywhere, least of all to a game: it was a quote from former Man United captain Bryan Robson about how good Ronaldo is. It came in the shape of a press release: “Bryan Robson was speaking after Manchester was named ESPN’s Greatest Sporting City 2018 in the UK. The in-depth research, now in its fourth year, discovers the best place in the UK to be a fan. Full results are available on ESPN.co.uk, and on the ESPN app.” Keeping it local, lads.

July 11 2018: “Why Manchester United ‘rejected chance to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo'”

Is it because it “never on the table”?

Manchester United rejected the opportunity to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo before the forward completed his transfer to Juventus.

This we know because of one uncorroborated tweet:

…one journalist has claimed on Twitter that United had the chance to seal Ronaldo’s return but Jose Mourinho didn’t fancy him.

Football reporter Sam Pilger wrote on Twitter: “United were offered the chance to make a bid for Cristiano Ronaldo, but declined it and decided to spend their funds elsewhere this summer.”

The URL for this scoop ends “man-utd-transfer-news-ronaldo”. And Pilger?

July 10 2018: “Has Man Utd manager Jose Mourinho dropped hints about Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire?”

No.

June 1 2018: “Cristiano Ronaldo wants Manchester United reunion with Jose”

And what of Gareth Bale?

July 12: “Manchester United Gareth Bale transfer talks advance.”

July 14: “Real Madrid ‘set Manchester United Gareth Bale asking price.” They didn’t. But they ‘might’ want over £150m for him.

.

 

Posted: 6th, September 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united | Comment


Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong joins Barcelona, laughs at Manchester City and chased by Spurs

The Guardian says Spurs are in for Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong. The fee? £40m. Not too shabby for player whose made 37 appearances for the Ajax first team. But is he really going to Spurs, following that well-trodden route from Amsterdam to London, as taken by Christian Eriksen, Dávinson Sánchez and Jan Vertonghen? No. Well, no if 90mins.com are believed.

In April 2018, the thundered: “​​Barcelona have reached an agreement to sign Frenkie de Jong from Ajax, which could go through this month.” They have? No. Elevens ays later on April 20, the Express said “De Jong hopes the two clubs can come to an agreement”. In June, moving to Barcelona was de Jong’s “dream”. In July, the Sun said Barcelona “are going to make a third offer for Ajax starlet Frenkie De Jong”. But “Marc Overmars, the Dutch club’s sporting director, has made it perfectly clear that the Barcelona target is not for sale,” reported ESPN later in the month.

The only fact is that in December 2017, de Jong singed a new deal with Ajax, tying him to the club until 2022. That same month there was some clickbait about him leaving Manchester City in the Manchester Evening News, there were a few words from the man himself:

And, when asked about the prospect of moving to the Etihad, de Jong was keeping his feet firmly on the ground.

“I’ve read it too, haha,” he laughed. “I do not think I’m ready to play at the first team at Manchester City or something like that. Right now I really just want to develop here at Ajax and become a solid starting player. Especially in midfield. Then we’ll see further.”

Done deal it is, then.

Posted: 5th, September 2018 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Arsenal can’t do any worse if Gazidis heads to AC Milan

Arsenal fans are invited to reappraise the work of Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive being courted by AC Milan. The Times says Arsenal are “irritated” and “exasperated” over the Gazidis situation. To which the response is: why? AC Milan are now a money project run by a New York-based hedge fund called Elliot Management (EM). EM owns AC Milan because, reportedly, the Chinese owner failed to repay it debt on high-interest loans. Gazidis, we read, is a pal with top EM hedger and billionaire Paul Singer, who has offered him shares in the club and loadsa cash to transfer to Italy. On taking over the club, Singer said “Elliott also strongly believes in the value-creation opportunity at AC Milan”. Depressing to realise the club you love is just a business.

The Times tells us that “Gazidis was key in Wenger’s departure from Arsenal in the summer”. Was he also key to the Frenchman staying beyond his use-by date? Gazidis has been at Arsenal for nine years. What was he doing for the first seven or eight years before the need for change became desperate? Wenger should have been shown the door at least four years earlier.

We’re also told Gazidis has been “instrumental in restructuring Arsenal’s management over the past couple of years”, getting rid of Wenger and appointing head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, head of football relations Raul Sanllehi, director of high performance Darren Burgess and contract negotiator Huss Fahmy.”

If they’re all so good at their jobs, why do Arsenal need Gazidis? And isn’t this the time to rehire David Dein, the club’s great chief executive?

Posted: 5th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Tour of Britain now features a huge penis at Capstone Hill and a ride into Cockermouth

penis tour of britain

 

It might not have the Alpine peaks, history and drugs history, but the Tour of Britain bike race does feature a massive penis. Helping sell the Tour to a new audience, Capstone Hill in Ilfracombe, Devon, has been enlivened by the presence of a huge, proud penis. The hill artwork – an installation made of cardboard and plastic – was initially styled to look like a massive bicycle. So far, so predictable. But now race fans following the Cranbrook to Barnstaple section have got a proper landmark that should reverberate down the ages.

Project co-ordinator Seth Conway is impressed: “Ilfracombe had a rude awakening this morning. Some people obviously thought it would be fun to rearrange the spokes and the wheels.It’s created quite a bit of a buzz and it’s shone a bit more attention on to what the bike was there for.”

It’s still some way off until this refashioned knob matches the member attached to the chalk giant at Cerne Abbas for sightseeing value. But let’s hope this is the start of a movement to put the Tour of Britain on the map by adding a few surprises. The Tour’s reaches Cockermouth tomorrow. No time to waste…

Image via BBC.

Posted: 5th, September 2018 | In: Sports, Strange But True | Comment


Respected Manchester United Jose Mourinho gets a suspended jail sentence for greed

Just one more reason to admire and respect Manchester United manager José Mourinho: he’s earned one-year suspended sentence (two six-month prison sentences) in a long-running tax fraud case with the Spanish government. Spain’s El Mundo newspaper says Mourinho has been fined €2m.

The graceless manager stood accused of failing to pay over €3m in undeclared image rights earnings for 2011 and 2012. At the time he was manager of Real Madrid. Mourinho disputed the claim.

He won’t got to prison. Any sentence of under two years for a first offence can be served on probation.

But what does it mean for the all-important Manchester United brand? Tax evasion, especially when you’re stinking rich, is not a good sell. But then, United are all about the money so look out for The Brand finding an official ‘tax efficiency’ partner and a club tour of The Cayman Islands…

Posted: 4th, September 2018 | In: manchester united, Money, Sports | Comment


West Ham guarantee Pellegrini £15m for losing every match

Do managers who score a job at a Premier League club need to try hard? Players on contracts of £50,000 a week have no need to perform to the best of their abilities, train with an obsessive desire to be the best and give it 110%. The managers job is to make them want to win. Bu what if the manager is Winston Bogarde in a suit?

Bogarde signed for Chelsea, hardly played and rather than seek opportunities at another club reasoned: “Why should I throw fifteen million Euro away when it is already mine? At the moment I signed it was in fact my money, my contract.” By the time his four-year £40,000 a week deal had ended, Bogarde had played 11 times. “This world is about money,” said Bogarde, “so when you are offered those millions you take them. Few people will ever earn so many. I am one of the few fortunates who do. I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership but I don’t care.” He is now – get this – a coach at Ajax in his native Holland.

So to the news that Manuel Pellegrini is due £15m if he’s sacked by West Ham. Played four, lost four is not an inspiring start to Pellegrini’s Hammers career. West Ham’s owners, doubtless thrilled by Pellegrini’s results at Hebei China Fortune, gave him a £5m-a-year three-year deal that means his contract is paid in full unless both sides agree a severance package. Why would Pellegrini change terms that are so favourable to him? West Ham can lose every match, but their manager cannot be defeated.

And what of the players? West Ham invested £98 million on new blood over the summer. And someone thought it a good idea to get Jack Wilshere from Arsenal on a three-year contract worth £15 million. Have they seen his injury record?

But no fear. West Ham have time to recover and make their elegant but soulless home ground a fortress. Their next three Premier League matches are Everton (away), Chelsea (home) and Manchester United (home).

Posted: 4th, September 2018 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Sadiq Khan blimp looks like Manchester United’s Mourinho

sadiq-khan-blimp-mourinho

 

Watching the Donald Trump baby blimp fly over London as the US president visited us, his fans had an idea. Why not get a blimp and fly it over London? And why not make it the likeness of a leading politician? It was a bold, innovative and original idea. And so the creative minded Trumpers have bought a blimp of London Mayor Sadiq Khan. It’s dressed in a yellow bikini, to make his absurd decision to ban a ‘Beach Body Ready’ advert in 2016.

Sadiq Khan sees the balloon and quips: “If people want to spend their Saturday looking at me in a yellow bikini they’re welcome to do so – I don’t really think yellow’s my colour though.”

The thing is that it looks a lot like Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.

Posted: 30th, August 2018 | In: manchester united, Politicians, Sports | Comment


Manchester United rift as Martial bids to outlast Mourinho

The less he plays, the better Anthony Martial gets. Manchester Untied’s French forward has been offered a five-year deal worth £130,000 week. Not too shabby for a 22-year-old whose played once for United this season. Martial’s current deal ends in 2020, and the feeling is that keeping him on a longer contract is more about resell value than loving the man. A young player on a long-term contract is worth more than young player with a year to go on his contact. But all said, Martial remains a player full of promise.

When Martial joined United from AS Monaco in 2015, the transfer deal stipulated that should Martial make the Ballon d’Or shortlist during his Old Trafford career, Monaco would get another €10m. Both clubs thought it highly possible. He was that thrilling.

Martial, who wanted to leave United in the summer, must be tempted to take the deal. He can reason that five-years will see him outlast manager Jose Mourinho.

Indeed, the Mirror leads with news of “Martial War”, claiming that the offer is a “huge slap in the face” for Mourinho. Deal away, then. Mourinho, a graceless winner and caustic loser, could do with a bit of tough love. News is that Mourinho wanted to get shot of Martial this summer. The offer of a new deal for the player once tipped as a world beater has upset Mourinho, a challenge akin to looking at a puppy sat next to a pile of poo and being asked ‘whodunnit?’

 

Posted: 30th, August 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment