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Spurs balls: Pochettinho to Real Madrid or Manchester United

Spurs are in a “panic”. Tottenham are fretting over the future of their manger, Mauricio Pochettino. The Star says Poch is wanted by Manchester United and Real Madrid. Having taken a side that hasn’t won the league title for nearly 60 years close to the top, Pochettino will surely relish the chance to leave London to coach a moribund Manchester United or a club that demands total victory every season on pain of instant dismissal. Last night Real Madrid lost 3-0 at home to the mighty CSKA Moscow. Manchester Untied lost 2-1to Valencia, Spain’s 15th best team. 

The Sun hails Poch as the “Nou Messiah”. A 1-1- drawn in Barcelona shows us “why United and Real want Poch”. How the once mighty have fallen. United are excited by a manager whose side can score a goal, get a point away from home and have on nothing. Eat yer heat out, Jose Mourinho. 

But at least United and Real have a home ground. The Sun also notes that Tottenham’s new municipal stadium still isn’t ready. The Mail says it’ll be completed in February. Maybe. So Real it is. And Poch is good enough, says Spurs defender Danny Rose. He says Poch is “amazing”. You wonder at the superlatives should he actually win something. 

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


Transfer balls: Frenkie de Jong dreams of Barcelona, signs for Manchester City and picks PSG over Spurs

Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong, 21, wants to play for PSG. He prefers the French champions elect over Manchester City. So he’ll head to France this summer sats the BBC. This is same BBC that told us Manchester City had agreed a £61m transfer, pipping Barcelona to his signature. The Sun says it’s his “dream” to play for Barcelona. Confusion reigns, then over the player who is talking about as being every bit as good as – get this –  Johan Cruyff, and in a single Guardian article: Franz Beckenbauer, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard. Yeah, he’s that good. 

And he’s off to play for Manchester City (if you read the BBC and the Mirror; the Sun  said the deal was done) and PSG (if you read the BBC and Dutch newspaper De Telegraph). The Dutch paper says PSG will pay 75m euros (£67m) to sign the Netherlands international. It’s almost a done deal. That tells us how much the great Cruyff would be worth in today’s transfer market. He’s a bargain.

 

Frenkie de Jon signs for Manchester City -

Frenkie de Jon signs for Manchester City – The Sun

 

So he’s off, then? No. “No official decision has been taken and while there is no transfer, my main focus is on Ajax,” says De Jong. “There are five games to go until the winter break, I only want to think about the game against PEC this weekend and the next Champions League match against Bayern Munich. I can’t be worried about saying ‘I’m going here or there’. That wouldn’t show any respect on my part for Ajax or my team-mates.”

In other news, the Mirror today says Spurs want him. No word on Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid wanting De Jong, but give it time…

Posted: 8th, December 2018 | In: Broadsheets, Manchester City, Sports, Spurs | Comment


The joy of cheating

cheating football

Cheats never prosper – but Maradona went on to win the World Cup after his ‘Hand of God’ moment

 

We love cheating, referee errors, good goals disallowed and bad goals that were. A Manchester United player was just offside for their first goal against Arsenal last week. The officials missed it. Arsenal’s first goal crossed the United goal line by the width of a cigarette paper. Again the referee missed it. But the robots didn’t. Goal given. Last night West Bromwich Albion cheated in their 2-2 draw with Aston Villa. “Jay Rodriguez just threw himself at the cross,” Baggies head coach Darren Moore told BBC Sport. “He admits that it did hit his arm but he didn’t know much about it. And you’ve got to admire his honesty.” 

How can you not admire the footballer who scores with his hand? Not the part about his being honest. That’s guff. Cheating is cheating. We should admire Rodriguez because he pushed the rules to the limit, found them wanting and in so doing created emotion and a story from a small moment in a distracting leisure activity. Isn’t football great.

Well, enjoy it while it lasts. VAR is an abomination. Football is fast. Mistakes happen. Fans and players feel feted or hard done by. The joy surges. The antagonism builds.

At another recent Arsenal match, this time against Spurs, the Tottenham striker Son dived to win a penalty. No VAR was used. Arsenal felt aggrieved. The home fans seethed. The visitors taunted. The stadium throbbed like Terry Waite’s bladder. It was great. What a show. This was the theatre of football. It’s not an insurance seminar on risk reduction. 

So congratulations to Rodriguez, Son and all the players and refs who keep the game human. Don’t let the robots in. They’ll kill it. 

PS:  If football is to become an extension of the classroom, will that stop cheating? Nope. James M. Lang argues that place and time can trigger cheating: 

[C]heating levels are fairly high, but they have always been so. The better question to ask is why. Duke University researcher Dan Ariely and his colleagues have conducted dozens of experiments designed to see what makes people willing to engage in acts of cheating and dishonesty in their everyday lives. Their findings have been remarkably consistent: most people, under the right circumstances, are willing to engage in small acts of dishonesty. This seems to be a part of our human nature.  With enough incentives in front of us, most of will cheat at least a little bit.

Cheating is natural. The temptation to cheat is human:

As it turns out, almost anyone will cheat when given even minor, consciously imperceptible behavioral cues. For instance, in a series of three experiments, a group of psychologists found that lighting could affect cheating. In one study, participants in a dimly-lit room cheated more often than those in a lighter one. While both groups performed equally well on a set of math problems, students in the darker room self-reported that they correctly solved, on average, four more problems than the other group—earning $1.85 more as a result, since they were being paid for each correct answer. The authors suggested that the darkness created an “illusory anonymity”: even though you aren’t actually more anonymous in the dark than in the light, you feel as though you are, making you more likely to engage in behaviors you otherwise wouldn’t. Similar effects have been observed with a variety of situational factors that don’t seem directly related to cheating. We cheat more, for instance, when we’re in a messy environment—one that has more signs of socially deviant behavior, like litter, graffiti, and other rubble.

And then – and then – you think of the spirit and what happens next. What reputation do you want? Matthew Syed cites a sporting great:

In the World Cup semi-final between Australia and Sri Lanka at St George’s Park in 2003, the Aussies were on 34 after five overs when Aravinda de Silva was brought on to bowl. On his second delivery, Adam Gilchrist stepped forward to sweep, edged the ball on to his front pad, and watched it sail into the hands of Kumar Sangakkara, the wicketkeeper. The Sri Lankans made a sustained appeal. Rudi Koertzen, the umpire, shook his head. “Not out,” he said.

In True Colours, his wonderful autobiography, Gilchrist would later recall that he felt “strange” at that moment, perhaps a little confused. “So much discontent about umpiring, video decisions, and trust between players had been bubbling away,” he said. He then heard an emphatic voice in his head. “Go,” the voice said. “Walk”. As he made his way towards the pavilion, something odd happened. The Port Elizabeth crowd started cheering. They knew that he had made a gesture more important than mere winning and losing.

We love the cheats. And we love the heroes. The best bit is that in the rough and tumble of sport, in the complexity and contradiction of what it is to be human, you can be both. And there’s always the drugs…

Posted: 8th, December 2018 | In: Arsenal, manchester united, News, Sports, Spurs, Technology | Comment


Manchester United will pay £40m for Pochettinho

Having left Southampton for Spurs with barely a glance back over his shoulder and a toodle-oo, you wouldn’t bet against Mauricio Pochettino leaving his current club in the not too distant future. Real Madrid are favourites to recruit Pochettinho – a likelihood that will only increase should Spurs defeat Barcelona in their must-win Champions League match. But rumours from Manchester United say they want Poch and are prepared to pay £40m to get him.

In the Premier League era, Teddy Sherinham, Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov have all swapped Spurs for Manchester United, moving north for more money and a lot more silverware. Poch is on £8m-a-season at Spurs, Jose Mourinho, Manchester United’s current boss, earns almost double that. And under his guidance, United are a turgid long-ball team. Spurs buzz. 

The question for Pochettinho is whether he will win the league at Spurs. No. He won’t. Not unless the London club matches Manchester United’s investment in talent. Which they won’t do. They can build the big new stadium, but Spurs will always be a smaller club than United. Surely he’ll go. and Sours, well, they just better hope their owners don’t agree to take Mourinho in a swap deal. Transferring football mangers makes sense. But under Mourinho, the only way is down…

Posted: 7th, December 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Spurs balls: falling crowds should worry club

spurs debt

 

As Spurs continue to build their new municipal stadium, news is that the Premier League’s highest-placed London club’s victory over Southampton was watched by 33,012. Mauricio Pochettino, the Spurs manager, says: “We cannot ask more of our fans.” Not the ones that turn up, no. But surely the relatively small crowd in a cavernous Wembley Stadium is a worry for the Spurs moneymen. Last season, the same fixture on December 26 was witnessed by 57,297 fans.

Spurs’ average attendance in the 2016/17 PL was 31,639. They then moved into Wembley. Spurs’ lowest league attendance in the 2017/18 season is the 50,034 that watched them take on West Ham United on January 4, 2018. Tottenham’s lowest Wembley attendance in 2017/18 was the 23,826 who saw them beat Barnsley 1-0 in the League Cup on 19 September, 2017. 

They don’t just come to see Spurs. It’s pretty fair to say the fans come to see who Spurs are playing. This season, the Spurs v Liverpool match was watched by 80,188 fans. But around half that number – 43,268 – saw the Lillywhites play Cardiff. 

When it comes to the Champions’ League, the identity of the visiting club is vital. On 3 October 2018 82,137 saw Spurs take on Barcelona. That figure dipped to 57,132 fo their must-win match with Inter Milan. 

The club’s new ground has a capacity of 62,062. There should be plenty of tickets available.

 

Posted: 6th, December 2018 | In: Sports, Spurs | Comment


Media Bias: Son dives for Spurs but Arsenal prosper

son dive spurs arsenal

 

Arsenal beat Spurs 4-2 in the North London derby in which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was sensational. Both sides scored from the penalty spots. But should the Spurs penalty for a foul on’ Heung-Min Son been given? Let’s look at the match reports for signs of bias.

Arsenal FC says “contact looked minimal”. The game turned on “Son’s elaborate fall for the penalty”. The penalty was “controversial” .The official Spurs website says “Son was clipped in the box by the sliding Rob Holding”.

Clipped? Really? No.

The neutral’s view comes to us via the Guardian:

There was controversy when Spurs went ahead. Son had sprinted through again and Rob Holding jumped into a risky tackle but, when Son checked back, there was no contact from the Arsenal defender on him.

The Indy:

If contact had been made, Son was guilty of at least jumping and appealing as if he’d been deeply injured from a graze. What was worse, TV replays showed that no strong contact had been made whatsoever. It appeared Holding had not even touched him.

The Sun gives us the tabloid view:

SON HEUNG-MIN was given a dressing down by Arsenal ace Sokratis Papastathopoulos at full-time over his disgraceful dive to win a penalty for Tottenham.

The Spurs ace was guilty of a shocking bit of simulation which tricked referee Mike Dean into pointing to the spot during the North London derby.

What about the red card awarded to Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen with the score at 4-2? Arsenal says he was sent off late on “for a lunge on Lacazette”. Spurs make it more benign:

Insult to injury followed five minutes from time as Vertonghen slid the ball out to substitute left-back Danny Rose but was involved in a collision with Lacazette as he did so, which resulted in the Belgian international picking up a second yellow card.

One team’s lunge is another’s collision. As for the dive, well here it is:

 

Posted: 2nd, December 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Media bias: Chelsea denied clear penalty, Hazard tumbles and lucky Spurs

Spurs tonked Chelsea 3-1 in the Premier League. At 1-0 to Spurs, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard was felled in the Tottenham box. Penalty! No. None given. But should one have been? Let’s look for any signs of bias in the media: 

BBC: “Chelsea will be furious at a soft free-kick for Spurs’ first goal and a failure from Martin Atkinson to give them a penalty when it was only 1-0 when Juan Foyth appeared to foul Eden Hazard in the 18-yard box.”

Chelsea website: “We had our moments in the first half, with Eden Hazard denied what looked like two clear penalties”

And again:

Chelsea website: “The Blues had what looked like a legitimate penalty appeal turned away when Hazard was bundled over in the box by Juan Foyth”

Former referee Peter Walton was in the studio for BT Sport: “…when you re-run it there’s a knee-on-knee and the foul comes when Foyth’s knee touches Hazard and that’s enough to put him over. For me that was a penalty.”

Guardian: ” Eden Hazard ought to have had a penalty on 14 minutes when Juan Foyth went into him from behind ”

Chelsea blog We Aint Got No History: “An early goal from a dubious foul, then a clear penalty uncalled on Hazard, then an unlucky second goal.”

And on the Spurs website? Only this: “13 mins – Hazard over in the box, appeals waved away.” No word on how he went over. 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 24th, November 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Spurs | Comment


Spurs balls: Eriksen contract countdown and stadium move in January

The inability to finish a stadium on time is costing Spurs money and stress. The new White Hart Lane won’t be completed until “January or February”, says Spurs manger Mauricio Pochettino. For £1bn, you’d expect a firm answer on a moving in date. Wasn’t Daniel Levy, the Spurs chairman, supposed to be a master negotiator, the smartest man in the room?

Just in cast the ground’s not ready, Spurs have taken out an option to play at Wembley until the end of the season. “We are so disappointed because we expected to play in 2018 at the new stadium and it should have been ready to play before the end of the year but that is not going to be possible and we need to wish and hope that in January or February we can move there,” says Pochettino.

“Yesterday afternoon we were there, checking the facilities, the changing rooms, everything, and we are so excited, we cannot wait to move there. We understand that it is a fantastic project for the future of the club that will be for ever. To wait maybe one or two months more – we need to have patience.”

Spurs play Chelsea at Wembley this weekend. They’ve lost their last three home fixture to Top 6 rivals – it’s four matches if the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester United is included. Are they going to win the title? No. 

And will the players stay at a club that isn’t winning cups? Christian Eriksen is out of contract in June 2020. “When Christian signed, he was a prospect, a very good player but still young and Tottenham provided a very good platform to develop his quality,” says Pochettino. “Eriksen and Tottenham, and Tottenham and Eriksen, was a very good mix. Good for Tottenham and good for Christian Eriksen. That’s why I hope Christian continues to develop his career with Tottenham.” Eriksen is 26. He’s one big transfer left in his career. Spurs need to start winning. 

 

Posted: 22nd, November 2018 | In: Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer Balls: Real Madrid in for Harry Kane at Spurs and Liverpool want Demirbay

Transfer Balls: undaunted by their apparent failure to recruit Aaron Ramsey from Arenal – he’s on his way to Bayern Munich, reportedly – AC Milan have begun talks with another player with ‘Arsenal captain’ on his CV, this time former Gooner and Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas. The 31-year-old has had enough of warming the bench at Chelsea and Italy beckons. 

Manchester United are ready to offer Roma’s 22-year-old Italy midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini twice his weekly wage. We’ve no idea what that amount to but estimates put it shy of Alexis Sanchez’s £500,000-a-week but north of what Marcus Rashford pockets by way of a monthly goal bonus. We are told, however, that Pellegrini will cost United £26m in transfer fees.

You can expect to hear lots about Harry Kane or Eden Hazard heading to Real Madrid because the Spaniards are desperate for a goalscorer, having worked out that Cristiano’s Ronaldo’s 50 goals a season were hard to replace. Gareth Bale, 29, and France’s Karim Benzema, 30, are not quite up the task. so Kane it is. A huge money offer will surely tempt Daniel Levy, the Spurs chairman. 

Finally, Hoffenheim central midfielder Kerem Demirbay is wanted by Liverpool. Another centre back for the Reds? Why not? 

Posted: 19th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester City have not signed Frenkie de Jong but Spurs or Manchester United might

“Spurs set to beat Barcelona to Dutch wonderkid Frenkie de Jong,” screamed EuroSport on November 16. Two days later, the BBC tells us Frenkie de Jong is on his way to Manchester City.

 

Frenkie de Jon

Frenkie de Jon signs for Manchester City – BBC

 

The Mirror says Manchester City “have beaten Barcelona” to the signing of the Ajax and Netherlands midfielder. Manchester City “have blown the competition out of the water”. The Express agrees: “Barcelona and Tottenham STUNNED as Manchester City win £61m Frenkie De Jong race.” The Sun also agrees: “Man City win race to sign Ajax ace Frenkie de Jong and will pay £61m for long-term Fernandinho replacement.” We’re told Barcelona and Manchester United were both ready to bid fo the player.  They just never got round to it. 

 

Frenkie de Jon signs for Manchester City -

Frenkie de Jon signs for Manchester City – The Sun

 

And then you realise it’s all utter tosh. The Sun admits as much: “De Jong is believed to be keen to work with Guardiola and would favour a move to join the Spaniard rather than across town at Old Trafford.” So nothing is agreed. It’s rumour. There will be “a potential summer bidding war for the midfielder”. 

Why the BBC, which runs fact-checking news segments, features this utter balls as fact is lamentable. It doesn’t need to compete commercially with the tabloids in a time of falling newspapers circulation, so why does it bother?

 

Posted: 18th, November 2018 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer Balls: Spurs and Arsenal in for Bailly as Manchester United get a new defence

Transfer Balls: José Mourinho will change Manchester United’s defence early next year. From “When we win it’s all down to me; when we lose it was everyone else”, the new defence will feature new defenders. United plan to bring Toby Alderweireld and Diego Godin to Old Trafford in January, and get rid of Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo. Spurs and Arsenal both like Bailly; Everton fancy Rojo; and Smalling could return to Fulham. Godin, 32, could cost £53m. 

In London, Arsenal will be waving a none-too-teary adieu to Aaron Ramsey, the midfield who resisted signing a new contract for so long that even Arsene Wenger left. He’s off to play for Bayern Munich. Either than or Ramey will be a sub at Chelsea or Liverpool. Arsenal and Chelsea are both looking at spry Atlético Mineiro right-back Emerson. And reports from Italy says AC Milan want to sign Liverpool’s Brazil midfielder Fabinho, 25, (who he?) in January. 

Over at West Ham, Marko Arnautovic, 29, wants a weekly living wage of £200,000 to continue working at the London Stadium. If he does;t get it then he could be off, possibly to Manchester United. 

Posted: 16th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer Balls: Manchester United want Milan’s Milan and Liverpool dog deep for Dembélé

Transfer Balls: So desperate is Alexis Sanchez to leave Manchester United that he’s going to demand a reduction in his £500,000-a-week wage to make him more affordable to, well, anyone who’ll let him play either football, the piano or both at once. Either that or he’ll just sulk and wait until Jose Mourinho is sacked and the next manager realise what a top talent he is.

Racing Sanchez out the door are Marcus Rojo and Eric Bailly. They will replaced by – deep breath – Nathan Aké, Jérôme Boateng and / or Inter Milan’s Milan Skriniar.

Higher up the Premier League table, rumours abound that Liverpool will bid over £85m for Ousmane Dembélé, who cost Barcelona £105m when he moved from Borussia Dortmund in 2017. The German side have a knack of developing players and selling them on for top money. Barcelona made them an offer they could not refuse for the Frenchman who has failed to shine in Spain. But will they take a £20m hit on him? Or is £85m for a flop good money? That question to Paul Pogba.

Arsenal have woken to the fact their centre backs are slower than a Granit Xhaka tackle. The Gunners are looking at Atalanta’s Gianluca Mancini.

And Tottenham are readying a £35m bid for Cagliari’s 21-year-old Italian midfielder Nicolo Barella. But Man United and Liverpool also want him. So watch the price rocket.

 

Posted: 14th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Liverpool, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Spurs fear, Dembele to Liverpool, Newcastle wait and Sanchez plots Manchester United escape

Tottenham players “fear” Mauricio Pochettino is to leave the club for Real Madrid or Manchester United. Which Spurs players are in dread of the Argentine leaving, and maybe taking them along for the ride and the huge hike on wages that would come with it, is unsaid by the BBC. Over in the Telegraph that “fear” is reduced to a mere “feeling”. The Sun tell us that Real Madrid will double Pochettino’s wages to £17m a year. How it knows that is moot. It just does. It feels it.

But why would Pochettinho want a job with a shorter shelf life than a Halloween pumpkin? AS tells us that former Real Madrid star Michael Laudrup has rejected down the chance to become the club’s new manager. Fair enough. After all, Marca told us former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte would be appointed as soon as Real sacked Julen Lopetegui as manager. He wasn’t. Meanwhile, the Mail says Belgium manager and former Everton and Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is the white-hot favourite to become the next Real Madrid chief. Or as the Guardian puts it: “Mauricio Pochettino has emerged as Real Madrid’s No 1 choice.”

To recap: they don’t know.

In other news, Alexis Sanchez is off to play at PSG, says the BBC. Manchester Untied will replace their striker by digging huge hole in the ground and pouring £600,000-a-week into it.

And then some bigger news in Spain’s Sport. Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé is to be shunted out of the club this January. He turned up late for a game, we read, and Barcelona “have decided to act strongly on the issue”. Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea all want the Frenchman. Will it happen? Dunno. Back in August the Express told its readers: “Arsenal transfer news: Gunners make £90MILLION bid for Barcelona star Ousmane Dembele.” They didn’t.

And finally, get this from the BBC: “Newcastle are understood to be ready to offer Rafa Benitez the contract extension he wants – providing he is prepared to wait for certain requests.” Such as his discount voucher for Sports Direct and a chance to win the Championship.

 

Posted: 31st, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Spurs Balls: Dele Alli commits himself to the club

Some good news for sours fans. Dele Alli, 22, has signed a new contract that ties him to the club until 2024. Having joined by a bargain £5m for MK Dons in 2015 Ali has become an England mainstay. He’s scored 48 goals in 153 competitive matches.

“I’ve loved my time at Spurs so far,” said Alli on Instagram. “I’m very excited to see what the future holds.” Trophies and titles? Winless after three much in the Champions League and fifth in the Premier League, Spurs are heading for another season without a cup.

Before last night’s defeat to Manchester City on a dog of a Wembley pitch, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said: “My feeling is the worst feeling I have had in my five years I have been here.”

Spurs should have played the match in their new stadium – but it’s still not finished. Oh, for that lush green field when Alli passed to Lamela and faced with an open goal the Argentine failed to allow for the bumpy surface, cut up by an American football match, and spooned the ball over the bar.

As it stands, Spurs are nothing like title challengers.

Posted: 30th, October 2018 | In: Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United to lose de Gea and Real want Pochettino from Spurs

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino is on his way to Real Madrid after all, then. The Sun says Pochettino will replace Julen Lopetegui, should Real sack him, which they will in 10…9…  The Mail says Real headhunter Florentino Perez wanted to sack the one-time Spain coach last week. You might have watched Perez during Real’s Champions League match against Viktoria Plzen “storming away from his balcony”. It was only other club officials who prevented an on-the-spot sacking, says the paper.

If Lopetgui goes, so do all the players thundered the overrated Isco to media. To which Real fans say in one voice “adios”.

Real finished 17 points behind Barcelona in La Liga last season. Ronaldo left, taking his 50 goals a season with him to Juventus. Real look leaderless on the pitch. So Pochettino it is. The Sun says Real prefer him to Antonio Conte. Well, who wouldn’t. The big shock is that Manchester United haven’t already offered Spurs £40m for Poch. Why don’t clubs trade managers as they do players?

But Real also admire current Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese would do well to take the hint and leave Old Trafford. If David de Gea leaves on a free transfer to Juventus when his contract expires next summer, as the Times says he might, United will look even more hapless. Ubiquitous Spanish journalist Guillem Balague told BBC Radio 5 live listeners that the Real kingmakers love Jose. Why? Haven’t they been watching…

Posted: 26th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United chase Koulibaly, Arsenal take Malcolm on loan from Arsenal and Chelsea underpay Hazard

Cancel the trip to Jose Mourinho’s hotel room in Manchester and the one-way ticket to Real Madrid, Eden Hazard will stay at Chelsea. The BBC says Chelsea will offer their best player £350,000-a-week to stay at the club. This, says the Express, will make Hazard “the highest-paid player in the Premier League”. Which is odd because the Express says Alexis Sanchez is the league’s number one earner on £500,000-a-week.

 

daily express sanchez

Daily Express facts by Dany Wilson October 2 2018

 

As the Express delivers the facts and then fact that counter those facts in a SEO blizzard of utter balls, the Express also says struggling Real Madrid want to hire Raheem Sterling to bolster a forward line missing Cristiano Ronaldo’s 50-odd goals a season. There are no facts to support the claim. The Mirror says Sterling wants more money to stay at Manchester City, who will of course find it down the back of the sofa.

Finally, the Star says Arsenal fancy taking Barcelona’s Brazilian winger Malcom, 21, on loan in January. That’s be the same Malcolm the press told us had agreed to join Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester United before he went to Spain.

More facts from the twilight zone of football reporting every day…

Posted: 21st, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment


New Spurs stadium Daniel Levy suite and NFL shop almost ready to open

Don’t worry, Spurs fans,  the new multi-sports stadium is on track to open sometime soon. The first part opening for business is the club shop. this Saturday, Spurs will open their new megastore this weekend. Spurs say the club shop is the largest retail space of any European football club in Europe. Lots of shoulder room for American Football fans to get official merchandise, watch “appearances from NFL legends”, play “interactive NFL activities” and dine on a “selection of the best American-style food” at their official away ground.

Better yet, some of the executive suites, including The Daniel Levy suite, named after the club’s chairman, are, reportedly, close to being fully operational. The actual sport can wait a while.

Use the hashtag #Priorities to keep abreast of all Spurs stadium news.

Posted: 18th, October 2018 | In: Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United, Spurs and Chelsea in a ‘bidding war’ for Ake

Manchester United, Spurs and Chelsea are all in for Netherlands international Nathan Ake, 23. Well, so says the BBC. And United and Spurs “will have to wait” to see if Chelsea want to re-sign the player they sold to Bournemouth. So that’s three top clubs who all want Ake in a story that has taken on a life of its own.

Over in the Telegraph we learn that as part of Ake’s £20 million transfer to Bournemouth, Chelsea negotiated “a gentleman’s agreement that would allow them to re-sign him for a fee of around £40m”. What utter tosh. Football club’s do not employ lawyers on multi-million pound deals to work with a handshake. And then this:

There has not yet been any sign that Chelsea are ready to try to take Ake back to Stamford Bridge and any move to re-sign him would have to be agreed by the player. But a summer bid from either Spurs or United would force Bournemouth to offer Chelsea the opportunity to make a move and leave the other two clubs sweating.

This transfer news is tosh. But that doesn’t top the Express from milking the balls to produce the gem: “Man Utd news: Nathan Ake transfer battle takes fresh twist, Chelsea hold the key.”

When asked if he’d read the story of his transfer to Spurs, Ake told Football Oranje: “I’ve also seen it pass by, but of course it’s rumours. At the moment I play everything at Bournemouth and that goes well, so I focus on that. If I’ve already signed in London? No, certainly not. This does not say much about my status yet, they are rumours that come on the internet and as long as I do not hear anything myself, I will not go into that.” The story on the Dutch website was titled: “Ake to Tottenham: its only rumours.”

Mentions of Manchester United: nil. The story is about interest from Spurs. But the Daily Star hears the same words and manages to report:”NATHAN AKE has addressed the rumours surrounding his future amid reported interest from Manchester United.” In The Metro it’s: “Nathan Ake speaks out on Manchester United transfer speculation.” “Nathan Ake breaks silence on Manchester United speculation as Bournemouth defender addresses future,” chimes the Mirror.

All newspapers connive to omit the part where Ake says he’s not signed “in London“. Worse still, the Metro thunders: “Man Utd transfer news: Nathan Ake responds to Jose Mourinho interest.” Words from Mourinho: zero. But as the Mail says in a story about a “bidding war” for Ake, “Jose Mourinho, who worked with Ake at Chelsea, wants to revamp his defence with Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof failing to impress the Portuguese tactician.”

Ake did play for Chelsea nine times. But he was loaned out to Reading, Watford and Bournemouth. Aké made his Premier League debut on 26 December 2012 – when Rafa Benitez was Chelsea manager. Under Mourinho, Ake only made one league appearance, as a substitute in a 3–0 loss at West Bromwich Albion on 18 May.

Such are the facts.

 

 

Posted: 16th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester City’s Foden to Dortmund, Hazard’s Chelsea dream and Manchester United want Ake

Borussia Dortmund are keen to hire Manchester City’s cake-loving reserve Phil Foden to keep Jadon Sancho company. All the noises from those with vested interests in young Foden earning loads money at City say he’s very happy at the club. But he hardly plays for the first team, and if a big name in his position became available, City would surely swoop and push Foden further down the hierarchy. RB Leipzig and PSG also want Foden, but Dortmund with their reputation for developing young talent must be the pick.

Bournemouth’s Nathan Aké is talking about a rumoured move to Manchester United. “I’ve seen it pass by but of course it’s rumours,” says the former Chelsea loanee. “At the moment I play at Bournemouth and that is going well, so I focus on that. This does not say much about my status yet. They are rumours on the internet and as long as I do not hear anything myself, I will not go into that.” No comment is still a comment, Nathan. But he’s not heard anything himself about the things he’s chatting about to Dutch journalists so let’s just leave him alone.

Still at Chelsea is Eden Hazard, who having stated it his childhood “dream” to play for Real Madrid, no says he won’t head to Spain in January. He also says he won’t ever force a move to Madrid. Instead, he’ll just keep on talking about his ambitions in Spain, batting his eyelashes and seemingly talking abut Madrid every single day.

Heading back to Chelsea is midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, 24. Reports are that AC Milan have “threatened” to cancel his loan deal because of “defects in his game”.

Arsenal are looking at cheaper options than Hazard, like Rennes’s Ismaila Sarr and Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz. They’re said to be promising, young, athletic, skilful and cheap. You know the story. Some things at Arsenal never change.

At the other end of the pay scale, Manchester United are all ready to offer Spain goalkeeper David de Gea a new deal that would make the 27-year-old the club’s highest earner – m re than the £600,000-a-week they pay Alexis Sanchez to kiss the badge.

As for Spurs, well, Madrid captain Ramos says Harry Kane would be great in La Liga, and Mousa Dembélé will quit the cub at the season’s end to live out his own fantasy at Beijing Sinobo Guoan in the Chinese (Not So) Super League.

Posted: 15th, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Spurs want £200m for Kane and Hazard has a dream

Real Madrid want to sign Spurs and England striker Harry Kane. But the BBC says that the richest club in the world “may be put off by the 25-year-old’s £200m price tag”. To which the response must be: what price tag? Is there a tag visible when Kane puts his shirt on inside out? And why stop at £200m when you can conjure any figure – why not 300m? As far as we can tell, Kane’s not for sale and is perfectly happy at Spurs.

The cited source is El Confidencial, a Spanish site, which opines: “Real Madrid (after a new crash) wants to sign a goal for now.” Google Translate continues to be gift to comedy. It also tells us that the BBC’s story is utter tosh. Here we go – take it away, Google language bots:

The Real Madrid plumbs the market ahead of the winter window. Aware of his erroneous planning of the squad last summer, which was reflected again this Saturday in the disastrous defeat in Vitoria against Alavés (1-0) , Florentino Perez has given order to comb the market in search of a pair of players that reinforce the template for this winter…

The priority, as seems obvious, is to reinforce the team’s lead with a contrasted goalscorer who adds a goal to a squad that has lost a lot of punch with the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo…

In that list will appear young players like the forward of the RB Leipzig, Timo Werner…

Another profile that is handled is that of the veteran striker who without becoming a star of the first level could complete the Real Madrid goal and add those goals that the team is missing… The perfect example is that of ‘Manolito’ Adebayor , the forward who came from Tottenham to Real Madrid in winter and added eight goals leaving a good taste in the Bernabéu.

And the third way is to bet on the signing of a ‘galactic’ as they could be Eden Hazard or Harry Kane…

So Real are looking to recruit any half decent striker who could be available in January, maybe. As for Kane being worth £200m and it being too rich for Real, the BBC just made that up – just as El Confidencial plucked Kane’s name from the air as a possible big name signing. The actual story is that Hazard says Real are the world’s biggest club and it’s been a childhood dream to play for them. What his price tag is, we’re not told. But it could be ‘lots’..

Posted: 9th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | 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


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


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