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Transfer balls: when will Liverpool sign Didier Baptiste?

Didier Baptiste liverpool

Dream Team


November 24 is the day when Liverpool moved to sign Didier Baptiste for £3.5million. It was an unforgettable moment of Transfer Balls on November 24 1999. The News of the World reported that Liverpool were looking to sign the “French Under-21 international” from Monaco.

Baptiste to Liverpool was on.  The Times and The Guardian agreed, albeit valuing Baptiste at £1million. But Gerard Houllier’s Liverpool would never get the young defender: He didn’t (and still doesn’t) exist.

Baptiste was a character played by the late Tom Redhill in the Sky One football soap opera ‘Dream Team’ who arrived at Harchester United from Monaco in 1999.

The aforementioned papers were all drawn into a hoax that began on an Arsenal fan forum and got rehashed on Liverpool’s Clubcall line (a premium rate phone number supporters could ring to listen to the latest club-related gossip), from whence the News of the World plucked the ‘story’ and ran with it.

The News of the World duly blamed the Hayters sports news agency for feeding them the rumour, though the damage had already been done.

As Chris Wright quips: “The tabloid was ultimately forced to cease publication in 2011, though whether the Baptiste cock-up was directly to blame is still subject to debate.”

Posted: 25th, November 2017 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Liverpool regrets: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain plays and Arsenal fans laugh

Don’t panic, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the Arsenal player who left the club for Liverpool in a £40m transfer. Four matches into his rosy-fingered dawn and ‘The Ox’ has yet to be on the winning side.

No need to panic, though.

When Gareth Bale was at Spurs, it took 25 matches (!) for him to be on the winning team. The Sun’s Pat Sheehan covered Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat by Everton on 30 November, 2008, writing: “One glance at the score and any Spurs fan will tell you without looking at the line-up that Gareth Bale must have played.” Bale went on to be brilliant.

Of course, the problem is that Oxlade-Chamberlain is nowhere near as good as Bale. He’s a mediocre player who went for a stupid amount of money. Arsenal did very well in getting shot of the nice middle class boy in the final year of his Arsenal contract. ESPN says Arsenal had a “disastrous” transfer window. Balls. They hung on to Alexis Sanchez – their best player – and waved goodbye to the player who has always promised much and delivered less than a geriatric Deliveroo cyclist.

Last night Liverpool were knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Leicester City. And Oxlade-Chamberlain was every bit as ineffective as he was at Arsenal.  Someone has produced this damning compilation of his night’s work:

This is the Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who left Arsenal because he wants to play centrally, rather than waste his talents at wing-back.

Well played, Arsenal. Well played.

Posted: 20th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Liverpool can still win the league by letting in loadsa goals

Some Liverpool balls from ‘Big’ Sam Allardyce. The former England manager has been talking to talkSPORT. He knows why Liverpool will not win the Premier League title:

“The game is played two ways: one is played in possession and one is played out of it. You have got to be masters of both of those if you are going to win the Premier League.”

But usually you need the ball to score, right, Sam. He adds:

“The Premier League is generally won – certainly over the last ten, 15 years – by the team with the best defensive record.”

If we go by goals conceded, then:


2006-2007 – Nope. Chelsea came second with the least goals conceded.

2007-2008 – Yep. Manchester United.

2008-2009 – Yep. Manchester United

2009-2010 – Nope. Manchester United came second with least goals conceded.

2010-2011 – Nope. Chelsea and Manchester City came second and third respectively.

2011-2012 – Yep. Manchester City.

2012 – 2013 – Nope. Manchester City came second.

2013-2014 – Nope. Chelsea came third.

2014-2015 – Yep. Chelsea

2015-2016 – Nope. Spurs came third.

2016-2017 – Nope. Spurs came second.

Four titles from the last 11 seasons have been won by the side conceding the fewest goals.  Looks like Liverpool are still in it. The trick of winning, as Sam knows, is to score more goal than your opponents.

Posted: 7th, September 2017 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Liverpool wanted £183m for crying Coutinho

Nobody from Sky News stood in the Anfield car park to herald Philippe Coutinho’s move from Liverpool to Barcelona. The Sun said the deal was done. But until a man wearing a Sky Sports pin, possibly with a large blue sex toy propositioning their earhole, tells us the move is done and dusted, we’re reaming circumspect. Coutinho stayed. And, if reports are to be believed, sobbed that the chance to play for Spain’s second or third best team passed him by.


Philippe Coutinho liverpool the sun


Panicky Barcelona had offered Liverpool the lunatic sum of £138 for the Brazilian. Swollen by the cash earned from Neymar’s sale to the PSG, Barcelona spotted another small Brazilian and thought if they slap him in the club’s colours fans wouldn’t notice. But Liverpool were having none of it. And now we know that the Reds wanted – get this – £183m for this their best player.

A source on the Barcelona board says Liverpool valued Coutinho at €200m (£183m). Liverpool say they placed no price tag on the player. He wasn’t for sale, so why mention a fee, says the Premier League club? So is Albert Soler, Barcelona’s club’s director of professional sports wrong when he said: “Late last night, Liverpool priced the player we wanted at €200m, and we decided we would not do it.”

Meanwhile, in a wind-batted car park, Sky’s reporter on the frontline wonders if Abu Dhabi or Qatar can buy out his contract…

Posted: 3rd, September 2017 | In: Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Liverpool balls: Philippe Coutinho joins Barcelona and then leaves in tears

Did Philippe Coutinho ever leave Liverpool for Barcelona? Yes, he did, says Neil Curtis in the Sun.

COUT AND DRIED Philippe Coutinho heading to Barcelona in stunning £138m deal from Liverpool with announcement set for 7pm


The Merseyside club have finally accepted defeat in their bid to hold on to their prize asset as Coutinho heads to La Liga


Philippe Coutinho liverpool the sun


And then… Coutinho stayed at Liverpool. Was this the Sun’s desperate attempt to seduce Liverpool fans to read the newspaper they hate? Because no sooner has the scoop proven to be utter balls than the Sun has another bash:


Philippe Coutinho liverpool the sun


Facts to support that claim come there none.

And then this:

CRYING GAME Philippe Coutinho’s failed Barcelona move from Liverpool made him ‘break down in tears in front of Brazil team-mates’. Playmaker was reportedly distraught after learning that Reds would not be allowing him to make dream Nou Camp move



Such are the facts…

Posted: 2nd, September 2017 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comments (2) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

What are they smoking? Liverpool reject £118 bid for Coutinho

To borrow a phrase from Liverpool’s owner, John W. Henry,”What do you think they’re smoking over there at Anfield?” Liverpool have rejected Barcelona’s bid of – get this –  £118.7million for Philippe Coutinho, 25. The player wants to go. He put in for a transfer. The money is huge. So what’s the issue?

Liverpool say the matter is now closed. Coutinho stays. But why keep a player whose head has been turned? Of course, if Barcelona have £118m they could get £128. Barcelona’s bidding is a haphazard and desperate affair. Bloated with cash they got for Neymar’s more to PSG (£198m), the club have issued bids for Coutinho of £72m, £90m and now £118m.

So why not hold out and see what occurs? Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s US owners, are in it for the money. And this is a lot of  money. But they say theirs is a  “definitive stance”. Coutinho stays.

Unless Henry can get bigger slice of the fee – which is, after all, to be divided between many grasping hands and is pursuant on the player winning the top prizes.

Posted: 18th, August 2017 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comments (10) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Transfer balls: Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho agrees to join Barcelona says one unimpeachable source

In football’s arms race, the Star says Barcelona will offer Liverpool £120m for Philippe Coutinho, 25. Is the Brazilian worth the money? Surely not. Indeed, the Sun counters the Star’s offer and says Barcelona believe they can get Liverpool’s bet player for £90m.

Oddly, the Star adds that Barcelona will also buy Chelsea’s Eden Hazard for around £100m. L’Equipe says Ousmane Dembele has agreed to join Barceloan from Borussia Dortmund for £90.2m. Oh,m and for reasons utterly unclear, Barcelona are also recruiting former Tottenham midfielder Paulinho, 29, from Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande, says.

And finally Bild reports that PSG’s Julian Draxler is also on his way to Barcelona.

Yeah, that’s what we thought – that £199 Barcelona got for Neymar is going a long way.

The story that stands out, though, is that of Liverpool’s Coutinho heading to Spain. Accordign to many news sources, it’s a done dead.

Metro July 26 – “Philippe Coutinho agrees deal to join Barcelona”

The Sun, July 16 – “KOP OUT Philippe Coutinho ‘agrees terms with Barcelona’ leaving club to thrash out £89million deal with Liverpool”

Daily Mail, July 16 – “Philippe Coutinho has agreed terms with Barcelona over a move to La Liga this summer”

Daily Express, August 2 – “PHILIPPE COUTINHO is trying to persuade Jurgen Klopp to let him join BarcelonaBrazilian a step closer to exit after agreeing contract with Catalan giants”

All those report stem from a story on Catalan Radio Station RAC1. It says, according to Spanish site Sport:


As reported by RAC1, Coutinho and Barcelona have everything agreed and now only need to negotiate the amount of transfer that would perceive Liverpool by the sale of Coutinho.

The story contains not a single quote. Which makes you wonder if it’s based on fact or hope. RAC1‘s story, written in Catalan, also contains not a single fact. It does, however, quote a source for its scoop. It’s, er, RAC1:


coutinho barcelona


Such are the facts.




Posted: 7th, August 2017 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Transfer balls: Man City’s Joe Hart’s Liverpool limbo

News is that Joe Hart hasn’t received any offers. Oh, come on, someone must have offered the big lunk a job as a clothes line or a figuring in a bi snow globe (he’s not advertising anti-dandruff treatments any longer so look out below).

The Sun and Mirror say the Manchester City and England goalkeeper is “in limbo”, having received no offers to play for a new club. The idea of Joe Hart, a man possessed with all the composure of a loon screaming at pigeons in the precinct, being agile enough to dive for a ball let alone limbo is far-fetched.

But can this be the same Joe Hart who had agreed to joined Liverpool?


joe hart balls liverpool


joe hart balls liverpool


The Mirror then produces one of those awful ‘7 things’ columns:


joe hart balls liverpool


Such are the facts.

Posted: 12th, June 2017 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Liverpool has the friendliest hackers in the world

To the Liverpool One Shopping Centre, England, where hackers have issued a directive: ‘we suggest you improve your security – sincerely –  your friendly neighbourhood hackers – #JFt96’.


hackers liverpool


Spotter: Reddit

Posted: 30th, May 2017 | In: Strange But True, Technology, The Consumer | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Liverpool honour the great Kenny Dalglish – the man fans fell in love with

Liverpool will rename of the stands at Anfield after the great Kenny Dalglish. The Centenary Stand will mark the “unique contribution” Dalglish has made to Liverpool over the years. Say the club:

The decision has been taken by the Reds’ ownership, led by principal owner John W Henry, to honour the special status Dalglish holds at Anfield in the club’s 125th anniversary year.


kenny dalglish footballer stand anfield


Dalglish won the lot as a brilliant player and talented manager with Liverpool. He has supported for the Hillsborough justice campaign. If anybody deserves a stand naming after them at Anfield, it’s King Kenny, he man who more than any other epitomises the club.



Spotter: Pies

Posted: 4th, May 2017 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Transfer balls: Joe Hart to Liverpool and £20m written off

Transfer balls: a look at fake news football reporting. Is Joe Hart heading to Liverpool?


joe hart liverpool


The Sun April 19: “Joe Hart is on his way back to the Premier League with Liverpool.”

KLOPP LOVES HART – Joe Hart set for Liverpool move as Jurgen Klopp signs off £20million swoop for Manchester City goalkeeper

Having scored a “exclusive”, the rest of the online media play catch up.

Joe Hart to Liverpool: Man City star set for £20m switch, Jurgen Klopp  – Daily Star

7 things that will definitely happen if Joe Hart signs for Liverpool – Daily Mirror

Or as Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp out it one day late: “He’s a fantastic keeper, the highest quality, but it’s not for us at the moment, nor in the future.”

No harm done. No-one in Liverpool reads the Sun.


Posted: 24th, April 2017 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Clickbait balls: Express tricks Liverpool fans with Alonso story

Click Balls: The Daily Express is at the forefront of the dead tree press’s battle for online clicks. Yesterday the self-styled “World’s Greatest Newspaper” had news to set Liverpool fans’ hearts aflutter. “Liverpool News: Xabi Alonso reveals he will be at Anfield next season,” declared the newspaper.

Alonso, the terrific Spanish midfielder playing at Bayern Munich, who was no less excellent in Liverpool red, is going to rejoin the Premier League club? Sounds like it. He has, after all, “revealed” his return to Anfield next season.


DAily Express SEO


One clue that this story was constructed in an SEO’s wet dream comes via the URL at the top of the page. It runs:

It’s just a collection of SEO-happy buzzwords. There is no story anything other than a Google bot can make any sense of.


daily express seo


And then comes the small print below that seductive headline:

Xabi Alonso: I will be at Liverpool next season

XABI ALONSO has revealed he will visit Liverpool next season.

Alonso is not coming to Liverpool to play for the club. Express writer Jack Otway tells his readers that some people have made that link:

The ex-Spain international has often been linked with an emotional return to Anfield.

Failing to add “See above”, Otway then explains the substance of his story:

And the 35-year-old veteran has admitted to still loving his former club and revealed a visit to watch them play with son Jontxu next season is on the cards.

Xavi Alsono might take his son to watch Liverpool net year. That’s a story first reported in the Liverpool Echo. “We are really looking forward to going back. I have heard great things about the new Main Stand,” Alonso tells the paper. “My son is desperate to go. He’s Liverpool born and always asks: ‘Dad. when are we going to Liverpool?’ I say: ‘Okay, but at the moment I have busy weekends! We will go, don’t worry.’”

The SEO-led Daily Express reports Alonso’s trip to see the new stand at Anfield as: “Liverpool News: Xabi Alonso reveals he will be at Anfield next season.”

The trend is to talk about fake news – but it’s good to see the Express going with the tried and tested model.


Posted: 25th, March 2017 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Liverpool rebrand as Manchester United get a lucky 41st Cup

When Manchester United won the EFL cup with a lucky* 3-2 win against Southampton, Liverpool fans gnashed their teeth and made room on the the winner’s podium for their greatest foe.

Before Manchester United won the season’s first tin pot, Liverpool were, according to the club’s twitter bio, ‘England’s most successful club with 41 major honours’. Todays win was Man United 41st title. And rather than being ‘England’s joint most successful club’, Liverpool just removed all reference to their haul.


United Liverpool 41 cups a

United Liverpool 41 cups a


*It was lucky. I’m a big football fan. But the game is hideously flawed, corrupt and founded on greed. Fighting Southampton scored a perfectly good goal that for specious reasons was not given. It should have been the game’s opening goal. As Gary Neville opined from the commentary box that United hard endured ‘three hard years’ since Alex Ferguson’s retirement, a Crystal Palace supporting friend of mine noted, “Nothing worse than losing at Wembley to a club for whom the trophy is just a consolation prize.”

Today was a big deal for Southampton. They and their fans deserved better.



Posted: 26th, February 2017 | In: Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Liverpool bans the Sun but the elite escape and fans remain suspects

What are we to make of Liverpool Football Club’s ban on Sun journalists attending matches in an official capacity and press conferences? The Sun is also banned from conducting exclusive interviews with Liverpool FC managers or players.

The ban is rooted, of course, in the Sun’s infamous front-page coverage of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, in which the paper amplified the State’s and the police’s lies that the 96 people killed at the match were architects of their own demise. The dead were framed and defiled when the media and police colluded in the State’s assault on football fans.


hillsborough the sun the truth


A spokesman for Total Eclipse of the S*n – the group states ‘It is our belief that the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster should never be forgotten. It is our belief that The Sun newspaper should never be forgiven’ –  tells the Liverpool Echo: “Further to conversations with LFC directors we are happy to inform you that S*n journalists are no longer enjoy access to all club premises.”

The Sun behaved badly. But did we swallow its lies? Did we believe the police? Did the ‘working class scum stuffed into cages’ by the State, paying for a “slum sport watched by slum people in slum stadiums” take it as fact that police had been urinated on, the dead had been robbed and the Liverpool fans were guilty?




In 2012, a Guardian its told readers:

There is no bitterness on my part that the public took 23 years to wake up to our nightmare. Their ignorance was their faith in the media and in the police. This has suffered a huge blow and the fact surely cannot go unnoticed by Lord Justice Leverson. I also hope, as a southerner, that the people of Liverpool will no longer be subjected to the lazy, callous stereotypes peddled off the back of the Sun’s lies.

Lies become reasons for censorship and to slap the tabloids down. Tabloid readers must be protected from their own ignorance. And – irony of ironies – the Guardian is happy for the State to police the liars it fed. Hillsborough did not happen in a bubble. The Sun was appalling but it did not have a hand in the killing. It did not send for the dogs instead of the ambulances. It was not the coroner declaring people dead before they were dead.

The deaths were accidental. But they were the result of a top-down policy that portrayed and treated football fans as scum.


The Sun the truth Hillsborough


Margaret Thatcher’s Government wanted fans – what one Tory called “the yob class” – to carry ID cards. (One doctor present at Hillsborough said the only difference ID cards could have made that day was to make it easier to identify the young corpses.) In June 1986, Thatcher gave ‘thanks to the police’ for ‘bringing good behaviour and good crowd behaviour to football over this last year’. Baron Peter Hill-Norton, admiral of the fleet, said football was “a slum game played by louts in front of hooligans”. Football fans were the Untermenschen on which all new methods of control could be tested. The police and State presented football as a public order issue.

One week after the horror The Economist told readers that the ‘common view’ of football was of a sport ‘irredeemably tied to the old industrial north, yobs and slum cultures of the stricken inner cities – everything, in fact, that modern Britain aspires to put behind it.’

Knowing that Hillsborough happened in the context of so many wrongs, you still want the State and its police force to control the Press, to dictate the message?


Hillsborough home


Have the elites apologised for demonising football fans? Did you think it odd that the United Nations – no kidding – voiced its worry when Chelsea fans stopped a black man from boarding a train in Paris? On the day that story broke, the Guardian produced nine stories on it. One of the Guardian’s myriad reports on the nastiness said it was typical of football and football fans because it’s  ‘all about feeling that you’re part of one group and are opposed to another group, [which is] the mentality of the racist’.

Bash the Sun by all means but ask yourself what’s changed? Why are football fans still treated as suspects?

In 2012, the Sun apologised for its ‘blackest day’. But it failed to put the results of the inquest into the disaster that cleared the dead of blame on the front page. The victims had been “unlawfully killed”. A mere 27 years of campaigning for justice by their families, the victims had been forced to prove their innocence. Hideous. They still await justice in any true sense of the word. All the dead, the injured, the hurt and their loved ones got was to see the police lies demolished in a court of law. Time ticks on and still no-one has been placed in the dock.

As we await justice, maybe Liverpool FC should ban the police and all politicians from the ground, the people who ask not what they can do for Hillsborough but what the disaster can do for them? Maybe Liverpool should ban the Sun’s publisher’s, too? That would mean banning News Corp., the company that owns 39.1% of BSkyB, which in February 2015, successfully bid £4.2bn for a package of 120 premier league games across the three seasons from 2016. News Corp wants to take control of BSkyB. If it does, will Liverpool ban it, too?

Banning the Sun is easy. It costs nothing. Banning the cameras costs big.




A Sun spokesperson has responded to the ban: “The Sun and Liverpool FC have had a solid working relationship for the 28 years since the Hillsborough tragedy. Banning journalists from a club is bad for fans and bad for football.”

Banning things is par for the course at football grounds today. Don’t sing that. Don’t stand up. Put that down. The cages are gone but the fans are watched even more closely.

Posted: 15th, February 2017 | In: Key Posts, Liverpool, News, Reviews, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Liverpool balls: ‘Dropped’ Adam Lallana Rises For Spurs Match

As Liverpool prepare to host Spurs in the Premier League’s one-horse race – Chelsea are miles ahead – the Sun brings news that Liverpool player Adam Lallana is ‘set to miss crunch clash with Spurs after being left out of tactical training drills’. He’s been ‘dropped’.


Liverpool the sun


Do any Liverpool fans read the Sun online? That headline news sure is tempting. But we’ll save you the pain. The story is that ‘Lifelong Reds fan’ Micky Quinn told TalkSport listeners Lallana ‘was not involved in drills this week by Jurgen Klopp’.

Has he been dropped. Is he being rested? Is Quinn talking balls? The very next line tells us:

ADAM LALLANA looks set to miss Liverpool’s crunch clash with Tottenham this weekend after claims he has been left out of some tactical training sessions.

And as Quinn says, deep into the story: “…whether he’s going to dropped, I’m not too sure.”


Or as The Liverpool Echo puts it:

Lallana, meanwhile, was left out of training on Thursday as a precaution due to a tight muscle, but the Reds hope he will respond well to treatment and take his place in the side this weekend.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 10th, February 2017 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Sun writer mocks Liverpool player’s England win

The Sun newspaper is not popular among Liverpool fans. The Sun’s chief football reporter Neil Ashton noticed that Liverpool’s Adam Lallana has been voted the best player in the England team.

The Liverpool playmaker polled 39% of votes from members of the England Supporters Club. He was a clear winner, beating Jamie Vardy (12%) and Wayne Rooney (8%) into second and third places, respectively.

So what did the Sun’s man in the know have to say about the likeable Liverpool player?

He mocked him. “It’s like Iceland never happrned,” tweeted Ashton.


liverpool lallana the sun


England lost 2-1 to Iceland at the European championships – a game in which Lallana was an unused substitute.

Such are the facts.


Posted: 1st, February 2017 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Liverpool Balls: tabloids want Klopp out but heap praise on Manchester United under Mourinho

When is it safe to write off Liverpool’s Premier League chances?

Jeremy Cross tells Daily Star readers that Jurgen Kloop ‘doesn’t deserve the sack’. Who said he was being sacked? Liverpool are fourth in the Premier League – two points off second place and 10 points from the top. They made it to the semi-finals of the EFL Cup. Last season, Liverpool finished runners-up in the EFL Cup and the Europa League.

Liverpool are one point behind Tottenham, of which the Star wrote On January 24, Dele Alli is “the key to Tottenham winning the Premier League”.

Spurs on 46 points can win the title but Liverpool on 45 points are thinking of sacking their manager? That’s one hell of a big point.

Says Cross:

‘Having lost twice to Southampton in the EFL Cup semi-finals, Klopp resembles a man on the run as the critics round on him.’

Liverpool fans might care to compare and contrast those words with Neil Ashton’s opinion of Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, whose plucky side last night lost 2-1 to big-spending Hull City last night but still progressed to the EFL Cup final. Wrote Ashton of Mourinho four days ago.

‘He is back. Back to his old self. Back in the hunt for trophies. Back to his devilish, mischievous best. Focused, and firmly in control again, Mourinho is on to something good.’

Manchester United are four points behind Liverpool:

And there was Rio Ferdinand in the Daily Mirror:

“The next window is a big one for United in terms of getting players out and getting some in who will invigorate his squad and be able to carry out his methods. I like what Mourinho has done. He has shown again he is a top manager. We have seen with Pep Guardiola how difficult it is to get right…Jose is doing that really well.”

Chelsea fans might well scoff. Blues’ manager Antonio Conte is in his first season at the club. Chelsea are eight points clear at the top of the table. If Mourinho is doing really well in sixth, what’s Conte doing? Incidentally, Ferdinand said of Conte at the start of the season:

“Conte will need time to find his feet. I don’t think he will win the Premier League in his first season because he has a big job on his hands there.”

The Mirror also has a pop at Klopp., who has ‘run them into the ground’. ‘German’s training regime “too intense” say critics.’

In the Sun, the aforesaid Ashton says with Steven Gerrard back at Liverpool, Klopp’s days are numbered. ‘The problem will be when the people at Anfield start wondering out loud whether the iconic figure in the stands could do a better  job than the fella currently in it,’ he writes.

To recap: Liverpool are in fourth place, two points off second spot, ahead of both Manchester United and Manchester City.

Posted: 27th, January 2017 | In: Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Clickbait Balls: Daily Telegraph tricks ‘paranoid’ Liverpool and Manchester United fans

The Manchester United v Liverpool match was memorable for a number of things, according to the clickbait-mad Press.

The Mirror’s football expert learned “five things” from watching the game, one of which is that Paul Pogba’s “handball handed Liverpool the early advantage”. That was the handball that gave Liverpool a penalty kick, from which they scored their only goal of the game. David McDonnell leaned that. He also learned that Wayne Rooney got a yellow card and “Ibrahimovic keeps on scoring”, which he did when he scored United’s equaliser.

The Express also learned five things, one of which is, “Simon Mignolet put on a solid display.”

Coincidentally, the Sun also learned five things. Fred Nathan delivers his fistful of insight. He watched Pogba give away a penalty and learned that he “must not let silly mistakes creep into his game”.

In the Indy, which didn’t make enough money to remain as proper paper so went web only, there are just four things learned. But Fox News, which has oodles of money, learned seven things. Ryan Rosenblatt learned that when United and Liverpool drop points, their rivals are pleased. The other top sides “love this result” he learned.

But the prize for the biggest Clickbait Balls goes to the dire Daily Telegraph. The once great newspaper is now a clickbait factory. “Martin Tyler accused of ‘bias’ following Manchester United vs Liverpool commentary,” says the headline. It also says just that in the URL for the story:





So who accused Sky TV’s commentator of bias? Liverpool boss Jugen Klopp? Manchester Untied manager Jose Mourinho? Well, no. A clue to how the story was the product of the paper’s clickbait factory is in the now revised headline: “Liverpool fans round on Martin Tyler following Manchester United’s last minute equaliser at Old Trafford.”

They “rounded on” Tyler on Twitter. The Telegraph picks three tweets to back up its story, which beings: “Paranoid Liverpool fans are becomingly increasingly convinced that SkySports’ Martin Tyler is a secret Manchester United fan.”

Tweet 1:

Martin Tyler just called Zlatan: “THE TOWER OF POWER!” #MUNLIV

Tweet 2:


Still coming to terms with the fact Martin Tyler just called Zlatan the ‘Tower of Power’, since when has that been a thing?

Lest you think those “paranoid” Liverpool fans are just having a laugh and mocking Tyler’s absurd phrase, @Footy Humour tweets the third piece of evidence.

Tweet 3:

Martin Tyler: “Rooney here. Is it in the script? Is it in the stars?”

*Rooney gives away posession*

Martin Tyler: *silence*


The troubling thing is that the clickbait works. The story even the Telegraph recognised as bad enough to warrant a chance of headline (but not a change of URL) is the second biggest story on the paper’s website:




Such are the facts.


Posted: 16th, January 2017 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Media balls: Liverpool lose points and Sunderland are robbed

Media Balls: a look at biased football reporting. Did Sunderland deserve to draw 2-2 with Liverpool in the Premier League? Were Liverpool lucky?

Sunderland’s goals came via two very good penalties from Jermain Defoe.

The first Sunderland penalty:

Liverpool FC (official website): “But the Black Cats responded to the setback quickly and were awarded a penalty when Didier Ndong tumbled in the area under pressure from Ragnar Klavan and Wijnaldum.”

He wasn’t fouled. He tumbled.

Sunderland FC (official website): “Ndong was felled after he went through two Liverpool players.”


He was felled, like a blameless tree.

Liverpool Echo: “..a soft penalty when Ndong wasn’t going anywhere.”

Sunderland Echo: “Defoe levelled from the spot after Dider Ndong was brought down in the area”


The penalty that wasn’t given.

On 58 minutes the ball hit a Liverpool hand.

Sunderland (official website): “The referee waves play on despite strong appeals for a penalty. Replays show Januzaj’s cross did hit the arm of Can. That could so easily have been a penalty and probably should’ve been.”

No word on the incident on the Liverpool FC website.

The Verdict:

Sunderland Echo: “Jermain Defoe the hero as he scores two penalties to earn his side a deserved point.

Sunderland won a point!

The Guardian: “Liverpool drop two points as Jermain Defoe strikes twice from the spot.”

Liverpool lost two points by, er, winning one point.

Such a e the facts.

Posted: 2nd, January 2017 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Transfer balls: Arsenal for Griezmann and Reus and Liverpool for PSG’s Draxler

Never mind that Antoine Griezmann says he’s happy in Madrid with his new baby and wonderful life, the British Press have him packed and ready to join the Premier League very soon. France’s footballer of the year is on his way to, well, all the top clubs. Manchester United have £60m and Chelsea £50m and £90m for Atletico Madrid’s super striker, whose new contract set his transfer fee at a minimum of £86m.

News in the Guardian is that Manchester City also quite like Griezmann – and so do Arsenal. The BBC and Telegraph say that if Mesut Özil or Alexis Sánchez fail to get the £200,000 a week they each want to extend their current contracts and leave the Gunners, Arsenal will swoop for Griezmann by offering him less than the £200,000-a-week City, Chelsea or United would pay.

Should that cunning plan fail, Arsenal will go for Marco Reus or Julian Draxler, although the taller German (Draxler) has apparently agreed to join PSG in France’s Ligue 1. That doesn’t stop the Daily Star says Draxler is on his way to Liverpool.

The tin lid is placed on this Transfer Balls by news that the source for the BBC, Telegraph, Independent and Guardian scoop on Griezmann and Reus being watched by Arsenal is Squawka, a blog whereon we read not a single fact to support the story that Arsenal want either player.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 23rd, December 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Transfer balls: Manchester United’s Rashford To West Ham; Payet to Arsenal; Draxler to Liverpool; Virgil to Manchester City?

West Ham United are, says the Daily Telegraph, keen to transfer Manchester United squad members Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford to their goal-shy team. It’s an “ambitious” bid, says the paper. No kidding.

Failure to lure either of them to London will mean West Ham turning to – deep breath – Sassuolo’s Grégoire Defrel, Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi and Porto’s Laurent Depoitre. Yeah, pretty much anyone who can score a goal is on West Ham’s radar.

The Express says West Ham will make space for any of the above by getting shot of six players, including loan strikers Simon Zaza (loaned from Juventus) and Ashley Fletcher (Manchester United). One player not leaving is Dimitri Payet. Or as the Star puts it: “JOSE’S PAYET RAID – United boss in fight with old foe Wenger”. Will Payet leave West Ham for Arsenal or head to Manchester United in a deal involving Marital or Rashford?

In other Manchester United transfer news, the Mirror says Benfica’s Swedish defender Victor Lindelof could be heading to Old Trafford for £37.8million. If he arrives, Chris Smalling will leave United, says the Express. Smalling will be beaten to the United exit by Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Scheweinsteiger.

Away from United, the Guardian says Arsenal are keen on Valencia’s super-fast left-back José Gaya.

The Mirror says Liverpool are looking to sign Manchester City and England goalkeeper Joe Hart. The Times says the Reds are also keen on Wolfsburg’s Germany midfielder Julian Draxler but face competition from PSG and, of course, Arsenal, who seem to have been chasing the player for every one of his 23 years.

The Mail says Manchester City will offer £50m for Southampton Virgil van Dijk. There have been “discreet talks” between the clubs, says the Mail all over its back page. The Dutchman is “aware of City’s interest”.

Well, yes.

Posted: 22nd, December 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Liverpool, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Media Balls: Liverpool and Everton contest boring derby full of blood and thunder

How was the Liverpool derby? Liverpool won the match 0-1 thanks to very late goal from Sadio Mane. The Liverpool Echo says it was terrific.

As Everton’s shell-shocked players trudged off at the end of another crushing derby defeat some of the home fans offered a ripple of polite applause. They felt as though they should show their appreciation for the effort the Blues had put into a blood and thunder game

The Daily Mirror’s David Maddock watched a different performance:

Yet the problem with the skillful yet sanitised world of the Premier League, is the lack of blood and thunder, even when things get gritty and dour. Just look at Everton’s performance in this contest…

He adds that “despite the obvious drama of that injury time winner… so little came before it.” It was pretty dull.

But in the Express, Gideon Brooks likens the match to a “battlefield”. The mood in the arena was “ferocious”. Neil Squires say the foreigners in both sides felt “the primal pull” the match delivers.

In the the Star, Chris McKenna watched “tackles flying in from all angles”.

Martin Samuels tells Mail reader this was a”full-blooded derby”. Although “it wasn’t much cop” and “failed to deliver excitement”. Liverpool were “tame”. Ian Ladyman says the match was “lacking in substance”.

Not so says Phil Thomas in the Sun. It was “explosive.” To illustrate the point the paper zooms in on Ross Barkley’s tackle on Jordan Henderson. Although, it was, says Thomas, “one of the few few moment that genuinely got the blood up”.

As for the foul, what say the clubs’ official websites?

Everton: “Tempers frayed after Barkley went in on Henderson and was booked for his troubles.”

Liverpool: No word.

To conclude: it was explosive, full of the bloody and thunder, lacking in blood and thunder and dull.

Posted: 20th, December 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Manchester United’s Gary Neville enjoys piling the pressure on Liverpool’s Karius

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville  – “I suppose it came from jealousy through my childhood – jealousy, hatred, passion for your own club. You don’t want them [Liverpool] to win anything” – has been criticising Loris Karius, the Liverpool goalkeeper. Neville – “I can’t stand Liverpool and everything to do with them” – says Karius “transmits anxiety”. According to Neville – in October 2006, he celebrated a Man United goal against Liverpool at Old Trafford by running up towards the away fans to celebrate wildly on his own –  Karius is untrustworthy and unreliable. “Karius] isn’t good enough,” says Gary Neville.

Karius heard the attack and thought it unfair. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Karius said of Neville: “He was a top player, then he was a manager for a short bit and now he is back to being an expert again… But he is always very critical. I think he does it to everyone. I just hope that when I do well he will comment on that. We will see in the future.”

Compared to Neville’s diatribe, Karius comes across as sober. But Neville can’t leave it there. He tweets: “‪My sincere apologies Karius. You’re right. A failed manager hasn’t a clue. I won’t copy your great fan, pundit and club legend again. ”

The “club legend” is Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher, who has also been critical of Karius, albeit in more measured tones. The difference between Carragher and Neville is that one pundit wants the best for Liverpool and one does not.

Karius’s errors are inevitable. The trick is to focus on what went wrong and seek to improve. Neville’s criticism comes across as kneejerk. It offers no scope for improvement only a wall of negativity. Neville has been a fine pundit, but might his dislike of Liverpool have clouded his view of the Liverpool goalkeeper to a degree that rather than investigating the cause he’s simply taking pleasure in the player’s mistakes and nerves? His sarcastic response to Karius’ response suggests as much.

Posted: 12th, December 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp should thank Cook for revealing Bournemouth plot to attack Karius

When Bournemouth beat Liverpool 4-3 in the Premier League, the winning goal came via the slippery hands of Reds’ goalkeeper Loris Karius, who spilled the ball into the path of a grateful Nathan Aké.

Speaking to TalkSport, Bournemouth’s Steve Cook was asked if the home side has targeted Karius. “I’ve got to be honest, we did,” said Cook. “We felt he was under a lot of pressure – obviously, playing for Liverpool you’ve got to be a very strong character. We did target him, we tried to pressure him and get as many shots at him as possible. Obviously, we didn’t get that many shots off in the game but we did target him as a weakness in the Liverpool side.”

Sounds entirely sensible. Bournemouth identified a weakness and with skill and purpose exposed it. They sought signs where the underdog could beat the bigger, richer team. But Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is aghast. He says Cook’s comments ahow a lack of “respect”.

“Actually, that’s one of the worst things I ever heard in my life,” he said. “I am really looking forward to playing Bournemouth again because of this.”

And so a great rivalry is born: Liverpool and Bournemouth.

Of course, Klopp knows Karius is not the finished product. Liverpool coaches will be analysing weaknesses and attempting to turn them into strengths. It won’t happen overnight. It will happen little by little. The errors will stop occurring, or at least become less frequent. From failure, Karius can learn and work hard to improve his performance.

Rather than grow prickly over Cook’s words, Klopp might thank him for helping Karius and Liverpool develop a strategy for doing things better.

But Klopp hasn’t stopped talking. He has more to say of the ‘keeper he bought from Mainz and promoted to Liverpool’s first choice. “If they thought before the game that Loris Karius is a weakness then I don’t know which game they were looking at,” he says.

Perhaps he should ask Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, whose analysis seems so astute.

Posted: 10th, December 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Media balls: Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino to Arsenal for £82m plus £1

Hard cheese, Arsenal. The Mirror leads not with the Gunners’ terrific 4-1 win over Basel, a win that means Arsenal top their Champions’ League group, but with news that Liverpool have inserted an “anti-Arsenal clause” in Roberto Firmino’s new contract.

Why Arsenal would want the Brazilian is moot. The Mirror just says that if they do, they need to pay more than any other club. Any club coughing up the absurd sum of £82m for Firmino can have him – “BUT NOT YOU ARSENAL.” The story is that Firmino’s release clause can be trigged by any club except Arsenal.


roberto firmino contract


Should Arsenal be mad enough to off £82m for Firmino, Liverpool will point to player’s contract and tell them to come back with bigger offer. Maybe they can add a quid. Firmino’s contract, reasons the paper, is “revenge” for when Arsenal triggered Luis Suarez’s release clause with a bid of £40m and one pound. The Mirror adds that the Arsenal bid was made in the “mistaken belief that it would activate his release clause”.

Not quite. It did trigger the clause. But Liverpool didn’t honour it.

“I don’t know to what degree I should go into this – but [Suarez] had a buy-out clause of £40m,” said Liverpool owner John Henry. “But what we’ve found over the years is that contracts don’t seem to mean a lot in England – actually not in England, in world football. It doesn’t matter how long a player’s contract is, he can decide he’s leaving. We sold Fernando Torres for £50m. We didn’t want to sell but we were forced to. For the first time [with Suarez] we took the position that we weren’t selling.”

So Firmino’s release clause is utter balls, then.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 7th, December 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Liverpool, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0