Anorak

Back pages | Anorak - Part 14

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Premier League news. Stories from the newspapers and BBC sport – sports news from tabloids Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Star, the Guardian, Daily Mirror, the times, daily telegraph

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

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

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

The Burnley Express says of Silva:

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

But Silva exaggerated the contact.

Cheating?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

burnley fc silva dive

 

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

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

Adding:

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

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

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

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Ozil has 14.3 millions followers on Instagram.

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

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


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

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

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

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

 

Everton fight fan toddler

 

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

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

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

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

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

Punch? Slap? Hit or miss?

 

 

Lyons were unimpressed with the Everton showing:

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Posted: 20th, October 2017 | In: Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


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

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

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

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

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

Sam Morshead then adds:

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

No.

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

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

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

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

To put it another way, then:

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

Or:

“Wenger does not shake Sanchez’s hand twice”

Or how about:

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

Or as Morshead puts it:

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

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

 

alexis sanchez handshake snub wenger arsenal

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

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

Such are the facts.

Posted: 19th, October 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


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

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

Gavin Newsham gets it right in his apprasal:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He’s not the only one…

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

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

Such are the facts.

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


Mourinho inspires Manchester United to another boring encounter at Liverpool

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

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

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

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

A pox on Van Gaal!

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

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

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

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


Arsenal balls: The Metro and Google News trick fans with Sanchez to Man City story

Egregious balls in the Metro, which declares: “Arsenal News: Alexis Sanchez has decided to join Manchester City.” It’s one of the top three Arsenal stories on Google News:

 

But when you click on the story, things are not so clear. We read:

Alexis Sanchez has decided that his next destination will be Manchester City, according to reports.

But according to the Metro, Sanchez has decided to join Manchester City, right? It says so in the headline on Google News. But reading on, the Metro cites a different source to itself:

The Daily Mirror claims that the Chile international will not sign a new deal and Arsenal are now deciding whether to cash in on the 28-year-old in the January transfer window.

The Metro doesn’t bother to link to the Mirror’s story. But we do. And it does not say Sanchez has agreed to join City. It says Arsenal are in talks to extend Sanchez’s deal at Arsenal and that if the Chilean doesn’t stay in London, he could leave for City if they pay a big enough fee.

But Sanchez has made his mind up, right? Wrong. The Metro adds:

The Daily Mirror reports that Sanchez’s future in January will be decided by Arsenal’s season so far and whether the club are in with a realistic chance of winning major silverware.

Utter balls, then, in the dire Metro, which tricks people into reading its bilge.

 

 

Sanchez has not decided to join Man City. Other than that the story is correct.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 13th, October 2017 | In: Back pages, News, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal balls: Sanchez talks progressing well and Manchester City worry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is that what he said? No.

Such are the facts.

 

 

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Such are the facts.

 

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


Arsenal balls: Theo Walcott leaves Gunners in tabloids betting scoop

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Posted: 4th, October 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Marcus Rashford’s silver hatchet

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

September 6:

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

October 3:

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

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

That is the way Rashford rolls.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buys his mum a watch! The swine.

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

Well, that’s the way he rolls.

Posted: 3rd, October 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: stalking Lacazette in Tesco’s

When Arsenal footballer Alexandre Lacazette popped to the shops, the Daily Mail was there to report it. But how does it report on a man minding his own business? How can it pad out a paparazzi image of a private man in Tesco’s? The headline runs: “Arsenal star Alexandre Lacazette and his girlfriend pop to Tesco Express in £250k Ferrari supercar.”

 

 

Lots of people own very expensive cars, especially in London. But when a young black footballer owns one and uses it to drive to a supermarket, it’s news. And after the headline and no fewer than three photos of Lacazette, including one of a woman minding her own business and a child minding hers, the Mail’s Ben Nagle writes:

There is a widely-held stereotype that Premier League footballers are far-removed from reality, but Alexandre Lacazette is looking to disprove that.

He’s not shopping for groceries. He’s “looking to disprove” a stereotype. There’s a message in that cucumber, which Nagle prices up so that other footballers and football fans can follow the Arsenal strikers’ lead. As the paps look out for Chelsea players buying their own celery, Nagle writes:

WHAT DID HE BUY?
Two whole cucumbers – £0.45p each

Hand-plaited brioche loaf – £2

Adding yet more facts:

The Frenchman arrived at the supermarket in a bright red Ferrari 488GTB, worth in the region of £250k, parking at the side of the street before heading inside.

You can feel the scratch of pencil on pad as Wayne Rooney makes notes: 1. Do not park INSIDE shop; 2. Get out of car BEFORE shopping; 3. Walk on LEGS…

Lacazette then headed back to his supercar…

4. Do NOT get into the wrong car.

Over in the Mail-lite Sun, Lacazette is also news, although now his “girlfriend” is a “mystery brunette”, which is tabloid shorthand for ‘we don’t know who she is and the paparazzi never asked’. The Sun then casts the woman out at the shops as “an unknown brunette”. And then we get still more facts about getting the Lacazette looks. You’ve got the cucumbers, the car and the 10p shopping bag, but do you have the sweater?

Arriving in a £450 DSquared2 jumper and driving a £250,000 Ferrari, the Arsenal striker was shopping with a mystery brunette.

All insightful stuff.

PS: Tesco’s has yet to update its Lacaxette action figute with model /car / freind / carier bag.

 

Posted: 2nd, October 2017 | In: Back pages, Tabloids | Comment


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

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

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

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

No word on how the shot was deflected wide.

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

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

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

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

The Leicester Mercury reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Arsenal riot, stroll and stumble at BATE Borisov

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

What do the newspapers have to say about the match?

EASY!

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

HARD!

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

And the Times:

Times Arsenal

 

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

Such are the facts.

 

 

 

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


Arsenal balls: Manchester United park the bus and Chelsea never lose

Arsenal are on the up. With four wins and one draw from their past five games, and with just one goal conceded in that period, Arsene Wenger’s team have recovered from their early season defeats to Stoke (in which they were unlucky and robbed by poor refereeing) and Liverpool (where they got the thrashing their abject performance deserved). It also behoves a mention to note that following Arsenal’s 2-0 win over a spark West Bromwich Albion, the Gunners have won eight consecutive home games in the Premier League.

But in the Sun, the forecast at The Emirates remains grim. Therein they are “FALTERING Arsenal”. You “could not disguise just how far the Gunners are falling behind their major rivals. While City, United and Chelsea are brushing opponents aside with contemptuous ease, Arsene Wenger’s team are labouring to see off even the most unambitious of rivals.”

 

Arsenal table

Arsenal “far behind” at one point away from third sport

 

Arsenal drew 0-0 at Chelsea in a game they could well have won, hitting the post and missing an open goal from inside six yards. And that’s the same Chelsea who lost at home to the mighty Burnley. Manchester City were flukey away to Bournemouth, scoring a very late goal courtesy of Raheem Sterling’s boot and a massive deflection, and drew 1-1 with Everton. Manchester United have drawn 2-2 with Stoke, and last weekend beat Southampton 0-1. Of that match the Sun’s sister paper, the Times, called United’s performance “strangely lethargic”. Adding:

Given the lead by Lukaku, United went into abject retreat in the second half when Southampton had the bulk of possession and most of the chances. At the final whistle, United had six defenders on the pitch, while the home side brought on two attackers, a fair reflection of the balance of power.

Manchester United parked the bus. So much for “brushing aside opponents with contemptuous ease”. United and City have yet to play any of their title rivals.

And what of West Bromwich Albion being unambitious? The Evening Standard reports:

Pulis had employed a more ambitious West Brom lineup than might have been expected, with Hal Robson-Kanu and Rodriguez making for a mobile, high-pressing front two.

It’s hardly perfect at Arsenal, but to ignore the facts and stick to a bogus narrative is poor reporting.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 26th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, News, Tabloids | Comment


Bias balls: Arenal mistime a tackle as West Bromwich Albion howl for a penalty

Media bias: a look at biased football reporting. Last night Arsenal beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0 in the Premier League. Tired at 0-0, Arsenal Shkodran Mustafi appeared to bring down West Brom’s Jay Rodriguez with a sliding challenge in the box. No penalty was given. Rodriguez got back to his feet and curled a shot at goal, hich Petr Cech did well to save, pushing the ball onto a post. What do the clubs say:

Arsenal official website:

…we survived two huge let offs along the way. Petr Cech made a excellent fingertip save and Nacho Monreal cleared off the line – both from Jay Rodriguez – during an eventful first half.

Is the penalty appeal mentioned at all?

Shkodran Mustafi mistimed his tackle on Rodriguez inside the area, but rather than give the penalty, the referee allowed play on…

Not  foul, then. It was a “mistimed tackle”.

West Bromwich Albion official website:

The forward used his pace to burst past Mustafi into the area, cut inside and appear [sic] to be brought down by the Gunners defender. Rodriguez quickly stood up and subsequently saw his shot tipped on to the far post by Petr Cech…

What about the managers?

Tony Pulis (WBA manager): “I think the challenge on Jay is a penalty and a red card.”

Arena Wenger (Aresnal manager): “The referee left the advantage and they nearly scored from that, they hit the post and I think the decision is defendable on both sides had he given a penalty or not. He left the advantage, if he gives a penalty and doesn’t give the advantage and they miss the penalty then you say why did he not leave the advantage, it’s this kind of situation.”

And the local papers?

Islington Gazette (Arsenal): “Tony Pulis and his men could feel aggrieved by referee Bobby Madley turning down a cast-iron penalty for the Baggies in the first half …”

Verdict: It should have been a penalty – but not if you’re on the Arsenal website.

Posted: 26th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Poppy monoculture: a draconian silence falls over Wembley

Without any hint of irony the Daily Telegraph hears that England – the national football side rebranded ‘The Three Lions’ – are allowed to wear pictures of poppies on their shirts and calls it a “major victory for the British game”. England might not win many meaningful football matches but when it comes to decorating our tops, decades of hurt have been undone. On November 10, England will wear poppies on their shirts as they play – get this – Germany at Wembley.

Before last year’s Armistice Day, FIFA banned England and Scotland — as well as Wales and Northern Ireland — from wearing the poppy, the symbol of remembrance, for matches on that day. FIFA says “political, religious or personal” designs should no infect the national shirts. But England and Scotland players wore them anyhow, albeit as black armbands with a poppy motif.  Odd, no? Football is about rules. It’s all about rules. Without rules there is no sport. Flouting the rules is no small deal.

Rory Smith notes that “Until 2009, it was rare for British club teams to display a poppy on their uniforms at this time of year… A campaign led by the Daily Mail that year changed all that. The intention, of course, is an admirable and honorable one: to show that football, as the slogan goes, remembers. That is not, however, necessarily the effect. Wearing a poppy is designed as an individual act; when it becomes compulsory, it loses not just much of its impact, but some of its meaning.”

An act of remembering in a minute’s contemplative silence became enforced duty. And it became political. Theresa May called it was “utterly outrageous” that FIFA should rule on poppies. The FA says “common sense” has won. The Sun calls it “VICTORY – Poppy ban KO-d as FIFA sees sense”.  “POPPY VICTORY,” declares the Express. “POPPY POWER,” hails the Mail. “Sportsmail ran a successful campaign in 2009 for all Premier League clubs to have the poppy emblem on their shirts, which is now commonplace.” No. It’s compulsory. And anyone who objects is portrayed as morally repugnant.

In 2010, Celtic fans protested a decision for their club’s shirt to feature the poppy. Their banner declared: “Your deeds they would shame all the devils in hell. Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan. No blood-stained poppy on our hoops.” Celtic vowed to ban he protestors. The Sun called them “hate mobs”. Don’t sing sectarian chants about past battles and loss, goes the top-down directive, but you must wear the poppy.

This is not about heartfelt remembrance, giving private thanks to the sacrifices of so many for our freedom (to choose) and supporting the armed forces; it’s about public displays of group think and compliance.

 

Posted: 25th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets, Key Posts, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal balls: Sanchez leaves Higuain and joins Manchester United

Hard luck on Arsenal fans: Alexis Sanchez is on his way to Manchester United. The Sun has the scoop, leading with the “TRANSFER EXCLUSIVE”.

 

SAnchez arsenal manchester united

 

No word on whence the story emerged. No source quoted. Just the simple fact that Manchester United want Alexis Sanchez, and he’s on his way for a £25m signing-on fee.

Readers might be little more circumspect.  This is the Sun, after all, the paper that told us Gonzalo Higuain joined Arsenal in 2013.

 

higuain arsenal sign

 

 

Undeterred by fact – he never joined – the Sun continues to publish the story on its website. Although it was “Updated: 5th April 2016, 7:12 am” to now read:

 

ARSENAL last night smashed their transfer record when they agreed a £23million fee for Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain.

 

ARSENAL last night smashed their transfer record when they agreed a £23million fee for Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain…Wenger believes that the capture of Higuain will convince other world-class stars to join.

This is despite Higuain telling the Times in December 2013:

“I did not speak to them [Arsenal]. They said Arsenal wanted to sign me, that they were there negotiating [with Real Madrid], but it was Napoli who came and bought me.”

As for Alexis Sanchez, well, he plays for Manchester City. We read that fact in the Sun.

 

MANCHESTER CITY will make a final £70million bid to land Alexis Sanchez with the deal now set to go through by tonight.

In another exclusive, readers learn:

MANCHESTER CITY will make a final £70million bid to land Alexis Sanchez with the deal now set to go through by tonight.

Sanchez never did join Man chester City.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 24th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United balls: what Maja Nilsson didn’t say about executive boxes

Seats are pricey at Manchester United. Even a footballer on astronomical wages is upset at the cost of watching the Red Devils. The Daily Mirror says Victor Lindelof’s fiancee “blasts” Man United over “‘disgusting £82,000 cost for Old Trafford executive boxes'”.

And where one tabloid leads, another dutifully follows – although in the Sun, Maja Nilsson, for that is she, is reduce to a “WAG”:

 

manchester united  Victor Lindelof’s fiancee

 

The story tells readers:

“Jose Mourinho’s squad can hire the luxury suites for their family and friends at home games with prices ranging from £24,000 to £81,600.”

So the top price is just under £82,000. And what did she say? This:

“Players have the option to rent a box,” Nilsson said on her podcast, called Livet På Läktaren (Life in the Stands). “I’m not even going to tell you for how much, but a disgusting amount. If you don’t buy one you’re considered a loser. But having a box is wonderful. You get your own waiter.”

The story has been removed from both the Sun and Mirror’s websites.

Posted: 21st, September 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Chelsea balls: Gus Hiddink never did cry

The Sun enjoys the “Crying Dutchman” pun, using it to describe Dutch football managers who aren’t ever crying. In May 2016, the Sun said “Crying Dutchman Louis van Gaal” was “disappointed” at being sacked by Manchester United. But the hammer-headed Dutchman today returns to the Sun in a feature entitled “The Crying Dutchmen”.

With Ronald Koeman mired at Everton and Frank de Boer already sacked by trigger-happy Crystal Palace with a 100% record of played 4, lost 4, Dutch managers in the Premier League are an endangered species. Both men feature on the Sun’s story on Dutch managers who”‘struggle to set the English top flight alight”.

You could, of course, make a longer list of English manger who have failed to shine in the PL – an English manager has yet to win the Premier League. But it’s the Dutch in the crosshairs. And overlooking Martin Jol, who did pretty well at Spurs (2004-2007), notably becoming the first Spurs manager since Keith Burkinshaw (Spurs manger 1976-1984) to qualify for European football in successive seasons, the paper spots Guus Hiddink.

That’s the same Gus Hiddink who while still managing Russia was appointed as Chelsea’s interim manager in 2009, leading them to the FA Cup. The Sun says he “came back in 2015 after Jose Mourinho was axed but the Blues toiled to finish tenth”.

Toiled?

Hiddink rejoined Chelsea on 19 December 2015, with the club in 16th place. Under Jose Mourinho, Chelsea has lost nine out of sixteen league games. Hiddink set a new record for the longest unbeaten streak by a new manager in Premier League history with 12 games unbeaten. Under Hiddick, Chelsea lost just two more league matches.

Crying? No. Far from it. He was very good.

Posted: 18th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Blitzkrieg: Arsenal fans beyond parody as German ‘Nazis’ invade from Cologne

At last night’s Arsenal v Cologne match in the Europa League, things did not go smoothly. Fans behaved as football fans used to, arriving at the stadium without tickets and in high spirits. Around 20,000 fans of FC Koln arrived with just under 3000 tickets between them.

The sensible move would be to flog tickets on the gate, letting fans be with their mates and follow their side without need to register with clubs, load up credit card details and be processed in a way the Stasi would find a bit much. But no. Everyones needs a seat. And with a seat comes a number. And with that number comes control.

(Cologne’s 50,000 capacity: 50,000 has space for 8,175 standing fans.)

 

daily mail arsenal europa cologne

 

And so it is that 20,000 Germans football fans in London for their side’s first European match since 1992 are portrayed as an army of Nazis. “Thug urinate in street, make Nazi salutes and storm the turnstiles,” says the Mail. If pissing in the street makes you a thug, well, we’re all doomed. The definition of ‘thug’ according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is: “a brutal ruffian or assassin: gangster, tough.” Hold the prison tats, knives, guns and bare-knuckle fighting. You just need a full bladder and a lack of public loos to be a thug.

 

daily mail arsenal europa cologne

 

CARNGE!

And what of the Germans being Nazis? Well, for that there is but one source. “ITV political editor Robert Peston reported Nazi salutes and ‘peeing on doorsteps’.” Jim White on talkSPORT (“FANTASTIC! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU MY FRIEND THANK YOU FANTASTIC! etc…”) introduced “highly respected Arsenal fan Robert Peston”, who complained that the Germans “made a terrible mess” by dropping litter and urinating – “and I’ve got a few mates who live near the ground”.

Deary dear, eh. But Peston’s not alone is being upset. On the BBC website, the corporation has collected a narrow range of views, which were it not for any knowledge of what football now represents – moralising, family-friendly entertainment for a TV audience – we’d think the work of a parodist.

Rachel: “In the Emirates as a home fan. Ashamed of Arsenal right now. All the warnings about turning away fans away and they’ve done nothing. No stewards to be seen. Feeling so intimidated.”

Ade: “Currently inside the Emirates, thousands upon thousands of German fans everywhere around us. Horrible tense atmosphere. Tens of thousands of fans being made to feel very unsafe, including very young children.

Foz: “Got to my usual seats in Club level with my 11-year-old son. Surrounded by Cologne fans. So unsafe we have been moved to the other side of the ground. Worst feeling at football in 40 years of watching home and away.”

Chris: “Currently in the home end at Emirates – away section (corner) full and in full voice. Hundreds of people joining in the singing in the adjacent section behind the goal that should be for Arsenal supporters. Can only assume they are Cologne fans.”

Steve: “Don’t feel safe inside and won’t feel safe outside. Should be called off and the Cologne fans sent packing. Arsenal fans who sold their tickets should be banned.”

All pitiful stuff. But at least in the Sun, Dave Kidd does note:

But this did not feel like the bad old days of hooliganism…. A walk around the outside of the Emirates shortly before the original kick-off time, before the turnstiles finally opened, simply showed thousands of English and German supporters shrugging their shoulders and asking each other politely what the hell was going on.

Blitzkrieg! We march at dawn.

 

Posted: 15th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Chelsea balls: Conte walks, counting your roosting chickens and the sack race

Chelsea are playing with power and pace. Undefeated since the Premier League’s opening day – and with every game since a victory – the champions are looking strong. The Daily Mirror’s Darren Lewis has noticed:

Chelsea’s critics were at it on Deadline Day. Never mind that boss Antonio Conte had proved them wrong before, by turning Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses and David Luiz into title winners.

A pox on those clueless critics. Like the wally who on August 13 wrote:

The trouble this time is that the chickens are coming home to roost after Antonio Conte ’s champions failed to build from a position of strength… Someone, somewhere has dropped the ball. As it stands, Chelsea have now been beaten in three ­official games since winning the title last season: the FA Cup final, the Community Shield and now this.

On August 17 some knee-jerker wrote:

It is a continuing crisis for a man knee-deep in it this summer:

Cost was on his way out the door:

The biggest fear is that the man who did so well to win so many people over in his debut campaign last season, could walk away…

All Darren Lewis, of course, who get a sympathetic ear at the Mirror, which seems to have it in for the likeable Conte. On August 6, John Cross warned Conte:

Antonio Conte should fear the Community Shield curse after vulnerable Chelsea’s Wembley defeat to Arsenal. The Wembley curse is hanging dangerously for a third year running with Antonio Conte fearing he could become the latest victim.

The last two managers – Claudio Ranieri and Jose Mourinho – to win the title were both sacked midway through the following season after also losing the Community Shield.

And on August 14, Matt Lawless added:

Antonio Conte won title – and could now win sack race! Bookmakers think Chelsea boss will be axed first

“Antonio Conte is already clinging to his job,” opined one caption.

It’s almost as if you can’t judge an entire season on one performance.

Posted: 14th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Crystal Palace balls: Sam Allardyce gets a call

The Sun has big news for fans of Crystal Palace, the goal-shy Premier League team. Frank de Boer has been sacked. His managerial record at Palace reads: played – 4; lost – 4; goals scored – nil.

But who will replace Mr 100%. Well, it’s Roy Hodgson, the former England manager, who yesterday joined Palace on a two-year contract. The Sun suggests that Roy got the job only after Palace had offered it to one of their former mangers, Sam Allardyce.

 

the sun sam allardyce crustal palace

 

Says the paper:

Sam Allardyce reveals he has received a phone call about taking over at Crystal Palace

He did? No. He didn’t. Click the link and readers are transported to the paper’s story, which informs them:

Allardyce took a phone call from Palace chairman Steve Parish… seeking his thoughts on what the club should do next.

The former England boss was not offered the job, but Parish was quick to seek advice from the 62-year-old when the position became vacant.

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 13th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal balls: Ozil leaves on a free having ‘signed a new deal’ in August

Time for a spot of transfer balls – our look at rubbish football reporting. The Sun says Mesut Ozil  is “set to leave Arsenal next summer on [a] free”. He “will NOT sign [a] new contract”. Well, so say “reports in Germany”. We can find only one of those reports, and it’s in Bild, the German tabloid. We’ve put the story through Google Translate and can now let you know:

The future of national player Mesut Özil is still unresolved.

So, Ozil might stay at Arsenal, then. It continues:

According to information from SPORTBILD, since February 2017 there has been no negotiations with the “Gunners” over an extension of the end of the season ending contract.

At that time they talked about a new working paper with a higher salary (estimated currently: 9 million euros), then Arsenal broke the talks off. Background: Arsène Wenger had contact with PSG at that time. The Londoners lacked the planning certainty, as it was not clear how the coach would go on.

Since then, no longer talked about an extension with Ozil. The fact that a new contract with a basic salary of 280,000 euros per week, as is reported, is not true.

Contract talks were postponed in February because Wenger had yet to commit to a new deal. And Ozil was not offered €280,000 a week to stay at Arsenal.

Which rather makes you wonder if either Bild or the Sun can be believed. After all, according to the Sun, Ozil signed a new deal in August:

 

the sun ozil

 

In fact, he signed a new Arsenal deal in 2016:

 

ozil agrees the sun

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 12th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United balls: star fan Kim John-Un makes third visit

Huge news. Huge! The Sun has the scoop: “Kim Jong-un is a Manchester United fan who believes North Korean footballers will eventually be flooding to the Premier League.”

Of course, what hereditary despot Mr Kim believes might be lot more terrifying than his dream of cheering on North Koreans in Manchester United colours.

But there it is. If North Korea wants it badly enough, exporting footballing talent might well be its biggest source of income. But, like you, we wonder how the Sun came by this “exclusive”? Putting North Korea and Manchester United into one headline is sure to attract clicks. But is it true?

 

the sun North Korea Manchester United

 

The story continues:

A close friend of the nuclear tyrant revealed to SunSport how he loves the beautiful game and never misses a major football tournament.

Tyrant’s pal calls British tabloid to talk foot.

Italian senator Antonio Razzi confirmed the crackpot dictator had told him during private conversations of his love for the Red Devils.

But when asked if Kim compared himself to any United heroes such as Eric Cantona or Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Razzi told The Sun: “No, Kim is Kim — he is the only one.”

So Ibra it is, then.

And be in no doubt that news of Kim’s love for Manchester United is an exclusive, and as such should not be confused with the Mirror’s August 2014 story: “Kim Jong-Un is Manchester United fan”.

 

 

And:

 

You heard it there first!

Posted: 12th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Politicians, Sports, Tabloids | Comment