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Back pages | Anorak - Part 15

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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

Manchester United wanted Arsenal’s Wenger but ended up with Mourinho and his questionable values

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger turned down the role at Manchester United. According to former Man United chairman Martin Edwards, the Red Devils approached Wenger to manage the club when Sir Alex Ferguson announced his intention to retire. On May 18 2001, Ferguson told MUTV: “I will be leaving Manchester United at the end of the season and that is it.” In 2016, Ferguson called the decision his “biggest mistake”. He changed his mind in January 2002.

That was a blow to Sven Goran-Eriksson, the former England manager who has said that he signed a deal in 2002 to replace Ferguson. In Sven: My Story, Eriksson notes: “I knew it would be tricky. I had a contract with England until the 2006 World Cup and I would be severely criticised if I broke that contract. But this was an opportunity to manage Manchester United.
A contract was signed — I was United’s new manager.”

In his autobiography, Fergusson admits as much. “The head-hunters were due to meet a candidate to succeed me the following week,” wrote Ferguson. “Sven-Goran Eriksson was to be the new United manager, I believe. That was my interpretation, anyway.”

But this is about Wenger, who says he didn’t move to Old Trafford because he was happy at Arsenal. “I love the values of this club,” says Wenger, “and a club is about values first.”

….

Meanwhile, in Harrod’s department store, London, current Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has bumped into TV presenter Piers Morgan, who reports their conversation. “How the hell is Arsene still in his job?” asks Morgan. “No idea,” says Mourinho, whose family live in London, “but I hope she stays for a long time.”

Clubs can pick a manager but they can’t pick their fans.

 

Posted: 11th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment (1)


Clickbait balls: Arsenal ‘sign’ Lemar but only in the Sun

Illustrating just how bad Arsenal are at transfers, news reaches us that Monaco and France star Thomas Lemar “agrees £250,000-a-week five-year Gunners deal”. The Sun delivers this news in a big, bold headline. Arsenal, eh. The transfer window closed at the end of August, lads. Rubbish.

Of course, the story is total balls. Having delivered the apparent fact of Lemar’s recruitment to the Arsenal cause, we’re soon told the Gunners “are confident Thomas Lemar will arrive at the Emirates in a £92million move from Monaco in January”.

lemar arsenal

 

Nothing has been agreed. Although the Daily Star, which the Sun cites as the single source for its clickbait, claims “a deal has been agreed in principle”. Which means absolutely nothing.

Indeed, even the hyperbolic Star makes a less bold statement than the Sun, noting: “EXCLUSIVE: Arsenal confident they can rekindle £92m deal for Thomas Lemar in January.”

The Star cites no source in its report, leading readers to wonder how one paper’s claim that Arsenal will look to sign Lemar in January became news that Lemar had agreed to join Arsenal in another?

No facts. But lots of exclusives and duped readers.

Posted: 9th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Sanchez ‘will’ sign a new contract if you twist Wenger’s words

Was the Sun’s Neil Ashton in the room when Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger spoke to media on Thursday? Ashton has big news on the press conference:

Arsene Wenger has launched a passionate defence of his disastrous deadline-day dealings. In a remarkable outburst, the Arsenal boss claimed wantaway Alexis Sanchez is “happy” at the Emirates and will sign a new contract.

Is that what he said? Did the usually circumspect Wenger actually say Sanchez would sign a deal to remain at Arsenal? On Arsenal’s official website you can read what he said in full:

on considering selling Alexis…

I didn’t want him to leave unless you bring somebody else in with similar quality – then you can defend it. Then you have a player with a four or five-year contract in front of them who is young. But overall, I didn’t want to lose him without having any replacement. Every decision you make can be interpreted in both ways. As long as you have the quality on the pitch for the club, that’s the one thing that matters. I didn’t want him to leave, it’s true. I didn’t want him to leave and in the end he didn’t leave.

on the chance of Alexis staying beyond next summer…

Yes, there is a chance, yes. You just said he is committed and focused on Arsenal. That’s what makes me believe it. At the end of the day, he is 29 years old in December, he knows his football years are counted at that level, especially with the evolution of the game now, so you have to enjoy every minute.

You can even watch the meeting online:

 

 

So no “outburst” and no claim that Sanchez “will” sign a new deal. Other than that the story was, er, correct.

Posted: 8th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Everton star Wayne Rooney’s holiday romance – and Gary Neville’s advice to Coleen

Rooney laura simpson

 

For those of you wondering how Wayne Rooney and the lovely Coleen are getting along, the Daily Star has front-page news: “ROONEY GIRL TRACKED COLEEN.” The Rooney girl is his could-have-been-shag Laura Simpson, who had been “tracking Coleen for six weeks” before having what says was a “kiss and a cuddle” with the married footballer.

Laura “knew when Coleen was on holiday”. How so? Did she bug the house? Stick a tracker on her car? Hack her phone? No. The devious Laura FOLLOWED Coleen on twitter and “RETWEETED” Coleen’s message: “So basically…yes on holiday again.” Coleen also “revealed” – not boasted? – she was on holiday again in another message on August 26. Just two nights later, Wayne was on the lash and driving Laura’s car when he was pulled over by the fuzz for alleged drink driving.

It’s a no-shag ‘n’ retweet story, a far cry for the 1980s, when footballers and even snooker players were making headlines five-times-a-night.

But what about those holidays? Laura’s not the only one watching Coleen testing sun creams. The Mail says  “Already this year she has visited Amsterdam, Madrid, Mallorca, Ibiza, Las Vegas, Barbados and Portugal.” And this is relevant, apparently, because the Sun reports on its front page: “Drink-drive footie ace Wayne Rooney gives wife Coleen an ultimatum ‘You quit the holidays and I’ll quit the boozing’.”

And the chauffeur service, Wayne, let’s not forget about that.

But we’ll end with some advice from Gary Neville, Wayne’s former Manchester United teammate. “Look at Wayne Rooney there,” said Neville, spotting the striker in the tunnel before a match. “Old-school, looking forward, not hugging, kissing.” Wise words that Wayne and Coleen – but especially Wayne – can hang on to.

 

Posted: 7th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Alexis Sanchez calls Arsenal his ‘home’ and vows to focus

A busy week at the tabloids, as writers think hard about how to fill in the blank pages over the international break. The Sun overlooks doodles of knobs and photos of Paul Gascoigne putting the bins out in favour of pressing f6 on the keyboard and going studs up on Alexis Sanchez. The Sun says Arsenal players wanted the club to flog Alexis Sanchez over the summer. Well, so says the paper, which talks of “fear” in the Arsenal squad that the “moody” Chilean’s return will “sap” the team’s moral.

The Sun’s story is supported by neither evidence nor quote. It exists in headline form only.

Undeterred by the fact that Sanchez has always given his all for Arsenal, Neil Ashton says he “pulled every trick in the book to get away”. That book presumably including a chapter on playing for the team, albeit in a palsied performance at Liverpool in which Arsenal, Sanchez and all, were thrashed 4-0.

Ashton says Sanchez “barely lifted a leg” as the Gunners went down. Well, the same could be said for pretty much every Arsenal player in what was an abject performance, and Sanchez’s first of the season.

Ashton ends his page filler saying Sanchez was “made to play against his will” at Anfield, which rather counters the idea that the Chilean is difficult to manage.

After so much blah-blah, the Sun then delivers the results of a poll in which readers were invited to consider whether or not Sanchez should play for Arsenal. Shock of shocks, most Arsenal fans who respond to polls think playing the club’s best player a good idea. Only 15% of all fans think Sanchez should be put in a wood-chipper and scattered to the winds.

In the Mirror, Sanchez is “fit for nothing”, not even as fertiliser. A former coach of Chile’s Under-20s side, says Sanchez is “fatter than normal”. Chile lost two World Cup qualifiers in the international break. And Sanchez wasn’t at his best. But fat? Bit bitchy of the coach, no, to resort to body shaming. Next they’ll be saying Sanchez’s legs are too hairy and he’s only wearing one bottle of gel in his hair.

As the tabloids wade in on Sanchez, one of the Premier League’s best players, we wonder what the player makes of it all. On Instagram he explains:

 

instagram alexis sanchez arsenal

 

He’s back ‘home” at Arsenal and trying to “focus”.

Such are the facts…

Posted: 7th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Spurs Balls: Dele Alli’s finger is rushed down to forensics (and it stinks of Nazis)

When Spurs footballer Dele Alli raised a middle finger on international duty, the media went into overdrive. So bad was it that Sky Sports produced this hilarious illustration:

 

dele alli england finger

 

‘Player Swears On Pitch’ is not all that big news. In any case, Alli says he was swearing at his former Spurs team-mate Kyle Walker, not at the referee. FIFA is not investigating. And that is that. Or you’d think it would be but in the Sun, Dave Kidd has two pages of intense investigation into what will very possibly be dubbed finger-gate.

He begins his long look at Alli’s finger by stating:

“It was when they showed the widescreen shot of Dele Alli appearing to raise his middle finger in the direction of Kyle Walker, rather than the referee, that you began to worry. That sick feeling you get in your stomach when you suspect we’re going to be hearing far too much about the precise angle of intention of a raised digit… And then you’ll just want to scream out: ‘Aaaarrrrggghhh! Why can’t it just be about the football?'”

Why, indeed. That question can be aimed at the Sun, which produces not only Kidd’s long story – “FICKLE FINGER OF FATE” – but also ‘DELE VISIONS”, a graphic to help us decide if Alli is a liar.

 

 

Having concluded that he might not be, the Sun produces “6 Other Rude Boys”, a look at other unsavoury gestures on the field of play. It kicks off with Nicholas Anelka doing the notorious quenelle salute, made famous by his comedian friend Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala. And there’s Mark Bosnich, then at Aston Villa, giving Spurs fans the Nazi salute. Bit much, no, to liken Alli’s digital ‘fuck off’ with the horrors of Nazi-led anti-Semitism. And there’s Paul Gascoigne’s 1998 flute-playing celebration in front of Celtic fans that earned him a £20,000 fine and a series of death threats. He claimed not to have realized the symbolic significance of his antics – an excuse that would be preposterous coming from anyone else, but which is just about plausible in Gazza’s case.

 

dele alli finger england

 

dele alli finger england

 

Of course, the idea behind this forensic examination of Alli’s raised finger is that the Spurs man has sullied the shirt. Which makes us wonder why the Sun didn’t mention this salute the England team once gave in Berlin:

 

Dele Alli salute

Not Dele Alli

 

Over the page, Ian Wright wonders is “maybe it wasn’t a nasty, malicious gesture”. Wright then tells us what it was: “naive and daft.” He’s “off the hook,” say the Mail in a three-page story on the finger. The paper invites – get this – the “three wise men” to look at “The Devil in Dele”. One of these sages is Jamie Redknapp, who says Alli is “a lovely kid”; another is Martin Keown. Yeah, him:

 

 

Offensive? Nah.

Posted: 6th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Daily Mail gives Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs an unwarranted kick

Giving footballers a kicking is lazy. Take the Mail’s treatment of former Manchester United great Ryan Giggs, who was in Malta for England’s World Cup Qualifying match on Friday 1 September. The game kicked off at 19:45. Around 2 hours later, Giggs was wrapping things up and heading back to the hotel.

As McDonald’s Head of Welsh Football, Giggs had to get some sleep before heading home to present the Welsh Community Football Awards “to recognise those who dedicate their time, effort and hard work into grassroots football throughout Wales”. The ceremony was set for September 2 at the Cardiff City Stadium, where Giggs’ Wales were taking on Austria in their own World Cup qualifier.

Giggs is working hard

But this is how the Mail reported things:

Ryan Giggs is well known in Malta due to the time he has spent on the island, starting from his early days at Manchester United. He also invested in a hotel group there with Gary Neville.

Nevertheless Giggs, along with ITV colleagues Paul Ince, Ian Wright and Glenn Hoddle, chose to return home from Malta as soon as possible after the game on Friday – even if it meant a 5.30am exit from their hotel on Saturday.

Task! And after all Malta has done for him…

Posted: 5th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Lukaku and Rashford as good as Rooney and Berbatov

According to the Daily Mail, Manchester United’s Lukaku/Ibrahimovic/Martial/Rashford are every bit as good as United’s 2007-2009 vintage of Rooney/Ronaldo/Tevez/Berbatov. The paper tells readers:

Rashford and Martial offer lightning pace, skill and a decent chance conversion rate, while Ibrahimovic really needs no introduction.

A decent conversion rate of shots to goals? Not really. Marcus Rashford has nine shots for Manchester United this season and one goal. As for Lukaku being equal to Rooney in his prime and Ibrahimovic, 35, being as exciting as the 23-year-old Ronaldo, well, no, they’re not.

 

Posted: 4th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Tabloids | Comment


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

Adding:

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)


Chile star says story of Sanchez to Manchester City is total balls

What really happened with Alexis Sanchez’s aborted move to Manchester City? The papers are unsure. The Sun says Arsenal called Manchester City to “flog” their star player for £60m. Arsenal then called Monaco to buy Thomas Lemar for that £60m plus another £32m. But Lemar “snubbed” the Gunners. So the whole deal was off because Arsenal only said they would sell Sanchez if Lemar agreed to join them.

The odd bit is that Manchester City – who only made their first offer for Sanchez as late as last Tuesday – apparently told Sanchez it was a done deal. He told his Chile team-mates, who – get this – “gave him a round of applause” (Sun). The other less odd bit is that Arsenal maintained they would not sell Sanchez – and they didn’t.

The result is that Sanchez is “disappointed” (Mail) and “furious” (Sun). But the player has made no comment. The fury comes from unnamed sources, who add that Sanchez could now go on strike (Express). He could also decide to knuckle down and play brilliantly, perhaps even signing a new deal at Arsenal and so earning £300,000 week, up from his current £140,000 a week.

The papers are guessing. But one man is willing to go on the record. Bayern Munich and Chile’s Arturo Vidal says Sanchez never did get that round of applause. He says Sanchez was focused on Chile’s game against Paraguay and never mentioned joining Man City. “To whom? No, no, to nobody. Not to me. I don’t think so,” said Vial when asked abut Sanchez. “I think it was all made up because he was very focused on today’s game.”

What price that anonymous source was already counting 10% of £60m until Arsenal stuck to their guns..?

Posted: 1st, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal FC is declared dead and only the parasites remain

Arsenal are dead. So says the Sun, which links the club’s pulse to Alexis Sanchez’s whims, declaring that when the Chilean quits the club today – it is “inevitable he will, says the paper’s Neil Ashton – he’ll be leaving behind a corpse where there was once a club.

Sanchez would also be leaving the leeches, footballers whose presence at Arsenal is more parasitic than proud. Granti Xhaka, Shkodran Mustafi, Lucas Perez and Calum Chambers are rubbish on the “Arsenal scrapheap”.

 

the sun arsenal

 

But might it be that the Sun’s trash talk is a little late? It was last March 8 when the Sun’s Ashton told readers:

Arsenal Football Club, Rest In Peace. This institution, one of the most famous clubs in the world, is dead and buried. Here at the Emirates, the heart finally stopped beating.

Can you die twice? And can a thriving football club with millions in the bank die once? Because having watched Arsenal breathe its last in March, on June 1, the same Neil Ashton wrote:

Arsenal, no matter how many times they win the FA Cup, are only ever one defeat away from another meltdown among their fans..

 

To wit the obvious question: is Neil Ashton a Gooner?

Posted: 31st, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comments (3)


Arsenal mug Liverpool for £40m Oxlade-Chamberlain

Liverpool have spent £40m on recruiting Arsenal and England’s nice, middle-class boy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The word mugged spring to mind. Arsenal might have kicked off the Premier League in indifferent form, but such a large fee for such an uninspiring, toothless player is a great result.

Since joining Arsenal in 2011, Oxlade-Chamberlain has made 198 appearances for the Gunners. And in every one he has been average at best and dire at worst. His most memorable appearance for Arsenal came in 2014 at Chelsea. As Arsenal played to a 6-1 defeat, Oxlade-Chamberlain tipped Eden Hazard’s shot around a post with his hand – and referee Andre Marriner sent off his team-mate Kieran Gibbs. (Even better news for Gooners is that the equally uncharismatic Gibbs has been shunted out to WBA.)

That case of mistaken identities, makes us wonder if Marriner is now working as Liverpool’s head of recruitment.

PS: Arsenal signed Oxlade-Chamberlain from Southampton. He joins a Liverpool side with more former Saints:

Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton to Liverpool, July 2015m, £12.5m)
Dejan Lovren (Southampton to Liverpool, July 2014, £20m)
Sadio Mane (Southampton to Liverpool, July 2016, £34m)
Adam Lallana (Southampton to Liverpool, July 2014, £25m)

PPS:  If they want another one, Arsenal should make Theo Walcott available.

Posted: 30th, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comments (4)


Arsenal balls: rewriting history without Patrick Vieira

sami mokbel arsenal daily mail

 

Using Arsenal’s 4-0 defeat at Liverpool to rewrite history is the work of the Daily Mail’s Sami Mokbel. The journalist has been in New York, where he spoke with former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira, currently expanding the Manchester City brand with New York City. The tone is very much one of if only Arsenal had a player of Vieira’s calibre now.

Across the page, Mokbel talks of Arsenal’s “broken dressing room”. Mokbel likens the place to a “morgue” – although the Daily Telegraph hears the deathly quiet punctuated by the roar of fury as players rip into one another. Mokbel rearranges his earplugs and tells readers:

How Arsene Wenger could do with Patrick Vieira in his ranks. Sunday’s harrowing experience at Anfield would never have happened on the Frenchman’s watch.

Eh, yes it would have. December 23, 2000: Arsenal are beaten 4-0 at Anfield in the Premier League. Vieira plays the full 90 minutes.

The Arsenal team on that daty: Manninger, Dixon, Keown, Luzhny, Silvinho, Parlour, Vieira, Grimandi, Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Henry. Subs: Stepanovs, Pires, Wiltord, Lukic, Kanu.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 30th, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal to swap Alexis Sanchez for £20m and Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling

Yep, lots of Arsenal news and views today. I’m obsessed. That much is clear. But the doom and gloom is being lifted by what might resemble a cunning plan. Having offloaded the bog-standard English footballer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Chelsea, who were so in dire need to native flesh and they invested £40m of Russian peasants’ cash  hard-earned moolah in ‘The Ox’, news is that Arsenal are in for his England colleague Raheem Sterling (the ex-Liverpool player who runs like a bearded dragon).

Manchester City want Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez. Given that Sanchez fancies playing for Arsenal less than he does growing his leg hair out, the Gunners should sell the Chilean pronto. To sweeten the blow of losing their best player, City are offering cash (around £20m of Abu Dhabi’s GDP) plus the exciting Sterling, 22, who cost them £49m in 2015 .

If this deal goes through, then Arsenal win. They get a London-born footballer they have long coveted. They get shot of Sanchez, who will surely only fade at Arsenal. And they inject the dressing room with a dash of the unexpected.

 

Posted: 29th, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


After Liverpool, Arsenal players caught a ‘furious’ ‘morgue-like’ dressing room

Is the Arsenal dressing room noisy? Arsene Wenger told us after Stoke rode their luck to beat Arsenal 1-0:

“We have many leaders…of course at the moment, I would say Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are the captains with Petr Cech so the natural responsibility goes to them.”

So how is Wenger is the dressing room? Former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn told us yesterday:

“Arsene Wenger’s usually very calm and calculated, but I have known players to say over the past few seasons when he gets a performance he finds unacceptable he has lost his temper somewhat.”

Sami Mokbel in the Mail:

Another defeat, another virtually silent dressing room. If there was ever a time to air some home truths then Anfield’s away facilities at around 6pm on Sunday was it… by and large, yet again, it was a morgue. Lifeless.

And in the Telegraph:

Petr Cech ripped into his Arsenal team-mates as he conducted a dressing-room inquest… He was furious

Or as former Arsenal player Lee Dixon has it:

There should be a few people being told off in that dressing room but I don’t think there will be and that’s the problem.

 

And Wenger:

“If you find a manager who is happy with that performance today, I wish you good luck. The emotions are negative, but it’s not the right moment to talk about that.”

Calm and calculated, then, as usual. And Cech took the lead among the players, as Wenger says he does. Plus ca change at the Gunners.

Posted: 29th, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal in decline: blame the greedy board not Wenger

Alex Oxlade-Chambelrin, the 24-year-old Arsenal footballer is worth – get this – £40m and £220,000 a week in wages. Possessed of less fight than a LibDem activist at a cannabis conference, the man media calls ‘The Ox’ (on account of his running style?) becomes the player who will next year or maybe the year after that or the year after that be utterly brilliant for Chelsea.

 

arsenal oxlade wenger

 

Surely Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s was wearing blinkers or a salesman’s shiny jacket when he told everyone a few days ago how Oxlade-Chamberlain was “one of the players we want to build around in the future’, who caused Wenger to say: “I’m convinced that he will be in the next two or three years the English player everyone looks at.”

The smart move would be for the Gunners to now ship out Alexis Sanchez and any other player not keen on staying the course.  Arsenal should take the £70m (Daily Star) Manchester City are willing to part with for Sanchez. They should then sack Wenger and the patently useless Ivan Gazidis, the chief executive who called for a “catalyst” for change, and saw it delivered in a 4-0 tonking at Liverpool in which Arsenal performed like moving cones on a training pitch. Although, in fairness, Gazidis didn’t specify which way the line of travel would be. But now we know it’s clearly downwards.

Sacking Wenger is the opinion of Ian Wright, the former Arsenal striker , who tells Sun readers: “GO, ARSENE.” A pall of uncertainty hangs over Arsenal and, according to Wright, it’s all Wenger’s fault. Wrong. It’s the owners who are to blame. They hire. They fire. The Arsenal board has grown fat on Wenger’s ability to delivers Champions’ League cash and a team capable of packing out The Emirates. They suits merely call for more of the same year on year. Coming fifth placed in last season’s Premier League should not have earned him a new two-year deal on an increased wage.

The Mirror says senior players are “fuming” over the lack of changes and singings at the club. Others might wonder why just a year after buying Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez for a combined fee in excess of £50m, both are being touted for sale.

After yet another poor start to the season, Arsenal are “stale”. The Mail says the training routine never changes, adding that the club’s majority shareholder, ‘Silent’ Stan Kroenke, will keep backing Wenger – until the dividend cheques stop coming and the fans stop buying shirts.

If you want to know what’s gone wrong at Arsenal, be like ‘The Ox’ and follow the money.

Posted: 29th, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comments (2)


Arsenal balls: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rejects new deal for more money than he wanted

Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is one of the Gunners contingent of nice middle-class boy lacking bite. In the final year of his Arsenal contract, the temptation must be for the club to cash in on the player they bought from Southampton in 2011 and whose been an inconsistent performer, rarely shining. Chelsea are keen, and have offered £35m for the player.

But Arsenal want to keep him. And they are prepared to pay big for the privilege.

In 2011, Arsenal manger Arsene Wenger said of his new recruit: “We are looking forward to him fulfilling his huge potential with Arsenal.”

In 2017, Wenger suggested that potential would soon be achieved: “I want him to stay here for a long time. I’m convinced that he will be in the next two or three years the English player everyone looks at.”

So what’s the player who is always on the verge of being great worth to the Gunners?

On June 11, the Daily Star said a new contract had been agreed:

 

 

A few days later and the Star said Oxlade-Chamberlain was “highly unlikely” to agree a deal to stay at Arsenal. Both reports remain online.

 

 

On August 25, Oxlade-Chamberlain had “rejected” an absurd £180,000-a-week to stay at the Gunners, said the Star.

 

 

That’s odd because on August 15, the Mirror reported The Ox wanted £150,00 a-week to stay.

 

 

The Sun agreed.

 

 

Sky Sports adds: “Arsenal to tell Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain if he can leave after he turns down new deal.” The deal that offered him more than he wanted?

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 25th, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Conor McGregor’s going to lose – even Rocky lost

You watching the big fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather? You’d best not miss the beginning because it could be quick. Boxing is a sport. And Mayweather’s a lot better at it than MacGregor.

Or as the Guardian puts it:

Conor McGregor’s biggest weapon? His lack of boxing experience

No. It isn’t. As anyone who has ever stepped into a ring with a professional boxer will confirm, not being a boxer with a track record is a big disadvantage. Even Rocky lost.

The allure of Saturday’s much-hyped fight in Las Vegas is that no one knows what will happen in the ring – not least the overwhelming favorite, Floyd Mayweather

Nah. I think he’s got a pretty good idea what will happen.

Spotter: Guardian

Posted: 25th, August 2017 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets | Comment


Arsenal balls: ‘no Sanchez news’ excites the Mail and BBC

The BBC is engaging in a spot of clickbait. Below the question”Is Alexis Sanchez heading out of the Emirates?” it writes “Wenger not ruling out new Sanchez deal.”

Readers might well put the two headlines together and concoct the notion that Alexis Sanchez is leaving the Gunners. But that would be wrong. The BBC stokes the fires, noting “speculation linking the forward with a move away from the club”.

So what did Wenger says about that? Nothing.

“I don’t think he’s too much disturbed by all the noise, players at that level are used to it now. He is very focused, very happy and the fact he goes into the last year of his contract doesn’t mean we cant extend it.

“At the moment we haven’t, we just want to focus as a team and not look too much at the contracts of everybody.”

The BBC links to a Daily Mail story, one telling readers:

Manchester City still want Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez, 28, before next week’s transfer deadline.

From the off that story is utter tosh:

Pep Guardiola identified the Gunners forward as a primary target this summer but has been surprised by Arsene Wenger’s resolve in keeping his prized asset.

The Man City manager is shocked that the Arsenal manager wants to keep his best player?

Guardiola is willing to wait until next summer to sign Sanchez for nothing should a transfer fail to materialise.

Unless Sanchez signs for Arsenal, in which case the plan’s foiled.

 

Posted: 24th, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Liverpool balls: Barcelona ‘give up’ on Coutinho by upping their offer

Is Philippe Coutinho leaving Liverpool for Barcelona? He wants to. the Brazilian has put in for a transfer. He’s not played for Liverpool this season, having been injured and now laid low with a virus. How unlucky is that, eh? Hope he’s feeling better for his Barcelona medical.

But he’s not leaving. No way. The Mirror told us as much yesterday.

Liverpool have won their battle with Barcelona over Philippe Coutinho with the Spanish giants admitting defeat in their bid to prise him away… Barca have finally accepted that Liverpool won’t sell Coutinho to them this month.

 

philippe countinho liverpool

 

The Mirror cements its scoop on today’s back page leading with: “Welcome home, all is forgiven.” That headline hovers around a photo of Coutinho and Jurgen Klopp, the Liverpool manger, hugging one another.

 

philippe countinho liverpool

 

Meanwhile…over in the Sun:

BARCELONA are to launch a final £136million bid for Philippe Coutinho. The Catalan giants… are ready with a fourth offer of £100m up front with add-ons of £36m

Such are the facts.

Posted: 23rd, August 2017 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comments (4)


Arsenal balls: Jack Wilshere hits ‘career low’ as Man City’s Smith auditions for the big time

How much editorial spin can be heaped upon Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, who last night responded angrily to a late foul by Manchester City’s Matthew Smith as the pair contested an Under 23 encounter. (Wilshere is 25.) Once viewed as the greatest English player of his generation, Wishere has by way of injury and the emergence of brighter talents at Arsenal and elsewhere fallen well down the pecking order.

In the handbags that followed, Wilshere shoved Smith in the chest – the City player went down faster than a Love Island contestant, before clutching his head and laying in the foetal position for some time – and scrapped with Tyreke Wilson. Both Wilshere and Wilson were sent off. Smith was dispatched with a single bullet to the temple.

And the press?

Wilshere sent off for Arsenal after pushing opponent – Evening Standard

Jack Wilshere sent off for Arsenal after flooring Man City player – The Sun

It was a “career low” – The Sun

Jack Wilshere sent off for Arsenal to cast further doubt over his futureDaily Telegraph

After the hype, let’s leave you with the balls. Matthew Smith, take a bow… and keep going down and down and down until your nose hits the turf. (Tip: next time you audition for the Premier League, remember to slap the grass with an open hand as if you’re giving birth and to check the other hand – the one that’s been holding your head on – for signs of blood and brain.)

 

Posted: 22nd, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Broadsheets, Manchester City, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Media bias: Manchester City never dive, Kyle Walker gets the elbow and Everton con the ref

Media bias: When Kyle Walker was sent off on his Manchester City debut, a few voices thought he’d been hard done by, arguing that his second yellow card was harsh. We’ve gone round the publications to see what they thought of it.

What was Walker looking at?

First up, and by way of a benchmark, we go to John Murray (BBC):

It probably wasn’t a yellow card but it was a silly thing for Kyle Walker to do just after he was booked. He’s not looking at the ball, he’s looking at the man. 

BBC match report:

Walker is looking at a high ball in the air, takes a quick peep at Dominic Calvert-Lewin behind him and catches the Everton man with a brush of the arm. It is not an elbow.

Pretty clear, then, that Walker was looking at the man not the ball.

The Sun:

Walker’s dismissal seemed particularly harsh as he appeared to be looking at the ball rather than Calvert-Lewin when he leapt.

Not clear at all, then. He was looking at the man and also ,er, not looking at the man.

What about the clubs’ respective websites?

Everton FC website: “City lose their discipline after falling behind… Walker paid the penalty for receiving two yellow cards.” What he received them for is not enlarged upon.

Manchester City website: “The wing-back’s first yellow came for a sliding challenge on Leighton Baines, and the second left the Etihad crowd bemused after he was cautioned for a collision with Dominic Calvert-Lewin.” Walker committed no fouls, according to City. The first was for a “challenge”. The second was for a “collision”, a coming together.

And the experts?

Graham Poll (Daily Mail)

It was a foul, nothing more. No need for a card. He got it wrong.

Gary Neville:

“He’s backing into him, the amount of times I did this as a full-back, you try and use your body to establish your position. Calvert-Lewin’s gone down, he’s been clever, he’s been effective in the first half.

“He’s held his head and that’s what I think conned the referee. You could say it’s clever from Calvert-Lewin, you could say it’s cute. Personally, it’s a soft second yellow.”

What about the local media?

Manchester Evening News: “Kyle Walker was farcically sent off.”

The paper then accuses the Everton player of acting:

Kyle Walker must feel like one of the unluckiest footballers on the planet right now after receiving one of the most ridiculous red cards you will ever see.

The City right back was rightly booked for a foul on Leighton Baines, but moments later, as he and Dominic Calvert-Lewin jockeyed for position under a high ball, the Everton man bumped into his back and dramatically fell to the deck.

The MEN says “Calvert Lewin makes a huge meal of it”.

Play acting is not what City players do, right? The MEN also reports on City’s match with Arsenal’s Under 23s last night, in which Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere was sent off. The MEN hails his red card: “This will cheer you.” See if you can see any dramatic falls to the ground here?

 

 

Liverpool Post: “Kyle Walker was shown a second yellow card following a challenge on Calvert-Lewin and was sent off.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 22nd, August 2017 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment (1)


Arsenal balls: missing Ozil is the fourth best player on the pitch

The modern media trick is to report a football match and cover all the angles in a scattergun of clickbait and ‘debate’. And so it is for the Sun’s reporting on Stoke City’s 1-0 win over Arsenal. The trouble begins when readers notice the corruption of facts.

In one story, the paper slams Arsenal star Mesut Ozil’s “lifeless performance”. Another story on the game is punctuated with “Should Arsenal get rid of Ozil now?” Yet another story tells readers: “Ozil, indeed, played like a deserter, hiding in plain sight.” Steven Gerrard, the former Liverpool captain now working as TV pundit, was “100 per cent right” to call Ozil a “liability”, says the paper’s Ken Lawrence.

 

ozil ken lawrence arsenal the sun

 

And that’s odd because in the Sun’s round-up of the match, Ozil scores a 7 out of 10, making him the Gunners’ second best performer after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (8) – and the joint fourth best player on the pitch after ‘The Ox’, Stoke’s Jack Butland (8 – the game’s Man of the Match) and Jese (8).

 

ozil arsenal

 

Have the tabloids got it in for Ozil, or have they simply worked out that slamming him get Arsenal fans excited? Just last week, the Mirror labelled Ozil a “loser”, although all the facts pointed to him being anything but. It’s almost as if the stories write themselves to an agenda.

Posted: 21st, August 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment (1)


Chelsea move to sue Diego Costa

No sooner has Diego Costa walked out on Chelsea than the press started to work out how much money his strop will cost the Spain striker. The Express calculates that on an annual wage of £7m a year, striking until January 1 2018, when he can join Atletico Madrid, will cost Costa £3m. (Atletico are subject to a transfer embargo until Jan 1).

Make that £13m, says the Star. Like the Mirror, it says Chelsea could sure Costa for breach of contract.

Odd, isn’t it, that the player whose gamesmanship and nastiness left many fans bemused by his lack of red cards should now have dismissed himself. Perhaps he tired of waiting for the referee?

Chelsea want Costa back to train with the squad, as per the terms of his contract. Costa moans “Chelsea don’t want to release me” and “My destination is already set. I must return to Madrid”. But according to the Sun, Atletico Madrid will pay £30m for Costa – £20m less than Chelsea think he’s worth.

“When we heard [Chelsea manager Antonio] Conte didn’t want me anymore, my agent went to find out if there was interest from Atletico for me coming back,” says Costa. “Of course for the warmth and respect that I earned there, they showed interest, but they wouldn’t pay a fortune… If I’m not part of the manager’s plans, I would like to choose my destination – I’m not going to let them decide just to get more money.”

The only winner here look likely to be Aletico, who can sit back and watch Costa’s value plummet.

 

 

Posted: 18th, August 2017 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Spurs balls: Levy puts Dele Alli in the shop window

In the mad world of football transfers, what is Tottenham and Spurs’ talented irritant Dele Alli worth? Helpfully the BBC says he’s worth £150m. Its story is rooted in the Sun’s “exclusive”, which says Dele Alli won’t be sold to Manchester City or Barcelona “even for £150million”.

 

levy dele alli spurs

 

The article adds that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy “has made it clear 21-year-old Alli is not for sale at any price”. In other words, anyone who wants to buy the player can start the bidding at £150m. As the story adds:

And with Neymar moving to PSG for £198m and Kylian Mbappe expected to follow him for £160m, Levy sees no reason why Alli should not be in a similar bracket.

Levy’s dangling Alli in the water and is waiting to see if any oil-soaked fish is mad enough to bite. And as Levy sticks Alli in a basque and suspenders and puts him in the store window, the pretence continues that he’s anything but waiting for a massive bid. “Levy has made it clear his future is at White Hart Lane,” adds the Sun blithely.

The really odd thing about the Sun’s scoop is that it contains not one quote from Levy. His “warning” to the world that only £150m-ish will get Alli contains not a word that can be attributed to him irrefutably and directly. If the Spurs chairman won’t go on the record, why is news of Alli’s non sale news at all?

When did the Sun become Tottenham’s salesroom?

Posted: 17th, August 2017 | In: Back pages, News, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment (1)