Anorak

Back pages | Anorak - Part 17

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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

Injury Balls: Arsenal sell Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for spare parts

Injury Balls: a look at unreliable reporting. When Alex Oxlade-Chameberlain was substituted in Arsenal’s win over Southampton, the knives were out. It was all over for ‘The Ox’.

Daily Mirror: “The England star was forced off 10 minutes before the break with an apparent hamstring injury, meaning he could now miss the FA Cup final in 17 days”

Daily Telegraph: “Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain suffers hamstring injury that could rule him out of another FA Cup final”

Daily Mail: “…he appeared visibly distressed and is a major doubt for the FA Cup final against Chelsea on May 27.”

90Minutes: “Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is set to draft Hector Bellerin back into the first team fold in place of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the remaining games of the season”

Two days later and:

BBC: “Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should be fit [for today’s match at Stoke] despite limping off early in the midweek game against Southampton with a hamstring injury.”

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 13th, May 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Manchester Evening Post’s fake news pledge and Arsenal spin in the Mirror

Forget all that Clickbait balls and Transfer Balls and all the other balls designed to seduce football fans to click on the ads. The Manchester Evening News is going factual. It might be contagious and impact on other titles owned by Trinity Mirror. This is the MEN’s mission statement:

Sport, like news, is a perpetual motion machine. The pace of change is increasingly rapid, not just on the pitch but in the press box too.

After all, what is a sports journalist in 2017? Outstanding bloggers interrogate coaches at press conferences, long-loved fanzines have gone digital, reaching millions of readers every year and supporters are turning the cameras on themselves; democratising the games we love and presenting an unprecedented landscape to traditional media outlets.

Supporters and lovers of sport crave authenticity. To be a fan is to join a community, to share a common language that transcends accents or post codes. It is our job, as the regional experts around our clubs and personalities, to generate and reflect these communities and their conversations every day.

To be trusted by the people who go to games and know our teams inside out is a great privilege. Plenty changes in sport, but that remains the same. When you see a sea of headlines about your club, looking out for the title based closest to the club in question in the best way to ensure you’re getting the real story from your clubs.

Why? Because we don’t just report on our clubs, we live and work amongst its fans too. It’s a matter of trust.

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

Good for them. Fans of Manchester United and Manchester City will get the facts and only the facts.news: ”

In 0ther MEN news: “‘Have Manchester United dropped transfer hints about the futures of De Gea and Rooney?”

Answer: No.

 

manchester evening news arsenal

 

Meanwhile, over at MEN stablemate the Daily Mirror, the top story online (at the time of writing) is “JOHN CROSS: Wenger out? A shakeup is imminent and he could still leave Arsenal this summer – there are various factors at play.”

Could leave?

Can this be the same john Cross who told Mirror readers that Wenger is “STAYING” at Arsenal and…

 

wenger stays arsenal

 

…not staying at Arsenal?

 

Daily Mirror wenger quits Arsenal

 

It’s not fake news. It’s just to-deadline guesswork.

Posted: 10th, May 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Media twists Pep’s words on Manchester City being the Premier League’s best team

How football reporting works. Manchester City manger Pep Guardiola is speaking to journalists. He says Manchester City are the Premier League’s best at creating changes.

“We don’t score enough goals. The numbers don’t lie, we have not been good enough in the boxes this season…

“Even the next champions, Chelsea, we create more chances here [at the Etihad Stadium] than even at Stamford Bridge, but in the boxes we are not good. We are the best in the league at doing that, we create more chances than anyone, but we are not always able to score the goals. In basketball you see Michael Jordan, last minute … puts it in the net…. The most difficult thing in football, basketball, tennis, in all the sports is to do it in the last moment. That’s why we are in the situation we are in.”

That looks like a reasoned appraisal of his side. Man City get into good positions but don’t stick the ball in the net. And, as Pep concedes, that is the hardest thing to do.

Put it through the news mincers and you get:

Stan Collymore in the Daily Mirror:

“PEP GUARDIOLA is speaking utter tosh when he says Manchester City are the best team in the Premier League.”

Jamie Redknapp in the Daily Mail:

“PEP GUARDIOLA has claimed Manchester City are the best team in the Premier League…”

Daily Mirror:

“Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City ARE the Premier League’s best side”

No. That’s not what he said.

Posted: 10th, May 2017 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Arsenal end Manchester United’s incredibly boring 25-match unbeaten run

Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Manchester United is hailed in the Press. But before a look at the back pages, a word from Sachin Nakrani‏, the Guardian’s sports features editor. He’s at the office:

Sub editor 1: “They’re chanting ‘Fuck off Mourinho’ at the Emirates”

Sub editor 2: “Which end?”

Highlight of my day, that.

And that’s Jose Mourinho, isn’t it. He’s the brattish kid on tennis camp, a little shorter than most but he’s carrying the oversized racket and always has a can of new balls. In Jose’s monocular vision, Arsenal did not beat Manchester United. Manchester United let Arsenal win, gamely allowing the Gunners to score all the game’s goals and end United’s 25-match unbeaten run. And – boy – what roller coaster of thrills that’s been right.

Having been beaten, Mourinho “sarcastically disparaged the importance of his first competitive defeat to Arsène Wenger” (Times) . He said:

“I left Highbury and they were crying, I left Emirates and they were crying. Finally today they sing, they swing the scarves. It’s nice for them… It is the first time I leave and they are happy. Before they were walking the streets with their heads low. The Arsenal fans are happy and I am happy for them.”

And on he goes:

“Do not think I am happy they are not winning trophies. Arsène Wenger is a big manager so my record [not previously losing a Premier League game to him] is not normal. Normal is win, lose, draw. I really don’t care about it today. We shook hands and during the game I don’t like what I never like. He puts too much pressure on the fourth official.”

Alex Hess tweets:

Helluva job Mourinho’s done with history’s most expensive squad: won twice vs top six, fewer goals than Bournemouth, will finish 5th or 6th.

And that hurts the brand:

Manchester United are at risk of triggering a financial penalty in their £750m kit deal with Adidas should they fail to qualify for this season’s Champions League.

United will suffer a 30 per cent cut to their annual £75m payment from the German sportswear giant if they finish outside of the top four. This means the club will lose more than £20m in sponsorship income.

So the back pages, then, which all lead with Mourinho.

 

Arsenal manchester united Arsenal manchester united Arsenal manchester united Arsenal manchester united Arsenal manchester united Arsenal manchester united Arsenal manchester united Arsenal manchester united

Posted: 8th, May 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal: one player or maybe seven wins the title for Gunners, says Souness

Mystic Meg, eat yer heart out. In his article on Arsenal v Manchester United for the Sunday Times, former Spurs and Liverpool player Graeme Souness begins by tooting his own horn: “I predicted in March in this column that Manchester United and Arsenal would both miss out on the top four and I have seen nothing since to change my mind.”

The man’s got the gift, I tell you.

This is the same Souness who at the start of the season predicted the Premier League title going to Manchester United or Manchester City:

I think it will be one of the Manchester teams. If Ibrahimovic can fire on all cylinders – and I think there is a good year left in him – he will inspire those around him.

He’s someone who I enjoy. I enjoy his arrogance because he’s someone who can back it up. I think he could be the difference.

His Top Four ran: “1. Man Utd 2. Man City. 3. Tottenham 4. Arsenal.”

Whoops!

Having told readers back in August “Obviously it’s our job to make forecasts”, Souness today writes:

Arsenal should be looking at the likes of Griezmann and Bale… Over the past decade their recruitment has simply not been good enough, which is one of the main reasons Wenger should step aside. For seven or eight years they were only two or three top players away from being the team to beat but in the past few years it has not been a question of two or three players they need, it’s six or seven.

Ot as Souness put it in November 2015 – during the 2015-2016 season – just one season ago:

Arsene Wenger’s only major signing last summer was Petr Cech and he alone will give them a major chance of winning the Premier League this season. He could be worth anything up to 10 points for them.

Not two or three players, then. Just the one.

 

 

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


Manchester United balls: Zlatan’s farewell party

Nursing an injury that that pretty much ended his career at Manchester United, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is, according to The Sun, planning to take “50 club staff and players out for a ‘thank you’ dinner.”

“The Swedish striker, 35, is paying for the first team, coaches and support staff, including masseurs and groundsmen to join him for the meal.”

As of Q1, 2016, Manchester United PLC employed 837 full-time employees. Making a list of who’s in and who’s out might be more problematic than its worth. Zlatan might be better off going with option b: a gold statue of himself stood in the centre circle.

PS: the restaurant picks itself.

18 Jul 2016 – “Louis van Gaal and wife Truus take one more trip to Wing’s Chinese restaurant in Manchester.”

9 August 2016: “WING WIZARD Paul Pogba toasts record £109m move with Chinese takeaway from famous Wing’s”

17 Feb  2017: “‘LA POGBANCE’ Paul Pogba, brother Florentin and family have a rave in Old Trafford tunnel before heading out to Wings restaurant for dinner in Manchester”

All in the Sun.

Posted: 1st, May 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Media Bias: Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford ‘dives’ in Swansea but soars in Manchester

Congratulation to the talented actor and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford for redefining the phrase “honest English footballer” and in the words of Swansea City manager Paul Clement going “down way before there was contact” and “deceiving” the referee. Rashford’s performance earned United a penalty, and with it another goal for Wayne Rooney. Thankfully, Rashford’s slippery shoes did not cost Swansea City too dear, as the Swans scored late on to tie the match.

So how did the clubs’ respective websites see the incident?

Swansea City FC: “Marcus Rashford got in behind, prompting Fabianski to race off his line. The Swans keeper slid out only to stop himself making contact with Rashford, yet the young striker stuck out a foot to catch Fabianski and then tumbled to the turf.”

Manchester United FC: “…Lingard unleashed a rasping effort which flew wide of the far post, before he then played in Rashford, who was brought down by Fabianski in the box after poking the ball past him.”

What about the local Press?

Wales Online: “Replays showed Lukasz Fabianski had pulled out of his challenge on Marcus Rashford, and that the United striker was already falling to the deck before making contact with the Poland international.”

A dive, then.

The site delivers “Chris Wathan’s verdict”:

Well that is a disgraceful decision and you only fear how costly that will prove. A horrible dive from Rashford who made the decision to go down before Fabianski pulled out. Referee Swarbrick seemed to take an age to point to the spot and the linesman in Swansea’s half was the opposite side of the pitch, blinded by bodies.You can’t say this is what Clement would have wanted because somehow Swansea find themselves behind to a hugely controversial decision when they probably should be ahead.

Manchester Evening News: “PENALTY!”

Rashford frustrated by lack of passes to run onto but first time he really does and Swansea defence panicked.

 

manchester united bias

 

 

Of course, Rashford’s English and an England player, which means he’s not a diver. Take this from Michael Owen, formerly of Manchester United and England, as quoted on the MEN’s live blog:

“The keeper has made a bad decision and you think,’I’m going to find the contact somewhere’. You see Rashford – his knees buckle and he realises Fabianski’s pulled his arms away. Yes. It ends up a dive. Your waiting to be hit. You’re never going to plant your foot that situation. I’ve done it before and had my foot broken. If your foot’s off the ground, you’re not going to get hurt – you just ride the challenge. It’s a situation where you don’t want to get hurt however you still want a penalty. It ended up a dive but your sort of protecting yourself.”

It’s not cheating. It’s being sensible. Unless you’re a dirty foreigner, in which case, it’s disgusting.

 

Posted: 30th, April 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal’s Wilshere rides to China on a human caterpillar of fake news

Transfer Balls is watching fake news: Working on the principle that no denial means it could be true, the Daily Star lead its sports season with news that Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere is on his way to China. Maybe. Wilshere was playing on loan at Bournemouth until another injury – a leg fracture – ended his season.

 

jack wilshere news china

 

The paper days that “if” talks with Arsenal do not go well for the former PFA Young Player of the Year (2010–11), he could be off to play in China.

Where in China, the paper does not say. It’s just China, a place where a young English blade looking for adventures can experience the thrill of the exotic and immerse himself in an ancient culture. Or just cash in as some local tycoon spunks loadsa cash on surplus English flesh. Jack is not looking to expand his horizons in the Far East, says the Star. Jack is “desperate”.

China is the British Press’s ‘f9’ – just hit the button and whichever player who like can be off to China. The Star’s story contains no word from Arsenal nor Wilshere but that doesn’t stop the other tabloids wading in.

The Express thunders: “ARSENAL midfielder Jack Wilshere is open to a shock move to China, according to the reports.”

It knows this because – get this – the Express read the story in the Daily Star.

The Sun also read the Star’s fact-free news story and tells its readers: “FREE WILLY – Arsenal transfer news: Jack Wilshere open to Chinese Super League switch if crunch Arsene Wenger talks go badly this summer.”

No facts needed for the trusty news media to pass on the scoop untested. It’s a human caterpillar of football reporting.

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


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

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

 

joe hart liverpool

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Posted: 24th, April 2017 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Media Bias: Arsenal praise the referee but Manchester City are robbed

Media Balls: a look at biased football reporting. Today Arsenal beat Manchester City 2-1 to make it into the FA Cup final, where they will play Chelsea.

Should Manchester City have been awarded a penalty?

Arsenal website:

The game had been free of any controversy, but soon the officials were in the spotlight as Koscielny poked the ball in beyond Bravo – but was flagged offside.

It may have disappointed the Arsenal fans, but replays showed it was the correct call – as was referee Craig Pawson’s decision to wave play on when Raheem Sterling went down in the box after a tangle of legs with Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Manchester City website:

Aguero tripped by Oxlade-Chamberlain inside the area. Clear penalty – nothing given.

What about Manchester City’s disallowed goal?

Arsenal website:

…as Sane raced on to a through ball and chipped the ball back across goal from the left byeline, which was knocked back in by Aguero only to be saved by Cech. Sterling knocked the loose ball home, but the flag was up – much to our relief. Replays highlighted that Sane’s cross may – or may not, depending on whether you’re red or blue – have gone out of play…

Manchester City website:

The officials got it wrong but it was very tight, in fairness.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 23rd, April 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Morata to Chelsea (if Arsenal let him leave)

Transfer Balls – fake news for football: The BBC says Chelsea “have reached an agreement” to sign striker Alvaro Morata, 24, from Real Madrid. The Beeb’s source is Spanish site Diario Gol. As ever, I like to use Google Translate to tell the source’s story.

 

morata real madrid

 

The headline’s a belter: “Morata lynch to a crack of Real Madrid: the checkmate to Zidane.”

The teaser’s good too: “The one of The Factory explodes against the mister.”

Diego Castro’s words according to Google Translate are:

The worst. Karim Benzema was signing one of the weakest seasons since joining Real Madrid in 2009 . The goalkeeper has scored the same goals as Álvaro Morata in almost double the number of minutes played. The canterano has played 1,593 minutes , while the French accumulates 2,597 ‘ .

Benzema is no goalkeeper. But the gist is that Morata is the better striker of the two.

But what about Chelsea? Well, Morata has “never been the first choice of Zizou”. Adding: “The French strategist always opted publicly for his compatriot, regardless of the level of his players… Zidane always put him ahead of the team’s needs.”

And Chelsea? Only this: “Morata has been wanting for Chelsea for weeks, with more than a verbal agreement.”

It’s not exactly done and dusted. The Week says Morata is only “among potential targets” for Chelsea. The Daily Star says Morata might be heading to Manchester United. And Corriere dello Sport says AC Milan will outbid Chelsea for Morata’s signature.

So there’s no agreement, then. Which makes it odd that the Daily Star can announce that the deal taking Morata to Chelsea has been done:

alvaro morata chelsea daily star

 

And let’s not forget that according to these fine sources, Morata plays for Arsenal:

alvaro morata arsenal

Such are the facts.

Posted: 20th, April 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Daily Mirror news trust: Arsenal and Theresa May are both for turning

How about this for wraparound newspaper cover. The Daily Mirror’s front page leads with Theresa May’s “U-turn”. Having said there would be no General Election before 202o, May has called one for June 8 2017.

 

daily mirror u-turn may theresa

 

If it’s all about trust, what are Mirror readers to make of the paper’s back page news story that Arsenal have made it clear Arsene Wenger will still be manager next season? The paper says Schalke defender Sead Kolasinac, 23, has been been told Wenger will remain at Arsenal for a further two seasons.

June 8 is one for the diary. And while you’re on that page, you might care to put a line through another event scheduled for that month. On June 30 2017, Arsene Wenger is to quit the club. We read that in the Daily Mirror.

 

Daily Mirror wenger quits Arsenal

 

Such are the facts.

 

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


Transfer balls: Karim Benzema to join Arsenal for a third time

As predictable as a dog sniffing a lamppost and Simon Cowell licking his eyeballs and telling a cabaret act “That. Was. Incredible”, the tabloids herald the summer season of football transfer rumours with news that Karim Benzema is heading to Arsenal.

“Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema to be Alexis Sanchez replacement,” thunders the Daily Mirror. “Karim Benzema linked with Arsenal as doubts soar over the future of Alexis Sanchez,” says the Sun.

Newspaper readers will know that Benzema joined Liverpool in 2014 (Daily Star) and Arsenal in 2015 (Metro, Daily Star (twice), Daily Telegraph, The Sydney Morning Heraldand again in 2017 (The Sun).

He never left Real Madrid. And today the papers are having another crack at the Benzema to Arsenal story.

The source of the Sun and Mirror’s scoop is donbalon.com. Over there we learn that Arsenal have offered Benzema twice his current salary. No quotes are given. But according to the Star, Karim Benzema earns £270,000 a week at Real. So Arsenal will pay him £520,000 a week – more than the £280,000-a-week Alexis Sanchez – the man he will replace – wants to stay?

Understand that? No, us neither.

Posted: 17th, April 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Dirty tackle: Manchester United’s Ander Herrera gets inside Chelsea’s Hazard

Manchester United beat Chelsea 2-0 in yesterday’s Premier League clash. The result puts United in position for a charge into the top four and thus qualification to next season’s Champions League and reduces Chelsea’s lead at the top of the table to just four points over a buoyant Spurs.

The game also coughed up two images, both of which feature on the back pages.  The Mirror calls is “Squeaky Bum time”, a headline more suited to the image on the Times’s back page.

 

manchester united chelsea manchester united chelsea

 

As United’s Ander Herrera finds work as proctologist, we recall an other great Manchester United meeting, when the club’s Rio Ferdinand got a thorough going over from Man City’s Carlos Tevez.

 

Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League

 

File under: Dirty Tackle.

Posted: 17th, April 2017 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Kelvin MacKenzie calls Everton’s mixed-race footballer Ross Barkley a ‘Gorilla’

They’ve only gone and called the police to investigate Sun columnist Kelvin Mackenzie on suspicion of being a racist. Former editor Kelvin MacKenzie used his column in the paper to liken Everton footballer Ross Barkley to a gorilla. Barkley is mixed race by way of a Nigerian grandfather. MacKenzie, reviled on Merseyside for his leading part in the Sun’s appalling Hillsborough coverage, has behaved despicably. The Guardian says he claimed Barkley “had deserved to be punched at a nightclub because he was similar to an animal in a zoo”.

MacKenzie wrote in the Sun:

“Perhaps unfairly, I have always judged Ross Barkley as one of our dimmest footballers. There is something about the lack of reflection in his eyes which makes me certain not only are the lights not on, there is definitely nobody at home.

“I get a similar feeling when seeing a gorilla at the zoo. The physique is magnificent but it’s the eyes that tell the story.”

Hideous, reprehensible comment. For added spite – and this on the eve of the Hillsborough anniversary –  Mackenzie aimed a few low blows at the people of Liverpool:

kelvin mackenzie ross everton gorilla

 

It’s pathetic tripe.

But narking to the police is weird and unsettling. It suggests we can’t police ourselves, that we aren’t robust enough to spot a berk in the crowd when we see one and treat them with derision and ridicule. We need official back up. We need our words policed.

The Bizzies.

The same police who treated dying fans at Hillsborough as a public order problem will now police speech and thoughts. The State’s enforcers who perpetuated the biggest police cover-up in British history have been called in to investigate a man who approved and defended a shameful article that smeared the innocent dead. (Although, a mere 23 years after “The Truth” even Mackenzie apologised.) Never mind that Hillsborough can be linked to the State’s war on football fans, on whom all draconian forms of control could be tested, just get a load of that big mouthed media goon. He’s the real problem. Well, so says the media, which likes nothing more than talking about itself.

The Troll

The Sun’s “The Truth” report on Hillsborough was revolting. To anyone sane the paper’s lies always have been indefensible. The Sun‘s infamous headline and lies weren’t produced in isolation – the paper colluded with police and politicians to criminalise the victims. Society raged loudly about the paper. Meanwhile, it took decades for the dignified bereaved to drag the police to court. After a mere 27 years of struggle, the State decided the dead were blameless. What we knew was only now official. Even now the survivors and the people who lost so much in 1989 are waiting for justice.

In the meantime, Kelvin Mackenzie makes for an inviting (and deserving) Aunt Sally.

 

kelvin mackenzie ross everton gorilla

 

The Allegation

Merseyside police say they received an online complaint from a member of the public alleging that “comments written about a third party constituted a racial hate crime”. If you think it’s a hate crime, then it is one. Maybe.

And it’s politicised. Liverpool mayor, Joe Anderson, tweeted to say he had reported the article to Merseyside police and the Press Complaints Commission for being a “racial slur”.

He then criticised Everton for not copying Liverpool, which banned the Sun from matches and press conferences. Liverpool has also blocked the Sun from interviewing its manager and players. “@Everton 😱Your lack of action in banning the S*n from your press conferences is a smack in the face to our City”, he tweeted.

MacKenzie might well worry when Joey Barton, someone who knows more than most about smacks to the face, becomes the voice of reason. The Scouse footballer tweeted: “Those comments about Ross Barkley, a young working class lad are disgusting. Then add in the fact he is mixed race! It’s becomes outrageous.”

It is. It’s abysmal. It’s incredible the Sun published it. But it’s not a crime. It’s one man’s idiotic, rude and ugly to-deadline opinion.

UPDATE: the Sun has suspended Kelvin MacKenzie.

Posted: 14th, April 2017 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Arsenal fans will only get change when the owners lose money

Arsenal have the exact same Premier League points tally as they did at this stage of last season. Arsène Wenger is both the model of consistency, Old Father Time pointing the way forwards to more of the same, and the staid boss of a club becalmed in routine.

Ivan Gazidis , the club’s uninspiring chief executive, assures supporters that if Wenger accepts the two-year contract he’s been offered, there will be big changes on the field. Tomorrow will be much better or else, says Gazidis as he pleads with Wenger to sign the deal that will see the fading manager earn over £8m a year. Gazidis is talking to the fans, of course. It’s season ticket renewal time. Only a fool would think the same manager will bring about dramatic improvement when the familiar is enough for the greedy shareholders and dividend takers who want him to stay.

Gazidis hopes fans take the bait. The pursuit of money not glory is the Arsenal way under the current regime.

After the Gunners had stumbled to a 2-2 draw the Manchester City, a number of fans went on an anti-Wenger match. There was a van bedecked with anti-Wenger slogans, leaflets urging supporters to contact the club’s sponsors and tell them to stop backing the club until Wenger goes.

“I must say, despite all that happens on the fans front, I felt our fans were fantastic today,” said Wenger at his monocular best. “In the very difficult moments in the first half, I felt they could have turned against us but they were absolutely sensational and helped the team to get through those difficult moments.”

The fans support the club through thick and thin. It’s not the players they want gone; it’s the manager and the palsied board that can’t see the decline and move strongly to check it.

Arsenal look set to miss out on the Champions League for the first time in Wenger’s tenure. They are behind Man City, in fourth place, by seven points with a game in hand. Can they rally and come fourth, giving the fans another season of Champions’ League football? Many fans will be hoping they don’t. If the board can’t see that what Wenger once brought to the club no longer cuts it, a decline in their considerable income should.

 

Posted: 3rd, April 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Media balls: Arsenal on course for second after a lucky draw with hopeful Manchester City

Media Balls: a look at biased football reporting. Today in the Premier League, Arsenal drew 2-2 with Manchester City. Arsenal are in no state of crisis, whatever the media tell us. The Gunners have the same number of points after 28 games this season as they did in season 2015/16.

Last season after 28 matches players, Arsenal were on 51 points – just 6 points behind eventual champions Leicester City. This term, the Gunners are on 51 point – 17 behind Chelsea. Arsenal under Arsene Wenger are the very model of consistency.

Can the Gunners secure that top four spot that secures Champions’ League football next season?

Manchester City, under a new manager, are a project. Pep Guardiola, for it is he, is no flop, despite the the Sun naming him “the biggest disappointment in the battle of the Premier League managerial superstars”. City are fourth in the PL table – five points ahead of Manchester United – and in the semi-final of the FA Cup. What else do the reporters tell us?

Manchester City’s first goal – the game’s opening strike.

The London Evening Standard: “Kevin de Bruyne… played a hopeful ball forward…”

The Manchester Evening Post: “Leroy Sane raced onto Kevin De Bruyne’s fine ball out of defence…”

A prod forward or a lovely pass?

Manchester City penalty appeal.

In the game’s finale minutes, did the ball strike Nacho Monreal on the hand as he defended in the Arsenal box?

London Evening Standard: “Arsenal were fortunate to escape a strong handball appeal in stoppage time”

Manchester City website: “Late penalty appeals against Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal were waved away as City pushed for the winner”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola: “I know this referee because we have had him before but I don’t want to discuss the penalty.”

The BBC: “Handball? Did Nacho Monreal punch that? That looked very, very much like a hand in the box…”

The Guardian: “It was clumsy and really did seem like it struck his flailing arm. Arsenal appear to have been lucky to get away with that there.”

Arsenal website:  Not a word on the incident.

Islington Gazette: No word on the appeal.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 2nd, April 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City | Comment


England, Millwall and Spurs fans sing what they want to

Still no news on what the police and FA are going to do about Millwall fans shouting “DVD” at Spurs’ South Korean “labrador muncher” * Son Heung-Min. No news either on those Spurs fans who called Millwall supporters “pikies”.

You’d think that with Spurs and Millwall “in the dock” over such terrible racism, England’s other football fans would button their collective lip. But no. They only went and sung songs when England played Germany in the Fatherland. The Independent was horrified. “English football dragged through the mud once again by braying beer-fuelled scum who sing anti-German war songs,” the paper chimed.

 

achtung germany england

 

One writer on the Sun, the paper which this week beamed its logo onto the White Cliffs of Dover to mark Brexitnoted: “There, hundreds of boorish, inebriated men continued to glory in a world war which ended 70 years ago, bellowing out tedious chants about German bombers and swaying around, mimicking aircraft.”

Right now the Football Association is studying police videos for signs of a member of The England Supporters Travel Club making offensive chants and not simply joining those righteous minds in “do-do..do-do-do-do..da-da..da-da..da-da,da,do-doing” along to the god-awful supporters’ bands’ rendition of the theme to Escape to Victory.

“Unfortunately, little of the wit and imagination that goes into our club football songs is reflected at England games,” stated the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF). Crap songs, yes. But crap fans?

Surely the point is to goad the opposition. Spreading your arms like one of those “Ten German Bombers” or hymning the historical fact of “Two World War One World Cup” could do with an update. But until some bright spark creates songs mocking the Germans’ EU-backed battering of Greece or Boris Becker’s latest jacket, we might have to make do with the jingoism.

It’s not easy coming up with insults that are catchy and popular but not insulting enough to be offensive. Maybe the Germans can help? After all, their English is often better than ours. As an Arsenal fan it’s often been my lot to be serenaded by Bayern Munich fans’ chants of “You’re not very good”, “We can see you sneaking out” and “Can we play you every week?”.

Of course, what this is is the latest episode in the State’s purge on people like ‘them’ at football grounds.  Those “scum” who use vulgar words and say nasty things, who emply mockery and insults to taunt other fans in the pantomime of football need hosing down.

But the people who dish it at the match can also take it. “The Germans I spoke to were not offended by the puerile chanting, they were just embarrassed for us,” said one Daily Mirror writer. If grown men and women want to behave sadly, let them. It’s their right to sing what they want to, however stupid, witless and arcane.

* That’s how some Tottenham fans refer to Son in the chant: “He’ll shoot / He’ll score / He’ll eat your Labrador / Son Heung-Min.”

Posted: 31st, March 2017 | In: Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Chelsea ‘nark’ sets the police on rude Manchester United supporters

Looking for offence in dust is a full-time job. Today brings news that one sensitive Chelsea fan has given full throat to his upset that Manchester United fans referred to the Blues as “Chelsea rent boys” during the teams’ recent FA Cup match.

Rent boys is an old-fashioned term, for sure, but it is entirely in keeping with the way football fans model chants to the tunes of 1960s songs. The correct and up-to-date term is “male sex worker”. And it’s not even a term of abuse. It’s a career choice and should be legalised and taxed.

manchester united

 

The Sun says a police officer told the complainant that the chant “Chelsea rent boys” is “unacceptable” – but not for the reasons mentioned above. It’s because calling Chelsea fans “Chelsea rent boys” is offensive and intended to cause upset.

Writing in the Sun, Mick Hume wonders: “What next? Chelsea fans probed for animal welfare offences for shouting ‘sheep, sheep, sheep-s******s’ at supporters of less fashionable provincial clubs?”

Winding up the opposition is part and parcel of the game. The FA says it is bent on “eradicating all discriminatory and offensive chanting from football”. Mick adds: “But equating discrimination and offence is like giving a player a red card for nutmegging an opponent.”

We’d advocate going for the full Cruyff turn. Go beyond those arcane and sanitised rent-boy chants. That one only upset one Chelsea fan. It’s time fans upped their game.

PS: Stand up for free speech and the right to be offensive by buying Boy Mick Hume’s book here.

 

Posted: 28th, March 2017 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Key Posts, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal’s Ozil needs to be more like Spurs’ Dele Alli if he wants to succeed says BBC pundit

News from Germany is that Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, 28, will “talk soon” to the club about extending his current deal.  The Mirror says Arsenal have offered the German midfielder £280,000-a-week to stay at The Emirates. Having previously said he’d be inclined to remain at the club if Arsene Wenger did likewise, and with the Frenchman now committed to a further two years in charge, Ozil looks set to stay.

Although if Ozil does leave, the Sun says Jack Wilshere is keen to prove he is a “ready-made replacement”. Arsenal fans booing Ozil should read that and wonder how Wilshere, currently being mediocre at Bournemouth, would make the Gunners a better side.

But to BBC pundit Lee Dixon the biggest question is how Ozil can improve his game? And Dixon knows how. He says the German needs to learn from Deli Alli, the Spurs tyro and red-card-in-waiting.

“He’s playing in the first team long-term because he’s doing something right,” says Dixon of Alli on the BBC. “The fact that he’s come into the Tottenham team and they’re building a team around him, his talent is unlimited. If he [Ozil] had half of what Dele Alli has got, that nasty streak, he would be ten times a better player than he is because he hasn’t got what Dele Alli has.”

He’d also be getting sent off for nasty fouls and, well, not win anything. It’s tempting to think that the biggest asset Alli has over Ozil is a British passport and the right to wear an England shirt.

Posted: 27th, March 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: The Arsenal summer target list

May’s when Arsenal season tickets holders get a reminder that it’s time to hand over the cash and renew membership. In the run-up to that, Arsenal need to point to the season ahead being one of glory and wonder.  Which brings us to the Mirror’s news that Arsenal have drawn up a long lost of transfer targets.

The paper’s headline says “Alexandre Lacazette and Kylian Mbappe top Arsenal transfer target list as Arsene Wenger plots rebuilding job”. Yeah, Wenger’s staying. The Mirror was wrong about him leaving on June 30 2017. But the Mirror is positive it knows what talent the Gunners are recruiting.

And that’s not all. The Mirror says the list also features the names: Marco Reus, Moussa Dembele, Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Joe Hart, Kieran Tierney, Jose Gaya and Ross Barkley.

Of course, it might be better than that. No press picked up the story of Mesut Ozil nor Alexis Sanchez joining Arsenal before those deals were almost done. And if the Gunners are prepared to offer Ozil £280,000 a week – which the Mirror say they have done – there’s the very real possibility of bigger, starrier names coming.

It’s all exciting, right? And with any luck it will ensure Arsenal fans renew those pricey season tickets and keep all that money rolling into the owners’ burgeoning coffers.

The Times says Arsenal will offer £25m offer for Barcelona’s Turkey midfielder Arda Turan.

The Metro says Arsenal will spend part of the summer chasing Leon Goretzka.

The Daily Star says the Gunners are after Lorenzo Insigne.

Posted: 23rd, March 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Wenger stays, PSG make an approach and Allegri sits on his hands

Having yesterday told readers Arsene Wenger is staying at Arsenal for a further two seasons (at least), today’s Sun leads with news that he’s not. Maybe. Apparently, PSG have offered Wenger a two-year deal to manage their project to turn the Paris club into France’s answer to Barcelona instead of France’s answer to Glasgow Celtic.

However, the Sun concedes that ‘indications’ point to Wenger staying at Arsenal. Those would be hints like ‘ARSENAL BOMBSHELL’ , ‘He’s Staying’ and a back page speech bubble in which Wenger is telling West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis “See you next year mate”.

The Sun doesn’t do subtle. And it doesn’t have the foggiest idea what Wenger will or will not do. This is apparent when it tells readers that Juventus manager Max Allegri ‘remains at the top of the Gunners’ list of preferred candidates, though they will await Wenger’s decision before engaging in negotiations.’ Indeed, it’s tricky to negotiate Allegri’s recruitment when there’s no vacancy. How do you say ‘Thanks for your time, keep in touch’ in Italian?

Over in the Mirror, John Cross has an ‘exclusive’. He says, Wenger has ‘made it clear he wants to stay’.

Cross, whose paper told us Wenger was leaving the club on June 30 2017, has changed his tune. He says Wenger will be given lots of money to rebuild the team after he’s offloaded ‘superstar duo’ Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. Ozil is no superstar. Arenal have two world-class players. Ozil is not one of them. Laurent Koscielny is the player Arsenal need to keep hold of. Wenger spotted him and made him into a top player. Now he needs to repeat that trick with around, say, 9 others.

 

Posted: 21st, March 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Everton deserve better than Lukaku’s lack of respect

There are few things more irritating than hearing a top footballer saying he wants to satiate his craving for trophies by leaving one big club to join a rival. And so it is with Everton’s Romelu Lukaku, who having invited his agent to negotiate a massive £130,000-a-week deal to remain on Merseyside for five more years, decided he was destined for better things.

The agent, Mino Riola, had assured Everton’s fans and suits that his client was 99.99% certain to commit his future to the club. And then Lukaku said he was not prepared to sign a new deal.

Lukaku will find a sympathetic ear with his current manager Ronald Koeman. “No, because I am the manager of Southampton, and I have the contract for two years more,” said the Dutchman in April 2015 when asked about his future. “I have to respect my contract, I like to respect my contract and I am very happy.” And very soon after he was gone to Everton, where he earns a lot more money.

Koeman’s in it for the long haul, right? “Everybody knows you can’t do this in one year,” he said of Everton’s target. “It takes time. How long did it take for Tottenham to be where they are now? Three or four years. You can’t do it in one year.”

Anyone want to bet Koeman will be at Everton in three years time?

Of course, the big difference between Koeman and Lukaku is that one is in a position of authority, trusted by the owners to build a winning team to their budget, and the other is there to execute the manager’s tactics to the best of his abilities.

Lukaku’s misstep was to question whether Everton share his ambitions to win trophies and play Champions’ League football. “I don’t know, I don’t know what the board’s plan is. I don’t really know,” he opined, seeming to suggest the owners should keep their striker in the loop and maybe invite him into the boardroom to discuss everything from the new ground to catering facilities.

Of course the club wants to be successful. It’s why Everton are offering to make him the best-paid player. But Lukaku thinks he should be calling the shots not just making them. “Obviously, stuff is changing and stuff is happening but there were some players that we could have got, that I knew the club could have got, and they didn’t get,” said Lukaku to media invited to visit Everton’s training ground for an anti-racism event. “And they are playing in this league. I am not saying names but they are doing well.”

Before Romelu gets a job as Everton’s chief negotiator, he should look at the players Everton did get:  Yannick Bolasie was bought for £25m, Morgan Schneidelin arrived for £20m and a further £10m brought in Ademola Lookman.

“No matter where you play you want to be remembered,” he continued with no pause for self-reflection, modesty and respect for the shirt. “You cannot only be remembered by scoring goals, you want to be remembered by winning trophies. That is what the fans want. So instead of living in the past, you have to think ahead. How this club has to grow, how this club has to improve, which player does it want to bring in so you can challenge for the big trophies?”

You, Romelu. They are offering you over £30m in wages to be the club’s totem pole – which is a pretty literal description because although powerful Lukaku is a terrific finisher he’s not the most mobile 23-year-old. There is room for improvement.

Lukaku can, of course, seek a better deal and an improved chance of winning trophies wherever he likes. He does not have to wait for Everton to reach the Champions’ League before he plays in it.

But he’d be well advised not to bemoan his lot and forget why it was that Chelsea got rid of him and Everton moved to make him key to their ambitions. He can do better than that.

 

Posted: 20th, March 2017 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Wenger’s staying and leaving on June 30, 2017

Arsenal fans calling for Arsene Wenger to be sacked will be able to wave their banners for a further two seasons. News is that the Frenchman will sign a new deal. Wenger’s staying. It’s a fact. Well, it is is you believe the unimpeachable word of Tony Pulis, the West Bromwich Albion boss, who after his functional side had beaten a dysfunctional Arsenal 3-1 told media: “I’ll be surprised if he goes.” Did Wenger say he was staying? “Yeah,” said Pulis, “because he told me.”

 

wenger staying arsenal

The Sun calls this an ‘Arsenal bombshell’. How times have altered, eh. Before this season, the bombshell would have pertained to Wenger’s departure. The Sun says Wenger used to be a decent manager. But now Arsenal ‘is rotten to the core’. The club are sixth in the Premier League. They are in the semi-final of the FA Cup. But Ashton says Wenger would be sacked were he the manager of any club other than Arsenal.

 

wenger the sun staying arsenal

 

Ashton then has it both ways. Having wondered why Wenger is still in a job and said ‘once upon a time Wenger was a decent manager’, Ashton opines: ‘The modern world, what with social media, will stop at nothing to get him out.’ A pox on the modern world and that social media. Why not let the old media that used to mutate manager’s into root vegetables call for a man to lose his job. ‘GUILTY’ yells the Sun by a close-up of Wenger looking like a police enforcer from Les Miserables.

Ashton ends by telling his readers that at Arsenal ‘everything is up in the air’. But it’s not. Because one page across is the news that Wenger is staying on. Less up in the air, then, than in the filing cabinet.

That the tabloids have not the foggiest about what’s going on at Arsenal is no more apparent than in the Mirror. It leads with news that Wenger is ‘STAYING’.

 

wenger stays arsenal

 

Or as the Mirror reported previous – he’s going:

 

daily mirror wenger quits sack resigns arsenal

 

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 20th, March 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Wenger and Kroenke are on a hiding to nothing

Is Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal? To paraphrase the banner that used to point to Arsenal victories at the club’s old Highbury stadium, “Arsene Knows”. But he’s not telling the Press. He’s most likely told Stan Kroenke, the businessman who owns the biggest grasp of shares in Arsenal.  But the man nicknamed ‘Silent’ Stan won’t be telling the tabloids, either.  The papers could try door-stepping Kroenke, but last year he bought a Texas ranch worth about £500m and locating him in 865,000 acres of garden is no easy thing.

 

arsenal daily star

 

So Arsenal fans bumble on, wondering if the man who helped transform the club from perennial also-rans into occasional winners will accept the deal and sign on for a further two years.

The club is torn. In the skies over the Hawthons as a wilted Arsenal succumbed 3-1 to an ordinary West Brom, fans made their own entertainment. They craned their necks and looked up, much as they did when the likes of David O’Leary used to deliver one of those huge hoofs into the opposition’s half in the 1970s and 1980s and in matches when Tony Pulis, now at West Brom, managed Stoke City RFC. Overhead was not a Johnny Jensen effort on goal and Peter Crouch’s head, but two planes: one trailing a banner for Wenger to stay; one calling for him to get thee hence.

What kind of fan hires a plane and buzzes the ground is something psychoanalysts can help the sane to understand. That these two planes were duelling offered hope that the rich fools’ vanity show would achieve some kind of finale at something other than a small regional airport. But there was no spectacular crash and dog fight. The planes were a novel distraction, expressing bold statements loudly before their endless whining became irritating and everyone wished they’d go away. Chelsea fans who endured Jose Mourinho will know the feeling well.

So is he going or not? The Mail says losing to West Brom was an ‘historic low” for the club. Well, the fourth defeat in five Premier League games is extraordinary so long as you’ve only watched Arsenal in HD. For those fans who watched Arsenal when they were routinely mediocre, the current poor run is remarkable for how long it’s taken to return after so many seasons of style, dash and hope.

 

Posted: 19th, March 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Sports | Comment