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Back pages | Anorak - Part 19

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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

The Sun’s Dave Kidd joins Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in a Post Truth pogo

dave kidd the sunWriting about Arsenal and Arsene Wenger in the Sun, Dave Kidd, the paper’s chief sports writer, is waiting for the Frenchman to make a dignified exit.

Kidd says that following Arsenal’s limp defeat to table-topping Chelsea, Wenger was complaining about the Blues’ first goal. He said it was dangerous play and the goal should not have stood. Kidd thinks Wenger’s operating ‘on Trump-style alternative facts’.

Marcos Alonso, says Kidd, ‘leaped like a normal person rather than pogo-ing with his arms by his side, like us Sex Pistols fans were doing at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall in 1976‘.

Really?

In October 2016,  Sports Journalists, the website of the Sports Journalists’ Association, noted Kidd’s arrival at the Sun, ‘a return to where his national career started as a freelance 20 years ago.’

“It’s a great honour to follow them,” said Kidd. “My predecessor told me I was only the fourth chief sports writer on the paper and two of them, Steve Howard and John Sadler, were hugely encouraging when I was a rookie. I’m delighted to be going back to the paper where my national career started as a 22-year-old.”

If in 1996, Kidd was 22 in 1976 he’d have been a very young Sex Pistols fan.

Maybe it’s not only Wenger living in a post-Truth world?

 

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


Transfer balls: Antoine Griezmann moves to Manchester United for the branding opportunities

The Sun continues to link Antoine Griezmann with a move to Manchester United. In ‘MAD FOR IT’, the paper’s lead sports story is that Atletico Madrid’s star striker ‘wants to be the new Becks’. Griezmann has ‘dropped a hint’ he wants to play for Man United.

He did? No. The only person talking is Griezmann’s ‘image advisor’ Sebastien Bellencontre, who, according to the Sun ,’says Griezmann wants to follow hero David Beckham by wearing the iconic No7 shirt at the Theatre of Drams.’ He doesn’t want to follow his hero (?) Beckham to Real Madrid, PSG or LA Galaxy. The Frenchman wants to be Beckham II at Old Trafford.

In the fifth paragraph of the story continued four pages inside the Sun, readers get to hear what the marketing man actually said. Bellencontre told So Foot magazine: “When I read articles about  a hypothetical transfer to Manchester United I think it would be the ideal commercial scenario.”

Feel the passion, United fans. But not everyone will be non-plussed. Whereas Ferguson went for continuity, the current Manchester United hierarchy wants only to buy big, buy bigger and buy biggest.  Bellencontre is talking their language. “I don’t like the fact that there are consistently more players from Spain on the [Ballon d’Or shortlist],” said Manchester United’s chief executive Ed Woodward. “We as a club should be aspiring to have the best players playing for us.” Not the best team. The players with the biggest public profiles. The players who can flog stuff best.

 

griezmann

 

What the Sun doesn’t report is that Bellencontre also said (and this via Google translate):

“He would play club Beckham, his idol, with the same legendary number 7 in the back … Still without any consideration sport, PSG would be interesting to Franco-French level, but it has already happened to International …  ”

So he quite fancies PSG, then.

Le Figaro has more from Bellencontre (again via Google translate):

“The model would be a mixture of Beckham and Zidane. Beckham because it is his idol, but also because I would like to make it a fashion icon that survives his career. Zidane for French DNA, simplicity, family values, fidelity too … We want Antoine to finish his career at Puma for example. (…) For the Beckham card, the young European blonde, tattooed, talented. (…)

On ESPN, Bellencontre is billed as Griezmann’s ‘former image consultant’. Although on his company website and twitter bio, Bellencontre is billed as Griezmann’s branding guru.

The upshot is that is should United opt to throw the best part of £100m at Griezmann, they won’t just get a striker, they will get a striker with Zidane’s hair and fashion nouse, and Beckham’s fidelity and French DNA. Or something like that. Anyhow, it will be totally amazing and ensure another season of great business in the United soccer superstore.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 7th, February 2017 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Wenger wants love as the Gunners as two more years of torpor looms

Arsene Wenger will remain at Arsenal for another two years if the fans show him ‘love’. Wenger’s current deal expires at the season’s end, and there is talk of a new two-year contract on the table, says the Mirror. And that’s odd because it wasn’t all that long ago the Mirror and its writer John Cross were telling readers that Wenger was leaving Arsenal in June. He had ‘set the date’.

 

Daily Mirror wenger quits Arsenal

 

Now over two pages, Cross says the Arsenal board and Wenger are ‘privately mystified’ why fans are unhappy that their team lost to Watford earlier this week. The Gunners had the chance to close the gap with table-topping Chelsea to 6 points but blew it. So limp was Arsenal’s performance that the Sun says Wenger gave his players’ two days off to recover.

 

arsenal watford the sun

 

Cross says that’s untrue. The players ‘did not have two days off after the game’. But they did have 45 minutes off during it. The first half was dire.

Over in the Express, Matthew Dunn says Arenal are ‘soft’ in the centre. The bad news for Gunners fans is that at Chelsea this weekend they will most likely field Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in central midfield, one of the game’s politest tacklers.

Since last winning the title, Arsenal have finished an average of 13 point behind the Premier League winners. Lose to Chelsea and they will 12 points behind.

Plus ca change, as they say at the Emirates, where board members made rich and lazy by Wenger’s top-four finishes continue to duck the kind of brave decision that gave brought the Frenchman to the club all those years ago.

 

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


Manchester United balls: good guy Mourinho blows his top

mourinho-daily-mail

 

Last night Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was ‘furious’, says the Daily Mail. His side had drawn 0-0 with Hull City. Mourinho ‘blows his top on TV’, says the paper. The ‘irate’ Manchester United boss ‘stormed out of a TV interview’.

How does the Sun cover the Manchester United boss’s latest hissy fit? It doesn’t. Nowhere in its reports on the match does the Sun mention Mourinho’s moodiness and ‘his hasty exit at the first opportunity just 90 seconds into his post-match interview’ (BBC).

Is the Sun a tad biased in Jose’s favour? After all, on January 26, the paper was sure Jose was on the up. His hair spoke volumes:

NEIL ASHTON – Jose Mourinho is back: Back to his old self. Back in the hunt for trophies. Back to his devilish, mischievous best

And on it went:

Jose Mourinho, what with his latest grade-one haircut from the Lowry Hotel barber, is looking razor sharp again. The good behaviour bond is almost into a third month, trouble-free after serving a one-match ban for booting a water bottle when he had a wobbly against West Ham.

Focused, and firmly in control again, Mourinho is on to something good.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 2nd, February 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Chelsea’s deadline day frenzy leaves Sky wanting

How was transfer deadline day for your team?

It’s a big day of telly as Sky Sports News’s reporter stand in football ground car parks countrywide, check their anoraks for stains and the area for football fans likely to lurk into view holding a sex toy (see 2014) before delivering to camera the latest rumours. The lynchpin for the drama is Jim White, who is now available in a multimedia format, being as he is on Sky Sports NewstalkSport radio and in the Sun, wherein he was forecasting the big moves.

Said the paper’s headline on January 31:

‘DEADLINE DAY GURU – Jim White backs Ashley Young, Wilfried Zaha, Leonardo Ulloa and Scott Hogan all to move with Chelsea also spending big’

What sayeth the sage of Sky?

‘What makes it a special day is getting that piece of information that other people have not got and breaking it live on air. Being first is key, and making sure it is accurate…’

Jim gets the news on the nod. His sources are top notch. Says Jim:

‘Agents drop me messages trying to get airtime for their clients and saying their players might being going here or there. I also speak to managers and also chairman. I speak to them a lot. They tell me what direction the deals are going.’

So here are the man in the know’s ‘TOP FIVE DEADLINE DAY DEALS’.

Ashley Young to West Brom
Wilfried Zaha to Tottenham
Leonardo Ulloa to Sunderland
Scott Hogan to West Ham
Chelsea to spend big

How big? Big, says Jim:

‘Chelsea will bring in this lad from Schalke. He is a full-back and is more than decent. Sead Kolasinac. He will replace Branislav Ivanovic. I also think they will get Craig Gordon from Celtic, which will allow Asmir Begovic to go to Bournemouth.’

One day and the with the transfer window shut, was the guru right? First up is Chelsea.

In: Nathan Aké Bournemouth loan recall; Charles Musonda Real Betis loan recall

Chelsea spent nothing.

And none of the players tipped by White to move clubs did.

Transfer Deadline Day is getting tired. Time to give it a mid-season break?

 

Posted: 1st, February 2017 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Manchester United: what did Bastian Schweinsteiger’s celebration really mean?

Media balls: why did Manchester United’s Bastian Schweinsteiger celebrate a goal against Wigan Athletic by pretending to play tennis (or was it squash)? His bespoke goal celebration is causing the Press to wonder why he did and what it all meant.

It would be easier, of course, if the German could be more precise. An overheard serve and loud grunt would have dismissed the squash interpretation, and the donning of an headband (removed from a sleeve or sock) or skirt (ditto) helped further still. As it was Bastian played two air shots, and any offence to Jeremy Bates or Tim Henman, two nearly men of British tennis, is regrettable.

On the plus side, when lining up his forehand, Schweinsteiger did not hit a teammate dashing in to celebrate his goal nor deliver a backhand cuff to the unmentionables. Although had he done the headlines – ‘New balls, please’ – write themselves.

Anyhow, to the Press.

The Daily Express knows why he did it:

‘The 32-year-old German then stole the show with a celebration in tribute to Australian Open champion Roger Federer, who beat Rafael Nadal in five sets earlier during the day’

The Daily Mail knows:

‘Schweinsteiger stuck the ball in the net and then celebrated with a swing of an imaginary racquet in front of his wife, retired tennis star Ana Ivanovic’

The Daily Star knows:

Schweinsteiger, a keen tennis fan and husband of Ana Ivanovic, celebrated his goal with a nod to Australian Open champ Roger Federer.

The Guardian knows:

Schweinsteiger celebrates by playing a tennis forehand and backhand, which is either a tribute to his wife Ana Ivanonic or Roger Federer, or both.

In conclusion: more practice in front of the wardrobe mirror, Bastian.

Posted: 31st, January 2017 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Benzema takes his crack to Arsenal, Chelsea and France

Transfer balls: Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has seen enough of Karim Benzema. He wants one of Arsenal, Chelsea or Paris Saint-Germain to buy the Frenchman. Well, so say “reports from Spain” (Guardian). Which reports we’re not told. We could only find one. And it contains not a single quote or fact to support the story.

But the Telegraph’s man -in-the-yellow-tie has heard enough.The paper thunders:

Live Arsenal transfer news and rumours live updates: Arsene Wenger responds to suggestions Karim Benzema will sign

What did he say?

Wenger responds to Benzema rumours
The Arsenal manager was asked this morning why he is so often linked with a move for Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema. He responded: “Because he is French?”

Cryptic stuff from Arsene.

Not cryptic at all. Just factual.

As for the root of this story, we turn to Diario Gol, the single source, which reports via the wonders of automated internet translation:

Florentino Perez places a Real Madrid crack in the showcase 24 hours after falling in the Copa del Rey

Calling Benzema a “crack” is a bit off. What else?

The president puts foot and a half of a footballer in the street…

And then:

The footballer is unofficially on sale, but the phone is already on fire. The first offers were soon to arrive.

From who?

The season was not good for the player. The patience of Florentino ended with the elimination of the team Zinedine Zidane at the hands of Celtic in the Cup .

Much more was expected of the striker. Give the team what is claimed. But he disappeared. It was a drag rather than a help and the leader got tired of the situation.

In addition, Cristiano Ronaldo occupy the position of ‘9’ uro sooner or later, and the club does not want the overbooking in the position of striker cause a problem to the team. And it is clear that in the Santiago Bernabeu prefer to stay with CR7 .

But who wants ‘le crack”? Who made an offer for him?

The Paris Saint Germain is the best club positioned to gain the services of Karim Benzema for next season. The white president stepped up negotiations with the French entity. It is one of the few that could take over his card and at the same time pay a transfer.

Next season PSG might want him. So why is this news in the current transfer window?

But PSG is the eternal rival Olympique of Lyon in Ligue 1 , the computer on which the French became a global crack. Respect for his followers could put an end to the transfer.

So Florentino opened other ways. Arsenal and Chelsea are the candidates. If the operation with the Parisian team is not successful, the president already has the alternative. Be that as it may, Karim can not continue in Real Madrid.

Put that utter balls through the Daily Mirror’s Transfer Balls Translator and you get:”Karim Benzema offered to Arsenal and Chelsea?”

That question mark fails to show up on Google News. So the story of a player on his way out of Spain and most likely returning to France is all about Arsenal and Chelsea.

Previously:

 

Karim Benzema arsenal move transfer

 

Benzema deal is on: best offer is from Arsenal, £45mln. They will take a decision soon. He wants to reach Wenger.

 

Screen shot 2015-07-17 at 08.35.21

 

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 30th, January 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Greed wins as Payet leaves West Ham for Marseilles’ American project

After much pain – not least of all to Dimitri Payet’s poor back – West Ham have sold the Frenchman back to Marseilles. The player hymned by the fans – to the tune of Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus, “We’ve got Payet, Dimitri Payet / I just don’t think you understand / He’s Super Slav’s man, he’s better than Zidane /We’ve got Dimtri Payet” – and of whom his manager said “I have to get poetry lessons to describe his importance to us” took the money and ran ‘home’ to Marseilles.

Joint-chairman David Sullivan has issued a statement to West Ham fans.

The club would like to place on record its sincere disappointment that Dimitri Payet did not show the same commitment and respect to West Ham United that the club and fans showed him, particularly when it rewarded him with a lucrative new five-and-a-half-year deal only last year.

West Ham signed Payet from Marseilles for £10.75m in June 2015. In February 2016, he signed a new deal, extending his contract until 2021. He was on around £125,000-a-week. At the time, Payet said:

“For me it’s a big step, an enormous show of faith, particularly from the Chairman [David] Sullivan and from the manager. I thank them for that, and I am proud and I’m happy to prolong the adventure with West Ham.

“I’ve said it several times, I feel good here, everyone’s done all that they can to make me feel good. I want to help West Ham grow and, once again, this new contract shows my desire and motivation to fulfil those objectives.”

In October 2016, Payet received a £1m loyalty payment.

Sullivan continues:

“I would like to make it clear that we have no financial need to sell our best players and that the decision to allow Payet to leave was in accordance with the wishes of the manager and the interests of squad unity. To be frank, my board and I would have preferred for him to have stayed in order to make an example of him, as no player is bigger than the club.”

So why didn’t they make Payet stay? Does money talks louder than principles. No need to answer.  “We have said we don’t want to sell our best players but Payet does not want to play for us,” Slaven Bilic said in January. “We are not going to sell him.”

Payet didn’t come to the Premier League for the love of it. When it looked like he was heading to London, Marseilles lambasted Payet and his agent’s “reckless demands”. The club expressed “surprise that negotiations with another club had been opened”. It can be argued West Ham reaped what they sewed.

Payet had form. As Oliver Kay noted in the Times:

…look back to January 2011, when Paris Saint-Germain were thinking of signing Payet from Saint-Étienne. Sensing that negotiations were not progressing quickly enough as the transfer deadline loomed, the France forward skipped training two days running in the hope of forcing the issue, declaring: “My decision is taken. I think only of Paris.” To prove it, he travelled to the capital on deadline day to try to secure a deal — a move that, in England, we know as “doing an Odemwingie”. Saint-Étienne stood firm, PSG’s interest faded and Payet went back with his tail between his legs.

Now he’s left West Ham to play again for Marseilles, the club funded by new American owner Frank H. McCourt Jr, a man rich enough to pay Payet more than West Ham were giving him. To get £25m for a 29-year-old whose in it for the money represents good business for West Ham. The test will be who they bring in to replace their most exciting player.

Posted: 30th, January 2017 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal outbid Chelsea for Manchester United-bound Griezmann and Sanchez ‘escapes’

Transfer balls: a look at bad football reporting. Having been told for ages that Antoine Griezmann tops Manchester United’s list of transfer targets – and that Chelsea were buying the French striker for £40m and then £50m – the BBC reports that Arsenal will try to get him for £85m.

The BBC’s source is the Mail on Sunday. But its report is very light on facts. Readers are told that Manchester United “believe they are in pole position to land Antoine Griezmann”. Arsenal “are expected” to bid for the Atletico Madrid star. It is “widely expected” rich clubs will bid for Griezmann this summer.

The Sun expands on the ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’ by saying that should Griezmann leave, Atletico will buy Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez. This will be – get his – Sanchez’s “escape route” out of Arsenal.

So will Sanchez from part of a cash and flesh deal for Griezmann? No, says the Sun. “The Spaniards are resigned to losing Antoine Griezmann to Manchester United this summer.”

The Sun says Atletico will offer Sanchez £220,000 a week. That’s much better than the “£160,000- a-week deal currently on offer for Sanchez to sign a new contract with the Gunners”.

But Sun told readers back in November that Arsenal will have to “stump up £200,000-a-week each if they want Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to sign new deals with the club.” That’s a lot of money – but less than the £250,000-a-week the Express reported Sanchez was seeking in October.

In December, the Mail told its readers, “Sanchez wants £250,000 per week, while Arsenal’s current offer is £180,000”. That was Arsenal’s “opening offer”.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 29th, January 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal v Manchester United: Wenger and Mourinho on new FA panel show

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has called for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to be banned. “Jose call for Wenger ban,” announces the Star’s back-page headline.

Wenger is waiting to learn what punishment the FA will deliver for his sending off last weekend. Rather than vanishing down the tunnel, as he should have done, Wenger dallied by the pitch and then shoved the fourth official.

But did Mourinho, a man known for run-ins with officialdom and his dislike of Wenger, really add his opinion that his rival should be banned? No. He didn’t. What happened was that at the Manchester United press conference ahead of their EFL Cup semi-final tie with Hull City, a journalist asked him about Wenger. Should Wenger be banned? Mourinho replied: “I have no idea.”

 

wenger-mourinho

 

Over in the Mail, there’s a different twist on the same no-news story. “As Jose heads for Hull all eyes are on the FA…Can Mourinho keep his cool over Wenger?” asks the headline. We know the League Cup is no great shakes but when it takes second billing to a disciplinary hearing, you’re in trouble. Marketing departments would be better served adding company logos to the FA’s judgements and the leave the un-loved tin-pot alone.

If the Supreme Court can be televised, why not he FA’s? Slap it on the telly and you’ve got must-see TV.

Call me, the FA, I have ideas.

 

Posted: 26th, January 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal’s race row is a hate storm in a tea cup

In tabloid-ville there are two strains of racism: would like the “Race Storm” or the “Race Row”? The Star leads it’s sport coverage with a “Race Row”, as does the Mail, reporting on Arsenal FC’s Granit Xhaka. Having left the field early during last Saturday’s Arsenal match with Burnley on account of yet another red card for another stupid foul, Xhaka beat the traffic and ended up at Heathrow Airport.

He wasn’t there for some ghastly tie-in with Arsenal’s Emirates Airline sponsors – ‘Give The Daily Grind A Red Card and Jet Off With Emirates’ – rather to drop off his lover’s brother who was flying home. But oddly for man known for getting away early (two red cards this season already), Xhaka arrived too late. The boarding gate had closed and, as the story goes, the normally cool and calm Swiss became upset and allegedly called a member of British Airways staff a “f******* white bitch”. His English isn’t so good, so he said it in German.

Inside the paper, on Page 76, it’s a “RACE STORM”.

He’s not been arrested. Yeah, the police were called, which seems pretty remarkable in itself. Xhaka went to the station and has been helping police with their enquiries. The Sun (“RACE STORM”) says he was interviewed under caution. What’s the crime, officer? Being a cretin? Being a racist? Is this a – dread phrase – hate crime?

It’s all unpleasant and deeply pathetic. Add in the fact Xhaka is white and it looks a little odd. To brand someone a racist is no small deal.

Posted: 25th, January 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment (1)


Arsenal: Wenger’s ‘six match’ ban delivered in a laundry basket

When Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger called referee Jon Moss a “f****ing cheat” as his side toiled to a very late win over Burnley, he was sent off. Stood in the tunnel, Wenger was regaled with the cry heard at all-seater stadia to “Sit Down!” He refused. The fourth official insisted. So Wenger shoved Anthony Taylor, for it was he.

For his pains, Wenger’s been charged with misconduct by the FA.

Wenger now faces a “massive ban” says the Sun. The Mirror agrees. How big? Two matches and £20,000, says the Sun. The FA must be delighted. Twenty grand for the kind of aggro that was more purse than handbags.

Wenger apologised. “I regret everything,” he says,” I should have shut up, gone in and gone home.” And thereby beat the traffic, we might add.

Nonetheless, Dave Kidd wants Wenger “hit with a lengthy stadium ban”. The FA must send out message that “you must not manhandle referees”.

The Mail says a touchline ban is the most likely outcome. The paper’s tame referee Graham Poll wants Wenger banned for six matches.

The Mirror wants three.

Whatever it is, it’ll be good news of the Wenger Out camp, who will get to watch the match without their target in sight.

What it amounts to is not all that much. The manager coaches his team before the match. There are also mobile phones through which he can talk to his assistants as he watches the game on the telly. And then there was baskets. In 2005, Jose Mourinho circumvented a stadium ban by clambered into a laundry skip to gain entry to the Chelsea dressing room. Ten minutes before the end he was wheeled away to Stamford Bridge leisure club  where, according to reports, he spent the night.

Wenger might try a similar move. Although he’ll need a bigger basket. Or there’s always a loud hailor. The Emirates could do with someone making some noise.

Posted: 24th, January 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Media Bias: Chelsea website continues to deliver post-truth match reports as Hull are robbed

Media Bias: Chelsea beat Hull City 2-0 today in the Premier League. With the score at 1-0 to Chelsea, a Hull player tumbled in the home side’s penalty area. Should a penalty have been given? Let’s see what the reporters say:

The Hull City website says they were robbed:

Hernandez should have been awarded a penalty early in the second half when he was tripped by Marcos Alonso inside the box, but again appeals fell on deaf ears.

What about Hull’s local newspaper?

The Hull Daily Mail appraises Abel Hernandez’s performance:

The isolated front man at the tip of City’s attack but got no favours from the officials. Denied a foul in the build-up to Chelsea’s opener and then a clear-cut penalty in the second half.

The Guardian says: “That was a clear penalty, a clumsy foul by Alonso on Hernandez. He was beaten to the ball on the edge of the area and kicked Hernandez’s heel.”

Get West London says Hull  “were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty after the break when Marcos Alonso brought down Abel Hernandez”.

The London Evening Standard says: “Somehow Hull not awarded a penalty for a blatant foul by Alonso on Hernandez.”

The Telegraph: “Chelsea were even more fortunate that a penalty was not awarded against them four minutes after the restart when Alonso clearly clipped the heel of Hernandez.”

And on the Chelsea website, football’s version of Pravda? Nothing. The official Chelsea website makes no mention of either ‘foul’.

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 22nd, January 2017 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Media bias: Arsenal get lucky as Burnley go down in the 98th minute

Media Bias: In a crazy end to what had looked like a routine win for Arsenal, Burley scored from the spot in the 94th minute. And then Laurent Koscielny was caught in the head by a high Ben Mee boot. Penalty! Arsenal scored it in the 98th minute and the game is won 2-1.

With Arsenal 1-0 up, the Gunners’ Granit Xhaka was sent off for a lunge on Steven Defour. Then his manager Arsene Wenger was sent off for arguing with the officials.

What says the media about Arsenal’s last-gasps penalty?

The BBC: [Referee Jon] Moss penalised Mee for a high foot on Koscielny, who appeared to be offside when the free-kick was flighted in to the back post, but once that was missed, a penalty was a fair result for the challenge.

So the Arsenal man was offside. But the penalty was fair?

The Guardian calls it an “excellent decision from the referee”.

The Burnley Express is less delighted. Its match report harked back to the teams’ previous meeting, when Arsenal scored a winner late on.

After Laurent Koscielny was central to the storm at Turf Moor in October, handling the ball over the line from an offside position late on, the Frenchman was in the thick of it once more.

That goal came in the 94th minute.

The Burnley Express continues:

Referee Jon Moss awarded a penalty… penalising Ben Mee for a high boot on the Arsenal skipper who, for a second time, was stood in an offside position.

The London Evening Standard merely says of the incident, “Laurent Koscielny was kicked by Ben Mee in the area.”

The Burnley FC website calls the penalty “controversial”.

The Arsenal website sees no controversy:

Alexis swung in a cross from the left that arrowed towards the far post, where Ben Mee caught Laurent Koscielny in the face with a high boot. Moss awarded Arsenal the penalty and Alexis, showing incredible composure, sent a panenka down the middle from the spot to seal a precious victory.

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 22nd, January 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Media bias: Sterling pays the penalty as Spurs get lucky as Manchester City

Media Balls – a look at biased footballer reporting. Today Manchester City drew 2-2 with Tottenham. With the game 2-1 in City’s favour, Raheem Sterling was through on the Spurs goal. Spurs defender Kyle Walker was closest to Sterling. What happened next?

The BBC gives us the facts:

Raheem Sterling leaves the Spurs defence smoking exit dust as he breezes onto a through ball – just the keeper to beat with Kyle Walker pedaling hard to catch up..

But Sterling can’t take the chance, he’s off balance as he prods tamely towards Lloris – and it looks like Walker’s hand in the back is to blame.

Foul, then? Red card for Walker. Penalty to City. Nothing given. What do the clubs and their local newspapers say on the matter?

The Spurs website: “Kolarov sent Sterling clear, Walker got back at him, poor finish, easy for Lloris.”

Walker recovered. Sterling is rubbish. Lloris makes it look easy.

Manchester Evening News: “Walker should have been sent off for a push on Sterling as he was about to pull the trigger. Sterling had raced through for yet another one-on-one with Lloris but it ended up a soft shot into his grateful arms.”

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 21st, January 2017 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Mike Dean punctures his ego at Barnsley and Leeds United

Mike Dean is the Premier League referee in the spotlight. In days gone by he’d have been ‘Mr Dean from [insert place here]’. The media would have shown deference to his job. Now he’s Mike and you don’t know his address in case someone puts his windows in.

The Sun loves to give Mike a bashing. And it’s delighted to report that Mike’s been relegated. Adam Jones writes:

What will this do for Mike Dean’s ego? …he’s been dropped to the Championship for this weekend’s fixtures.

Mike’s the referee for the Barnsley v Leeds United match.

Or as the Daily Mail puts it:

Dean asked to officiate in the second tier after doing six consecutive high-profile Premier League games live on TV

So much for Mr Dean’s ego.

Posted: 20th, January 2017 | In: Back pages, Tabloids | Comment


Daily Express tricks Arsenal fans with deceptive clickbait headline

Click Balls: a look at dire football reporting designed to trick readers. The Daily Express has news for Arsenal fans. The paper’s headline is a scoop. “CONFIRMED: Arsene Wenger announces new Arsenal deal.” Looks like Wenger will stay at Arsenal for even longer. It’s 20 years and counting.

But wait a minute…

Arsenal Daily Express

 

The Daily Star, from the same stable as the Express, has a similar take on the news that defender Per Mertesacker has signed a one-year extension on his current deal. This is how Google sees the story:

Arsenal daily star

 

And you wonder why the Press is in trouble?

Update: The Express seems to have found an editor who respects their readers and doesn’t seem them as advertisers’ fodder. The headline has now been altered:

 

clickbait arsenal

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


Transfer balls: Manchester United have £70m for Bernardo Silva

Transfer Balls: the Sun leads with Manchester United’s summer bid for Monaco’s Portuguese “ace” Bernardo Silva. On top of the £85m Man United have earmarked for Antoine Griezmann’s signature is £70m for Silva.

Is it true? A year ago, the Express said Barcelona and Chelsea were looking at Bernardo. Have they gone cold on the midfielder?

Silva is managed by – yep – Jose Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes, a man routinely billed as “super-agent”, who vies with Super Banker for the title of World’s Least Admirable Super Hero.

What truth there is in the story of Silva to Manchester United is hard to ascertain because the Sun produces not a single quote to support is claim. Still, it must be great for Mendes to know how much 10% of £70m is and for Silva, worth €15.75 million one year ago, to be linked with a big money move to the Premier League.

Bernardo Mota Veiga de Carvalho e Silva is contracted to Monaco until 30 June 2019.

Posted: 19th, January 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Why ‘Non Nonsense’ Joey Barton never became an Arsenal player

So why did Joey Barton never get his “dream move” to Arsenal? Barton has a new book to plug and mentioning Arsenal will help it travel. The Daily Mirror picks up the story of Joey’s punctured “dream”.

In No Nonsense, Barton says he was scheduled to meet with Arsenal in 2011. It never happened because during a match between the Gunners and Newcastle, for whom Barton was playing at the time, the querulous Liverpudlian contrived to get  Arsenal’s Gervinho sent off.

“No, intermediaries spoke on their [Arsenal’s] behalf,” says Barton to Four Four Two. “There was definitely some low-level interest, and before I got sent off against Arsenal, when the thing with Gervinho happened, I was due to hold some form of discussions with them. But then it never came to be.”

The “thing” that happened with Gervinho went like this, as the Mirror reported:

The Scouser ensured that Gervinhos Arsenals debut ended with a red card, first by provoking a fight with the Ivory Coast forward, then by giving his best impression of a sack of spuds when the new boy aimed a slap at him.

Barton’s behaviour had been “disgraceful”.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger opined: “He wasn’t hit hard enough to lie on the floor for two minutes.”

So much for being a man who takes ‘No Nonsense’.

Still, at least Barton never tried to exact revenge on Gervinho as he had on Xabi Alonso, who prevented his “dream move” to Liverpool.

 

Posted: 18th, January 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/2017/01/15/martin-tyler-accused-bias-following-manchester-united-vs-liverpool/

 

martin-tyler-manchester-united-liverpool

 

 

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

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

Tweet 1:

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

Tweet 2:

@StephenDuffy6

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

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

Tweet 3:

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

*Rooney gives away posession*

Martin Tyler: *silence*

 

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

 

martin-tyler-manchester-united-liverpool

 

Such are the facts.

 

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


West Ham United: Payet does to Bilic what Bilic did to Redknapp

West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic is upset and let down by Dimitri Payet’s moves to leave the club. In 1997, when Bilic was a player at West Ham, the club’s manager at the time, Harry Redknapp, was also frustrated and upset with his star turn’s machinations.

 

harry redknapp payet west ham united

 

Whoops.

Posted: 16th, January 2017 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comments (2)


Media bias: Everton get lucky as Manchester City are robbed in Liverpool

Everton thumped Manchester City 4-0 in the Premier League today. As ever, we’re on the look out for biased reporting. In the first half, with the scores 0-0, City’s Raheem Sterling went down in the Everton box. No penalty given. But were City robbed?

The BBC says it was a good tackle: “Leighton Baines slid in to deny Raheem Sterling an opening early on.”

The Guardian blames Sterling: “Sterling misses a sitter, and wants a penalty!… He tries to take the ball round the keeper, Baines slides in to block it, and Sterling goes over Robles’ trailing leg!”

So much for the neutral viewpoint. What about the publications with a vested interested in the match?

Manchester Evening Post: “With Robles rushing out, and Baines making a last-ditch challenge, the winger chooses to take a touch and trips over.”

He trips over what? “It’s the slightest of touches from Robles that ultimately brings Sterling down,” the report continues.

So it was a foul. He was tripped.

The Liverpool Echo: “Raheem Sterling went down in the area, with replays seeming to confirm he had been tripped by Joel Robles.”

Replays only “seemed” to show that Raheem Sterling had been fouled.

Everton FC (official website): “Leighton Baines kept a cool head and combined with Joel Robles to thwart the City forward, but the Spanish goalkeeper may have taken the legs of Sterling.”

Only “may”? Was Sterling fouled? Does anyone have a clear answer?

Manchester City (official site): “TV replays proved he’d been caught.”

It was definitely a foul, then – but only if you read the official City website.

 

Posted: 15th, January 2017 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Diego Costa’s Chelsea pain opens the door for Muller and Morata

What’s Diego Cost been up to this weekend? Some say the Chelsea striker is injured. Others say he’s been dropped for brooding and rowing, behaving off the pitch much like he does on it. As his manager Antonio Costa put it when asked when his main striker will return to the side, “I don’t know how long it will take, I don’t have his pain. We’ll see about this next week.”

Reports abound that Costa is looking for a huge-money move to China. Will he go? Not if his team-mates have anything to do with it he won’t. The Telegraph says Costa’s Chelsea team-mates have asked him to apologise over his reported row with the club’s fitness coaches.

Match of the Day pundit Ian Wright can’t see that happening. “Costa doesn’t seem like the sort of person who cares what people think,” says Wright. “Whatever happens – if it’s his back it’s very hard to detect – something has turned him.”

Money, perhaps?

ESPN hears from Costa’s friends (unnamed) who say he doesn’t want to go to China. The Mirror says Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has no intention to selling Costa.

But in case he does, Roman will find the cash to buy Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid (Sun) and / or Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller (Express).

Unless the Chinese get to them first and back backs prove to be contagious.

Posted: 15th, January 2017 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Chelsea transfer balls: Costa waves the imaginary red card at himself and heads to China

Chelsea striker Diego Costa, 28, is off to China in a transfer worth £80m to Chelsea, says the BBC. His move will hand the Premier League title to anyone but Chelsea and earn the striker a mere 576,000 per week.

The pay packet would see Costa elevated to the rank of the world’s second highest paid footballer, one yacht-a-week behind Shanghai Shenua’s Carlos Tevez, says the Daily Express.

The Times says Costa’s departure would be a “blow” to the Blues. It’d be windier than that. Costa’s been rampant this season.

The Guardian notes that Costa might already have played his last game for Chelsea. The PL’s top scorer has been dropped from the Blues squad for their match at Leicester City. Why? Well, the paper says Costa “clashed” with one of Chelsea’s fitness coaches “over an injury he feels he has been carrying… Costa has not trained fully this week and Antonio Conte has become involved in the argument.”

To stir the pot a little further, Costa’s agent, Jorge Mendes, is reportedly in China.

To add another layer of weirdness, on Friday Costa’s Instagram account bellowed “Come on Chelsea!!!!” to his 1.7 million followers. The following message did not add “Come on Chelsea!!!! You scumbags!!!!!! Let me got to the Chinese Super League or I’ll cry, point to my ankle and grass you up to the ref!!!”

Ironic, indeed, that a player notable for his perceived interest in seeing other players sent off should be waving the imaginary red card at himself.

Your move, Chelsea.

 

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


Graham Taylor versus The Sun: they came to bury him not to praise him

More on Graham Taylor in the Sun, where he is “Golden Graham”, “legend” and “hero”. Taylor “never bore a grudge”, says the Sun, “even after this.” The ‘this’ was the paper’s headline ‘Swedes 2 Turnips 1’, dreamt up after Taylor’s England side had lost a big match.

 

graham taylor the sun

 

Far from holding a grudge, the Sun says Taylor “admired” the headline that “summed up his failure as England manager”.

 

graham taylor the sun

 

But did that headline really sum up Taylor’s tenure as England’s manager? The Sun is being far too modest. Surely the headline that said so much was this one,which called golden Graham “Turnip Taylor’ and for added ooomph superimposed the root vegetable on his head.

The Sun came to bury him.

 

The Sun headline on 24 November 1993 following Taylor's resignation as England manager.

The Sun headline on 24 November 1993 following Taylor’s resignation as England manager.

 

The image might have escaped the Sun’s eyes today, but The Times, it’s New Corp. stablemate, does recall it. It says far from being delighted with the Sun’s mockery, Taylor was “upset” by it.

 

graham taylor the sun

 

The Sun apologises for anyone who read its newspaper and thought Graham Taylor a useless fool. It turns out he was brilliant.

 

Posted: 13th, January 2017 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets, Key Posts, Tabloids | Comment