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Back pages | Anorak - Part 21

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

Media balls: soft Manchester United players get it in the neck

Manchester United players show Daily Mirror readers “the most modern football thing you’ll see today”. More modern than Atletico Madrid’s new stadium being named after a chain of Chinese cinemas? The new gin bar at Fulham? The clickbait balls that mean all newspapers now look the same?

No. The most modern football thing you’ll see today are, as the Daily Mail exclaims, “Manchester United’s tired stars arrive back from Ukraine at 2.30am… with their own club-branded neck pillows!”

Is this a “a step too far?” wonders the Mirror.

No. It’s a pillow. It suggests the onboard flight is not as comfortable as it might be for elite athletes returning from a Europa League match. It was different back then, of course, when United players rested their heads on blocks of wood and coal dust.

 

Posted: 9th, December 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Ozil and Sanchez are ‘completely committed’ as agents and tabloids talk up their worth

Arsenal transfer news is all over the tabloids. With just 18 months remaining on there respective contracts, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Oil are haggling for new deals and lots more cash. Are they going or staying? The media knows nothing, of course. The media had no clue either player was on Arsenal’s radar before they arrived and has no clue if they will sign a new deal.

The Mail says “YOU’RE STAYING”. Daily Star leads with “You’re Gunner stay”. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says the club will not be “held to ransom” by the players. Wenger says, “these players have 18 months left. They will stay for 18 months and hopefully much longer.”

The Mirror twists those words and leads with “Sanchez and Ozil WILL stay (but only for 18 months)”. Wenger “claims his £100m duo…will be allowed to leave Arsenal on free transfers at the end of their contracts rather than being sold next summer.”

That’s only right if you take half of what he said and ignore that bit about him wanting them to stay for longer and the 18 months being the only agreed element of the deal. Six pages inside the paper, readers get a fuller quote. They also learn that Ozil has been offered £200,000 a week, a hug increase on his current £140,000-a-week deal.

The Express has a fuller version of Wenger’s words, which the Mirror declined to report. “Eighteen months is long time in football.” says Wenger.” I can’t give  any assurances. But they have 18 months and are completely committed. Beyond that they will try to extend their  contracts. That’s a normal part of negotiating.”

The Mirror, of course, knows precisely what is going to happen, it having told us that at the end of this season, Wenger is leaving the club on June 30 2017.

 

wenger quits sack resigns arsenal

 

Over in the Sun, it’s “FLY EMIRATES”. Wenger “admits he cannot guarantee” Ozil and Sanchez will stay at the club.

Neil Ashton uses his column to tell readers Ozil and Sanchez’s agents are “running rings around Arsenal’s deal maker Dick Law”. They are doing this, says Ashton, by comparing notes. Yeah, agents talk to one another and do their research. Who knew they were so professional? “If Ozil is offered £300,000-a-week or more for the next five years, Sanchez’s men get to hear about it first hand,” he adds: “With the form their clients are in, they hold all the aces.”

Not quite. They play for Arsenal, and must continue to preform at the highest level to prove their value.

Football’s not about contracts. It’s about teams. Football is not a means to an end. Top sport isn’t. It’s about doing your best and enjoying yourself. The incessant tabloid guff about money and contracts in football creates an impression that all footballers are disloyal and driven by money. To think Ozil and Sanchez think of bonuses when they score win or lose is to do them a disservice.

We get stories that Sanchez could earn £400,000-a-week playing in China. No word on whether he wants to or sees a new challenge in the Far East. Just the money.

“I believe personally, and maybe I am a bit naive, that it’s more about getting to meet the player’s needs. That’s more about the way the club has values, the way the club has ambition, the way the club respects the players,” says Wenger. “So I think, for me, that is more important nowadays and an important ingredient for every player to consider. The money is good everywhere for everybody. You know, nowadays, you negotiate with the agents more than with the player. We are in negotiations, yes. The players [Sánchez and Mesut Özil] are 18 months away from the end of their contracts, so it’s normal to be talking. But the players always come in at the end, when it’s a renewal, because with the first contract you need the players present. But after that, when you renew, 90% of the contracts are negotiated with the agents.”

Do they want to play for you? Would they enjoy it?

Agents are employed to maximise their clients’ earnings. But they also know that a happy client is a retained client. The agents don’t hold all the cards. It’s a balance. If Ozil and Sanchez’s agents are the top of the game they will strive not only for money but for their clients’ futures. Are they better off at Arsenal, where they are thriving and earning a fortune, or should they head o China, Chelsea or wherever else will give them more money?

The last words is from Ozil, who told the Times only last week:

“This is what I love about football…Even as a youngster playing against my older brother and his friends, I was never selfish. I didn’t want to be in focus. Even if people wanted to put me in the spotlight, I didn’t want it. I am not jealous if people are more successful than me. My passion on the pitch is to be successful not as an individual, but as a team. Often, it is my contribution that decides the game…

“You have to go for it, believe in yourselves, always have fun.”

Still think he’ll leave? No. Me neither.

Posted: 9th, December 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal trigger bidding war as Chelsea and China chase Alexis Sanchez

Arsenal forwards Alexis Sanchez is on his way to Chelsea. Maybe. The Mirror leads with news that should Arsenal fails to give Sanchez the massive pay hike he wants, Chelsea will dip him, his dog, his mum and his house in Russian gold.

The root of this story is not guessology, but something close to it. The Mirror says Chelsea manager Antonio Conte really likes Sanchez, arguably the Premier League’s best player. And, er, that’s it.

 

Alexis Sanchez chelsea arsenal

 

This ‘news’ follows yesterday’s ‘news’ that Chinese investors are willing to spirit Sanchez to the Far East an pay him £400,000-a-week to kick a ball. You’d imagine that any club willing to pay that much will also pay an enormous transfer fee.

As Arsenal wonder what Sanchez is worth if someone is willing to pay him £50m a year, the rest of the media slavishly follow the Mirror’s fact-free scoop:

“Arsenal and Chelsea fans lose their minds on Twitter as Sanchez is linked with Blues move” – Express

“Chelsea prepare swoop for Alexis Sanchez amid contract stalemate” – IBTimes

“Chelsea chase Gunners superstar Alexis” – The Sun

Of course, we only know about the Chinese interest because Sanchez’s people have dropped it into conversation with Arsenal over a new deal. It’s a bit desperate from them. If he fancies it, he’d already have agreed to go and Arsenal would be talking about that massive transfer fee.

So Sanchez won’t head to China. He’ll stay in Europe, and if he and Arsenal are smart he’ll stay at the Emirates and earn closer to the £200,000 a week he wants.

 

Posted: 8th, December 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


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

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

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

 

roberto firmino contract

 

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

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

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

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

Such are the facts.

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


Media balls: BBC blamed for Manchester United and Manchester City hype

In “MANCS FOR NOTHING”, the Mirror’s Dave Kidd looks at how Manchester United and Manchester City have failed to live up to the hype.

“Remember all that Pep Guardiola v Jose Mourinho hype,” he begins. We do.

“Remember how Manchester became the undisputed centre of the football universe?” We do.

Kidd then tells us who we can blame for all that balls. “Maybe we were all sucked in by the famously agenda-driven Manchester-centric media, led by Salford- based BBC Sport, who persuaded us to ignore poor unfashionable London”.

Kidd tell us that the biased media ignored Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, whose side are top of the Premier League.

To which we ask one question of our own: is the Mirror part of the Manchester-centric media?

September 5 2016: The Mirror asked: “Jose and Pep are set to renew acquaintances… but is the Manchester derby the world’s biggest?

September 8: “It’s his first Manchester derby, and even at this early stage it’s a game that could have a bearing on the outcome of the Premier League.”

September 8: “Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola have made Manchester derby even bigger.”

September 9: “Clash of the titans: Pep vs Mou XVII.”

With just over 24 hours now until kick-off, Mourinho and Guardiola clash once again in one of modern football’s most engrossing rivalries in recent times.

Throughout the rest of the day we will be reminding you of the past encounters between the Special One and the master of tiki-taka as they bid for supremacy in both Manchester and the Premier League.

September 10: “Manchester City’s derby display proved why we are so lucky to have bewitching Pep Guardiola in English football.”

September 16: “I believe City are English football’s best hope of winning the Champions League this season – that’s mainly because of the Pep factor.”

 

manchester-daily-mirror MAnchester United Manchester City

manchester city manchester united daily mirror

What no Conte?

 

Expect more hype as soon as City and United start winning matches again.

Posted: 6th, December 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


One Jose Mourinho: every variation of ‘The Special One’

On June 2 2004, Jose Mourinho arrived at Cheslea FC. “Please don’t call me arrogant,” he told the Press, “but I’m European champion and I think I’m a special one.”

And so he became The Specual One. And where that led other ‘Ones’ followed. Jose Mourinho has been:

The Gifted One

The Nervous One.

The Generous One

The Right One 

The Impatient One 

The Serious One

The Hungry One

The Happy One

The Obsessed One

The Tamer One

The Different One

The Frozen One

Posted: 5th, December 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


Media balls: diving Dele Alli’s dying swan routine gives Spurs victory

“Pochettino defends Alli’s diving,” says the Times in its report on Spurs’ 5-0 hammering of Swansea City. The first goal came from the penalty spot after Tottenham’s Dele Alli fell to the ground. Elsewhere in the paper, former referee Howard Webb tells readers: “It was a dive and Dele Alli needs to be careful he doesn’t get a reputation.”

Spurs’ Argentinean manager Mauricio Pochettino was invited to consider the incident. Did Alli dive?

Pochettino recalls the time England’s Michael Owen collapsed under his challenge at the World Cup. “David Beckham scored the resulting penalty, effectively ending Argentina’s tournament and, in turn, Pochettino’s international career,” says the Times. “Don’t believe that English football is fair play always because Owen jumped like [he was] in a swimming pool,” Pochettino tells us. “Maybe he [Alli] will say, ‘OK I fell down but I didn’t mean to dive but the referee believed it was a penalty,’ or it wasn’t his intention.”

An accidental dive is a nice take on the non-denial denial.

Lest you think Swansea would have lost anyhow, the paper says the penalty was the game’s defining moment: “The penalty effectively ended Swansea’s afternoon. For the first 39 minutes, they had held on with all they had, but after going behind they crumbled.”

Does everyone agree with the Times and think Alli dived? The Spurs website says Alli was fouled:

Dele latched onto a ball down the left-hand side of the area and was clipped by Naughton, with referee Jon Moss pointing the spot after a moment of consideration.

The Swansea website says:

The Swans were level at the Lane until Spurs won a highly contentious penalty

The South Wales Evening Post – Swansea’s local newspaper – tells its readers:

Stuart Pearce – ‘No doubt in my mind Dele Alli dived for controversial penalty against Swansea City’

The paper’s match report is clear:

The game was goalless when Dele Alli induced referee Jon Moss into giving a penalty when the Spurs midfielder appeared to go over with no contact from Kyle Naughton.

The Tottenham Independent saw contact:

Spurs finally took the lead on 38 minutes. Kyle Naughton caught Deli Alli’s [sic] trailing leg in the box and referee Jonathan Moss awarded a penalty.

Such are the facts in the biased media.

Posted: 5th, December 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comments (3)


Arsenal put West Ham boss on the ‘brink’ of getting chairman’s understanding

bilic-west-ham-united

 

Arsenal tonked West Ham united 5-1 at the Hammers’ soulless Olympic Stadium – hear the Arsenal fans singing “Is this the Emirates?” – and the tabloids are full of speculation. Is West Ham manager Slaven Bilic soon to be sacked?

“Bilic on the brink,” says the Mirror. “His job is understood to be hanging by a thread.”

“Slaven’s still safe,” counters the Star. “Slaven Bilic is safe at West Ham”, says the paper. “It is understood West Ham’s owners are ready to keep faith with him as they still believe the Croat can turn things around.”

“Bilic’s job is not under any immediate threat,” adds the Mail.

In short: nothing has changed. Bilic is the West Ham manager.

 

Posted: 5th, December 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


Jose Mourinho’s tax problems shame Manchester United and Chelsea

Jose Mourinho is “the rich one” in the Sunday Times’ look at the Manchester United manger’s financial affairs. The allegation is that “a complex offshore structure” has allowed Mourinho “to dodge tax on his image rights income”.

Is it all legal? We should suppose it is. But after the words “criminal investigation”, the paper looks at the cash – pots of it. The paper says since arriving in the UK in 2004 Mourinho has been paid – get his – £120m in salary. Much of that cash came from Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea. Perhaps the paper would be best served looking at the owner’s sources of income. In 2015, the Times Matthew Syed was scathing of the Russian:

The money that has bankrolled Chelsea these past 12 years, which has brought multiple trophies while sanitising the image of one of the most dubious individuals ever associated with British sport, was corruptly amassed

Back to the Mourinho, then, and his cash:

An investigation by The Sunday Times has found evidence suggesting that the Manchester United boss’s advisers misled the tax authorities in Britain and Spain during inquiries into more than £10m in earnings hidden through a Caribbean tax haven.

In an attempt to reduce his tax bill, Mourinho’s advisers appear to have fabricated more than £1m in costs run up by a British Virgin Islands shell company with no employees.

They also withheld from the tax inspectors the fact that Mourinho’s family were the true owners of the shell company.

The story is based on a “1.9-terabyte cache of data was originally handed to Der Spiegel, the German news magazine, by a whistleblower who does not wish to be named”. We are told why he’s leaked the data. “It is time to finally clean up football,” he says. “The fans have to understand that with every ticket, every jersey they buy and with every television subscription, they are feeding an extremely corrupt system that is only in it for itself.”

As is the way with big scoops of the past years – politicians’ expenses; the US embassy cables;  Hillary Clinton’ emails – the source is huge wad of data dropped on the media’s mat. It;s quickly packaged up as story of bad versus good. But how many of us see the Tax Man as a force for righteousness?

The paper notes:

It shows how the super-rich can employ highly paid advisers and lawyers to shield them from the tax laws that apply to everyone else. The public rarely gets a glimpse into this world. Until now.

Of course it all boils down to one thing: greed. But let’s not too be hard on Mourinho. Football relies on talent. The more talented the football name the more more they get. Revenues run to the workers. Jeremy Corbyn should enjoy that.

Whether or not Mourinho is overpaid or underpaid is neither here nor there. You could defend Mourinho by looking at the vast amounts of tax he has paid. You could say that a foreigner deciding to spend and invest his cash overseas is to be expected. You could see the taxman as an arbitrary force of state power.

What makes us curious is the power Mourinho enjoys. If the man who was indulged at Chelsea so long as he was winning – witness his hideous treatment of referees and Dr Eva Carneiro – is mired, it is not so much down to him as it is the clubs that stuck him on a pedestal and ignored and deflected criticism of odious behaviour that in any other industry would get him sectioned.

Mourinho’s people say they and he have done nothing wrong. But if he has cheated, the clubs that poo-pooed criticism of his antics and in so doing encouraged belief that he is free to exist outside the laws of acceptable behaviour, need to answer questions, too.

 

Posted: 4th, December 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Money, Sports | Comment


Spurs cave in and agree to Harry Kane’s massive loyalty bonus

Spurs striker Harry Kane secured a huge pay rise because the club “caved in” to his demands. So says the Times, which calculates Kane’s Tottenham at around £150,000-a-week, based on a base salary of £120,000-a-week plus bonuses.

The new contract, which runs until 2022, contains no buy-out clause should Spurs fail to reach the Champions’ League.

Kane’s manager Mauricio Pochettino tells media, “If you ask him he is sure that is not about the money.” He then says he was always sure Kane would remain at the club.

Yeah, right. Kane bleeds for Spurs. He’s one of their own. Nonsense. It’s always about the money. He’s more than doubled his money from the £60,000-a-week deal that had four years to run. Give it a year of good form and he’ll be asking for more.

Feel the love.

To secure Kane, Spurs had to obliterate their wage structure. The club wanted Kane to sign a new deal in September, but he wouldn’t. The paper talk was of him wanting £100,000 a week. Then it was parity with Jamie Vardy’s £120,000 a week. Now Kane earns the same as Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez.

The Times says it wasn’t until last week that Kane and Spurs talked about the contract – and the club “caved into his wage demands and completed the deal in the space of two days”.

Below Kane, the club’s top earner is Hugo Lloris – and you can expect the captain’s agent to be knocking on the chairman’s door very soon. He’ll be in a queue behind Dele Alli’s agent. The young Englishman earns £50,000-a-week.

Spurs’ wage bill is set to rocket.

Posted: 3rd, December 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment (1)


Arsenal balls: Ralph Hasenhuttl has not replaced Arsene Wenger

As headlines go, the Sun’s is unequivocal: “RALPH HAS THE JOB”. The paper reports that Arsene Wenger is to replaced as Arsenal manager by Ralph Hasenhuttl. Reading on, we get more facts: “Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to be replaced by RB Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuttl.”

Wow! Wenger’s finally been given the heave-ho.

As Gunners fans look up Hasenhuttl, the Sun whispers, “Austrian sensationally confirms he could takeover the Gunners.”

Could?

The Sun adds: “Austrian chief, who has led his side to the top of the Bundesliga table, claims he may take over at the Emirates next season.”

May?

The facts that had Arsenal fans excited are now less than factual.

So how did the Sun gets the story? Well, the Austrian appears to have seen q story in the Sun that he’s bene linked to the Arsenal job and responded:

“It was a well-researched story. There was a lot of truth to it. I have heard of worse fates than succeeding the longest-serving manager in England. It’s not damaging my reputation, is it? We don’t have to put too much thought into [the Arsenal job]. I have found my luck here.”

Which bits contained truth and which bits contained non-truths, Hasenhuttl didn’t say.

Posted: 2nd, December 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Media balls: Southampton beaten by Wenger’s Arsenal flops

Southampton fans looking for reports on their team’s 0-2 victory away to Arsenal in the League Cup will disappointed to see their team get second or ever third billing to the Gunners boss Arsene Wenger. The crux of the match report is that Southampton less won the match than Arsenal lost it.

Arsenal’s Wenger made 10 changes to the team that beat Bournemouth last weekend. Southampton’s Claude Puel made eight changes to the team that beat Everton.

Given that the Gunners could still  all upon a wealth of experience in the expensive legs of Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs, Gabriel, Lucas Perez, Xhaka and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, a player signed from Southampton’s prodigious academy for £17m, Southampton deserve more plaudits. They did not defeat Arsenal’s “kids”. They beat a wealthier team on their home patch. For the Sun to says on its lead sports page, “Arsenal didn’t turn up” is absurd.

wenger arsenal wenger arsenal southampton wenger arsenal southampton wenger

Posted: 1st, December 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Why everything’s ‘wrong’ at Old Trafford (it’s not Mourinho)

“What wrong at Old Trafford,” asks the Sun’s Neil Curtis? Nothing. Manchester United are in great shape. This we know because on 6th September 2016 Neil Curtis told us about the “RED-OLUTION” at Old Trafford. “Jose Mourinho has turned Manchester United around to become the force of old in just three months,” said Curtis. Mourinho has “lifted the clouds” at United. “Mourinho is trusting the players abilities, letting them breathe.”

 

the sun mourinho jose Manchester United Neil Curtis

 

Today Curtis tells us that Manchester United have had their “worst start to a season in 27 years”. Why? Well, it’s not because Jose Mourinho is failing. It’s about him “unpicking Louis Van Gaal’s philosophy”. That would be Van Gaal who unpicked David Moyes’ philosophy. (You can read more about Jose’s philosophy here.)

Curtis adds that United have “NO TOP-CLASS STRIKER”. Really. Because Curtis wrote:

In his £250m splurge, LVG made two that excited but could not get the best out of either in Angel Di Maria and Memphis Depay. Mourinho has made four and so far Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly have been immediate hits.

And:

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has got his Manchester United career off to a blistering start

Another reasons: “NEW SIGNINGS STRUGGLING.” So much for Mourinho’s “immediate hits”.

And finally, lest you think Curtis will blame Mourinho, he asks himself: “Have they got the right manager?” “In my opinion,” says Curtis, “most definitely they have.”

Next question is one of ours: Would Manchester United fans prefer to have signed Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola instead of the chippy Mourinho?

Over in the Mail, you can read: “Inside the troubled World of Mourinho – An obsessive man at odds with himself and his players.” So much for the RED-VOLUTION.

 

Posted: 29th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Tony Pulis: Crystal Palace spank West Bromwich Albion manager

Tony Pulis, manager of West Bromwich Albion, is a “LIAR”. So says the Sun, which leads its sports coverage with news that Pulis has been told to pay Crystal Palace £3.7m – but his total bill following defeat in a High Court fight is closer to £6m. The Mirror and Express say it’s around £5m.

 

Crystal Palace the sun pulis

 

The story goes that Pulis was paid a £2m bonus for saving Crystal Palace from the drop when he managed the team in 2014. Palace said he was due the money if he stayed at the club until August 31 2014 – after the season had kicked off on August 16. Pulis asked for the bonus early, saying he had an “urgent” need for the cash to buy land for his children. He got the cash on August 12. On August 13, Pulis told Palace he wanted to leave, says the Express. Pulis left the club on August 14.

The matter went before an independent tribunal in March 2016, which ruled in Palace’s favour, saying Pulis had created a “false impression” that he would remain at the club. Pulis took the case to he High Court. And lost again.

The Sun says the case hinged on the date of a “fiery meeting”. Pulis, reportedly, claimed his loyalty to the club was damaged following a “heated player meeting” on August 12. But Palace were able to prove that that meeting occurred on August 8.

Pulis was undone.

High Court judge Sir Michael Burton said the Tribunal found Pulis had “deliberately sought to deceive with his claims about needing the bonus early”. The Sun quotes the Premier League Managers’ Arbitration Tribunal report which brands Pulis’s conduct “disgraceful”. His case was “untrue”. “It was must more likely he intended to seek more lucrative employment with another club and that is the real reason he sought early payment.”

Pulis must repay the £2m bonus plus £1.5m as he was “already in employment with another club”.

The Mail says Pulis has been “branded a fraudster”. He “deliberately mislead” Palace chairman Steve Parrish over his intention to stay at the club.

The Mirror says Pulis’ “reputation is in tatters”.

The rest of us marvel at how much money and greed there is in football.

Posted: 29th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment (1)


Media balls: Wilshere’s Arsenal future as clear as mud

How’s Jack Wilshere getting along at Arsenal? He’s playing for AFC Bournemouth but he’ll be back the Gunners soon enough. The Evening Standard confirms the news: “Arsene Wenger confirms Jack Wilshere will be offered new Arsenal contract.”

Good for Jack. And good for Arsenal.

But in September the Metro told us: “Mesut Ozil set to sign bumper new Arsenal deal that will see him inherit Jack Wilshere’s No.10 shirt.”

Ozil hasn’t signed any new deal. He wears the Number 11 shirt.

 

The Metro added that Wilshere “sees his long-term future away from the club”.

He doesn’t.

On October 22, the Mail reported on one of its own columnists: “Jack Wilshere’s future is away from Arsenal after Bournemouth loan, says Jamie Redknapp… Jack Wilshere’s career at Arsenal is over.”

No. It isn’t.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 27th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


Media Balls: Mourinho does a Wenger, Pogba does a Van Gaal and Manchester United wait for Fergie

Media Balls: Was it right that Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was red carded as his side fought back to secure a 1-1 draw with West Ham United? Can we know what’s what from reading the experts?

The BBC: “Off to the stands! He aims an almighty kick at a drinks bottle down on the touchline in anger at a booking for Paul Pogba – who looked to be jumping to avoiding getting clattered – and is directed from the touchline by Jonathan Moss.”

Pogba was avoiding a clattering and jumped. It was self-preservation. The referee got it wrong. Jose just reacted to the poor decision.

Manchester United assistant manager Rui Faria: “I think there was frustration from Jose after the yellow card for Pogba. It should be a foul for us but the referee understood it in another way.”

United were robbed.

Saj Choudry (BBC): “The Portuguese boss kicked a water bottle in reaction to referee Jon Moss showing Paul Pogba a yellow card for diving. Replays showed West Ham’s Mark Noble did not make contact with the France midfielder.”

Pogba dived. The referee was correct – he did fool for the player’s cheating. Jose Mourinho did make contact with the water bottle.

The West Ham website: “The Frenchman, falling after going past Mark Noble, was correctly booked for diving, prompting the explosive bottle-kicking moment from his boss.

Dive!

The Manchester United website: “Mourinho was then sent to the stands after he reacted furiously to referee Jonathon Moss’ decision to book Pogba for an apparent dive.”

An apparent dive?

Manchester Evening News: “He [Pogba] appeared to dive over Mark Noble’s challenge and was booked by Jonathan Moss. Mourinho… kicked a water bottle in frustration and was sent to the stands.”

He appeared to dive. Jose was not poorly behaved and wrong. He was frustrated.

The paper does find lots of room for the thoughts of journalist Duncan Castles:

 

jose mourinho red card

 

Picking that apart. The slight on Louis Van Gaal is odd given that the hammer-headed Dutchman was pretty animated:

 


And as for any other manager not being sent off for kicking a water bottle, well, the Arsenal manager was:

 

 

For Jose Mourinho, well, it wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the fact that his old club Chelsea – the one he left spent and in mid-table – are top of the league under their new manager.

PS: Manchester United have failed to win four league games in a row at Old Trafford for the first time since February 1990. And they have drawn four consecutive league games at their place for the first time since December 1980. Yeah. it’s time for Fergie all over again. Oh for a manager who intimidates referees, fails to talk to the BBC and fosters a siege mentality. On second thoughts, as you were Jose…

Posted: 27th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Top politicians cleared of sex abuse but showbiz and sport is full of paedos

Are you confused by all the story of paedophiles in every walk of life? Hopefully by around 2099, the Government’s nationwide trawl of historic sex crimes will be completed. Of course, by then most famous faces will be long dead. The sane move is to forcibly freeze anyone of note and then when they get accused of an awful crime defrost them over burning torches and then beat them with sticks. Sure their brains might be mush but don’t let Lord Janner’s story put you off.

So weird has the story gotten that the Mail is not alone in realising that the story of the systematic sexual abuse of minors has taken on a life of its own.

On the front we get to know that former prime minister and Tory MP Ted Heath (dead) was not a nonce.

 

daily mail ted heath

 

But on the back we get to know that football and all other sports are riddled with paedos – maybe.

 

sport daily mail sex crimes

 

Look down not up, says the class-conscious peado hunter.

As Andy Dawson puts it: “Showbiz, sport, this stuff is/was rife. BUT NOT IN TOP-LEVEL POLITICS, OKAY?”

Posted: 27th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Reviews, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Philippe Coutinho Injury news: Liverpool star does a break, a twist and a Beckham

Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho was taken from the Anfield pitch on a stretcher, his leg in a brace. How bad is the injury to Liverpool’s best player? One expert decides it’s best just to guess.

On the BBC website, former Arsenal ‘rash’ Martin Keown says it could be a really bad injury. Or maybe it isn’t. Lest anyone think Keown a medial genius who can diagnose an injury from hundreds of miles away, he tells us that he’s “speculating”.

 

Liverpool Philippe Coutinho

 

The Guardian is unsure what to make of what “appeared a serious ankle or foot injury”.

ESPN observes: “Philippe Coutinho was withdrawn in the first half with an injury to his lower right leg.”

The Liverpool Echo says his leg as in a “splint”. The Star say sit was in an “air cast”.

In the Express, James Cambridge ups the ante and says Coutinho has a broken foot – maybe.

 

Liverpool Philippe Coutinho

 

Why does Cambridge think it’s a break? Well, he quotes a few tweeters who say they hope it isn’t a break. And he also quotes – yep – Martin Keown.

To put the tin lid on the Express’s utter balls, readers are told more about an injury to which Coutinho might not have succumbed :

Wayne Rooney was ruled out of the 2004 European Championships with a metatarsal injury and was sidelined for around two months.

The Manchester United captain has been plagued with metatarsal inuries [sic] and suffered his third in August 2007 and was out for six weeks.

 

james cambridge daily express Liverpool

 

And:

David Beckham famously broke his metatarsal before the 2002 World Cup and was a major doubt for the tournament.

The final word is with someone who knows. Says Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “It [Philippe Coutinho’s injury] is an ankle injury but we can’t say anymore until we see a scan.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 26th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Media balls: ‘disgraceful’ referee saves Leicester and robs Middlesbrough with ‘stonewall’ penalty

Media Balls: a look at biased football reporting. Today Leicester City took on Middlesbrough in the Premier League. Leicester got a penalty. Should it have been given?

BBC: “A high ball is pumped into the box and catches the hand of Calum Chambers. Referee Lee Mason points to the spot. The Boro defender probably feels a little aggrived [sic] given he looked to be fouled by Wes Morgan.”

Lucky Leicester. It was ever so.

 

Leicester City penalties

 

Sky: “Chambers is having a poor few minutes as he leaps with his hands in the air and the ball hits him. It’s stonewall and after a quick check with the linesman, the referee points the spot. Mahrez is over it…”

Stonewall penalty.

The Sun: “Morgan clearly shoves Chambers into the ball but incredibly Lee Mason points to the spot. It’s another refereeing howler!”

Stone me! Penalty?

 

the sun leciester city

 

Hard luck, Calum Chambers.

Leicester Mercury: “Surprisingly, no second yellow for defender Chambers for his handball despite having been booked just minutes earlier for a foul on Vardy.”

Lucky, Calum Chambers.

Middlesbrough Gazette:

Was it a penalty?

Yes, it hit the arm of Calum Chambers.

But the considerable weight of Wes Morgan had a considerable part to play in that.

The defender was all over Chambers and made his presence felt…

The Gazette then quotes an expert:

 

middlesbrough Leicester

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 26th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


Football paedophile panic: Hundreds becomes thousands as Barry Bennell grows ever more prolific

The Mail leads with the football sex abuse story. “THERE COULD BE THOUSANDS” thunders the paper’s lead sports story.

 

sex abuse football

 

Be in no doubt it’s getting worse. Earlier in the week it was “hundreds”.

 

sex abuse football

 

The hundreds and thousands are not the paedophiles working as football coaches who abused young players – although given the nature of the reporting, they might be – but the victims.

The Mirror’s front-page story was based on words by their columnist Robbie Savage, who was a youngster at Crewe Alexandra, where convicted paedophile Barry Bennell coached. Bennell has served three prison sentences, amounting to 15 years, since 1994 for many offences committed against boys.

Says Savage: “Sometimes I’d go into training on a Monday and hear some of the lads say, ‘I stayed at Barry’s at the weekend.’ And I’d be thinking, ‘Why not me? Why didn’t he ask me? Am I not a good enough player? Have I done something wrong?’ Of course, I now know what happened to some of those boys and I know I’m one of the lucky ones but, at the time, that’s what went through my mind.”

He then speculates: “We need to know how many more Barry Bennells are out there. And how many victims are still suffering because of what happened to them.”

And from Savage’s guesstimate of hundreds, we turn to the Mail’s “thousands”. “Thousands of young footballers could have been abused by a nationwide paedophile ring,” says the Mail today.

The number is provided by former Manchester City youth player Jason Dunford, “who says he was targeted” by Barry Bennell:

‘There could be thousands of boys abused and I’m not exaggerating,’ said Dunford, who had fought off Bennell as a 13-year-old schoolboy at a Butlin’s camp.

Dunford came forward after Andy Woodward, a former Crewe player who was abused by Bennell, gave an account of his own experiences… triggering an earthquake within the game.

‘Andy has not even touched the surface with telling his own stories,’ added Dunford. ‘He told how he had been on a camp to Gran Canaria and Bennell had a different boy every night. So take the school holidays, training nights, tournaments. Over 30 years, it absolutely could be thousands.’

The story of depraved criminality has taken on a life of its own.

What of the police? Four police forces are not involved in the investigation.

The Metropolitan Police, Britain’s biggest force, said it “has received information relating to non-recent sexual abuse in football clubs in London”…

Hampshire Police said its detectives are investigating non-recent child abuse “within the football community”.

Cheshire Police said it had received ”a growing number of disclosures” and that allegations have been “made against more than one individual”…

Northumbria Police said it was investigating an allegation by an unnamed former Newcastle United player that he was abused in the club’s youth system.

The Guardian also leads with the story.

 

sex abuse football

The story runs:

Crewe Alexandra, the club most heavily implicated in the Barry Bennell case, were warned he had sexually abused one of his junior footballers but allowed the man who turned out to be a serial paedophile to stay at the club for a number of years, the Guardian has been told…

Hamilton Smith, who was on the board from 1986 to early 1990, has told this newspaper he was so concerned at the time he asked for specially convened talks about concerns over Bennell’s relationship with young boys at the club and, specifically, to inform his colleagues that someone had marched over to him at a junior football match to allege that a friend’s son had been abused.

Crewe, we learn, “have declined to comment.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 26th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Reviews | Comment


Manchester United balls: Jose Mourinho adapts the Chelsea philosophy to be more and less like Van Gaal

How are things going for Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho? “From the moment he arrived, the message has been positive, about winning the title. Nothing on philosophies or things taking time,” said the Sun’s Neil Curtis on 6th September 2016. Philosophy is for losers, like Louis Van Gaal, Jose’s predecessor at United, whose “attempts to reprogramme everyone with his much-vaunted ‘philosophy’ succeeded only in inhibiting all their natural instincts”.

Philosophy is balls.

Unless it isn’t. On November 15 the Sun thought philosophy and football were a good blend. “Johan Cruyff’s debut 52 years ago today: Inventor of Total Football whose philosophy influenced Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola,” chimed the headline.

On November 22, the Manchester Evening News agreed, reporting: “Daley Blind’s view on Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho’s philosophy.” Said Blind of Mourinho: “He is pretty similar to Van Gaal when it comes to their commitment to the team. They used to work together so I reckon that is no coincidence.” He adds: “…his philosophy is slightly different to that of Van Gaal. He is very direct, it is all about winning.”

And as Jose Mourinho put it in 2013: “You need stability in methods, in philosophy within the club. With FFP [Financial Fair Play], and Chelsea wants to go in that direction, you also need stability. You cannot change manager and philosophy every few years.”

So much for much-vaunted philosophy.

Posted: 25th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Ian Wight Balls: Chelsea must sell ‘foolish’ Costa, the Blues’ best player

Chelsea striker Diego Costa is playing well. Ian Wright has noticed. He says Chelsea are riding high in the Premier League because of Costa above all else. The former Arsenal striker writes in the Sun:

“I have a message to all those who say Diego Costa has finally got his game under control: It always was. There are plenty of people who reckon it’s all down to the fact he has calmed down. Yet to me, even when Costa was picking up yellow cards, he remained massively in control….  he always knew how far to push it. He’d have picked up far more than a single red card in his time at Stamford Bridge if that wasn’t the case.”

In Marxh 2015, Costa was sent off in the FA Cup at Goodison Park. It was his first red card in a Chelsea shirt. It was his first because he’d been lucky / sneaky. Before that red card, Costa was banned twice in a Chelsea shirt, both retrospectively, by the FA for incidents missed by the officials during games against Arsenal and Liverpool.

So much for the facts, then. And what about all those who say Costa is a hothead? People like Ian Wright, who opined in 2015:

“I would sell him at the first opportunity I get for Costa. I’d sell him… He’s antagonised at the moment. If I was a defender I would just keep talking to him, it takes him away from his game.”

And:

“Martin Keown… would have relished the challenge of Costa. Whatever we say about Costa, he plays on the edge. His hold up play and the runs he makes, honestly, he’s good. Martin could deal with all that and the foolishness as well.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 24th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Media balls: PSG’s Cavani ‘cuffs’, ‘slaps’ and ‘chins’ Arsenal’s ‘playacting’ Ramsey

Should Edinson Cavani have been sent off in PSG’s Champions’ League match at Arsenal? The Star says the striker “cuffed” Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey “on the chin”.

John Cross tells Mirror readers, “Cavani clearly aimed a punch at Aaron Ramsay. No surprise that Cavani missed Ramsey’s face.”

Tony Banks tells Express readers, “Cavani appeared to punch Aaron Ramsey on the jaw.”

Charlie Wyett tells Sun readers, “Cavani lashed out at Aaron Ramsey – he should have been sent off.”

 

cavani-arsenal daily mail

SLAP!

 

In the Mail things become more confusing. We see Cavani “losing it”. He “plants his hand into Ramsey’s neck”. Sami Mokbel says Cavani “aimed a punch at Ramsey”. The Mail says Cavani slapped Ramsey.

 

cavani-arsenal daily mail

SLAP!

 

cavani-arsenal daily mail

IN THE NECK!

 

Writing in the Mail, former referee Graham Poll counters his own paper by accusing Ramsey of “playacting”.  He says “Ramsey was not touched on his face – but Cavani escaped the yellow card he deserved”.

 

cavani-arsenal daily mail

ACT!

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 24th, November 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal, PSG and the case of the missing Serge Aurier

Drama ahead of tonight’s Champions’ League between Arsenal and Paris St Germain. In an “EXCLUSIVE”, the Star thunders: “Serge Aurier’s career could be ruined after he was banned from entering Britain to face Arsenal tonight.”

You can read the same story on the Sun’s back page, where Arsenal’s hopes have received a boost from the Home Office. Aurier has been banned from entering the UK as a result of his conviction for assaulting a police officer in Paris. In September the 23-year-old Ivorian was found guilty of elbowing his victim as he left a Paris nightclub in May. He was sentenced to two months in jail and fined €600.

The club have not sacked him. The incident has not left his carder in ruins. But, apparently, not playing Arsenal might.

The Star’s twist on the story is based on the words of Aurier’s lawyer, Claire Boutaud de la Combe, who “fears  it could leave his career in tatters”. Really?

“Under France law he remains innocent until this appeal has been heard,” says de la Combe. “But such an appeal can take quite a long time, especially in Paris. It will take several months, maybe one year. We don’t understand why this has become a problem, there is no reason for his. Now this is a worry because maybe it will stop him being able to travel to other countries to play for PSG or the Ivory Coast because they will also not allow him entry.”

In February, PSG suspended Aurier for a Champions’ League match against Chelsea following comments he made about the coach, Laurent Blanc, and his team-mates on social media. The season before that, Uefa banned Aurier for three matches ‘after last season’s Champions League game against Chelsea following a video posted on Facebook in which he labelled the referee Bjorn Kuipers a “dirty son of a bitch” over the sending-off of his team-mate Ibrahimovic.’

PSG are getting used to playing Champions’ League matches without Aurier, who is, nonetheless, picked to play when not banned. His career is not in tatters. Far from it.

Oh, and to put the tin lid on this balls, note that the source is the Star, the paper that told us – yep – Aurier agreed to join the Gunners is 2014.

 

Serge Aurier Arsenal

 

A fact echoed by the Star’s sister paper, the Express:

 

Serge Aurier Arsenal

 

Aurier singed for PSG.

Posted: 23rd, November 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Media balls: Spurs crash out but Jan Vertonghen’s omission was not a shock

Last night Spurs crashed out of the Champions’ League, losing to Monaco in France. The Sun’s Paul Jiggins says Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettinho “sprang a surprise” by playing Eric Dier and Kevin Wimmer in defence in place of the “ever-reliable Jan Vertonghen“.

Really?

When Monaco defeated Spurs 1-2 at Wembley earlier in the CL, Vertonghen was hardly sublime. The Evening Standard reported:

 

Spurs would come to rue those missed opportunities. Lamela conceded possession in his own half and Fabinho fed Silva, who drove into the box past Jan Vertonghen before unleashing a driven effort with his left foot that flew past Hugo Lloris.

The Mail noted:

Silva shimmied into the penalty area and, when Jan Vertonghen showed him the goal, lashed a left-footer inside the far post.

The Telegraph:

Stunning finish, but not great defending from Vertonghen, who lets Silva cut in and get the shot away…

Thomas Lemar jumped ahead of Verton­ghen to reach Djibril Sidibé’s cross. The ball broke back to Lemar at the near post and he lashed it high beyond Lloris from close range.

When Spurs were beaten 0-1 by Bayer Leverkusen at Wembley Stadium, Sky Sports reported:

Jan Vertonghen set the tone when he nervously mis-hit a clearance in the opening minutes. Leverkusen were on the front foot immediately and Spurs, usually so aggressive under Pochettino, couldn’t cope with a taste of their own high-pressing medicine.

The Telegraph:

Tottenham in a bit of a pickle as Vertonghen wildly slices a clearance up in the air that Leverkusen pounce on…

Vertonghen’s a good player, but in the Champion’s League he’s been no rock-like presence.

And he’s been lucky in the Premier League:

The Indy: “Confusion reigned at White Hart Lane on Saturday as referee Bobby Madley failed to award a penalty for Jan Vertonghen’s clear pull on Joel Matip’s shirt at a corner.”

The Mail: “Jan Vertonghen had a full hold of Granit Xhaka’s shirt while defending a corner and even beats the midfielder to heading the ball away. A penalty in the laws of the game…”

 

 

Posted: 23rd, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment (1)