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Back pages | Anorak - Part 24

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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

Desperate Manchester United get saddled with ageing and overpaid star

Footballers, eh. News is that Manchester United are, says the BBC, “prepared to release 32-year-old midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger” with a £10m severance deal.

You read that right. Manchester United are so desperate to rid themselves of the German they will pay him £10m to go.

The Sun adds a caveat: United will pay the £10m  “if they can find someone to take him in January”.

United have all but resigned themselves to the fact they will have to give 32-year-old the staggering payoff – despite the fact he’s been allowed to train with the first-team again.

Now the maths:

The ex-Bayern Munich star is on £180,000-a-week and is owed around £18m in wages with two years left on his Old Trafford deal.

This is how desperate Manchester United are to spunk cash on anyone they think might build the brand.

Schweinsteiger will pocket a staggering £4m or so between January and the end of the season, which the Red Devils are reluctant to pay him.

That’s about £120,000-a-week less than Wayne Rooney gets at United; £70,000 less than Zlatan Ibrahimovich; and £130,000 less than Jose Mourinho.

United are happy for him to leave Old Trafford on a free, having written his £6m fee from Bayern Munich off their books. If another club come in for him in January, they’ll have to give him around £10m and save themselves a fortune. Currently, nobody wants him, but a move to America or China could be on the cards as clubs can afford his huge wages.

Um, no. Lots of clubs would like to pick Schweinsteiger. It’s just that every few clubs can match the absurd wages United pay.

 

Posted: 4th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United: Mourinho vows to stay and be better than Moyes

PHEW! The Sun hears news that Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says he will remain at Old Trafford “for many years”.

The Sun says Mourinho is “determined to take Manchester United back to the top.”. Good to know. Manchester United are currently eighth in the Premier League.

“I am at the club I want to be at and I am so happy to be here,” Mourinho tells media. “I want to stay here until the end of my contract and then who knows?”

His contract runs for three years with an option for a further year.

“But I will be here for many years. I am a football man and I am still young,” Jose continues. “Sometimes people think I am 75 but I am 53 and I have passion for the game.”

Can he make United improve? Having lobbed tons of cash at the squad, United are playing less than thrilling football. Getting thrashed 4-0 by Chelsea answered the question, ‘What’s Jose’s best team?’ Answer: Chelsea.

But the Press have been a tad hasty to damn Jose. The Sun has accused Jose of “entering David Moyes territory”. And the Mail placed him bottom in a table of United managers in the post-Ferguson era:

Mourinho Daily Mail

 

Officially worse? No. Because in this first season in charge, Jose’s United have 15 points from 10 PL matches. At the same stage in his predecessors’ first seasons at Old Trafford, Moyes’ United had 17 points and Van Gaal’s side 13 points; the following season Van Gaal’s team picked up 20 points.

Mourinho is not the worst. He’s better that David Moyes, whose Sunderland have two points from 10 played – a Premier League record low. High praise, indeed.

The only way is up for Jose.

Posted: 3rd, November 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Media balls: Manchester City could have had six against Barcelona and ‘stupid’ Messi

Media balls: a look at reporting on last night Champions’ League match between Manchester City and Barcelona, which City won 3-1.

The Times says Manchester City were”brilliant”. The BBC says Manchester City were “outstanding”.

In Spain, Mundo Deportivo says Barca “ran out of batteries and watched as De Bruyne, Silva, Gundogan flew past them”. It was a”blackout”. SPORT says Barcelona were “tangled”, caught in the City trap. L’Esportiu says “City smelled blood” in the second half.

 

manchester city

 

The Manchester Evening News says: “City absolutely HAMMERED Barcelona – Messi and co were lucky to escape without more of a hiding.”

James Robson reports for the MEN:

It is no exaggeration to say City could have scored six or even more against the Spanish champions. Raheem Sterling should have won a first half penalty and wasted a golden chance shortly after Kevin de Bruyne fired City ahead in the second half.

It is an exaggeration. Sterling should have had a penalty instead of a yellow card for diving. But Robson’s monocular report makes no mention of Barcelona chances. The Guardian does, however:

65 min: So close from Barcelona, as Andre Gomes rattles the crossbar from just outside the penalty area with a free shot on goal. Luis Suarez nutmegs John Stones, advances and squares the ball for Gomes who really should have scored.

Had he scored, that would have made it 2-2.

Sky notes that after Barcelona opened the scoring:

Barcelona then began to dominate, missing several chances to double their lead as City’s defence opened up.

And (wrongly):

Busquets then hit the bar with a left-footed effort which seemed destined for the goal, but City got their two-goal cushion with 16 minutes left.

City were terrific. But to claim it was one-sided affair is absurd.

 

man city barca spain man city barca man city

 

By way of a footnote, Marca says Messi was involved in a post-match incident in the tunnel, in which he responded to something by calling a City player “stupid”.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 2nd, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Cazorla’s new anti-Spurs boots will go well with his suit

How does Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla prepare for the Gunners Premier League clash with Spurs? By showing off his new boots. Puma have given Cazorla a pair of ‘Derby Fever’ custom boots to wear in the upcoming North London derby.

The boots – as the blurb says –  “celebrate the epic meetings between local football foes”.

Given the ferocity of past encounters, we’re a tad disappointed that the studs are not on the toe.

“Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla will wear specially-made PUMA boots in Sunday’s north London showdown,” says the Mirror.

In other news: Cazorla has an achilles injury and will, er, most likely not be playing in the match. Still, they could go well with his suit as she watches from the stands.

Posted: 1st, November 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Sven Goran Eriksson corrects the story of Wayne Rooney’s transfer from Manchester United to China

Read all about it. The BBC has news of non-transfers. Shanghai SIPG manager Sven-Goran Eriksson (who he?) says he will not be signing Manchester United’s 31-year-old England forward Wayne Rooney.

The Sun has more on the no-news story.

WHERE’S LEFT? Wayne Rooney’s future takes bleak twist with Sven Goran Eriksson ruling out a mega-money move to take him to Chinese Super League

Bleak? Rooney earns over £300,000 a week on his current Manchester United deal, which has two years to run. He won’t be ending his playing days in China. It’s not the kind of stuff a modern day Charles Dickens would have written on, is it?

 

rooney china manchester united

 

Simon Austin writes:

SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON has told long-time favourite Wayne Rooney: I don’t want you in China.

Is that when Sven said? Not exactly, no:

“Everyone knows how much I admire Rooney. That’s one thing. To make out we are going to sign him is something else. There is absolutely nothing in it, zero. It is not something we have ever even spoken about at the club — and we have been discussing our options for next season a lot.”

Sven hasn’t rejected Rooney. Sven has rejected the story that Rooney is off to join him in China. Stories like:

Wayne Rooney in talks for huge China deal to quit Man Utd – The Sun

Jose Mourinho says he will never sell Wayne Rooney as captain emerges as Chinese Super League target – The Sun

And:

rooney china manchester united

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 1st, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United balls: two months ago Zlatan was really good and Mata was leaving

Being a football pundit is easy. The Sun’s Neil Curtis knows lots about Manchester United. “Juan Mata has emerged as the answer to one of Jose Mourinho’s big Manchester United questions,” he writes. The question is ‘What is United’s best side?’, not ‘When will Mata leave the club”. Because Mata was leaving United. We read it in the Sun (via):

Juan Mata linked with Barcelona move as Jose Mourinho likely to axe Spaniard again – The Sun

Jose Mourinho to axe Juan Mata and Daley Blind as Special One attempts to reshape Manchester United squad – The Sun

Jose Mourinho set to flog Mata again as Toffees launch £20m bid for Manchester United playmaker – The Sun

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba transfer hinges on offering Juan Mata to Juventus as bait – with Villarreal also keen on Spaniard – The Sun

Juan Mata could be sold by Jose Mourinho to free up funds for either Leonardo Bonucci or Raphael Varane – The Sun

As we wonder if the Sun’s editorial meetings are all about covering all bases, we look to Sky Sports’ Paul Merson, who has a few words on Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovich.

Says Merson: “Zlatan Ibrahimovic was a world-class striker but he’s not anymore. He is 35 and playing in the hardest league in the world so as the season goes on, I can’t see him getting better.”

Just eight weeks ago, Merson had a different view. “Jose Mourinho knew what he wanted and got it,” he wrote. “He’s come in and got a big midfielder in Paul Pogba, a dressing room leader and goalscorer in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and at the moment Eric Bailly looks very good. Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be an absolute star for United as well. He will get in the team soon and when he does, he’ll rip it up. He is different gravy.”

And let’s not forget Robbie Savage, the BBC expert who opined, “I wouldn’t pay to watch Kevin De Bruyne.”

No. You get the tickets for free.

Posted: 31st, October 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: who forced Henrikh Mkhitaryan to train alone?

“Henrikh Mkhitaryan: Manchester United outcast trains alone after Burnley draw,” reports the Daily Express.

“Henrikh Mkhitaryan was made to train alone on Sunday,” states the Independent.

The Armenian is an “outcast”. He was “made” to train on his own. The impression is clear: Mkhitaryan has been ostracised.

But it’s total balls. Manchester Evening News has a different version:

United players were given Sunday off by Jose Mourinho but Mkhitaryan chose to enhance his fitness at the club’s training complex, contrary to reports claiming he was made to train alone.

M.E.N. Sport understands Mkhitaryan has always done additional training sessions dating back to his stint at Shakhtar Donetsk and a source described him as a ‘perfectionist and a hard worker’.

He wasn’t made to do anything. He wanted to get fitter and do his best to get back in the team.

Spotter: Pies

Posted: 31st, October 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Sulky Mourinho makes Manchester United all about him – and it’s not pretty

The media has much to say on Manchester United and their petulant manager Jose Mourinho. Having been sent off during United’s 0-0 draw with Burnley, Mourinho failed to attended the post-match press conference. Unwilling to explain himself, he instead sent assistant Rui Faria to address the Press.

 

Jose Mourinho red card respect

 

Paul Wilson says Mourinho might have been cowed from appearing in public by the realisation that he was wrong to claim a penalty for Matteo Darmian going to “ground dramatically under very slight contact from Jon Flanagan”. Says Wilson, “Mark Clattenburg’s decision was justified and Mourinho might have felt a bit foolish having to explain why he had reacted so angrily.”

Of course, in not appearing Mourinho makes the game all about him. He stars. John Cruyff opined. “He’s controversial. What I like about him is he’s always capable of creating good ambience within the players and what I don’t like is that he always puts himself on the first row,” said the great Dutch footballer. “He should be on the second row. It’s probably because of his background, where he’s never been cheered by 100,000 people, or whistled at by 100,000 people. Maybe it’s because of that, maybe because of the interest from the press, but I don’t think he is educating children to play football or educating for life. He should behave better because he will be in the press all over the world.”

Cruyff said that over a year ago. Mourinho is playing to form.

As for the game, well, Mourinho’s legend is waning. His Man United are behind clubs managed by other managers in charge of new clubs this season: Pep Guardiola (Man City), Antonio Conte (Chelsea), Ronald Koeman (Everton) and Walter Mazzarri (Watford).

Says Wilson:

This was Burnley’s first away point of the season and, with 11 points from 10 games, they look a more solid mid-table proposition this time round. They are, in fact, only four points behind United, who also look destined for mid-table. The difference is that Mourinho is not working with cast-offs. After his lavish spending in the summer he has some explaining to do, and not just about his latest dismissal.

And of those big names, here’s a fact: Zlatan Ibrahimovich has not scored in his past six Premier League matches, his worst run in the league since his time with Inter Milan in 2007. The BBC notes:

Since his most recent top-flight goal, against Manchester City on 10 September, Ibrahimovic has had 42 attempts at goal – more than any other player has even attempted during the whole Premier League season.

James Gheerbrant tells Times readers:

It has been a recurring feature of Mourinho’s career that after two seasons of success and harmony, all that he has built implodes under the weight of his own siege mentality in a blur of acrimony and apathy, from Chelsea to Inter Milan to Real Madrid. But this time, like a serial divorcé embarking on his worst marriage yet, he has skipped the honeymoon period…

He looks sulky, disinterested, disengaged. It does not portend well. He is not sitting comfortably.

How many of us would be delighted if Mourinho lost and went? And how many United fans wish they’d have gone for Jurgen Klopp?

Posted: 31st, October 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United reel as President Mourinho behaves like a man alone in the world

Manchester United’s manager Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands as his hugely expensive side eked out a 0-0 home draw with the mighty Burnley. For the second half, Mourinho got to see what the fans see as he was escorted to a seat in the stands. He then moved to the directors’ box. This was the 13th touchline punishment of Mourinho’s career.

Poor old Jose, eh. Only last week he was moaning about grim life in the Presidential Suite of the city’s five-star Lowry Hotel. “For me it’s a bit of a disaster because I want sometimes to walk a bit and I can’t,” he said in words any regent will surely sympathise with. “I just want to cross the bridge and go to a restaurant. I can’t, so it’s really bad.”

Why was he sent off? Did he just fancy a walk, an early jacuzzi bath and with it an untroubled walk over a bridge and on to eat anything other than room service at a time when he was unlikely to meet many United of City fans, what with them watching their teams play?

“I think the events of recent weeks have got to him,” opines Match Of The Day pundit Danny Murphy.

Moutinho’s assistant Rui Faria adds “I don’t know what happened. It is not important what Jose said. What is important is what the referee writes in his report.”

David Walsh (Sunday Times) thinks Jose was upset by the referee (plus ca change):

Mourinho had stood in the technical area through the first half, not that far from an incident involving his Italian full-back Matteo Darmian and Burnley’s Jon Flanagan. Attempting to get past the Burnley defender, Darmian fell to the ground. Some United players appealed for a penalty but Mark Clattenburg reacted with indifference and replays of the incident supported the referee’s decision.

Mourinho made his feelings known and in terms that Clattenburg deemed unacceptable.

BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan:

…it is pretty safe to presume that Mourinho’s half-time comments towards the officials that earned him his dismissal were connected to Matteo Darmian’s failed penalty appeal just before the break, because the United boss was visibly incensed by that decision while the game continued.

His mood was probably not helped by having to move seats and go into the directors’ box in the second half, because he was initially sitting too close to the dugout.

The Daily Mail sees a problem with Jose at United:

He complained last week about the quality of his life living in a Manchester hotel and there will be those associated with United who will be alarmed that Mourinho’s behaviour will reflect badly on the club. Mourinho refused to speak to media outlets about the incident with Mr Clattenburg, which United say was a verbal altercation.

This is what happens when you live alone, of course. You seek out others to talk with. In the end anyone will do. Having had his fill of trying to strike up conversation with touring businessmen in the hotel bar, couples on romantic mini-breaks and Hen parties in the spa, Jose simply reached out to the nearest person, who just happened to be Mark Clattenburg. Stripped of everyday human contact and now versed only in the language of hotel exchanges, Mourinho most likely asked the ref to turn down his bed for the night and join him for a humble repast of asparagus mouse, almond bon bon and salsa allemande followed by native lobster, fennel & apple, pea mousseline and pepper sabayon topped off by Coconut Malibu Souffle with pineapple sorbet and coffee on the terrace.

Clattenburg probably misconstrued that as some sort of bribe, when it was, of course, a cry for help.

Now let’s take a look around Jose’s digs and wonder if there is one simple solution to all the man’s woes: get a dog.

Posted: 30th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Media Balls: Liverpool beat Crystal Palace in four no penalties thriller

Media Balls: a look at biased footballer reporting. Tonight Liverpool defeated Crystal Palace 4-2 in South London.

The Croydon Advertiser looks at the opening goal in the Premier League encounter:

Liverpool edged the opening stages and took the lead after 15 minutes through Emre Can’s close range finish, after a low delivery from Alberto Moreno. Palace fans in the Main Stand were furious with the assistant referee in front of them, as the left-back looked to have just been in an offside position on the far side.

He was onside.

The Liverpool Echo on the same move:

Predictably, the outstanding Philippe Coutinho was at the heart of it as he picked out Moreno’s run down the left. The Spaniard provided an inviting first-time cross and Can saw his low strike deflected past Steve Mandanda.

No word on any offside in the Liverpool newspaper.

What of the Palace equaliser?

The Croydon Advertiser:

But just under three minutes later and the Eagles were level, thanks to James McArthur. Reds defender Dejan Lovren looked to clear the danger on the edge of the box but sliced upwards, and McArthur nipped in to jump and beat onrushing goalkeeper Karius.

The Echo:

Palace were gifted an equaliser in shambolic circumstances.

There was no whiff of danger when Benteke flicked on Mandanda’s long punt. Matip played it across to Lovren, but under no pressure he produced a woeful backpass which McArthur seized upon. The Scotland international accepted the gift as he nodded over the advancing Loris Karius. It was Lovren’s fault but Karius didn’t exactly cover himself in glory as he bizarrely kept his arms by his side.

Did you spot the penalties not given?

The Echo:

Klopp’s men should have had a penalty when Ward handled Coutinho’s goal-bound header from Firmino’s cross. The defender’s intervention enabled Mandanda to tip it on to the post but the officials failed to spot the indiscretion.

The Advertiser has no word on that inciden , but does mention this one:

Palace felt they should have had a penalty after two claims within the same passage of play.

Zaha looked to have been clipped right on the edge of the area and went down – but he got up and delivered low for Benteke, who went ground under pressure, but referee Andre Marriner wasn’t interested and gave a corner.

What says the Echo about that?

Hearts were in mouths when Zaha twice took a tumble in the box, while Benteke also went down in a heap after a challenge from Matip. But to Marriner’s credit, he didn’t fall for any theatrics.

A penalty or acting? Lets see what a non-local source says:

Daily Telegraph: “Zaha had a good claim to a penalty when sent flying on the edge of the box by Lovren. And Benteke too looked to have been blocked by Matip.”

The Crystal Palace FC website:

It was all the home side during the first 20 minutes of the second half who also had three penalty appeals turned down…

Mentions of the penalty shouts on the official Liverpool FC website: none.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 29th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comments (2)


Media Balls: Arsenal riot, Sunderland’s fightback, Moyes’ blinkers and missing the penalty

Media Balls: a look at reporting on football matches. Today we look at Sunderland 1 – Arsenal 4 in the Premier League. Are news organs biased?

Sunderland Echo: “David Moyes feels scoreline harsh on Black Cats.”

Says Moyes.

“I think it was tough and I certainly don’t think we deserved to lose 4-1.”

He’s right. How they scored 1 was odd. Sunderland had a single shot on target over the 93 minutes – and that was from the penalty spot.

“We worked hard, really hard to stay in the game first half when Arsenal were very good. We stuck at it and I thought we grew into the game second half. And at that point I thought we were the better team when we got back into the game at one each. But their quality all over the pitch is always going to cause you a problem.”

Arsenal were pretty good in the second half, too, and found their finishing boots.

The paper has one more story on the match. Story two nails it in the headline. “Sunderland 1 Arsenal 4: Black Cats plunge further into relegation trouble after Gunners run riot.”

The paper looks at an Arsenal penalty appeal: “Sanchez had a strong penalty appeal turned down, with Kone appearing to trip the Arsenal forward inside the area. His theatrics earlier possibly going against him.”

The BBC says of that: “Arsenal were still smarting from referee Martin Atkinson not awarding them a penalty for Kone appearing to pull back Sanchez when Defoe gave Sunderland hope.”

The Guardian: “Arsenal were furious not to be awarded a legitimate looking penalty when Koné caught Sánchez on the back of the leg and sent him tumbling in the area.”

A pull? A trip? A catch? Theatrics.

The Islington Gazette doesn’t mention the failed penalty appeal at all – it looked a foul. The Arsenal local paper is generous to praise Sunderland fans:

Sunderland’s passionate fans were right behind the team from the off. And the fact they average more than 40,000, and, incredibly, took 1,200 fans to Southampton this week for a League Cup game, was reason enough to believe their team weren’t going to lie down and die.

There were many less in the ground when the final whistle blew. The Guardian:

Mid-way through the second half the ground began emptying. For many the pain of watching Sunderland register a record equalling worst start to a Premier League season was simply too painful too witness but they missed out on some exquisite football from Arsenal.

The Sun appears to have been watching a different match:

With Arsenal dominating and Sunderland making to make any impact, Duncan Watmore inspired a Black Cats fightback, racing clear on goal, only to be brought down by Petr Cech.

A fightback? Sunderland scored on minute 65.  Their fightback was followed by goals for Arsenal on minutes 78′ minutes, Giroud 76 and  71 minutes.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 29th, October 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Rooney to quit Manchester United for La Galaxy, China and Inter Milan

Manchester United’s fading star Wayne Rooney could be on his way to the MSL Retirement Village. Steven Gerrard is soon to be leaving US soccerfoot’s LA Galaxy, meaning the club will have a spare slot for an English player past his prime, one of their so-called “designated players” who can break the league’s wage cap.

Will the lure of burgers, Botox and the latest hair restorative techniques lure Rooney to California? Can the Galaxians pay the £300,000 per week Rooney earns at Old Trafford? The England captain has two years left to run on that deal. Although the Sun wrongly says, “Rooney still has four years left on his massive £300,000-a-week contract but United are reluctant to increase the wages of the ageing England international who turns 31 in October.”

A pay rise? No chance. He could just sit tight and become a free agent in two years time.

The Sun refers to Rooney’s situation as the “Manchester United outcast’s misery”. Poor Wayne wants to stay at United until he gets the four goals to break Sir Bobby Charlton’s club scoring record of 249. That’s not an easy thing ton do when you don’t play.

One day earlier, the Sun told us that Rooney was not miserable just “out of favour”, and Inter Milan wanted him.

In 2015, the Mail said the Chinese Super League were all set to offer Wayne Rooney “an eye-watering £75million deal” to join them. The Express upped that and said Rooney was the subject of a “£100million bid from the Chinese Super League”.

One thing is certain: Rooney holds the cards and the cash.

 

Posted: 28th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Can you name the former Arsenal player in this absurd quote?

Can you guess which former Arsenal player is being talked about here?

“He’s had a huge impact on the club and Singapore football. Someone of his stature and, frankly, quite iconic status engenders an excitement and vibe which was much needed for Singapore football in the early stages of the season. While the club could afford his wages, it would also send the wrong message to all the other players that one player is getting a super-scale salary while the others have to take a pay cut. It would create a social injustice.”

Answer: Tampines Rovers boss suit Krishna Ramachandra on Jermaine Pennant’s reluctance to accept a reduction in his reported £23,495-a-month salary.

Posted: 28th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


Liverpool buy Emeka Obi on the cheap

Liverpool FC transfer news now as the Reds line up a bid for Bury’s 15-year-old Emeka Obi, described in the Mail as a “promising 6ft 5in central defender”.

Obi will cost Liverpool a six figure sum, which could be anything from £100,000 to one pound short of a million. Bury have sensibly included in the agreement any ad-ons should Obi prove brilliant – or at least as good as John Stones – and worth tens of millions.

The Indy call Obi the “Most talented 15-year-old in the country”.

If he’s that good, why are Bury selling him for for so low a fee? Don’t they have ambition to make the player one of their own and see if he really can handle the pressure of being a regular starter in the first XI?

This is a clue. In January 2016, the Bury Times reported: “BURY have been hit with a winding up petition by HM Revenue and Customs following an unpaid £156,000 tax bill.” The bill was paid. The taxman was too quick off the mark. But it’s all about the money. A rich club like Liverpool can buy Obi not because he’s fantastic but because they can’t pass over the chance that one day he might be.

Expect to see Obi out on loan at lower league clubs very soon.

 

Posted: 28th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal’s Ozil boosts his pay with a Fenerbahce offer

Transfer balls: The Daily Star says Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, 28, was involved in transfer talks over the summer. The club? Fenerbahce.

It would be remarkable were the German star to leave the Gunners for the Turkish side.

The Daily Star says this is an “Arsenal transfer bombshell”. It says Ozil has held “secret talks with another club” during a 17-hour stay in Istanbul. The Sun agrees: “Ozil held secret talks with Turkish giants Fenerbahce.”

The source for this is Hurriyet, which says Ozil will “surely play for Fenerbahce in the coming years”.

How they know this is moot. We only know that Ozil is engaged in talks to extend his Arsenal deal. Talk of another rich club getting involved should hurry things along and up any offer, right?

And none of this is new news. In 2015, the Metro reported that Ozil could be on his way to Fenerbahce.

The Express reported: “Arsenal to receive ‘serious’ bid for Mesut Ozil next summer – agent.”

Vatan reported that the source of all this is Fenerbahce president Aziz Yildirim, who made it know that he loves Ozil.

Anyone smell the agent’s fingers in this balls?

Posted: 28th, October 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Manchester United toilets go down a bomb with kak-handed Manchester City fans

Much talk of football returning to the 1980s. As West Ham and Chelsea fans clashed last night – aggro that included a nasty twist on donating to good causes by throwing coins with malice at disabled children – up in Manchester fans of Manchester City reacted badly to defeat in the League Cup at Manchester United by breaking sinks.

 

The Sun reminds us that earlier this season Rangers fans broke toilets after defeat to Celtic.

 

Smashing up toilets and sinks used by your own fans is a bit odd, no? How else will fans be able to wash their hands after going? Football is now so sanitised it’s not far-fetched to think of stewards checking hands for germs before allowing fans inside the ground.

And tempting, perhaps, for United to leave the away fans’ Old Trafford bogs like that and pass the destruction off as an oversight. In May 2016, United managed to miss a fake bomb tied to a toilet door.

If all this argy-bargy marks a return to the 1980s, fans unable to find a toilet or sink to urinate in will doubtless be using the old method of wazzing in the pocket of the fan in front.

Posted: 27th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Jose Mourinho joins the sack race

So here is its. Just two months into the new Premier League season and there’s the first talk of Manchester United sacking Jose Mourinho. Days after we all learned that Mourinho’s best team is Chelsea – the Blues thrashed United 4-0; and that Paul Pogba, the world’s costliest player, has all the abilities of a solid £25m buy – the BBC alludes to Jose’s defenestration.

The Beeb says “former Paris St-Germain manager Laurent Blanc is stalling on signing an agreement to replace Frank de Boer at Inter, because he believes he could replace Jose Mourinho at Manchester United”.

The Sun has more on what Blanc apparently believes.

“LAUR NEXT, ” puns the paper. “Ex-Paris Saint-Germain boss Laurent Blanc holds off Inter Milan talks as he waits to Jose Mourinho’s Old Trafford tenure to unravel.”

The story runs:

The Serie A giants are eyeing the Frenchman to replace under-fire manager Frank De Boer who is on the verge of the sack at the San Siro club.

Two says ago, the Sun told its readers: “Inter close to sacking Frank de Boer with Diego Simeone and even Francesco Guidolin all in the frame.” No mention of Blanc then. But today it’s all about Blanc because, well, doing so enables the paper to engage in the thing it loves most: talking about Mourinho.

The Sun adds:

Blanc is in no rush for a new role after spending three years at PSG and following United’s stuttering start to the season, he wants to see how Mourinho’s tenure at Old Trafford pans out.

It’s panning out like this:

The Portuguese boss is under increasing pressure after matching David Moyes’ record after nine matches. Mourinho shares exactly the same point tally but Moyes’ side had scored one goal more.

Lest anyone think that United under Mourinho are dull – they are – Sir Alex Ferguson takes time out from blathering about management techniques to tell everyone: “The rivalry and the experience of Guardiola and Mourinho makes for an exciting competition.”

In short: Don’t watch United; keep your eye on Mourinho. It’s the way he likes it.

Posted: 27th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


West Ham and Chelsea fans give the 1980s a bad name

The good news is that if the 1980s have returned to West Ham, as one BBC pundit says they have, the team might win a Cup. The bad news is that fans might leave the club’s ground in a St John’s ambulance. In a bid to make the rented athletics stadium their own, West Ham throwbacks took plastic bottles, seats and coins about the place as the players beat Chelsea 2-1 in the League Cup.

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic says: “We are totally against it as a club.” Well, quite. Such antics do little to market the ‘brand’ to potential investors, although a few Russian nutters could see West Ham London (that’s what it says on the new badge) as a kind of home from home.

Chelsea season ticket holders Paul Streeter and his eight-year-old daughter, Victoria, were sitting in the disabled section and got caught up in the violence. He tells the BBC:

“My daughter was hit with seven coins all over her body. We were watching the game in the front row near to the home fans – suddenly there’s a whole load of coins coming over. Other kids were hit, it was not just my daughter. Stewards and police were not reacting. They should have dragged the crowd back and dealt with them.”

West Ham fan and blogger Sean Whetstone told BBC Radio 5:

“Football has trouble, but it is not reported elsewhere. There is trouble at Stamford Bridge every season when West Ham play Chelsea. It feels like there is an agenda against West Ham. There is a limited amount of police inside the stadium. It is the stewards’ job to sort that out inside the stadium. They have learned a lot already but there is much to do. It is a new stadium, an iconic stadium and I believe that a small amount of away fans come to prove a point.”

He had us up to ‘iconic stadium’. The marketing guff extends to the fans, too.

In other news, the BBC also notes:

Claims that homophobic anti-Chelsea song sheets were distributed at West Ham’s London Stadium are being investigated. Hammers fan Nadeem Qureshi posted an image of one of the flyers, urging fans to sing homophobic lyrics about Chelsea captain John Terry, on social media.

Here’s what a fan was handing out at the match:

 

West ham homophobic song

 

 

The rule of any chant is that it should be catchy or funny. That is neither. And that fact that any fan is handing out song sheets at the football, where once spontaneity ruled, is a sign of how unlike the 1980s the anodyne Premier League is.

It’s the rarity of the aggro that makes it newsworthy.

 

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


Manchester United balls: injured Eric Bailly finds God’s unwilling to save his 2016

Manchester United fans can read in the Mirror that their team’s defender Eric Bailly is injured and will not play again in 2016. Readers are told: “MANCHESTER UNITED are on red alert with the fear of Eric Bailly being out for the rest of the year.”

It’s an “exclusive” story.

It should not be confused with the non-exclusive story reported by the Mail, Evening Standard, the BBC and more that Bailly will miss the next two months. The Guardian notes: “Manchester United’s Eric Bailly out until Christmas with knee injury.”

Having added another week onto Bailly’s estimated rehabilitation schedule and presented it as an “exclusive”, the Mirror goes for the bonus balls by thundering: “Eric Bailly hopes to play for Manchester United before year’s end despite knee ligament injury.” Hope if swiftly followed by pragmatism: “Manchester United are preparing to be without their star centre-back for the rest of 2016 following his second-half injury against Chelsea.”

That comes after Bailly tweeted: “I hope to be able to play again for United and The Elephants before 2 months, God willing. Thanks for always being there!”

Look out for the Mirror’s next big news story: “EXCLUSIVE: BAILLY says only god can save his 2016.”

 

Posted: 26th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Rodrigo Bentancur is the Uruguayan Manchester United missed

Transfer balls: the saw Rodrigo Bentancur, 19, is not heading to Manchester United. The Uruguayan is off to Juventus, who bought half his rights for £6.7m.

The Sun says the Italians got fist dibs on the “Argentine player” when they sold Carlos Tevez to Boca Juniors in 2015.  The paper says Juventus are “at the front of the queue for Boca players until April 2017”.

 

 

the sun Bentancur

 

Juventus wanted Bentancur included in a swap deal for Tevez. But Juve settled on first-refusal.

Boca president Daniel Angelici told TyC Sports: “It is already signed. When I was in Switzerland recently Juventus informed me that they were going to activate the option so I will travel to Turin soon in order to complete the deal. I think it’s very good business for Boca. Juventus will pay £6.7m for 50 per cent of his rights… He must have something because there were a lot of clubs interested. Real Madrid made a proposal, Manchester [United] also came and Milan made a €14m formal offer to sign him.”

In January, the Mail told its readers Bentacur was off to Real Madrid. He never did go.

Interestingly, 442 magazine reported: “Jorge Mendes is interested in buying his [Bentacur’s] economic rights before loaning him to a European club.” That’s the same Jorge Mendes who manages Jose Mourinho, the Manchester United manger.

Football transfers really are very peculiar business.

Posted: 20th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Ivan’s pay eclipses all

Money in football is always a news story to get people angry and agitated. The BBC says Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis will face “intense questioning from shareholders” over his salary .

The BBC says he earns £2.65m a year. Better perhaps to break his salary down into weekly components, much as the media does for players. It’s about £51,000 a week.

The Daily Mail picks up the story. “Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis faces flak over £1m jackpot,” says the headline. Charles Sale tells of Ivan’s “extraordinary” salary. Is it that extraordinary?

In 2014, the HuffPost told us Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre earns a basic £1,311,975 salary and a £500,000 “supplement” for each full year he completes after his 60th birthday. The Mail’s chief executive earns over £2m a year.

So what is extraordinary about a top executive at a large company earning such a sum?

The Mail told readers in March 2016, Aston Villa’s chief executive Tom Fox earned £1.25m.

 

Pay football club chief executives

 

Maybe Ivan’s being underpaid.

In 2016, the Guardian reported: “UK’s top bosses received 10% pay rise in 2015 as average salary hit £5.5m.” (Guardian chief David Pemsel gets a £600k salary.)

Sale then takes a flight of fancy:

The Emirates Stadium summit…is normally used by Arsenal fans to interrogate manager Arsene Wenger about his transfer plans. But with the Gunners joint top of the table, Gazidis will be in the firing line instead.

Fans will more worried about the chief exec’s pay than they will playing matters?

No. They won’t be.

Posted: 20th, October 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Money, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Ched Evans lets the knowing elite give football a kicking

Ched Evans continues to excite the Press. In the Mirror, David Kidd writes beneath the headline “Ched Evans acted like a scumbag, but that’s no excuse for this systematic kicking football is getting.”

Kidd says mixing with lots of footballers has not left him with “the impression that they are a group of men who are contemptuous of women”. Adding that “footballers are easy scapegoats for an establishment dominated by inherited wealth and private schooling which dislikes their game.”

Ched Evans, a lowlife innocent of rape, no more epitomises the game any more than Jimmy Savile is a typical children’s entertainer. Evans represents himself only. So why does Kidd use him to support his own prejudices against those who went to fee-paying schools and are lucky enough to have well-off parents?

It’s not just toffs in positions of authority who, when not parading footballers as role models for inept and slack-jawed football fans, want to give footballers a good kicking.

When Chelsea fans prevented a black Frenchman from boarding a train in Paris, Nick Clegg told one and all, “I was so ashamed.” It is pretty much the only evidence we can find of Clegg expressing shame for anything.

Footballers and football fans behaving badly gives the elite what they want: someone to make them look good.

Giving football a shoeing is nothing new. In 1985 a Sunday Times editorial called it “a slum sport watched by slum people in slum stadiums”.

Of course, Clegg did go to public school. so let’s hear form someone who did not. Get this from Caitlin Moran in the Times, who in 2014 through Evans was forced to reconsider her belief in redemption:

Perhaps young, rich, fit, unrepentant men who have raped do need to see their lives reduced to ash – without prospect of forgiveness, employment or absolution – until the day they die. I’m starting to see the sense in choosing, say, a hundred rapists and making their lives publicly, endlessly awful – unrelentingly humiliating, without prospect of absolution. Of making them famous for being appalling; regarded as untouchable. So that men become terrified of raping, in the same way women are terrified of being raped. So that rapists spend their lives dealing with the night they raped in the same way women currently do.

Perhaps the only way society can be good – to progress; to change – is to stop believing in redemption for a while. Perhaps redemption does women no good at all.

One law for the rich footballer – who, it must be said, was unrepentant because he always maintained his innocence, something now on the law books as fact – and one law for all other kinds of criminals and crimes.

Posted: 19th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Reviews | Comment


Manchester United’s Anthony Martial says he didn’t refer to ‘Anthony Martial’ in ‘fake’ Daily Mirror interview

Did you see the Anthony Martial interview in the Daily Mirror? The Manchester United player did, tweeting:

 

anthony martial daily mirror

 

In “Anthony Martial insists Manchester United fans haven’t seen him at his best yet”, the Mirror’s Chris Hatherall shares Martial’s words. No sources are cited. As for the player’s comments, well the highlight is when he talks of himself in the third person: “I don’t think you have seen the true Martial at Man United yet. I know I can perform better, I know I can do more.”

 

anthony martial daily mirror

 

That line is repeated in the Sun:

Martial told the Mirror: “It’s a big season for me and I want to be better than last year. I don’t think you have seen the true Martial at Man United yet. I know I can perform better, I know I can do more.

“But I’m convinced this season can be my year. It’s a feeling I have.”

Maybe another Anthony Martial spoke to the Mirror?

 

Posted: 18th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


The myth of racism in football and a need to trial The Rooney Rule

The Daily Mirror’s headline is unequivocal: former Manchester United and Aston Villa striker Dwight Yorke is a victim of racism. The headline states: “YORKE: I’m Being Held Back By Racism.”

 

Jose Mourinho cat

 

To further drum the point home, the Mirror adds: “Wannabe manager Dwight Yorke insists racism is stopping him even getting INTERVIEWS for jobs.”

The story begins:

“You keep hitting a wall, keep constantly not getting anywhere” says ex-Man United star who has the coaching badges but cannot get his foot in the door

That’s a pretty big claim. Football is just about the least racist industry in the UK – a quarter of Premier League playing staff are black. Why should Yorke, discovered by the then Aston Villa manager Graham Taylor on a tour of the West Indies in 1989, think racism is stopping his career?

The Mirror is adamant:

Ex-Manchester United striker Yorke insists racism in football has stopped him and other retired stars breaking into management.

Only racism has prevent Yorke from becoming a manager? No. Reading on we get a qualifier:

He says he has completed his coaching badges but is convinced his colour has played a part in stopping him from building a career in England.

The Mirror did not get the story. It is repackaging Yorke’s words to beIN Sports, in which he said:

“I’m still looking to get in. I’ve done all the coaching badges at St George’s and the one thing I find very difficult, let alone get a job, is to even get an interview. I’m finding it very, very difficult at the moment. Yes, you are doing all your coaching, all your badges, but then when it comes to getting a job, you are not even getting an interview. It’s all about who you know as well, that has to play a role. Despite all my experience of being a player, I’ve never had the experience of being a manager which is a different concept from being a coach.”

So a lack of experience and not knowing the right people are factors in his failure to secure a managerial job.

BeIn Sports not Yorke brought up race. Yorke responded:

When asked whether it was down to his lack of managerial experience or his colour, Yorke replied: “I think there’s a bit of both there. I genuinely think there’s a bit of both. It’s often been discussed, no-one has really taken it up, but I do have a tendency when I speak to everybody, certainly black players who are trying to break into managerial department are coming up against the same concept because of your race.”

There are no black managers in the Premier League. There are, however, many foreign-born managers. Only six of the current crop are British.

Yorke adds:

“You keep constantly hitting a wall, keep constantly not getting anywhere and even with all the noises that I’ve made, I’ve even tried to get in at Villa at this point. What I’m saying is that it would have been nice to just have your thoughts heard.

“OK, maybe you will never get a chance to be a manager but it would be nice to go in there, present yourself, get to know that person and [have them] say, ‘OK, Dwight, we like your concept, but you’re not experienced enough. Go away and do this or do that.'”

It’s hard to comment on York’s efforts to get a managerial job without knowing to which clubs he’s applied. Were Villa ever likely to take on an ex-player with no managerial track record to be their figurehead?

The Indy twists Yorke’s words a little to deliver the headline:

Dwight Yorke says being black is stopping him becoming a manager after missing out on Aston Villa job

To link Aston Villa with racism is absurd and unfair. And it wasn’t simply missing out on the Villa job that shaped his thoughts.

The Indy adds:

Ryan Giggs does not have a large managerial history to fall back on though, and the fact that he was installed as the bookmakers’ favourite for the Swansea job when Francesco Guidolin was sacked does support Yorke’s argument, given he has not been able to secure an interview at clubs in the lower tiers of English football.

Again that’s absurd, too. Giggs didn’t get that job. He tried and failed. Swansea appointed a foreigner. The bookies made Giggs the favourite because, well, he’s Welsh. What other reason was there? Swansea is owned by Americans – and they appointed one of their own. Gary Neville scored his first managerial job at Valencia on the strength of coaching a poor England side and being mates with the Spanish club’s owner.

Worse than that is the hype that misrepresents Yorke, who was circumspect and measured in his words. The tabloid twist makes for sensation. Rather than investigating racism in football’s boardrooms, they could look at racism on what passes for Fleet Street. See any top-flight editors, chairmen of the board, managing editors, new editors and so on?

But Yorke’s views do make us wonder why with so many black players there are so few notable black managers?

Former player turned media pundit Jason Roberts said it was due to “unconscious bias” at best or “possibly racism” at worst.

Cyrille Regis opined: “As a player, it’s tangible. You can hear the racist chants, you can see the bananas on the pitch and you can react to it, but when you are going for jobs and interviews and putting your CVs in, you can’t really tell somebody’s heart where they’re coming from, what prejudices they have inside of them.”

The football league is looking to introduce The Rooney Rule:

The ‘Rooney Rule’ was established in 2003 and named after Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the chairman of the NFL’s diversity committee. It requires NFL teams to interview at least one black or ethnic minority candidate for head coaching and senior football operation opportunities that become available, as part of a transparent and open recruitment process

Brian Collins noted in the New York Law Review: “A decision-maker harbouring unconscious bias is forced to confront his own partiality by meeting face-to-face with a candidate he might never have considered.”

Time to help black managers and would-be black managers – and with it encourage more black faces to consider a role in management.

Posted: 18th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Reviews, Sports | Comment


Manchester United bore Liverpool with Mourinho’s media ‘masterclass’

Last night Liverpool and Manchester United bored the watching public to their second 0-0 on Premier League history. Manchester United were unambitious, carrying 35% possession, their lowest total in a Premier League match since Opta began recording this data in 2003-04.

Jose Mourinho side have won their lowest points total after his first eight league games with a new club since his time with Uniao de Leiria (10 points).

The BBC say the game was “rubbish”.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says: “No one will show this game in 10 or 20 years.”

Chris Crocker adds: “Reality is if Van Gaal’s team had played like that every ‘expert’ would be slating him for weeks. Jose does it he is a genius.”

Not everyone. But some, yes.

 

Jose wins

 

Jose Mourinho cat

 

This is what Neil Curtis said in the Sun on the morning of the big match:

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

Mourinho is up for another tactical masterclass just like he delivered two years ago…

The Portuguese said: “Last season Liverpool vs United and Liverpool had 14 shots on target and United had one and the result was 0-1. I don’t think that is going to happen again.”

It didn’t. Last night United had one shot on target and failed to score. Under Van Gaal United player Liverpool four times in the Premier League. They won them all.

 

Manchester United

 

It’s all about Mourinho in the media. The BBC holds a debate on the United manager with itself:

 

Vintage Jose Mourinho

 

“Is this a new United way?” asks the BBC. Yes there is, says the BBC.

 

Screen Shot 2016-10-18 at 09.32.07

 

How United fans will be thrilled by supporting a pragmatic team.

Says Jose Mourinho:

“I think was a positive performance. If you analyse the game see the reason why did it, playing Young and Fellaini. We had control of the game – there were two amazing saves by David de Gea it’s true but they were out of context. The reaction from their crowd was permanent disappointment. People expected us to come here and be really in trouble, which we were not.”

To recap: United were boring when they won at Liverpool with a philosophy; United are exciting and new when they draw 0-0 with a “masterclass” and a “new way”.

Still, at least Jose has won over the media. Van Gaal never did.

Posted: 18th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment