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Back pages | Anorak - Part 27

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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

Transfer balls: AC Milan want Spurs striker Harry Kane but Manchester United pass

Transfer balls: the BBC says Spurs and England striker Harry Kane is to be the subject of a bid from AC Milan. The Beeb says the Italians think Kane is worth 50m euros (£42.4m).

Corriere dello Sport says Napilo made moves for Kane in the summer, viewing Kane as the man to replace Gonzalo Higuain, who left for Juventus. Kane is praised heavily: “Powerful, fast and versatile, Kane is heir to Teddy Sheringham.”

He’s better than Sheringham? The former Millwall, Spurs and Man United striker admitted as much, saying: “He has more in his locker than I had. He can go forward.”

Corriere dello Sport also says Kane reminds AC Milan of a young Marco Van Basten.

Getting the new Marco Van Basten for less than Manchester City paid for Raheem Sterling would be a bargain. AC Milan will have to dig deeper, says the Mirror, which estimates, “The England striker would command a fee greater than the £75m.”

Of course, right now it’s all just chatter. After all, the Indy told us last March:

Manchester United transfer news: Jose Mourinho to make £60m Tottenham striker Harry Kane his top target. EXCLUSIVE: Tottenham striker seen by Portuguese manager as key to his plans – should he get the job at Old Trafford

Mourinho never did bid for Kane.

Posted: 9th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Football Association chairman Greg Clarke rejects Greg Dyke’s plan to win the 2022 World Cup

Compare and contrast:

Football Association chairman Greg Clarke, September 2016:

“I’m not going to put pressure on and say we are going to win this tournament or that tournament.”

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke, September 2013:

“The two targets I have for the England team are – one, to at least reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and two, win the World Cup in 2022.”

As you were, England fans.

Posted: 8th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


Manchester United’s Academy is full of soft lads, says Nicky Butt

Former Manchester United stalwart Nicky Butt is talking to Henry Winter in the Times. Butt is now runs the Manchester United academy. It;s a good read, but the pick is what Butt has to say about today’s youth, schooled by helicopter parents and indoor sports:

“I see players in our academy and they can’t move. Our lads don’t know how to fall, roll, and you should see the amount of injuries we get from popped shoulders or their arms. I probably fell out of a tree 15 times and never hurt myself. I don’t think my son’s ever climbed a tree.

“Body mechanics lose so much when you’re not climbing trees, not playing basketball, cricket, rugby. I played rugby, cricket, football, basketball…

“I’m a softie parent. I don’t let my kids go anywhere. My daughter’s 12, I don’t think she’d be able to cross a road. The whole life now is middle class: all kids have iPads and PlayStations. Social media’s a massive problem. We had a player who put his address on Facebook and gets a knock at the door from people asking why he’s chatting up this girlfriend. We reiterate to them every six weeks about what to do and not do on social media.

“They’re not streetwise. We’re looking for leaders on the pitch, so when you’re down, they fight back, somebody like [Paul] Scholes who was playing football on the streets at 12 and knocking around the park at 15. They get a lot of street knowledge through that.”

Is it because these children see football mainly as a way to riches, not as a sport to play for fun?

Former United youth player Danny Higginbotham:

I learned so much from the responsibilities I had as an apprentice at Manchester United. I made the orange squash for the players and was anxious watching Peter Schmeichel take his first sip in case it was too weak or too strong. I had the privilege of cleaning the boots of Roy Keane and Brian McClair. I was so proud of it that I would tell all my mates. I would be pleased when the pitch was especially muddy because it meant that I could do an even better job. It meant the world to me.

If I had done a good job, the first-team players would be grateful, and we would be given a bit of cash – just £10 or £20 – at Christmas, and at the end of the season. If we had not done a good job we would know about it too.

This mattered, first, because it taught us apprentices – players like Wes Brown and Jonathan Greening – about the importance of responsibility. But it also mattered because it was a shared rite of passage between us and the senior pros…

That does not happen in football any more. That old bond is broken…

The fact is that young players today do not need to do that sort of thing. When I was an apprentice at United I was paid £40 per week. When I played for the A and B teams we got a £4 win bonus and £2 if we drew. That was only 20 years ago.

Teenage players at top clubs can now hope to earn £20,000 per week before they’ve even made themselves noticed in the first team.

That sounds a tad cynical. Academy players are not all on great salaries:

How many new young players does a club like Liverpool or Arsenal sign every season? The answer is very few. The fact is that most trainees will never make the grade.

Trainees released from scholarship schemes are put into a central pool which allows other interested clubs to come in for them. And former Fulham scout Roger Skyrme believes there’s nothing wrong with lowering your standards. “Never lose faith in your ability, but do be prepared to move down a level,” Roger told BBC Sport.

Your parents can take you there and keep you in a cosy bubble, but they cannot make you want it and go for it.

Posted: 8th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Reviews, Sports | Comment


Chelsea balls: Hazard mocks Mourinho and Cahill looks to the future

Chelsea players Eden Hazard and Gary Cahill have “stuck the knife into former manager Jose Mourinho”, says the Express.  (It’s a mere flesh wound in the Sun – a “sly dig”). Jose is “UNDER FIRE” as Chelsea players “lash out” at their former coach, the Express continues.

 

Jose Mourinho

 

The quotes come. Cahill says Chelsea “lost our way tactically” under Mourinho.

Hazard says: “[Antonio] Conte puts trust in his players. Now we are good after an ugly season last year. I’ve always been the same player. But Conte knows how to treat players having played at the highest level himself.”

Is that a dig at Mourinho’s lack of success as a player? If it is, it echoes Johan Cruyff, who opined, “What I don’t like is that he always puts himself on the first row. He should be on the second row. It’s probably because of his background, where he has never been cheered by 100,000 people, or whistled at by 100,000 people.”

Over in the Mail, Cahill’s quote is given more context. Was he really knifing Jose? No. What he said was:

“We needed organisation. Everyone saw what happened. We went from winning the league, having stayed at the top all year, to the disaster of last season.  We lost our way tactically, everyone’s head was in different directions. When I say about pulling together as a team, I felt everyone had different situations going on individually – whether that be if you’re playing or not, the manager, or this or that. Different distractions are never healthy.”

Not all Mourinho’s fault, then. Cahill says everyone at Chelsea played a part in last season’s failures. Although it was Mourinho who got the sack.

Posted: 8th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Arsenal’s Wenger unseats Manchester United’s Mourinho in ‘raging battle’

At a coaching conference in Switzerland, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho were both in attendance.

Spanish newspaper Marca recalls the following exchange as Sir Alex Ferguson is scheduled to speak.

Mourinho: Can I sit next here?

Wenger: “No, it is not possible.”

And how does the Press reports on that?

Daily Express: “Arsene Wenger owns Jose Mourinho in latest bust-up at coaches conference – ARSENE WENGER and Jose Mourinho have reportedly clashed yet again.”

Mourinho reportedly wanted to sit next to Paris Saint-Germain’s Unai Emery and Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane for Sir Alex Ferguson’s opening speech, with Wenger close by.

Metro: “Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger told Jose Mourinho he can’t sit next to him at coaches conference”

Daily Mail: “Arsene Wenger’s feud with Jose Mourinho rages on as ‘Arsenal boss refuses to let Manchester United manager sit next to him at conference”

And in Marca, the root of a story that sounds like it began as a joke: “Wenger wins latest battle against Mourinho”

Next week: It’s WAR as Jose serves Arsene green jelly at his party.

Posted: 7th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal scout Eddie Howe who has ‘no regrets’ about leaving Bournemouth

More news that AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is gearing up to replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

The Sun declares: “Ed Hunted.”

Adding:

EDDIE HOWE is under serious consideration to become the next Arsenal manager. SunSport can reveal that the highly-regarded Bournemouth chief’s name is being discussed in the corridors of power at the Emirates.

Revealed? Like the Star revealed on July 28: “ARSENAL have earmarked Eddie Howe as a potential successor to Arsene Wenger.” As for the Sun’s story, which contains no quotes, we’re told:

Eddie Howe is being lined up as a replacement for Arsene Wenger as Arsenal boss

News reaches Bournemouth.

The Sun reports:

HOWE ABOUT NO Eddie Howe to Arsenal: Bournemouth chief Jeff Mostyn issues hands-off warning over man tipped to replace Arsene Wenger

He tells TalkSport:

“Eddie is a Bournemouth boy through and through. He has been with the football club since he was ten. There is unfinished business. He wants to ensure that if and when he does move on he will leave a legacy.”

Or as the Sun puts it in its other Eddie to Arsenal story:

Howe inspired Bournemouth and led them to promotion to League One in 2010, only to leave for Championship side Burnley in January 2011.

As Howe told BBC Radio Solent back then:

“I turned down two other clubs this week because I wanted to stay but this was just one I couldn’t turn down. There were no reasons why I should from a personal and professional point of view. It just ticked all the boxes. I found it very difficult from the week’s events to come to that decision but I thought if I didn’t it would be something I would regret for the rest of my life.”

If Arsenal want him, he’ll surely go.

Posted: 7th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Derby balls: Manchester United and Manchester City fight The War Bitchy Comments

Why don’t Manchester City’s Pepe Guardiola and Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho just duke it out. The Mail previews the big United v City match by drooling over the prospect of violence:

 

pep jose manchester united manchester city daily mail

 

“Police fears for Jose v Pep,” screams the headline.

The usually harmonious Manchester derby is causing police to be scared?

“The explosive rivalry between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola – and the increased tension it may bring to the terraces – are part of the police’s planning for the Manchester derby. Sportsmail understands that officers on duty for Saturday’s clash between the two sides, the first battle between the feuding managers with their new clubs in England, will be told of the pair’s feisty history and the effect that may have on their operation.”

It’s war. We’ve had the War of Jenkin’s Ear, the War of The Stray Dog and The Pastry War. Prepare yourselves for The War of The Bitchy Comments. It’s gonna be bloody (marvellous).

Posted: 7th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, Reviews, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Yaya Toure rejects Manchester United and Arsenal and Africa rejects Man City

It’s proving a busy season for Yaya Toure’s agent. Today;s news is that brought to you in a Sky Sports headline: “Arsenal and Manchester United interested in Yaya Toure, but move would be impossible, says agent.”

Dang! A player not considered good enough for Manchester City’s 21-man Champions’ League side is wanted by the club’s local rivals and Arsenal – where he’d have to take a huge pay cut to fit with their wage structure?

Yaya Toure’s agent Dimitri Seluk has told Sky Sports there has been interest from Manchester United and Arsenal for the midfielder.

No word from Manchester United and Arsenal on that. We move on:

While Seluk has insisted a move to either United or Arsenal would be “impossible”, he also revealed to Sky Sports News HQ that the midfielder has had offers from China, Turkey, Italy and the United States, and will look to sign a pre-contract agreement with another club in January.

Got that? Manchester united and Arsenal want him but the mighty Toure will think about playing in Turkey.

“He is in very good shape, very good condition, I think he lost seven kilograms. Maybe that’s not good enough for Guardiola, but then Zlatan Ibrahimovic wasn’t good enough for him (at Barcelona).”

Yeah. Look how well Barcelona did without Ibrahimovich, who left the club in 2010. Yes, they won La Liga, the UEFA Champions League and the Copa del Rey under Pep the following season. But that’s not the point. What is the point? We’ve no idea. And before we’ve time to work it out, Seluk has moved on:

“They [Manchester City] will lose a lot of millions of supporters from Africa because of this decision from Guardiola. Now they will support Manchester United. A lot of people in Africa say they will never see any more matches of City on TV.”

Well, so long as they don’t support Chelsea, there’s no harm done.

PS: a few days ago, Seluk moaned to the Mirror:

“If Manchester City win the Champions League then I will travel to London and say before the television cameras that Pep Guardiola is the best coach in the world. But if City don’t win it, then I hope that Pep has the balls to say he was wrong to humiliate a great player like Yaya Toure.”

Of course, Toure never has won the Champions’ League with Manchester City. But he might have done under Pep!

Posted: 6th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Allardyce copies Manchester United and lets Wayne Rooney play wherever he wants

The England football team laboured to a 0-1 win over the mighty Slovakia, who made the challenge simpler by reducing to ten numbers after their thuggish captain was red carded. England’s new broom, Sam Allardyce, had a few words to say about match and his own side’s captain, the tiring Wayne Rooney, nominally a striker but now playing so far back he could well challenge panicky Joe Hart for the goalkeeping slot.

Said Allardyce:

“It’s not for me to me to say where he’s going to play. He can play wherever he wants to be, because he was brilliant. I can’t stop Wayne if he thinks that’s the right place to be. We aren’t going to make a big deal about it are we?”

How’s that for management, eh?

Of course, before brilliant Wayne picked his own slot between the centre backs, Sam Allardyce said on August 30:

“Should we say attacking midfield player or should we say striker? Wayne’s position’s changed at Manchester United and that’s the sort of position I’d be looking to play him.”

The rest of world football is quacking in its boots.

 

Posted: 5th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal relive the magic when Paulo Di Canio pushed the referee

At Arsenal’s star-studded ‘Legends’ match with AC Milan at the Emirates last Saturday, Nigel Winterburn and Paulo Di Canio recreated the Italians’ infamous push on ref Paul Alcock from 1998.

Back then, Di Canio, then with Sheffield Wednesday, got involved in a fracas with Martin Keown before seeing red. Instead of just walking off the pitch, the Italian decided to push ref Alcock to the floor, before Winterburn himself rather lamely squared up to the striker. Di Canio earned an 11-match ban.

Fast forward 18 years and at the Emirates, after the two players clashed in the middle of the pitch during the game played in aid of the Arsenal Foundation, Di Canio ‘pushes’ Winterburn who pulls off a rather fine impersonation of Alcock’s famous staggering fall…

 

Act 2:

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


Transfer balls: Manchester United sign Antoine Griezmann (next summer)

Bingo! Having been first with the news of Paul Pogba’s transfer to Manchester United – they beat everyone, including the lawyers, the player, his agent and all clubs involved by three weeks – the Daily Mirror brings news of who United are buying next summer.

In “Manchester United transfer news”, the news is: “Manchester United plotting Antoine Griezmann move next summer as Red Devils plan to spend big again.”

The Sunday Mirror’s John Richardson declares

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has already made French star Antoine Griezmann his number one target for next summer’s quest for more galactico signings. By then Mourinho will be confident of offering the much coveted Atletico Madid star Champions League football as he prepares to make another Paul Pogba style swoop.

Number of facts to support this claim: zero.

But there is some mind-reading because we’re told Jose Mourinho “believes the 25-year-old would be a sensation in the Premier League”. Well, if an expert thinks the top scorer at Euro 2016, the man named as the Uefa Euro 2016 player of the tournament, would be able to score in the Premier League, who are we to argue with such insight.

The Mirror’s conceit is, of course, that when Manchester United come knocking, no player can refuse them. But last season’s Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid only signed Griezmann on a new contract last June, the deal keeping him at the club until 2021.

PS: what the Mirror does not mention is that it was pipped to the post by The Bleacher Report, which tweeted yesterday:

 

Manchester United Griezmann

 

B/R Exclusive from @DeanJonesBR | #MUFC want Antoine Griezmann in 2017—possible long-term replacement for Rooney.

Number of facts in that article: zero.

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


The Premier League is worth the money and Manchester United’s Wayne Roony is no role model

Lovely article by Matt Dickinson the Times about the “obscene” sums of money in the Premier League.

It is slightly curious, this looking to football for a moral lead, which the Premier League counters by citing the total tax contribution of £2.4 billion to the UK Exchequer in the 2013-14 season, including £891 million paid directly by players. Equivalent to the pay of 90 per cent of all constables in England and Wales, so it says.

The vast sums paid to players and clubs is, as Dickinson suggests, “probably all part of the attraction”. And as for football taking the nation’s moral lead, well, I loathe the phrase “role model” when applied to a Premier League footballer whose not your dad or big brother.

Lamentably after so much sense, the Times also wrote: “Who is a good role model for young footballers?” The answer is none. But The article invites people to tell the Times who their footballing role model is and isn’t.

Wayne Rooney is an enormous talent but I’m not sure he has matured enough to be a “great role model”.

Ask his kids. They look up to him, most likely. Others wade in:

Rooney is a shocking role model…

Young Mr. Rooney is a disgrace to professional football and to society in general…

A much more suitable role model would be Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen or even John Terry, whose own rehabilitation now appears complete after a few difficult years…

I think Zinedine Zidane is a true footballing icon and should be a role-model for every aspiring footballer…

Danny Shittu, the Queens Park rangers defender, is an excellent role model for young people…

No footballer signed up to a “role model”. Is the Prime Minister a role model? Are other public figures, like MPs, there to offer you moral guidance? Is Prince Harry Baseball Cap your life coach? Is your first thought when confronted with model dilemma to muse, “I wonder what Richard Branson would do?” If it is, seek help. Now.

Posted: 3rd, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Money, Sports | Comments (2)


Arsenal Balls: Jack Wilshere’s is Eddie Howe’s route to The Emirates

Do you know why AFC Bournemouth went for Arsenal star Jack Wilshere? The Daily Mirror’s John Cross knows. He says:

Eddie Howe will spend the next 12 months taking his own managerial audition.

For the intelligent, erudite and affable Eddie Howe, who helped AFC Bournemouth blend Russian cash and talent to reach the Premier League, the season ahead is all about passing a test to be the next Arsenal boss. This is why he recruited Jack Wilshere, a player so vital to Arsenal they let him leave the club on loan.

Cross adds:

Arsenal will begin casting their eye around over the course of the season to make sure they have all bases covered should Wenger go next summer, and there are few better managerial prospects than Howe.

‘Should’ Wenger go? This is the John Cross who lent his name to the scoop: “Arsene sets the date”.

 

Daily Mirror wenger quits Arsenal

 

He’s going on June 30 2017 –  two months before Howe’s ‘audition’ ends.

None of this balls is to say Howe will not be considered for an Arenal job should the opportunity arise. But it assumes he wants it and sees Wilshere as a route to achieving his goal. It assumes Howe sees no future for himself at Bournemouth.

Cross adds: “If he can handle his audition this season and help guide Wilshere back to the top, then don’t bet against Howe ending up there himself.”

Arsenal haven’t been at “the top” for years. Wilshere has never won the Premie League title. Last season Arsenal were topped by Leicester City – and none of their top names fancied joining the Gunners.

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


Crystal Palace chairman bemoans the money game but Premier League wages are of the clubs’ making

With the football Transfer Window, Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish assesses the scene in the Times:

There is one price for a club and there is another price for a Premier League club. But it isn’t just the increase in transfer fees we’ve seen. You now have a massive wage escalation, too.

Palace were in for Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere but, reportedly, baulked at paying all of his £90,000-a-week wages. They did, however, spend big, agreeing permanent deals for: Christian Benteke (Liverpool, £32m), Andros Townsend (Newcastle United, £13m), James Tomkins (West Ham United, £10m)  and Steve Mandanda (Marseille £1.5m). Palace also took Loic Remy on loan from Chelsea, with an option to buy him for £10.3 million.

Palace pay big fees and big wages. Johan Cabaye, reportedly, signed a £100,000-a-week deal on his move to Selhurst Park. With so much money flying around, it’s odd that Palace didn’t stump up for a rare talent like Wilshere, who would have thrived behind Remy, Benteke and Townsend.

 

Parish adds:

The problem is that we’re paying players amounts of money that only our league can afford. I think to myself: ‘Where are these players going to go?’

Answer: China or, like Bastian Schweinsteiger, who refused to leave Manchester United, nowhere.

 

Former Birmingham City footballer Trevor Francis with his wife, Helen, and Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough at the City Ground Nottingham after becoming Britain's most expensive player.   Date: 09/02/1979

Former Birmingham City footballer Trevor Francis with his wife, Helen, and Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough at the City Ground Nottingham after becoming Britain’s most expensive player.
Date: 09/02/1979

 

Most Premier League players will be earning £25,000-£30,000 per week. And that is just your entry level for a good solid pro, so if your top, top wage in the Championship — apart from the parachute clubs — is around £10,000, where do they go? There is no European market. That is the problem.

Isn’t the problem with the clubs who offer these wages?

We don’t get value for money, really. You have to buy assets that you can recycle. A club like us, you have to accept that you need to create assets and you have to reinvent, as Southampton have done brilliantly over the past three or four years.

Dan Jones, who works at Deloitte, adds a few words:

If you look around Europe, you will see Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich making big-money signings. But you won’t see that from the mid-table clubs and those involved in relegation battles because they don’t have the money and that is because the TV deals in those countries aren’t as big and aren’t shared equally.

England has the most equal model about how they distribute that money. That means if you are a mid-ranking Premier League club you can compete with all but the biggest clubs in Europe, so it puts you in a pretty strong position.

Precisely. The money goes up when a Premier League club calls because the PL has the most cash. But the team has to woo the player with wages. Do they have to be bigger? Why do they want more?

Geraint Anderson, 38, who was earning a base salary of £120,000 and a bonus of £500,000 by the time he left investment banking after 12 years in the City, took a view:

“It’s like a gilded cage. They earn huge amounts but they have the massive mortgage, they have the high-maintenance trophy wife, they have the kids at Harrow – then they wake up on their 50th birthday and think, ‘What a waste of a life.’ They get into this culture where their worth is valued by how much they earn, so they work ridiculous hours. I’d rather earn £25,000, have the kids at a local school and not owe anyone anything.”

Can we blame the clubs for fomenting the money game?

Posted: 2nd, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Money, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Jack Wilshere’s success at Bournemouth will spite Wenger

As Jack Wilshere settles into his harbour-side residence in Sandbanks, the on-loan Arsenal player talks about a new start in Bournemouth. Says Wilshere:

“I had a good chat with the manager and feel sure this is the best place for me to play and develop this season. I would like to thank everyone at the club for making me feel so welcome. I am looking forward to working hard every day with the coaching staff and my new team-mates to help the club achieve success on the pitch.”

The Metro notices that “Wilshere has avoided any mention of his new side in his Twitter bio, which states: ‘Professional footballer. @NikeUK athlete. Proud father to son Archie and daughter Delilah. Instagram: JackWilshere’.”

He doesn’t mention any football team, including England and Arsenal. The dire Metro deduces that “this will be a shock to Gunners supporters”. It won’t. Wilshere says he will be at Bournemouth for one season only. After that, if he plays well, Wilshere will return to the Gunners, where with one year left on hid contract, he’ll be holding some great cards.

Elsewhere, the Express brings news that “bookmakers already offering odds on Jack Wilshere getting injured.” Who would bet on a human being getting hurt? Bookmakers 888Sport “have priced him at 4/7 to go off injured on his Bournemouth debut”. Classy stuff, using a man’s pain as PR.

In The Times, Cascarino says Wilshere will not return to Arsenal:

“I’ve heard a lot of people this week putting a very positive spin on Jack Wilshere’s season-long loan to Bournemouth. ‘Good for Jack, he’s going to play football,’ they say. But the reality is that this move is no different, no less brutal, than Joe Hart being hassled out of Manchester City…

“This stinks of Wenger wanting him out of the club. He’s done exactly what Pep Guardiola has done to Hart at City. I think issues off the pitch have played a role and Wenger has decided that Jack isn’t part of his plans any more. I have no doubt that Jack would have sat down with the gaffer after the first few games of the season — as many of us do — and it’s clear that Wenger hasn’t given him the answers he wanted. We have to stop kidding ourselves — he’s been forced out of the club.”

Wilshere is on £90,000-a-week at Bournemouth. He’s no victim. He asked for the loan move. If he was good enough to start for the Arenal first XI, the idea that Wenger wouldn’t pick him out of spite is absurd.

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


Transfer Balls: Liverpool got outstanding value with Balotelli, the new Luis Suarez

In among the headline figure of £1.165bn spent by desperate Premier League clubs in the transfer window is news of Liverpool’s Mario Balotelli. He’s singed for Nice. And Liverpool let him go for free. Well, so go the media headlines. But what Liverpool did was to save themselves £90,000 ever week in the wages Balotelli earned nicking a living (although the Mail says it was £125,000-a-week)

Balotelli, 26, made 28 appearances for Liverpool, scoring four goals, since joining from AC Milan for £16m in 2014.

It might be worth looking at what they said when Balotelli signed for Liverpool:

Balotelli: “I’m happy to be back because I left England and it was a mistake. I wanted to go to Italy but I realised it was a mistake. English football is generally better. English football is beautiful.”

Brendan Rodgers: “This transfer represents outstanding value for the club and I think we have done a really smart piece of business here.”

Robbie Savage: “Mario Balotelli to Liverpool: Robbie Savage on why the signing would be a masterstroke by Brendan Rodgers…Life won’t be dull at Anfield when Balotelli is around. And after turning Suarez into a £75 million player, who’s to say Rodgers won’t repeat the trick with another exotic striker?”

“Exotic”?

 

Posted: 1st, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Reviews, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: panicky Spurs sign Arsenal fan Sissoko from Newcastle

So Tottenham panicked and spent £30m on Moussa Sissoko from Newcastle, after matching Everton’s bid for the midfielder very late on deadline day. Newcastle had accepted Everton’s offer for the French player but could not agree personal terms. Spurs then snatched up the phone and signed the 27-year-old.

“I will give everything for you and the team. I hope we win a lot of games and titles,” Sissoko told Tottenham fans. This is, of course, the same Sissoko who told other fans in June: “…Arsenal is the club of my heart… The beautiful Arsenal.”

The Indy tells its readers “Why Mauricio Pochettino has decided to spend £30m on Moussa Sissoko”. Panic? No. The Indy says:

Spurs have been lacking pace in wide areas, and after missing out on Wilfried Zaha, Moussa Sissoko became the next big target to provide that

That’s Zaha, the pacy winger Spurs called the next Cristiano Ronaldo and bid £12million for? They didn’t get him so they bought Sissoko, the player who says of himself: “Everybody knows my best position is centre midfield.”

The Indy adds:

Sissoko may not be an obvious Pochettino player, given the worries about his application and consistency. But he proved at Euro 2016 that he can rise to the occasion, and it may well be that in a better environment, with a better coach and team-mates, that he would deliver more often.

Blame Newcastle, the manager and the team for not getting Sissoko to play better. Just don’t blame him.

Spurs have long admired Sissoko and his “box-to-box” playing style. The Mail reported in 2009:

 

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 07.43.33

 

Back then Spurs offered £15.5 million for Sissoko. They didn’t get him. In 2013, Newcastle signed him for £1.5m. They got relegated. And in the crazy world of football transfer Sissoko became worth £30m. Even he was mystified. “Newcastle are asking for 40m euros (approx £34m) for me to be transferred,  he told L’Equipe Magazine. “Honestly, they are overdoing it, they bought me for barely €2m.”

Is he worth £30m? No.

This is how Sissoko was described by the Newcastle Chronicle in April:

It feels from the outside like Sissoko is a big part of the problems at United – head of a coterie of players who believe their own hype and are frequently guilty of playing like what they are: expensive mercenaries eyeing the next opportunity.

And by the Telegraph:

The problem – perhaps even the tragedy – is that Sissoko is also a shirker, a mercurial talent who has spent most of his time on Tyneside hiding behind the failings of others, content to go through the motions, only switching off his cruise control setting against the glamorous English clubs. Why? It hints at a bad mentality, poor motivation and a player whose self-interest and questionable desire could be harmful to the collective rather than beneficial.

Look out for Sissoko playing well against Manchester United, his beloved Arsenal and in the Champions’ League, which is his next shop window.

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


Jack Wilshere leaves Arsenal for Bournemouth

Good news. Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere has agreed to join the mighty Bournemouth on loan for the rest of the season. He will play under Eddie Howe, the man many see as Arsene Wenger’s replacement. The Cherries have gained a top talent. Arsenal see their protege playing regular Premier League football. England watch their most talented midfielder find his form.

And perhaps the best news of all: injury-prone Jack Wilshere passed his medical!

The BBC says he was heading to Italy but “The Gunners refused to do business with Roma because of the way they handled a potential move for defender Kostas Manolas earlier this summer.”

Oliver Kay in the Times:

Since turning heads across Europe with a wonderful breakthrough season as a teenager in 2010-11, Wilshere has started only 49 Premier League matches in five years. Injuries have blighted his career but so too, increasingly, has competition for places at Arsenal.

Wenger wants a fit Wilshere competing for selection but, with Granit Xhaka added to a wealth of midfield options, he no longer feels able to give him time to build up his rhythm and confidence. Wilshere knows that a loan move is now his best hope of getting his career back on track.

The Guardian calls Wilshere the “biggest loser”:

In terms of individuals, there can be no doubt who has been the summer’s biggest loser…

Arsène Wenger is by a distance the longest-serving manager in the Premier League and a byword for stability and consistency. He still has his vision for the future but as things stand Wilshere is no longer part of it. While there is plenty of support and understanding for the player within the club, patience appears to have run out.

Paying £90,000-a-week to a player who rarely performs is too expensive. If he plays well at AFC Bournemouth – and Arsenal get their usual rash of injuries – we should expect Jack the lad to be back at the Emirates.

 

Posted: 31st, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment (1)


Transfer balls: Moussa Sissoko to Spurs, Chelsea show late interest and Odemwinge II

Transfer balls: Moussa Sissoko is on his way to Spurs from Newcastle. He’s been allowed to leave the France training camp at Clairefontaine to seek a new club.

Newcastle want £30m for him. Spurs are offering tuppence and an IOU. Well, not quite. Sky Sports says Newcastle will “accept five payments of £6m each for Moussa Sissoko”. The Guardian wonders, “Is it six payments of £5m each or, hang on, now it’s 15 payments of £2m each? Can we get to 30 million payments of a quid each before the midnight deadline?”

Or as Harry Redknapp tells Talksport: “If Newcastle are asking for £35million Daniel (Levy) will bid £5m.”

The paper adds that Chelsea are also talking with Sissoko.

As for Newcastle, for whom Sissoko still plays, the fans are unimpressed.

@NewcastleStats looks at Moussa Sissoko’s career:

15/16: 37 apps, 1 goal, 7 assists
14/15: 34 apps, 4 goals, 2 assists
13/14: 35 apps, 3 goals, 6 assists

£30m…

People are saying Daniel Levy’s a genius for bidding £16m for Sissoko. He’s not. It’s the prices that are insane.

And finally Sissoko’s gone all Odemwinge:

 

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Never mind. There’s always China.

 

Posted: 31st, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Arsenal transfer balls: Bournemouth overtake Crystal Palace in Jack Wilshere chase

Arsenal will allow Jack Wilshere to join Crystal Palace, says the BBC. But the Daily Mirror says Palace are just one of 22 clubs who have expressed an interest in taking Wilshere on loan.  It would be more but Arsenal will not countenance Wilshere moving to a direct rival for Arsenal’s Champions’ League place.

The Mirror says Everton are top of the list to get Wilshere. The paper’s list runs: Everton, Juventus, Espanyol, Roma, Valencia and Celtic.

The Sun says AC Milan want Wilshere and will add factor in a £30m option to buy the player at the season’s end. “ARRIVEDERCI,” says the paper, “Jack Wilshere poised for AC Milan.” Confusingly, the Sun also says Palace are top of the pile to get Jack. The Times agrees. It adds that Roma and Watford are keen on the England player.

The Guardian says Palace won’t pay all of Wilshere’s Arsenal wages (£90,000-a-week). Bournemouth will. Also, under Eddie Howe, Wilshere will be allowed to use his skill in keeping the ball on the floor. Many have tipped Howe to be the next Arsenal manager. What will he learn at Palace?

Sky says Wilshere will choose between Crystal Palace and Bournemouth, adding that the Arsenal midfielder and his representatives met Palace boss Alan Pardew on Tuesday afternoon and Cherries manager Eddie Howe in the evening.

The south coast or south London?

 

Posted: 31st, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Manchester United ‘hero’ Marcus Rashford shames Man City’s ‘obscene’ Raheem Sterling

Do the Press build them up to knock them down? The Sun writes about Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford who “proves he’s a top guy after buying his mum £800,000 home”.

The story continues:

“Manchester United’s latest hero Marcus Rashford has moved his mum and two brothers to a luxury £800,000 house in the leafy Wythenshawe suburb of the city. The English striker, 18, grew up in that area of Manchester and was quick to give his mum a more comfortable pad after bursting onto the scene last year and earning himself a bumper pay day of £25,000-a-week.”

 

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Buying your mum a big house is lovely. But he’d better not get too rich or fail to score for England.

When Raheem Sterling showed everyone the house he’d bought for his mother, the Manchester City player was castigated by the Sun. The front-page headline screamed “Obscene Raheem”, noting “England failure steps off plane and insults fans by showing off blinging house”. A source opined: “Any normal person would hang their heads in shame after how they performed in France but these guys come home and show off about how rich they are.”

A “friend of Sterling” told MEN:

“Raheem and his family are really upset that the fact he’s bought a nice house for his mum is being used to hammer him by the media and make him the scapegoat for England’s failure… He bought her the house as a thank you for all her support and help. Now to have his mum’s private life and house being mocked and thrown into the public spotlight has left him furious and frustrated.”

Enjoy it while it lasts, Marcus, you hero.

Posted: 30th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comments (3)


Jack Wilshere seeks new Arsenal deal by demanding to leave the club

So, goodbye Jack Wilshere. Arsenal are happy for their midfielder to leave the club on loan. Of course, were a club to offer a loads of money for the England player, then Arsenal would sell him. In an inflated transfer market, what is Jack Wilshere worth – £40m? £50m? £60m?

Although the Telegraph says “Wenger has no intention of selling Wilshere”.

That’s an theory expanded on by the Sun, which reports that “Wilshere demanded a loan move during crisis talks with manager Arsene Wenger”. The paper adds:

The injury-jinxed midfielder, 24, is yet to start a game for the Gunners this season and has been axed from the England squad… Wilshere was hoping to win a new contract at the club. But talks were shelved following another season spent on the sidelines through injury.

Is that demand to leave from Wilshere part of a play to secure that new deal? His current contract that earns him £90,000-a-week has two years left to run.

In May, the Telegraph said: “Arsenal are ready to reward Jack Wilshere for a positive showing at this summer’s European Championship with a contract extension.”

The Sun echoes: “Jack Wilshere set to be offered new deal at Arsenal — but only if he comes through Euro 2016 unscathed.”

We all know how well that tournament went for Wilshere, who was poor.

In April, the Mirror wondered about Wilshere’s off-filed activities:

Arsenal have reportedly shelved plans to hand Jack Wilshere a new contract after he was caught up in a nightclub fracas in the early hours of Sunday morning. The 24-year-old, who is yet to play this season after breaking his leg last August, was thrown out of London hotspot Cafe de Paris at 3am before being questioned by police.

He vehemently denies claims he threw a punch during the incident. Arsene Wenger is running out of patience with the £80,000-a-week midfielder, and the Sun claim he has instructed the club to put renewal talks on hold.

Wilshere’s current deal will expire in the summer of 2018.

Of course, Wilshere could stay at Arsenal and fight for his place in the side. But in the pecking order, he’s behind the hugely promising Granit Xhaka Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny and Aaron Ramsey. 

So what next for Jack, the 2011 PFA young player of the year and the one Arsenal player who identifies with the club, signing off his tweets “Gooner” and goading rivals Spurs? Surely Arsenal will aim to keep the 24-year-old, whose best years lie ahead of him?

Posted: 30th, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Spurs and Crystal Palace both want Wilfired Zaha on the cheap

Wilfried_Zaha SpursThe BBC says Crystal Palace have rejected an £18m bid from Tottenham for Wilfried Zaha, 23. Palace want £25m.

Palace chairman Steve Parish says the offer is “ridiculous”.

The Mirror says Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke “admits he is desperate” for Zaha to remain at Palace. He is? What he said was: “I came to Palace because of the way that they play. Everyone knows Wilf’s ability on the ball and he helped us a lot when he came on. Of course we’d like him to stay. I’ve tried to convince him to stay, but that’s football.”

So not desperate, then, just answering a journalist’s question about a teammate and answering with no little diplomacy. Or as the Mail puts puts in hyperbolic terms: “Christian Benteke pleads with Wilfried Zaha to stay.”

Over in the Telegraph readers get “The curious case of Wilfried Zaha and a very weird transfer window”.  We learn that Spurs manger “Mauricio Pochettino considers Zaha to have the potential of a Cristiano Ronaldo”.

Sam Wallace says Spurs are doing what Spurs do:

It should be said that his Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, wants to pay a Ronaldo-sized fee – although the fee in question is not the record-breaking £80 million Real Madrid paid in 2009. Rather it was the £12.25 million Manchester United paid Sporting Lisbon for the 18-year-old Ronaldo in 2003.

Was it just Levy doing what Levy does so well? That being, antagonising the competition with derisory bids for their best players while simultaneously demanding top dollar for Spurs’ own collection of waifs and strays? The early signs would suggest so.

So Levy wants a “bargain”. Don’t all clubs want that? Well, not Manchester United, obviously, who paid well over the odds for Paul Pogba. Wallace says if Levy were “serious” he’d start the bidding at £30m.

Maybe it’s all just a way for Zaha to get a fat raise?

Certainly Zaha, on around £40,000-a-week already, will get a new contract out of this wrangle, despite having four years left on his existing deal, which he signed last year when his move back from Manchester United was made permanent. Palace are one of many clubs who are now paying new signings such as Andros Townsend the kind of wages that they have never paid before, and if one talented, erratic winger can earn big money, then it is only a matter of time before the other talented, erratic winger wants the same.

Fair point. When Jamie Vardy’s agent offered his client to Arsenal, the Leicester City striker ended up getting a pay rise to stay at Leicester.

Andros Townsend’s wages at Palace are close to £80,000 a week.

Are Palace getting Zaha on the cheap?

Palace manager Alan Pardew is quoted in the Guardian:

“I’ll try and be as fair and honest as I can be with Wilf and try and take his game forward. I’ve worked so hard with him this year. I’ve probably spent more time with Wilf and [Yannick] Bolasie than with any other player at the training ground, and I’d like to think there’s been an improvement in both. One I’ve lost [to Everton]. I don’t intend to lose the other one, and the chairman’s feelings have obviously enhanced that.”

In September 2015, Bolasie signed a new deal at Palace that saw his wages double from around £20,000 a week to £40,000. At Everton he earns around £80,000-a-week, and very probably secured a percent of the signing-on fee.

Pardew adds:

“At the end of the day, sport is a business, and there are business decisions to be made. But I’ve been at other clubs where the business sometimes comes first. Here I generally feel we try and do it the right way, and we’re trying to help Wilf to become a better player. We think his ambitions to play for England can be realised here, and there’s no reason why that can’t happen.”

Pardew can’t guarantee that Zaha will get better, but Palace can guarantee one of their best players more money in an inflated market.

Posted: 30th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment (1)


Transfer balls: Arsenal in for Antoine Griezmann, Kostas Manolas and Oliver Burke

Transfer balls: No sooner have Arsenal splashed a huge amount of cash on Shkodran Mustafi (£35m) and Lucas Perez (£17m), than Sky Sports says they are in for the excellent French striker Antoine Griezmann and Greek defender Kostas Manolas.

Sky says Atletico Madrid’s Griezmann rejected a move to Arsenal earlier this summer, but Wenger is still keen on the pint-sized scorer, whose six goals won him the Golden Boot at Euro 2016.

The Indy says Wenger was informed that Griezmann “was settled in Spain and would not consider a move to England”. Not even for – get this – £80m, which one site says Arsenal were happy to bid.

The Sun adds that Arsenal “also made a move for Bayern Munich ace Robert Lewandowski, but could not match his huge wage demands.” Well, quite. Arsenal can make a move for lots of players, but if they can’t afford the wages, any approach is at best hopeful.

Instead of the superb Pole, Arsenal are “in the race to sign Nottingham Forest sensation Oliver Burke”, according to the Sun on Sunday. The only other team in the ‘race’, says the Sun, is Manchester United. Which is odd because Burke has just joined Bundesliga newcomers RB Leipzig.

 

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


Manchester United: Luke Shaw on the tackle that nearly ended his career

Manchester United’s Luke Shaw has been talking with the Guardian. His return from a badly broken leg has been arduous – a double break caused by a tackle when United played PSV Eindhoven on September 15 2015.

Is he angry with the tackler, PSV’s Héctor Moreno?

“I partly blame myself. I’d run into their penalty area and I should have shot with my right foot but I wanted to come inside. I wanted to be on my left foot. And then, obviously, the tackle. I don’t even want to think about the tackle, to be honest. At the time I thought: ‘Give him the benefit of the doubt, it wasn’t actually a bad tackle.’ But the more I’ve seen it since, the more I think: ‘You know, that was actually a really bad challenge.’..

The memory has not faded.

 “To be fair to him, he did come to say sorry. He came to the hospital and I saw him face to face in my room. I was quite sympathetic at the time – ‘Aah, look, you can come in, it’s fine’ – but at the end of the day it was me lying there with a broken leg, and I went through so many bad times since then I did start thinking about it some more. It really annoys me they [Uefa] gave him man of the match. Some people were saying it was a good challenge, others were saying it was a bad challenge. For me, it’s a bad challenge.”

Immediately after the tackle, Shaw felt little or no pain.

“Then, that night, lying in hospital, I swear to God the pain was something else. Oh God, the worst you could ever imagine. My mum was next to me and I remember saying to her: ‘They have to do something because I actually can’t keep going with this amount of pain.’ They had to open up my leg to pull out all the clotted-up blood. They put me to sleep, but it didn’t stop the pain when I woke up again.”

And now?

“I still get aches. I don’t go a day without feeling it. It’s 100% better but it’s normal, apparently, to feel it after such a bad injury. In the first three or four weeks when I started training outside it felt good, but then all of a sudden it started aching. It didn’t hurt, but it was aching and aching and even before I went out I could feel it and I was thinking: ‘Fuck … is it ever going to go away?’”

Such an horrendous injury affects the mind.

When Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsay had his leg broken in a bad tackle from Stoke City’s Ryan Shawcross, he told the Indy:

“I realised how much football actually means to me. When you are watching all the games, while sitting on your settee, you think: ‘I should be there’. That’s one of the most difficult parts of it.”

Read it all…

Posted: 26th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment (1)