Anorak

Back pages | Anorak - Part 28

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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

Chelsea Star calls Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho ‘The Gifted One’

One Watch: a look at Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho’s branding. The Sun calls him ‘The Gifted One’.

THE SPECIAL SCHLONG Jose Mourinho has a big tackle… in his trousers, says Jamie Redknapp on Manchester United manager

Adding that Redknapp heard the news from his cousin Frank Lampard, who player for Mourinho at Chelsea. The Sun then coins a new ‘One’.

United boss is nicknamed The ‘Gifted One’ by his players for being so well-endowed

The Sun then adds:

Jose Mourinho reportedly is the Special One in more ways than one

Add it to the list.

The Nervous One.

The Generous One

The Right One 

The Impatient One 

The Hungry One

The Happy One

The Obsessed One

The Tamer One

Posted: 11th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Chelsea and Manchester United delight Griezmann’s agent

Transfer balls: how much is Atletico Madrid’s France striker Antoine Griezmann worth? The BBC says Chelsea manager Antonio Conte “wants the club to sanction a world-record bid” for Griezmann.

As negotiating tactics go, telling Atletico they should expect no less than the £89.3m Manchester Untied paid for Paul Pogba – and you are willing to pay it – is not exactly canny.

The Sunday Express says “Conte is ready to go above the £86million release clause in Griezmann’s contract to head off interest from Manchester United.”

Of course, it’s not Conte’s money. And as for release clauses, well, are they rally worth their salt? And there is another factor. On September 8, the BBC reported:

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have lost appeals against Fifa bans on signing players in the next two transfer windows. The clubs contested a decision by world football’s governing body to punish them for breaching rules over the transfer of foreign players under 18…

“Both clubs are to serve a transfer ban that prevents them from registering any players at national and international level for the next two complete and consecutive registration periods,” said a Fifa statement.

The Spanish sides will now appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. If that fails, will Atletico sell the France international who signed a new five-year contract with Atletico in June 2016?

These bans have form. In 2014, Barcelona were banned from signing any players in 2015 after their appeal against a transfer ban was dismissed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Barcelona were, like Real and Atletico, found guilty of breaching Fifa’s rules on the transfer of players aged under 18.

Of course, there are ways:

Barca went on a summer spending spree this year while the suspension went on hold during the appeals process, splashing out more than 150m euros (£117.5m) on Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Thomas Vermaelen, Claudio Bravo, Jeremy Mathieu and Alen Halilovic.

If you drag any appeal out until the next transfer window opens, look out for Atletico not selling big but buying bigger.

The Manchester Evening News says Chelsea will get no clear run at splurging massive amounts of cash on one player.

M.E.N. Sport understands United have earmarked Atletico Madrid goalscorer Griezmann, 25, as their primary target for the 2017 summer transfer window.

Griezmann’s agent must be delighted.

Posted: 11th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United and Manchester City create an instant Classico

The Manchester Derby was a cracker. Writing in the Sunday Times, Jonathan Northcroft muses: “An instant Clasico? It felt that way… For once, in our overhyped world, an event lived up to its billing.”

There was interest all over the pitch:

Bravo – deemed to be much better than England’s Joe Hart – dropping the ball to give Zlatan Ibrahimovic a well-taken goal.

Bravo taking a poor touch with his fabled feet before flying into Wayne Rooney and getting away with it. It looked a clear penalty.

Marouane Fellaini giving Aleksandar Kolarov a reminder of the day by knocking his tooth out.

Referee Mark Clattenburg having the biggest ego on the pitch.

Kevin de Bruyne playing superbly well.

And then there was the “WAR” between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. That never came. The two men high-fived and hugged one another.

After the match, Mourinho was reflective and finger pointing:

“I had two or three players in the first half that, if I know what is going to happen, I don’t play them. This is football, though, and sometimes players disappoint managers. It’s my fault because I’m the manager and it’s always my fault because it’s my choice.”

Adding:

“The two halves were completely different. In the first half we were below the level to play this match. You have to be completely ready in terms of the speed of your thinking and decision-making. The second half was completely different. We were a team that had the courage and honesty and dignity to chase with pride the result which I think we deserved – we deserved a goal in the second half.”

Nothing out of the ordinary there, then. Mourinho did not rant and rave. He thought his team deserved two penalty kicks, neither of which was given. His skill is in galvanising players to want to join him in giving it all for the cause. The “aggressive” approach he takes towards winning gives fans reason to believe.

The Telegraph says Mourinho branded his players “bottlers”.

 

Mourinho b

 

The Express says Mourinho is “moaning”. It might have said that the referee made a crucial error.

 

Mourinho a

 

Anyone who enjoys football will look forward to February 25, when these clubs are scheduled to meet again. The media has a few months to whip the match into a war.

Posted: 11th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Liverpool were cheated by Leicester: Vardy’s goal gets over-analysed

Liverpool FC tonked Leicester City 4-1 in the Reds’ first home match of the season. Looking on was Howard Webb, one of the platoon of former referees earning money as a pundit. Webb works for BTSport, where he analyses decisions to deadline. He told viewers that Jamie Vardy’s goal should not have stood.

Webb says Leicester’s Shinji Okazaki broke the rules when his pressing panicked Liverpool’s Lucas into a dreadful pass across an empty area that gave Vardy an easy finish. According to the absurdly picky Webb, Okazaki was illegally inside the penalty area before the ball had left it following Mignolet’s goal-kick.

As Law 16 states:

Opponents must be outside the penalty area until the ball is in play…

The ball is in play when it leaves the penalty area..

 

Vardy

 

This is the same Howard Webb who told readers of his Times column:

If all decisions can be reviewed by video, referees on the pitch become nothing more than remote-controlled referees.

And how many of them will go on tot have a media career?

 

Posted: 11th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, TV & Radio | Comment


Media balls: Arsenal beat Southampton with a ‘slight tug’ that saw Giroud ‘hauled down’

Talking Balls: a look at media bias in football reporting. Today’s game is Arsenal v Southampton in the Premier League. Arsenal won 2-1, thanks to a very late penalty.

Daily Echo (Southampton):

But in injury-time they conceded a penalty after the slightest of tugs on Olivier Giroud’s shirt by Jose Fonte. Fonte, understandably furious as Giroud was giving as good as he got, was booked – and Santi Cazorla sent Fraser Forster the wrong way.

Standard: (London):

There was definite contact between Fonte and Giroud but the decision incensed Southampton manager Claude Puel and his players, with the situation further complicated by Koscielny lying strewn in the goalmouth having taken a kick to the face moments earlier.

Islington Gazette (Arsenal):

Giroud then tangled with Fonte in the box on 90 minutes – and referee Madely awarded a penalty. And despite a delay as Koscielny was treated for an injury Cazorla then struck the winner to make it 2-1 to The Arsenal.

Only the local Southampton newspaper says Giroud was “giving as good as he got”. No other newspaper – national or otherwise – mentions Giroud fouling.

As for the clubs’ websites:

Arsenal:

Olivier Giroud was hauled down by Jose Fonte and Cazorla kept his nerve to beat Fraser Forster.

Arsene Wenger (Arsenal):

 “It is a relief, because we missed many chances and they had one or two opportunities having thrown everything forward. Honestly, everyone is telling me it was a penalty, but I’ve not yet seen it again.”

Claude Puel (Southampton):

“It’s very hard for my players, a big disappointment. For me, with the penalty both players went to play the ball – it’s very hard to take.”

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 10th, September 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Peace breaks out before Manchester United and Manchester City war

It’s Manchester Untied v Manchester City in the Premier League. It’s WAR! It is. The media has told us as much.

In the Mail Jose Mourinho tells Pep Guardiola “WE’RE READY TO RUMBLE”.

 

Manchester United fight

 

It’s WAR says the Sun:

 

Man United Man City the sun

 

 

The Week sums up: “Man Utd vs Man City: Mourinho and Guardiola prepare for war”

Or as the Express puts it:

 

Manchester derby

 

And Henry winter writes in the Times:

Such was the public love-in of Mourinho and Guardiola yesterday — and the Premier League insists that no missive was launched from London demanding common courtesy — that it would be little surprise to find half-and-half scarves featuring the pair for sale outside Old Trafford.

It’s PEACE before the WAR.

Posted: 10th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Real Madrid resign four Manchester United players in clickbait frenzy

The BBC says Real Madrid players Cristiano Ronaldo, 31, Gareth Bale, 27, midfielders Toni Kroos, 26, and Luka Modric, 30, are all on course to extend their contracts with Real Madrid.

The Daily Mirror agrees.

 

daily mirror football

 

That’s the Mirror that just two days ago thundered: “Manchester United have made a staggering wage offer to Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale in a bid to lure the Welshman away from the Bernabeu.”

The Mirror that reported in the summer of 2015: “Cristiano Ronaldo is ready to return to Manchester United... Sunday Mirror Sport understands that Ronaldo is excited by the prospect of once again wearing United’s red shirt… Madrid know that the world player of the year will seek a new challenge next summer.”

The Mirror that reported in December 2015: “Manchester United on alert as Toni Kroos seeks Real Madrid exit.” Adding in April 2016: “Manchester City set for transfer battle with rivals United for Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos.”

The Mirror that reported in 2013: “Luka Modric still has his heart set on a move to Old Trafford this summer, after he has struggled for first team action at Real Madrid.”

Manchester United never did sign any of them.

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


Manchester United v Manchester City: war points to a bore draw

It’s Manchester United v Manchester City. It’s the game between Pep Guardiola v  Jose Mourinho, what the Guardian calls a “poisonous rivalry”.

The media is awash with hype and hoopla. The game will be cagey, and very probably not all that thrilling. But to the Sun it is “WAR”.

 

Man United Man City the sun

 

As Zlatan “swipes” Maroune Fellaini sharpens his elbows. “It will be a war, with a lot of intensity,” says the big Belgian. “I expect it will be a beautiful match in a special atmosphere. I do not dare speak out about who will win. It’s really 50-50.”

Not exactly Churchillian, eh. We will fight them on the beaches and, at the end of the day, it will be 50-50.

The Guardian leads with the handbags:

war football manchester

 

Paul Hayward writes in the Daily Telegraph.

“The United-City duel arrives without the political intensity of the Clasico, but a league which feeds on personality clashes was never going to pass up the chance to frame Saturday’s protagonists as two warring princes who moved their battleground to England.”

Oliver Kay hones in on the money in The Times.

“In the land where cash is king, prepare for the ultimate demonstration of the Premier League’s wealth and power. For all the inevitable focus on the geniuses in direct conflict in the respective dugouts, the one record that Saturday’s Manchester derby is certain to break is for the two most expensive starting line-ups, which at a total of just under £600m are set to make it the most expensive match in history.”

As for the actual football, Jonathan Wilson has insight:

If both managers go in as they have until now, it will be United’s 4-2-3-1 against 4‑1‑4‑1, two shapes that match up straightforwardly for marking purposes…

It’ll be a thriller, then.

Posted: 9th, September 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment


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