Back pages | Anorak - Part 30

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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

Arsenal fan signs Riyad Marhez because he read it in the Metro

Modern football fans are in crisis. Get a load of the Arsenal fan who bought a replicate top and had the name “MAHREZ” stuck across the back. That’s Leicester City player Riyad Mahrez, who still plays for the Premier League champions.




The Metro says, “Asad Balal, a long-suffering Gooner, was clearly confident that Arsene Wenger would swoop in to bring the Le Havre winger to the Emirates and even claimed to have inside information on the Algerian’s move to north London.”

Balal knew nothing, which makes him a good candidate for a career in journalism – at the Metro:


Mahrez arsenal



Unabashed by it own dire prediction and reporting, the Metro mocks Balal:

However, Balal was forced into an embarassing [sic] backtrack today after Mahrez signed a new four-year deal with the Foxes and he quickly took to Twitter to jokingly put his Arsenal no.26 shirt up for sale before deleting the tweet and saying he’s sending the shirt to a charity shop.

Embarrassing stuff all round.

PS – buying players is not the same thing as buying players for form a team. The modern fans’ desperation for big-money signings is pathetic.

Posted: 18th, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Reviews, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Transfer balls: pig-headed Chelsea reserve Cesc Fabregas want Real Madrid move

Transfer balls: what news of Cesc Fabregas, the former Arsenal captain who left for his beloved Barcelona and now warms the bench at Chelsea? The Daily Express has some, reporting on August 15:

Chelsea have offered star [Fabregas] to Real Madrid

The Mirror confirmed the news:


fabregas barcelona


One day one and the Sun added:

Chelsea transfer news: Cesc Fabregas wants Real Madrid move and has contacted Florentino Perez

Blimey! Can a the former Barcelona player, a local boy done good, really join the Catalan club’s arch rivals? Have the pig’s heads on order.

No. Wait a moment. The Sun has more news. One day on from the scoop that Cesc wants Real, we read:

Chelsea transfer news: Cesc Fabregas will stay and fight for his Blues starting spot despite being dropped in favour of N’Golo Kante. Blues sources told SunSport Fabregas is NOT seeking a move away from Stamford Bridge and that it is highly unlikely he will leave this summer.”

Not quite, says the Star:

Cesc Fabregas is set to stay at Chelsea after being snubbed by Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

Such are the facts.


Posted: 17th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Reviews, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Shkodran Mustafi arrived at Arsenal yesterday after no bid was made

Transfer balls: Are Arsenal set to sign a new defender? Given the Gunners’ season debut against Liverpool, you’d think hiring another four would be ideal. But the Mil says one is enough, reporting: “Arsenal to sign Shkodran Mustafi for £30m from Valencia on five-year deal in next 48 hours.”

That was published on August 12:

Arsenal to sign Shkodran


More than 48 hours later, the Mail reported:

As Arsenal haggle over £30m fee for Shkodran Mustafi… will he join Luis Suarez, Gonzalo Higuain and Co on list of stars Arsene Wenger missed?




In other words, the Mail was utterly wrong.

Today’s Express adds: “Arsenal have not yet bid for Valencia star Shkodran Mustafi.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 17th, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Reviews, Sports | Comment

One Watch: Manchester United’s Mourinho gets another one

One Watch: a look at mentions of Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho being a ‘One’.

The Sun tells readers:

Jose Mourinho confessed he became the ‘Nervous One’ before winning his first Premier League game in charge of Manchester United

Add it to the list.

Posted: 16th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Liverpool and Martin Odegaard in BBC clickbait scoop

Transfer balls: Liverpool and West Ham are looking to sign Martin Odegaard. Well, so says the BBC.

Martin Odegaard


The BBC adds:

“Liverpool could sign 17-year-old Real Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard but West Ham are also interested in the Norwegian”

The Telegraph piles in.

Liverpool transfer news and rumours: “Real Madrid to make decision on Martin Odegaard in 48 hours” with Jurgen Klopp in pole position to take 17-year-old on loan

The paper cites a source “close to Real Madrid” who spoke with Ouest France:

“There are a dozen offers on the table, including of a club from Liga, plus the English from West Ham and Liverpool, German clubs (Leverkusen, Hamburg) and Ajax Amsterdam. In recent hours, Stade Rennais showed up and are well positioned. Initially, Martin preferred Germany, but Zidane will choose…”

How does that translate to Liverpool being in pole position to take the teenager? The Telegraph is talking balls. Indeed, the Mirror reports: “Liverpool dealt blow as Martin Odegaard nears Rennes loan switch.”

The BBC is state funded. Why it opts for clickbait is lamentable.

Posted: 15th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment

Arsenal balls: Mustafi agrees, Mathieu eyed and Wenger wants more of the sale old

Transfer balls: A few days ago, the Express reported that “VALENCIA have already earmarked two candidates to replace Arsenal-bound Shkodran “. The paper talk is of Arsenal being in a state of “crisis”. The club’s three first-choice centre-backs are out for the start of the season. The Indy agrees that Arsene Wenger has found his saviour, reporting yesterday: “Arsene Wenger to complete £28m deal for Shkodran Mustafi next week.”

The Telegraph says Mustafi has “agreed to sign a five-year deal at the Emirates stadium”.

All agreed, then? No. ESPN says today: “Arsenal could turn to Jeremy Mathieu should Shkodran Mustafi deal collapse.” The Sun says that Arsenal could hire Barcelona’s Mathieu to “solve their problems”.

The problem is that when the trio of crocks are fit, buying Mustafi, a German international, will give Arsenal six first-class central defenders, the others being: Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Per Mertesacker,  Gabriel Paulista and Laurent Koscielny. And then there are fullbacks Nacho Monreal and Mathieu Debuchy ready to “solve their early-season central defensive crisis” (Mirror).

Just eight first-team players, then, who can play at centre back for Arsenal. Although, according to Il Tempo, Debuchy is on his way to AS Roma.

“It is very challenging but it is as well an opportunity,” Wenger says of the injuries. “All the players, no matter how big they are, they started at some stage [intending] to play at the top level. And top-level sport is about grabbing opportunities. When you get it, you have to be ready.”

So no news players? He tells the Guardian:

“If you want to make everybody happy, then just buy 20 new players and everybody is full of hope until the first game starts and then we’re back to reality… Vibrancy doesn’t make you win games. What makes you win games is the quality of the performance and the quality of your football. You have to focus just on that. It is very difficult in the modern game. There is always demand for new – but new is just new. After six months it’s not new anymore. If every time you don’t win you throw everything out, it is not the best way to win.”

One problem, of course, is that every time Arsenal don’t win they throw nothing out.

Posted: 14th, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment

Rio 2016: The anti-Semitic Games?

Israel’s Jewish athletes are being shunned at the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. Is it anti-Semitism?

Beaten by Israeli fighter Or Sasson in the judo, Egypt’s Islam el-Shehaby refused to shake his Israeli opponent’s hand. He looked like a bad sport, and in a sports arena that’s no good thing.

Reports claim El-Shehaby is an idealist unable to separate sports from race, religion and politics, rather than a sore loser. The NYPost claims El-Shabby (sic) was under pressure from Islamists to refuse to fight Sasson. The Daily Mail provides an example. “My son watch out, don’t be fooled, or fool yourself thinking you will play with the Israeli athlete to defeat him and make Egypt happy,” said the host of an Egyptian TV station. “Egypt will cry. Egypt will be sad and you will be seen as a traitor and a normalizer in the eyes of your people.”

The International Judo Federation’s Nicolas Messner says“This is already a big improvement that Arabic countries accept to (fight) Israel… There is no obligation to shake hands, but to bow is mandatory… his attitude will be reviewed after the games to see if any further action should be taken.”


Rio Israel race judo handshake


The Jerusalem Post says Syrian boxer Ala Ghasoun heard the call and refused to fight an Israeli athlete.

The Washington Times reports says the Lebanese barred Israelis from boarding a bus.

Palestinian swimmer Mary al-Atrash told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp: “There is no Olympic-sized swimming pool in the Palestinian territories that Palestinians are allowed to use, so Atrash practices at the YMCA in Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem. The pool is 25 meters long, half the length of the facility she’ll compete in at Rio.”

Israel say they invited Atrash to apply for a permit to travel to Jerusalem to use their facilities. She didn’t. Liel Liebovitz of Tablet Magazine added that there are several full-sized pools within the Palestinian territories.


Posted: 14th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Reviews, Sports | Comment

Spurs balls: Christian Eriksen wants 368.75% wage raise

Football news: Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Christian Eriksen thinks his current contract undervalues his talents. The Dane is seeking to extend his contract, which has two years left to run, by securing a 368.75% pay rise.

Eriksen earns a basic weekly wage of £32,000. The Telegraph says he is seeking £150,000 a week – much more than Spurs top earner Hugo Lloris’ 95,000 per week. This, says the paper, has “stunned” Spurs. Balls. Spurs is owned and run by money-men. They know the market rate for a very good footballer playing Champions’ League football. They also know that a good club should strive not have the best players but the best team.

Is Eriksen a key part of an improving Spurs side? Yes. Can he be replaced by a cheaper and better player? Yes, of course he can. The hard thing is identifying and signing that player.

Spurs also know Eriksen’s worth if he’s sold*. Should they cash in?

*Unless a marketing spod at Manchester United, a desperate club in thrall of commercial possibilities, thinks Eriksen can sell merchandise, then any fee can rocket (see Paul Pogba).


Posted: 13th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment

Manchester United balls: Paul Pogba rewrites history

So influential is Manchester United’s ‘Paul Pogba that he is rewriting history. Compare and contrast the Sun and Daily Mail’s stories on Pogba’s new routine:

“Paul Pogba settles back in at Manchester United by teaching team-mate Jesse Lingard his Dab dance celebration” – The Sun, August 9.

Only the Mail says Lingard knew the Dab before Pogba joined Cheslea:

“Jesse Lingard teaches Manchester United team-mates Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson how to dab as the craze continues to spread” –  Daily Mail, July 28.

Next week: How Pogba inspired United to victory in last season’s the FA Cup.

Posted: 13th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Transfer Balls: Middlesbrough sign a free Danish newspaper in the Sun

Transfer Balls: a look at the Sun’s report on Middlesbrough’s hunt for a new newspaper to play in defence. Yes, you read that right. The Sun says:

KAR NEEDS COVER Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka hunts for new centre-back after Daniel Ayala ruled out

One player linked to Middlesbrough is ‘Ekstra Bladet’. Who he?

middlesbrough the sun

‘Former Ajax captain Ekstra Bladet, who is now a free agent, is another target as Karanka looks for cover at left-back.’

Former Ajax captain Nicolai Boilesen is a free agent. He’s Danish.

Ekstra Bladet is a Danish newspaper, whereon you can read all kinds of footy news abut Danish footballers.

The Sun is a newspaper that accidentally cites its sources.

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

Transfer Balls: Paul Pogba signed for Manchester United 3 weeks ago

And so a mere 19 days since the Daily Mirror told us Pogba had “signed” for Manchester United, the paper reports that Pogba has signed for Manchester United.

Lest anyone think the Mirror was ahead of the pack in anything other than guesswork, in the intervening days its reader have read a lot of stories about the Pogba.


paul pogba signs


August 9: “Manchester United announce Paul Pogba signing in the middle of the night and Twitter is completely baffled”

August 8: “Paul Pogba flying to the UK for Manchester United medical as £110million deal edges closer”

August 7: “Paul Pogba set for £100m Manchester United return as Juventus give midfielder permission to undergo medical”

August 6: “Manchester United target Paul Pogba ordered to return to Juventus training as transfer saga continues”

August 6: “Manchester United transfer news and rumours: Juventus delay £100m Paul Pogba deal”

August 3 : “Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho hints at Paul Pogba transfer – ‘we will sign one more player'”

August 3: “Manchester United fans sent into meltdown as Paul Pogba says he’s STAYING at Juventus”

August 2: “Paul Pogba keeps up fitness in New York as speculation over Manchester United switch continues”

August 2: “Paul Pogba jets into New York and sparks fears that Real Madrid could gazump Man United’s £100m bid”

August 1: “Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho plays the waiting game as Paul Pogba parties in Las Vegas”

July 31: “Paul Pogba agent Mino Raiola insists a deal has NOT yet been struck between Manchester United and Juventus”

July 30: “Paul Pogba signs Manchester United shirt for fan in LA as £100m world record transfer looms”

July 28: “Paul Pogba to Manchester United betting suspended by bookmaker after flurry of bets come in”

July 27: “Manchester United agree to pay £112m for Paul Pogba? Transfer news and gossip from Thursday’s papers”

July 27: “Manchester United face Paul Pogba battle as Zinedine Zidane claims Real Madrid could yet win race for star”

July 20:


paul pogba united


Pogba signs United Daily Mirror


Total balls in the Mirror, then.

Of course, Sun readers know Paul Pogba plays for Chelsea.


pogba chelsea sun deal


Such are the fats in the trusty mainstream media.

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

Arsenal Watch: the first crisis of the season

Can the hyperbole begin before a ball has been kicked in the Premier League? Silly question. The Evening Standard looks at Arsenal and declares the club to be in a state of “crisis”.

How Arsenal could line up at the back against Liverpool after Gabriel injury sends Gunners into defensive crisis

ESPN agrees:

Arsene Wenger facing defence crisis with Mertesacker and Gabriel injured

The Indy agrees:

Arsenal news: Gabriel injury deepens Arsene Wenger’s defensive crisis

The Mail agrees:

SAMI MOKBEL: Arsenal are in the midst of a fully-blown defensive crisis ahead of the season-opener against Liverpool

The Telegraph agrees:

Arsenal 3 Man City 2: Gabriel injury sparks defensive crisis for Wenger

The Daily Express agrees:

Arsenal News: Germany defender targeted to solve crisis

And the Daily Mirror does what it always does and links a shedload of new players with Arsenal:

9 centre-backs Arsenal could turn to after Gabriel injury sees Gunners’ defensive crisis deepen

So are Arsenal in Crisis? Of course not. Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker and Gabriel are injured but the Gunners can call on Laurent Koscielny, Calum Chambers, new signing Rob Holding or play left-back Nacho Monreal in the middle.

PS – Special mention to the Sun which wonders: “Could Riyad Mahrez transfer solve Arsenal’s striker crisis?”

No. Because Arsenal do not have a striker crisis.

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

Transfer balls: Chelsea make two phantom bids for Everton’s Lukaku

Transfer balls: Has Romenlu Lukaku rejoined Chelsea from Everton? No. But the papers keep reporting that he could, telling readers of failed bids and makeweight players in swap deals.

The Sun, May 18: “Manchester United and Chelsea target Romelu Lukaku expects to leave Everton in £65million deal before Euro 2016”

Sky Sports, July 22: “Will these transfers happen: Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea, Jamie Vardy to Arsenal, Paul Pogba to Real Madrid?”

Answers: Maybe. No. No.

Daily Express, July 30: “Chelsea rebuffed in £57m Lukaku offer: Everton want £75m but accept departure is likely”

Daily Mirror, July 31: “Chelsea preparing £68million Romelu Lukaku bid”

Daily Mail, August 1: “Romelu Lukaku has told his Everton team-mates he wants to leave this summer. Chelsea have offered £68million for the Belgium international but Everton want £75m as reported in Sportsmail last month.

The Sun, August 6: “BEG-ING FOR ROM Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea: Antonio Conte’s Blues to offer Asmir Begovic and Loic Remy in bid to snap up striker”

The Sun says Chelsea “have already had a £65million offer turned down”.

And so to today’s news. The BBC says Chelsea have not made a single offer for the big Belgian striker.


The BBC, August 7: “Everton have been angered by what they see as Chelsea’s attempts to unsettle striker Romelu Lukaku, with the Blues yet to bid for the 23-year-old.”

Such are the facts.


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

Transfer balls: Paul Pogba arrives at Manchester United before Juventus training

Transfer balls: It’s been 17 days since the Daily Mirror told us Pogba had “signed” for Manchester United. Today the BBC tells us that Pogba has been “summoned to Juventus training”.

To say goodbye to his former teammates? No. To train for the Italian season with his current club, Juventus.

Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri tells media:

“It makes no sense at the moment talking about potential replacements for Pogba because, right now, Pogba is a Juventus player…

“I’ve summoned Pogba together with (Patrice) Evra tomorrow night. So that means he has training here in Vinovo on Monday.”

Some news, then, to Mirror readers. But wait a moment. The Telegraph has news:

Paul Pogba set to sign for Manchester United: Frenchman arrives ‘in secret’ to complete medical

Pogba’s secret arrival is all over the newspapers.

After arriving in secret last night, the Frenchman, 23, will be undergoing his medical at a top secret location ahead of a world-record transfer to Old Trafford.

The Express explains:

Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport claim the Juventus star touched down in the UK yesterday and will today complete his move to United.

The report says Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri’s comments yesterday about Pogba expected for training were merely a smokescreen.

The Italian newspaper says there are no “photographs chronicling Pogba’s arrival” because it was all top secret and only the Press in Italy and the UK know anything about it.

Over to the Mirror, where the paper of record tells us:

Manchester United transfer news and rumours: Paul Pogba to undergo medical TODAY

Today. The Press have been telling readers Pogba is joining Manchester United ‘today’ for many, many days.

Lest we forget:


pogba chelsea


pogba daily mail



pogba deal

Daily Star balls

paul pogba united


Such are the facts.


Posted: 7th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Reviews, Sports | Comment (1)

Transfer balls: 16 days after Paul Pogba signed for Manchester United, Mourinho declares war on Liverpool and Arsenal

Paul Pogba has not joined Manchester United. It’s been 16 days since the Daily Mirror told us Pogba had “signed” for Manchester United. Today the Telegraph says Juventus are “stalling” on agreeing for their player to leave the club. “They’re killing the mood, drastically,” says the paper.

It’s not killing the mood at the dire Telegraph, which also reports – and this comes on the same day the paper is telling its readers Pogba does not play for United: “Paul Pogba is a Manchester United player.”

Helpfully Fox News has an official version of events: “Jose Mourinho teases nearly-done deal for Paul Pogba at Manchester United.”

What did he say, teasingly?

“Pogba is a Juventus player until officially he isn’t. It stays like this. I think my club is trying to do everything to close our market before August 14. So hopefully by next week we will have our squad closed.”

In other words: no news.

But the Press is desperate for something. So instead of the Olympics and the start of the non-Premier League football season, the lead story is about Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba.

The Sun – the paper that told Paul Pogba plays for Chelsea – hears the “fury”.


pogba balls mourinho balls b


The Star hears “rage”.


pogba balls mourinho balls b


“Jose Hits Back,” says the Express.


pogba balls mourinho balls b


The Mirror – “the intelligent tabloid” (self-declared) that told us Paul Pogba joined Manchester United 16 days ago – senses the “mind games”.


pogba balls mourinho balls b


What did Mourinho say?

“I don’t like to speak about other players. Other managers like to do that. What matters to me is only what happens in my house, not the house of my neighbour.”

He also said:

“I heard two of my colleagues from other clubs talking about my team. [Klopp] was one of them, but I do not want to comment. He made comments about us but I will not make comments about him, or his team. I do not like [to talk about other teams]. It is not ethical…

“There are things that, when I do them, are not ethical and when others do them, everything is normal, nobody says [they should not have done them]. I do not speak about other [teams]. I only speak about us.”

And that’s it. The Times calls those words a “withering rebuke to Jürgen Klopp and Arsène Wenger”. Oh, come on. It’s just Jose Mourinho being snippy. Plus ca change.

The Premier League season cannot begin soon enough.


Posted: 6th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Transfer balls: Paul Pogba joins Manchester United ‘today’ and Chelsea in August 2015

Paul Pogba has finally signed for Manchester United says most of the media. Well, maybe:

August 5 – Daily Telegraph: “Will Mourinho announce Paul Pogba’s signing today?”


August 4, Daily Express: “PAUL POGBA will be confirmed by Manchester United today”

August 2, Yahoo!: “Manchester United to make official Paul Pogba announcement today”

July 29, Independent: “Paul Pogba continues to dominate the headlines and his world-record … will be confirmed once Pogba’s medical in LA is completed later today.”

He never did arrive ‘today’. Other sources wee just as wrong.

July 29, Daily Mail:


pogba daily mail


July 20, Daily Mirror:


Pogba signs United Daily Mirror


Pogba to Manchester United was all beaten by the story of Pogba to Chelsea. It too was a done deal.

August 22, 2015, Daily Telegraph: “Chelsea transfer news and rumours: Blues agree £69 million deal with Juventus for Paul Pogba”

August 21 2015, The Sun:


pogba chelsea


CHELSEA have agreed a stunning £69million deal to sign Juventus’ Paul Pogba. The champions made the Italian giants an offer they cannot refuse for the French midfield powerhouse…

Barcelona were in pole position to sign him, with Manchester City also said to be in the running. But Chelsea gazumped everyone with a huge statement of intent from owner Roman Abramovich.

Since the Blues slumped to a 3-0 defeat at City on Sunday, the Russian has sanctioned a huge seven-day spree, signing Abdul Baba Rahman, Pedro and now Pogba.

Chelsea did not sign Pogba.

When he appears for Manchester United, then we’ll believe Pogba has rejoined the club he left four years ago.

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

Transfer balls: Manchester United await Paul Pogba as Juventus get a new number 10

It’s been 15 days since the Daily Mirror said Manchester United had signed Paul Pogba. Today the Manchester Evening Post reports that “Paul Pogba is still a Juventus player”.

The paper adds: “Manchester United want to sign the France international before the Premier League season starts.”

The Telegraph says Pogba “is expected to sign” for Manchester United. The paper of record then states: “The Manchester Evening News believe Paul Pogba is officially a Manchester United player.” No, they don’t. The MEN says he is expected to sign.

The Mirror says, “The Frenchman is expected to complete the world record transfer form Juventus to Old Trafford before the Premier League season starts.”

The Mirror then adds: “Twitter reactions to Paul Pogba leaving Man United in 2012 now look a little silly.”

Sillier than the Mirror which reported 15 days ago:

Pogba signs United Daily Mirror


Total balls.

But Pogba surely is leaving Juventus. AS reports that Pogba’s number 10 shirt at Juve is to be worn by Dybala.


adidas pogba


Such are the facts.

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

Russell Square terror attack: mental health, Spanish victims and an Arab gang

One woman dead. Five others stabbed in what the BBC calls a “London attack”. The dead woman was knifed to death in Russell Square. She was in her 60s. The suspected killer is 19. He has been captured alive. No guns. He was Tasered.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan wants everyone to be “calm and vigilant”.


Russell square terror knife


The BBC headline states a reason for why it happened: “Metropolitan Police: Mental health ‘factor in knife attack’.”

Not quite. The Met also say it might be a terror attack.

The Mail adds: “A knifeman has gone on the rampage in central London and stabbed to death a woman in her 60s and injured five more people in a potential terror attack.”

But he was alone, right. We know that. No. The Mail adds:

There are fears that the knifeman operated with an accomplice as the Met refused to rule out arresting more suspects. One witness said he saw ‘a man flee on a motorbike’. Others suggested a gang may have been involved.

Suggested. May. Fears. What about facts?

The Star stirs: “Russell Square knife attack: Is second suspect still at large?”

Only two? No more? The paper adds:

A 35-year-old eyewitness told the Daily Star Online that two “Middle Eastern” men were acting suspiciously at the scene after the attack – and one of them sped away on a motorbike…

The eyewitness said: “There were two men of Middle Eastern descent acting suspiciously outside the Imperial Hotel.”

Middle-eastern descent? What an odd description. Are they Arabic looking? Is this, then, the sort of stabbing incident that occurs in Israel?

The Sun has more on the “bloodbath”.

A WOMAN in her 60s has been killed and five others injured in a bloody central London knife attack that police believe may be terror-related.

Unlike the BBC, mental health and a random killing is not the central issue. To the Sun, this is about terror.

A 19-year-old man was arrested at the scene after being tasered by police in Russell Square – just yards from where the 7/7 attacks bus bomb detonated in 2005.

Four women and one man were also injured in the horrific attack in Russell Square.

One witness described seeing another man ‘flee from the scene on a motorbike’ as police confirmed mental health was a likely factor.

They said: “I heard a scream, and then we went to the park and I saw a girl lying on the floor with blood coming from her back. Another girl had blood on her arm.

“They all spoke Spanish so I guess they were a group. I only saw the victim and the girl with the arm stabbed from that group.

“I just saw blood just next to her. She was lying on the floor with a friend hugging her.”

The Guardian disagrees. This is about mental illness:

Knife attack in London’s Russell Square leaves woman dead and five injured – Police say 19-year-old man arrested and mental health a significant factor in the attack.

No. They said it could be a factor. The Guardian and the BBC are setting the story to fit an agenda. The Sun and Star are saying what many wonder when they first hear of such an attack.

No-one panic. No-one mention the war.


Posted: 4th, August 2016 | In: Back pages, Reviews | Comment

Transfer balls: 13 days after Manchester United sign Paul Pogba Real Madrid ‘gazump’ the deal

Paul Pogba Watch: It’s been 13 days since the Daily Mirror told us Manchester United had “signed” Paul Pogba. Today the trusty Daily Mirror says:

“Paul Pogba jets into New York and sparks fears that Real Madrid could gazump Man United’s £100m bid.”

Paul Pogba has not signed for Manchester United. But he could sign for Real Madrid because “Zinedine Zidane’s side play Bayern Munich at the MetLife Stadium on Thursday morning”.

Before we go on, let’s recall what the Mirror reported as fact:

Pogba signs United Daily Mirror


The Mirror now adds:

United continue to play the waiting game with no official agreement in place for Pogba’s signature.

No official agreement. Is that the same as no agreement whatsoever?

The Express states: “Man United meltdown as Paul Pogba jets into New York ahead of Real Madrid game.”

The Sun says: “Paul Pogba to Manchester United: Fans worried Real Madrid will hijack deal as midfield star flies to New York City.” Adding: “Real Madrid being in the same city is believed to be purely coincidence.”

The Telegraph just has a question:

Manchester United transfer news and rumours: Could Paul Pogba be heading to New York for a medical today?

The paper has no idea. And having asked its readers, it still has no idea.

Over in the Daily Mail, news is that “Manchester United are on the brink of breaking the world transfer record to sign Paul Pogba from Juventus.”

On the brink? Fours days ago it was a done deal. Martin Samuel and Simon Jones told us the deal had been “finally agreed”.


pogba daily mail


It took two reporters to tell us the facts:

Paul Pogba is set to be officially confirmed as a Manchester United player again after his world record £100million move was finally sealed on Thursday night.

He hasn’t signed yet.

After weeks of negotiations, United have agreed a huge fee for the Juventus star to complete Jose Mourinho’s summer spending spree.

He hasn’t signed yet.

United are eager to parade their new signing – who completed a medical in Los Angeles.

He hasn’t signed yet.

Over in Spain, news in AS is that Pogba is expected to sign for United on Wednesday. Madrid have given up the hunt.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 2nd, August 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: teasing Paul Pogba says his Manchester United medical was ‘nonsense’

Paul Pogba Watch: It’s been 12 days since the Daily Mirror told us Manchester United had “signed” Paul Pogba. Today Sky Sports has more news: “Paul Pogba prepares to fly to England to complete Man Utd transfer.”

He’s not signed for Manchester United.

After news that Pogba has been “partying” in Las Vegas, we learn that “Pogba offered no significant update on his pending move to Old Trafford”.

But he’s preparing to fly to England to complete his move to Man United, right? Maybe. Because having made that claim, deep into the story Sky admits it doesn’t know what Pogba plans to do:

Pogba was due to return to Miami after his weekend in Las Vegas, however it is unknown whether he then travels to Turin or flies straight to Manchester from the United States.

The Express has more: “Paul Pogba to fly to England to complete Man Utd move: Responds to question about transfer.”

How did he respond? Well, the paper says, he was “coy”. No. He was taking the mick. He wrote on Instagram: “news: we catch Pogba with his contract in Universal Studios LA amusement park #Imonholidays #nonsense.”

The Mirror adds that he did say something:

Sky Sports News presenter doorstepped Pogba in Vegas on Monday to ask him about the prospect of him going back to Old Trafford.

“We’ll see,” Pogba teasingly replied.

The Indy hears those words and says:

Paul Pogba has hinted that his long-awaited move to Manchester United is nearing completion while speaking to a journalist in the United States.

Spain’s AS newspaper says Pogba is “oblivious to everything” as he went partying in Hollywood with his entourage.

Such are the facts.


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

What it’s really like to play for Arsenal: the player’s story

When Arsenal signed Kim Kallstrom in January 2014 it looked like no big deal. The journeyman Swedish midfielder was only on loan from Spartak Moscow. He arrived nursing a bad back injury. Great things were not expected of him. But for Kallstrom playing for Arsenal was a dream come true.

In an era when money is all and players kiss the badge of whichever club pays enough for the honour of hiring them, Kallstrom’s testimony chimes with the fans, most of whom would pay to play for their team.


Kim-Kallstrom Arsenal


I look like a boy as I walk across the grass, with the ball under my arm. Well-groomed side-parting, a clean red shirt, white sleeves, and a golden cannon on my breast. I’m a man past thirty years of age, in a boy’s dream.

It’s the semi-final of the English FA cup, against Wigan, with 82,000 people on the stands of Wembley Stadium, among which 50,000 were rooting for us (Arsenal).

They are loud and starving fans that hunger for a title. They haven’t won anything for nine years, which is an eternity for a club that is considered one of the greatest in the World. They have the most loyal fans, Gooners.

By strange and unexpected detours, I’ve ended up at the top club Arsenal, in north London. With straight legs, I bend down and put the ball on the spot. I throw a quick glance at the keeper. I’ve already decided where to place it. I try not to smile.

The moment is here. I’m here – in the middle of the latin motto of the club: “Victoria Concordia Crescit” – “Victory grows through harmony”. I can’t help myself but smile slightly. I haven’t even played half an hour for Arsenal. I debuted against Swansea, for eleven minutes, and now I was substituted on in extra time when it was to be decided.

Fifteen minutes of a footballer’s life, which changed my story.

I got a call from my agent, (former Sweden international) Roger Ljung. ‘Do you want to be loaned out to a club in the Premier League?” “No.” “Do you want to be loaned out to Arsenal?” “YES!”

It was transfer deadline day and a rumour of a new player had leaked. The training facilities were filled with supporters, journalists and television was transmitting live.

When we arrived at Heathrow, we had to drive to a field and switch cars so that no one would recognise the vehicle. Everyone was nice to me, and I get training clothes and number 29. I was sent to a team physician for the obligatory medical exam.

While the physician is going through the tests, I’m sitting in the cafeteria, drinking a cup of washy English coffee. I’m dressed in the club colours, in the civilian outfit of the professional football player, meaning a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops.

Players pass by on the way to today’s training. I knew a few of them, as they were French, and we small-talk a bit. The physician fetches me, and I’m driven quickly to a hospital for a X-ray exam. Something’s wrong. We return to the training facilities. I’m put in a situation that reminds me of a talent show on television.

I’m standing in front of a jury, in Arsenal clothes, the CD with my X-ray images, and my bad posture.

In front of me sits the team physician, the sporting director, and the powerful manager Arsene Wenger, who has run the club with an iron fist and a low-key attitude for almost 20 years. The physician starts speaking.

He understands that Arsenal is a big thing for me and that my hopes have been lit, but the back problem is too bad, and he’s sorry. He lays down the facts. There are three cases of vertebral fractures, and I’m out for at least 4-6 weeks. I’m shocked – disappointed, but I understood. Against the evidence of the X-ray images, neither boyhood dreams or arguments help. I understand.

‘If you’re injured, you’re injured’, I say, but in truth I was angry as hell. There’s silence in the room. Wenger hasn’t said anything. He hasn’t even looked at his colleagues as they inform me of their logical verdicts.

He thinks for himself. I wait for him to say something. He sighs, and says ‘The transfer windows shuts in a few hours. It’s impossible to find a replacement. Either I take you or no one.’

Surprised, the others turn to the big boss. No one knows how he’ll continue, but they know that his words are law. It’s evident that he has not anchored his decision among the rest of the staff.

Wenger decides. “You’ll stay, heal, and train. I’ll take you when you’re fit.”

Now, the next circus starts. I could follow the events in real time, as the media started writing and friends contacted me.

In spite of a time difference of four hours, and the Russian football association being closed, the transfer was done. The contract was signed in the last hour. I had left Spartak Moscow when everyone was asleep; I was just gone the next morning. I got a few good luck texts, but other than that, Russia was over for the time being.

I train like a mad man in England. I’m good at that. One day at the gym, Wenger stops by. When he enters a room, everybody sort of stops, as if they’re waiting for a signal. He has that effect on people.

I keep peddling on the exercise bike, as I’m trying to beat a certain time. Wenger is watching with his French, slightly casual, yet serious, gaze. We small-talk and we’re on the right track. I felt like I was building confidence with the leader, without having kicked a ball yet.

After five weeks of hard rehab, and the uncertainty whether my back would be restored, I’m suddenly back on the pitch.

It was a long time since the club had won anything, and the British capital is boiling with the tabloids acting as ring-leaders.

We’re favourites against Wigan in the semi-finals, but we only manage to achieve a draw at full-time. The clock ticks, without anyone ending it. I’m sitting on the bench without any personal expectation.

There’s seven minutes left and I’m suddenly substituted for an exhausted Aaron Ramsey. The ref blows the whistle. Now, one of the finalists must be decided by a penalty shootout. A simple and brutal way to end things.

At this point, understanding of the game, tactics, and physical prowess are meaningless. Now, there is only a confused mess of nerves and chance. Penalty shoot-outs can crown kings in football, and always produce a scapegoat. You must score. All the pressure is on the taker.

I hear Wenger shouting in French: “Kim, do you take penalties?” “Yeah, I’d be glad to take one.” “Good. You’re second.”

I decide early where to shoot it. When I walk alone to the spot, in a stadium with three times as many spectators as there are inhabitants of my hometown, Sandviken, I must suppress my smile. It’s a long way to walk across the pitch. I’m relaxed – perhaps happy.

I put the ball on the spot. Now, I just have to back up and find the right distance to the ball, run up, and strike the ball hard and high to the left. Just do what I usually do, what I know, and always have done. I’ve done it a thousand times before, and there’s no nervousness.



The keeper goes early, in the opposite direction of where I had decided to put it. When I watch the penalty on Youtube, the feelings return: the calm and the joy, but I’m surprised where the ball ended up.

The ball ended up in the lower left corner, opposite of how I remembered it. I had decided to put it high to the left, but I remembered it as I actually put it low to the right. I’m confused, but the ball ended up in the net.

We won the final and we’re praised by over 200,000 supporters on the streets of London. Although my contribution was small in the 120-year history of the club, it was a highlight for me.

The greatest fifteen minutes of my life, and it turns out I don’t remember what happened. Where was I in that deciding moment?

Trance, shock, delirium, coma, nervous breakdown, call it whatever you want. The only thing I know for sure is that sports and football are incomprehensible.

That’s why we love it. As long as that penalty continues to end up in the net, my experience is true. I’m sure of it.

To get paid too play football is a dream. To play for a top club is wonderful. Professional footballers should be mindful of one thing: enjoy every moment.

Spotter: WAATP

Posted: 1st, August 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Sports | Comment

Transfer Balls: Paul Pogba takes his Manchester United medical at Universal Studios

Paul Pogba Watch: It’s been 11 days since the Daily Mirror told us Manchester United had “signed” Paul Pogba. Today the Metro says Pogba remains a “Man United target”.

The Telegraph says “Paul Pogba move edges towards completion”.

The Mail says Enligsh footballer’s first £1m player, Trevor Francis, is “surprised at Manchester United’s record bid for Paul Pogba”. Says Francis on BBC Radio 5 Live:

“I’m surprised £100m is going to be paid for a midfield player.  I really thought if it was paid, it was going to be for a striker who could be a match-winner and probably provide you with 30 goals a season.”


The Sun says “Juventus replace Manchester United-bound Paul Pogba with Marko Pjaca – ‘a mix of Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka’”. Cost of the Ronaldo-Kaka hybrid: £20m

The Mirror, which told us Pogba had already joined Manchester Untied, now tells us that he hasn’t.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has hinted Paul Pogba ‘s Manchester United transfer could be getting closer. Pogba is nearing a world record move to Old Trafford with negotiations over a £100million switch nearly finalised… “It looks very interesting,” he told Swedish television station Kanal 5 . “Let’s see if Pogba will also (come), then it will be even more interesting.”

Meanwhile, Pogba tells his followers:

“Pogba passing a medical at the Universal Studios park”


pogba medical

Such are the facts.

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

Transfer balls: Paul Pogba signs Manchester United shirt and is better than Messi

Paul Pogba Watch: 10 days since the Daily Mirror told us Manchester United had “clinched” Paul Pogba, The Telegraph says: “Paul Pogba drops MAJOR hint he’s joining Man Utd.”

A hint? Sky Sports explains:

Paul Pogba has been photographed signing a Manchester United number six shirt with his name on the back. The snap was taken by United fan Jonathan Perkins in Los Angeles, where Pogba has been finishing up his post-Euro 2016 holiday.

United fan asks footballer to sign his shirt. Footballer graciously does so. And that’s news?

Jack Pitt-Brooke has more news in the Indy, where Pogba as Jose Mourinho are revered:

Both Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba could each claim to be the most talented, intelligent, individualistic and talked-about man in his field and of his generation.

Jose is a top manager. But do position Pogba above Ronaldo, Bale, Neymar, and Messi is nonsense.

The Sun says “POG DEAL CLOSE – Paul Pogba to Man United: Agent Mino Raiola reveals deal for Juventus midfielder should be completed by next week.”

Super-agent Raiola, who also represents United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, reportedly said: “Next week [the deal] can be closed.”

Can be. Not will be. Can be.

The final word in this ball comes from the Daily Mirror, which having confirmed Pogba’s signing ten days ago, today reports:

Paul Pogba signs Manchester United shirt for fan in LA as £100m world record transfer looms..

Paul Pogba has given possibly the clearest sign yet he will join Manchester United – by signing a Red Devils shirt with his name on the back.

What, clearer than when he agreed to join them?

paul pogba united


Pogba signs shirt. Pogba does not sign contract.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 30th, July 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Transfer Balls: Arsenal unwillingly bid £35 for Alexandre Lacazette

Transfer balls: the BBC website is pretty much a newspaper the British are forced to pay for. And like newspapers, the BBC writes utter drivel about football transfers. This week the Beeb has been talking about Arsenal and Alexandre Lacazette:

Yesterday, the BBC reported:

Arsenal have said they are not willing to spend more than £33.7m on Lyon’s France striker Alexandre Lacazette, 25.

One day on and the BBC says:

Arsenal will make an improved £35m bid for Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette, 25, after having an initial £29.3m offer rejected by the French club.

Such are the facts.

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

Transfer balls: ‘poor’ Arsenal get Mahrez ‘in next few days’ and chase Mustafi

On Apr 28, 2016, the Daily Express reported that Liverpool FC “are sending an official to close a deal for Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi at the weekend”. The weeekend came. The weekend went. Liverpool officials never showed up to sign the German footballer.

Today the Sun says: “Arsenal transfer news: Gunners begin talks with Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi.”

Sky says “Mustafi has a release clause of £42.1m but Sky Germany understand that Arsenal may be able to sign the German for £25.3m plus a further £8.4m in add-ons.”

Big money, then. Or as the Mirror says:

Arsenal mirror

Did “Gunners chief” Ivan Gazidis really says Arsenal are “poor”? Are Arsenal fans “angry”? No. And no. What he said was:

“We can’t afford to outgun competitors that have far more money. We have to be very careful, very selective… We’re run in a self-sustaining way, and a way that we believe in, because we believe it gives us certainty for the future and enables us to plan our future with confidence.

That sounds like sanity.

And what about the spending?

“We’re still active in the market, as are most other clubs, and if we find opportunities that our manager believes can improve our squad and add something to it, we’re certainly going to take those steps.”

As the Mirror spins sensation from sense, The Week says:

Arsenal transfer news: £37m for Riyad Mahrez, Jese Rodriguez next?

The Sun says Riyad Mahrez will sign for Arsenal “in the next few days”. Rodriguez plays for Real Madrid. He won’t come cheap. And when the shiny strip on the story is rubbed away, beneath it lies no evidence that he will come to Arsenal at all.


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