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

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)

Transfer balls: nine says after Manchester United ‘clinch’ Paul Pogba his agent says they haven’t

Paul Pogba Watch: Nine days since the Daily Mirror stated that Manchester United had “signed” Paul Pogba, we read on the BBC that Jose Mourinho is “planning a clearout at United with nine players set to leave to make way for Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, 23.”


the sun pogba


WOW!. Paul Pogba is as good as nine players. He’s that good. Play Pogba in the centre, De Gea behind him and maybe a defender and United are as good as they were last season. Utter balls, of course.

The nine killed in what the Sun calls a “brutal cull” – Tyler Blackett, James Wilson, Will Keane, Andreas Pereira, Paddy McNair, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Adnan Januzaj, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Guillermo Varela – don’t play that much for United.

But they all might play more than Paul Pogba, because the Manchester Evening News says Manchester United are considering alternatives to Pogba, and are looking at Blaise Matuidi, 29, who plays for Paris St-Germain.


The Express says Real Madrid want Pogba.

But the Mail now agrees with the Mirror:

Pogba set for United medical after £100m transfer with Juve is agreed…United are eager to parade their new signing – who completed a medical in Los Angeles and will wear the No 6 shirt – and are set to officially announce his arrival…

Pogba had a medical in Los Angeles after his recent holiday in Florida before signing a five-year contract worth £290,000 a week.

Pogba REal MAdrid Mancheste


Meanwhile, over in Spain AS reports that Pogba to Real is still on:

Mino Raiola , agent Paul Pogba has broken out against the English and Italian press. “Journalists, parrots. There is nothing between the clubs. Everything is a game between the English pair Italian press and see who is first and who is the worst  ” he wrote in his profile Twitter .

Or as the BBC puts it:

Real Madrid are planning a move for Paris St-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti, 23, after accepting defeat in their pursuit of Paul Pogba. (AS)

Such are the facts.

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

Arsenal: Wenger makes way for Eddie Howe because the Press are clueless

Is Arsenal Wenger going to sign a new contract and extend his tenure as Arsenal manager? The BBC leads with that AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is “well-placed to replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal”.

The Daily Mirror agrees. It says “Eddie Howe touted as possible Arsene Wenger replacement?”

The Mirror and BBC’s source is the Daily Star. 


Wenger Arsenal manager Eddie Howe


In an “EXCLUSIVE” David Woods says “Arsenal earmark Englishman as potential Arsene Wenger replacement”. Arsenal fans should be pleased. Howe is erudite, young, talented, a winner and a fast learner. But on what is the story of Howe to Arsenal based? What is Woods’ evidence that Howe is in line to replace Wenger? Is it just an educated guess?

Wenger has been at Arsenal for 20 years and is entering the final 12-months of his current contract. Although there is no suggestion he is heading for the chop immediately, Starsport can reveal the Gunners board would not have stood in Wenger’s way if he had wanted to take over as England boss next summer, as the FA had originally wanted.

Would. If. Not many facts there.

England never did go for Wenger. The FA never did wait a year for him to leave Arsenal, as the Star reported they would do.




Woods adds:

It’s a clear signal that Arsenal are now preparing for life after the 66-year-old.

Wenger is 66. Of course Arsenal are preparing for life after the man has left. Wenger is in the final year of his current deal. They would be mad not to have a plan. Just look at what happened to Manchester United when Ferguson left.

And Arsenal have advance warning. The Mirror “set the date” of Wenger’s leaving, telling us in January 2016 that the Frenchman will leave the Gunners on June 30 2017:


june 30 wenger


There is not a single fact to support the story of Howe to Arsenal. The Press are as clueless about what Arsenal will do after Wenger as they were when the Gunners hired the man. Back in 1996, Johan Cruyff was the favourite to replace Bruce Ricoh.

As Nick Hornby put it:

“I remember when Bruce Rioch was sacked, one of the papers had three or four names. It was Terry Venables, Johan Cruyff and then, at the end, Arsène Wenger. I remember thinking as a fan, I bet it’s fucking Arsène Wenger, because I haven’t heard of him and I’ve heard of the other two. Trust Arsenal to appoint the boring one that you haven’t heard of.”

And the Press asked “Arsene who?”



London Evening Standard on Wenger – 1996



Posted: 28th, July 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Transfer balls: seven says after Manchester United ‘clinch’ Paul Pogba Real ‘gazump’ the deal

Paul Pogba Watch: Seven days since the Daily Mirror stated that Manchester United had “signed” Paul Pogba, we read on the BBC that the player’s agent, Mino Raiola, “has cancelled Juventus and France midfielder Paul Pogba’s medical with Manchester United”.

The BBC links to the Daily Star, wherein we read:

…the super agent phoned the doctor to tell him not bother jetting home from a holiday in Europe to undertake the medical, as a deal for Pogba isn’t close.

The source for this is AS. It says Pogba is waiting for Real Madrid. It is his “dream to train under the orders of Zidane”.

Or as the Sun puts it:

POG IN BAG.. .Manchester United have sealed a world-record £105million deal for Paul Pogba – just as SunSport told you on Saturday.

Or as the Guardian writes: “Manchester United expect to seal £100m Paul Pogba deal within 48 hours.”

So not sealed, then?

Pogba express


ESPN says “some among the United hierarchy even suspect Pogba may be ‘stalling them’ to see if Real Madrid come in with an official bid… There has long been a suspicion Pogba is still holding out for his first choice and Real finally acted on that in the last 48 hours by making contact with Juventus.”

As ever, we’ll end with a look at what the trusty Daily Mirror are saying today:

Zinedine Zidane has claimed Real Madrid could gazump Manchester United in their world record pursuit of Paul Pogba…

The Reds are set to make a fresh bid of £92m for the France midfielder, but Madrid coach Zidane raised the prospect of the Spanish giants stepping in to beat United to his signature.

Zidane said: “I don’t know if he will come. Until the 31st of August anything can happen. Everyone is interested in Pogba. “

So much for “CLINCHED”.


paul pogba united

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

Manchester United balls: Mourinho gets another ‘One’

One Watch – a look at mainstream-media mentions of Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho being ‘something One.

The Independent’s Mark Ogden says:

Jose Mourinho became the ‘Generous One’ on Manchester United’s flight to China by taking a seat in economy in order to ensure all of his players were able to take advantage of the flat beds in business class

Add it to the list.

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

Transfer balls: Arsenal, Riyad Mahrez and the Olympian task of replacing Gnabry

Transfer Balls spots this utter drivel in the Daily Telegraph. Arsenal’s Serge Gnabry has been called up to Germany’s Olympic football team. Lest you suppose news that a bit-part Arsenal player missing a few games with an Olympic hangover was not big news, the Telegraph says you’d be wrong. It is huge.

Gnabry featured on loan for West Brom last season [3 matches played], but has impressed Arsene Wenger this pre-season, and has been tipped for a more important role at the Emirates this season.

More important than no games for Arsenal last season?

His departure for the Games leaves Arsenal a man short in their midfield, and could even force Wenger’s hand in the transfer market.

Who could replace Gnabry, the player who made nine starts for Arsenal? Richard Amofa Harry Yorke have an idea. 

Who would be a suitable replacement? Either Alexandre Lacazette and Riyad Mahrez could probably do the job. Many would feel Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is also capable, but the forward today distanced himself from a move to the Gunners.

Got that? The Premier League’s best player last season, the exciting young French striker or the thrilling Dortmund striker could do the job of Gnabry.

Indeed. What about Ronaldo? Surely he deserves the chance.


Posted: 26th, July 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Broadsheets, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: 6 days after Manchester United sign Paul Pogba Real Madrid make their move

paul pogba united


Paul Pogba Watch: Six days since the Daily Mirror stated that Manchester United had “signed” Paul Pogba, we read on Sky Sports:

Manchester United transfer rumours: Paul Pogba deal – on or off?

So much for United having “clinched” Pogba, as the Mirror told us. Sky hasn’t a clue. It asks: “Which are the most credible Manchester United transfer rumours right now?”

None of them, which is they they are rumours. None of them are credible.


pogba deal

Daily Star balls


Sky then says only United are in for Pogba, which sounds absurd. Are they bidding against themselves?

It is understood Juventus have now accepted Pogba wants to leave the club, although the cost of the deal has already priced Real Madrid out of the market.

It is all laughable. Indeed, Paul Pogba and his agent Mino Raiola are laughing themselves silly.


pogba agent


The Mirror sees that photo are conjures the news:

Pogba is close to completing his £100million transfer to United but has kept tight-lipped over his future despite posting a cryptic post on Instagram

Got that? According to the Mirror, Pogba is now talking in codes via Instagram. What can it all mean? He and his agent are laughing in Miami. The soon-to-be stinking rich player and his soon-to-even-richer agent are laughing.

AS says Raiola is looking at a €20m commission from any sale. The Spanish paper also says Pogba is waiting for Real Madrid to make their move.

Vacations in Palm Island, Miami, United States. A 7,758 kilometers from Turin, on an artificial island of Key Biscayne where the famous mobster Al Capone lived his last days in a luxurious mansion of 2,800 square meters, Pogba hung yesterday a photo in bathing suit with his agent, Mino Raiola, and a message: “we say everything without saying anything. Holidays”.

The Indy says Paul Pogba’s move to Manchester United is nothing to do with Pogba’s “dream” to play for Real. It’s being held by a disagreement over who pays Mino Raiola’s £25m agent fee, according to the Sun.

United and Raiola are happy for both clubs to pay £12.5m. But Juve refuse to pay Raiola a penny from the money they will get from United for Pog, 23.

Raiola is laughing. Pogba is laughing. United are desperate and sweating. The Press are clueless.

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

Transfer balls: 5 days after Manchester United sign Paul Pogba Juventus up their price

Paul Pogba Watch: It’s been five days since the Daily Mirror reported that Manchester United had “clinched” Paul Pogba. Five days on from that scoop, the Guardian writes:

Juventus tell United to add another €10m to their €120m bid for Paul Pogba

As the Mirror redefines “clinched”, the rest of us realise that Pogba has not left Juventus. We might also wonder if the French player is waiting for Real Madrid to make their move. Not so, says the Guardian:

Paul Pogba is keen to return to Manchester United despite them not being in the Champions League… Juve are seeking an additional €10m and have informed United that their €95m signing of Gonzalo Higuaín from Napoli does not mean they will be forced to sell Pogba.


There are no guarantees. And the Guardian now says “if the transfer takes place” not ‘when’ it will.

It’s fitting to end this Transfer Balls update with a look at what the trusty Mirror are reporting.


It is understood United have agree personal terms worth £250,000-a-week to re-sign the player they let leave for just £800,000 four years ago… Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is hoping Ed Woodward will get the

This is what the Mirror said last week:

Pogba signs United Daily Mirror


Such are the facts.

PS: Higuain to Juve. No. The Sun told us he plays for Arsenal.


higuain arsenal

Posted: 25th, July 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Transfer balls: Mahrez ‘agrees’ Arsenal move in a Chelsea shirt

Transfer balls: Arsenal fans reeling from yesterdays BBC news that the club are not spending big money can today read the BBC news of a “£75m double deal to bring Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez, 25, and Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette, 25, to the Emirates Stadium.

The BBC’s source is the Sunday Mirror. Over there, we read:

Winger Mahrez, voted Player of the Year by footballers’ union the PFA last season, and Lyon striker Lacazette are top of Wenger’s wanted list…Mahrez – who has three years left on his contract with the new champions – would cost around £35m.

Over in the Metro, the news is that “Adidas start selling no.7 Riyad Mahrez Chelsea shirts”. Has the Algerian signed for The Blues?

How could he have? The Telegraph reported on July 23 that Mahrez had “agreed to join Arsenal”. The fee: £41m. Have Adidas, the Press or both made an error? The Metro’s source is a twitter account called @Chelseaolic, currently followed by 202 people. The picture is below.  Yes, it could be a rough and ready bit of photoshop-style fun. And that’s good enough for The Metro to report it as fact:


Mahrez Chelsea shirt


The Metro says “The option to buy Mahrez no.7 shirts has since been removed”. Er, no. there is no proof it was ever on offer.

So, the Arsenal move is till on, then?

No. The last word is with Claudio Ranieri, the Leicester manager, who states: “Maybe now (£47m) and maybe tomorrow another newspaper says £100m. Keep going! Mahrez is okay with us. He understands that’s someone loves to put some speculation but it is only speculation.”

Such are the facts.

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