Back pages | Anorak - Part 34

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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: players’ revolt, Van Gaal mired and the board dither

manchester united rebellion“CLUELESS,” says the Sun in its appraisal of Manchester United manger Louis Van Gaal. And the players agree. They “labelled  boss Louis Van Gaal ‘clueless’ in an amazing dressing-room inquest”.

They did?

A “source” says the players “didn’t seem to have much time for him” following their 3-0 defeat at Spurs.

The Times has more, writing in “stars sick of being blamed by Van Gaal” that the board is split over keeping Van Gaal, or replacing him with Ryan Giggs or Jose Mourinho. It’s a lack of clear thinking and direction that surely undermines United.  As Manchester City plot a direction of travel with their recruitment of Pep Guardiola, United dither. The Times says, until things are sorted out, Van Gaal may limp on”.

But the Mail says Van Gaal is “likely to leave United at the end of the season“. Is that why he has been talking about transfer targets?

Posted: 12th, April 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Arsenal balls: Wenger is crap, Keown is a one-man team and The Sun is clueless

Arsenal and West Ham United draw 3-3 and the Sun says it;s more evidence that Arsene Wenger is crap:

“Isn’t it funny the Wenger empire was built on  a defence he inherited from George Graham – and they have not won the League in 12 years since the likes of Lee Dixon, Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Steve Bould and  Nigel Winterburn left?”

You could argue that money played a factor, what with Arsenal unable to match their rivals’ spending. Or you could just find it funny how the Sun’s man in the know knows nothing.


the sun arsenal


When Arsenal last won the Premier League title in 2003/04, their defenders were:

Jens Lehmann: league matches started – 38
Ashley Cole: 32
Martin Keown: 3
Lauren: 30
Pascal Cygan: 10
Gaël Clichy: 7
Sol Campbell: 35
Kolo Touré: 36

Who knew going the entire season undefeated was all down to Martin Keown? He really was that good…

Posted: 11th, April 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment

Manchester United got Van Gaal and Spurs get to dream

spurs fans van gaal


Does Louis Van Gaal regret turning down Spurs in 2014? “The challenge was bigger for me at Manchester United and shall always be bigger,” says Van Gaal. “I’m sorry for Tottenham but Manchester United is a bigger club.”

Spurs fans celebrating a rare 3-0 win over Van Gaal’s Man United must be gutted. They could have had hammer-headed Van Gaal and his ego instead of young Mauricio Pochettino and his vision.

Of course, Van Gaal was not boasting about Manchester United. He was put on the spot by a journalist. The Dutchman soon turned on the reporter. “It is a little bit pathetic you asked that,” he sniped. “It’s easy to ask that but, ok, you enjoy yourself.”

Van Gaal then added: “Can we finish fourth? Yes, because we have 18 points available. It’s more difficult than before the match, that’s for sure. Everybody can lose to everybody else. We are still in the race.”

How far United have fallen to be “in the race” for fourth. They are, says the Times, “clueless”. Their capitulation more akin to the Spurs of old.

Spurs, meanwhile, can dream of winning the title for the first time since President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced that the United States has severed diplomatic and consular relations with Cuba.

Can they do it? Yes.

Tottenham have scored the most goals and conceded the fewest in the Premier League this season. Six teams have achieved that in the Premier League era. Five times – Manchester United in 2001 and 2008, Arsenal in 2004, Chelsea in 2006 and Manchester City in 2012 – that team won the title. On the other occasion, United finished second in 1998.


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

Manchester United and Spurs balls: Kane and Pochettino got their separate ways

Big news in the Sun that Tottenham striker Harry Kane has “urged” manager Mauricio Pochettino to remain at White Hart Lane and snub any move to Manchester United.

Harry Kane manchester united


That in the Sun, which has told us:

December 21: “LOUIS VAN GAAL is on his way out of Manchester United after contact was made with Jose Mourinho…Van Gaal could now be gone before the Boxing Day game at Stoke. At best, he will have that plus the home clash with Chelsea next Monday to keep his job.”

March 26: “JOSE MOURINHO will be offered a mind-boggling £60million to send Manchester United soaring back to football’s summit.”

Save the urges, Harry, The Sun says Mourinho’s already got the job.

And pack your bags. After all, the Sun told us that Kane is Manchester United’s leading target:

March 19, 2016: “Man United transfer news: Jose Mourinho ‘wants £60m Harry Kane to be prime target'”

All utter balls.




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

Manchester United: players earn less in line with Moyes and Van Gaal

Manchester United’s players will earn less money if they fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League, says the Times. The paper reasons that “players and coaching staff stand to lose about £14 million if they fail to finish in the top four of the Barclays Premier League this season. That works out at about £500,000 per player.”

Of course, those figures are wrong. The top-paid players – Wayne Rooney – will lose a lot more bonus pay than, say, new blade Marcus Rashford.

The Times has learnt. All players receive a “standard” wage packet when they sign a professional contract at the club, and with Champions League qualification, they receive a larger wage packet, known as the “standard plus” rate.

United introduced the scheme after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, sensing perhaps that the team would not be so assured of qualifying for the Champions League as they were under the Scot.

Ferguson knew the power of money and the status it brings, writing:

“When the Glazers and David Gill agreed to a big increase in Wayne Rooney’s salary in 2010, they wanted to know how I felt. I told them I did not think it fair that Rooney should earn twice what I made and Joel Glazer immediately said, ‘I totally agree with you, but what should we do?’ It was simple. We just agreed that no player should be paid more than me’.”

Reduce the manager; reduce the wages.

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

Manchester United balls: Mourinho and his agent look at homes in Cheshire

Hold the back page! No sooner has the Daily Mirror given Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal a “boost” with news that Jose Mourinho is being courted by Real Madrid than the Sun screams: “JOSE HOMES IN – He’s been house hunting in Cheshire”.


Jose Mourinho Manchester United the sun


The story goes that an “agent” is acting on Mourinho’s behalf, on the look out for a suitable pad in Cheshire. What kind of agent is not said, but our bet would be on it being one involved in getting Jose the top job and any fat fees that go with it.

The Sun adds that Mourinho has a “verbal understanding that he will take over from Louis Van Gaal at the end of May”.

But the Mirror says Manchester United’s main dealmaker, Ed Woodward, “is keen  to keep Van Gaal”, who is “expected to stay in his job if United qualify for next season’s Champions League”.

We aren’t told with whom Jose has a “verbal agreement” but if it is with an estate agent, we’d advise going for something more binding lest he get gazumped.

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

Manchester United balls: Real move for Mourinho

The Daily Mirror says Manchester United are on “red alert”. The story is that Real Madrid are “plotting” to rehire Jose Mourinho. This, we’re told, is a “boost” to current Manchester United manger Louis Van Gaal.  This Mirror adds that Mourinho has been “heavily linked  with the Old Trafford job”.


Mourinho manchester united


Oh, come on, Why so coy? After all it was the Mirror that told us the job was his:


mourinho van gaal united daily mirror


Such are the facts.

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

Transfer balls: Arsenal sign Granit Xhaka with a cheeky smile

Transfer Balls: The Metro reads all sorts of things into a smile, telling its reader bots:

Arsene Wenger smile hints Granit Xhaka to Arsenal transfer could be done

Says Wenger:

“At the moment, no. We are starting to look at people who can strengthen our squad, but we are not on any particular case in a concrete way” 

But who needs words when you can have a smile?

As for the player, well, earlier this month he told Express:

“I’ve seen the rumours. All I can say is it’s nonsense. There have been no negotiations with Arsene Wenger.”

But, of course, the deal has already been done. We read about it in the… Metro:


Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 17.17.26


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

Liverpool: Klopp aims to buck the trend in Dortmund

One more reason to like Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool’s charismatic manager. Asked if will celebrate a Liverpool goal when the Reds take on his former club, Borussia Dortmund, in tonight’s Europa League quarter-final match, the German said, “of course I will celebrate”.

Good. Go nuts. Footballers who look apologetic when they score against a former club are pathetic and joyless. Goals are what the game is about. Anyone failing to celebrate them should be sent off.


Posted: 7th, April 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment

Irony overload: Daily Mail bemoans predators who take pictures of Arsenal star on a night out

Martin Samuel is writing about Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere in the Daily Mail:

“Ghouls filming private moments on their mobile phones are a modern curse. So Jack Wilshere merits some sympathy, being a young man unable to go anywhere without a predatory stranger wishing to make his life their property.”:

Predatory strangers armed with cameras who create stories like:

ECLUSIVE: Ariel Winter reveals new inking in a high cut swimsuit as she frolics in the Bahamas surf… after getting THREE tattoos just weeks after 18th birthday

Catching some Lana Del RAYs? Bikini-clad singer tops up her tan in a nautical two-piece during relaxing Malibu beach day

You can read those predatory paparazzi-scoops and many more like them in the, er, Daily Mail.


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

Manchester United: Jose Mourinho wants it in writing but Van Gaal stays

The Sun says Jose Mourinho wants a “written promise” he will be their manager this summer. A written promise? Isn’t that a contract. Indeed, one slot above Mourinho’s request is news of Antonio Conte, who will join Chelsea as their new manager in the summer once he’s finished working with Italy. He has a contract. Jose Mourinho does not.


mourinho manchester united


He sounds desperate. Surely Manchester United hold all the cards. They are the Premier League’s richest and biggest club. Is Jose’s the only name in the frame for such a great job? Would United fans really pick him over, say, Diego Simeone, Laurent Blanc and Louis Van Gaal? In the Mirror, news is that the Dutchman thinks he will stay on as United boss  even if he fails to get them into the Champions’ League.

But the Sun is backing Jose. It says United’s owners, the Glazers, “know he is the man to take them back to the top”. Just as, one presumes, they knew David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal were the right men.

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

Manchester United balls: Mourinho takes the Express to Syria

The Daily Express has news for Manchester United fans.

Man United News: Mourinho offer confirmed, £60m Real Madrid move, triple fitness boost

The paper adds:

EXPRESS SPORT brings you the latest from Old Trafford.

To anyone sane this looks lot like news that Jose Mourinho and Manchester United have “confirmed” a relationship. It is, after all, the “news from Old Trafford”. But this is the Express, where nothing is quite as it seems. The story begins:

Jose Mourinho has been offered the Syria job.

No, not to run the country and take on the jihadis and the lunatic dictator Assad. Mourinho has been offered the chance to manage the Syrian football team. And how is that classified as “Manchester United news” when neither Mourinho nor Syria are in Manchester?



Posted: 5th, April 2016 | In: Back pages | Comment

Chelsea: Conte targets Lukaku, Vidal and Cavani as Costa has personality transplant

costa soldThe new Chelsea manager is Antonio Conte. He’s signed a contract worth:

£20m over three years (Mail)

£18m over three years (Sun)

15m over three years (Guardian)

£6.5m a year (Guardian)

£9m a year (Times)

As the papers do the sums, Dominic Fifield looks at what new faces Chelsea fans can expect to see that the Bridge:

While Conte is also pushing for the addition of Roma’s Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan, who is available for €35m, and further experienced defensive cover such as Leonardo Bonucci, Kostas Manolas, Kalidou Koulibaly and Antonio Rüdiger have been scouted at Juventus, Napoli and Roma respectively, where the latter is on loan from Bayer Leverkusen, it is perhaps telling he is to adopt the title head coach rather than manager. That would appear to reinforce Emenalo’s position at the club despite Chelsea’s patchy recent record on recruitment.

The Mirror says Conte will get shot of John Terry and Thibaut Courtois, replacing the latter with Southampton’s Fraser Foster. The Times points to Everton’s Romelu Lukaku making a pricey return, Edinson Cavani, Gonzalo Higuain and Artuo Vidal.

But Conte’s “top priority” (Mirror) is keeping Diego Costa. The Sun says Conte will “demand, discipline, decency and respect”. He might consider recruiting a psychologist to get Costa to fit the mould. And then order a personality transplant for the sneaky striker. But not matter because the Telegraph says Costa’s on his way to PSG.

And Conte has another pressing issue, says the Mail in the lead story “match-fix trial dogs new Chelsea boss”.

Conte’s legal team were in court in Cremona on Monday for the latest hearing of the match-fixing trial in which he is embroiled. It continues on Tuesday, when he will learn if the prosecution are seeking a fine or a prison sentence — though the latter is unlikely. Conte maintains his innocence and a decision is expected by mid-May.

If any fine is linked to his salary, you wonder what newspaper the judges will use as their source?

Posted: 5th, April 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment

Harry Redknapp: ‘I’m amazed Leicester City’s Jamaican international Morgan hasn’t been picked for England’

Harry Redknapp has words to the wise in this Daily Telegraph column. The former Spurs manager has noticed Leicester City’s Wes Morgan is a top-top-top-top-top-top player. So good is Wes that Redface tips him to be a future England player. He’s agog and aghast that current England manger Roy Hodgson hasn’t even picked him for a friendly.

One thing, Harry Redknobb: Morgan has 25 caps for Jamaica since his debut in September of 2013.


wes morgan redknapp


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

Arsenal star Jack Wilshere in beer and shouting horror

wilshere fight 1Arsenal footballer Jack Wilshere is all over the tabloids. What’s he done?

The Daily Mail’s lead sports story on the backpage declares: “Jack in the Dock.”

He’s been arrested? No. The Arsenal midfielder has been “caught in a brawl”. Police are “investigating scenes of disorder” outside London’s sticky West End club Cafe de Paris at 2:15am. On page 84, Sami Mokbel says Wilshere was annoyed with a “fellow reveller who was attempting to film on his phone”. Film what? Wilshere, says Mokbel, was at a bureau de change on a night out, having been given permission by his club to “let his hair down”. 

Daily Mirror (front page): “EXCLUSIVE: England’s Wilshere in 2am bust-up”

It’s not an exclusive. But the Mirror does have more news. It says Wilshere  was “quizzed” by police in an alleyway after “allegedly being  kicked out of a club”.  He’s “accused of hitting another reveller, which he denies.” There were no arrests.

And so it is that footballer not arrested is the Mirror’s lead news story.

wilshere fight 1On pages 4 and 5, the Mirror puns: “Jack’s Bin Trouble.” But he isn’t in trouble as he stands by some bins in a “rubbish-strewn walkway”. He wasn’t arrested. And is it his fault the streets of London are grotty? Should he have picked a cleaner bit of pavement / walkway / alleyway? The story goes that Wilshere was then put in a taxi.

On Page 5, David Kidd says “our hearts sink at the sight of Jack Wilshere cowering behind a bin after being thrown out of a nightclub”. What happened to his being “allegedly” bounced? And do our hearts sink? Surely, at the Mirror they skip a beat at a footballer-at-large story.

The Sun (front page): “WILSHERE COP QUIZ OVER 3AM BRAWL”

3am. 2am. What matter the facts when a footballer is in the crosshairs? The Sun zooms in on the “crocked England footie star”. Only, he isn’t crocked. He was. But now he’s back in full training. The Sun says a man was punched. It says Jack and his mates were “asked to leave” the club.

The Sun then seems to accuse Wilshere of taking his rehabilitation from a broken leg lightly, declaring, “Ace he bids for Euro fitness.” This will make England fans “angry“. But Wilshere broke no club rules.

We’re left wondering what it is that Wilshere did wrong? As off-field misbehaviour goes, Wilshere’s antics were harmless. Are Arsenal fans who cheered on hard-drinking Tony Adam angry that Wilshere went out? Are England’s famously prudish and restrained fans angered by Wilshere apparently having a beer and a shout? The tabloids expect Wilshere to be role model, to behave in ways unlike most 24-year-olds – and not only those with oodles of cash in their pocket from an honest day’s work. Do we expect purity from everyone in the public eye, such as, say, newspaper editors, a chaste group of moralists who never put a foot wrong as they report the facts and only the facts?

Posted: 4th, April 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment

Arsenal balls: Ozil and Wenger fight over the towel

ozil fury arsenalArsenal are at “war”, says the Sun. The back page tells of team manager Arsene Wenger’s “fury with Ozil”. Can it be that the club’s best player and the vintage coach are rowing? The Sun’s headline certainly implies so.  What did Ozil says to spark “fury”? This:

“Looking at our season so far, we have to be honest and admit that we screwed up ourselves. We did not play to our potential in the games against the so-called smaller teams. You immediately get punished for that in the Premier League. But we still have a chance of winning the title. We have to hope Leicester and Tottenham slip up and then make the most of it. I would be delighted for Wenger if we win the title. He played a major role in my decision to join Arsenal. He was desperate to sign me.


“Everybody knows he is an extraordinary manager. He is always hungry for success, has a lot of experience and always takes his time for the players. He helps players develop.”

To the Sun this makes Ozil “the defeatist German” who has “chucked in the towel”… (over a summer sun-bed?). And Wenger has this to say:

“I have nothing against the players being honest, but we have to look forward — and this group deserves to be rewarded for all the effort, hard work and dedication they have put in. There is still an opportunity for us and we have to grab it because it’s now or never.”


Posted: 3rd, April 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Ozil joins Real Madrid and commits future to Arsenal

ozil quit arsenalTransfer Balls:  The Express says,and Mesut Ozil will both sign new contracts at Arsenal in the summer.” Fact!

Ozil will get £180,000-a-week. Sanchez will get a raise on his current £130,000-a-week.

Big news in the Express, which recently told readers:

Mesut Ozil wants to quit Arsenal and return to Spain… he has grown tired of a lack of silverware and would like to move back to Real Madrid.

Such are the facts in the Express.

Posted: 3rd, April 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Manchester United fish for Everton ‘hero’ Barkley

Transfer balls: The Daily Star says “Manchester United are weighing up a £45m move for Everton’s Ross Barkley.”

Number of words to supports the claim: nil.

Aware that the story is thinner than Victoria Beckham’s smile, the Mirror creates the headline: “Manchester United line up £45m Ross Barkley deal?” 

The Mirror then adds: “Manchester United have made £45m-rated Everton midfielder Ross Barkley their top summer target (Daily Star Sunday).”

And with that a story with no source of facts features in two tabloids.

And what of the story? Would Barkely go to United? Well, the Sun told us in late 2014: “ROSS BARKLEY has signed a new £13.5million Everton contract — insisting he could not ‘do a Wayne Rooney’.” 

Barkley declared: “I knew what it meant when Rooney left. I knew how the fans felt. We thought Everton could have pushed on, so when he left we were all down. It’s a dream to be playing for Everton. This means everything to me.”

And it was the, er, Daily Star which told us a few months back: “Barkley, 21, is well on his way to becoming a homegrown hero.”

Everton have new owners. They never buckled and sold John Stones in the summer. So why would Barkley leave them for Manchester United?

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

Manchester United balls: Mourinho tears up agreement to join Valencia

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: A fan poses with a Manchester United scarf displaying the image and name of former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, outside the stadium before the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on December 28, 2015 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Cancel the Jose Mourinho Manchester United scarf. News is that the former Chelsea manager is off to coach Valencia. The Sun tells us as much:

Exclusive: SunSport understands serious discussions have been ongoing for more than a month about Jose Mourinho becoming the master of the Mestalla [Valencia coach]

Anyone finding it too late to return their Jose at Old Trafford scarf should take it up with the Sun, which previously told readers way back in February 2016:

Jose Mourinho agrees three-year deal to become Manchester United manager

Such are the facts…

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

Transfer balls: Arsenal buy Aubameyang, Kroos and Stones to cheer Wenger off

The Daily Mirror says Arsenal will not be waving adieu to their manager:

Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger plans to buy and buy not say ‘Bye-bye!’ this summer

Out got: Tomas Rosicky, Kieran Gibbs, Mathieu Debuchy, Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Per Mertesacker.

In come: John Stones, Victor Wanyama, Toni Kroos, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

As Arsenal fans fall about laughing, they might also wonder why the Gunners would invest so heavily when the manager will be leaving at the end of next season?


june 30 wenger



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

Arsenal balls: Arda Turan buries in a shallow grave in Barcelona

The Daily Telegraph has been talking up its new content management system. It’s now quicker than ever for the once mighty paper to trot out balls. The headline seduces Arsenal fans:

Arda Turan absolutely buries Arsenal with this Barcelona comparison.

Buries! What he said was:

 “I was feeling that I would sign for Barca. Sincerely I thought: ‘If I play very well I will end up signing for Barca. If I play well I will end up at Arsenal.”

The Telegraph mused:

“It’s not clear whether the denigration was inadvertent or intended, but if the latter then perhaps Gunners fans can see the swipe as something of a back-handed compliment.”


Stick it though the new CMS bot and your get talk of Arsenal being buried.

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

Transfer balls: Arsenal lure Chelsea star with clickbait

quina arsenalThe Daily Telegraph has news: “Arsenal win race to sign Portuguese prodigy Domingos Quina.” Says Sam Wallace:

It represents a coup for the Arsenal academy who have traditionally not competed with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City for the top teenage talent in Europe and beyond.

The Mail says that the deal has not yet been done:

Arsenal to complete signing of Chelsea starlet Domingos Quina in next 48 hours

The Indy then takes the Telegraph’s fact that isn’t and slips inverted commas around it:

Domingos Quina to Arsenal: ‘Gunners win race’ for teenager after he quits Chelsea

Just three days ago, the Metro told its readers:

Manchester United are clear to sign Chelsea wonderkid Domingos Quina

Two days ago the Sun said:

“Chelsea starlet Domingos Quina quits club and plans to join Premier League rival – Ace walks out on Blues with Man Utd, Spurs and Liverpool closing in”

Not deal is done until it’s done.

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

Manchester United balls: Van Gaal missing, Depay stars and Rooney stays

Manchester United will sack manager Louis Van Gaal at the end of this season. The Manchester Evening News treats its readers to “Five hints Louis van Gaal is set to LEAVE Manchester United this summer.”

Number 1 is: “Pre-season tour video no-show.”

Van Gaal featured heavily in the video United produced to promote their pre-season tour of the United States last summer. But when the club started promoting next summer’s tour to China last week, the 64-year-old wasn’t in it . Not once.

Who did feature?

No fewer than 14 first-team players did feature, including Wayne Rooney, David De Gea and even Jesse Lingard, Guillermo Varela and Marcus Rashford, but Van Gaal was nowhere to be seen.

So, if you’re in the early promo video you will still be at Manchester United next season. Got it. Memphis Depay, Luke Shaw, Morgan Schneiderlin, Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata, David De Gea, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Guillermo Varela, Jesse Lingard, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young and Ander Herrera are all shown in the video.

And over in the Sun we learn:

Memphis Depay set to be axed in summer Manchester United clearout… United will listen to offers for their £25million flop after just a year at the club. Other stars that can go include Morgan Schneiderlin just a season after he arrived from Southampton.

Do we learn anything from MEN’s ‘Five Things’ other than the paper hasn’t got the foggiest?


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

Adam Johnson: now watch teenage girls get you off in the tabloids



You might see Adam Johnson, the footballer, as a deeply unpleasant oddity. Jailed for six years for sexual activity with an underage girl, Johnson represents nobody but himself. But his job sets an agenda in motion. The Mail leads with news that Johnson has “damaged the reputation of football”. Well, so says Players’ Union supremo Gordon Taylor. He says the football authorities have to ensure a player grooming underage girls for sex “doesn’t happen again”, as if some kind of vetting process can be enforced to ensure anyone who thinks of kicking a ball for a living doesn’t think it ok to wilfully break the law. You might suppose the law was equally applied to the mundane and the celebrated, pointing to Johnson’s incarceration as evidence of just that. But footballs’ leading lights have bought into the top-down bilge that footballers are societal role models whose actions are aped by their fans.

Sticking with the Mail, Jeff Powell says the FA should “take back his caps”. Powell reasons that if a priest can be de-frocked, then a footballer can be un-capped. In Powell’s head a man who gives moral and divine guidance is on a par with a man who can pass a ball in a straight line. Wow, indeed. And then marvel at how Johnson’s name can be erased by taking away evidence that he ever played for England. The record books will show that when England defeated Switzerland 3-1 in 2010, the Three Lions fielded just 10 players and one goal was scored by a ghost, a non-person. Spooky stuff.


daily mail moretz


Over paged 4 and 5, we learn of things Johnson was not jailed for: looking at porn on a site called ‘Nice Young Teens’; having an STD; engaging in a number of “seedy trysts”; looking at animal porn; and liking sex on the bonnet of his Range Rover. The Express has more, telling readers how Johnson “scoured the internet for twisted animal porn” – is any animal porn non-twisted, of the straight-up sort? – and engaged in “vile discussions branding women ‘slags'”.

That’s the Express, which also owns the Daily Star. In today’s paper, readers are invited to dial a number to chat with “HORNY TEEN GIRLS”.


Daily Star sex


Adam Johnson is a depraved criminal who knowingly broke the law then lied and lied and lied, forcing his young victim to endure prolonged pain and humiliation. He is not a role model. He is not a typical footballer, any more than he is typical Sunderland-born male, father, porn watcher or tabloid reader. In labelling Johnson a “stain on the game” – typical of “an ugly side of the game rapidly losing its beautiful image” –  the Mirror gives Johnson an excuse. ‘It’s not me, guv. It’s football wot made me do it.’

There is no hard evidence to support the idea that football culture makes individuals more likely to commit crime, sexually abuse minors and rape. Johnson’s crimes were not understandable responses to the prevailing culture around him, to his life at the office. He can’t get off that lightly. Framing his crimes as part of some perceived wider sickness in football gives him an excuse. He has none.

Johnson made a conscious choice to have sexual contact with a girl below the age of consent. His job did not force him into it. His professional peers did not present sexual abuse as an initiation. He represents no-one but himself. Football is innocent.


Posted: 25th, March 2016 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Reviews, Sports | Comment

Johan Cruyff: the newspapers’ tributes always beat the web

Johan Cruyff newspapers

Johan Cruyff was the greatest footballer. His death brought a tear to my eye. In the 1974 World Cup Finals, Cruyff’s masterful Dutch side were mesmeric. How we wanted them to win.

There is much talk over the death of newspapers. But papers can do things the internet cannot. The full-page tributes to the great player, who brought joy to so many, are glorious.

Here’s Johan – the most graceful and talented footballer I ever saw:

Posted: 25th, March 2016 | In: Back pages | Comment