Back pages | Anorak - Part 37

Back pages Category

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

Call of Duty turns Jamie Vardy into a ticking timebomb

call of duty 2


Big news in the Daily Mail that Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy is “gunning down rivals” by playing Call of Duty on his PlayStation.

Those rivals had best watch out. The Daily Mail told us Call of Duty turns you into a murderer – maybe:


Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 13.41.40


Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 13.46.55

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 13.47.05



He shoots! He shoot! He keeps on shooting until the game is over and his wife call him down for dinner…


Posted: 7th, March 2016 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Reviews, Sports, Tabloids, Technology | Comment

Liverpool Palace: Crystal Palace robbed as ‘cool’ Benteke does a Gerrard

tumblr_o3n5l3SNQp1u5f06vo1_1280 Crystal Palace lose to 10-man Liverpool and there are accusations of diving. Palace manager Alan Pardew – previously seen head-butting an opposition player on the side of the pitch and verbally abusing the likes of Manuel Pellegrini and Arsene Wenger – is unhappy.

Palace looked to be on course for a valuable point against a Liverpool side down to 10 men, after James Milner saw red just after the hour-mark. However, with just seconds remaining, a rash lunge from Damien Delaney in the box left Christian Benteke sprawling and ref Andre Marriner pointing to the spot.

Benteke converted the resulting penalty to secure a precious win for the visitors and condemn Palace to another defeat.

Hard cheese. And sour grapes. The Sun leads with news that Benteke dived to win the spot kick.

“Was it penalty to Liverpool?” the paper asks. Yes, it was. Should it have been given? Time for a heated debate.

The Sun is first to respond. Paul Jiggins says “fraudulent” Benteke “conned” the officials.

We then hear from the player and the Palace manager.

Pardew: “I feel like we’ve been robbed. He certainly makes a big meal of it.”

Benteke: “I think he touched me, otherwise I wouldn’t go down. The referee knows better than us and he took the right decision.”

End of. But no. Former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher adds his opinion.

Carragher: “Liverpool players don’t dive. It was a stupid decision to dive in and [Delaney] just clipped with his right knee Christian Benteke’s left ankle and it’s a penalty. I don’t think it’s a debate.”

But it is. In the local Press, the Croydon Guardian reports Pardew’s response is given in full.

Pardew: “If you’re the referee and you see that incident, you see the centre half pulling out of the challenge, you don’t give the penalty. The linesman assumes that little touch is a penalty – he [Benteke] makes the most of it – and he gives it and it’s tough to take. If you think that touch affects the fall that he has, then you seriously need to be consulted. I’m a football person and that touch doesn’t warrant the dive that he makes, and it’s the dive that makes the linesman’s mind up. I think it’s an issue that’s worrying in the game. I saw Jamie Carragher say if someone’s going to touch you, you’re going to make the most of it. Jamie Carragher saying that. He’s an ex-pro. Come on. You try to be fair, you try to say the right things to your players and send out the right message to the players to be honest and that touch doesn’t warrant that dive.”

The local Palace paper calls the penalty “controversial”. What says the Liverpool Echo?

Echo: “Substitute Christian Benteke was brought down by Damien Delaney’s foolish lunge and the £32.5million striker stepped up to coolly slot home the spot-kick.”

Those of you still rolling your eyes at the part about Liverpool players not diving should enjoy this:


Posted: 7th, March 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment (1)

Chelsea balls: Spurs managers makes shocking, shocking, shocking move



The Sunday Times says Chelsea have made a “shock” move to “tempt” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino. He’s been added to Chelsea’s “shortlist” of future managers.

The Sunday Times has been informed that Chelsea officials approached representatives of the Tottenham Hotspur manager towards the end of last month to discuss the possibility of him filling the vacant position.

Shocking stuff-  but not to Independent readers who read the same story back on January 26:

Mauricio Pochettino to Chelsea: Tottenham manager added to Blues wish list


Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 16.20.27


It was also shocking in February, when the Daily Star reported on the rumour:


Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 16.20.13


Shock of shocks…

Posted: 6th, March 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports, Spurs | Comments (7)

Adam Johnson says sorry through his ‘stunning’ model pal

adam johnson sex“Shamed Adam Johnson” looks out from the Mirror’s front page. In this story the now former England and Sunderland footballer “confesses that he made ‘huge mistake’ and tells of jail shock over his sex crimes”.

This is Johnson, the criminal Det Insp Aelfwynn Sampson of Durham Police called a “role model”. Utter balls, of course. Johnson is a role model only to his daughter. Anyone who looks to a footballer for moral guidance is a mentally negligible fool. Why should Johnson be role model and the police officers who facilitated Jimmy Savile’s paedophilia not be billed the same? Footballers do not play the game to represent Public Health England or any ethic committees.

Johnson represents no-one but himself.

So here he is in the tabloids telling the world how  very sorry he is for getting caught. He says:

“It’s my own fault. I made a huge mistake. Now I need to do what I need to do – hopefully it will be fast. I just need to be occupied and think about something else, and hopefully I will come out having learned from my mistake.”

Why is he talking to the papers? Is this his moment of quiet reflection on his crimes? If it is it looks a lot like self-serving PR.

He made his remarkable confession – his first words since the trial – to Danish businesswoman and model Julie Hall after he was convicted last Wednesday. They have been in contact ever since. In an exclusive interview, Julie, 27, tells how Johnson has been pouring his heart out to her for 10 months.

He’s not talking directly to the papers. She is. But who is she? In June 2015, the Mirror introduced her as Julie the “club ambassador and model”. It then told us:

Adam Johnson’s wild parties with model days before his child sex case

Disgraced Premier League ­footballer Adam Johnson parties with a Danish model during a stag do in Dubai – just days before his first crown court ­appearance for child sex charges.

Johnson, 28, was spotted with Julie Hall on a yacht and at a nightclub as his ­girlfriend Stacey Flounders – now his ex – attended the hen night 5,000 miles away. The shamed Sunderland FC winger had joined then Black Cats striker Steven Fletcher for a ­bachelor party at a five-star resort.

Details of the trip in May last year were ­highlighted during ­Johnson’s trial and ­prosecutors told how he was pictured alongside fellow ­footballers, with his thumbs up and holding a bottle of beer. It will come as a fresh blow to his former partner Stacey Flounders, the 26-year-old with whom he has a 13-month-old daughter Ayla Sofia.

Now Julie is ready to speak out.

“He explained to me he met this girl and he made a mistake. He told me he was going through the courts shortly after I met him, so he just explained what was going on, and why he was accused. Two days ago he said: ‘I’m going to jail.’ Then we were talking about for how long and when he was going to jail. He said ‘end of this month’. He said he hoped it (the sentence) would be fast. And he said he wanted to learn from it and come out a better person.”

Anyone else feel a bit queasy?


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

Manchester United balls: Mourinho replaces Van Gaal as get the job

Compare and contrast the Mirror’s Manchester United scoops.

First up the Mirror’s scoop that Jose Mourinho has agreed a three-year deal to manage Manchester United.


mourinho van gaal united


Second up, the Mirror’s scoop that Jose Mourinho is reigned to not managing Manchester United:


Mourinho United



Such are the facts…

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

Manchester United balls: Marcus Rashford’s England call up

rashford englandHow football reporting works: Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, 18, has scored a few goals this season. A journalist asks England manager Roy Hodgson if Rashford could play for England?

“I would neither rule him in or rule him out,” replies Hodgson. “I have been watching Rashford for two years, so I have known about him for a long time. He is in our system… Most of all, I hope he is allowed to develop as an 18-year-old should and people don’t try to put him under enormous pressure.”

Which when hooked up to the journalisomobile becomes:


Roy Hodgson last night opened the door on Marcus Rashford getting a Euro 2016 call-up. (Mirror)

Manchester United sensation Marcus Rashford in line for England Euro call-up according to Roy Hodgson (Mirror)

Marcus Rashford given shock England boost by manager Roy Hodgson ahead of Euro 2016 (Express)

No pressure…


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

Arsenal balls: Wenger and Henry in tabloid war

Arsenal are not doing not too well; not doing too badly. It’s all a bit so-so.  But the media wants drama. Today’s back pages lead with a ‘row’ between Arenal manger Arsene Wenger and the club’s greatest goalscorer Thierry Henry.

Henry’s new job is to write opinion to deadline. He fills a Sun newspaper column. This week he opined:

I HAVE never heard the Arsenal supporters as angry as they were at the Emirates on Wednesday night when their team lost at home to Swansea…

I will be watching on TV and what I want to see is a really strong response from the Arsenal players to get the fans back on their side. We all know the quality is there but confidence is not high and that was obvious at Old Trafford last Sunday and again on Wednesday night…

…injuries happen to every team and there is no point complaining or feeling sorry for yourself. You just get on with it.

Wenger replies:

“Thierry Henry has his opinions. He has not found the measurement of the fans’ angriness, of 60,000 people straight away, because he sits in the best seats of the stadium… Look, he’s in a difficult role. Thierry Henry will not play tomorrow for Arsenal. His comments are like any other comments, they cannot help us to win, nor be an excuse to lose. We have to focus on ourselves.”

Which when put through the tabloid sensation generator becomes Wenger “demands showdown talks” with Henry (Mirror) and:





It’ll be “war” by tomorrow…

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

Chelsea star in Daily Telegraph caption horror


Photo choice and caption work from the Telegraph is A++today, says @ashleyconnick

Posted: 3rd, March 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment

Manchester United: Marcus Rashford’s money madness

How much does Manchester United’s 18-year-old striker Marcus Rashford earn every week? No need to guess because the newspapers are all over it:

The Sun: £500


Marcus Rashford



The Star: £1000


Marcus Rashford



The Mirror: £1500

Marcus Rashford


Such are the facts.


Posted: 1st, March 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Arsenal get a new spine, Gibbs sold and everything is rosy

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal - The HawthornsTwo days after a limp Arsenal lost to a mid-table Manchester United side and the Daily Mail leads with news that the Gunners have £135m to spend. The Mail says Arsenal have “cash reserves” of £135m  – but will give Arsene Wenger only half of it to strengthen his squad this summer”.

It’s not Wenger’s fault Arsenal are toothless in attack and palsied in defence, says the Arsenal marketing team whose fingers are all over this ‘news’.  It’s Arsenal’s “hierarchy”. Blame them. Leave Wenger alone.

Trouble is that Pep Guardiola has £150m to spend at Manchester City, Manchester United will chuck another £100m at the brand – although the Express says the Red Devils already have found “a generation to rival the class of ’92. – and Chelsea have £150m for next season’s push.

What does £75m buy Arsenal?

“Arsene Wenger has made the central spine of his team the summer priority,” says the Daily Telegraph. That’s a central defender, a central midfielder and a centre forward, then. The Gunners will have a tad more cash because “Kieran Gibbs, Mathieu Debuchy, Mathieu Flamini, Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky are all likely to leave.”

Of those names only Flamini occupies a birth in the Arsenal ‘spine’. And he’s been on his way out the club for months. They wanted shot of him last Christmas.

Reading on in the pisspoor Telegraph, however, we learn that the paper’s exclusive is utter balls:

Wenger regards this as his best squad since the ‘Invincible’ era and, although his thinking will certainly be shaped by the next three months, he does not currently plan a major summer overhaul.

Nothing major – just replacing your team’s ‘spine’.

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

Arsenal are great and rubbish when the chips are down, says Redknapp

Former Spurs manager Harry Redknapp is talking about Arsenal. The Gunners lost 3-2 at Manchester United in a match notable for how little guts Arsenal showed.

I have watched them quite a bit recently and it is not the first time I have seen them play like that. They just don’t look good enough. At the moment, they look a very average team…

Arsenal have got it all on now. If they don’t play better than that, they could end up back in fourth in a season which, without any doubt, has been their big chance… You couldn’t fancy Arsenal from what you have seen of them at Old Trafford. Not when the chips are down.

Or as he put it a few weeks back in another Daily Telegraph column:

I think we saw this weekend, though, why it is a two-horse race for the title. Manchester City came from behind, late on, against a good Watford side and Arsenal managed to grind out a win when they were not playing well against Newcastle. That is not something Arsenal have been able to do in the past and it shows their progress this season.

It’s a funny old fame…

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

Manchester United balls: Van Gaal embroiled in scandal as Mourinho goes fishing

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is tired of hearing that irritating-but-talented Jose Mourinho is to replace him at Old Trafford. Speaking to Dutch television channel RTL7 in the wake of United’s 5-1 Europa League win over Midtjylland on Thursday evening, Van Gaal was asked about the pressure both he and his players are enduring at the moment. His answer was fullsome:

He (Mourinho) has said things a number of times with a lot of words. But he does not have to tell me anything. I find the whole thing ridiculous!

No, I don’t want United to do something either. I don’t even want them to react to things which I read in the media or which are being created.

We, the club and I, are not going to help the media right now by denying things.

I think what is happening is an absolute scandal!

The Mirror thinks the story worthy of its lead page.





The paper notes:

The Mourinho connection riles him. The duo are old friends yet Van Gaal refuses to telephone the former Chelsea boss to nail the rumour that he’s angling for the Old Trafford job.

Angling? But the Mirror said it was already his!
mourinho van gaal united


Such are the facts.


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

Spider bite transforms Wrexham football into a ‘footie ace’

james gray wrexham


Who is the “footie ace” eaten by spiders? It’s there on the front page of the Daily Star – “Killer Spider Eats Footies Ace.” Has Wayne Rooney been trapped in a spider’s web? Reading on we learn that the ace is Wrexham striker James Gray. That’s G… R…A…Y.  Wrexham play in the National League, four notches below the Premier League.

He was less eaten than he was bitten on the arm by a false widow spider. It;s nasty little critter. James developed an infection. He was rushed to hospital, where the poison was cut out.

Nasty. But is the false black widow really a killer spider? the NHS tells us:

According to the Natural History Museum, false widow spiders, so-called because of their similarity to the more poisonous black widow spider, are the main culprits and typically give bites that cause pain, redness and swelling.

Boots the chemist adds:

The effect of a bite is unlikely to be worse than being stung by a wasp or bee and results in pain, redness and swelling.

In other news: Footballer in English football’s fifth division bitten by spider. Or how about, Spider bite transforms Wrexham football into a ‘footie ace’?!


Posted: 27th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, Tabloids | Comment

Transfer balls: Mourinho’s three-year Manchester United contract vanishes

daily express manchester united mourinho

Misleading headline of the day appears in the Daily Express – ‘The World’s Greatest Newspaper”. It declares: “Jose Mourinho agrees three-year deal to become Manchester United manager.”

Does Louis Van Gaal, the current Man United manager, know?

It soon becomes clear that the story is utter balls.

Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias claim the 53-year-old has now agreed a three-year deal worth £15.75million to become the next United boss.

The Express offers no link to the source of its scoop. But we take a look over there. Diario’s latest news on Mourinho tells us:

Técnico português diz que “ninguém sabe” se irá para o Manchester United na próxima época

O treinador português José Mourinho disse hoje que está “satisfeito” por estar sem trabalhar, observando que a possibilidade de assumir o comando técnico da equipa de futebol do Manchester United “é a pergunta de um milhão de dólares”.

“Todos os dias surgem notícias diferentes, mas a verdade é que neste momento não tenho trabalho e estou satisfeito por não ter”, disse Mourinho, que foi despedido do Chelsea, perante uma plateia de alunos de uma escola secundária em Singapura.

Questionado por um jovem adepto do Manchester United sobre a possibilidade de treinar os ‘red devils’, o treinador português, de 53 anos, foi enigmático: “Essa é a pergunta de um milhão de dólares, que ninguém conhece a resposta e eu sou o primeiro a não a conhecer.”

Google translate:

Portuguese coach says that “no one knows” it will go to Manchester United next season

The Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho said today he was “pleased” to be out of work, noting that the ability to take the coach of the football team Manchester United “is the question a million dollars.”

“Every day there are different news, but the truth is that at this point do not work and I am glad not to have,” said Mourinho, who was fired from Chelsea, before an audience of students from a secondary school in Singapore.

Asked by a young fan of Manchester United about the possibility of training the ‘red devils’, the Portuguese coach, 53, it was enigmatic: “That’s the question a million dollars, that no one knows the answer and I am the first not to know. “

Such are the facts.

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

Spurs balls: losing to Crystal Palace was the worst and best thing

Can Tottenham march to glory this season? The London Evening Standard is full of advice. Tom Collomosse tells readers:

If Tottenham believe elimination from the FA Cup to be a blessing in disguise, they should use the memory of last season to banish that thought from their minds.

Losing to Crystal Palace was bad. There is no silver lining. Got it. Over to Tony Evans, then, who tells Standard readers:

Losing to Crystal Palace might have been the best thing for Tottenham’s title challenge. Spurs looked short on energy and ideas yesterday. Battling on two fronts rather than three could suit Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

There is a silver lining?


Posted: 24th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment

Arsenal’s £80m ‘blunder’ that let Suarez wallow at Liverpool

Arsenal were beaten by Barcelona in last night’s Champions League match. The result never was really in doubt. Arsenal are a decent side, who could have nicked a goal; Barcelona shimmer. Over in the Daily Mail, Arsenal obsessive Adrian Durham tells readers about Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s “biggest blunder” in a coruscating carer. It was not buying Louis Suarez, now starring for Barcelona:

“What a blunder from Wenger. [He] gets a tip off that Luis Suarez has a £40m release clause in his contract, decides to offer £1 more than that figure to trigger the release, fails to realise the player needs persuading to move to Arsenal.”

The tip-off was sound.

“In a million years, will a player who values himself highly just walk out on one club failing to compete for the very top honours, to join another club failing to compete for the very top honours, simply because that new club values him just £1 more than his release clause?”

No. That’s not what happened. This is what Luis Suarez said about Arsenal’s bid for him in August 2013, which you can also read in the Mail:

“Last year I had the opportunity to move to a big European club and I stayed on the understanding that if we failed to qualify for the Champions League the following season I’d be allowed to go. I gave absolutely everything last season but it was not enough to give us a top-four finish – now all I want is for Liverpool to honour our agreement. I am 26, I need to be playing in the Champions League. I feel I have done enough to be playing in the Champions League at this stage of my career. Now there is an option for me to do that and I want very much to take it.”

Durham ignores the facts. But he does offer some advice for whatever fee the Mail pays him:

Some Gooners have defended Wenger on this one, but ultimately he had the chance, but failed to sign a player who would have transformed Arsenal overnight. Offer £80m – what he’s worth – make the player feel truly wanted.

Pay double the asking price. Genius!

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

Manchester City throw the FA Cup for England as Chelsea march on

The newspapers are torn: did Manchester City throw their FA Cup tie against Chelsea, losing the match 5-1? The Telegraph says Manuel Pelligrini’s decision to field a greatly inexperienced side “backfired”. The inference is that the City manager thought an experimental City youth side could defeat the Chelsea first team at Stamford Bridge. Surely not. City came to chance their arm and gain experience for their young players.

Chelsea v City was scheduled for late yesterday, before the Manchester side play Wednesday’s Champions League match against Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine. Then City play Liverpool in the Capital One next Sunday.

City have higher priorities.




The Mirror accuses City of being the “Cup Killers”.




Pelligrini has hammered another nail into the demise of football’s oldest Cup, says the Mirror. Says Pellegrini:

“We were forced to select that team, we couldn’t play another day and didn’t have any more fit players. We knew it was a difficult chance to carry on in the FA Cup. We cannot do anything more. If we play on Saturday, it is better for us, then we play in the Champions League for England. We have six players injured and cannot take any more risks. We played against a very good team and that’s why they won.”

The Sun mocks Pelligrini’s claim that city did it for England:




Is Pelligrini wrong to claim England came first? Not entirely, no.

The Barclays Premier League claims four spots in the Champions League. Italy’s Serie A has three. That could change. Slots are allocated according to how well a nation’s sides fare in both European competitions. The Uefa club association co-efficients are:

1 Spain 85.142
2. Germany 66.749
3. England 65.034
4. Italy 60.605
5. Portugal 44.582
(Top three associations currently have four Champions League places)

The Times notes:

The Italians cut the deficit by more than half last season, thanks to Juventus reaching the Champions League final and a strong showing by Napoli and Fiorentina in the Europa League.

Should England’s representatives struggle again this year, it is conceivable that Italy might catch them at the end of the campaign – meaning England would only be able to send three teams to the Champions League in 2017/18 – though the following season is more likely.

So, Pelligrini might not be “kidding”, as the Sun puts it.

Meanwhile, Chelsea move on, travelling to Everton on March 12 – three days after they play PSG in the Champions’ League.

Posted: 22nd, February 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Manchester United get money back on Rooney to China rumours

Transfer balls: Shanghai Shenhua have offered to pay Manchester United – get this – £27m for Wayne Rooney. They have also offered the England captain £500,000-a-week in wages for three years to join the China Super League.

The Mirror leads with this news. The paper says the cash would be a remarkable sum for the striker, enabling United to “recoup the fee they paid Everton” for the player.

So will Rooney go to China? We’ve no idea – and neither does the Mirror. Below the paper’s headline – “£100m Roo Bid” – is news that, er, no bid has been made. The Daily Express, however, never got past the headline, and it screams: “Chinese Super League makes stunning £100m bid for Man United captain Wayne Rooney.”

The facts become more confused when the Sun adds, “The Manchester United and England skipper still has over three years left on his contract at Old Trafford.” Not so says the Mirror, which reports, “With two years left on his current deal…the Chinese want to make Rooney the face of their Super League.”

The Mirror tells us “Rooney is the player” the Chinese “covet most”. Really? More than Ronaldo and Messi. Is that true – or is it just what the China Super League PR department toil them?

Such are the facts.

Posted: 19th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Leroy Sane to Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and wherever else the SEO machine sends him

Transfer Balls: The Daily Star has conjured a headline to seduce fans of the five biggest Premier League clubs to a non-news story:

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City and Man Utd in epic transfer fight for German whizz


daily star bollocks



Alex Harris writes:

Mundo Deportivo claim Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United are all in the hunt for the Schalke attacking midfielder.

The SEObot that might well be operating Harris won’t bother to follow the link. But we will.  Over there we hear from one Oriol Domenech, who says Real Madrid and Barcelona are in for Leroy Sane.

Number of quotes to support his story: nil. Number of facts of any sort in either story: nil.

In other news, the Mail asks today: “Is Leroy Sane really worth £42m?”


But the clickbait-bonkers International Business Times say he isn’t, declaring in a headline: “Barcelona spy on Schalke 04 starlet Leroy Sane in Bundesliga match ahead of £28.8m summer move.”

A summer move – but to where – and for how much?




Posted: 18th, February 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Manchester United, Pep and The Metro’s Lewandowski mystery

Transfer balls spots this utter bilge from the Metro: “Verbal agreement clears Man United to sign these two major world stars.” Another teaser names names:

Man Utd transfer news: Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski boost due to Pep Guardiola agreement


Transfer balls


Muller to United! Haven’t we been there before? Didn’t Muller sign a new deal to stay at his beloved Bayern Munich last summer? Why would Lewandowski join a team in the Europa League? The Metro’s Mark Brus writes:

Manchester United could be majorly boosted in their efforts to sign Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski in the summer.

“Could be majorly boosted”… Is that English?

The Bayern Munich attacking midfielder and striker are reportedly among the Red Devils’ main targets for next season, but they face competition from rivals Manchester City.

And Bayern, the club he plays for and loves.

However, the Daily Star says Pep Guardiola has a verbal agreement with Bayern that forbids him from raiding the Bavarian giants when he leaves the Allianz Arena for the Etihad Stadium in the summer.


The news gives United a clear run at the players, if they can find the money to do business.

What spectacular balls.

Posted: 18th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Manchester Untied balls: Rooney out, Van Gaal’s hell, England’s dream

brave rooneyManchester United’s captain is injured. Wayne Rooney, for it is he, has knee ligament damage. The Sun nails the pun with “PAIN ROO KNEE”. The paper says Rooney will miss “a minimum” of eight Manchester United matches and England games against Germany and Holland.

United manager Louis Van Gaal says Rooney could have come off the field when he felt a twinge in their defeat to Sunderland, but opted to play through the pain. This gives the Mirror its headline: “Too brave for his own good.” Only an England captain could be praised for being injured.

Inside the Mirror, Rooney;s injury is Van Gaal’s “ultimate nightmare”. If it is, the hammer-headed Dutchman must sleep like a baby. In any case, he has five “likely lads” to replace Rooney: Donald Love, Regan Poole, Joe Riley, James Weir and Will Keane are all profiled. Problem is that only Keane is a striker.

The Express says Lingard and Martial will “get the chance to shine” in Rooney’s absence. The paper adds that Van Gaal could recall James Wilson from his loan spell at Brighton.

In the Mail, Ian Ladyman says Rooney’s injury is a mixed blessing for England, who can have him “fit and rested” for Euro 2016. Or, to put it another way, England will have their captain out of shape and not match sharp for Euro 2016.

Time, then, to bring on Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy.

Posted: 18th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Manchester United balls: Di Maria beats Chelsea and hammers Van Gaal in the Daily Mirror

Di MAria daily mirror


The Daily Mirror is at pains to tell its readers how good a football Angela Di Maria is. The aim is less to praise the Argentine player than it is to make his disappointing time at Manchester United look like the fault of his former manager, Louis Van Gaal. Last night Di Maria was part of the PSG side that defeated Chelsea 2-1 in the Champions League. Ben Burrows lays it on thick:

Manchester United should be kicking themselves

Whatever Louis van Gaal thinks, Angel Di Maria is an exquisitely fine footballer. Tonight in Paris the Argentine showed everyone, including his former employers, all of the quality that made him the Champions League final’s man of the match just two short seasons ago. In the hosts’ early blitz, the 28-year-old was central to everything PSG did well, which was an awful lot.

And he was tremendous thereafter too, providing the game-winning assist no less. Unsettled or homesick or whatever, he certainly looks a player United could do with right about now.

Whatever Louis Van Gaal thinks… What about what the Daily Mirror thinks?


di maria


Di Maria was, according to the Mirror, the worst PSG player on the pitch.

Posted: 17th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment (1)

Manchester City: Sergio Aguero gets the Princess Diana treatment

The Daily Mail has bought a few paparazzi pictures of Manchester City player Sergio Aguero minding his own business. To give you an idea of the levels of news we’re dealing with, the pictures are caption:

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero was pictured outside his local butchers on Tuesday afternoon

The 27-year-old Argentine was seen leaving his local butchers in Hale, Cheshire on Tuesday

“Was seen…” There is a whiff of revelation about that, as if he’s been in hiding, or has something to hide.

The third photo tells readers:

Aguero will be hoping to give Chelsea’s FA Cup hopes the chop when they meet in the fifth round on Sunday


PS – this is the Mail that told its readers, eight days after the death of Princess Diana:

The proprietor of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Evening Standard announced last night that his papers will not in future purchase pictures taken by paparazzi Viscount Rothermere, chairman of the Daily Mail and General Trust plc said: ‘I am, and always have been, an admirer of Diana, Princess of Wales, and nagged my editors to protect her so far as they could against her powerful enemies. In view of Earl Spencer’s strong words and my own sense of outrage, I have instructed my editors no ‘paparazzi’ pictures are to be purchased without my knowledge and consent.’

“Hello, boss… Sorry to bother you in France. We’ve got pictures of a football buying fresh meat. No, not sex – actual meat from animals. Should we hold the backpage or follow him home..?”


Posted: 17th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment

Are Soulless Chelsea turning into Manchester City?

1970: Police keeping back crowds of Chelsea Football Club supporters as they strain for a glimpse of manager Dave Sexton. A banner in the crowd reads 'Sexton For God'. (Photo by A. Jones/Express/Getty Images)


On the BBC, Chelsea Alan from Twickenham is worried that the soul is being “ripped out” of Chelsea. He fears the Blues are becoming “a Man City who are full of mercenaries”.

“I look at Hazard and I look at Costa and I don’t like what I see, I don’t like their behaviour,” says Alan. “I look at the team and wonder where’s the soul of it?”

Did the soul of Chelsea vanish when Roman Abramovich bought the club and tossed a billion pounds of interest-free cash at it? Those millions bought great players who won lots of cups. Is City’s soul a concern for the club’s fans who watched that brilliant homemade Old Trafford clock click the years over and over since the Citizens last won a cup – the fans who stuck with their team, waiting for the sublime moment when Sergio Aguero would score that goal to win the title on the final day of the 2012 season?


MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 27: Manchester United fans display a banner taunting Manchester City during the Carling Cup Semi Final second leg match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on January 27, 2010 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Manchester United fans display a banner taunting Manchester City during the Carling Cup Semi Final second leg match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on January 27, 2010.


A few years back I went to a FA Cup even sponsored by Budweiser. At a Q&A session with John Barnes, a prosperous looking man asked a question. He had a broad US accent. The compere, also an American, invited him to speak. “Hey, Barnsey,” he said, “What do you think of The Blues’ chances this time?” Another journalist sat beside me muttered, “More chance than you have of recognising John Hollins.”

It was easy to see that new Blue as part of the problem, a soccer fan who’d adopted the winning club as his own. But so what if he had? This new globalised Premier League is exciting. As Gary Lineker put it after Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck had scored a last gasp winner against Leicester City, “There is nothing quite like football for filling you with joy one minute and tearing your heart to shreds the next.”

Who can blame the American for wanting in to all that emotion?



Alan the Chelsea fan you can hear in the audio above is a whiner. At one time or another, most fans are. He wants his team to win. When they don’t, he looks for the problem. Right now he wants soul. But Chelsea have only the Belgian Hazard, a player unable to recapture last season’s brilliance. Ask a fan of the once mighty Leeds if they’d swap Hazard for a local lad who can run and play a bit, who sleeps under a Leeds duvet and can give you the name of Billy Bremner’s milkman, and they’d not refuse the offer – even the player’s mother, if she were a true Leeds fan, would wish her lad well as he packed his bags.

Hazard and Costa are not hollow-eyed mercenaries here to kill the game. They’re here because football fans pay to see them play.


A group of boys celebrate the upcoming FA Cup Final between Leeds United and Chelsea at Wembley with a match of their own in Chelsea's Slaidburn Street, 10th April 1970. (Photo by Michael Webb/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

A group of boys celebrate the upcoming FA Cup Final between Leeds United and Chelsea at Wembley with a match of their own in Chelsea’s Slaidburn Street, 10th April 1970. (Photo by Michael Webb/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


Fans come to see the thrilling and the unexpected. Did Chelsea look like future Champions’ League winner when they were relegated to the then second division in 1988? Was that night at an expectant Anfield in 1989, when Arsenal won the title with pretty much the last kick of the match, more or less thrilling because it was so utterly unexpected? Arsenal fans who made the journey didn’t go to see their team win; they went because something extraordinary might just happen.

And the unexpected has been happening with increasing frequency. The Economist revealed that up until December 19 2015, the Premier League had the highest number of games won by underdogs in history:

Last season’s Blues were the first team in EPL history to lead the league wire to wire: they held at least a share of first place every day from start to finish. They were often compared to the unbeaten Arsenal “Invincibles” side of 2003-04 and Manchester United’s treble-winning squad of 1998-99, albeit without emulating either feat. In fact, most gambling companies wouldn’t have offered the bet: you could have taken 250 to one for Chelsea to finish in the bottom half, or 7,500 to one for the club to be relegated. Perhaps a generous bookie might have staked a mere 1,000 to one against Chelsea dropping into the bottom six in the depths of December…

Leicester’s improbable rise and Chelsea’s unprecedented fall have certainly been the biggest shocks of the 2015-16 season. But they are far from the only ones. Plucky West Ham have beaten Arsenal (at odds of 11 to one), Manchester City (11 to one) and Liverpool (eight to one) away from home. In the last fortnight, tiny Bournemouth have vanquished Manchester United and Chelsea, whilst struggling Newcastle have beaten both Tottenham and Liverpool—combinations that according to bookmakers were respectively 3% and 2% likely. Perhaps the only predictable feature of the Premier League in 2015-16 has been the regularity with which pundits have described it as the most unpredictable season ever. According to the betting lines, 42 of 160 games (26%) thus far have been won by the underdogs; since the turn of the century, no Premier League season has ended with the unfavoured teams winning more than 23% of matches.

It’s great when your team wins. And when they win when you least expect it, it’s magic. Will Chelsea come again? Sill Spurs rekindle those glory glory days? Are Leicester on the cusp of a coruscating victory?

We don’t know. And that’s that makes the Premier League so captivating.


Posted: 17th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Key Posts, Sports | Comments (4)

Transfer Balls: Manchester United want Aubameyang to partner Bale, Ronaldo and Neymar

Transfer balls: Manchester United are all set to bid a £60m for Borussia Dortmund’s 26-year-old striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, says the Daily Mirror. The paper says United will “make him one of the biggest stars in the world”.  He’ll be the biggest name in the Europa League – or at least its most expensive player (unless United buy Neymar, Bale etc.).

Man United are desperate to sign a star turn. Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward hopes to lob loadsa cash at Dortmund and that they’ll bite. United will also offer Aubameyang £200,000-a-week to kiss the badge and “promise to make him a global superstar”.

How? By having him travel the world in the summer in the hope that the Chinese go potty for him?

So flaky are the facts behind the story of Aubameyang to United that the Express can’t agree with itself what United will pay for the player:


Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 15.48.10


But let’s not blame the Press for this nonsense – every day the United PR department links the club with a big name player. Don’t worry, fans, it will all be ok.  The only problem the manager will have next season is picking a front two from Ronaldo, Neymar, Bale, Aubameyang, Bale, Pogba and Kane.


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