Back pages | Anorak - Part 38

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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: Van Gall on monthly rolling contract as Jose joins for ‘free’

the sun jose


Manchester United are to sign Jose Mourinho before February is out. So says the Sun. But hold on a moment. Reading on the Sun says United “could” sign Jose. They could also win the Premier League, play Wayne Rooney in goal and pack it up, deciding that football is a mug’s game. It’s all a question of likelihood.

The Sun’s Neil Curtis says United’s board “believe” they have nothing to lose in sacking Louis Van Gaal and getting Jose in sooner rather than later. Curtis says Mourinho could be in place by the time United play Arsenal on February 28.

The other reason why Van Gaal is out and Jose is in is – get this – because the Dutchman has just rented a new property in Bowden, and he’s paying on a rolling monthly contract. Van Gaal only needs to give a month’s notice should he need to leave pronto.

“Wonder if he’ll bother to unpack?” asks the Sun.

Over in the Star, Jeremy Cross says with Jose Mourinho “available for free” United must move for him. Free?  A few days ago, the Press were full of news that Jose had agreed to join United for a mere £15m a year for three years.


daily mirror jose gets united


Such are the facts…



Posted: 15th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Biased football: Vardy dives, Arsenal cheated, Leicester robbed

Arsenal beat Leicester city 2-1 in today’s top-of-the-table Premier League clash. Leicester went ahead thanks to a Jamie Vardy penalty. Should the penalty have been given? Let’s see what the experts say:

The Leicester Mercury’s live blog says:


AND IT’S IN! Vardy hammers the ball into the net to give Leicester the lead. The striker wheels away to celebrate as boos ring out around the ground from the Arsenal fans.

God knows why. It was as stone-wall as they come.

Also, credit to the referee who played a great advantage in the build-up.

The Guardian:

The Vardy penalty was definitely a case of the striker falling over Monreal’s leg… Vardy knocks the ball past Monreal in the box and, in my opinion runs into the Arsenal defender, and then goes down. Atkinson points to the spot! I can see why he did. It looked a penalty even if gamesmanship was involved.

London Evening Standard:

Jamie Vardy controversially won and then converted a penalty on the stroke of half-time

Arsenal FC:

As the first half drew to a close, Cech was beaten, and there was a large slice of controversy in the build up. Ozil appeared to be fouled by Morgan on the edge of the Leicester box, but referee Martin Atkinson waved play on, allowing Leicester City to break.

Should Leicester have had another penalty kick?

The Times:

Though Arsenal show terrific grit and determination to come from behind and win the game, Leicester may well consider themselves incredibly unlucky to not have been awarded a penalty just moments prior to the sending off of Danny Simpson.


Riyad Mahrez twists and turns inside the area. He turns Nacho Monreal before going down and claiming contact. If there was, it was very slight…  It was a great piece of skill but if anything he has tripped himself over.

And who says the Press is biased?


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

Transfer balls: Manchester United and Arsenal in Aubameyang clickbait drama

Transfer balls:  The Mail says Manchester United are to spend £70m summer on Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. After that United will move to recruit Robert Lewandowski, Neymar and Gareth Bale.

All this on the same day Louis Van Gaal says United’s best chance of competing in next season’ Champions’ League is through winning the Europa League.

Apparently United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward says club has “cash reserves of £121.6m and indicated there will be ‘star signings’ in the summer.” That’s the same Woodward who sanctioned the £250m United spent on the last set of new boys. you get the feeling that £3m-a=year Woodward is not part of the solution to United’s fall from the perch.

In other news, the Metro says: “Arsenal ready to seal transfer of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.” That dire paper’s source is the equally dire Daily Telegraph, which reports “Arsenal are already plotting how to strengthen their squad with Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang one of their principle targets.”

Number of quotes and sources to support that claim: nil.


Posted: 14th, February 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Manchester United lose a match that Sunderland didn’t win

Van Gaal sacked


All newspapers agree that Sunderland never beat Manchester United yesterday.

Sunderland never did fashion two goals to United’s one in a Premier League win that gives them hope of avoiding relegation. The papers all agree that Sunderland only won a home match because United were not good enough to avoid defeat.

United were “Roo-bish”. Sunderland were invisible.

Posted: 14th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Ozil ‘demands’ to leave Arsenal

The Metro says Mesut Ozil is ‘demanding’ to leave Arsenal.


Ozil Arsenal leaves


Wow! In the build up to Arsenal’s big Champions League match against Barcelona, Ozil demands to leave. Really? Sean Kearns writes:

Arsenal were confident of tying the former Werder Bremen man down to a long-term contract but Marca claim that he has told the Gunners he is unwilling to extend his stay at the club and wants to leave in the summer.

Over at Marca, their report has not a single word from the player, Barcelona, agents or Arsenal. What we do learn is that former Real Madrid man Ozil’s contract at Arsenal ends in June 2018. The Gunners have tabled a two-year extension. Ozil is thinking about it. Barcelona have contacted his agent.

This could mean that Arsenal will feel a need to raise Ozil’s wages.

He hasn’t demanded to leave. He’s in negotiations over a new contract.
Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 12.21.47



The final nail in Metro’s balls balls comes to us via…Marca, which reported that Ozil’s Arsenal contract features an “anti-Barca clause”.

A clause inserted in this deal stipulates that Real have a right of first refusal for 48 hours in the event that Arsenal receive an offer for the silky playmaker from another Spanish club, effectively preventing Barça from looking to stealthily snap up the former Bernabéu favourite. What’s more, if the Gunners were to sell on the Germany international for more than what they bought him for (50 million euros), they would have to give the ‘Merengues’ 33% of the profit made on him.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 13th, February 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment

Adam Johnson’s a ‘pervert’ – just like Daily Star and Sun readers

adam johnson pervert


“Pervert” Premier League “ace” Adam Johnson has been sacked by Sunderland after he pleaded guilty to sex offences with a 15-year-old girl. Johnson who earns £60,000-a-week (Mirror) and £50,000-a-week (Mail) is no longer a Sunderland footballer.

Sunderland have acted quickly. But, then, Johnson’s deal was due to expire in the summer. No transfer fee has been sacrificed.

Johnson is a criminal. That much we know. But the Sun, as the Star yesterday, calls him a “pervert”. He is. But the tabloids don’t mean it to be praise. The Star, owned by Richard Desmond, and the Sun, owned by Sky TV’s Rupert Murdoch, do not exactly frown on perving.

Star readers were yesterday invited to call an incest phone line:


daily star sex



In today’s Sun, readers can call “Hot Girls” for 36p. They can also subscribe to Sky TV and watch late-night telly with naked ‘babes’ simulating sex.

Johnson’s a criminal. If every pervert was, tabloids would set up stalls in Her Majesty’s prisons.

Posted: 12th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Mourinho earns more at Manchester United than Pep does at Manchester City, or is it less?

daily mirror jose gets united


How much does Jose Mourinho earn as manager of Manchester United? The former Chelsea boss has not signed for United, but the Press is full of news that the deal is done.

The Mirror says it’s £15m a year for three years. The Express agrees. The Mirror’s Darren Lewis has details:

Jose Mourinho is set to land a three-year, £15million-a-year deal to replace Louis van Gaal at Manchester United. The package awaiting the former Chelsea boss will put him on a par with Pep Guardiola

Pep must be gutted. But the Sun has news to stop him from asking City for a raise:

JOSE MOURINHO will pocket £15million-a-season if he joins Manchester United in the summer — £6m LESS than rival’s City are giving Pep Guardiola

Such are the facts…

Posted: 12th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Manchester United balls: Van Gaal stays, Mourinho works for free, thank god for Leicester City

the sun man unitedNo sooner have we read the details of Jose Mourinho’s contract to manage Manchester Untied  – £15m a year for three years (Mirror); £300m on players (Star) – than the Sun, which has been hyping the story of Jose to United for days and days, announces: “Louis Van Gal believes he’ll keep job if United make Champions League.”

For reasons only it knows, the Sun dresses LVG as Star Wars character Obi-Wan Kenobi, and declares: “May The 4th Be With You.”

The Mail says Van Gaal enjoys the support of United’s £3m -a-year chief executive Ed Woodward – he’s the man who rubber-stamped the Dutchman’s £250m on new players. But the Sun says in a conference call with United’s major investors Woodward “failed  to mention LVG”. It’s not hard to imagine United’s major investors not having the foggiest idea who manages the club, nor caring. It’s all about money. The Star says United are expected to “smash though the £500m turnover barrier in 2016”.

Over in the Mirror, which only yesterday announced that Van Gaal is to leave United in the summer, we hear more from the investors. They asked: “Why Can’t United be more like Leicester?” The cynic would reply: ‘Because big football clubs are vanity projects for the super-rich, or, as in United’s case, a way of raising tens of millions for their owners’ other projects and real passions.” The other answer is that Leicester’s highest ever league finishing position was when they came runners-up in 1928–29 – who wants to be like them?

David McDonell tells Mirror readers: “Leicester have demolished the belief that the only way to become champions was by flexing financial muscles in the transfer market.” They haven’t. Leicester have won nothing yet. the Mirror’s the paper that yesterday reported: “What could Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United team look like.” No unheralded players from Fleetwood town, whence Jamie Vardy joined Leicester for £400,000, in this dream team. The Mirror’s says Mourinho’s United must buy: Cristiano Ronaldo, John Stones and Atletico Madrid sporting director Andrea Berta.

Star Wars, indeed.

Although, once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, United paid £1 million for 23-year-old Cambridge United striker Dion Dublin. He was United’s only major signing of the 1992 summer. (They bought Eric Cantona later.) Next season they won the title for the first time in 26 years. Dublin made only four appearances for United. But the players who featured most heavily in that league campaign – Peter Schmeichel (42), Brian McClair (41), and Ryan Giggs (40), cost United £505,000 from Brondby, nothing, and £850,000 from Celtic, respectively.

Leicester have demolished nothing – it’s the Premier League and lazy media that have turned it into a bubble.

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

Transfer Balls: Manchester United hire Mourinho to get Bale, Neymar, Muller, Pogba and sell Mata

daily mirror jose gets united


Jose Mourinho’s PR department is working overtime to convince everyone and anyone that he is the next Manchester United manager. Why Manchester United would want a divisive, man rejected twice by Chelsea is not something that bothers the Star which spots Jose’s £300m “WAR CHEST”.

Is that all the money Mourinho’s earned in redundancy fees from Roman Abramovich? No. It’s the cash United will give him to buy lots of players. That’s how good Jose is – just give him £300m to spend on new players and he will make Manchester United competitive. Sure, Claudio Raniei will do it for around £20m, but he’s not got chronic small-man syndrome and an urgent desire to be the star. So Jose gets the cash to buy – get this – Neymar, Cavani, Thomas Muller, Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane.

Yeah, really. And so long as they’re happy to work in Jose’s shadow, they’ll be on the fist plane to Manchester.

The Express says Jose will sign a three-year deal worth £15m a year and buy – deep breath – Neymar, Gareth Bale, Ross Barkely, Jamie Rodgriguez, and Aymeric Laporte.

The Mail says Jose’s first act will be to “purge” United of Juan Mata and Marouane Felliani.

No word on what he’ll do to the United medical staff.

But Jamie Jackson doe tell Guardian readers that, er,  Mourinho “may look outside the Premier League for his next job having not yet been contacted by United”.

Such are the facts.

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

Adam Johnson is guilty but Stacey Johnson is the one on trial

england pervert“PERVERT England Star: I groomed Girl, 15,” runs the Daily Star’s front-page headline. The England star is Adam Johnson, who plays for Sunderland in the Premier League.

The facts come thick and fast. He “groomed and groped” a 15-year-old girl. He earns “50,000-a-week”.  His girlfriend, Stacey Flounders, 26, “the mother of this young daughter”, was at Bradford Crown Court to hear her boyfriend admit “indulging in sexual activity with a schoolgirl on January 30 last year”.

Johnson has played 12 times for England “and scored twice”. He denies two further claims of sexual activity with  the same girl, both involving penetration. All papers bar the Express (10 years) say the maximum sentence if found guilty of all charges is 14 years prison.

Judge Jonathan Rose said the jury must “consider only the evidence” and not be distracted by Johnson’s job. He told the jurors, “You are not allowed to speak to anyone but your number about the case.” Not at home. Not while you read the papers. You must remain as if in a bubble.

The Star adds, “his team are tipped for relegation”. Johnson lives in a “£1.85m home”.

The Mail says Johnson will not play for Sunderland while his trial is underway. The Times gores further, leading its sports section with  question: “Will Adam Johnson ever play football again?”

Do we believe in rehabilitation? Does the Times need to show a picture of Johnson cradling his baby daughter? Do all sex criminals get pictured with their kids? Do we need to know that Flounders wore “a black military blazer, skin-tight black leggings, a pale orange blouse an high heels, and sporting a black Chanel  handbag, she chewed discretely on gum”?

You’d have to be wearing nose plugs not to smell the stench of money and spite. Why is Flounders’ expensive handbag featured on the sports pages? Is the inference that she’s there for the money and not love or family duty? She’s not on trial. Her pathetic boyfriend is.

The Mail’s pictures shows more of Stacey than it does of Johnson.


Stacey Flounders


Johnson’s job is why he’s news. The story of a 28-year-old man who “kissed” and “touched” a 15-year-old is not a big national news story.

If he is a “pervert”, what of the Star’s readers, who on Page 43 of today’s newspaper are invited to call a sex line to listen to “girls” and “mother and daughter” action? When did incest go mainstream?


sex chat adam johnson


PS: Adam Johnson is not a role model. The Australian reports on someone keen to tar all men:

Yvonne Traynor, head of Rape Crisis South London, a charity, said: “Adam Johnson premeditatedly groomed a child and admitted sexual activity with her, a young girl whose life has been devastated. Surely Sunderland have a moral obligation to say they do not condone his actions and instead recognise the seriousness of his crime rather than allowing him the opportunity to represent the club and act as a role model for many young men.”

No sane young man sees Johnson’s crimes and thinks him a role model, an inspirational figure to follow and emulate. To suggest men are sex criminals-in-waiting is a weak and ugly argument.

Posted: 11th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, Reviews, Sports, Tabloids | Comment (1)

Transfer balls: Manchester City and Manchester United in Neymar ‘war’

neymar dies


Transfer balls: Manchester United and Manchester City – the Sun’s “Manc Giants” – are in a 144 “transfer war” for Neymar. That’s Neymar who has stated over and over that he wants to remain at Barcelona.

But Pep Guardiola, the Manchester City manager-in-waiting, has made the Brazilian his ‘No.1 target”. And that £144m burning holes in Manchester pockets will trigger Neymar’s release clause. The only stumbling blocks are that the player might not want to live and work in Manchester and paying £144m for one player can destroy team structure.

The Sun’s scoop falls apart because it offers not single word from Man United or City about their desire to invest £144m in buying Neymar. All the paper “reveals” is that the huge figure features in Neymar’s Barcelona contract. On the same page you can read that Real Madrid were ready to insert a – get this – £400m in David De Gea’s contract should be have joined them last summer.

Is De Gea that much better than Neymar?

Is football a huge bubble inflated by the super-rich and mega-vain waiting to go ‘pop’?

Antony Kastrinakis says the City v United “war” for Neymar is “more important than any game United and City will play on the pitch”. Wow! Just wow! When did football stop being a sport for athletes and become a boardroom contest? When did football fans lose the thing we enjoy?


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

Transfer balls: Manchester United go for Spurs boss Pochettino as Mourinho stirs

According to the Sun, Mario Pochettino “could wreck Jose Mourinho’s dream of of becoming Manchester United’s next manager”. The story that the current Spurs manager could be on his way to Old Trafford is the Sun’s lead sports story. The Sun says it “understands” Manchester United have spoken to Pochettino’s people.

Could. Understands. No facts, then.

Presumably, Pochettino’s people showed United’s people the Premier League table, pointing out that Spurs are higher than United. Why would Pottechino leave Spurs just as they look a Champions League outfit to manage a desperate United? It would be a move hard to understand.

The Sun adds that United’s people are also talking with Jose Mourinho’s people. The former Chelsea boss is “desperate” to manage United. How we know the camps are talking is most likely down to Jose’s people leaking the news in the hope their man gets the top job he craves.

Also today, the Sun declares:

Man Utd news: Renato Sanches deal planned — if club appoint Jose Mourinho as boss

Mourinho’s agent is Jorge Mendes. Sanches is managed by… Jorge Mendes. “United have been tracking the 18-year-old Benfica midfielder all season and are weighing up at £46million bid in the summer,” says the Sun.

Mr 10% is rubbing his hands.

Inside the Sun we read that United’s board like what Pochettino had done with the Spurs youth system, bringing on players like Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Eric Dier. We’re also told that getting Pochettino would cost United £20m because the Spurs board are tough negotiators and the manager is under contract until 2019.

And so it is that Pochettino and Mourinho are in a “two-horse race to me the United job”.

That’s odd because the Sun reported in December that Mourinho to Manchester was “all but agreed”:

Jose Mourinho to Manchester United all but agreed – the final decision on sacking Louis van Gaal is now down to the Glazers – EXCLUSIVE:American owners deciding whether to swing axe now or wait for Stoke result on Boxing Day

Such are the facts.

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

Manchester United balls: Van Gaal laughs off jourbnalists working for Jose Mourinho’s PR machine

Manchester United were denied an away win at Chelsea by an injury-time Diego Costa strike. At the post-match Press conference, a journalist asked Louis Van Gaal, Man United’s manager, about getting the sack and being replaced by Jose Mourinho. The Mail leads with LVG’s reply, which Sami Mokbel calls a “bizarre rant”.

Mourinho is looking for work. He wants to manage Manchester United. Why United would want the divisive Portuguese coach at the ‘Theatre of Dreams” is a moot point.  But he’s looking for work, and the Mourinho to Man United PR campaign is in full swing.

Rob Harris of the Associated Press has the full text of what the tabloids call Van Gaal’s “fury at Mourinho job talk” (Mirror):

Harris to Van Gaal: “Although you dropped points, the performances are improving. Do you think that is important while the club are trying to replace you that you are put in the performances that show you might be value to the club?”

Van Gaal: “You have spoken with Ed Woodward?”

Harris: “Well the club aren’t denying it.”

Van Gaal: “Why do they have to deny? I don’t interfere neither. Why do the club have to deny it when you are creating stories?”

Harris: “I don’t know if you know what I write.”

Van Gaal: “OK, OK, so you haven’t spoken to Ed Woodward or the Glazers, so you are inventing this story. I don’t have to answer this question and I shall repeat myself every week. Now I have to say that you are getting the sack tomorrow. What is your name? Then I can announce the name also.”

Fury? Van Gal seem to have made a reasoned argument. Harris has not heard from anyone at Man chester United about moves to replace Van Gaal. Like us, he just read it in the papers.

Journalism is about getting the scoop – it’s about filling the space not already occupied by adverts.

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

Transfer balls: China fires warning shot across Chelsea bows

Big news is that China is buying up footballers, spunking even more cash than desperate foreign-owned English clubs do on mediocre foreign talent.

The Sun leads with “The Great Haul of China”. The shock news is that foreign footballers don’t come to England just for the weather and lap-dancers – they come for the cash. And China has oodles of the stuff. Can Chinese money usurp the Premier League hype factory? The Sun says Chinese club Jiangsu Suning bid £57m for Chelsea’s Oscar.

The Telegraph and Daily Star says that’s not true:


Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 20.11.52



Is it £57m or is it £75m? Or doesn’t £18m matter in the ugly football meat market?

The facts are murky but the money is there. This week Alex Teixeira joined Jiangsu Suning from Shakhtar Donetsk in a €50m move. Jiangsu, coached by the former Chelsea defender Dan Petrescu, earlier invested €21.5m Ramires from Chelsea.

Jiangsu was established in March 1994. It became Jiangsu Suning F.C in 2015, when the Suning Commerce Group bought it. Suning operates about 1,600 shops in China. It has a market cap of $16.2billion.

Could China pop the Premier League bubble? Would English football fans welcome the end of the money game?


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

Newcastle United balls: Andros Townsend sees ‘fantastic players’ in a one-eyed media

Everton tonked Newcastle United 3-0 this week. One day later, the Daily Mirror has news:

Andros Townsend sat in the Newcastle home dressing room and pointed at the names on the back of the shirts.

“Look, some fantastic players….”

He did? He said Newcastle had “fantastic players”?

In other news, we hark back to what the Daily Telegraph reported back to July 2015:

When the new head coach, Steve McClaren, was unveiled in June, Newcastle only allowed him to speak to their in-house “journalists” and those deemed friendly to the regime, Sky Sports and the Daily Mirror, who have become the first national newspaper to enter into a commercial agreement with a Premier League club in order to obtain exclusive access…

When asked at a subsequent fans’ forum why they had adopted such a restrictive approach, managing director Lee Charnley admitted it was to “control and reinforce the positive messages the club wished to deliver”

Back in the Mirror, readers are told:

Townsend’s shirt is among those quality names on hangers ready for Saturday.

So says the Mirror, official media partner for the Newcastle PR department.

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

The secret of Manchester City’s sudden success is revealed

Sky Sports has a question. It’s noticed that Manchester City have signed Pep Guadiola to be their next manager. It wonders:

“How did Man City transform themselves from a club slumping down the leagues, to two-time Premier League winners appointing the world’s best boss?”

Well, in 2008, Sheikh Mansour bought the club. His family have as much as $1tn (£648bn) in overseas assets alone. But Mansour thought it unfair to spend hundreds of millions in making City a force, preferring to let them grow ‘organically’. City recruited players born within a two-mile radios of the ground and…

No. He chose option A: invest a fortune in buying the best.

Next week Sky asks: why aren’t Tranmere Rovers as big as Chelsea?

Posted: 5th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Neymar to jail or Manchester United

neymar the sunTransfer balls: The Sun has news that Neymar is “in the frame” to join Manchester United. Why would the Brazilian leave mighty Barcelona to join underwhelming United? Let’s read on…

Neymar has put Premier League suitors on red alert after his dad revealed he could quit Barcelona. Manchester United lead the race for the Brazil superstar, with rivals City and Chelsea also monitoring the situation.

Monitoring the situation is tabloid speak for ‘waiting for a phone from the player’s agent’.

The Sun’s big sports story is based on “reports in Spain”, which says an “unnamed club” has offered £144.4million for Neymar. All Neymar’s dad – the sole source for news of that mega offer – will reveal is that the mystery is club is not Real Madrid.

Over to Spain, then, where Catalunya radio’s Jordi Borda is responding to the Sun’s news. He tweets:

Neymar pare li ha dit al jutge que el seu fill només vol renovar amb l Barça tot i q té una oferta milionària x marxar. Ha parlat d’una oferta de 190 milions. (Neymar’s father told the judge that his son just wants to renew with the club even though he has a multi-million offer. He spoke of an offer of €190m.)

That’s the judge in an investigating into allegations that Neymar is involved in fraud.

The allegations refer to image rights contracts from 2006 when Neymar was a teenager playing for Santos. Prosecutors allege further fraud occurred during negotiations to take him to Barcelona in 2011. He joined the Catalan giants in 2013.

The Sun must have forgotten to read the part about Neymar wanting to remain at Barcelona.


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

Pep Guardiola manages Manchester United in his spare time

Son good is Pep Guardiola that he’s already helping Manchester United win matches – and he’s not even their manager. He doesn’t join Manchester City til the summer. But according to Sky Sports, United’s 3-0 home win over a crestfallen Stoke City – they went into the match having been dumped out of the League Cup on a semi-final penalty shoot-out and beaten in the FA Cup a few days later – was a sign of Pep’s mastery. The headline declares:

Man Utd respond in style after Man City’s Pep Guardiola announcement

On the field, United’s two wins from their past 10 Premier League games, their lowest goal-haul in 27 years and the continued uncertainty around Louis van Gaal’s future offered little suggestion a ray of hope would arrive with the visit of Mark Hughes’ Stoke.

Yet, 24 hours on from Man City’s big moment, the United players seemed inspired into a response.

All Louis Van Gaal had to do to make his expensive team of plodders into world-beaters was wait for a rival to hire a better manager. Easy.


The Guardian continues:

If this is how Pep Guardiola’s impending arrival across town can galvanise Manchester United then the rest of the season for Louis van Gaal and his men may be fruitful after all.

How clever of United’s kingmakers not to employ Pep hen they can get the Pep Effect with Van Gaal.

 There is no certainty the Spaniard’s decision to join Manchester City had anything to do with this scintillating United display, of course. But it is fair to say that just when the embattled Van Gaal would want his players to return their finest display of the campaign they did.

United fans must be delighted, In yer face City!

PS: This is how the pisspoor Telegraph reported on United’s reaction to Pep:

]Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 15.37.49


Panicked into victory!

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

Transfer balls: Pep signs for Man City but is 90% Chelsea

On February 1, Manchester City manager Manuel Pelligrini told the Press he’d know for ages that Pep Guardiola was replacing him next summer.  That news came as shock to Chelsea fans who seeking information about their club’s next boss turn to the Daily Star and Daily Express.


Pep Chelsea balls express


Pep Chelsea manger


110% balls.

Posted: 3rd, February 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Aubameyang in Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal clickbait boost

Gabon and Borussia Drotmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has not signed for any Premier League club. Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke was asked about his star player leaving. He replied:

“If an offer comes, then we need to discuss it. If it should go into the hundreds of millions, then we also need to talk to the player. But I’m not worrying about it because at the moment we want to keep him as long as possible, best beyond 2020.”

If a team offers nutzoid money for Aubameyang, Dortmund will flog him. Maybe. By the time that statement reached some readers it had mutated into all manner of Transfer Balls:

The Express conjured up news about Arsenal and Liverpool:


Aubameyang liverpool bid


Are Arsenal and Liverpool shocked to learn that if they offer hundreds of millions of pounds for a player they stand a decent chance of recruiting him?

The Telegraph’s readers hear that Aubameyang could join Arsenal for hundreds of millions below the headline:

Aubameyang back in the picture

No. He’s not. Well, not unless Arsenal decided to spend hundreds of millions on one player and he’s painted by Picasso and Van Gogh.

The Metro conjures: “Dortmund will consider selling Arsenal target Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang”

Yes. They will. Just as Barcelona will ‘consider’ selling Lionel Messi to Manchester United / Arsenal / Bournemouth / anyone for, say, £2billion. Make the number big enough and Manchester United’s owner would probably sell the club to Manchester City.

The apogee of this utter balls is in the Star, which tells Arsenal and Liverpool fans:


Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 11.48.16


A boost. Being told the player will stray at Dortmund unless a team pays hundreds of millions is boost is a ‘boost’.

Liverpool and Man United’s owners must be punching the air.


Posted: 2nd, February 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Niasse seduces Chelsea fans in his new Everton kit

nissiTransfer balls salutes the Daily Telegraph, which declares: “Everton close in on Niasse.” That’s Oumar Niasse, the Senegal international who has now joined Everton in a £13.5m move from Lokomotiv Moscow.

What’s odd about the Telegraph’s report is that it features on the paper’s “Chelsea transfer news and rumours” page. Niasse has no links to Chelsea – he’s not one of their myriad loaned players. So why is he on the Chelsea page? Helpfully the Telegraph explains:

“What does this have to do with Chelsea?” I hear you ask. Well, quite a bit, actually.

You see, Chelsea are a team who get googled a lot, so if you have the word “Chelsea” in your headline you’ll get lots of clicks and the sweet, sweet literal fractions of pence that accompany each one. I mean, they’re googled enough to warrant a transfer blog all to themselves even though they’re not going to do anything (where’s my SJA nomination, come to think of it?). Anyhow, that means that a bunch of websites are retrospectively making Niasse a Chelsea target when reporting that Everton are going to sign him, even though they’d never mentioned Chelsea’s interest in the past.

This is how transfer deadline day reporting works. Lap it up.




Having earned clicks from Chelsea fans for that report and misleading headline, we wonder what the Telegraph has said about Niasse? Well, on January 9 this year, the paper of record stated:

Chelsea transfer news and rumours: Chelsea poised to make £15million swoop for Oumar Niasse…Whilst Manchester United prepare to launch a £40million bid to sign his compatriot Sadio Mane… Chelsea are hoping to pick up more of a bargain in signing Niasse for around half of that figure.

Having learned that £15m is about half of £40m, readers were also told that Chelsea and Tottenham wanted to sign the player. Mentions of Everton’s interest: nil.

Such are the facts in the Telegraph.


Posted: 2nd, February 2016 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets, Chelsea, Sports | Comment

John Terry is NOT leaving Chelsea

john terry quitsThe news moves quickly – too quickly for the dead tree press. This morning, the Times leads with “Chelsea snub Terry hid for new contract”. News is that John Terry, the Chelsea captain, is to leave the club this summer when his current contract expires. He wants to stay but the club are happy for him to go.

“It’s all over,” says the Mail. “Terry’s Chelsea days finished.” It’s the “Blues boot for JT,” says the big story on the Express‘ back page. “Captain. Lever. Legend,” puns the Mirror. “Captain. Leaader. Legend, Leaving,” retorts the Sun.

But what does Terry say? “They said that when the new manager comes in, things might change,” Terry said. “It’s a no at the minute.”

So he could stay? He wants to.

This morning Chelsea have made an announcement: “John requested a meeting with the club the week before last. In that meeting he asked about the possibility of an extension to his existing contract. John was advised that while no new deal was currently on the table, that situation could change in the coming months. The club has the utmost respect for John and everything he has helped us achieve to date. He is a fantastic servant of Chelsea Football Club and a superb captain and, as such, the club will keep the channels of dialogue open.”

Stories of John Terry’s demise have been premature.


Posted: 1st, February 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment

John Terry leaving Chelsea is one less reason to hate the Blues

John Terry, 35, says he’s leaving Chelsea this summer.  The club haven’t offered their skipper a new contract.

So he’s leaving the club he’s played for since age 14. He takes with him a haul of four Premier League titles, five FA Cups and the Champions League. He says:

“Ideally I would have loved to stay, but the club’s moving in a different direction. I couldn’t play for another Premier League club. It will be elsewhere for sure.  I feel as though I’m in great nick, I’m playing great and I’ve got a couple of years to go. It’ll just be elsewhere. The club will move on. No player is ever bigger than the club. No doubt they’ll sign one or two great centre-backs.”

The best thing a non-Chelsea fan can say about Terry is that unlike many new fans who see Stamford Bridge as a stepping stone to the rugby and a nice tea, Terry hasn’t left the match before the final whistle. He stayed at the club until it not longer wanted him. He gave it his all.

Now we await his book. It should be a good read – although we also expect it to feature entire chapters in parentheses with reams of footnotes lest any word be removed from context – cultural and historical –  and misinterpreted, to be used against Terry in a court of law, football phone-in or controversial handshake.




Posted: 31st, January 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment

Backpages: Arsenal win The Double, Man United cut academy, Chelsea sign Griezmann, Liverpool blow

So there it is – the first newspaper report telling Arsenal fans the Gunners can win The FA Cup and Premier League ‘Double’. Newspapers love to talk of teams winning multiple trophies. They believe it quickens the fans’ hearts. It does if those fans are age 6 and below, or the type who started to follow Chelsea or Manchester City after the money arrived.

The Mail also says Chelsea are looking to spend £60m on Atletico Madrid’s French striker Antoine Griezmann in the summer if Eden Hazard moves to either Real Madrid or Paris St Germain.




The Daily Star and Independent both lead with West Ham United and Liverpool’s 0-0 draw in the FA Cup. The Indy says a replay is just what Liverpool don’t need. Surely defeat would have been worse. But why let the facts stand in the way of a pun. So it is that Liverpool staying in the Cup is a  “Hammer Blow”?




Liverpool are lucky to be in the Cup, says the Star. It says Steven Caulker handled in the area but the referee failed to give West Ham a penalty kick. You might call that a ‘Hammer blow’.

The Star also says Pep Guardiola is heading to Manchester City. We know this because “Mrs Pep” has been looking at St Bede’s College, where the club have 40 Academy players studying. According to the school’s website, it is a “leading Catholic Independent Co-Educational Grammar School, founded in 1876, inspiring excellence and instilling values in pupils from 3 to 18 years.” All City’s academy players are educated at St Bede’s.




The Express leads with Manchester United, who didn’t even play yesterday. The club’s owners, the Glazer family, have ordered cuts behind the scenes with up to 15% reductions in most departments.


manchester united


The Mirror picks up the rumour that Manchester City are favourites to sign Everton’s £50m-rated defender John Stones.

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

Manchester United: Van Gaal quit talk won’t quit

Is Manchester Untied manager Louis Van Gaal a quitter? Is he going to quit Old Trafford? Is he… Well, you get the idea. The Press are obsessed with the idea of Van Gaal leaving his job. What loon would walk out of a job managing one of the world’s great football clubs?

Today’s Star leads with news that Van Gaal is sane enough to realise he’s got a fantastic job. He’s not quitting. In fact, he says “I Will Never Quit”. The Daily Mail has much the same news:


van gaal quit


It all ads up to nothing. It’s a  no-news news story. What Van Gal told the Press was:

“I have not mentioned that [quitting] ever. I think that you make your own stories. Then I have to answer your stories.”

Let’s have a look at the balls the Press has reported on Van Gaal quitting:


LVG quits


Van gaal

mirror van gaal sacked

van gaal manchester united sacked

van gaal sacked



quits van gaal axe van gaal quits quit van gaal


Such are the facts.



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