Back pages | Anorak - Part 41

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

Arsenal transfer news: Aubameyang £44m balls, Krychowiak hears, Oxlade-Chamberlain to Chelsea

Arsenal transfer news in today’s newspapers:

The Daily Mail says Arsenal don’t only want Watford’s Troy Deeney – they’re bidding for his Watford strike partner Odion Ighalo. Ighalo endears himself to Gunners fans by telling the Sun that he’s always loved Manchester United. “I don’t think I will be moving,” he says, “but I’m not sure I’d say no if United called.”

The Mirror ignores that and says Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger “has put Watford striker Odion Ighalo on his transfer hit-list”.

Wenger’s hit-list has long been a mystery to everyone. Is he really looking to replicate Watford at The Emirates?

Over in the Mirror, readers learn “Arsenal make Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang transfer offer”. The paper says the Gunners have offered  £44.6million transfer offer to sign Aubameyang. They have?

Well, the Metro says “top Spanish journalist” Kike Marin says Arsenal have made a £44.6m offer for the Dortmund star.

How reliable is Marin?

kike marin 3

kike marin 2

kike marin


Answer: not very.

The Mirror says Seville’s Grzegorz Krychowiak has heard of Arsenal.

“The Premier League? Some say it’s the best in the world, other people think that’s La Liga,” he tells FourFourTwo magazine. “I’ve heard about Arsenal, but I leave it to my agent. I trust him and he’s the one who deals with that kind of the stuff. I can’t think about things like that. I have to keep my mind free of any distraction and just focus on doing my job for Sevilla.”

The Daily Telegraph twists that into:


daily telegraph bullshit


No. He did not “confirm interest”.

The Sun says Chelsea will attempt to sign Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain if Eden Hazard leaves.

Chelsea are desperate for English players. Would the Ox leave? Probably not.

Posted: 9th, January 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment

Manchester United transfer news: Pep sniffs, Blanc in, £40m for Lukaku, Ronaldo dead

star pepTransfer balls: A look at players being linked to Manchester United in today’s Press.

Manchester United are interested in Paris St-Germain manager Laurent Blanc. They want him now or in the summer, reports the Le10 Sport via Daily Star.

The Star also reports, that Manchester United are interested in recruiting Pep Guardiola, the Spanish coach who wants to manager a Premier League team next season. Current United coach Louis Van Gaal says Pep “wants to sniff the culture of England.” Does the Premier League have a perfume? It should do. HYPE, by PL: base notes of used bank notes and crude oil overlaid with top notes of phlegm, lager and yoga mat. All served in a satellite-dish shaped bottle which when opens plays Search for the Hero, by M People.

The Star says Van Gaal is not fazed by talk of Pep to Old Trafford. He shouldn’t worry, says talkSport. The radio station thunders: ” Man United are not pursuing Pep Guardiola because he lacks Premier League experience, claims Spanish football expert.”

Which is why, er, United went for PL rookie Van Gaal.

Sky Sports says “Watford forward Odion Ighalo admits it would be hard to reject Man Utd.”

“There has been speculation from Spain and Italy but I’ve played there and now want to play in England,” Ighalo  told the Sun. “I don’t think I will be moving but I’m not sure I’d say no if United called.”

United have not called.

The MEN says United are not going to win the race to sign Brazil striker Alexandre Pato: “Tutto Mercato claims that bitter rivals Liverpool are set to win the race for Corinthians star, with the club eager to offload him because of his massive wages.”

Ronaldo won’t be rejoining United.  New Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane tells everyone:

“Cristiano Ronaldo is non-transferable. He’s the soul of this team. While he’s here, he won’t leave. Cristiano will play on the wings, how he’s most comfortable. I won’t tell him much. I want him to be happy.”

Cue lost more news on Ronaldo to United.

One signing that should excite United fans is that of Romelu Lukaku, the talented Everton striker. The Metro reports United have £40m for the Belgian.

Why Everton would sell their £28m star to a rival mid way through the season is a moot point. Surely they won’t.

Posted: 9th, January 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment (1)

Transfer balls: Hazard £65m To Manchester United Or £100m to Real Madrid

hazard man united transferTransfer balls: Is Chelsea’s Eden Hazard heading to Manchester United? The Daily Star seems to think he might be. The fee? £65m.

Of course, not so long ago (it was yesterday), Manchester United were buying Gareth Bale from Real Madrid. The Star explains the sudden shift in targets: “New target as Bale deal is off.”

Was it ever on?

The Star says United will “battle” PSG and Bayern Munich for Hazard. The Daily Mail says Real Madrid want him. But the Star is sticking with Hazard to United, saying the club’s owners have approved a bid and £250,000-a-week wages for the Belgian.

But hold on a moment. The Express leads with news that Chelsea are “banking on  Didier Drogba’s arrival as coach being the key to keeping Eden Hazard”.

hazard didierWhy? Well, Drogba “persuaded” Hazard to join a winning Chelsea side from lowly Lille for £35m and a massive pay hike in 2012. Drogba is some negotiator.

The Express reasons that Drogba will now persuade Hazard to remain at Chelsea and turn down a massive signing on fee and more wages at a bigger club.

The Mail quotes a Chelsea “insider” saying of Hazard: “In his head he has already left. It would take some U-turn to keep him.”

Champions’ League football would help – which makes you wonder why Hazard would join a struggling Manchester United when he’s good enough to play at Madrid or Barcelona.

Finally, the Independent has a few words on Hazard’s worth.

The Belgian, 24, is ranked ahead of current Balon d’Or holder Cristiano Ronaldo, who is fourth, with a current market value of €130.5million (£95.77m), according to football think-tank the CIES Football Observatory.


The value means that Hazard, who has been linked with a £100m move to Real Madrid in the January window, trails only Barcelona pair Lionel Messi and Neymar.

Such are the facts.


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

Chelsea shock: Oscar tackles player, Costa hurts hair, players exchange handbags

oscar costa fightChelsea players have been in a “row” says the Daily Mail. Diego Costa and Oscar squared up in a “fracas” during training.

In the great pantheon of sporting fights this one is in the bargain basement, tossed in a bin below compilation tapes of Audley Harrison’s best bouts.

The Mail says Oscar and Costa fought after two “hefty” tackles. The mind’s eyes sees Oscar shouting ‘boo!’ and tickling Costa with a feather duster, followed by Costa pinching his attacker on the legs and tumbling to the floor clutching his face, heart and hair.

The Mirror says the pair “clashed furiously” after “X-rated tackles”. Over two pages we read of “Fear and Loathing in SW6”. That’s the London postcode for Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge.

The Sun calls it a “dust up”. It says the players had to be pulled apart. No punches were thrown, says the Mirror. The Sun says they might have been.

Oscar did go in with a knee-high challenge on his teammate, says the Sun. Chelsea players were “shocked by the ferosity of the challenge”. Well, they’ve seen Oscar play. Any challenge from him is a bit of a surprise. The Times says the players “clashed repeatedly” during the session.

And then? Well, the Sun quotes Oscar, who says he and Costa are “very good friends” and have “no issues whatsoever”.

And that’s the story of “fear and loathing” at the modern, sanitised version of Chelsea FC.


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

Transfer balls: Ezequiel Lavezzi beats Arsenal, wants Spurs, joins Barcelona

Transfer balls: a look at terrible football reporting. The Daily Telegraph has news for Arsenal and Spurs fans:

In case you thought the bitter north London rivalry needed anything else to ramp it up, it has been reported that both Arsenal and Tottenham are after the same man – and the team in white are going to win.

They are? Who is this player? And who picks Spurs over the Gunners?

Arsenal have long shown an interest in Ezequeil Lavezzi, reportedly failing to agree a fee for the Paris Saint-Germain winger last summer.

The piece ends:

The former Napoli man is out of contract in the summer and Spurs will be able to seal the deal for a knock-down price.

Number of sources linked to: nil.

Number of people quoted: nil.

But we can quote a source who seems to know all about Lavezzi.

Chelsea ready to pursue deal for PSG’s Ezequiel Lavezzi – May 2014

Arsenal transfer news and rumours: Gunners suffer blow in bid to sign PSG’s Ezequiel Lavezzi -PSG winger Ezequiel Lavezzi is unlikely join either Arsenal in January, according to his agent. – Dec 31, 2015

You can read those stories in the Daily Telegraph.

In other Lavezzi news:

lavezzi liverpool
And Gazzetta dello Sport says that Tottenham are not fighting Arsenal for the player – it’s Barcelona and Internazionale they need to beat. Best of luck with that. 

Posted: 7th, January 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment

Transfer Balls: Ronaldo and Bale to Man United, Messi to Man City, Pep to Chelsea

bale ronaldo united manchester


Transfer balls: The British Press is obsessed with Real Madrid. The latest news is that Cristiano Ronaldo will definitely leave Real Madrid in the summer, with Manchester United and Paris St-Germain keen to sign the 30-year-old Portugal forward. So says the Telegraph.

This will trigger a new wave of spending by Real Madrid, who will fight PSG for Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. The 24-year-old Belgium forward is certain to leave Stamford Bridge in the summer, says the Daily Mail.

And there is Gareth Bale, the 26-year-old Real Madrid player who will follow Ronaldo out of the Spanish capital, heading to join Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Manchester United or PSG. Unless he elects to stay in Spain, says the Sun.

Should Bale head to Manchester United he will hook up with that club’s next manager. Yeah, it’s 56-year-old Carlo Ancelotti, who was approached by United’s king maker’s last November. Back then the Italian rejected the chance to replace Louis van Gaal because he wants to manage Bayern Munich, says the Daily Mail. But he’s yet to be offered that job. So it might be United for him.

Bayern, of course, are waving goodbye to their manager, Pep Guardiola. The Manchester Evening News wonders if Pep, 44, is to be United’s next boss. News is that he won’t be. Apparently United feel he’s already set his mind on bossing Manchester City, where, says the Sun, he will attempt to buy Lionel Messi from Barcelona. The Catalans will then attempt to buy Hazard.

Unless the London Evening Standard is right and Pep is going to receive an offer from Chelsea he cannot refuse. In which case, Hazard will stay at Chelsea, Bale will stay at Real and Ronaldo will cancel his flight to Old Trafford.

Meanwhile…at Arsenal….



Posted: 7th, January 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Gareth Bale to Chelsea, Hazard to Real, tabloids to guessing

Transfer balls: It’s going to be a month of Gareth Bale this and Gareth Bale that.

The Daily Mail says Bale will head to Manchester United for £75m. There he will hook up with Ryan Giggs, forming a Welsh dream team not seen since Tom Jones pulled on his pulling knickers. 

The Guardian says Bale is not leaving Real. He’s going to see if he can make a fist of it.

But if Real do sell Bale this January – which they won’t do – who will replace him in Spain? The Daily Star knows. The paper says Real will invest £100m in ‘tired’ Eden Hazard. 

The Daily Mirror, speculates, that could mean Bale heading to Chelsea in a swap deal.


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

Transfer balls: Liverpool ‘get’ Grujic, chase Gundogan, Sane and Aubameyang

Klopp transfers liverpoolLiverpool manger Jurgen Klopp “may be forced into the transfer market”, reports the BBC. During Liverpool’s 1-0 League Cup semi-final first-leg win at Stoke, Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren were forced from the field with hamstring injuries. At the final whistle, Kolo Toure looked to be struggling.

With Martin Skrtel already injured, Liverpool have no fit central defenders.

“This is something we have to think about,” said Klopp after the match when asked if he was now looking for new players.  Two weeks ago we had three centre-backs, which is a good situation, and the season started with five – but now it is zero. It is a strange feeling because on one side it is very, very good then we have these injuries.”

BBC Radio 5 live pundit Kevin Kilbane, blames Klopp for the injuries:

“I’ve seen it at some clubs before. Perhaps it’s down to the change in training methods. Under Jurgen Klopp they’ll train much harder day in, day out. The amount of medical attention footballers get at football clubs now – and also the physical work which is put in – this shouldn’t be happening. I put down the various hamstring injuries down to Klopp’s change in style.”

Does Klopp agree? “Maybe I could look at our training methods but we don’t train – we only recover. There is no training,” he says. “I’m responsible for these things and if you want to make me responsible for our hamstring strains, then OK.”

On the matter of what players Liverpool should buy, the Press is full of guessing.

The Liverpool Echo links Liverpool to Ilkay Gundogan yesterday ,Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Joel Matip and Leroy Sane.

The Express says “Marko Grujic looks set to be unveiled as Jurgen Klopp’s first signing as Liverpool boss today”.

The Star says Toni Kroos is on his way to Anfield – maybe.

The Metro declares: “Liverpool transfer news: Kamil Grabara deal, Max Meyer eyed, Kylian Mbappe targeted.”

Such are the facts.


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

Arsenal join Man City, Chelsea and Man United in chase for Pep Guardiola

june 30 wengerPep Guardiola will manage Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal. He’s leaving Bayern Munich in the close season so he can manage in England.

He told the Press:

“I need a new challenge and I want to use that chance to be a manager in England. I want to experience the atmosphere in England and I look forward to the stadiums there. I am 44 and it is the right time. There are offers but I haven’t signed for anyone yet. When I have a new club I will let everyone know.”


So where for Guardiola? Well, when at Barcelona he worked with Ferran Soriano, now Manchester City’s chief executive, and Txiki Begiristain, City’s sporting director

But United and Chelsea both want him.  Blues’ owner Roman Abramovich loves Pep.

But surely the best fit is for Pep to join Arsenal. Pep to replace Wenger… It makes sense.


Posted: 5th, January 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment (1)

Transfer balls: Arsenal want Watford captain Troy Deeney for £20m

“EXCLUSIVE,” says the Daily Star. “Arsenal eye shock move for Watford captain Troy Deeney.”

They are? And, yeah, it would be a shock. It would also be insane.

We’re not not told how this rumour came about. But we do learn that “Watford are extremely unlikely to sell their skipper”.

But Wenger is in the market for a hitman, knowing adding a ready-made striker to his squad could be key to the club winning their first title for 12 years.


express balls


The Express says Arsenal are readying a £20m bid for Deeney.

This is, of course, complete tosh. but it doesn’t stop the Telegraph adding Deeny to the journalism-by-numbers list “10 strikers Arsene Wenger could sign.”

Or could not.




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

Transfer balls: Manchester United ready huge bid for ‘disappointed’ Bale

Transfer balls: Manchester United are all set to splash a year’s worth of Adidas cash on a £75m bid for Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale.

The Daily Mirror, The Times and Daily Mail all agree this will happen.

But what will Bale do? The Press haven’t got the foggiest:

The Times says that Rafa Benitez’s sacking as Real manager has left the Wales player “intensely disappointed”.

But on the BBC, former Real Madrid coach John Toshack says of Rafa’s sacking: “I don’t see it affecting Gareth at all. I don’t see that as a problem.”

Such are the facts.

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

Arsenal things: Wenger zips, Wilshere injured, Newcastle nil

Five Things We Learnt. It’s the made-for-internet football story that enables jobbing hacks to conjure clicks from what has already been reported many times over.

Let’s look at how the mainstream media responded to Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Newcastle United. These are things the pundits expert in football ‘learnt’ from the match:

Daily Telegraph: “Arsenal 1 Newcastle 0, five things we learnt”

3. Wenger has a bigger wardrobe than we realised.

Arsene Wenger wore a tracksuit.

Daily Mirror: “Arsenal 1-0 Newcastle: 5 things we learned as Laurent Koscielny saves sluggish Gunners”

2. Arsenal have injuries.

With so many players out injured – Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere, Francis Coquelin and so on – the biggest problem is that they have got nothing on the bench to change a game when needed.

Arsenal had those injuries before the match.

Newcastle Chronicle: “Arsenal 1-0 Newcastle: Five things we learned as struggling Magpies come up short again”

2. It is now 322 minutes with a league goal… and counting

The Sun: “Five things we learnt as Laurent Koscielny goal puts Arsenal two points clear at the top of the Premier League”

1 – ARSENE WENGER does not normally wear a tracksuit – and he should keep it that way. The Arsenal manager looked ridiculous in his ill-fitting garment and should keep his big coat on – even though he struggles with the zip.

Five Things We Learnt about Football Journalism: counting is easy.

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

Transfer balls: De Gea announces Manchester United departure

de-gea-facebookIt’s January. Football’s transfer window is open. Manchester United goalie David De Gea has a new Facebook profile photo.

Did you join the dots?

The Telegraph, did. It takes the updated photo as a sign that De Gea is preparing to leave Manchester United, causing “mild panic” to spread among the club’s supporters.

Why all the fuss? Well, chiefly because there’s no United badge on De Gea’s shirt.

De Gea is communicating in code.

But has the Telegraph missed a trick? Our pals at Pies have rotated the De Gea symbol 90 degrees…




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

Transfer balls: Aubameyang wants to play for Arsenal (or Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United)

arsenal Transfer balls: Arsenal are all set to offer £42m for Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, says the Sun.

Aubameyang has scored 24 goals in 23 appearances this season.

He has “told friends” he wants to leave Germany and play in the Premier League.

The paper says an Arsenal rep is in Germany talking with Dortmund.


A source then pops up to tell us:

“An intermediary has made contact with Dortmund about Pierre-Emerick making a move to Arsenal. Wenger knows the fee is very high — yet this is a striker who can make a massive difference for him and help win the title for the first time in 12 years. But there is a lot of interest in him.”

So says the source, who sounds a helluva lot like a PR rep.

The Sun then notes:

Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool have also been linked with making a move for the Gabon ace, 26.

They have?

Arsenal have the cash to meet Dortmund’s valuation this month and are in a strong bargaining position.

They are?

In July, the player singed a new contract at Dortmund. The Mail wrote:

Aubameyang, who wore a bow tie and sharp grey blazer as he put pen to paper, had been linked with a possible switch to the Premier League, but the new deal – which ties the 26-year-old to Dortmund until July 2020 – ends any such speculation surrounding his future.

Or not.


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

Transfer balls: £35m Isco £64m to Arsenal, £25m to Man City, £29m to Juventus

Isco arsenalEvery transfer window a player occupies the media. This January its Isco.

The Mirror says Real Madrid midfielder Isco, 23, is hoping to engineer a £25m move to Manchester City.

Is h? We don’t know. The Mirror’s scoop contains not as single source.

Also today the Express says Isco is heading to Juventus.


Isco Arsenal


On 15 Dec 2015, Metro said Arsenal have been placed “on red alert” for Isco, who had fallen out with Real’s management.

On December 3, Metro said Liverpool also want Isco.

On December 1, the trusty Metro said Arsenal are “ready to pay £35million asking price to seal transfer of Real Madrid star Isco”.

Isco’s price is fluctuating.

On October 15, Metro said “Arsenal are working on a £22million deal to sign Isco from Real Madrid.”

But hold the back page because Arsenal were ready to splash out – get this – £64m for Isco.


Isco Arsenal


It’s almost as if they don’t have the foggiest…



Posted: 2nd, January 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment

Arsenal balls: Newcastle cut up rough

The Sun says that Newcastle United manger Steve McClaren has “ordered  Newcastle to rough up” Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil when the teams meet this afternoon. Are the Magpies really going to kick Arsenal’s best player out of the game? Is that the game plan?


Ozil Newcastle


No. Of course not.

McClaren merely said his side must show a “certain amount  of aggression” to keep Arsenal within reach. Which seems an entirely reasonable position.



Posted: 2nd, January 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Transfer balls: Arsenal in for Ben Chilwell, get Elneny, disappoint fans

Arsenal “will look to sign new players in January”. So says the Mail, which picks up Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s words to the Press. “I’ll be busy, that’s for sure,’ Wenger said. “I am already busy and I said already one month ago, we are a bit short to deal with all the competitions we face, especially in midfield. We will be busy, yes.”

The Mirror says busy does not mean buying. The Mirror says Arsenal fans will be left “disappointed”. The paper says Arsenal will buy only one player this January: Mohamed Elneny. The Metro says he’s “confirmed he’s undergone a medical and agreed terms to join Arsenal from FC Basel”.

A done deal? No. Wenger adds: “Unfortunately we cannot announce anything at the moment about this player because nothing has been concluded.”

The Times says “Elneny will provide cover in the short term, but Wenger believes that there will be greater value for money in the summer when he will be looking to sign a heavyweight defensive midfielder. Southampton have told Arsenal that Victor Wanyama is not for sale until the summer, when he will have one year left on his deal.”

The Sun says Arsenal are in for Leicester City left back Ben Chilwell. He “could be an Arsenal player next week”.

Or maybe not.

Posted: 31st, December 2015 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment

Arsenal transfers: Javier Hernandez, Jese, Nolito and Elneny all in

Arsenal transfer news round-up.

Daily Star:  Arsenal are chasing former Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez. The Mexican, 27, has hit 19 goals in 21 games for Bayer Leverkusen since leaving Old Trafford. (Top work getting rid of him, Louis Van Gaal!)

Don BalonArsenal are keen to offload unconvincing Joel Campbell, 23. They’re ready to roll him into a swap deal for Celta Vigo’s Nolito.

Daily Mirror: Arsenal are due to sign 23-year-old midfielder Mohamed Elneny from Basel. The Egyptian will do the work of the Gunners’ creaking Mathieu Flamini, Mikel Arteta, 33, and Tomas Rosicky, 35.

The Guardian says Arsenal also want Real Madrid’s 22-year-old substitute Jesé.

Posted: 28th, December 2015 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment

Manchester United love rat Giggs makes up with cheated brother

ryan giggs sexRyan Giggs, the Manchester United coach, wants to make up with his brother Rhodri. You might recall that Ryan was shagging Rhodri’s wife, Natasha Giggs, behind his brother’s back.

You may wonder why news that Ryan has invited his bother to a “bash” arrives at time when the current Man United manager is said to be on the “brink” of the sack.

Surely loveable Ryan Giggs isn’t using the Sun, (“Giggs in effort to make up with bro”), to bury his sordid past and make a pitch for the top job at Old Trafford?




Posted: 28th, December 2015 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Football balls: former Chelsea manager Mourinho wants to manage England

Jose Mourinho EnglandThe Sunday People says Jose Moutinho – twice sacked by Chelsea and now between jobs – wants to be the next England manager. The paper says: “Mourinho told close confidant and agent Jorge Mendes he would manage England if the opportunity arises next summer.”

Poor Jose. If he can’t trust a confidant to keep his thoughts and dreams of glory private who can he trust not to blab to the media – his agent? This PR-briefing gets fuller when we read that “Mourinho has been linked with taking over at Manchester United and returning to Real Madrid” since being sacked by Chelsea.

Steve Bates continues to advertise Jose for Hire: “Ideally the 52-year-old Portuguese coach would like to stay in club management and with Louis van Gaal under pressure at Old Trafford that would be his preferred destination if United ditch the Duthcman [sic]. But Mourinho has already declared he intends to stay living in England with wife Matilde and two children at their London home. And as recently as September he claimed that when he left Chelsea managing England would be high on his wish list of dream managerial jobs.”

It’s all more than a tad unedifying, no, this Jose Mourinho for [enter top job here] news? For Jose to get what Jose wants, another manager must perish.

And  surely Brand Jose is a little tarnished after his second spell at Chelsea. Who wants him? The Times says Real are in a “desperate dash to get Jose”. Well, not Real, just the club’s President Florentino Perez. Duncan Castles says Real presents a complicated hierarchy that could deter Jose. He says at Manchester United, Jose would hold sway in all things football. United would be a “fresh start”.

But one other Times headlines states: “José Mourinho left Chelsea only after he set club on fire.” Beneath that, Matt Dickinson writes:

The Portuguese’s need for confrontation will never change, and will put off many potential employers… He had tried everything to keep the Cult of José going through these months of deepening malaise but key players had tired of him, his voice, his methods, his demands…

Senior figures at Manchester United did not want Mourinho to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013 because they believed he was more trouble than he was worth. Even with the traumas under David Moyes, the lethargy under Louis van Gaal, and Chelsea’s title in May, they tell themselves that the combined evidence of the last two years backs up that judgment.

With Old Trafford under new leadership, will they now change their mind? Highly doubtful. Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman, may hear a chorus of fans arguing for Mourinho over Van Gaal but the Portuguese does now come with a health warning — “may explode after two years” — as well as his guarantee of instant gratification.

And Jose for England?

He has been sounded out for the England job before and it may be vacant next summer. International football has the advantage that the players will only see Mourinho every few months. Too much of him is more than anyone can bear after a while.

Jose for England it is, then, picking fights with the FA and every Premier League team with an England player in its ranks. He’d be great, wouldn’t he.


Posted: 27th, December 2015 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment

Manchester United: Van Gaal ‘sacked’ after Stoke match, ‘resigns’ and vows to stick it out

tumblr_nzzksm5DfK1u5f06vo1_1280Having reported that defeat to Stoke City would cost Louis Van Gaal his job as Manchester United manager – United lost 2-0 and Van Gaal remains in situ – the tabloids now report that defeat in his next game surely will.

The Mail on Sunday says lose to Chelsea and it’s the end of LVG at Old Trafford. 

It’s pretty clear the tabloids have no idea. LVG has a contract that runs until the end of next season.

Maybe he will fall on his sword? The Express leads with news that Van Gaal “may” quit. To put it another way, Van Gaal “may not” quit.

What he said was – and this in reply to a question on if he thinks he’s about to be sacked:

“That is something I discuss with [executive vice-chairman] Ed Woodward not you,” Van Gaal told the hacks massed at the post-game Press conference.

“It is not always the club that has to fire or sack me. Sometimes I do that by myself, but I am the one who wants to speak first with the board of Manchester United and my members of staff and my players, not with you. I have received [the club’s backing] all the time but we have lost so there is a new situation. I feel the support of my players and my board. The fans will be disappointed but that is logical after four defeats.”

“For me it’s much more important that people are saying that to me,” he concluded. “I am not so interested in public sayings.”

After all, just a few days ago, the Daily Star told us:


LVG walks


Such are the facts.



Posted: 27th, December 2015 | In: Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Manchester City offer Pep Guardiola £18m a year: Manchester United raid piggybank

The Sun leads with news that Pep Guardiola has been offered £18m a year to manage Manchester City, aka ‘The Brand’.

Pep’s people have “not denied having a verbal deal in place with City” – which can mean whatever you want it to mean. To the Mirror, for instance, it means that Manchester United are looking to “muscle in” on any Pep-to-City business and lure the Spaniard to Old Trafford.

The Sun also mentions United, adding that the Glazers see Pep as a “better fit” than Jose Mourinho, the sacked Chelsea boss lurking in London, desperately awaiting the United call. Who seriously thinks Jose is good fit at United? Mark Hughes is a better shape.

It’s a mad world when Manchester City can pay a manager a fortune. But getting Pep is as much about marketing as it is winning on the pitch. Pep is the starriest name in football management. If he comes, the talk will focus on what players he can attract from Spain: Messi, Neymar, Suarez et al. City will look serious.

But would any of those players want to be at City? Maybe. And that’s what City are bidding for: potential.


Posted: 24th, December 2015 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Manchester United: tabloids turn Van Gaal into Graham Taylor

van gaal the sun sorry headlineAll that cheery speculation on when Louis Van Gaal is going to be sacked at Manchester United has got to the Dutchman.

In “I’M OFF”, the Mirror leads with his press conference – all four minutes and 58 seconds-worth of it.

As an aside, it’s odd that a tabloid should openly speculate on a man’s job. The Mirror, mired in phone hacking, is not reporting on when its leaders are going to be sacked or resign for wrongdoing. It is, though, happy to call for a football manager’s head.

The Mirror says it has “no sympathy for the Red Devil”, laying out all of Van Gaal’s faults in a charge sheet. His side have scored a “feeble 14 goals in 15 games”; he has “failed to win in six games”; he hacked Paul Gascoigne’s telephone. Sorry, got confused, there.

Over in the Express, we learn that “Louis loses it” – his cool that is. But he didn’t. Not really. He merely reminded the assembled hacks that he’s a human being and how upsetting it is to read their opinions on his looming unemployment. It was a bit like when the then England manager Graham Taylor told fans that leggy midfielder Carlton Palmer was made of flesh and bone and hurling abuse at him was out of order.

Taylor also attempted to turn the tables on the hacks. And you know how well that went, don’t you:


Van Gaal is toast.

Posted: 24th, December 2015 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment

Transfer balls: Chelsea go for Vardy

vardyTransfer balls: The Telegraph lead with news that Chelsea and Manchester City are each to offer £30m for Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy. This is one of those stories that just annoys football fans. Leicester are a joy. They are the season’s surprise package,  reminding us that the hyped Premier League is not all about money and vanity.

It’s sport.

Anyone who love competition should hope Vardy stays at Leicester. If he heads to the City global brand or money-mad Chelsea, Leicester are weakened. City won’t even have to play him to have got one over on top-of-the-table Leicester. Chelsea will chew him up and spit him out.

Matt Law says Leicester City will fight to retain their centre-forward. One way way to do that: pay he player more money. Vardy’s on £40,000-a-week. City and Chelsea would pay him much more. Leicester need to act fast.

Posted: 23rd, December 2015 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, Sports | Comment

Manchester United: Van Gaal sacked soon, Mourinho on a retainer, Rooney shouts a good game

van gaal sacked“Don’t axe Van Gaal, ” pleads Neville. So begins the Daily Express’ sports coverage. It’s Phil Neville, the jobbing football pundit and former Manchester United player. Phil says United are in the “Louis Van Gaal era”. He says “constant change is not the answer”. He wants United to “look for stability”.

Neville adds that United are only a few points off the Premier League’s top three. He’s right. They are. But as any Arsenal fan will tell you, coming fourth is not much like competing for the top spot. Manchester United are also-rans.

The Mirror says United must “SORT IT OUT NOW”.  These are the words of Wayne Rooney, who “led a rallying cry to save Manchester United’s troubled season”.

Aston Villa fans must roll their eyes. What they would give for United’s troubles.

The Mail says a Manchester United revolt is being led by Ander Herrera, which must be a lot like being shouted at by a chipmunk.

The Mirror says Jose Mourinho has been asked by Manchester United’s bosses not to consider any job offers without first informing United. Is he on a retainer? The Mirror then says the same bosses have told Van Gaal his job is safe.

Will Van Gaal quit, then? No, says Van Gaal on the Star’s back page. He won’t go. Why would he when the sack earns the Dutchman a £9m pay-off?


Posted: 23rd, December 2015 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment