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
That Manchester United are not all that good is clear. That they are also not all that bad is missed by people who see the badge and expect the points to follow. In the Sun’s report on United’s 2-1 Champions League defeat to Valencia, David Coverdale says finishing second in their group means United are “second rate”. By that measure so too are Liverpool and Spurs.
Of the four English clubs in the CL, only Manchester City topped their group. Liverpool and Spurs had to rely on results elsewhere going their way in the final round of group games to secure their places in the next stage. Both teams finished second place in their respective groups. Manchester United secured progress from their group with a game to spare. To further prove the point that United were not terrible – far from it – the mighty Juventus lost 2-1 to Young Boys.
United are away to Liverpool on Sunday. Coverdale says that had Mourinho picked a better team, United could have topped their group. That much may be true. But Liverpool were at home in their CL match and played a day earlier than United, who traveled to Spain. United are a plodding team of over-hyped players, but don’t let their lack of spark mask a decent job.
Spurs are in a “panic”. Tottenham are fretting over the future of their manger, Mauricio Pochettino. The Star says Poch is wanted by Manchester United and Real Madrid. Having taken a side that hasn’t won the league title for nearly 60 years close to the top, Pochettino will surely relish the chance to leave London to coach a moribund Manchester United or a club that demands total victory every season on pain of instant dismissal. Last night Real Madrid lost 3-0 at home to the mighty CSKA Moscow. Manchester Untied lost 2-1to Valencia, Spain’s 15th best team.
The Sun hails Poch as the “Nou Messiah”. A 1-1- drawn in Barcelona shows us “why United and Real want Poch”. How the once mighty have fallen. United are excited by a manager whose side can score a goal, get a point away from home and have on nothing. Eat yer heat out, Jose Mourinho.
But at least United and Real have a home ground. The Sun also notes that Tottenham’s new municipal stadium still isn’t ready. The Mail says it’ll be completed in February. Maybe. So Real it is. And Poch is good enough, says Spurs defender Danny Rose. He says Poch is “amazing”. You wonder at the superlatives should he actually win something.
Is Manchester City footballer Raheem Sterling singled out for special attention because he’s black? At Stamford Bridge last weekend, he was verbally assaulted by four people in the section reserved for Chelsea fans. A fan at Stamford Bridge allegedly called Sterling a “fucking black cunt”. Sterling says the abuse is driven by a racist media that portrays black footballers in a bad light. John Barnes, who had bananas lobbed at him by Liverpool fans when he joined the club, says “black people in the inner cities go through this [discrimination] every day”. Don’t blame the media for appealing to its readers’ prejudices. Look at the bigger picture. And wonder this: why are black kids seen as cool, an act of rebellion for whites to like black fashions and music? Is it something to do with blacks as the perpetual outsiders, their existence something other and less wholesome than the rest of civilised society?
Musa Okwonga wonders.
You think this is your England because you read the most popular newspapers in the country and they agree with you – they agree with you that black footballers, like children, must be seen and not heard, that the second they decide to do anything more than score spectacular goals they become a threat. Those newspapers remind you daily that there is no aspect of criminality to which a black footballer cannot be connected.
But sticking with media, in the Times Henry Winter looks at how tabloids focus on the bling:
Breaking news: for those in the media reporting that Raheem Sterling’s new house in Cheshire boasts a three-car garage, well it did when he bought it but doesn’t now, as the fitness-conscious Manchester City and England player quickly transformed it into a gym to work out after training. For those in the media obsessing about the size of Sterling’s garden, well he’s redesigned part of it into a pitch with full-sized goals so he can practise finishing…
Sterling’s not flash. He’s not extravagant. He’s an exceptional professional, pivotal to club and country, a role model to a generation and deserving of proper respect.
I’d take issue with one point: Sterling’s no role model to anyone but his children. Sterling’s his own man, an exceptionally gifted athlete possessed of the talent and drive to make it in top-level sport. He’s no more a role model for the great unwashed than Winter is.
Will Winter consider the Sun’s take on “Obscene Raheem“, the boy who did well enough to buy his mum a house and was attacked for doing so? Yes. Although not by name. “Why do media outlets publish breathless pieces dripping with sanctimony about his new house being close to a dogging site,” wincers Winter, “ignoring the fact that some well-known neighbours live closer. They’re white by the way. No one mentions them.” Winter can make a short walk to find out – the Times and Sun share an owner and office space. Winter gamely takes on the The Times’ sister paper. “Whereas some white players down the years are forgiven for their excesses as loveable rogues, Sterling receives the “Obscene Raheem” opprobrium. The media really needs to look at itself at times and it was encouraging to hear some contrition from concerned parties after Sterling’s powerful calling out of the media yesterday.”
What says the Sun? Lots. Sterling has touched a nerve. The Sun has responded with a host of stories in support of Sterling. Its picked up the mood and run with it, as all good tabloids must:
What about the Mail? Sterling used two screenshots, one of a Daily Mail story and one of a Mail Online story, to support his claim that the press treated black footballers unfairly compared to their white peers. The Mail says Sterling is wrong to claim reporting in Mail titles is racial motivated:
The Press Gazette has news:
A story by former Mail Online reporter Anthony Joseph was among those shared by Sterling. He said Sterling had raised “some very valid points” that the media “needed to listen to”. Defending his own story, Joseph said: “The story was done at a time when BT had a documentary on teenage footballers earning millions.
“It was topical and there was a huge debate about it. The same day there was at least an hour segment about it on Talksport. The original story, which I followed up, appeared in The Sun. I spoke to the player’s agent, who had no issue with story and how it was represented. Reporters don’t do headlines, but I still don’t feel it vilifies him. It was just topical at the time, nor did I even make a connection of his colour – it didn’t even cross my mind.”
Joseph added that Sterling raised “some very valid points” that the media “needed to listen to”.
Good stuff, then. Sterling has spoken out and the media has responded. Racism is an evil that sticks and corrodes. The better news is that the story of racism is newsworthy because it is now rarer now than it was. Next up: why are there no black editors of national newspapers – not one; never has been?
England and Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling says media bias does “fuel racism”. Sterling was allegedly racially abused by Chelsea fans at the weekend. We’ve long pointed out how ‘Obscene Raheem” (source: The Sun) is treated differently in the media to other players – also here, here and here. And it appears Sterling has noticed. “I just want to say, I am not normally the person to talk a lot but when I think I need my point heard I will speak up,” he posted on his Instagram page. “Regarding what was said at the Chelsea game, as you can see by my reaction I just had to laugh because I don’t expect no better.”
Sterling invited us to compare and contrast two Mail articles. One shows Tosin Adarabioyo under the headline: ‘Young Manchester City footballer, 20, on £25,000 a week splashes out on mansion on market for £2.25m despite having never started a Premier League match’; the other shows another City teenage midfielder, Phil Foden, and the headline “Foden buys new £2m home for his mum.” Tosin is black. Phil is white. Tosin is a lucky swine. Phil is a loving son.
“You have two young players starting out their careers – both play for the same team, both have done the right thing, which is buy a new house for their mothers who have put in a lot of time and love into helping them get where they are,” wrote Sterling. “But look at how the newspapers get their message across for the young black player and then for the young white player. I think this is unacceptable, both innocent, have not done a thing wrong but just by the way it has been worded.
“The young black kid is looked at in a bad light. Which helps fuel racism an[d] aggressive behaviour. So for all the newspapers that don’t understand why people are racist in this day and age all I have to say is have a second thought about fair publicity an[d] give all players an equal chance.”
Is Raheem Sterling black? Let’s see some other Raheem news:
Here’s more on Foden and the new home he bought this mum and dad. The Mail said:
The 18-year-old’s parents, Phil and Claire, are thought to have been involved in choosing the house and he is determined to keep the close-knit family together despite his emergence as one of England’s outstanding talents.
We never were told if Raheem’s mum, who raised him in less than salubrious surrounds, helped chose the bricks and furnishings for her “obscene” home (price: £3.5m), nor how the new home kept the pair together. But for Phil it’s all terrific:
The move is likely to change little for the player who has always lived at home, doesn’t drink and doesn’t yet drive. He takes cash, rather than cards, on nights out and is thought to have taken out a substantial mortgage on the new house.
That really takes the cake.
As for Sterling’s point about the media fuelling racism, is he right?
PSST! Wanna see young men inhaling nitrous oxide, you know, like medical students and junior doctors used to do? Well, you can, reportedly. Photos of Arsenal players inhaling balloons of what is allegedly nitrous oxide are all over the Sun. Lest you suppose young men larking about during their summer holidays is no big deal, the Sun tells us the men are “role models” – for who is unsaid; maybe their children – and the gas is “hippy crack”, a nickname that manages to make light of actual crack cocaine – the crap that erodes your head – and gives laughing gas a dangerous edge.
The images will, says the paper, “horrify fans”. No, not drugs fans upset that that this airy rubbish, this balloon juice is being likened to Grade A ‘good stuff’. The “fans” are football fans who looks for life guidance to Mesut Ozil or Matteo Guendouzi. For them this is a disaster. Of course, anyone who considers a stranger and not a big brother, mum, uncle or someone they meet regularly a “role model” most likely has other issues that need professional help.
Over pages 4 and 5, we learn that the “aces” were at private do where alcohol – that legal poison – was freely sold at exorbitant prices. There was scotch – aka Hippy Buckfast – champagne – aka Vagrants Thunderbird – and vodka – aka Peasant Fuel. All legal to possess – just like hippy crack!
Yes, folks, the story is grim – men break no laws at private do! The horror! The horror!
Having left Southampton for Spurs with barely a glance back over his shoulder and a toodle-oo, you wouldn’t bet against Mauricio Pochettino leaving his current club in the not too distant future. Real Madrid are favourites to recruit Pochettinho – a likelihood that will only increase should Spurs defeat Barcelona in their must-win Champions League match. But rumours from Manchester United say they want Poch and are prepared to pay £40m to get him.
In the Premier League era, Teddy Sherinham, Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov have all swapped Spurs for Manchester United, moving north for more money and a lot more silverware. Poch is on £8m-a-season at Spurs, Jose Mourinho, Manchester United’s current boss, earns almost double that. And under his guidance, United are a turgid long-ball team. Spurs buzz.
The question for Pochettinho is whether he will win the league at Spurs. No. He won’t. Not unless the London club matches Manchester United’s investment in talent. Which they won’t do. They can build the big new stadium, but Spurs will always be a smaller club than United. Surely he’ll go. and Sours, well, they just better hope their owners don’t agree to take Mourinho in a swap deal. Transferring football mangers makes sense. But under Mourinho, the only way is down…
Huge News on the BBC that Paris St-Germain and France forward Kylian Mbappe, 19, rejected the chance to play for Arsene Wenger at Arsenal in 2017. France Football had the scoop that pretty much every knew already, but the BBC points its readers towards the Metro website. Thereon we can enjoy the wonders of Google Translate. Metro can’t be arsed to put Mbappe’s words into more erudite English, so it just repeats what Google Translate burps out. Mbappe is talking in French to the French magazine about the French manager Arsene Wenger:
“He is a real French football monument who has left Arsenal. I have not seen many people in this world being viewed in such a unanimous way. When the entirety of Europe gets on its knees in front of him to celebrate him, that certainly means something. A little while ago, before I signed for PSG, we were in contact in 2017. I chose a different direction but he wasn’t annoyed at me. He was a gentleman about it and wished me good luck.”
How close did Arsenal come to signing Mbappe? Not very. He joined Paris Saint-Germain for £166million instead of the buttons the Gunners were offering.
PS: The Sun and the Mirror also have the exact same quotes in mangled English that Mbappe gave to France Football in his native French. Does no-one check anything anymore?
Arsenal are back. Well, so says Mark Irwin in the Sun. Unai Emery has “brought the nastiness” back to the Gunners, he tells his readers. The Gunners are no longer a “soft touch with diminutive midfielders who can be trampled all over”. If size was everything, Manchester United’s giants would be top of the table. It isn’t. This we know because the best player on the pitch at the weekend’s North London derby which Arsenal won 4-2 was Lucas Torreira. The 22-year-old from Fray Bentos, Uruguay towers 1.66m in his socks and weighs in at 60kg. In post-Brexit terms, Torreira is 5ft 4 inches high and tips the scales at under nine and a half stones.
Yesterday the FA changed Arsenal and Spurs with failure to control their players. Even the little ones…
After just eight months in charge, Southampton have woken to their error and sacked Mark Hughes. “The search for a new manager to take the club forward is already under way,” say the Saints in an official statement.
For a club that since May 2014 had the foresight to recruit Mauricio Pochettino (now at vastly improved Spurs), Ronald Koeman (manager of a resurgent Netherlands), Claude Puel (keeping Leicester City together ) and Mauricio Pellegrino (kickstarting West Ham United), hiring Mark Hughes, a man recently sacked from pisspoor Stoke City was desperate and short-sighted.
For winning two of Southampton’s final four matches last season – which kept them in the Premier League – the Saints gave Hughes a three-year contract. They are in the relegation zone.
Stoke were dull and dire under Hughes, a manager who’d managed also Wales, Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City, Fulham and Queens Park Rangers to hardly rave reviews. Blackburn experienced three top-10 finished under his guidance. But that was the highlight. QPR sacked him after 10 months in charge. He resigned after less than a year at Fulham. He was sacked after about 18 month at big-spending Man City.
Hughes will now presumably compete with Sam Allardyce, David Moyes and Alan Pardew to work for a desperate chairman overseeing a club bereft of ideas.
Arsenal beat Spurs 4-2 in the North London derby in which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was sensational. Both sides scored from the penalty spots. But should the Spurs penalty for a foul on’ Heung-Min Son been given? Let’s look at the match reports for signs of bias.
Arsenal FC says “contact looked minimal”. The game turned on “Son’s elaborate fall for the penalty”. The penalty was “controversial” .The official Spurs website says “Son was clipped in the box by the sliding Rob Holding”.
Clipped? Really? No.
The neutral’s view comes to us via the Guardian:
There was controversy when Spurs went ahead. Son had sprinted through again and Rob Holding jumped into a risky tackle but, when Son checked back, there was no contact from the Arsenal defender on him.
If contact had been made, Son was guilty of at least jumping and appealing as if he’d been deeply injured from a graze. What was worse, TV replays showed that no strong contact had been made whatsoever. It appeared Holding had not even touched him.
The Sun gives us the tabloid view:
SON HEUNG-MIN was given a dressing down by Arsenal ace Sokratis Papastathopoulos at full-time over his disgraceful dive to win a penalty for Tottenham.
The Spurs ace was guilty of a shocking bit of simulation which tricked referee Mike Dean into pointing to the spot during the North London derby.
What about the red card awarded to Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen with the score at 4-2? Arsenal says he was sent off late on “for a lunge on Lacazette”. Spurs make it more benign:
Insult to injury followed five minutes from time as Vertonghen slid the ball out to substitute left-back Danny Rose but was involved in a collision with Lacazette as he did so, which resulted in the Belgian international picking up a second yellow card.
One team’s lunge is another’s collision. As for the dive, well here it is:
Should David de Gea leave Manchester United for Paris St-German, the Red Devils will splash out £70m on Everton’s England international Jordan Pickford, 24. If he’s worth that much it makes you wonder at De Gea value in the open market – twice that; three times? The Sunday Mirror counters earlier news that United’s best player had agreed new contract at Old Trafford and was also on his way to PSG.
In other news, the Times says David de Gea won’t let Manchester United sell him in the final year of his current contract. The Spaniard will sign a new contract at Old Trafford if the Premier League club agrees to make him their best paid player. That sum is a matter of debate, waving between the £300,000-£500,000-a-week United lavish on the irritating Alexis Sanchez.
The paper says De Gea’s camp are confident of securing a “hugely lucrative signing bonus” from one of Europe’s wealthiest clubs should no new deal be agreed with United by January 2020, when he will be free to sign a pre-contract agreement elsewhere.
Over in the Mail we’re told Napoli have rejected Manchester United’s £91m offer for Senegal international defender Kalidou Koulibaly, 27. The sums are impressive. The quality less so.
Transfer Balls: The BBC leads with news that Spain international De Gea wants Manchester United to offer him a five-year contract worth about £350,000 a week. Why so little? The wage will, says the Beeb, match what Alexis Sanchez earns. Odd, no. Doesn’t Sanchez earn £500,000-a-week? BBC journalist Simon Stone told us Sanchez was costing Manchester United half a million quid every week:
“#MUFC have committed to paying Sanchez £180m over four and a half years”
— BBC 5 Live Sport on BBC Sounds (@5liveSport) January 18, 2018
The numbers are utter tosh, then. But the media loves to guess. The Sun says: “De Gea will then be offered a new £400,000-a-week, five-year deal.” The Mail agrees with the BBC that it’s £350,000 a week. And the Standard says the deal “could be worth up to £300,000-a-week”.
And just a few days ago Joe Bernstein told Mail readers:
Such are the facts.
Let’s kick off today’s Transfer Balls with news of Ousmane Dembele’s desire to leave Barcelona and play for Arsenal, Liverpool or any other side that can afford* a £100m transfer fee for a player who enjoyed one decent season at Borussia Dortmund before being flogged for an eye-watering sum to the Spanish giants. The BBC has news: “France forward Ousmane Dembele, 21, has told Barcelona he does not want to leave in January.” That’s according to an unnamed source talking to ESPN. It might be the same source who gave the Mail the story just two days ago: “Ousmane Dembele asks Barcelona if he can leave in January.”
Google News updates the breaking non-story:
In other transfer gossip, former England, Chelsea and Arsenal left-back Ashley Cole, 37, has been offered a new deal by LA Galaxy – just days after being released by the club. But he fancies swapping LA for life in Birmingham. Aston Villa want him. Why is uncertain. Experience counts – but if he can’t make the LA Galaxy side, why would an ambitious Championship club seek his services?
At Liverpool, missing midfielder Fabinho is to be the subject of a post-match chat with Paris St-Germain when the sides meet in the Champions League. PSG will offer a lot of money for the Brazilian. And Liverpool will wonder who they’re talking about. Fabinho joined Liverpool for around £40 million in July. He’s been less than spectacular. But that’s what £40m buys you these days: a squad player who can afford a well-paid agent.
In the obligatory news on Manchester United’s search for a defender, Jose Mourinho wants to sign Porto defender Éder Militao. He’ll be great – right up until Mourinho calls him rubbish, unfit, fat and useless.
* Not Arsenal.
Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Young Boys sees them progress in the Champions League. Their winning goal scored in stoppage time by Marouane Fellaini should have been ruled out for handball. When will VAR be used in big games? It cannot come soon enough.
Here’s Fellaini using his hand to control the ball, which is against the rules of the game:
— Matthew Newman (@YourFilm_MN) November 27, 2018
But did the media see the cheating? Marca, the Spanish newspaper, says Fellaini’s handball was blatant. His goal not only put United through to the next round but knocked Spain’s Valencia out.
The Manchester Evening News: “Belgian international Fellaini touched the ball with his hand before he unleashed a ferocious effort into the net, however the player insists there was no intent behind the action.”
He’s got a twitch that makes his hand control the ball involuntarily? And “ferocious”? The MEN continues:
“No,” he [Fellaini] told BT Sport when asked if he had handled the ball. “For me it was not a handball, I controlled the ball. If it touched my hand it was not on purpose. I think it was the right moment to score a goal in the end.”
The Valencia coach, Marcelino, is quoted by Marca as saying: “If the goal of Manchester United featured a handball then you become even angrier. The little details matter. What is strange is that VAR isn’t present in such a big competition. It’s no consolation to us. But this is football.”
Manchester United march on. Valencia go into the Europa League. And Fellaini, well, he’s no Raheem Sterling.
The Daily Express’ report on Arsenal’s 1-2 win at Bournemouth is the same report you can read in the Daily Mirror. Both are written by Neil McLeman. The Express and Mirror are both owned by Reach. Surely this sharing spells the end for one of the titles. A clue to which tabloid is getting sidelined comes on the Express‘ back page. In a story about Spurs player Dele Alli, the paper tells readers the article continues on page 55, column 3. But page 55 doesn’t mention Alli once. In fact, it doesn’t mention football at all, preferring to focus on England’s win over Australia in the rugby union. There is news of Alli on page 53, column 2.
As for the Ozil story so good it’s repeated in two daily tabloids, well, it’s some balls about Mesut Ozil being left in the “cold”. The German was an unused substitute in Arsenal’s win. Asked why Ozil didn’t play, Emery replied: “It depends how the match is going, what the result is. I decided for other options.” He added: “The match was very demanding…with physicality and intensity.” Put that though the tabloidese machine and you get: “Unai Emery admitted he needed players who could cope with the physicality and intensity of Bournemouth.” Can anyone think of a Premier League game that isn’t intense and physical? Answers to the Mirror and Express. Two cover prices – but one second-class stamp should cover it.
Transfer Balls: Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea “will join Paris St-Germain in the summer” says the BBC. He will? The Spain international’s current deal at Old Trafford runs out at the season’s end, we’re told. You’d suppose Man Untied would do their utmost to keep hold of their best player – and use that one-year extension. But the BBC says his leaving is a done deal.
The Mail on Sunday agrees. It says David De Gea is set for a “sensational move” to Paris Saint Germain. He’ll earn “£60million” on a four-year deal in Paris. He is “poised to join Paris Saint Germain when his current contract expires”, says the Mail. “Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is resigned to losing his star goalkeeper.”
But after the facts, we get to the truth: no deal has been signed. Three paragraphs into the Mail’s story, we’re told David de Gea “could be set to earn around £15.5m a year in wages with the French giants… if he were to sign a four-year deal in Paris.” Could. If.
All utter tosh, then. But enough for the Daily Express to tells its readers: “Man Utd news LIVE: Jose Mourinho agrees to January transfer, £60m David de Gea deal.” Nope. No deal.
Manchester United fans need not worry. Indeed, on June 15, the Manchester Evening News declared: “Manchester United agree new contract with David de Gea.” The paper told us: “David de Gea has agreed a new five-year deal with Manchester United.” talkSport told us, also in June 2018: “DE MAN Manchester United agree new contract with goalkeeper David De Gea.” Did no-one tell the BBC, Express and the Mail that de Gea was not heading to PSG?
Such are the facts.
Spurs tonked Chelsea 3-1 in the Premier League. At 1-0 to Spurs, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard was felled in the Tottenham box. Penalty! No. None given. But should one have been? Let’s look for any signs of bias in the media:
BBC: “Chelsea will be furious at a soft free-kick for Spurs’ first goal and a failure from Martin Atkinson to give them a penalty when it was only 1-0 when Juan Foyth appeared to foul Eden Hazard in the 18-yard box.”
Chelsea website: “We had our moments in the first half, with Eden Hazard denied what looked like two clear penalties”
Chelsea website: “The Blues had what looked like a legitimate penalty appeal turned away when Hazard was bundled over in the box by Juan Foyth”
Former referee Peter Walton was in the studio for BT Sport: “…when you re-run it there’s a knee-on-knee and the foul comes when Foyth’s knee touches Hazard and that’s enough to put him over. For me that was a penalty.”
Guardian: ” Eden Hazard ought to have had a penalty on 14 minutes when Juan Foyth went into him from behind ”
Chelsea blog We Aint Got No History: “An early goal from a dubious foul, then a clear penalty uncalled on Hazard, then an unlucky second goal.”
And on the Spurs website? Only this: “13 mins – Hazard over in the box, appeals waved away.” No word on how he went over.
Such are the facts.
Transfer balls: Arsenal are looking to sign a forward in the January transfer window. Danny Welbeck’s ankle injury has ruled him out for a few months at least. Arsenal a little light up front. News is that top of the wanted list is Nicolas Pepe. The Lille winger will cost the Gunners around £27 million, says the Times. The Star, however, has picked up a different brochure. It says Pepe is worth £43m. The Sun says Pepe is on a “three-man shortlist” to replace Luis Suarez at Barcelona. The Mirror says, Lyon, Sevilla and Real Betis all wants Pepe. The Sun says Bayern Munich are keen. Goal says he’s good enough to play for Real Madrid. And the Times says Spurs also want him.
Anyhow, Arenal need him most. So will they get him? “If there is a very good opportunity we are definitely going to consider, we will see,” Raul Sanllehi, the Arsenal director of football, told media. “Danny Welbeck’s injury alters, in a way, the views. It’s a good time to start analysing what options we have in the market. We are not closing the door but it’s still not the preferred one. I am not saying that’s a green light to go to the market but we have good players in the house also that may get further opportunities, like Eddie Nketiah for example.”
Closing the door. Green light. In the house. Did Sanllehi learn England from The Big Boom of Cliches? He’s pretty managed to say nothing. Once upon a time, a hot French talent would have been a shoo-in to play for Arsenal. But now… Well, can they really compete in the transfer market? In 2017, Arsenal bid £92m to sign Thomas Lemar from Monaco, said Sky Sports. They never got him. The France winger joined Atletico Madrid one year laster for €60 million.
Transfer Balls: Following the Mirror’s news that Frenkie de Jong had agreed to join Manchester City for £60m comes news in the, er, Daily Mirror that he hasn’t. But he might. The paper of record (surely clickbait factory – ed) says City will have to pay a club record £75m for the Ajax and Netherlands midfielder.
It’s been three days since the Sun said Frenkie de Jong to City was done deal – three days since the Mirror told its readers City “have beaten Barcelona” to the signing. Manchester City “have blown the competition out of the water”.
That was all tosh. But worry not because the Mirror has more news:
The paper reports in an “exclusive”:
Manchester City will have to pay a club-record £75million in the upcoming bidding war with Barcelona for the new Johan Cruyff…
However, Spanish champions Barca are also very keen on De Jong, and several other top clubs are monitoring the rapid progress he’s making this season.
Why is £75m the fee in a “bidding war”? It’s more than the £60m it cost city to sing Frenkie three days ago.
Being a pundit is easy. You speak. And then move on to the next bit of mindless chatter. Which brings us to former Arsenal striker Ian Wright who is waxing lyrical about Aaron Ramsey, the midfielder who delayed signing a new deal for so long ever Arsene Wenger left the club. Arsenal offered Ramsey an eye-wateringly expensive long-term deal and then withdrew it. Ramsey is now free to leave at the season’s end. Says Wright:
“I think it might be the perfect time for us (Arsenal) and for him to move on. I think the boss should be given now the time, especially the money, to try and find maybe one or two replacements for someone like Aaron Ramsey, rather than giving Aaron Ramsey the kind of money he was asking for… It isn’t something I’m too disappointed about, I’m pleased for him and I’m pleased for the new ruthless Arsenal in respects of the way they are saying ‘if that’s the way it is going to be then that’s the way it is going to be’.
This the same Ian Wright who opined in September:
“Ivan Gazidis has got a lot to answer for for this to happen because Ramsey should be a focal point in the team… I’m desperate for him to stay.”
In other news, Arsenal have found a replacement for the very replaceable one-goal-a-season Aaron Ramsey. It’s Villarreal midfielder Pablo Fornals. The Sun says the the 22-year-old has a €20m release clause. If not him then the Mirror says it could be one of five – yeah, just five – players Arsenal could sign to replace Ramsey. The Express says they could replace him by picking another player already at Arsenal. Oh, and in the Standard, Arsene Wenger says Ramsey might yet stay at Arsenal.
Such are the facts.
Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, 25, says he wants to leave Manchester United. He’s missing life at Juventus. Corriere dello Sport has the scoop. But the Daily Mirror does its own translation. “Pogba says yes to Juve,” says the paper. But he hasn’t because Juventus haven’t asked him any questions. This is just about Pogba wishing for a return ‘home’ – you know, just as he waned to go ‘home’ to Manchester United, the club he left to join Juventus.
The Mirror says Pogba became a “marquee signing” when he joined United for £89.3 million. A marquee is a big tent. The Mirror merely means he was expensive. And he’s proven to be over-priced. What fee would Juventus pay for the player keen to move away from them and now keen to return? The Mirror says Juve could “steal a march” on Barcelona, who for some obscure season apparently also want Pogba. Why do they? He’s a good player but £100m good?
In the interest of fairness to the Mirror, here’s the Corrier dello Sport story pushed through the prism of Google Translate:
«Pogba says yes to Juve». Boom. The summary of the English Sunday press gives an indiscretion that could change the course of the market and the history of this season in the coming weeks. And he follows other gossip related to the future of the French midfielder who would want him more and more convinced to return to Juventus. Paul’s official statements, of course, tell of his great happiness of being back at Manchester United and wearing the Red Devils shirt. But the drafts that come from Old Trafford reiterate a general coldness in relations with José Mourinho and a strong temptation of the world champion midfielder to be a part of that “family” (a term that Paul has used several times to define Juventus) . “Who knows …” has in fact thrown there to a specific question about his new life Juventus, a few weeks ago when he returned to the Stadium as an opponent for the Champions League match. A return enriched by a warm welcome from the Juventus fans, for him who has been able to exalt himself over the years in Serie A as he has not yet managed to do in Premier.
That’s right. The Mirror’s top story is founded in the dello Sport’s reporting on the British tabloid press. It’s a human caterpillar of utter tosh.
“Spurs set to beat Barcelona to Dutch wonderkid Frenkie de Jong,” screamed EuroSport on November 16. Two days later, the BBC tells us Frenkie de Jong is on his way to Manchester City.
The Mirror says Manchester City “have beaten Barcelona” to the signing of the Ajax and Netherlands midfielder. Manchester City “have blown the competition out of the water”. The Express agrees: “Barcelona and Tottenham STUNNED as Manchester City win £61m Frenkie De Jong race.” The Sun also agrees: “Man City win race to sign Ajax ace Frenkie de Jong and will pay £61m for long-term Fernandinho replacement.” We’re told Barcelona and Manchester United were both ready to bid fo the player. They just never got round to it.
And then you realise it’s all utter tosh. The Sun admits as much: “De Jong is believed to be keen to work with Guardiola and would favour a move to join the Spaniard rather than across town at Old Trafford.” So nothing is agreed. It’s rumour. There will be “a potential summer bidding war for the midfielder”.
Why the BBC, which runs fact-checking news segments, features this utter balls as fact is lamentable. It doesn’t need to compete commercially with the tabloids in a time of falling newspapers circulation, so why does it bother?
Writing clickbait for football fans is hard graft. All those budding hacks who dream of talking truth to power are reduced to spinning for clicks at sister newspapers the Daily Express, Daily Star and Daily Mirror.
Language is mangled. Simple facts are “revealed”. “Five things” are learned from watching paint dry. Rumours are mutated into ‘fact’. But every so often, clickbait talent emerges to connive a new meme for the SEO gurus running websites to applaud. Right now everyone at Arsenal – fans, players, Gunnersaurus – is “baffled”.
“Arsenal fans left baffled by Graeme Souness’ comments about Mesut Ozil” – Daily Mirror, October 23
“Lucas Torreira baffles Arsenal fans with what he did in training” – Daily Mirror, October 10
“Arsenal fans left BAFFLED at staggering claim: ‘Are you mad? He can’t be serious'” – Daily Express, November 14
But it’s not just Arsenal being “baffled”:
“Jurgen Klopp baffled by remarkable Liverpool statistic” – Daily Mirror, Oct 19
“Graeme Souness leaves Manchester United fans baffled” – Daily Mirror, Oct 22
“Mohamed Salah leaves Liverpool fans baffled with social media post” – Daily Mirror, Oct 24
“Matteo Darmian leaves Manchester United fans baffled” – Daily Mirror, October 25
“Cesar Azpilicueta baffled by inconsistent Chelsea’s struggles” – Daily Mirror, Oct 26
“Celebrity Gogglebox: Fans baffled by Dele Alli’s composer comment” – Irish Mirror, Oct 26
“Man Utd news: David De Gea baffled by what Jose Mourinho said” – Daily Express, October 31
“Chelsea news: Sky Sports pundit baffled by one Maurizio Sarri” – Daily Star, Nov 4
“Manchester United fans left baffled by Paul Pogba’s ‘heartbreak’ haircut” – Manchester Evening News* Nov 4
* The MEN is sister title to the Star, Express and Mirror. It’s true? Unless you’re a football fan, in which case it’s baffling!
Transfer Balls: José Mourinho will change Manchester United’s defence early next year. From “When we win it’s all down to me; when we lose it was everyone else”, the new defence will feature new defenders. United plan to bring Toby Alderweireld and Diego Godin to Old Trafford in January, and get rid of Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo. Spurs and Arsenal both like Bailly; Everton fancy Rojo; and Smalling could return to Fulham. Godin, 32, could cost £53m.
In London, Arsenal will be waving a none-too-teary adieu to Aaron Ramsey, the midfield who resisted signing a new contract for so long that even Arsene Wenger left. He’s off to play for Bayern Munich. Either than or Ramey will be a sub at Chelsea or Liverpool. Arsenal and Chelsea are both looking at spry Atlético Mineiro right-back Emerson. And reports from Italy says AC Milan want to sign Liverpool’s Brazil midfielder Fabinho, 25, (who he?) in January.
Over at West Ham, Marko Arnautovic, 29, wants a weekly living wage of £200,000 to continue working at the London Stadium. If he does;t get it then he could be off, possibly to Manchester United.
Fulham only appointed Claudio Ranieri as their new manager because former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger “snubbed” them. So says the Daily Mirror: “Arsene Wenger turned down sensational return to management with Fulham before Claudio Ranieri was appointed yesterday.”
But over in the Sun, Wenger never was offered the job:
But Wenger was one of the “number” of candidates considered, right?
He was. The Week reports:
The Daily Telegraph reports that former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has turned down the chance to take over at Fulham… The Frenchman, however, “politely declined the opportunity to speak to Fulham”, the Telegraph says.
Alysson Rudd tells her Times readers:
The Times understands he [Fulham owner Shahid Khan] met Claudio Ranieri two days before Fulham’s trip to Anfield but, still hopeful of a miracle so that he could stick by a man he had become very fond of working with, Khan travelled to Liverpool hoping for evidence he could offer Jokanovic a reprieve.
The website Football365 says Rudd also wrote: “Ranieri was the outstanding candidate from a shortlist that did not, as speculated, include the former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.” We can’t find that quote on the Times website. Can anyone?