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Back pages | Anorak - Part 5

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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: De Gea talks contracts amid Juventus rumours

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea, that “flower amongst the rubble”,is all about  “winning games, rather than contracts”. Well, so he says. But de Gea has been widely linked with a tender to Juventus when his contact runs out next summer – and if they can afford to lash out £90m plus on an ageing Cristiano Ronaldo, the Italians can spend big wages on arguable the world’s best goalkeeper.

De Gea, 27, would replace curent Juventus ‘keeper and childhood Arsenal fan Wojciech Szczęsny. The former Arsenal player, who when wearing the Gunners red and white often looked a tad vacant, a man who could distracted by a passing plane, bird or ball, has done well in Italy. As he told the Indy this year:

“…I started playing at a very young age with Arsenal and as you play you gain experience and that’s how you grow. But, honestly, I couldn’t say from a technical standpoint that I improved in any way from when I became first-choice at Arsenal until the day I left for Roma.

“However, in the two-and-a-half years since I came to Italy, I’ve improved massively which is thanks to the coaches and the way they work. It’s not about improving when you play, it’s every day in training you have to work on every aspect of your game and that’s something I’ve really enjoyed.”

Arsene Wenger never made the Poland goalkeeper a better player. But through no fault of his own and no lack of effort, he’s not de Gea’s equal. Juventus, looking to replace the great Gianluigi Buffon, who at age 40 finally left the club for PSG in the summer, would do well to get the Spaniard. United manager Jose Mourinho says he is “not confident” De Gea will remain at Old Trafford.

“You have to be focused on what’s important,” De Gea told Sky Sports. “What matters is the team and all of us being focused on what we need to focus on, which is winning games, rather than contracts or any topics that can be a distraction. What matters is focusing on football.” So why mention them? “You don’t have time to think about things that aren’t as important as football and the points that are at stake in the games that we have to win and do well in.” And after and before the match, is that when you owner about life with Italy’s perennial champions?

Is it time for a change? “I’ve been at the club for eight seasons now. I’m very happy here,” says De Gea. “I always feel that warmth from the fans and everyone who works at the club.”

But Untied are not the force they were under Alex Ferguson, under whose knowing eye De Gea was recruited. The clock;s ticking. Juventus are happy to wait or get their man for cheap this summer…

Posted: 27th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United to lose de Gea and Real want Pochettino from Spurs

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino is on his way to Real Madrid after all, then. The Sun says Pochettino will replace Julen Lopetegui, should Real sack him, which they will in 10…9…  The Mail says Real headhunter Florentino Perez wanted to sack the one-time Spain coach last week. You might have watched Perez during Real’s Champions League match against Viktoria Plzen “storming away from his balcony”. It was only other club officials who prevented an on-the-spot sacking, says the paper.

If Lopetgui goes, so do all the players thundered the overrated Isco to media. To which Real fans say in one voice “adios”.

Real finished 17 points behind Barcelona in La Liga last season. Ronaldo left, taking his 50 goals a season with him to Juventus. Real look leaderless on the pitch. So Pochettino it is. The Sun says Real prefer him to Antonio Conte. Well, who wouldn’t. The big shock is that Manchester United haven’t already offered Spurs £40m for Poch. Why don’t clubs trade managers as they do players?

But Real also admire current Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese would do well to take the hint and leave Old Trafford. If David de Gea leaves on a free transfer to Juventus when his contract expires next summer, as the Times says he might, United will look even more hapless. Ubiquitous Spanish journalist Guillem Balague told BBC Radio 5 live listeners that the Real kingmakers love Jose. Why? Haven’t they been watching…

Posted: 26th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Martial wants to stay at Manchester United

Do Manchester United buy players to fit the team or advance the global brand? Rumours abound that Manchester United want to sell Paul Pogba but any exit would blow a big hole in the club’s marketing scheme. The trick for United is less who wants Pogba, but which mega-star replaces him and why they’d want to? The Mail says the marketeers who run United are stuck on who could match Pogba’s commercial value. Think less of the overrated player and more of how much merchandise he shifts.

The media is full of stories about how Pogba would leap at the chance to join Barcelona – he’d leap higher than he did when he lost Antonio Rüdiger at a corner for Chelsea’s opening goal last weekend. The bigger question is: why would Barcelona want the hype-powered France footballer whose shown few signs of being worth a fraction of his £90m fee that took him from Juventus to United? The still bigger question is: why would Barcelona spend £200m for the privilege?

Another Frenchman less than chuffed with life at Manchester United is French forward Anthony Martial, 22. Last week he was all set to see out his contract and leave on a free. Today the BBC says he’s ready to to stay at the club. First Jose Mourinho heaps prise on Luke Shaw, a man he once branded a brainless plodder, seeing to it that the asset nearing the end of his contract was awarded a new contract; now Jose starts praising and picking Martial just as he looked all set to leave for nought. Who picks the side at United: Mourinho or the moneymen who run the club?

The Sun says LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks set to rejoin Manchester United on loan during the MLS off-season. He’s one for the future.

Across town, Manchester City fancy Juventus’ Brazilian full-back Alex Sandro, 27, and Japan midfielder Ritsu Doan. Down south, a resurgent Arsenal are monitoring Ajax’s Argentina left-back Nicolas Tagliafico, 26. Chelsea are closing in on 18-year-old Italian midfielder Sandro Tonali. And Crystal Palace like Inter striker Gabriel Barbosa, whose on loan at Santos having failed to command a place with the Italians. Barbosa tells Marca his “intention is to go to a place where I can be as happy as I am here [at Santos]”. Palace it is, then.

And Wolves – they’re after Inter Milan’s 25-year-old Portuguese midfielder Joao Mario and a striker. Maria is also liked by Leicester and Southampton.

Posted: 25th, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: De Gea flowers amongst the rubble of Mourinho’s collapsing house

Manchester United were comprehensively outplayed in their home Champions league tie with Juventus. Stodgy, defensive and possessed by nary a muon of the swashbuckling style that made the club great. After the dull match and the performative nature of Jose Mourinho’s snipes, snarks and adherence to the belief that the boredom is not of his making, Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport reviewed United’s pampered posers:

Romelu Lukaku scored a 4/10 – the lowest of anybody on the pitch

(He is) a symbol of the torments of the United season: when the striker does not score, it becomes hard for everyone.

At this moment the Belgian is almost a deadweight, lost and confused in opposing defences, but Mourinho has no alternative.

Anthony Martial (5.5/10)

Another step backwards.

Marcus Rashford (4.5)

Never really dangerous. Half a disaster.

Luke Shaw (5)

Targeted as the weak link. Dazed. Stunned.

Chris Smalling (5)

His performance was as mediocre as his haircut.

David De Gea (lauded as United’s best player by a distance)

Like a flower amongst the rubble.

A delicate flower or a weed?

MARCA was tops, though, awarding Lukaku, Rashford, Smalling and Nemanja Matic a combined score of zero.

On the look out for bias, let’s see what the Manchester Evening News said about United:

David de Gea – United’s best player by a country mile:

Kept United in it with a few saves as United struggled to contain Cristiano Ronaldo, Juan Cuadrado and Paulo Dybala. 7

Victor Lindelof – who was every bit as good as De Gea. Yeah, really:

One of his more impressive displays for United, despite Juventus’ firepower. Read the game well and timed his challenges impressively. 7

Nemanja ‘nil points’ Matic:

Was disciplined and tried to get things going but the fleet-footed Blaise Matuidi and Miralem Pjanic outfoxed him. 5

And Romelu Lukaku, the big bloke up front who was good at Everton:

When United supporters screamed ‘move’ Lukaku rarely did. Bossed by Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci and too static. 2

Such are the facts.

Posted: 24th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Reasons to love Emery: Arsenal got rid of Wilshere

Reasons for Arsenal fans to love Unai Emery mass by the day. After last night’s Wenger-esque victory over Leicester City, a performance illuminated by three synchronised team goals of rare beauty, what one writer compared to “watching a tribute band play better than the act they are paying homage to”, comes news that were it not for Emery Jack Wilshere would still be at the club.

Well, so says Wilshere, who tells the Islington Gazette:

“If Arsene had stayed I would have stayed, because of the influence he had in my career and the trust he had in me. He gave me the armband and respected me a lot. So, I had pretty much agreed to stay. And then he left and that changed things. Arsene had said to me previously ‘stay and fight your way back into the team’. Because I knew Arsene and knew he had trust in me, I knew I could do that and fight my way into the team.”

Wilshere was a hugely promising talent who rarely delivered. Arenal fans will wish him well at West Ham, but would he really get into the current side, who play such a high-tempo game? No. And if he did, when the ball reached Wilshere, the move would slow.

Emery is now working his magic on Aaron Ramsey, who having seen his demands for £250,000 a week in wages and a four-year deal rebuffed is seeking pastures new when his contract expires in the summer. As Ramsey’s agent whines on twitter about there being “no other option” for their low-scoringinjury prone midfielder of a client to leave because he can’t get £1m a month wages (plus loyalty bonuses?), Emery’s stock rises.

 

Posted: 23rd, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United chase Koulibaly, Arsenal take Malcolm on loan from Arsenal and Chelsea underpay Hazard

Cancel the trip to Jose Mourinho’s hotel room in Manchester and the one-way ticket to Real Madrid, Eden Hazard will stay at Chelsea. The BBC says Chelsea will offer their best player £350,000-a-week to stay at the club. This, says the Express, will make Hazard “the highest-paid player in the Premier League”. Which is odd because the Express says Alexis Sanchez is the league’s number one earner on £500,000-a-week.

 

daily express sanchez

Daily Express facts by Dany Wilson October 2 2018

 

As the Express delivers the facts and then fact that counter those facts in a SEO blizzard of utter balls, the Express also says struggling Real Madrid want to hire Raheem Sterling to bolster a forward line missing Cristiano Ronaldo’s 50-odd goals a season. There are no facts to support the claim. The Mirror says Sterling wants more money to stay at Manchester City, who will of course find it down the back of the sofa.

Finally, the Star says Arsenal fancy taking Barcelona’s Brazilian winger Malcom, 21, on loan in January. That’s be the same Malcolm the press told us had agreed to join Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester United before he went to Spain.

More facts from the twilight zone of football reporting every day…

Posted: 21st, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Hazard to Manchester United because he loves Chelsea

Is Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea for Manchester United? Surely not. But the Manchester Evening News implies that United is on the brilliant Belgian’s radar. The Twitter feed for the Manchester Evening News dedicated to Manchester United news – “Manchester United Football Club news from the Manchester Evening News” – tweets a photo of Hazard and a link to a story on the paper’s site. In anyone still can’t understand the story that Hazard is looking at his “future plans” which seem to included a move to Manchester United, the paper includes the tag ‘#mufc”.

 

eden hazard manchester united

hazard mufc

 

Taking the bait, we click the link and are told:

 

hazard cheslea

 

Words form Hazard on playing for Manchester United: nil. In fact, the MEN merely ping readers a post by Sky Sports, in which Hazard says he loves Chelsea and could end his playing days there:

 

hazard chelsea

 

So what is the story on Hazard that will be of interest to Manchester United fans? Oh:

Eden Hazard reveals his future plans
The Chelsea superstar previously revealed he would love to work with Jose Mourinho again, but that’s not going to happen unless the United boss ends up back at Stamford Bridge for a THIRD spell it seems:

Total tosh from the trusty MEN.

Posted: 19th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Aaron Ramsey transfer balls: Everton ready to trump Liverpool and Man United for Arsenal player

Does the BBC need to clickbait Arsenal fans with news of Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey? The BBC says Ramsey is “set to leave Arsenal for Everton on a free transfer in the summer”. Wasn’t he heading to Manchester United, Spurs, Liverpool, Manchester City or Chelsea? Earlier this week, the BBC told its reader that Ramsey was “open to joining one of Arsenal’s top six rivals if he leaves Emirates Stadium on a free transfer in the summer”. Everton are not a top six side. And that was “if” not “when”.

The BBC also told us that Real Madrid want Ramsey; and Liverpool and Man United were looking to get Ramsey in a “cut-price” deal this January.

Now we’re told, Everton are “ready to offer the 27-year-old a £15m signing-on fee”. Says who? Says the Sun, which actually says nothing of the sort. The BBC cites the tabloid as the source of its news, but when you head to the Sun, it tells us Ramsey “can command a stunning £15million signing-on fee.” He can. But will he? Everton could also pay the injury-prone player £150,000 a week to be “the main man in Silva’s midfield”.

 

ITV News also broadcast a rumour based on nothing but guesswork

 

Ramsey wants £250,000-a-week to stay at Arsenal on a four-year contract, working out at £52m. The Gunners rejected that option to nearly double Ramsey’s current salary. And now Everton will offer him £15m plus £31m in wages – that’s £46m over four-years. Although the Sun doesn’t say how long any contract offer will be for – just as it doesn’t says Everton are going to offer the player a £15m signing-on fee.

What next for Ramsey? The BBC hasn’t got the foggiest idea. He might yet stay at the Gunners. Look out for that theory on the BBC…

 

Posted: 17th, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Clickbait balls: Everton and Liverpool both boast the Premier League’s best goalkeeper

How football journalism works: No.9: be all things to all fans. The Liverpool Echo published two stories on goalkeepers: one on how much better than the rest the Liverpool ‘keeper is; one on how much better than the rest the Everton ‘keeper is.

“Alisson Becker is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League and we have the stats to prove it.”

 

liverpool echo liverpool everton

 

“Jordan Pickford’s distribution is better than that of Premier League rivals Alisson and Ederson…”

 

liverpool echo liverpool everton

 

The Pickford story is clickbait all the way. The entire thing is baed on the opinion of former England and Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman. He opines: “In the Premier League, you’ve got three guys who are really good when it comes to their distribution. You’ve got the two Brazilian keepers – Ederson at Manchester City and Alisson at Liverpool – but they’re not as good as Jordan is with his long passes out of his hands.” Pickford is better at “long passes out of his hands” than all the others, says former goalie.

Next week, why Tranmere Rovers’ ‘keeper is the best in the land…

 

Posted: 17th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United, Spurs and Chelsea in a ‘bidding war’ for Ake

Manchester United, Spurs and Chelsea are all in for Netherlands international Nathan Ake, 23. Well, so says the BBC. And United and Spurs “will have to wait” to see if Chelsea want to re-sign the player they sold to Bournemouth. So that’s three top clubs who all want Ake in a story that has taken on a life of its own.

Over in the Telegraph we learn that as part of Ake’s £20 million transfer to Bournemouth, Chelsea negotiated “a gentleman’s agreement that would allow them to re-sign him for a fee of around £40m”. What utter tosh. Football club’s do not employ lawyers on multi-million pound deals to work with a handshake. And then this:

There has not yet been any sign that Chelsea are ready to try to take Ake back to Stamford Bridge and any move to re-sign him would have to be agreed by the player. But a summer bid from either Spurs or United would force Bournemouth to offer Chelsea the opportunity to make a move and leave the other two clubs sweating.

This transfer news is tosh. But that doesn’t top the Express from milking the balls to produce the gem: “Man Utd news: Nathan Ake transfer battle takes fresh twist, Chelsea hold the key.”

When asked if he’d read the story of his transfer to Spurs, Ake told Football Oranje: “I’ve also seen it pass by, but of course it’s rumours. At the moment I play everything at Bournemouth and that goes well, so I focus on that. If I’ve already signed in London? No, certainly not. This does not say much about my status yet, they are rumours that come on the internet and as long as I do not hear anything myself, I will not go into that.” The story on the Dutch website was titled: “Ake to Tottenham: its only rumours.”

Mentions of Manchester United: nil. The story is about interest from Spurs. But the Daily Star hears the same words and manages to report:”NATHAN AKE has addressed the rumours surrounding his future amid reported interest from Manchester United.” In The Metro it’s: “Nathan Ake speaks out on Manchester United transfer speculation.” “Nathan Ake breaks silence on Manchester United speculation as Bournemouth defender addresses future,” chimes the Mirror.

All newspapers connive to omit the part where Ake says he’s not signed “in London“. Worse still, the Metro thunders: “Man Utd transfer news: Nathan Ake responds to Jose Mourinho interest.” Words from Mourinho: zero. But as the Mail says in a story about a “bidding war” for Ake, “Jose Mourinho, who worked with Ake at Chelsea, wants to revamp his defence with Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof failing to impress the Portuguese tactician.”

Ake did play for Chelsea nine times. But he was loaned out to Reading, Watford and Bournemouth. Aké made his Premier League debut on 26 December 2012 – when Rafa Benitez was Chelsea manager. Under Mourinho, Ake only made one league appearance, as a substitute in a 3–0 loss at West Bromwich Albion on 18 May.

Such are the facts.

 

 

Posted: 16th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester City’s Foden to Dortmund, Hazard’s Chelsea dream and Manchester United want Ake

Borussia Dortmund are keen to hire Manchester City’s cake-loving reserve Phil Foden to keep Jadon Sancho company. All the noises from those with vested interests in young Foden earning loads money at City say he’s very happy at the club. But he hardly plays for the first team, and if a big name in his position became available, City would surely swoop and push Foden further down the hierarchy. RB Leipzig and PSG also want Foden, but Dortmund with their reputation for developing young talent must be the pick.

Bournemouth’s Nathan Aké is talking about a rumoured move to Manchester United. “I’ve seen it pass by but of course it’s rumours,” says the former Chelsea loanee. “At the moment I play at Bournemouth and that is going well, so I focus on that. This does not say much about my status yet. They are rumours on the internet and as long as I do not hear anything myself, I will not go into that.” No comment is still a comment, Nathan. But he’s not heard anything himself about the things he’s chatting about to Dutch journalists so let’s just leave him alone.

Still at Chelsea is Eden Hazard, who having stated it his childhood “dream” to play for Real Madrid, no says he won’t head to Spain in January. He also says he won’t ever force a move to Madrid. Instead, he’ll just keep on talking about his ambitions in Spain, batting his eyelashes and seemingly talking abut Madrid every single day.

Heading back to Chelsea is midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, 24. Reports are that AC Milan have “threatened” to cancel his loan deal because of “defects in his game”.

Arsenal are looking at cheaper options than Hazard, like Rennes’s Ismaila Sarr and Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz. They’re said to be promising, young, athletic, skilful and cheap. You know the story. Some things at Arsenal never change.

At the other end of the pay scale, Manchester United are all ready to offer Spain goalkeeper David de Gea a new deal that would make the 27-year-old the club’s highest earner – m re than the £600,000-a-week they pay Alexis Sanchez to kiss the badge.

As for Spurs, well, Madrid captain Ramos says Harry Kane would be great in La Liga, and Mousa Dembélé will quit the cub at the season’s end to live out his own fantasy at Beijing Sinobo Guoan in the Chinese (Not So) Super League.

Posted: 15th, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


A swearing ban on England footballers: oh, piss off…

It’s Croatia versus England in the Nations League. No fans will be in the ground, save for the BBC’s Ian Wright, perhaps, and the talk is of microphones picking up players swearing in the all-but silent stadium. With little else to talk abut, the media want to talk about protecting viewers at home and at the pub – the ones screaming “Why are England so f***ing s***? at the telly. The BBC reports, “England manager Gareth Southgate says he will have no problem with his players swearing”. But the Mail says Southgate is fearful:

 

England swearing

 

Which is it? What Southgate said was: “We’ve spent two years encouraging them to speak, so to stop them speaking now would be slightly against what we’ve been trying to work on. It’s for the television companies to decide where they put their microphones.”

Or broadcast the game after the watershed. Of course, if you can’t say “twat” during a football match, when can you say it?

Posted: 12th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: maths say Gunners will be champions and Ramsey will score 20 goals

We do all love the hyberbolic rantings of football pundits. Right now they’re raving about Arsenal. Stan Collymore uses his tired Daily Mirror column to tell readers Arsenal “will win 90 per cent of their games and lose the other fixtures they’re expected to lose, that means no titles”. It does? Since when have Arsenal ever won 90% of their matches over a season? Since Stan Collymore made it up.

If Arsenal win 90 of their Premiere League matches, they most likely win the title. Last season, Manchester City scored  records number of points by winning a mere 84% of their PL matches. In the Europa League, you can win the trophy by winning just 8 of 15 matches – that’s 53%.

Over on Sky Sports, Ian Wright is backing Arenal in their stance over Aaron Ramsey. Say Wright: “We’ve seen him [Ramsey] in the Euros dominating when he was absolutely fantastic, we’ve seen the season [2013-14] he has with Arsenal scoring 20-plus goals and was amazing, we’ve seen he can score in big games, winning cup finals.” Ramey has never scored 20-plus goals in a season. In the Mirror, John Cross also thinks Ramsey can be relived upon to score, noting:

It will be a massive blow to lose one of Europe’s top goal-scoring midfielders on a free, and once again the north Londoners’ dealings in the market and over contracts will come under the spotlight.

Ramsey has scored once season. He did score 7 PL goals last season – the same number as: Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford), Pascal Groß (Brighton) and Marcos Alonso (Chelsea). In season 2016-17, Ramsey scored – get this – one Premier League goal. In 2015-16 he scored 5; in 2014-15 he got 6; and in 2013-14 he scored 10. Is he one of the continent’s best goal-scoring midfielders? Does he get 20 goals season? No. In season 2013-14, Ramsey scored 13 goals.

But let’s spare some sympathy for the pundits. It’s not as though there’s an easy resource you tap into to access a myriad facts in seconds. And until there is, guesswork will triumph over homework.

Posted: 11th, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Spurs want £200m for Kane and Hazard has a dream

Real Madrid want to sign Spurs and England striker Harry Kane. But the BBC says that the richest club in the world “may be put off by the 25-year-old’s £200m price tag”. To which the response must be: what price tag? Is there a tag visible when Kane puts his shirt on inside out? And why stop at £200m when you can conjure any figure – why not 300m? As far as we can tell, Kane’s not for sale and is perfectly happy at Spurs.

The cited source is El Confidencial, a Spanish site, which opines: “Real Madrid (after a new crash) wants to sign a goal for now.” Google Translate continues to be gift to comedy. It also tells us that the BBC’s story is utter tosh. Here we go – take it away, Google language bots:

The Real Madrid plumbs the market ahead of the winter window. Aware of his erroneous planning of the squad last summer, which was reflected again this Saturday in the disastrous defeat in Vitoria against Alavés (1-0) , Florentino Perez has given order to comb the market in search of a pair of players that reinforce the template for this winter…

The priority, as seems obvious, is to reinforce the team’s lead with a contrasted goalscorer who adds a goal to a squad that has lost a lot of punch with the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo…

In that list will appear young players like the forward of the RB Leipzig, Timo Werner…

Another profile that is handled is that of the veteran striker who without becoming a star of the first level could complete the Real Madrid goal and add those goals that the team is missing… The perfect example is that of ‘Manolito’ Adebayor , the forward who came from Tottenham to Real Madrid in winter and added eight goals leaving a good taste in the Bernabéu.

And the third way is to bet on the signing of a ‘galactic’ as they could be Eden Hazard or Harry Kane…

So Real are looking to recruit any half decent striker who could be available in January, maybe. As for Kane being worth £200m and it being too rich for Real, the BBC just made that up – just as El Confidencial plucked Kane’s name from the air as a possible big name signing. The actual story is that Hazard says Real are the world’s biggest club and it’s been a childhood dream to play for them. What his price tag is, we’re not told. But it could be ‘lots’..

Posted: 9th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Manchester United balls: Pogba saves sacked Mourinho

Can the Daily Mirror reassess the quality of its “Manchester United” insiders” who were “convinced” Jose Mourinho was going to be sacked last weekend? The paper leads with United’s 3-2 win over an average Newcastle side lacking in top talent, hailing it as a “stay of execution”.  The comeback from 0-2 down “papered over the cracks”.

 

mourinho manchester united

 

David McDonnell saw United play for 70 minutes “without spark or purpose”. They were “abject”. But “from somewhere deep within themselves”, the players stirred for a “staggering Fergie-like 20-minute comeback”. It was a “miracle”. No word on Mourinho’s role in the resurgence. Not a peep about what the manager might have done at half-time to reform his side trialing by two goals. And nothing said on the Mirror’s story, as told by one David McDonell, that Mourinho is today looking for a new job.

 

mourinho sacked

Daily Mirror knows

 

As the Mirror memory holes the words “Mourinho Jose Mourinho set to be sacked this WEEKEND whatever Manchester United’s result vs Newcastle”, the Sun has its own exclusive. The Sun is the paper that has cheered longest and loudest for Mourinho. The team might be dull, but to the Sun it’s all part of the “RED-OLUTION”.

 

Jose Mourinho the sun Manchester United

The Sun loves Jose

 

And so to the day’s scoop: “HOW POGBA SAVED JOSE”. The want-away midfielder saved Mourinho, how? “He told boss best way to spark fightback.” Pogba Tip 1: Tell Juan Mata to score direct from a free kick. Mata scores! The trust is less poetic. We hear that Mourinho listened to his players at half time. Pogba suggested a “deeper role for himself and brining on Fellaini”. Genius. Bring on the hairy elbow and lob it up into the mixer.

 

mourinho manchester united

 

Mourinho tells everyone that he and the team chatted for 10 minutes about this and that at half time.  To seasoned Mourinho watchers this might look like the manager trying to exculpate himself from the mess. But to the Sun’s it’s honest Jose binding the team and securing victory. It “showed how they could all work together”. It also showed that Newcastle United – six defeats from eight played; two draws – can’t hang on to a two goal lead.

But as Jose and Pog hug in the Sun, the Mail says Pogba wants to leave regardless of Mourinho’s future. Looks like the miracle will only last if plucky minnows United can play huge-spending Newcastle at home every week…

Posted: 8th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United balls: Mourinho ‘sacked today’ as board back their man

Manchester United will sack Jose Mourinho today. As the Mirror told readers yesterday: “Jose Mourinho set to be sacked this WEEKEND whatever Manchester United’s result vs Newcastle.” So much for the thrilling comeback from 0-2 down against Newcastle. Indeed, the Mirror’s match report calls the match thrilling. It cocks an ear as “Old Trafford erupted and Mourinho’s name rang out once again”. But today he gets the sack.

 

mourinho sacked

Daily Mirror knows

 

The Mirror even had a live blog. As Alexis Sanchez scored the winner, it piped:

GOOOALLLL!!!! Young whipped the ball into Martial, who had drawn the attention of the defenders, but it makes it past them and Sanchez heads it in at the back post! Has that goal saved Jose Mourinho’s job?! Manchester United 3-2 Newcastle.

Has it saved his job? No. Because the Mirror said he’s getting sacked today.

Elsewhere in today’s  in-the-know Mirror, we read that Manchester United bosses have “urged Zinedine Zidane not to consider any other managerial vacancies” because they are deciding on the future of manager Jose Mourinho. We also learn that Manchester United “could have to pay £29m to Mourinho if they sack the Portuguese”. But if United fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League, the bill is £10m.

Meanwhile, the Times tells us the Manchester United board texted Mourinho their support before yesterday’s match. Which, as the Mirror know, means he’s getting sacked…

 

Posted: 7th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United Balls: Mourinho sacked today, tomorrow or the next day

After the the ‘ifs’ and ‘coulds’, news is that  Manchester United will sack Jose Mourinho will be sacked after today’s match with Newcastle. the BBC has the scoop, although it’s one founded in the Mirror’s story: “Jose Mourinho set to be sacked this WEEKEND whatever Manchester United’s result vs Newcastle.” Win 19-0 in a match that will reverberate through time and Mourinho will be sacked. Play out a thrilling encounter, as Mourinho unleashes Sanchez, Pogba and Martial with the command ‘express yourselves’ and still be sacked. How can the Mirror be certain? After all, this is the paper that told us Arsenal Wenger had ‘set the date’ to leave Arsenal on June 30 2017. He was sacked a year later.

 

mourinho sacked

 

daily mirror wenger quits sack resigns arsenal

2017?

 

 

David McDonnell writes: “Jose Mourinho has lost the confidence of the Manchester United board and is set to be sacked this weekend.” And replaced by? Dunno. We also don’t know the identities of the “senior United sources” who gave the Mirror its story.  We’re told Mourinho has “alienated players, fans and staff at Old Trafford”. And Mourinho “appeared resigned to his fate” in the pre-match press conference.

We’re then told that Man United chief executive Ed Woodward “is believed to have lost his patience in Mourinho”. Since when ie believing something a fact? We do know that those “senior” United insiders don’t include the most senior, nor the Glazers, who own the club. It’s all very woolly. And as for the all-important bottom line, Bloomberg notes:

Even though the club’s shares have slumped 17 percent since reaching a record high on the last day of August, they’re up 27 percent since the Portuguese manager took over in May 2016.

Mourinho the manager is damaged goods; but Mourinho the brand is doing ok.

And then we get more hunches: “Ex-Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane is the favourite to succeed Mourinho, who is set to receive compensation of around £20million. Michael Carrick could be put in temporary charge.” United fans want Carrick as manager? And sd a £20m goodbye a reason for Mourinho to look “sullen”? Yes, he’s rich but you could always use a few million more, right.

 

Mourinho newspapers Manchester United

The Mirror says Jose will be at United for a decade

 

the sun mourinho jose Manchester United Neil Curtis

The Sun loves Jose – and all the access loving him might gt to other of Jorge Menze’z starry clients

 

 

 

Meanwhile, talkSport hears “United sources” say Mourinho won’t be sacked. The Indy agrees. Woodward is “keen to give the manager more time”. The Guardian says: “Manchester United have no plans to remove Mourinho.” And that’s how journalism works – one source makes a bold claim based on nameless sources; and the rest either repeat it or get their scoop by screaming”Nothing Will Happen!”

But it might happen one day. Mourinho will be sacked! You read it everywhere first…

Posted: 6th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Anyone lose a pink dildo at the Brighton v West Ham match?

Good on twitter for making an amusing story more suggestive. During Brighton’s home win over West Ham in the Premier League, the Sun tweets: “Brighton’s win over West Ham interrupted by ref picking up sex toy.” 30,000 people look on as the the old “w**ker in the back” blows his whistle to signal a break in play fore hailing a taxi to the local ‘marital aides shop’, or maybe picked something up online?

 

 

The story is less bizarre, as ref Kevin Friend picked up a neat, pink set of plastic cock and balls lobbed on to the pitch by a fan in the throes of ecstasy.

 

dildo football

 

They do get so very excited:

 

Posted: 6th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports, Strange But True, The Consumer | Comment


Manchester City: Phil Foden shames ‘obscene’ Raheem Sterling

When 21-year-old Raheem Sterling bought his mum a house the Daily Mail was unimpressed. Sterling was the “£180,000-a-week England flop” showing off a “blinging house he bought for his mum… hours after flying home in disgrace from Euro 2016.” Disgrace? Surely the Mail means disappointment at getting knocked out of the tournament only monocular die-hards thought England would win?

 

obscene raheem the sun

The Sun also saw the house

 

Fast forward two years and another Manchester City player is buying his dear old ma a house – cost: £2m. It’s 18-year-old Phil Foden. The teenager has yet to play for the full England team. And until he does he will be the great white hope. He’s only played 8 times for City in the Premier League. The Mail will surely goggle at the obscenity of it all. Or not:

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.

Cash is king – he’s not in the least bit obscene.

 

More in how it different for Raheem Sterling here, here, here and here.

Posted: 5th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United balls: Mourinho sacked when noodle deal goes cold

That the Press have no idea what Manchester United’s moneymen will do about Jose Mourinho is no clearer than in the BBC’s news that the club “could” sack the draining Portuguese “if his side lose to Newcastle United on Saturday”. Could and if are not news. But the Sun goes further. It says senior boardroom figures have lost faith in Mourinho. No names are revealed. No boardroom suit has given the rumours of top-level discord a face.

Are they upset by Mourinho’s dire man-management of Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Marcus Rashford and Eric Bailly? Before he criticised those current members of the United squad in public, Mourinho sniped at Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Bastian Schweinsteiger, although of the later he did say, “He’s in the category of players that I feel sorry for something I did to him.”

Or are the suits voicing dissent over the dull style of play and poor results? Most likely they’re fretting about sponsors. Under the Glazers, United are a brand for hire. Mourinho, like Pogba, was recruited for his market appeal. Mourinho’s the man with a range of perfumes, whose name was licensed for Jose Mourinho briefcases and umbrellas. Jaguar and Hublot have paid big money for Mourinho to advertise their stuff. As one Times writer notes, the Glazers’ yes man, Ed Woodward, “can nail a noodle deal but not provide any heavyweight footballing guidance or astute succession planning.”

If Mourinho is deemed to have lost his cache in the luxury goods arena, he’s toast. If it’s all abut football, why did United ever hire the man whose teams are set out to pinch a goal and hang on? Sack the suits, right, for neglecting Manchester United’s footballing history.

 

spurs

 

But who if not Mourinho?

The BBC says Mauricio Pochettino is “Manchester United owner Ed Woodward’s preferred candidate”. The reporting is shockingly bad.

And over in the Manchester Evening News, we learn that when Zinedine Zidane was at Real Madrid, he was an admirer of David De Gea, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial. So much did he admire them that moneybags Real never recruited any of the trio. But they all play for United and Zidane’s between jobs, so the story must be that the great Frenchman wants to take over at United – noodle deal permitting.

 

Posted: 5th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Liverpool: Naby Keita’s back injury was not a heart attack

Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita was stretched off the pitch in the Reds’ 1-0 Champions League defeat by Napoli. Keita was taken to hospital in Naples. He “underwent a number of precautionary health checks”, says the Liverpool official website. So what’s wrong with Keita? “It is his back,” says Jurgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager.

And then the speculation began. Liverpool fans’ website Empire of the Kop says “Keita might have paid the price” for Napoli’s pitch, which they say was “really poor and nowhere close to being appropriate for a top-level game”. The Mirror says he “caught” his foot on the “rough” playing surface. But Keita has a history of back problems, having missed some of Liverpool’s pre-season tour to the United States last July after aggravating an existing back problem on a flight. Why blame Napoli?

But for top-level speculation, website Football Italia wins. “Sky Sport Italia and Radio Marte both confirm he was rushed to the Cardarelli hospital for tests on his heart,” says the site. No links to Sky Sport Italia is provided. But another Liverpool fan site does have links. It ups the ante, screaming:  “According to confirmed reports, the Guinean felt faint and there were concerns within the medics that he was suffering a heart attack.” Confirmed reports? No. A single tweet:

 

 

 

Any concerns over Keita’s heart were routine. Medics most likely also checked his breathing, blood and urine. Look out for headlines telling of “Keita Kidney Scare”, “Keita Lung Horror” and “Keita Mystery Virus”. The Sky Sports Italia website makes no mention of any heart issues. The mention was made by Gianluca Di Marzio, a reporter for Sky Italia, who tweeted the above: “#Liverpool, Naby #Keita trasportato d’urgenza in ospedale: scongiurati problemi cardiaci, gli aggiornamenti.” Which simply says, there were no heart problems. put that through the SEO blender and the Bleacher Report can thunder: “Jurgen Klopp: Naby Keita Has Back Injury After Heart Scare Initially Feared.”

Another tweeter adds:

 

One moment you’ve a bad back, the next they’re carrying you off to the morgue. Such are the facts.

Posted: 4th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal balls: £52m Ramsey bid but his replacement comes cheap

Dust off the piano, Arsenal, Alexis Sanchez is being linked with a return to the Gunners. Having been told by Manchester United’s negative and draining manager Jose Mourinho that he could never play for United again, Sanchez is considering his options. The Daily Star reasons that this includes the £600,000-a-week man taking a huge wage cut to rejoin Arsenal and seize the dream of coming fourth and winning the Europa League.

The Manchester Evening News says “Manchester United fans think Arsenal robbed them with Alexis Sanchez deal”. Nothing but desperation impelled United to give Sanchez a fortune. Clubs should be careful what they wish for.

Meanwhile, the Gunners are looking to replace Aaron Ramsey, who was seeking about £250,000-a-week to sign a new Arsenal deal. Ramsey told the fans it wasn’t about the money. Right. And Sanchez joined United to shop at the Arndale Centre. It’s all about the money.

Arsenal reasoned that paying a fading player £52m in wages over a four-year contract was too much – and that might not include loyalty payments. Ramsey turns 28 in December. Last season he missed 11 games though injury. The seasons before that he missed: 22 matches, 11 matches, 15 matches and 21 matches, respectively. Ramsey leaving Arsenal is being talked of as a disaster. The Daily Mirror called Ramsey one of the best goal-scoring midfielder in Europe. Last season Ramsey scored how many goals for Arsenal in the Premier League? Fifteen? Ten? No. One. He scored one goal.

Factor in any resale value in the transfer market and giving Ramsey a shedload of cash to stay looks nuts. So he leaves for the Liverpool treatment room or Real Madrid’s reserves, and the Gunners can look at getting a replacement, like Napoli’s Poland midfielder Piotr Zielinski. He’s 24. He’s no history of injuries. He’d have a resale value. And he’d a command a transfer fee of around £25m plus up to £100,000-a-week wages.

It’s not all about player power.

Posted: 3rd, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Pogba and Sanchez out

The Manchester Evening News is in Team Mourinho in the draining, negative Manchester manager’s row with, well, most of this side, not least of all star turns Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba. The paper tells readers “more damage would be done if Zinedine Zidane is appointed”. You might wonder why the Frenchman’s name is being linked with a job at United at all.

The Sun says Zidane has heard the rumours and called Mourinho to say he’s not after his job. This has led Mourinho to deduce that United are doing the courting. Are Manchester United’s kingmakers that sly? In July, Mourinho’s predecessor, Louis Van Gaal, spoke about his time at United. Words are through Google Translate from the original Dutch:

“I find the way in which Manchester has dealt with me horrible. And false…

“All those old footballers from Manchester suddenly came to tell me that I played boring football. So that was remarkable; that was directed. After a while I started thinking: how can I still be the authority for the players?”

He then talked about getting the sack and with a big cash settlement from United. Van Gaal was so bitter about his treatment at United, he turned down the Belgium job because taking it would have meant United could stop paying him:

“But the first year I could not go into anything because of the conditions that Manchester imposed on my lump sum. That is why I have run Belgium for example. While I thought that was a great challenge… I was so vindictive that I let it go. Actually stupid, because the sporting consideration is the most important. But that’s how I stood back then… It was more about revenge for me: that they had to pay for everything.”

How much blame can be apportioned to United’s board in making such a mess of things? David Moyes lasted just 10 months, Van Gaal was sacked for coaching dull football only to be replaced with the stultifying Mourinho? Not much blame at all, according to the MEN, which explains:

There is no panacea for Woodward [United chairman Ed Woodward]. Zinedine Zidane inherited such a superb squad at Real Madrid in 2015 that the XI in his third and last Champions League final in May comprised completely of players he inherited. United have one world-class player and the post-Ferguson task has broken two managers of different repute already, with a third likely.

Which world-class player is that? David de Gea? Paul Pogba? Alexis Sanchez? “We have world-class players in every position and I think that’s very important to have, ” said Victor Lindelof in March, the United defender Mourinho recruited. As for Zidane inheriting a team of Champions’ League winners, doesn’t he take credit for taking player who weren’t his choice and making them serial champions?

Posted: 2nd, October 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Barcelona don’t want whinging Pogba

Don’t panic, Paul Pogba. Sure, you’re a destabilising present at Manchester United who criticised the team in public after a 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers, in which you set up United’s goal and then were easily dispossessed in the build up to the equaliser. You could still be on your way to Barcelona. Although a word of caution: Barcelona’s board are not unanimous in their desire to recruit you, says ESPN. Some suits might think a huge fee of well over £100m for a over-hyped player who went “home” to United to finish the job and has succeeded in all but finishing Jose Mourinho, not worth the effort.

And Mourinho had best leave, or else. The Sun hears Pogba say he will leave United in January if Jose Mourinho stays as manager. Did he really say that? And how does the Sun know it – the Sun being the paper that has cheered longest and hardest for Mourinho at United?

 

the sun mourinho jose Manchester United Neil Curtis

The Sun loves Jose – and all the access loving him might get to other of agent Jorge Mendes’s starry clients

 

 

The Sun says Pogba told team-mates “he cannot be bothered to argue with the manager any more”. So he told them and they told the Press. And then he told them that it’s not his fault: “He is embarrassed at being played in formations and with tactics that none of the team can get to grips with.” None of them can work out how to play? Or just one of them? As the Sun continues: “Pogba had a wretched game and was hooked after 70 minutes to a chorus of jeers from home supporters.”

Those home supporters were West Ham fans, not United fans, who are told: “The Hammers’ first goal was offside while there was a ­possible foul in the build-up to their third.” So United were unlucky? Or as the Sun put it on Sunday after the match, West Ham were “inspired” and United were “dismal”. As for Pogba, “the whinging France midfielder put on another abysmal display in a United shirt before he was subbed in the 70th minute.”

The Sun is gunning for Pogba. But Mourinho, a draining presence, is the man who looks like he’s got nowhere left to go…

 

Posted: 2nd, October 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Sanchez beats Mourinho to the exit and Pogba stays

Is Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho lacking in self-awareness? Odd to ask, I know, given his crushing narcissism.  But when he said before United’s defeat at West Ham the club is bigger than anyone, he wasn’t referring to himself was he. We’re pretty sure Mourinho thinks he is bigger than Manchester United, or at least the club’s human equal. His words were answer aimed at Paul Pogba, the World Cup winner and United’s priciest asset he’s fallen out with.

The problem for Mourinho is that on the all-important United balance sheets Pogba is worth more to United than he is. Pressured by the marketeers and debt managers who control United, Mourinho cosets the player, making him captain, letting him take the penalties and telling media the Frenchman is the best in training. Pogba understands his value. Mourinho appears weak – all the more so when he then told Pogba he’d never captain the team again, and was met with belligerence when he schemed to broadcast his authority by admonishing Pogba in front of the cameras.

None of this is aided by Mourinho pragmatic tactics, anathema to United’s traditions of free-flowing, attack-minded football – but, then, United’s owners should have done their homework and realised what they were getting with Mourinho, a man whose success is built on nicking a lead and hanging on to it with grim determination.

And so it’s no surprise to read in the Sun that the Manchester United manager is worried about his future at Old Trafford. He’s “convinced” club officials have sounded out former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane. But Italian press says Zidane is to be the new chief executive at Juventus. ESPN hears United deny reports they have approached Zidane to replace. United says it’s “nonsense”.

The Star says one figure on his way out is Alex Sanchez, the ball-hogging attacker United were at pains to recruit from Arsenal. Having watched Sanchez, who never made it at Barcelona, shine in a team of journeymen at Arsenal, Mourinho thought the Chilean was the man to get United firing. He wasn’t. Indulged at Arsenal, where Arsene Wenger allowed Sanchez to wander all over the pitch, often picking the ball up in front of the defenders, waving his hands about at the rest of the team before trying to score on his own, Sanchez was given a more fixed role at Old Trafford. You can pay Sanchez £600,000-a-week, as United do, but Mourinho can’t get him to play like he did for the Gunners.

But maybe even he’ll outlast Mourinho, who is surely nearing the end of his time at United.

Posted: 1st, October 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment