Back pages | Anorak - Part 69

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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

No Saint Andrew

HOLD the blue felt-tip! There’s no need to alter your flag of St George into a Saltire. Andrew Murray is out of Wimbledon.

The Scot’s Wimbledon dream ended with a 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7-2) defeat to France’s Marcos Baghdatis.

Murray is ranked No. 44 in the world. Baghdatis is at number 55. In football terms, this is Serbia & Montenegro losing to Zimbabwe.

Not that football has much to do with tennis. Since Goran Ivanisevic retired from the game, we struggle to remember any player who has kicked a ball on court, let alone attempted to juggle it on his toe, as the affable Croatian was wont to.

Boris Becker has commentated on the “beautiful jackets” in both sports, but this we feel has less to with his sporting knowledge and more with his role as our favourite German; a condition aided by the fact that the only other German we are supposed to like is Jurgen Klinsmann, and he’s too busy leading his country to World Cup supremacy to talk to Sue Barker about umpire’s blazers and Comfi-Slax.

Football and tennis rarely if ever mix. Which is why it was odd for Murray to say that he’d be supporting “anyone but England” at the World Cup.

And all the odder because tennis players – especially British tennis players – are as controversial as wet toast.

Murray’s error was not only to voice an opinion, and so make the kind of people who watch tennis – middle-aged, middle-class and middle management – baulk, but to look like he cared about football.

Football. Eu! That’s the sport for sweaty oiks and thugs. Tennis is so much more refined, less a sport than a chance to discuss Gavin’s promotion at work and Lucy’s custard tarts.

And here was Murray talking about football. In a single comment he had alienated many of us.

England football fans noticed him and did not like what they saw. Tennis fans thought him crass and vulgar. Unsurprisingly, Murray’s blog has attracted over 1,000 unflattering comments and no little abuse.

Pete Wishart, of the Scottish National Party, said in the Commons that his “sickening hate mail” has to stop.

And so it should. Hate mail in tennis? How so? Football has the tabloids mutating men’s heads on turnips, sticking players’ faces on dartboards and likening games to war. Football has wives and girlfriends who dance on tables and tell Germans to “f*** off”. Tennis has Lucy Henman in a silk scarf and bob.

Thankfully, it is now all at an end. Murray can disappear until next summer. He is out. As, of course, are England.

Indeed, defeat is perhaps the one thing that unites both sports and their sets fans. And balls.

Posted: 4th, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

After The Ball

THE World Cup is a party to which we are all invited – and that includes Britain’s paedophiles.

On Saturday night they will have headed to south-west London to join the revelries of our ex-pat Portuguese community and then headed home to sleep soundly in their beds for the first time since June 2004.

That’s because they know that once every two years England will crash out of a football tournament, and for a brief period they will be knocked off their spot as public enemy number one. The only question this year was who would replace them: Rooney or Sven? We turn to the Sun to discover Rebekah’s name-and-shame selection. And the winner is…. Neither!

Sven’s apologetic press conference, and his plea not to slaughter Rooney seems to have paid off, because the man who can no longer safely set foot on Britain’s tolerant soil is not English at all – he’s Cristiano Ronaldo, aka the “slippery Portuguese winker”.

Ronaldo’s crime was to wind up his Manchester United team-mate before the match, point out to the ref that Rooney had committed a foul, and allegedly suggest a card, and then wink and pout provocatively afterwards. Rooney is understandably furious, and, having failed to get into the Portuguese dressing room after the match, has now threatened to ‘split him in two’.

The Sun provides a Ronaldo dartboard, with the slippery one’s winking eye as the bull. Underneath is Bully from Bullseye, holding up the World Cup with the words “…and here’s what you could have won”. Clearly no room for the words “with a decent team and manager”.

Once we turn to the back pages, Sven and Rooney have to take their fair share of stick. “GOODBYE TOSSER,” says the Sun of the Swede who “tossed away” our cash, our talent and our world Cup dreams. “Sven stuffed his pockets, and then he stuffed us all,” declares Ian Wright, whose World Cup Super Goals section is adorned with the flag of St George, the patron saint of penalty shoot-outs.

The Daily Mail’s prize-winning Chief Sport’s Writer Paul Hayward “delivers his withering analysis” over two full pages, but it is helpfully summed up in three quotes. Eriksson is “the man who vandalised our team in five awful years”. Rooney “disgraced himself in his first big match”. And David Beckham “has dodged the silver bullet”.

The latter refers to Beckham’s emotional announcement of his resignation as England captain, which Hayward sees as an opportunity to “escape the celebrity culture of the Eriksson years”. He says that England (surely Team England, Paul) is “not a brand or a vehicle for advertisers” but “a football team hurtling towards a half-century of Wilderness Years”. We assume he means a half-century post-’66, rather than starting now, but in the current climate of gloom it’s hard to tell.

The Mirror offers a more conciliatory approach, and includes a poster of our David waving sadly, with the words “BYE BYE SKIP”, and some snapshots of his golden moments, for which it offers thanks.

But there’s no respite for “flop Eriksson”. The paper claims that the ice-man “stunned players” by bursting into tears as he thanked the players in the dressing room. An “insider” says that the players then consoled him. (Later, when they had finished, they all got into their pyjamas and had some cocoa and a group hug before going to bed.)

As for the future, the Telegraph quotes Eriksson on his successor Steve McLaren. “He will be a very impressive manager for England,” says Sven. “I’ve been working with him for five-and-a-half years.” And that, ladies and gentleman, is as good an example of a non sequitur as you will ever see.

Steve should take heart from the fact that if he does half as badly as his mentor, he’ll be doing very well indeed.

Posted: 3rd, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Later, Ron

Cristiano Ronaldo will be sold by Manchester United, probably to Real Madrid (Sun)

Middlesbrough still want Fulham’s Steed Malbranque (Mirror)

Glenn Hoddle has resigned as manager of Wolves (Guardian)

Paul Ince is favourite to be the new Wolves manager (Mail)

Liverpool have signed Valencia’s Fabio Aurelio (Mirror)

Sir Clive Woodward is to discuss his future at Southampton with new club chairman Michael Wilde (Mirror)

Manchester United want Derby’s Giles Barnes, who has also attracted interest from Everton, Liverpool and Newcastle (Mail)

Sheffield United want Ghana’s Derek Boateng (Mail)

Everton want to sign Brett Emerton from Blackburn (Mail)

Posted: 3rd, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Forty Years Of Hurt


Frank Skinner and David Baddiel can now sing about 40 years of hurt as England fail once more to recapture the spirit of 1966 and all that.

A poll by GMI found that 56 per cent of Americans did not even know their country was competing in the World Cup. “We are not very passionate about soccer,” says a spokesman for the pollsters. He’s not kidding.

The vast majority of England fans behaved better than Wayne Rooney. Over 315,000 England fans made the pilgrimage to Germany for the tournament. In all, 711 England fans were arrested. “The behaviour of our real fans has been absolutely superb,” says Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Thomas, Britain’s police representative in Germany.

Owen Hargreaves went from zero to hero. Jeered earlier in the tournament, Hargreaves proved to be a terrific competitor. “I’m very happy that the tide has turned,” says Hargreaves. Incidentally, Hargreaves plays his football for Bayern Munich in Germany, which may explain why he was the only England player to score a penalty.

Theo Walcott had a lovely holiday in Baden Baden.


The Mirror has blamed England’s defeat on Portugal and Manchester United player Ronaldo. “BANNED!” screamed the headline. “Do not allow this man back into the country”. How dare he try to beat us! How dare he wink at Wayne Rooney! Hanging’s too good for him! Let’s invade Portugal! Cheating foreigners etc…

Sven Goran Eriksson’s farewell speech was met by one clap from the assembled media. And even that stopped when the clapper realised no-one else had joined in.

Posted: 3rd, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Wayne On Our Parade

Quotes Of The Day

“Is it impossible for one nation to have so much bad luck, so many poor decisions, so many obstacles thrown in their way?” – Sam Allardyce thinks England were unlucky.

“Dutch football has lost its innocence. Even though there were a lot of provocations from the Portuguese side, there’s simply now excuse for what happened. We can all get carried away – it happened occasionally with me – but this was something different” – Dutchman Edgar Davids

“Hooligans with visas” – A German magazine headline’s comment on the Wags

“I’ve lived the dream” – David Beckham steps down as England skipper

“Wayne and I were teasing each other, I told him Portugal were going to win and he said I was crazy because England were going to beat us easily. But it was all good natured and we were having a laugh” – Cristiano Ronaldo says what passed between he and the disgraceful Rooney

“He’s the man who vandalised our team in five awful years” – The Mail’s Paul Hayward assesses the England career of Sven Goran Eriksson

“God is Portuguese” – Portugal’s goalkeeper Ricardo reveals why England really lost

Puns Of The Day

“Roo’ll be all right Wayne” (Star) – Wayne Rooney is back at home

“Chris off!” (Star) – Paper demands Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo is not let back in the country

“Spot the fall-guys” (Mail) – A look at those awful England penalties

“Rood Mist” (Mirror) – Wayne Rooney, England’s saviour, tries to start a fight with the Portuguese

“He done me Ron” (Mirror) – Rooney says it was Ronaldo’s fault he was sent off

“Sven bawls it up again” (Mirror) – Sven burst into tears

“He banked, he bonked & he ballsed it up” – The life and times of Sven

“Stevie: That little winker disgusts me” (Sun) – Steven Gerrard thinks Ronaldo’s wink was so low; and much worse than Rooney stamping on someone

“Goodbye tosser. He tossed away our cash, he tossed away our talent…now he’s tossed away our World Cup dreams” (Sun) – Goodbye Sven

“Bexit” (Sun) – Beckham quits as skipper

Posted: 3rd, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Cheerios All Round


James Hunt famously said that the breakfast of champions was sex. Times have changed and now we learn that for breakfast Wayne Rooney eats Frosties, Peter Crouch Weetabix and David Beckham has Cornflakes. Everyone else has Cheerios.

Germany’s Jens Lehman acted brilliantly to save twice in the penalty shoot out against Argentina. But did he act alone? A closer look at the build up to Roberto Ayala’s miss shows World Cup mascot Goleo IV standing behind the goal and doing his utmost to put the defender off.


“Ladies and gentlemen, our team needs our support" So said Berlin’s Olympic Stadium announcer as Germany took on Argentina. Fifa spokesman Markus Siegler said rules dictated that stadium announcers must not show any bias towards teams. Said Siegler: "We have said he must stop this. This is part and parcel of the principle of fairness and this cannot be accepted. The local organising committee has replaced him with immediate effect."

Not all the Beckhams crave the limelight, it would seem. Reports form Baden Baden are that Brooklyn has taken to calling the paparazzi “scumbags”.

Two England fans are in trouble with their bosses. The pair, who work for a company in the Lothians, claimed they were ill to work at just the time England were playing Ecuador. The company hired private detectives who found the poorly lads watching England in a hospital ward that looked remarkably like a pub.

Graham Poll has retired from international football. The referee with the pack of cards has now taken part in three tournaments, leaving his own indelible mark on each.

Should England have made it to the final the FA would have been true to its word and flown all staff from FA headquarters in Soho Square to watch the game in the Germany.


Posted: 2nd, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Roo-in The Day

“SORRY!” So says the headline in the News Of The World. “Sven apologises after penalty heartbreak.”

But what is Sven apologising for? Surely penalties are in the laps of the gods. They are more about luck then skill and know-how. Should Sven be saying sorry for that?

Or should he be saying sorry for what the Times’s Hugh McIlvanney calls “dishevelling England’s World Cup challenge”; for moulding talented individuals into a perfunctory, non-scoring team; for making England dull, their reputation lest damaged by the drama of penalties than saved by it – at least the penalties were exciting.

But it is no use guessing what Sven is thinking. If his lover Nancy Dell ‘Olio doesn’t know what’s on his mind, what hope do we have?

So here’s Sven: “We lost on penalties and I am really sorry about it.” He continues: “We are out of the tournament and it hurts incredibly. It’s very painful.”

He goes on to say that the quality of his squad was so good that the team should have made it to the final. Curse those penalties. Forget the fact that they were poorly struck, and that England failed to score a goal in two hours of open play. And curse those penalties.

And curse Wayne Rooney. “NUTS!” says the Mirror’s headline. And there’s a picture of idiotic Wayne planting his boot into the tender parts of Ricardo Carvalho’s groin.

But wait a moment. Rooney is not as brainless as he appears. You see, stamping on someone as they lie on the ground is not his fault. We should blame that dastardly Portugal winger Ronaldo, Rooney’s team-mate are Manchester United.

“Ronaldo was goading Wayne before the game and said he was going to get him sent off,” says an England player. This sounds bad. Rooney was actually warned that he would be targeted. His actions now look even more stupid than they did before. And who would have believed that possible?

And then there are Rooney’s team-mates. Steven Gerrard says: “He won’t get any blame from me.” Frank Lampard says: “I am sure it was a foul on Wayne in the first place.”

And dear old Sven says: “I saw what happened with Rooney on a small TV screen and I need to see it again before I can have any more ideas about it.”

So, you see. Sven should not apologise about producing an ordinary team. And Wayne must not feel guilty about scuppering so much hope by kicking someone in the knackers. It was not their fault. It was just cheating foreigners and bad luck…

Posted: 2nd, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Cole’s The Goal

Manchester United assistant coach Carlos Queiroz is trying to convince Cristiano Ronaldo to stay at the club (News of the World)

Wayne Rooney will never play with Ronaldo again (Mirror)

Arsenal will buy Tottenham’s Michael Carrick (Mail)

Manchester United want Ukraine’s Maxim Kalinichenko (Star)

Juan Riquelme is to reject Manchester United (News of the World)

Arsenal will sell Ashley Cole to Chelsea (Mail)

France’s Frank Ribery is to join Lyon (News of the World)

Liverpool are in for Chilean Mark Gonzalez (News of the World)

Barcelona are not interested in signing Ruud van Nistelrooy (Star)

Manchester United will bid for Fernando Torres (Express)

AC Milan want to sign Blackburn defender Lucas Neill (Star)

Tottenham and Portsmouth are both chasing West Ham’s Marlon Harewood (News of the World)

Arsenal are interested in Kolo Toure’s brother Yaya (Star)

Charlton are confident they can fight off Manchester City to snatch Steve Sidwell from Reading. (Daily Star Sunday)

Chelsea are interested in Milan Stepanov (News of the World)

Reading have bid £4.2m for Ghana’s John Mensah (News of the World)

Aston Villa are keen on Manchester City’s Danny Mills (News of the World)

Posted: 2nd, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Ref Off

Quotes Of The Day

“Germany: momentum, support, feel good” – ITV commentator Peter Drury brings his esoteric brand of English to the Germany v Argentina game

“Argentina: poise and pattern and simply, very, very good players” – More Drury-isms

"One of their players attacked me even though I did not do anything. I have three or four red marks on my thigh and then he kicked me again in the groin" – Germany’s Per Mertesacker remembers the end of the Argentina match

“It could not happen to a nicer man” – Referee Jeff Winter watches Graham Poll get sacked

"We are just totally devastated and are incredibly disappointed” – Jamie Carragher speaks for a nation

Puns Of The Day

“Nuts” (Mirror) – Wayne Rooney stamps his mark on Portugal

“Dreams Roo-ined” (Mirror) – Rooney is sent off

“5m for sweet FA” (Mirror) – Goodbye Sven

“Our dream in Rooins” (Mirror) – Why did Wayne’s metatarsal heal?

“Tear we go again” (NOTW) – England out

“Red and buried” (Times) – Rooney is off

Posted: 2nd, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

This Is War


This isn’t football, this is war. Portugal is England’s oldest ally but it counts for nothing in the World Cup. Squaddies based at a British military base have been driving past the Portugal team’s hotel late at night honking their horns and generally making us much noise as possible.

“You can still smell the grass,” says the advertising blurb. “Which stadium you like, I can give you its air.” Chinese entrepreneur Li Jie is trying to cash in on his country’s love of football by selling bags of genuine World Cup air.

Ronaldinho gets in the mood by playing bongo drums on the team bus. Gilberto Silva is on guitar and Robinho provides the vocals.

Want to take Jurgen Klinsmann home with you? Now you can. Figurines of the German coach have been selling fast. Sold by the German FA, these statuettes are: “Absolutely lifelike and amazingly true to life”. And yours for €14.50.


The Germans are trying to make friends, right? Someone should tell newspaper Der Spiegle which called the Italian team “oiled up and greasy”. The article was late withdrawn.

The biggest team in the world Cup have been Australia. In a study comparing teams at the two World Cups to be staged in Germany (1974 and 2006), Australian had grown the most. In 1974 the average Australian player weighed 165lb and stood at 5ft 10½ in. Today’s Socceroo is 179lb and 6ft 1in.

And Goleo, the World Cup mascot, has been banned from making an appearance at a German school because he is naked from the waist down.

Posted: 1st, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Winning Ugly

Quotes Of The Day

“I am unconcerned. If they play poorly all the way to the semi-final and final nobody will give a damn if they finish up winning the World Cup” – Geoff Hurst forgets the beautiful game

“I get tense, especially when you arrive at the stadium. You arrive 1½ hours before and there’s nothing to do. You can’t speak for one hour to the players. So you sit there drinking tea and things like that” – Sven Goran Eriksson whips the lads into a frenzy

“For two or three days I did think about retirement” – Graham Poll. So which is it Graham, two or three?

Puns Of The Day

“You country needs Roo” (Times) – Rooney is ready for battle

“Our country needs Roo!” (Mirror) – Rooney is even more ready

“We’ll be in this till the very Svend (Mirror) – Sven says England will win

“Raise the Roof” (Mirror) – England fans get behind the team

“Phil’s highland sting” (Mail) – Scolari draws his inspiration from William Wallace

“Germany spot on for glory” (Mail) – You know win on you know what

“Germany hit the spot yet again” (Times) – Yes they did

Posted: 1st, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment (1)

Germany Defeated!

HAS a football supplement carried a more suitable name than the Mirror’s “FOOTBALL MANIA”? We think not.

A look at the front page shows a picture of Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scoalri (left) and Gene Hackman (right).

“Gene Hackman lookalike Scolari went Behind Enemy Lines to have “The Conversation” with the FA. They asked him to join The Firm. He said no, became an Enemy of the State and now he’s Unforgiven, but we’ve got Sven, who’s a Superman II. There’s No Way Out (Maybe you should have taken the Missus shopping down French Connection instead).”

All very good. But this is a headline of two halves. It begins well but runs out of steam under closer scrutiny.

But as long as Scolari doesn’t exert Absolute Power over Sven, get the Split Decisions to go his way, deploy The Replacements for the banned Deco and Costinha to maximum effect and become England’s Heartbreakers, things should go just fine.

Better had the Mirror just stuck with the tried and tested war theme that runs like a thin red line throughout just about everything England do. “Your country needs Roo,” says the cover of the Time’s The Game section.

Wayne Rooney points his finger at us all, a freckle-faced version of Lord Kitchener of Khartoum.

The Times says Rooney is “fired up” to take on Portugal. And that’s good – unless Rooney uses the fires that burn within to blow his top.

Mistakes can be made in the heat of battle. And so we read in the Mail of newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky’s gaff.

At six o’clock last night, Natasha’s “big news” was that Germany had been knocked out of the World Cup. Hurrah! On penalties. Hurrah!!

But breaking news just in told Natasha that the Germans had not been defeated. Nein!!! “No, I’m sorry,” said Natasha, “that is not the news at all.”

Were Lord Kitchener still recruiting for the fight we would suggest that Natasha pop along to her local Army office and enlist.

These are times of rare tension and we do not need her sort among us. Careless talk is dangerous.

Posted: 1st, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

The Didier Man

Wigan have offered Blackburn Rovers a player and money for Robbie Savage (Times)

Tottenham have signed Ivory Coast midfielder Didier Zakora (Mirror)

No sooner had Argentina been knocked out of the shop windrow that is the World Cup than Chelsea put Hernan Crespo up for sale (Mirror)

Anyone wanting to buy Dutch striker Dirk Kuyt will have to pay £14m (Sun)

Liverpool are interested in Birmingham’s Jermaine Pennant (Mail)

Rupert Lowe has stepped down as chairman of Southampton (Mirror)

West Ham have signed Chelsea’s Carlton Cole and Charlton defender Luke Young (Mirror)

Posted: 1st, July 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Adding Insult To Injury


"I took a woodcarving course and someone asked me if I had tried carving melons – and when I tried it – they came out really good." So says 64-year-old Amrat Parmar from Leicester. He has shaped melons to look like David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard. He displays his art in local pubs.

Sven Goran Eriksson is set to make another fortune from his time with England. Reports say the Swede wants £2million to tell the story of his life as England coach – the rows, the girls, and maybe a little about the football.

In a bid to get his players fired up for their match against England, Portugal manager Luiz Felipe Scolari plans to insults their mums.

They may have failed to get their man in the real world but in the world of fantasy Ronaldinho is a Manchester United player. Reports say that the Brazilian striker chooses to play as Manchester United in computer games with his team-mates.

A punter walked into a branch of William Hill’s bookmakers with £50,000 in a Fortnum and Mason’s hamper and put the lot on England. It took staff 30 minutes to count the money. And the next day he returned with another hamper full of another £50,000.

Wendy Hodson was so inspired by Steven Gerrard’s goal against Sweden she named her newborn son after the Liverpool player. No, not Steven – Gerrard.

Uses for Ronaldinho’s teeth No.12: bottle opener. A woman from Bournemouth, Doest, has fashioned a Roaldinho bottle opener (the RonaldinOpener), complete with ponytail, No.10 shirt and white boots.


It’s not easy getting a ticket for the World Cup. But you might have more a chance if you are in a wheelchair. Three Argentina fans were so eager to see their team play Holland that they obtained a wheelchair each and gained access to the disabled area. Problem was that when Argentina hit the post, they got overexcited and jumped up. A miracle!

James Curtis was delighted to be best man at his friend Alex Seal’s wedding – until he realised the do clashes with England’s match against Portugal. So he put his place up for auction on an Internet website. “I couldn’t believe it,” says bride-to-be Stephanie Monk, who has now persuaded Curtis to honour his vows.

When Victoria Beckham flew back to London to get her hair done, she travelled by budget airline Ryanair, and in the company of her mini-me Cheryl Tweedy. But reports say she did less than mingle with other travellers. Although the airline has a no reserve seating policy, the Wags were taken to their front-row seats on their own bus.

Posted: 30th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

The Daddy Of All Pep Talks

Quotes Of The Day

“You have to eat sensibly, drink sensibly – I mean water! – train hard and go to bed early” – Eric Cantona forgets to mention the seagulls in his recipe for footballing greatness

It’s my “Ecuadorian tattoo” – Owen Hargreaves shows off the nine-inch wound left in his leg by Ecuador’s Agustin Delgado

“Klinsmann’s decision was something I had to swallow. But I had to accept it because I realised I had another function – to contribute my wealth of experience in a different way. I’m growing into my new role as team motivator” – Germany’s Oliver Khan stops sulking and starts waving the pom-poms

“I am tooting my car horn for a bunch of thieves” – An Italy fans is unsure how to react to Italy’s victory over Australia

“Don’t tell me I don’t know what to do. I know exactly what to do” – Sven tells his critics that despite appearances to the contrary he does have a clue

“Maybe he hasn’t been told some French are black” – France’s Lilian Thuram responds to far-right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen’s comment there are too many non-whites in the French team

“I am happy that play is offensive – the only exception is England, who fielded just one striker in their second round match. That is not the kind of offensive football we would expect from a title contender” – Fifa president Sepp Blatter turns coach

Puns Of The Day

“Winstone Churchill” (Mirror) – Actor Ray Winstone gives the team the daddy of all pep talks

“Ray’s your game” (Sun) –Ray Winstone is still talking

“Becksy beast” (Sun) – Winstone starred in the movie Sexy Beast

“History Beckons” (Mirror) – England’s skipper dreams of being a hero

“You’ll cry Argentina” (Mirror) – Jurgen Klinsmann says German will win their quarter-final

“Maradona to suffer in the crying game” (Times) – More on those tears

“Nice little Hern-er” (Star) – Tipster says back Argentina’s Hernan Crespo to score first

Posted: 30th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Taking Michael

England’s Sol Campbell has negotiated a move to Portsmouth (Express)

Portugal’s Phil Scolari is favourite to become Real Madrid’s next coach (Sun)

Manchester United will off Tottenham more then £15million for Michael Carrick (Times)

Lorenzo Sanz, the Real Madrid presidential candidate, says he will sign Carrick if he is elected (Times)

Alex Ferguson says Ronaldo is not leaving the club (Mail)

Fabio Aurelio of Valencia is on his way to Liverpool (Times)

Chelsea’s Carlton Cole will sign for West Ham in a deal worth £2m (Mail)

West Ham are closing in on Charlton’s Luke Young (Times)

Charlton’sChris Powell is to join Watford on loan (Sun)

Liverpool are interested in Hatem Trabelsi and Dirk Kuyt (Express)

Blackburn want ‘fox in the box’ striker Francis Jeffers, who was on his way to Coventry (Mirror)

Posted: 30th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

He’s The Daddy Now

“SHUT it Blatter,” warns the Sun, following the FIFA president’s comments about the England team, whom he has branded “boring”, according to the paper’s interpretation of his latest remarks. “I am happy that the play at this World Cup has been very attacking,” declared the big Swiss cheese. “The only exception is England.”

True enough, of course – although he appears to have overlooked his own country’s 0-0 bore-draw against Ukraine, in which the Swiss achieved the remarkable feat of failing to score during the penalty shoot-out.

So England will face their crucial game with the criticism of the tournament’s boss ringing in their ears. And that’s not the end of it. The paper reports that match referee Horacio Elizondo (who is an “Argie” and a “poetry-writing PE teacher”) has now jumped on the bandwagon.

“England will play with one or two touches at first, then they’ll quickly hit the ball long upfield,” he predicts. “Portugal play it more on the deck. There is more technique to their game and it is more like Argentina’s.”

That final remark sounds like trouble, and when you are in trouble you need someone to help you. In the AA ads, there’s always a “very nice man” who comes to the rescue. Graham Poll was recently described as a nice man by none other than England captain David Beckham. He’s a FIFA referee, so perhaps he could return Beckham’s favour and say something complimentary about the team formerly known as England but now called “Team England”.

The problem with this is that it’s not really the best time to be asking Graham Poll for a favour, as he’s got a few problems of his own. “Poll quits after his nightmare,” announces the Mirror, referring to both the fiasco of the Australia v Croatia match and the subsequent “living nightmare” that Poll has suffered ever since. The paper says that Poll has “announced his decision to never again officiate in a major international”, although it his hard to imagine his being asked to do so after blotting his copybook in such a spectacular fashion.

“I got it wrong and I am sorry,” says the man who gave a whole new meaning to the phrase “three strikes and you’re out”. Don’t worry, Graham, before long you’ll be telling the story on the after-dinner circuit and everyone will love you for it.

There will be a less forgiving attitude to the England team if they cock things up, and the FA seems to be aware of this. The Mirror reports that in a bid to boost morale, the bigwigs have invited “the celebrity face of their Altogethernow campaign” to record a motivational speech for the players. And who is the celebrity in question? Here’s a clue. “Get some coal dust on them bruises, you black *******.” No, it’s not Robbie Williams. Here’s another one. “I’m the daddy now! Next time, I’ll ****in’ kill ya!”

Yes, that’s right, it’s Ray Winstone – or “Winstone Churchill”, as the Mirror’s headline has it. Ray visited the training camp and met the players, with whom he is pictured wearing a red England shirt that must be an XXXXL at the very least.

Beer and beef famously give a man shape, and Winstone looks every inch a 21st century John Bull. And will his speech rise to the occasion? “It’s mainly Ray’s own thoughts,” reveals an FA source, “but he’s thrown in a bit of Churchill and Henry V as well, to make it really rousing.”

We are not told what Ray’s thoughts will be, although he is likely to avoid anything controversial while wearing his FA hat. Seasoned observers will be hoping they are more effective than a similar Churchill ‘n’ Shakespeare tape that was played to the England cricket team during their Ashes defeats of the 1990s.

Altogethernow: Cry God for Harry, England, St George and their long balls!

Posted: 30th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Swapping Shirts


We’ve seen the countless shots of attractive females in the crowd. But one fan has been inducing women at the games to go further. Claiming to be from an adult TV station, he has persuaded many women at World Cup venues to take their tops off for his camera. He has yet to catch up with the Wags.

A fan bought World Cup winner George Cohen’s shirt – the one he wore in the 1966 final – for £38,400 at auction.

Pensioner Lucy Smith, aged 80, has decorated her Stannah stairlift with the cross of St George.


German broadcasters are threatening to prosecute any fans coming up behind their presenters and mooning. Even if the presenters are talking out of their…

German breweries are warning that the country could run out of beer. And England fans are to blame. In Nuremberg, 70,000 England fans quaffed 1.2million pints of beer – an average of 17 pints each!

Hampshire Fire and Rescue service has banned crews from flying the England flag on their engines. “We just want to support our country in the World Cup,” says one fireman.

Poor old Switzerland. When they lost on penalties to Ukraine, they became the fist country to be knocked out of the World Cup Finals without conceding a goal in normal time. They also became the first team to miss all their penalties in a shoot-out.

Posted: 29th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Fatal Distraction

TWO weeks ago, Tim Henman said that he enjoys playing at Wimbledon during the World Cup because it’s “a fun distraction for both the public and myself”.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and Tim’s good thing ended yesterday with a straight-sets defeat to Roger Federer. The Times reports that, when asked if he felt compassion for Henman, Federer replied that he did not.
Tennis correspondent Neil Harman’s verdict is straight to the point: “This is a brutal sport and Tim had just been brutalised.” Perhaps the paper will itself now show some compassion, and do what we at Anorak have been asking for years: change its name to “The Tims” during next year’s tournament in honour of this great servant of the game.

So now we are left with just the “fun distraction” – a football tournament in a far-off land. But the spirit of Henmania lives on. Alan Ball has already compared the England fans in Germany to the good folk of Henman Hill, and if they can muster a quarter of the energy and enthusiasm of the Wimbledon mob, then they can surely will the boys on to score a goal or two.

Wayne Rooney certainly thinks so. “Sing and we’ll win it – Wayne,” announces the Star. Well, we all know football is a simple game, but we didn’t know it was that simple. “It’s brilliant when the fans are right behind you,” says the man they call Roo (and sometimes, inexplicably Wazza). And who knows, he could be right: if the English army makes enough noise, it could indeed become the proverbial “12th man”.

An extra man would even things up a bit, because it looks like the Portuguese have already got theirs – and he’ll be on the pitch with a whistle. “England get Beckham’s red-card ref” warns the Mirror. But which red-card ref they mean? No, don’t worry, it’s not THAT one. But it’s still pretty bad. Saturday’s official turns out to be one Horacio Elizondo, who is not only an “Argie who writes romantic poetry” (the Sun), but also the man who had the temerity to send Becks off during Manchester United’s World Championship campaign in Brazil. (He later appeared to give Alex Ferguson a red card too, although he might possibly have been holding a small mirror in front of the fiery Scot’s florid face in order to alert him to an impending heart attack.)

Never mind, even if it is twelve-a-side on Saturday, at least we’re all square. Or are we? Let’s not forget that both managers will be on the same side too. As we have pointed out before, the much-hyped battle between Big Phil Scolari and Sven Goran Eriksson is just a smokescreen behind which the Swede can hide his plot to sabotage the England team for the third tournament in a row.

The Independent alludes to the fiendish scheme, reporting how Eriksson insists that “the tournament is unfolding according to plan”. Old Mr Anorak has been warning about this for weeks, of course, but many people dismissed his theory as the ravings of a senile fool. Surely they will now admit that he was right all along.

As the day of Eriksson’s retirement approaches, he has been dropping increasingly blatant hints about his true intentions. “Don’t tell me that I don’t know what to do,” he hissed at yesterday’s press conference. “I know exactly what to do.”

At this point the room fell silent. The hacks looked at one another. Had their ears deceived them? Then a thin smile appeared on the suave Swede’s face. He giggled quietly for a few seconds before composing himself and returning to his secret headquarters in an abandoned mineshaft three miles east of Gelsenkirchen.

Laughter echoed around its deep walls long into the night.

Posted: 29th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Politics & Football

Quotes Of The Day

“It is a tough job. They get paid peanuts compared with the players who spend so much of their time abusing them, tricking then, and generally making their life difficult” – Alastair Campbell on football referees, or is he talking about the electorate?

“We want him to do some nice publicity shots and get injured in training” – Asda’s Nick Agarwal wants Luis Figo to represent the supermarket chain, which signed Rooney, who got injured, and then Owen, who returned home on crutches. They hope the jinx hits Portugal’s star player.

“They won’t lose us the World Cup” – Joe Cole says the Wags are just fine

“I believe there is a conspiracy to divert the attention of Muslim youth to an unproductive exercise” – Sattar Pathallur, of the Sunni Students Federation, India, worries about the effects of too much World Cup.

“Knowing they were there made it easier” – Italy’s Francesco Totti is thankful that his wife and son were in the stands when he took that penalty against Australia

Puns Of The Day

“I can take kicks to route ‘66” (Sun) – Rooney can take whatever the Portuguese dish out

“Posh’s airdo” (Sun) – Queen of the Wags Victoria Beckham has her hair done

”Das Sulk” (Mirror) – Germany’s Oliver Khan is upset he isn’t his country’s first choice goalkeeper

“Roo can roar me to glory” (Star) – Fans are England’s 12th man

“So who is up for the after eights?” (Mirror) – Which teams will go through to the last four?

Posted: 29th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Keep It Real, Madrid

Spurs will finally secure the services of Ivory Coasts’s Didier Zokora from St Etienne for around £5.7m (Independent)

Benfica have invited Liverpool to make a revised bid for Portugal’s Simao Sabrosa (Mirror)

Tony Adams is the new assistant manager at Portsmouth (Mirror)

Chelsea’s Glen Johnson has joined Portsmouth on loan (Mirror)

Atletico Madrid say Fernando Torres is for sale to anyone who can afford the £41.4m price tag (Sun)

Portsmouth are still in the hunt for Celtic midfielder Stilian Petrov (Independent)

Crystal Palace will sign Hull’s Leon Cort for £1.2m (Mail)

Ghana’s Sulley Muntari says Bolton want him (Mirror)

Ian Holloway is the new boss at Plymouth (Mirror)

Posted: 29th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Off His Noodle

Quotes Of The Day

“We nullified Ecuador” – Steve McClaren scores null points for style, entertainment and passion

“I’m, sorry, but entertainment has got to go out of the window sometimes” – Sam Allardyce says we should not defenestrate Sven…yet

“Penalty! Penalty! Penalty! Grosso’s done it, Grosso’s done it. The great Italian left back! He succeeded in the glorious traditions of Italy! Facchetti, Cabrini and Maldini, their souls are infused in him at this moment! Grosso represents the long history and traditions of Italian soccer, he’s not fighting alone at this moment! He’s not alone!” – Chinese TV commentator Huang Jianxiang
celebrates Italy winning a dubious penalty against Australia

“England banked too heavily on Wayne Rooney, who did not have the support going forward” – the FIFA Technical Studies report into England versus Ecuador gets it spot on. Now if they can tell Sven…

“The way the players acted saw Angola walk into world football through the main door…they were good and dignified” – Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos salutes the team

“The World Cup is littered with cheats, cry babies and drama queens” – Ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson

Puns Of The Day

“Portuguese man at war” (Mirror) – Cristiano Ronaldo wants to leave Manchester United for Real Madrid

“We will hit the spot” (Mirror) – Owen Hargreaves says England will win on penalties

“Spot the difference” (Sun) – More from Hargreaves

“Fag wag” (Star) – Steven Gerrard’s fiancée Alex Curran smokes between shopping trips

“Sup for the cup” (Sun) – England fans are drinking Germany dry

“Frank you ‘n good night!” (Sun) – Franck Ribery scores for France

It takes skill – and guts” (Times) – Ronaldo is profiled

“I believe Roo now” (Sun) – Wayne’s recovery is a surprise to Rio Ferdinand

“Vier we go now” (Sun) – Patrick Vieira helps France into the last eight

Posted: 28th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Just Hot Air

“BORING, weary, lethargic, full of hot air, long balls, a lonely striker and a star midfield player who gave us a goal and a pile of vomit.” That’s the verdict on England of one Brazilian paper, quoted in today’s Daily Mirror. And as for the “WAGs”, well, they are “anorexics addicted to shopping with hollow, lobotomised heads," whose role is to “distract from their team’s poor football skills.”

Yes, but the Brazilian press are spoilt by their rich diet. Surely the other nations are more forgiving? Not former German international Stefan Effenberg, who proves himself a less than polite host. “I wouldn’t call this football,” he says of the efforts of Sven’s finest. “It’s a botch job.”

Bild, the Teutonic tabloid equivalent of the Sun, said that the only hot thing about England’s match against Ecuador was the air.

El Nacional of Spain pronounced England’s display “an embarrassing performance from the country that invented the game”, while El Pais summed it up as “a goal and a pile of vomit”.

La Gazetta Dello Sport was more sympathetic, declaring it “a boring, slow-moving and unimpressive match”, but admitting with typical Italian pragmatism that “for now it’s enough”.

L’Equipe found time to praise Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney, describing the latter as “a boy who sees, thinks, understands and imagines football as he lives and breathes… he improved with every ball he received”. But it handed out four-out-of-tens to John Terry, Michael “Masterclass” Carrick, and Joe Cole, and a cruel 3.5 to both Owen Hargreaves and Frank (Runner-up, World Player of the Year) Lampard.

And the Portuguese? Diaro de Noticias has no doubts: “Here come the penalties against England again!”

Those quotes are from the horses’ mouths. Then there are the stories to which the English press apply their own “spin” in order to spice things up.

“Roo are no Pele – Deco” might, for example, be taken to mean that Portugal’s Deco, who is suspended for Saturday’s quarter-final, is having a pop at England talisman, and running down his team. But the full quotes tell a slightly different story. Asked about Eriksson’s claims that Wayne Rooney is the best young player since Pele, Deco said that he is “young and inexperienced compared to Pele”, which is true, given that Pele is in his mid-sixties. He then described young Wayne as “very talented”. And Saturday’s opponents? “England are a strong team even if they are not showing what they can do at the moment. I just hope they aren’t at their best against us.”

And what of England’s favourite grumpy Portuguese? The Daily Mail reports the views of Jose Mourinho, who declares both teams to be “conservative”. “I don’t call them conservative in the negative sense of the term,” he explains, although it is unlikely that many Mail readers will have taken it that way. So what does he mean, then? “I simply consider that those who knew these teams two-years-ago [Daily Mail’s idiosyncratic hyphens] will not take more than a few seconds to understand the small differences, in the same way that when the World Cup finishes these teams will need profound rebuilding.” He is ambivalent about Saturday, however, saying only that “Portugal can win or lose against England”.

The Sun reports that Portugal are targeting goalkeeper Paul Robinson as the “England’s weakest link”, and quotes striker Pauleta as planning to “exploit” his “faults”. More revealingly, the Star reckons that Eriksson is beginning to have doubts about his skipper’s role in the right-midfield berth. “I’M NO RIGHT BECK,” announces the back page, claiming that Eriksson had planned to play Beckham as a full-back, allowing Aaron Lennon to play ahead of him. Beckham apparently declined the offer, reckoning that he wasn’t up to the job. Many are starting to say that he isn’t up to his present job either, and there is a growing feeling that he knows he is in danger of underachieving in his career.

Everyone is clear that for all the talk of results, nobody wins the World Cup without big performances. Saturday would be a good time to start producing them.

Posted: 28th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

Flat-Pack Bullies


Germany supporters displayed something approaching comedy when they taunted their Swedish opponents when the teams met. “You’re just a furniture supplier,” they chimed. The Swedish reply is not known, although rumours are that it will arrive in a flat-pack cardboard box within the next 28 days.

The door Zinedine Zidane kicked in anger when he was substituted during France’s 1-1 with South Korea is to be preserved for the nation. Winfried Lonzen, the stadium director in Leipzig, says: “We will keep it deformed by a kick from one of the greatest ever footballers.”

The 15 "fan fests" in Germany are making loadsa money on water. Half a litre of water costs £2.40, 20 pence more than for the same amount of beer.


Germany’s Christoph Melzelder, who plies his trade for Borussia Dortmund, says he will not shave until Germany are knocked out. The final is on July 9.

More news from north of the border, where some sad Scots are desperate to spoil the World Cup for local England supporters. Englishman Alexander Clark was upset to return home and find the England flags he’d hung on his house removed. They had been dumped at a bus stop close to his home. “I get a bit of banter, but no one has gone this far before,” says the cleaner, who has lived in Scotland for 20 years.

Of the 500 England fans detained in Stuttgart, 129 have been banned from travelling to Gelsenkirchen for the quarter-final. As a police spokeswoman explains: “The ban covers the city, fan-fest and stadium.”

The new team manager of Italy’s biggest club, Juventus, is thought to have jumped from the roof of his office. Former Italy player Gianluca Pessotto, 35, ‘fell’ from the roof holding rosary beads in his hands. The news comes just four days after Juve were charged with match fixing.

Posted: 28th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment

A Family United

The Glazer family wants Sir Alex Ferguson to kiss and make up with striker Ruud van Nistelrooy (Sun)

Middlesbrough are ready to sell their Australian striker Mark Viduka (Mirror)

West Ham want to sign Charlton and England defender Luke Young (Independent)

West Brom have offered Wigan £2m for Jason Roberts (Express)

Dietmar Hamann is on his way from Liverpool to Bolton (Express)

Celtic have turned down Portsmouth’s offer for their Bulgarian midfielder Stilian Petrov (Sun)

Mo Johnston, the former Scotland player, has been sacked as manager of US Major League Soccer side Red Bull New York (Mirror)

Posted: 28th, June 2006 | In: Back pages | Comment