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Back pages | Anorak - Part 7

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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 fans and the Ronaldo fake news pledge

manchester evening news clickbait

 

On May 8, 2017, the Manchester Evening News was “Fighting fake news”. Readers were assured that “Trust is name of the game in sports journalism – whatever team you support…” The MEN was not bullshit.com. Clickbait, be gone. The paper invited readers to answer the question: “what is a sports journalist in 2017?” But it was rhetorical, and the MEN said what readers “crave” is “authenticity”.  It is “trusted by the people who go to games and know our teams inside out… It’s a matter of trust.”

And then the crux: the MEN does not chase easy traffic on the web because it is here to stay:

Fake news is fly-by-night, being a fan is for life. We know what fans want because we are them ourselves. But we also know that fans want facts – no matter how much we’d all want to believe that Ronaldo is about to sign for our club. That’s what sets us apart from those organisations who just want your click. We want your trust.

Indeed, we often report on transfer rumours and gossip, but with a critical eye borne out of local knowledge, ears to the ground and great contact-building by our journalists. If supporters are talking about it, then so are we.

No Transfer Balls, then.

September 6 2018: “Manchester United had the chance to sign their dream No.7 this summer.”  The URL Google reads runs: “https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/transfer-news/man-utd-transfer-cristiano-ronaldo-15114577”

But United had “the chance” to sign Ronaldo, right. No. Wrong.

“Cristiano was never on my table to say yes or not to Cristiano to come to us. It was never on the table,” Mourinho replied before getting up from his seat in the press room at Turf Moor.

The rest of the story was not delivered by anyone who needed to go anywhere, least of all to a game: it was a quote from former Man United captain Bryan Robson about how good Ronaldo is. It came in the shape of a press release: “Bryan Robson was speaking after Manchester was named ESPN’s Greatest Sporting City 2018 in the UK. The in-depth research, now in its fourth year, discovers the best place in the UK to be a fan. Full results are available on ESPN.co.uk, and on the ESPN app.” Keeping it local, lads.

July 11 2018: “Why Manchester United ‘rejected chance to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo'”

Is it because it “never on the table”?

Manchester United rejected the opportunity to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo before the forward completed his transfer to Juventus.

This we know because of one uncorroborated tweet:

…one journalist has claimed on Twitter that United had the chance to seal Ronaldo’s return but Jose Mourinho didn’t fancy him.

Football reporter Sam Pilger wrote on Twitter: “United were offered the chance to make a bid for Cristiano Ronaldo, but declined it and decided to spend their funds elsewhere this summer.”

The URL for this scoop ends “man-utd-transfer-news-ronaldo”. And Pilger?

July 10 2018: “Has Man Utd manager Jose Mourinho dropped hints about Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire?”

No.

June 1 2018: “Cristiano Ronaldo wants Manchester United reunion with Jose”

And what of Gareth Bale?

July 12: “Manchester United Gareth Bale transfer talks advance.”

July 14: “Real Madrid ‘set Manchester United Gareth Bale asking price.” They didn’t. But they ‘might’ want over £150m for him.

.

 

Posted: 6th, September 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united | Comment


Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong joins Barcelona, laughs at Manchester City and chased by Spurs

The Guardian says Spurs are in for Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong. The fee? £40m. Not too shabby for player whose made 37 appearances for the Ajax first team. But is he really going to Spurs, following that well-trodden route from Amsterdam to London, as taken by Christian Eriksen, Dávinson Sánchez and Jan Vertonghen? No. Well, no if 90mins.com are believed.

In April 2018, the thundered: “​​Barcelona have reached an agreement to sign Frenkie de Jong from Ajax, which could go through this month.” They have? No. Elevens ays later on April 20, the Express said “De Jong hopes the two clubs can come to an agreement”. In June, moving to Barcelona was de Jong’s “dream”. In July, the Sun said Barcelona “are going to make a third offer for Ajax starlet Frenkie De Jong”. But “Marc Overmars, the Dutch club’s sporting director, has made it perfectly clear that the Barcelona target is not for sale,” reported ESPN later in the month.

The only fact is that in December 2017, de Jong singed a new deal with Ajax, tying him to the club until 2022. That same month there was some clickbait about him leaving Manchester City in the Manchester Evening News, there were a few words from the man himself:

And, when asked about the prospect of moving to the Etihad, de Jong was keeping his feet firmly on the ground.

“I’ve read it too, haha,” he laughed. “I do not think I’m ready to play at the first team at Manchester City or something like that. Right now I really just want to develop here at Ajax and become a solid starting player. Especially in midfield. Then we’ll see further.”

Done deal it is, then.

Posted: 5th, September 2018 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Manchester United rift as Martial bids to outlast Mourinho

The less he plays, the better Anthony Martial gets. Manchester Untied’s French forward has been offered a five-year deal worth £130,000 week. Not too shabby for a 22-year-old whose played once for United this season. Martial’s current deal ends in 2020, and the feeling is that keeping him on a longer contract is more about resell value than loving the man. A young player on a long-term contract is worth more than young player with a year to go on his contact. But all said, Martial remains a player full of promise.

When Martial joined United from AS Monaco in 2015, the transfer deal stipulated that should Martial make the Ballon d’Or shortlist during his Old Trafford career, Monaco would get another €10m. Both clubs thought it highly possible. He was that thrilling.

Martial, who wanted to leave United in the summer, must be tempted to take the deal. He can reason that five-years will see him outlast manager Jose Mourinho.

Indeed, the Mirror leads with news of “Martial War”, claiming that the offer is a “huge slap in the face” for Mourinho. Deal away, then. Mourinho, a graceless winner and caustic loser, could do with a bit of tough love. News is that Mourinho wanted to get shot of Martial this summer. The offer of a new deal for the player once tipped as a world beater has upset Mourinho, a challenge akin to looking at a puppy sat next to a pile of poo and being asked ‘whodunnit?’

 

Posted: 30th, August 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United’s vanishing £60m agreement for Spurs star

In the shadowlands where transfer news and transfer gossip merge into clickbait balls was the summer’s news that Manchester United were dead keen on Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld. Today the BBC tells its readers that Man United “made no attempt” to sign Alderweireld, 29, from Spurs.

Really?

The Metro told us on August 6:

Tottenham were demanding £75million for Alderweireld, but a compromise has been reached and United are poised to complete the deal.

One day on the Daily Star had reduced the fee by a mere £20m – still £15m more than the United “bid”:

 

Toby Alderweireld transfer

 

Confusing stuff. Maybe the Mirror can help. It’s the source of the BBC’s story that United never did bid for Alderweireld. The paper reports:

Manchester United made NO attempt to sign Toby Alderweireld or Danny Rose in the summer transfer window… despite reports claiming otherwise.

In fact, it’s emerged that it was Spurs who informally approached United, their hosts for Monday night’s Premier League game, to ask if there was interest in either of their stars in the lead up to deadline day.

Fact. But on August 5 the Mirror said United were “set to sign” the Belgian for – get this – £60m.

 

Toby Alderweireld transfer

 

Just two days later and the “final offer” form United was down to £40m:

 

Toby Alderweireld transfer

Total balls, then.

Posted: 27th, August 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment


Paul Pogba agrees to leave Manchester United and memories of Ashley Cole

Paul Pogba is going to leave Manchester United to play for Barcelona. Pogba won’t let a contract with three years left to run at Old Trafford spoil things. You see, the Daily Mail says Pogba has “told Manchester United teammates that he wants to leave” and “agreed terms with the Catalan giants”.

That’s the story – but, if it’s true, isn’t the biggest story one of alleged tapping up?

 

paul pogba barcelona

The Mail ‘understands’ Pogba has agreed to break his contract?

 

The Premier League rules are clear:

“Subject to Rule T.7, a Contract Player, either by himself or by any Person on his behalf, shall not either directly or indirectly make any such approach as is referred to in Rule T.5 without having obtained the prior written consent of his Club.”

But how can an agent can get the best deal for their client without testing the market?

As Pogba manoeuvres towards the exit door, we turn once more to the greatest episode of a player finding himself signed to one club but being wooed by another. This from the extraordinary My Defence by Ashley Cole, whose transfer from Arsenal to Chelsea encompassed the following scene:

I LOOK back now and still can’t get my head around half of it; how, in the space of 18 months, the dream was undone so fast. It does my head in thinking about it all: the mess I found myself in, the storm that whipped up around me, the abuse of the fans, the charges laid against me. Overnight, they stopped singing my name and the party ended as abruptly as someone pulling the plug out of the wall. I became the treacherous Ashley Cole, the Judas of Highbury.

I was well down on the day when I drove into town to see Jonathan Barnett (my agent) at his offices. We jumped in Jonathan’s Bentley and he told his driver our destination: the Royal Park Hotel. It was Thursday, January 27, 2005.

We walked by reception and into a meeting room called the Green Room where we found Pini (Zahavi, Chelsea’s agent) sat alone. We must have been in there about 20 minutes when Pini suddenly flicked his wrist to look at his watch — “Time! Time! My next meeting . . .” and he started to get up out of his chair. The door opened and José Mourinho and Peter Kenyon walked in.

I remember noticing Jonathan was gearing up to leave, reaching around his chair for his coat. The small talk, the pleasantries and the goodbyes lasted another 15 minutes as I genuinely saw no harm in being there for a few extra minutes as these two meetings overlapped.

Mr Mourinho pulled out a chair and sat at the head of the oval-shaped table and Jonathan was sat to my right. It was normal chit-chat from then on. I mentioned how well Chelsea were doing in the league. “Yes, and we are going to buy two more players — a midfielder and a left back,” he said.

And that’s when Pini made a flip remark, “Well, we are sat with the best left back in the world!” and Mr Mourinho smiled and said, “Yes, I agree.”

Jose Mourinho is the current manger of Manchester United.

Posted: 8th, August 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Paul Pogba Manchester’s United clues

Paul Pogba was terrific in the World Cup final post-match celebrations. He danced, sang and hugged with abandon. But when he stopped being loud he became “cryptic”, speaking through his shirts. “Could France midfielder be sending cryptic hint to manager Jose Mourinho during summer transfer window?” posed the Sun. The paper continued: “Maverick Paul Pogba continues to enjoy his post World Cup-winning downtime – by bizarrely posing in an Argentina shirt.”

Have you made the link yet? Too cryptic for you? The Sun then analyses the shirt and provides some clues to what it could mean:

Pogba starred for Les Bleus in Russia as they lifted the famous trophy but he sported different colours on holiday in LA this week, wearing Paulo Dybala’s No21 shirt. The two midfielders became good pals when they played together at Juventus before Pogba left to rejoin Manchester United in 2016.

Are you, like Jose Mourinho, still scratching your head?

They experienced vastly different World Cups with Dybala making just one appearance as Argentina were dumped out in the round of 16 by eventual champions France. Dybala didn’t even make it off the bench in that game with Pogba, who scored in the final against Croatia, perhaps wanting to help raise his friend’s profile a bit by pulling on a replica shirt.

And that’s it.

And so to today’s Paul Pogba no-news. The BBC says:

Manchester United and France midfielder Paul Pogba’s agent is expected to tell the Red Devils he can broker a £100m move for the 25-year-old World Cup winner to Barcelona.

Who expects him to do that? The source for the BBC’s story is the Daily Star (owner: Reach media). The paper tells of Barcelona “rumours”.

 

paul pogba transfer

 

What Barcelona rumours? The ones the agent is “expected” to discuss?

Over in the Express (owner: Reach media), we learn of the “REAL” reason Pogba “wants Barcelona switch”.  It’s because he… thinks Barcelona a good team. And how do we know Pogba wants to play for Barcelona. Get this:

According to the Sunday Star, Raiola is hoping to broker a £100m deal with the Catalan club to rescue his client’s career.

It’s a human catepillar of utter balls.

Posted: 5th, August 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Chelsea lead race for Real Madrid bound Lewandowski

After a disappointing World Cup, Poland striker Robert Lewandowski should console himself with his imminent relocation from Bayern Munich to Real Madrid. “Robert Lewandowski’s manager, Pini Zahavi, has come to an agreement with Real Madrid over his client moving to Los Blancos at the end of the season,” trilled Joe.ie in June. “Man Utd news: Robert Lewandowski agrees personal terms with Real Madrid,” echoed the Metro. “CHELSEA and Manchester United have been dealt a huge transfer blow after Robert Lewandowski agreed personal terms with Real Madrid,” announced the Star.

But hold on a moment. It turns out that all that news was bunkum. “Striker ‘tells Bayern Munich he wants to leave’ as Chelsea consider bid,” says today’s Sun. So much for the “huge blow” to Chelsea.  Or not. Because a few days ago Bild told its readers that Lewansdowski has decided tor remain at Bayern. Or as talkSport puts it: “Chelsea are ahead of Real Madrid and Manchester United in the race to sign Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski this summer.”

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 30th, July 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Steven N’Zonzi ‘agrees’ Arsenal deal but joins Roma for less

Transfer Balls – a look at shoddy football reporting. Is Steven N’Zonzi heading to Arsenal? The BBC tells its readers today that the former Blackburn Rovers and Stoke player now at Sevilla is “close to joining Roma” for “£29m”. The trusty BBC cites its unimpeachable source: the Daily Star. The tabloid says Arsenal “have been dealt a major blow” because N’zonzi has “secured a deal” to play for Roma. Its source is Calciomercato. And over there we are told:

Roma are close to signing Sevilla midfielder Steven N’Zonzi but the Giallorossi need to sell one midfielder before signing the Frenchman who is also wanted by Arsenal.

In the hunt for facts, after clicking through the BBC and the Daily Star to reach an Italian website, we finally reach two:

Sources have told Calciomercato.com that Sevilla are tempted to accept Roma’s €25 million bid… Roma, however, need to sell Maxime Gonalons before signing N’Zonzi.

We know the BBC is no fan of Brexit and talks up the economic collapse that will follow but €25m is not £29m. It’s also less than the £35m Arsenal paid for N’Zonzi last January. This is the URL from the Daily Mail’s report of December 13 2017:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-5174491/Arsenal-agree-35m-deal-Sevillas-Steven-NZonzi.html

Done deal the Mail tells the bots. The clicks support the news that Arsenal signed N’Zonzi. But they didn’t. And now he’s off to Roma for less money, right? No. Marca (Spain) says the Frenchman is going to play for one of Arsenal or Barcelona for €40m.

Such are the facts…

Posted: 29th, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Martial leaves Manchester United (and stays)

Is Anthony Martial leaving Manchester United? The media don’t know. Here are some scoops from the past few days: “Jose Mourinho still believes he can be a star,” says the The Sun (July 22); “Fed-up Jose Mourinho is ready to let whingeing Anthony Martial leave Manchester United,” says The Sun (July 23); “Anthony Martial has put Chelsea on alert – because he plans to defy Manchester United and stay in England,” says The Sun (July 25).

 

martial agrees manchester untied transfer

Martial agrees to leave – says every publication without offering readers a shred of proof

 

 

Today’s Sun tells us Martial “has left Manchester United’s pre-season tour to.” Why? He’s left “to join girlfriend Melanie Da Cruz ahead of imminent birth of son”.

 

martial agrees manchester untied transfer

Martial agent says: “It is obvious and very important to be reminded that he is under contract, that Manchester United will have the last word and that we will respect the decision of the club, he will go until the end of his engagement.”

 

Martial property news follows the Sun’s scoop that Martial has “dropped a huge hint that he is staying at Manchester United after cancelling a short-term lease on a luxury flat the city.”

“Martial had planned to move into one of the luxury Number One Deansgate apartments this summer. Him and his partner, who is due to give birth in the coming weeks, wanted to stay in the flat on a short-term lease for three months while his future was sorted out. But he has axed the move and will stay in his Cheshire mansion, as he expects to still be a United player next season.”

We don’t know why Martial was looking at renting a flat in Manchester. Maybe his in-laws are coming to stay and he didn’t want them in the mansion? Was the mansion on sale? No. Is Jose Mourinho leaving United because he still lives in a hotel? No. Is Martial house hunting in London or Milan No. Does the Sun know what Martial plans to do? No.

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


Transfer Balls: ‘hijacked’ by Arsenal Malcolm ‘agrees’ to join Spurs after Manchester United ‘deal’

Roma have moved to sign Malcolm from Bordeaux. The Brazilian winger will cost the Italians around £36 million. And baring a late and successful bid from Barcelona, the deal will go through. But not so very long ago the press was telling us that Malcom wanted to play for Spurs. ​90mins.com told its readers: “Bordeaux winger Malcom has agreed a summer move to ​Tottenham after meeting manager Mauricio Pochettino.”

 

malcolm spurs

 

In the Sun, Malcolm was “hinting” at joining any one of Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool and Manchester United. The story was first-class balls:

BORDEAUX winger Malcom’s agent hinted a January Premier League transfer could be underway after sharing a snap of himself in London.

Agent takes holiday photo. Read on…

Leonardo Cornacini of Elenko Sports – an agency representing the Brazilian – posted a picture to Facebook of himself in the capital.

It was a “teasing picture”. And the teasing caption to the photo?

Cornacini captioned his post: “This is @elenko_sports… invading the land of Royal Majesty #PremierLeague.”

And..? And nothing. Undaunted by the lack of news in this scoop, the Sun added: “One social media user asked: “Does it have anything to do with Malcom to Arsenal?” And the response from Cornacini? Nothing. But he did go to the Albert Hall to watch a show.

Over in the London Evening Standard the story went: “Tottenham and Arsenal target Malcom reveals Premier League dream.” And, indeed, Malcolm did say last January: “It is true that England is a dream for every player.” That was a rare moment of fact. Although he never mentioned a club.

Goal.com told its readers: “Manchester United are ready to make a £40 million opening bid for Bordeaux forward Malcolm.” They weren’t. But The Metro told its readers that Arsenal had hijacked United’s £44m  “deal” for Malcolm – you know, the deal they never made:

 

malcolm roma arsenal

And then the Sun said Malcolm was off to…Fulham or Inter Milan.

 

malcolm trasnfer

 

Such are facts.

Posted: 23rd, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United, Gareth Bale and Ronaldo in clickbait horror

As Cristiano Ronaldo unpacks his wash bag in Turin, the Manchester Evening News works out how it can continue to milk the tired and desperate story of the Portuguese one day playing for Manchester United. After years of headlines and utter tosh about Ronaldo (born: Madeira Portugal) coming ‘home’, the paper cooks up the headline: “Cristiano Ronaldo transfer to be answered by Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.”

 

man united bale

 

The English is mangled but the headline the robots read is what the MEN is really interested in. The URL for the paper’s clickbait nonsense is:  “https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/transfer-news/cristiano-ronaldo-manchester-united-juventus-14911995.” No word of what Jose Mourinho’s “answer”, just the words “Transfer”, “Cristiano Ronaldo” and “Manchester United” in the same link. Whamo!

The teaser adds: “Man Utd manager Jose Mourinho is set to meet the press for the first time this summer, with Cristiano Ronaldo high on the agenda.” A player who does not play for Manchester United is at the top of topics up for discussion?James Robson says “his first press conference since a rather irritated affair following the FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea promises to be a fascinating one”.

And Ronaldo? Well, Robson tells us that “it’s understood United never seriously threw their hat into the ring when it became clear the five-time Ballon d’Or winner was ready to leave Real Madrid”. United didn’t want Ronaldo. Ronaldo didn’t want United. But Robson says “United have watched on [?] as Neymar and Ronaldo have proved eminently gettable.” The tin lid on this dire story is carried by “the belief” that United has “prioritised” the signing on Gareth Bale.

What chance have United of signing Bale?

“Bale’s own wishes could be the determining factor. His post-Champions League final ‘come and get me’ plea felt like a game-changer – and have certainly been enough to make United spring into action.”

A plea? Nothing of it. The Guardian reports:

Gareth Bale is set to be handed the challenge of replacing Cristiano Ronaldo as Real Madrid’s driving force when he meets his new coach, Julen Lopetegui, for talks in the next two weeks.

Pretty much every media outfit agrees with the Guardian that Bale is set to stay at Madrid. But over at the MEN clickbait farm, the news becomes:

 

 

What is the ‘one question” Bale must have answered? We click and get:

 

bale man united

 

James Robson once more has the scoop:

Once again the Manchester United executive chairman’s pursuit of Gareth Bale comes down to a simple question of stick or twist. That is the dilemma on Bale’s mind after he held his first face-to-face with new Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui this week.

The “one question” for Bale is should be stay or should he go? And United “are ready to move as soon as they get the go-ahead from Bale’s representatives.” Which they won’t.

More shameless ball in the MEN every day.

Posted: 17th, July 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Spurs ‘flop’ Modric to Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool

A headline is an opinion, which is why the Daily Express can call Croatia’s brilliant midfielder Luka Modric a “Spurs flop”. The full headline used to seduce readers to click on the paper’s story runs: “From Spurs flop to World Cup semi – the rise of Luka Modric.” Total balls, of course. Modric was great at Spurs. He joined Spurs on April 26, 2008 for around £17 million. He was good enough to attract the attention of Chelsea – who offed £40m for him – and Real Madrid, who signed Modric for a fee in the region of £30m. “Luka has been a terrific player for us and, while we preferred not to part with him, we are pleased that it is to Real Madrid, ” said Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy. At Real, Modric has been instrumental in the club winning the Champions League four times in the last six seasons.

And so to the Express’s story about this “Spurs flop”. Matthew Dunn calls Modric a “prodigious talent”. It “pained Tottenham to lose their midfield gem”. “His energy in midfield coupled with his reading of the game meant that whenever a team-mate was in trouble, Modric was always an out-ball.”

 

modric spurs

 

Others spotted the chasm between headline and story. Dunn responded to criticism on twitter:

“Thanks to all who’ve taken the trouble to say what they think of me based on one word in a headline, since changed, that I didn’t even write. By my reckoning, only one of you took the trouble to read the 842 words I did write. Thanks btw @chilly_spurs”

Sure enough, the Express clickbait factory did change the headline to: “Luka Modric: How the quiet Croatia star evolved from Tottenham to become a World Cup hero.” Time for Dunn to have a word with the hacks to run the website. But it’s unlikely the clickbaiters will listen. The paper’s other news on Modric is that he is joining Arsenal:

 

daily express modric arsenal

 

And the story?

Modric is likely to leave Real Madrid at the end of the season with the Croatia international’s form waning this season… And Spanish website Diario Gol say the veteran could make a stunning move to Arsenal.

He’s a flop!

The story contains no link to the source of the scoop. And the paper of record does not stop there. Modric is heading to Arsenal AND Liverpool, says the Express:

 

modric liverpool

 

That story contains not a single fact linking Modric to either Arenal or Liverpool. But the Express does not stop there. Modric is also going to play for Manchester United:

 

 modric manchester united

 

What is the “one reason” Modric will join United? Want to know what it is? Is it that he loves Manchester? Not quite. Jack Otway has the facts:

It is claimed Real will offer the player a new deal.

Who made that claim? Otway doesn’t say. But he does tell us:

But that will only be until 2020 and Modric, who feels he can play at the top level for many more years, may want a longer contract.

He may. He may not.

That is where United can intervene. However, whether Real allow another key asset to leave the club remains to be seen.

More shameless tosh in the Express every day.

Posted: 13th, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal buy fighting French midfielder

Transfer balls: every so often a player the media experts know nothing of makes a move. And so it is with Arsenal’s hiring of Lorient’s 19-year-old France Under-20 footballer Matteo Guendouzi. At the Daily Mirror’s clickbait factory, journalists scratch around for information. And they come up with this:

 

Matteo Guendouzi Arsenal

Matteo Guendouzi: midfielder and defender par excellence

 

Guendouzi plays in midfield.

News of Guendouzi’s arrival at Arsenal is rooted in a report by RMC Sport, who brand him the “French nugget”.  Another French site reports that Guendouzi’s contract at Lorient ends in June 2019, and he’s been agitating for the move away from the club for some months. Adding:

The contacts were broken in the autumn, irreversibly, before Mattéo Guendouzi was removed from the first team for three months, following an incident in the locker room at the half-time match against Valenciennes, November 24 .

What happened was bad enough for manager Mickaël Landreau not to select Guendouzi for 1st team action for 10 matches, as reported by Ouest-France. Sounds like Arsenal are buying players with a bit of pluck.

Posted: 9th, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Wilshere confirm move to West Ham AND Fenerbahce on Monday

Former Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere is “set to finalise” his transfer to West Ham, says the BBC. Wilshere’s move from Arsenal to West Ham is “set to be confirmed on Monday” says the Mirror.  It is? The story of where Wilshere will resume his career is confusing.

On June 15, the BBC said West Ham were only willing to offer Wilshere a one-year contract. Today’s Mirror says he will sign a three-year-deal worth £100,000 a week.

On May 9, the Mirror’s John Cross told readers: “Jack Wilshere is set to stay at Arsenal.”

 

jack wilshere Fenerbahce west ham

 

On June 25, the Sun told us that Wilshere was in Turkey “finalising a move to Fenerbahce”. He wasn’t. But on July 2, talksport said Wilshere was heading to Turkey – “according to Turkish journalist Volkan Demir, Wilshere has signed the contract and his switch will be announced on Monday“.

The Express agreed: “JACK WILSHERE is set to join Fenerbahce after leaving Arsenal, according to transfer expert Volkan Demir.” Who is Demir?

 

jack wilshere Fenerbahce west ham

 

Demir’s not quite as big on Instagram

 

On twitter Demir has an incredible 49million followers. Disappointingly given his gargantuan following on twitter – he’s far less popular on Instagram – his tweets are not viral monsters. But if he says Wilshere is off to Fenerbahce, then the British Press are not ones to argue.

 

Posted: 8th, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Chelsea buy Higuain who joins Arsenal and waits for Ronaldo

The Daily Mail says that Chelsea are to sign Juventus and Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain for £53m. Just as soon as Chelsea tell Antonio Conte to vet thee hence, they will recruit Maurizio Sarri from Napoli as their new manager and get Higuain. Or not.

Sky Sports hears Higuain’s agent say that nothing has been agreed and his man has not spoken to Chelsea. And the Times says Conte is not going quietly. The paper says someone on Chelsea’s technical staff emailed players not involved at the World Cup to tell them to report to the club’s training ground this weekend for fitness tests. Conte saw the missive and told everyone that the manager – him – doesn’t want to see any players until the following Monday.

As Chelsea’s pre-season implodes, it’s worth noting that Higuain plays for Arsenal. The Sun told us he does:

 

higuain arsenal sign

 

That was 2013. And the story is still on the Sun’s website, having been updated in 2016 – when Higuain still wasn’t playing for Arsenal.

Says the Sun:

ARSENAL last night smashed their transfer record when they agreed a £23million fee for Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain….

The Argentine will undergo a Gunners medical today…

The deal, which has been confirmed by the player’s father Jorge…

Now Wenger wants to build on Higuain’s imminent arrival by pressing ahead with negotiations for Wayne Rooney and Julio Cesar.

 

higuain arsenal

 

Now the Sun has more to say about Higuain:

 

chelsea higuain

 

Higuain to Chelsea is a done deal. Fact.

Or as, er, the Sun says one day later:

 

chelsea higuain

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 5th, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


World Cup Watch: Stones, Maguire and Henderson might be cheating Colombians

stones falcao
 

Last night as England beat Colombia in the World Cup John Stones “rose above the nastiness, the skulduggery, the crying, the whingeing, the play acting, the pulling, the pinching, the pushing” – “none set a better example than Stones”. So says the Mirror’s Andy Dunn. Or as the Daily Mail’s Riath Al-Sammaria puts it: “John Stones looked as though he might have left a little boot on Radamel Falcao”. And as for the moaning, cheating Colombians, “Henderson held his eye when Barrios’ contact was with his chin” and “Harry Maguire dived for a penalty”.

Former referee Graham Poll says Stones was “no angel and “caught Rademal Falcao in the head.

 

 
Good old England rising above those cheating foreigners:
 

 

Your chin bone’s connected to your eye bone…
 

Posted: 4th, July 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


World Cup Watch: Daily Mail singles out Sterling for criticism

Raheem sterling england colombia

Raheem Sterling is rubbish in the Daily Mail

 

Did you know Manchester City and England striker Raheem Sterling has not scored for England in 1000 days? It’s a fact Matt ‘Statto’ Lawton wants to share with his Daily Mail readers. Sterling could have scored last night as England defeated Colombia on penalties to progress to the World Cup quarter-final but he was “hooked” off after 88 minutes. Sterling was replaced by Jamie Vardy, who in the Mail’s all-important “Jamie Redknapp’s Big Match Ratings” scores 6.5 – the same as Sterling gets. Sterling was not the worst England player on the pitch according to Redknob. He scored higher than Kyle Walker (6), Deli Alli (6) and Ashley Young (6). But why does Sterling feel the hatchet between his shoulder blades and the rest do not?

And what of Eric Dier’s scoring a 7? He had a “pass completion rate of less than 25 per cent in his first 24 minutes on the pitch” (source: Martin Samuel, Daily Mail) and was “ordinary” against Belgium. He did score in the penalty shoot-out, a shot that was a “bit scuffed and [David] Ospina got a hand to it”. But there he is on the Mail’s back page “The Coolest Man in Moscow”.

 

Raheem sterling england colombia

Sterling was “dangerous” in the Daily Mirror

 

He was cool? No. In the Mirror, Dier says he was “nervous”. Andy Dunn says “Sterling at least remains one who can dash past a defender, take a risk, create splash of chaos”, factors described as “rarities” in a game big on “chaos”. The Mirror gives Sterling a 7 – the same as Pickford, Trippier, Henderson and Kane. Only John Stones with 8 scores higher. Sterling was “dangerous”.

 

Raheem sterling england colombia

The Sun

Raheem sterling england colombia

The Sun says Sterling was “lively”

 

Over in the Sun, Sterling gets a 6. That’s a higher mark than Lingard and Henderson, and the same as Pickford, Walker, Young and Dele. The Sun says Sterling was “slippery and lively” and “darting”.

 

Raheem sterling england colombia

Sterling is “lively” in the Daily Express

 

In the Express, “lively” Sterling who “caused  Colombia all kinds of problems” scores a 7 – that’s more than Pickford, Stones, Maguire, Henderson, Dele and Young. Only Harry Kane (8) scores higher.

So why is Sterling derided in the Mail? Has the Mail got a problem with Sterling?

It’s been while since Sterling scored in an England shirt, his last goal coming on 9th October 2015. But only Sterling gets compared to a “mascot” and a “jockey” in the Mail. No other player is so diminished.

Posted: 4th, July 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Manchester City, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Ronaldo to Juventus but Manchester United lead

All that talk of Cristiano Ronaldo heading ‘home’ to Manchester United is trumped by news that he’s been talking with Juventus. The BBC says the Italians have “opened talks” with Ronaldo, 33, to Italy. They have? Well, Marca agrees with the Beeb that Juventus want Ronaldo:

 

ronaldo juventus

 

Over on Marca, however, news is that Italian media are only “speculating” that Ronaldo could be on his way to Juventus. Slap the scoop through Google Translate and we learn:

  • “Italian media speculating that Juventus could be his next destination.”
  • Ronaldo was “incredibly flattered when some Juve fans gave him a “standing ovation after his stunning overhead kick in the Champions League”. Although some others called him a *****.
  • It’s an option that can now be discussed given that Ronaldo is out of the World Cup. “It’s not the time to talk about the future,” the player said after losing to Uruguay. Er…
  • Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes, is the “Tom Cruise of agents.” He a Scientologist?

Over in Italy, the headline is:

 

ronaldo italy

 

TuttoSport is the source of the BBC’s scoop and Marca story. Once again we look at he news through the prism of Google Translate:

Any reasoning deserves a premise: the chances of seeing Cristiano Ronaldo with the Juventus shirt in the next season are few. But being the strongest player on the planet, even the few make noise, especially if there is Jorge Mendes , his agent, who will now start a glowing phase of his summer: on one hand waiting for the relaunch of Real Madrid for a consistent retouching of the engagement, on the other the search for alternatives for his client, now on vacation.

In short: Ronaldo and his agent want more cash from Real. Will they get it at Juventus?

To avoid mistakes, CR7 greeted Real Madrid in Kiev , where he said: “It was nice to play in this club” , just a few minutes after raising the third consecutive Champions League . Now you look around. What are you looking for? First of all, more money: a folly for those who earn 21 million a season, but in the logic of his infinite (and partly irrational) long-distance challenge with Messi wants to take more of him, set new records, get ahead of everyone even at the economic level so he wants at least 40 million net per season, even if they say that to Florentino Perez, president of Real, he asked for 50.

And this for Juventus would be the main problem. Almost insurmountable, because the top salary is now 7.5 million net per season (received by Dybala and Higuain) and to give 40 to CR7 would mean putting 80 gross into the budget. Too many. This is why a complex commercial operation would be necessary, in which the FCA of the Juventus shareholder John Elkann could enter , which, through advertising contracts, could contribute substantially to the achievement of the quota.

To conclude: Ronaldo to Juventus would be nice for Juventus but Juventus don’t have the money to get him. Or as the BBC outs it: “Juventus have opened talks with Real Madrid to take Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo, 33, to Italy.” And in the Sun: “Juventus begin negotiations to sign Real Madrid star Ronaldo.” And in the Express: “Ronaldo could leave Real Madrid with Manchester United spearheading the list of teams aiming to snap him up.”

Fake news or just utter balls? Read all about it…

 

Posted: 3rd, July 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Lyon ‘trick’ Liverpool with Fekir to Manchester United talk

This summer’s transfer saga centres on Nabil Fakir’s move from Lyon to Liverpool. The transfer was so far progressed that Fakir was filmed wearing a new Liverpool shirt. But the £52m transfer (£48m plus extras) collapsed amid Liverpool’s concerns over the state of Fakir’s knee – the player suffered a bad injury to his knee in 2015.

And  then it all got a bit weird. Lyon president Jean-Michael Aulus told us: “I was with Jose Mourinho the other day. We had long discussions. Personally, I am no longer in discussions with Liverpool. At the moment, we are waiting for France and Nabil to have a fantastic World Cup.”

Can it be that Fakir, who has had a very ordinary World Cup on the France bench, is now off to Manchester United? In “Man Utd transfer news” the Express reads Aulus’s words and conjures the story: “Why Nabil Fekir is likely to snub Liverpool for Manchester United.” As the Express reads Fakir’s mind, the Mirror goes with: “Nabil Fekir could be forced to choose between Manchester United and Liverpool if he leaves Lyon.” Eurosport goes further. “United pounce for Liverpool target Fakir,” it yells.

 

fakir transfer

 

And then the Manchester Evening News tells us; “Nabil Fekir receives Manchester United transfer offer.” Well, that’s the headline. The truth is something very different. Deep into the MEN clickbait, the paper wonders why United want Fekir when they already have Fred, Fellaini, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Paul Pogba as attacking midfielders. It adds:

The Fekir tales are probably just that and there is no concrete evidence United want him. He only has two years left on his contract, so Lyon would prefer to sell the 24-year-old this summer while he is coveted by a big Premier League club, rather than in a year’s time when his value will have dwindled.

Clubs have previously fabricated United’s interest in a player to smoke out a bidder and the biggest sucker for the ruse tends to be Liverpool.

It’s all a trick?

If it is, it’s hard luck on all you readers who have followed the story of Fakir to Manchester United, like those told over and over in the, er, MEN:

 

 

But will Liverpool resurrect the deal? Well, yesterday the Sun said Liverpool had ‘resumed” talks with Lyon:

 

 

fekir liverpool

 

They have? No, says the Times. They have not:

 

fekir liverpool

 

 

Such are the facts.

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


Liverpool stick with Karius as concussion vanishes

Hard cheese on any Liverpool fans hoping for an upgrade on goalkeeper Loris Karius, whose errors cost the reds so dear in the Champions’ League final. The Sun says Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has given up on signing Roma’s Alisson Becker and wants Karius to remain as his number one. Karius “made two horrendous mistakes” as Liverpool lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League final, says the Sun.  It was “his calamitous Champions League final where he gifted Real Madrid two goals”. At no point does the Sun mention the claim that Karius was suffering from concussion.

Is that an oversight? The Mirror adds: “Karius’s errors in the Champions League final had appeared to highlight the Reds’ need for a new man between the sticks.” Again no word on any concussion. Why is it that something so serious as concussion is now dismissed?

 

karius concussion the sun liverpool

 

The Sun once thought it serious enough to explain Karius’ injury in full and advise its readers to go to hospital if the’ve suffered a bang to the head. “The effects usually only lasts up to a few days or weeks,” said the paper, “although in severe cases sufferers will need emergency treatment and can be left with longer-lasting symptoms.

It’s all balls, anyhow. Because Sky Sports notes: “Liverpool’s may see long-term target Alisson pinched from under their noses, with Chelsea planning a £65m offer for the Roma goalkeeper.” Can you pinch something the victim never owned and doesn’t want, according to the Sun and Mirror?

Posted: 1st, July 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal Transfer balls: Wilshere out to Turkey, Sokratis, Torrerira and Golovin in

Departing Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, 26, is off to Turkish club Fenerbahce. There’s been much chatter about Wilshere wanting to stay close to London. And, in truth, you can reach Istanbul from London in just under four hours flying time. If he makes the move, Wilshere will follow in the footsteps of other British footballers to have played for Fenerbahce, like Horace Armitage and Dalian Atkinson. 

As Wilshere leaves for the mayhem of Turkish league football, and the shops – does anyone think he won’t be injured? –  Arsenal will parade Borussia Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 30, in a XXL shirt and then buy a much smaller shirt to fit Sampdoria and Uruguay midfielder Lucas Torreira, 22.

Not that anything is done until the money is in the bank. “I have spoken to the boss and he says he will speak to me – I’m sure it will get done,” said Wilshere about a new Arsenal deal last season. The Gunners offered him one, which Wilshere rejected. But not regrets, Jack. Right?

Arsenal are also looking to sign Aleksandr Golovin of CSKA Moscow and Russia, but Chelsea are after him, too. the Gunners also fancy Real Madrid midfielder Lucas Vázquez.

 

Posted: 29th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Bale to Manchester United is more if than when

The Week magazine’s news on Manchester United transfers begins: “If Gareth Bale leaves Real Madrid…” And if he doesn’t? Well, then we will repeat the line next year, and the next and keep on repeating it until Gareth Bale is too old even for a desperate United to recruit. (See Anorak passim).

The Express says United manager Jose Mourinho “is intent” on recruiting the 28-year-old. Intent enough to lend United a few million of his own cash to bolster what would be a huge transfer fee? Or is intent measured in how many times Mourinho can moan about not being able to pick a side made up of  the world’s costliest first XI? The Times says Mourinho has told the club’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward that Operation Get Bale is of paramount importance to his plans.

The nadir of this hopeless balls is found in the Star, wherein we learn that Bale’s agent “breaks his silence” over Bale to United – because if there is one thing agents are known for it is their decorum. Jonathan Barnett, chairman of the player agency Stellar Group,  says: “I think we need to talk to Real Madrid to see what’s going on, he wants to play more, that’s top priority for him. He’s one of the top three or four players in the world. So he has to play, it’s not about money.”

Mentions of Manchester United: nil.

Oh, and here’s what Barnett had to say in April: “Gareth is a Real Madrid player and loves Real Madrid and Real Madrid love Gareth. All this talk about leaving is written by reporters who have no idea what is going on and who need to write something and don’t care if it is true or not.”

More Bale to United to follow…

Posted: 28th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Asensio ‘agrees’ to Chelsea, secretly wants Manchester United and courts Arsenal and Liverpool

Transfer balls round-up now, readers, as Liverpool are linked with a £158m move for Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio. The Guardian says Asensio, 22, has “refused” to rule out any move. This usually means the player said nothing on the matter. But the player who signed a six-year contract with Real last September – it has a £442m buyout clause – did speak. When asked at a press conference if he was heading to Liverpool, Asensio looked perplexed and replied: “When the World Cup is over, we’ll talk about that sort of thing.” But according to Metro, Asensio is to hold  “crunch talks” with Real Madrid.

Should it not go to plan, Liverpool will splurge a massive wedge of cash on the midfielder who played a full minute in the Champion’s League final.

As the Daily Star tells British reader that Liverpool are “preparing” to buy Asensio, AS (Spain) rubbishes any link. “Asensio only has eyes for Real,” says the paper. “The forward is determined to fulfil his lifelong dream and be a success at the Santiago Bernabéu and, as things stand, no offer – no matter how enticing – will change his mind.” In a world where Neymar can leave Barcelona and then agitate for a move to their great rivals, Real, Asensio has a price. The trick for his agent is to find it. Good idea, then, to see his name being linked to the world’s richest clubs:

 

asensio transfer

 

The guff about Asensio leaving the glory for Real to play for Arsenal worked. He scored a great new longterm contract.

So why not see if that can be improved upon? Liverpool want shim. And so too do:

 

 

asensio transfer

 

asensio arsenal

 

asensio transfer

Asensio agrees’ — nothing

 

So that’s Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United all in for Asensio. Yeah – what about moneybags Man City? The Express has that covered:

asensio transfer

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 27th, June 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Gareth Southgate is a living god

Gareth Southgate is a living god. The England manager is rightly venerated. There will be statues and churches. And then they will be smashed. He will be ordered to get three hence. We will see him again on a World Cup magazine show, in which he will provide a great anecdote about how waistcoats gave him purpose. The Times sums up:

 

gareth southgate god gareth southgate god

 

Elsewhere in the Times, Southgate is called “awkward and ordinary”, “the most timid of Englishmen”, “an International Man of Non-Mystery” and and his side a “secret order of style-conscious executive pillocks with flat caps and art chat”.

Amen.

Posted: 26th, June 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Bale and Ronaldo to Manchester United (again)

Transfer Balls likes how every summer a player is the primary focus of all the chatter. Remember when Marco Reus was leaving Borussia Dortmund for the Premier League. The Telegraph told its readers it was a sure thing, reporting that “Arsenal planning to hijack Liverpool’s £50 million bid”. He never came. He never even left Borussia.

 

reus agrees arsenal

 

And then there are the transfers that crop up every year, like Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United. The Guardian says that – yep – this summer the move is on:

Having proved beyond sane dispute that he is the GOHG, Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly heading back to where it all started. No, not his mother’s womb; we mean Old Trafford!

Not even his mother’s womb. Ronaldo out at started Sporting Clube de Portugal – in the B team. Manchester United did not hatch the world;’s greatest player. They bought him for £12.24 million, outbidding all rivals. “We have been negotiating for Cristiano for quite some time, but the interest in him from other clubs accelerated in the last few weeks so we had to move quickly to get him,” said United manager Alex Ferguson at the time. “It was only through our official association with Sporting that they honoured our agreement.”

ronaldo manchester united the sun newspapers

 

The money was the key factor in Ronaldo choosing to join Man United. At the time, it was widely reported that Sporting received just two-thirds of the transfer fee. The rest went to Ronaldo’s advisers. And now the talk is that he wants to return. He wants United over Sporting because:

a) His heart is in Manchester

b) United are desperate and would pay a shedload of money to get him

c) He misses the weather back ‘home’

bale manchester united

 

In other Ronaldo news, the Manchester Evening News thunders: “Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo odds to join Manchester United – Manchester United are favourites to land Real Madrid star Gareth Bale”.

Quick! Place your bets. And tell the bookmaker to place the same bet every summer. You can’t lose.

Posted: 23rd, June 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment