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
How football journalism works: No.9: be all things to all fans. The Liverpool Echo published two stories on goalkeepers: one on how much better than the rest the Liverpool ‘keeper is; one on how much better than the rest the Everton ‘keeper is.
“Alisson Becker is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League and we have the stats to prove it.”
“Jordan Pickford’s distribution is better than that of Premier League rivals Alisson and Ederson…”
The Pickford story is clickbait all the way. The entire thing is baed on the opinion of former England and Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman. He opines: “In the Premier League, you’ve got three guys who are really good when it comes to their distribution. You’ve got the two Brazilian keepers – Ederson at Manchester City and Alisson at Liverpool – but they’re not as good as Jordan is with his long passes out of his hands.” Pickford is better at “long passes out of his hands” than all the others, says former goalie.
Next week, why Tranmere Rovers’ ‘keeper is the best in the land…
Manchester United, Spurs and Chelsea are all in for Netherlands international Nathan Ake, 23. Well, so says the BBC. And United and Spurs “will have to wait” to see if Chelsea want to re-sign the player they sold to Bournemouth. So that’s three top clubs who all want Ake in a story that has taken on a life of its own.
Over in the Telegraph we learn that as part of Ake’s £20 million transfer to Bournemouth, Chelsea negotiated “a gentleman’s agreement that would allow them to re-sign him for a fee of around £40m”. What utter tosh. Football club’s do not employ lawyers on multi-million pound deals to work with a handshake. And then this:
There has not yet been any sign that Chelsea are ready to try to take Ake back to Stamford Bridge and any move to re-sign him would have to be agreed by the player. But a summer bid from either Spurs or United would force Bournemouth to offer Chelsea the opportunity to make a move and leave the other two clubs sweating.
This transfer news is tosh. But that doesn’t top the Express from milking the balls to produce the gem: “Man Utd news: Nathan Ake transfer battle takes fresh twist, Chelsea hold the key.”
When asked if he’d read the story of his transfer to Spurs, Ake told Football Oranje: “I’ve also seen it pass by, but of course it’s rumours. At the moment I play everything at Bournemouth and that goes well, so I focus on that. If I’ve already signed in London? No, certainly not. This does not say much about my status yet, they are rumours that come on the internet and as long as I do not hear anything myself, I will not go into that.” The story on the Dutch website was titled: “Ake to Tottenham: its only rumours.”
Mentions of Manchester United: nil. The story is about interest from Spurs. But the Daily Star hears the same words and manages to report:”NATHAN AKE has addressed the rumours surrounding his future amid reported interest from Manchester United.” In The Metro it’s: “Nathan Ake speaks out on Manchester United transfer speculation.” “Nathan Ake breaks silence on Manchester United speculation as Bournemouth defender addresses future,” chimes the Mirror.
All newspapers connive to omit the part where Ake says he’s not signed “in London“. Worse still, the Metro thunders: “Man Utd transfer news: Nathan Ake responds to Jose Mourinho interest.” Words from Mourinho: zero. But as the Mail says in a story about a “bidding war” for Ake, “Jose Mourinho, who worked with Ake at Chelsea, wants to revamp his defence with Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof failing to impress the Portuguese tactician.”
Ake did play for Chelsea nine times. But he was loaned out to Reading, Watford and Bournemouth. Aké made his Premier League debut on 26 December 2012 – when Rafa Benitez was Chelsea manager. Under Mourinho, Ake only made one league appearance, as a substitute in a 3–0 loss at West Bromwich Albion on 18 May.
Such are the facts.
Borussia Dortmund are keen to hire Manchester City’s cake-loving reserve Phil Foden to keep Jadon Sancho company. All the noises from those with vested interests in young Foden earning loads money at City say he’s very happy at the club. But he hardly plays for the first team, and if a big name in his position became available, City would surely swoop and push Foden further down the hierarchy. RB Leipzig and PSG also want Foden, but Dortmund with their reputation for developing young talent must be the pick.
Bournemouth’s Nathan Aké is talking about a rumoured move to Manchester United. “I’ve seen it pass by but of course it’s rumours,” says the former Chelsea loanee. “At the moment I play at Bournemouth and that is going well, so I focus on that. This does not say much about my status yet. They are rumours on the internet and as long as I do not hear anything myself, I will not go into that.” No comment is still a comment, Nathan. But he’s not heard anything himself about the things he’s chatting about to Dutch journalists so let’s just leave him alone.
Still at Chelsea is Eden Hazard, who having stated it his childhood “dream” to play for Real Madrid, no says he won’t head to Spain in January. He also says he won’t ever force a move to Madrid. Instead, he’ll just keep on talking about his ambitions in Spain, batting his eyelashes and seemingly talking abut Madrid every single day.
Heading back to Chelsea is midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, 24. Reports are that AC Milan have “threatened” to cancel his loan deal because of “defects in his game”.
Arsenal are looking at cheaper options than Hazard, like Rennes’s Ismaila Sarr and Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz. They’re said to be promising, young, athletic, skilful and cheap. You know the story. Some things at Arsenal never change.
At the other end of the pay scale, Manchester United are all ready to offer Spain goalkeeper David de Gea a new deal that would make the 27-year-old the club’s highest earner – m re than the £600,000-a-week they pay Alexis Sanchez to kiss the badge.
As for Spurs, well, Madrid captain Ramos says Harry Kane would be great in La Liga, and Mousa Dembélé will quit the cub at the season’s end to live out his own fantasy at Beijing Sinobo Guoan in the Chinese (Not So) Super League.
It’s Croatia versus England in the Nations League. No fans will be in the ground, save for the BBC’s Ian Wright, perhaps, and the talk is of microphones picking up players swearing in the all-but silent stadium. With little else to talk abut, the media want to talk about protecting viewers at home and at the pub – the ones screaming “Why are England so f***ing s***? at the telly. The BBC reports, “England manager Gareth Southgate says he will have no problem with his players swearing”. But the Mail says Southgate is fearful:
Which is it? What Southgate said was: “We’ve spent two years encouraging them to speak, so to stop them speaking now would be slightly against what we’ve been trying to work on. It’s for the television companies to decide where they put their microphones.”
Or broadcast the game after the watershed. Of course, if you can’t say “twat” during a football match, when can you say it?
We do all love the hyberbolic rantings of football pundits. Right now they’re raving about Arsenal. Stan Collymore uses his tired Daily Mirror column to tell readers Arsenal “will win 90 per cent of their games and lose the other fixtures they’re expected to lose, that means no titles”. It does? Since when have Arsenal ever won 90% of their matches over a season? Since Stan Collymore made it up.
If Arsenal win 90 of their Premiere League matches, they most likely win the title. Last season, Manchester City scored records number of points by winning a mere 84% of their PL matches. In the Europa League, you can win the trophy by winning just 8 of 15 matches – that’s 53%.
Over on Sky Sports, Ian Wright is backing Arenal in their stance over Aaron Ramsey. Say Wright: “We’ve seen him [Ramsey] in the Euros dominating when he was absolutely fantastic, we’ve seen the season [2013-14] he has with Arsenal scoring 20-plus goals and was amazing, we’ve seen he can score in big games, winning cup finals.” Ramey has never scored 20-plus goals in a season. In the Mirror, John Cross also thinks Ramsey can be relived upon to score, noting:
It will be a massive blow to lose one of Europe’s top goal-scoring midfielders on a free, and once again the north Londoners’ dealings in the market and over contracts will come under the spotlight.
Ramsey has scored once season. He did score 7 PL goals last season – the same number as: Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford), Pascal Groß (Brighton) and Marcos Alonso (Chelsea). In season 2016-17, Ramsey scored – get this – one Premier League goal. In 2015-16 he scored 5; in 2014-15 he got 6; and in 2013-14 he scored 10. Is he one of the continent’s best goal-scoring midfielders? Does he get 20 goals season? No. In season 2013-14, Ramsey scored 13 goals.
But let’s spare some sympathy for the pundits. It’s not as though there’s an easy resource you tap into to access a myriad facts in seconds. And until there is, guesswork will triumph over homework.
Real Madrid want to sign Spurs and England striker Harry Kane. But the BBC says that the richest club in the world “may be put off by the 25-year-old’s £200m price tag”. To which the response must be: what price tag? Is there a tag visible when Kane puts his shirt on inside out? And why stop at £200m when you can conjure any figure – why not 300m? As far as we can tell, Kane’s not for sale and is perfectly happy at Spurs.
The cited source is El Confidencial, a Spanish site, which opines: “Real Madrid (after a new crash) wants to sign a goal for now.” Google Translate continues to be gift to comedy. It also tells us that the BBC’s story is utter tosh. Here we go – take it away, Google language bots:
The Real Madrid plumbs the market ahead of the winter window. Aware of his erroneous planning of the squad last summer, which was reflected again this Saturday in the disastrous defeat in Vitoria against Alavés (1-0) , Florentino Perez has given order to comb the market in search of a pair of players that reinforce the template for this winter…
The priority, as seems obvious, is to reinforce the team’s lead with a contrasted goalscorer who adds a goal to a squad that has lost a lot of punch with the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo…
In that list will appear young players like the forward of the RB Leipzig, Timo Werner…
Another profile that is handled is that of the veteran striker who without becoming a star of the first level could complete the Real Madrid goal and add those goals that the team is missing… The perfect example is that of ‘Manolito’ Adebayor , the forward who came from Tottenham to Real Madrid in winter and added eight goals leaving a good taste in the Bernabéu.
And the third way is to bet on the signing of a ‘galactic’ as they could be Eden Hazard or Harry Kane…
So Real are looking to recruit any half decent striker who could be available in January, maybe. As for Kane being worth £200m and it being too rich for Real, the BBC just made that up – just as El Confidencial plucked Kane’s name from the air as a possible big name signing. The actual story is that Hazard says Real are the world’s biggest club and it’s been a childhood dream to play for them. What his price tag is, we’re not told. But it could be ‘lots’..
Can the Daily Mirror reassess the quality of its “Manchester United” insiders” who were “convinced” Jose Mourinho was going to be sacked last weekend? The paper leads with United’s 3-2 win over an average Newcastle side lacking in top talent, hailing it as a “stay of execution”. The comeback from 0-2 down “papered over the cracks”.
David McDonnell saw United play for 70 minutes “without spark or purpose”. They were “abject”. But “from somewhere deep within themselves”, the players stirred for a “staggering Fergie-like 20-minute comeback”. It was a “miracle”. No word on Mourinho’s role in the resurgence. Not a peep about what the manager might have done at half-time to reform his side trialing by two goals. And nothing said on the Mirror’s story, as told by one David McDonell, that Mourinho is today looking for a new job.
As the Mirror memory holes the words “Mourinho Jose Mourinho set to be sacked this WEEKEND whatever Manchester United’s result vs Newcastle”, the Sun has its own exclusive. The Sun is the paper that has cheered longest and loudest for Mourinho. The team might be dull, but to the Sun it’s all part of the “RED-OLUTION”.
And so to the day’s scoop: “HOW POGBA SAVED JOSE”. The want-away midfielder saved Mourinho, how? “He told boss best way to spark fightback.” Pogba Tip 1: Tell Juan Mata to score direct from a free kick. Mata scores! The trust is less poetic. We hear that Mourinho listened to his players at half time. Pogba suggested a “deeper role for himself and brining on Fellaini”. Genius. Bring on the hairy elbow and lob it up into the mixer.
Mourinho tells everyone that he and the team chatted for 10 minutes about this and that at half time. To seasoned Mourinho watchers this might look like the manager trying to exculpate himself from the mess. But to the Sun’s it’s honest Jose binding the team and securing victory. It “showed how they could all work together”. It also showed that Newcastle United – six defeats from eight played; two draws – can’t hang on to a two goal lead.
But as Jose and Pog hug in the Sun, the Mail says Pogba wants to leave regardless of Mourinho’s future. Looks like the miracle will only last if plucky minnows United can play huge-spending Newcastle at home every week…
Manchester United will sack Jose Mourinho today. As the Mirror told readers yesterday: “Jose Mourinho set to be sacked this WEEKEND whatever Manchester United’s result vs Newcastle.” So much for the thrilling comeback from 0-2 down against Newcastle. Indeed, the Mirror’s match report calls the match thrilling. It cocks an ear as “Old Trafford erupted and Mourinho’s name rang out once again”. But today he gets the sack.
The Mirror even had a live blog. As Alexis Sanchez scored the winner, it piped:
GOOOALLLL!!!! Young whipped the ball into Martial, who had drawn the attention of the defenders, but it makes it past them and Sanchez heads it in at the back post! Has that goal saved Jose Mourinho’s job?! Manchester United 3-2 Newcastle.
Has it saved his job? No. Because the Mirror said he’s getting sacked today.
Elsewhere in today’s in-the-know Mirror, we read that Manchester United bosses have “urged Zinedine Zidane not to consider any other managerial vacancies” because they are deciding on the future of manager Jose Mourinho. We also learn that Manchester United “could have to pay £29m to Mourinho if they sack the Portuguese”. But if United fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League, the bill is £10m.
Meanwhile, the Times tells us the Manchester United board texted Mourinho their support before yesterday’s match. Which, as the Mirror know, means he’s getting sacked…
After the the ‘ifs’ and ‘coulds’, news is that Manchester United will sack Jose Mourinho will be sacked after today’s match with Newcastle. the BBC has the scoop, although it’s one founded in the Mirror’s story: “Jose Mourinho set to be sacked this WEEKEND whatever Manchester United’s result vs Newcastle.” Win 19-0 in a match that will reverberate through time and Mourinho will be sacked. Play out a thrilling encounter, as Mourinho unleashes Sanchez, Pogba and Martial with the command ‘express yourselves’ and still be sacked. How can the Mirror be certain? After all, this is the paper that told us Arsenal Wenger had ‘set the date’ to leave Arsenal on June 30 2017. He was sacked a year later.
David McDonnell writes: “Jose Mourinho has lost the confidence of the Manchester United board and is set to be sacked this weekend.” And replaced by? Dunno. We also don’t know the identities of the “senior United sources” who gave the Mirror its story. We’re told Mourinho has “alienated players, fans and staff at Old Trafford”. And Mourinho “appeared resigned to his fate” in the pre-match press conference.
We’re then told that Man United chief executive Ed Woodward “is believed to have lost his patience in Mourinho”. Since when ie believing something a fact? We do know that those “senior” United insiders don’t include the most senior, nor the Glazers, who own the club. It’s all very woolly. And as for the all-important bottom line, Bloomberg notes:
Even though the club’s shares have slumped 17 percent since reaching a record high on the last day of August, they’re up 27 percent since the Portuguese manager took over in May 2016.
Mourinho the manager is damaged goods; but Mourinho the brand is doing ok.
And then we get more hunches: “Ex-Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane is the favourite to succeed Mourinho, who is set to receive compensation of around £20million. Michael Carrick could be put in temporary charge.” United fans want Carrick as manager? And sd a £20m goodbye a reason for Mourinho to look “sullen”? Yes, he’s rich but you could always use a few million more, right.
Meanwhile, talkSport hears “United sources” say Mourinho won’t be sacked. The Indy agrees. Woodward is “keen to give the manager more time”. The Guardian says: “Manchester United have no plans to remove Mourinho.” And that’s how journalism works – one source makes a bold claim based on nameless sources; and the rest either repeat it or get their scoop by screaming”Nothing Will Happen!”
But it might happen one day. Mourinho will be sacked! You read it everywhere first…
Good on twitter for making an amusing story more suggestive. During Brighton’s home win over West Ham in the Premier League, the Sun tweets: “Brighton’s win over West Ham interrupted by ref picking up sex toy.” 30,000 people look on as the the old “w**ker in the back” blows his whistle to signal a break in play fore hailing a taxi to the local ‘marital aides shop’, or maybe picked something up online?
Brighton’s win over West Ham interrupted by ref picking up sex toy https://t.co/ZZFEcM1cRc
— The Sun (@TheSun) October 6, 2018
The story is less bizarre, as ref Kevin Friend picked up a neat, pink set of plastic cock and balls lobbed on to the pitch by a fan in the throes of ecstasy.
They do get so very excited:
When 21-year-old Raheem Sterling bought his mum a house the Daily Mail was unimpressed. Sterling was the “£180,000-a-week England flop” showing off a “blinging house he bought for his mum… hours after flying home in disgrace from Euro 2016.” Disgrace? Surely the Mail means disappointment at getting knocked out of the tournament only monocular die-hards thought England would win?
Fast forward two years and another Manchester City player is buying his dear old ma a house – cost: £2m. It’s 18-year-old Phil Foden. The teenager has yet to play for the full England team. And until he does he will be the great white hope. He’s only played 8 times for City in the Premier League. The Mail will surely goggle at the obscenity of it all. Or not:
The 18-year-old’s parents, Phil and Claire, are thought to have been involved in choosing the house and he is determined to keep the close-knit family together despite his emergence as one of England’s outstanding talents.
We never were told if Raheem’s mum, who raised him in less than salubrious surrounds, helped chose the bricks and furnishings for her “obscene” home (price: £3.5m), nor how the new home kept the pair together. But for Phil it’s all terrific:
The move is likely to change little for the player who has always lived at home, doesn’t drink and doesn’t yet drive. He takes cash, rather than cards, on nights out and is thought to have taken out a substantial mortgage on the new house.
Cash is king – he’s not in the least bit obscene.
Why are we not all talking about Phil Foden’s birthday cake? pic.twitter.com/ZRKucFjtum
— Macca (@The_Paris_Angel) May 29, 2018
That the Press have no idea what Manchester United’s moneymen will do about Jose Mourinho is no clearer than in the BBC’s news that the club “could” sack the draining Portuguese “if his side lose to Newcastle United on Saturday”. Could and if are not news. But the Sun goes further. It says senior boardroom figures have lost faith in Mourinho. No names are revealed. No boardroom suit has given the rumours of top-level discord a face.
Are they upset by Mourinho’s dire man-management of Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Marcus Rashford and Eric Bailly? Before he criticised those current members of the United squad in public, Mourinho sniped at Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Bastian Schweinsteiger, although of the later he did say, “He’s in the category of players that I feel sorry for something I did to him.”
Or are the suits voicing dissent over the dull style of play and poor results? Most likely they’re fretting about sponsors. Under the Glazers, United are a brand for hire. Mourinho, like Pogba, was recruited for his market appeal. Mourinho’s the man with a range of perfumes, whose name was licensed for Jose Mourinho briefcases and umbrellas. Jaguar and Hublot have paid big money for Mourinho to advertise their stuff. As one Times writer notes, the Glazers’ yes man, Ed Woodward, “can nail a noodle deal but not provide any heavyweight footballing guidance or astute succession planning.”
If Mourinho is deemed to have lost his cache in the luxury goods arena, he’s toast. If it’s all abut football, why did United ever hire the man whose teams are set out to pinch a goal and hang on? Sack the suits, right, for neglecting Manchester United’s footballing history.
But who if not Mourinho?
The BBC says Mauricio Pochettino is “Manchester United owner Ed Woodward’s preferred candidate”. The reporting is shockingly bad.
And over in the Manchester Evening News, we learn that when Zinedine Zidane was at Real Madrid, he was an admirer of David De Gea, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial. So much did he admire them that moneybags Real never recruited any of the trio. But they all play for United and Zidane’s between jobs, so the story must be that the great Frenchman wants to take over at United – noodle deal permitting.
Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita was stretched off the pitch in the Reds’ 1-0 Champions League defeat by Napoli. Keita was taken to hospital in Naples. He “underwent a number of precautionary health checks”, says the Liverpool official website. So what’s wrong with Keita? “It is his back,” says Jurgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager.
And then the speculation began. Liverpool fans’ website Empire of the Kop says “Keita might have paid the price” for Napoli’s pitch, which they say was “really poor and nowhere close to being appropriate for a top-level game”. The Mirror says he “caught” his foot on the “rough” playing surface. But Keita has a history of back problems, having missed some of Liverpool’s pre-season tour to the United States last July after aggravating an existing back problem on a flight. Why blame Napoli?
But for top-level speculation, website Football Italia wins. “Sky Sport Italia and Radio Marte both confirm he was rushed to the Cardarelli hospital for tests on his heart,” says the site. No links to Sky Sport Italia is provided. But another Liverpool fan site does have links. It ups the ante, screaming: “According to confirmed reports, the Guinean felt faint and there were concerns within the medics that he was suffering a heart attack.” Confirmed reports? No. A single tweet:
— Gianluca Di Marzio (@DiMarzio) October 3, 2018
Any concerns over Keita’s heart were routine. Medics most likely also checked his breathing, blood and urine. Look out for headlines telling of “Keita Kidney Scare”, “Keita Lung Horror” and “Keita Mystery Virus”. The Sky Sports Italia website makes no mention of any heart issues. The mention was made by Gianluca Di Marzio, a reporter for Sky Italia, who tweeted the above: “#Liverpool, Naby #Keita trasportato d’urgenza in ospedale: scongiurati problemi cardiaci, gli aggiornamenti.” Which simply says, there were no heart problems. put that through the SEO blender and the Bleacher Report can thunder: “Jurgen Klopp: Naby Keita Has Back Injury After Heart Scare Initially Feared.”
Another tweeter adds:
Naby Keita went to hospital after a heart problem scare during the defeat against Napoli.
Luckily, ‘no heart problem was revealed on examinations made immediately after he arrived at the hospital’. pic.twitter.com/AnjeT3LcZP
— Jack Gill (@jacklfcgill) October 3, 2018
One moment you’ve a bad back, the next they’re carrying you off to the morgue. Such are the facts.
Dust off the piano, Arsenal, Alexis Sanchez is being linked with a return to the Gunners. Having been told by Manchester United’s negative and draining manager Jose Mourinho that he could never play for United again, Sanchez is considering his options. The Daily Star reasons that this includes the £600,000-a-week man taking a huge wage cut to rejoin Arsenal and seize the dream of coming fourth and winning the Europa League.
The Manchester Evening News says “Manchester United fans think Arsenal robbed them with Alexis Sanchez deal”. Nothing but desperation impelled United to give Sanchez a fortune. Clubs should be careful what they wish for.
Meanwhile, the Gunners are looking to replace Aaron Ramsey, who was seeking about £250,000-a-week to sign a new Arsenal deal. Ramsey told the fans it wasn’t about the money. Right. And Sanchez joined United to shop at the Arndale Centre. It’s all about the money.
Arsenal reasoned that paying a fading player £52m in wages over a four-year contract was too much – and that might not include loyalty payments. Ramsey turns 28 in December. Last season he missed 11 games though injury. The seasons before that he missed: 22 matches, 11 matches, 15 matches and 21 matches, respectively. Ramsey leaving Arsenal is being talked of as a disaster. The Daily Mirror called Ramsey one of the best goal-scoring midfielder in Europe. Last season Ramsey scored how many goals for Arsenal in the Premier League? Fifteen? Ten? No. One. He scored one goal.
Factor in any resale value in the transfer market and giving Ramsey a shedload of cash to stay looks nuts. So he leaves for the Liverpool treatment room or Real Madrid’s reserves, and the Gunners can look at getting a replacement, like Napoli’s Poland midfielder Piotr Zielinski. He’s 24. He’s no history of injuries. He’d have a resale value. And he’d a command a transfer fee of around £25m plus up to £100,000-a-week wages.
It’s not all about player power.
The Manchester Evening News is in Team Mourinho in the draining, negative Manchester manager’s row with, well, most of this side, not least of all star turns Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba. The paper tells readers “more damage would be done if Zinedine Zidane is appointed”. You might wonder why the Frenchman’s name is being linked with a job at United at all.
The Sun says Zidane has heard the rumours and called Mourinho to say he’s not after his job. This has led Mourinho to deduce that United are doing the courting. Are Manchester United’s kingmakers that sly? In July, Mourinho’s predecessor, Louis Van Gaal, spoke about his time at United. Words are through Google Translate from the original Dutch:
“I find the way in which Manchester has dealt with me horrible. And false…
“All those old footballers from Manchester suddenly came to tell me that I played boring football. So that was remarkable; that was directed. After a while I started thinking: how can I still be the authority for the players?”
He then talked about getting the sack and with a big cash settlement from United. Van Gaal was so bitter about his treatment at United, he turned down the Belgium job because taking it would have meant United could stop paying him:
“But the first year I could not go into anything because of the conditions that Manchester imposed on my lump sum. That is why I have run Belgium for example. While I thought that was a great challenge… I was so vindictive that I let it go. Actually stupid, because the sporting consideration is the most important. But that’s how I stood back then… It was more about revenge for me: that they had to pay for everything.”
How much blame can be apportioned to United’s board in making such a mess of things? David Moyes lasted just 10 months, Van Gaal was sacked for coaching dull football only to be replaced with the stultifying Mourinho? Not much blame at all, according to the MEN, which explains:
There is no panacea for Woodward [United chairman Ed Woodward]. Zinedine Zidane inherited such a superb squad at Real Madrid in 2015 that the XI in his third and last Champions League final in May comprised completely of players he inherited. United have one world-class player and the post-Ferguson task has broken two managers of different repute already, with a third likely.
Which world-class player is that? David de Gea? Paul Pogba? Alexis Sanchez? “We have world-class players in every position and I think that’s very important to have, ” said Victor Lindelof in March, the United defender Mourinho recruited. As for Zidane inheriting a team of Champions’ League winners, doesn’t he take credit for taking player who weren’t his choice and making them serial champions?
Don’t panic, Paul Pogba. Sure, you’re a destabilising present at Manchester United who criticised the team in public after a 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers, in which you set up United’s goal and then were easily dispossessed in the build up to the equaliser. You could still be on your way to Barcelona. Although a word of caution: Barcelona’s board are not unanimous in their desire to recruit you, says ESPN. Some suits might think a huge fee of well over £100m for a over-hyped player who went “home” to United to finish the job and has succeeded in all but finishing Jose Mourinho, not worth the effort.
And Mourinho had best leave, or else. The Sun hears Pogba say he will leave United in January if Jose Mourinho stays as manager. Did he really say that? And how does the Sun know it – the Sun being the paper that has cheered longest and hardest for Mourinho at United?
The Sun says Pogba told team-mates “he cannot be bothered to argue with the manager any more”. So he told them and they told the Press. And then he told them that it’s not his fault: “He is embarrassed at being played in formations and with tactics that none of the team can get to grips with.” None of them can work out how to play? Or just one of them? As the Sun continues: “Pogba had a wretched game and was hooked after 70 minutes to a chorus of jeers from home supporters.”
Those home supporters were West Ham fans, not United fans, who are told: “The Hammers’ first goal was offside while there was a possible foul in the build-up to their third.” So United were unlucky? Or as the Sun put it on Sunday after the match, West Ham were “inspired” and United were “dismal”. As for Pogba, “the whinging France midfielder put on another abysmal display in a United shirt before he was subbed in the 70th minute.”
The Sun is gunning for Pogba. But Mourinho, a draining presence, is the man who looks like he’s got nowhere left to go…
Is Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho lacking in self-awareness? Odd to ask, I know, given his crushing narcissism. But when he said before United’s defeat at West Ham the club is bigger than anyone, he wasn’t referring to himself was he. We’re pretty sure Mourinho thinks he is bigger than Manchester United, or at least the club’s human equal. His words were answer aimed at Paul Pogba, the World Cup winner and United’s priciest asset he’s fallen out with.
The problem for Mourinho is that on the all-important United balance sheets Pogba is worth more to United than he is. Pressured by the marketeers and debt managers who control United, Mourinho cosets the player, making him captain, letting him take the penalties and telling media the Frenchman is the best in training. Pogba understands his value. Mourinho appears weak – all the more so when he then told Pogba he’d never captain the team again, and was met with belligerence when he schemed to broadcast his authority by admonishing Pogba in front of the cameras.
None of this is aided by Mourinho pragmatic tactics, anathema to United’s traditions of free-flowing, attack-minded football – but, then, United’s owners should have done their homework and realised what they were getting with Mourinho, a man whose success is built on nicking a lead and hanging on to it with grim determination.
And so it’s no surprise to read in the Sun that the Manchester United manager is worried about his future at Old Trafford. He’s “convinced” club officials have sounded out former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane. But Italian press says Zidane is to be the new chief executive at Juventus. ESPN hears United deny reports they have approached Zidane to replace. United says it’s “nonsense”.
The Star says one figure on his way out is Alex Sanchez, the ball-hogging attacker United were at pains to recruit from Arsenal. Having watched Sanchez, who never made it at Barcelona, shine in a team of journeymen at Arsenal, Mourinho thought the Chilean was the man to get United firing. He wasn’t. Indulged at Arsenal, where Arsene Wenger allowed Sanchez to wander all over the pitch, often picking the ball up in front of the defenders, waving his hands about at the rest of the team before trying to score on his own, Sanchez was given a more fixed role at Old Trafford. You can pay Sanchez £600,000-a-week, as United do, but Mourinho can’t get him to play like he did for the Gunners.
But maybe even he’ll outlast Mourinho, who is surely nearing the end of his time at United.
Yesterday Arsenal fans learned something that had escaped them. The Mirror’s John Cross told them and readers of his Daily Mirror “exclusive” that Aaron Ramsey is “one of Europe’s top goal-scoring midfielders”. Last season, Ramsey scored one goal in the Premier League. Are goals from midfield so hard to come by that one represents the apogee? That question to David Silva, Mo Salah, Deli Alli, Kevin de Bruyne, James Maddison, Bernardo Silva, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Pascal Groß. We could go round Europe looking at goalscoring midfielders, but the point is made: Ramsey is not as effective as his PR says he is.
But the impression that he hits the net pervades. Last night, former Arsenal star Ian Wright told Sky Sports: “…Aaron Ramsey is captain material… It should have been done ages ago. Ivan Gazidis [the Arsenal chief executive who left for AC Milan] has got a lot to answer for for this to happen because Ramsey should be a focal point in the team… He’s somebody that I’d like to see stay because I think he is that player who is never afraid. He scores goals.”
He scores very few goals. And another player on the big money Ramsey’s after might score more goals than him. Arsenal’s habit in recent years of sticking with players on the drift has seen them not challenge for the title and slip out of the Champions League slots. Unai Emery is building his own team. Why does he need Wenger’s journeymen?
So Ramsey’s off in search of vast riches and loyalty payments elsewhere. As soon as Arsenal agreed to pay £350,000 a week to Mesut Ozil, every other player; on Arsenal’s books thought themselves worth more. But they’re not. So Arsenal withdrew their contract offer to Ramsey – the one he hadn’t agreed to sign.
The Standard says he’s booking a one-way flight this January to Juventus or AC Milan. Or maybe it’ll be Chelsea or Manchester United? Anyone in the market for a skilful but slowing midfielder who scores one goal a season knows his agent’s number.
Transfer Balls spots this gem of an “exclusive” on the Daily Mirror’s back page: “Aaron Ramsey to leave Arsenal next summer.” The midfielder’s current deal runs until the end of this season. He’ll then be free to pick up a huge wad of cash at another club. But after the original statement, the facts become , well, less factual. We read that the Mirror “understands there is now NO new contract offer on the table”. Is understanding the same as knowing? No. Or ‘NO’, as the Mirror might put it.
And then we pick up the powder and dust the story down for the agent’s fingerprints:
Midfielder Ramsey had been ready to stay and commit himself to a new contract, with the club confident of reaching agreement with the past few weeks. But there has been a sudden change and talks have completely broken down — to the point that there is now nothing for the 27-year-old Wales international to sign.
A sudden change from which side? The inference is that it’s not from fiercely loyal and not-in-the-least-bit greedy Ramsey who is holding his pen with “nothing” to sign. “Ramsey appears likely to play just one season under new boss Unai Emery,” we’re told. Appears. Likely. Not all that factual. This is less than 50 words after readers were told, “Aaron Ramsey will leave Arsenal at the end of the season”. Now it “is not known whether the Spaniard [Arsenal manger Unai Emery] wants to keep him.”
Arsenal’s wage bill has been escalating out of control with Mesut Ozil now on £350,000-a-week, but Ramsey has been keen to stay and this breakdown is not because he has turned down a new deal.
Maybe Arsenal think he’s not all that good?
It will be a massive blow to lose one of Europe’s top goal-scoring midfielders on a free, and once again the north Londoners’ dealings in the market and over contracts will come under the spotlight.
One of Europe’s top-scoring midfielders is, according to the Premier League’s stats-based Fantasy Football game, the joint 19th best midfielder in the PL. According to Wales Online – which like the Mirror is owned by Reach – Ramsey isn’t one of the best midfielders in the PL. As for goals scored, Ramsey hasn’t scored this season. He did score 7 PL goals last season – the same number as: Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford), Pascal Groß (Brighton) and Marcos Alonso (Chelsea). In season 2016-17, Ramsey scored – get this – one Premier League goal. In 2015-16 he scored 5; in 2014-15 he got 6; and in 2013-14 he scored 10. Is he one of the continent’s best goal-scoring midfielders? He was. But is he now? No.
Ramsey’s a good player. But Arsenal would be nuts to break the bank to keep him. And if he wants to go now, surely they’ll cut him loose in January. But the Mirror says:
They allowed both Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to get into the final year of their deals, and now they face an even more embarrassing own goal over Ramsey.
Ozil stayed. Sanchez went to Manchester United on a £600,000-a-week deal and Arsenal got the less difficult Henrikh Mkhitaryan in return. Arsenal are currently above United in the league. Sanchez has been poor. Embarrassing?
The tin lid on this balls comes in the next line:
Meanwhile, former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has turned down offers from China, Japan and France because he is enjoying his new-found freedom after leaving the club last summer.
Oh, him – the bloke who didn’t leave when the Mirror told us he would be:
See yer, Ramsey. First went fading Theo Walcott, then oft-injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the ordinary Kieran Gibbs. They were followed out the door by the pace-free Jack Wilshere and now Ramsey is set to leave. Arsenal fans, listen up, things are getting better. Tough players with presence can get in touch with Emery at the usual address…
It’s the Daily Paul Pogba, a look at news on the likeable, over-hyped French midfielder, who told the United board before the World Cup that he wanted to leave Old Trafford. He wasn’t allowed to go, of course. And now Pogba’s a World Cup winner with France, United are cherishing their biggest name, realising that in their ultimate desire to be Marketing Week’s Brand of the Year, Pogba is a route to new markets. Not quite. Because Jose Mourinho has just told Pogba he will never again captain the team. It won’t be him lifting the Premier League trophy when Mourinho’s masterplan to nick a lead and then defend it pays off.
And it’s worse. The Sun says Pogba and Mourinho “clashed” at training yesterday because the irritating Portuguese manager thought the France international had posted a video of him laughing after Manchester United’s defeat by Derby County in the League Cup. The result is, according to ESPN, that senior Manchester United players think Mourinho’s a bit of a pillock and his man-management techniques to blame the players and pick on individuals in public are neither helpful nor pleasant.
But here’s the good news for United fans: the owners are backing the charismatic Pogba over the stultifying Mourinho. No. Sorry. Remove the bunting. It’s the other way around. Manchester United vice-chairman Ed Woodward has backed Mourinho, says the Star. But, apparently, a “number” of players want to leave if Mourinho stays. But neither Pogba nor Mourinho is going anywhere, says the Times. Unless a club offers over £200m for Pogba, in which case, United will call him a taxi.
Back in the Sun, we hear that Mourinho wants the Manchester United board to support him as they once supported Sir Alex Ferguson. And just as soon as Mourinho produces a coherent side of dash and swagger that wins things, they most probably will.
“NO PRONUNCIATION IN LONDON,” declares the headline on Bild, the German tabloid. The headline is viewed through the Google Translate mangle. But the next part is clear: “Löw locked out at Özil training.” News is that Germany coach Joachim Low, on a mission to see Mesut Ozil, rocked up uninvited to the Arsenal training ground and wasn’t let in. The story goes that Low wanted to make up with Ozil, who retired from the German national team after feeling the victim of “racism and disrespect” over his Turkish roots. So he flew to London for a chat.
You can picture Low stood with a few autograph hunters by Arsenal’s London Colney training ground, picking his nose, eating his bogies, scratching his arse and sniffing his fingers. And there’s Ozil in the security guard’ cabin watching the live CT footage and vowing never again to shake Low’s hand.
But it’s not quite true. The Standard says the trip to Arsenal was “pre-planned”. Low was invited to London Colney by Per Mertesacker, the Arsenal coach and former German international. It’s just that Ozil wasn’t there that day.
“We’re the biggest sports team in the world,” declared Ed Woodward, the Manchester United chief executive. A few hours after that boast, Derby County arrived at Old Trafford and booted United out of the Carabao Cup. That was preceded by Jose Mourinho, United’s miserabilist manager telling the club’s most expensive recruit, the well-marketed Paul Pogba, he’ll never captain the club again. Pogba wants to play for Barcelona, just as he wanted to leave United to play for Juventus, which he did, before coming “home” for £89m and earning the chance to fulfil his dream. The Mirror says Pogba will cost Barcelona £200m – which would give money-mad United a massive profit on a player who, if style and putting bums on seat, should outlast Mourinho at the club.
In other news, Cristiano Ronaldo is to return to Real Madrid after he’s used up the Touche Eclat at Juventus. “He is one of those that one day will come back,” said Real Madrid president, Florentino Pérez. “I think that he is one of those players who will be in the hearts of the Madrid fans and will be remembered from generation to generation.” But when will return? Who knows but expect lots of stories on ifs and whens.
To finish: Arsenal like the look of Rennes’ 20-year-old Senegal winger Ismaila Sarr, who, says the Mirror, has been “likened” to Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele. In what way the cheap young blade is like the very pricey Barcelona star we’re not told. Maybe he just looks like him and the Arsenal board will sign the lad, print ‘Dembele’ on his shirt.
But the biggest transfer news of all is that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich wants at least £3bn to sell the club, according to Bloomberg.
Abramovich bought Chelsea out of near-bankruptcy in 2003 for £140 million (about $223 million at the time) and has since loaned the club more than £1.1 billion. Until he came along, Chelsea hadn’t won the top domestic trophy, the Premier League title, since 1955. His big spending changed all that and set off a kind of arms race in English football. In some ways, it was similar to the U.S. model: Buy talent, buy titles, and sell merchandise and media rights. But unlike owners of American sports teams, Abramovich didn’t seem bothered by racking up huge losses. (And he didn’t have to contend with caps on spending, until new rules came into force in 2010.) At the Arsenal game, Chelsea supporters taunted their rivals with the chant “We’ve won it all!” to which Arsenal fans sang in response, “You’ve bought it all!”
Chelsea fans still love their high-rolling owner, even as the U.K. government hits back at the Kremlin. Now Abramovich is mulling a sale of Chelsea, frustrated by his British visa problems and concerned about the potential fallout should the U.S. expand sanctions against wealthy Russians and target him. He’s already rejected bids for the club in excess of $2.3 billion—which would be a world-record price for a sports team—according to people familiar with the talks. Earlier this year, Abramovich hired Raine Group LLC, a merchant bank in New York, to advise on the possibility of a full or partial sale of the club. A person familiar with the discussions says Abramovich wants £3 billion. Abramovich’s representatives declined multiple requests for comment for this story and insisted all communication go through his lawyers, who also declined to comment.
If Chelsea is worth that much, imagine what the world’s biggest sports brand, Manchester United, are worth? And then try to work out the motives of the person who’d buy it…
The Sun’s Neil Curtis blames Paul Pogba for Manchester United’s 1-1 home draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers. United were leading until the 53rd minute – Fred scored following a super touch by Pogba – when Joao Moutinho hit a superb shot from the edge of the penalty area that arched and dipped past David De Gea.
Here’s the goal. You might notice how Luke Shaw fails to block the cross. And Wolves worked the ball very well, getting forward in numbers and unnerving United with their power and precision. But to Curtis this was all about Pogba’s “gaffe”, for which Jose Mourinho gave him a “dressing room dressing down”.
— FootyMotion (@FootyMotion5) September 22, 2018
Inside the paper and Ian Wright joins in the attack on Pogba. In a double-page spread entitled “Pogba must stop putting the boot into Jose, Wright says Pogba must “end his war of words with Jose Mourinho”. He talks of Pogba’s “latest public attack” on his manager. He “threw his gaffer under the bus”. This harks back to yesterday’s Sun story in which Pogba “launched an astonishing attack on Jose Mourinho’s tactics”. What did he say? “At home we should attack, attack, attack,” said Pogba. “That’s Old Trafford. We are here to attack. Teams are scared when they see Man United attacking and attacking. That was out mistake.” So why aren’t they attacking? “I can’t tell you because I’m a player,” says Pogba. “It’s not me… we should move better.”
Astonished? No. United are dull to watch. Pogba’s a very good player but not the world beater the marketeers tells us he is. And Mourinho at United is an uneasy fit. But from the off the Sun has been cheering on Mourinho like a well-paid PR:
United look strong and positive. The first pass is forward once more not sideways or backwards merely to keep possession. Mourinho is trusting the players abilities, letting them breathe.
In his £250m splurge, LVG made two that excited but could not get the best out of either in Angel Di Maria and Memphis Depay. Mourinho has made four and so far Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly have been immediate hits. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is yet to start.
Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan have left. Pogba apparently wants to leave. And Bailly has been a disappointment. But in the Sun Mourinho is much better than Louis Van Gaal.
Jose really can do no wrong in the Sun…
Compare and contrast the Daily Mirror’s stories today on Cristiano Ronaldo and the FIFA Best awards. Ronaldo was up again for the top gong he won last year and the year before that. This time he was against Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. Who won? Modric did. He’s been brilliant for Real and Croatia. The Mirror’s reporting has been less than great.
Story 1: “Why Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi won’t be attending the FIFA Best awards in London.”
It had been reported that Messi would be attending despite not being nominated for Best Men’s Player, but now he won’t be at the awards
The Portuguese played for Juventus at Frosinone on Sunday night , and has another fixture for his new club at home to Bologna on Wednesday.
Story 2: “Cristiano Ronaldo delivers for Juventus in telling reminder of his greatness before Best FIFA Awards”
Cristiano Ronaldo delivered a telling reminder of his greatness just before the Best FIFA Awards. On Monday, Ronaldo will be suited and booted and on his way to the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank.
So he will be there?
PS: The awards are bunkum. To illustrate how silly they are, Salah won for the Puskas award for the best goal last season – better than Gareth Bale’s strike in the Champions’ league final, when the pressure as on and it really mattered. Oh, puh-lease…
The Fifa Puskas nominees were voted for by the public:
Here were the 10 nominees:
Gareth Bale (vs Liverpool – Champions League final)
Denis Cherychev (vs Croatia – World Cup)
Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (vs AEK Athens – Greek Cup semi-final)
Cristiano Ronaldo (vs Juventus – Champions League quarter-final)
Giorgian De Arrascaeta (vs America MG – Brazilian Serie A)
Riley McGree (vs Melbourne City – A-League)
Lionel Messi (vs Nigeria – World Cup)
Benjamin Pavard (vs Argentina – World Cup)
Ricardo Quaresma (vs Iran – World Cup)
Mohamed Salah (vs Everton – Premier League)
Media Balls: a look at biased reporting in the weekend’s Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton, won 2-0 by the Gunners. The Mirror calls Arsenal’s second goal, scored by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a “flipping disgrace”. The Arsenal striker was well offside when he received the ball before planting it neatly past Jordan Pickford. The Express leads with news that Everton manager Marco Silva was “left seething” following the offside goal. He was “livid” says the Sun on its front page. The paper concurs that Aubameyang was “a yard offside”. The Mail says the goal “should not have stood”.
On the Arsenal website, we’re told this: “Auba…finishes off a swift counter involving Ozil and Ramsey.”
Offside? Not a bit of it: “Lacazette started the move for the second, stealing the ball and sending Ozil free. The German broke into the box, looked to pick out Ramsey, but the ball was slightly behind him, where Aubameyang was lurking to tuck home his third goal of the week.”
And in the Islington Gazette – the local Arsenal newspaper: “Aubameyang doubled the lead after getting on the end of a sweeping move to make it 2-0 as Arsenal revealed their attacking power, even if Moss should have called offside earlier in the move.”
The Everton website and Liverpool Echo both says the goal was offside. Much bias in north London, then.
And by way of evening up the reporting, a little, there was that moment when Arsenal could / should have had a penalty. The Islington Gazette reports:
Aubameyang should have won a penalty after Jonjoe Kenny reacted to a header coming towards him by lifting his arm. Yes it was instinctive but the laws of the game make it clear that type of action should be penalised with a spot-kick.
The incident is neither mentioned on the Everton website nor the Echo’s.