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Back pages | Anorak - Part 9

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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

Arsenal balls: The 9 clear favourites to replace Wenger

A quick catch-up on the inside story on who will be the next Arsenal manger. All these picks come to use via the fake-news busting BBC.

Unai Emery, who will be leaving Paris St-Germain at the end of the season, has emerged as the clear favourite to replace Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager.

Or:

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri, who has also been linked strongly with the Arsenal role, wants a £200m transfer kitty if he is to become the new boss.

Emery sounds cheap. Go for Emery.

Elsewhere, more news on the new boss:

The Sun says Arsenal are targeting Carlo Ancelotti.

The Express states: “Brighton manager Chris Hughton would be the perfect man to replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal – if he did not play for Tottenham.”

Note: he’s so good that Tottenham didn’t want him. And he doesn’t play for Spurs. He manages Brighton.

The Express tops that ball by noting – get this – “ARSENAL’s next manager could lead the club to a Premier League title challenge next season.” Well, they could. Or maybe he won’t. Discuss.

And it also states: “PATRICK VIEIRA has emerged as the clear favourite to replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.”

The Metro reasons: “Why Arsenal would prefer to appoint Mikel Arteta or Patrick Vieira as Arsene Wenger’s successor.”

Why? Because they are “young”. The Metro says only four names being considered, Allegiri and:

Manchester City’s assistant coach Mikel Arteta, as well as Patrick Vieira and Julian Nagelsmann, whose Hoffenheim side secured Champions League football for the first time in their history by finishing third in the Bundesliga, are the three other names on the Arsenal shortlist.

So much for Emry being the “clear favourite”.

The Indy then makes a statement: “Next Arsenal manager: Mikel Arteta first choice to take over from Arsene Wenger as Max Allegri eyes Juventus stay.”

Or as TalkSport put it: “Arsenal favourites to appoint former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique“.

And as The Week puts it: “Zeljko Buvac is favourite to replace Wenger.”

They don’t have the foggiest.

 

Posted: 13th, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal star defies the experts and plays again

Mohamed Elneny is back in the Arsenal first team for their match at Huddersfield. It’s a miracle. Well, it is if you read the hyperbolic bilge written when he was stretchered off at West Ham late last month. Peak balls arrived in the Sun, which spoke of the Egyptian missing the World Cup, repackaged a kick to the foot as a “freak injury” and talked of possible “broken limbs”. It was “Injury El”.

Three days after that tosh, the Sun opined: “It’s good news for Arsenal who will hope to have Elneny fit for the Premier League run-in and potentially the Europa League final… many believing his season was over.”

Why many believed that was not started – but it might be because they read it in the Sun.

No European final for El Neny and Arsenal, of course, just a chance to end their losing streak of 7 Premier League away games on Arsenal Wenger’s final game as the club’s manager. No exactly leaving Arsenal on a high, is he…

Au revoir-  shut the door on the way out.

Posted: 13th, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Everton were lucky to have Wayne Rooney for an extra season

Good news Everton fans – Wayne Rooney will stay at the club if Sam Allardyce leaves it. ‘Big Sam’ leaves and you get to watch Rooney  (£300,000 a week!) for another season  Or Rooney goes and you get to watch a season of the kind of hoof-ball top mangers call ‘Plan C’.

Allardye, says the Mirror, doesn’t see Rooney figuring in the first team next season. Everton’s owners says Rooney can go to talk to other clubs. MLS side DC Untied wanted him. But apparently other Everton director thinks Rooney has links with the fans and should stay. They also think Allardyce, who remains unpopular with the fans, should be given the boot; and that the new manager will benefit from having Rooney around, presumably to talk about how great things were at Manchester United, who still fork out a big chunk of his massive wage packet.

Rooney – 253 goals for Man United: five Premier League titles, a Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup and three League Cups. Rooney at Everton – zilch. Although he did burst on to the scene by scoring the winning goal for Everton to end Arsenal’s 30-game unbeaten run in October 2002. Rooney was just 16 years old when he beat England goalkeeper David Season with a sublime shot from 30 yards. This season the 32-year-old is Everton’s top scorer on 11 goals, playing under 3 different mangers.

Oh, what might have been had the Everton fan stayed at his boyhood club.

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


Arsenal website’s biased report after record-breaking Leicester defeat

Arsenal are the only team in English football without a point in 2018. Arsenal have lost 7 Premier League games in a row away from home in 2018. Tonight they lost 3-1 to Leicester City – their first defeat to the Foxes in 24 games. This is how the Arsenal website reported the latest defeat. Key moments are picked out. On each occasion Arsenal produce a wholly biased sympathetic back story.

The First Goal:

Kelechi Iheanacho gave Leicester the lead against the run of play…

Leicester scored after jut 14 minutes.

The Red Card

Our woes were compounded moments later when Dinos Mavropanos was sent off. The Greek defender got caught on the ball by Iheanacho and hauled the Leicester striker down as he prepared to race through on goal. Rob Holding was the covering defender but referee Graham Scott clearly thought Mavropanos was the last man.

Holding was not covering. He’d have to be a lot quicker than he looks to catch Ihenacho.

The Arsenal Goal

Petr Cech kept us in it with a string of fine saves but, after weathering that storm, our response was gutsy and classy.

Arsenal carried on in the same vein. They made no adaptations in their style of play – lots of pretty passing – when reduced to 10 men. and theta’s ok when the game is young an everyone is pretty fresh. But a lot of energy is being expended. Can they keep it up for 90 minutes away from home?

Sead Kolasinac hit the post and then Aubameyang hauled the 10 men level, crashing a rebound into the roof of the net after Eldin Jakupovic had saved his first effort from Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ cross.

It was a good team goal.

2-1

…Mkhitaryan tripped Demarai Grey and Jamie Vardy found the top corner from the penalty spot.

It was dire defending. Grey was going nowhere when he was sucked to the ground.

3-1

And Riyad Mahrez made the game safe in the last minute.

When he latched onto a booming over the top ball and outpaced and out thought a tired Holding.

Arsenal lost. But according to the club they were “classy in defeat and “gutsty”, too. They were unlucky to lose a player.

What says the Leicester Mercury newspaper:

…the sucker punch came in the 53rd minute when City were opened up down their left flank and Aubameyang scored the equaliser at the second attempt after Jakupovic brilliantly saved his first effort.

Ok. It’s not just Arsnaal who are biased. The save was not brilliant. The ‘keeper palmed a shot back out into open play.

Puel sent on substitute Demarai Gray with 18 minutes to go and within a minute he earned a penalty when he drew a foul from Mkhitaryan inside the box, and Vardy dispatched the spot kick into the top corner to put City back in front.

Drew a ful with his dolkey skills? No. He was in the box, had run into traffic, and then Mkhitaryan running in from behind him touched his boot. Grey went own like, well, Vardy does: quickly and dramticallty.“A very creative, imaginative aspect from the referee,” said Wenger. “It is a nice dive.” Wenger then went giddy: “The spirit is exceptional and they will play for the Premier League next season. I am convinced they will be one of the challengers.” Shut the door on the way out, mate.

To wrap a famous night for City and first win over the Gunners for 24 years, Mahrez broke free in the last minute to cap a superb display with the third.

No word on a covering player for the red card.

The London Evening Standard has its version:

After Mavropanos’ red card the back four became more of a notion than a system as time and time again the defence abandoned their most fundamental requirements, from positioning to discipline.

That had been the undoing of the young Greek centre-back, who was beaten by Iheanacho to a 50:50 and then grabbed the striker’s shirt as he hared away. Mavropanos could have no complaints when referee Graham Scott invited him to leave the pitch.

Arsenal were dire in defence. This report is fair.

And how superb were Leicester?

Arsenal had more chances to win it but their execution was sloppy. A driving run from Ramsey ended with Mkhitaryan giving the ball away too easily. Similarly Leicester’s final pass was invariably anywhere but where it needed to be.

A mistake from either defence seemed the most likely route to a third goal. It was no surprise it came from Arsenal’s. Maitland-Niles was too easily beaten by Demarai Gray. Mustafi’s clearance gave the ball straight back to the winger. Mkhitaryan left a boot hanging.

Arsenal have conceded more goals in 2017-18 than in any other Premier League season. They are woeful in defence. Arsene Wenger’s leaving. He lost his way years ago.

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


Arsenal: Ozil’s ‘invisible’ injuries, spiteful Keown and mocking mental health

Arsenal’s players are “frustrated” at Mesut Ozil’s injury problems. Well, so says the  BBC in a view echoed by the Mail. Given the Gunners season after season of injury woes, it’s odd to think of Arsenal players being irked by Ozil’s misfortune. Jack Wilshere,  Aaron Ramsay, Santi Cazorla, Laurent Koscielny and Danny Welbeck have each been injured for months at a time. What is it about Ozil’s problems that upsets them?

Might this story have something to do with Martin Keown, the former Arsenal player now talking on cue for the BBC, BT Sport and the Mail? Only last week, Keown was saying that Ozil was “not fit to wear the shirt” and shedding “crocodile tears” after Arsenal’s defeat to a good Atletico Madrid side in the Europa League. Keown’s imprudent opinions and characteristic grabs for the headlines have make him a ubiquitous presence on football chat shows.

So when Keown guffed from his vantage point sat on office furniture about a shiny coffee table, a story brewed. Said Keown of Ozil:

“I haven’t been happy with him for some time and it seems as if he picks and chooses his games…

“I bet he doesn’t play again this season. He’ll have some emotional breakdown and won’t be able to play at the weekend. I don’t know how many illnesses he’s had this season, but the fella is not kidding me. That is not a proper performance.”

Aside from Keown’s grubby view being narrowed by his need to use Arsenal’s best player to promote his to-deadline views – Ozil was one of Arsenal’s better players in Madrid; only Aaron Ramsey won more tackles for either side on the night than Ozil; the Mail marked Ozil as Arsenal’s joint second-best player on the night; Ozil’s performance was far from being wretched – we wonder if Keown only cares about obvious physical conditions and not mental health – in late 2017 Keown wrongly stated that Ozil “psychologically, mentally” had “already left the football club”. Shame if Keown doesn’t think mental health is a vital part of an athlete’s wellbeing. After all, this is what Keown had to say about mental health on May 4 2017 in the Mail:

Q: Do you think mental health issues are taken seriously enough in football?
Martin Keown: There is a stigma attached to mental health that means people do not necessarily feel as comfortable asking for help. It can be doubly difficult as a footballer. Just because players earn huge salaries does not mean they do not suffer from the same issues and problems as everyone else… We need to recognise issues surrounding mental health as an illness, not a weakness.

 

Keown Arsenal Ozil Sanchez

Martin Keown might be talking nonsense, but he is setting the tabloids’ new agenda?

 

And so to the Mail’s story on Ozil. This is it pretty much the crux of it in full:

MESUT OZIL has angered Arsenal players with his shocking prima donna attitude. A number of the Gunners squad suspect Ozil is being allowed to pick and choose which games he plays in.

Isn’t that what Keown said?

Arsenal players are reported to be losing patience with top earner Mesut Ozil, after it was confirmed the Germany international is to be ruled out for the remainder of the Premier League campaign.

We are told of Ozil’s “mystery illnesses”. We’re not told where the story of dressing room disharmony was first reported. But something very similar was said in the Sun yesterday. The Sun reported:

SICK OF OZ-ILL – Arsenal players fed up with Mesut Ozil ‘injuries’ and prima donna attitude of Gunners’ highest-paid man. Winger is the highest-paid player at The Emirates after finally signing a new £350,000-a-week contract earlier this year..

It has not gone unnoticed that Ozil’s contribution has dramatically tailed off since he signed his new £350,000-a-week contract at the end of January.

Having your health discussed publicly must be horrible. And has it occurred to Keown and Ozil’s attackers that not all “injures” are visible…

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


Arsenal’s Ozil and Stoke City’s Shaqiri give pundits a reason to be

Can it be that pundits lambaste top players like Arsenal’s Mesut Oil and Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri because they know it will garner more headlines and promote their opinion far and wide? Take Martin Keown, the former Arsenal player now guffing to-deadline opinions for the Daily Mail, BBC and BT Sport, who said of Ozil after Arsenal were knocked out of the Europa League:

“He was on the edge of things today. He seems to get lost in the defensive traffic, you can hide a little bit in that position. When Wenger made the change and Wilshere came off, at times I was watching and thinking ‘well are you going to get back for your team, are you actually going to put a shift in?’.”

Ozil was far from brilliant. But Keown is wearing blinkers. Ozil won four out of four tackles. He made an impressive 31 successful passes in the final third, as Atletico packed their defence and pressed. Keown, of course, is impervious to fact, and realises that his job is to say something definitive, entertaining and controversial, so he ploughs on:

“He wasn’t fit to wear the shirt tonight. And I’ve seen this a lot this season and it needs to be said because he needs to be dug out because we expect more from him.”

According to Keown, Arsenal players who are fit to wear the shirt are: Ospina |(who is well below par for a top side’s ‘keeper), Bellerin (does anyone teach him how to defend?), Xhaka (failed to put in so much as cursory tackle in the build up to the game’s only goal),  Monreal (squandered good opportunities to put in a good cross), Chambers (weak header in build up to Atletico’s goal) and Ramsay (largely ineffectual; failed to convert a good chance).

And so to Xherdan Shaqiri, of Stoke City, now relegated from the Premier League. Here’s Martin Samuel in the Mail:

George Graham had a maxim on which he built his Arsenal team. ‘Never buy a player who is taking a step down to join you,’ he would say. ‘He’ll think he’s doing you a favour…

Yet watching Shaqiri bung vital corners into the first man, or lose his balance in the box as Stoke chased the game against Crystal Palace, it was hard to reconcile how much higher he thinks he should be playing. He looked every inch a Stoke player, every inch a relegation candidate

This is what the Stoke Sentinel says of Shaquiri, who he paper tips to be the fans’ player of the season:

Stoke’s seven-goal top scorer has enjoyed his best personal season in the Premier League in difficult circumstances. The Swiss star has carried the side’s attacking threat for much of the campaign and when he finds the net it’s usually a contender for goal of the month.

442 magazine says Shaquiri is too good to go down. He is identified as Stoke City’s best player: “The winger is the only worrisome thing about a once-frightening Potters side, and he knows it.”

Why do pundits pick on the best players with the highest profiles and largest number of followers on social media ? Why..?

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


Arsenal go for Massimiliano Allegri or former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique

The identity of the next Arsenal manager occupies minds in the Press. The BBC says Arsenal want to hire Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri or former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique to be their next manager. Sky Sports says both are interested in taking the job but have reservations about working within the club’s management structure.

In 2017, Arsenal altered their set up. In came: Raul Sanllehi – Head of football relations; Sven Mislintat – Head of recruitment; Huss Fahmy – Contract negotiator; and Darren Burgess – Director of high performance.

The Mirror says Enrique, who flopped at Roma, wants to manage Arsenal so badly that he’s willing to work for just £15m a year after tax. It was only a week ago that the media was talking of his demands for a £200m budget for new players. The Times (prop. R Murdoch) told its readers that Arsenal had seen the demands and were no longer considering Enrique. Now Sky (prop. R. Murdoch) says they are.

Whatever Arsenal do or so not do, the clock is ticking. The BBC says Arsenal are confident of naming a new manager before the World Cup starts on 14 June. The BBC’s list of people features: former Arsenal players Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira; Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim and three-time Champions League winner Carlo Ancelotti. To say nothing of Liverpool coach Zeljko Buvac, who has reportedly already agreed to take over at The Emirates.

The upshot is that we’ll know who it is when Arsenal make the announcement.

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


Transfer balls: Fekir news and Klopp’s Dembele to Liverpool confession

Is the job of a journalist to talk truth to power or to spin a story from ether? The BBC says Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp “admits he would be interested in Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele became available”. Admits? It’s a confession that also interests the Sun, which declares: “‘NOW I’M INTERESTED’ – Ousmane Dembele: Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp admits interest in transfer for Barcelona star.”

Lots of admitting from Klopp in his admiration for a player who joined Barcelona from the German’s former club Borussia Dortmund for £135m.  Says the Sun:

…Dembele has been linked with a move away and Klopp got the ball rolling on a deal when asked, after his side’s disappointing loss to Chelsea, that he will be bidding.

It was during the post-match press conference that Klopp was asked about transfers. Had Liverpool signed Lyon captain Nabil Fekir for £60m? “During the game, we agreed a deal?” said Klopp. “I would be surprised about that to be honest. No comment.”

How about Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele?

“Who was the second name? Dembele? Oooh, is he on the market? Now I am interested!” said Klopp. “I never comment on transfer rumours. I have already said much more than I usually do.”

Klopp laughed off the questions. But tbis is how it a reported in the Mail, Mirror and Express:

Daily Mail: “Jurgen Klopp keen to bring in Barcelona £95m flop Ousmane Dembele.”

Daily Express: “LIVERPOOL boss Jurgen Klopp has confirmed he would love to sign Barcelona star Ousmane Dembele.”

Daily Mirror: “Liverpool ready for talks to sign Barcelona star Ousmane Dembele”

Total balls.

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 7th, May 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Mahrez to Arsenal is clickbait

The BBC says Leicester forward Riyad Mahrez is “keen to join Arsenal”. The 27-year-old Algerian is on his way to the Emirates, says the Sunday Express in what it hails as a “transfer exclusive”.

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

Daily Express – EXCLUSIVE

 

The story contains not a single new fact. But we do learn that “Express Sport understands” Mahrez “favours a move to Arsenal”. Apparently, Mahrez “has a house in the capital and would prefer a switch there over a move to Manchester”. So not withstanding Mahrez’s shock realisation that people live in houses in Manchester and, unlike in London, anyone on a mere £100,000-a-week can afford one, Arsenal it is, then.

Maybe. Because the Express also ‘understands’, “Tottenham and Chelsea remain alternative options”, to say nothing of West Ham, Crystal Palace and Watford, which the Express doesn’t.

Of course, this guesswork is based on previous reports linking Mahrez to Arsenal. You might have read them in the Express:

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

Another Express scoop

 

Not that the Express is the only newspaper to have told us that Mahrez to Arsenal was a done deal:

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

The Daily Mirror poses the story as question – but Google doesn’t recognise question marks – so the story is presented as fact to any readers searching for Mahrez, Leicester City and Arsenal news.

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

Teamtalks opts for invested commas

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

The Telegraph also opts for inverted commas

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

The Metro

 

Mahrez to Arsenal it is, then…

Posted: 6th, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal’s £200m budget for £25m-a-year-Enrique

How much money will the next Arsenal manager be given to splurge on players? The coach who replaces Arsene Wenger should read the small print on any contract because the newspapers and the trusty BBC are very confused.

The BBC says “Arsene Wenger’s successor at Arsenal will be given a £200m transfer budget”. That’s a huge amount of money. Wenger could have bought 5 Granit Xhakas for that.

 

wenger arsenal transfer budget

 

The source for the BBC’s story is the no less trusty Daily Star. It reports the headline figure as an “exclusive” but offers not a single shred of proof to support the story – not even an unnamed “insider” is coughed up to say it’s all true.

 

budget arsenal

 

It’s wrong, of course. We know the £200m figure is wrong because on April 23 the Daily Telegraph said the next Arsenal manger will have a transfer kitty of…£50m.

 

arsenal players budget

 

 

That lower figure sounds more in keeping with Arsenal’s history than the £200m. So how did it come about? Well, a few days ago, the Sun said former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique wants £200m spending money to take over at Arsenal. But Arsenal don’t have that sum so it’s no deal.

Did the Star just see the figure and echo it?

As for the uninspiring Enrique arriving at Arsenal, the Sun of May 2 noted: “ARSENAL target Luis Enrique’s staggering £25million wage demands could rule him out of the running to replace Arsene Wenger.”

Only ‘could’? On April 29, the Times told its readers:

Arsenal have stepped away from making Luis Enrique the managerial successor to Arsene Wenger… The Sunday Times understands that senior executives consider Enrique an inappropriate fit to the position.

In short: no-one outside the club knows who Arsenal will appoint, let alone what the transfer budget will be.

 

Posted: 5th, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United should wish Fellaini a bon voyage to China

The two words Manchester United should tell Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini, 30, as he haggles over a new deal are “zài jiàn”. The Sun says Fellaini has “warned” United that unless they offer him huge money he will consider moving to China.

It comes to something when an average Premier League footballer – albeit one who makes full use of his height and reach; but lacks pace, technique and poise – is firing shots across the bows of one of the world’s biggest clubs. The question is not what United should do to please Fellaini but how he ever played for United in the first place?

The Sun says it would cost £50m to “replace” Fellaini. Which invites another question: why would you want to?

It’s also utter tosh. Fellaini joined a desperate United from Everton in 2013 for £27.5m. Since then, United have splashed out on the following talents:

Juan Mata (Chelsea) £37,100,000 – 25 Jan, 2014
Ander Herrera (Ath Bilbao) £29,000,000 – 26 Jun, 2014
Luke Shaw (Southampton) £27,000,000 – 27 Jun, 2014
Andreas Pereira (PSV Eindhoven) – 01 Aug, 2014
Marcos Rojo (Sporting) – £16,000,000 20 Aug, 2014
Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid) – £59,700,000 26 Aug, 2014
Daley Blind (Ajax) – £13,800,000 01 Sep, 2014
Victor Valdes (Barcelona) – Free 08 Jan, 2015
Memphis Depay (PSV Eindhoven) – £25,000,000 11 Jun, 2015
Matteo Darmian (Torino) £1 -2,700,000 11 Jul, 2015
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich) – £14,400,000 13 Jul, 2015
Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton) – £25,000,000 13 Jul, 2015
Sergio Romero (Sampdoria) – Free 27 Jul, 2015
Anthony Martial (Monaco) – £36,000,000 01 Sep, 2015
Regan Poole (Newport Co) – £100,000 01 Sep, 2015
Eric Bailly (Villarreal) -£30,000,000 08 Jun, 2016
Zlatan Ibrahimovic Paris St-G. Free 01 Jul, 2016
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (B Dortmund) -£26,000,000 06 Jul, 2016
Paul Pogba Juventus (£89,300,000) – 08 Aug, 2016
Victor Lindelof Benfica (£31,000,000) – 14 Jun, 2017
Romelu Lukaku (Everton) – £75,000,000 10 Jul, 2017
Nemanja Matic (Chelsea) – £40,000,000 31 Jul, 2017
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) – Player plus cash – 22 Jan, 2018

And in that same period: Manchester City bought Kevin De Bruyne for £55m in 2015; Liverpool bought Mo Salah for £39m in 2017; and Spurs bought Del Elli for £5m in 2015.

But for £50,m you can get another Fellaini. If you’re not careful you can, yes.

Here’s Fellaini:

“I went to see the manager last year, and said I wanted a new contract. I then had a second meeting, but I’m not going to ask ten times. Since then I have become important for the team – and it costs £50m minimum to buy a good new player.”

No. It doesn’t. As Jose Mourinho put it on May 1:

“My Player of the Year has to be Scott McTominay.”

He cost United nothing in transfer fees. He’s 21. He’s dynamic. He’s hungry. And never once has he sounded as if he was doing the club a favour.

Best of luck in China, Marouane. Close the door on the way out…

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


Clickbait balls: Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan crawls to Madrid

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is back training with Arsenal ahead of their do-or-die Europa League match with Atletico Madrid. The Armenian has emerged as a key figure in Arsenal’s season. Last weekend, he scored on his first return visit to Manchester United, with whom he won the Europa League last season. Good news for Arsenal, then, that Mkhitaryan is fit.

Of course, he isn’t fit – well, not if you get your news from the Daily Express and Daily Star he’s not. In both tabloids, Mkhitaryan hasn’t played since April 11:

 

Henrikh Mkhitaryan injury

The Star

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

The Express

 

Shameless clickbait we expect from the Star and Express, of course. The Express operates in the twilight zone between fact and fiction. You don’t need Facebook for fake news – you just need an editorial staff run by the advertising department and Google News to play ball and promote your rubbish on its front page…

Posted: 2nd, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Liverpool: Klopp isolated after his ‘master of training’ leaves

Liverpool will be moving on without Zeljko Buvac, the sallow one with the indy band hair sat next to Jurgen Klopp in the dugout. Liverpool’s 56-year-old assistant manager has left until the end of the season for “personal business” – it’s personal and it’s none of your business.

Although the Daily Record says Buvac (aka ‘The Brain’) and Klopp fell out. The Sun notes: “The relationship had broken down, and the players have been told Buvac is gone.”

Buvac, who became Klopp’s assistant at Mainz in 2001, has made no comment. Liverpool says he’s still employed by the club.

It’s an odd time to change the hierarchy. The pair were so tight having been at three clubs together over 17 years. Buvac once told the Sunday Express: “Both of us were looking to become managers and we promised each other, ‘If I am the first manager, I will take you and if you are the first manager you will take me’.” Klopp called Buvac the “master of every form of training”.

Who next?

Posted: 30th, April 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment


Biased Reporting: Jose’s ‘masterstroke’ helps Manchester United block Arsenal

Manchester United’s “never-say-die streak” saw them beat a much-weakened Arsenal side at Old Trafford – it was the Gunners’ youngest Premier League starting XI. The official Manchester United website says Jose Mourinho “outsmarted” Arsene Wenger by bringing on the very tall Marouane Fellaini late on and lobbing the ball towards his bonce. It was Jose’s “masterstroke” that Fellaini scored with his head against two young Arsenal centre backs who’d never played together before, including one making his debut.

The official Manchester United organ’s blinkered match report makes no mention of the fact that Arsenal’s goalscorer, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, used to play for the club – also not noting that Jose Mourinho shunted him out, just as he got shot of the Kevin De Bruyne and Mo Salah, when he thought neither of this season’s star turns for Man City and Liverpool, respectively, was good enough for his Chelsea.

But there is this on the opening goal:

It didn’t take long for United to make Wenger’s last time as Gunners boss initially uncomfortable when taking a 16th-minute lead. Pogba started and finished the move. The France midfielder stroked a pass to Romelu Lukaku and went driving on into the area. Lukaku’s cross was met with a header from Alexis Sanchez. His hopes of a dream goal against his former employers were dashed as his effort hit Hector Bellerin and came off a post, only for Pogba to volley home.

It hit Bellerin?

The Daily Telegraph saw this:

Unmarked, Sanchez’s diving header was diverted onto the post by Hector Bellerin at full-stretch only for the ball to rebound to Pogba who simply volleyed it into the unguarded net.

As for the official Arsenal website, it went like this:

Alexis looked certain to score with his head at the far post, but Hector Bellerin made a superb diving block to divert his effort onto the post. Unfortunately the ball fell straight to the waiting Pogba to tap home.

What say the papers?

The Islington Gazette adds:

…the goal itself was slightly fortuitous as Hector Bellerin’s block from Alexis Sanchez’s header diverted the ball onto David Ospina’s right hand post.

The Ham & High needs a lesson in human anatomy:

Excellent block from Alexis Sanchez’s header deserved better than for it to hit the post and rebound back for Pogba to head home.

And the Manchester Evening News shoves Bellerin down the memory hole:

Great counter attack by United. Pogba out to Sanchez on his right who floats in a great cross, Sanchez header at the far post comes off the post and Pogba’s there to finish it and put United 1-0 up.

They say “volley”. You say “tap”. They say “hit. You say “superb diving block”.

One thing the Arsenal website fails to mention is the dire fact that Arsenal have now lost six successive away fixtures in the league for the first time since Billy Wright was their manager in 1966. But, yep, Jose’s the master.

Wenger OUT!

Posted: 29th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Liverpool to offer Salah double yer money deal

Liverpool are keen to keep Egypt forward Mohamed Salah, 25, at the club. They’re ready to offer him a new deal worth £185,000 a week. That’s double his current wage on a contract that has four years to run.

It’s not enough. Not when you realises what Salah could earn elsewhere given his sensational form. Of course, the gamble for Liverpool and other clubs is in working out if Salah’s season is something of a freak. Can he do it again and again?

The numbers will fluctuate in the Press, of course. The Sun also notes the £185,000 weekly pay packet, but in other stories it pitches the offer to Salah at £200,000. Spanish website Don Balon says Salah is interested in playing for Real Madrid. The Sun – again – says Salah can go to Real for £166m, where only Cristiano Ronaldo will earn more.

The money is huge. But Salah is grounded. He’s just donated $450k for a water treatment plant in his home town. Sometimes you can forget that beneath all the hype, lawyers, marketeers, opportunists and greed, there’s a bloke who loves playing football and for whom money is far from being everything.

Posted: 29th, April 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal offload Wenger to China; Manchester United want 9

With all the shock value of a baby with a full nappy, news is that departing Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will become the highest-paid manager in the world should he move to the Chinese Super League. The BBC says so.

He won’t go, of course. It was only a day or two ago that the tabloids were telling us of Wenger’s “hint” at continuing to coach in European football. China might well own vast chunks of European real estate and capital, but we’re not yet an enclave.

The BBC and Mirror mention not a single club by name to have offered Wenger anything in mangement, only that he has been “inundated” with offers and it is “understood” the deal is worth even more than “Marcello Lippi receives on his £24m-a-year deal as boss of the China national team”. (Lippi’s alive?!)

And then this guff:

But Wenger, who has been earning £8m-a-year, can get even more after being sounded out with a serious offer from China for when he steps down at Arsenal this summer.

Oh, and the Mirror “understands” Wenger would prefer to manager in Europe. The paper “believes” Wenger wants to continue in management. Mirror and BBC readers might well understand that this story has more holes than the Arsenal defence, which is lots.

 

wenger manchester united

Via (The Times)

 

8-2 arsenal

 

As for the actual football, Arsenal travel to Manchester United on Sunday. The game falls between their Europa League clashes with Atletico Madrid. Arsenal fans have no need to wonder what team Wenger will send out at United – it’s not the one that used to fight and scrap and win. It’s the one that follows an 8-2 drubbing; the team of journeymen you get when a palsied board stick with a faded talent in exchange for regular dividend cheques that come with being also-rans.

Arsenal are slipping. Last summer was dominated by the mess over Alexis Sanchez (now at Man United, of course, and playing well) and Mesut Ozil’s contracts. This one will be about a new manager, and Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck when the pair enter the final 12 months of their existing deals in June – when Jack Wilshere will be a free agent. No planning. No vision.

“I always got a great reception at Old Trafford,” says Wenger. “I don’t know what kind of reception I will get but we will be focused on winning the game. We always had some great battles in 22 years.” When was the last one, Arsene?

Manchester United 8, Arsenal 2 (2011). He should have gone years ago.

Posted: 28th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Spurs Harry Kane goes full Atletico Mince over being ‘bullied’

Spurs striker Harry Kane thinks he’s being bullied. Kane is said to be upset over a joke made by PFA chairman Ben Purkiss (Swindon Town FC) at the recent awards do. Purkiss told the room: “Harry Kane is so prolific that he is able to score without touching the ball.”

And…? And nothing. The reference being, of course, Kane’s sad and desperate – and oddly successful – mission to claim Spurs’ winning goal against Stoke City a few weeks ago. The ball appeared to go directly in from a Christian Eriksen freekick. But Kane felt a draft on his shirt and claimed it;  taking home, presumably, any goal bonus and edging closer to the Golden Boot for the Premier League’s top scorer.

The Daily Mirror notes:

It is understood Kane and his family are furious and see the jokes being made at the striker’s expense as a form of bullying.

Bullying? He’s a grown man, hymned by the masses and reared in a bubble of sycophants and lackays. Suck it up, Harry. You’re looking like a fool.

 

 

Posted: 27th, April 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Arsenal and Atletico Madrid fight in an ‘Orphanage’: Google Translate does the Europa League

When Arsenal contrived to toss away a fantastic opportunity to put Atletico Madrid to the sword in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final, we went to see what Spanish newspapers made of the 1-1 draw. When fans are feeling blue at their team’s shortcomings – and how did Arsenal playing at home, a goal and an extra man to the good following a 10th minute red card in their favour finish the game 1-1? Answer: comical defending – it’s a fun idea to read the match report via Google Translate.

Spanish newspaper El Pais tells us of a fight in an orphanage and much more besides:

In ten minutes he had seen how Arsenal was going over him and the arbitration decisions that put the game uphill were unleashed. The bad deliveries generated an initial decomposition that caused the first bombing of the Arsenal and also the first yellow to Vrsaljko for tripping Wilshere. With this card the French referee Clèment Turpin set the bar very low. Soon, Oblak put a prodigious hand to deflect a header from Lacazatte, who had already hovered the goal after a center past Welbeck. In the middle of the game cascade produced by Özil, Ramsey and Wilshere, Vrasljko arrived late to a dispute with Lacazette and stepped on the French striker. The referee showed the second yellow to the Croatian side and Simeone was demonized. He began to protest with fuss and vociferate. Perhaps he is accustomed to these protests in Spain, but Turpin did not allow them. Atlético stayed with a player less and orphaned coach.

From that orphanage so early in the morning, he had no choice but to be more of Simeone than ever…

Turned into a split pediment, Arsenal fell into the routine and prompted the Atlético take air to play something. Griezmann had a shy shot from the edge before having the clearest chance of the first half. It originated Thomas, who understood that the context of the shock was for heroic adventures…

The start of the second act revived the local offensive thunders from innumerable centers on the sides. He also seemed to adjust better Wenger set to prevent the Athletic could progress and generate kickbacks. Center to center, the harassment and demolition paid off…

It was the Montenegrin center who put a long ball to Griezmann to persist with Koscielny. He tried to control the ball, but was met by the insistence of Griezmann, who slipped the ball and stood before Ospina. The Colombian goal took the first shot, but the rejection no longer forgave the Frenchman…

They still had another drink in a header from Ramsey, but Oblak with another stretched museum certified the resistance of Atlético to fall.

It’s rivalled by AS, whose reporter goes full tonto:

Arsenal came out to win, without trembling. The Atleti, like a flan, at six minutes already added a stick of Lacazette and the first miracle hand of Oblak. But he was 115 years old at the Emirates and could only do so with a game that matched his history . With suffering, epic and blessed madness . Because there was, a lot. Because very soon Vrsaljko would leave with ten of his own . He saw yellow in the 2 ‘to avoid a counter and in the 9’ he stepped on Lacazette without thinking that he already had a card. The referee, Turpin, did not either. To think that the party had not even reached 10 ‘. Yellow, red and to the tunnel. Soon Simeone would follow .

The referee did not punish with yellow a foul on Lucas and that burned him. I would turn off Turpin’s finger. To the tier. For many minutes the Arsenal would not stop raining . It was Lacazette, storm between the lines, it was that deadly Welbeck headbutt. Al Atleti was only held by a redoubt, the goalkeeper of 13 on his back. Second hand miracle of Oblak…

Adding:

It seemed the sentence but, then, when the clock said 81, Welbeck lost that ball that Giménez sent long to Grizi , for 1-1, and Oblak stopped that last time, Ramsey, to leave to Wenger that smell of defeat in clothes . Because there are games that smell like that, like some nights. It does not matter to tie them, you smell them, the clothes, and there it is. The defeat, although his Arsenal did not lose. The Metropolitan will decide.

Or as the Arsenal website outs it: “We CAN do it.”

Posted: 27th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Technology | Comment


Arsenal: Wenger hints at something but not that

What next for Arsene Wenger when he finally closes the door on Arsenal and we can all forget about the nine years without a trophy, signing Marouane Chamakh and watching a side with all aggression of a newborn lamb? Unless, of course, the masterful manager steers Arsenal to the Europa League title and with it Champions League qualification, and we call agree that it’d be right and proper for Wenger to remain at the club for another season. Or longer. Don’t toss way those “Wenger Out’ banners yet, Gooners.

 

arsenal wenger express

 

The Express, though, is a practical organ. Everything it publishes is printed in trusty black and white. Wenger is going. End of. And today the paper delivers the news: “Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger drops big hint over next job: This is where I want to manage.”

 

arsenal wenger express

 

In case you missed it there, the Express’s sister paper, the Star, also thunders: “Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger drops huge hint over where he’ll manage next.”

Where? Bayern Munich? Spurs? England? Says Wenger: “I hope these are not my last European cup games – my target is to play in Europe again.” The hint is that he cole mange for any club in Europe. In yer face, Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao.

Posted: 26th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Why I sold Salah to Liverpool: Roma director relives the horror

“Every time he scores I’m like, ‘Oh, dear God’,” James Pallotta, Roma’s American owner, says of Mohamed Salah, Liverpool’s star player who joined the Reds from the Italians and orchestrated a 5-2 rout of his former club in the Champions League semi-final.  This season, Salah has scored 43 goals in 47 games. He scored two against Roma – the first two – and then served up two more for his teammates.

So why did Roma sell Salah for £36.9 last summer? Liverpool now value the player at close to £200m. Roma’s sporting director, Monch (nee Ramón Rodríguez Verdejo) tries to explain. “I sold him for more than €42m,” he told Spanish radio station Onda Cero. “We had a need to sell. We had no option but to sell Salah before 30 June. Had we not done that, we probably wouldn’t be here playing the semi-final of the Champions League as we had Uefa closely monitoring us.

“We didn’t want to sell him but we had no choice. We had to take an offer before the end of the month. He wanted to leave, but we would have kept him if the regulations weren’t against us. When I arrived, the offer [from Liverpool] was €30m but we managed to get it up to almost €50m with bonuses. That is what we could do. The market then went crazy with Neymar, Coutinho and Dembélé.”

It could be worse, of course. You could be Jose Mourinho and Chelsea, who oversaw not just the sale of Salah but also that of Kevin De Bruyne.

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


Arsenal balls: Elneny vows to walk again

As ever, when a footballer is injured the tabloids shift into full ghoul mode, reaching for the blindfold and shotgun.  It was so when Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny was hurt in his side’s 4- in over West Ham. Peak horror was fanned by the Sun, which told of “tears”, “devastation” and “broken limbs“. Elneny was “broken”. Elneny was not going to play again for Arsenal this season. He was most likely also out of Egypt’s team for the World Cup finals. Two days on and we’re living in the time of miracles. Elneny will will be out of action for three weeks.

The Sun reports:

It’s good news for Arsenal who will hope to have Elneny fit for the Premier League run-in and potentially the Europa League final… many believing his season was over.

No. Only some of those Sun readers believed that – the ones who believe you can offer a diagnosis and prognosis from a screen shot of a turned ankle, presenting a sprain as a “freak injury“.

Update: Elneny will not play for Arsenal again this season.

Posted: 25th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Liverpool striker rewrites history for Mo Salah; Manchester City star never stood a chance

Mohamed Salah is the Liverpool tyro scoring goals with great awareness, no little skill and finishing with elegant panache. He’s been terrific for Liverpool all season. And he’s won an prize, taking away the PFA player of the year award. It was pretty much a toss-up between Salah and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, like Salah also flogged for not being good enough by monocular Jose Mourinho’s winning-is-all Chelsea. De Bruyne has been sublime, an imaginative driving force for City’s title victory. I’d have voted for him to win the award. But goal scorers get the headlines – their attributes are measurable in the baldest terms: Salah has an impressive 31 PL goals.

Choosing between the pair is hard. But not for former Liverpool player Stan Collymore, who told his Daily Mirror readers: “Mo Salah was the outstanding choice for the PFA Player of the year award. The sheer variety of goals he has scored in his debut season playing for a club where expectation levels are huge has been phenomenal.”

But were expectations all that high about a player who’d left Chelsea for Roma – a player who in the era of absurd fees came in for £36.9m – just £4m more than Liverpool paid Arsenal for the overrated Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain?

No.

 

Stan Collymore Mirror

 

On February 12, Collymore told his readers: “Harry Kane and Mo Salah have their merits as potential Player of the Year award winners. But that honour has to go to Kevin De Bruyne. He has been weighing in with goals and important assists at important times in games all season. His level of consistency has been outstanding. I saw one article saying they feel up at Manchester City that he should be in the reckoning for a Ballon d’Or shout, and I wouldn’t disagree with that.”

A short while on and Salah is the only choice.

Vote now and vote often!

Posted: 24th, April 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Manchester City, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Spurs balls: £120m on five new players and just one out

No soon do we read in the Telegraph that Mauricio Pochettino has “hinted” at his imminent departure from Spurs – which he sort of did and sort of didn’t – than the Independent says his club will spend – get his – “at least £120m” on new players this summer.

The player the Indy “understands” Sours will buy are Newcastle United’s Jamaal Lascelles, Ajax’s Matthijs de Ligt, Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, and West Brom pair Jonny Evans and Jay Rodriguez. All are being “considered”. And where are they all going to play, then? This is utter guff from the Indy, which cites not a single source for its story.

The Indy reasons that Spurs will balance he books with the sale of Toby Alderweireld.

The Indy’s shameless clickbaiting is lampooned by its own lay-out: Zaha stays!

 

independent clickbait spurs

 

 

Says Zaha:

“Crystal Palace is my home town and the support we have here is genuine support with families watching with their kids loving us as players so I don’t really see myself anywhere else. I am enjoying my football here and just focused on us being a stable club and not having to listen to all the speculation about us getting relegated.”

Words on Spurs:  none.

Posted: 22nd, April 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Arsenal: Wenger gives a ‘heavy hint’ he’ll stay

The Daily Mirror has been guessing about the timing of Arsene Wenger’s departure from Arsenal for so long, the feeling was that eventually the paper would get it right. The “WE told you so!” headlines would mask the myriad times when the paper got it utterly wrong.

 

daily mirror wenger quits sack resigns arsenal

 

So how did the ‘intelligent tabloid” report on Wenger and Arsenal on the very day when he announced his departure at his season’s end?’ Well, like this:

Wenger gave a further heavy hint he will still be at the Emirates next season when he insisted there were no issues with the Arsenal crowd, despite fans staying away in their droves from recent home matches

 

arsene wenger daily mirror

Daily Mirror fails to nail it – again

 

Ah:

 

arsene wenger daily mirror

In the Mirror on the day Wenger announced his Arsenal departure

 

Oh dear. Even a stopped watch is right twice a day…

 

 

Posted: 20th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Spurs balls: Harry Kane is ‘greedy’ and ‘self-serving’ for telling the truth

“Harry Kane strikes to put Tottenham in front,” says NBC, which broadcast Premier League “soccer” to a US audience. The story continues: “Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son walks the tight rope on the endline [touchline] and lays the ball off to Harry Kane who smashes a shot into the goal to make it 1-0 against Brighton.”

But the need for controversy is all powerful. And so it is that the Sun can watches the same goal and cry on its back page: “Harry Kane claimed another goal in his hunt for the golden boot – despite not getting the final touch.”

 

the sun harry kane

 

What about smashing it in?

The Sun’;s scoop is based not on the goal but on Spurs’ April win over Stoke, which featured a disagreement over the game’;s deceive goal. The BBC reported:

Tottenham’s Harry Kane has been awarded Spurs’ second goal in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Stoke after a successful appeal. The Premier League goals accreditation panel had initially given it to Spurs midfielder Christian Eriksen.

It said the decision had been reversed “after taking the player’s testimony into account and reviewing the match footage”.

England striker Kane’s tally for the season is now 25 – four behind Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.

So when Kane scored in his next match, the Sun wanted to keep alive the controversy. The story is ridiculous:

His untypically underwhelming performances have suggested he has rushed back too soon from an injury.

Or as the Sun put it on April 2: “Tottenham star Harry Kane reveals he is fitter and fresher than ever after his cameo appearance in 3-1 Chelsea win.”

Back to the Sun’s story of April 19, in which Kane has been expressing a “downbeat demeanour” since his return from injury.

And that goal he claimed – the one the FA agreed should have been credited to him:

England’s star striker, football’s one bastion of decency with no skeletons in his closet and who is revered by housewives and vicars all over the country for being all about the beautiful game, is just like the rest of his greedy, self-serving contemporaries.

So let’s see the Brighton goal – the one Kane didn’t get the final touch on, says the Sun – the implication being that never did scored it:

 


 

Kane;s goal all the way. Such are the facts.

Posted: 19th, April 2018 | In: Back pages, News, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment