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Liverpool | Anorak - Part 2

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Liverpool football club news, Liverpool transfers, Premier League

Liverpool Balls: Salah to Barcelona for €100m and some loose change

If the absurd, greedy, money-soaked world of football, Liverpool and Barcelona have struck a bizarre deal: the Spaniards must pay a 100m euro (£89m) surcharge on top of any transfer fee if they want to sign a Liverpool player before 2020. The BBC says the deal was agreed when Barcelona signed Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho for £142m in January.

The Times says the extra charge was brokered by Liverpool’s sporting director Michael Edwards. And you wonder what the point of it is? Did Barcelona agree to the deal because they don’t want any of the current Liverpool side? Or is it to ensure that if the Spaniards go for, say, Mo Salah, they must pay at least €100m plus 1 euro – an echo of the £40m plus £1 Arsenal bid for Liverpool’s Luis Suarez before he also joined Barcelona for £75m? 

If for some reason this deal works, will other clubs follow suit? Perhaps Southampton, Liverpool’s feeder club, can slap a £100m surcharge on any sales to the Reds? It’s all such such huge sums of money that you wonder where it’s all heading and if the fans will tire of watching their money making the very rich ever richer?

 

Posted: 21st, November 2018 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Real Madrid in for Harry Kane at Spurs and Liverpool want Demirbay

Transfer Balls: undaunted by their apparent failure to recruit Aaron Ramsey from Arenal – he’s on his way to Bayern Munich, reportedly – AC Milan have begun talks with another player with ‘Arsenal captain’ on his CV, this time former Gooner and Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas. The 31-year-old has had enough of warming the bench at Chelsea and Italy beckons. 

Manchester United are ready to offer Roma’s 22-year-old Italy midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini twice his weekly wage. We’ve no idea what that amount to but estimates put it shy of Alexis Sanchez’s £500,000-a-week but north of what Marcus Rashford pockets by way of a monthly goal bonus. We are told, however, that Pellegrini will cost United £26m in transfer fees.

You can expect to hear lots about Harry Kane or Eden Hazard heading to Real Madrid because the Spaniards are desperate for a goalscorer, having worked out that Cristiano’s Ronaldo’s 50 goals a season were hard to replace. Gareth Bale, 29, and France’s Karim Benzema, 30, are not quite up the task. so Kane it is. A huge money offer will surely tempt Daniel Levy, the Spurs chairman. 

Finally, Hoffenheim central midfielder Kerem Demirbay is wanted by Liverpool. Another centre back for the Reds? Why not? 

Posted: 19th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal bid for Demeble and Liverpool will trigger his £369.6m release clause

Ousmane_Dembélé_

 

A coup for the Premier League, then, should Ousmane Dembélé move from Barcelona to Arsenal or Liverpool. The 21-year-old Frenchman remains a prized and coveted talent. He could be great. He might even prove to be worth the huge fee Barcelona paid Borussia Dortmund for his services. But there are problems. Marca reports the player is being sued for leaving a rented house in a mess. AS, another Spanish news outlet, talks of Dembélé’s having a “gaming disorder”. A Barcelona teammate says he is “always late for training”. You wonder if anyone is looking out for Dembélé or just his money. His career is one shaped by one thing: greed, says Barney Ronay. He writes:

It is 15 months now since Dembélé was plucked out and beamed down at the Camp Nou for a fee close to £100m. Since when he has played 90 minutes just four times and scored 10 goals. Information from Football Leaks tells us Dembélé has been paid £15m in basic wages in this time, with £9m siphoned off to “intermediates”, transformed in not much more than a year from promising Rennes teenager to one-man sporting mega-industry.

So is he heading to Arsenal or Liverpool? The Gunners have made an offer to take him on loan with a right to buy. Liverpool are very interested. Barca say Dembele’s contract has a release clause of 400m euros (£369.6m). Seems fair. Chuck in a Playstation and it’s a deal. 

 

Posted: 17th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Broadsheets, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Clickbait Watch: how to BAFFLE an Arsenal fan

baffled footballWriting clickbait for football fans is hard graft. All those budding hacks who dream of talking truth to power are reduced to spinning for clicks at sister newspapers the Daily Express, Daily Star and Daily Mirror.

Language is mangled. Simple facts are “revealed”. “Five things” are learned from watching paint dry. Rumours are mutated into ‘fact’. But every so often, clickbait talent emerges to connive a new meme for the SEO gurus running websites to applaud. Right now everyone at Arsenal – fans, players, Gunnersaurus – is “baffled”.

“Arsenal fans left baffled by Graeme Souness’ comments about Mesut Ozil” – Daily Mirror, October 23

“Lucas Torreira baffles Arsenal fans with what he did in training”  – Daily Mirror, October 10

“Arsenal fans left BAFFLED at staggering claim: ‘Are you mad? He can’t be serious'” – Daily Express, November 14

But it’s not just Arsenal being “baffled”:

“Jurgen Klopp baffled by remarkable Liverpool statistic” – Daily Mirror, Oct 19

“Graeme Souness leaves Manchester United fans baffled” – Daily Mirror, Oct 22

“Mohamed Salah leaves Liverpool fans baffled with social media post” – Daily Mirror, Oct 24

“Matteo Darmian leaves Manchester United fans baffled” – Daily Mirror, October 25

“Cesar Azpilicueta baffled by inconsistent Chelsea’s struggles” – Daily Mirror, Oct 26

“Celebrity Gogglebox: Fans baffled by Dele Alli’s composer comment” – Irish Mirror, Oct 26

“Man Utd news: David De Gea baffled by what Jose Mourinho said” – Daily Express, October 31

“Chelsea news: Sky Sports pundit baffled by one Maurizio Sarri” – Daily Star, Nov 4

“Manchester United fans left baffled by Paul Pogba’s ‘heartbreak’ haircut” – Manchester Evening News* Nov 4

* The MEN is sister title to the Star, Express and Mirror. It’s true? Unless you’re a football fan, in which case it’s baffling!

Posted: 16th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Key Posts, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer Balls: Spurs and Arsenal in for Bailly as Manchester United get a new defence

Transfer Balls: José Mourinho will change Manchester United’s defence early next year. From “When we win it’s all down to me; when we lose it was everyone else”, the new defence will feature new defenders. United plan to bring Toby Alderweireld and Diego Godin to Old Trafford in January, and get rid of Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo. Spurs and Arsenal both like Bailly; Everton fancy Rojo; and Smalling could return to Fulham. Godin, 32, could cost £53m. 

In London, Arsenal will be waving a none-too-teary adieu to Aaron Ramsey, the midfield who resisted signing a new contract for so long that even Arsene Wenger left. He’s off to play for Bayern Munich. Either than or Ramey will be a sub at Chelsea or Liverpool. Arsenal and Chelsea are both looking at spry Atlético Mineiro right-back Emerson. And reports from Italy says AC Milan want to sign Liverpool’s Brazil midfielder Fabinho, 25, (who he?) in January. 

Over at West Ham, Marko Arnautovic, 29, wants a weekly living wage of £200,000 to continue working at the London Stadium. If he does;t get it then he could be off, possibly to Manchester United. 

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


Transfer Balls: Manchester United want Milan’s Milan and Liverpool dog deep for Dembélé

Transfer Balls: So desperate is Alexis Sanchez to leave Manchester United that he’s going to demand a reduction in his £500,000-a-week wage to make him more affordable to, well, anyone who’ll let him play either football, the piano or both at once. Either that or he’ll just sulk and wait until Jose Mourinho is sacked and the next manager realise what a top talent he is.

Racing Sanchez out the door are Marcus Rojo and Eric Bailly. They will replaced by – deep breath – Nathan Aké, Jérôme Boateng and / or Inter Milan’s Milan Skriniar.

Higher up the Premier League table, rumours abound that Liverpool will bid over £85m for Ousmane Dembélé, who cost Barcelona £105m when he moved from Borussia Dortmund in 2017. The German side have a knack of developing players and selling them on for top money. Barcelona made them an offer they could not refuse for the Frenchman who has failed to shine in Spain. But will they take a £20m hit on him? Or is £85m for a flop good money? That question to Paul Pogba.

Arsenal have woken to the fact their centre backs are slower than a Granit Xhaka tackle. The Gunners are looking at Atalanta’s Gianluca Mancini.

And Tottenham are readying a £35m bid for Cagliari’s 21-year-old Italian midfielder Nicolo Barella. But Man United and Liverpool also want him. So watch the price rocket.

 

Posted: 14th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Liverpool, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Liverpool teach Manchester City’s Sterling the correct way to cheat

When Raheem Sterling was awarded a penalty for falling over in the box during Manchester City’s 6-0 hammering of Shakhtar it was clear to everyone but the referee the wrong decision had been made. Sterling never thought to tell the referee he’d got it wrong. He never offered to take the penalty and deliberately miss. Sportsmanship was not the winner. But if Sterling’s looking for ways to improve his conduct, the former Liverpool player can read the Liverpool Echo’s story headline: “Raheem Sterling Man City penalty row – and the Liverpool example he SHOULD have followed.”

Which Liverpool example is that, then? This one?

 

 

This one?

 

This one?

 

 

This one?

 

 

No. It’s this one – when Robbie Fowler went to ground easily at Arsenal:

 

Fowler and Liverpool celebrated the egregious refereeing error by scoring the penalty and celebrating wildly. If only Sterling had stayed at Liverpool he could have learned what you “should” do when a penalty is awarded wrongly. But he plays in Manchester, having left Liverpool to earn more money and win trophies, so he’s a cheating sod.

And sometimes you get away with it:

Posted: 9th, November 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Liverpool, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Martial offers 45m reasons to stay at Manchester United

Transfer Balls: how much is Anthony Martial worth to Manchester United? Whoah, there. That’s a rhetorical question. The answer is £45m. That’s a lot of money for a player who was on his way out when his current contract expires at the season’s end. United do have an option to extend that by one year. But Martial holds the cards. So United will sign him up on a new deal and then flog him when Jose Mourinho starts calling him names. The Sun says the new deal will last for five-year deal and earn the Frenchman £190,000-a-week. The paper doesn’t say if that figure includes extra cash for doing his job – scoring goals; being on the winning team; getting selected – or the absurd ‘loyalty bonus’. But it’s decent money, albeit not in the Alexis Sanchez bracket of more than double that figure. You get real value at United.

Manchester United also fancy Sampdoria’s 22-year-old Danish defender Joachim Andersen. No idea what his fee would be, but Inter Milan’s 23-year-old defender Milan Skriniar, a player wanted by United, is reportedly worth £100m, according to the club’s manager Luciano Spalletti.

Away from Old Trafford, Chelsea and Bayern Munich are chasing Lyon’s Nabil Fekir. The Star says the man who looked to be on his way to Liverpool last summer could arrive in London. Joining him in the Smoke is Lille winger Nicolas Pepe, 23, who has “welcomed speculation linking him with Arsenal”, says the BBC. How that plays out with his team-mates is moot.

 

Posted: 8th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment


BBC trolls Everton fans over donation to Liverpool fan Sean Cox

seamus coleman

 

Clickbait Balls courtesy of the BBC, which spots Everton player Seamus Coleman contributing to the fund set up to help Sean Cox, the Liverpool fan set upon by Roma fans before a Champions League match. The BBC says Coleman is “worried Everton fans would question him for donating money to Liverpool fan Sean Cox.” Sheesh! Coleman must think Everton fans are real numbskulls. Are they so loyal to Everton that they’ll condemn a player for helping a fellow countryman – both Coleman and cox are Irish.

Clicking on the link we’re told:

Everton defender Seamus Coleman worried fans would question him for making a donation to help an injured fan of city rivals Liverpool.

Maybe rabid Liverpool fans don’t want his money? Or maybe the BBC’s heading is total clickbait balls:

“You think ‘Do you put your name towards it or not?'” Coleman said. “You might get people saying ‘he might have put more money in’ or whatever,” he added… “I wanted to put my name to it because sometimes that raises more publicity. That’s what the Liverpool manager did.”

Mentions of Everton fans? Nil.

 

More BBC clickbait soon…

Posted: 7th, November 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment


Everton and Liverpool United for Sean Cox

cox liverpool roma

Sean Cox

 

Nice one, Everton defender Seamus Coleman. He’s donated €5,000 (£4,300) donation to Sean Cox, his fellow Irishman. Mr Cox was attacked by Roma supporters before their Champions League semi-final against Liverpool at Anfield in April. Says Coleman:

“We have to be together. I think football is great for sticking together. Rivalries go out the window with stuff like that; you don’t see a crest or a jersey, you see a man who came to support his team and unfortunately it didn’t end too well for him that night.

“Thankfully there is a fundraising page and I don’t know the ins and outs of how he is but hopefully they can raise some money for him.

“I saw on social media the Liverpool manager had donated some money and saw there was a link to a GoFundMe page. I wanted to put my name to it because sometimes that raises more publicity. That’s what the Liverpool manager did.

“You think ‘Do you put your name towards it or not?’ because you might get people saying ‘He might have put more money in’ or whatever.

“It’s not about Liverpool and Everton, this is about a man who unfortunately was part of something he did not intend to be. I’ve had people in the street, Liverpool fans, stop me and say ‘Thanks very much’.”

You can go here to donate to Sean Cox.

Posted: 6th, November 2018 | In: Liverpool, Money, News, Sports | Comment


Liverpool: Gonk denies Mo Salah statue looks like her

salah statue

Mo Salah: football’s ‘Leo Sayer’

 

Egyptian sculptor Mia Abdel Allah’s work is the subject of much appraisal after her statue of Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah was unveiled in the Liverpool player’s home country. On view in Sharm el-Sheikh, the statue is part gonk part Leo Sayer – and yes, they are not one and the same.

 

 

Abdel Allah says she found the pose “distinguished and executable”, according to the Egyptian Independent.

 

Mo Salah statue

Mo Salah

 

 

Distinguished? Maybe. Executable? Off with his head!

Posted: 5th, November 2018 | In: Key Posts, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Spurs fear, Dembele to Liverpool, Newcastle wait and Sanchez plots Manchester United escape

Tottenham players “fear” Mauricio Pochettino is to leave the club for Real Madrid or Manchester United. Which Spurs players are in dread of the Argentine leaving, and maybe taking them along for the ride and the huge hike on wages that would come with it, is unsaid by the BBC. Over in the Telegraph that “fear” is reduced to a mere “feeling”. The Sun tell us that Real Madrid will double Pochettino’s wages to £17m a year. How it knows that is moot. It just does. It feels it.

But why would Pochettinho want a job with a shorter shelf life than a Halloween pumpkin? AS tells us that former Real Madrid star Michael Laudrup has rejected down the chance to become the club’s new manager. Fair enough. After all, Marca told us former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte would be appointed as soon as Real sacked Julen Lopetegui as manager. He wasn’t. Meanwhile, the Mail says Belgium manager and former Everton and Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is the white-hot favourite to become the next Real Madrid chief. Or as the Guardian puts it: “Mauricio Pochettino has emerged as Real Madrid’s No 1 choice.”

To recap: they don’t know.

In other news, Alexis Sanchez is off to play at PSG, says the BBC. Manchester Untied will replace their striker by digging huge hole in the ground and pouring £600,000-a-week into it.

And then some bigger news in Spain’s Sport. Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé is to be shunted out of the club this January. He turned up late for a game, we read, and Barcelona “have decided to act strongly on the issue”. Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea all want the Frenchman. Will it happen? Dunno. Back in August the Express told its readers: “Arsenal transfer news: Gunners make £90MILLION bid for Barcelona star Ousmane Dembele.” They didn’t.

And finally, get this from the BBC: “Newcastle are understood to be ready to offer Rafa Benitez the contract extension he wants – providing he is prepared to wait for certain requests.” Such as his discount voucher for Sports Direct and a chance to win the Championship.

 

Posted: 31st, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


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

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

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

 

liverpool echo liverpool everton

 

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

 

liverpool echo liverpool everton

 

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

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

 

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


Liverpool fans Sean Cox remain in a ‘dire’ state as man accused of attack stands trial

Let’s spare a thought for Sean Cox, the Liverpool fan attacked before his club faced Roma in the Champions League. The 53-year-old was badly beaten in an unprovoked attack. After a major operation to stem bleeding on the brain, medics placed Mr Cox into an induced coma. Now conscious, he cannot sit on his own. His situation is “dire”. His brother Martin Cox, who was with him at the game, told Preston Cron Court. “He can’t talk, he just whispers.”

Also in the court is one Filippo Lombardi, 21. The Italian Roma fan has admitted the offence of violent disorder but denies wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Martin Cox told the jury: “We heard some noises, not good noises – we just sensed there was something not right. At that time people come across us in dark clothes, chanting. I turned to Sean as if to say ‘Let’s get out of here’. But as I turned, Sean was lying on the ground… I just froze for a second, just in complete shock. My next instinct was to go straight down to Sean to see if he was OK… I bent down to Sean and, as I was bent over, I could feel a kick on the back and I lost balance, stumbled a bit, but I didn’t look up, I just gathered myself around Sean.”

The trial continues, as does Mr Cox’s ordeal.

Posted: 13th, October 2018 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment


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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

Another tweeter adds:

 

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

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


Liverpool’s Salah wins and Ronaldo goes missing at FIFA Best awards

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.

 

ronaldo best fifa

 

Story 1: “Why Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi won’t be attending the FIFA Best awards in London.”

Why?

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

Why?

The Portuguese played for Juventus at Frosinone on Sunday night , and has another fixture for his new club at home to Bologna on Wednesday.

 

ronaldo best fifa

 

ronaldo best fifa

 

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)

 

Posted: 24th, September 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Liverpool: Arsenal didn’t miss Virgil van Dijk, they just lack Southampton’s coaching skills

News that Arsenal rejected Virgil van Dijk, 27, before Southampton bought him comes as no great shock. The final years of Arsene Wenger’s leadership at Arsenal are punctuated with a myriad bad decisions and indifferent coaching. The BBC says Arsenal could have bought the now Liverpool star for £12m from Celtic but thought him “too nonchalant”.

Former Celtic assistant manager John Collins, told BeIn Sports that Arsene Wenger liked Van Dijk but the club’s then chief scout, Steve Rowley, was less impressed. “Arsenal’s chief scout thought he was too nonchalant,” said Collins. “Maybe that was part of his game but he ticks so many of the other boxes. He’s got pace, power, balance, distribution and he’s good in the air. He can be a bit nonchalant but he is a quality player.”

Easy to see this this as an Arsenal misstep. But given how Arenal stagnated under Wenger, what evidence is that that Van Dijk would have improved under the Frenchman? Yesterday former Gunner Santi Cazorla told the BBC Wenger’s Arsenal lacked belief. We needed to believe in ourselves more,” he told Football Focus. “To believe that we were capable of competing with the big sides in the Premier League and not just settling for third or fourth.”

Moreover, Collins says Van Dijk, who would up costing Liverpool £75m, wasn’t rated by Brendan Rodgers when he was in charge at Anfield. “He would’ve cost around £12m,” says Collins. “Every team watched him regularly but the worry was he was showing it against Scottish players but you could tell he was strong, powerful and a well balanced player.”

He was presumably all those thing when Celtic bought the Dutch national captain from Groningen for £2.5m. He did well there but it was at Southampton where he flourished. And what Collins does not say is how well he was coached at the innovative south coast club. Southampton’s system has produced Gareth Bale, Calum Chambers, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw. And players have improved at the Saints: Saido Mane, Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren (all now at Liverpool) and Toby Anderweireld. Name one academy player who really improved under Wenger in his final four or five years at Arsenal, or a new recruit who looked like a bargain. It’s not easy.

Why did Arsenal fail? Matthew Syed took a look:

“We visited the Yehudi Menuhin Music School to see how they think about purposeful practice,” Edd Vahid, the head of coaching, said. “We also visit Saracens a lot. They do not have the best facilities in the world, particularly when compared to some Premier League football clubs, but they are fantastic when it comes to culture and innovation.”

Partly inspired by Saracens, Southampton now have an educational and skills programme running alongside the usual academy functions…

“If you want leaders on the pitch, you have to develop their qualities off the pitch,” Les Reed, the technical director, said. “In many academies, education is seen as a waste of time, a distraction from the game. We think that it is central to player development. We need England players who don’t crumble when they are on a big stage and go one-nil down.”

Southampton also have a Black Box Room, modelled on the aviation industry, so that they can constantly analyse the data from training and matches, just as aviation learns from the cockpit recorders. The analysts are striving to build better metrics to improve recruitment, despite the statistical challenges. They have studied a number of outside organisations, including Google.

Would Van Dijk have gotten that development at Arsenal under Wenger? No. Southampton (plus a dash of Liverpool desperation on paying such huge fee) turned him from a decent player into the world’s most expensive defender.

Posted: 23rd, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Key Posts, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Liverpool: that photo of Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen massaging Roberto Firmino’s brain

firmino eye spurs liverpool

 

As Spurs lost 1-2 at their adopted Wembley home to Liverpool, many people noticed the moment when Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen appeared to massage Roberto Firmino’s brain.

Did he mean to do it? Gouging usually involves the thumb. Fingers are used to gain purchase on the target’s head. But here Vertonghen leads with the index finger on his favoured left hand. The risk of a long finger nail or one coated in Shellac coaxing Firmino’s eyeball from the socket cannot be overlooked. And there’s the position of Vertongen’s middle finger, pressed as it is below Firmino’s nose in a kind of ‘smell this’ gesture. Add a touch of banter from the Spurs man (“Hand ball!”) and you’ve got a full on assault of the senses.

PS: In rugby union the minimum punishment should be 12 weeks, according to the laws of the game. In 2016, Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele was banned for six games after appearing to gouge the eye of Chelsea’s Diego Costa.

 

Posted: 15th, September 2018 | In: Liverpool, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Liverpool to play in Levi’s jeans?

When Liverpool players aren’t shaving their chests and rubbing Nivea into the stubble, expect to see them sliding on pairs of Levi’s jeans. Levi’s are Liverpool’s “official denim partner”. It’s a big deal for mankind. Be in no doubt. The club says Liverpool FC and Levi’s are “two organisations dedicated to making a difference around the globe”.

 

liverpool denim levis shorts

A pre-plucked Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – footballer and denim ambassador – models the new Liverpool kit

 

Cynics might wonder if playing football in jeans is the way forward? The current fashion is for footballers to pull their sock up high like stockings over their knees and tether them possibly with garter belts under the hem of their big skort-style shorts. It’s a small step to wearing trousers, or A-line skirts. But this is about “giving back to fans through football, lifestyle and music”, it says hear. Fans no longer care about winning cups and having a laugh at the match; they come to Anfield for tips on skin care, yoghurt and if carrot-cut denim can lead to deep vein thrombosis in quieter matches.

The plan is for the Levi’s LFC “capsule collection”. We look to it with excitement, as must too rival clubs keen to link their brand with fabrics. Arsenal velvet perhaps, Spurs chiffon or Manchester City oilskin?

 

Posted: 26th, August 2018 | In: Fashion, Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment


Liverpool goalkeeper Karius is the eternal victim

You can’t even laugh at a footballer’s failure these days. No sooner had Liverpool’s 25-year-old German goalkeeper Loris Karius made a delicious hash of his side’s Champions League final match against Real Madrid than the medics pronounced him concussed. Karius wasn’t rubbish when it mattered most. He was a victim. And that’s worse.

When Karius was a calamity ‘keeper, we could relate to him. He was human. Time would heal the fans’ disappointment and his sense of regret. One day he’d pretend not to save something and become that most rare of things: a German the country loves. He’d explain how it all went wrong and produce a string of great saves to show that having reached the nadir the only way was back up. We will see that the Champions League final was a freak event that adds texture to a career it does not define. If Gareth Southgate can recover from missing a crucial penalty at Euro 96, Karius can rise again. You don’t get to be Liverpool’s first choice without displaying some degree of talent and skill. The clangers would be out of kilter in the video montage of a terrific life between the sticks, the two big non-saves adding a layer of interest to any autobiography. But when doctors in Boston assessed him a few days after defeat to Real, Karius’ became a man beyond redemption. Something had gone wrong that nothing could ever fix. You can’t laugh at concussion and self-deprecate. You can’t move on because what happened is defined as something beyond your control.

Lured into victimhood, Karius tis tipped to leave the club. Liverpool have paid an absurd sum to recruit Brazil international Alisson, 25, as the club’s new number one. Karius can sit on the bench and wait or hope another big club wants him and go. But who wants a victim?

In Liverpool’s pre-season games, Karius has made a few slips. Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat against Borussia Dortmund in North Carolina featured Karius conceding two goals he should have stopped. Sensing the mood, Karius tweeted pathetically: “To those who take joy in seeing other people fail or suffer, I feel for you. Whatever it is that’s happening in your life to hold this much anger and hate, I pray that it passes and good things come to you.”

No humour. No chance of salvation – unless he believes in his own agency. To take delight in another’s failure is part and parcel of football. In Karius’ world, we should not celebrate the opposition’s red card, own goal or error. We should hold hands and form a prayer circle.

Karius evokes god. And the divine Mohamed Salah, his brilliant Liverpool’ colleague, damns him, tweeting: “Stay strong Karius. It has happened to the best players. Ignore those who hate.” The problem is that you, Karius, and neither God nor Mo is the last line off defence. It’s not we who need to learn from our mistakes. It’s not us who needs to rediscover our nerve. It’s you.

Posted: 24th, July 2018 | In: Key Posts, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Liverpool sign Alisson

Liverpool will sign Alisson, the Roma and Brazil goalkeeper, for an eye-watering and absurd £66.8m. Alisson, 25, has only been at Roma for two years, joining from Brazilian side Internacional for €8 million. Thanks to Liverpool’s desperation to recruit a decent keeper, Alisson will become the world’s costliest stopper, beating the €53m Juventus paid Parma for Gianluigi Buffon in 2001.

So it is goodbye to Loris Karius, the hapless 25-year-old German. He’s not a bit crap (see Champions’ League final) – he’s a little concussed (see Champions League final).

Offers for Karius on a postcard to he usual address…

Posted: 18th, July 2018 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Chelsea want Arsenal’s Cech and Liverpool target Alisson

Goalkeepers are the subject of today’s transfer news round-up. It turns out that Liverpool will not be sticking with Loris Karius, who, as the BBC puts it, was “found” to be suffering from concussion when he gifted Real Madrid two goals in the Champions’ League final. Cynics suggested the discovery of Karius’s concussion might be part of a plan to keep his stock high when it comes to flogging the hapless German. That view was boosted by his performance against Preston when the 25-year-old German “spilled a free-kick” that allowed the hosts to score in Liverpool’s 3-2 win.

There was tabloid talk of Liverpool sticking with Karius, backing the man and who cannot be blamed for his medical plight. But then Liverpool tabled a £62m offer for Roma’s Brazil goalkeeper Alisson. Last time Liverpool went shopping in Rome they brought back Mo Salah. Can they strike gold with Alisson?

And will they get him? News from Italy is that Chelsea want Alisson, a pursuit linked to Real Madrid’s intention to sign Thibaut Courtois, 26, for £31m. Should Chelsea fail to get Alison, the Blues will move to re-sign 36-year-old Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech from Arsenal or Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel, 31.

Posted: 18th, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Liverpool: Lovren bests Modric and Henderson slumps

As Luka Modric prepares for his move to Liverpool (source: Daily Express clickbait factory), he can look forward to playing with Jordan Henderson and his Croatia teammate Devran Lovren, self-declared “one of the best defenders in the world”. Lovren t0ld BeIN Sportsafter a Modric-inspired Croatia had overcome England: “I took Liverpool to the final of the Champions League and now with my national team we are in the (World Cup) final. I think people should recognise that I am also one of the best defenders in the world and not just talk nonsense.” He said that “without being arrogant”.

As football fans the world over watch Lovren highlight tapes (and the rest of us roll our eyes and look at Mo Salah) the rest of can look back at how Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Marcelo Brozovic bossed the midfield, barely letting Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli touch the ball. The England players’ limitations were baldly exposed by the Croatian midfield that grew stronger as the game went on. No Englishman was less influential than Henderson. Some kind soul has illustrated Henderson’s contribution with a “Regista” compilation of the Liverpool man’s lumpen passing.

 


 

Good job there’s Lovren to caress the ball and play with such cool and calm authority:
 

Posted: 13th, July 2018 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment


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

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

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

 

modric spurs

 

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

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

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

 

daily express modric arsenal

 

And the story?

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

He’s a flop!

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

 

modric liverpool

 

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

 

 modric manchester united

 

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

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

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

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

He may. He may not.

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

More shameless tosh in the Express every day.

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


Transfer Balls: Ronaldo to Facebook, Higuain to Chelsea, Dybala to Liverpool

All that guff about Cristiano Ronaldo returning ‘home’ to Manchester United is over – well, it is until his four-year contract with Juventus ends, at which point the British Press will doubtless rekindle the story of the then 37-year-old fulfilling his ‘dream’ move to Old Trafford.

At Juventus, Ronaldo will earn around £73,000 a day at Juventus, plus the huge fee he earned as part of the £99.2m transfer fee that prised him away from Real Madrid.

The shiny one is due another huge payday should he sign a deal allowing Facebook to broadcast a 13-part reality show on on his depilation techniques and other key life moments. Facebook will pay £9m to watch and report on Ronaldo’s every waking moment. This is about £9m more than the rest of us get to have Facebook spy on us.

As Ronaldo buffs Turin, more big moves are expected to follow. Former Real Madrid and England manager Fabio Capello says Juventus’s Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain, 30, is now a dead cert to leave for Chelsea. There are no such things as done deals until the deal is done, of course, something the Sun nows only too well, it having reported Higuain’s move to Arsenal (a story that still sits as fact on the paper’s website).

 

higuain transfer arsenal

 

 

And Liverpool will offer £80m for Juventus’ Argentine forward Paulo Dybala, 24. The Reds have the cash but why would Juve sell their two star strikers?

There’s also a lot of talk of Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, 27, moving to Real Madrid. Chelsea are in a state of disarray. So the sensible thing would be to sell their best player, right?

Posted: 11th, July 2018 | In: Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment