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Manchester United football club news, Manchester United transfers, Premier League

Manchester United appoint Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – a manager who has won nothing

From the hunt for proven winners – Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho – to the decision to settle for a man who has won nothing as manager. Manchester United have appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as permanent manager on a three-year contract. Solskjær has won the Tippeligaen as manager of Molde. And that’s it.

“This is the job that I always dreamed of doing and I’m beyond excited to have the chance to lead the club long term,” says Solskjaer. “From the first day I arrived, I felt at home at this special club. It was an honour to be a Manchester United player, and then to start my coaching career here. The last few months have been a fantastic experience.”

The expectation levels are far higher now than when he joined. Much to do…

Posted: 28th, March 2019 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Anthony Martial and the moving goalposts

Anthony Martial is making news on the front and back pages. The Sun tells us that Martial is due a call up to his national side: “Anthony Martial’s return to form will cost Man Utd £8.7m after France recall.”

Good for him. But why will hi success cost United so much money?

Martial’s deal from Monaco in 2015 included an add-on triggered by 25 caps for his national team. He needs to play 45 minutes in the game for an appearance to count and is so far on 11 before losing his place in Deschamps’ squad for the World Cup. The France boss is now considering a recall for next month’s European Championship qualifiers against Moldova and Iceland – and Martial could hit the 25-cap mark before the end of the 2020 campaign including finals.

Really? No. Here’s the Daily Telegraph:

The France forward’s 76th minute equaliser at Old Trafford on Saturday was his 25th Premier League goal for the club and triggered a clause in his contract entitling his former club Monaco to a €10 million (£8.73 million) windfall.

United paid Monaco an initial £36 million when they signed Martial in September 2015 but the cost of the transfer has now risen to what is expected to be a final fee of £44.73 million.

The French club had a longer wait than they might have expected for the additional sum, though, since Martial had been stuck on 24 league goals for more than eight months. His previous league goal was against Burnley on January 20.

Under the terms of the original deal, Monaco were due two further payments of £8.73 million each if Martial played 25 games for France and was nominated for the Ballon d’Or before the end of the current 2018/19 season. Yet with Martial not among the Ballon d’Or nominees announced this week and out of favour for France, for whom he has played 18 times, seven games short of the stipulated target, neither clause will be met.

And the Mirror in March 2018:

…back in 2015, Monaco president Vadim Vasilyev proudly announced: “The price for Martial is £57.6million but take into account this sum includes bonuses, which are very realistic.” Manchester United included three bonuses amounting to £7.2million each in the deal to sign Martial – all of which must be triggered by 2019…

United agreed to pay Monaco an additional £7.2million if the France international scores 25 Premier League goals for the Red Devils before 2019..

Prior to joining Manchester United, the talented 22-year-old forward had already made seven appearances for France. The Red Devils agreed that should Martial feature in an additional 25 games while representing the Old Trafford club, they would again fork out £7.2million.

The target is not 25 international matches but 32. Such are the facts…

Posted: 22nd, February 2019 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United Balls: Solskjaer gets the job full-time; Pochettino earns Spurs £34m transfer fee

On February 12 2019, the announced that Manchester United had chosen their next full-time manager. “IT’S OLE YOURS,” stated the Sun. “Solskjaer to be appointed Man Utd manager permanently as board finally choose the club legend over Pochettino.” Good news for Spurs fans worried that their manager was on his way to Old Trafford.

“OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER will be named the full-time manager of Manchester United,” says the Sun’s Neil Curtis in an exclusive. “The decision has now been made at board level… The hunt is over with co-chairmen Joel and Avram Glazer now convinced they have the right man for the job in Solskjaer.” Adding: “The news will end speculation that Mauricio Pochettino could be tempted away from Spurs to Old Trafford next summer.”

Done. Or as the Sun notes on February 18 2019:

Manchester Untied Pochettino Spurs

Such are the facts…

Posted: 18th, February 2019 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Zidane to Chelsea; Pochettino and Saudi bone-saws to Manchester United

Is Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri spending the windfall in his severance clause? Maybe. The talk is of Sarri being given the boot and Zinedine Zidane the golden hello. ZouZou loves Chelsea – and if Roman Abramovich gives him £200m to spend on players, Eden Hazard forever and, naturally, a guaranteed huge payoff should he displease the Russian, the Frenchman will be on his way.

Or maybe he’ll head to Manchester United. Or maybe United will go shopping at Spurs once more. The Red Devils are willing to pay Tottenham a £34m compensation for manager Mauricio Pochettino.

More stories are emerging of Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s rumoured £3.8bn bid for for Manchester United. But the Prince is good at denials (see bone-saw murder). A flunky called Turki al-Shabanah tells us: “Reports claiming that HRH the Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman intends on buying @ManUtd are completely false. Manchester United held a meeting with @PIFSaudi to discuss sponsorship opportunity. No deal has been materialised.” What would the Saudi’s sponsor? Do Manchester United have their own branded petrol yet? Bone saws?

The Sun hears Turki gobble and says: “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman hopes to complete a £3.8bn takeover of Manchester United before the start of the next season.”

In other news, Romelu Lukaku is wanted by Inter Mila, who have had it up to ‘here’ with Mauro Icardi. Chelsea want Icardi and Paulo Dybala. Zidane might not.

Posted: 18th, February 2019 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united | Comment


Manchester United Balls: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer named new manager – but only in the Sun

Solskjaer

As you were Spurs fans. Relax. Mauricio Pochettino is no longer wanted by Manchester United. The Sun bellows the news that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be named the full-time manager at Manchester United. It’s a matter of when not if. The Sun says United will wait until the end of the season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer manager manchester united

Not so, says the BBC. Solskjaer has does brilliantly in his first 11 games as Manchester United’s caretaker manager. He’s rid United of the “toxic atmosphere” created by Jose Mourinho. He’s delivered ten wins from 11 matches. He won over United’s staff with bars of chocolate – on his first day at the club Solskjaer gave all backroom staff bars of duty free chocolate. But the BBC notes: “What happens in the next 11…will probably determine whether the 45-year-old Norwegian gets the job of replacing Jose Mourinho full-time.”

Do we all believe the Sun?

Might be best to wait and see…

higuain-arsenal the sun transfer
He never signed.

And this is what the Sun said of the Norwegian way back in January 2019:

Despite an encouraging start to life as interim manager, Solskjaer has a chequered record as a coach. Having taken Cardiff down he is yet to win a trophy since returning to Molde. How he would deal with a major transfer budget also requires consideration. There must also be questions over whether he possesses the tactical nouse to improve United beyond his honeymoon period.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer it is, then.

Posted: 11th, February 2019 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Martial Phwoar! Manchester United striker in Paris sex scoop

Martial sex manchester united

Anorak was looking for the headline ‘Martial Phwoar’, but instead has to make do with the Star’s “exclusive” that Manchester United forward Anthony Martial is a “Cheapskate”.

The paper alleges the player cheated on his pregnant partner, squiring his extra-martial lover in a £70-a-night budget hotel. Or to put it another way: pennywise football does not squander cash but seeks out best rates – possibly by the hour.

Martial’s partner has since given birth to the couple’s son… Swan. And today readers meet “French beauty Malika Semichi”. She says of her alleged tryst at the two-star Hotel du Midi near the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris: “I have to say I was surprised when he told me which hotel he had picked. It wasn’t the nicest and was a bit rundown and cheap, especially seeing as he’s used to much nicer hotels. But I knew he had a girlfriend so presumed it was because he didn’t want anyone to see us together.”

And who can presume anything other than that. After all, as Malika says: “He kept referring to me as his second girlfriend. He made me feel special.” You’re a number 2. Aw, shucks. And it get still more romantic in Paris, city of car-b-cues, angry people in yellow vests and snails a la mode. The Star claims he sent her “a string of snaps showing off his manhood, which this paper has seen”. The paper has seen Martial’s bellend? Bu at least we know now what what a load of snapshots of your knob is called: a string – a word once reserved for pearls?

Posted: 10th, February 2019 | In: Key Posts, manchester united, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United to double Rashford’s wages

How much is Marcus Rashford worth to Manchester United? Talk is of Real Madrid testing the water with a £100m bid for the striker. United pay Rashford around £75,000-a-week. They pay Anthony Martial £200,000-a-week. Clearly either Rashford is being underpaid or else Martial has just agree a five-year deal that overvalues his contributions to United.

Rashford has started all eight Premier League games since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over from Jose Mourinho, scoring six times. In that time, Martial has scored twice.

Meanwhile… over in Russia, Mourinho was tossing an ice puck to start an ice hockey match. There he was was stood on a roll of carpet between two players. On the way back to his seat Mourinho slipped. Lots of people noticed – but we’ve one question: what is it with Mourinho and red carpets?

Posted: 5th, February 2019 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United transfers: Felix in; Martial signs; Fellaini gone

Farewell, Marouane Fellaini, who has left Manchester Untied for Shandong Luneng on a three-year contract in a deal worth around £8million a year. We only pity whoever’s sat on the plan next to the jutting Belgian. Those elbows never did have enough room on a pitch. But he’s on decent money and can book three seats.

In place of the big lad in the middle and up front and in your face, Manchester United will look to buy Benfica and Portugal’s 19-year-old Joao Felix. In 2018, Fellaini calculated that it would cost Manchester United almost £44 million to replace him. Felix should cost less. The rest of us should wonder if Fellaini estimates his value by the square inch and not in terms of dribbling ability and other more traditional skillsets.

In other news, Anthony Martial has agreed a new fie-year contract. The burly Frenchman has scored 46 goals in 161 outings since joining the club for £36m in 2015. Back then he was the main man. Then came another teenage sensation, one Kylian Mbappe, and Martial looked lackadaisical and aloof. Still, a big money, long-term deal will surely enliven him – and give United a better chance of getting a decent return on their investment.

Posted: 30th, January 2019 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Liverpool £61m for Felix; Martial stays at Manchester United; Everton in for Chelsea striker; Higuain jets in for Spurs

Arsenal Emery newspapers

A round-up of today’s transfer rumours and other fluff and nonsense in the Press. Let’s kick off with Liverpool, who’ve bid £61m bid for Portugal Under-21 attacking midfielder Joao Felix, 19. Correio da Manha says Benfica, his current club, think the teenager is worth more. Someone arguably worth less is Philippe Coutinho. The Liverpool Echo in a no-news special says Liverpool won’t be resigning the Brazil midfielder, 26, they flogged to Barcelona for a whopping £142m just 12 months ago. Many other clubs also won’t be buying Coutinho.

One player who could be finally on his way to the Premier League is Juventus and Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain. Chelsea want to sign the 31-year-old before week’s Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Tottenham, says the Sun. That’s the same paper that told us Higuain played for Arsenal. That story remains live on the paper’s website. Chelsea fans shouldn’t buy those Higuain replica shirts just yet.

higuain-arsenal the sun transfer
qhen

In the sunny uplands of Manchester United, Anthony Martial, 23, is all set to agreeing a new five-year contract, says Sky Sports. And Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (aka Fergie Mark 2) wants to leave his rooms at the Lowry Hotel in Salford and find a permanent address in Manchester.

Everton have £40m for Chelsea and Belgium forward Michy Batshuayi. Everton are determined to catch the so-called Big 6. That means gaining ground on Arsenal, a club seemingly determined to return to a state of mid-80s torpor. News is that James Rodriguez, 27, will remain at Bayern Munich for the rest of season. The Express says Arsenal have as much chance of signing him as they have of keeping a clean sheet.

And finally Barcelona have had enough fo Malcom, 21. ESPN says that any club offering the £35.2m they paid Bordeaux for the player last July can have him. Spurs are interested.

Posted: 19th, January 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Manchester United transfer balls: Fellaini out; Carrasco, Brooks and Under in

Manchester United are trying to offload the Hairy Elbow, aka Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini. The club says he can go if a bid for around £15m arrives. AC Milan, Porto and Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande are said to be interested.

Once upon a time, Arsenal wanted Fellaini. They couldn’t afford him now. Just as they can’t afford Cengiz Under or Yannick Carrasco. Both players are wanted by the Gunners. But United have the cash to take them. Mrs Carrasco, aka Miss Belgium 2013 Noémie Happart, was asked if she knew of Arsenal and United’s interest in her husband. “Yes they are very interested,” she offered. “I do not hide it but nothing is signed.”

Rumours abound that United also fancy Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, Juventus’s Douglas Costa and Bournemouth’s David Brooks.

Finally, filed under one of the future is Tromso’s over 14-year-old Norwegian Isak Hansen-Aaroen. Everton and Liverpool are also keen.

Posted: 16th, January 2019 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Liverpool old boy Coutinho to Manchester United and maybe Man City

The Manchester Evening News rivals the Daily Express for Transfer Balls – that strain of football reporting that treats readers as mugs. The latest tosh is that former Liverpool players Phillipe Coutinho will leave Barcelona for Manchester United. This would be quite some transfer given that Coutinho played for United’s rivals and became the world’s this most expensive player when he moved to Barcelona in 2018 for £106m. But news and no news is coming thick and thicker in the MEN:

“Manchester United ‘open talks’ to sign former Liverpool FC midfielder Philippe Coutinho and more transfer rumours” – January 7, 11.20am.

“Manchester United fans are saying the same thing about Philippe Coutinho transfer rumour” – January 7, 14.17pm.

“Why Manchester United won’t move for Philippe Coutinho in the January transfer window” – January 8, 5am.

“Manchester United favourites to sign Philippe Coutinho in the January transfer window” – January 8, 11.21am.

“Philippe Coutinho, Toby Alderweireld and the 30 players bookies are linking with a transfer move to Manchester United” – January 9, 6:30pm

Manchester United transfers

Any Manchester United fans dreaming or dreading Coutinho joining the club can read another story by Aidan McCartney. This one was also published on Jan 9:

Manchester City

The choices cut of the tosh linking Coutinho to Manchester City being: “Pep Guardiola’s side have been handed odds on signing some of the biggest names in world football.” Pep had no idea which players he was going to sign until Paddy Power and the mugs who make them rich told him.

Posted: 9th, January 2019 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Liverpool, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment


What Jose’s hotel cost Manchester United in rent

lowry hotel mourinho

 

Freshly sacked by Manchester United, surly Jose Mourinho is back living at his London home. The Riverside Suite at Manchester’s Lowry Hotel, where he stayed since July 2016, is available to any new manager unwilling to commit to living in the city. But what was the bill for Mourinho’s stay?

The Sun: “Jose Mourinho hotel: Inside the exclusive Lowry where axed Man Utd manager lived for 895 days and spent £779,000 on rent.”

The Mail: “Jose Mourinho finally checks out of the Lowry Hotel… after 895 days and an astonishing £537,000 bill.” Although the Mail also notes: “What’s so special about the Special One’s £600,000 hotel suite? That’s the bill Jose Mourinho ran up in nearly three years.” Are we including tips?

Does the Lowry charge the Sun’s holidaymakers more than Mail guests? But the bill could have been higher. In January 2018, 442 magazine told us: “If Mourinho stays at the Lowry until July 1 2021, it will have cost him £1,489,200.” That figure is based on the rooms costing £816-a-night. But the Guardian can get the same digs for £600-a-night. 

It pays to shop around. 

 

Posted: 31st, December 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Money, News, Sports | Comment


Manchester United sack Mourinho

Mourinho newspapers Manchester United

 

Farewell then Jose Mourinho, sacked as as manager of Manchester United for being overrated, whining, bitchy, sarcastic, negative and possessed of all charm of next door’s cat say by a large pile of poo. 

After two and a half years in charge at Old Trafford, Mourinho finally got found out by the club’s lazy owners. Yes, he did lead United to the League Cup and Europa League titles. But they are sixth in the Premier League, already a whopping 19 points behind leaders Liverpool. 

 

the sun mourinho jose Manchester United Neil Curtis

 

“A caretaker-manager will be appointed until the end of the season while the club conducts a thorough recruitment process for a new, full-time manager,” says United in a statement. Since Sir Alex Ferguson left, all United managers have been in the caretaker told. United are a desperate club run by a marketing machine. The current owners never knew how United struggled for 26 years to win the title before Ferguson took them to the top. They just saw a chance to make a lot money fast from perennial champions. United can sell you an official noodle but they can’t sell you a dream of glory even in defeat. 

 

Jose Mourinho Chelsea

 

 

So Mourinho goes the way of David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal in the post-Fergie mess. Who next in the hot seat? Given that United’s kingmakers’ lack proven lack of vision, it’ll be a tried and tested name. They should begin their headhunting at Spurs…

Posted: 18th, December 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Bigots use Raheem Sterling racism row to control football fans

No Chelsea fans were at the Etihad last night to see Raheem Sterling and the rest of his Manchester City team beat Hoffenheim in the Champions League. No-one called Raheem Sterling a “fucking black cunt”, as is alleged, or a “Manc cunt”, as is claimed. (Lip-readers are on the case.) No tabloid today links Sterling with rising sea levels, knife crime and the unravelling of Brexit. The Mail does, however, say that some of the visiting German fans gave City’s German flyer Leroy Sane, scorer of both of City’s goals, “some stick”. Sane “appeared to be the subject of a verbal volley”. Tsk! Calling people names at the footy. Whatever next?

On Tuesday, the Mail told us Watford striker Isaac Success “was subjected to aggressive behaviour by local supporters” against Everton. Both Sane and Success are black, like Sterling – the player who illustrated his claim that racism is fueled by media bias with two stories from the Mail. The paper denied the allegation, and appears to be at pains to show readers that other players not in its crosshairs also get shouted at. There’s no claim that Sane was racially abused, and the Everton fans in the photo the paper used to illustrate its story aren’t even looking at Success. They were appealing for handball. 

 

daily mail racism

Hand balls!

 

 

The overriding impression is that football fans are thugs in need of control. That taps into an age-old tale that portrays them as a race-riot in waiting. It also fuels the bigotry that casts people who read and enjoy the tabloid press as violent fools. If Sterling was racially abused – and it’s still alleged that he was – it’s the rarity of the incident that makes it newsworthy. In the 1970s and 1980s, racism was the norm. At Chelsea FC it was condition of entry for many. And, for what it’s worth, nobody else at Chelsea claims to have heard racist language, including a black fan near Sterling’s abusers.

Racism still exists, of course it does. But this singling out of tabloid readers and largely working-class football fans as the root and result of the problem is to pander to other prejudices. 

Posted: 13th, December 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: bury your hatchets – Mourinho’s team did well

That Manchester United are not all that good is clear. That they are also not all that bad is missed by people who see the badge and expect the points to follow. In the Sun’s report on United’s 2-1 Champions League defeat to Valencia, David Coverdale says finishing second in their group means United are “second rate”. By that measure so too are Liverpool and Spurs.

Of the four English clubs in the CL, only Manchester City topped their group. Liverpool and Spurs had to rely on results elsewhere going their way in the final round of group games to secure their places in the next stage. Both teams finished second place in their respective groups. Manchester United secured progress from their group with a game to spare. To further prove the point that United were not terrible – far from it – the mighty Juventus lost 2-1 to Young Boys.

United are away to Liverpool on Sunday. Coverdale says that had Mourinho picked a better team, United could have topped their group. That much may be true. But Liverpool were at home in their CL match and played a day earlier than United, who traveled to Spain. United are a plodding team of over-hyped players, but don’t let their lack of spark mask a decent job. 

  

Posted: 13th, December 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Raheem Sterling: of course it’s racism

Is Manchester City footballer Raheem Sterling singled out for special attention because he’s black? At Stamford Bridge last weekend, he was verbally assaulted by four people in the section reserved for Chelsea fans. A fan at Stamford Bridge allegedly called Sterling a “fucking black cunt”. Sterling says the abuse is driven by a racist media that portrays black footballers in a bad light. John Barnes, who had bananas lobbed at him by Liverpool fans when he joined the club, says “black people in the inner cities go through this [discrimination] every day”. Don’t blame the media for appealing to its readers’ prejudices. Look at the bigger picture. And wonder this: why are black kids seen as cool, an act of rebellion for whites to like black fashions and music? Is it something to do with blacks as the perpetual outsiders, their existence something other and less wholesome than the rest of civilised society?

 

raheem sterling man city the sun

The Sun goes for Raheem

 

Musa Okwonga wonders.

You think this is your England because you read the most popular newspapers in the country and they agree with you – they agree with you that black footballers, like children, must be seen and not heard, that the second they decide to do anything more than score spectacular goals they become a threat. Those newspapers remind you daily that there is no aspect of criminality to which a black footballer cannot be connected.

 

raheem sterling drugs

Story on drugs and crime: Nothing to do with Raheem Sterling

 

But sticking with media, in the Times Henry Winter looks at how tabloids focus on the bling:

Breaking news: for those in the media reporting that Raheem Sterling’s new house in Cheshire boasts a three-car garage, well it did when he bought it but doesn’t now, as the fitness-conscious Manchester City and England player quickly transformed it into a gym to work out after training. For those in the media obsessing about the size of Sterling’s garden, well he’s redesigned part of it into a pitch with full-sized goals so he can practise finishing…

Sterling’s not flash. He’s not extravagant. He’s an exceptional professional, pivotal to club and country, a role model to a generation and deserving of proper respect.

I’d take issue with one point: Sterling’s no role model to anyone but his children. Sterling’s his own man, an exceptionally gifted athlete possessed of the talent and drive to make it in top-level sport. He’s no more a role model for the great unwashed than Winter is.

Will Winter consider the Sun’s take on “Obscene Raheem“, the boy who did well enough to buy his mum a house and was attacked for doing so? Yes. Although not by name. “Why do media outlets publish breathless pieces dripping with sanctimony about his new house being close to a dogging site,” wincers Winter, “ignoring the fact that some well-known neighbours live closer. They’re white by the way. No one mentions them.” Winter can make a short walk to find out – the Times and Sun share an owner and office space. Winter gamely takes on the The Times’ sister paper. “Whereas some white players down the years are forgiven for their excesses as loveable rogues, Sterling receives the “Obscene Raheem” opprobrium. The media really needs to look at itself at times and it was encouraging to hear some contrition from concerned parties after Sterling’s powerful calling out of the media yesterday.”

What says the Sun? Lots. Sterling has touched a nerve. The Sun has responded with a host of stories in support of Sterling. Its picked up the mood and run with it, as all good tabloids must:

 

the sun raheem sterling

The Sun man’s up

 

 

What about the Mail? Sterling used two screenshots, one of a Daily Mail story and one of a Mail Online story, to support his claim that the press treated black footballers unfairly compared to their white peers. The Mail says Sterling is wrong to claim reporting in Mail titles is racial motivated:

 

 

raheem sterling racism

 

 

The Press Gazette has news:

A story by former Mail Online reporter Anthony Joseph was among those shared by Sterling. He said Sterling had raised “some very valid points” that the media “needed to listen to”. Defending his own story, Joseph said: “The story was done at a time when BT had a documentary on teenage footballers earning millions.

“It was topical and there was a huge debate about it. The same day there was at least an hour segment about it on Talksport. The original story, which I followed up, appeared in The Sun. I spoke to the player’s agent, who had no issue with story and how it was represented. Reporters don’t do headlines, but I still don’t feel it vilifies him. It was just topical at the time, nor did I even make a connection of his colour – it didn’t even cross my mind.”

Joseph added that Sterling raised “some very valid points” that the media “needed to listen to”.

Good stuff, then. Sterling has spoken out and the media has responded. Racism is an evil that sticks and corrodes. The better news is that the story of racism is newsworthy because it is now rarer now than it was. Next up: why are there no black editors of national newspapers – not one; never has been? 

Posted: 11th, December 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


The joy of cheating

cheating football

Cheats never prosper – but Maradona went on to win the World Cup after his ‘Hand of God’ moment

 

We love cheating, referee errors, good goals disallowed and bad goals that were. A Manchester United player was just offside for their first goal against Arsenal last week. The officials missed it. Arsenal’s first goal crossed the United goal line by the width of a cigarette paper. Again the referee missed it. But the robots didn’t. Goal given. Last night West Bromwich Albion cheated in their 2-2 draw with Aston Villa. “Jay Rodriguez just threw himself at the cross,” Baggies head coach Darren Moore told BBC Sport. “He admits that it did hit his arm but he didn’t know much about it. And you’ve got to admire his honesty.” 

How can you not admire the footballer who scores with his hand? Not the part about his being honest. That’s guff. Cheating is cheating. We should admire Rodriguez because he pushed the rules to the limit, found them wanting and in so doing created emotion and a story from a small moment in a distracting leisure activity. Isn’t football great.

Well, enjoy it while it lasts. VAR is an abomination. Football is fast. Mistakes happen. Fans and players feel feted or hard done by. The joy surges. The antagonism builds.

At another recent Arsenal match, this time against Spurs, the Tottenham striker Son dived to win a penalty. No VAR was used. Arsenal felt aggrieved. The home fans seethed. The visitors taunted. The stadium throbbed like Terry Waite’s bladder. It was great. What a show. This was the theatre of football. It’s not an insurance seminar on risk reduction. 

So congratulations to Rodriguez, Son and all the players and refs who keep the game human. Don’t let the robots in. They’ll kill it. 

PS:  If football is to become an extension of the classroom, will that stop cheating? Nope. James M. Lang argues that place and time can trigger cheating: 

[C]heating levels are fairly high, but they have always been so. The better question to ask is why. Duke University researcher Dan Ariely and his colleagues have conducted dozens of experiments designed to see what makes people willing to engage in acts of cheating and dishonesty in their everyday lives. Their findings have been remarkably consistent: most people, under the right circumstances, are willing to engage in small acts of dishonesty. This seems to be a part of our human nature.  With enough incentives in front of us, most of will cheat at least a little bit.

Cheating is natural. The temptation to cheat is human:

As it turns out, almost anyone will cheat when given even minor, consciously imperceptible behavioral cues. For instance, in a series of three experiments, a group of psychologists found that lighting could affect cheating. In one study, participants in a dimly-lit room cheated more often than those in a lighter one. While both groups performed equally well on a set of math problems, students in the darker room self-reported that they correctly solved, on average, four more problems than the other group—earning $1.85 more as a result, since they were being paid for each correct answer. The authors suggested that the darkness created an “illusory anonymity”: even though you aren’t actually more anonymous in the dark than in the light, you feel as though you are, making you more likely to engage in behaviors you otherwise wouldn’t. Similar effects have been observed with a variety of situational factors that don’t seem directly related to cheating. We cheat more, for instance, when we’re in a messy environment—one that has more signs of socially deviant behavior, like litter, graffiti, and other rubble.

And then – and then – you think of the spirit and what happens next. What reputation do you want? Matthew Syed cites a sporting great:

In the World Cup semi-final between Australia and Sri Lanka at St George’s Park in 2003, the Aussies were on 34 after five overs when Aravinda de Silva was brought on to bowl. On his second delivery, Adam Gilchrist stepped forward to sweep, edged the ball on to his front pad, and watched it sail into the hands of Kumar Sangakkara, the wicketkeeper. The Sri Lankans made a sustained appeal. Rudi Koertzen, the umpire, shook his head. “Not out,” he said.

In True Colours, his wonderful autobiography, Gilchrist would later recall that he felt “strange” at that moment, perhaps a little confused. “So much discontent about umpiring, video decisions, and trust between players had been bubbling away,” he said. He then heard an emphatic voice in his head. “Go,” the voice said. “Walk”. As he made his way towards the pavilion, something odd happened. The Port Elizabeth crowd started cheering. They knew that he had made a gesture more important than mere winning and losing.

We love the cheats. And we love the heroes. The best bit is that in the rough and tumble of sport, in the complexity and contradiction of what it is to be human, you can be both. And there’s always the drugs…

Posted: 8th, December 2018 | In: Arsenal, manchester united, News, Sports, Spurs, Technology | Comment


Transfer balls: David de Gea makes Manchester United sweat

Should David de Gea leave Manchester United for Paris St-German, the Red Devils will splash out £70m on Everton’s England international Jordan Pickford, 24. If he’s worth that much it makes you wonder at De Gea value in the open market – twice that; three times? The Sunday Mirror counters earlier news that United’s best player had agreed new contract at Old Trafford and was also on his way to PSG

In other news, the Times says David de Gea won’t let Manchester United sell him in the final year of his current contract. The Spaniard will sign a new contract at Old Trafford if the Premier League club agrees to make him their best paid player. That sum is a matter of debate, waving between the £300,000-£500,000-a-week United lavish on the irritating Alexis Sanchez. 

The paper says De Gea’s camp are confident of securing a “hugely lucrative signing bonus” from one of Europe’s wealthiest clubs should no new deal be agreed with United by January 2020, when he will be free to sign a pre-contract agreement elsewhere.

Over in the Mail we’re told Napoli have rejected Manchester United’s £91m offer for Senegal international defender Kalidou Koulibaly, 27. The sums are impressive. The quality less so. 

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


Manchester United: medics investigated for prying into Alex Ferguson’s medical records

Can it be that the joy of spotting a famous face is not confined to the well? I’m talking not of grave hunting, rather of the two medics and a senior hospital consultant under investigation for allegedly and illegally spying into former Manchester United manger Sir Alex Ferguson’s medical records. At the time, Fergie was very ill in hospital with a brain haemorrhage.

The matter appears to be founded on fact because the Sunday Times says the hospital has “apologised unreservedly to the patient and their family”.

Dr Chris Brookes, chief medical officer for the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group, which runs Salford Royal where Ferguson  was treated, tell media: “Investigations are ongoing to determine if the individuals have accessed a patient’s record electronically without a clinical requirement or authorisation to do so.” If found guilty, they could be struck off.

You wonder what they were looking for? The paper says the alleged prying was born of “personal curiosity”. And we can forgive that, can’t we? We all like a sneaky gawp at the famous.

Posted: 2nd, December 2018 | In: manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: David Gea should thank Alexis Sanchez for Manchester United wage hike

Transfer Balls: The BBC leads with news that Spain international De Gea wants Manchester United to offer him a five-year contract worth about £350,000 a week. Why so little? The wage will, says the Beeb, match what Alexis Sanchez earns. Odd, no. Doesn’t Sanchez earn £500,000-a-week? BBC journalist Simon Stone told us Sanchez was costing Manchester United half a million quid every week:

 

 

The numbers are utter tosh, then. But the media loves to guess. The Sun says: “De Gea will then be offered a new £400,000-a-week, five-year deal.” The Mail agrees with the BBC that it’s £350,000 a week. And the Standard says the deal “could be worth up to £300,000-a-week”.

And just a few days ago Joe Bernstein told Mail readers: 

 

de gea manchester united

daily mail de gea

 

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 29th, November 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer Balls: Liverpool want shot of Fabinho and Manchester United target Militao

Let’s kick off today’s Transfer Balls with news of Ousmane Dembele’s desire to leave Barcelona and play for Arsenal, Liverpool or any other side that can afford* a £100m transfer fee for a player who enjoyed one decent season at Borussia Dortmund before being flogged for an eye-watering sum to the Spanish giants. The BBC has news: “France forward Ousmane Dembele, 21, has told Barcelona he does not want to leave in January.” That’s according to an unnamed source talking to ESPN. It might be the same source who gave the Mail the story just two days ago: “Ousmane Dembele asks Barcelona if he can leave in January.”

Google News updates the breaking non-story:

 

transfer balls dembele

Two non stories = two exclusives and Liverpool ‘news’

 

In other transfer gossip, former England, Chelsea and Arsenal left-back Ashley Cole, 37, has been offered a new deal by LA Galaxy – just days after being released by the club. But he fancies swapping LA for life in Birmingham. Aston Villa want him. Why is uncertain. Experience counts – but if he can’t make the LA Galaxy side, why would an ambitious Championship club seek his services? 

At Liverpool, missing midfielder Fabinho is to be the subject of a post-match chat with Paris St-Germain when the sides meet in the Champions League. PSG will offer a lot of money for the Brazilian. And Liverpool will wonder who they’re talking about. Fabinho joined Liverpool for around £40 million in July. He’s been less than spectacular. But that’s what £40m buys you these days: a squad player who can afford a well-paid agent.

In the obligatory news on Manchester United’s search for a defender, Jose Mourinho wants to sign Porto defender Éder Militao. He’ll be great – right up until Mourinho calls him rubbish, unfit, fat and useless. 

* Not Arsenal.
 

Posted: 28th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United cheat and win: blatant Fellaini handball secures Champions League win

manchester united cheating

 

Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Young Boys sees them progress in the Champions League. Their winning goal scored in stoppage time by Marouane Fellaini should have been ruled out for handball. When will VAR be used in big games? It cannot come soon enough.

Here’s Fellaini using his hand to control the ball, which is against the rules of the game:

 

 

But did the media see the cheating? Marca, the Spanish newspaper, says Fellaini’s handball was blatant. His goal not only put United through to the next round but knocked Spain’s Valencia out.

The Manchester Evening News: “Belgian international Fellaini touched the ball with his hand before he unleashed a ferocious effort into the net, however the player insists there was no intent behind the action.”

He’s got a twitch that makes his hand control the ball involuntarily? And “ferocious”? The MEN continues:

“No,” he [Fellaini] told BT Sport when asked if he had handled the ball. “For me it was not a handball, I controlled the ball. If it touched my hand it was not on purpose. I think it was the right moment to score a goal in the end.”

The Valencia coach, Marcelino, is quoted by Marca as saying: “If the goal of Manchester United featured a handball then you become even angrier. The little details matter. What is strange is that VAR isn’t present in such a big competition. It’s no consolation to us. But this is football.”

Manchester United march on. Valencia go into the Europa League. And Fellaini, well, he’s no Raheem Sterling.

 

 

 

Posted: 28th, November 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: De Gea Manchester United leaves for PSG and signs new deal

Transfer Balls: Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea “will join Paris St-Germain in the summer” says the BBC. He will? The Spain international’s current deal at Old Trafford runs out at the season’s end, we’re told. You’d suppose Man Untied would do their utmost to keep hold of their best player – and use that one-year extension. But the BBC says his leaving is a done deal.

The Mail on Sunday agrees. It says David De Gea is set for a “sensational move” to Paris Saint Germain. He’ll earn “£60million” on a four-year deal in Paris. He is “poised to join Paris Saint Germain when his current contract expires”, says the Mail. “Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is resigned to losing his star goalkeeper.” 

But after the facts, we get to the truth: no deal has been signed. Three paragraphs into the Mail’s story, we’re told David de Gea “could be set to earn around £15.5m a year in wages with the French giants… if he were to sign a four-year deal in Paris.” Could. If.

All utter tosh, then. But enough for the Daily Express to tells its readers: “Man Utd news LIVE: Jose Mourinho agrees to January transfer, £60m David de Gea deal.” Nope. No deal.

 

manchester united david de gea

The gospel according to the Sport Bible website

 

Manchester United fans need not worry. Indeed, on June 15, the Manchester Evening News declared: “Manchester United agree new contract with David de Gea.” The paper told us: “David de Gea has agreed a new five-year deal with Manchester United.” talkSport told us, also in June 2018: “DE MAN Manchester United agree new contract with goalkeeper David De Gea.” Did no-one tell the BBC, Express and the Mail that de Gea was not heading to PSG?

Such are the facts.

Posted: 25th, November 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United sell kit that does not actually exist

man-utd-fourth-kit-leopard

 

Dreaming up news to market the band is hard graft. But Manchester United are very good at it. The Brand are selling a replica kit that does not exist in the real world. The kit is a “digital concept” within the world of FIFA 19. The “Adidas x EA Sports Manchester United” kit has been designated as the club’s fourth kit. But it only exits in the the computer game. The horror show continues as Adidas announce that only “limited quantities” of the hideous neon leopard skin shirt will be produced and put on sale. So if you want to dress like a video game avatar pretending to an actual footballer, get in there fast. Yours for €90.

Bayern Munich, Juventus and Real Madrid are also prepping to flog digital kits to the slack-jawed masses. 

 

Posted: 23rd, November 2018 | In: Fashion, manchester united, News, Sports, Technology, The Consumer | Comment


Transfer Balls: Rashford makes Manchester United an offer they can refuse and a Liverpool move is back on

Good news for Chelsea fans: N’Golo Kante has signed a new five-year deal. “It has been two beautiful years and I wish for more to come,” he said after signing the news contact. “Since I came, I have completely improved as a player, challenged myself and got some awards I never thought about. I like the city, I like the club and I am happy to be here for more time.” Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia hails him for his “tireless and unselfish displays”. Kante is the player every other side wants in their team. 

Liverpool, however, are still chasing Nabil Fekir. Jurgen Klopp is said to be keen to rekindle a move for the France midfielder. Fekir was on his way to Liverpool in the summer. He never arrived. But Liverpool still want him. They also fancy Dortmund’s Julian Weigl. Arsenal like him, too, chiefly because they like pretty much anyone that plays for Dortmund with a hard to spell name. If he comes to the Emirates, Weigl will join fellow ex-Dortmund players: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and head of recruitment Sven Mislintat. 

Over at Old Trafford, news is that Marcus Rashford would find it hard to refuse a move to Real Madrid. He would also find it hard turn down the job of Prime Minster, the manager for Victor Secrets On Tour, £1bn in spun gold and the French throne. The odds of Rashford playing for Real are slim. But with two years to go on his current deal, rumours abound that United must do more to keep him happy or else another huge club will. So Real Madrid it is. Or Wolves. Or maybe Everton. Or, well, anywhere that will give him a game. “Manchester United’s England striker Marcus Rashford, 21, is ready to talk to Real Madrid if he fails to win a regular first-team place at Old Trafford,” says the BBC. To which the obvious answer from United is: “Let us know how it goes.”

Finally, Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez wants to sign Atlanta United’s attacking midfielder Miguel Almiron. Arsenal, West Ham and Everton also like the Paraguay international. Magpies owner Mike Ashley will surely swoop to get his man, sealing the deal with a 10% discount is one of his Debenhams stores (not applicable with any other promotion) and a Saturday job for any of Almiron’s loved ones in Sports Direct.  

Posted: 23rd, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment