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manchester united | Anorak - Part 4

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

Manchester United balls: Sanchez beats Mourinho to the exit and Pogba stays

Is Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho lacking in self-awareness? Odd to ask, I know, given his crushing narcissism.  But when he said before United’s defeat at West Ham the club is bigger than anyone, he wasn’t referring to himself was he. We’re pretty sure Mourinho thinks he is bigger than Manchester United, or at least the club’s human equal. His words were answer aimed at Paul Pogba, the World Cup winner and United’s priciest asset he’s fallen out with.

The problem for Mourinho is that on the all-important United balance sheets Pogba is worth more to United than he is. Pressured by the marketeers and debt managers who control United, Mourinho cosets the player, making him captain, letting him take the penalties and telling media the Frenchman is the best in training. Pogba understands his value. Mourinho appears weak – all the more so when he then told Pogba he’d never captain the team again, and was met with belligerence when he schemed to broadcast his authority by admonishing Pogba in front of the cameras.

None of this is aided by Mourinho pragmatic tactics, anathema to United’s traditions of free-flowing, attack-minded football – but, then, United’s owners should have done their homework and realised what they were getting with Mourinho, a man whose success is built on nicking a lead and hanging on to it with grim determination.

And so it’s no surprise to read in the Sun that the Manchester United manager is worried about his future at Old Trafford. He’s “convinced” club officials have sounded out former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane. But Italian press says Zidane is to be the new chief executive at Juventus. ESPN hears United deny reports they have approached Zidane to replace. United says it’s “nonsense”.

The Star says one figure on his way out is Alex Sanchez, the ball-hogging attacker United were at pains to recruit from Arsenal. Having watched Sanchez, who never made it at Barcelona, shine in a team of journeymen at Arsenal, Mourinho thought the Chilean was the man to get United firing. He wasn’t. Indulged at Arsenal, where Arsene Wenger allowed Sanchez to wander all over the pitch, often picking the ball up in front of the defenders, waving his hands about at the rest of the team before trying to score on his own, Sanchez was given a more fixed role at Old Trafford. You can pay Sanchez £600,000-a-week, as United do, but Mourinho can’t get him to play like he did for the Gunners.

But maybe even he’ll outlast Mourinho, who is surely nearing the end of his time at United.

Posted: 1st, October 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: United ready to part with Pogba or Mourinho

Former Real Madrid manager and French legend Zinedine Zidane is learning to speak English so he can get the Manchester United job when job Jose Mourinho gets the chop, says the Sun. There is much talk of player unrest under Mourinho’s stultifying and divisive regime. So the Portuguese is to be thanked for his time and shown the door.

The Sun says Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic have adopted the roles of peacemakers in the Old Trafford dressing room. But pressure is building on Mourinho, who used his press conference before United’s trip to West Ham to remind Paul Pogba that “no player is bigger than the club”. He then added: “Manchester United is bigger than anyone. I have to defend that.” It’s bigger than Mourinho, who went on: “After weeks of analysing and changing opinions with my coaching staff, we made the decision that from now Paul is just a player and not a captain.”

Just a player. You see how language matters. Mourinho’s public words come too often loaded with negativity and snark. Zidane will do well to stick to plain English and leave his attacking for the match.

And what of that row between Mourinho and Pogba, filmed at United’s training ground last week? Did Mourinho need to admonish the World Cup winner in front of the cameras? “I don’t care about the cameras,” said Mourinho, who knew they were there. He was surely playing to them, seeing the chance to reassert his authority. Pogba’s reaction undermined Mourinho’s plan. “What confrontation? It’s not a confrontation,” says Mourinho. Adding: “Nobody trained better than Paul on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Some trained as well as, nobody better.” Well, no-one will pay a huge premium for a difficult player. Mourinho seems to be talking to the club’s owners and asset managers. He won’t devalue a player who cost United £89m and could fetch much more if sold.

But why not keep Pogba and get shot of Mourinho? Pogba is hardly cowed by Mourinho’s public criticism of him. He recognises his presence and value to United. And Mourinho, master of deflecting blame away from himself, can leave with his head held high. The fans might pick Mourinho ahead of Pogba, but would the players? And in the drive to market Manchester United, who is worth more, Pogba or Mourinho? How about this: which clubs want Pogba? PSG, Manchester City, Barcelona. And which clubs would want to spend £15m in wages a year on Mourinho?

Posted: 29th, September 2018 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Pogba laughs at Mourinho as players prepare mass exodus

It’s the Daily Paul Pogba, a look at news on the likeable, over-hyped French midfielder, who told the United board before the World Cup that he wanted to leave Old Trafford. He wasn’t allowed to go, of course. And now Pogba’s a World Cup winner with France, United are cherishing their biggest name, realising that in their ultimate desire to be Marketing Week’s Brand of the Year, Pogba is a route to new markets. Not quite. Because Jose Mourinho has just told Pogba he will never again captain the team. It won’t be him lifting the Premier League trophy when Mourinho’s masterplan to nick a lead and then defend it pays off.

And it’s worse. The Sun says Pogba and Mourinho “clashed” at training yesterday because the irritating Portuguese manager thought the France international had posted a video of him laughing after Manchester United’s defeat by Derby County in the League Cup. The result is, according to ESPN, that senior Manchester United players think Mourinho’s a bit of a pillock and his man-management techniques to blame the players and pick on individuals in public are neither helpful nor pleasant.

But here’s the good news for United fans: the owners are backing the charismatic Pogba over the stultifying Mourinho. No. Sorry. Remove the bunting. It’s the other way around.  Manchester United vice-chairman Ed Woodward has backed Mourinho, says the Star. But, apparently, a “number” of players want to leave if Mourinho stays. But neither Pogba nor Mourinho is going anywhere, says the Times. Unless a club offers over £200m for Pogba, in which case, United will call him a taxi.

Back in the Sun, we hear that Mourinho wants the Manchester United board to support him as they once supported Sir Alex Ferguson. And just as soon as Mourinho produces a coherent side of dash and swagger that wins things, they most probably will.

Posted: 27th, September 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Abramovich wants $3billion for Chelsea and Manchester United offload Pogba

“We’re the biggest sports team in the world,” declared Ed Woodward, the Manchester United chief executive. A few hours after that boast, Derby County arrived at Old Trafford and booted United out of the Carabao Cup. That was preceded by Jose Mourinho, United’s miserabilist manager telling the club’s most expensive recruit, the well-marketed Paul Pogba, he’ll never captain the club again. Pogba wants to play for Barcelona, just as he wanted to leave United to play for Juventus, which he did, before coming “home” for £89m and earning the chance to fulfil his dream. The Mirror says Pogba will cost Barcelona £200m – which would give money-mad United a massive profit on a player who, if style and putting bums on seat, should outlast Mourinho at the club.

In other news, Cristiano Ronaldo is to return to Real Madrid after he’s used up the Touche Eclat at Juventus. “He is one of those that one day will come back,” said Real Madrid president, Florentino Pérez. “I think that he is one of those players who will be in the hearts of the Madrid fans and will be remembered from generation to generation.” But when will return? Who knows but expect lots of stories on ifs and whens.

To finish: Arsenal like the look of Rennes’ 20-year-old Senegal winger Ismaila Sarr, who, says the Mirror, has been “likened” to Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele. In what way the cheap young blade is like the very pricey Barcelona star we’re not told. Maybe he just looks like him and the Arsenal board will sign the lad, print ‘Dembele’ on his shirt.

But the biggest transfer news of all is that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich wants at least £3bn to sell the club, according to Bloomberg.

Abramovich bought Chelsea out of near-bankruptcy in 2003 for £140 million (about $223 million at the time) and has since loaned the club more than £1.1 billion. Until he came along, Chelsea hadn’t won the top domestic trophy, the Premier League title, since 1955. His big spending changed all that and set off a kind of arms race in English football. In some ways, it was similar to the U.S. model: Buy talent, buy titles, and sell merchandise and media rights. But unlike owners of American sports teams, Abramovich didn’t seem bothered by racking up huge losses. (And he didn’t have to contend with caps on spending, until new rules came into force in 2010.) At the Arsenal game, Chelsea supporters taunted their rivals with the chant “We’ve won it all!” to which Arsenal fans sang in response, “You’ve bought it all!”

Chelsea fans still love their high-rolling owner, even as the U.K. government hits back at the Kremlin. Now Abramovich is mulling a sale of Chelsea, frustrated by his British visa problems and concerned about the potential fallout should the U.S. expand sanctions against wealthy Russians and target him. He’s already rejected bids for the club in excess of $2.3 billion—which would be a world-record price for a sports team—according to people familiar with the talks. Earlier this year, Abramovich hired Raine Group LLC, a merchant bank in New York, to advise on the possibility of a full or partial sale of the club. A person familiar with the discussions says Abramovich wants £3 billion. Abramovich’s representatives declined multiple requests for comment for this story and insisted all communication go through his lawyers, who also declined to comment.

If Chelsea is worth that much, imagine what the world’s biggest sports brand, Manchester United, are worth? And then try to work out the motives of the person who’d buy it…

Posted: 26th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United: Pogba shunts Mourinho closer to the exit

Anyone in any doubt that Paul Pogba’s words were all about Jose Mourinho is obviously not Jose Mourinho, a man for whom everything is always and essentially about him. Responding to Pogba’s comments post a 1-1 with the mighty Wolves that United should “attack, attack. attack” at home, Mourinho has told the club’s most expensive player ever he will never captain the team again.

In his programme notes for Tuesday’s Carabao Cup game with Derby County, Mourinho sniped: “[The game against Wolves was] an important lesson; a lesson that I repeat week after week after week, a lesson that some boys are not learning. Every team that play Manchester United are playing the game of their lives, and we need to match that level of aggression, motivation and desire – 95% isn’t enough when others give 101%.”

Joyous, no, to see United imploding, the manager blaming the players for his side’s dullness and inability to win every match. Either Pogba or Mourinho will surely leave the club soon. But which one? Who would the fans miss most: the charismatic young, over-hyped blade who offers promise or the chippy former Chelsea boss surfing a tsunami of braggadocio who masterminds a tired, pragmatic style of football that seeks to nick a lead and hold it; the manager who having told Mo Salah and Kevin de Bruyne they were not good enough for The Blues is doing his best to make World Cup winner Pogba feel inferior?

But who cares, right? Aside from United supporters, fans of all other teams are hardwired to enjoy the country’s biggest team failing. We used to enjoy and envy Fergie’s swashbuckling sides, but now United have invested vast sums in a team coached into stultifying plodders by a man who has always favoured negative tactics. Mourinho is the man who bought Pogba, Alexis Sanchez et al and invited them to play like the ambulatory elbow that is Marouane Fellaini. What was once viewed as hauteur and charisma been stripped back to reveal nothing more than Mourinho’s petulance, sarcasm and insults.

Who do you want to stay, United fans? The rest of us want Mourinho to…

Posted: 25th, September 2018 | In: Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Ronaldo banned, unbanned and never banned for Champions League match

When Ronaldo was sent off on his debut for Juventus in the Champions League, not only did he weep like a child being told off by his mum in front of his mates (source: @BeadedGenius), but he was sure to miss the games at Manchester United. The Daily Mirror announced: “Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off in tears as his Champions League debut for Juventus turned sour. The Portuguese superstar will miss the chance to tackle his former club Manchester United at Old Trafford.”

Problem was that the Mirror doesn’t know the rules. The Premier League’s dishes out an automatic three-game ban for violent conduct. Uefa gives only a one-game automatic ban, with no right of appeal. Uefa regulation 50.01 says “in case of serious offences, the Uefa control, ethics and disciplinary body is entitled to augment this punishment”.

 

Uefa rules red card ronaldo manchester united

 

Ronaldo’s red card-worthy offence was softer than Jordan Henderson’s bikini line. So an earl bath and a one-match ban is most likely the sum of his punishment. One day on and the Mirror has picked up the story, reporting today: “Ronnie is clear to face Reds. Cristiano Ronaldo can play against former club Manchester United in the Champions League despite his midweek red card.”

ronaldo manchester united

 

The Mirror makes no mention of its earlier error, nor does it identify the source of its new-found knowledge. Compare and contrast the following:

BBC – September 20:  “The Portugal forward appeared to pull Valencia defender Jeison Murillo’s hair…”
Mirror – September 21: “[Ronaldo was sent off] after appearing to pull Valencia defender Jeison Murillo’s hair…”

BBC: “But former Red Devils midfielder Darren Fletcher expects the Champions League’s all-time top scorer to play both games against his old side. It was a soft sending-off for Ronaldo, but the letter of the law says you probably cannot do that, so I think the one-match ban will probably stick,” the Stoke player told BBC Radio 5 live. “He will feel like he was letting his team-mates down in that moment, but I expect him to play in both games against Manchester United.”
Daily Mirror: The exact same quote but with no source attributed.

 

Posted: 21st, September 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal 2, Newcastle United 4 and Manchester United beat Watford on paper

mark lawrenson bbc pundit prediction premier league

 

In his weekly predict the scores for the BBC, ‘football expert’ Mark Lawrenson says Newcastle United with beat Arsenal. He reasons:

I just have a feeling it might work this time. Arsenal’s players are not the only ones who have been away on international duty of course, but this might be a good time for Newcastle to play them.

How many Arsenal played an international fixture in the last week? Five. They were: Granit Xhaka, Stephan Lichtsteiner (both Switzerland) Danny Welbeck (England), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Greece) and Takuma Asano (Japan). Two of those were in the Arsenal first XI for their last Premier League match at Cardiff City.

Two.

On the other side, Salomon Rondon played for Venezuela in the early hours of Wednesday (BST), Fabian Schär played for  Switzerland on Tuesday evening, Ki Sung-yueng played for South Korea, and DeAndre Yedlin appeared as an 85th minute substitute for the USA in Nashville. Ciaran Clark was an unused substitute as Republic of Ireland drew 1-1 in Poland.

Five players. Of those, Rondon, Sungg-yueng, Yedlin and Clark played for Newcastle in their last PL match.

Four.

But Lawrenson says it’s a good time to play Arsenal because their players have been away.

Total balls.

The other odd prediction is Watford’s home match with Manchester United. Watford – powerful and full of confidence – have won four in four. United – dull and functional – have lost two in four, winning the last match against a Burnley side feeling the effects of defeat a few days earlier in the Europe League. Here’s Lawrenson:

Watford are flying, and much has been made of the part in that played by Troy Deeney’s partnership with Andre Gray up front.

This will be a real test for Manchester United’s defence, but it is one I think they will pass.

United’s win at Burnley last time out was a big result for them, not just because they needed the three points after losing two games in a row, but because they needed to stop all the chatter around Jose Mourinho’s future.

I am going to go for another United win here, although I think it will be close.

Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

Watford have scored 9 and conceded 3; United have scored 6 and conceded 7. Any football experts want to back the smaller club..?

Posted: 14th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal, West Ham and Manchester City can’t find enough bankers to fill their grounds

The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) says every empty seat at the Emirates is “a tragedy for those who want to watch but can’t get in”. Too true. The suits buy the pricey seats then can’t be arsed to attend. And it could be a scam. Just as Facebook promises to show your advert to a defined number of accounts, a large proportion of which turn out to be operated by robots not humans, thus making the deal much more costly per head than advertised, Arsenal say the official average crowd for home games last season was 57,054. Balls, says the AST. It says the real average attendance was around 46,000. Any advertisers and sponsors are paying potentially 20% over the odds to reach the fans.

The BBC has  more:

West Ham: Newham council says the average attendance at West Ham was 42,779 based on the 12 games it attended – which is 12,530 fans fewer than the club’s season average figure of 55,309.

Manchester City: Greater Manchester Police’s average figures were 7,482 lower than club figures, again based on 12 games.

Southampton: Hampshire Police figures were an average of 4,246 fans lower than figures issued by the club.

Tottenham: Brent Council says crowds at Wembley Stadium were on average 3,740 less than the club’s stated numbers.

Chelsea: Hammersmith and Fulham council says its average was 3,505 fans lower than club numbers, based on six games.

And the most honest club whose figures were shared with the BBC was Manchester United. Trafford Council and Greater Manchester Police both said United’s published attendance figures matched its own, based on 12 games.

Why does it happen?

Most teams in the Premier League choose to publicise the number of tickets sold for a game rather than the number of people actually in the stadium. That means they include season ticket holders who don’t attend, and complimentary tickets that are not used.

If only you could still pay on the gate and just rock up with your mates. It’s all so corporate and organised. Where is the next generation of fans coming from?

 

Posted: 12th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Manchester United’s loss, Leicester City’s again and why newspapers are cheaper by the dozen

Harry Maguire, aka ‘Slabhead’ to his Leicester City teammates was great for England at the World Cup, Manchester United wanted him. But he stayed loyal to Leicester City and signed a new £80,000-a-week-deal, not too shabby but still less than a desperate Man United would have paid him. Last night in England’s 1-0 win over a limited Switzerland at Leicester City’s home ground, the Mail rated Maguire the third best England player on the pitch, awarding him 6.5 out of 10. He was “England’s most assured defender”.

 

daily mirror reach copy and paste

Buy one newspaper and get two free

 

Over at the cost-saving Daily Mirror, which now owns the Daily Express, and Daily Star the verdict was unanimous: “HARRY MAGUIRE – 5: Big gaps between him and Tarkowski meant England’s defence looked vulnerable at times.” Which newspaper survives this copy and paste approach to journalism remains to be seen (maybe they’ll be sold in bundles; buy one get the other two free?) – but the least the Mirror and Express attributed the comment to John Cross, whereas the Star omitted to name any writer.

Over in the Sun, Maguire scores a 6. He was “saluted by Leicester fans when he walked out on his home turf, inexplicably rolled the ball out of play off his studs to the left. It was an elementary error, schoolboy stuff from a player England’s head coach genuinely believes is one of the best central defenders in the world.” And as the paper’s Neil Ashton snarks: “Put it this way, you don’t see Sergio Ramos doing that.”

Nah. Ramos never puts a foot wrong:

 

 
He’s no Harry Maguire:
 

Posted: 12th, September 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United fans and the Ronaldo fake news pledge

manchester evening news clickbait

 

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

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

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

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

No Transfer Balls, then.

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

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

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

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

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

Is it because it “never on the table”?

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

This we know because of one uncorroborated tweet:

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

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

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

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

No.

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

And what of Gareth Bale?

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

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

.

 

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


Respected Manchester United Jose Mourinho gets a suspended jail sentence for greed

Just one more reason to admire and respect Manchester United manager José Mourinho: he’s earned one-year suspended sentence (two six-month prison sentences) in a long-running tax fraud case with the Spanish government. Spain’s El Mundo newspaper says Mourinho has been fined €2m.

The graceless manager stood accused of failing to pay over €3m in undeclared image rights earnings for 2011 and 2012. At the time he was manager of Real Madrid. Mourinho disputed the claim.

He won’t got to prison. Any sentence of under two years for a first offence can be served on probation.

But what does it mean for the all-important Manchester United brand? Tax evasion, especially when you’re stinking rich, is not a good sell. But then, United are all about the money so look out for The Brand finding an official ‘tax efficiency’ partner and a club tour of The Cayman Islands…

Posted: 4th, September 2018 | In: manchester united, Money, Sports | Comment


Sadiq Khan blimp looks like Manchester United’s Mourinho

sadiq-khan-blimp-mourinho

 

Watching the Donald Trump baby blimp fly over London as the US president visited us, his fans had an idea. Why not get a blimp and fly it over London? And why not make it the likeness of a leading politician? It was a bold, innovative and original idea. And so the creative minded Trumpers have bought a blimp of London Mayor Sadiq Khan. It’s dressed in a yellow bikini, to make his absurd decision to ban a ‘Beach Body Ready’ advert in 2016.

Sadiq Khan sees the balloon and quips: “If people want to spend their Saturday looking at me in a yellow bikini they’re welcome to do so – I don’t really think yellow’s my colour though.”

The thing is that it looks a lot like Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.

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


Manchester United rift as Martial bids to outlast Mourinho

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

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

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

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

 

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


Manchester United fans delighted with Spurs loss

“So Manchester Utd fans… How are you feeling after Spurs loss?,” asks the BBC on its newspaper-style website. (Why doesn’t the BBC just publish a newspaper and be done with it?)

 

manchester united

 

The answers come thick and thicker. As do the questions, one of which is: “Are Spurs now a bigger club than Man United.” Spurs will always be at best the fifth or sixth biggest club in England. But that’s a side issue. The current Spurs side is terrific – this might be there year. And if you want to know how most modern United fans feel about losing to Tottenham, well, take  look at this:

 

 

They’re delighted.

Posted: 29th, August 2018 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


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

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

Really?

The Metro told us on August 6:

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

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

 

Toby Alderweireld transfer

 

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

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

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

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

 

Toby Alderweireld transfer

 

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

 

Toby Alderweireld transfer

Total balls, then.

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


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

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

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

 

paul pogba barcelona

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

 

The Premier League rules are clear:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jose Mourinho is the current manger of Manchester United.

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


Transfer balls: Paul Pogba Manchester’s United clues

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s it.

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

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

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

 

paul pogba transfer

 

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

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

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

It’s a human catepillar of utter balls.

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


Transfer balls: Chelsea lead race for Real Madrid bound Lewandowski

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

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

Such are the facts.

 

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


Transfer balls: Martial leaves Manchester United (and stays)

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

 

martial agrees manchester untied transfer

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

 

 

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

 

martial agrees manchester untied transfer

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

 

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

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

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

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


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

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

 

malcolm spurs

 

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

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

Agent takes holiday photo. Read on…

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

malcolm roma arsenal

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

 

malcolm trasnfer

 

Such are facts.

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


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

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

 

man united bale

 

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

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

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

What chance have United of signing Bale?

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

A plea? Nothing of it. The Guardian reports:

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

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

 

 

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

 

bale man united

 

James Robson once more has the scoop:

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

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

More shameless ball in the MEN every day.

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


Manchester United disappointment Paul Pogba offered to Barcelona

Like most of you, we think Paul Pogba’s been a disappointment since rejoining Manchester United for a massive transfer fee. But in the eyes of the marketing business that runs football, Pogba remains a unique talent good enough to play for Barcelona. Indeed, his agent has apparently told Barcelona that the France international is unhappy with life under Jose Mourinho and is ready to join them just as soon as they offer United a fortune for his services.

Pogba was offered to Manchester City last season. And if Barcelona don’t bite, just as City didn’t, chances are he’ll be offered to Real Madrid, PSG, a Chinese shopping mall and Juventus, where he’ll be telling everyone about the club being close to his heart and never really wanting to leave (see United guff 2016).

And who gets the money from Pogba’s moving on? United paid Juventus £89m for Pogba in 2016. His agent, one Mino Raiola, scored a reported £41m cut of the fee.

Isn’t modern football great.

Posted: 15th, July 2018 | In: manchester united, Sports | 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


Transfer balls: Ronaldo to Juventus but Manchester United lead

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

 

ronaldo juventus

 

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

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

Over in Italy, the headline is:

 

ronaldo italy

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


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

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

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

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

 

fakir transfer

 

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

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

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

It’s all a trick?

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

 

 

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

 

 

fekir liverpool

 

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

 

fekir liverpool

 

 

Such are the facts.

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