Anorak

Sports | Anorak - Part 16

Sports Category

Sports news, commentary and scores with wit and added value. We compare and contrast the best and worst sports reporting in the mainstream press, blogs, TV and online. We love the English Premier League (Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs, Manchester United and Manchester City) and all things football but we cover cricket, rugby, the Olympics, tennis, golf, F1 and highlights of the sporting year.

Why Harry Kane is underperforming for Spurs and England

Harry Kane, the Spurs and England striker, kicked the ball 20 times in England’s 1-2 defeat to Spain. Of those touches, accumulated over 90 minutes, just three were in the Spaniard’s penalty area. Drop him? No chance. Kane is by far and away the best English striker. Behind him are Marcus Rashford and Danny Welbeck. So Kane it is. Analysis is thin on the ground, as pundits demand more from players who are tying their best. Take this from the Sun’s Neil Ashton: “Even if Southgate does stay beyond 2020, committing his future to a World Cup in Qatar, it is obvious that he does not have the resources to challenge the top nations.” Or as he put it waaaay back in July, when England made it to the semi-final of the World Cup: “This is England, our England for goodness sake, and this football-crazy country demands a group of players who can compete with Brazil, with France, or Uruguay. That’s just the way it is.” England have now lost three in a row. This, says the Mirror’s John Cross, “gives him an idea of how far his side are behind the world elite.” Don’t you think he knows that? And the appraisal of Kane is that he “looks absolutely knackered”.

After such balls, let’s look at a terrific report by James Gheerbrant in the Times, who reasons that Kane is not the same player since succumbing to injury on March 11 when playing for Spurs. Kane next started for Spurs on April 7. Kane is taking less shots and competing less in the box:

In 19 matches for club and country since his return, he has only averaged 2.57 shots per 90 minutes – by far the lowest level of his career. To put it even more starkly: Kane played 42 matches prior to his injury last season and hit five or more shots in 29 of those games. He was regularly shooting eight or ten times a match. But in the 19 matches since his injury, he has only hit five shots once: against West Bromwich Albion in May…

Last season, before he got injured, he was getting off 2.46 shots on target per 90 minutes. But since he came back after his injury, the frequency with which Kane works the keeper has dwindled – he is averaging 0.99 shots on target per 90 minutes since his return. His expected goals – a measure of the chance quality of the shots Kane takes – have also been cut in half, from 0.85 per 90 minutes prior to his injury last season, to 0.43 since his return…

Last season prior to his injury, he was taking an average of 7.20 touches in the opposition box per match. Since his return, the figure has dropped to 4.35. Unlike strikers blessed with extreme pace, Kane doesn’t often get clear in behind – he scores a lot of his goals in the crowded spaces of the penalty box, with defenders in close attendance. It may be that the lingering effects of his injury, either physical or psychological, are making him more reluctant to prowl in those heavily policed areas where strikers risk getting crunched.

Read it all…

Posted: 10th, September 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Serena Williams inspires a generation of girls to behave like entitled shits

Two things we learnt from The US Open Women’s final. Firstly, Serena Williams, the brilliant, ungallant, tantrum-tossing loser and her enablers – the President of the USTA pretty much ignored the winner to tell Williams: “Perhaps it’s not the finish we were looking for today, but Serena, you are a champion of all champions….This mama is a role model and respected by all ” – has a baby.  Who knew? “You owe me an apology. I have never cheated in my life. I have a daughter and I stand for what’s right!” Williams yelled at umpire Carlos Ramos after receiving a point penalty. We don’t know if Ramos has any children, and thus if he innately knows the difference between right and wrong, moreover Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who admitted to coaching her during the match, offering the noble explainer that it’s ok because everyone cheats.

 

serena williams US open correct

Girls are inspired by Williams message to a female line judge at the the 2009 US Open

 

Without rules, there is no sport. “I don’t cheat to win,” Williams told Ramos. “I’d rather lose.” She called him a “liar” and a “thief” for docking her a point.  “You stole a point from me!” she bellowed, jabbing a finger at him. But Ramos had acted fairly. His children, if he has any, must be proud. The only winner was Naomi Osaka, who won fair and square. But there was Williams inspiring her daughter by spoiling what should have been Osaka’s most joyous moment, stopping the surge of unbridled elation that comes with victory. “Let’s try to make this the best moment we can,” Williams told a partisan crowd. “We’re gonna get through this and let’s be positive, so congratulations, Naomi.”

Er, yeah, whatever.

 

serena-williams bad sport

In the 2011 US Open final, chair umpire Eva Asderaki warned Williams for hindering opponent Stosur for shouting “come on” before the Australian had reached the ball. Williams called her a “hater” and “unattractive”

 

And so to the second thing we’ve learned: women’s tennis is worth watching. If other sports can embrace Williams’ sense of entitlement and bad sportsmanship, the sponsors will be lining up. How disappointing it is to watch the England women’s national football team fail to berate the referee at every turn. When the England women’s cricket team won the BBC Sports Personality Team of the Year Award 2017, there was, shamefully, not one story about their sledging and ball tampering. It was an opportunity missed to attract a bigger audience.

But if you don’t feel comfortable yelling at the referee, calling him a sexist and vowing to end his career, ladies, think of the next generation. Do it for the girls.

 

Posted: 10th, September 2018 | In: Key Posts, 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


Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong joins Barcelona, laughs at Manchester City and chased by Spurs

The Guardian says Spurs are in for Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong. The fee? £40m. Not too shabby for player whose made 37 appearances for the Ajax first team. But is he really going to Spurs, following that well-trodden route from Amsterdam to London, as taken by Christian Eriksen, Dávinson Sánchez and Jan Vertonghen? No. Well, no if 90mins.com are believed.

In April 2018, the thundered: “​​Barcelona have reached an agreement to sign Frenkie de Jong from Ajax, which could go through this month.” They have? No. Elevens ays later on April 20, the Express said “De Jong hopes the two clubs can come to an agreement”. In June, moving to Barcelona was de Jong’s “dream”. In July, the Sun said Barcelona “are going to make a third offer for Ajax starlet Frenkie De Jong”. But “Marc Overmars, the Dutch club’s sporting director, has made it perfectly clear that the Barcelona target is not for sale,” reported ESPN later in the month.

The only fact is that in December 2017, de Jong singed a new deal with Ajax, tying him to the club until 2022. That same month there was some clickbait about him leaving Manchester City in the Manchester Evening News, there were a few words from the man himself:

And, when asked about the prospect of moving to the Etihad, de Jong was keeping his feet firmly on the ground.

“I’ve read it too, haha,” he laughed. “I do not think I’m ready to play at the first team at Manchester City or something like that. Right now I really just want to develop here at Ajax and become a solid starting player. Especially in midfield. Then we’ll see further.”

Done deal it is, then.

Posted: 5th, September 2018 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Arsenal can’t do any worse if Gazidis heads to AC Milan

Arsenal fans are invited to reappraise the work of Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive being courted by AC Milan. The Times says Arsenal are “irritated” and “exasperated” over the Gazidis situation. To which the response is: why? AC Milan are now a money project run by a New York-based hedge fund called Elliot Management (EM). EM owns AC Milan because, reportedly, the Chinese owner failed to repay it debt on high-interest loans. Gazidis, we read, is a pal with top EM hedger and billionaire Paul Singer, who has offered him shares in the club and loadsa cash to transfer to Italy. On taking over the club, Singer said “Elliott also strongly believes in the value-creation opportunity at AC Milan”. Depressing to realise the club you love is just a business.

The Times tells us that “Gazidis was key in Wenger’s departure from Arsenal in the summer”. Was he also key to the Frenchman staying beyond his use-by date? Gazidis has been at Arsenal for nine years. What was he doing for the first seven or eight years before the need for change became desperate? Wenger should have been shown the door at least four years earlier.

We’re also told Gazidis has been “instrumental in restructuring Arsenal’s management over the past couple of years”, getting rid of Wenger and appointing head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, head of football relations Raul Sanllehi, director of high performance Darren Burgess and contract negotiator Huss Fahmy.”

If they’re all so good at their jobs, why do Arsenal need Gazidis? And isn’t this the time to rehire David Dein, the club’s great chief executive?

Posted: 5th, September 2018 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Tour of Britain now features a huge penis at Capstone Hill and a ride into Cockermouth

penis tour of britain

 

It might not have the Alpine peaks, history and drugs history, but the Tour of Britain bike race does feature a massive penis. Helping sell the Tour to a new audience, Capstone Hill in Ilfracombe, Devon, has been enlivened by the presence of a huge, proud penis. The hill artwork – an installation made of cardboard and plastic – was initially styled to look like a massive bicycle. So far, so predictable. But now race fans following the Cranbrook to Barnstaple section have got a proper landmark that should reverberate down the ages.

Project co-ordinator Seth Conway is impressed: “Ilfracombe had a rude awakening this morning. Some people obviously thought it would be fun to rearrange the spokes and the wheels.It’s created quite a bit of a buzz and it’s shone a bit more attention on to what the bike was there for.”

It’s still some way off until this refashioned knob matches the member attached to the chalk giant at Cerne Abbas for sightseeing value. But let’s hope this is the start of a movement to put the Tour of Britain on the map by adding a few surprises. The Tour’s reaches Cockermouth tomorrow. No time to waste…

Image via BBC.

Posted: 5th, September 2018 | In: Sports, Strange But True | 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


West Ham guarantee Pellegrini £15m for losing every match

Do managers who score a job at a Premier League club need to try hard? Players on contracts of £50,000 a week have no need to perform to the best of their abilities, train with an obsessive desire to be the best and give it 110%. The managers job is to make them want to win. Bu what if the manager is Winston Bogarde in a suit?

Bogarde signed for Chelsea, hardly played and rather than seek opportunities at another club reasoned: “Why should I throw fifteen million Euro away when it is already mine? At the moment I signed it was in fact my money, my contract.” By the time his four-year £40,000 a week deal had ended, Bogarde had played 11 times. “This world is about money,” said Bogarde, “so when you are offered those millions you take them. Few people will ever earn so many. I am one of the few fortunates who do. I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership but I don’t care.” He is now – get this – a coach at Ajax in his native Holland.

So to the news that Manuel Pellegrini is due £15m if he’s sacked by West Ham. Played four, lost four is not an inspiring start to Pellegrini’s Hammers career. West Ham’s owners, doubtless thrilled by Pellegrini’s results at Hebei China Fortune, gave him a £5m-a-year three-year deal that means his contract is paid in full unless both sides agree a severance package. Why would Pellegrini change terms that are so favourable to him? West Ham can lose every match, but their manager cannot be defeated.

And what of the players? West Ham invested £98 million on new blood over the summer. And someone thought it a good idea to get Jack Wilshere from Arsenal on a three-year contract worth £15 million. Have they seen his injury record?

But no fear. West Ham have time to recover and make their elegant but soulless home ground a fortress. Their next three Premier League matches are Everton (away), Chelsea (home) and Manchester United (home).

Posted: 4th, September 2018 | In: Chelsea, 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


Loew brushes off Arsenal star Ozil’s claims of racism

When Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil retied from international football for what he saw as racism in the German FA (DFB), Joachim Loew, his head coach, waited. And today he delivered his response. “Mesut made allegations of racism,” says Loew, “but I can clearly say that in the DFB, there have never been racist comments.” Maybe the racism is more subtle?

“The players with an immigration background have always enjoyed playing for us and nothing has changed,” adds Loew (seen below). But it has changed. It changed when Ozil said: “I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose.” The player voted the German national team’s player of the year five times since 2011 by supporters says he’s the victim of racism. That is a change.

 

joachim loew sniffing

 

Loew seems keen to isolate Ozil. “His advisor called me to inform me that Mesut would issue the third part of his statement,” says Loew. “The player himself did not call me, which normally players have done in the past. Mesut has still not called and for the last two weeks I have unsuccessfully tried to reach him. I am sure there will be a chance for a personal conversation in the future. He has chosen this path – I have to accept that.”

The background to this is Germany’s failure at the summer’s World Cup and Ozil and Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan – two players born in Germany to Turkish parents – meeting with Turkey’s first executive president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The president pumped out photos of the meeting. Cue Germans accusing the players of divided loyalties.

Gündogan recently told Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung: “Tell me, is it not racism when a German politician writes on Facebook: ‘The German national team is made up of 25 Germans and two goat-f***ers’?” Bernd Holzhauer, an SPD councillor, resigned after that outburst. “Such remarks must be labelled as racism. However, it does not mean that everyone in Germany is racist. Absolutely not. Almost all of my experiences in my life in Germany have been positive. But there are people who have used the photo for their political agenda. And in this context, the racism line was sometimes crossed.”

Loew’s response is to deny any problem. “His claims of racism are exaggerated,” said Low. “Within my team during my time here, there has been not even a hint of racism.” Ozil never said there was racism in the team. Maybe it’s time to raise your gaze…

Posted: 29th, August 2018 | In: Arsenal, 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


Liverpool to play in Levi’s jeans?

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

 

liverpool denim levis shorts

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

 

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

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

 

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


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: Steven N’Zonzi ‘agrees’ Arsenal deal but joins Roma for less

Transfer Balls – a look at shoddy football reporting. Is Steven N’Zonzi heading to Arsenal? The BBC tells its readers today that the former Blackburn Rovers and Stoke player now at Sevilla is “close to joining Roma” for “£29m”. The trusty BBC cites its unimpeachable source: the Daily Star. The tabloid says Arsenal “have been dealt a major blow” because N’zonzi has “secured a deal” to play for Roma. Its source is Calciomercato. And over there we are told:

Roma are close to signing Sevilla midfielder Steven N’Zonzi but the Giallorossi need to sell one midfielder before signing the Frenchman who is also wanted by Arsenal.

In the hunt for facts, after clicking through the BBC and the Daily Star to reach an Italian website, we finally reach two:

Sources have told Calciomercato.com that Sevilla are tempted to accept Roma’s €25 million bid… Roma, however, need to sell Maxime Gonalons before signing N’Zonzi.

We know the BBC is no fan of Brexit and talks up the economic collapse that will follow but €25m is not £29m. It’s also less than the £35m Arsenal paid for N’Zonzi last January. This is the URL from the Daily Mail’s report of December 13 2017:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-5174491/Arsenal-agree-35m-deal-Sevillas-Steven-NZonzi.html

Done deal the Mail tells the bots. The clicks support the news that Arsenal signed N’Zonzi. But they didn’t. And now he’s off to Roma for less money, right? No. Marca (Spain) says the Frenchman is going to play for one of Arsenal or Barcelona for €40m.

Such are the facts…

Posted: 29th, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, 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


Liverpool goalkeeper Karius is the eternal victim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Bayern Munich president says Ozil is ‘shit’ at Arsenal

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has been swift to appraise Mesut Ozil’s contribution to German international football.  Ozil, 29, has retired from the German side, citing the fierce reaction to that photo he took alongside Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and racism as reasons to call it a day. Ozil says he is “German when we win but an immigrant when we lose”.

Hoeness says Ozil quit years ago. He’s been “shit for years”. Sport Bild reports (via the Google Translate mangle):

Ozil has been playing like shit for years. I think he won his last tackle before the 2014 World Cup.

All he is doing on the field is playing cross passes.

No-one questioned he was playing crap at the World Cup. His 35 million follower boys, who of course do not exist in the real world, all think that he has played excellently if he plays a cross pass.

Whenever we played against Arsenal, we played on him because we knew he was the weak point.

Now he hides himself and his crap performances behind this photo.

Ozil was the weak point at Arsenal? Not the defence, the goalkeeper, the strikers, the manager..?

Posted: 23rd, July 2018 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


‘Racists’ force Arsenal star Ozil to quit Germany team

In news to hearten online trolls and bigots, Arsenal footballer Mesut Ozil intends to stop playing for Germany. Ozil, part of the German side that won the 2014 World Cup winner, says a combination of online harassment and the asinine behaviour of the German Football Association (DFB) means he “no longer want to wear the German national team shirt”.

 

ozil erdogan gundogan

 

The attacks are not all related to Ozil’s performances for Germany, which have been mixed. In May he was criticised after being photographed with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan inLondon. Ozil and Manchester City’s German international Ilkay Gundogan are of Turkish descent. Both were invited to meet Turkey’s authoritarian leader who used photographs of him and the footballers to boost his governing AK Party in the build-up to elections in the country. Well over a million people in Germany with a Turkish background are eligible to vote in the election, which Erdogan won (natch.).

 

ozil erdogan gundogan ozil erdogan gundogan

 

Ozil said he would have been “disrespecting his ancestors’ roots” had he not agreed to be meet Erdogan. Gündoğan, who like Ozil holds German and Turkish passports, presented Erdogan with the signed shirt bearing the legend: “To my president, with my respects.”

The background is relevant:

World Cup winner Özil was awarded an “integration” prize by the Hubert Burda Media group in 2010. That year the president of Germany’s football association (DFB) had complained about politicising football after Merkel made an unscheduled visit to the Germany changing room following a 3-0 win over Turkey. Photographs of the German chancellor were distributed by the government to the press afterwards.

So much for the politics and football. Incidentally, the above segment is taken from the Guardian, the paper in which a writer looked at the England World Cup team and opined: “If this team represents anyone, it’s the 48 per cent of Remainers.” This is because the England squad for Russia featured “11 players of colour”. That’s good thing, you see, because in the eyes of the knowing and enlightened being “too white”, an accusation levelled at the Russia team, is a bad thing. You were watching the football; they were studying the ethnic and racial make up of the team. Germany is not so far removed from the UK when it comes to the weak game of identity politics.

DFB chief Reinhard Grindel goes on the record: “The DFB of course respects the special situation for our players with migrant backgrounds, but football and the DFB stands for values that Mr Erdoğan does not sufficiently respect.” So much for not politicising football.

Ozil repsonds on Twitter:

“For me, having a picture with President Erdoğan wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country.

“My job is a football player and not a politician, and our meeting was not an endorsement of any policies. The treatment I have received from the DFB and many others makes me no longer want to wear the German national team shirt. I feel unwanted and think what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten…

“People with racially discriminative backgrounds should not be allowed to work in the largest football federation in the world that has players from dual‑heritage families. Attitudes like theirs simply do not reflect the players they supposedly represent. In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win but I am an immigrant when we lose.

“It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect. I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement, but now I don’t. I feel unwanted and think that what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.

“I am disappointed but not surprised by [Grindel’s] actions,” the 29-year-old added. “But when high-ranking DFB officials disrespect my Turkish roots and selfishly turn me into political propaganda, then enough is enough.”

“The 29-year-old added that he had received abuse online, and claimed he was racially abused by a supporter after the match against Sweden.

“A German fan told me after the game, ‘Özil, fuck off you Turkish shit, piss off you Turkish pig.’ I don’t want to even discuss the hate mail, threatening phone calls and comments on social media that my family and I have received.

“They all represent a Germany of the past, a Germany that I am not proud of. I am confident that many proud Germans who embrace an open society would agree with me.”

Good for him.

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


‘Traditional’ new Spurs kit ‘is the Barcelona training kit’

Spurs are looking a lot like Barcelona. No, not in their style of play – and Barcelona actually win things. The two clubs’ kits ate remarkably similar. Nike’s marketing guff for the new Spurs kits tells us: “Binary blue and polarised blue knit sleeves reinforce the team’s heritage and values as they pay homage to the secondary blue used in many past kits.”

But this “special reinforcing of heritage and values” from Nike looks not a lot unlike the kit Nike supply for Barcelona to train in.

 

spurs kit barcelona

Spurs kit

 

Spurs Barcelona kit

Barcelona training kit

 

Listen out for chants of “Are you Tottenham in disguise” should Barcelona fail to win a trophy next season.

Posted: 22nd, July 2018 | In: Sports, Spurs | Comment


Liverpool sign Alisson

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

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

Offers for Karius on a postcard to he usual address…

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