Anorak

Sports | Anorak - Part 2

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.

Transfer balls: Bale to Spurs because Jose Mourinho failed to get him at Manchester United and Real Madrid

bale manchester united

Who made the call that 31-year-old Gareth Bale should go back and play for Spurs? His agent, Jonathan Barnett, who tells the BBC: “Gareth is closer to leaving Madrid than at any time in last seven years”? Was it Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, who now presides over a club £1bn in debt for a stadium emptied of fans; a team that looked bereft of direction in an opening day defeat to Everton; a transfer policy that failed to buy Jack Grealish from Aston Villa; and who could be blinded by the sun glinting off the trophies won by local rivals Arsenal? Or how about Jose Mourinho, the manager who is at pains to make himself the centre of the story of Bale to Spurs? Get a load of this self-aggrandising guff when Mourinho was asked about signing Bale:

“He is a Real Madrid player and I don’t comment on players from other clubs. I have to respect that. It’s better not to speak.”

Better, yes. But not what Mourinho chooses to do:

“I tried to sign him for Real Madrid, which was not possible to do during my time there. But the president followed my instinct and my knowledge and the season I left he brought Gareth to the club. It’s not a secret, even Gareth knows that. A squad is a puzzle and when a new signing completes the puzzle it’s great for the team.”

Only Jose Mourinho can save you from Jose Mourinho. Remember when he was using his influence to et Bale to play for Manchester United?

bale manchester united

Such are the facts.

Posted: 16th, September 2020 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: When Spurs signed Jack Grealish

Jack Grealish has signed a new five-year contract to remain at Aston Villa. That should come as something of a shock to Spurs fans who get there news from the Bleacher Report:

We read:

…the club is set to make a bid the Villans will be unable to turn down, according to the Mirror’s James Nursey.

And according to Nursey: “Tottenham have won the race for Jack Grealish.” And according to an expert the Standard considers in the know, Grealish to Spurs is still on – it’s his “only” option:

Grealish spurs

Spurs bid £25m for Grealish, says the Mail. Although some reports suggest the opening bid was £3m, rising to £6m before Spurs pulled it back to £4m at the 11th hour. Villa wanted closer to £40m. Whatever the value the Spurs bid was or wasn’t, Villa rejected it.

“It was really close,” Grealish told the BBC at Bodymoor Heath in 2019. “I thought the Hull City game was going to be my last game [for Villa] but one thing led to another and I didn’t end up going.”

So much for Spurs having “won the race” for Grealish.

Posted: 15th, September 2020 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


New Chelsea kit makes them look like Crystal Palace

Having splurged £230m on lots of new players, Chelsea have a new shirt for fans to pull on and dress like their heroes. It’s a “new legacy,” guffs the marketing drivel. “One for the sneakerheads, inspired by the 1990s Ultramarine Air Max 180,” continues to blurb. (No, me neither.) “The 20/21 Nike Third kit is here!” “Finally!” yells Wayne in Surrey. The long wait is over. Although Wayne and his Home Counties Chelsea-supporting pals could have just bought a Crystal Palace kit.

Chelsea FC – they used to be a football club.

Posted: 7th, September 2020 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Ceballos rejoins Arsenal

Dani Ceballos is all set to rejoin Arsenal for a second season-long loan from Real Madrid. The Guardian says Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta called the player to convince him to play for the Gunners once more. So much for The Metro’s news that Ceballos “snubbed a potential return to Arsenal and has told Real Madrid that he wants to join Real Betis”. He hasn’t. He didn’t. The Mail said he “asked Real Madrid to return to his boyhood club”. That too is balls. Mundo Deportivo, the Spanish site, told us that Ceballos has “made his decision clear” – it is Betis or nothing. As ever, we can read the Spanish news through the Google Translate mangle:

…his participation in the next European Championship could be a chimera, so he wants go to a team in which he can play regularly and Real Betis is his favorite, as he has made known in the offices of Concha Espina in the event of being on loan again.

In other news: Gabriel Magalhães is soon to arrive at Arsenal from Lille.

Posted: 1st, September 2020 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Sports Movies: The Top 3 Comedy Films

Sports Movies: The Top 3 Comedy Films

The unpredictable nature of sports undoubtedly makes it the perfect vehicle for the Hollywood movie industry to work with.

If you throw some comedy into the mix you are likely to be onto a winner, particularly if the back story is one that audiences can identify with.

Betting firm Betway recently studied the sports movie genre and suggested that for a film to be great the viewer must be able to fully buy-in to what they are watching on screen.

With humour playing an important role in daily life it comes as no surprise to find that there are some truly memorable sports movies with a comedic twist. Here’s three of our favourites.

The Big Lebowski

This Coen Brothers classic is rated by IMDb.com as one of the most popular sports movies of all-time and it is easy to why.

The movie focuses on the exploits of Jeff Lebowski (Jeff Bridges), an unemployed layabout who is better known as ‘The Dude’.

He spends his days sipping White Russians and night-time at the bowling alley, while his mind spends most of its time reminiscing about Woodstock.

With John Goodman, Julianne Moore and Steve Buscemi amongst a superb supporting cast, The Big Lebowski is an absolute joy to behold. 

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

White Goodman (Ben Stiller), the founder of Globo Gym, is a fitness freak who wants to expand his empire by buying Average Joe’s Gymnasium.

Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughn) doesn’t want to lose his gym to Goodman, but he needs to raise $50,000 to fend off the hostile takeover.

LaFleur and his pals decide to enter a dodgeball tournament, but Goodman hits back by forming his own team to try and scupper their chances.

With the help of dodgeball legend Patches O’Houlihan (Rip Torn), LaFleur’s team set about trying to save Average Joe’s. Will they succeed? Watch the movie to find out!

Slap Shot

Slap Shot was first released more than 40 years ago, but audiences and critics were not enamoured with the bawdy humour and violence contained in the movie.

However, it has since been acknowledged as one of the greatest sports movies ever made, with viewers finally wising up to how perfectly it encapsulated many aspects of the 1970s.

Starring Paul Newman as player/coach Reggie Dunlop, the film focuses on the trials and tribulations of the Charlestown Chiefs – a club in danger of going out of business.

Dunlop spices things up by signing the child-like Hanson Brothers – a trio of hockey goons who help to transform the team’s fortunes in hilarious fashion.

Posted: 1st, September 2020 | In: Online-PR, Sports | Comment


Leeds United sign Rodrigo for club record fee

Leeds United have invested a club-record fee of £26m in former Bolton Wanderers hopeful Rodrigo. The Brazil-born Spanish international, 29, joins Leeds from Valencia on a four-year contract. The signing breaks Leeds’ previous record transfer – the £18m they paid West Ham for Rio Ferdinand in 2000.

Rodrigo’s arrival is what pundits call ‘a statement of intent’ – the intent being not be relegated from the Premier League having spent 16 seasons trying to get back into it. Leeds were by far and away the best side in the Championship for the past two seasons, contriving to miss promotion two years ago but securing it last season. Marcelo Bielsa has moulded an exiting team. But up front they need help. Patrick Bamford is a talented player but lacks the pace and guile to regularly challenge top-flight defences. Rodrigo it is, then. He should be enough to keep them above fellow promoted sides, Fulham and West Brom, both decent bets for relegation.

Posted: 29th, August 2020 | In: Sports | Comment


Manchester United captain Harry Maguire called ‘unsportsmanlike’ by Greek prosecutor

Harry Maguire, the Manchester United, has been found guilty in a Greek court of repeated bodily harm, attempted bribery, violence against public employees and insult. United say he will remain their captain. Maguire says he’s innocent and will appeal the sentence of 21 months, 10 days in prison, suspended for three years. What was a minor incident on a Greek island is all over the news because Maguire is famous. And for that reason Greek lawyer Dr Ioannis Paradissis is invited to address the nation via BBC Radio 4. The prosecutor representing Maguire’s apparent victims tells the Today Programme:

“…[my clients] told me they are still waiting for an apology and they haven’t heard any and this is what I find quite shocking and quite unsportsmanlike, because fair play means when I’ve done something wrong, I apologise.”

It’s personal, no? Maguire might well be a berk, but when the prosecutor goes on the radio and alludes to the famous face’s job as playing some part in the incident, things look a bit odd, unfair even. Why should Maguire be “sportsmanlike” in a criminal court? It’s not sport. He’s not contesting the ref’s decision. He’s appealing a serious criminal conviction.

Posted: 26th, August 2020 | In: manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Pogba to stay at Manchester United as Real Madrid run out of cash

On becoming the world’s costliest footballer in 2016, Paul Pogba told us “the time is right to go back to Old Trafford”. Pogba left Manchester United in 2012 for £1.5m, flourished at Juventus and rejoined the Premier League club for £89m. Four years on and which club got the better side of the deal is plain to all but the deliberate controversialist.

The huge fee surpassed the sum Real Madrid paid for Gareth Bale. The Welshman is pretty much surplus to requirements at Real and keen to tell the club where they rank in his affections – remember his banner: ‘Wales. Golf. Madrid. In That Order’. But Madrid fans would be hard-pressed to claim Bale has not been worth the money. Bale’s breathtaking overhead volley in the 2018 Champions’ League final was the stuff of dreams. When and where he scored it elevates the goal and the player to the greats. Now to Pogba…

Can you recall a moment when the Frenchman starred in a big match? Unveiled at United in a glitzy marketing-led promo video, a red devil marked into his hair, Pogba’s best moment in a United shirt was signing the contract that marked his return.

His current deal haas two years left to run, if United trigger a 12-month option next year,. Rather than waving at Real Madrid, Mina Raiola, the player’s agent, has told Sky Italia that his client will be staying at Manchester United. “Pogba is staying at Manchester United and I think they want to extend his contract,” said Raiola. “He is at the centre of an important project, they will not accept any bid for him this summer.”

In short: In light of the Pandemic, Real Madrid cannot afford Pogba. So let’s see if United will panic and keep their overrated player at the club at all costs.

Posted: 25th, August 2020 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester Untied captain Harry Maguire ‘threw a swing’ in Mykonos

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has been spending part of his summer hols in a police station on the Greek island of Syros. United say Maguire is “fully co-operating with the Greek authorities” following an “alleged incident” on the neighbouring island of Mykonos. The Greek authorities claim Maguire was one of “three foreigners” arrested after an altercation with police officers.

The Sun says Maguire reports the allegation that on “a boozy break” to a “flash” resort, Maguire “punched a cop and tried to bribe officers in a bust-up in Mykonos”.

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire arrested
Greek police “Confirmed” the allegation?

We hear from Mykonos Police spokesman Petros Vassilakis:

“All of the three were arrested but during the effort to do so, the other two, including the football player, got violent also. They threw down at least two policemen, hit them with their fists and kicked them.

“I can’t tell you what they were telling us. All English swear words against the authorities and against the work of the police.”

The Mail’s report has the Greek police spokesman talking about swings and roundabouts:

Harry maguire fight

Maguire is to appear before a local prosecutor Saturday morning at 11.00am. Maguire’s lawyer said he denies all wrongdoing.

Posted: 21st, August 2020 | In: manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Gareth Bale back to Spurs (not Manchester United) and Gabriel to Arsenal (soon)

Arsenal are “closer than ever” to agreeing a deal with Lille’s Brazilian defender Gabriel Magalhaes, 22, says the BBC. The source for this story is L’Equipe. The website offers no source for its information, stating only that the “southpaw and the Gunners have never been so close to an agreement, which is due in the coming hours.’ How may hours is unspecified. and that’s just as well for the Sun which is playing both sides of the story.

August 19: the deal is agreed at £27m.
August 20: No deal is agreed for the player rated at “£22m”.

On the blue bit of North London, Spurs are looking to re-sign Gareth Bale from Real Madrid, says the BBC.

Or as the Manchester Evening News put it on March 8 2019:

Gareth Bale has reportedly bought a house in Manchester and agreed personal terms with Manchester United ahead of a potential transfer this summer.

And in May 2018 the Daily Express told us of a bold “claim” – presented as an SEO-friendly fact:

And as the sun out it in January 2020:

Bale has not agree to rejoin Spurs. He also hasn’t agreed to join Manchester United, Liverpool or Yeovil. Yet.

Posted: 20th, August 2020 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Arsenal launch 2020-21 kit with shades of Harry Potter, a naked David Seaman and Kieran Tierney holding a carrier bag

naked seaman

It’s enjoyably odd that the better bits of the video launched to herald the arrival of a new Arsenal kit features a former player with no kit on – a naked David Seaman – and a current player Kieran Tierney with a plastic shopping bag.

Posted: 20th, August 2020 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Arsenal sack Sanllehi from the absurd ‘head of football’ job

Arsenal have sacked Raul Sanllehi from his job as – get his – “head of football”. The new head of football is managing director Vinai Venkatesham, who used to work as an oil trader. “Working with Vinai, we have built a top team for the future,” says Sanllehi, who arrived from Barcelona three years ago. “I’m proud and pleased with my contribution over the past three years.”

He joined Arsenal in November 2017, a replacement for the terrible Ivan Gazidis, the American whose talk of leading a “catalyst of change” under the god-awful Kroenkes saw the post-Wenger Arsenal tumble down the Premier League table.

Since this announcement in November 2017, Wenger, Mislintat, Gazidis and now Sanllehi have all left Arsenal. How’s that for sound management and planning? The Kroenke gamily remain in charge – more is the pity.

Sanllehi’s departure coincides with the club’s internal investigation into how and why they signed Nicolas Pepe, 25, from Lille for £72m. Sanllehi was part of the key team that recruited the hapless but likeable Unai Emery. Arsenal have demolished their scouting network and turned for help in recruitment matters to agents. What could possibly go wrong?

Posted: 15th, August 2020 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Jadon Shancho to Manchester United for £50m, £108m and a moving weekly wage

Jadon Sancho will not join Manchester United this summer, says the BBC. He will remain a Borussia Dortmund player. The German club’s sporting director Michael Zorc tells everyone: “We plan on having Jadon Sancho in our team this season. The decision is final. I think that answers all our questions.”

Or as the papers put it: the deal is on! But how much is the transfer fee? And how much will Sancho earn at Manchester United? The papers have all the facts:

Daily Mail – £108m – £340,000 a week
The Guardian – £90m – £250,000 a week
The Sun – £50m tops
The Mirror – £200 a week wage

Such are the facts.

Posted: 10th, August 2020 | In: manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Coutinho agrees to join Arsenal who don’t want him; Higuain set for debut

You know the routine by now, of course. The newspapers report that a A-list player (Reus / Benzema / Zaha) is on his way to Arsenal for a huge fee. We reached peak balls with the Sun’s story that Arsenal had actually signed Gonzalo Higuain from Real Madrid. It was utter tosh. The story is still live on the Sun’s website. The papers are shameless in their pursuit of clicks. Bad reporting – fake news – is part of the process. Shout out enough rumours as fact and eventually you should be right once. You can then advertise yourself as the paper with the inside track on transfers. You read it here first. So to the news that Philippe Coutinho to Arsenal is done! He has agreed.

higuain arsenal

The papers say Coutinho has “agreed” terms to join Arsenal from Barcelona. The Mirror, Sun and talkSport agree on news of his agreement.

And having said Coutinho has agreed to be a Gunner, the Mirror invites Matin Keown to tells readers his “three reasons why Arsenal are making correct Philippe Coutinho decision”. That decision is explained: “Mirror Sport understands Arsenal have opted to sign only the latter as soon as his contract at Chelsea expires at the end of the month.” What readers can “understands” from reading the Mirror is that you can say pretty much anything and pass it off as fact.

Daily Mirror balls
August 8 in the Mirror: Coutinho agrees to sign for Arsenal who, er, don’t want him

The nonsense is so ripe that if you can play Google, you can pass off a fake photo of Coutinho in the Gunners kit as fact and shout, “Philippe Coutinho – Welcome to Arsenal 2020”. Such an image is one of the key search results for ‘Coutinho Arsenal’ on Google:

And in place of no news, other news sources can say because Coutinho has not signed, any deal has been cancelled. Get this in the Mail:

On August 8, the Mail said Arsenal have ended their interest in Coutinho. The same day as the Sun was reporting: “The £145m former Liverpool star will arrive at The Emirates in a season-long loan deal – after a whistle-stop tour of their training ground.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 9th, August 2020 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Jorginho to quit Chelsea; Lampard wants Rice; West Ham seek £60m; Arsenal sign Willian

It’s transfer season and Chelsea midfielder Jorginho wants to be with people who love him. “Everyone knows there is a very strong rapport between [Juventus manager Maurizio] Sarri and Jorginho after five years working together, I’d be a hypocrite to deny that,” the players’a agent, João Santos, tells the Telegraph. “But I also want to remind you that Jorginho has three years left on his Chelsea contract.” Thanks for reminding us.

Declan Rice’s agent has yet to go public with how many years are left on the player’s contract at West Ham (it’s 4), or that he is on the relatively miserly sum of £30,000 a week. But Chelsea and their manager, former Hammer Frank Lampard, want the player and will need to offer around £60m to get him.

That a footballer on the kind of weekly wage some Chelsea players earn in a day can command such a huge transfer fee will surely not have escaped Rice’s agent. Another four years at West Ham would potentially cost his man a fortune. The transfer season is not just about the players – it’s that time when players look at what other players are getting and wonder about getting a new agent.

Rice may well flutter his eyelashes at Willian’s Mr 10%. The brilliant Chelsea and Brazil winger, 31, has agreed a three-year deal with Arsenal worth £100,000 per week, says ESPN. That’s not too shabby. You could get around 55 non-playing staff for that mind of money.

Posted: 7th, August 2020 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal Transer Balls: Willian, Coutinho, Partey and Carlos in; Guendouzi, Kolasinac, Sokratis and Mustafi out

Thursday nights remain good telly night for Arsenal fans thanks to the club winning the FA Cup and qualifying for the Europa League. When you’re holding the Cup all the suffering doesn’t quite go away because Arsenal finished 8th in the Premier League. And they’re looking to bolster their strange squad – how many average centre backs can one team have? – by recruiting Chelsea’s brilliant winger Willian, 31, Barcelona playmaker Philippe Coutinho, 28, and Atletico Madrid’s midfielder Thomas Partey, 27.

As Arsenal fans dream of replacing the irritating Matteo Guendouzi, expensive Mesut Ozil, limited Sead Kolasinac, likeable Sokratis Papastathopoulos and plodding Shkodran Mustafi, team captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang tells Le10 Sport he’d like to play alongside Barcelona’s French forward Ousmane Dembele, 23. So you can add Alexandre Lacazette to the fire sale.

The obvious need for a towering, fast centre back means the Gunners are looking to recruit Sevilla’s Diego Carlos. Here’s Carlos, then with Nantes, keeping his cool as the referee loses the plot:

Posted: 4th, August 2020 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Bias Balls: Arsenal and Chelsea contest the FA Cup final facts

Media Bias: A look at biased football reporting. Arsenal won their 14th FA Cup with a 2-1 win over Chelsea. The game featured a penalty (VAR approved) and a red card, both given in Arsenal’s favour. What say the clubs’ websites.

The Penalty:

Chelsea: “a good Arsenal pass from the back sent Aubameyang away behind the Chelsea defence and onside this time. Azpilicueta gave chase but was judged to have fouled the Arsenal skipper as he entered the box and a penalty was awarded.”

Arsenal: “Kieran Tierney put Aubameyang away with a fine ball up the left. The Gabon international was hauled down by Cesar Azpilicueta in the box – penalty.”

The Red Card:

Chelsea: “Our Cup final prospects took another blow soon after when Kovacic was booked for a second time and was therefore sent-off. It was hugely debatable whether his contact with Xhaka’s foot warranted a yellow.”

Arsenal: “Matteo Kovacic was sent off for a second bookable offence”

The Hot Debate

Chelsea: “Another question was whether the Arsenal keeper later handled the ball outside of his penalty area when claiming a ball during the second half. He went unpenalised.”

Arsenal goalkeeper Martinez did not handle outside the area – which is why it wasn’t penalised.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 2nd, August 2020 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Aubameyang and Ceballos to stay at Arsenal: Sancho will walk to Manchester United

Let’s kick off this morning look at football transfer news in the media with the BBC’s ‘Gossip’ page. The State broadcaster’s headline is clear: “Transfer rumours: Sancho, Costa, Jimenez, Ceballos, Harrison, Aubameyang.” Before the rumours the fact: the name of Arsenal’s stellar striker, Aubameyang, appears in the headline only.

The striker is nearing the final year of his current Arsenal deal. Will be stay on? He’s 31 and looking for a three-year deal. He’ll get it. But the stories of any departure and interest from Juventus, Barcelona, Manchester City and more will keep the clicks coming. Why does the BBC need to do this? The BBC website hurts local news sites and now seems to want to take the traffic from football blogs and clickbait farms. The BBC is funded by a tax. Is this value for money? An attempt to be all things to all people?

The newspapers need clicks. Traffic is up but ad revenues are down. The Mirror says Borussia Dortmund’s England winger Jadon Sancho, 20, “may” have to instigate a move to Manchester United. Or he may not. The Star syas because Arsenal’s Brazilian defender David Luiz, 33, was terrific against Manchester City in the Gunners’ 2-0 FA Cup semi-final win, manager Mikel Arteta “could” decide not to try to sign a brilliant, young, fast, reliable and strong centre half. Or he coild wait a few moments, look on as Luiz makes a hash of a routine clearance and realise he should buy urgently.

Oh, and Dani Ceballos wants to stay at the club. The Spaniard is playing lovely football in the sun. But British football is mostly played under rain and cloud, conditions in which Ceballos has shone less brightly. Buyer beware.

Posted: 20th, July 2020 | In: Arsenal, manchester united, Sports | Comment


CNN obituary to Jack Charlton is US soccerball wrong

RIP Jackie Charlton. Stalwart of the mighty Leeds United, a World Cup winner with England in 1966, leader of the raucous Green Army when he took the Republic of Ireland into Italia ’90, defying the odds and making a country believe that maybe – just maybe – they could do it, and all-round good bloke. He gave many people a lot of joy. So how to pay tribute to the ‘Big Giraffe’?

Virtually all the newspaper front pages lead with a picture of ‘Our Jackie’. “Forever a hero,”says the Sunday Telegraph. And for millions of us who love football he was. Americans love football too. Well, the marketing says they do. This is how CNN hails the great player and manager:

Jack Charlton CNN fail

If only there was something out there, some kind of electronic database, perhaps, where a US researcher could working for the news station of record could find out what the figure dominating the headlines did.

Posted: 12th, July 2020 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, News, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal to sign Dani Ceballos

According to the BBC Arsenal are in a fight with AC Milan, Valencia and Real Betis in their attempts to sign midfielder Dani Ceballos, 23, on a permanent deal. The Spanish player signed to Real Madrid has been on loan at Arsenal this season. The BBC’s source is the Daily Express, the newspaper built on clickbait and SEO tricks. So we click.

The Express has been watching the telly. It repeats the words Mikel Arteta, the Arsenal manager, told everyone with a TV before Arsenal’s match with Leicester last Wednesday. “I’m really happy with him, the way he’s [Ceballos] evolving, and I love how much he likes to play football – the passion he puts into every training session and every game, you just have to see his celebrations,” says Arteta. “I think he’s evolving in the right way and he’s becoming a really important player for us.”

And then Express readers get a load of ifs and buts and coulds. If Arsenal quality for the Champions League – which they won’t do – they “could” sign Ceballos. So much for the scoop.

Ceballos

But hold on a moment. Just over a week ago, a few days before Arteta was hailing Ceballos as a “big talent” he wanted to keep at the club, the Express’s sister title, the Daily Mirror told readers:

Arsenal reportedly won’t sign Dani Ceballos when his loan spell from Real Madrid ends – as the midfielder has not done enough to impress manager Mikel Arteta.

The source was The Sun:

CEballos

The Suns source? There isn’t one. It’s almost as if the tabloids don’t have a clue what they’re talking about and design content for clicks. As it is, Arsenal are looking to sign Ceballos. And given his recent efforts, he’d be well worth the investment.

Posted: 11th, July 2020 | In: Arsenal, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Wigan Athletic: a victim of Premier League greed

Away from the greed and vanity of the absurdly hyped Premier League lies the EFL. It’s in the news because Championship club Wigan Athletic have gone into administration. EFL chairman Rick Parry, the former Liverpool and Premier League chief executive, says Wigan’s plight is “the “tremendous shock”. It is? Well, it is to the Wigan players and staff who knew nothing of the disaster until the very new owners said they’d had enough.

Wigan Athletic changed Hong Kong-based owners a month ago. The new owners, Next Leader Fund, have put the club into administration. The club have been duly handed a 12-point deduction, which could see them relegated. The owners say they injected “more than £40m” into Wigan’s coffers. After taking control, Au Yeung said he was “excited to join the Wigan Athletic family”.

So who is to blame? The Guardian notes:

The EFL’s test and takeover process involves determining that a new owner has the money to buy a club and support it financially for at least the remainder of the season and the whole of the following season. However less than a month later and a week since Au Yeung was announced as the majority owner, the club has appointed the administrators Gerald Krasner, Paul Stanley and Dean Watson of the insolvency practitioner Begbies Traynor.

Rod Liddle tells Times readers:

Rick Parry, the EFL chairman, was secretly recorded by a Wigan fan darkly suggesting that the decision to put the club into administration may have had something to do with a very big bet placed in the Philippines on Wigan being relegated this season. The apparent implication being that the prospect of Wigan going down would be somewhat enhanced, if not ensured, by the mandatory 12-point deduction for going into administration. All rather hard cheese on the manager, Paul Cook, who had hauled his side out of the danger zone and into comparative safety since February (thus, of course, lengthening the odds for their relegation).

So much for the theories. Parry has been talking with the BBC:

Rick Parry: “It was a tremendous shock – a bolt from the blue.

“Normally if a club is facing administration you get warning signs. Generally they don’t pay HMRC, they don’t pay the players, there are problems with creditors and it happens gradually.

“It is really unprecedented for an owner [Au Yeung Wai Kay, the head of Next Leader Fund that took ownership] to put his own club into administration, literally overnight. It is completely unprecedented for an owner who has only just acquired the club for £40m to put his prized asset straight into administration and therefore destroy its value to him.

“It makes absolutely no sense to us – it’s a real mystery, I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”

Roan: Does the EFL need to take some responsibility?

Parry: “He passed the tests. You can criticise them and say they need to be beefed up, but he did pass the test. He wasn’t a complete newcomer because there had been a transition from the previous owner, who had been there two years.

“The previous owner had been putting something like £24m in, and had secured Wigan in the Championship. He introduced the new owner, there had been partnerships, it had evolved. This isn’t somebody who appeared from nowhere.

“Our test, bluntly, is limited, it’s an objective test, there are limited grounds to turn down an owner. It is a test that, by definition, the more foreign owners you have the more difficult it is to apply because of the amount of information that is available.”

Roan: Was the EFL lax in the application of the rules?

Parry: “No – he passed the test, albeit it self-certifications and he provided the assurances. What none of our rules can legislate for is an owner changing his mind.”

Roan: Does this all show that the ownership rules need to be tightened?

Parry: “It’s no use just talking about owners’ and directors’ tests as if that is going to solve all of the problems. You really need to go back to why did we end up with Chinese owners in the lower reaches of the Championship in the first place?

Can we follow the money?

“We need to make our clubs sustainable – we shouldn’t be relying on random foreign owners.”

Roan: Is coronavirus a plausible excuse?

Parry: “If he said it in February, then it would be plausible. What I don’t get is given we are coming out of the crisis and heading towards playing again, why would you buy a club in June and then put it in administration at the end of the crisis? That’s the bit that doesn’t quite stack up.”

It all stacks up. English football is a bubble pumped up by marketing guff that attempts to make gambling an essential part of the match day experience, and foreign investment by people for whom the sport is a property-based business. The Premier League is run on greed. When the bubble bursts, more clubs will go to the wall.

A few more bits:

In a Hong Kong stock exchange document setting out its reasons for selling, IEC [International Entertainment Corporation] cited the “unsatisfactory financial performance” of the club, due to the punishing economics of the Championship, and also mentioned the suspension of football because of the coronavirus pandemic and the impact of Brexit. It said Brexit “could have material long-term impact on the economy and the future growth of the UK which may damage investors’ confidence in the UK and also reduce local consumer spending, which could further deteriorate the performance of the [club]”.

Since buying the club the company said it sustained increases in players’ wages to £17.5m, from £10m in 2017-18, and sustained a £9m loss for the 13 months to 30 June last year.

Read it all: Wigan Athletic: EFL chairman Rick Parry says English football has been ‘disrespected’

Posted: 9th, July 2020 | In: News, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Partey wants Arsenal move, agrees terms but prefers Manchester United

In today’s look at the twilight world of football reporting, the BBC says Arsenal are in the box seat to sign Atlético de Madrid’s Ghanian midfielder Thomas Partey. Is he turned on by the change to play with Musatfi and Xhaka and hang out with Gunnersaurus? Not quite and not all. The Gunners have offered to triply Partey’s wage, says AS. The Express says Arsenal want to pay the £45m transfer in instalments. The Sun says Partey is “ready to come” to Arsenal. The Mirror says his is a “massive boost” to Arsenal. The Express says Partey “wants to play for Arsenal”.

Partey agrees; Partey does not agree

And then the news gets shaky. The web is full of news that Partey has and has not agreed personal terms with Arsenal. TeamTalk says: “Thomas Partey has told Atletico Madrid he wants to leave this summer and that his preference is to sign for Manchester United”. “Arsenal target Thomas Partey prefers Man Utd transfer,” says the Express – the same paper that says he dreams of playing for Arsenal.

Does the player know what he wants? JJ Sport, the agency representing the player, posted on Instagram a picture of Partey alongside the words “pick his club” and the colours of Manchester United, Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain. How long before he kisses the badge at one of those clubs remains to be seen.

Posted: 4th, July 2020 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal News: Bukayo Saka signs new Gunners contract

Dash those reports that Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka as ready to lave the club. The 18-year-old star in the making with 33 appearances to his name has just signed a new “long-term” contract with the Gunners.

It was never in doubt. Well, not unless you’ve heeded some of the tosh written about Saka in the past few months. Get a load of this in the Express. The ‘stumbling block’ was ‘stumbling blocks’ – he didn’t want to leave and wasn’t for sale:

Such are the facts.

Posted: 1st, July 2020 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Fantastic photographs of Manchester United and Manchester City fans in the 1970s

Iain S.P. Reid’s brilliant photographs of football fans in Manchester in the late 1970s are being shared. People are coming forward to say ‘That’s me in the picture’. And that’s great. A book of Iain’s pictures will feature your names and your stories. So please spread the word. We really want to hear if you or someone you know is in Iain’s pictures of Manchester United and Manchester City fans enjoying the carnival of match day.

As part of the project we’ve also got prints of many of the photos at the Flashbak Art Prints Shop.

See lots more of Ian’s photos on Facebook.

Posted: 30th, June 2020 | In: Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Ceballos won’t stay; Edu talks nonsense; Thomas Partey too expensive

How do you reward the player who scored the goal that took you into the FA Cup semi-finals? If you’re Arsenal, you assure Dani Ceballos, 23, for it is he, that you will not try to buy him when his loan deal from Real Madrid ends. So bad are Arsenal at player recruitment, so scattergun their transfer policy, that Ceballos should write a thank you letter to whoever it is who runs the club for not trying to sign him.

Incidentally, who does oversea transfers at Arsenal? Who actually identifies and picks players? Does anyone know who thought Lichsteiner, Xhaka, Mustafi and Denis Suarez were good investments?

Raul Sanllehi says Arsenal must “outsmart the market”. What doe that mean? Is Thomas Partey at £45m too expensive or smart?

Sanllehi is the club’s ‘head of football’ and should not be confused with the Arsenal ‘technical director’, Edu. And there’s the head coach, who might also be termed ‘head of football’ or technical director, Mikel Arteta. Says Edu: “Mikel has to be involved in recruitment, he must. We talk about what we need, the characteristics of the players, the system we’re going to play and then I start the process internally.” With whom? Who does Edu talk with internally to hire players? Is it Josh Kroenke, the absentee owner’s son, a marketing man possessed with less football acumen than a kitten with a beach ball?

There are four people on the Arsenal board and two of them are called Mr Kroenke. Here’s what the Arsenal website says about the owners:

Stan:

Mr. Kroenke is a well-regarded real-estate developer with a diverse international portfolio that includes commercial and residential real estate, ranches, vineyards, shopping centres, warehouse facilities and hotels.

Josh:

Josh works closely with Kroenke Sports & Entertainment executives on multiple business operation issues, ranging from finance to marketing.

Arsenal: the London office of a marketing and real estate empire.

Posted: 30th, June 2020 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment