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.

Chelsea say losing Carabao Cup final was a success; it all went to plan says Sarri; Manchester City praise Caballero

Taxi!

Watching Chelsea implode is giving genuine pleasure to millions of football fans. The club a Russian oligarch bought and then used to buy all the cups is facing a transfer ban for breaking FIFA rules. Chelsea is managed by an ex-banker who has never won anything. They are blessed with the world’s costliest goalkeeper, one Kepa Arrizabalaga, who in the Carabao Cup final, which Chelsea lost, refused to be substituted.

A club owned by a man who gets good press in Pravda responds on Twitter in the manner of the Russian State’s PR office. Chelsea tweets: “Maurizio Sarri says the Kepa substitution confusion was ‘a big misunderstanding‘ because he thought the player had cramp. However he says Kepa was right that he could continue although the way he went about it was wrong. Sarri says he needs to talk to Kepa now.”

And: “Sarri says the players played exactly the game he prepared, so he is in full control of the situation. He adds that today we decided not to press high in every situation, and we conceded nothing to the best team in Europe.”

Nothing to see here. Move along:

Chelsea goes full Pravda

Here’s that controlled misunderstanding in full:

What says the Chelsea website? This:

There was high drama at the end when the substitution board went up to replace Kepa Arrizabalaga, who was back from injury and had needed treatment on the pitch, with Willy Caballero. It was shaping up to be a penalty shoot-out against Caballero’s former club but Kepa appeared to go against his manager’s wishes [that would be when he yelled ‘NO!’ at Sarri and refused to leave the pitch] and stayed on. He ultimately saved one of the penalties, but it was not enough…

Caballero stripped and the numbers were shown for the change, but Kepa was convinced he could continue and did so. Maurizio Sarri looked furious.

And the Manchester City website?

It felt like the last chance to win the game had passed – though it wasn’t the last talking point as Chelsea keeper Kepa refused to be subbed with cramp as Willy Caballero waited to replace him. Given Willy’s penalty saving record, City fans weren’t too disappointed he didn’t come on!

And what says Raheem Sterling, a player allegedly racially abused by Chelsea fans? He rather enjoyed it:

Raheem Sterling Chelsea

Chelsea are in the mire. Manchester City are buoyant.

Posted: 24th, February 2019 | In: Chelsea, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Arsenal Balls: Overmars, Monchi and Aaron Wan-Bissaka in

Journalism, eh. Get a load of this news on the BBC: “Arsenal will offer defender Rob Holding, 23, a new deal after he suffered a long-term injury in December.”

Can the two be linked: to be injured for large chunks of the season is to be a true Gooner? Well, it worked for Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlaine, so why not Holding, or Danny Welbeck, for that matter, who’s been injured for months at a time but will be ejected from the club when his contract expires in June? Should Arsenal work to keep Welbeck?

In other Arsenal news, the Mirror says the club wants Marc Overmars as their technical director. Ajax want him to stay. But the former Arsenal winger most likely join the Gunners at the season’s end, when Arsenal will also welcome Roma sporting director Monchi (aka Ramón Rodríguez Verdejo).

On the playing front, Arsenal fancy Crystal Palace right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 21. The Sun says he’ll cost them £40m. So best to luck with that.

Posted: 24th, February 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Chelsea Balls: Sarri sacked by Monday; Steve Holland and Rakitic in

Chelsea ban

Farewell, then, Maruizio Sarri. Or not. The Telegraph joins the chorus of newspapers claiming Sarri is to be sacked by Chelsea very soon. The paper says Chelsea are considering appointing England assistant manager Steve Holland if they sack head coach Maurizio Sarri next week.

How strange it must be to work at Chelsea and not quite every fully unpack your bags. But the severance pay is good. Which might be why the Sun says former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is in line to become the new manager at Stamford Bridge. The paper says the great Frenchman “could” have £200m to spend during the Blues’ appeal against a transfer ban. Or to put it another way: he could have loadsa money but no-one to spend it on.

If Zidane does arrive and is able to hire new talent, the Sun says the Blues will move to sign Barcelona’s 30-year-old Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic. The ban does not prevent players from leaving the club. So also expect to hear a lot about Eden Hazard consider the kind of contact they used to offer supermodels to get out of bed.

Posted: 23rd, February 2019 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Anthony Martial and the moving goalposts

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

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

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

Really? No. Here’s the Daily Telegraph:

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

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

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

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

And the Mirror in March 2018:

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

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

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

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

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


Chelsea Balls: Sarri’s sacking and club banned from signing new players for next two transfer windows

Bit of an odd backpage from the Mirror, leading, as it does, with Europa League action from Chelsea and Arsenal’s respective 3-0 victories over the might of Malmo and Bate Borisov. The Mirror leads with one player who scored (Ross Barkley) and one who did not (Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang).

Mirror arsenal chelsea

Having thrice told its readers that Chelsea will sack Maurizio Sarri this season, the paper notes that the victory was encouraging. The Guardian says it’s earned Sarri “extra time”. It’s February, and he only started work at Chelsea in July. You’d think Sarri’s tenure at Chelsea would outlast a gap year.

Chelsea are “back on track” says the Express. But beating Malmo is not on the same path as a 6-0 defeat to Manchester City or even a 4-0 loss at Bournemouth. Malmo are a limited side. The players might have “saved Sarri’s skin”, as the Mail puts it, but with a Carabao Cup final with City looming, The Italian will need some armour should they suffer another heavy defeat.

Which they have. The club has been banned from buying players for the next two windows. FIFA says Chelsea are guilty of breaching rules in relation to youth players. Whoever replaces Sarri will have to make do with his players.

Posted: 22nd, February 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, News, Sports | Comment


Chelsea balls: Sarri sacked for £5m; Lampard tops wish list; Manchester City told keys

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri will be sacked if they lose Sunday’s Carabao Cup final to Manchester City, says the BBC. Sarri will be Chelsea boss for the length of an internship should his side lose to the same City side that thrashed them 6-0 days ago. Get packing, then. This news is echoed in the Mirror, which on February 11 led its sports coverage with: “MAURIZIO SARRI is facing the sack after Chelsea’s heaviest Premier League defeat.” The Mirror added on February 18: “CHELSEA will stick to their new ‘Sarri-ball’ style, even if if (sic) costs the manager his job this week.”

The Mirror’s plan seems to be keep saying Sarri will be sacked and when he is – and, of course he will be one day – say ‘Told yer!’ But the Mirror has form in getting it wrong:

daily mirror wenger quits sack resigns arsenal
2017? Wrong.
mourinho sacked
Wrong.

As for Sarri’s eventual sacking, the Sun says it would cost Chelsea £5m – the cheapest pay-off for a manager since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003. 

Minds turn to who will replace Sarri? Sky Sports says Derby manager Frank Lampard and Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane head the list. Layers are working on their early-exit clauses as we speak.

Unless Chelsea win the Carabao Cup – in which case the Mirror will report that Sarri will be sacked ‘soon’…

Posted: 20th, February 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Matt Kuchar should have paid his caddie the correct rate

MAtt Kuchar Ortiz

Matt Kuchar has earned well over $45m in prize money playing golf. Last November he did something the judgemental among us can enjoy. Kuchar, 40, won the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico and banked the $1,296,000 winner’s cheque. His regular caddie was unavailable. So Kuchar hired local man David Ortiz. Caddies typically get 10% of first-prize winnings. Kuchar gave Ortiz $5,000. “He was definitely my lucky charm,” Kuchar said. “He brought me good luck and certainly some extra crowd support and did a great job as well. He did just what I was hoping for and looking for.”

Fair pay? In a way, it was. Kuchar and Ortiz had agreed a $4000 payment for a Top 10 finish. The extra $1000 was a bonus. Kuchar recognised that the $4,000 was low, so he topped it up by 25%. But that was a low act.

And then it got worse. Ortiz politely asked Kucha’s management to dig deeper. How much would be enough? Ortiz gave the figure: $50,000 – still less than half what a regular caddie could expect. Kuchar’s agent offered him $15,000. Ortiz then did the smart thing: he talked to the media. Journalist Michael Bamberger spoke to Kuchar. His reply is worth repeating. “I kind of think someone got in his ear,” said Kuchar. “For a guy who makes $200 a day, a $5,000 week is a really big week.” Bang! Bamberger had a story of greed and entitlement anyone can tuck into.

Faced with bad press, Kuchar spoke about the matter:

“It’s kind of too bad that it’s turned into a story. I really didn’t think it was a story because we had an arrangement when I started. I ended up paying him $5,000 and I thought that was more than what we agreed upon. So I certainly don’t lose sleep over this. This is something that I’m quite happy with, and I was really happy for him to have a great week and make a good sum of money. Making $5,000 is a great week.”

Oh dear. But then after more unfavourable reaction to the stinginess and reports of heckling at a subsequent tournament – “Go low, Kuch…just not on the gratuity!” yelled one spectator off the sixth tee. Fans cheered a missed putt on the 12th, and chants of “Mooch” could be heard throughout the day” – an apology finally arrived. Kuchar agreed to pay Ortiz $50,000:

“This week, I made comments that were out of touch and insensitive, making a bad situation worse. They made it seem like I was marginalising David Ortiz and his financial situation, which was not my intention. I read them again and cringed. That is not who I am and not what I want to represent. In this situation, I have not lived up to those values or to the expectations I’ve set for myself. I let myself, my family, my partners and those close to me down, but I also let David down. I plan to call David, something that is long overdue, to apologise for the situation he has been put in, and I have made sure he has received the full total that he has requested.”

When you tell the media first that you plan to call someone you short-changed and belittled, it’s all about the publicity. Kuchar pressed on:

“I never wanted to bring any negativity to the Mayakoba Golf Classic. I feel it is my duty to represent the tournament well, so I am making a donation back to the event, to be distributed to the many philanthropic causes working to positively impact the communities of Playa del Carmen and Cancun.For my fans, as well as fans of the game, I want to apologise to you for not representing the values instilled in this incredible sport.”

Screw the eponymous donation to the needy and the grandstanding. Just pick up the phone to Ortiz, apologise and on the quiet pay the guy the full whack. Don’t stop at $50,000. Pay him the $120,000.

Kuchar’s regular caddie, John Wood, then chimed in: “Nobody’s perfect. All we can do when a mistake is made is reconsider, apologise and make amends… To crucify for one mistake feels wrong.”

It does. But when anyone hears the name Matt Kuchar, they’ll always remember him for what he did wrong.

Posted: 19th, February 2019 | In: Key Posts, Money, Sports | Comment


Chelsea: Sarri sack imminent

How long can Maurizio Sarri last at Chelsea? His tenure never was going to be for long. Chelsea see mangers as mere front-men for the project, expendable so long as the playing staff are talented enough. Last night Chelsea crashed out of the FA Cup, losing 2-0 to a pretty ordinary Manchester United. The former Napoli boss signed a three-year contract worth around £17.7million in July. Director Marina Granovskaia told media: “We are delighted to welcome Maurizio and are looking forward to him bringing his football philosophy to Chelsea.” Chelsea don’t do philosophy. They do money and pragmatism. The clock’s ticking.

The Times on Sarri’s “joyless, hopeless, losing football”:

At first he complained, mildly, that English players were a little lacking in it and, oh, how we soaked it up, the idea that this brain-box would take the likes of Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek and make them shine for the England team, give them the tools to look a little, well, a little Italian. They would be thoughtful, crafty. No more headless chickens for us.

Now, though, few players of any nationality appear to have the requisite intelligence to implement Sarri-ball. The Chelsea head coach does not give them tactics more suited to the qualities they do possess. Instead, he persists. He persists and he persists.

The BBC:

As Maurizio Sarri watched his side limp out of the FA Cup, he resembled a jaded end-of-the-pier entertainer going through the same old act that once brought him acclaim but is now greeted with open hostility and – even more painfully – mockery.

The early weeks of the season, when the ‘Sarri-ball’ philosophy that won him the adulation of peers such as Pep Guardiola brought optimism to Chelsea, seemed an age away as Manchester United breezed into the FA Cup quarter-final without needing to raise a gallop.

Sarri cut a solitary, dejected figure as his predictable moves and the inevitable results saw Stamford Bridge turn its fury on him with a force that begs the question not if his short time as Chelsea manager is drawing to a close, but when?

On this nightmarish evidence, and the fierce reaction of the supporters to their increasingly hapless and disconnected manager, the end may be very near.

The Guardian:

Chelsea fans don’t often turn on their manager. They don’t usually have time. But there, distinct in the cool February air, just six days before they play in a cup final, it was: “Fuck Sarriball! Fuck Sarriball! Fuck Sarriball!” Add in the booing at the final whistle and the chants for Callum Hudson-Odoi throughout the second half and it’s fair to say the Matthew Harding Stand has made its mind up about Maurizio Sarri.

He’s toast.

Posted: 19th, February 2019 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


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

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

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

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

Manchester Untied Pochettino Spurs

Such are the facts…

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


Arsenal Balls: Wenger, Emery and no hint of worry

unai Emery Arsenal

How can the Daily Express spin Arsene Wenger’s words into a portent of doom? Wenger was talking at the perpetually remote Laureus Sport for Good Awards. He said Aaron Ramsey would be a “loss” to Arenal, the club he managed for a geological era. And that was it. Ooze it through the SEO grinder and in the Express it becomes: “Arsene Wenger WORRIED for Arsenal.”

But it’s worse than that because the URL to this clickbait runs: “Arsene-Wenger-Arsenal-worry-Unai-Emery-management-future.” The implication is clear: to trick readers into believing Wenger thinks the throughly decent and likeable Unai Emery, the man who replaced him as Arsenal manager, could be on his way out. Total tosh.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Liverpool: Robben’s miss; Garcia’s ghost goal; the Anfield roar

Ahead of Bayern Munich’s Champions League tie with Liverpool, the German’s club’s Arjen Robben is talking to the Sunday Times.

“If you ask the worst stadium for me, it’s probably Liverpool,” says Robben. “You always have your favourite opponent and there always has to be a negative one. There is only one [exception],” Robben says, his eyes widening: “Anfield.”

Anfield is where the diving Dutchman’s Real Madrid side lost 4-0. It’s where he lost two Champions League semi-finals with Chelsea. In one, Robben missed the first penalty in a shoot-out. In another, Chelsea were undone by a goal that wasn’t, the col-called ‘ghost goal’.

“The atmosphere at Anfield is probably one of the best you can imagine in Europe,” he adds. “It’s always like a big boost to them [Liverpool]. But we’re used to playing in big stadiums, so we just have to focus on ourselves.” about the little details.”

He calls Liverpool a cup-fighting team. And they’re a lucky one.

Luis García is still asked about the “ghost goal” and José Mourinho is still moaning about it. The Spaniard’s fourth-minute finish for Liverpool in the 2005 Champions League semi-final second leg against Chelsea was the strike that took Rafael Benítez’s team to Istanbul, where they came back from a 3-0 half-time deficit against Milan to be crowned European champions.

It didn’t go in, right? But that comeback in the final was worth the referee’s error…

Posted: 17th, February 2019 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Arsenal: Overmars makes his case for the job and Sanchez return from Manchester United

Don’t panic Arsenal fans. News is that Manchester United’s hugely expensive Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez, 30, could return to Arsenal. So says former Arsenal player Marc Overmars. “I have great respect for Alexis, ” says Overmars, “because he did extremely well in Arsenal, I do not know if it was a good decision to leave.” His accountant, agent and bank manager think it was terrific. Half a million smackers a week says it was a good move to quit Arsenal stardom for the Old Trafford bench.

Overmars adds:

“English football changes you, it turns you around, it took me a step forward. Arsene Wenger arrived a year before me, Dennis Bergkamp made a big impression English, it was a fantastic time, I think we changed the history of the club a bit. This type of players were very important for Arsenal, because that’s where they take you to focus, after Alexis, Arsenal tried to sign another player like that, but he was not given, so he could go back to Arsenal.”

Why is this news? Why is Overmars talking about Arsenal? It’s because Arsenal want a new technical director. And it’s gotten down to a straight fight between Roma sporting director Monchi and Overmars, who fulfils the same role at a resurgent Ajax.

Posted: 15th, February 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Emiliano Sala: Daily Mirror turns his girlfriend into clickbait

Luiza Ungerer

Before he died during a flight over the English Channel, the British media was not interested in Emiliano Sala. Signed by Cardiff City from Nantes for a club record fee of £15 million (€18 million), Sala became front-page news when the plane carrying him to Wales crashed. Terrible. But not all bad to the Mirror, which seeks to milk the story with a tale of Sala’s “secret lover”.

Oh, you wonder. Was the Argentine footballer married and playing away from home? No. He wasn’t married. So why was his lover a “secret”. Well, she wasn’t. Luiza Ungerer and Sala had been dating since 2017. She’s been talking to Globo in her native Brazil about her love for him, recalling how fans used to pat him on the back as they strolled together round Nantes. 

Photos of the couple are all over Instagram. Not clandestine shots of them sneaking about. These are phots of them on their social media accounts. The Mirror opts to feature one of Ungerer in a bikini on the beach. Give never looked so titillating.

Journalism, eh. It’s not all speaking truth to power. Sometimes it’s shameless clickbait.

Posted: 13th, February 2019 | In: Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Aaron Ramsey leaves Arsenal for £400k-a-week at Juventus

Juventus Ramsey

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey will earn £400,000 a week for four years at Juventus. The 28-year-old will become the highest paid British footballer ever.

Arsenal will get nothing.

But someone will earn 3.7m euros (£3.2m). Juventus says those are the “costs” of the deal.

Says Ramsey to Arsenal fans: “You welcomed me as a teenager and have been there through all the highs and lows I’ve encountered during my time at the club. It is with a heavy heart that I leave after 11 incredible years. Thank you.”

He said “heavy heart” not “heavy wallet”.

PS: Ozil on £350,000-a-week doesn’t look so pricey now.

Posted: 11th, February 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Manchester City say sorry for thrashing Chelsea and enjoying it

There will be singing of only acceptable chants at the football. The Premier League is no place for spontaneity. Goals will reviewed by a panel in a studio before being awarded. Soccer will be part of the “football family” to be played the world over, including in Qatar. Songs will be policed. The PA will be taken from this place and… Man City have formally apologised to Chelsea for blasting out One Step Beyond by Madness – which is, it says here, ‘Chelsea’s victory song’ – over the public address system at the Etihad after dishing out a 6-0 thrashing.

According to the Evening Standard, “senior City officials” ordered the song be cut short and offered their immediate apologies to their Chelsea counterparts for “what could be interpreted as an act of gloating”.

If you can’t gloat after annihilating a rival team and petro-chemical dynasty’s vanity project in an enjoyable and distracting leisure pursuit, when can you gloat? As they say in the City boardroom: don’t mention the score!

Posted: 11th, February 2019 | In: Chelsea, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


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

Solskjaer

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

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer manager manchester united

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

Do we all believe the Sun?

Might be best to wait and see…

higuain-arsenal the sun transfer
He never signed.

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

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

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer it is, then.

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


Martial Phwoar! Manchester United striker in Paris sex scoop

Martial sex manchester united

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

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

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

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

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


Manchester United balls: David de Gea wants £500,000-a-week; or less

daily mail de gea
The Mail says De Gea is off to PSG

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea, 28, is “insisting” (BBC) the club pay him £350,000-a-week if they want him to sign a new deal. The BBC says this would make him the club’s second highest earner “behind behind [sic] £400,000-a-week Alexis Sanchez, 30.”

Sanchez is criminally overpaid. De Gea wants something close to parity with the Chilean. Will one error of judgement by United lead to disharmony in the ranks?

Manchester United BBC
The BBC repeats the news, literally

The BBC links to a story in the Mirror. But the Mirror doesn’t really know what Sanchez earns. So far it’s provided the following figures for Sanchez’s United wage – the taxman may be interested:

£2m a month – Feb 9 2019

£400,000 a week – Sept 22 2018

£390,000 per week – May 11 2018

£25.5m a year – Jan 22 2018

£500,000 per week – Feb 8, 2018

£400,000-a-week – Jan 29 2018

In other transfer gossip, Manchester United fancy Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele and Norwich City defender Ben Godfrey, 21. Both should cost less than Sanchez or De Gea.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 10th, February 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Liverpool balls: Mane offside for ‘lovely goal’; Howe wants VAR; Bournemouth and West Ham robbed

Liverpool

Sadio Mane was “offside” (BBC) when he opened the scoring in Liverpool’s 3-0 win at Bournemouth. Mane has scored in four successive Premier League games for the first time in his career. The first goal should not have stood. What says the media – is it biased?

The AFC Bournemouth website says, “the Senegalese frontman was offside as James Milner’s delivery was swung into the box”. Bournemouth manger Eddie Howe added: “VAR will help us in those situations, I think that will benefit everybody, it was tight but offside was the right decision.”

The Liverpool FC website makes no mention of VAR, noting, “Sadio Mane set them on their way to victory with a header midway through the first half.” The offside goal was not one of the site’s ‘Talking Points”. This is how the LFC liveblog saw the goal:

GOALLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!! MANE!!!
Breakthrough for Liverpool and yet again it’s Mane.
The Senegal international meets Milner’s delivery from the right with a firm downward header beyond Boruc. A lovely goal.
Get in!
Liverpool 1-0 Bournemouth

Offside! Not on Liverpool where it was a “lovely goal”. Liverpool scored their first goal during a 1-1 draw at West Ham from a blatant offside position. The LFC website reported that egregious error thus: “Sadio Mane’s swift spin and finish put the away team ahead midway through the first half at the London Stadium.”

Lallana’s immaculate control and quick feet on the right touchline freed Milner to roll a pass to the front post and Mane. The No.10 artfully rolled around Issa Diop and planted a confident left-foot finish beyond Lukasz Fabianski.

Or as the official West Ham United site put it:

West Ham looked to have valid protests that Milner was in an offside position, but the linesman’s flag stayed down.

They say luck and bad decisions even out over a season. Liverpool will be hoping that’s not the case. If it is, they’re in big trouble.

Posted: 9th, February 2019 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Manchester City balls: Spurs win by losing but Pep’s pots count for nought

Stan Collymore’s Daily Mirror column continues to demand that we light the torches and march on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Trouble is that the glare from those burning fires has blinded Collymore to facts and the tiniest muon of circumspection and reason. Compare and contrast what the former Liverpool striker said about Mauricio Pochettino and then about Guardiola.

Collymore on Pochettino’s desperate statement that finishing in the Premier League’s top four is better than winning any cup:

One of the greatest managers in recent history who we’ve given a lot of stick to was Jose Mourinho. At Chelsea, what did he target? The League Cup. Coming so early in the season it is a trophy that can get you off and running…

Managers, said Collymore, should be chasing “every single trophy”. Because they all matter. Unless you’re Pep Guardiola.

Here’s Collymore on Pep being unsuccessful by, er, winning a cup:

The one thing the Premier League will do is test every single thing about you. If you don’t believe me, look at Pep Guardiola. Recognised as one of the top three or four managers in the world over the last decade, he could go into this fourth season at Manchester City having won one English title and no Champions Leagues. And that’s with the biggest budget in English football.

Guardiola joined Manchester City at the start of the 2016-2017 season. He’s in his third full season at the club. Guardiola finished his first season at City with no trophies – the only time he’s finished a season without a trophy. The next season – 2017-18 – City beat Arsenal 0–3 to win the Carabao Cup. They won the Premier League with a record-breaking 100 points. Right now City are top of the PL table, still in the Champions League and FA Cup, and will contest the Carabao Cup final with Chelsea. And they play some fabulous football.

Collymore thinks the Carabao Cup doesn’t matter when Guadiola wins it and matters greatly when Pochettino doesn’t? Can the Mirror get this man a sub-editor?

Posted: 7th, February 2019 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment


Chelsea balls: Willian off; Hazard decides; Luiz on a free; and a transfer ban

Chelsea ban transfer

Sports writing highlights in the London Evening Standard, which brings news of Chelsea FC’s Willian. On Page 57, we read a story continued from the “back page”. But the back page features only an advert for a movie called Alita Battle Angel – which Willian is not in (I checked). No word on him on page 59 either. But on page 58, we learn that Chelsea’s Eden Hazard has decided his future. The Belgian tells French radio station RMC: “I know what I am going to do. I have made decision.” How very subtle and elusive he is.

And on page 57 we get told that Willian is going to be a victim of “Chelsea’s strict over-30 policy”. So strict is this policy that the Blues just signed Gonzalo Higuain – the 31-year-old – with options to extend the loan or sign him permanently. The Standard says Chelsea “won’t change their contract policy regaling players over 30”, without telling readers what that policy is. I can tell you that Chelsea only offers one-year contract extensions to the over-30s. David Luiz and Gary Cahill are two over-30s whose contracts expire in the summer, when both can leave on a Bosman free transfer.

Chelsea Willian transfer

The Standard also fails to mention Chelsea’s problems of the field. Fifa has invested the club over potential rule breaches with regard to more than 100 foreign players under the age of 18.

Chelsea says they have “fully cooperated with Fifa and provided comprehensive evidence demonstrating its compliance with the applicable Fifa regulations”. but should they be found guilty and a transfer ban imposed, Willian won’t be going anywhere – and Luiz can write his own cheque.

Posted: 5th, February 2019 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Manchester United to double Rashford’s wages

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

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

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

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


Arsenal balls: Emery’s transfer budget

Arsenal transfer budget

Arsenal have a strange squad of players, a composite blend of the over-paid, over-hyped and under-performing. But worry not. New blood is on the way. The Sun says Arsenal are looking to recruit at least five new faces for next season. And they have a whopping £40m to get them. The transfer budget will go up should Arsenal qualify for the Champions League either by finishing in the top four or winning the Europa League. Can they do it? Can a club that paid over £30m for the lumpen Mustafi and let Aaron Ramsey leave for free do something right? If they do, then Emery will have £60m for spend on new faces – what Manchester City invest in a reserve full back.

The Sun, however, doesn’t tell readers who that figure was arrived at. why wold Arsenal go public with their budget? And why does the Mail tell its readers: “Emery’s Transfer budget is only £45m.” And in the Mail Arsenal needs “at least three players” to “join the elite”.

All utter tosh, of course. Arsenal are the elite:

Arsenal money

Arsenal do have the money. They also have an absentee owner uninterested in seeing his team win on the field.

Posted: 5th, February 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal Balls: 4 years since last away win over Big 6 team; greedy Stan Kroenke to blame; Emery needs 10 new players

Stan Kronke arsenal
Stan Kroenke – the man with one plan: milk the club and, er, that’s it

It is now four years and 21 matches since Arsenal last won away from home against a big-six rival — a 2-0 win against Manchester City in January 2015. Under Stan Kroenke’s ownership, Arsenal have dropped and dropped. Kroenke is the greedy, absentee owner the club never deserved. He puts no stock in the team winning on the pitch. There is no reflective glory. Arsenal fans would wager and win the bet that Kroenke doesn’t even know who Unai Emery is. It’s all just about dividends and cash. Kroenke doesn’t support Arsenal; Arsenal supports him and his avarice.

Arsenal’s way form against their so-called Premier League title rivals is dire. These are the points won in games away to the big six since that City victory:

Team
Man City Games 23, points 31
Liverpool 21, 24
Man Utd 21, 23
C Palace 24, 20
Southampton 24, 16
West Ham 24, 16
Chelsea 18, 16
Tottenham 19, 15
Leicester City 26, 14
West Brom 21, 12
Swansea City 20, 12
Burnley 19, 9
Everton 25, 8
Bournemouth 22, 8
Arsenal 21, 7
Newcastle 19, 5
Stoke City 19, 5
Watford 20, 4
Aston Villa 10, 3
Sunderland 15, 2
Huddersfield 10,2

Spotter: The Times

Posted: 4th, February 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Sports | Comment