Anorak

Sports | Anorak - Part 20

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.

Arsenal cheats inspired by Mark Hughes’ noble Southampton

A pattern has set in with Mark Hughes. The Southampton manager reacted to defeat at Arsenal by arguing that his side had been short-changed by the referee. Southampton’s Jack Stephens was sent off in the 93rd minute for shoving Jack Wilshere, who’d ripped his shirt. Moments later, Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny was sent off for a mild shove on Cédric Soares. Hughes wanted three red cards – two was not enough.

“I think there should have been another one. I think Wilshere should have been sent off,” opined the manager possessed of a remarkable ability to survive in the Premier League – Southampton is the fifth Premier League club Hughes has managed on the spin. Having produced teams routinely bereft of guile, style and hope, chairmen can press f9 on the emergency keyboard and hire Hughes.  “If you look at it again, Jack Stephens has obviously reacted to being pulled back for about 20 yards, which is understandable,” he went on. “It’s not correct, but it’s understandable to a certain extent. But I felt, well, if you’re going to send Jack off, you have to send Wilshere off for bouncing up. I thought I saw a definite movement with his knee towards Jack, so the referee should have just seen that [and] should have sent them both off.”

A move of the knee is a red card?

He then aded: “Elneny has raised a hand to Cédric’s face, so that’s a sending off, clearly. So maybe there should have been three.”

Hughes likes the opposition to be sent off. He wants more of it. This is what he’s said this season:

“The referee has made a call on Alonso. He could have been sent off” – Mark Hughes following Stoke City’s 4-0 defeat to Chelsea.

“I don’t see why he should be refereeing this weekend” – Mark Hughes wanted Liverpool’s Simon Mignolet to have been sent off in Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Stoke. Fair-minded Hughes also wanted ref Martin Atkinson taken off a Premier League game by way of punishment.

It’ll only be right and proper when team facing Hughes’ noble toilers start two men down and have to earn extra players for displays of virtue. The man’s commitment to fairness is an inspiration.

Posted: 9th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Pray 4 Henrikh Mkhitaryan; Arsenal star will play again

In the over-heated,  clickbait-heavy world of online football journalism, any injury is potentially cataclysmic. And so it was when Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan injured his knee in the Gunners’ 4-1 Europa League win over CSKA Moscow. Newspapers’ websites were full of news that the Armenian “could” miss the rest of the season. And that was before he’d even had a scan. Many wondered if Mkhitaryan would ever play again. We thought he’d be back in a couple of weeks. But the narrative was very much on the side of doom:

Henrikh Mkhitaryan could miss rest of Arsenal season with knee injury – Daily Telegraph

Arsenal star Henrikh Mkhitaryan could miss rest of the season after fears of knee ligament damage – Daily Mirror

A few days on and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger tells media: “He’s got knee ligament damage. He will not be available for Thursday and not for Newcastle and certainly not for the week after, when we play West Ham. I think he will miss these games for sure, but he could still play at the end of the season.”

And how did the newspapers broadcast this update? Well, the Mirror and Telegraph said not a word. Bad news is so much more clickable.

But the London Standard notes:

Initial fears had Mkhitaryan out for the remainder of the term after limping out of the Europa League quarter-final first leg on the hour mark, with scans revealing ligament damage to his knee.

However Wenger, who had expressed concern that the Armenian could be sidelined for “several weeks”, now expects Mkhitaryan to only miss Arsenal’s next three games.

That’s quite a change from the paper’s earlier news: “Arsenal star Henrikh Mkhitaryan could face several weeks on sidelines, confirms Arsene Wenger.”

He confirmed nothing of the sort – how can you confirm something that only could or could not happen?

Anyhow, it;s good news. Mkhitaryan walks! It’s a miracle. #pray4Miki

Posted: 8th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan ‘could’ return in 2 weeks

Injury forced Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan to come off early during the Gunners’ 4-1 win over CSKA Moscow. Facing the media after that Europa Cup quarter-final tie, in which Arsenal were sensational in attack and shaky at the back  – better shooting from CSKa would have have hurt them – Arsene Wenger talked of the Armenian international.

This is the full text of that he said about Mkhitaryan:

Micki came off and he will be out for Sunday. He has a scan and the fear is that his medial knee ligament has been touched. We’ll know more about that soon. For how long he will be out, I don’t know.

When pressed if he thought Mkhitaryan could be out for a number of weeks, Wenger told Sky Sports News: “I fear this. I hope I’m wrong.”

Cue the doom-mongers and what “could” happen (none of it’s good):

Henrikh Mkhitaryan could miss rest of Arsenal season with knee injury – Daily Telegraph

Arsenal star Henrikh Mkhitaryan could miss rest of the season after fears of knee ligament damage – Daily Mirror

Arsenal star Henrikh Mkhitaryan could face several weeks on sidelines, confirms Arsene Wenger – Evening Standard

Or else he, you know, could not.

The big fixture for Arsenal is the Europe League semi-final, scheduled to be played on the 26/04/18 and 03/05/18.

And what if it is medial ligament damages, brought about by a clash of knees, as happened to Mkhitaryan? The BBC tells us:

Return?
You can have a minor pull which heals within a few weeks, or a major pull which takes between one and three months.

If it is a medial ligament issue, all could be well in a few weeks.

If it is completely torn you could be out for a year.

It’s not.

Treatment
Most cases do not require operations, but occasionally people run into major trouble.

The medial ligament is linked to the cartilage so further problems can result.

Physiotherapy is used as the medial ligament, being outside the joint, heals more easily than the internal cruciate ligaments.

Not so bad, then.

Cruciate injuries, however, require surgery to repair the damaged ligament and several hundred such operations are carried out on sports stars each year.

By way of comparisons, Manchester City’s damaged his medial collateral ligament on New Year’s Eve. He next played for City’s first team on February 25.

And the NHS tells us: “Most simple MCL sprains will recover in 2-4 weeks”.

So Mkhitaryan could be back in two weeks.

Posted: 6th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, News, Sports | Comment


Raheem Sterling v The Sun: Manchester City and England star attacked

Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling is “obscene”. Well, so the Sun told us. The same paper wants us to know: “RAHEEM STERLING has urged England fans to ‘give love’ and cut out the negativity.” England fans, like, the Sun?

The plea for unity continues: “The Manchester City star was battered by Three Lions fans at Euro 2016 – there was even an internet hate campaign to bring him home early from the tournament.” And it wasn’t just on the Internet where the former Liverpool player was getting attacked.

 

obscene-raheem-the-sun sterling

 

To the Sun, Raheem Sterling was a”hate figure”. The paper went studs up on the young athlete. “England failure steps off plane and insults fans by showing off blinging house,” thundered the paper.” Leave House & Garden and Hello! stuff for the newspaper editors end media barons, Sterling. Know thy place! And unnamed “source” opined: “Any normal person would hang their heads in shame after how they performed in France but these guys come home and show off about how rich they are.” He’s abnormal.

A “friend of Sterling” told the MEN newspaper:

“Raheem and his family are really upset that the fact he’s bought a nice house for his mum is being used to hammer him by the media and make him the scapegoat for England’s failure… He bought her the house as a thank you for all her support and help. Now to have his mum’s private life and house being mocked and thrown into the public spotlight has left him furious and frustrated.”

Law-abiding, tough, resilient, hard-working, talented athlete buys mum hard times who knew house. The basta…

And it got worse. Much worse. In 2016, the Sun – yep – told readers:

FOOTIE DRUG DEALER Semi-professional footballer turned to drug dealing so he could match the salaries of Prem stars

Which Premier League star do you think the Sun used to illustrate the story of an idiot, who lives in Bristol? We’ll give you a clue: the player is not mentioned once in the story. Yep, it’s Raheem Sterling.

 

Sterling-Social-Media-drugs

Spot the obscenity

 

What is it about Raheem Sterling that annoys them so?

Here’s what Sterling told BBC Radio 5 Live:

“I feel sometimes there is too much negativity. I’d love to hear some positive notes coming in, just to let the boys know everyone is behind them. Make the boys go off to the World Cup with a clear head knowing everyone is behind them and, trust me, you would see a better England. If we get behind those players, give them love, you wouldn’t know how much that would boost their confidence. It’s disappointing when you put on a shirt and get negative feedback but it’s what the fans want — to see you perform well.”

He’s right.

Posted: 3rd, April 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Manchester City, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri blames his team-mates for relegation woes

With relegation looming, Stoke City need a galvanising force to stir team. Stoke are currently 19th in Premier League. They are circling the Premier League plug hole. So step forward, Stoke’s Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri to tell his team-amter how rubbish they are.  The 26-year-old (!) attacking midfielder told Swiss magazine Sport:

The feeling that even a Ronaldinho could do little in this team is sobering.

I had to realise that it’s a bit different when you have players like (Franck) Ribery and Thiago (Alcantara) at Bayern or (Mauro) Icardi and (Mateo) Kovacic at Inter.

Here at Stoke I can not exert too much influence, simply because there is a lack of quality around me.

I can not just Löffel verwerfen (down tools) but it would take something extreme for Stoke in the transfer market this summer to revive my enthusiasm.

It’s not me. It’s them. What a great bloke.

Some stats on the player’s PL season to date:

Matches played: 29
Goals: 7
Shooting accuracy: 47%
Big chances missed: 2
Passes Per Match: 29.93
Duels Won: 93
Duels Lost: 124
Aerial Battles Won: 5
Aerial Battles Lost: 14

Shaqiri the Legend – the movie will be great.

Posted: 1st, April 2018 | In: News, Sports | Comment


Ray Wilkins: Chelsea to the core

Ray Wilkins, the former England captain who played for Manchester United, AC Milan, Paris Saint Germain, Ranger, QPR, Crystal Palace and Chelsea (debut at 17 and club captain a year later; assistant manager at Chelsea under no fewer than four different managers; two terms as caretaker manager), is unwell. Wilkins is in a London hospital. He is critically ill. His wife says things are “very bad” with the 61-year-old.

‘Butch’ Wilkins, a media mainstay, has been a favourite ever since when he explained his love for football as being payed to do his hobby.

Until his sacking in 2013, Wilkins represented continuity at Chelsea, a rare quality for club that treat staff as sundries.

 

 

 

And not forgetting this:

Get well soon, Ray.

Posted: 31st, March 2018 | In: Chelsea, News, Sports | Comment


Steve Smith quits Australia cricket captaincy role

Smith Smith is no longer captain of the Australian cricket team. His deputy David Warner has also stepped down. Both players cheated and got found out. Smith admitted that the team’s “leadership group” had discussed a plot to tamper with the ball in the Test series against South Africa. Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera on the third day of the third Test between in Cape Town taking a yellow tape from his pocket before rubbing the ball. Aware he;d been spotted, he then stuffed the tape down his trousers.

 

Down Under Press

 

“We had a discussion during the [lunch] break and I saw an opportunity to use some tape, get some granules from the rough patches on the wickets and change the condition,” said Bancroft. “It didn’t work. The umpires didn’t change the ball. Once I was sighted on the screen I panicked quite a lot and that’s why I shoved it [a piece of sticky tape] down my trousers.”

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was upset. “I am shocked and bitterly disappointed by the news from South Africa,” said Turnbull. “It seems beyond belief the Australian cricket team have been involved in cheating. Our cricketers are role models and cricket is synonymous with fair play. How can our team be engaged in cheating like this? It beggars belief.”

Role models. Haha. No. They’re not. But they are cheats.

Posted: 25th, March 2018 | In: News, Sports | Comment


Zlatan Ibrahimovich hails his move from Manchester United to LA Galaxy with full-page ad in LA Times newspaper

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has paid for a full-page advert in today’s LA Times newspaper to hail his arrival in the US of A. Earlier this week, Manchester United ripped up Zlatan’s contract, allowing him to sign a two-year deal with LA Galaxy. He’s still’s full of swagger, but is the 36-year-old Ibra worth it?

 

Zlatan-la-times-advert-galaxy

 

He might well be. With 33 top trophies in his cabinet, Ibrahimovic has aged well. Since his 30th birthday, Zlatan has scored – get his – 251 goals. Didier Drogba scored 141. Teddy Sheringham scored 124. Before turning 30, he scored 232. Ibrahimovic has scored ten or more league goals in every season from 2006/07 to 2016/17.

All hail, Zlatan, then.

 

Posted: 23rd, March 2018 | In: manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Liverpool: James Milner tweets his ironing

James Milner, the Liverpool player, has tweeted a photo of himself doing a very James Miler thing: he’s ironing a T-shirt. It really is James Milner and not the famous joke Twitter account “Boring James Milner” that updates its hundreds of thousands of followers with news of him sorting his cupboards, lining up his socks and, yep, ironing.

 

 

Looks like Milner, the super-focused footballer has a sense of humour.

He’s also a lesson in now drive and ultra-professionalism can take a player to the top of the game. Here are few words from people who’ve worked with ‘boring” James Milner:

Roy Hodgson: ”We know what James will do. James isn’t and doesn’t pretend to be as exciting as some of the wingers we sometimes use these days.”

Steven Weeks, who taught Milner at school: ”James is still exactly the same really nice, calm, quiet, totally unassuming, popular lad he was at school but I always thought that, inside, he had the sort of controlled aggression that takes people to the very top.”

Glenn Roeder: “James can seem a goody two shoes but he deserves every bit of success going. Unlike the vast majority of professional footballers he works to his maximum and extracts every last ounce of ability.”

 

Posted: 23rd, March 2018 | In: Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal told Jack Wilshere he could leave last summer

Jack Wilshere has still not committed his future to Arsenal, the club he joined at age nine. Wilshere, 26, will be out of contract at the end of the current season, in which he has made 31 appearances to date – the most in a season since 2013-14. The Gunners have offered him a new deal on reduced terms – he’ll have to accept a pay cut on his £120,000-a-week salary. He wants a better deal. And he wants to stay.

“I have got three months left on my contract,” he says. “Ideally, yes, I want it sorted as soon as possible. I want to go to the World Cup and enjoy it but we have three months until then and a lot can happen. Ideally from my point of view and the club’s point of view, they will probably want it sorted.”

 

jack wilshere

 

He might have left the club last summer.

“He [Arsene Wenger] gave me the opportunity [to leave] with three or four weeks left in the transfer window,” says Wilshere from the England team base. It will be Wilshere’s first outing for England since that 1-0 defeat to Iceland in Euro 2016.

“I did not find anything that I wanted and at the same time I was not really fit, so I decided that I wanted to stay and build up my fitness. It was an honest conversation. We have known each other long enough where we can have that relationship where we are honest with each other. It was boiling up for a while because everybody knew I had a year left on my deal and I had been out on loan, got injured, and wasn’t really in his plans. He said, ‘I am going to be honest with you and at the moment we are not going to be offering you a contract, so if you can get a contract somewhere else, you can go’. Obviously I was not happy with that, but at the same time I was happy he was being honest.”

Determined and cock-sure, Wilshere is the kind of player Arsenal need more of.

 

Posted: 22nd, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


The greatest dive in football: Jean Meneses hits invisible force field

To Chile, where Universidad de Concepcion forward Jean Meneses is taking an interesting tumble in the box, having encountered an invisible force field. He does not go to ground easily. He opts for complexity.

Let’s set the scene. The game between Universidad de Concepcion and Colo Colo is 1-1. Five minutes normal time. Meneses, 25, is inside the Colo Colo box. He has the ball. And then he does not. Here it is:

 

 

Penalty! Seriously. The referee awarded a penalty kick. Fernando Manriquez scored it. Universidad de Concepcion win the match 2-1.

Says Jean Meneses: “One has to take advantage of the fact that the forwards can not touch attackers inside the area. So I played a little bit with the vividness and I let myself fall.”

File unser: when gravity attacks!

Posted: 21st, March 2018 | In: News, Sports | Comment


It’s quiet at Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea because football fans are being controlled

Manchester United’s Old Trafford is a quiet ground. It’s not alone. The quiet at the Emirates is more obvious than a dead nun on a snow-covered hillside. Stamford Bridge is quiet enough for rare newts to breed and raise their young in The Shed end.  But help is afoot. United are looking at ways to bring back the noise. Things under consideration: fans with megaphones; song sheets; the return to standing and a reduction in ticket prices, meaning fans can turn up on a whim and not have to book seats well in advance, pay though the noes and sit among strangers. Only one part of that list was made up. The last part.

 

 

There will be no standing.

Football as we know it changed on 15 April 1989, when 96 blameless Liverpool fans who “neither caused nor contributed to the deaths” lost their lives at Hillsborough in a “failure of police control” and “multiple failures in other organisations”. The police lied and lied and lied. The victims still await justice. But rather than address why fans were caged and police sent for attack dogs when people were losing their lives, Hillsborough was used an excuse to control football supporters – what the Sunday Times called “slum people, who deter decent folk from turning up“.

The mood against football fans was hostile. And then came the 1990 Taylor Report. The fences were torn down. In their the place came all-seater stadia. The ID card scheme never took off – the Tory government wanted football fans to carry compulsory identity cards at matches. But now all fans did get a number, a booking reference and their bank details taken. New forms of control took hold. Spontaneity was out. Chants and language were policed.

So why is there a palpable lack of atmosphere at the football? Because the fans are shackled, treated as problem to manage and control.

Hillsborough: 96 Liverpool Fans Killed By ‘A Slum Sport Watched By Slum People In Slum Stadiums’

 

Posted: 21st, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Liverpool will sell Salah for a fortune and Chelsea are the biggest losers

Spare a thought for Chelsea fans forced to look on as club rejects Kevin Bruyne and Mohamed Salah light up the Premier League for Manchester City and Liverpool, respectively. Both players sold under Jose Mourinho’s regime are shining. Given Mourinho’s narcissism, he’s most likely try to pass his errors off as part of a cunning ploy to leave his former employer’s pained. But if he had foresight, Mourinho would have sold them to Manchester United, pushing Old Trafford towards investment in the coming force rather than selfish Alexis Sanchez – made to look better than he was by playing for a palsied Arsenal team – and the vastly overrated Paul Pogba.

News across the media is that Real Madrid rather like Salah. Those Spanish talent spotters have noted that the Egyptian scores lots of goals and looks a joy to be around. So excited are they by their discovery in the Premier League backwaters that Real will invest up to £200m in Salah. But news from Anfield is that Liverpool will spurn any moves for their star turn. They won’t, of course. Every player has a price. And £200m for Salah is an absurd sum  for a £34million summer signing from Roma.

The problem for Liverpool is that Salah is the star of a team which will probably win nothing.

 

 

 

Posted: 21st, March 2018 | In: Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Spurs Harry Kane is worth more than Barcelona’s Messi

The CIES Football Observatory has crunched the data and concluded that Spurs striker Harry Kane is worth more in the transfer market than Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. Total balls.

No disrespect to Kane, but how many football fans will boast “I saw Harry Kane”? To see Messi in the flesh is to witness something extraordinary, a player who lifts the spirits. A friend from Napoli interjected a pub debate on which top player we’d all enjoyed watching live. Names poured out: Thierry Henry, Eric Cantona, Johan Cruyff, Franco Baresi, Ziendine Zidane and Franz Beckenbauer. He raised his hands and if spelling out a neon sign above the door to the star attraction, move them from left to right as he declared: “I saw Maradona.”

Messi is better. He is also, as one sports writer notes, the cure: “Some weeks especially we need to plunge head-first into the joys of sport after fretting about the contents of a Jiffy bag or whether England fans will be targeted by thugs in Russia or if a pundit should be sacked for gobbing at a fan…Messi is the best antidote to any creep of dissatisfaction.”

But away from the thrill of live action, in an office block in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, the boffins at CIES have calculated not only Messi’s monetary value but how he ranks against other players in England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France. The challenge is to decide which player represents the best investment for their current club. Kane, who cost Spurs nothing to recruit, is worth £173m (€198.2m); Messi, who joined Barcelona as as child, is worth £172m (€196.8m).

CIES explains its method:

The estimated values are calculated using an exclusive algorithm conceived by the CIES Football Observatory research team. An increasing number of professional clubs and football intermediaries have recourse to the approach developed for transfer negotiations and litigation. The estimations for all big-5 league players are available here.

Here’s the list of talent;

 

best players europe money

best players europe money

best players europe money

 

So Kane is worth more than Messi – but only if you reduce football to a sport best watched via screens, accessed through a betting app and broken down to the raw data, reducing every aspect of humanity into quantifiable, anodyne chunks. One day they’ll bring all the greats back to their pomp with a new software package, and show us if Bobby Charlton and Pele were better than Ronaldo and Messi. The fans, meanwhile, should save up for something far more vital: a ticket to see Messi play live.

 

 

Posted: 20th, March 2018 | In: News, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Activists says PE and team sports are racist colonialism

The latest from the grievance studies industry is that team sports – those English things like football, rugby, cricket – are racist. Further, that we only let the rest of the world play them so they could beat us as an act of colonialism. The problem with this being not the basic facts at issue. For the English, perhaps the British, did indeed invent many of the sports which are now played globally. And there was most certainly an element of exporting the games as a part of civilising the savage natives of other lands. You know, like teaching the French rugby will make them gentlemen. Teaching the Welsh the game will make them something even if not gentlemen.

The problem with the idea though is that it’s entirely missed the proper, Marxist, interpretation of what happened:

Analyses of curricula in a range of countries show how they tend to reinforce, rather than challenge, popular theories of racism. To date, we know little about the contribution of physical education (PE) curriculum policy to the overall policy landscape. This paper examines the construction of race and racism in two national contexts (Norway and England) as a means of putting race and anti-racism on the PE policy research agenda. It adopts a critical whiteness perspective to analyse how whiteness, as a system of privilege, contributes to the racialisation of valued knowledge in PE and asks, who potentially benefits and/or is marginalised within the learning spaces available in the texts? The discourse analysis reveals that two discursive techniques of whiteness combine to privilege white, Eurocentric knowledge content.

Yeah, yeah, we know how that ends, Whitey’s a Bad Boy and a colonialist to boot. Tsk.

But that is to use today’s unthinking Marxism – the identifying feature of which is not to think and not to use actual Marx – to explain matters, rather than actual Marx and or thinking.

Marx himself said two things which explains matters here. The first is that the mode of production determines social relations. How what is produced tells us a great deal about how the society is going to be organised. The second is that capitalism, as harnessed by the bourgeoisie, was the most productive economic system as yet used.

It’s not a big step and it’s most certainly a usefully Marxist one to go on to say that the much greater productivity of the capitalist economy was going to change the society. Which, of course, it did. One of the most obvious ways it did was to make the workers rich enough that they didn’t have to work every moment of every day in order to just stay alive. That Industrial Revolution is what brought us the concept of leisure. An example of which is why football matches start at 3 pm on a Saturday. Because it was still into hte working lives of those living today that Saturdays were a half day up in those Satanic Mills.

All of which tells us why it was those White Victorians who invented most of the games. They were the first people to live in a society which had the time – and thus the inclination – to actually have regular games. Either to play or to spectate. And that’s really it.

As to the exportation, we did export that Industrial Revolution which created that leisure. And the wealth which the industrialisation creates. It’s really not a surprise that as places got rich enough to have the time for sports then they adopted those sports that were already played in the richer places.

So, yes, many sports are British in origin. But not because of racism or even colonialism. Purely and simply because Britain was the first place to be rich enough to have large scale organised sports. As other places got richer they copied the sports as well as the methods of getting rich. No racism nor colonialism involved.

Posted: 20th, March 2018 | In: News, Sports | Comment


Manchester United are not getting rid of 10 players this summer

Fancy making a guess at how many players are heading out of Manchester United this summer? The BBC says it’s ’10’. the source for the Beeb’s news of this mass exodus of talent is the ever-trusty Daily Express. The Express, of course, is riding high on the back of its scoop that this winter would feature cold weather and snow. Sure enough, the UK was gipped by the ‘Beast from the East’. Yes, the paper forecasts bad weather on its front page around twice a week but this time it was right. It might well be right again – Madeleine McCann will be found; dementia will be cured with rhubarb; the summer will bring a heatwave; and ten footballers will leave Old Trafford at the end of the season.

 

daily express clickbait manchester united

 

The Express lists the players heading to the exit: Luke Shaw, Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian, Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It then tells us that the ten will be replaced with just five: Gareth Bale, Toby Alderweireld, Danny Rose, Willian and Fred. Will that happen? Reason says no. But we did have that snow…

 

daily express clickbait manchester united

 

Of course, in the clickbait world of online journalism, pretty much any claim, however outlandish, can be countered by another outlandish claim, So here’s the Metro to tell us that Fred has already agreed to join Manchester City:

 

fred manchester city

 

And if you don’t believe the Metro, well, you know who else told us Fred is on his way to City? Yep. The Express:

 

Daily Express, Feb 9 1018

 

The Express offers no source for its story of ten players leaving United. But over in the Sun, we read: “Manchester United reportedly set for summer clear out with Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling and Anthony Martial among NINE facing axe’”. The Sun does cite a source: the Daily Mail. And it reports:

Luke Shaw may as well start planning a joint leaving-do with Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind this summer…

Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial, Juan Mata and Chris Smalling are among those who cannot guarantee they will be at Old Trafford beyond this summer, when United will also have to replace Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick.

And from that the Express got its scoop of ten players leaving Manchester United.

Now… anyone know if it’s going to be sunny this July?

Posted: 19th, March 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Luke Shaw attack splits Manchester United dressing room

Jose Mourinho says he wants to build a legacy at Manchester United. Nothing about his past suggests that he will. Mourinho leaves clubs spent and exhausted. He’s never lasted more than three years in one place.

One player tired of the tiresome manager is full-back Luke Shaw. Mourinho thought it right once again to criticise Shaw in public following United’s FA Cup win over Brighton on Saturday.

A fit Shaw was substituted at half-time. Mourinho says Shaw and fellow full-back Antonio Valencia failed to follow his tactical instructions. “I could have changed both of them at half-time.,” said Mourinho. “…I had to change one and I chose Luke because at least Antonio defensively was capable of good positioning. Luke, in the first half, every time they came in his corridor, the cross came in and a dangerous situation was coming. I was not happy with his performance.”

Reports suggest United players think Shaw is being “bullied” by his pouting manager. Mourinho says only Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku – the goalscorers against Brighton – would escape his anger.  The rest possessed “a lack of personality, lack of class and lack of desire”. When you get schooled in class by Mourinho, you give Dr Eva Carneiro the side eye and check your finger for bits of eyeball.

“I didn’t have many managers in my life but he is special because he wants to win always,” says Matic, in full teacher’s pet mode. “You can see when we lose a game he cannot accept that. Probably that’s why he won more than 20 trophies in his life. It is very difficult to work with him because he always wants more and more. Even if you win the league he wants to win again next season. He is like this and the players need to be ready for that. Because at this high level, at Manchester United and where I used to play Chelsea, the players need to be ready for that because the pressure is big. Everyone expects you to win every game. Obviously it is not possible, but supporters always expect. It doesn’t matter if you are tired or not, supporters want high quality football. It is normal.”

He had us up to ‘high quality’. Mourinho’s win at all costs approach is anathema to the so-called Manchester United way. At Chelsea and Inter Milan, success-starved clubs with no adherence to a style, Mourinho delivering silverware was the be all. Does grinding out a result work at United?

Alex Ferguson used to give under-performing players a blast of the ‘hairdryer’. But always in private. Mourinho makes it all about him. In reviewing Mourinho’s turgid 12-minute speech delivered after United’s defeat to Sevilla in the Champions League, Oliver Holt spoke for many:

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address lasted two minutes. Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech lasted 17 minutes. John F Kennedy’s Inauguration Speech lasted 14 minutes. Winston Churchill’s ‘Fight on the Beaches’ speech lasted 34 minutes.

Acclaimed as football’s answer to all of them, Jose Mourinho’s self-serving, self-aggrandising, self-regarding, self-pitying, melodramatic, hard-luck claptrap that passed for his attempt at oratory on Friday afternoon lasted 12 minutes. His only theme was Jose Mourinho. He used his moment on the stage to deliver a homage to himself.

Ask not what Mourinho can do for Manchester United but what Manchester United can do for him. His was a dystopian vision of a great football club as a vehicle for a narcissist. His was a speech that denigrated United so that he could vindicate himself. Some managers subjugate themselves to their clubs. Mourinho asks that the club subjugates itself to him.

Holt’s a United fan. They want better.

Posted: 19th, March 2018 | In: manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


FA Cup fail: BBC announce Manchester United to play Chelsea and Spurs

And to the live draw for the FA Cup semi-final. Lynsey Hipgrave is the designated BBC blonde sports presenter tasked with announcing the matches. The balls are pulled from U-bend beneath the FA Cup plug hole by Gianfranco Zola and Petr Cech.

The numbers in the hat are – and if anyone knows the method behind the numbering, do tell:

1 – Tottenham
2 – Manchester United
3 – Chelsea
4 – Southampton

They come out in order: 2, 1, 3, 4.

It’s Manchester United v Tottenham. It’s Chelsea v Southampton. Or as Hipgrave puts it: it’s Spurs v Southampton. It’s Man United v Chelsea.

 

 

You had one job.

Posted: 18th, March 2018 | In: Chelsea, manchester united, News, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Danny Welbeck has now dived for Arsenal and Manchester United – now for England

‘The dive gets a big fat 0. Nothing can excuse it, embarrassing,” wrote the Daily Mirror’s John Cross in his awarding of player scores at the end of Arsenal’s Europa League victory over AC Milan. The Sun gave Welbeck 9/10, not mentioning what Cross called Welbeck’s “blatant dive to win a penalty”. Italy’s Corriere della Sera delivered its match verdict: “Affondati da un tuffo” (“Sunk by a dive”).

Welbeck will discover tomorrow whether he will face any retrospective action for that alleged dive. Uefa hold an option to act if the match referee or delegate raise concerns. But there is no word that anyone has done. The Football Association has the power to review the cheating and ban divers for two games. More power to the FA. But they matter not in this instance.

It’s all rather dispiriting. England players diving is all the rage. Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad features the following forwards: persistant diver Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling (“We know that Raheem Sterling dives well, he does that very well” – Arsene Wenger), Danny Welbeck, slippery-booted Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford.

As Daniel Taylor notes: “Raheem Sterling and Jamie Vardy have made an art form of initiating contact with the defender and then going down in the penalty area. Marcus Rashford’s dive to win a penalty against Swansea last season was one of the reasons why the FA beefed up its rules.”

Here’s Welbeck playing for Manchester United against Wigan in 2012:

 

 

Diving is a horror. But not enough is being done to end it. The players don’t care. The media admires it – Corriere dello Sport actually made Welbeck man of the match. And the clubs just see it as a marketing opportunity:

 

 

Carry on diving, then.

 

Posted: 18th, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports | Comment


Fiery Jack Wilshere has outgrown Wenger’s dull and directionless Arsenal

Let’s not abuse Jack Wilshere for trying to negotiate the best terms at Arsenal. Most fans would agree to an £80,000-a-week deal plus bonuses Arsenal are offering Wilshere to extend his current deal that runs out at this season’s end. But if we thought we could get more, we’d try.

The caveat is, of course, that Wilshere is an Arsenal fan, whose been at the club since age nine. And given theoretic options on offer, most Gunners would take a hungry Wilshere, who fronts up on the pitch, to remain at the club over the moribund and uninspiring Arsene Wenger (wage: £10m a season) and replace the panicky and hapless Granit Xhaka as the team’s fulcrum.

Why does Wilshere need Wenger’s Arsenal? Is Wilshere improving under the Frenchman? Is anyone?

And Jack The Lad has a way out. Everton are ready to pay him a whopping £8 million signing-on fee to join them on a free transfer in June. Will he take that? Surely not. Even a palsied Wenger is better than a pugnacious Sam Allardyce, who’d teach Wilshere what: to better challenge for headers?

Wilshere might have yet to rediscover that burst of pace that took him away from opponents, a skill dented by cruel and lengthy injuries, but he has oodles of perseverance and drive. Arsenal are sensible to temper a new deal given the state of Wilshere’s ankles, but to let go of one of the few players possessed of personality, who connects with fans and looks like he actually cares, would be giving up on much more than one player. It’s be more evidence that Wenger’s regime is ending in abject failure.

Posted: 17th, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal in Russia, a rerun of the Polonium derby and World Cup boycotts are for football haters

polonium arsenal

 

The quarter-final of football’s Europa League pits Arsenal against CSKA Moscow.

There has been no media balls about the English club boycotting the two-legged match, as there have been copious words on England not attending this summer’s World Cup in light of Moscow’s involvement in the attempted murders of Russian exiles Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia, 33, in a chemical attack in Salisbury.

Any debate about England’s participation in this summer’s tournament invites us to wonder why now and not when the Russians allegedly secured their hosting of the tournament through bribes; annexed Crimea; the time Russian club Spartak Moscow referred to its black players as “chocolates”; or when, having seen the extreme violence after a match between England and Russia in Marseille in 2016, “British government officials” feared the fighting that left two England fans in comas was sanctioned by the Kremlin – a prominent Russian parliamentarian hardly quietened such notions when he  tweeted: “Well done lads, keep it up!”?

Labour politician John Woodcock wants “MPs to push for concerted international action over the World Cup… It should [a boycott] be on the table because of the appalling magnitude of what Russia has done.”

So Harry Kane is sacrificed to prove a politician’s point. All the players who dreamt of playing at a World Cup finals miss out because politicians and wonks who see football less as a fun leisure pursuit than a tool for top-down moral education want it.

But at least Arsenal can play on, and take their chances with the all-powerful, conniving Russians – who have moved on rapidly from bringing down the West through a ‘farm’ of nerds on Facebook and twitter, to unleashing chemical weapons in Wiltshire. And the Gunners might have something to fear. The last time the two clubs met in 2007, traces of polonium (the poison used to kill ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvenenko that very same day) were later found at the Emirates…

 

Posted: 16th, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Liverpool balls: no comment from United Nations On Carragher spit – yet

The Daily Mirror leads with a photo of former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher gobbing at a 14-year -old Manchester United fan. And it will not rest until every molecule of water in Carragher’s spit has earned its own headline on the paper’s clickbait-heavy website. There are 1.674 x 1021 molecules of water in a drop of water. That’s a lot. But the Mirror has embarked on its mission with gusto.

There is no word on the incident – yet – from the UN, the Pope, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, Prince William and other great moralisers on how Carragher’s flob epitomises the great societal ills at the heart of football, the working-class people who still follow the game and society. But when they do comment, the Mirror will top and tail the words into sensation.

The following news stories have been broken on the Mirror’s website:

Sky Sports to hold talks with Jamie Carragher after Liverpool legend’s “unacceptable behaviour” in spit storm

”Inexcusable!” – Liverpool fans condemn Jamie Carragher after Reds legend caught up in spitting storm

”Vile and disgusting” Jamie Carragher’s previous comments about spitting come back to haunt him after incident with Man United fan

Spit row pundit Jamie Carragher needs to learn that with great privilege comes great responsibility, says Alison Phillips

Lorraine Kelly slams ‘horrible’ Jamie Carragher after he was filmed spitting at 14-year-old football fan: “It’s not acceptable”

Jamie Carragher breaks cover for first time since spit storm as he prepares for showdown talks with Sky Sports

“Filth!” Vinnie Jones wants Jamie Carragher sacked and reveals what he’d have done if he spat at his daughter

“I didn’t see her”: Jamie Carragher claims girl was out of sight after he was filmed spitting at 14-year-old and her dad

Jamie Carragher backed by former Liverpool team-mate after spitting at Manchester United fan and young daughter

“You couldn’t make it up!” Football fans take aim at Joey Barton as he hits out at Jamie Carragher for spitting at fan

Danny Murphy reveals conversation with Jamie Carragher following Liverpool legend’s spitting storm

Richard Keys reacts to Jamie Carragher spit storm after former Sky Sports anchor was sacked for sexist remarks

Jamie Carragher arrives in London ahead of Sky Sports showdown talks after spitting at fan and 14-year-old daughter

Big debate: Who should replace Jamie Carragher as MNF pundit if he gets the boot after his spitting shame?

Jamie Carragher is removed from first TV pundit role after spitting at Manchester United fan and 14-year-old daughter

Billy Joe Saunders blasts Jamie Carragher for spit shame, branding former Liverpool star a “sick w*****”

Jamie Carragher fans trying to justify his spitting are the worst sort of football supporters – you can’t excuse the inexcusable

Gary Neville backs Sky Sports colleague Jamie Carragher after spitting shame and insists it “shouldn’t stop us working together”

Jamie Carragher forced to watch moment he spat at football fan and 14-year-old girl during Sky interview

Jamie Carragher suspended by Sky Sports after spitting at football fan and 14-year-old daughter

Manchester United fans make brilliant Michael Carrick suggestion as Jamie Carragher is suspended by Sky Sports

Jamie Carragher apology: Full transcript as Sky Sports pundit admits ‘disgust’ with himself over spit shame

Why Sky Sports have cut Monday Night Football by half an hour after Jamie Carragher spit storm

Monday Night Football without Jamie Carragher – live updates as Sky Sports suspend pundit following spitting video

Police to quiz father of Jamie Carragher spitting victim because he filmed football pundit while driving

Sky Sports presenter Dave Jones’ cheeky last remark as MNF FINALLY reference Jamie Carragher spit storm

Gary Lineker’s Jamie Carragher tweet sparks row with Sky Sports’ Geoff Shreeves

Body language expert analyses Jamie Carragher’s live TV apology following spit shame

Jamie Carragher spits at football fan and his 14-year-old daughter in shocking video following Liverpool’s defeat to Manchester United

Jamie Carragher’s former Liverpool teammate hints at personal turmoil behind spitting shame

John Arne Riise urges people to “move on” following Jamie Carragher’s spit shame

Spotter: Football 365

Posted: 13th, March 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Former Liverpool star Jamie Carragher cops a suspension for Manchester United fan attack

Photos of Jamie Carragher, the former Liverpool defender, spitting at a teenage girl are all over the media. Given his tongue chewing, whale-voice way of speaking, we first thought the huge spray was Carra’s mouth wrestling with “Ryan Sessègnon scores screamer”. But then the story came that after Liverpool’s defeat to Manchester United, Carragher had been the target of banter as he drove home. Sat in traffic, a passing United fan wound down his window and reminded Carragher of the final score: “Unlucky Jamie lad – 2-1!” The driver was with his 14-year-old daughter. Carragher showed that he’d lost none of his old bile and gobbed at the girl sat in the passenger seat.

It’s all on camera.

 

jamie carragher spitting

 

What happens next is a sign that football punditry is not as far removed from the on-field action as first appears. Team Sky Sports have suspended Carragher. He calls it “a moment of madness” – “four or five seconds I can’t explain”, calling to mind the “It’s not the kind of thing he’d do” defence favoured by manager’s explaining ‘Chopper’s’ studs-up challenge on the opposition nimble midfielder.

Carragher adds:

“It’s devastating for the family involved and I’m sorry for my actions. I called the family, obviously they were upset last night. That is my biggest regret, that a 14-year-old girl was caught up in the middle of this.”

Not in the middle. More full in the face.

And just like in actual football, after the suspension, comes the expert punditry. So here’s former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville to review the action. “I’ve just watched Jamie Carragher say sorry,” he said. “No excuses, he’s made a big mistake… I’ve been on TV for three years with him and, in my opinion, this isolated incident shouldn’t stop us working together.”

But where are you both going to work?

 

Posted: 12th, March 2018 | In: Liverpool, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Former Arsenal star sent off as life imitates Wotsits

Referee Dean Hulme asked former Arsenal player Sanchez Watt for his name. Watt, playing for Hemel Hempstead Town in a National League South game against East Thurrock United was going into the ref’s book.

“Watt,” said the 27-year-old. Hulme believed he was saying “what?” and sent him off for dissent. The card was soon rescinded.

“It was a human error,” Hemel Hempstead chairman Dave Boggins told BBC Sport. “The referee was man enough to rectify it. I think everybody found it amusing afterwards – including the referee. He came into the boardroom after the game and explained how he had made the mistake. He was very apologetic and saw the funny side of it. He was a good ref on the night to be fair to him.”

Watt a Wally:

 

Posted: 7th, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal shocker: 12% of Gooners want Wenger to stay

Don’t open those eyes yet, Arsenal fans: Arsene Wenger is still there. But the Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) has done its bit to defenestrate the manager and prick a supine, greedy board and absentee owner into action. AST members voted overwhelmingly against the Frenchman remaining as manager beyond the end of this season.

A whopping 88% of fans responded to an AST survey saying that they do not support Wenger continuing in charge for another season – last year it was 78%, and Arsenal still gave him a new two-year deal.

As Arsenal FC go full ostrich, we can marvel that 12% of Gooners want Wenger to stay. The same 12% also consider that dream of being tied naked to Nelson’s Column and forced to watch Gary Linker discuss Spurs matches to be the best they’ve ever had. Masochists, eh, they’ve never suffered enough.

Meanwhile, the Times says Wenger spent the hours after Arsenal’s defeat to the mighty Brighton telling his coaching staff that he is “the best man to take Arsenal forward”. He will not break his contract. So Arsenal will have to sack him.

Over to the hapless Ivan Gazidis, then, the Arsenal chief executive. The AST will hand him the results of its survey at a fans’ forum ahead of the match against Watford on Sunday. The meeting promises to be more interesting than the match.

Posted: 6th, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment