Anorak

Sports | Anorak - Part 21

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 go for Massimiliano Allegri or former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique

The identity of the next Arsenal manager occupies minds in the Press. The BBC says Arsenal want to hire Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri or former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique to be their next manager. Sky Sports says both are interested in taking the job but have reservations about working within the club’s management structure.

In 2017, Arsenal altered their set up. In came: Raul Sanllehi – Head of football relations; Sven Mislintat – Head of recruitment; Huss Fahmy – Contract negotiator; and Darren Burgess – Director of high performance.

The Mirror says Enrique, who flopped at Roma, wants to manage Arsenal so badly that he’s willing to work for just £15m a year after tax. It was only a week ago that the media was talking of his demands for a £200m budget for new players. The Times (prop. R Murdoch) told its readers that Arsenal had seen the demands and were no longer considering Enrique. Now Sky (prop. R. Murdoch) says they are.

Whatever Arsenal do or so not do, the clock is ticking. The BBC says Arsenal are confident of naming a new manager before the World Cup starts on 14 June. The BBC’s list of people features: former Arsenal players Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira; Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim and three-time Champions League winner Carlo Ancelotti. To say nothing of Liverpool coach Zeljko Buvac, who has reportedly already agreed to take over at The Emirates.

The upshot is that we’ll know who it is when Arsenal make the announcement.

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


Transfer balls: Fekir news and Klopp’s Dembele to Liverpool confession

Is the job of a journalist to talk truth to power or to spin a story from ether? The BBC says Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp “admits he would be interested in Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele became available”. Admits? It’s a confession that also interests the Sun, which declares: “‘NOW I’M INTERESTED’ – Ousmane Dembele: Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp admits interest in transfer for Barcelona star.”

Lots of admitting from Klopp in his admiration for a player who joined Barcelona from the German’s former club Borussia Dortmund for £135m.  Says the Sun:

…Dembele has been linked with a move away and Klopp got the ball rolling on a deal when asked, after his side’s disappointing loss to Chelsea, that he will be bidding.

It was during the post-match press conference that Klopp was asked about transfers. Had Liverpool signed Lyon captain Nabil Fekir for £60m? “During the game, we agreed a deal?” said Klopp. “I would be surprised about that to be honest. No comment.”

How about Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele?

“Who was the second name? Dembele? Oooh, is he on the market? Now I am interested!” said Klopp. “I never comment on transfer rumours. I have already said much more than I usually do.”

Klopp laughed off the questions. But tbis is how it a reported in the Mail, Mirror and Express:

Daily Mail: “Jurgen Klopp keen to bring in Barcelona £95m flop Ousmane Dembele.”

Daily Express: “LIVERPOOL boss Jurgen Klopp has confirmed he would love to sign Barcelona star Ousmane Dembele.”

Daily Mirror: “Liverpool ready for talks to sign Barcelona star Ousmane Dembele”

Total balls.

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 7th, May 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Mahrez to Arsenal is clickbait

The BBC says Leicester forward Riyad Mahrez is “keen to join Arsenal”. The 27-year-old Algerian is on his way to the Emirates, says the Sunday Express in what it hails as a “transfer exclusive”.

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

Daily Express – EXCLUSIVE

 

The story contains not a single new fact. But we do learn that “Express Sport understands” Mahrez “favours a move to Arsenal”. Apparently, Mahrez “has a house in the capital and would prefer a switch there over a move to Manchester”. So not withstanding Mahrez’s shock realisation that people live in houses in Manchester and, unlike in London, anyone on a mere £100,000-a-week can afford one, Arsenal it is, then.

Maybe. Because the Express also ‘understands’, “Tottenham and Chelsea remain alternative options”, to say nothing of West Ham, Crystal Palace and Watford, which the Express doesn’t.

Of course, this guesswork is based on previous reports linking Mahrez to Arsenal. You might have read them in the Express:

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

Another Express scoop

 

Not that the Express is the only newspaper to have told us that Mahrez to Arsenal was a done deal:

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

The Daily Mirror poses the story as question – but Google doesn’t recognise question marks – so the story is presented as fact to any readers searching for Mahrez, Leicester City and Arsenal news.

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

Teamtalks opts for invested commas

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

The Telegraph also opts for inverted commas

 

mahrez leicester arsenal transfer

The Metro

 

Mahrez to Arsenal it is, then…

Posted: 6th, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United Alex Ferguson ‘fights for life’ and privacy

The red-top tabloids agree on one thing: former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is “fighting for his life”:

 

alex ferguson brain surgery

 

The Sun on Sunday, Mirror and Star all  lead on Sir Alex Ferguson’s emergency operation for a brain haemorrhage. The former Manchester United boss is in intensive care at Salford Royal Hospital.

The news is peppered with good will wishes from many, including Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s unlikely Fergie is reading them. But such public displays of support serve to pad out the single-thread news and cast a light on the tweeters and Instagramers.

Ferguson’s family have asked for privacy – which is presumably why the news media is camped outside the hospital. Sky News’ man in the car park told us this morning that Fergie is “in the best place”.  You think?

Amidst much guff, credit, then to Everton manager Sam Allardyce who rather than shining a light on himself, offered instead: “I hope he’s in good hands and I hope the operation is a major success.”

Well said. And well said too, Man United’s Ashley Young: “Gutted to hear the news tonight about Sir Alex. Don’t really know what else to say other than thoughts and prayers with you and your family, boss.”

A bit less well said was is what former United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar noted: “Devastated about the news about Sir Alex and knowing all too well about the situation ourselves. Stay strong and hope together with everyone you recover.”

He is alive, Edwin.

 

alex ferguson brain surgery alex ferguson brain surgery

Posted: 6th, May 2018 | In: manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Manchester United great Alex Ferguson is very ill

Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has undergone emergency surgery for a brain haemorrhage. We all wish him well.

Ferguson led Manchester United to 13 Premier League titles, two Champions League and FA Cups over 26 years. When he did finally retire in 2013, he told us: “The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about. It is the right time.”

He did, of course, plan to quit in 2002. “My first run at retirement was a textbook case for how not to do it,” he wrote. “I was turning 60, which in my father’s time was a watershed age, but these days has far less significance. I could not help but think of what happened to Jock Stein and Bill Shankly after they had retired from Celtic and Liverpool, and I was determined that would not happen to me.”

When he did call it a day, Ferguson’s his wife Cathy was instrumental in making up his mind. He called it a “watershed moment” when Bridget, Cathy’s twin, died in late 2012. He wrote: “I felt that, after all those years during which Cathy had put me first, it was time that I took care of her needs.”

In his 2015 book, Leading, Ferguson told us about his new routine: “Now, after a lifetime of getting ready for work at six in the morning, I like waking up at eight, having breakfast with Cathy (which I had not done for 30 years), reading the paper, and going to have lunch in the village… For the first time in my life, I was in charge of my life in a way that I had not been since the school holidays of my childhood. It was a liberating experience and has allowed me to do things that I could never have done while at United.”

 

Posted: 5th, May 2018 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


Crystal Palace player apologies for scoring against Stoke

Patrick an Aanholt says he’s sorry for scoring a goal for Crystal Palace in the South Londoners 2-1 win over Stoke City. Van Aanholt has never played for Stoke. So it’s not yet another example of that sad, pathetic and po-faced non-celebration celebration enacted by players who score against a former club. Van Aanholt is sorry because his goal means Stoke City are relegated from the Premier League.

 

stoke city aarnholt tweet

 

Van Aanholt scored when he took full advantage of Ryan Shawcross’s calamitous under-hit backpass. A more cogent argument for Stoke’s demise than the vibrant opposition trying to score, and succeeding twice, would be to point the finger at Shawcross and then point lots more fingers at the rest of the Stoke side who failed to protect a 1-0 lead in a vital match.

Stoke fans can shake a fist at a club that forgot how to beat a team – winning once since January – that in Xherdan Shaqiri, have a single capable of posing a threat, and are overseen by board that took too long to sack the wildly overrated Mark Hughes.

Paul Lambert, Stoke’s manager, says relegation is a “change to rebuild”. Although he’s yet to tweet a word of thanks to Van Aanholt.

Posted: 5th, May 2018 | In: News, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal’s £200m budget for £25m-a-year-Enrique

How much money will the next Arsenal manager be given to splurge on players? The coach who replaces Arsene Wenger should read the small print on any contract because the newspapers and the trusty BBC are very confused.

The BBC says “Arsene Wenger’s successor at Arsenal will be given a £200m transfer budget”. That’s a huge amount of money. Wenger could have bought 5 Granit Xhakas for that.

 

wenger arsenal transfer budget

 

The source for the BBC’s story is the no less trusty Daily Star. It reports the headline figure as an “exclusive” but offers not a single shred of proof to support the story – not even an unnamed “insider” is coughed up to say it’s all true.

 

budget arsenal

 

It’s wrong, of course. We know the £200m figure is wrong because on April 23 the Daily Telegraph said the next Arsenal manger will have a transfer kitty of…£50m.

 

arsenal players budget

 

 

That lower figure sounds more in keeping with Arsenal’s history than the £200m. So how did it come about? Well, a few days ago, the Sun said former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique wants £200m spending money to take over at Arsenal. But Arsenal don’t have that sum so it’s no deal.

Did the Star just see the figure and echo it?

As for the uninspiring Enrique arriving at Arsenal, the Sun of May 2 noted: “ARSENAL target Luis Enrique’s staggering £25million wage demands could rule him out of the running to replace Arsene Wenger.”

Only ‘could’? On April 29, the Times told its readers:

Arsenal have stepped away from making Luis Enrique the managerial successor to Arsene Wenger… The Sunday Times understands that senior executives consider Enrique an inappropriate fit to the position.

In short: no-one outside the club knows who Arsenal will appoint, let alone what the transfer budget will be.

 

Posted: 5th, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfers: Arsenal, Soyuncu and the truth about Turkish football

Arsenal have seen off a bid from Bayern Munich to sign 21-year-old Turkish defender Caglar Soyuncu, says the BBC. Not that it requires much thought for a hungry defender to pick the Gunners – any defender with even a modicum of pace, power, poise and positional awareness will walk into the current Arsenal team.

But the Beeb is wrong. Soyuncu hasn’t signed. He remains on the books of Bundesliga club Freiburg. News of his arrival at Arsenal is fanned by Altinordu president Seyit Mehmet Ozkan.

Who?

Well, Soyuncu used to play at Turkish club Altinordu. “Caglar Soyuncu is set to join Arsenal,” Ozkan is reported to have told the “International Football Economic Forum”.

The what?

“Arsenal demanded his youth information from us,” says Ozkan. “We’ll earn from him, if he joins Arsenal. Bayern Munich wants him too, but he’s on the way to the Premier League.”

 

 

 Turkish defender Caglar Soyuncu

 

Back to the International Football Economic Forum, something introduced to readers by the Standard, which is the source for the Beeb’s ‘fake’ news on Soyuncu signing for Arsenal. Not much information on this body appears on the web.

But a bit of digging reveals that it was held at the Grand Tarabya Hotel, Istanbul. Sabah newspaper, which hosted the event, lists the international names on the rostrum:

Youth Sports Minister Osman Aşkın Bak, TFF President Yıldırım Demirören , TFF 1st Vice President and Member of UEFA Board of Directors Servet Yardımcı, G.Saray President Mustafa Cengiz , Beşiktaş President Fikret Forest , Başakşehir President Göksel Gümüşdağ,  Altınordu President Mehmet Ozkan, former director of Manchester United and Chelsea Peter Kenyon, star players Gomis, Adebayor, Babel, Rodallega, SABAH Sports Manager Murat Özbostan, Fotomaç Newspaper Editor-in-Chief Zeki Uzundurukan, İnteltek AŞ. General Manager Ahmet Sezer, Passolig General Manager Ceyhun Kazancı, Aktif Bank General Manager Assist. Ahmet Erdal Güncan, Director of Türk Telekom Services Özlem Kalkan Karabulut, G. Saray Commercial Operations Director Kerem Ertan, F. General Manager of Communication Services Hakan Demir, writer Levent Tuzemen, Bülent Timurlenk and Spanish journalist J. Castro Nogale.

The only non-Turks on the panels appear to be: 4 “star players”, Peter Kenyon and a Spanish journalist.

It’s aims:

The International Football Economy Forum… aims to increase knowledge and awareness by creating rational, visionary, creative, sustainable and qualified targets and to increase the brand value of Turkish football by creating public opinion…

Fikret Orman tells the lads:

“Taking a glance at the star players’ perceptions about Turkey; It seems to be a stop before going to the Middle East. If we increase the brand value of the Super League, we can transfer the appropriate players to more economic conditions…

“If we increase the traceability, as in the case of Cenk Tosun [now at Everton], soccer player sales will come at a high price, all of them related with traceability and if we can increase this, the revenue rights of broadcasting rights will increase too. The majority of the sponsors in the league are doing it to become a world brand ..

In light of this marketing drive, are Arsenal really looking to sign Soyuncu for a fee as high as £40m? Ozkan’s words to the Forum are sieved through the wonders of Google Translate:

Speaking at the International Football Economy Forum… Özkan stated that they will continue to trust and provide young players with “We have won Çağlar Söyüncü and Cengiz Ünder for Turkish and European football. I will go to Germany for Sunday and to follow Chelsea to England on Sunday, and I’m going to sell football to both of them.”

And on Arsenal:

Of Turkey in the world take place in the football market, emphasizing that it is linked to the universal Seyit Mehmet Ozkan, “beginning of last season we sold Freiburg Ages Söyünc is to be transferred to Arsenal.”

Well, maybe… Only to the trusty BBC is Soynucu to Arsenal a done deal. And look out for the BBC’s scoop that Roma’s Cengiz Ünder has joined Chelsea. He hasn’t.

Posted: 4th, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Key Posts, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal’s pouting ninnies outdone by Costa’s fight and focus

Arsenal were limp, lacklustre, weak in front of goal, lacking in desire, poor in the final third, insipid around the box, strangers in defence and, above all, bereft of passion. Atletico Madrid, their opponents in last night’s Europa League semi-final, fought from first to last. Atletico centre back Diego Godín was magnificent. Anyone doubting why Arsene Wenger is leaving the club after a decade too long at the helm was a given 90 minute explainer. Arsenal were a team that didn’t look like they wanted it badly enough.

Does anyone at Arsenal want it? This is how the club’s website describes the game’s only goal:

It had been a low-key half, but right on the stroke of the interval the home side took the lead as Griezmann picked out Costa, who raced in on goal and beat David Ospina.

Needing to score an away goal, the only thing low key on the pitch was Arsenal. Atletico paced themselves. Arsenal never got going. There was no mad dash to score. It was pretty stuff that promised little and delivered nothing.

The Arsenal website omits to mention the fact that Hector Bellerin, a defender in name only, always needs an extra touch before crossing the ball (badly), lost Diego Costa, a move akin to not spotting King Kong sat on the big building. Faster than Costa, Bellerin sportingly gave the former Chelsea player a head start. Shoulder to shoulder there would be only one outcome. Bellerin, all hairbands, tattoos and tops knots, landed on his arse. The ball landed in the net. The next manager should teach Bellerin how to defend. Has anyone ever bothered to?

If only Arsenal had a player blessed with Costa’s aggression and focus instead of their gaggle of jogging journeymen and guileless ninnies.

“We knew it was very important to get to the final. Atleti needs it because it’s a big club,” said Costa after the match.

Atletico needed it. Like the moribund team they have become under a tired, cosseted and ideas-free Wenger, Arsenal just turned up, assumed the position and waited for the anticlimax.

One Aranel fans sums up best: “In a way, ending on a massive avoidable letdown is a fitter ending [to Wenger’s time] than actually winning the Europa League would have been.”

Whatever comes next, it can only be better.

Posted: 4th, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


The ridiculous pundit: Buvac to Arsenal and Giggs To Manchester United

Proving that being a football  pundit is a doddle is Danny Murphy, who tells Sky Sports News of his deep upset that Liverpool’s coach Zeljko Buvac is in line to become the next Arsenal manager. Buvac has 17 years as a coach under his belt, taking in league titles and big European finals.

Says Murphy:

“I would find it unbelievable to appoint someone who has never, ever managed as a number one at a club like Arsenal. I think that would be ridiculous for a club like Arsenal. It doesn’t matter how intelligent he is or what he’s done because doing it as a number two is nothing like doing it as a number one.”

It must have been a different Danny Murphy who opined on November 2015 about the next Manchester United manager?

“I would give it to Giggs. At least until the end of the season to see how it goes. He looks like he wants it, he is passionate and he knows how United fans want them to play.”

Consistency is all, right, Danny. Giggs to Arsenal it is, then.

Posted: 3rd, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Subbuteo and the FA still still women’s football as a marketing gimmick

subbuteo-women game

 

In readiness for the 2018 Women’s FA Cup final between Chelsea and Arsenal, Subbuteo have produced a limited edition first all-female set. Marzena Bogdanowicz, the FA’s head of marketing and commercial for women’s football, tells us:

This new, all-female Subbuteo set is a reflection of the rapid growth that women’s football is seeing in the UK right now.

It is? Does anyone still play Subbuteo?

We aspire to greater equality all the way from board games to boardrooms, and every day we are striving to transform the future of the women’s game on and off the pitch.

 

The very first #Subbuteo advert ever seen in #Shoot! 1969-08-16

Subbuteo advert – Shoot! magazine – 1969

 

James Walker, of Hasbro, which make the table-top football game, adds:

We are incredibly excited to work with the FA to place focus on female footballers in this special edition of Subbuteo. Subbuteo has a rich heritage that reflects the nation’s love of football and this all-female playset is recognition of the vital role that women’s football has in our culture.

This is a little undermined by the fact that the set is not being offered for sale. You can only get it via competitions on the FA’s social media channels. The feeling is that Hasbro and the FA see women’s football not as a viable sport, rather as an opportunity to blow their own horns about equality, and that ‘women’s football’ is something apart from ‘football’.

Posted: 3rd, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, News, Sports, The Consumer | Comment


Manchester United should wish Fellaini a bon voyage to China

The two words Manchester United should tell Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini, 30, as he haggles over a new deal are “zài jiàn”. The Sun says Fellaini has “warned” United that unless they offer him huge money he will consider moving to China.

It comes to something when an average Premier League footballer – albeit one who makes full use of his height and reach; but lacks pace, technique and poise – is firing shots across the bows of one of the world’s biggest clubs. The question is not what United should do to please Fellaini but how he ever played for United in the first place?

The Sun says it would cost £50m to “replace” Fellaini. Which invites another question: why would you want to?

It’s also utter tosh. Fellaini joined a desperate United from Everton in 2013 for £27.5m. Since then, United have splashed out on the following talents:

Juan Mata (Chelsea) £37,100,000 – 25 Jan, 2014
Ander Herrera (Ath Bilbao) £29,000,000 – 26 Jun, 2014
Luke Shaw (Southampton) £27,000,000 – 27 Jun, 2014
Andreas Pereira (PSV Eindhoven) – 01 Aug, 2014
Marcos Rojo (Sporting) – £16,000,000 20 Aug, 2014
Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid) – £59,700,000 26 Aug, 2014
Daley Blind (Ajax) – £13,800,000 01 Sep, 2014
Victor Valdes (Barcelona) – Free 08 Jan, 2015
Memphis Depay (PSV Eindhoven) – £25,000,000 11 Jun, 2015
Matteo Darmian (Torino) £1 -2,700,000 11 Jul, 2015
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich) – £14,400,000 13 Jul, 2015
Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton) – £25,000,000 13 Jul, 2015
Sergio Romero (Sampdoria) – Free 27 Jul, 2015
Anthony Martial (Monaco) – £36,000,000 01 Sep, 2015
Regan Poole (Newport Co) – £100,000 01 Sep, 2015
Eric Bailly (Villarreal) -£30,000,000 08 Jun, 2016
Zlatan Ibrahimovic Paris St-G. Free 01 Jul, 2016
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (B Dortmund) -£26,000,000 06 Jul, 2016
Paul Pogba Juventus (£89,300,000) – 08 Aug, 2016
Victor Lindelof Benfica (£31,000,000) – 14 Jun, 2017
Romelu Lukaku (Everton) – £75,000,000 10 Jul, 2017
Nemanja Matic (Chelsea) – £40,000,000 31 Jul, 2017
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) – Player plus cash – 22 Jan, 2018

And in that same period: Manchester City bought Kevin De Bruyne for £55m in 2015; Liverpool bought Mo Salah for £39m in 2017; and Spurs bought Del Elli for £5m in 2015.

But for £50,m you can get another Fellaini. If you’re not careful you can, yes.

Here’s Fellaini:

“I went to see the manager last year, and said I wanted a new contract. I then had a second meeting, but I’m not going to ask ten times. Since then I have become important for the team – and it costs £50m minimum to buy a good new player.”

No. It doesn’t. As Jose Mourinho put it on May 1:

“My Player of the Year has to be Scott McTominay.”

He cost United nothing in transfer fees. He’s 21. He’s dynamic. He’s hungry. And never once has he sounded as if he was doing the club a favour.

Best of luck in China, Marouane. Close the door on the way out…

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


Joe Mourinho admits something is wrong with De Gea at Manchester United

How are things progressing for Manchester United with Jose Mourinho in charge? Pretty good. Second in the table, albeit a mile behind Manchester City, and in the final of the FA Cup, United are competitive. Mourinho will have been two years in the job this May 27. Has progress been made under his pragmatic methods?

This is what Jose said in January 6 2017:

“I think when a goalkeeper is a player of the season, it’s because something is wrong. Of course I would love goalkeepers to be recognised, to win the golden ball (Ballon d’Or), to be player of season in the Premier League because goalkeepers are lonely guys with a different shirt to everybody else.

“When they play phenomenal people forget, when they make a mistake, everyone remembers. That’s why I hugged David at the end of the West Ham game because no save, Antonio goal, no three points.

“Season after season the goalkeeper is player of the season, it means that something is wrong. Hopefully he’s not player of the season this season but hopefully he keeps making important saves for us like he did in last week”

And so to today’s news:

David De Gea has been crowned the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year for 2017/18. The coveted award is certainly in safe hands as the Spanish stopper has now won it more times than any other player in United’s history. It’s the fourth time in five seasons that De Gea has claimed the historic accolade.

De Gea is the only goalkeeper to have won the award. He’s won it in both season’s Mourinho has been in charge.

This is the list of all the winners to date since the award was first given in 1988:

1987–88 Brian McClair, Forward
1988–89 Bryan Robson, Midfielder
1989–90 Gary Pallister, Defender
1990–91 Mark Hughes, Forward
1991–92 Brian McClair
1992–93 Paul Ince, Midfielder
1993–94 Eric Cantona, Forward
1994–95 Andrei Kanchelskis, Midfielder
1995–96 Eric Cantona France Forward
1996–97 David Beckham, Midfielder
1997–98 Ryan Giggs, Midfielder
1998–99 Roy Keane, Midfielder
1999–2000 – Roy Keane
2000–01 Teddy Sheringham, Forward
2001–02 Ruud van Nistelrooy, Forward
2002–03 Ruud van Nistelrooy, Forward
2003–04 Cristiano Ronaldo, Midfielder
2004–05 Gabriel Heinze, Defender
2005–06 Wayne Rooney, Forward
2006–07 Cristiano Ronaldo
2007–08 Cristiano Ronaldo
2008–09 Nemanja Vidić, Defender
2009–10 Wayne Rooney
2010–11 Javier Hernández, Forward
2011–12 Antonio Valencia, Midfielder
2012–13 Robin van Persie, Forward
2013–14 David de Gea, Goalkeeper
2014–15 David de Gea
2015–16 David de Gea
2016–17 Ander Herrera, Midfielder
2017–18 David de Gea

And next year’s winner is…

Posted: 2nd, May 2018 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


Clickbait balls: Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan crawls to Madrid

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is back training with Arsenal ahead of their do-or-die Europa League match with Atletico Madrid. The Armenian has emerged as a key figure in Arsenal’s season. Last weekend, he scored on his first return visit to Manchester United, with whom he won the Europa League last season. Good news for Arsenal, then, that Mkhitaryan is fit.

Of course, he isn’t fit – well, not if you get your news from the Daily Express and Daily Star he’s not. In both tabloids, Mkhitaryan hasn’t played since April 11:

 

Henrikh Mkhitaryan injury

The Star

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

The Express

 

Shameless clickbait we expect from the Star and Express, of course. The Express operates in the twilight zone between fact and fiction. You don’t need Facebook for fake news – you just need an editorial staff run by the advertising department and Google News to play ball and promote your rubbish on its front page…

Posted: 2nd, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Spurs striker Harry Kane is still stressing over that tweet

Someone should tell Tottenham striker Harry Kane that no comment is still a comment. He’s still stressing over that tweet sent from the FA Cup account, you know, the one posted after Manchester United’s 2-1 FA Cup semi-final victory over Spurs. “What’s in your pocket?” asked the FA of United defender Chris Smalling. A short clip played of him replying: “Harry Kane.”

“I talked to the gaffer about it and all he was saying was, ‘Would other countries do that to their own players?’ Probably not,” says Kane. “The FA tweet was a silly tweet, we all know that. It is something that has gone, it was two weeks ago or whatever it was, I am over it.”

So about the…

“The gaffer said I was sad about it, but I am focused. I am a guy who gets on with things. If it happens, it happens, I move on, I look forward, I look forward to the next game, that’s all I worry about, getting out on the pitch and doing my job.”

Good job that claiming scoring goals as if his daughter’s life depended on it is the only thing on his mind…

Posted: 2nd, May 2018 | In: Sports, Spurs | Comment


Arsenal to recruit Liverpool’s Buvac on the cheap

Is it “bizarre” for Liverpool assistant manager Zeljko Buvac to be linked with the Arsenal manager’s job? The Liverpool Post says it is. Buvac, the Bosnian who has coached alongside Jurgen Klopp for 17 years until a recent schism, would make a decent fist of managing the Gunners; far better than Arsenal Wenger’s current Number 2, the uninspiring Steve Bould.

The source of the story linking Buvac with Arsenal is Pravda BL – the publication that was earlier than most to confirm Klopp’s appointment at Anfield. Pravda BL says Buvac has agreed to replace Wenger. The deal is done. If it is, Arsenal fans should be pleased. The man nicknamed ‘The Brain’ is a talented coach. He’s untainted by failure and high expectation that comes with a bigger name. And he’ll come relatively cheap.

“Zeljko is football expertise incarnate,” Klopp said of his assistant. “I learn every day from him.” Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin described him as “basically Klopp’s twin”.

Arsenal seem to have been making plans to get Buvac for some time. The Londoners recruited Sven Mislintat, as Arsenal’s head of recruitment in December 2017. He and Buvac worked together at Borussia Dortmund during Klopp’s time at the German club. Klopp made Mislinat Dortmund’s chief scout.

Colin Bell, who was reserve-team coach at Mainz under Klopp, told the Times about Buvac:

“Zeljko reads the game very well, he has great footballing ideas and is always looking at finding new ways on how to play and train.

“When Mainz started to play 4-3-3 it was different to the Dutch way, where you have a central striker and two out-and-out wingers. Zeljko wanted the players to keep moving around, interchanging, coming inside.

“Andriy Voronin [who would later join Liverpool] scored 20 goals for Mainz [in 2002-03] and he was all over the pitch, working really hard from central striker or right wing and left wing and it was so difficult for opponents to stop him and others. I can see those sorts of aspects in the Liverpool style now, especially with the quality of the player they have.

“Closing down, surrounding opponents, going hunting for the ball — that all started in Mainz. That was one of Zeljko’s big things and he did specific training forms for that.”

Kuvac for Arsenal is it is, then. The more you consider the idea, the more sensible it looks.

Posted: 2nd, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Liverpool fans in Rome warned to expect blood on the bridge

We’ve heard a lot about medical facilities in Rome recently. Apparently they’re excellent, offering therapies and treatments the NHS can’t. Some comfort, then, for the 5,000 Liverpool fans arriving in Rome for the club’s second Champions League semi-final match with AS Roma. The Reds on tour have been warned to expect attacks from local ‘ultras’ and other thugs.

At Anfield in the first encounter, a gang of uniformed “fucking morons” attached to Roma beat a 53-year-old Liverpool fan into a coma. A banner held by Roma fans at Anfield declared “DDS Con Noi” (“Daniele De Santis is with us”). De Santis murdered a Napoli fan before the Italian cup final in 2014.

One likely black spot in Rome is the Duca D’Aosta bridge over the Tiber to the Stadio Olimpico. In 1984,  after Liverpool had defeated Roma to win the European Cup on the Italians’ home turf, there was blood on the Ponte Duca D’Aosta. “George Sharp, a friend’s father, was knifed in the kidneys and nearly bled to death,” recalls Tony Evans. “When his 16-year-old son Ian tried to get a policeman to help, the man smashed his baton across the teenager’s nose instead. Only the prompt action of another officer saved his dad’s life.”

Now Liverpool are back. “These are two sets of fans who don’t back down, so we have work to do,” says Giampietro Lionetti, head of city’s special branch. Italian football journalist Alessandro Catapano, warns: “Real violence at the stadium is difficult but there could be small groups going hunting for Liverpool fans on Tuesday night – that’s the danger moment.”

And then you’ve got to worry about the police…

Posted: 1st, May 2018 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Liverpool: Klopp isolated after his ‘master of training’ leaves

Liverpool will be moving on without Zeljko Buvac, the sallow one with the indy band hair sat next to Jurgen Klopp in the dugout. Liverpool’s 56-year-old assistant manager has left until the end of the season for “personal business” – it’s personal and it’s none of your business.

Although the Daily Record says Buvac (aka ‘The Brain’) and Klopp fell out. The Sun notes: “The relationship had broken down, and the players have been told Buvac is gone.”

Buvac, who became Klopp’s assistant at Mainz in 2001, has made no comment. Liverpool says he’s still employed by the club.

It’s an odd time to change the hierarchy. The pair were so tight having been at three clubs together over 17 years. Buvac once told the Sunday Express: “Both of us were looking to become managers and we promised each other, ‘If I am the first manager, I will take you and if you are the first manager you will take me’.” Klopp called Buvac the “master of every form of training”.

Who next?

Posted: 30th, April 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment


Biased Reporting: Jose’s ‘masterstroke’ helps Manchester United block Arsenal

Manchester United’s “never-say-die streak” saw them beat a much-weakened Arsenal side at Old Trafford – it was the Gunners’ youngest Premier League starting XI. The official Manchester United website says Jose Mourinho “outsmarted” Arsene Wenger by bringing on the very tall Marouane Fellaini late on and lobbing the ball towards his bonce. It was Jose’s “masterstroke” that Fellaini scored with his head against two young Arsenal centre backs who’d never played together before, including one making his debut.

The official Manchester United organ’s blinkered match report makes no mention of the fact that Arsenal’s goalscorer, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, used to play for the club – also not noting that Jose Mourinho shunted him out, just as he got shot of the Kevin De Bruyne and Mo Salah, when he thought neither of this season’s star turns for Man City and Liverpool, respectively, was good enough for his Chelsea.

But there is this on the opening goal:

It didn’t take long for United to make Wenger’s last time as Gunners boss initially uncomfortable when taking a 16th-minute lead. Pogba started and finished the move. The France midfielder stroked a pass to Romelu Lukaku and went driving on into the area. Lukaku’s cross was met with a header from Alexis Sanchez. His hopes of a dream goal against his former employers were dashed as his effort hit Hector Bellerin and came off a post, only for Pogba to volley home.

It hit Bellerin?

The Daily Telegraph saw this:

Unmarked, Sanchez’s diving header was diverted onto the post by Hector Bellerin at full-stretch only for the ball to rebound to Pogba who simply volleyed it into the unguarded net.

As for the official Arsenal website, it went like this:

Alexis looked certain to score with his head at the far post, but Hector Bellerin made a superb diving block to divert his effort onto the post. Unfortunately the ball fell straight to the waiting Pogba to tap home.

What say the papers?

The Islington Gazette adds:

…the goal itself was slightly fortuitous as Hector Bellerin’s block from Alexis Sanchez’s header diverted the ball onto David Ospina’s right hand post.

The Ham & High needs a lesson in human anatomy:

Excellent block from Alexis Sanchez’s header deserved better than for it to hit the post and rebound back for Pogba to head home.

And the Manchester Evening News shoves Bellerin down the memory hole:

Great counter attack by United. Pogba out to Sanchez on his right who floats in a great cross, Sanchez header at the far post comes off the post and Pogba’s there to finish it and put United 1-0 up.

They say “volley”. You say “tap”. They say “hit. You say “superb diving block”.

One thing the Arsenal website fails to mention is the dire fact that Arsenal have now lost six successive away fixtures in the league for the first time since Billy Wright was their manager in 1966. But, yep, Jose’s the master.

Wenger OUT!

Posted: 29th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


AS Roma president Jim Palottta on Sean Cox and Liverpool is powerful stuff

AS Roma president Jim Pallotta has a few words to say on Sean Cox, the Liverpool fans left for dead by violent criminals – “fucking morons” – when the sides met in the Champions League, his club and more:

I don’t want to talk about the game at all at Liverpool. What I want to talk about is how these games are great but they’re not life and death. What’s going on right now with Sean Cox in Liverpool, that’s life and death and that affects his family. I don’t really give a shit about the score of the game. It’s disappointing to me that Rome and AS Roma get blamed for a few individuals who do stupid things.

Now, I don’t know the whole story. All I’ve seen is what I saw on the video, like most others, and at least that part of the video with Sean is just the most disgusting stupidity and my prayers are for him and his family.

It’s depressing though that all of the other fans at Roma get blamed for something that, going back to that saying that I had about a year and a half ago… a few people wrecking things for everyone else. I don’t blame our fans. We have unbelievably great fans across the board. The Curva Sud… the only reason we come back and win games like we did against Barcelona is because of the 99.9% of the fans in the Curva Sud who are great. Then, occasionally, you get a few, normally outside of the game, more than anything else… it’s just absolutely ridiculous.

But it’s time now for things to change in Italy and in Rome, because it is just happening too much. I’ll go back to something that happened in 1993. I was in Florence in 1993 and I was in a museum that all of us know. At the end of the day, when the museum closed, I was going to have dinner in a restaurant right next to the museum and I ended up getting into a better restaurant about a mile away. The next morning I got up and I drove at six in the morning to Paris. Most of the night, all I’d heard was sirens. I got to Paris and I pulled up to the hotel and the doorman asked me where I was coming from. I said I was coming from Florence and the doorman turned to me and said, ‘Ooh, big bomb!’ I couldn’t understand what he was saying and I went inside and checked in and was having a beer with a friend of mine and CNN was on and it turned out they’d blown up 20% of the museum. All I remember after that night was Italians got together and said, ‘Enough is enough of this shit!’ I remember millions of Italians, or it looked like millions of Italians, all over the country started marching against the criminal elements and saying, ‘You are destroying our history’.

We have a long history at Roma and what’s going on when you have a few stupid people is that they destroy our history and they attack our legacy and I’m tired of it. It’s not just an issue for Rome. It’s an issue for Italy and it’s an issue for the authorities and it’s an issue for all of to band together and to finally wake up so that we don’t have a reputation – that’s not deserved around the rest of the world – that our fans are not good fans because our fans are the best fans in the world – it’s just a couple of fucking morons that take the rest of us down.

Much better than the usual corporate guff.

Posted: 29th, April 2018 | In: Key Posts, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Wenger taught Arsenal the art of losing

Arsene Wenger’s closing days at Arsenal are marked by his admission: “The timing was not really my decision.” That’s the good news for Arsenal fans. It suggests the club’s board has finally risen from its collective torpor and realised that under Wenger’s faded light their investment is devaluing.

What Arsenal had under Wenger vanished years ago, perhaps as far back as a decade. Now they look for hope in an unlikely win over Atletico Madrid in the Europa League next Thursday, and with it a route for the country’s sixth best side to qualify for next season’s Champions League. Arsenal will be back where they belong – also-rans in the top contest. It’ll be like those years when they kept coming fourth and never improved.

Wenger leaves Arsenal fragile and indecisive.

Today Wenger managed Arsenal for the last time at Old Trafford. What a damp squib. United and their fans once feared Wenger and his feisty team. What price Tony Adams, Ian Wright, Sol Campbell, Martin Keown, Ashley Cole, Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Nigel Winterburn, David Seaman, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry? When Sylvain Wiltord’s strike won the title at old Trafford, clinching the double for the Gunners, it was magnificent. Ferguson v Wenger was the league’s top fight. But only one of them had to win. Wenger wanted to make art out of football.

When Shkodran Mustafi slipped on his arse, his mouth gaping as Atletico’s Antoine Griezmann outwitted three hapless Arsenal defenders by the cunning ploy of keeping his eye on the ball, I imagined the speech bubble above the German’s head declaring, “Art.”

The fans want better. They won’t get it quickly because unlike when Wenger arrived, Arsenal don’t have a great back four. They have a squad of lightweight journeymen bereft of leaders.

Wenger blazed a revolution all those years ago. Now Arsenal need a new sea-change: a vocal captain unafraid to dish it out and a defender who knows when to smash the ball and man into the stands. Anyone know what George Graham’s up to?

Arsene Wenger’s first home game 19 October 1996: David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Tony Adams, Steve Bould, Martin Keown, Nigel Winterburn, Paul Merson, David Platt, Patrick Vieira, John Hartson, Ian Wright.

When did it all go wrong for Wenger? When he stopped picking and recruiting tough home-grown players who were happy to do the dirty stuff.

Posted: 29th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Liverpool to offer Salah double yer money deal

Liverpool are keen to keep Egypt forward Mohamed Salah, 25, at the club. They’re ready to offer him a new deal worth £185,000 a week. That’s double his current wage on a contract that has four years to run.

It’s not enough. Not when you realises what Salah could earn elsewhere given his sensational form. Of course, the gamble for Liverpool and other clubs is in working out if Salah’s season is something of a freak. Can he do it again and again?

The numbers will fluctuate in the Press, of course. The Sun also notes the £185,000 weekly pay packet, but in other stories it pitches the offer to Salah at £200,000. Spanish website Don Balon says Salah is interested in playing for Real Madrid. The Sun – again – says Salah can go to Real for £166m, where only Cristiano Ronaldo will earn more.

The money is huge. But Salah is grounded. He’s just donated $450k for a water treatment plant in his home town. Sometimes you can forget that beneath all the hype, lawyers, marketeers, opportunists and greed, there’s a bloke who loves playing football and for whom money is far from being everything.

Posted: 29th, April 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal offload Wenger to China; Manchester United want 9

With all the shock value of a baby with a full nappy, news is that departing Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will become the highest-paid manager in the world should he move to the Chinese Super League. The BBC says so.

He won’t go, of course. It was only a day or two ago that the tabloids were telling us of Wenger’s “hint” at continuing to coach in European football. China might well own vast chunks of European real estate and capital, but we’re not yet an enclave.

The BBC and Mirror mention not a single club by name to have offered Wenger anything in mangement, only that he has been “inundated” with offers and it is “understood” the deal is worth even more than “Marcello Lippi receives on his £24m-a-year deal as boss of the China national team”. (Lippi’s alive?!)

And then this guff:

But Wenger, who has been earning £8m-a-year, can get even more after being sounded out with a serious offer from China for when he steps down at Arsenal this summer.

Oh, and the Mirror “understands” Wenger would prefer to manager in Europe. The paper “believes” Wenger wants to continue in management. Mirror and BBC readers might well understand that this story has more holes than the Arsenal defence, which is lots.

 

wenger manchester united

Via (The Times)

 

8-2 arsenal

 

As for the actual football, Arsenal travel to Manchester United on Sunday. The game falls between their Europa League clashes with Atletico Madrid. Arsenal fans have no need to wonder what team Wenger will send out at United – it’s not the one that used to fight and scrap and win. It’s the one that follows an 8-2 drubbing; the team of journeymen you get when a palsied board stick with a faded talent in exchange for regular dividend cheques that come with being also-rans.

Arsenal are slipping. Last summer was dominated by the mess over Alexis Sanchez (now at Man United, of course, and playing well) and Mesut Ozil’s contracts. This one will be about a new manager, and Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck when the pair enter the final 12 months of their existing deals in June – when Jack Wilshere will be a free agent. No planning. No vision.

“I always got a great reception at Old Trafford,” says Wenger. “I don’t know what kind of reception I will get but we will be focused on winning the game. We always had some great battles in 22 years.” When was the last one, Arsene?

Manchester United 8, Arsenal 2 (2011). He should have gone years ago.

Posted: 28th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Spurs Harry Kane goes full Atletico Mince over being ‘bullied’

Spurs striker Harry Kane thinks he’s being bullied. Kane is said to be upset over a joke made by PFA chairman Ben Purkiss (Swindon Town FC) at the recent awards do. Purkiss told the room: “Harry Kane is so prolific that he is able to score without touching the ball.”

And…? And nothing. The reference being, of course, Kane’s sad and desperate – and oddly successful – mission to claim Spurs’ winning goal against Stoke City a few weeks ago. The ball appeared to go directly in from a Christian Eriksen freekick. But Kane felt a draft on his shirt and claimed it;  taking home, presumably, any goal bonus and edging closer to the Golden Boot for the Premier League’s top scorer.

The Daily Mirror notes:

It is understood Kane and his family are furious and see the jokes being made at the striker’s expense as a form of bullying.

Bullying? He’s a grown man, hymned by the masses and reared in a bubble of sycophants and lackays. Suck it up, Harry. You’re looking like a fool.

 

 

Posted: 27th, April 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Arsenal and Atletico Madrid fight in an ‘Orphanage’: Google Translate does the Europa League

When Arsenal contrived to toss away a fantastic opportunity to put Atletico Madrid to the sword in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final, we went to see what Spanish newspapers made of the 1-1 draw. When fans are feeling blue at their team’s shortcomings – and how did Arsenal playing at home, a goal and an extra man to the good following a 10th minute red card in their favour finish the game 1-1? Answer: comical defending – it’s a fun idea to read the match report via Google Translate.

Spanish newspaper El Pais tells us of a fight in an orphanage and much more besides:

In ten minutes he had seen how Arsenal was going over him and the arbitration decisions that put the game uphill were unleashed. The bad deliveries generated an initial decomposition that caused the first bombing of the Arsenal and also the first yellow to Vrsaljko for tripping Wilshere. With this card the French referee Clèment Turpin set the bar very low. Soon, Oblak put a prodigious hand to deflect a header from Lacazatte, who had already hovered the goal after a center past Welbeck. In the middle of the game cascade produced by Özil, Ramsey and Wilshere, Vrasljko arrived late to a dispute with Lacazette and stepped on the French striker. The referee showed the second yellow to the Croatian side and Simeone was demonized. He began to protest with fuss and vociferate. Perhaps he is accustomed to these protests in Spain, but Turpin did not allow them. Atlético stayed with a player less and orphaned coach.

From that orphanage so early in the morning, he had no choice but to be more of Simeone than ever…

Turned into a split pediment, Arsenal fell into the routine and prompted the Atlético take air to play something. Griezmann had a shy shot from the edge before having the clearest chance of the first half. It originated Thomas, who understood that the context of the shock was for heroic adventures…

The start of the second act revived the local offensive thunders from innumerable centers on the sides. He also seemed to adjust better Wenger set to prevent the Athletic could progress and generate kickbacks. Center to center, the harassment and demolition paid off…

It was the Montenegrin center who put a long ball to Griezmann to persist with Koscielny. He tried to control the ball, but was met by the insistence of Griezmann, who slipped the ball and stood before Ospina. The Colombian goal took the first shot, but the rejection no longer forgave the Frenchman…

They still had another drink in a header from Ramsey, but Oblak with another stretched museum certified the resistance of Atlético to fall.

It’s rivalled by AS, whose reporter goes full tonto:

Arsenal came out to win, without trembling. The Atleti, like a flan, at six minutes already added a stick of Lacazette and the first miracle hand of Oblak. But he was 115 years old at the Emirates and could only do so with a game that matched his history . With suffering, epic and blessed madness . Because there was, a lot. Because very soon Vrsaljko would leave with ten of his own . He saw yellow in the 2 ‘to avoid a counter and in the 9’ he stepped on Lacazette without thinking that he already had a card. The referee, Turpin, did not either. To think that the party had not even reached 10 ‘. Yellow, red and to the tunnel. Soon Simeone would follow .

The referee did not punish with yellow a foul on Lucas and that burned him. I would turn off Turpin’s finger. To the tier. For many minutes the Arsenal would not stop raining . It was Lacazette, storm between the lines, it was that deadly Welbeck headbutt. Al Atleti was only held by a redoubt, the goalkeeper of 13 on his back. Second hand miracle of Oblak…

Adding:

It seemed the sentence but, then, when the clock said 81, Welbeck lost that ball that Giménez sent long to Grizi , for 1-1, and Oblak stopped that last time, Ramsey, to leave to Wenger that smell of defeat in clothes . Because there are games that smell like that, like some nights. It does not matter to tie them, you smell them, the clothes, and there it is. The defeat, although his Arsenal did not lose. The Metropolitan will decide.

Or as the Arsenal website outs it: “We CAN do it.”

Posted: 27th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Technology | Comment