Anorak

Sports | Anorak - Part 22

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: Wenger hints at something but not that

What next for Arsene Wenger when he finally closes the door on Arsenal and we can all forget about the nine years without a trophy, signing Marouane Chamakh and watching a side with all aggression of a newborn lamb? Unless, of course, the masterful manager steers Arsenal to the Europa League title and with it Champions League qualification, and we call agree that it’d be right and proper for Wenger to remain at the club for another season. Or longer. Don’t toss way those “Wenger Out’ banners yet, Gooners.

 

arsenal wenger express

 

The Express, though, is a practical organ. Everything it publishes is printed in trusty black and white. Wenger is going. End of. And today the paper delivers the news: “Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger drops big hint over next job: This is where I want to manage.”

 

arsenal wenger express

 

In case you missed it there, the Express’s sister paper, the Star, also thunders: “Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger drops huge hint over where he’ll manage next.”

Where? Bayern Munich? Spurs? England? Says Wenger: “I hope these are not my last European cup games – my target is to play in Europe again.” The hint is that he cole mange for any club in Europe. In yer face, Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao.

Posted: 26th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Why I sold Salah to Liverpool: Roma director relives the horror

“Every time he scores I’m like, ‘Oh, dear God’,” James Pallotta, Roma’s American owner, says of Mohamed Salah, Liverpool’s star player who joined the Reds from the Italians and orchestrated a 5-2 rout of his former club in the Champions League semi-final.  This season, Salah has scored 43 goals in 47 games. He scored two against Roma – the first two – and then served up two more for his teammates.

So why did Roma sell Salah for £36.9 last summer? Liverpool now value the player at close to £200m. Roma’s sporting director, Monch (nee Ramón Rodríguez Verdejo) tries to explain. “I sold him for more than €42m,” he told Spanish radio station Onda Cero. “We had a need to sell. We had no option but to sell Salah before 30 June. Had we not done that, we probably wouldn’t be here playing the semi-final of the Champions League as we had Uefa closely monitoring us.

“We didn’t want to sell him but we had no choice. We had to take an offer before the end of the month. He wanted to leave, but we would have kept him if the regulations weren’t against us. When I arrived, the offer [from Liverpool] was €30m but we managed to get it up to almost €50m with bonuses. That is what we could do. The market then went crazy with Neymar, Coutinho and Dembélé.”

It could be worse, of course. You could be Jose Mourinho and Chelsea, who oversaw not just the sale of Salah but also that of Kevin De Bruyne.

Posted: 26th, April 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Elneny vows to walk again

As ever, when a footballer is injured the tabloids shift into full ghoul mode, reaching for the blindfold and shotgun.  It was so when Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny was hurt in his side’s 4- in over West Ham. Peak horror was fanned by the Sun, which told of “tears”, “devastation” and “broken limbs“. Elneny was “broken”. Elneny was not going to play again for Arsenal this season. He was most likely also out of Egypt’s team for the World Cup finals. Two days on and we’re living in the time of miracles. Elneny will will be out of action for three weeks.

The Sun reports:

It’s good news for Arsenal who will hope to have Elneny fit for the Premier League run-in and potentially the Europa League final… many believing his season was over.

No. Only some of those Sun readers believed that – the ones who believe you can offer a diagnosis and prognosis from a screen shot of a turned ankle, presenting a sprain as a “freak injury“.

Update: Elneny will not play for Arsenal again this season.

Posted: 25th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Liverpool’s injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain must learn from Spurs Harry Kane

oxlade-chamberlain injury

 

When Liverpool signed midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal, many wondered how long a player with such a long history of injuries would last before he was crocked again, especially playing for Jurgen Klopp’s pell-mell team. At last night’s throbbing Champions’ League 5-2 victory over Roma, Oxlade-Chamberlain was stretchered off in the 15th minute with the scores tied at 0-0.

After the match, Klopp went on the record to say: “”It’s probably a really bad injury. If you can say that already before the scan then it’s never good news.”

The Ox has made an impressive 41 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool, scoring five goals. But there was an inkling that injury would always come. According to the TransferMarket site, Oxlade-Chamberlain has now injured his knee four times. In 2013-2014, a knee injury caused him to miss half the season:

 

Alex Oxlade-chamberlain injuries

 

 

He’s been unlucky. But to what extend are players invited to suck it up and play though the pain, pushing themselves too far before their body has fully healed?

Top athletes are primed like race horses. They are highly strung, fitter than amateur sportsmen and women. Their bodies are pushed to the limit. Recovery time is vital.

Tennis player Raphael Nadal talks of his own injuries in his autobiography:

“Playing sports is a good thing for ordinary people; sport played at the professional level is not good for your health. It pushes your body to limits that human beings are not naturally equipped to handle. That’s why just about every top professional athlete has been laid low by injury…I’ve had to push and mould my body to adapt it to cope with the repetitive muscular stress that tennis forces on you . . . [We] have to learn to live with pain.”

To what extent does an injury play around with an athlete’s mind? Oxlade-Chamberlain is acutely aware of his medical history and the state of his knees. But it’s a fair bet he’ll be wishing to get well enough fast so that he can play in the World Cup finals, pain or no pain – maybe the rush of playing can mask the niggles and the agony. Drive and adrenalin will pull him through.

But taking it slower is wise. When Spurs’ star striker Harry Kane damaged his ankle on March 11 in their 4-1 win at Bournemouth, he returned just three weeks later for his side’s 3-1 win over Chelsea. “The swelling went down quickly,” said Kane “and whenever I get injured I prepare right and make sure I do everything I can to get the swelling down and get back on the pitch. Hopefully this time it was quicker than last time… The injury was pretty much exactly the same time as last year, funnily enough. I was feeling strong last year and that’s what I’ll try to do this year.”

Since then Kane has been more miss than hit. He’s scored twice since his return but was largely anonymous when Spurs lost to Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-finals. The FA apologised for posting a message asking United defender Chris Smalling “What’s in your pocket?” and including a short clip of him saying, “Harry Kane”.

Kane, England’s best striker, has returned from injury a figure of derision, not all of it underserved.

In Spurs victory over Stoke, Kane claimed a goal initially awarded to team-mate Christian Eriksen. Kane said Eriksen’s free-kick grazed his shoulder on the way in. The Premier League goals accreditation panel awarded him the goal “after taking the player’s testimony into account and reviewing the match footage”. Jokes followed. When Liverpool’s mighty Mohamed Salah was named PFA Player of the Year for 2017-18, his teammate Simon Mignolet told him to “take care” as “someone else might claim it”.

 

 

Kane was desperate to matter again. He wanted to get well fast and score. It’s debatable how much that desire to succeed clouded his judgement, causing him not to consider the long-term implications of playing too soon after injury.

So get well soon, Oxlade-Chamberlain. But don’t rush.

Posted: 25th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment


Liverpool striker rewrites history for Mo Salah; Manchester City star never stood a chance

Mohamed Salah is the Liverpool tyro scoring goals with great awareness, no little skill and finishing with elegant panache. He’s been terrific for Liverpool all season. And he’s won an prize, taking away the PFA player of the year award. It was pretty much a toss-up between Salah and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, like Salah also flogged for not being good enough by monocular Jose Mourinho’s winning-is-all Chelsea. De Bruyne has been sublime, an imaginative driving force for City’s title victory. I’d have voted for him to win the award. But goal scorers get the headlines – their attributes are measurable in the baldest terms: Salah has an impressive 31 PL goals.

Choosing between the pair is hard. But not for former Liverpool player Stan Collymore, who told his Daily Mirror readers: “Mo Salah was the outstanding choice for the PFA Player of the year award. The sheer variety of goals he has scored in his debut season playing for a club where expectation levels are huge has been phenomenal.”

But were expectations all that high about a player who’d left Chelsea for Roma – a player who in the era of absurd fees came in for £36.9m – just £4m more than Liverpool paid Arsenal for the overrated Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain?

No.

 

Stan Collymore Mirror

 

On February 12, Collymore told his readers: “Harry Kane and Mo Salah have their merits as potential Player of the Year award winners. But that honour has to go to Kevin De Bruyne. He has been weighing in with goals and important assists at important times in games all season. His level of consistency has been outstanding. I saw one article saying they feel up at Manchester City that he should be in the reckoning for a Ballon d’Or shout, and I wouldn’t disagree with that.”

A short while on and Salah is the only choice.

Vote now and vote often!

Posted: 24th, April 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Manchester City, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling Deserves To Starve

Young gifted and black, Manchester City and England striker Raheem Sterling is a top athlete. But for some reason, he gets singled out for attack. In today’s diatribe, the Mail watches Sterling eat and finds reason to be upset by it. The story is headlined: “Raheem Sterling treats himself to a spot of breakfast after missing out on being crowned Young Player of the Year the night before at PFA awards.” Sterling came third in the poll, losing out to his Man City teammate, the German tyro Leroy Sane.

 

raheem sterling PFA daily mail

 

We don’t get to se what car Sane drove to breakfast the next day, but we are told about Sterling who “was seen in his £120,000 Mercedes G Waggon in Alderley Edge, Cheshire”. Seen? Driving his own “pimped out” car. The car is black and boxy.

The story seems to have been altered to make it look only slightly less weird. It looks like it originally ran:

Raheem Sterling treats himself to a spot of breakfast despite missing out on being crowned Young Player of the Year the night before at PFA awards.

He ate despite losing an award? He really is shameless and lacking in human decency.

And some background on the Mail’s target: “Sterling was born in,Jamaica. At the age of five he emigrated to London with his mother. His dad was murdered in Jamaica when Sterling was nine years old. At age 11, he joined QPR’s Centre of Excellence. And all was good and plucky until he stated to earn money and we were invited to dislike him because of it…

Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Previously.

 

Posted: 24th, April 2018 | In: Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Fail: Former Chelsea player Marko Marin dives to get referee sent off

Hero of the week is former Chelsea player Marko Marin, who during a bout of handbags in the absurd Greek Super League fell to the ground in comical fashion. Olympiacos are playing Apollon Smyrnis. Marin is the one who looks like Declan Donnelly:

Olympiakos lost the match 0-1, the goal coming in the game’s opening minute. Marin’s cunning plan seemed to be to get the referee to send himself off for an of-the-ball shove.

The outcome is that Olympiakos are 12 points behind league leaders AEK Athens with just two matches left to play. And Marin has big future in slapstick.

 

Spotter: Pies

Posted: 24th, April 2018 | In: Sports | Comment


Arsenal: full transcript of Wenger’s first press conference since quitting

Following Arsenal’s 4-1 victory over West Ham in yesterday’s Premier League encounter at the Emirates, Arsene Wenger appeared before the media in his first press conference since announcing his departure from the club. Is he reluctant to leave the club he’s graced for 22 years? Why is he leaving now? And what next for the Frenchman? The mood at the Emirate was a mix of reserved respect and apathy for a manger who was once the world’s best and a decent team peppered with mediocrity and journeymen.

This is the full transcript of it:

The Fans Were Chanting “One Arsene Wenger”. Some wore shirts bearing his name. 

I’m happy when our fans are happy. I’m even ready to suffer to make them happy. If sometimes, they make me happy as well then I’m happy. I’ll take it. Every single decision I’ve made in my 22 years is for the good and the sake of Arsenal. Even when it was the wrong decision, my one priority was to do well for the club.

I tried to influence the club on the structural side, on the development of the individual players and of course the style of play and results. To combine the three is not always easy and I believe that I will leave a club that is in a very strong position on all fronts. My target was always to do that and I give an opportunity to the guy who comes in after me to do even better in the next 20 years. That’s my wish.

Will He Pick His Successor?

No. It’s not my decision. I always feel that the most important thing in a football club is that everybody does his job. My job is to take care of the team, of the results and of the finances in the transfers. That’s what I did. My job is not to select the next manager.

 

wenger out stupid headlines

Not what he said at all

 

Why Is He Leaving Now?

I made a statement. That is basically all in it. Overall, I don’t think it’s the moment to come out on that. I would like to focus, to keep the priorities right until the end of the season and focus on how well I can do until the end. I will speak about that a bit later in my life.

It’s Been Emotional?

No, not really. It’s a mixed feeling. First of all I must say that I’m touched by all the praise I’ve got from all English football and I’m grateful for having that experience in this country. That for me is very special. The football is special, the passion is special and you’ll find that nowhere else. I know that I will not get that anymore in my life.

Of course that is absolutely special and the fact that I could see the development of the Premier League in 20 years is sensational. I hope that will last a very long time. After that I had the feeling a little bit [like this was similar to] my funeral because people speak about you and how you were, so it was little bit interesting on that front. I don’t need to die anymore because I know what it’s like! That is quite interesting but I must say, apart from a little sense of humour, I would like to thank everybody who has been nice to me. It’s our job because I certainly got more praise than I deserved and maybe sometimes more criticism than I deserved. It has been difficult but also fantastic.

 

wenger out stupid headlines

Nope – not what he said

 

When Did Wenger Decide To Leave?

It’s not the moment to talk about that.

Why Is Wenger Not seeing out The Final Year of His Current Contract?

I just told you a few minutes ago that I would talk about that one day but it’s not the right moment.

Will He Manage England?

If you’re speaking about emotions, that certainly would be for me emotionally difficult. I don’t know how well I will live without that so at the moment its difficult for me to say never. But at the minute I speak to you, I’m too attached to this club to say I would go anywhere else. It’s too difficult for me.

 

wenger out stupid headlines

Another ‘stupid’ headline

 

Has It Sunk In?

I will never completely leave this club, because my first look will always be for Arsenal and how well the club develops. I will always be attached, but it’s difficult. You do not give 22 years of your life like that. I gave the best years of my life to this club. I arrived at 46 years old and I worked seven days a week – not six or six and a half. Seven for 22 years! You cannot just walk away and say thank you very much and bye bye, it is absolutely normal. You cannot be on one side completely committed and after walk away like nothing happened – it’s impossible. I know I will face that challenge and that it will be difficult for me. But I had other difficulties in my life and I hope that I will get through this one as well.

Has His Leaving Galvanised The Club?

I don’t know. The club needs to prepare for the future and the earlier and more settled it is, the better. You cannot come in on 1 June and say look we separate now and do what you want.

Will He Carry On?

Maybe – I don’t know. It’s new for me. With Sir Alex Ferguson it was different, I agree with you. He’s still at the club though, he stayed at Manchester United.

Will He Hang Up his Big Coat And Stop Coaching?

Honestly, I can’t tell you much because I don’t want you to come back to me in six months and say that you lied to us. I know I did that a few times, but I would like to be definite today. I don’t know how I’ll respond to that situation.

What Arsenal Need From The Next Boss?

Look, you take me and take a guy who’s much stronger in every strong point that I have!

Is He Relived To Be Going?

No, because I was not tired, but I personally feel that this club is respect all over the world, much more than in England. Our fans did not give the image of unity I want at the club all over the world and that was hurtful. I feel the club is respected and overall the image we gave from our club is not what it is and not what I like.

The Europa League?

We will try you know, we play against Atletico Madrid and it is very open. Hopefully we can continue to have positives results until the end and then we will see where we go from there.

Did ‘Wenger Out’ Signs Hurt Him?

I have nothing more to say. I feel this club has a fantastic image and for me that is absolutely vital.

We can speak and speak and speak, sport is about winning and losing and you have to accept that you can lose games but it is about something bigger than winning and losing. For me that was always a worry, how the club is perceived worldwide for kids who play in Africa, in China, in America and the dream it can create for young children who want to play football and all of our clubs have a responsibility in that.

Did Anti-Wenger Fans Hurt The Club?

I’m not resentful and I do not want to make stupid headlines. I’m not resentful with the fans, I just feel if my personality is in the way of what I think our club is, for me that is more important than me. That is what I want to say, it is nothing to do with the fans, the fans were not happy I can understand that, that is my job and I have to live with that, I can accept that. I don’t know if it was damaging but it was not corresponding with what I really feel our club is perceived and has to be perceived all over the world. I travel a lot and this club is respected all over the world and that is down to work and as well to the way we play football, the way we behave and the way we treat people. I want that to go on and to be respected and give the image I think is right. There is a lot of money in the game but above that is more than money, more than results, it is the way a club is perceived and the example a club gives all over the world.

He’ll tell us more about his departure later – you know, when his book comes out.

Posted: 23rd, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Pray for broken Arsenal ‘star’ Mohamed Elneny

So how was Arsenal’s “star” player Mohamed Elneny injured playing against West Ham?

The Express: “Elneny crumpled to the floor after a challenge from Mark Noble, and caused a lengthy delay as he received treatment…. The Egyptian star was visibly devastated by the incident which could have put his World Cup participation under threat.”

Bad foul, then? And he’s out for weeks?

The Sun: “Arsenal ace Mohamed Elneny in tears on stretcher with ankle in brace and fears World Cup hopes could be dashed.” It’s the Egyptian’s “Injury El”. It “appeared to be a freak injury in a challenge for a high ball with Mark Noble”.

A freak injury! Will he walk again? “There was no word whether Elneny had broken any bones. Although he will need to go for scans on his ankle ligaments and an A-Ray to confirm there are not any broken limbs.”

He’s broken his leg? His arm? His arms and legs?

No.

“It’s an ankle problem that is very painful,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger after the game. “Overall I believe that we have to wait until the X-ray to know a little more about it. But Thursday will be too soon for him.”

Why mention broken limbs?

And now for an update on Jack Wilshere, Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan ahead of Thursday’s Europa League match at the Emirates.

“Jack had a training session today and he looked positive so he has a good chance to be available for Thursday. Ozil was sickness so I cannot tell you much more about that. We will have to see how he recovers tomorrow. But Mkhitaryan won’t be available on Thursday.”

That would be the Mkhitaryan who is now back in training and of whom the papers said two weeks ago: “Henrikh Mkhitaryan could miss rest of Arsenal season with knee injury” (Daily Telegraph) and “Arsenal star Henrikh Mkhitaryan could miss rest of the season after fears of knee ligament damage” (Daily Mirror).

Anyone else thing Ozil and Wilshere are just being rested for the game with Atletico Madrid, Mkhitaryan is not being rushed back so that he can play in the second leg in Spain and – well, Elneny – pray for him. Sky says he “rolled his ankle”.

They shoot horses…

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


When Joe Strummer ran the London Marathon?

Did Joe Strummer run the London Marathon in 1983 and the Paris Marathon a year earlier?

 

trummerParisMarathonrace1982theclash

 

As a boarding school lad, The Clash front man was a talented and enthusiastic runner. So maybe he did…

In the documentary Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten, we get to see and hear Joe talking about athletic pursuits in Paris before the release of The Clash’s Combat Rock (1982). Legend has it that Bernie Rhodes, the band’s manager, wanted to create intrigue to boost interest and thus ticket sales by having Strummer vanish for a while. The plan was for Strummer to get lost in Austin, Texas. Strummer was warm to the idea but instead of Austin went to Paris, without telling anyone. And whilst there he ran the Paris Marathon in just under three and a half hours. His keep-fit regime for success: “Drink 10 pints of beer the night before the race. Ya got that? And don’t run a single step at least four weeks before the race.”

 

 

The Paris story remains unsubstantiated. But Strummer did run the London Marathon, completing the course in 4hours 13minutes.

 

Joe strummer London marathon

 

 

Chris Salewicz (Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer) quotes Gaby Salter revealing: “He hadn’t trained. He just bought some shorts and said, ‘Let’s run a marathon.”‘.Antony Genn, who worked with Strummer in the Mescaleros, recalls the runner telling him: “I didn’t fuckin’ train. Not once. Just turned up and did it.”

Spotter: Reddit, Flashbak, OpenCulture

Posted: 22nd, April 2018 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, Music, Sports, Strange But True | Comment


Spurs balls: £120m on five new players and just one out

No soon do we read in the Telegraph that Mauricio Pochettino has “hinted” at his imminent departure from Spurs – which he sort of did and sort of didn’t – than the Independent says his club will spend – get his – “at least £120m” on new players this summer.

The player the Indy “understands” Sours will buy are Newcastle United’s Jamaal Lascelles, Ajax’s Matthijs de Ligt, Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, and West Brom pair Jonny Evans and Jay Rodriguez. All are being “considered”. And where are they all going to play, then? This is utter guff from the Indy, which cites not a single source for its story.

The Indy reasons that Spurs will balance he books with the sale of Toby Alderweireld.

The Indy’s shameless clickbaiting is lampooned by its own lay-out: Zaha stays!

 

independent clickbait spurs

 

 

Says Zaha:

“Crystal Palace is my home town and the support we have here is genuine support with families watching with their kids loving us as players so I don’t really see myself anywhere else. I am enjoying my football here and just focused on us being a stable club and not having to listen to all the speculation about us getting relegated.”

Words on Spurs:  none.

Posted: 22nd, April 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Pochettinho: ‘Tottenham needs more time – with me or another manager’

Hard cheese on Spurs, then, losing their 8th FA Cup semi-final in a row. Their last victory at that stage of the FA Cup came 27 years ago. Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino has now presided over two semi-final defeats in consecutive seasons. After the match he said “to create that [success] doesn’t take a few years, Tottenham needs more time – with me or another [manager].”

Is he thinking of leaving the club? Pochettino is contracted to Spurs until 2021. He told BeIn Sports:

“To compete in this type of game, I think we are ready to compete – but win is different. The most important [thing] is that we are in this process, that after four years we can compete and that is fantastic. But the disappointment and frustration is that we are close but we cannot reach. I told your colleague before that with me or another coaching staff the club needs to push on, working in this direction and will be fantastic one day for Tottenham to reach the same level as the clubs like Manchester United and Manchester City. But a long way to work to arrive at this next level.”

Dele Alli, who scored the opening goal at a time when Spurs looked to be in control of the match and were well on top of Man United, summed up his feelings to the BBC:

“We let ourselves down, it’s very disappointing. We have to try and pick ourselves up and finish the season strongly. You can’t go 1-0 up and then 2-1 down against a team like Manchester United. We can’t put ourselves in that situation. We were dominant from the first minute and it only looked to be going one way. Everyone talks. We want to win trophies, we have the staff that want to win. We can’t keep doing this. We can’t throw it away. We have got to improve.”

But how can they?

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


Arsenal: sacked Wenger gets £11m compensation

Arsenal are paying Arsene Wenger – get this – £11m to leave at the end of the season. Well, so says the Sun. It’s pretty much what he would have earned for the final year of his contract – which implies he was more pushed than we realise.

Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov said: “It’s a day of great sadness.” But it isn’t for the club’ s fans how have been watching Wenger’s ‘end of an era’ football for years. His years of changing things and winning the league have long departed. His aura of menace vanished years go. Usmanov’s emotions maybe more to do with his lack of control over hiring and firing at the club that despite his big stake won’t give him a seat on the board.

The decision to let the always classy Wenger go was Stan Kroenke’s, Arsenal’s absentee owner who fears that another season without Champions League cash and all those fat dividends will hurt his huge bank balance – and reduce the club’s value. And then season ticket renewal time is looming. Last season Ivan Gazidis, Arsenal’s CEO,  handed Wenger another two-year contract, a move possessed of a lazy pragmatism; if not Wenger, then who? Arsenal had no clue. Wenger has gone from mainstay to stop gap. Gazidis blathered about another two years of the same old being a “catalyst for change”. Change came: Arsenal got worse.

So what next? The paper talks is of familiar faces: Juventus boss Max Allegri; ex-Barcelona boss Luis Enrique; Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers; and gun-for-hire Carlo Ancelotti. None of them excite the fans. They all represent playing it safe – people who have managed at big clubs and done well.

But Arsenal need bravery and courage. They need to get the figure who inspires. Why no Monaco’s Leonardo Jardim, a man who manages a team ever other club wants to recruit from? Be brave, Arsenal. Give the fans something complicated, daring and new to be intrigued and interested by. Give us new forms of keep-fit and training; give us new ways for players to express themselves; give us an end to the culture of playing “a little bit with the handbrake on’; give us a team of skilled tough-nuts and fighters. Give us another Wenger – you know, the one who should have gone in 2008!

Posted: 21st, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal: Wenger gives a ‘heavy hint’ he’ll stay

The Daily Mirror has been guessing about the timing of Arsene Wenger’s departure from Arsenal for so long, the feeling was that eventually the paper would get it right. The “WE told you so!” headlines would mask the myriad times when the paper got it utterly wrong.

 

daily mirror wenger quits sack resigns arsenal

 

So how did the ‘intelligent tabloid” report on Wenger and Arsenal on the very day when he announced his departure at his season’s end?’ Well, like this:

Wenger gave a further heavy hint he will still be at the Emirates next season when he insisted there were no issues with the Arsenal crowd, despite fans staying away in their droves from recent home matches

 

arsene wenger daily mirror

Daily Mirror fails to nail it – again

 

Ah:

 

arsene wenger daily mirror

In the Mirror on the day Wenger announced his Arsenal departure

 

Oh dear. Even a stopped watch is right twice a day…

 

 

Posted: 20th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal: Gazidis outlines his vision for life after Wenger; he hasn’t got one

Ivan Gazidis, the hapless Arsenal CEO, has a few words to say on the identify of the next Arsenal manager. He’s no idea who it’ll be. He’s had few years to be bold, identify a target and get his man. But instead Gazidis has sat on his wallet and lazily rewarded Arsene Wenger’s decline with new contracts and empty talk of sticking with the same old representing a “catalyst for change”. Wenger has a year left on his current deal. Season tickets are to be renewed soon. Arsenal fear apathy and fans not coughing up. Empty seats don’t sell food and drinks on match day.

Says Gazidis on being asked who the next manager will be: “Someone who plays exciting and progressive football. But I think there is also a significant thing at Arsenal in how the candidate represents the club. We need to make sure we don’t lose his qualities and his values.”

Balls, of course. The only thing Arsenal’s hierarchy value is money. The next manger will be expected to secure one thing above all else: income that comes with Champion’s League football and a full ground.

Does any Arsenal fan think Gazidis has the nous to appoint a manager of vision, one for the long-term? “This has been an emotional day for all involved at the club,” Gazidis adds, “his achievements are extraordinary… there’s an affection for him across the whole sphere of football. Arsene changed the game, he set a totally new standard, to make art out of football.”

Art? Has he been watching the last few seasons. Unless Gazidis means that functional, boring art of the type that fails to inspire, the stuff used to hide a stain on the wall? What tosh.

Blessedly, Gazidis and the club’s absentee American owner Stan Kroenke have recruited promisingly. Gazidis adds:

“We have a tremendous amount of experience at the football club. [Head of football relations] Raul Sannlehhi has seen several Barcelona coaching changes and [head of recruitment] Sven Mislintat has been at Borussia Dortmund for changes while on the board we have those who have been around for long enough to see even changes at Arsenal. That said, no one here has been through a coaching change like this.”

The best thing about it all is that now Arsenal fans can say farewell to Wenger in style. The bad news is that the money men who have overseen the decline are still in charge.

Posted: 20th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal finally get shot of Arsene Wenger

Rejoice, Gooners! Arsene Wenger will leave Arsenal at the end of this season. He was fantastic for Arsenal, who before his arrival were moribund. But now he too is stalled and out of ideas. It’s been like that for years.

The 68-year-old Frenchman will leave in May after 22 years at the club – 12 months before his latest contract was due to end. His record is impressive: three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups, the Double in 1998 and 2002 – and runners up in the: Champions League, Uefa Cup, FA Cup (all once), the Premier League (6 tim3s) and League Cup (3). And who can forget that entire league season without defeat. Just incredible.

Wenger changed everything. Out went the booze and the late nights. In came diet, data, athleticism and belief.

The hope must be that the flaky team galvanise to give the manger a great send off and win the Europa League, and with it qualify for next season’s champions League. Don’t bet on it. The current Arsenal side is weak, lazy and slipshod.

The fact remains: Wenger should have gone years ago. His tenure has been endured and endorsed by absentee owners and a palsied board grown fat and rich on the back of Wenger’s uncanny ability to make Arsenal into perennial Champions’ League also-rans. When that cash ended with failure to qualify last season, the owner opened an eye and ran his his tongue over it. This is about money and greed.

Arsenal are now slow. Their recruitment policy is deeply flawed – what price now Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi, two big money buys who look short on skill, aggression, ability and desire. they are a club lacking cohesion. And for that the remote and money-mad owners must share a large slice of blame.

What next? Who cares? It can only be more interesting. Arsenal under Wenger have been treading water for years. He’s going. Good. Rejoice!

Posted: 20th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Spurs balls: Harry Kane is ‘greedy’ and ‘self-serving’ for telling the truth

“Harry Kane strikes to put Tottenham in front,” says NBC, which broadcast Premier League “soccer” to a US audience. The story continues: “Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son walks the tight rope on the endline [touchline] and lays the ball off to Harry Kane who smashes a shot into the goal to make it 1-0 against Brighton.”

But the need for controversy is all powerful. And so it is that the Sun can watches the same goal and cry on its back page: “Harry Kane claimed another goal in his hunt for the golden boot – despite not getting the final touch.”

 

the sun harry kane

 

What about smashing it in?

The Sun’;s scoop is based not on the goal but on Spurs’ April win over Stoke, which featured a disagreement over the game’;s deceive goal. The BBC reported:

Tottenham’s Harry Kane has been awarded Spurs’ second goal in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Stoke after a successful appeal. The Premier League goals accreditation panel had initially given it to Spurs midfielder Christian Eriksen.

It said the decision had been reversed “after taking the player’s testimony into account and reviewing the match footage”.

England striker Kane’s tally for the season is now 25 – four behind Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.

So when Kane scored in his next match, the Sun wanted to keep alive the controversy. The story is ridiculous:

His untypically underwhelming performances have suggested he has rushed back too soon from an injury.

Or as the Sun put it on April 2: “Tottenham star Harry Kane reveals he is fitter and fresher than ever after his cameo appearance in 3-1 Chelsea win.”

Back to the Sun’s story of April 19, in which Kane has been expressing a “downbeat demeanour” since his return from injury.

And that goal he claimed – the one the FA agreed should have been credited to him:

England’s star striker, football’s one bastion of decency with no skeletons in his closet and who is revered by housewives and vicars all over the country for being all about the beautiful game, is just like the rest of his greedy, self-serving contemporaries.

So let’s see the Brighton goal – the one Kane didn’t get the final touch on, says the Sun – the implication being that never did scored it:

 


 

Kane;s goal all the way. Such are the facts.

Posted: 19th, April 2018 | In: Back pages, News, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester City in marketing horror show: two videos reveal the fantasy of being a fan of ‘the project’

Manchester City have won the Premier League. In case you haven’t seen these two videos, they provide a sobering contrast between fantasy and reality. Enjoy!

 

The Fantasy of Manchester City:

 

 

 

The Reality of Manchester City:

 

If you’re celebrating now, clap your hands – (who says that?)

If you’re extras for the UAE, say ‘Mike Summerbee?’

If you think modern football’s rubbish, shrug your shoulders.

If you pity Man City, pity Man City, if you pity Man City, well, you’re only jealous…

Posted: 18th, April 2018 | In: Manchester City, News, Sports | Comment


Manchester United Transfers: Paul Pogba touted to Manchester City and, well, anyone

Paul Pogba was going to be the world’s greatest midfielder when he re-signed for Manchester United. He’d become the pulsating heart of United’s post-Ferguson return to the top. Former United star Rio Ferdinand told us Pogba was “on the right track ” to becoming the best player on the planet.

“This is the right club for me to achieve everything I hope to,” said Pogba in 2016. Pogba, who left United for free in 2012 – joining Juventus, where he won four league titles – was coming ‘home’. United manager Jose Mourinho told us Pogba could be “the heart of the club for the next decade and beyond”.

The money was huge. Pogba was recruited for £89m. The Times heard that Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, was taking £41million from the deal. The same paper claimed Pogba was being paid an initial £165,588 a week by United, with an additional payment of £2.87 million for image rights. Reportedly, this season his salary was enlarged with a “loyalty bonus” of £3.46 million.

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Posted: 18th, April 2018 | In: manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Manchester United: The Sun buries the hatchet in Marcus Rashford’s Cane Corso

PHEW! For a while it looked as if Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United striker, was going to be given time to develop as a top-flight England footballer. But the Sun has reached for the hatchet, just as it did in 2017, when apropos of nothing it told readers about the “£30,000-plus Rashford spends annually on car insurance” and how he “splashed out £14,500 on a Rolex Santos wristwatch for his mother Melanie’s birthday”.

One year on and in “Manchester United star Marcus Rashford needs a reality check… he has the car, the gold and even the dog but is still just a substitute”, we get more spite.

The story begins: “NO wonder Marcus Rashford is confused.” No, he’s not confused because he thought making a career from a leisure pursuit was living the dream. This is all about the marketing, the hype machine that has turned footballers into ‘legends’, ‘icons’ and  – dread phrase – ‘role models’. So wrapped about a few photos and a video of Rashford advertising Nike tat, the Sun constructs the story of a man in moral decline:

They dunked the kid in gold paint, dangling a pair of their latest boots around his neck as part of another extravagant advertising campaign to promote their glamorous range.

Rashford’s presented as a slack-jawed, mentally negligible clothes horse. And he’s guilty. He’s guilty of not being the best footballer in the world and playing for Real Madrid:

This is not Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored in his 11th successive Champions League match with Real Madrid’s last-minute penalty against Juventus at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.

No. It’s Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford wearing “glamorous” man-made fibres.

When Rashford returned to the day job at Old Trafford, he was still a Manchester United substitute. He is living in a bubble, a cosseted world that will seem pretty cool to a kid who grew up in Wythenshawe… Nike are taking full advantage of that innocence.

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Posted: 16th, April 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Clickbait Balls: Manchester Untied fans are not wild about Depay

Clickbait time now, as we read in the Manchester Evening News about Memphis Depay, the Dutch footballer who joined Manchester United for €35,000,000 in June 2015 and on January 20 2017 moved to Olympique Lyonnais for €18.5million. News is that Memphis has been on the phone, a happening retold in the MEN story: “Manchester United fans sent wild after Memphis Depay’s cryptic Instagram post.”

Wild! Well, he is the new Paul Pogba:

Eager to avoid a Pogba-like scenario, when a young talent goes on to flourish elsewhere, United included a buy-back clause in the £22m deal that took Memphis to Lyon in January, 2017.

Why United wold want him is moot. Depay plays on the left of a front three or as a central striker. Where would he play at United? And talk of his United return is astonishing guesswork. The entire story is based around an Instagram post. Memphis is seen walking by a plane. He is on the phone. He writes: “Touch down in….? on the phone with…?”

Is the answer, Syria and Vladimir Putin? Or how about, Orlando and Mickey Mouse? Or how about the guess by ‘Georgeshap’, who noted: “Back in Manchester to get things back on track with United.”

And from that the MEN has its story.

And is buy-back clause is not as the MEN described it when he left for Lyons. Back then the paper told its readers:

It will mean a loss for the Reds who paid PSV Eindhoven £26.3m to take him to Old Trafford in 2015. Because of that United have insisted on a first-refusal buy-back clause and a sell-on clause should they choose to let him go elsewhere.

It’s not him United want. It’s a chance to mitigate the financial loss.

 

Posted: 13th, April 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal’s Elneny has red card revoked

The FA does not agree with Mark Hughes, the red-card hungry Southampton manager, nor the referee for Arsenal’s 3-2 Premier League over The Saints last weekend: Mohamed Elneny’s red card has been revoked. The Egyptian was sent off in the game’s dying moments.

Hughes put on the blinkers and opined after defeat to Arsenal: “Elneny has raised a hand to Cedric’s face. That’s a sending off clearly.” Hughes it not alone is being unaware where the face ends and body begins. Referee Andre Marriner also thought a powder puff push on Cedric Soares’ shoulder worthy of a straight red.

The FA statement tells us: “Mohamed Elneny will be available for Arsenal’s next three games after an Independent Regulatory Commission accepted that he was wrongly dismissed for violent conduct against Southampton on Sunday, April 8, 2018.”

 

 

But still Hughes can’t work out where the face is. He moans: “Elneny raised his hands to an opposition player’s face. In the letter of the law he should have gone.” No he did not. That was not his face.

“For them to appeal that and it to be rescinded surprised me to be perfectly honest.” Honest?

“There were other incidents as well where there needs to be continuity and consistency with the referee’s decision making and it seems to be at odds with what you would expect in certain situations.”

It’s hard to be consistent and honest when one of us seems unaware what the face is and isn’t.

Hughes is the proverbial broken record. Having supported the case for Elneny’s red card and called for Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere to be sent off for ‘moving his knee‘, this was Hughes when his Stoke City side drew with Southampton in December 2016:

“The ref wasn’t great on the night. He missed a number of decisions and clearly missed an elbow from Shane Long on Bruno Martins Indi. That needs looking at again. If you’re going to make game-changing decisions like that, then all the other key moments and decisions he has to get right too.”

He’s been moaning for years. This was Hughes in 2012, when he was at QPR:

“The key thing from my point of view is you have to be 100% right to give the decisions and at the moment I think people are guessing and hoping that they get decisions correct.

“Listen, it’s difficult. I’m not here to castigate the referee. All we want is referees and officials to get the big decisions right and unfortunately this weekend they haven’t covered themselves in glory… these are massive decisions affecting people’s livelihoods.

“I think the [decisions] this weekend are certainly down to the competence of the referee and his performance level. They don’t mean [to get it wrong] but surely the level needs to be higher than it is at the moment. They are a professional body now and they have the opportunity to review performances. I just think at the moment it’s a numbers game and possibly they haven’t got enough numbers of the right quality.”

And till he gets hired. Why?

Posted: 12th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


The Sun finds drink-driving ‘amusing’

Is driving over the speed limit a lark? Government figures tells us that in 2013, “3,064 people were killed or seriously injured in crashes where speed was a factor”. Adding: “The risk of death is approximately four times higher when a pedestrian is hit at 40mph than at 30mph.”

 

the sun jon boon

 

So here’s the Sun to deliver: “SPEED DEMONS – Footballers speeding: Mario Balotelli, Roberto Firmino and Yaya Toure are just some of the names caught by cops for driving offences.”

The sorry feature begins: “If you’ve got a fast car, you’re always going to want to test the brakes, right?” No. Wrong.

In the recent aftermath of Lee Catermole getting a driving ban for accumulating too many points on his license, join SunSport in sharing other offenders.

License? In the UK, it’s a driving licence. You are licensed to dive. But the Sun isn’t listening. “[Nathan] Redmond was officially clocked at driving 71mph in his £80,000 Range Rover and given a £1,000 fine,” we’re told. “However, he escaped with six points in his license and his license wasn’t suspended.” Anyone else remember when the Sun was the apogee of the sub-editor’s craft?

 

the sun jon boon

 

But that’s not the worst of it. The Sun adds:

Amusingly enough, some of these lads aren’t best known for their pace on the pitch…

 

the sun drink driving

Drink-driving kills – but it an be “amusing”

 

drink driving the sun

“Amusing”?

 

Speeding is amusing? Driving over the speed limit is funny? What about drink-driving? Is that good for a joke? The Sun notes:

Yaya Toure
Talk about being made an example of.

The Man City midfield stroller/player was handed the biggest driving fine ever – £54,000 – for drink driving in 2016.

You can’t blame Facebook for everything wrong in journalism.  Dire. Truly dire stuff from the Sun.

Posted: 12th, April 2018 | In: Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Pep Guardiola is nicking a living at Manchester City

Manchester City were a little unlucky to lose 5-1 to Liverpool in the Champions’ League. Raheem Sterling should have been awarded a penalty in the first game; and City should have been just 3-2 down when the referee wrongly disallowed a goal that had gone in off Liverpool’s James Milner. But to Stan Collymore, a Cup result was all about puncturing the Pep Guardiola bubble:

Tweeting under @StanCollymore, the former Liverpool player notes:

“Changed the game”
“Never seen anything like this ”
“Revolutionary”
“Favourites for the quadruple ”
“Greatest team ever in English football ”

Not one or two, the most sycophantic press pack ever towards one man, desperate for the exclusive 1 on 1 sit down.

Sycophantic cobblers.

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Posted: 11th, April 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Manchester City, News, Sports | Comment


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