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.

#StayBritish – Richard Keys has sage advice for Leicester City

When Leicester City sacked Craig Shakespeare – the Foxes earned the Premier League’s seventh biggest haul of points during his 8 months as manager – former Sky Sports anchor Richard Keys took to twitter to opine:

 

 

That’s Richard Keys, the Britisher who lives in Qatar (not in Britain) where he works for Al Jazeera (owned by Qatari royalty) talking about Leicester City, the club owned a Thai billionaire, which won the Premier League title under the guidance of an Italian.

#StayBritish, indeed.

Posted: 18th, October 2017 | In: News, Sports | Comment


Liverpool balls: the mighty Maribor

All’s well at Liverpool FC. Last night the mighty Reds swatted Maribor 7-0 in the Champions’ League. It was the biggest away win by an English team in the entire history of the European Cup.

Watching the thrashing was the Daily Mirror’s David Maddock. He was keen to show readers that Maribor are a top side. They are “seasoned Champions League performers”.

Really? The Slovenians are hardly competitive:

Ten-year European record (UEFA Champions League unless indicated otherwise)
2016/17: UEFA Europa League play-offs
2015/16: second qualifying round
2014/15: group stage
2013/14: UEFA Europa League round of 32 (having transferred from UEFA Champions League play-offs)
2012/13: UEFA Europa League group stage (having transferred from UEFA Champions League play-offs)
2011/12: UEFA Europa League group stage (having transferred from UEFA Champions League third qualifying round)
2010/11: UEFA Europa League play-offs
2009/10: UEFA Europa League play-offs (having transferred from UEFA Champions League third qualifying round)
2008/09: did not take part in UEFA club competition
2007/08: UEFA Intertoto Cup second round

Not all that good are they. Indeed, in 2014, when Chelsea thrashed Maribor 6-0, the Mirror called the Slovenian side “minnows”.

Posted: 18th, October 2017 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment


The Sun: boring Liverpool have great PR and Mourinho is a genius

Liverpool v Manchester United continues to make news for all the wrong reasons. They game was a dirge. It was very much a Jose Mourinho match: slow, niggly, functional, pragmatic and dull. Over in the Sun, however, there’s a difference of opinion.

Gavin Newsham gets it right in his apprasal:

Do you remember when Sam Allardyce took West Ham to Stamford Bridge in 2014, stuck everyone behind the ball and escaped with a goalless draw and a point? “This is football from the 19th Century,” moaned then Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.

Fast forward three years…Jose’s United managed just one shot on target in a game when Mourinho’s men did little or nothing to try and win the game, playing the kind of unsightly, anti-football that’s completely at odds with the way they tend to do things at Old Trafford.

Or as the Sun’s Neil Curtis told Sky Sports:

I think he got it absolutely spot on. I can’t remember a time when going to Anfield was a given for any away team, no matter how good they are. This man is supposed to be anti-football but has scored four goals on four occasions in the last seven games…

There were two chances in that game – Manchester United one and Liverpool had one – but it’s Mourinho’s fault that it was 0-0. Mourinho was inviting Klopp to take a risk yesterday – but he didn’t take one…

Where the plan fell down, for me, was with Romelu Lukaku. He couldn’t hold the ball up when it came out. Yes, he had men around him and what have you but if he holds the ball up, he can then feed it off to people and they can play on the break. Lukaku was poor yesterday and Henrikh Mkhitaryan went missing but that’s not Mourinho’s fault.

It’s easy to criticise him, it’s easy to blame him but Klopp wasn’t taking any great risks yesterday either. He’s got a great PR team

He’s not the only one…

How many chances? One each, right, says Curtis. Wrong, says the Daily Mirror:

For all the grim reality of that pragmatic approach, United still should have lost, with David De Gea making a world-class save from Joel Matip and both Mo Salah and Emre Can spurning wonderful chances – while even at the end, Matip and Dejan Lovren had clear headers they put over.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 16th, October 2017 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment (1)


Watford’s Troy Deeney says Arsenal have no balls

It’s hard to play football if you’ve no balls, says Watford’s Troy Deeney. He’s right. Arsenal are horribly toothless, a bunch of nice boys playing nice football in a nice stadium. They are every inch Arsene Wenger’s side.

Posted: 15th, October 2017 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Mourinho inspires Manchester United to another boring encounter at Liverpool

It’s Liverpool v Manchester in the Premier League, which means one thing: 0-0. Before today’s bore drawer – Liverpool were the better side but wasted opportunities in a game the BBC describes as “marginally better” than the “drab stalemate” when Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool last hosted Jose Mourinho’s United in the PL – the Sun was assuring readers it would be a thriller:

“JOSE MOURINHO has warned Jurgen Klopp he will be facing a much stronger Manchester United than 12 months ago. Then Mourinho took the Red Devils to Anfield and shut up shop for a tedious goalless draw to stop a free-scoring Liverpool.”

He shut up shop this time, too. Manchester United managed a single shot on target to Liverpool’s 6; committed 13 fouls to Liverpool’s 7; and just 38% possession. Dullsville stuff from United. But this is how Mourinho’s cheerleaders at the Sun trailed last season’s match that ended 0-0, in which United had 35% possession, committed 20 fouls and had  – yep – one shot on target.

JOSE MOURINHO is desperately trying to rid Manchester United of the memories from the Louis van Gaal era. That is why he will never serve up a borefest like the Dutchman with his much vaunted ‘philosophy’.

A pox on Van Gaal!

Mourinho’s side travel to Anfield tonight where Van Gaal somehow squeezed out a 1-0 win last January. But as so often with LVG it was the way it was done and that is certainly not the Mourinho way.

You know how many shots on target United had that day? One.

Plus ca change at Old Trafford. (Although under Van Gaal the annual shot went in and enjoyed 47% possession. Not quite ‘Bing Back Louis’ but the hype over Mourinho is absurd. He’s George Graham with lots more money.)

Posted: 14th, October 2017 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal balls: Sanchez talks progressing well and Manchester City worry

When Arsenal manger Arsene Wenger talks, the tabloids churn his words though the mangle and spit out sensation. Discussing the futures of the team’s Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez – both players in the final year of their current deals – Wenger said:

“The fact we didn’t agree last year doesn’t mean he [Ozil] wants to leave… Both players look happy and overall I hope the situation can be turned round, but at the moment we are not close enough to announce anything. Talks are going well.”

The headline news is that talks to keep Sanchez and Ozil at Arsenal are “going well”.

A journalist than asks if there’s deadline to the talks. “No,” says Wenger, “not at this moment.” The journo asks if it gets to the January transfer window and no deals have been agreed Arsenal will “count their losses” and sell bother players.  Wenger says you “envisage every solution”.  Will they leave? “It’s possible,” says Wenger.

Of course it is. That much is not new. The news is that talks are progressing with both players. Indeed, Ozil’s agent says his man wants to stay in the Premier League.

But in the Manchester Evening News the story that Arsenal are working to keep Sanchez becomes: “Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez hands Pep Guardiola transfer dilemma.” This apparent dilemma is whether Manchester City should buy Sanchez in January. But it’s not a dilemma in the Mirror, which announces: “Manchester City plot cut-price £20m transfer swoop for Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez in January window.” Neither the Mirror nor MEN cite a single source for their stories.

Over in the Daily Mail, the Chilean has already made his mind up. “Alexis Sanchez set to leave Arsenal in January,” says the paper.  “Arsene Wenger is resigned to Alexis Sanchez leaving Arsenal in the January transfer window,” says the paper.

Is that what he said? No.

Such are the facts.

 

 

 

Posted: 13th, October 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comments (2)


Transfer Balls: Spurs Harry Kane to Manchester United says one source and £170m

Huge news for Manchester Untied and Spurs fans. The Sun says “MANCHESTER UNITED boss Jose Mourinho is eyeing a record £170m swoop for Tottenham star Harry Kane’”.

The story of how United will recruit a rival club’s best player is rooted in a nameless “Old Trafford source”. And in between the headline and the readers’ poll (“Should Spurs cash on on £170 Harry Kane?”, Daniel Cutts delivers his “exclusive”: Jose Mourinho thinks Kane is good at football. And that’s it.

Cutts does note that it’s “understood” Spurs will “offer Kane a new contract next summer, upping his wages to around £150,000-a-week to keep him at White Hart Lane.” Kane is currently on just under £100,000-a-week.

It’s an easy story to reveal that a rich club that pays wages of £250,000-a-week plus will try to entice Kane. So easy isnit that thewher one tabloid leads, the rst dutifully follow:

“Manchester United plotting £170m swoop for Tottenham’s talisman Harry Kane” – The Metro

“Manchester United prepared to rival Real Madrid with £170m transfer bid for Tottenham striker Harry Kane” – Daily Mail

“Man Utd news: Jose Mourinho plots £170m bid for Tottenham star Harry Kane” – Daily Express

“Jose Mourinho wants Harry Kane in £170m deal to partner Romelu Lukaku at Man Utd – report” – Daily Star.

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 12th, October 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Spurs | Comments (2)


Arsenal balls: Theo Walcott leaves Gunners in tabloids betting scoop

Arsenal are ready to sell nice middle-class boy Theo Walcott in January, says The Week. “Gunners are getting ready to blast the dead wood from the Emirates and top of the flops is Theo Walcott,” thunders the review magazine.  The mag’s source is The Sun, which says Arsenal are “preparing to sell Walcott in January”.

 

 

Who wants Theo, then? Well Walcott, has “attracted interest” from “West Ham and Everton”. On the Sun’s website, we  read: “He has 18-months left on his £110,000-a-week contract, and is one of the club’s highest earners, according to TeamTalk.”

Over there we learn that “Arsenal are reportedly preparing to sell Theo Walcott in January, unless he can cement himself in Arsene Wenger’s first team.” The source for this TeamTalk story is The Gambling Times.

The Gambling Times mentions a betting company in its report, which carries no source to support its well-travelled scoop, which features unchallenged in the Sun, The Week, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Star. What The Gambling Times does cite in its Arsenal news is a betting company. “We spoke to BetVictor and their Head of antepost Football Michael Triffitt about Walcott and their market on his future, with West Ham, Everton and Southampton the favourites to land him,” says the paper, which tags BetVictor in its SEO. Indeed, BetVictor features in many of the site’s articles, including a daily horse racing tips sheet – and Triffitt is a not infrequent source of opinion.

Is it news or is it affiliate marketing? It’s worrying that the national press don’t make any attempt to differentiate between the two…

Posted: 4th, October 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Marcus Rashford’s silver hatchet

Does the Sun like Manchester United and England’s Marcus Rashford? Compare and contrast the following words from the Sun’s Neil Ashton:

September 6:

They do the right thing at Manchester United. Nobody gets big-headed, nobody is allowed to get carried away with little bit of success. That is the way they bring them through and Marcus Rashford is no exception.

October 3:

SOMEBODY, somewhere has tried to tuck him up. Everybody, it seems, is pretending to be Marcus Rashford’s best mate these days…

The hysteria is nowhere near the levels that once saw Georgie Best mobbed by mini-skirted women and bespectacled kids in parkas hunting for autographs when he walked down Deansgate. Nobody expects Rashford, who is due to start England’s World Cup qualifier at Wembley against Slovenia on Thursday, to go down that road. He appears too smart, too streetwise, too level-headed for that. Instead, he is trying to lead a quiet life, spending the afternoons in the Trafford Centre with his girlfriend or meeting his pals for peri-peri chicken in Nando’s.

That is the way Rashford rolls.

Can this be the same Neil Ashton who wrote waaaaay back in April 2017:

These United boys, what with their status, their lifestyle and their super-sized salaries, want for nothing…

Rashford, a Euro 2016 wildcard with England, has lost his way since the big bucks started to roll in.

His new home, a sprawling six- bedroom pad being built in Bowden, Cheshire, is almost ready for the forward to move into.

It has sprung up on the same street as Joe Hart and is close to the house Zlatan Ibrahimovic rents from former Manchester City star Micah Richards.

The £30,000-plus Rashford spends annually on car insurance for the fleet of motors that started arriving when he signed a new deal barely touches the sides. Last month he splashed out £14,500 on a Rolex Santos wristwatch for his mother Melanie’s birthday.

He has an obsession with Balenciaga — a luxury French fashion brand — and has more than 30 pairs of their £400-a-pop shoes to choose from each morning.

Buys his mum a watch! The swine.

Dave Horrocks, development officer at Manchester junior club Fletcher Moss Rangers where Rashford started out as a youngster, says of the player he actually knows: “Marcus comes form a lovely family. He is a smashing kid, very humble and so quiet and unassuming.”

Well, that’s the way he rolls.

Posted: 3rd, October 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Media bias: Bournemouth robbed as Leicester’s Simpson tucks his hands onto his arms

When Bournemouth hosted Leicester City in the Premier League, the Cherries were hard down by when a clear handball by the Foxes’ Danny Simpson in his own area went unpunished.

The official Leicester FC website reports on that early goalmouth action:

Defoe connects with a King cross and turns his effort onto the underneath of the bar. Pugh’s follow up is deflected wide and City clear the corner.

No word on how the shot was deflected wide.

Leicester says the game’s “major moment” was Shinji Okazaki missing a good chance –  not the handball.

Over on the Bournemouth FC website, it’s a different story:

Within three minutes there was high drama. Joshua King’s low cross was directed onto the crossbar by Defoe, and as the ball rattled loose Marc Pugh’s close-range shot was deflected wide by the hand of Danny Simpson.
Pugh’s shouts for a penalty were sustained, but referee Graham Scott was unmoved in signalling for just a corner.

Let’s see if a local newspaper can give us the facts?

The Leicester Mercury reports:

The tone was set in the third minute when a sweeping move carved City open and Jermaine Defoe struck the underside of the bar form close range and Marc Pugh struck Danny Simpson’s arm with the follow-up.

As Simpson nurses his arm and #pray4Danny trends in Leicester, we see what the BBC made of it:

The home side dominated the game and will feel they should have had an early penalty when Leicester defender Danny Simpson appeared to handle inside the box.

Can you handle something with your arm? No. The Times explains:

Early on, Defoe exchanged passes with the impressive Josh King whose low cross was turned against the bar by the England striker. Marc Pugh looked certain to score from the rebound, but his effort was deflected wide by the palm of Danny Simpson.

Handball, then. Bournemouth were robbed. But not if you get your news from Leicester, in which case we wish Danny Simpson well.

Posted: 30th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, News, Sports | Comment (1)


Ben Stokes reminds the country that people still play cricket

England cricketer Ben Stokes has been making news ever since he was arrested following a bout of alleged fisticuffs with Ryan Hale, a former soldier who served in Afghanistan, on a night out in Bristol.

Everything about Stoke’s life to date is being examined for signs of mania. He wore comfi-Slax and a jumper for his interview for the England captaincy; the winner, Joe Root, wore a suit and tie, and most likely tucked his vest into his Y-fronts. He did an impression of Katie Price’s disabled son Harvey, which someone filmed. In 2011, Stokes was arrested and cautioned for obstructing the police. He’s ginger. He was rusticated from a tour of Australia for boozing. He achieved four speeding offences in one month.

 

 

The big shock, of course, is that a cricket should be on the front pages at all. Cricket usually attracts less media attention than Wayne Rooney’s urine; it’s f7 on the keyboard when there’s no football on. And that’s the international stuff. Cricket at country level has less pull than Ann Widdecombe in a moist tent.

 

 

The MCC, ECB and all other cricket boards should write a letter to Stokes thanking him for making cricketers and cricket worthy of our attention. Cricket needs exposure even more than the aforementioned Katie Price and her Jordans.

As for Stokes, a player who often eschews the cloying professionalism in favour of the amateur spirit, we,, he should save his aggression for the match.

 

Posted: 30th, September 2017 | In: News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal riot, stroll and stumble at BATE Borisov

Arsenal ran out pretty easy winners in their Europa League match against BATE Borisov, winning 4-2, having been 3-0 up after 25 minutes. Arsenal are the first team to beat Bate on their own patch in European competition since Barcelona defeated them in 2015 – a run of seven games.

What do the newspapers have to say about the match?

EASY!

The Daily Mail calls it an “Arsenal stroll”. The Sun agrees that it was a “stroll”. The Gunners, boasting a squad of nine players aged 20 or younger, “ran riot”. The Express saw Arsenal “picking apart the BATE defence at will”. The Daily Star says it was “stunning stuff from Arsenal”.

HARD!

The Daily Mirror says it “wasn’t an easy ride” for the Gunners in Belarus.

And the Times:

Times Arsenal

 

One man’s stroll is another reporter’s stumble.

Such are the facts.

 

 

 

Posted: 29th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Broadsheets, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester City star Aguero fractures rib in car accident

Manchester City’s Argentinean star Sergio Aguero has been injured in a car accident in Amsterdam. The 29-year-old fractured a rib when the taxi he was taking to the airport struck a lamp post. Aguero was in Holland to watch a concert by Colombian singer Maluma.

Reports in Argentina estimate Aguero will be out of action “for at least three months”, noting that the “seat belt saved his life”. The Sun calls it a “horror smash” and says he “cheated death”.
 

 

It could have been worse, then. We wish Aguero well, of course. But look out for fans of rival clubs being delighted.
 


 

And let’s not forget the jokes:
 

 

But don’t worry City:

 

Ooer.

Posted: 29th, September 2017 | In: Manchester City, News, Sports | Comment


Chelsea balls: Diego Costa’s writes an open letter to the fans

So farewell, Diego Costa, who has left Chelsea to rejoin Atletico Madrid for £57 million. By way of goodbye, Costa has penned a letter to Chelsea fans. It asserts that he will never get dementia and that his life works to cycles, much like a spin dryer or a giant panda’s genitals. Costa writes on his Facebook page:

Some cycles begin while others end. My cycle at Chelsea began three years ago – three remarkable years in all aspects – and I will never forget it.

Two championship titles, a Community Shield, 120 matches, 59 goals and 24 assists later this cycle has ended. Not the way I would have wanted – far from it – but the best way possible.

The wonderful fans of such an equally admirable club and all my team-mates, as well as all clinical, administrative and logistics staff will remain forever in my mind and in my heart.

I will bring them with me with the certainty that I will always be by their side as well, and I’m sure they will understand the reason why this cycle of mine has now ended – because I could not lose faith in myself.

Thank you Chelsea for everything!

God bless the logistics staff – professional football’s perennially unsung heroes.

And God bless Diego, for now his cycle begins anew.

Posted: 27th, September 2017 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Manchester United park the bus and Chelsea never lose

Arsenal are on the up. With four wins and one draw from their past five games, and with just one goal conceded in that period, Arsene Wenger’s team have recovered from their early season defeats to Stoke (in which they were unlucky and robbed by poor refereeing) and Liverpool (where they got the thrashing their abject performance deserved). It also behoves a mention to note that following Arsenal’s 2-0 win over a spark West Bromwich Albion, the Gunners have won eight consecutive home games in the Premier League.

But in the Sun, the forecast at The Emirates remains grim. Therein they are “FALTERING Arsenal”. You “could not disguise just how far the Gunners are falling behind their major rivals. While City, United and Chelsea are brushing opponents aside with contemptuous ease, Arsene Wenger’s team are labouring to see off even the most unambitious of rivals.”

 

Arsenal table

Arsenal “far behind” at one point away from third sport

 

Arsenal drew 0-0 at Chelsea in a game they could well have won, hitting the post and missing an open goal from inside six yards. And that’s the same Chelsea who lost at home to the mighty Burnley. Manchester City were flukey away to Bournemouth, scoring a very late goal courtesy of Raheem Sterling’s boot and a massive deflection, and drew 1-1 with Everton. Manchester United have drawn 2-2 with Stoke, and last weekend beat Southampton 0-1. Of that match the Sun’s sister paper, the Times, called United’s performance “strangely lethargic”. Adding:

Given the lead by Lukaku, United went into abject retreat in the second half when Southampton had the bulk of possession and most of the chances. At the final whistle, United had six defenders on the pitch, while the home side brought on two attackers, a fair reflection of the balance of power.

Manchester United parked the bus. So much for “brushing aside opponents with contemptuous ease”. United and City have yet to play any of their title rivals.

And what of West Bromwich Albion being unambitious? The Evening Standard reports:

Pulis had employed a more ambitious West Brom lineup than might have been expected, with Hal Robson-Kanu and Rodriguez making for a mobile, high-pressing front two.

It’s hardly perfect at Arsenal, but to ignore the facts and stick to a bogus narrative is poor reporting.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 26th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, News, Tabloids | Comment


Bias balls: Arenal mistime a tackle as West Bromwich Albion howl for a penalty

Media bias: a look at biased football reporting. Last night Arsenal beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0 in the Premier League. Tired at 0-0, Arsenal Shkodran Mustafi appeared to bring down West Brom’s Jay Rodriguez with a sliding challenge in the box. No penalty was given. Rodriguez got back to his feet and curled a shot at goal, hich Petr Cech did well to save, pushing the ball onto a post. What do the clubs say:

Arsenal official website:

…we survived two huge let offs along the way. Petr Cech made a excellent fingertip save and Nacho Monreal cleared off the line – both from Jay Rodriguez – during an eventful first half.

Is the penalty appeal mentioned at all?

Shkodran Mustafi mistimed his tackle on Rodriguez inside the area, but rather than give the penalty, the referee allowed play on…

Not  foul, then. It was a “mistimed tackle”.

West Bromwich Albion official website:

The forward used his pace to burst past Mustafi into the area, cut inside and appear [sic] to be brought down by the Gunners defender. Rodriguez quickly stood up and subsequently saw his shot tipped on to the far post by Petr Cech…

What about the managers?

Tony Pulis (WBA manager): “I think the challenge on Jay is a penalty and a red card.”

Arena Wenger (Aresnal manager): “The referee left the advantage and they nearly scored from that, they hit the post and I think the decision is defendable on both sides had he given a penalty or not. He left the advantage, if he gives a penalty and doesn’t give the advantage and they miss the penalty then you say why did he not leave the advantage, it’s this kind of situation.”

And the local papers?

Islington Gazette (Arsenal): “Tony Pulis and his men could feel aggrieved by referee Bobby Madley turning down a cast-iron penalty for the Baggies in the first half …”

Verdict: It should have been a penalty – but not if you’re on the Arsenal website.

Posted: 26th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Poppy monoculture: a draconian silence falls over Wembley

Without any hint of irony the Daily Telegraph hears that England – the national football side rebranded ‘The Three Lions’ – are allowed to wear pictures of poppies on their shirts and calls it a “major victory for the British game”. England might not win many meaningful football matches but when it comes to decorating our tops, decades of hurt have been undone. On November 10, England will wear poppies on their shirts as they play – get this – Germany at Wembley.

Before last year’s Armistice Day, FIFA banned England and Scotland — as well as Wales and Northern Ireland — from wearing the poppy, the symbol of remembrance, for matches on that day. FIFA says “political, religious or personal” designs should no infect the national shirts. But England and Scotland players wore them anyhow, albeit as black armbands with a poppy motif.  Odd, no? Football is about rules. It’s all about rules. Without rules there is no sport. Flouting the rules is no small deal.

Rory Smith notes that “Until 2009, it was rare for British club teams to display a poppy on their uniforms at this time of year… A campaign led by the Daily Mail that year changed all that. The intention, of course, is an admirable and honorable one: to show that football, as the slogan goes, remembers. That is not, however, necessarily the effect. Wearing a poppy is designed as an individual act; when it becomes compulsory, it loses not just much of its impact, but some of its meaning.”

An act of remembering in a minute’s contemplative silence became enforced duty. And it became political. Theresa May called it was “utterly outrageous” that FIFA should rule on poppies. The FA says “common sense” has won. The Sun calls it “VICTORY – Poppy ban KO-d as FIFA sees sense”.  “POPPY VICTORY,” declares the Express. “POPPY POWER,” hails the Mail. “Sportsmail ran a successful campaign in 2009 for all Premier League clubs to have the poppy emblem on their shirts, which is now commonplace.” No. It’s compulsory. And anyone who objects is portrayed as morally repugnant.

In 2010, Celtic fans protested a decision for their club’s shirt to feature the poppy. Their banner declared: “Your deeds they would shame all the devils in hell. Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan. No blood-stained poppy on our hoops.” Celtic vowed to ban he protestors. The Sun called them “hate mobs”. Don’t sing sectarian chants about past battles and loss, goes the top-down directive, but you must wear the poppy.

This is not about heartfelt remembrance, giving private thanks to the sacrifices of so many for our freedom (to choose) and supporting the armed forces; it’s about public displays of group think and compliance.

 

Posted: 25th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets, Key Posts, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal balls: Sanchez leaves Higuain and joins Manchester United

Hard luck on Arsenal fans: Alexis Sanchez is on his way to Manchester United. The Sun has the scoop, leading with the “TRANSFER EXCLUSIVE”.

 

SAnchez arsenal manchester united

 

No word on whence the story emerged. No source quoted. Just the simple fact that Manchester United want Alexis Sanchez, and he’s on his way for a £25m signing-on fee.

Readers might be little more circumspect.  This is the Sun, after all, the paper that told us Gonzalo Higuain joined Arsenal in 2013.

 

higuain arsenal sign

 

 

Undeterred by fact – he never joined – the Sun continues to publish the story on its website. Although it was “Updated: 5th April 2016, 7:12 am” to now read:

 

ARSENAL last night smashed their transfer record when they agreed a £23million fee for Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain.

 

ARSENAL last night smashed their transfer record when they agreed a £23million fee for Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain…Wenger believes that the capture of Higuain will convince other world-class stars to join.

This is despite Higuain telling the Times in December 2013:

“I did not speak to them [Arsenal]. They said Arsenal wanted to sign me, that they were there negotiating [with Real Madrid], but it was Napoli who came and bought me.”

As for Alexis Sanchez, well, he plays for Manchester City. We read that fact in the Sun.

 

MANCHESTER CITY will make a final £70million bid to land Alexis Sanchez with the deal now set to go through by tonight.

In another exclusive, readers learn:

MANCHESTER CITY will make a final £70million bid to land Alexis Sanchez with the deal now set to go through by tonight.

Sanchez never did join Man chester City.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 24th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United balls: what Maja Nilsson didn’t say about executive boxes

Seats are pricey at Manchester United. Even a footballer on astronomical wages is upset at the cost of watching the Red Devils. The Daily Mirror says Victor Lindelof’s fiancee “blasts” Man United over “‘disgusting £82,000 cost for Old Trafford executive boxes'”.

And where one tabloid leads, another dutifully follows – although in the Sun, Maja Nilsson, for that is she, is reduce to a “WAG”:

 

manchester united  Victor Lindelof’s fiancee

 

The story tells readers:

“Jose Mourinho’s squad can hire the luxury suites for their family and friends at home games with prices ranging from £24,000 to £81,600.”

So the top price is just under £82,000. And what did she say? This:

“Players have the option to rent a box,” Nilsson said on her podcast, called Livet På Läktaren (Life in the Stands). “I’m not even going to tell you for how much, but a disgusting amount. If you don’t buy one you’re considered a loser. But having a box is wonderful. You get your own waiter.”

The story has been removed from both the Sun and Mirror’s websites.

Posted: 21st, September 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Liverpool regrets: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain plays and Arsenal fans laugh

Don’t panic, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the Arsenal player who left the club for Liverpool in a £40m transfer. Four matches into his rosy-fingered dawn and ‘The Ox’ has yet to be on the winning side.

No need to panic, though.

When Gareth Bale was at Spurs, it took 25 matches (!) for him to be on the winning team. The Sun’s Pat Sheehan covered Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat by Everton on 30 November, 2008, writing: “One glance at the score and any Spurs fan will tell you without looking at the line-up that Gareth Bale must have played.” Bale went on to be brilliant.

Of course, the problem is that Oxlade-Chamberlain is nowhere near as good as Bale. He’s a mediocre player who went for a stupid amount of money. Arsenal did very well in getting shot of the nice middle class boy in the final year of his Arsenal contract. ESPN says Arsenal had a “disastrous” transfer window. Balls. They hung on to Alexis Sanchez – their best player – and waved goodbye to the player who has always promised much and delivered less than a geriatric Deliveroo cyclist.

Last night Liverpool were knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Leicester City. And Oxlade-Chamberlain was every bit as ineffective as he was at Arsenal.  Someone has produced this damning compilation of his night’s work:

This is the Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who left Arsenal because he wants to play centrally, rather than waste his talents at wing-back.

Well played, Arsenal. Well played.

Posted: 20th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment


‘Piss Off Fatso’: When Thompson and Lillee wreaked havoc

 

The Ashes are coming. A friend tells me with no little boasting, “I watched Thompson and Lillee on ‘The Hill’.” That was the 1974-1975 Ashes, when Geoff Thompson and Dennis Lillee were on a mission.

As Lillee put it: “I’m trying to scare him, trying to hurt him, perhaps in the ribs or leg or something so that he at least knows you’re around.”

And the crowd? Well, they loved it. “Lillee! Lillee! Kill! Kill! Kill!”

 

 

And Thompson and Lillee really hated the English. The 1974-75 Athes series was brutal:

England were surprised when Thomson was included in the Australian side for the opening Test in Brisbane. “We never thought they’d pick Jeff,” recalled David Lloyd. “We thought it was a different Thomson… Froggy, who played for Victoria.”

In the days before the Test, Thomson upped the hype in a TV interview when he said: “I enjoy hitting a batsman more than getting him out. I like to see blood on the pitch.”

The night before the match Lillee came across Thomson in the bar drinking scotch. “When I go out to bowl I want a hangover from hell,” Thomson explained. “I bowl really well when I’ve got a headache.”

When the game got underway Australia batted first, leaving Thomson in the pavilion to nurse his hangover. Towards the end of their innings Tony Greig, who could bowl briskly and generated significant lift from his 6ft 7in frame to trouble decent batsmen, bounced Lillee. The ball reared at his head and he could do no more than glove it to Alan Knott. “Just you remember who started this,” muttered Lillee as he trooped off.

“When I batted at Perth I didn’t even wear a cap,” said Lloyd. “All I had was an apology for a thigh pad.” It was in that Test that Thomson struck Lloyd so hard in the groin that his protective box was turned inside out. “You didn’t feel fear,” he added, “but you did feel a hopelessness at times, a feeling that you couldn’t cope.”

Mike Denness noted Lloyd’s reaction when he returned to the dressing room after one innings. “Within seconds his body was quivering. His neck and the top half of his body in particular were shaking. He was shell-shocked.”

Here’s a fun anecdote from the Perth Test:

“Good morning, my name’s Cowdrey,” he said. Thomson has told the story so often, with ribald twists introduced depending on the audience, that it is hard to know precisely what he said in response but his latest account, gives a flavour: “As I handed my hat to the umpire, I was revved up and just wanted to kill somebody and Kipper walked all the way up to me and said: ‘Mr Thomson I believe. It’s so good to meet you.’ And I said: ‘That’s not going to help you, Fatso, now piss off.'”

Did it hurt? David Lloyd tells us:

After making a heroic 49 in his first knock, Lloyd was making dogged progress in the second innings when Thomson caught him ‘full on’ in the most tender part of the anatomy.
“We wore little pink plastic boxes at the time which were totally unsuitable for the job,” he explained. “It cracked open and what I had inside fired through before the box snapped shut again like a guillotine coming down. Even after 32 years, I lose my voice just thinking about it. There’s retired hurt and then there’s retired hurt…”

For your diaries:

23-27 November 2017 – First Test, Gabba.
2-6 December 2017 – Second Test, Adelaide Oval (Day-Night)
14-18 December 2017 – Third Test, Perth (venue TBC)
26-30 December 2017 – Fourth Test, MCG.
4-8 January 2018 – Fifth Test, SCG.

Posted: 19th, September 2017 | In: Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Jeremy Corbyn’s wife shuts down Arsenal fan Piers Morgan

When Piers Morgan spotted Jeremy Corbyn chatting with Arsenal’s Spanish defender Hector Bellerin, he tried to butt in. Mrs Corbyn shut the boorish TV presenter down in the best way:

 

piers morgan corbynbellerinarsenal

 

Spotter: Tony Gray

Posted: 19th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Celebrities, Politicians, Sports | Comment


Chelsea balls: Gus Hiddink never did cry

The Sun enjoys the “Crying Dutchman” pun, using it to describe Dutch football managers who aren’t ever crying. In May 2016, the Sun said “Crying Dutchman Louis van Gaal” was “disappointed” at being sacked by Manchester United. But the hammer-headed Dutchman today returns to the Sun in a feature entitled “The Crying Dutchmen”.

With Ronald Koeman mired at Everton and Frank de Boer already sacked by trigger-happy Crystal Palace with a 100% record of played 4, lost 4, Dutch managers in the Premier League are an endangered species. Both men feature on the Sun’s story on Dutch managers who”‘struggle to set the English top flight alight”.

You could, of course, make a longer list of English manger who have failed to shine in the PL – an English manager has yet to win the Premier League. But it’s the Dutch in the crosshairs. And overlooking Martin Jol, who did pretty well at Spurs (2004-2007), notably becoming the first Spurs manager since Keith Burkinshaw (Spurs manger 1976-1984) to qualify for European football in successive seasons, the paper spots Guus Hiddink.

That’s the same Gus Hiddink who while still managing Russia was appointed as Chelsea’s interim manager in 2009, leading them to the FA Cup. The Sun says he “came back in 2015 after Jose Mourinho was axed but the Blues toiled to finish tenth”.

Toiled?

Hiddink rejoined Chelsea on 19 December 2015, with the club in 16th place. Under Jose Mourinho, Chelsea has lost nine out of sixteen league games. Hiddink set a new record for the longest unbeaten streak by a new manager in Premier League history with 12 games unbeaten. Under Hiddick, Chelsea lost just two more league matches.

Crying? No. Far from it. He was very good.

Posted: 18th, September 2017 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal balls: Garth Crooks dumps Chelsea Nazis on Sead Kolasinac’s brick toilet

On Monday, BBC pundit Garth Crooks delivers his Premier League team of the week. This week Crooks has selected Sead Kolasinac, who played well in Arsenal’s draw against Chelsea on Sunday, during which he was kicked hard by “silly” David Luiz. Indeed, it was being kicked that earned Kolasinac Crook’s admiration. Crooks writes:

Sead Kolasinac is built like one of those North London brick toilets that withstood bombing raids during the Second World War.

Ah, yes, those famous Nazi-proof brick toilets. Bit cold to the touch, and they left a dusty circle on your bum, but nostalgia, eh. And if Kolasinac is the Great British brick toilet, who is the Nazi bomber?

Even after the most awful tackle by my defender of the year last season, David Luiz, he rose to his feet determined to finish the game. The way Luiz overran the ball in an attempt to draw Kolasinac into the challenge left me in no doubt that the Chelsea defender knew exactly what he was doing. In my view, he wanted a piece of Kolasinac.

David ‘doodlebug’ Luiz.

In my playing days, both men would have received a standing ovation for a tackle like that – Luiz for throwing down the gauntlet and Kolasinac for accepting it.

Yeah, you always applauded the footballer who got a kicking. For every Norman ‘Bites yer legs’ Hunter there was a Howard Kendall, accepting the noble gauntlet right in the shins. The Corinthian spirit shone though those magic moments.

 

 

History lesson over, Crooks adds:

Even though the Arsenal defender came off worst, the impressive Bosnia-Herzegovina international finished the game and with it earned a moral victory.

Well done for not getting your leg broken, Kolasinac, you paragon of virtue.

Cheers, Garth:

 

 

Posted: 18th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Chelsea website offers Luiz an excuse for his red card

Chelsea drew 0-0 with Arsenal in today’s Premier League match. Arsenal hit the post and missed an open goal; Chelsea had a one-on-one with the ‘keeper. The game was pretty even. But towards the end David Luiz received a straight red card for a nasty foul on Arsenal’s Sead Kolasinac.

Any biased reporting?

The Chelsea FC website reports it thus:

David Luiz, earlier booked, was shown a straight red for a late challenge on Kolasinac in front of the dugouts, although it looked like Sanchez had fouled him in the build-up to it.

But no sign of any excuse on the Arsenal website:

There was a flashpoint in the final few minutes, when David Luiz was shown a straight red card when lunging in dangerously on Sead Kolasinac.

What about the fans?

Arseblog:

On the touchline Luiz flew over the ball and connected with Kolasinac’s ankle leaving the Bosnian in a crumpled heap.

We Aint’ Got No History (Chelsea):

…another silly red card for Chelsea, this time to David Luiz.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 17th, September 2017 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


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