Anorak

Sports | Anorak - Part 37

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.

England, Millwall and Spurs fans sing what they want to

Still no news on what the police and FA are going to do about Millwall fans shouting “DVD” at Spurs’ South Korean “labrador muncher” * Son Heung-Min. No news either on those Spurs fans who called Millwall supporters “pikies”.

You’d think that with Spurs and Millwall “in the dock” over such terrible racism, England’s other football fans would button their collective lip. But no. They only went and sung songs when England played Germany in the Fatherland. The Independent was horrified. “English football dragged through the mud once again by braying beer-fuelled scum who sing anti-German war songs,” the paper chimed.

 

achtung germany england

 

One writer on the Sun, the paper which this week beamed its logo onto the White Cliffs of Dover to mark Brexitnoted: “There, hundreds of boorish, inebriated men continued to glory in a world war which ended 70 years ago, bellowing out tedious chants about German bombers and swaying around, mimicking aircraft.”

Right now the Football Association is studying police videos for signs of a member of The England Supporters Travel Club making offensive chants and not simply joining those righteous minds in “do-do..do-do-do-do..da-da..da-da..da-da,da,do-doing” along to the god-awful supporters’ bands’ rendition of the theme to Escape to Victory.

“Unfortunately, little of the wit and imagination that goes into our club football songs is reflected at England games,” stated the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF). Crap songs, yes. But crap fans?

Surely the point is to goad the opposition. Spreading your arms like one of those “Ten German Bombers” or hymning the historical fact of “Two World War One World Cup” could do with an update. But until some bright spark creates songs mocking the Germans’ EU-backed battering of Greece or Boris Becker’s latest jacket, we might have to make do with the jingoism.

It’s not easy coming up with insults that are catchy and popular but not insulting enough to be offensive. Maybe the Germans can help? After all, their English is often better than ours. As an Arsenal fan it’s often been my lot to be serenaded by Bayern Munich fans’ chants of “You’re not very good”, “We can see you sneaking out” and “Can we play you every week?”.

Of course, what this is is the latest episode in the State’s purge on people like ‘them’ at football grounds.  Those “scum” who use vulgar words and say nasty things, who emply mockery and insults to taunt other fans in the pantomime of football need hosing down.

But the people who dish it at the match can also take it. “The Germans I spoke to were not offended by the puerile chanting, they were just embarrassed for us,” said one Daily Mirror writer. If grown men and women want to behave sadly, let them. It’s their right to sing what they want to, however stupid, witless and arcane.

* That’s how some Tottenham fans refer to Son in the chant: “He’ll shoot / He’ll score / He’ll eat your Labrador / Son Heung-Min.”

Posted: 31st, March 2017 | In: Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


New Cristiano Ronaldo statue captures his trademark squint

ronaldo statue

 

A statue of Portuguese legend Cristiano Ronaldo has been unveiled at Maderia’s international airport, now called the Cristiano Ronaldo Airport. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa met the Real Madrid superstar and looked on as a statue was unveiled on the concourse outside.

Reaction to this latest Ronaldo statue has been mixed.

Some see a dynamic footballer, one of the world’s greatest athlete’s captured in his native deep bronze. Others wonder if the artist did justice to Ronaldo’s trademark cross-eyed squint, bulging forehead and teeth any red snapper would be proud to call their own.

 

ronaldo statue

 

Statues divide opinion, which is why its always safer to make them in retrospect once the subject has shuffled off and can’t be stood next to it.

Of course, what and who we see in the Ronaldo statue can reveal more about us than it does the player. Football website Pies sees Raoul Moat, the murderer. Our Marbella correspondent, Alex Ness, sees Niall Quinn. One of our writers sees Chelsea defender Gary Cahill watching David Luiz putting his hair in a bun. Another looked at it and said she never does any ironing and neither does Ronaldo because it looks as though he’s swallowed his iron.

Meanwhile, that bloke in Bridlington who says he looks a bit like Ronaldo if you’ve had a few pints and the lights are dimmed can now point to the statue and say: “You see. It is me!”

Posted: 29th, March 2017 | In: Sports | Comment


Chelsea ‘nark’ sets the police on rude Manchester United supporters

Looking for offence in dust is a full-time job. Today brings news that one sensitive Chelsea fan has given full throat to his upset that Manchester United fans referred to the Blues as “Chelsea rent boys” during the teams’ recent FA Cup match.

Rent boys is an old-fashioned term, for sure, but it is entirely in keeping with the way football fans model chants to the tunes of 1960s songs. The correct and up-to-date term is “male sex worker”. And it’s not even a term of abuse. It’s a career choice and should be legalised and taxed.

manchester united

 

The Sun says a police officer told the complainant that the chant “Chelsea rent boys” is “unacceptable” – but not for the reasons mentioned above. It’s because calling Chelsea fans “Chelsea rent boys” is offensive and intended to cause upset.

Writing in the Sun, Mick Hume wonders: “What next? Chelsea fans probed for animal welfare offences for shouting ‘sheep, sheep, sheep-s******s’ at supporters of less fashionable provincial clubs?”

Winding up the opposition is part and parcel of the game. The FA says it is bent on “eradicating all discriminatory and offensive chanting from football”. Mick adds: “But equating discrimination and offence is like giving a player a red card for nutmegging an opponent.”

We’d advocate going for the full Cruyff turn. Go beyond those arcane and sanitised rent-boy chants. That one only upset one Chelsea fan. It’s time fans upped their game.

PS: Stand up for free speech and the right to be offensive by buying Boy Mick Hume’s book here.

 

Posted: 28th, March 2017 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Key Posts, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal’s Ozil needs to be more like Spurs’ Dele Alli if he wants to succeed says BBC pundit

News from Germany is that Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, 28, will “talk soon” to the club about extending his current deal.  The Mirror says Arsenal have offered the German midfielder £280,000-a-week to stay at The Emirates. Having previously said he’d be inclined to remain at the club if Arsene Wenger did likewise, and with the Frenchman now committed to a further two years in charge, Ozil looks set to stay.

Although if Ozil does leave, the Sun says Jack Wilshere is keen to prove he is a “ready-made replacement”. Arsenal fans booing Ozil should read that and wonder how Wilshere, currently being mediocre at Bournemouth, would make the Gunners a better side.

But to BBC pundit Lee Dixon the biggest question is how Ozil can improve his game? And Dixon knows how. He says the German needs to learn from Deli Alli, the Spurs tyro and red-card-in-waiting.

“He’s playing in the first team long-term because he’s doing something right,” says Dixon of Alli on the BBC. “The fact that he’s come into the Tottenham team and they’re building a team around him, his talent is unlimited. If he [Ozil] had half of what Dele Alli has got, that nasty streak, he would be ten times a better player than he is because he hasn’t got what Dele Alli has.”

He’d also be getting sent off for nasty fouls and, well, not win anything. It’s tempting to think that the biggest asset Alli has over Ozil is a British passport and the right to wear an England shirt.

Posted: 27th, March 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Clickbait balls: Express tricks Liverpool fans with bullshit.com Alonso story

Click Balls: The Daily Express is at the forefront of the dead tree press’s battle for online clicks. Yesterday the self-styled “World’s Greatest Newspaper” had news to set Liverpool fans’ hearts aflutter. “Liverpool News: Xabi Alonso reveals he will be at Anfield next season,” declared the newspaper.

Alonso, the terrific Spanish midfielder playing at Bayern Munich, who was no less excellent in Liverpool red, is going to rejoin the Premier League club? Sounds like it. He has, after all, “revealed” his return to Anfield next season.

 

DAily Express SEO

 

One clue that this story was constructed in an SEO’s wet dream comes via the URL at the top of the page. It runs:

http://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/783228/Liverpool-Xabi-Alonso-News-Anfield-Jurgen-Klopp-Premier-League-Bayern-Munich

It’s just a collection of SEO-happy buzzwords. There is no story anything other than a Google bot can make any sense of.

 

daily express seo

 

And then comes the small print below that seductive headline:

Xabi Alonso: I will be at Liverpool next season

XABI ALONSO has revealed he will visit Liverpool next season.

Alonso is not coming to Liverpool to play for the club. Express writer Jack Otway tells his readers that some people have made that link:

The ex-Spain international has often been linked with an emotional return to Anfield.

Failing to add “See above”, Otway then explains the substance of his story:

And the 35-year-old veteran has admitted to still loving his former club and revealed a visit to watch them play with son Jontxu next season is on the cards.

Xavi Alsono might take his son to watch Liverpool net year. That’s a story first reported in the Liverpool Echo. “We are really looking forward to going back. I have heard great things about the new Main Stand,” Alonso tells the paper. “My son is desperate to go. He’s Liverpool born and always asks: ‘Dad. when are we going to Liverpool?’ I say: ‘Okay, but at the moment I have busy weekends! We will go, don’t worry.’”

The SEO-led Daily Express reports Alonso’s trip to see the new stand at Anfield as: “Liverpool News: Xabi Alonso reveals he will be at Anfield next season.”

The trend is to talk about fake news – but it’s good to see the Express going with the tried and tested bullshit.com model.

 

Posted: 25th, March 2017 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: The Arsenal summer target list

May’s when Arsenal season tickets holders get a reminder that it’s time to hand over the cash and renew membership. In the run-up to that, Arsenal need to point to the season ahead being one of glory and wonder.  Which brings us to the Mirror’s news that Arsenal have drawn up a long lost of transfer targets.

The paper’s headline says “Alexandre Lacazette and Kylian Mbappe top Arsenal transfer target list as Arsene Wenger plots rebuilding job”. Yeah, Wenger’s staying. The Mirror was wrong about him leaving on June 30 2017. But the Mirror is positive it knows what talent the Gunners are recruiting.

And that’s not all. The Mirror says the list also features the names: Marco Reus, Moussa Dembele, Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Joe Hart, Kieran Tierney, Jose Gaya and Ross Barkley.

Of course, it might be better than that. No press picked up the story of Mesut Ozil nor Alexis Sanchez joining Arsenal before those deals were almost done. And if the Gunners are prepared to offer Ozil £280,000 a week – which the Mirror say they have done – there’s the very real possibility of bigger, starrier names coming.

It’s all exciting, right? And with any luck it will ensure Arsenal fans renew those pricey season tickets and keep all that money rolling into the owners’ burgeoning coffers.

The Times says Arsenal will offer £25m offer for Barcelona’s Turkey midfielder Arda Turan.

The Metro says Arsenal will spend part of the summer chasing Leon Goretzka.

The Daily Star says the Gunners are after Lorenzo Insigne.

Posted: 23rd, March 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Wenger stays, PSG make an approach and Allegri sits on his hands

Having yesterday told readers Arsene Wenger is staying at Arsenal for a further two seasons (at least), today’s Sun leads with news that he’s not. Maybe. Apparently, PSG have offered Wenger a two-year deal to manage their project to turn the Paris club into France’s answer to Barcelona instead of France’s answer to Glasgow Celtic.

However, the Sun concedes that ‘indications’ point to Wenger staying at Arsenal. Those would be hints like ‘ARSENAL BOMBSHELL’ , ‘He’s Staying’ and a back page speech bubble in which Wenger is telling West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis “See you next year mate”.

The Sun doesn’t do subtle. And it doesn’t have the foggiest idea what Wenger will or will not do. This is apparent when it tells readers that Juventus manager Max Allegri ‘remains at the top of the Gunners’ list of preferred candidates, though they will await Wenger’s decision before engaging in negotiations.’ Indeed, it’s tricky to negotiate Allegri’s recruitment when there’s no vacancy. How do you say ‘Thanks for your time, keep in touch’ in Italian?

Over in the Mirror, John Cross has an ‘exclusive’. He says, Wenger has ‘made it clear he wants to stay’.

Cross, whose paper told us Wenger was leaving the club on June 30 2017, has changed his tune. He says Wenger will be given lots of money to rebuild the team after he’s offloaded ‘superstar duo’ Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. Ozil is no superstar. Arenal have two world-class players. Ozil is not one of them. Laurent Koscielny is the player Arsenal need to keep hold of. Wenger spotted him and made him into a top player. Now he needs to repeat that trick with around, say, 9 others.

 

Posted: 21st, March 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Everton deserve better than Lukaku’s lack of respect

There are few things more irritating than hearing a top footballer saying he wants to satiate his craving for trophies by leaving one big club to join a rival. And so it is with Everton’s Romelu Lukaku, who having invited his agent to negotiate a massive £130,000-a-week deal to remain on Merseyside for five more years, decided he was destined for better things.

The agent, Mino Riola, had assured Everton’s fans and suits that his client was 99.99% certain to commit his future to the club. And then Lukaku said he was not prepared to sign a new deal.

Lukaku will find a sympathetic ear with his current manager Ronald Koeman. “No, because I am the manager of Southampton, and I have the contract for two years more,” said the Dutchman in April 2015 when asked about his future. “I have to respect my contract, I like to respect my contract and I am very happy.” And very soon after he was gone to Everton, where he earns a lot more money.

Koeman’s in it for the long haul, right? “Everybody knows you can’t do this in one year,” he said of Everton’s target. “It takes time. How long did it take for Tottenham to be where they are now? Three or four years. You can’t do it in one year.”

Anyone want to bet Koeman will be at Everton in three years time?

Of course, the big difference between Koeman and Lukaku is that one is in a position of authority, trusted by the owners to build a winning team to their budget, and the other is there to execute the manager’s tactics to the best of his abilities.

Lukaku’s misstep was to question whether Everton share his ambitions to win trophies and play Champions’ League football. “I don’t know, I don’t know what the board’s plan is. I don’t really know,” he opined, seeming to suggest the owners should keep their striker in the loop and maybe invite him into the boardroom to discuss everything from the new ground to catering facilities.

Of course the club wants to be successful. It’s why Everton are offering to make him the best-paid player. But Lukaku thinks he should be calling the shots not just making them. “Obviously, stuff is changing and stuff is happening but there were some players that we could have got, that I knew the club could have got, and they didn’t get,” said Lukaku to media invited to visit Everton’s training ground for an anti-racism event. “And they are playing in this league. I am not saying names but they are doing well.”

Before Romelu gets a job as Everton’s chief negotiator, he should look at the players Everton did get:  Yannick Bolasie was bought for £25m, Morgan Schneidelin arrived for £20m and a further £10m brought in Ademola Lookman.

“No matter where you play you want to be remembered,” he continued with no pause for self-reflection, modesty and respect for the shirt. “You cannot only be remembered by scoring goals, you want to be remembered by winning trophies. That is what the fans want. So instead of living in the past, you have to think ahead. How this club has to grow, how this club has to improve, which player does it want to bring in so you can challenge for the big trophies?”

You, Romelu. They are offering you over £30m in wages to be the club’s totem pole – which is a pretty literal description because although powerful Lukaku is a terrific finisher he’s not the most mobile 23-year-old. There is room for improvement.

Lukaku can, of course, seek a better deal and an improved chance of winning trophies wherever he likes. He does not have to wait for Everton to reach the Champions’ League before he plays in it.

But he’d be well advised not to bemoan his lot and forget why it was that Chelsea got rid of him and Everton moved to make him key to their ambitions. He can do better than that.

 

Posted: 20th, March 2017 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Wenger’s staying and leaving on June 30, 2017

Arsenal fans calling for Arsene Wenger to be sacked will be able to wave their banners for a further two seasons. News is that the Frenchman will sign a new deal. Wenger’s staying. It’s a fact. Well, it is is you believe the unimpeachable word of Tony Pulis, the West Bromwich Albion boss, who after his functional side had beaten a dysfunctional Arsenal 3-1 told media: “I’ll be surprised if he goes.” Did Wenger say he was staying? “Yeah,” said Pulis, “because he told me.”

 

wenger staying arsenal

The Sun calls this an ‘Arsenal bombshell’. How times have altered, eh. Before this season, the bombshell would have pertained to Wenger’s departure. The Sun says Wenger used to be a decent manager. But now Arsenal ‘is rotten to the core’. The club are sixth in the Premier League. They are in the semi-final of the FA Cup. But Ashton says Wenger would be sacked were he the manager of any club other than Arsenal.

 

wenger the sun staying arsenal

 

Ashton then has it both ways. Having wondered why Wenger is still in a job and said ‘once upon a time Wenger was a decent manager’, Ashton opines: ‘The modern world, what with social media, will stop at nothing to get him out.’ A pox on the modern world and that social media. Why not let the old media that used to mutate manager’s into root vegetables call for a man to lose his job. ‘GUILTY’ yells the Sun by a close-up of Wenger looking like a police enforcer from Les Miserables.

Ashton ends by telling his readers that at Arsenal ‘everything is up in the air’. But it’s not. Because one page across is the news that Wenger is staying on. Less up in the air, then, than in the filing cabinet.

That the tabloids have not the foggiest about what’s going on at Arsenal is no more apparent than in the Mirror. It leads with news that Wenger is ‘STAYING’.

 

wenger stays arsenal

 

Or as the Mirror reported previous – he’s going:

 

daily mirror wenger quits sack resigns arsenal

 

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 20th, March 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Wenger and Kroenke are on a hiding to nothing

Is Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal? To paraphrase the banner that used to point to Arsenal victories at the club’s old Highbury stadium, “Arsene Knows”. But he’s not telling the Press. He’s most likely told Stan Kroenke, the businessman who owns the biggest grasp of shares in Arsenal.  But the man nicknamed ‘Silent’ Stan won’t be telling the tabloids, either.  The papers could try door-stepping Kroenke, but last year he bought a Texas ranch worth about £500m and locating him in 865,000 acres of garden is no easy thing.

 

arsenal daily star

 

So Arsenal fans bumble on, wondering if the man who helped transform the club from perennial also-rans into occasional winners will accept the deal and sign on for a further two years.

The club is torn. In the skies over the Hawthons as a wilted Arsenal succumbed 3-1 to an ordinary West Brom, fans made their own entertainment. They craned their necks and looked up, much as they did when the likes of David O’Leary used to deliver one of those huge hoofs into the opposition’s half in the 1970s and 1980s and in matches when Tony Pulis, now at West Brom, managed Stoke City RFC. Overhead was not a Johnny Jensen effort on goal and Peter Crouch’s head, but two planes: one trailing a banner for Wenger to stay; one calling for him to get thee hence.

What kind of fan hires a plane and buzzes the ground is something psychoanalysts can help the sane to understand. That these two planes were duelling offered hope that the rich fools’ vanity show would achieve some kind of finale at something other than a small regional airport. But there was no spectacular crash and dog fight. The planes were a novel distraction, expressing bold statements loudly before their endless whining became irritating and everyone wished they’d go away. Chelsea fans who endured Jose Mourinho will know the feeling well.

So is he going or not? The Mail says losing to West Brom was an ‘historic low” for the club. Well, the fourth defeat in five Premier League games is extraordinary so long as you’ve only watched Arsenal in HD. For those fans who watched Arsenal when they were routinely mediocre, the current poor run is remarkable for how long it’s taken to return after so many seasons of style, dash and hope.

 

Posted: 19th, March 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Michael Owen’s Dubai Tourist Board video best thing you’ll see all day

Former Liverpool, Newcastle and England striker stars in this video for the Dubai Tourist Board. It is the best thing you’ll see all day.

 

Spotter: SportingAwayDays

Posted: 18th, March 2017 | In: Sports | Comment


Spurs balls: Spain and England fight for Harry Winks

Good news for Spain is that Spurs midfielder Harry Winks is one of your own. Well, so says John Cross on the Daily Mirror’s back page.

 

harry winks spurs spain

 

In ‘Spain tip Winks for a call-up’, Cross tells readers that Hertfordshire-born Spurs fan Winks’s ‘Spanish grandparents’ mean he’s eligible to play for the mighty Spain. This is bad news for England because ‘reports suggest’ the FA have been looking at the talented and likeable Winks to play for them. Spain’s interest will ‘set alarm bells ringing  at the English FA’, says Cross. After all, Winks is ‘regarded as Spurs’ next big prospect’.

Spain are not exactly short on midfield talent. Tottenham’s Winks must be brilliant.

 

harry winks the sun spurs

 

But hold the phone. A source oft-cited by the British press as being knowledgable on Spanish football says Winks’ grandparents are not Spanish.

 

spain harry winks spurs
Looks like Spain’s midfield will have to muddle along with Bruno Soriano, Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fàbregas, Andrés Iniesta, Koke, David Silva, Thiago Alcántara, Santi Cazorla, Juan Mata, Isco, Pedro, Sergi Roberto and more.

Posted: 15th, March 2017 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


FA’s cultural expert wonders if Millwall and Spurs fans are racists

The Football Association is enlisting the advice of a ‘cultural expert’ (Daily Mail) to forensically examine if Millwall fans regaling Spurs’ South Korean forward Son Heung-Min with chants of “DVD” and “He’s selling three for a fiver” amounted to racism.

Furthermore, Spurs are being investigated because some of their fans chanted “no noise from the pikey boys” at Millwall’s travelling supporters.

The Irish Independent says Millwall fans have heaped ‘shame’ on their club and returned to ‘the bad old days of English football’, those murky times when The Sunday Times called football a “slum sport played in slum stadiums increasingly watched by slum people”.

Apparently the police are now involved in this search for racism in the dust of an FA Cup quarter-final. Although can we be certain the top coppers and football power brokers will be able to spot racism when they see it?

There are no black managers in the Premier League and no black chief executives in the boardrooms. According to the August 2016 Parliamentary report ‘BME representation in police forces’ there is ‘not a single, non-white face among all the chief constables and all the police and crime commissioners… and one BME person out of the 59 members of the National Police Chiefs’ Council in 2015.’ There are, however, plenty of black players and black supporters.

The search to root out racism could begin closer to home for both the FA and the police, if those in power will allow it – which they won’t because it’s easier to test new forms of control on the slum-swelling Untermensh and use them to showcase your anti-racist credentials than it is to investigate your own prejudices.

PS: Maybe the FA’s cultural expert can investigate the culture of football while they’re at it, in which chants – including the boorish, obscene, unfunny, vulgar, witless and anachronistic ones – are part and parcel of the game.

Posted: 14th, March 2017 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Chelsea and Manchester United robbed of excitement by fourth official

Pity that fourth official Mike Jones stepped between Manchester United’s sulky manager Jose Mourinho and nylon-haired Chelsea boss Antonio Conte? If two grown men want to have a row on the touchline, then let them. Sneaky Mourinho, all sly digs and bitchiness in a well-padded jacket; raging Conte puffing out his chest and testing the buttons on his shrink-to-fit suit. All of us watching at home would have loved it. The fans calling Mourinho “Judas” would have been delighted. The Sun says Jones ‘had to step in to separate the warring managers’. But he didn’t. He just wanted to.

In the age of ‘You can’t say that’, officials are swarming over football. The Sun employs former referee Mark Halsey to tell us if the game’s actual ref got the big decisions right. The biggest of which was referee Michael Oliver sending off United’s Ander Herrera. Halsey says Herrera’s first yellow-card foul on Hazard was merited. It was a ‘clear barge into the body’. The Spaniard’s second yellow for fouling Hazard was ‘not a cautionable offence’.

The Mail’s former referee, Graham Poll, aka ‘The Thing from Tring’, says United set out to commit ‘team fouls’, taking turns to take out Hazard. He points to this being part of the Mourinho game plan, which if true, makes the the new United boss very much Alex Ferguson’s heir.

But the policy of kicking Hazard out of the game backfired when Oliver noticed it, telling United captain Christ Smalling to cut it out or else. Poll was ‘amazed that, within seconds [of speaking to Smalling], Herrerra fouled Hazard again. He could have been cautioned for stupidity.’ Oliver was ‘spot on’.

The upshot is that down to 10 men, United looked even less potent than they did with 11. The game’s best player, N’Golo Kante, scored the winner, and Manchester United were out of the FA Cup, so depriving Mourinho another ‘title’ (the desperate Portuguese loves to bill everything he wins as a ‘title’, including, laughably, the Community Shield charity match) and setting Chelsea on course for a semi-final with Spurs at Wembley.

It promises to be a thrilling encounter – and a great chance for celebrity officials to raise their profiles.

Posted: 14th, March 2017 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


The myth of Millwall’s racist abuse at Spurs

When Spurs played Millwall in the FA Cup – final score: 6-0 – the Guardian heard ‘racist’ abuse from the South Londoners. So bad was it that rather than lead with a match report or news on Harry Kane’s injury, the Guardian opted to tell readers that the FA is investigating the ‘racist chants’. ‘FA is aware of chants and awaiting reports from referee and police,’ the paper announces. Once more lowbrow football is in the dock for racism. Yippee!

 

spurs son millwall racism the guardian

 

Given that this is about Spurs, where the ‘self-styled ‘Yid Army’ hold sway, you might suppose the Millwall berks opted for a spout of anti-Semitism. But you’d be wrong. The alleged racism was directed at Tottenham’s South Korean forward Son Heung-Min. The Mirror says, ‘Chants of “DVD” and “three for a fiver”, apparently in reference to the sale of pirated films, coursed through the away end each time Son touched the ball in the last-eight clash.’

The Guardian tells its readers, who don’t partake of white working-class leisure pursuits and buy the Guardian because of its platoon of black and Asian board members (number of non-white faces in the paper’s twelve-strong boardroom: nil): ‘The reference to selling DVDs is considered to be a racist slur when directed at an Asian person.’

Millwall fans are so regressive. Piracy is all about downloads and streaming from Russia and Israel nowadays, lads. If you want to goad and upset the opposition’s most threatening player with a tasteless chant, why not lampoon his countrymen’s appetite for dog meat? You can try this chant:

Son, Son, Wherever You May Be
You eat dogs in your country!
It could be worse, you could be Scouse,
Eating rats in your council house!

On second thoughts, best not to. Manchester United fans used to sing that tune about Park Ji Sung, a player they loved. He never complained. He’s a robust adult who saw it for what it was: a friendly bout of un-PC banter. It’s just that given United’s love of branding, the song’s most likely copyrighted and singing it will require a licence and large fee.

Better to echo what Spurs fans serenade Son with:

“He’ll shoot, he’ll score, he’ll eat your Labrador.”

Over in the Mail, we read that those Millwall chants about knock-off films and video games spoilt everything. The paper notes:

Millwall supporters should’ve been celebrating their wonderful FA Cup run but racist chants of ‘DVD’ and ‘three for a fiver’ towards Tottenham’s Son Heung-min ruined it.

Those would be the same multi-cultural Millwall fans who were watching their multi-cultural club get thrashed and Son score a hat-trick? The Mail thinks Millwall’s ‘racist’ fans should have been celebrating their team’s annihilation rather than trying to upset Son and Spurs.

Says the Mail:

Millwall’s supporters wonder why no-one likes them but showed exactly the reason with the disgraceful abuse directed at Tottenham forward Son Heung-min during their FA Cup quarter-final defeat.

What utter balls. Millwall fans don’t wonder why no-one like them – they celebrate the fact. It’s part of their identity to cock a snook at authority. Their chants are supposed to be vulgar, offensive and tasteless.

So dumb is the entire story of racism at White Hart Lane that the Indy can’t even decide what is and what isn’t racist. ‘Millwall could face FA action after fans appear to racially abuse Tottenham striker Son Heung-min,’ it says. For those of us who can recall the 1970s and 1980, when racism at football was loud, nasty and obvious – just as it was in society – the verbals aimed at Son are weaker than Millwall’s performance in the match.

To the people who seek out racism in dust, who view fans as suspects and seek to buttress their own superior morals in commands to ‘Kick It Out’, who investigate every word for offence – who reduce Son, an energetic, tough and skilled footballer to the role of victim – we wonder what planet they’re from and who invited them to join this one?

 

Posted: 13th, March 2017 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, News, Sports, Spurs | Comments (15)


Arsenal balls: Wenger stays and Allegri agrees to take over

It’s been a huge two days for Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger. Only yesterday, the Star was pleading with Wenger to make up his mind and tell everyone if he was going to sign a new contract and stay at Arsenal for a further two years.

The paper said Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri was tired to waiting to get the call to move up from the Italian giants to English football’s also-rans. The Star thundered:

EXCLUSIVE: Massimiliano Allegri sends ‘come and get me’ plea to Arsenal

 

wenger daily star

 

Words from Allegri on his dream to manage Arsenal: none.

Of course, the Star is a rich source of fake news. On February 28, the Star told its readers ‘Allegri confirms he’s joining Arsenal’.

 

daily star arsenal fake news wenger

 

You click on that news headline and you get told on the Star’s website: ‘Calciomercato has this afternoon sensationally claimed Allegri, 49, will join the Gunners this summer.’ On that Italian site, we’re told:

The news comes from his hometown of Livorno, where reports are circulating that the manager let this story slip at dinner with friends.

And that’s it. No quotes. No links.

Looking for more, a search for ‘Allegri’ and ‘Livorno’ produces a story on another Italian news site. It says the Allegri to Arsenal news is sourced in the – get this – Daily Express, sister organ to the Daily Star. In the Express we learn that Allegri and Arsenal have agreed a deal.

 

 

daily express arsenal fake news wenger

 

All done and dusted, then. No dithering at all. Allegri in. Wenger out. Which brings us to today Daily Star story that Wenger is, er, staying at Arsenal.

 

arsene wenger daily star

 

All utter balls, then.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 12th, March 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comments (2)


Bruno Fernandes should quit football and get a job in the media

Brazilian footballer Bruno Fernandes admitted ordering the killing of girlfriend Eliza Samudio and feeding her body to dogs. He’s a nutter. Having served 7 years of a 22 years sentence, Bruno is out of prison. He has served his time. And now that he’s out, he can seek work. The Sun hears of Bruno’s agent, Lucio Veloso Coutinho, who reportedly said: “Almost 10 clubs have already shown interest. We cannot mention them all now for contractual reasons.”

As Mr 15% makes loud no comment, the Guardian is aghast:

There’s a problem with Murdering Bruno returning to football. No, not mass protests, a life ban and questions in parliament. The problem is he’s not quite match fit. Just give it a few weeks, his agent says. He’s back, baby. Murdering Bruno is back.

What’s Bruno’s job got to do with parliament? It’s a matter between him and his employers.

Or is somehow different when you’re a footballer? The Sun has employed a known killer. The Guardian has promoted the work of reformed violent criminals who have written books and worked on TV.

If the media’s big and robust enough to accept the work of former criminals, why is it so troubled if a football club does the same?

 

Posted: 11th, March 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Barcelona cheated and won: PSG were robbed

Incredible scenes at Barcelona’s Camp Nou earlier this week. It really was shocking and amazing. How the hell did Luis Suarez’s dive win a penalty? Paris Saint-Germain’s travelling supporters have every right to feel cheated. They were.

As the plaudits hail down on Barcelona, it’s worth looking at the two spot kicks that played a big part in their unlikely Champions’ League comeback from a 0-4 deficit to win 6-5.

Penalty 1: PSG’s Thomas Meunier falls over. Barcelona’s Neymar falls over him.

Penalty 2: Luis Suárez gets in front of Marquinhos. He falls. As he falls, Suarez clutches his head, then his neck and contorts his face into a look of outrage, shock and appeal. Suarez had already dived once in the match. That one earned him a yellow card. So this second dive had better be very good or else he’s off. But it’s awful. It’s blatant. It might even be hammy. Yet somehow the referee gives the penalty. The message is clear: cheats do prosper.

The bigger message, however, is that, aside from PSG fans, we all loved it. A spot of gamesmanship gets the pulse racing. Barcelona won and it was thrilling; but Barcelona also cheated so most of us who don’t support them can hurl insults and loathe their moral rectitude.

And who better than unlovely, charmless Luis Suarez to play the gall guy? Well, Wayne Rooney, perhaps, but to paraphrase the old saying: you need to be in it, to cheat it.

 

Posted: 10th, March 2017 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


Manchester United’s thought police ban a fan for a tweet

Manchester United have extended the rule governing football fans – Rule 1: sit down; shut up (unless it’s for the national anthem) – to censoring what supporters can say when they’re not at the match. Football fans have long been subjected to new forms of control. Portrayed as a mob inherently given to violence and a moral threat to society, deserving for tear gas, metal cages, water cannon and ID cards, Manchester United have taken up the State’s cosh against their own fans.

When one Manchester United season ticket holder heard the club were adding 300 places for disabled fans, causing 2,600 season ticket holders to be relocated elsewhere inside Old Trafford, he tweeted: ”Fuck em, gona go ticket office, and tell them they are retards, cheeky cunts.”

Somehow Manchester United’s moralists saw the tweet and wrote to the fan, who is a season ticket holder. They told him they’d revoked his season ticket for the remainder of this season – with a refund of £190 – and suspended him from watching his club home and away matches for the next three years.

The letter told him: “Manchester United is wholly committed to equality, diversity and inclusion. The club will continue to address any inappropriate or discriminatory behaviour that we are made aware of.”

We should all be concerned when a football club polices what we say on social media. The fan is being banned for speaking freely. That’s what we do in a free society. Inside the stadium, the club can keep order as it sees fit. We might not like being told to sit down and not sing that but we’re on their property, so we wear it. But when did the internet come part of the club’s remit?

Moreover, silencing unwholesome thoughts and censoring the wrong words amplifies the offence into a cause. Was the fan actually going to abuse disabled supporters? We don’t know. What we say and what we do are not one and the same. So, what was his crime?

The club’s reaction to a tweet has become a way to showcase its own sound morals, a spot of PR from the marketeers who run the game. But it also reveals the club’s malicious mistrust of its own fans, a malevolent mob in need of civilising.

If you go looking for offensive words at the football, you can be sure to find them. But most if it – however cruel and stupid – can be ignored or dealt with by other supporters.

If anti-discrimination were still a progressive force, the club would encourage dialogue.

What’s troubling is that the authorities that lay at the heart of racism and all forms of discrimination when campaigning for equality was brutal and brave, remain the bastions of all that is right and proper. They still don’t listen. They just tell.

Football used be be about fun, escape and letting off steam. It was a leisure pursuit. Now it’s a symbol of your moral code and your words are policed by your own club.

We should tweet what we want to.

 

Posted: 10th, March 2017 | In: Key Posts, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: real Gunners fan know we’ve never had it so good

When Arsenal were wafted out of the Champions’ League, losing to Bayern Munich by a mere eight goal margin – 10-2 was the final result – former Gunners’ striker Ian Wright told BT Sport:”It’s a sad day because we’ve gone out again at this stage. We’re going through a period in our history that’s the worst.”

Arsenal fans who’ve supported them before Arsene Wenger’s revolution – and yes, I’m one – can recall when watching the Gunners gave you neck strain, the half-time act was a marching band and the turf seemed to repel the ball into the stratosphere.

Wright joined Arsenal in September 1991 for £2.5m. In season 1992-93, Arsenal finished 10th, scoring 40 goals – the lowest total of any club. Arsenal finished below Aston Villa, QPR, Blackburn Rovers and Sheffield Wednesday, none of which now play in the top flight.

It’s not the end of the world to be tonked by a better team. It’s just a big reminder to all the fans who turn up only to watch their side win that Arsenal have never had it so good…

Posted: 8th, March 2017 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comments (2)


Arsenal balls: the club calls a 10-2 defeat ‘disappointing’

Can the Arsenal website put any positive spin on the Gunners’ 10-2 aggregate thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich. With the score 1-0 in Arsenal’s favour, Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny was sent off for conceding a penalty. A double-whammy.  The Arsenal website says the ‘second-half red card proved to be the decisive moment’.

Yes. And no. Arsenal lost 5-1.

 

wenger out sun

 

The Arsenal website calls the result ‘another frustrating clash against Bayern Munich’. ‘It was a disappointing end to a night that had started to positively,’ says the site.

Frustrating. Disappointing. Oh, come on. It was not only a flesh wound. It was rubbish. It’s also a terrible result for the Premie League – Arsenal finished second in the PL last season.

The BBC says Arsenal were ‘humiliated’.

 

arsenal bayern

 

Arsenal have been knocked out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage for the seventh successive season. Bayern are through to the quarter-finals for the sixth successive season.

Might such a tonking be cathartic for Arsenal? It should be.

 

wenger out

 

PS: Bayern Munich’ fans delayed the kick off by tossing toilet paper onto the pitch in protest over Arsenal being crap ticket prices.

 

 

Posted: 7th, March 2017 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Arsenal: spoilt Sanchez races boring Wenger to the exit

Sport is a pleasant way to spend your leisure time. If you’re lucky enough or foreign enough or just determined, you can make a very good living at it. If you get really good at it you can behave like a spoilt brat, row with your teammates and demand a massive hike on your already not inconsiderable wages or else you’ll sulk. You could be like Alexis Sanchez, the Arsenal striker who has expressed his determination to leave the club at the season’s end to earn much more money playing for Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus or what the British Press call ‘a Chinese club’.

Arsenal have been less than sensational this season. Sanchez has been pretty good. Along with Laurent Koscielny, he’s been a consistent source of hope for Arsenal fans seeking signs that this season they can be better than top four. Sanchez has also been petulant and, if the Mail is right, ‘furious’ at the ‘humiliation’ of being dropped for Arsenal’ match at Liverpool, which they lost 3-1.  His manager, Arsene Wenger, has been ‘unimpressed’ with Sanchez’s attitude. It turns out that Sanchez, a player not good enough for top Barcelona, who shunted him down the pecking order to the Gunners, thinks he’s much better than his teammates. He is. But so what? Only when a player pulls on an England shirt is he remade in the exact quality as his teammates – they all become unspeakably average.  A team wins and loses as a team. If one player thinks he’s doing you a favour, he’s got to go. That Wenger dropped Sanchez is not a sign of ‘unfolding calamity’, as the Mail’s Martin Samuel has it, it’s a sign that no player in bigger than the club. Thank you for your help, Alexis, now shut the door on the way out.

And you too, Arsene. Is he going or not? The uncertainty is affecting the club. Who is going to be the Arsenal manager next season? Is ‘Silent’ Stan Kroenke, the Arsenal owner who earned £3m last year for ‘consultancy’ work at the club, nicking a living?

The Sun says when Sanchez ‘stormed’ off the pitch at training last week, he left Wenger with ‘no option but to bench him’. That Alan Shearer tells the same Sun readers one page on, ‘You just don’t leave  player like Sanchez on the bench’, points not only to why Shearer was such an un-inspirational Newcastle United manager but to how joyless and venal football is. Without its few players of global repute, the Premier League will be exposed for what it is: a marketing project based on Europe’s fourth best league. The Mirror quotes sources who say coaching Sanchez is akin to ‘managing a spilt child’. The other players ‘see him as becoming increasingly selfish’.

So instead of Sanchez at Liverpool, Wenger picked the likeable, talented and injury-ravaged Danny Welbeck. Changing things was worth a shot. That goes for you, too, Arsene. It’s time to go. But before you do how about one more turn of the old routine for old time’s sake. You know how it goes: Arsenal look good on paper, get kicked out of the Champions’ League early on, embark on run to finish in the top four and the owners wake up just long enough to bank their annual dividend.

Posted: 6th, March 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Media Bias: Ibrahimovich gives referee his last warning as Bournemouth are elbowed off

During Manchester United’s home match against AFC Bournemouth, Zlatan Ibrahimovich elbowed the Cherries’ Tysone Mings in the head. No yellow card for Zlatan, who amid the mayhem appeared to have been giving the referee his final warning.

 

 

To rub salt into the wound, Bournemouth’s Andrew Surman was given a second yellow was for pushing over Zlatan Ibrahimovic after the elbow incident.

Mings added an element of nastiness by treading on Ibrahimovic.

Should Zlatan have been sent off? Let’s see how biased the media are.

Steve Stone on the BBC: “When Ibrahimovic jumped up for that header he was looking at Mings and not the ball. He’s led with his elbow and he knew exactly what he was doing. The referee has made a complete mess of that.”

Manchester Evening News: ‘Jamie Carragher has just branded Mings a disgrace for his stamp on Zlatan. Both Henry and Carragher understanding of Zlatan’s subsequent elbow as a result.’

Any word on what the BBC calls a ‘flying elbow’ from the Manchester paper? Only this: ‘Bournemouth think Zlatan should be sent off for an elbow.’

In the second half Manchester United were awarded a penalty. The BBC calls the decision ‘horrendous’. Bournemouth’s Artur Boruc saves Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s effort.

But one player is even faster than that. It’s Anthony Martial who tweets during the match!

martial manchester untied tweet

Posted: 4th, March 2017 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Sanchez leaves Arsenal to earn less money

So hungry for trophies is Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez that he will quit the Gunners and plays for… Sevilla – Spain’s oldest professional football club who last won the title in 1945. Well, so says the Daily Star, which adds that not-all-that-well-off Sevilla are ‘in pole position’ to secure the ‘disillusioned’ Chilean. In the twilight world where the Star’s news and facts merge such a move will surely satisfy Sanchez’s quest for glory and give him the £250,000-a-week he wants.

Over in Italy, we read in the Corriere dello Sport that Juventus will offer Arsenal £25m for Sanchez in the summer. The Mail says the Gunners are already looking for his replacements, casting a covetous eye on Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus, Porto’s Andre Silva and Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette.

 

reus agrees arsenal

 

 

Really? Because in 2015, the Daily Star told its readers: ‘£20m Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd target Marco Reus AGREES five-year Real Madrid deal.’ He didn’t.

 

silva arsenal

 

Spanish organ AS told its readers Silva had also joined Real Madrid. He hasn’t. AS did cite a source for its fact-free story: the Daily Star:

 

silva arsenal

 

And Lacazette can’t play for Lyon – he does-  because the Daily Express told us he joined Paris Saint Germain in 2015.

 

Alexandre Lacazette

 

So much for the targets. As for Sanchez, The Mirror says Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is ‘privately resigned to Sanchez leaving the Emirates this summer’. That would the same Wenger who’s also leaving Arsenal this summer. We read that in the Mirror.

 

daily mirror wenger quits sack resigns arsenal

 

Arsenal fans shouldn’t wave goodbye to Sanchez just yet.

Posted: 3rd, March 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: suspicions linger over Zlatan Ibrahimovich

All hail, then, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the man without whom Manchester United would be a mid-table side, not clutching the EFL Cup and not eyeing a Champion’s League berth for next season. The big Swede’s been playing well, giving Untied a focal point. Writing in the Sun, former Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright says Zlatan is the new cult hero at Old Trafford.

“He [Eric Cantona] now has genuine competition as a United cult hero,” says Wrighty. “And I don’t just use Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s EFL Cup final heroics as evidence of that – it’s virtually everything he’s done since arriving last summer.”

Aside from cheating against Crystal Palace – and Cantona’s exploits at Selhust Park win that battle –  it’s pretty much all been great from Zlatan. Wright adds: “When he joined, some were a bit sceptical, wondering if he was just after one final payday before hanging up his boots…any suspicions about Zlatan were blown out of the water within a month of his first appearance.”

On August 14, Zlatan scored on his United Premier League debut against Bournemouth. Still in August he then scored two more goals in a 2-0 PL win over Southampton.

But Wright was still suspicion of Zlatan. On October 26, Ian Wright called him a “passenger”. On November 3, Wright mused: “I’m not sure too many other teams would have signed him, even on a free.” And on December 12, Wright knew: “He’s not going to score 25 goals this season, no.”

He’s surpassed that tally already.

Posted: 1st, March 2017 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment