Anorak

Sports | Anorak - Part 4

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.

After the Jack Grealish attack: it’s time all footballers were armed

stone island
Fire at will!

After Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish was attacked by a Birmingham City fan during Sunday’s derby at St. Andrew’s, reaction was swift. The idiot was jailed for 14 weeks.

Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville wondered that would have happened had the criminal been carrying a knife. It was a good question, although I wondered why Neville had thought only of a knife and not, say, a gun, candlestick or length of lead piping?

Neville’s thinking was doubtless shaped by historical events, particularly when Monica Selles was stabbed between the shoulder blades by a keen Steffi Graf fan during a break between games in a 1993 match in Germany. If it can happen in the rough trade of women’ tennis, why not in football’s controlled and marshalled realm?

Such is his breadth of Neville’s sporting knowledge, we should expect to hear the ubiquitous former Manchester United defender commentating at Wimbledon soon.

Meanwhile, over the airwaves on BBC Radio Wales – thus marking the punch as an international incident – ex-Birmingham forward David Cotterill served up the suggestion that police attending football matches be armed with guns. “Shoot” scream the crowd as the players take cover.

Again, the ex-pro is not going far enough. Why not twin football with darts or the javelin? Moreover, if the Modern Pentathlon can test athletes for their prowess with fencing, freestyle swimming, equestrian show jumping, and a final combined event of pistol shooting and cross country running, surely its within the wit of the FIFA to equip all footballers with rifles and print targets on replica kits issued to all fans at the turnstiles. Although given many football hooligans’ predilection for the Stone Island fashion brand, anyone clad in crosshairs is already fair game.

Posted: 12th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Sports | Comment


Manchester City: how much compensation can a club owned by trillionaires afford to pay victims of sexual abuse?

barry bennell abuse
The star maker – Barry Bennell

Former Manchester City youth coach Barry Bennell abused children at the club and at Crewe Alexandra between 1979 and 1990. He is serving a 31-year prison sentence.

To date, City are aware of 40 men who could take up the club’s decision to offer them compensation and a face-to-face apology.

But how much cash is enough? City say any claims will be dealt with within seven weeks. That’s faster than the civil courts. And how would City defend the indefensible?

The BBC says there are also allegations against a second man from the club’s youth set-up in the 1960s – John Broome. He was involved at City from 1964-71. He’s dead. He’s accused of raping children.

Gary Cliffe, one of Bennell’s victims, goes on the record: “They [City] let us down, they didn’t challenge him. They knew who he was and they allowed it to continue because he was producing results.”

How much is the right amount of compensation for being raped and abused as a child? And should the payment be linked to the club’s extraordinary wealth? The BBC says victim can apply for general damages, “potential loss of earnings if their careers have been affected, therapy fees and legal costs. The list had me up to “if”. Everything is affected. No ifs. No buts.

The talk if of six-figure sums. Enough? The Guardian:

…Bennell, who was convicted last year of 50 specimen charges relating to 12 boys, aged eight to 14, from 1979-91, and has been described by the police as one of the worst paedophiles in UK criminal history, numbers-wise, with potentially hundreds of victims – in one case, even taking one of City’s youngsters on to the pitch at Maine Road, the club’s former ground, to abuse him behind the goal…

Police documents from the 1990s question City’s stance during the criminal investigation, with one detective suggesting the club’s priority was to avoid damaging publicity. The now-deceased Len Davies, a scout who worked alongside Bennell, admitted that one of England’s major football clubs was “beguiled and hoodwinked” by the man, now 65, who liked to be known as “the star-maker.”

Of course that was then. Nothing of the sort happens now, does it?

Posted: 12th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, Manchester City, News, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Zidane to Real Madrid, but Spurs boss on shortlist

The big football news on the BBC’s website is that Zinedine Zidane “is set to return as Real Madrid manager just 10 months after leaving the Spanish giants”. Wowzer! That fact amplified by the Beeb is “according to European football expert Guillem Balague”. That would be the same Balague who has also told us: 

“Real have shortlisted the Spurs boss to take over at the Bernabeu, according to Guillem Balague” – – Sky

Alvaro Morata was signing for Arsenal. He joined Chelsea and now plays in Madrid.

Santi Cazorla was on his way to join Atletico Madrid. He joined Villarreal.

Juan Mata was joining Liverpool. Mata remains at Manchester United.

Cristiano Ronaldo was returning to Manchester United. He left Real Madrid for Juventus.

He also told us: “Real have shortlisted the Spurs boss to take over at the Bernabeu.”

I read it on the BBC

Undaunted by circumspection, the BBC continues: “The Frenchman will replace Santiago Solari, who was in charge for less than five months.”

He will? Maybe…

PS: Why is the BBC treating guesswork as fact? Guillem Balague hosts BBC Radio 5 Live’s Football Daily podcast Euro edition.

Posted: 11th, March 2019 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Preparing for Cheltenham with Kayley Woollacott

Kayley Woollacott became a National Hunt trainer after her husband, Richard, who took his own life in January 2018. She guided Lalor to a debut win over fences in their first outing of the campaign at the Cheltenham November Meeting. Can they do it again at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, where Lalor is among the early favourites for the Grade 1 Arkle Challenge Trophy?

Spotter: Betway

Posted: 11th, March 2019 | In: Sports | Comment


Spurs balls: Son on marriage and a childhood of marathon keepy-uppy sessions

No running a pub in the New Forest or stints sat on the Sky Sports sofas for Tottenham and South Korea forward Son Heung-min, 26, after he hangs up his playing boots. When Son retires he plans only to marry.

The Tottenham forward’s father, Son Woong-jung, a former professional footballer, has issued a decree for his son to marry only after his playing days are over. Son agrees. He dare not. “He gave us four hours of keepy-uppies,” Son tells the Guardian of training in his youth. “After about three hours, I was seeing three balls. The floor was red [through bloodshot eyes]. I was so tired. And he was so angry. I think this was the best story and we still talk about it when we are all together. Four hours keeping the ball up and you don’t drop it. That’s difficult, no?”

The 10-year-old Son kept the ball from touching the ground for fours hours straight? Well, so he says. He describes his dad as strict and “scary”. So when dad said not to let the ball touch the ground, Son did his best to comply.

But the marriage thing? Given Son’s high level of fitness and that footballers continue playing into their late 30s, might the lad end up being an old first-time husband and father? And what of Sir Alex Ferguson’s dictum that “marriage helps footballers. It helps them settle down. You know where are they are too! It’s good for the stability of a footballer”?

One fat: any future Mrs Son has been warned – your father-in-law knows best.

Posted: 9th, March 2019 | In: Sports, Spurs | Comment


Chelsea balls: Sarri not sacked (day 236)

sarri sack mirror

If you get your news from the Daily Mirror, the shocking realisation is that Maurizio Sarri is still the Chelsea manager. He was not sacked when Chelsea lost the Carabao Cup final to Manchester City. (The Mirror has form with predictions – see here.)

Sarri Mirror chelsea

But clickbait is as clickbait does, and the Mirror today reports that Sarri has dropped the “biggest hint yet he WILL be Chelsea manager next season”. What tosh. He signed a a three-year deal to mange Chelsea in July 2018. But that’s more of a fact than a hint. If you want clicks, you need to conjure ‘hints’ and ‘five things we noticed’ and all manner of other drivel from football. So a few weeks after telling readers Sarri was getting sacked, the paper reports: “Two weeks after the Chelsea axe seemed set to fall on their new boss Sarri, he is now plotting their future.”

He never did stop plotting their future. It’s his job.

Posted: 7th, March 2019 | In: Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Spurs and Liverpool fans: Klopp, Pochettino and Mourinho ‘almost 100%’ certain to get Real Madrid job

Mourinho madrid

The BBC says former Chelsea and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is “almost 100% certain” to rejoin Real Madrid this summer. In 2013, Mourinho left Real to return to Chelsea. The Daily Telegraph agrees that the Portugueses is heading to Spain. But neither broadcaster nor newspaper can cite a source for their story. The roots of the story are unnamed “sources”.

Mourinho is currently taking time out from coaching to work on his insults having been sacked by United and replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjær. He’s looking for work. And his agent could use a few quid. Maybe the ‘sources’ are pretty close to the subject?

Mourinho Klopp Madrid
Klopp liverpool madrid

And then talkSport pops up to say “Jurgen Klopp is reportedly Real Madrid’s No.1 target”. Reported by whom? talkSport links to the Independent. It declares: “Next Real Madrid manager: Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp made No 1 target in wake of Champions League exit.” The website cites not a single source for its news, only that:

Jose Mourinho has not been completely ruled out, and still has a good relationship with president Florentino Perez and director general Jose Angel Sanchez, but there is a view at the top level of the club that the Portuguese is “finished”.

The Sun

Whatever the facts, Klopp or Mourinho to Real is good news for Spurs fans because back in June, Mauricio Pochettino suggested that “when Real Madrid call you, you have to listen”. He later responded to interest from Spain: “It is like you are with your wife and you are holding hands, walking down the street,” he told the Guardian. But because you are so handsome, another woman is looking at you. But your wife is so proud and, rather than worrying, she is so happy to be with you and falls more in love with you.”

The Argentine earns £8.2m a year at Spurs. He’d earn a lot more at Madrid and maybe even win something. “Jorge Griffa [his former coach] told me once that I have to let football take me wherever,” Poch opined “to not get bogged down in trying to change my own destiny.”

Clear as mud, then. And the media hasn’t a clue. So they’re guessing. Which can men only one thing: Unai Emery to Madrid.

Posted: 7th, March 2019 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Overmars and Matthijs in; vote Mustafi out

Arsenal fans get to feel the warmth of a rosy-fingered dawn as news hits the cycle of Ajax director of football Marc Overmars’ return to the Gunners. And that’s not all. Last night Ajax knocked Real Madrid out of the Champions League. The holders were thrashed. And Overmars says if he arrives at Arsenal he’d like to be accompanied on the short flight from Amsterdam by Ajax’s brilliant 19-year-old centre-back Matthijs de Ligt. He would sign De Ligt “immediately”.

Arsenal may need to sell some flesh to get their man. The Telegraph says Manchester City will have to break the world record transfer fee of £75m for a defender, which Liverpool paid for Virgil van Dijk, if they stand any chance of signing Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell. De Light is better.

Maybe Arsenal should take a democratic response to their malaise? Real Madrid fans are being given a vote on which players should be sold. Arsenal fans form an orderly queue. First up: Mustafi. Any takers? I’ll start the bidding and 10… Ten pounds… Anyone…. Bueller…

Posted: 6th, March 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Hurray for Troy Deeney: Watford’s anti-role model role model

david cameron
Cameron and someone else’s child

If Wayne Rooney is your role model, you’re either one of his sons or mentally negligible. The Government loves to portray footballers as our moral guides, whether they’re being wheeled out tell us what to eat, who to shag and what not to smoke.

The nadir was when David Cameron saw Liverpool’s Luis Suárez bite an opponent and lamented how the Uruguayan had set “the most appalling example” to children. Dad might have ordered the bombing of Libya, accidentally left his eight-year-old daughter in the pub, said he supported West Ham having already declared an allegiance to Aston Villa but all that was small fry to stories of a stranger biting a stranger. You can topple Muammar Gaddafi, creating a power vacuum and instability in North Africa, encourage the rise of Islamist militancy within range of Italy, but it’s a footballer who teaches by example.

And so it was that Watford striker Troy Deeney was asked what he could do to stop knife crime in Britain. “I don’t like the word role model, first and foremost,” Deeney told BBC Radio 5 Live. 

“The role model should be in the house at all times. We’re all humans – people make mistakes. We’re putting emphasis on being famous as more important than being a good person. What are we basing the role model on? Because we’re in the limelight. I don’t like that. If my kids look up to a man bigger and better than me, then that’s me not doing my job. My dad was not a footballer. He wasn’t anything remotely what the average person would say was a role model – but in my eyes he was Superman.”

Next up: why no-one in politics ever talks about politicians being role models for the kidz.

Posted: 4th, March 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Maxi Gomes to Liverpool; agent Luis Suarez on the phone; Timo Werner waits

Liverpool are willing to spend £35m on Celta Vigo and Uruguay striker Maxi Gomez. The BBC says Liverpool will spend all that money after the club’s former player Luis Suarez recommended his compatriot. And what better pat-time job for ‘Honest Luis’ Suarez than being a respectful football agent? You can imagine how his first foray into recruitment went down:

A phone rings at Fenway Sports Group.

Luis Suarez: “It’s me…” Receptionist: “Fernando!” LS: “No. It’s me Luis.. Luis Suarez.” R: “Who?” LS: “The guy who nearly won you the title…” R: “Oh, the biter. The guy who hand-balled at the World Cup, admitted to diving and called…? LS: “Yes. Tell Mr Henry to buy my friend Maxi Gomez.” R: “OK. Will do!”

The Sun says Chelsea also want Gomez – a player who back in January was said to be on his way to West Ham. The Guardian reported that the Hammers were prepared to trigger the striker’s £43.5m release clause.

If not Gomez, then Liverpool will move for RB Leipzig and Germany striker Timo Werner, 22. Luis Suarez’s views on him are not revealed. But the Liverpool board will be doubtless hoping for his call.

Posted: 4th, March 2019 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Spurs v Arsenal balls: Gunners cheated; Spurs score both goals in North London Derby

How did the two clubs’ respective websites see the Spurs v Arsenal match? The game ended 1-1. Arsenal scored a terrific breakaway goal. Spurs scored a penalty which replays showed should not have been given.

Spurs on Aaron Ramsey’s goals for Arsenal:

But it was Arsenal who found the breakthrough on 16 minutes, although it was a goal all of our own making.

Arsenal on the goal:

Aaron Ramsey gave us the lead in his final north London derby with the coolest of finishes. The Wales midfielder – scorer of two FA Cup final winners on this ground – ran through from inside his own half and feinted to shoot before nipping around Lloris and slotting the ball into the net.

Spurs on the penalty:

To be fair, chances were at a premium but we were given the opportunity to level on 74 minutes when Mustafi pushed Kane in the area at a free-kick and referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot. Our England striker made no mistake, drilling into the corner to the delight of most inside Wembley.

Arsenal on the penalty:

We expected a Spurs onslaught after the break but it never materialised as we kept our shape and kept them at arm’s length. That just made the home side’s equaliser all the more galling. Kane was again in an offside position when a free-kick was floated into the box, but he was awarded a penalty after a nudge from Shkodran Mustafi..

Such are the facts.

Posted: 2nd, March 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Spurs Balls: FA sing ‘Harry Kane is one of our own’; England captain escapes ban for Chelsea headbutt

The FA will not ban England captain Harry Kane for sticking his head into the face of Chelsea skipper César Azpilicueta during Tottenham’s 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge. They won’t because Harry Kane is one of their own. The FA never was going to sully their clean-cut star. Anyone else would have been banned for one match.

Here’s another honest England footballer keeping his head. Jamie Vardy went down hard. Samir Nasri was red-carded. Azpilicueta did not sink to the floor clutching his face. Would Harry Kane have?

Posted: 28th, February 2019 | In: Chelsea, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Spurs Balls: Harry Kane’s Chelsea headbutt; banned for Arsenal match; it’s England captain Alan Shearer all over again

Kane headbutt Chelsea
His hair never moved an inch

Did Spurs and England captain Harry Kane attempt to headbutt Chelsea skipper Cesar Azpilicueta and miss in last night’s Premier League match? There’s a think layer of hair lacquer on Kane’s bonce making it near impossible for his head to get within an inch of anyone’s without causing an acute hair fracture. Kane played on unaffected. Injury averted.

Of course, Kane should have been sent off. But Azpilicueta did not make a meal of it, helping the match officials to ignore the England’s man’s blatant offence. But the FA should now take retrospective action against Kane and ban him for three matches. That would mean him missing the North London derby with Arsenal.

If the FA don’t act, well, it’ll be like Alan Shearar all over again. In 1998, England and Newcastle United skipper Alan Shearer appeared to kick Leicester City’s Neil Lennon in the face. “I have now seen the television pictures of the incident and I am amazed how bad it looks by comparison to what actually happened,” said Shearer. “I was brought down by Neil Lennon over by the touchline and we both fell clumsily. As I tried to get to my feet I had to really tug my left foot free and the momentum of doing this looked on television liked a kick. It certainly wasn’t and the fact that Neil is virtually unmarked confirms this. If I did accidentally catch him, I certainly did not mean to. I would never try and deliberately hurt a fellow professional.”

The FA agreed. The England captain had no case to answer. Shearer was free to play on – and play in the FA Cup final against Arsenal. Here’s that moment when Lennon headbutted Shearer’s boot:

Harry Kane is a saint. And England players never dive.

Posted: 28th, February 2019 | In: Chelsea, Key Posts, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Arsenal balls: Monchi transfer delayed by grammar and Manchester United SEO

The good news for Arsenal fans tuning in to talkSport is that Unai Emery is to be reunited with his former Seville mucker Monchi. The broadcaster tells us: “Monchi agrees to join Gunners ahead of reported summer move to Emirates.” That headline arrived in our inbox on 25th February 2019. Roma’s sporting director is on his way to the Emirates.

Maybe. Maybe not.

That same day the Mirror yelled: “Arsenal transfer news: Monchi ‘agrees deal’ to become Gunners sporting director.” Those inverted commas mean Monchi has agreed to nothing. But the important thing about them is that those all-important SEO bots and Google algorithms for which the Mirror writes don’t see the grammar. They only see the URL, which declares a fact: “https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/arsenal-transfer-news-monchi-agrees-14051185.”

Monchi the sun
‘Balls’

The Sun performed a similar trick. On February 26 it thundered: “TOP MON – Arsenal ‘secure £2.5m deal for transfer guru Monchi’ who helped sign Rakitic, Kluivert and N’Zonzi.” Thos inverted commas mean the headline is tosh. But the URL seen by Google is a fact: “https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/football/8511652/arsenal-monchi-director-football/.”

So is Monchi at Arsenal? No.

Because today the BBC says: “Roma are increasingly resigned to the departure of sporting director Monchi, with Arsenal a leading contender to hire the 50-year-old Spaniard in the summer.” From a done deal, we learn that Arsenal are merely in the running.

One thing all media agrees on: Monchi can spot a young talent. The other thing they agree on is that Monchi is good for clicks. Get this from the Mirror on Feb 13: “Arsenal face Man Utd battle for Roma sporting director Monchi.” They do? No.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 27th, February 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports | Comment


Chelsea Balls: Sarri sacked by clickbait

Remember when the Daily Mirror told us Maurizio Sarri was to be sacked should Chelsea lose the Carabao Cup final to Manchester City. They lost. He’s sill in the job.

sarri sacked
Not SACKED

The Mirror has form with predictions – see here. Of course, the paper’s online version writes for SEO bots and Google. Unlike these knowing bots, mere human have short memories and won’t call the paper out for writing utter tosh.

And so it is that despite making a statement that turned out to be total balls, the paper ploughs on regardless. Since handing Sarri advance warning that his P45 was in the post on February 20, the Mirror has written much more on the Italian’s sacking.

“Alan Shearer on why Kepa Arrizabalaga could get Maurizio Sarri sacked by Chelsea” – Feb 25

“Who’s running this show? Who’s driving this bus? And who will get sacked when results don’t go as required?” – Feb 25

“Jamie Redknapp lists three Chelsea games that will get Maurizio Sarri sacked” – Feb 25

“Maurizio Sarri ‘to hold talks with Chelsea over his future’ after Kepa Arrizabalaga row” – Feb 26

Such are the facts.

Posted: 26th, February 2019 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Key Posts, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Chelsea: newspapers react to ‘anarchy’ at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea insist everything went to plan in the Carabao Cup final. Not scoring a goal. Losing on penalties. Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga refusing to be substituted, causing his manager Maurizio Sarri to rent his tracksuit in anguish. All part of a perfectly executed plan, says the club.

Manchester City mocked Chelsea, loudly sighing on social media when Willy Caballero, their former ‘keeper who’s saved 41 per cent of the penalties he’s faced in his career, was blocked from taking part in the shoot-out.

But it was all part of the plan. The “players played exactly the game he [Sarri] prepared, so he is in full control of the situation’, says Chelsea.

The newspapers disagree, branding it a “mutiny” (Express), “Revolting” (Mirror) and “Anarchy” (Guardian). One thing all sports journalists can agree on: few of us can spell Kepa’s surname without looking it up.

Posted: 25th, February 2019 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Chelsea say losing Carabao Cup final was a success; it all went to plan says Sarri; Manchester City praise Caballero

Taxi!

Watching Chelsea implode is giving genuine pleasure to millions of football fans. The club a Russian oligarch bought and then used to buy all the cups is facing a transfer ban for breaking FIFA rules. Chelsea is managed by an ex-banker who has never won anything. They are blessed with the world’s costliest goalkeeper, one Kepa Arrizabalaga, who in the Carabao Cup final, which Chelsea lost, refused to be substituted.

A club owned by a man who gets good press in Pravda responds on Twitter in the manner of the Russian State’s PR office. Chelsea tweets: “Maurizio Sarri says the Kepa substitution confusion was ‘a big misunderstanding‘ because he thought the player had cramp. However he says Kepa was right that he could continue although the way he went about it was wrong. Sarri says he needs to talk to Kepa now.”

And: “Sarri says the players played exactly the game he prepared, so he is in full control of the situation. He adds that today we decided not to press high in every situation, and we conceded nothing to the best team in Europe.”

Nothing to see here. Move along:

Chelsea goes full Pravda

Here’s that controlled misunderstanding in full:

What says the Chelsea website? This:

There was high drama at the end when the substitution board went up to replace Kepa Arrizabalaga, who was back from injury and had needed treatment on the pitch, with Willy Caballero. It was shaping up to be a penalty shoot-out against Caballero’s former club but Kepa appeared to go against his manager’s wishes [that would be when he yelled ‘NO!’ at Sarri and refused to leave the pitch] and stayed on. He ultimately saved one of the penalties, but it was not enough…

Caballero stripped and the numbers were shown for the change, but Kepa was convinced he could continue and did so. Maurizio Sarri looked furious.

And the Manchester City website?

It felt like the last chance to win the game had passed – though it wasn’t the last talking point as Chelsea keeper Kepa refused to be subbed with cramp as Willy Caballero waited to replace him. Given Willy’s penalty saving record, City fans weren’t too disappointed he didn’t come on!

And what says Raheem Sterling, a player allegedly racially abused by Chelsea fans? He rather enjoyed it:

Raheem Sterling Chelsea

Chelsea are in the mire. Manchester City are buoyant.

Posted: 24th, February 2019 | In: Chelsea, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Arsenal Balls: Overmars, Monchi and Aaron Wan-Bissaka in

Journalism, eh. Get a load of this news on the BBC: “Arsenal will offer defender Rob Holding, 23, a new deal after he suffered a long-term injury in December.”

Can the two be linked: to be injured for large chunks of the season is to be a true Gooner? Well, it worked for Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlaine, so why not Holding, or Danny Welbeck, for that matter, who’s been injured for months at a time but will be ejected from the club when his contract expires in June? Should Arsenal work to keep Welbeck?

In other Arsenal news, the Mirror says the club wants Marc Overmars as their technical director. Ajax want him to stay. But the former Arsenal winger most likely join the Gunners at the season’s end, when Arsenal will also welcome Roma sporting director Monchi (aka Ramón Rodríguez Verdejo).

On the playing front, Arsenal fancy Crystal Palace right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 21. The Sun says he’ll cost them £40m. So best to luck with that.

Posted: 24th, February 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Chelsea Balls: Sarri sacked by Monday; Steve Holland and Rakitic in

Chelsea ban

Farewell, then, Maruizio Sarri. Or not. The Telegraph joins the chorus of newspapers claiming Sarri is to be sacked by Chelsea very soon. The paper says Chelsea are considering appointing England assistant manager Steve Holland if they sack head coach Maurizio Sarri next week.

How strange it must be to work at Chelsea and not quite every fully unpack your bags. But the severance pay is good. Which might be why the Sun says former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is in line to become the new manager at Stamford Bridge. The paper says the great Frenchman “could” have £200m to spend during the Blues’ appeal against a transfer ban. Or to put it another way: he could have loadsa money but no-one to spend it on.

If Zidane does arrive and is able to hire new talent, the Sun says the Blues will move to sign Barcelona’s 30-year-old Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic. The ban does not prevent players from leaving the club. So also expect to hear a lot about Eden Hazard consider the kind of contact they used to offer supermodels to get out of bed.

Posted: 23rd, February 2019 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Anthony Martial and the moving goalposts

Anthony Martial is making news on the front and back pages. The Sun tells us that Martial is due a call up to his national side: “Anthony Martial’s return to form will cost Man Utd £8.7m after France recall.”

Good for him. But why will hi success cost United so much money?

Martial’s deal from Monaco in 2015 included an add-on triggered by 25 caps for his national team. He needs to play 45 minutes in the game for an appearance to count and is so far on 11 before losing his place in Deschamps’ squad for the World Cup. The France boss is now considering a recall for next month’s European Championship qualifiers against Moldova and Iceland – and Martial could hit the 25-cap mark before the end of the 2020 campaign including finals.

Really? No. Here’s the Daily Telegraph:

The France forward’s 76th minute equaliser at Old Trafford on Saturday was his 25th Premier League goal for the club and triggered a clause in his contract entitling his former club Monaco to a €10 million (£8.73 million) windfall.

United paid Monaco an initial £36 million when they signed Martial in September 2015 but the cost of the transfer has now risen to what is expected to be a final fee of £44.73 million.

The French club had a longer wait than they might have expected for the additional sum, though, since Martial had been stuck on 24 league goals for more than eight months. His previous league goal was against Burnley on January 20.

Under the terms of the original deal, Monaco were due two further payments of £8.73 million each if Martial played 25 games for France and was nominated for the Ballon d’Or before the end of the current 2018/19 season. Yet with Martial not among the Ballon d’Or nominees announced this week and out of favour for France, for whom he has played 18 times, seven games short of the stipulated target, neither clause will be met.

And the Mirror in March 2018:

…back in 2015, Monaco president Vadim Vasilyev proudly announced: “The price for Martial is £57.6million but take into account this sum includes bonuses, which are very realistic.” Manchester United included three bonuses amounting to £7.2million each in the deal to sign Martial – all of which must be triggered by 2019…

United agreed to pay Monaco an additional £7.2million if the France international scores 25 Premier League goals for the Red Devils before 2019..

Prior to joining Manchester United, the talented 22-year-old forward had already made seven appearances for France. The Red Devils agreed that should Martial feature in an additional 25 games while representing the Old Trafford club, they would again fork out £7.2million.

The target is not 25 international matches but 32. Such are the facts…

Posted: 22nd, February 2019 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Chelsea Balls: Sarri’s sacking and club banned from signing new players for next two transfer windows

Bit of an odd backpage from the Mirror, leading, as it does, with Europa League action from Chelsea and Arsenal’s respective 3-0 victories over the might of Malmo and Bate Borisov. The Mirror leads with one player who scored (Ross Barkley) and one who did not (Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang).

Mirror arsenal chelsea

Having thrice told its readers that Chelsea will sack Maurizio Sarri this season, the paper notes that the victory was encouraging. The Guardian says it’s earned Sarri “extra time”. It’s February, and he only started work at Chelsea in July. You’d think Sarri’s tenure at Chelsea would outlast a gap year.

Chelsea are “back on track” says the Express. But beating Malmo is not on the same path as a 6-0 defeat to Manchester City or even a 4-0 loss at Bournemouth. Malmo are a limited side. The players might have “saved Sarri’s skin”, as the Mail puts it, but with a Carabao Cup final with City looming, The Italian will need some armour should they suffer another heavy defeat.

Which they have. The club has been banned from buying players for the next two windows. FIFA says Chelsea are guilty of breaching rules in relation to youth players. Whoever replaces Sarri will have to make do with his players.

Posted: 22nd, February 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, News, Sports | Comment


Chelsea balls: Sarri sacked for £5m; Lampard tops wish list; Manchester City told keys

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri will be sacked if they lose Sunday’s Carabao Cup final to Manchester City, says the BBC. Sarri will be Chelsea boss for the length of an internship should his side lose to the same City side that thrashed them 6-0 days ago. Get packing, then. This news is echoed in the Mirror, which on February 11 led its sports coverage with: “MAURIZIO SARRI is facing the sack after Chelsea’s heaviest Premier League defeat.” The Mirror added on February 18: “CHELSEA will stick to their new ‘Sarri-ball’ style, even if if (sic) costs the manager his job this week.”

The Mirror’s plan seems to be keep saying Sarri will be sacked and when he is – and, of course he will be one day – say ‘Told yer!’ But the Mirror has form in getting it wrong:

daily mirror wenger quits sack resigns arsenal
2017? Wrong.
mourinho sacked
Wrong.

As for Sarri’s eventual sacking, the Sun says it would cost Chelsea £5m – the cheapest pay-off for a manager since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003. 

Minds turn to who will replace Sarri? Sky Sports says Derby manager Frank Lampard and Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane head the list. Layers are working on their early-exit clauses as we speak.

Unless Chelsea win the Carabao Cup – in which case the Mirror will report that Sarri will be sacked ‘soon’…

Posted: 20th, February 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Matt Kuchar should have paid his caddie the correct rate

MAtt Kuchar Ortiz

Matt Kuchar has earned well over $45m in prize money playing golf. Last November he did something the judgemental among us can enjoy. Kuchar, 40, won the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico and banked the $1,296,000 winner’s cheque. His regular caddie was unavailable. So Kuchar hired local man David Ortiz. Caddies typically get 10% of first-prize winnings. Kuchar gave Ortiz $5,000. “He was definitely my lucky charm,” Kuchar said. “He brought me good luck and certainly some extra crowd support and did a great job as well. He did just what I was hoping for and looking for.”

Fair pay? In a way, it was. Kuchar and Ortiz had agreed a $4000 payment for a Top 10 finish. The extra $1000 was a bonus. Kuchar recognised that the $4,000 was low, so he topped it up by 25%. But that was a low act.

And then it got worse. Ortiz politely asked Kucha’s management to dig deeper. How much would be enough? Ortiz gave the figure: $50,000 – still less than half what a regular caddie could expect. Kuchar’s agent offered him $15,000. Ortiz then did the smart thing: he talked to the media. Journalist Michael Bamberger spoke to Kuchar. His reply is worth repeating. “I kind of think someone got in his ear,” said Kuchar. “For a guy who makes $200 a day, a $5,000 week is a really big week.” Bang! Bamberger had a story of greed and entitlement anyone can tuck into.

Faced with bad press, Kuchar spoke about the matter:

“It’s kind of too bad that it’s turned into a story. I really didn’t think it was a story because we had an arrangement when I started. I ended up paying him $5,000 and I thought that was more than what we agreed upon. So I certainly don’t lose sleep over this. This is something that I’m quite happy with, and I was really happy for him to have a great week and make a good sum of money. Making $5,000 is a great week.”

Oh dear. But then after more unfavourable reaction to the stinginess and reports of heckling at a subsequent tournament – “Go low, Kuch…just not on the gratuity!” yelled one spectator off the sixth tee. Fans cheered a missed putt on the 12th, and chants of “Mooch” could be heard throughout the day” – an apology finally arrived. Kuchar agreed to pay Ortiz $50,000:

“This week, I made comments that were out of touch and insensitive, making a bad situation worse. They made it seem like I was marginalising David Ortiz and his financial situation, which was not my intention. I read them again and cringed. That is not who I am and not what I want to represent. In this situation, I have not lived up to those values or to the expectations I’ve set for myself. I let myself, my family, my partners and those close to me down, but I also let David down. I plan to call David, something that is long overdue, to apologise for the situation he has been put in, and I have made sure he has received the full total that he has requested.”

When you tell the media first that you plan to call someone you short-changed and belittled, it’s all about the publicity. Kuchar pressed on:

“I never wanted to bring any negativity to the Mayakoba Golf Classic. I feel it is my duty to represent the tournament well, so I am making a donation back to the event, to be distributed to the many philanthropic causes working to positively impact the communities of Playa del Carmen and Cancun.For my fans, as well as fans of the game, I want to apologise to you for not representing the values instilled in this incredible sport.”

Screw the eponymous donation to the needy and the grandstanding. Just pick up the phone to Ortiz, apologise and on the quiet pay the guy the full whack. Don’t stop at $50,000. Pay him the $120,000.

Kuchar’s regular caddie, John Wood, then chimed in: “Nobody’s perfect. All we can do when a mistake is made is reconsider, apologise and make amends… To crucify for one mistake feels wrong.”

It does. But when anyone hears the name Matt Kuchar, they’ll always remember him for what he did wrong.

Posted: 19th, February 2019 | In: Key Posts, Money, Sports | Comment


Chelsea: Sarri sack imminent

How long can Maurizio Sarri last at Chelsea? His tenure never was going to be for long. Chelsea see mangers as mere front-men for the project, expendable so long as the playing staff are talented enough. Last night Chelsea crashed out of the FA Cup, losing 2-0 to a pretty ordinary Manchester United. The former Napoli boss signed a three-year contract worth around £17.7million in July. Director Marina Granovskaia told media: “We are delighted to welcome Maurizio and are looking forward to him bringing his football philosophy to Chelsea.” Chelsea don’t do philosophy. They do money and pragmatism. The clock’s ticking.

The Times on Sarri’s “joyless, hopeless, losing football”:

At first he complained, mildly, that English players were a little lacking in it and, oh, how we soaked it up, the idea that this brain-box would take the likes of Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek and make them shine for the England team, give them the tools to look a little, well, a little Italian. They would be thoughtful, crafty. No more headless chickens for us.

Now, though, few players of any nationality appear to have the requisite intelligence to implement Sarri-ball. The Chelsea head coach does not give them tactics more suited to the qualities they do possess. Instead, he persists. He persists and he persists.

The BBC:

As Maurizio Sarri watched his side limp out of the FA Cup, he resembled a jaded end-of-the-pier entertainer going through the same old act that once brought him acclaim but is now greeted with open hostility and – even more painfully – mockery.

The early weeks of the season, when the ‘Sarri-ball’ philosophy that won him the adulation of peers such as Pep Guardiola brought optimism to Chelsea, seemed an age away as Manchester United breezed into the FA Cup quarter-final without needing to raise a gallop.

Sarri cut a solitary, dejected figure as his predictable moves and the inevitable results saw Stamford Bridge turn its fury on him with a force that begs the question not if his short time as Chelsea manager is drawing to a close, but when?

On this nightmarish evidence, and the fierce reaction of the supporters to their increasingly hapless and disconnected manager, the end may be very near.

The Guardian:

Chelsea fans don’t often turn on their manager. They don’t usually have time. But there, distinct in the cool February air, just six days before they play in a cup final, it was: “Fuck Sarriball! Fuck Sarriball! Fuck Sarriball!” Add in the booing at the final whistle and the chants for Callum Hudson-Odoi throughout the second half and it’s fair to say the Matthew Harding Stand has made its mind up about Maurizio Sarri.

He’s toast.

Posted: 19th, February 2019 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Manchester United Balls: Solskjaer gets the job full-time; Pochettino earns Spurs £34m transfer fee

On February 12 2019, the announced that Manchester United had chosen their next full-time manager. “IT’S OLE YOURS,” stated the Sun. “Solskjaer to be appointed Man Utd manager permanently as board finally choose the club legend over Pochettino.” Good news for Spurs fans worried that their manager was on his way to Old Trafford.

“OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER will be named the full-time manager of Manchester United,” says the Sun’s Neil Curtis in an exclusive. “The decision has now been made at board level… The hunt is over with co-chairmen Joel and Avram Glazer now convinced they have the right man for the job in Solskjaer.” Adding: “The news will end speculation that Mauricio Pochettino could be tempted away from Spurs to Old Trafford next summer.”

Done. Or as the Sun notes on February 18 2019:

Manchester Untied Pochettino Spurs

Such are the facts…

Posted: 18th, February 2019 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment