Anorak

Sports | Anorak - Part 40

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.

Liverpool move to lower footballers’ obscene wages

Liverpool are keen to prevent the “too much, too young” culture that infects professional football by bringing a wage cap for younger players.

The Telegraph says Liverpool will not allow a footballer age 17 or under to earn more than £40,000 in their first season as a professional.

Too often players go off the rails when they are given the financial power that comes with being a professional footballer, and Liverpool are looking to try and reduce the risk of young and talented players going to waste.

The youngsters will be allowed to boost their salaries with performance-related bonuses and breaking into Under-23 and senior sides.

Is 40k too low? Too high? In 2016 the Daily Mail reported the average wages paid in British football.

Last season, first-team average salaries were around £1.7million a year

Average basic pay in the Championship was £324,250 per player per year

Figure dropped to £69,500 in League One and £40,350 in League Two

Would you prefer to earn £40,000 playing for Liverpool youth sides or the Plymouth Argyle first team in League Two?Should wages be more performance-related?

In 1960, Jimmy Hill was embarked on in his campaign to abolish the Football League’s maximum wage which stood then at just £20 a week. Hill won.  A wage bill from August 17, 1960, shows that Liverpool’s Roger Hunt took home £22 after bonuses, tax and insurance. He’d go on to be part of the England team that won the World Cup in 1966. What would he earn in these post-Bosman times?

In The Football Man, Arthur Hopcraft says such wages were “derisive in comparison with what could be earned by entertainers performing in front of much smaller audiences in, say, the theatre or cabaret… [and] small beer to what could be earned on the production lines of the country’s post-war, streamlined factories.”

Nowadays players earn a fortune. In 2009, Premier League clubs spent £1.2 billion on players’ wages in 2007-08, so passing he billion mark for the first time.

The game is rich with TV cash and owners’ money. But if the players don’t get the cash, who will? Will club owners use it to reduce ticket prices or pay dividends to shareholders?

Oliver Kay writes:

It is obscene, obviously, but it would be more obscene to see the money generated by the Premier League — whether through television, sponsorship or ticket sales — simply sit on the balance sheet as profits go up and up. Football clubs do not exist to make profit. They exist to give something back to communities. Unless the clubs’ intention is to give more and more back to the grassroots, which sadly seems unlikely, then it would be indecent to suggest that the benefit of this latest television deal would not be felt by the players.

He’s right. Footballers can get paid very well. But so do many other workers, top talents in their fields. Do we know what others earn a week, like TV’s Ant and Dec or a soap opera actor? Why do footballer always have their wages discussed in terms of what they earn a week?

Simon Barnes:

The first thought on hearing a player’s weekly earnings is to measure it against your annual salary: why, that little bastard makes more in a week than I do in a year.

The second reason is snobbery. Wherever there is an anomaly in British life, check out snobbery before anything else. The wages of working men — rough types from the working class, you must have heard of them — have always been calculated in weeks.

He notes that the wages are paid by us, the fans who buy the TV packages, tickets and tat.

What do we get from all this money? Not much. Only beauty. Only incomparable skill. Only great bravura performances of mental and physical strife. Only individual and corporate levels of brilliance and defiance. Only the chance to identify with such people, to revel in the fact that they belong to us, that we are part of them and they are part of us.

Only the opportunity to watch as the myths and legends of our times are forged before us. Only the chance to participate in great dramas of will against will, skill against skill. Only anguish, only elation, only inconceivable joy, only the chance to taste despair without any actual suffering. Only the chance to drink down Life in great big gulps.

Do young footballers get too much too soon? Yes. Some do. But we enable them to get it. We invest in them because unlike most of us, these tyros have a chance to shine at something many of us would pay to do.

Posted: 14th, October 2016 | In: Liverpool, Manchester City, Money, Reviews, Sports | Comment


Chelsea balls: Antonio Conte sacked and not sacked

Did you read the news that Chelsea are all set to sack Antonio Conte, their manager? It’s nonsense. He isn’t being sacked. The Sun has confirmed that Conte is not being sacked by Chelsea:

Antonio Conte sacked: Chelsea boss’ future at Stamford Bridge is safe after betting firms spark sack rumours

 

Antonio Conte sacked

 

Which betting firms started that rumour then?

The Sun had more:

 

the Sun Conte sacked

 

Which bookmakers were no longer taking money on Conte’s sacking? The paper told readers:

Sun Bets, Betway and Paddy Power have both suspended betting on Conte being the second Premier League boss to get the boot.

 

the sun bets

 

Three betting companies have “both” suspended betting on Chelsea sacking Conte?

But only one bookmaker was talking to the Sun. Can you guess which one?

A spokesperson for Sun Bets said: “We’ve currently suspended the next Premier League manager to go until the rumours about Antonio Conte’s future at Chelsea settle down… Diego Simeone is Sun Bets 7/2 favourite to take over the reigns.”

There is no word from any other betting companies.

To recap, then. Antonio Conte has not been sacked. He was never going to be sacked. It was all just a rumour rooted in bookmakers’, like Sun Bets, and amplified by that company’s sister publication The Sun newspaper, which thoughtfully reproduced the odds on something not happening for its readers to study.

And, boy, did the Sun milk the non-news news story about its betting arm:

 

Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 17.17.23 Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 17.17.13 Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 17.16.58 Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 17.16.49 Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 17.16.20

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 14th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: The Sun creates a Gareth Bale to Manchester United out of nothing

Is Gareth Bale moving to Manchester United? No. We told you he was staying at Real Madrid. Every story you ever read about Bale wanting to join Man United is wrong. Stories like these from the Sun in recent days:

28 Aug 2016 – MANCHESTER UNITED are plotting an audacious £100million move for Real Madrid’s Welsh wizard Gareth Bale.

23 Sep 2016 – Gareth Bale to Manchester United: Real Madrid star wants to leave Bernabeu with Old Trafford preferred destination.”

And so to today’s Sun news that Bale is not going to play for any club other than Real Madrid. He does not want to leave the Bernabeu.

And how does the Sun present this story. Yes, as a story about Manchester United story:

Gareth Bale to Manchester United: Real Madrid superstar to sign new contract at the Bernabeu until 2022

In tomorrows news: “Manchester United: Ronaldo not signing for Man United either.”

Posted: 13th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United prepare to sell Wayne Rooney – the symbol of ineffectual English football

Much chatter over Wayne Rooney’s future. The BBC says, Manchester United “could look to offload captain Wayne Rooney, 30, in the summer”. They could. Or they could not.

The BBC adds that getting rid of Rooney “may” mean United paying him the 20 months of his £300,000-a-week contract.

The Mirror adds that this is United’s £26m dilemma.

Eh? United will either pay Rooney and maybe let him play or pay Rooney and sell him to another team. Is that a dilemma?

Over in the Sun we hear from “CAPTAIN FANTASTIC”, former United and England captain Bryan Robson. He says: “At least United fans will show him the love and respect he deserves. Wayne’s always given everything for England… and that should always be appreciated. He doesn’t deserve to be booed like he was against Malta and one thing I do know is that the United supporters will stick by him. Wayne will know that the next time he pulls on a United shirt the fans will be right behind him – as they should be.”

United fans support the club they have seen reach the heights and raise the heart rate. When Rooney goes, other gilded stars will replace him. Manchester United fans expect the next best thing to arrive at any moment.

England fans expect nothing but more dross.

They did have the young Rooney, a lightning rod of hope and expectation. He was England’s Roy of the Rovers, a winner in a sea of mediocrity. “Our country love it, creating a drama around one player,” said Gary Neville. “I’ve never known there not be an obsession around one player. It was Gascoigne from 1996 to 1998, Beckham from 2000 to 2006. From 2006, it was Rooney and Beckham. Now it’s Rooney to 2014. Unfortunately – or fortunately, because he is a big player – this time it’s Wayne Rooney.”

We put him on a pedestal. And now we’re hacking away at the legs.

England fans crave more. But all they see is an underachieving team of pampered individuals get outplayed by Iceland. This shambolic England team is currently managed by Gareth Southgate. The FA are paying him £500,000 to manage four England internationals, including matches against – deep breath – Malta, Slovenia and Scotland. In the greedy, overpaid world of football that’s not a lot when compared to the £400,000 his predecessor Sam Allardyce thought a speaking engagement was worth.

See anything to cheer about? No, not you, Gareth and Sam, rather the fans who watch the team of overpaid solo acts?

So, there’s the captain, the ineffectual Wayne Rooney, who no longer a striker sits marooned in England’s midfield. Rooney hasn’t played well in a tournament for England since 2004, when he was sensational. His presence reminds us of all the false dawns and hype that surrounds the now dubbed ‘Three Lions’. He is yesterday’s great hope in a team that holds no promise of a bright future. Fans can boo him because his declining form represents failure. And, besides, anyone mad enough to pay to watch this current England team in the flesh needs to make their own entertainment.

 

Posted: 13th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Liverpool: The Sun fails to Watch Henderson

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is subjected to the Sun’s “Hendo Watch”. The paper kept a constant eye on the likeable and hard-working Henderson as he captained England in Slovenia.

Facts:

The Liverpool midfielder led from the front..

But it was still a decent audition from Henderson…

Hendo was the player organising the troops and trying to get something on a tricky night…

He dropped really deep to try to dictate play from the back, a role he could adopt in the future instead of raiding forward…

And that’s it. The BBC didn’t operate a Henderson Watch. But it notes:

He [Joe Hart] twice denied Josip Ilicic when he was played in by poor backpasses from Eric Dier and captain Jordan Henderson

The Sun never saw that pass. The BBC mentions it twice:

Hart – who was the clear man of the match in this game – looked back to his best, rescuing Dier and Henderson when dreadful backpasses let in Ilicic.

Make that three times:

Shambolic England… The errors by Dier and Henderson would have been punished by opposition of a higher calibre and England threatened to crumble in the early moments of the second half – only to be saved by Hart.

Is there any reason the Sun – a paper hated by the Reds’ faithful following its hideous Hillsborough coverage – failed to see the error from Liverpool’s captain as it watched his every move?

Posted: 12th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Liverpool’s James Milner is the English footballer who plays like a German

Becauae Germans are good at taking penalties, when one of them says an Englishman is the ‘best penalty taker ‘ he’s ever seen, we take notice. The penalty king is none other than Liverpool’s James Milner, who hasn’t missed any of the seven spot kicks he’s taken for the Reds.

This season he’s scored four from four.

The BBC has the headline news that Milner is the King. But in the Liverpool Echo, we get more. The German with the praise is Emre Can.”I’m young but I haven’t seen in any of my teams so far such a good penalty taker,” says Can. “In training, every ball is in the net. He’s a very, very good penalty taker.”

Milner is the powerhouse player any manager would love to have in their squad.

When James Milner announced his retirement from international football, he robbed England of a versatile player who has, as George Caulkin puts in in the Times, “always valued proficiency ahead of individuality”.

What does that make him sound like? Yeah, a German. And you now how good they are at football – and penalties.

 

Posted: 12th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Liverpool balls: The Reds made a huge mistake buying Jordan Henderson

We love peculiar job titles in football. Chelsea have “loan player coaches“. QPR have “kit monitorers”. Liverpool used to have “director of football strategy”. What that means is unclear. But at one point the man with the job was Damien Comolli.

When Comolli got the job in 2010, the BBC explained what it was, in the words of Liverpool owner John Henry:

“Today’s announcement is just the first step in creating a leadership group and structure designed to develop, enhance and implement our long-term philosophy of scouting, recruitment, player development and all of the other aspects necessary to build and sustain a club able to consistently compete at the highest level in European football. Damien has a proven track-record of identifying exciting young footballing talent and we are delighted that he has agreed to join Liverpool.”

He had us right up to “philosophy”, then we kind of zoned out. Conelli is not the manager, not the coach and not entirely just a scout. ‘Director of football strategy’ seems to be job made in the corporate world, a title based on presentation over presence.

In March 2011, we got more:

Comolli’s role has been extended to oversee all football-related matters outside of first-team training and selection, which are under the remit of the caretaker manager Kenny Dalglish, who replaced Hodgson on 8 January.

“It covers pretty much all of the football side,” added Comolli. “It’s basically a day-to-day relationship with the manager and his coaching staff, it’s also medical and sports science, performance analysis, player liaison, team travel, scouting and negotiating transfer contracts. A big part of it is the academy.”

We’re talking about Conelli because he’s told Talksport:

“The day I got sacked they [Liverpool’s owners] told me I had made a big mistake on Jordan and he was a waste of money.

“Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but I think we paid the right price. He was a young English, British player and we know very often that British players are overvalued. But we were more than happy to pay the price because we thought he would become an outstanding player.

“I never said it publicly, but I was convinced he would be the future captain. People will say it is easy to say now, but I was convinced at the time that he would become the Liverpool captain. Now he is and he is also the England captain.”

Manchester United looked at Henderson. And passed. In his autobiography, former United manager Alex Ferguson had issues with Henderson’s gait:

 

Jordan Henderson

 

 

In 2015, the Telegraph reported:

Henderson has a condition known as Plantar Fasciitis, a problem that deteriorated last April. Despite consultations with renowned surgeons, and even taking advice from the Royal Ballet about how to deal with a problem that afflicts dancers as well as sportsmen, Henderson has accepted he will have to manage pain rather than rid himself of it…

Henderson is well aware comments made in Sir Alex Ferguson’s book that his running style would cause injury problems will be seen as prophetic. In fact, it is believed a change in boots was the catalyst for the issue last season allied to a work overload which has prevented the 25-year-old having a summer break for 14 years. “I don’t think it has anything to do with my gait, it might have, but I very much doubt it,” said Henderson.

The trade in footballers is about making an educated guess. Players can be lucky and unlucky, careers ended by injury and elevated by chance. To say you knew for certain Henderson was going to be the Liverpool captain is nonsense. It was a good guess – and one realised by the luck of Henderson, a talented player, being part of a very poor England team and a Liverpool side with few options.

And as for Henderson’s rise being foreseen by Comelli, this is what Kenny Dalglish said after the Frenchman left the club:

“He’s been really helpful in every transfer target we’ve gone for. Everyone who has come into the club since Damien has been here was of my choice. Once I made the choice who I wanted. Damien went away and did a fantastic job of bringing them in. It’s sad to see anyone leave the club and he goes with my best wishes.”

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 12th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


List: every Premier League manager’s favourite team

Much hoo-ha over the appointment of Manchester-based referee Anthony Taylor for the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United. The idea is, presumably, that Taylor will favour Man United over their rivals? Or maybe he’s a diehard United loyalist who hates the club owning Glazers and wants their version of United to fail and will favour Liverpool? Or maybe his loved ones support Manchester City or Everton and to keep them happy Taylor will go studs-up on United’s David De Gea and red card Paul Pogba for having non-regulation hair?

Twitter user @TheLFCPoll investigates another options: “Manchester born referee Anthony Taylor will be in charge of the Manchester United game. His wife is a Manchester United fan. Seems neutral.”

 

Manchester United referee Taylor

 

Taylor doesn’t support Manchester United, preferring the allure of non-league Altrincham. The rules state that referees can only be barred from officiating matches featuring a club they support.

So what of the criticism of Taylor? Former referee Keith Hackett says Taylor’s treatment has been “grossly unfair”. Ex-ref Graham Poll says Taylor “should certainly not raise any eyebrows despite him living and working in the Manchester area”.

Former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was fined in January 2014 for pointing the finger at Bolton-based referee Lee Mason and his officiating of the Reds’ 2-1 defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad. “I was surprised that we are playing in Manchester and we had a referee from Greater Manchester,” Rodgers said. “Hopefully we won’t have a Greater Manchester referee with Liverpool-Manchester games in future. We had nothing that went our way at all. I never go on about officials but I thought they were horrendous.”

A referee’s address is not a factor in selecting them for matches.

Keith Hackett explains more:

“At the beginning of every season the referees’ background information is audited. They complete a form that includes who they support, the history of if they’ve played the game and with the addresses where they are residing. That gives you a picture that comes into use when you’re appointing.”

Anyhow, if you want to know which ref supports which team, here you are:

Mark Clattenburg (County Durham): Newcastle

Mike Dean (Wirral): Tranmere

Roger East (Wiltshire): Unknown

Kevin Friend (Bristol): Bristol City

Simon Hooper (Wiltshire): Swindon

Mike Jones (Chester): Chester

Robert Madley (Wakefield): Huddersfield

Andre Marriner (Birmingham): Aston Villa

Lee Mason (Bolton): Bolton

Jon Moss (Sunderland): Sunderland

Michael Oliver (Ashington): Newcastle

Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire): Sheffield United

Graham Scott (Oxford): Swindon

Keith Stroud (Dorset): Luton

Neil Swarbrick (Preston): Preston

Anthony Taylor (Wythenshawe): Altrincham

Paul Tierney (Wigan): Wigan

Conclusion: If you want to be a top-flight referee, the advice is to support a team that is either never there or one prone to relegation.

Posted: 12th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Agent Pogba fails to land Griezmann and Memphis Depay rejected croissants

Manchester United fans looking for news have been treated to a welter of clickbait balls today. We’ll round-up a few gems – and save our favourite for the end.

Metro: “Agent Pogba: Man Utd fans get excited as star is snapped with TWO top targets.”

Neyma? Ronaldo? George Bellshaw dishes the goods:

Every time Paul Pogba goes on international duty, he seems to be snapped with Manchester United target Antoine Griezmann, which sends Red Devils fans into a frenzy.

Raphaël Varane took a selfie in the changing room following France’s 0-1 over holland. Pogba and Grteizman are in the background. The contracts are being drawn up as we speak.

No wait!

Metro: “Manchester United target Antoine Griezmann admits he could join Paris Saint-Germain ‘someday’”

Daily Express: “Manchester United midfielder makes unexpected return to former club.”

Who left?

Mata started his youth career with the Spanish second-tier side before being snapped up by Real Madrid in 2006. And it seems the 28-year-old hasn’t forgotten his roots and made a return to Oviedo on Sunday during the international break.

Yeah, Mata went on holiday to see his old club play.

And now the top story:

Daily Mail: “Paul Pogba danced on a plane while Memphis Depay rejected croissants as the Manchester United duo prepared to meet in Holland vs France showdown.”

After the international break, the Premier League begins again very soon. The Press cannot wait.

 

Posted: 11th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: BBC clickbaits Manchester United fans with moves for ‘Manchester City’s’ Isco

More BBC Transfer Balls as the State broadcaster tells readers to its website – and why doesn’t the BBC just publish a newspaper?  – “Manchester United target Isco has hinted he may leave Real Madrid at the end of the season.”

Hinted. May.

With not a single fact to support its headline news, we follow a link to the Manchester Evening Post, which declares: “Manchester United get Isco boost as he explains Real Madrid situation.” What said the player who started one league match for Real last season? “If I’ve still only made a few appearances by the end of the season, I’ll look elsewhere,” says Isco. “At 24 years of age I have to right to better myself.”

Over on TalkSport that becomes: “Tottenham transfer news: Top target Isco admits he could leave Real Madrid if his situation doesn’t change.”

May. If.

The Metro is less precise, saying all top-flight clubs are in for the players: “Isco puts Premier League clubs on red alert by revealing he could leave Real Madrid.”

Bournemouth, Hull and Swansea have heard Isco’s words and sounded the klaxon.

Is Isco really leaving Real? The Press hasn’t got the foggiest.

The Mail told us on October 6: “Real Madrid midfielder Isco ‘is primary transfer target for Juventus’.”

That followed the Express’s news of 19 Sep 2016: “JUVENTUS are not interested in signing Tottenham target Isco from Real Madrid.”

In June, El Confidential reported that Isco had agreed to join Manchester City 25 million euros.

In March, the Metro had other news: “Isco is a priority for Guardiola, with City now seemingly ready to beat the Gunners to his signature.”

They didn’t. Isco stayed at Real Madrid.

Time, then, to hear from the player himself. On October 5, Sky Sports told us: “Isco determined to fight for Real Madrid place under Zinedine Zidane.”

Asked by Marca if he considered an exit, Isco said: “Not really, I have two years left on my Real contract, the club said nothing and I never looked for anything to leave… In the end, if I’m not the star man with (Carlo) Ancelotti, (Rafa) Benitez or Zidane, I will not be foolish and look for problems where there are none. In the end, I’m responsible and that’s where I must improve. There are ups and downs and I won’t give up, I fight to the end and want to prove that I’m fit for Madrid.”

Turn the red alert off. He’s going nowhere.

 

Posted: 11th, October 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment (1)


Celtic heap pressure on their young protege Karamoko Dembele as Manchester City circle

Transfer Balls spots a story about a trade in underage flesh. The BBC says Manchester City want to sign 13-year-old Celtic “playmaker” Karamoko Dembele. Dubbed a wunderkind, earlier this month Dembele made his debut for Celtic’s Under-20 team, playing the final ten minutes of the Bhoys’ 3-1 victory over Hearts at Cappielow.

If you want to feel even older, know that the youngster came off the bench to replace Jack Aitchison who, at 16 years and 71 days old, became Celtic’s youngest-ever player in the final game of last season.

 

Dembele Celtic

 

 

The Sun picks ip the story of Manchester City “looking to pounce” on the child. They want to transport Karamoko Dembele to England and add hims to “their growing academy of young stars”. City, we leanr, “have been tracking the talented teenager for the past few months”.

Should he go? The Mail reminds its readers of Islam Feruz, who at just 13 represented Celtic in a memorial game for the late Tommy Burns.

But after being carefully nurtured by Celtic, he turned his back on them after six years and moved to Chelsea on a lucrative contract. The accusations were that his head had been turned, which Feruz now admits himself.

Says Feruz:

“I hope he stays with Celtic, plays for their first team and score lots of goals. Never forget that playing football makes you happy. If he does that, the next step of his career will be a natural progression. He will not need to chase anything or rush into anything. He just has to keep his head down, stay focused and not allow himself to be distracted. That’s the best advice I can give him.

“I remember it all just seemed to happen at once and hit me overnight. There was so much publicity. It was very hard to handle. My family and friends were also thrust into the spotlight. It’s hard to cope when you are so young. It’s easy to put your faith in other people and it becomes easy to lose focus on football. People will now want to get involved with him and, no doubt, promise plenty. People will try to sweet talk him.

“But you must trust in your family, that is so important. And stick to football. It’s easy to become distracted and lose sight of the necessary development required on and off the field. The people of Scotland, in every walk of life, must try to protect him. I wish him luck.”

He’ll need it. Eslewhere in the Mail, you can read:

But the ultimate tale of ‘too much too soon’ is undoubtedly Islam Feruz, whom Celtic legend Tommy Burns fought to keep in Scotland as his family sought asylum from war-torn Somalia. Feruz duly turned his back on Celtic to earn more money at Chelsea, where he has developed only into a first class waste of space.

So how good is Dembele? Gordon Parks is unimpressed: “Celtic said Dembele was chosen on merit. Sorry but it’s disingenuous at best, a cheap publicity stunt at worst.”

He seems to have a point when you listen to one Celtic insider.

“Karamoko is still a young boy and has a lot of growing to do, both physically and mentally,” head of youth, Chris McCart, told the club’s website. “The coaches at our U13 and 14 levels have been fantastic in nurturing his potential but it is crucial that we do not push him too far, too soon. He has a lot of hard work ahead of him to make it to the top and we won’t rush that, but we also know Karamoko, and the other talented young players we have here, is at the perfect place to continue his progress and we look forward to seeing what the future holds.”

If he has so much growing to do, why expose the talented teenager to intense scrutiny at such a young age?

Scotland assistant coach Mark McGhee said last Tuesday: “I’ve heard our youth people talking about Karamoko Dembele and he’s supposed to be outstanding, fantastic.”

No pressure, son.

PS: Some way to go on building the kids profile. The Express says he was born in the Ivory Coast.

 

DEmbele Celtic

 

The Mail says he was born in London.

The Sun says: ‘The teenager was born in London to parents from Ivory Coast and moved to Scotland before his first birthday.”

The Telegraph mistakes him for another Dembele, reporting beneath the headline “Celtic 13-year-old Karamoko Dembele makes Under-20s debut”:

 

dembele error celtic

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 11th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


Media balls: Arsenal’s Granit is better than Man United’s Rooney but not a ‘capable’ as Southampton’s Steven Davis

Who are “The 50 best players in the Premier League”? You could decide this with transfer fees, goals scored, goals conceded, where a player polled in the PFA awards and the Football writers’ awards, FIFA 17 ranking and any number of statistics betting shops and fantasy leagues use to gage players.

The Mirror has opted for with guessing. Lowlights are:

48: “He’s still trying to find his feet at the Emirates, but there have already been signs – notably his goal at Hull – that the quality he has could lead him to be a top-15 player on lists such as this in future.”

Fingers crossed Granit makes 15. Will he be happy with a Top 20 spot?

We also learn that Anthony Martial (46 – Manchester United) is better than Wayne Rooney (50 – Manchester United).

Others are capable:

Steve Davis (47 – Southampton): “Capable in a variety of roles.”

Martial (as above): “He’s capable of beating a man to tee up a teammate or score himself.”

Ross Barkley (45 – Everton): “He’s capable of running a game from midfield.”

And on it goes. Over the next few days the Mirror will continue its countdown.

PS: For those of you who can’t wait to see who is top of the heap, in September 2016 the Mirror said the best player in the Premier League is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He’s a capable lad.

Posted: 10th, October 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Chelsea want to sell Hazard, Manchester United offered £170m for Neymar, Arsenal re-buy Higuain

Transfer balls: a look at football reporting. The BBC says Chelsea are looking to cash in on Eden Hazard, the player once billed as the “new Lionel Messi”. The BBC says Chelsea will tie a big bag of cash to the 25-year-old Belgium and offer to swap the lot for Juventus and Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci, 29.

The Sun says Juventus don’t want Hazard. They want Cesc Fabregas and an even bigger bag of cash – £50m – for Bonucci.

In other Chelsea news, the Star  says the blues are keen on Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Manchester City also want him. Aubameyang doesn’t want to play for either of them, preferring a move to Real Madrid.

City have loads of cash. Will they outbid Real? News is that last summer they offered £170m for Barcelona’s Neymar. The Citizens thought they’d get their man. Mundo Deportivo says Manchester United, Real Madrid and Paris St-Germain matched that bid. And all failed. Odd, indeed, that no other news sources got wind of these bids.

Maybe City will have better luck with Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin, 21. Marca says Barcelona head the queue for the Arsenal flyer, who is happy at the Emirates.

As for the Gunners, well, Napoli chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis says Arsenal made a good offer for striker Gonzalo Higuain over the summer. “We received a request from Arsenal,” he told the Evening Standard. “Personally I also received a request from Atletico Madrid but they didn’t put enough money on the table. We were not ready to sell him – for me Higuain was not for sale.”

He was for sale. Higuain went to Juventus for £75.3m.

Of course, Sun readers know that Higuain joined the Gunners years ago:

 

higuain arsenal

 

And Manchester United a few years later:

 

Higuain Manchester United

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 10th, October 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal’s Petr Cech sells woolly hats like the helmet he hates

You can now dress like Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech. The Metro calls Cech a “superb businessman” because he’s noticed the weather gets colder in winter and people buy more hats to stay warm.

The hat “looks exactly like his trademark helmet” – the lid Cech wears ever since he suffered a fractured skull playing for Chelsea in 2006.

The “PETR CECH knitted helmet” includes chin strap and “embroidered signature”.

 

cech knitted hat

 

The hat is not al that pretty. And Cech doesn’t like it.

“I would be more confident if I had it off. If you like it or not, the helmet affects your surroundings,” he told Tyden. “You have your ears covered and it makes hearing worse.”

They’ll fly of the shelves.

Posted: 9th, October 2016 | In: Arsenal, Sports, The Consumer | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United should have no regrets over Burnley’s Mike Keane heading to Chelsea

The BBC says Manchester United are “kicking themselves”. No, not because one of their myriad sponsors has slapped own a big wad of cash and told them to. They are kicking themselves, says the BBC, because they failed to add a sell-on clause to Burnley defender Michael Keane’s contract.

Keane, 23, joined Burnley from United for £2.5m in 2015. He is now being eyed by Chelsea. And in the mad world of football transfers, Keane is worth £25m.

Given that one other option is for Chelsea to give Juventus Cesc Fabregas plus £50m for Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci, 29, (source: BBC), Keane’s fee looks a little more reasonable.

The Sun picks up the story of Keane to Chelsea and that sell-on clause. It says “United are believed to have not been able to get Burnley to agree to deal which means they will receive cash if he moves to another club.” Believed. In other words, the Sun and the BBC don’t know.

The M.E.N. says there is no sell-on clause.

If Keane is so good, why don’t United buy him? The Sun confronts that: “It is not known whether United have first-option to buy-back Keane if a fee is agreed.”

The BBC and Sun’s story add up to a lot of nothing – unless:

a) You’re a rival news organ keen not to miss out on a non-story. “Man United gossip: Red Devils having huge regrets over Michael Keane sale,” says the Mirror.  “Michael Keane’s emergence is another indictment of the Louis van Gaal reign at Manchester United,” says EuroSport. Which makes you wonder what EuroSport has to say about Paul Pogba, a player overlooked by Sir Alex Ferguson who rejoined United for a king’s ransom.

Having been loaned out to Leicester, Derby and Blackburn, on 2 September 2014, Keane was loaned to Burnley. On 8 January 2015, Keane joined Burnley on a permanent deal. Van Gaal replaced David Moyes as the new Manchester United boss on 19 May 2014, managing his first game on 24 July. The hammer-headed Dutchman was not a raving success at United but the club was hardly fighting to keep Keane, let alone make him a Premier League starter.

b) You’re a Burnley fan facing the prospect of losing one of their best players in January – a player who has improved under the excellent Sean Dyche. As Keane has said, “Burnley gave me the platform to showcase myself and show my talents in the first place.”

Manchester United have no regrets. They wouldn’t have picked him.

 

Posted: 8th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Wenger quits, stays and torments tabloids and the FA

Is Arsenal manger Arsene Wenger all set to be the next England coach? No. Yesterday he told media it is “very important” that the FA appoint an Englishman for the job.

The Mirror leads with Wenger’s words:

 

wenger arsenal

 

Just one day ago the Sun reported that the FA wanted Wenger. They were “boosted” by news that Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive, had said the Gunners are not just about the Frenchman.

 

wenger arsenal

 

When the internationals are on and the Premier League pauses, the football media looks for anything to fill the void. The Mirror and Sun have conjured a news story from dust.

The Mirror works at the apogee of such reporting. On 28 Sep 2016, it told readers: “Arsenal are bracing themselves for an England approach in pursuit of Arsene Wenger – but are ready to fend them off by handing him a new contract.” That as followed by a welter of balls, not least of all the October 6 story: “Ivan Gazidis drops huge hint that Wenger may not be Arsenal boss next season.”

Tomorrow look out for the papers debating whether or not Wenger, who has lived and worked in the UK for 20 years, qualifies as English.

PS: No questions about Wenger’s future, please.

 

wenger

 

No need. His future is decided:

 

wenger quits sack resigns arsenal

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 8th, October 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Howard Gayle and ‘Digger’ Barnes: When Liverpool FC rejected racism

Howard Gayle was the first black footballer to play for Liverpool. The State wanted to reward Toxteth-born Gayle for footballing whilst black and working with the anti-racism charity Kick It Out with an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire). But Gayle, 58, was unimpressed.

 

howard gayle liverpool

 

He explains why he rejected the gong:

If they want to be inclusive and accepting of black people around the UK and the Commonwealth, then they need to change the title of it – as it’s an exclusive club being an MBE or OBE or one of those gongs.

A lot of people around the world contacted me to say they accepted my decision and that the title of MBE did rankle.

In his book 61 Minutes In Munich, Gaytle talks about the racism that was rife in football and society. In the 1970s and 1980s, English football was infected by racism.

Gayle recalls an episode with Liverpool enforcer Tommy ‘Anfield Iron’ Smith.

Tommy tried to distract me by making nasty comments related to the colour of my skin. For a while, I somehow managed to restrain myself…

I received the ball, controlled it, and lashed a shot towards goal. Tommy Smith was on the other team and it hit him on the leg. It clearly stung and some of the other players started laughing. I had a smile on my face as well. I saw it as karma. Tommy responded with a tirade of abuse. It was ‘black this, black that’.

The place went quiet. Everybody could hear it, including the staff. He was a legend. I was a nothing. Nobody said a word.

I’d had enough of him (Smith): this bitter old man. So I went over and squared up: nose to nose. I looked at him dead in the eye.

“You know what, Tommy; one night you’ll be taking a piss at home and I’ll be there waiting for you with a baseball bat,” I said, calmly. “And then we’ll see what you’ve got to say.”

I wanted to start a fight with him. And then he walked away…

Graeme Souness was the only one that came over in the immediate aftermath. “Well done, Howard,” he said. “Tommy deserved that”. Graeme was a true leader.

Other might have just lamped Smith.

He adds:

After I left, John Barnes became the first black player to be signed by Liverpool from another club. He quickly earned the nickname of ‘Digger’, after Digger Barnes in the Dallas television series. Personally, I wouldn’t have accepted that because of its closeness to the ‘N’ word.

Hyper-sensitive? Seeing racial undertones in a nickname given to player who would be idolised at Anfield?

Things have changed. Now professional football might well be the lest colour conscious occupation in Britain – one in four of professional footballers is black.

Via: Guardian

Posted: 7th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Books, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal fight to keep Bellerin, Ozil and Sanchez and Man City go shopping

Is the Premier League a video catalogue for Manchester City’s shoppers? Manchester City invested £175m on new players in the summer – and they have another £150 to buy some more.

As ever, the first port of call on the City owners’ shopping trip is Arsenal. City manager Pep Guardiola is batting his eyes at Arsenal’s flying right back Héctor Bellerín. Look out for lots of reports on Hector and Pep’s shared Barcelona roots.

Can Arsenal hang onto their rising star?

Can Arsenal afford to reject a bid of £50m for a player they signed for free?

Arsenal’s most pressing concern is keeping Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez. The players are said to each want a huge pay rise. Reports suggest Sanchez and Ozil each take home around £140,000 a week. At Manchester City, players or lesser ability take home more than that. So Arsenal need to cough up to prevent their top names leaving the club. The sum of £250,000 a week has been mentioned.

One player nearer the exit than those three is Per Mertesacker. The injured German’s current deal ends at the end of this season. “I am a person who likes to create options for himself,” says Mertesacker. “Of course, I ask myself what would make sense if things were to end at Arsenal? Where can I be of any help? What do I want? Could I maybe return to Germany?”

Could he reach that glass on the top shelf and paint the cornices?

It’s all about options.

 

Posted: 7th, October 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


BBC trolls Liverpool and Arsenal fans with clickbait headline news

The BBC website is the font of all knowledge. It might as well be a newspaper. But instead of opting to compete in the open marketplace, the BBC news site consumes and rules. On today’s BBC football pages, for example, you can read: “Football gossip: Wenger, Ozil, Sanchez, Griezmann, Klopp.”

 

BBC football gossip

 

 

Arsene Wenger, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are names that appeal to all Arsenal fans worried that all three will leave the club. Jurgen Klopp news seduces Liverpool fans hungry for news of their charismatic manager. Griezmann is the top striker at Atletico Madrid wanted by a host of Premier League clubs.

We clicked. And we get a single ‘news’ item on anyone mentioned in the headline. That story is ab vout Klopp. This is the news: “Outgoing Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre believes Jurgen Klopp is ‘the perfect man’ for the manager’s job.”

That’s not exactly “gossip” is it.

The BBC is funded by the licence fee tax. Why does it need to resort to clickbait to attract readers?

By way of proof that this is the BBC’s ‘news’, here’s more of today’s BBC’s football page:

 

BBC gossip fotball

Posted: 7th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Wenger ‘leaves’ on the strength of a ‘hint’

The BBC says Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has “hinted” manager Arsene Wenger’s contract “may not be renewed at the end of the season”.

Turn that around and it means he said nothing has been decided and Wenger’s contract may be renewed at the end of the season.

The Daily Mirror says it is the “biggest hint yet” that Wenger is heading out of the Emirates.

So what did he say? This: “He’s been clear and we’ve always been clear, that’s a mutual decision as to how long he’ll continue. Both need to be on the same page on that. In a football sense, he has transformed the club.”

That needs some spin to make it a hint about Wenger leaving. It sounds a lot like an executive making a diplomatic response to a journalist’s question.

The Sun picks up another comment:

 

Swuennger sun

 

Said Gazidis in reply to another question: ““Arsenal is not Arsene Wenger. They’re not one in the same thing.”

That’s a “SHOCK” to the Sun.

But not to Mirror readers, who all know when Wenger will leave:

 

wenger quits sack resigns arsenal

 

Or not.

 

Posted: 7th, October 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Gareth Bale gets £91m to ‘snub’ Manchester United

Gareth Bale is not heading to Manchester United. The BBC says Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo have agreed new contracts to remain at Real Madrid. Bale has been offered £91m to keep playing for Real and reject Manchester United’s advances.

The Express says the BBC is correct. Bale will remain at Real Madrid and get a ton of cash to “snub” Manchester United next summer.

The source for all this is Spanish radio station Cope. It says  Ronaldo, 31, has signed a new deal until 2021. It says Bale has agreed to stay in Spain until 2022. But there is no word of that bumper pay packet. Only the Express has news on that, reporting: “Bale’s admirers at Old Trafford will have to accept the 27-year-old is staying in Spain after agreeing a six-year deal worth around £350,000 a week.”

Unless, of course, United offer a massive pile of cash of cash for the star. After all, Bale wants to come to the Premier League. We read that in the Daily Express.

 

bale man united

 

And in the BBC, which on 11 Jun 2016 reported: “Manchester United are confident of signing Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale, 26, for a world-record £94.6m fee.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 6th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Chelsea double their offer for Juventus and Manchester City’s Leonardo Bonucci

Transfer balls:  The BBC says Chelsea’s owners Roman Abramovich has sanctioned a move for  Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci, 29.  The Blues will offer the Italians £60m.

The Telegraph says this would be a world-record fee for a defender, beating the current record £50m PSG paid for Chelsea defender David Luiz – they bought him back for £30m.

Bonuccio is, says the paper, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte’s “dream signing”.

Bonucci has been full of praise of Conte, who managed him at Juventus and Italy. “Conte will be a big success in England, Chelsea are already a very good team and he will have them challenging both in England and in Europe,” said Bonucci, who might care to look again.

But the British Press know not all that much about Bonucci.

 

Bonucci

 

In June, the Metro said the player had agreed to join Chelsea.

The Sun said a “three-year deal for defender Bonucci, worth around £130,000 a week, has been accepted by the player and his agents.” The headline tol readers: “ANTONIO CONTE is plotting an amazing £57million double swoop for Italy stars Antonio Candreva and Leonardo Bonucci.”

Three months ago Bonucci cost £25m.

He’s now apparently worth £60m.

And in July he singed for Manchester City. The Sport Bible told us that:

 

manchester city bonucci

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 6th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, Reviews, Sports | Comment


After Hillsborough Liverpool fans challenge all-seater ground control

Hillsborough is back in the news. It never went away. We still await justice for the 96 people killed at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989. It took 26 years for the State to admit the dead were innocent. How long will it take to nail the guilty?

 

Soccer - Football League Division One - Chelsea v Arsenal - Stamford Bridge A young fan is passed over the heads of the crowd to a better viewing position at the front of the terrace Date: 01/11/1947

Soccer – Football League Division One – Chelsea v Arsenal – Stamford Bridge. A young fan is passed over the heads of the crowd to a better viewing position at the front of the terrace. Date: 01/11/1947

 

Today the Guardian reports on moves to bring back standing at Premier League football grounds.

We’d argue that standing on the terraces never caused the horror at Hillsborough. When the victims were crying out for help behind those cages the police sent for the attack dogs. The deaths were accidental. But they were the result of a policy that portrayed and treated football fans as scum.

The Liverpool supporters’ union (LSU) Spirit of Shankly wants to bring back standing. Premier League Football is sanitised and stripped of the passion that made the game so magical. Standing is one stop towards breaking the myriad controls forced on fans.

The LSU will ask other Liverpool fans and the families of those killed at Hillsborough for their views on a return to standing at top-flight grounds.

The Guardian says the Hillsborough Family Support Group is strongly opposed to standing. The Hillsborough Justice Campaign says: “There has always been a variety of views amongst HJC members. We do however, support a full and objective debate on the issue with safety being paramount.”

 

The Kop liverpool standing

The Kop

 

The LSU floated the idea at last month’s AGM. It said:

“There have been ongoing campaigns for the implementation of ‘rail seating’ at football grounds, similar to those often found in Germany. This has been alongside debate about supporters who currently stand in seated areas. It should be recognised and acknowledged that this occurs.

“LSU has never formally adopted a position on ‘rail seating’, ‘safe standing’ or these matters by whichever name it goes by. The debate, in recent months, has moved on, following the implementation of rail seating at Celtic and with football clubs openly discussing the idea. Supporters at other clubs are actively campaigning for the introduction of rail seating. Whilst LSU recognises that opinion amongst our fan base is divided, with supporters and Hillsborough campaigners and groups on both sides of the debate, our stance and opinion on such matters should be one directed by our members.”

It is an emotive issue. All-seat regulations were introduced into English football by Lord Justice Taylor’s report into the Hillsborough disaster. Rather than censure the police and look to themselves, the authorities moved swiftly to enforce further controls on fans. Sat in numbered seats these criminals-in-waiting were more easily monitored.

And don’t you dare move. In 2006, West Ham United sent the following note to 20 season ticket holders: “You have ignored repeated requests to remain seated and are therefore placing the club in jeopardy of losing capacity. As a result you are banned from attending Upton Park for two matches.”

Sit down or else.

And then came the advice to shut up. (Spurs fans must not champion the ‘Yid Army’. Celtic’s ‘Green Brigade’ and should stop singing the wrong kinds of songs, and so too Glasgow Rangers fans. Never mind that the bawdy chants are reminders of what binds fans to their clubs, they are possibly offensive to sensitive ears and must be banned. Songs will be censored or drowned out by blaring PA systems, piped music, anthems and ridiculous countdowns to kick-off.)

You want to know why 60,000 fans at Arsenal’s shiny new Emirates ground make less noise than half that number did at Highbury? They’ve been pacified. Sit down. Don’t drink. Book your seats in advance – no groups of mates rocking up to let off steam have a hope of getting in.

When the Emirates opened, the club heard the silence. They soon advertised for a ‘Singing Section’, a licensed place where the noisiest fans could sing approved songs. It was pathetic. And so too are standing zones. Football fans have been reduced to accepting scraps of legislated freedom.

Don’t stand up in the zone of tolerance. Stand up to the marketeers, control freaks and State that have subdued the fans and taken the fun out of football.

Posted: 5th, October 2016 | In: Key Posts, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


West Ham United had no ‘culture’ before they moved into the soulless Olympic Park

Having to deal with life in the rented atmosphere-phobic Olympic Stadium, West Ham United fans can now consider the tactful words of their celebrity vice-chairwoman and Arsenal fan Karren Brady.

Addressing the Leaders 16 awards (an AGM for people involved in sport-related business), Brady assured the fans that the move to the Olympic Stadium was a great chance to “rebrand” the club.

West Ham fans will surely rejoice that their club is now a ‘brand’ managed by the marketing department. Times writer Owen Gibson says Brady followed that by saying West Ham had “no culture” before current owners Davids Gold and Sullivan took over in 201o:

 

Bagsy that copy of the Guardian when’ve done with it, Bonza.

Note: The Guardian has more:

The vice-chair said that when Gold and Sullivan bought the club it was necessary to reduce their debt and overhaul “their culture”.

“There were two interesting things about it. One, it had £100m worth of debt. Two, it had no what I would call culture. At football clubs we don’t make anything, we don’t manufacture anything, we don’t really produce anything other than more players,” she told the Leaders Sports Business Summit. “So getting the culture right, being a place where something is expected of you, having discipline, planning and process and strategy. That wasn’t there.”

Like the culture of adding the word “London to our crest because we felt it had real global appeal. Nobody else does it”.

Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs don’t need to. It’s a bit sad, like one of those ‘LONDON’ fridge magnets tourists buy in tat shops on Oxford Street and wearing plastic police helmets for trips to the Planetarium. It says London on the tin but inside it’s just a hollow ploy to make foreigners part with their cash.

 

Posted: 5th, October 2016 | In: Celebrities, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal, Leicester City and Andre Silva get the clickbait treatment

Transfer balls: The Week says Porto’s Andre Silva, 20, “could displace Sanchez'” at Arsenal.

The Week’s story is based entirely on a report in Portugal’s Ojogo . It makes no mention of Alexis Sanchez, the Chilean dynamo who gives impetus and urgency to Arsenal’s forward play. The report does say Arsenal and Leicester City have taken a look at Silva.

 

andre silva

 

Put it through the clickbait machine and the Daily Mirror states: “Gunners want Porto striker Andre Silva.”

Well, they’ll have to dig deep. In August, Silva signed a new FC Porto contract with a 60 million euros release clause.

As for the Leicester City link, The Week says:

Silva, 20, was thought to be on the brink of a switch to Premier League champions Leicester on last month’s transfer deadline day, but the move fell through late in the day…

Er, no. Leicester cIty were after Adrien Silva, the Sporting Lisbon midfielder whose move to Leicester City broke down on deadline day.

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 5th, October 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment