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.

Transfer balls: Arsenal’s Ozil to Manchester United and Peter Gwargis arrives

Is Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil all set to join Manchester United? The Guardian fans the rumour by musing, “are Manchester United eyeing Mesut Özil?” If the news media don’t know, the answer should be ‘no’.

Jacob Steinberg says Manchester United “have been alerted to Mesut Özil’s hesitation” in agreeing a new deal to lengthen his stay at Arsenal. How they’ve been alerted is moot. Did Ozil’s agent tell United. Did Arsenal? And why mention this now, just a few days before Manchester Untied host Arsenal in the Premier League?

The thinking is that United manager Jose Mourinho “wants a reunion with Özi”, whom he managed at Real Madrid.

The Sun says United will offer Ozil £250,000 a week, far higher than the £200,000 a week the Gunners are reportedly willing to pay.

It’s a story built on wet sand. We know United pay bigger wages than Arsenal. We know that Ozil is happy in North London. We know that Man United are not soaring ion the Premier League.

Maybe Jose can get a new model Ozil, as the Metro says Peter Gwargis – “dubbed the new Mesut Ozil” – is attracting interest from Gunners? “Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has his eye on Mesut Ozil’s apparent successor,” says the paper. How good is this younger Ozil. “The teenager is yet to turn out for Husqvarna’s first-team,” says the Metro. Oh, that good, then.

Finally, ESPN assures Arenal fans that Ozil “won’t betray Wenger”. It then delivers a host of reasons why Ozil to United is non-starter. They can be distilled into one salient point: he’s under contract at Arsenal.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 12th, November 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Antoine Griezmann wants to join Paul Pogba at Manchester United, PSG, Atletico Madrid or somewhere else

Transfer balls: France and Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann, 25, says he “would like to play alongside Manchester United midfielder and France team-mate Paul Pogba, 23, at club level”. So says the BBC.

Which club, Griezmann doesn’t day. But the media klaxon has been sounded. The Daily Star has Griezmann playing at Manchester United.

 

Griezmann manchester united

 

The Indy says, “Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann has talked up a potential move to Manchester United.”

Over on Sky Sports, we hear what Griezmann said in reply to a journalist asking him about Man United:

“I always ask Paul Pogba about Manchester United. I think they are a huge club with a really good infrastructure. I ask Paul about some of the players, and if they’re really that good, or if Jose Mourinho is really that good.

“You hear a lot of things [speculation] about Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain but right now I don’t see me moving to a new club. But it would be awesome to play alongside Paul one day.”

Adding via the Star:

“A future transfer depends on how I feel. Right now, I’m a father and moving to another city would the right thing. I’ll see If want to do something else in the future, but right now I’m very happy with Atletico Madrid and I still want to win trophies with this club.”

Pogba to Atletico Madrid it is, then.

Posted: 10th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United: Mourinho scapegoats Smalling and Shaw and demands belief in his way

In today’s episode of Jose Mourinho’s life, the Sun has an exclusive on the Manchester United manager:

Jose Mourinho: Manchester United stars backing boss over incredible bust-up with Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling

Mourinho picked out the England players for his “slurs”, as the Times calls them. They are “bewildered” by his attack on their professionalism.

As it his style, Mourinho builds a siege mentality and invites players to prove their loyalty to him through unstinting effort. After a couple of seasons of believing and running til empty for Mourinho, the team is covered in glory but spent, and Jose moves on.

Neil Ashton writes: “Senior players have accepted that the only way to succeed under the Special One is to accept his ruthless regime. Incredibly, they supported his public attack on Shaw and Smalling, who insisted they were not fit to play in Sunday’s 3-1 win at Swansea.”

Were they fit? “Both have played with pain-killing injections this season but boss Mourinho claims that is common practice for a top-level footballer.”

You run and run and run for Jose. And then you collapse.

The Special One said they refused to be in the match-day squad and had betrayed United’s “culture”.

United culture, or Jose’s way?

In other news the Sun notes:

Manchester United transfer news: Jose Mourinho to axe Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw after bust-up

Mourinho said of the duo: “I have a friend who is a big tennis player and he tells me when he remembered more the times he plays with pain than the times he plays without pain. To compete you have to go to the limit. It is cultural for some – and that is not my culture. More than me, it is Man United. We have players with ‘problems’. At every sport – and I know because I have friends in others sports and they play at the highest level in their sport, and how many times they play when you are not 100 per cent.”

And so it is, as ever it was, that Jose Mourinho divides to conquer. Do you believe in Jose? Is he the one, as the United banner declared on his first day as manager? If you don’t believe utterly in his, it’ll be your fault when it fails.

PS: Shaw and Smalling have been left out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad.

When asked whether he thought Smalling and Shaw were “flaky”, Southgate said: “That wouldn’t be my impression, having worked with Chris, and I know Luke well. He’s had a really tough injury.”

Is Luke Shaw Mourinho’s scapegoat, or the guinea pig on whom the manager can test out his abrasive style of man management?

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


Transfer balls: Chelsea offload Arsenal turncoat Fabregas to West Ham and AC Milan

Transfer balls: West Ham United are keen on Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas, 29. The former Arsenal captain has played just 87 minutes for the Blues in the Premier League this season.

The Daily Mirror leads with the news that The Hammers wants Cesc in the January transfer window. But why would Cesc want the Hammers?

 

Cesc WEst ham

 

The Mirror says Chelsea are “even ready” to subsidise Fabregas’s £160,000-a-week wages in order to get shot of him. But there is little on what pull West Ham hold to the World Cup winning midfielder. Indeed, the Mirror says “Fabregas remains determined” to remain at Chelsea.

But the Sun says Fabregas “looks certain to leave Chelsea in January and could replace Dimitri Payet at West Ham”.

Payet recently told a French TV station: ”Leave in January? I’m asking other questions but I’m not closing the door to anything. It’s always the sports project that interests me. I work like that and until I play at a level like this, it will be the case.”

It’s all speculation.

Back in September the Express was reporting that Cesc had agreed to join AC Milan.

Cesc Chelsea

 

On August 16 2016, the Sun and Star reported that Cesc, who played for Barcelona (the club of his heart), wanted to join their fierce rivals Real Madrid and also stay at Chelsea.

 

Cesc Chelsea

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 8th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


One-eyed reporting on Rob Van Persie: former Arsenal and Man United striker not blind

Is Robin Van Persie blind? Has the former Arsenal captain and Manchester United striker succumbed to a dreadful eye injury? The Sun suggests there are “fears he will never see again”.

 

robin van persie eye

 

A click on the story and we’re told:

There were fears that the Dutchman could have lost his sight in the clash.

Well, yes. Fears not exactly discouraged by the Sun’s reporting:

 

van persie eye the sun

 

Inverted commas (just like question marks – see pretty much every transfer news story in the Mirror) don’t show up in Google News. So what is complete balls can be presented as fact.

Will Van Persie see again? Yes. First up, he damaged one eye – a ripped eyelid. Van Persie has two eyes. His being blinded was never likely.

The Sun reports: “Fenerbahce doctor Burak Kunduracıoğl seemed to quash fears…”. He seemed to quash fears? Not quite. He quashed them flat. He said: “After the investigations we learned that nothing important happened… His condition is good.”

Says Van Persie: “My eye is not damaged.”

Robin Van Persie is not blind – but the Sun’s reporting is a tad monocular.

 

Posted: 7th, November 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United balls: angry Jose Mourinho demands we believe in his waning abilities

Is Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho being indulged at Old Trafford? Yesterday’s  3-1 win over Swansea eased some of the pressure on the Portuguese. But Under his guidance, his sides are averaging just 1.15 points per game. The BBC looks at Jose’s average points haul since the start of 2015-16. Let’s compared the Man United boss’s record to other managers who have taken charge of 10 or more Premier League matches in that time.

Francesco Guidolin – Swansea: 1.26 points (sacked)
Sam Allardyce – Sunderland: 1.20 (given England job)
Roberto Martinez – Everton: 1.19 (sacked)
Quique Sanchez Flores – Watford: 1.18 (sacked)
Jose Mourinho – Chelsea/ Man United: 1.15

Compare the lavish resources at those managers’ disposal and Mourinho looks a dud.

Of course, the Manchester United supremo is new to his role. But, then, look at the man who took over the failing and spent Chelsea team Jose left behind:

Antonio Conte – Chelsea: 2.27

And another new boy:

Pep Guardiola – Man City: 2.18

And if you want real value for money:

Claudio Ranieri – Leicester: 1.94

But it’s not him at fault. It never is, according to Jose. It’s them. Says Mourinho:

“There is a difference between the brave that will be there at any cost and the ones that a little pain can make a difference.

“Great football people – great sportspeople – many, many times play without being 100 per cent. For the team you have to do anything – that’s my way of saying. If one day I meet the big ones [players] of this club who have had great success – for sure, they are going to tell me that many times they put their bodies on the line even with pains everywhere.

“It’s not just the players but it’s the people that surround the players. It will take time to change [the mentality] but with the help of players like Phil Jones, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney, it will be a possible mission.”

Is abrasive Mourinho a man who guarantees success, as United hope he does? Frank Lampard, who Mourinho managed at Chelsea, says he is “creating storms to protect” his team. It’s so much about fomenting a siege mentality, imparting his own burning anger and sense of injustice in his players.

Rory Smith notes:

In his autobiography, Zlatan Ibrahimovic recounted Mourinho’s showing his Inter team videos of poor displays, suggesting the players on the screen “must be your brothers,” angering them so much they went out and played “like rabid animals” to prove him wrong.

This time Jose is talking of creating a legacy at United. But he so often leaves toxicity behind. If you believe in Jose’s way – the world is against him and thus against his loyal team – you will fight for him. When the players and fans start to question his methods, and the barbs hurt more than inspire, the anger and with it the momentum dies.

 

Posted: 7th, November 2016 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


Media Balls: Harsh Spurs’ penalty equalises Arsenal’s offside goal

Media Balls: Arsenal draw 1-1 with Spurs in the Premier League.

Spurs scored from a penalty. Should it have been awarded? 

BBC: “Koscielny was harshly penalised for a foul on Mousa Dembele in the box”

Spurs website: “…the excellent Mousa Dembele was brought down in the box by Laurent Koscielny.”

Arsenal website: “Dembele’s slaloming run into the box provoking a mistimed challenge from Koscielny.”

The Guardian: “This looks controversial as well. Dembele falls over just inside the box after a tackle from Koscielny, and Mark Clattenburg gives a penalty. Replays suggest it was a good decision.”

The Mirror: “A lazy, brainless challenge from Laurent Koscielny on the impressive Mousa Dembele resulted in a penalty.”

The Arsenal goal, scored by Tottenham’s Kevin Wilmer:

The Telegraph: “Spurs could rightly be aggrieved that at least two Arsenal players were offside when Ozil swung his set-piece in but the goal stood and Arsenal held the lead at the interval.”

The Guardian: “Arsenal’s pressure has told. Ozil’s inswinging free-kick is headed down into the corner of his own net by Kevin Wimmer. He was stretching towards his own goal, and had to do something with two Arsenal players behind him – but those two players were offside, so Spurs will feel pretty aggrieved.”

Sky: “Arsenal took the lead three minutes before half-time as Ozil’s free-kick was diverted by Wimmer’s head into his own goal, though the replays showed that Sanchez, who did not touch the ball but was arguably involved in play, was offside from the German’s cross.”

The Express: “Both Sanchez and Laurent Koscielny were in offside positions next to him but judged not to be interfering – as if the derby needed a bit of controversy to feed the emotions – and moments later an unseemly squabble led by Jan Vertonghen and Theo Walcott set things up nicely for the second half. At least referee Mark Clattenburg got the first big decision of the second period right – spotting Koscielny’s trip on Mousa Dembele just inside the area and pointing to the spot.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 6th, November 2016 | In: Arsenal, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal line up huge bid for Jose Maria Gimenez as Paulista vanishes

Transfer balls:  The Mirror says Arsenal are “lining up a bid” for a “£54million Uruguay starlet”. Who is he?

It’s Atletico Madrid and Uruguay “starlet” Jose Maria Gimenez.

The Sun is the Mirror’s source. It says Manchester United also monitoring the 21-year-old “wonderkid”.

The Sun offers up no source for this news that Arsenal are going to bid a record sum for the young player. But it does note:

Arsenal are building their Premier League title challenge with Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny at the heart of his defence. But German international defender Per Mertesacker has had knee trouble while Brazilian Gabriel Paulista has fallen down the pecking order. That leaves just former Bolton trainee Rob Holding as cover.

No. It leaves Paulista and Holding as cover for the first choice pairing. And then there’s Calum Chambers, out on loan at Middlesbrough. As for Paulista, he was high up the pecking order until he got injured before the season began. Now fit, he’s been on the bench for Arsenal Premier League matches – indeed, he was ahead of Holding when the Gunners last played at home.

PS: for today’s North London derby versus Spurs, Gabriel is on the bench. Holding didn’t make it that high up the pecking order.

Posted: 6th, November 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Media balls: steely Middlesbrough get ‘undeserved’ equaliser after Manchester City score soft goal

Media Balls: a look at reporting on Manchester City 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough in the Premier League.

The headlines:

Manchester Evening News: “Man City 1-1 Middlesbrough LIVE De Roon stuns Guardiola after Aguero opener”

 The Gazette (Middlesbrough): “Man City 1 Middlesbrough 1: Boro show their Premier League steel”

Sergio Aguero’s goal:

MEN: “Almost 80 per cent possession and a shot count of 19-0 was rewarded shortly before the break as Sergio Aguero times his run to slot home Kevin De Bruyne’s through ball.”

TG: “…a simple cross from the right, and Aguero ghosted into the area between Antonio Barragan and Calum Chambers to stab home.”

Manchester City website: “Kevin De Bruyne picked a pearl of a pass, curling a low ball into the six-yard box for Sergio Aguero to guide home”

Middlesbrough website: “De Bruyne delivered an exquisite cross low from the right and Sergio Aguero nipped in between Antonio Barragan and Calum Chambers to tuck home from close range.”

The late equaliser:

MEN: “Aguero and De Bruyne both missed good chances in the minutes just before Boro equalised. City left ruing them.”

No details on the goal.

TG: “All 3,000 Boro fans were sent home delighted as Marten de Roon’s bullet header lifted the roof off the Etihad Stadium. George Friend’s sizzling ball from the left was as good as you’ve seen all season, and the Dutch midfielder just had to get his effort on target to give Boro a point.”

Man City: “…the cruellest of sucker punches came in added time when Marten de Roon powered home a header from close range. It may have been undeserved…”

MFC:  Marten de Roon arrived in the box to plant home a powerful header from George Friend’s whipped cross.”

Such are the facts.

 

 

Posted: 5th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Manchester United Transfer Balls: Godin’s pension, Depay flops out and Martial’s moans about Zlatan

Transfer balls: the BBC is reporting that Manchester United “will trigger Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin’s £30m release clause in January”.

The Beeb says Man United manager Jose Mourinho has earmarked the 30-year-old Uruguayan “to provide his team with leadership”.

The Sun says United will throw loads cash at Godin, topping his current £70,000-a-week wages “by a distance”

Can money lure Godin from the superb Atletico to pressurised and underwhelming Man United? In 2013, Godin opted to extend his Madrid contract.  “This is my home,” he said. “They make me feel great despite being away from my country, my home, my friends. What better than to be here with people who love you and make you feel like one of them.”

In 2015, he signed another contract extension.

In 2014, the Express reported: “MANCHESTER UNITED may have to abandon their plans to sign Diego Godin in January.” Said the player:

“I would like to stay for many years here [at Atletico Madrid]. But it is true that I also have an attraction from my country and at some point in the future I would like to return to Uruguay.”

In the summer of 2015, the Mail reported: “Manchester City have identified Atletico Madrid’s Diego Godin as the man who can help alleviate their pre-season malaise.”

The Indy added:

According to Marca, Manchester City were willing to trigger the 29-year-old’s €40million (£28m) release clause to bring the Uruguayan to the Etihad, but he turned down the chance to move. The paper reports that City offered the centre-back around £4.5m (£90,000-a-week) to join.

As Godin ages and considers United’s pension package, and Untied grow ever more desperate for a quality centre-half, the Guardian says the club are ready to offload Memphis Depay, who cost Manchester United a mere £31m in May 2015. The 22-year-old, we learn, is open to a loan move to Fenerbahce in January.

And United forward Anthony Martial was “surprised and disappointed” to lose his No 9 shirt to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, says his agent. Martial was number 9 during his first season at United but he now wears the No 11 after Ibrahimovic took over the No 9.

“I am not going to lie to you,” says M. 15%. “Yes, this has affected him, yes this surprised him, yes it disappointed him… for a few days. But he is a professional. He then got back into the swing of things.  Personally, I have not accepted this decision that I deemed uncalled for and disrespectful towards my player. This feeling, I have directed this towards Manchester United’s directors. We turn the page and move on but it’s hard to digest it….

“They have a very professional relationship. I am sure that Jose Mourinho will know how to bring the best out of Anthony like Louis van Gaal did before him.”

Ah, yes, Louis Van Gaal. Anyone miss the hammer-headed Dutchman?

Posted: 5th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Chicago Cubs: six million fans rejoice (if you double count everyone in the city)

Like you we too are delighted the Clubs Cubes Cubs won the World Series of baseball for the first time since in ages – but still faster than is takes Theresa May to make a decsion.  The Mail sees the celebrations:

The fall classic! Daredevil Cubs fans risk their lives with crazy ‘trust falls’ as SIX MILLION pack the streets of Chicago to celebrate their World Series win 108 years in the making

 

 

Chicago Cubs millions

 

Six million people on the streets of Chicago, a city with a population of 2,720,546?

The Chicago Tribune is circumspect

By Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communication’s count, an estimated 5 million people lined the 6-mile parade route and gathered at the rally in Grant Park. But — like other official crowd counts — there’s reason to be skeptical, experts say…

“The guesstimates are almost always vast exaggerations,” said Clark McPhail, a sociology professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 5th, November 2016 | In: Reviews, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Desperate Manchester United get saddled with ageing and overpaid star

Footballers, eh. News is that Manchester United are, says the BBC, “prepared to release 32-year-old midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger” with a £10m severance deal.

You read that right. Manchester United are so desperate to rid themselves of the German they will pay him £10m to go.

The Sun adds a caveat: United will pay the £10m  “if they can find someone to take him in January”.

United have all but resigned themselves to the fact they will have to give 32-year-old the staggering payoff – despite the fact he’s been allowed to train with the first-team again.

Now the maths:

The ex-Bayern Munich star is on £180,000-a-week and is owed around £18m in wages with two years left on his Old Trafford deal.

This is how desperate Manchester United are to spunk cash on anyone they think might build the brand.

Schweinsteiger will pocket a staggering £4m or so between January and the end of the season, which the Red Devils are reluctant to pay him.

That’s about £120,000-a-week less than Wayne Rooney gets at United; £70,000 less than Zlatan Ibrahimovich; and £130,000 less than Jose Mourinho.

United are happy for him to leave Old Trafford on a free, having written his £6m fee from Bayern Munich off their books. If another club come in for him in January, they’ll have to give him around £10m and save themselves a fortune. Currently, nobody wants him, but a move to America or China could be on the cards as clubs can afford his huge wages.

Um, no. Lots of clubs would like to pick Schweinsteiger. It’s just that every few clubs can match the absurd wages United pay.

 

Posted: 4th, November 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United: Mourinho vows to stay and be better than Moyes

PHEW! The Sun hears news that Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says he will remain at Old Trafford “for many years”.

The Sun says Mourinho is “determined to take Manchester United back to the top.”. Good to know. Manchester United are currently eighth in the Premier League.

“I am at the club I want to be at and I am so happy to be here,” Mourinho tells media. “I want to stay here until the end of my contract and then who knows?”

His contract runs for three years with an option for a further year.

“But I will be here for many years. I am a football man and I am still young,” Jose continues. “Sometimes people think I am 75 but I am 53 and I have passion for the game.”

Can he make United improve? Having lobbed tons of cash at the squad, United are playing less than thrilling football. Getting thrashed 4-0 by Chelsea answered the question, ‘What’s Jose’s best team?’ Answer: Chelsea.

But the Press have been a tad hasty to damn Jose. The Sun has accused Jose of “entering David Moyes territory”. And the Mail placed him bottom in a table of United managers in the post-Ferguson era:

Mourinho Daily Mail

 

Officially worse? No. Because in this first season in charge, Jose’s United have 15 points from 10 PL matches. At the same stage in his predecessors’ first seasons at Old Trafford, Moyes’ United had 17 points and Van Gaal’s side 13 points; the following season Van Gaal’s team picked up 20 points.

Mourinho is not the worst. He’s better that David Moyes, whose Sunderland have two points from 10 played – a Premier League record low. High praise, indeed.

The only way is up for Jose.

Posted: 3rd, November 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Media balls: Manchester City could have had six against Barcelona and ‘stupid’ Messi

Media balls: a look at reporting on last night Champions’ League match between Manchester City and Barcelona, which City won 3-1.

The Times says Manchester City were”brilliant”. The BBC says Manchester City were “outstanding”.

In Spain, Mundo Deportivo says Barca “ran out of batteries and watched as De Bruyne, Silva, Gundogan flew past them”. It was a”blackout”. SPORT says Barcelona were “tangled”, caught in the City trap. L’Esportiu says “City smelled blood” in the second half.

 

manchester city

 

The Manchester Evening News says: “City absolutely HAMMERED Barcelona – Messi and co were lucky to escape without more of a hiding.”

James Robson reports for the MEN:

It is no exaggeration to say City could have scored six or even more against the Spanish champions. Raheem Sterling should have won a first half penalty and wasted a golden chance shortly after Kevin de Bruyne fired City ahead in the second half.

It is an exaggeration. Sterling should have had a penalty instead of a yellow card for diving. But Robson’s monocular report makes no mention of Barcelona chances. The Guardian does, however:

65 min: So close from Barcelona, as Andre Gomes rattles the crossbar from just outside the penalty area with a free shot on goal. Luis Suarez nutmegs John Stones, advances and squares the ball for Gomes who really should have scored.

Had he scored, that would have made it 2-2.

Sky notes that after Barcelona opened the scoring:

Barcelona then began to dominate, missing several chances to double their lead as City’s defence opened up.

And (wrongly):

Busquets then hit the bar with a left-footed effort which seemed destined for the goal, but City got their two-goal cushion with 16 minutes left.

City were terrific. But to claim it was one-sided affair is absurd.

 

man city barca spain man city barca man city

 

By way of a footnote, Marca says Messi was involved in a post-match incident in the tunnel, in which he responded to something by calling a City player “stupid”.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 2nd, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Cazorla’s new anti-Spurs boots will go well with his suit

How does Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla prepare for the Gunners Premier League clash with Spurs? By showing off his new boots. Puma have given Cazorla a pair of ‘Derby Fever’ custom boots to wear in the upcoming North London derby.

The boots – as the blurb says –  “celebrate the epic meetings between local football foes”.

Given the ferocity of past encounters, we’re a tad disappointed that the studs are not on the toe.

“Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla will wear specially-made PUMA boots in Sunday’s north London showdown,” says the Mirror.

In other news: Cazorla has an achilles injury and will, er, most likely not be playing in the match. Still, they could go well with his suit as she watches from the stands.

Posted: 1st, November 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Sven Goran Eriksson corrects the story of Wayne Rooney’s transfer from Manchester United to China

Read all about it. The BBC has news of non-transfers. Shanghai SIPG manager Sven-Goran Eriksson (who he?) says he will not be signing Manchester United’s 31-year-old England forward Wayne Rooney.

The Sun has more on the no-news story.

WHERE’S LEFT? Wayne Rooney’s future takes bleak twist with Sven Goran Eriksson ruling out a mega-money move to take him to Chinese Super League

Bleak? Rooney earns over £300,000 a week on his current Manchester United deal, which has two years to run. He won’t be ending his playing days in China. It’s not the kind of stuff a modern day Charles Dickens would have written on, is it?

 

rooney china manchester united

 

Simon Austin writes:

SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON has told long-time favourite Wayne Rooney: I don’t want you in China.

Is that when Sven said? Not exactly, no:

“Everyone knows how much I admire Rooney. That’s one thing. To make out we are going to sign him is something else. There is absolutely nothing in it, zero. It is not something we have ever even spoken about at the club — and we have been discussing our options for next season a lot.”

Sven hasn’t rejected Rooney. Sven has rejected the story that Rooney is off to join him in China. Stories like:

Wayne Rooney in talks for huge China deal to quit Man Utd – The Sun

Jose Mourinho says he will never sell Wayne Rooney as captain emerges as Chinese Super League target – The Sun

And:

rooney china manchester united

 

Such are the facts.

Posted: 1st, November 2016 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United balls: two months ago Zlatan was really good and Mata was leaving

Being a football pundit is easy. The Sun’s Neil Curtis knows lots about Manchester United. “Juan Mata has emerged as the answer to one of Jose Mourinho’s big Manchester United questions,” he writes. The question is ‘What is United’s best side?’, not ‘When will Mata leave the club”. Because Mata was leaving United. We read it in the Sun (via):

Juan Mata linked with Barcelona move as Jose Mourinho likely to axe Spaniard again – The Sun

Jose Mourinho to axe Juan Mata and Daley Blind as Special One attempts to reshape Manchester United squad – The Sun

Jose Mourinho set to flog Mata again as Toffees launch £20m bid for Manchester United playmaker – The Sun

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba transfer hinges on offering Juan Mata to Juventus as bait – with Villarreal also keen on Spaniard – The Sun

Juan Mata could be sold by Jose Mourinho to free up funds for either Leonardo Bonucci or Raphael Varane – The Sun

As we wonder if the Sun’s editorial meetings are all about covering all bases, we look to Sky Sports’ Paul Merson, who has a few words on Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovich.

Says Merson: “Zlatan Ibrahimovic was a world-class striker but he’s not anymore. He is 35 and playing in the hardest league in the world so as the season goes on, I can’t see him getting better.”

Just eight weeks ago, Merson had a different view. “Jose Mourinho knew what he wanted and got it,” he wrote. “He’s come in and got a big midfielder in Paul Pogba, a dressing room leader and goalscorer in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and at the moment Eric Bailly looks very good. Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be an absolute star for United as well. He will get in the team soon and when he does, he’ll rip it up. He is different gravy.”

And let’s not forget Robbie Savage, the BBC expert who opined, “I wouldn’t pay to watch Kevin De Bruyne.”

No. You get the tickets for free.

Posted: 31st, October 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: who forced Henrikh Mkhitaryan to train alone?

“Henrikh Mkhitaryan: Manchester United outcast trains alone after Burnley draw,” reports the Daily Express.

“Henrikh Mkhitaryan was made to train alone on Sunday,” states the Independent.

The Armenian is an “outcast”. He was “made” to train on his own. The impression is clear: Mkhitaryan has been ostracised.

But it’s total balls. Manchester Evening News has a different version:

United players were given Sunday off by Jose Mourinho but Mkhitaryan chose to enhance his fitness at the club’s training complex, contrary to reports claiming he was made to train alone.

M.E.N. Sport understands Mkhitaryan has always done additional training sessions dating back to his stint at Shakhtar Donetsk and a source described him as a ‘perfectionist and a hard worker’.

He wasn’t made to do anything. He wanted to get fitter and do his best to get back in the team.

Spotter: Pies

Posted: 31st, October 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Sulky Mourinho makes Manchester United all about him – and it’s not pretty

The media has much to say on Manchester United and their petulant manager Jose Mourinho. Having been sent off during United’s 0-0 draw with Burnley, Mourinho failed to attended the post-match press conference. Unwilling to explain himself, he instead sent assistant Rui Faria to address the Press.

 

Jose Mourinho red card respect

 

Paul Wilson says Mourinho might have been cowed from appearing in public by the realisation that he was wrong to claim a penalty for Matteo Darmian going to “ground dramatically under very slight contact from Jon Flanagan”. Says Wilson, “Mark Clattenburg’s decision was justified and Mourinho might have felt a bit foolish having to explain why he had reacted so angrily.”

Of course, in not appearing Mourinho makes the game all about him. He stars. John Cruyff opined. “He’s controversial. What I like about him is he’s always capable of creating good ambience within the players and what I don’t like is that he always puts himself on the first row,” said the great Dutch footballer. “He should be on the second row. It’s probably because of his background, where he’s never been cheered by 100,000 people, or whistled at by 100,000 people. Maybe it’s because of that, maybe because of the interest from the press, but I don’t think he is educating children to play football or educating for life. He should behave better because he will be in the press all over the world.”

Cruyff said that over a year ago. Mourinho is playing to form.

As for the game, well, Mourinho’s legend is waning. His Man United are behind clubs managed by other managers in charge of new clubs this season: Pep Guardiola (Man City), Antonio Conte (Chelsea), Ronald Koeman (Everton) and Walter Mazzarri (Watford).

Says Wilson:

This was Burnley’s first away point of the season and, with 11 points from 10 games, they look a more solid mid-table proposition this time round. They are, in fact, only four points behind United, who also look destined for mid-table. The difference is that Mourinho is not working with cast-offs. After his lavish spending in the summer he has some explaining to do, and not just about his latest dismissal.

And of those big names, here’s a fact: Zlatan Ibrahimovich has not scored in his past six Premier League matches, his worst run in the league since his time with Inter Milan in 2007. The BBC notes:

Since his most recent top-flight goal, against Manchester City on 10 September, Ibrahimovic has had 42 attempts at goal – more than any other player has even attempted during the whole Premier League season.

James Gheerbrant tells Times readers:

It has been a recurring feature of Mourinho’s career that after two seasons of success and harmony, all that he has built implodes under the weight of his own siege mentality in a blur of acrimony and apathy, from Chelsea to Inter Milan to Real Madrid. But this time, like a serial divorcé embarking on his worst marriage yet, he has skipped the honeymoon period…

He looks sulky, disinterested, disengaged. It does not portend well. He is not sitting comfortably.

How many of us would be delighted if Mourinho lost and went? And how many United fans wish they’d have gone for Jurgen Klopp?

Posted: 31st, October 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United reel as President Mourinho behaves like a man alone in the world

Manchester United’s manager Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands as his hugely expensive side eked out a 0-0 home draw with the mighty Burnley. For the second half, Mourinho got to see what the fans see as he was escorted to a seat in the stands. He then moved to the directors’ box. This was the 13th touchline punishment of Mourinho’s career.

Poor old Jose, eh. Only last week he was moaning about grim life in the Presidential Suite of the city’s five-star Lowry Hotel. “For me it’s a bit of a disaster because I want sometimes to walk a bit and I can’t,” he said in words any regent will surely sympathise with. “I just want to cross the bridge and go to a restaurant. I can’t, so it’s really bad.”

Why was he sent off? Did he just fancy a walk, an early jacuzzi bath and with it an untroubled walk over a bridge and on to eat anything other than room service at a time when he was unlikely to meet many United of City fans, what with them watching their teams play?

“I think the events of recent weeks have got to him,” opines Match Of The Day pundit Danny Murphy.

Moutinho’s assistant Rui Faria adds “I don’t know what happened. It is not important what Jose said. What is important is what the referee writes in his report.”

David Walsh (Sunday Times) thinks Jose was upset by the referee (plus ca change):

Mourinho had stood in the technical area through the first half, not that far from an incident involving his Italian full-back Matteo Darmian and Burnley’s Jon Flanagan. Attempting to get past the Burnley defender, Darmian fell to the ground. Some United players appealed for a penalty but Mark Clattenburg reacted with indifference and replays of the incident supported the referee’s decision.

Mourinho made his feelings known and in terms that Clattenburg deemed unacceptable.

BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan:

…it is pretty safe to presume that Mourinho’s half-time comments towards the officials that earned him his dismissal were connected to Matteo Darmian’s failed penalty appeal just before the break, because the United boss was visibly incensed by that decision while the game continued.

His mood was probably not helped by having to move seats and go into the directors’ box in the second half, because he was initially sitting too close to the dugout.

The Daily Mail sees a problem with Jose at United:

He complained last week about the quality of his life living in a Manchester hotel and there will be those associated with United who will be alarmed that Mourinho’s behaviour will reflect badly on the club. Mourinho refused to speak to media outlets about the incident with Mr Clattenburg, which United say was a verbal altercation.

This is what happens when you live alone, of course. You seek out others to talk with. In the end anyone will do. Having had his fill of trying to strike up conversation with touring businessmen in the hotel bar, couples on romantic mini-breaks and Hen parties in the spa, Jose simply reached out to the nearest person, who just happened to be Mark Clattenburg. Stripped of everyday human contact and now versed only in the language of hotel exchanges, Mourinho most likely asked the ref to turn down his bed for the night and join him for a humble repast of asparagus mouse, almond bon bon and salsa allemande followed by native lobster, fennel & apple, pea mousseline and pepper sabayon topped off by Coconut Malibu Souffle with pineapple sorbet and coffee on the terrace.

Clattenburg probably misconstrued that as some sort of bribe, when it was, of course, a cry for help.

Now let’s take a look around Jose’s digs and wonder if there is one simple solution to all the man’s woes: get a dog.

Posted: 30th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Media Balls: Liverpool beat Crystal Palace in four no penalties thriller

Media Balls: a look at biased footballer reporting. Tonight Liverpool defeated Crystal Palace 4-2 in South London.

The Croydon Advertiser looks at the opening goal in the Premier League encounter:

Liverpool edged the opening stages and took the lead after 15 minutes through Emre Can’s close range finish, after a low delivery from Alberto Moreno. Palace fans in the Main Stand were furious with the assistant referee in front of them, as the left-back looked to have just been in an offside position on the far side.

He was onside.

The Liverpool Echo on the same move:

Predictably, the outstanding Philippe Coutinho was at the heart of it as he picked out Moreno’s run down the left. The Spaniard provided an inviting first-time cross and Can saw his low strike deflected past Steve Mandanda.

No word on any offside in the Liverpool newspaper.

What of the Palace equaliser?

The Croydon Advertiser:

But just under three minutes later and the Eagles were level, thanks to James McArthur. Reds defender Dejan Lovren looked to clear the danger on the edge of the box but sliced upwards, and McArthur nipped in to jump and beat onrushing goalkeeper Karius.

The Echo:

Palace were gifted an equaliser in shambolic circumstances.

There was no whiff of danger when Benteke flicked on Mandanda’s long punt. Matip played it across to Lovren, but under no pressure he produced a woeful backpass which McArthur seized upon. The Scotland international accepted the gift as he nodded over the advancing Loris Karius. It was Lovren’s fault but Karius didn’t exactly cover himself in glory as he bizarrely kept his arms by his side.

Did you spot the penalties not given?

The Echo:

Klopp’s men should have had a penalty when Ward handled Coutinho’s goal-bound header from Firmino’s cross. The defender’s intervention enabled Mandanda to tip it on to the post but the officials failed to spot the indiscretion.

The Advertiser has no word on that inciden , but does mention this one:

Palace felt they should have had a penalty after two claims within the same passage of play.

Zaha looked to have been clipped right on the edge of the area and went down – but he got up and delivered low for Benteke, who went ground under pressure, but referee Andre Marriner wasn’t interested and gave a corner.

What says the Echo about that?

Hearts were in mouths when Zaha twice took a tumble in the box, while Benteke also went down in a heap after a challenge from Matip. But to Marriner’s credit, he didn’t fall for any theatrics.

A penalty or acting? Lets see what a non-local source says:

Daily Telegraph: “Zaha had a good claim to a penalty when sent flying on the edge of the box by Lovren. And Benteke too looked to have been blocked by Matip.”

The Crystal Palace FC website:

It was all the home side during the first 20 minutes of the second half who also had three penalty appeals turned down…

Mentions of the penalty shouts on the official Liverpool FC website: none.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 29th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comments (2)


Media Balls: Arsenal riot, Sunderland’s fightback, Moyes’ blinkers and missing the penalty

Media Balls: a look at reporting on football matches. Today we look at Sunderland 1 – Arsenal 4 in the Premier League. Are news organs biased?

Sunderland Echo: “David Moyes feels scoreline harsh on Black Cats.”

Says Moyes.

“I think it was tough and I certainly don’t think we deserved to lose 4-1.”

He’s right. How they scored 1 was odd. Sunderland had a single shot on target over the 93 minutes – and that was from the penalty spot.

“We worked hard, really hard to stay in the game first half when Arsenal were very good. We stuck at it and I thought we grew into the game second half. And at that point I thought we were the better team when we got back into the game at one each. But their quality all over the pitch is always going to cause you a problem.”

Arsenal were pretty good in the second half, too, and found their finishing boots.

The paper has one more story on the match. Story two nails it in the headline. “Sunderland 1 Arsenal 4: Black Cats plunge further into relegation trouble after Gunners run riot.”

The paper looks at an Arsenal penalty appeal: “Sanchez had a strong penalty appeal turned down, with Kone appearing to trip the Arsenal forward inside the area. His theatrics earlier possibly going against him.”

The BBC says of that: “Arsenal were still smarting from referee Martin Atkinson not awarding them a penalty for Kone appearing to pull back Sanchez when Defoe gave Sunderland hope.”

The Guardian: “Arsenal were furious not to be awarded a legitimate looking penalty when Koné caught Sánchez on the back of the leg and sent him tumbling in the area.”

A pull? A trip? A catch? Theatrics.

The Islington Gazette doesn’t mention the failed penalty appeal at all – it looked a foul. The Arsenal local paper is generous to praise Sunderland fans:

Sunderland’s passionate fans were right behind the team from the off. And the fact they average more than 40,000, and, incredibly, took 1,200 fans to Southampton this week for a League Cup game, was reason enough to believe their team weren’t going to lie down and die.

There were many less in the ground when the final whistle blew. The Guardian:

Mid-way through the second half the ground began emptying. For many the pain of watching Sunderland register a record equalling worst start to a Premier League season was simply too painful too witness but they missed out on some exquisite football from Arsenal.

The Sun appears to have been watching a different match:

With Arsenal dominating and Sunderland making to make any impact, Duncan Watmore inspired a Black Cats fightback, racing clear on goal, only to be brought down by Petr Cech.

A fightback? Sunderland scored on minute 65.  Their fightback was followed by goals for Arsenal on minutes 78′ minutes, Giroud 76 and  71 minutes.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 29th, October 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Rooney to quit Manchester United for La Galaxy, China and Inter Milan

Manchester United’s fading star Wayne Rooney could be on his way to the MSL Retirement Village. Steven Gerrard is soon to be leaving US soccerfoot’s LA Galaxy, meaning the club will have a spare slot for an English player past his prime, one of their so-called “designated players” who can break the league’s wage cap.

Will the lure of burgers, Botox and the latest hair restorative techniques lure Rooney to California? Can the Galaxians pay the £300,000 per week Rooney earns at Old Trafford? The England captain has two years left to run on that deal. Although the Sun wrongly says, “Rooney still has four years left on his massive £300,000-a-week contract but United are reluctant to increase the wages of the ageing England international who turns 31 in October.”

A pay rise? No chance. He could just sit tight and become a free agent in two years time.

The Sun refers to Rooney’s situation as the “Manchester United outcast’s misery”. Poor Wayne wants to stay at United until he gets the four goals to break Sir Bobby Charlton’s club scoring record of 249. That’s not an easy thing ton do when you don’t play.

One day earlier, the Sun told us that Rooney was not miserable just “out of favour”, and Inter Milan wanted him.

In 2015, the Mail said the Chinese Super League were all set to offer Wayne Rooney “an eye-watering £75million deal” to join them. The Express upped that and said Rooney was the subject of a “£100million bid from the Chinese Super League”.

One thing is certain: Rooney holds the cards and the cash.

 

Posted: 28th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Can you name the former Arsenal player in this absurd quote?

Can you guess which former Arsenal player is being talked about here?

“He’s had a huge impact on the club and Singapore football. Someone of his stature and, frankly, quite iconic status engenders an excitement and vibe which was much needed for Singapore football in the early stages of the season. While the club could afford his wages, it would also send the wrong message to all the other players that one player is getting a super-scale salary while the others have to take a pay cut. It would create a social injustice.”

Answer: Tampines Rovers boss suit Krishna Ramachandra on Jermaine Pennant’s reluctance to accept a reduction in his reported £23,495-a-month salary.

Posted: 28th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


Liverpool buy Emeka Obi on the cheap

Liverpool FC transfer news now as the Reds line up a bid for Bury’s 15-year-old Emeka Obi, described in the Mail as a “promising 6ft 5in central defender”.

Obi will cost Liverpool a six figure sum, which could be anything from £100,000 to one pound short of a million. Bury have sensibly included in the agreement any ad-ons should Obi prove brilliant – or at least as good as John Stones – and worth tens of millions.

The Indy call Obi the “Most talented 15-year-old in the country”.

If he’s that good, why are Bury selling him for for so low a fee? Don’t they have ambition to make the player one of their own and see if he really can handle the pressure of being a regular starter in the first XI?

This is a clue. In January 2016, the Bury Times reported: “BURY have been hit with a winding up petition by HM Revenue and Customs following an unpaid £156,000 tax bill.” The bill was paid. The taxman was too quick off the mark. But it’s all about the money. A rich club like Liverpool can buy Obi not because he’s fantastic but because they can’t pass over the chance that one day he might be.

Expect to see Obi out on loan at lower league clubs very soon.

 

Posted: 28th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment