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.

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


Transfer balls: Manchester United chase Goncalo Guedes – the fourth ‘new Ronaldo’

guedes ronaldoTransfer balls: Manchester United are ready to buy the “new Cristiano Ronaldo'” says the BBC. This new Ronaldo is 19-year-old Goncalo Guedes.

The Mirror picks up the balls, saying that the winger, represented by the ubiquitous agent Jorge Mendes, plays for Benfica. He is “one of the most highly-rated prospects in Portuguese football right now.” Wow, indeed. Portuguese football is in a healthy state. The new Ronaldo is only one of the players tipped for greatness.

The paper says United scouts are pushed up against reps from Juventus, Valencia, Osasuna and Middlesbrough. All were there to watch Guedes play in Benfica’s 4-0 win over Feirense.

The BBC first featured Guedes in November 2015. Then we were told that Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City “are also linked with a £40m move for a winger dubbed the new Ronaldo”. The Beeb added that Arsenal and Barcelona had been to see him.

Back in November 2014, the Daily Mail said: “Arsenal in the hunt for Goncalo Guedes (the new Cristiano Ronaldo) – but 17-year-old Benfica starlet could cost Gunners £40m.”

At least his price isn’t going up.

Also that month, The Week said Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid were eyeing ‘New Ronaldo’ Guedes.

Guedes is not the first Ronaldo. Even Ronaldo is not the first superstar Ronaldo, that honour going to the former Brazilian striker. But Cristiano Ronaldo was the first Ronaldo to play for Manchester United. Since then there have been others.

November 2014, Daily Star: “Sunderland are winning the race to sign Galatasaray winger Bruma, who has been dubbed the ‘new Ronaldo’… Chelsea, Everton and Manchester United are all chasing the 20-year-old.”

August 2013, Daily Mail: “Januzaj can become the next Ronaldo.”

April 2009, Telegraph: “Manchester United’s Federico Macheda hailed as the new Cristiano Ronaldo”

Bruma never joined United. Januzaj is now on loan at Sunderland. Macheda is now a free agent. Bruma remains on Galatasaray’s books.

Such are the facgts.

 

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


Chelsea have 3 ‘Loan Player Technical Coaches’ – but QPR’s ‘Equipment Monitorer’ wins

Chelsea have a ‘loan player technical coach’. Eddie Newton fills the role that perhaps no other coach has ever held before. Chelsea have hundreds if not thousands of footballers out on loan, young men playing for other clubs in the forlorn hope they will make it to the Blues first XI, but realistically expecting to be flogged for a tidy profit to a less wealthy side.

What technique Newton can teach these loanees no longer in touching distance is moot.

A friend who supports the mighty QPR showed me this season’s official club photo (below). It features the following non-playing team members:  Jasper Clinkscales (Sports Therapist), Sam Perrin (Equipment Monitorer), Sam Harwood (First Team Therapist), John Phillips (Head of Performance), Jack Sharkey (First Team Sports Scientist), Matt May (Head of Medical Services), Gary Doyle (Kit Manager), Chris Barnes (Performance Enhancement Consultant), David Oldfield (Assistant Manager), Les Ferdinand (Director of Football) and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Manager).

Eleven in total. And that does really include a man whose job title is ‘Equipment Monitorer’.

 

QPR squad

 

Back to Eddie Newton, then, who gets a big write up in the Chelsea FC website:

Eddie Newton

Loan player technical coach. Eddie Newton works predominantly with our players out on loan, liaising closely with them and coaching staff at their temporary clubs.

He’s not the only one nannying Chelsea players playing for other clubs. Paulo Ferreira and Joe Edwards mean Chelsea have three people performing the role of Loan Player Technical Coach, aka Excess Staff Monitorers (note to QPR: call me, I have ideas). What do they cost do hire? And could the players’ mothers make better a job of it for less money?

 

Posted: 4th, October 2016 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


This official Liverpool clock plays You’ll Never Walk Alone on the hour!

We are indebted to Pies for this gem of an item for Liverpool fans looking to buy a clock. The Bradford Exchange are offering this £197.94 ‘Liverpool FC Stadium clock’, an officially licensed piece of merchandise to enliven any wall.

It is what Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley would have wanted.

 

Liverpool clock ugly

 

Plays You’ll Never Walk Alone on the hour! Every hour!

 

Posted: 4th, October 2016 | In: Liverpool, The Consumer | Comment


Manchester United career not enough for Ryan Giggs to land Swansea job

When Swansea sacked head coach Francesco Guidolin on his 61st birthday too, the British Press all tipped former Manchester United player Ryan Giggs to replace him. Daily Mail columnist Jamie Redknapp said he’d be “amazed” if Giggs didn’t get the job.

Giggs didn’t get the job. Swansea’s US-based owners Steve Kaplan, Jason Levein and chairman Huw Jenkins appointed former USA coach Bob Bradley, who leaves Ligue 2 side Le Havre. Bradley was chosen for his “experience and character”. He is the first American coach to work in the Premier League.

Giggs, says the Mail, failed his interview. The paper says Giggs “was confident of landing his first permanent post having held an interview with Swans chairman Huw Jenkins last week.”

The owners had “concerns about his lack of experience and an underwhelming interview scuppered Giggs’s chances”.

Giggs – who has worked as Louis Van Gaal’s Number 2 coach at Manchester United, for whom he played 672 times – lacked experience. Bradley – who never played professionally and has managed the Princeton Tigers, Chicago Fire, Egypt and the USA – has the better CV.

It’s not hard to imagine that Bradley, who went to Princeton University and worked in the Procter & Gamble’s executive training program, was better in interview than Giggs, especially those parts when they fire question, like ‘What is 10 per cent of £12.50’ and ‘Can Swansea build a franchise in the USA – discuss?’ and ‘Is it ever OK to high-five a player after-scoring a goal?’

In May 2016, thy Times wrote, “Giggs as Manchester United manager? It will happen one day if he waits patiently enough, rather than risking his reputation elsewhere.”

Last questions: Was missing out on the Swansea job a lucky escape?

Posted: 4th, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


Media Balls: Arsenal’s winner sat Burnley was legal and what the referee saw

Media Balls: a look at newspaper reporting on Burnley v Arsenal. There were all manner of contradictory views spouted to deadline when Arsenal scored in the last moments to win the Premier League match. But what says the expects in rules?

Helpfully, the mainstream media provides a care home for retired referees.

Graham ‘The Thing from Tring’ Poll (Daily Mail):

Referee Craig Pawson couldn’t see the last-minute incident involving Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Laurent Koscielny and even if he had, it is a 50-50 call.  I watched the replays three times and I still don’t know whether it was deliberate handball on Koscielny’s part.  The defender’s arms are only up because he was trying to play the ball with his feet

Mark Halsey delivers his ‘Verdict’ in The Sun:

THE referee has to disallow that goal. Craig Pawson has a good view and the assistant referee is looking straight at it.

He has to disallow the goal. Or not.

Handball is the only part of the law where intent comes into play. But while you can argue that Laurent Koscielny’s handball is not deliberate, it resulted in a goal and it could have gone wide if the ball had not hit his arm.

Not quite a verdict, then. More of a ‘what if’.

 

Posted: 3rd, October 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: Jose Mourinho never criticises players for missing chances (except when he does)

It’s tempting to think that there are two sides to Jose Mourinho: the bitchy, pouting manager who delivers barbs and criticism to the media and the man who rouses a side to give their all for him and charms owners of big clubs.

After Manchester United drew 1-1 with Stoke, Mourinho was stood in front of the Press pack. Would be once more be pointing fingers?

“I never criticise my players for missing chances,” he said. “Their goalkeeper is the Man of the Match and deservedly so. We had some open chances where we could do better but I am never critical of my players for this. I can be critical of the attitude, with the quality of performance and for naive mistakes sometimes, but not in front of goal.”

Really? On 14 Sep 2013, after Chelsea had lost 1-0 to Everton, Mourinho told media: “We were the best team because we played the best football, because we dominated the whole game, because we had 21 shots. But by the other way, a team who has 21 shots – some easy, in easy situations – and made a mistake at the end of the first half, maybe I should say we deserved to lose.”

Also in 2013, he said: “Missing goals. It’s always the same words. It’s unbelievable. Even on the bench, I feel every time we miss a chance and the score is 0-0, 1-0, 2-1, 1-1, I feel the pressure. I feel that missing the chances, maybe later you are punished. We have this problem.”

And in December 2015: “The only time we had a contact with the ball (in the box) was the Matic one but it was difficult for him with his mask. It was also difficult because the cross was really fast, which made it difficult for him to react and to give direction to the ball. I know the goal was empty but that one was difficult. The other ones, short and low crosses, if you are in the box you tap the ball in.”

Such are the facts.

 

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


BBC twists Liverpool star James Milner’s words on Klopp

Can the media makes Liverpool midfielder James Milner sound controversial? Milner, 30, features on the BBC’s ‘gossip’ pages. The State broadcaster reports: “James Milner, 30, says Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is the best manager he has played under.”

That’s a bold statement. Milner has been managed by such top managerial talents as Terry Venables, Sir Bobby Robson, Graeme Souness, Martin O’Neill, Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and Brendan Rodgers. Milner says Klopp is better than all of them. Well, so the BBC says.

The Telegraph is less certain: “Liverpool news: Jurgen Klopp may be best manager I’ve ever had, says James Milner.”

So what did the honest and likeable Milner actually say?

“I’ve probably had too many managers but every manager is different,” said Milner. “They all have their own strengths and weaknesses. He [Klopp] is a top manager and he’s definitely one of the best that I have worked with.”

Did Milner says Klopp is the best manager he has ever played for? No. Did he snub the other managers? No. Did he say something controversial? No.

Did the BBC twist his words? Yes.

Posted: 3rd, October 2016 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets, Liverpool, Sports | Comment (1)