Anorak

Sports | Anorak - Part 5

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: Ibrahimovic and Bale to Spurs

Who will Jose Mourinho sign now that Daniel Levy, the parsimonious Spurs chairman, has hired the man who likes to spend? Well, steady yourselves Spurs fans, the Telegraph says Spurs are ready to “hijack” AC Milan’s attempt to re-sign Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 38, on a free transfer. Take that, Liverpool and Manchester City. You don’t stand a chance.

Mourinho signed Ibrahimovic on a free transfer for Manchester United in 2016. It was a success. The man with the ego bigger than Mourinho’s scored 26 goals in 46 appearances. But why Spurs? The Tele tells readers, because it “may appeal to his ego and sense of drama to join Spurs”. His ego will be sated by joining a team who have won the league title less times than Huddersfield Town and are £1bn in debt over a new stadium? Someone call a therapist, the man’s on the wane.

Better news for Spurs fans in the shape of Gareth Bale. if Spurs can find the £600,00-a-week he earns at Real Madrid, their former star can make a welcome return. And Real are very keen to get shot of him. Former Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon says Spurs and Bale are an ideal fit.

So who first? “The best gift for me, I don’t need players,” says Mourinho. “I am happy with the ones I have.” Until he isn’t. Which could arrive as early as Sunday after their match with West Ham. “I just need more time with them. I know them well from playing against them, but you never know them well enough.” So says the man sacked twice by Chelsea and once by United. What can go wrong?


Posted: 22nd, November 2019 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


New Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho offered job a month ago

Irritating Jose Mourinho is the new Tottenham manager, succeeding the likeable Mauricio Pochettino who was sacked on Tuesday.

Spurs are now coached by the former Chelsea and Manchester United boss. Mourinho has signed a contract until the end of the 2022-23 season.

“In Jose we have one of the most successful managers in football,” said Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who, if rumours are right, pretty much offered Mourinho the job a month ago. He was desperate for a coach with Champions League pedigree and what the marketing teams who pretty much run football call ‘brand identity’.

It’s now win at all cost at dogged Spurs. Forget pretty football and a commitment to entertain. This is about building Spurs into a machine before flogging them. Will the fans mind how Spurs win so long as they eventually win something, accepting a paucity of style and enjoyment for the rare chance to crank open the dusty trophy cabinet?

Posted: 20th, November 2019 | In: Sports | Comment


Spurs sack Pochettino; Mourinho lined up

Tottenham Hotspur have sacked head coach Mauricio Pochettino. He was at the club for five years. During his time at the Premier League club, Spurs won nothing. But he nearly won the Champions’ League, losing to Liverpool in an otherwise forgettable final. That final along with pots won in the early 1960s, is the height of Tottenham’s achievement.

A few months after Spurs batted above their weight, Pochettino is looking for work.

“We were extremely reluctant to make this change and it is not a decision the Board has taken lightly, nor in haste,” says Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.

“Regrettably domestic results at the end of last season and beginning of this season have been extremely disappointing.”

Who next for Spurs? If they can sack a manager who made fans dream of glory, who next? Is it Jose Mourinho? Are Spurs desperate enough to go for the man who grinds out wins with neither grace nor dignity? Well, yes…

Posted: 19th, November 2019 | In: Sports, Spurs | Comment


Chelsea benefit from FA decision to ban Manchester City player for non-racist racist tweet

Congratulations to Chelsea on being the beneficiaries of the FA’s decision to ban Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva from playing when the club’s next meet on November 23. For a joke in tweet form aimed at teammate Benjamin Mendy, who found it funny, Silva will also give the FA £50,000 and attend a retraining course.

Silva compared Mendy, with whom he also played at Monaco, to the character on a packet of Conguitos – a chocolate brand available in Spain and Portugal. Silva removed the post within an hour of its publication before tweeting: “Can’t even joke with a friend these days.”

The FA was aghast. “Many persons would have taken offence to the content,” it ruled. “The player did not himself intend the post to be insulting or in any way racist. It is clear that the tweet was intended to be no more than a joke between close friends. However, this was not a private communication between two friends. The post was on a social media platform exposed to the 600,000 followers of a high-profile and well-respected professional footballer. Many persons viewing the imagery depicted in the tweet would have taken offence to the content as being insulting by reference to race, colour and ethnic origin in a way that unquestionably brings the game of football into disrepute.”

In this frenzied climate of offence seeking, context matter not a jot. In this frenzied climate of offence seeking, context matter not a jot. When did Silva become a role model for the rest of us and football get recast from a pleasant leisure activity into the sports wing of The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Bad Thoughts? Why do the great and good think we need re-educating?

PS: Number of black men on the FA management committee, managing clubs in the Premier League, hosting live matches on the telly, and editing sports pages for national newspapers: nil.

Posted: 14th, November 2019 | In: Key Posts, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


The reason for Liverpool’s success : theoretical physics and not overlooking dickheads

salah liverpool roma

How does Liverpool find players? Ian Graham, a theoretical physicist and Liverpool’s director of research, has been talking to Freakonomics Radio. “We get data on every ball touch that every player makes in a game, where it was on the pitch and what happened next,” says the man who played a key role in Mo Salah’s recruitment. “We can see where all the players are at 25 frames per second. We try to put everything into one currency. Football is measured in goals, so we try to take whatever action a player does on a pitch – a pass, a shot, a tackle – and ask the question, ‘What was this team’s chance of scoring before this action and what was the team’s chance of scoring after?’”

So will Liverpool win a trophy this season? Yes, probably. The club has a probability of over 0.5 trophies.

It’s not a perfect science:

In Premier League football and European football in general, there’s a worldwide free market of football players. So if we spot a player that we would like to play for Liverpool and we can pay the price that the selling club demands, then we can buy him. And the real power of data analysis is when the data set is large. We have detailed data on hundreds of thousands of players. Maybe only five percent of those would be anywhere near a Premier League level player. But that’s still 5,000 players, which is too big a set of players to scout everyone in depth and in detail. So we can really help that filtering and identification process.

He goes on to say that managers can define a good player by their ability to interpret instructions, obedience and simply turning up on time and to every training session; a player can think themselves a good player for other reasons, such as being mercurial. This can mean that the more free-spirited players get less game time and are overlooked. Graham says the problem is that “if everyone has that rule [not to employ the outsiders] there’s gonna be a surplus of really talented dickheads that could win you the league.”

Posted: 13th, November 2019 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Granit Xhaka to AC Milan and Cole Bassett flys in

When Ivan Gazidis, the hapless Arsenal chief executive tucked his “catalyst for change” into his Gridiron knickers and headed for another American-run project at AC Milan, we hoped he’d take a few unloved Arsenal player with him. And now comes news that unpopular Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka, 27, is looking for property in Italy ahead of his mooted transfer to AC Milan in January. Well, so says the Star.

Stripped of the Arsenal captaincy after an on-pitch hissy fit in which he told fans to “f**k off”, before offering an apology constructed around the kind of sympathetic back story Hollywood producers would appreciate.

In other news to thrill the Gooners, Arsenal have given a week-long trial to Colorado Rapids midfielder Cole Bassett. Yay Cole! Dude! Woo! The 18-year-old American could join the Gunners in January, says the Sun. The Mirror, predictably enough, labels young Cole a “wonder kid”. As do the Sun and the Mail. Why is he so wonderful? Well, he’s 18 and have a trial at Arsenal. What more proof do you need?

PS: you know who own the Colorado Rapids? Yeah, Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke. World domination cannot be far away.

Posted: 13th, November 2019 | In: Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Football mascots doing Remembrance Day : the big furry Poppy

Mascots Remembrance DAy
It’s what they would have wanted

Football mascots doing Remembrance Day delivers this gem:

Previously

Posted: 10th, November 2019 | In: Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Arsenal to sack Emery, hire Brendan Rodgers, consult Mourinho and have bottled water with Allegri

That Unai Emery is floundering at Arsenal is clear. the club is full of good players and there is genuine competition for places. Edu’s return to the club as technical director bodes well. Freddie Ljungberg’s promotion to the head coach’s number 2 can only help the exciting young players he coached so well at junior levels adapt and thrive in the first team squad. But Emery is clueless. He has to go.

The Sun says Brendan Rodgers is the man to replace the hapless Spaniard. Why a man the Gunners could have hired from Celtic before Leicester City did is right for them now and not then is apparently because a dozen games into the Premier League season, Rodgers has become “one of the world’s most in-demand managers”. Can the Sun really see Rodgers managing Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Juventus?

More tosh about who will replace Emery in the Mirror, which spots his scheduled trip to the UEFA Elite Club Coaches Forum and seduces readers with a story about Emery and Mourinho “meeting”. They’re not. But they might be in the same room. Others in the same room include:

Jürgen Klopp (Liverpool FC), Maurizio Sarri (Juventus Football Club), Zinédine Zidane (Real Madrid CF), Pep Guardiola (Manchester City FC), Carlo Ancelotti (SSC Napoli), Thomas Tuchel (Paris Saint Germain), Erik ten Hag (AFC Ajax), Unai Emery (Arsenal FC), Sérgio Conceição (FC Porto), Ole Gunnar Solskjær (Manchester United FC), Paulo Fonseca (AS Roma), Rudi Garcia (Olympique Lyonnais), José Mourinho, Massimiliano Allegri and Mircea Lucescu.

Look out for Arsenal meet with Massimiliano Allegri headlines soon. Well, had be better than Emery, wouldn’t he…

Posted: 8th, November 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Granit Xhaka puts himself up for sale

Granit Xhaka, the Arsenal captain who swore at the club’s fans as he walked off the field last weekend, has issued an explainer via social media. It might be an apology. But there’s a lot of sympathetic backstory building in Xhaka’s open letter and not a lot of mention of his manager Unai Emery and the fans’ right to voice their disapproval. He says that telling fans to “F*** off” might be misinterpreted. He’s sorry if you “thought” the captain’s swearing to Arsenal fans was in any way disrespectful or wrong. That was not his “intention”.

He’s only human. Nasty words can get to you. But Xhaka is the Arsenal captain. A simple “sorry” would have been better. In dividing supporters between good fans and bad fans, Xhaka’s not making any friends. It looks a lot like Xhaka will be leaving the club very soon:

Granit Xhaka

No player should leave a club under a cloud. Xhaka tries his best. But he’s not in the squad for Arsenal’s next match. “Xhaka’s issues last week is one issue that needs time to recover the normality with him and with us,” says Emery. But surely the player’s days at the club are drawing to a close…

Posted: 1st, November 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Who is the Arsenal fan at the Emirates in the dressing gown?

As Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka told the club’s fans to “f*** off” and Unai Emery flailed and faffed to no visible effect in the team’s 2-2 draw with an enthusiastic but limited and lucky Crystal Palace, a Gooner in the stands stood up. And, boy, what a site to behold he was.

Arsenal dressing gown
Arsenal dressing gown
Arsenal dressing gown
Arsenal dressing gown

Spotter: @AndyHa

Posted: 30th, October 2019 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal: Emery loses the fans and the dressing room

Unai emery twitter

Never the most monocular fans, nonetheless many Arsenal supporters have seen enough of Unai Emery to reach the conclusion that he’s clueless. Yesterday’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace, in which the Gunners surrendered a two goal lead, was further evidence that under Emery’s coaching Arsenal have regressed. The chaotic defending. The inability to retain the ball. Again again a highly talented group of Arsenal players gave it away. It’s like Arsene Wenger’s revolution never happened.

And now there are signs Emery is losing the dressing room. His decision to substitute the plodding Granit Xhaka soon after Palace had equalised left his captain exposed. Not only did Emery duck the matter of actually picking a captain, leaving it to the players to select the Swiss midfielder by ballot, but his move to bring him off looked like finger pointing.

Xhaka’s reaction was lamentable. He didn’t race off the pitch, keen for his side to crack on and try to win the game. No urgency. He just strolled. For a player not highly rated by the fans, this was belligerent, irritating, disrespectful and foolish.

As the fans cheered Xhaka’s removal from the match and encouraged his replacement, the spry Bukayo Saka, the captain took off his shirt, sarcastically cupped his ear and told the people who pay good money to watch him captain their team “fuck off”. Emery said “he was wrong”. In being so exposed, Xhaka may have a few choice words for his hapless manager.

Posted: 28th, October 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Liverpool fans turn Divock Origi into a racist joke

Liverpool fans are under investigation by UEFA because one or more of their travelling fans unfurled a banner in Genk that was “highly offensive and inappropriate”. A matter of taste, then? The banner featured Divock Origi’s head superimposed on to the body of a naked black man with a large penis stood next to the European Cup.

When you consider all the stages from production – ‘brilliant’ idea in pub; search for pictures of naked man; get new Windows program to mock up image; go to printers; print and pay for the thing; take it to Belgium; tie it to a fence in Belgium – it’s mind-blowing to think that at no point did anyone think, ‘Shall we bother? It made us hoot with laughter after ten shandies but now that we’re sober and in Belgium, we look like perverts, bigots and bigger bellends than the bloke on our screensaver.

So it wasn’t a great idea for lads, to reduce their “cult hero” (source: Daily Mail) to a stereotype that portrays black men as something freakish – base, lower in IQ, animalistic, physically strong, brutish, mentally negligible and all the exactly the same. One black man is all black men, say the idiots. The big ones and the small ones are all the same size. They each personify and epitomise those same traits the slave masters gave them all those moons ago. Well, in a Liverpool fan’s moist dreams they do.

Who let those massive knobs into the ground?

And can we take a moment to wonder why there are so few black managers in top-flight football?

Posted: 23rd, October 2019 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: captain Xhaka talks “bullshit”

Granit Xhaka says it’s all “bullshit”. Not his inability to go 90 minutes without bing yellow carded or that story about him losing the house keys. What the Arsenal captain calls “bullshit” is the opinion that the Gunners are pampered, soft and wetter than Robbie Fowler’s hair gel. Unai Emery’s lacklustre side lost 1-0 to Sheffield United last night. And they were poor.

Arsenal might have been awarded two penalties – one for a clear tug on Sokratis’ top; another for a blatant push of Saka which resulted in the Arsenal winger being booked for diving. Oh, for VAR:

But penalties are not glorious goals from open play. The Gunners barely had a shot on target. Sheffield scored a goal from a corner. And so the visitors lost lost their fifth match in the last 10 Premier League away games. Sat in the soft seats by an illuminated coffee table, former Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra told Sky Sports that the Arsenal side were “babies”.

Xhaka showed some rare vigour and speed of movement, seizing on the to-deadline comment: “We have to stop about mental bullshit like this… A lot of people they speak too much. It is not the first time he has spoken something about us. I have a lot of respect for him as he was a great player but you have to be careful what you say. But it is not only him – a lot of people speak a lot of bullshit about us. It’s always the same… every week they speak bullshit like this every week.”

And having harped on about a crass comment from an ex-pro who never did much like Arsenal, Xhaka opined: “I tell you the honest truth, I’m not interested in what people say and speak.” No comment is still a comment, mate.

Posted: 22nd, October 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Manchester United: Solskjaer’s ‘Cultural reboot’ and other tosh

Don’t panic, Manchester United fans. News is that you’ll have Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the wheel for some time to come. The Norwegian, once sacked by Cardiff City, has been reassured that his future at United is safe, even if his side are murdered when they play their next match, which is against Liverpool.

Reports point to Solskjaer being given time to push the huge marketing machine that used to be football club into the big time. And in the new year the owners will give him four news players to polish the manager’s “cultural reboot”.

What does it all mean? Henry Winter tells Times readers:

The recruitment of Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace for £50 million was an extensive process, with United looking at hundreds of right backs around the world, taking input from their 32 scouts in more than 30 countries, with data on each player being analysed by 15 people.

And then after employing scores of experts to check out “hundreds’ of right backs, United bought for £50m the Crystal Palace right back who everyone was talking about because the Englishman had made third highest number of tackles in the Premier League.

Never mind the plodding football, just marvel at the mind-boggling science…

Posted: 10th, October 2019 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Liverpool balls: Philippe Coutinho and the missing millions

Anything to sully the mood around Liverpool FC? It could come in the compact form of the overrated Philippe Coutinho. In 2018, a desperate Barcelona signed the player for £142m. He’d be a replacement for Andres Iniesta (cost: nothing at age 12). Coutinho flopped. He’s now on loan to Bayern Munich.

So what about the bad news for Liverpool? Well, the Daily Mirror has it. The paper says Liverpool are still owed £84m for the transfer: “But Liverpool will only be receiving a further £4.5m from Barcelona, because £75.5m of the fee appears to be payable to a third party lender, according to the club’s accounts.”

Coutinho
The Mirror mangles the facts
Coutinho
“Just”

Got it? Well, now forget it because the Mirror then produces a passage that is utterly confusing:

Liverpool received £105m up front for the sale of Coutinho, with the remaining £37million set to be paid in installments. The vast majority of this money has already been paid to Liverpool but Barcelona’s financial accounts for last season showed the Reds are still owed £84m for the Brazilian. Of this amount £24m is due in the short term, and will be paid by the end of the season, with the remaining £60m set to be paid on an unspecified date in the future.

Eh?

The “vast majority” of £142m – £105m – has been paid but according to the Spanish club’s books, Liverpool are owed £84m? Which, aside form being utter trash, makes it appear to be a story about Barcelona’s accounting and not Liverpool’s earnings.

The Mirror is utterly clueless. Having said Liverpool received £105m “up front” but are owned £84m, the “intelligent tabloid” adds:

But Liverpool will only be receiving a further £4.5m from Barcelona, because £75.5m of the fee appears to be payable to a third party lender, according to the club’s accounts.

Dire reporting. Total and utter tosh. The Liverpool Echo does better:

That fee appears to be payable to a third party lender, however, with Liverpool owed just €5m from Barcelona, having already banked – and spent – €155m.

And blessedly the Mail nails it: “Barcelona still owe £84 MILLION to the banks over Philippe Coutinho deal.”

Spotter: Barcelona FC annual report

Posted: 8th, October 2019 | In: Liverpool, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Media balls: Arsenal ‘controversy’ upsets Aston Villa

It was pulsating stuff at the Emirates when Arsenal met a lively Aston Villa in the Premier League. The Gunners, who fluctuated between catatonic, dire, chaotic and scintillating, saw a man sent off and fought back from 2-1 down to win 3-2. Arsenal’s first goal came from the penalty spot. Björn Engels took Matteo Guendouzi out as the Frenchman dribble into the Villa box. It was , says the BBC, a “sloppy tackle”. The Indy and Times say Guendouzi was “tripped”. It was a blatant foul.

Or as the Birmingham Mail puts it:

Arsenal, though, battled back, winning somewhat of a controversial penalty as Jon Moss adjudged Engels to have brought down Matteo Guendouzi, the Frenchman going down so softly before £72million winger Pepe dusted himself down to fire the spot-kick straight down the middle.

Controversial? Only if you’re monocular Villa fan looking for solace in a biased read.

Posted: 22nd, September 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Samantha Quek fails her audition as a football pundit

Quek

Woman’s football is more popular than ever. England’s World Cup run was great entertainment. More than 24,000 fans came to watch Chelsea play Spurs in the Woman’s Super League. Over 31,000 fans paid to watch Manchester City beat Manchester United in the same competition. And with more fans, comes the need for more pundits and journalists versed in the game. Step forward, then, Samantha Quek MBE (born 18 October 1988) a former British field hockey player who won gold as part of the British team at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

As arguably the most photogenic member of that glorious, hugely dedicated and richly talented Olympic hockey team and keen on building a media career, she’s been spotted beyond her sport.

You may know her from I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!, Pointless Celebrities and as a host for the BBC’s flagship football phone-in programme, BBC606. s

Doss she know football as well as she knows field hockey? Would a male field hockey player get a job talking about football on the BBC? There’s not been.

Good for her for going where to action is. But are there not enough female footballers and female journalists working in football to work as pundits? Or for women in the public eye, is it all about looks first and content second?

PS: Teemu Eino Antero Pukki plays for Finland. He is Finnish.

Posted: 16th, September 2019 | In: Celebrities, Sports | Comment


Former Blackburn Rovers striker Matt Jansen’s autobiography is a tale of anxiety, loss and love

MAtt Jansen

In 2002, Blackburn Rovers striker Matt Jansen was on holiday in Rome. He could have been with England’s World Cup squad in Japan and South Korea. He’d narrowly missed out on selection – a 16-goal season had not been enough. So a trip to Italy with his girlfriend Lucy was booked. One sunny day they hired a moped to explore the city. What happened next changed everything. In his autobiography What Was, What Is and What Might Have BeenJansen tells the story of life changed in a flash.


I was told I was going to the World Cup’ To win the League Cup and get called up by England, my ego was as big as it has ever been. I was at the top of my game, getting more and more confident. I was told I was going to the World Cup. The team was going to be announced the day after the penultimate game of the season.


We were playing Liverpool and Sven [Goran Eriksson] told Graeme Souness, who was Blackburn manager, not to tell me but say “don’t get injured” because I was going to be named in the World Cup squad.

He wasn’t picked. But Manchester United and Arsenal wanted him. Juventus had show a keen interest. Things would only get better. So to Rome…

We had got a taxi from the airport to the Hotel Eden at the top of the Spanish Steps and it was the worst journey I have ever had.
The way they drive in Rome, you toot the horn and have right of way I think. It is just chaotic.

So we hired this little scooter, a couple of helmets and we were pottering around Rome. We went to the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and here and there. It was the best way for us to travel.

On the second day we went out again and Lucy was on the back and her helmet flew off. We were on our way back to the hotel, and were only about 600 metres from it.

We couldn’t find her helmet anywhere but there were some police parked on the side of the road and Lucy spoke to them and said: “OK if we go back to the hotel and then look for the helmet or get another helmet tomorrow?” And they said: “Yes, as long as you go straight back to the hotel” as they knew it was only 600 metres up the road.
I said “do you want my helmet?” and took it off and handed it to Lucy. She said: “No, no. You are driving; you had better keep it on.” Fortunately I did.

We were coming around a corner, maybe 50 metres from the hotel at a crossroads. So I am edging out at this crossroads and as I am edging out there is a flash across me. A taxi smacks me on the side of the head and I take the full brunt. Lucy was thrown off the bike apparently and I was unconscious on the ground. That was me in a coma for six days.

Jansen has been stricken by crippling anxiety. But with help and hard work he’s improved. And – yep – he married Lucy.

Read: Matt Jansen: The Autobiography: What Was, What Is and What Might Have Been

Posted: 7th, September 2019 | In: Books, Sports, The Consumer | Comment


Alexis Sanchez has ‘no regrets’ at leaving Arsenal for £500,000-a-week at Manchester United

Funnily enough, Alexis Sanchez has not regrets about leaving Arsenal – wages: £100,000-a-week – for Manchester United – wages: £500,000-a-week.

“I’m very happy I went to Manchester United,” Sanchez tells the BBC as he moved to Inter Milan on loan. “I’ve always said that. It’s the club that’s won the most in England. When I went to Arsenal it was fantastic – I was happy there – but United were growing at the time, they were buying players to win something. I wanted to join them and win everything. I don’t regret going there.”

Sanchez went for the money. And who can blame him for that? The wage is gargantuan. Sanchez scored 80 goals in 166 matches for Arsenal; he scored 5 in 45 for United – 2 goals in 27 matches last season. Never let them tell you that money doesn’t change people. In 2017, Sanchez was a nominee for the Professional Footballers’ Association Players’ Players of the Year award. In 2018, he was spending time with his private jet. And that piano:

It’s easy to label Sanchez a flop. He wasn’t. He won big. The failure lies with the decision makers who thought him worth the money.

Posted: 3rd, September 2019 | In: Arsenal, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal boast youngest top-6 squad as Mkhitaryan leaves for Roma

More good news for Arsenal fans. Roma have signed the painfully ineffectual Henrikh Mkhitaryan on a season-long loan deal. The Italian club will pay all of the 30-year-old’s £200,00-a-week wages plus a loan fee, thought to be £5m.

Mkhitaryan promised much when he joined Arsenal from Manchester United in January 2018 in an odd transfer that involved Alexis Sanchez moving the other way.

His leaving give Arsenal the chance to stick with their plan to give more minutes to young players.

Arsenal are building a team. With Mkhitaryan at the Gunners, the average age of the first-team squad in 25.4 – the youngest among the so-called Top 6 clubs. This focus on youth is a deliberate policy. As Jonathan Northcroft writes: “The idea is that Arsenal will have two elite players contending for every position with a third — an emerging youngster — pushing hard behind them. No youth blueprint works if pathways are not properly designed.” In recent days, Monreal, Elneny and now Mkhitaryan have left the club.

Posted: 2nd, September 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Football and betting: Stop using Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea to advertise your own sound morals

Stop promoting 1xBet or else. News is that the Russian gambling company has no licence to operate in the UK. The Gambling Commission tells the Sunday Times it has written to Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool, warning them to sever tis with 1xBet. The penalty for non-compliance, according to the paper: unlimited fines and up to 51 week’s prison. Spurs have terminated the deal.

The Sunday Times investigation into the firm’s global operations found that 1xBet was promoting a casino featuring topless croupiers, taking bets on children’s sports, advertising on illegal websites and cockfighting live streams emblazoned with the three club’s logos. In response to the findings, the Gambling Commission confirmed it had launched an investigation.

Some of the clubs’ top players, including Roberto Firmino, Willian and Olivier Giroud, have all fronted campaigns for the Russian company, which is now based in Cyprus.

xBet are quoted:

“We take very seriously the allegation that 1xBet’s brand has been promoted on prohibited sites, which is strictly against our policies, and we have launched an investigation. Pending the outcome . . . we believe it is responsible to temporarily suspend our advertising activity in the UK.”

Has the company been unlucky? The Times links to a wider issue, telling readers of a “growing backlash over the bankrolling of football by the gambling industry”. There is from our knowing betters. “Players need to start using their considerable power to reject gambling’s influence on football,” opined Church of England gambling spokesperson Dr Alan Smith, the Bishop of St Albans in reaction to Wayne Rooney striking deal with betting firm 32Red. And this from Labour MP Carolyn Harris, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on gambling: “When will celebrities realise that involvement in gambling is not right or moral? Many people look to Wayne Rooney as a role model and yet he is prepared to sell his soul.”

When did Wazza become employed by Public Heath England?

Troy Deeney, the Watford skipper, had a word on the tosh about role models: “I don’t like the word role model, first and foremost. The role model should be in the house at all times… What are we basing the role model on? Because we’re in the limelight. I don’t like that.”

One thing you can bet on: politicians scurrying around for a cause and sense of purpose by which to showcase their sound morals and protect the poor from themselves will keep hammering football and footballers. It’s a dead cert.

Posted: 1st, September 2019 | In: Money, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal sell Monreal to Real Sociedad

Arsenal have sold defender Nacho Monreal to Real Sociedad on a two-year deal. The Spaniard was in the final year of his Arsenal contract. The 33-year-old made 250 appearances for Arsenal.

Posted: 31st, August 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Arsenal : Shkodran Mustafi is too good to fail

As Mohamed Elneny joins Besiktas on a year-long loan, Arsenal fans wonder which club will save them from another season of Shkodran Mustafi? Roma looked a possibility but they’ve signed Chris Smalling on loan. Someone must fancy Mustafi, a player who Gary Neville said had “an incredible amount of natural ability and talent”.

He must have some. You don’t get to play fo the mighty Arsenal without a large degree of self-belief, commitment, confidence and talent. He played for Germany at the 2014 World Cup – which they won – making him one of the best. Arsene Wenger, one of the world’s most respected coaches, liked him a lot. It’s mad to think everyone was wrong about Mustafi. Even Joan Collins can’t fake it for that long. Most Arsenal fans praying for him to leave must realise one thing: he’s a lot better than they are. He is, after all, living their dream.

So why is he now sixth in line for two or three positions? Because he often drifts out of position. When the opposing strikers break, the rest of Arsenal’s defence has to scramble to plug the hole. His passing is slow – far too slow for Arsenal’s style. He tends to overhit or under-hit what should be routine passes. And there’s something more, something beyond his control: Mustafi is a disappointment. Fans want more from a player who cost £35m – the fee Arsenal paid Valencia for him. He never set the fee. He just played well enough to make Arsenal believe he was worth it. He wasn’t. So he represents an error of judgement. He is ambulatory failure. No-one likes to be reminded of their mistakes. So he must go. Any takers?

Posted: 30th, August 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


CPS release video of ex-Liverpool footballer Dean Saunders ‘refusing a breath test’

Dean Saunders, the football pundit who used to played for Liverpool, was jailed for 10 weeks for refusing to provide a roadside breath test. He spent a day in prison before being released on appeal.

Judge Sanders told Saunders: “Throughout these proceedings you have shown yourself to be arrogant, thinking you are someone whose previous and current role in the public eye entitles you to be above the law. In fact the opposite is true – someone in the public eye should expect a deterrent sentence when they flout the law.”

But Saunders is not in the public eye because he’s employed by Public Health England or the police. He’s an ex-footballer who makes to-deadline opinions about football. He’s not a role model for anyone other than his children.

Posted: 30th, August 2019 | In: News, Sports | Comment


Manchester United and Leeds great Eric Cantona’s UEFA awards speech in full

cantona

Eric Cantona was invited to say a few words before the 2019-20 Champions League draw in Monaco. That speech in full:

“As flies to wanton boys we are for the gods, they kill us for their sport.

“Soon the science will not only be able to slow down the ageing of the cells, soon the science will fix the cells to the state and so we will become eternal.

“Only accidents, crimes, wars, will still kill us but unfortunately, crimes, wars, will multiply.

“I love football. Thank you.”

And now for the classified results: Barking 1 – Braintree…

Posted: 29th, August 2019 | In: Celebrities, manchester united, Sports | Comment