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: Higuain to Chelsea, Morata to Milan and Arsenal’s ‘record signing’

The BBC tells us that Chelsea are signing Gonzalo Higuain, 31. Currently on loan from Juventus at AC Milan, Higuain would add some proven finishing ability to a side reliant on the unconvincing Alvaro Morata. The Sun adds that this is a swap deal and Morata will head to Milan on loan. Can the Sun be relied upon to deliver the facts? Not always, no:

 

higuain-arsenal the sun transfer

In 2013, the Sun told us: ‘Arsenal last night smashed their transfer record when they agreed a £23million fee for Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain.’

 

Any deal hinging on Morata, who joined Chelsea from Real Madrid in 2017 for £60m, has to be problematic. Morata has scored seven goals this season but lacks confidence. Chelsea coach Gianfranco Zola wants the player to step up: 

“It should be a motivational thing. You are at Chelsea. You’re not playing for Southampton or Brighton, with all due respect for those clubs. People expect a lot from the No 9 of Chelsea. This is normal and Álvaro has to get used to it.

“If he goes to another big club, it’s going to be the same. There is no way you can avoid your responsibilities. It’s part of your job and the better you can handle those situations, the better you’re going to be.

“I know he feels he doesn’t score enough and he feels a lot of responsibility on that. He has to learn to leave everything behind because these are only burdens you take on the pitch and they won’t help you to perform better.”

Bet AC Milan can’t wait to rely on him for goals.

Posted: 5th, January 2019 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: £8m for Ramsey, Sami Khedira to Arsenal and Liverpool in the hunt

As regular readers know, I’ve been tracking the utter tosh written about Aaron Ramsey’s looming departure from Arsenal. Having told readers that Ramsey had signed a deal to join Juventus – a mere 12 hours after telling the same readers the player was still talking to PSG, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and the Italians – the Sun reports today: “CASHING IN Aaron Ramsey scoops £8m signing-on fee at Juventus plus huge appearance bonus after agreeing free transfer from Arsenal.”

 

the sun ramsey juventus

 

Having told readers that the deal is done, the Sun tells them it ,er, it isn’t: “The Italians offered the Welshman a basic salary similar to his earnings at the Emirates, but included hefty incentives in the proposed contract.” The story then tells us a lot of ‘ifs’:

 

the sun ramsey juventus

 

The source for this misleading tosh is La Gazzetta dello Sport. it does not ay a deal has been done. It says – and this through the mangle of Google Translate: Exit polls ensure that Ramsey’s entourage has cashed the proposal with great interest. So much so that the bianconeri are absolutely at the forefront in a challenge that sees Inter also very active, but especially the rich Psg of Sheikh Al Thani.” So PSG and Inter both want Ramsey. Nothing has been signed. 

 

the sun ramsey juventus

 

The Mirror says: “…people are ‘jumping the gun’ over a deal being done. Juventus are Ramsey’s preferred choice, however, with discussions continuing at pace. The Bianconeri could even try to tempt Arsenal into doing business for Ramsey this month for a cut price fee, rather than waiting for the summer.”

In other news, the London Evening Standard says: “Juventus are in pole position ahead of Bayern Munich and Inter Milan in the race to sign the Wales international, with reports in Italy suggesting he is close to agreeing a five-year deal.” Reports in England says the deal is done. And it;s not all doom and gloom for the Gunners: “Juve are willing to offer Sami Khedira as part of a deal to land Ramsey this month, while Liverpool and Manchester United are reportedly monitoring the situation.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 4th, January 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Liverpool balls: Virgil Van Dijk kills the Reds

Football journalism is a tricky affair. The need to create sensation from dust is testing. Before Manchester City and Liverpool’s big Premier League title decider last night (there are 18 games to go! – ed), the Sun’s Neil Ashton told us that Liverpool are on the up: “Recent history is with them. The night they shook the Kop in last season’s Champions League quarter-final and the stirring 2-1 victory at the Etihad in the return leg are in their favour.” Indeed. And last night Liverpool could easily have drawn a tight encounter that ended 2-1 in the host’s favour. Ashton continues: “The 5-0, when City ripped apart Liverpool’s defence in September 2017, is a distant memory. Notably, that scoreline was also prior to the arrival of the Dutch colossus, Virgil van Dijk.”

Van Dijk has been terrific. But you’d expect little less from the world’s costliest defender. “At £75million, Van Dijk is starting to feel like a snip,” says Ashton. Or as he put it previously:

 

liverpool

 

Ashton told us: “…the Reds blew their brains out to sign the Dutchman.” It was suicide. No worries, though – Liverpool fans don’t read the Sun.

 

Posted: 4th, January 2019 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Manchester City, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal transfer balls: Ramsey signs for Juventus and stays at the Gunners

The Sun says Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey has signed a contract with Juventus. The headline is unequivocal: “GUNNERS NEWS 7pm Arsenal news: Ramsey signs Juventus contract.” News of Ramsey’s transfer is on the Sun’s website and primed for Google News:

 

the sun ramsey juventus

 

the sun ramsey juventus

 

The problem is that it’s not true. Ramsey hasn’t signed for Juve. He hasn’t signed for anyone. Deep into its story, the Sun says the move has been made “reportedly”. There’s a link to another Sun article. You click the link. The new story presents the done deal in inverted commas. The story’s URL however, says Ramsey’s moved is “confirmed”. So which is it?

 

the sun ramsey juventus

 

Says the paper: “Now the Welsh star is preparing to head to Italy after penning a four-year deal with the Serie A giants, according to Sport Media Set.” Who? We head over there and discover that the Sun’s story is utter balls. Sport Media Set merely says Juventus want to get Ramsey before PSG bid for him:

 

the sun ramsey juventus

 

The site says: “The deal is almost done.” In other words: Ramsey has agreed nothing yet. And just yesterday the Sun told us: “The Welshman is in talks with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Inter Milan and Bayern Munich over a summer move.” Such are the facts.

Posted: 3rd, January 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal Transfer balls: Navas in, Ozil stays, Pepe ready and Ramsey stinks

What do Arsenal need in the mid-season transfer sale? A defender below the age of 30 who can tackle and react in the box faster than a three-legged pony? A winger? How about a new goalkeeper? Rumours are that the Gunners have bid £14m for Real Madrid and Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas. He’s 32. What this means for current Arsenal number 1 Bernd Leno is uncertain. You might suppose that Arsenal’s  weak defence was allowing Leno the chance to showcase his talent. You’d be mistaken. Leno has made 45 saves in 15 matches this Premier League season. He’s been beaten 22 times. And you’d be hard pushed to recall a top-class save from the 26-year-old. So Navas it is, then. 

In other Arsenal news, the Gunners are intent on picking Aaron Ramsey until his contract expires in the summer. Juventus want him on a free. Arsenal should get rid now, of course. The idea of Ramsey playing for Arsenal when he’s already agreed to play in Italy is unsettling. Will the injury-prone midfielder tackle hard and run his heart out with a new life in Italy looming? “Yes, we are interested in Aaron Ramsey, he’s a great midfielder. But at the moment he’s an Arsenal player, we’ll see,” says Juventus director Fabio Paratici. Arsenal should move hard to get any fee they can for the player. 

Better news for Arsenal is that Mesut Ozil’s agent insists the 30-year-old midfielder’s future remains at Arsenal despite interest from Real Madrid and Inter Milan. Ozil is a terrific player. Sure, he can’t tackle but then nor can the club’s defenders. 

And finally Arsenal target Nicolas Pepe tells everyone: “For me, that’s for sure. As the president has already said, my desire is to finish the season at Lille. I am under contract until 2022. My idea is to end this season in Lille and then, why not, leave for somewhere in Europe. It would be beautiful.” How heartening for Lille fans to hear that their player wants to go. What price loyalty..?

Posted: 3rd, January 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: the Aaron Ramsey myth

aaron ramsey

 

Like cocktails, ITV dramas and Disney World, Aaron Ramsey gets a lot of hype but delivers little. The Mirror hails Ramsey as “one of Europe’s top goal-scoring midfielders”. Utter tosh. Last season Ramsey scored 7 Premier League goals – the same number as: Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford), Pascal Groß (Brighton) and Marcos Alonso (Chelsea). In season 2016-17, Ramsey scored one Premier League goal. In 2015-16 he scored 5; in 2014-15 he got 6; and in 2013-14 he scored 10. Is he one of the continent’s best goal-scoring midfielders? He was good and full of promise. But now he scores not all that often.

In today’s match, Ramsey came off the bench to score against Fulham – the side he scored his only other goal of the current season against. The Welshman converted a loose ball on the box after the dangerous Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the post. A rare goal, then. (The strike puts Ramsey on 2 goals for the season – the same as:  Nathan Aké (Bournemouth), Marc Albrighton (Leicester City) and 35 others PL players.)

But not to BBC pundit Paul Parker. The ex-Fulham and Manchester United defender tells BBC Radio London listeners: “The fans were not happy when he came on but Aaron Ramsey does what he does best, scoring goals and he gets one coming off the bench.”

If scoring is what Ramsey does best, what does he do the rest of the time when he’s not not scoring?

 

 

 

Posted: 1st, January 2019 | In: Arsenal, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal fans rejoice at new signing as Ramsey heads for Italy, Spain AND France

aaron ramsey

Bullshit.com reports

 

Arsenal’s one-goal-a-season man Aaron Ramsey is off to Juventus. In Italy the player who promised so much without ever quite nailing it will earn a decent £7m a season in Italy on a four year contract. The Press are spinning his departure. The Mirror thunders: “‘Good riddance, sign Banega!’ – Arsenal fans react to Aaron Ramsey’s reported Juventus agreement.” Banega is Ever Banega, the occasional onanist and attack-minded midfielder. Or as the Sports Bible website puts it: “Arsenal On The Verge Of Replacing Aaron Ramsey, Fans Are Fuming.”

Such is the nature of internet reporting that everything must have a hot take – and you can make it whatever you choose. So no sooner has the Mirror waved goodbye to Ramsey and stuck him in the black and white of Juve than it’s reporting: “Aaron Ramsey considered by PSG for January move with £9m offer prepared for Arsenal star.” What of Juventus? They are “monitoring” the situation. 

And here comes the BBC to tells us that Ramsey is in talks with – deep breath – Inter Milan, PSG, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Juventus. “Contrary to some reports, he has not yet made a decision,” says the Beeb. So he’s off to Spurs, right..?

 

Posted: 31st, December 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports | Comment


What Jose’s hotel cost Manchester United in rent

lowry hotel mourinho

 

Freshly sacked by Manchester United, surly Jose Mourinho is back living at his London home. The Riverside Suite at Manchester’s Lowry Hotel, where he stayed since July 2016, is available to any new manager unwilling to commit to living in the city. But what was the bill for Mourinho’s stay?

The Sun: “Jose Mourinho hotel: Inside the exclusive Lowry where axed Man Utd manager lived for 895 days and spent £779,000 on rent.”

The Mail: “Jose Mourinho finally checks out of the Lowry Hotel… after 895 days and an astonishing £537,000 bill.” Although the Mail also notes: “What’s so special about the Special One’s £600,000 hotel suite? That’s the bill Jose Mourinho ran up in nearly three years.” Are we including tips?

Does the Lowry charge the Sun’s holidaymakers more than Mail guests? But the bill could have been higher. In January 2018, 442 magazine told us: “If Mourinho stays at the Lowry until July 1 2021, it will have cost him £1,489,200.” That figure is based on the rooms costing £816-a-night. But the Guardian can get the same digs for £600-a-night. 

It pays to shop around. 

 

Posted: 31st, December 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Money, News, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Arsenal get Argentine star who ran himself over

Arsenal are in for Ever Banega, the Argentine currently at Seville. Banega, 30, will cost Arsenal around £18million. He’s worth it. The Gunners get an experienced player in his prime. They also get a man with a bit of history. Jonathan Liew writes the biog:

Whether it was heavy drinking, going out on the town several nights in a row, turning up for team meetings still half-asleep, being pulled over by police for drink-driving, getting caught pleasuring himself on a live webcam or being run over by his own car after leaving the handbrake off at a petrol station and breaking his leg in two places, Banega’s early forays in the game left coaches and potential suitors with one overwhelming sensation: that he was trouble.

He sounds just what Arsenal need: a player with bit of personality. His Twitter feed should be interesting (and possibly X-rated).

 

Posted: 29th, December 2018 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Premier League odds and views

With the Premier League proving to be as exciting as ever, the top teams of the competition are slowly but surely starting to show their faces. For punters, this is the perfect time to lock in the odds and maximise their profits when it comes to the finals. This has been a year of many stories, from team gossips to a few scandals here and there, but the games have remained as thrilling as ever.

Looking at the present points tally, Manchester City is on top. They remain undefeated with 13 wins and 2 draws and are listed at 2/9 odds to win the championship. If you still haven’t placed your bets, then do it now and make the most of the free bets and welcome bonuses that bookmakers give out. However, for a more spread out bet, make sure you look into Liverpool and Tottenham as they both are hot on the heels of Manchester City and quite ready to knock them off the top spot.

Golden Boot
When it comes to acknowledging the individual players, the Golden Boot of the Premier League is one of the top-most achievements anyone can have. Bettors can claim a number of free bets including up to £300 welcome bonus to enhance their winnings by placing bets on players like Pierre-Emerick and Harry Kane who are at 10 and 9 goals respectively at present. While Pierre is listed at 4/1 odds to walk away with the boot, Harry Kane remains a favourite with 9/4 odds. However, the magic of football is such that things can change in one game. So, it is essential to keep a watch on players like Sergio Aguero, Glenn Murray, and Callum Wilson who have scored 8 goals each so far.

What’s in the Future
There has been a growing trend of tweaking rules and procedures by FIFA in recent years. These new set of rules are having a dramatic impact on the way football is managed. The latest statement from the governing body hinted towards limiting the number of players on loans for clubs. This will undoubtedly affect a few clubs and their investments. Some of the other rules in question, but not finalised yet, include removing off-side and allowing only the captain of the team to speak with the referee if required. In the long run, if the loan rule comes into play, it will certainly add an exciting element for punters to bet on.

Bench Warmers
When the Premier League started, all that people could talk about was the growing tension between Mesut Ozil and his Arsenal manager Unai Emery. This was amplified when Ozil was left out of games, although officially it was stated that this was due to health issues. Now, we see a similar tension between Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho and team members Pogba and Lukaku. They both were benched for the majority of the game against Arsenal. An astute bettor will keep note of such things and also pay attention to the latest odds that place Arsenal at 80/1 and Manchester United at 500/1 to win the championship.

Posted: 24th, December 2018 | In: Online-PR, Sports | Comment


Manchester United sack Mourinho

Mourinho newspapers Manchester United

 

Farewell then Jose Mourinho, sacked as as manager of Manchester United for being overrated, whining, bitchy, sarcastic, negative and possessed of all charm of next door’s cat say by a large pile of poo. 

After two and a half years in charge at Old Trafford, Mourinho finally got found out by the club’s lazy owners. Yes, he did lead United to the League Cup and Europa League titles. But they are sixth in the Premier League, already a whopping 19 points behind leaders Liverpool. 

 

the sun mourinho jose Manchester United Neil Curtis

 

“A caretaker-manager will be appointed until the end of the season while the club conducts a thorough recruitment process for a new, full-time manager,” says United in a statement. Since Sir Alex Ferguson left, all United managers have been in the caretaker told. United are a desperate club run by a marketing machine. The current owners never knew how United struggled for 26 years to win the title before Ferguson took them to the top. They just saw a chance to make a lot money fast from perennial champions. United can sell you an official noodle but they can’t sell you a dream of glory even in defeat. 

 

Jose Mourinho Chelsea

 

 

So Mourinho goes the way of David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal in the post-Fergie mess. Who next in the hot seat? Given that United’s kingmakers’ lack proven lack of vision, it’ll be a tried and tested name. They should begin their headhunting at Spurs…

Posted: 18th, December 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Bigots use Raheem Sterling racism row to control football fans

No Chelsea fans were at the Etihad last night to see Raheem Sterling and the rest of his Manchester City team beat Hoffenheim in the Champions League. No-one called Raheem Sterling a “fucking black cunt”, as is alleged, or a “Manc cunt”, as is claimed. (Lip-readers are on the case.) No tabloid today links Sterling with rising sea levels, knife crime and the unravelling of Brexit. The Mail does, however, say that some of the visiting German fans gave City’s German flyer Leroy Sane, scorer of both of City’s goals, “some stick”. Sane “appeared to be the subject of a verbal volley”. Tsk! Calling people names at the footy. Whatever next?

On Tuesday, the Mail told us Watford striker Isaac Success “was subjected to aggressive behaviour by local supporters” against Everton. Both Sane and Success are black, like Sterling – the player who illustrated his claim that racism is fueled by media bias with two stories from the Mail. The paper denied the allegation, and appears to be at pains to show readers that other players not in its crosshairs also get shouted at. There’s no claim that Sane was racially abused, and the Everton fans in the photo the paper used to illustrate its story aren’t even looking at Success. They were appealing for handball. 

 

daily mail racism

Hand balls!

 

 

The overriding impression is that football fans are thugs in need of control. That taps into an age-old tale that portrays them as a race-riot in waiting. It also fuels the bigotry that casts people who read and enjoy the tabloid press as violent fools. If Sterling was racially abused – and it’s still alleged that he was – it’s the rarity of the incident that makes it newsworthy. In the 1970s and 1980s, racism was the norm. At Chelsea FC it was condition of entry for many. And, for what it’s worth, nobody else at Chelsea claims to have heard racist language, including a black fan near Sterling’s abusers.

Racism still exists, of course it does. But this singling out of tabloid readers and largely working-class football fans as the root and result of the problem is to pander to other prejudices. 

Posted: 13th, December 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: bury your hatchets – Mourinho’s team did well

That Manchester United are not all that good is clear. That they are also not all that bad is missed by people who see the badge and expect the points to follow. In the Sun’s report on United’s 2-1 Champions League defeat to Valencia, David Coverdale says finishing second in their group means United are “second rate”. By that measure so too are Liverpool and Spurs.

Of the four English clubs in the CL, only Manchester City topped their group. Liverpool and Spurs had to rely on results elsewhere going their way in the final round of group games to secure their places in the next stage. Both teams finished second place in their respective groups. Manchester United secured progress from their group with a game to spare. To further prove the point that United were not terrible – far from it – the mighty Juventus lost 2-1 to Young Boys.

United are away to Liverpool on Sunday. Coverdale says that had Mourinho picked a better team, United could have topped their group. That much may be true. But Liverpool were at home in their CL match and played a day earlier than United, who traveled to Spain. United are a plodding team of over-hyped players, but don’t let their lack of spark mask a decent job. 

  

Posted: 13th, December 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Spurs balls: Pochettinho to Real Madrid or Manchester United

Spurs are in a “panic”. Tottenham are fretting over the future of their manger, Mauricio Pochettino. The Star says Poch is wanted by Manchester United and Real Madrid. Having taken a side that hasn’t won the league title for nearly 60 years close to the top, Pochettino will surely relish the chance to leave London to coach a moribund Manchester United or a club that demands total victory every season on pain of instant dismissal. Last night Real Madrid lost 3-0 at home to the mighty CSKA Moscow. Manchester Untied lost 2-1to Valencia, Spain’s 15th best team. 

The Sun hails Poch as the “Nou Messiah”. A 1-1- drawn in Barcelona shows us “why United and Real want Poch”. How the once mighty have fallen. United are excited by a manager whose side can score a goal, get a point away from home and have on nothing. Eat yer heat out, Jose Mourinho. 

But at least United and Real have a home ground. The Sun also notes that Tottenham’s new municipal stadium still isn’t ready. The Mail says it’ll be completed in February. Maybe. So Real it is. And Poch is good enough, says Spurs defender Danny Rose. He says Poch is “amazing”. You wonder at the superlatives should he actually win something. 

Posted: 13th, December 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Chelsea fans denies calling Raheem Sterling a ‘black c**t’

You do what you can to upset the opposition, right? Raheem Sterling was collecting a ball at Stamford  Bridge when a group of Chelsea fans of a type that used to constitute a large chunk of the club’s fans before Roman’s billions bought success shouted at him. What was said is the subject of much heated debate. According to the Daily Mail, one of the fans opined: I’m deeply ashamed by my own behaviour and I feel really bad. But I didn’t call him a black cunt, I called him a Manc cunt. I’ve been going to Chelsea for 50 years now and, because of where I sit, I’m picked up on the camera most weeks. If I had a history of saying this sort of thing I would’ve been caught by now.”

Police are investigating. No arrests have been made. Chelsea have suspended four people from attending their matches, pending further investigations into allegations of racial abuse directed at the London-raised England player. 

The fan adds: “I offer him an unreserved apology. Even if it wasn’t racist, it’s not right what I said.” You can argue amongst yourselves if this Chelsea fan is deserving of an epithet before expressing in four-letters what he might or might not be. 

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan police adds: “Officers continue to review footage and CCTV to determine whether any offences have been committed. Officers are in possession of the details of those reportedly involved – there have been no arrests at this time. The Met continues to work with both clubs and a number of inquiries are ongoing.”

Why don’t they just ask Raheem Sterling what he heard?  

PS: More on Chelsea and what they did and didn’t say, here.

 

Posted: 11th, December 2018 | In: Chelsea, Key Posts, Manchester City, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Raheem Sterling: of course it’s racism

Is Manchester City footballer Raheem Sterling singled out for special attention because he’s black? At Stamford Bridge last weekend, he was verbally assaulted by four people in the section reserved for Chelsea fans. A fan at Stamford Bridge allegedly called Sterling a “fucking black cunt”. Sterling says the abuse is driven by a racist media that portrays black footballers in a bad light. John Barnes, who had bananas lobbed at him by Liverpool fans when he joined the club, says “black people in the inner cities go through this [discrimination] every day”. Don’t blame the media for appealing to its readers’ prejudices. Look at the bigger picture. And wonder this: why are black kids seen as cool, an act of rebellion for whites to like black fashions and music? Is it something to do with blacks as the perpetual outsiders, their existence something other and less wholesome than the rest of civilised society?

 

raheem sterling man city the sun

The Sun goes for Raheem

 

Musa Okwonga wonders.

You think this is your England because you read the most popular newspapers in the country and they agree with you – they agree with you that black footballers, like children, must be seen and not heard, that the second they decide to do anything more than score spectacular goals they become a threat. Those newspapers remind you daily that there is no aspect of criminality to which a black footballer cannot be connected.

 

raheem sterling drugs

Story on drugs and crime: Nothing to do with Raheem Sterling

 

But sticking with media, in the Times Henry Winter looks at how tabloids focus on the bling:

Breaking news: for those in the media reporting that Raheem Sterling’s new house in Cheshire boasts a three-car garage, well it did when he bought it but doesn’t now, as the fitness-conscious Manchester City and England player quickly transformed it into a gym to work out after training. For those in the media obsessing about the size of Sterling’s garden, well he’s redesigned part of it into a pitch with full-sized goals so he can practise finishing…

Sterling’s not flash. He’s not extravagant. He’s an exceptional professional, pivotal to club and country, a role model to a generation and deserving of proper respect.

I’d take issue with one point: Sterling’s no role model to anyone but his children. Sterling’s his own man, an exceptionally gifted athlete possessed of the talent and drive to make it in top-level sport. He’s no more a role model for the great unwashed than Winter is.

Will Winter consider the Sun’s take on “Obscene Raheem“, the boy who did well enough to buy his mum a house and was attacked for doing so? Yes. Although not by name. “Why do media outlets publish breathless pieces dripping with sanctimony about his new house being close to a dogging site,” wincers Winter, “ignoring the fact that some well-known neighbours live closer. They’re white by the way. No one mentions them.” Winter can make a short walk to find out – the Times and Sun share an owner and office space. Winter gamely takes on the The Times’ sister paper. “Whereas some white players down the years are forgiven for their excesses as loveable rogues, Sterling receives the “Obscene Raheem” opprobrium. The media really needs to look at itself at times and it was encouraging to hear some contrition from concerned parties after Sterling’s powerful calling out of the media yesterday.”

What says the Sun? Lots. Sterling has touched a nerve. The Sun has responded with a host of stories in support of Sterling. Its picked up the mood and run with it, as all good tabloids must:

 

the sun raheem sterling

The Sun man’s up

 

 

What about the Mail? Sterling used two screenshots, one of a Daily Mail story and one of a Mail Online story, to support his claim that the press treated black footballers unfairly compared to their white peers. The Mail says Sterling is wrong to claim reporting in Mail titles is racial motivated:

 

 

raheem sterling racism

 

 

The Press Gazette has news:

A story by former Mail Online reporter Anthony Joseph was among those shared by Sterling. He said Sterling had raised “some very valid points” that the media “needed to listen to”. Defending his own story, Joseph said: “The story was done at a time when BT had a documentary on teenage footballers earning millions.

“It was topical and there was a huge debate about it. The same day there was at least an hour segment about it on Talksport. The original story, which I followed up, appeared in The Sun. I spoke to the player’s agent, who had no issue with story and how it was represented. Reporters don’t do headlines, but I still don’t feel it vilifies him. It was just topical at the time, nor did I even make a connection of his colour – it didn’t even cross my mind.”

Joseph added that Sterling raised “some very valid points” that the media “needed to listen to”.

Good stuff, then. Sterling has spoken out and the media has responded. Racism is an evil that sticks and corrodes. The better news is that the story of racism is newsworthy because it is now rarer now than it was. Next up: why are there no black editors of national newspapers – not one; never has been? 

Posted: 11th, December 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester City star Raheem Sterling realises he’s black amid tabloid onslaught

England and Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling says media bias does “fuel racism”. Sterling was allegedly racially abused by Chelsea fans at the weekend. We’ve long pointed out how ‘Obscene Raheem” (source: The Sun) is treated differently in the media to other players – also here, here and here. And it appears Sterling has noticed. “I just want to say, I am not normally the person to talk a lot but when I think I need my point heard I will speak up,” he posted on his Instagram page. “Regarding what was said at the Chelsea game, as you can see by my reaction I just had to laugh because I don’t expect no better.”

 

obscene raheem the sun

The Sun saw the house Raheem bought his mum

 

Sterling invited us to compare and contrast two Mail articles. One shows Tosin Adarabioyo under the headline: ‘Young Manchester City footballer, 20, on £25,000 a week splashes out on mansion on market for £2.25m despite having never started a Premier League match’; the other shows another City teenage midfielder, Phil Foden, and the headline  “Foden buys new £2m home for his mum.” Tosin is black. Phil is white. Tosin is a lucky swine. Phil is a loving son. 

 

 

raheem sterling black racism

 

Says Raheem:

“You have two young players starting out their careers – both play for the same team, both have done the right thing, which is buy a new house for their mothers who have put in a lot of time and love into helping them get where they are,” wrote Sterling. “But look at how the newspapers get their message across for the young black player and then for the young white player. I think this is unacceptable, both innocent, have not done a thing wrong but just by the way it has been worded.

“The young black kid is looked at in a bad light. Which helps fuel racism an[d] aggressive behaviour. So for all the newspapers that don’t understand why people are racist in this day and age all I have to say is have a second thought about fair publicity an[d] give all players an equal chance.”

Is Raheem Sterling black? Let’s see some other Raheem news: 

 

raheem sterling drugs

The Sun’s story on drugs had nothing to do with Raheem Sterling

 

raheem sterling tattoo gun

Sterling gets a tribute to his late father – it’s an anti-gun tattoo. The Sun went to town on him. 

 

raheem sterling m16 tattoo

The Sun told us about Raheem and his part in the Vietnam War

 

daniloa taylor raheem sterling

Damiloa Taylor was stabbed to death when he was 10. Sterling must apologise, says the Sun.

 

raheem sterling the sun

And the Sun’s Star letter is… GET STERLING!

 

England players would never glorify guns. Sterling shames the shirt.

 

raheem sterling mirror dog

The Mirror writes the most trite sentence ever:  “Sterling follows a number of Premiership stars to buy dogs’

 

 

Here’s more on Foden and the new home he bought this mum and dad. The Mail said:

The 18-year-old’s parents, Phil and Claire, are thought to have been involved in choosing the house and he is determined to keep the close-knit family together despite his emergence as one of England’s outstanding talents.

We never were told if Raheem’s mum, who raised him in less than salubrious surrounds, helped chose the bricks and furnishings for her “obscene” home (price: £3.5m), nor how the new home kept the pair together. But for Phil it’s all terrific:

The move is likely to change little for the player who has always lived at home, doesn’t drink and doesn’t yet drive. He takes cash, rather than cards, on nights out and is thought to have taken out a substantial mortgage on the new house.

 

phil foden money

Foden’s cake was not the least bit flash, tacky and obscene.

 

That really takes the cake. 

As for Sterling’s point about the media fuelling racism, is he right?

 

anti-Semitic new statesman kosher conspiracy

The Labour Party supporting New Statesman had a question that might have been rhetorical.

 

Discuss.

Posted: 9th, December 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Manchester City, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Frenkie de Jong dreams of Barcelona, signs for Manchester City and picks PSG over Spurs

Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong, 21, wants to play for PSG. He prefers the French champions elect over Manchester City. So he’ll head to France this summer sats the BBC. This is same BBC that told us Manchester City had agreed a £61m transfer, pipping Barcelona to his signature. The Sun says it’s his “dream” to play for Barcelona. Confusion reigns, then over the player who is talking about as being every bit as good as – get this –  Johan Cruyff, and in a single Guardian article: Franz Beckenbauer, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard. Yeah, he’s that good. 

And he’s off to play for Manchester City (if you read the BBC and the Mirror; the Sun  said the deal was done) and PSG (if you read the BBC and Dutch newspaper De Telegraph). The Dutch paper says PSG will pay 75m euros (£67m) to sign the Netherlands international. It’s almost a done deal. That tells us how much the great Cruyff would be worth in today’s transfer market. He’s a bargain.

 

Frenkie de Jon signs for Manchester City -

Frenkie de Jon signs for Manchester City – The Sun

 

So he’s off, then? No. “No official decision has been taken and while there is no transfer, my main focus is on Ajax,” says De Jong. “There are five games to go until the winter break, I only want to think about the game against PEC this weekend and the next Champions League match against Bayern Munich. I can’t be worried about saying ‘I’m going here or there’. That wouldn’t show any respect on my part for Ajax or my team-mates.”

In other news, the Mirror today says Spurs want him. No word on Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid wanting De Jong, but give it time…

Posted: 8th, December 2018 | In: Broadsheets, Manchester City, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Liverpool cheat against Bournemouth – and we love it

More on how football is all better for the mistakes and the cheating. Liverpool scored the opening goal of their match at Bournemouth – but goalscorer Mo Salah was offside. Sure he “reacted first” as the Liverpool twitter line says, but he had the extra yard on the Bournemouth defence because he was offside.There will be calls for VAR – but they should be ignored. It’s not a computer game organised by maths.

 

 

What says Bournemouth manger Eddie Howe? “many complaints. He [Mo Salah] was offside [for the first goal]. It has a huge bearing on the match. We were fine until that moment. It changes the game.”

And the Liverpool twitter page says…

 


 
Words on his being offside: nil. Mistakes and cheating are never a problem when you’re the beneficiary. And because we all like the emotion and the theatre, we all win. Don’t let VAR spoil football. It’s not a leisure activity not risk analysis.

Posted: 8th, December 2018 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment


The joy of cheating

cheating football

Cheats never prosper – but Maradona went on to win the World Cup after his ‘Hand of God’ moment

 

We love cheating, referee errors, good goals disallowed and bad goals that were. A Manchester United player was just offside for their first goal against Arsenal last week. The officials missed it. Arsenal’s first goal crossed the United goal line by the width of a cigarette paper. Again the referee missed it. But the robots didn’t. Goal given. Last night West Bromwich Albion cheated in their 2-2 draw with Aston Villa. “Jay Rodriguez just threw himself at the cross,” Baggies head coach Darren Moore told BBC Sport. “He admits that it did hit his arm but he didn’t know much about it. And you’ve got to admire his honesty.” 

How can you not admire the footballer who scores with his hand? Not the part about his being honest. That’s guff. Cheating is cheating. We should admire Rodriguez because he pushed the rules to the limit, found them wanting and in so doing created emotion and a story from a small moment in a distracting leisure activity. Isn’t football great.

Well, enjoy it while it lasts. VAR is an abomination. Football is fast. Mistakes happen. Fans and players feel feted or hard done by. The joy surges. The antagonism builds.

At another recent Arsenal match, this time against Spurs, the Tottenham striker Son dived to win a penalty. No VAR was used. Arsenal felt aggrieved. The home fans seethed. The visitors taunted. The stadium throbbed like Terry Waite’s bladder. It was great. What a show. This was the theatre of football. It’s not an insurance seminar on risk reduction. 

So congratulations to Rodriguez, Son and all the players and refs who keep the game human. Don’t let the robots in. They’ll kill it. 

PS:  If football is to become an extension of the classroom, will that stop cheating? Nope. James M. Lang argues that place and time can trigger cheating: 

[C]heating levels are fairly high, but they have always been so. The better question to ask is why. Duke University researcher Dan Ariely and his colleagues have conducted dozens of experiments designed to see what makes people willing to engage in acts of cheating and dishonesty in their everyday lives. Their findings have been remarkably consistent: most people, under the right circumstances, are willing to engage in small acts of dishonesty. This seems to be a part of our human nature.  With enough incentives in front of us, most of will cheat at least a little bit.

Cheating is natural. The temptation to cheat is human:

As it turns out, almost anyone will cheat when given even minor, consciously imperceptible behavioral cues. For instance, in a series of three experiments, a group of psychologists found that lighting could affect cheating. In one study, participants in a dimly-lit room cheated more often than those in a lighter one. While both groups performed equally well on a set of math problems, students in the darker room self-reported that they correctly solved, on average, four more problems than the other group—earning $1.85 more as a result, since they were being paid for each correct answer. The authors suggested that the darkness created an “illusory anonymity”: even though you aren’t actually more anonymous in the dark than in the light, you feel as though you are, making you more likely to engage in behaviors you otherwise wouldn’t. Similar effects have been observed with a variety of situational factors that don’t seem directly related to cheating. We cheat more, for instance, when we’re in a messy environment—one that has more signs of socially deviant behavior, like litter, graffiti, and other rubble.

And then – and then – you think of the spirit and what happens next. What reputation do you want? Matthew Syed cites a sporting great:

In the World Cup semi-final between Australia and Sri Lanka at St George’s Park in 2003, the Aussies were on 34 after five overs when Aravinda de Silva was brought on to bowl. On his second delivery, Adam Gilchrist stepped forward to sweep, edged the ball on to his front pad, and watched it sail into the hands of Kumar Sangakkara, the wicketkeeper. The Sri Lankans made a sustained appeal. Rudi Koertzen, the umpire, shook his head. “Not out,” he said.

In True Colours, his wonderful autobiography, Gilchrist would later recall that he felt “strange” at that moment, perhaps a little confused. “So much discontent about umpiring, video decisions, and trust between players had been bubbling away,” he said. He then heard an emphatic voice in his head. “Go,” the voice said. “Walk”. As he made his way towards the pavilion, something odd happened. The Port Elizabeth crowd started cheering. They knew that he had made a gesture more important than mere winning and losing.

We love the cheats. And we love the heroes. The best bit is that in the rough and tumble of sport, in the complexity and contradiction of what it is to be human, you can be both. And there’s always the drugs…

Posted: 8th, December 2018 | In: Arsenal, manchester united, News, Sports, Spurs, Technology | Comment


Arsenal players in legal high role model shocker

Arsenal crack

 

PSST! Wanna see young men inhaling nitrous oxide, you know, like medical students and junior doctors used to do? Well, you can, reportedly. Photos of Arsenal players inhaling balloons of what is allegedly nitrous oxide are all over the Sun. Lest you suppose young men larking about during their summer holidays is no big deal, the Sun tells us the men are “role models” – for who is unsaid; maybe their children – and the gas is “hippy crack”, a nickname that manages to make light of actual crack cocaine – the crap that erodes your head – and gives laughing gas a dangerous edge.

The images will, says the paper, “horrify fans”. No, not drugs fans upset that that this airy rubbish, this balloon juice is being likened to Grade A ‘good stuff’. The “fans” are football fans who looks for life guidance to Mesut Ozil or Matteo Guendouzi. For them this is a disaster. Of course, anyone who considers a stranger and not a big brother, mum, uncle or someone they meet regularly a “role model” most likely has other issues that need professional help.

Over pages 4 and 5, we learn that the “aces” were at private do where alcohol – that legal poison – was freely sold at exorbitant prices. There was scotch – aka Hippy Buckfast –  champagne – aka Vagrants Thunderbird – and vodka – aka Peasant Fuel. All legal to possess – just like hippy crack!

 Yes, folks, the story is grim – men break no laws at private do! The horror! The horror! 

Posted: 7th, December 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United will pay £40m for Pochettinho

Having left Southampton for Spurs with barely a glance back over his shoulder and a toodle-oo, you wouldn’t bet against Mauricio Pochettino leaving his current club in the not too distant future. Real Madrid are favourites to recruit Pochettinho – a likelihood that will only increase should Spurs defeat Barcelona in their must-win Champions League match. But rumours from Manchester United say they want Poch and are prepared to pay £40m to get him.

In the Premier League era, Teddy Sherinham, Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov have all swapped Spurs for Manchester United, moving north for more money and a lot more silverware. Poch is on £8m-a-season at Spurs, Jose Mourinho, Manchester United’s current boss, earns almost double that. And under his guidance, United are a turgid long-ball team. Spurs buzz. 

The question for Pochettinho is whether he will win the league at Spurs. No. He won’t. Not unless the London club matches Manchester United’s investment in talent. Which they won’t do. They can build the big new stadium, but Spurs will always be a smaller club than United. Surely he’ll go. and Sours, well, they just better hope their owners don’t agree to take Mourinho in a swap deal. Transferring football mangers makes sense. But under Mourinho, the only way is down…

Posted: 7th, December 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Spurs balls: falling crowds should worry club

spurs debt

 

As Spurs continue to build their new municipal stadium, news is that the Premier League’s highest-placed London club’s victory over Southampton was watched by 33,012. Mauricio Pochettino, the Spurs manager, says: “We cannot ask more of our fans.” Not the ones that turn up, no. But surely the relatively small crowd in a cavernous Wembley Stadium is a worry for the Spurs moneymen. Last season, the same fixture on December 26 was witnessed by 57,297 fans.

Spurs’ average attendance in the 2016/17 PL was 31,639. They then moved into Wembley. Spurs’ lowest league attendance in the 2017/18 season is the 50,034 that watched them take on West Ham United on January 4, 2018. Tottenham’s lowest Wembley attendance in 2017/18 was the 23,826 who saw them beat Barnsley 1-0 in the League Cup on 19 September, 2017. 

They don’t just come to see Spurs. It’s pretty fair to say the fans come to see who Spurs are playing. This season, the Spurs v Liverpool match was watched by 80,188 fans. But around half that number – 43,268 – saw the Lillywhites play Cardiff. 

When it comes to the Champions’ League, the identity of the visiting club is vital. On 3 October 2018 82,137 saw Spurs take on Barcelona. That figure dipped to 57,132 fo their must-win match with Inter Milan. 

The club’s new ground has a capacity of 62,062. There should be plenty of tickets available.

 

Posted: 6th, December 2018 | In: Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Real Madrid break rules to sign Chelsea’s Hazard

Big news for Chelsea fans is that the slowest burning seduction in football is reaching a climix: Real Madrid have agreed personal terms with Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. The BBC brings that news but supports it with no facts. Hazard is under contract at Chelsea. Do the rules permit him to agree terms with another team? Surely not. FIFA’s rules are clear:

Regulation 18.3 of the FIFA Regulations:

“A club intending to conclude a contract with a professional must inform the player’s current club in writing before entering into negotiations with him. A professional shall only be free to conclude a contract with another club if his contract with his present club has expired or is due to expire within six months. Any breach of this provision shall be subject to appropriate sanctions.”

Hazard’s Chelsea contract runs until June 2020. Did Real break the rules or did Chelsea allow them to speak with Hazard?

And just two days ago, the BBC told us: “Chelsea are ready to “immediately” agree a new contract with Eden Hazard, but are waiting for the forward to make a decision, says boss Maurizio Sarri.” Confused?

Admittedly, Hazard hasn’t helped things by telling us: “Sometimes in my head, I wake up in the morning and think I want to go. Sometimes I think I want to stay.” Adding: “Real Madrid are the best club in the world. I don’t want to lie today. It is my dream since I was a kid. I was dreaming about this club.”

 

hazard chelsea

It’s true – I read it on Google

 

As the BBC plays fast and loose with the facts, Spain’s AS reports: “Onda Madrid claims that Real Madrid have reached an agreement with Eden Hazard as they seek to take the Belgian to LaLiga in the summer.”

What is Onda Madrid? Well, it’s a radio station based in the Spanish capital. The website features football stories exclusively about Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. It’s pretty partisan. But its site has no news on Hazard. You’d suppose signing a player for 170m euros would a pretty big story. But no. Nada. But one local news station’s uncorroborated claim is still reported as fact all over the web. Clickbait rules – even at the BBC.

 

Posted: 6th, December 2018 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: the myth about Wenger’s Mbappe monument

Huge News on the BBC that Paris St-Germain and France forward Kylian Mbappe, 19, rejected the chance to play for Arsene Wenger at Arsenal in 2017. France Football had the scoop that pretty much every knew already, but the BBC points its readers towards the Metro website. Thereon we can enjoy the wonders of Google Translate. Metro can’t be arsed to put Mbappe’s words into more erudite English, so it just repeats what Google Translate burps out. Mbappe is talking in French to the French magazine about the French manager Arsene Wenger:

 

Mbappe Arsenal

 

“He is a real French football monument who has left Arsenal. I have not seen many people in this world being viewed in such a unanimous way. When the entirety of Europe gets on its knees in front of him to celebrate him, that certainly means something. A little while ago, before I signed for PSG, we were in contact in 2017. I chose a different direction but he wasn’t annoyed at me. He was a gentleman about it and wished me good luck.”

How close did Arsenal come to signing Mbappe? Not very. He joined Paris Saint-Germain for £166million instead of the buttons the Gunners were offering. 

PS: The Sun and the Mirror also have the exact same quotes in mangled English that Mbappe gave to France Football in his native French. Does no-one check anything anymore?

 

Posted: 5th, December 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment