Sports | Anorak - Part 60

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: Manchester United get money back on Rooney to China rumours

Transfer balls: Shanghai Shenhua have offered to pay Manchester United – get this – £27m for Wayne Rooney. They have also offered the England captain £500,000-a-week in wages for three years to join the China Super League.

The Mirror leads with this news. The paper says the cash would be a remarkable sum for the striker, enabling United to “recoup the fee they paid Everton” for the player.

So will Rooney go to China? We’ve no idea – and neither does the Mirror. Below the paper’s headline – “£100m Roo Bid” – is news that, er, no bid has been made. The Daily Express, however, never got past the headline, and it screams: “Chinese Super League makes stunning £100m bid for Man United captain Wayne Rooney.”

The facts become more confused when the Sun adds, “The Manchester United and England skipper still has over three years left on his contract at Old Trafford.” Not so says the Mirror, which reports, “With two years left on his current deal…the Chinese want to make Rooney the face of their Super League.”

The Mirror tells us “Rooney is the player” the Chinese “covet most”. Really? More than Ronaldo and Messi. Is that true – or is it just what the China Super League PR department toil them?

Such are the facts.

Posted: 19th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Leroy Sane to Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and wherever else the SEO machine sends him

Transfer Balls: The Daily Star has conjured a headline to seduce fans of the five biggest Premier League clubs to a non-news story:

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City and Man Utd in epic transfer fight for German whizz


daily star bollocks



Alex Harris writes:

Mundo Deportivo claim Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United are all in the hunt for the Schalke attacking midfielder.

The SEObot that might well be operating Harris won’t bother to follow the link. But we will.  Over there we hear from one Oriol Domenech, who says Real Madrid and Barcelona are in for Leroy Sane.

Number of quotes to support his story: nil. Number of facts of any sort in either story: nil.

In other news, the Mail asks today: “Is Leroy Sane really worth £42m?”


But the clickbait-bonkers International Business Times say he isn’t, declaring in a headline: “Barcelona spy on Schalke 04 starlet Leroy Sane in Bundesliga match ahead of £28.8m summer move.”

A summer move – but to where – and for how much?




Posted: 18th, February 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Manchester United, Pep and The Metro’s Lewandowski mystery

Transfer balls spots this utter bilge from the Metro: “Verbal agreement clears Man United to sign these two major world stars.” Another teaser names names:

Man Utd transfer news: Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski boost due to Pep Guardiola agreement


Transfer balls


Muller to United! Haven’t we been there before? Didn’t Muller sign a new deal to stay at his beloved Bayern Munich last summer? Why would Lewandowski join a team in the Europa League? The Metro’s Mark Brus writes:

Manchester United could be majorly boosted in their efforts to sign Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski in the summer.

“Could be majorly boosted”… Is that English?

The Bayern Munich attacking midfielder and striker are reportedly among the Red Devils’ main targets for next season, but they face competition from rivals Manchester City.

And Bayern, the club he plays for and loves.

However, the Daily Star says Pep Guardiola has a verbal agreement with Bayern that forbids him from raiding the Bavarian giants when he leaves the Allianz Arena for the Etihad Stadium in the summer.


The news gives United a clear run at the players, if they can find the money to do business.

What spectacular balls.

Posted: 18th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Manchester Untied balls: Rooney out, Van Gaal’s hell, England’s dream

brave rooneyManchester United’s captain is injured. Wayne Rooney, for it is he, has knee ligament damage. The Sun nails the pun with “PAIN ROO KNEE”. The paper says Rooney will miss “a minimum” of eight Manchester United matches and England games against Germany and Holland.

United manager Louis Van Gaal says Rooney could have come off the field when he felt a twinge in their defeat to Sunderland, but opted to play through the pain. This gives the Mirror its headline: “Too brave for his own good.” Only an England captain could be praised for being injured.

Inside the Mirror, Rooney;s injury is Van Gaal’s “ultimate nightmare”. If it is, the hammer-headed Dutchman must sleep like a baby. In any case, he has five “likely lads” to replace Rooney: Donald Love, Regan Poole, Joe Riley, James Weir and Will Keane are all profiled. Problem is that only Keane is a striker.

The Express says Lingard and Martial will “get the chance to shine” in Rooney’s absence. The paper adds that Van Gaal could recall James Wilson from his loan spell at Brighton.

In the Mail, Ian Ladyman says Rooney’s injury is a mixed blessing for England, who can have him “fit and rested” for Euro 2016. Or, to put it another way, England will have their captain out of shape and not match sharp for Euro 2016.

Time, then, to bring on Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy.

Posted: 18th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Manchester United balls: Di Maria beats Chelsea and hammers Van Gaal in the Daily Mirror

Di MAria daily mirror


The Daily Mirror is at pains to tell its readers how good a football Angela Di Maria is. The aim is less to praise the Argentine player than it is to make his disappointing time at Manchester United look like the fault of his former manager, Louis Van Gaal. Last night Di Maria was part of the PSG side that defeated Chelsea 2-1 in the Champions League. Ben Burrows lays it on thick:

Manchester United should be kicking themselves

Whatever Louis van Gaal thinks, Angel Di Maria is an exquisitely fine footballer. Tonight in Paris the Argentine showed everyone, including his former employers, all of the quality that made him the Champions League final’s man of the match just two short seasons ago. In the hosts’ early blitz, the 28-year-old was central to everything PSG did well, which was an awful lot.

And he was tremendous thereafter too, providing the game-winning assist no less. Unsettled or homesick or whatever, he certainly looks a player United could do with right about now.

Whatever Louis Van Gaal thinks… What about what the Daily Mirror thinks?


di maria


Di Maria was, according to the Mirror, the worst PSG player on the pitch.

Posted: 17th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment (1)

Manchester City: Sergio Aguero gets the Princess Diana treatment

The Daily Mail has bought a few paparazzi pictures of Manchester City player Sergio Aguero minding his own business. To give you an idea of the levels of news we’re dealing with, the pictures are caption:

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero was pictured outside his local butchers on Tuesday afternoon

The 27-year-old Argentine was seen leaving his local butchers in Hale, Cheshire on Tuesday

“Was seen…” There is a whiff of revelation about that, as if he’s been in hiding, or has something to hide.

The third photo tells readers:

Aguero will be hoping to give Chelsea’s FA Cup hopes the chop when they meet in the fifth round on Sunday


PS – this is the Mail that told its readers, eight days after the death of Princess Diana:

The proprietor of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Evening Standard announced last night that his papers will not in future purchase pictures taken by paparazzi Viscount Rothermere, chairman of the Daily Mail and General Trust plc said: ‘I am, and always have been, an admirer of Diana, Princess of Wales, and nagged my editors to protect her so far as they could against her powerful enemies. In view of Earl Spencer’s strong words and my own sense of outrage, I have instructed my editors no ‘paparazzi’ pictures are to be purchased without my knowledge and consent.’

“Hello, boss… Sorry to bother you in France. We’ve got pictures of a football buying fresh meat. No, not sex – actual meat from animals. Should we hold the backpage or follow him home..?”


Posted: 17th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment

Are Soulless Chelsea turning into Manchester City?

1970: Police keeping back crowds of Chelsea Football Club supporters as they strain for a glimpse of manager Dave Sexton. A banner in the crowd reads 'Sexton For God'. (Photo by A. Jones/Express/Getty Images)


On the BBC, Chelsea Alan from Twickenham is worried that the soul is being “ripped out” of Chelsea. He fears the Blues are becoming “a Man City who are full of mercenaries”.

“I look at Hazard and I look at Costa and I don’t like what I see, I don’t like their behaviour,” says Alan. “I look at the team and wonder where’s the soul of it?”

Did the soul of Chelsea vanish when Roman Abramovich bought the club and tossed a billion pounds of interest-free cash at it? Those millions bought great players who won lots of cups. Is City’s soul a concern for the club’s fans who watched that brilliant homemade Old Trafford clock click the years over and over since the Citizens last won a cup – the fans who stuck with their team, waiting for the sublime moment when Sergio Aguero would score that goal to win the title on the final day of the 2012 season?


MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 27: Manchester United fans display a banner taunting Manchester City during the Carling Cup Semi Final second leg match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on January 27, 2010 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Manchester United fans display a banner taunting Manchester City during the Carling Cup Semi Final second leg match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on January 27, 2010.


A few years back I went to a FA Cup even sponsored by Budweiser. At a Q&A session with John Barnes, a prosperous looking man asked a question. He had a broad US accent. The compere, also an American, invited him to speak. “Hey, Barnsey,” he said, “What do you think of The Blues’ chances this time?” Another journalist sat beside me muttered, “More chance than you have of recognising John Hollins.”

It was easy to see that new Blue as part of the problem, a soccer fan who’d adopted the winning club as his own. But so what if he had? This new globalised Premier League is exciting. As Gary Lineker put it after Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck had scored a last gasp winner against Leicester City, “There is nothing quite like football for filling you with joy one minute and tearing your heart to shreds the next.”

Who can blame the American for wanting in to all that emotion?



Alan the Chelsea fan you can hear in the audio above is a whiner. At one time or another, most fans are. He wants his team to win. When they don’t, he looks for the problem. Right now he wants soul. But Chelsea have only the Belgian Hazard, a player unable to recapture last season’s brilliance. Ask a fan of the once mighty Leeds if they’d swap Hazard for a local lad who can run and play a bit, who sleeps under a Leeds duvet and can give you the name of Billy Bremner’s milkman, and they’d not refuse the offer – even the player’s mother, if she were a true Leeds fan, would wish her lad well as he packed his bags.

Hazard and Costa are not hollow-eyed mercenaries here to kill the game. They’re here because football fans pay to see them play.


A group of boys celebrate the upcoming FA Cup Final between Leeds United and Chelsea at Wembley with a match of their own in Chelsea's Slaidburn Street, 10th April 1970. (Photo by Michael Webb/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

A group of boys celebrate the upcoming FA Cup Final between Leeds United and Chelsea at Wembley with a match of their own in Chelsea’s Slaidburn Street, 10th April 1970. (Photo by Michael Webb/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


Fans come to see the thrilling and the unexpected. Did Chelsea look like future Champions’ League winner when they were relegated to the then second division in 1988? Was that night at an expectant Anfield in 1989, when Arsenal won the title with pretty much the last kick of the match, more or less thrilling because it was so utterly unexpected? Arsenal fans who made the journey didn’t go to see their team win; they went because something extraordinary might just happen.

And the unexpected has been happening with increasing frequency. The Economist revealed that up until December 19 2015, the Premier League had the highest number of games won by underdogs in history:

Last season’s Blues were the first team in EPL history to lead the league wire to wire: they held at least a share of first place every day from start to finish. They were often compared to the unbeaten Arsenal “Invincibles” side of 2003-04 and Manchester United’s treble-winning squad of 1998-99, albeit without emulating either feat. In fact, most gambling companies wouldn’t have offered the bet: you could have taken 250 to one for Chelsea to finish in the bottom half, or 7,500 to one for the club to be relegated. Perhaps a generous bookie might have staked a mere 1,000 to one against Chelsea dropping into the bottom six in the depths of December…

Leicester’s improbable rise and Chelsea’s unprecedented fall have certainly been the biggest shocks of the 2015-16 season. But they are far from the only ones. Plucky West Ham have beaten Arsenal (at odds of 11 to one), Manchester City (11 to one) and Liverpool (eight to one) away from home. In the last fortnight, tiny Bournemouth have vanquished Manchester United and Chelsea, whilst struggling Newcastle have beaten both Tottenham and Liverpool—combinations that according to bookmakers were respectively 3% and 2% likely. Perhaps the only predictable feature of the Premier League in 2015-16 has been the regularity with which pundits have described it as the most unpredictable season ever. According to the betting lines, 42 of 160 games (26%) thus far have been won by the underdogs; since the turn of the century, no Premier League season has ended with the unfavoured teams winning more than 23% of matches.

It’s great when your team wins. And when they win when you least expect it, it’s magic. Will Chelsea come again? Sill Spurs rekindle those glory glory days? Are Leicester on the cusp of a coruscating victory?

We don’t know. And that’s that makes the Premier League so captivating.


Posted: 17th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, Key Posts, Sports | Comments (4)

Transfer Balls: Manchester United want Aubameyang to partner Bale, Ronaldo and Neymar

Transfer balls: Manchester United are all set to bid a £60m for Borussia Dortmund’s 26-year-old striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, says the Daily Mirror. The paper says United will “make him one of the biggest stars in the world”.  He’ll be the biggest name in the Europa League – or at least its most expensive player (unless United buy Neymar, Bale etc.).

Man United are desperate to sign a star turn. Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward hopes to lob loadsa cash at Dortmund and that they’ll bite. United will also offer Aubameyang £200,000-a-week to kiss the badge and “promise to make him a global superstar”.

How? By having him travel the world in the summer in the hope that the Chinese go potty for him?

So flaky are the facts behind the story of Aubameyang to United that the Express can’t agree with itself what United will pay for the player:


Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 15.48.10


But let’s not blame the Press for this nonsense – every day the United PR department links the club with a big name player. Don’t worry, fans, it will all be ok.  The only problem the manager will have next season is picking a front two from Ronaldo, Neymar, Bale, Aubameyang, Bale, Pogba and Kane.


Posted: 16th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Manchester United: Depay wears lover’s face on his jacket

Manchester United winger Memphis Depay celebrated his love for Lori Harvey by airbrushing an image of her face the back of a bespoke bomber jacket.

Not creepy. Not creepy at all:


depay jacket face love

Posted: 15th, February 2016 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment

Manchester United balls: Van Gall on monthly rolling contract as Jose joins for ‘free’

the sun jose


Manchester United are to sign Jose Mourinho before February is out. So says the Sun. But hold on a moment. Reading on the Sun says United “could” sign Jose. They could also win the Premier League, play Wayne Rooney in goal and pack it up, deciding that football is a mug’s game. It’s all a question of likelihood.

The Sun’s Neil Curtis says United’s board “believe” they have nothing to lose in sacking Louis Van Gaal and getting Jose in sooner rather than later. Curtis says Mourinho could be in place by the time United play Arsenal on February 28.

The other reason why Van Gaal is out and Jose is in is – get this – because the Dutchman has just rented a new property in Bowden, and he’s paying on a rolling monthly contract. Van Gaal only needs to give a month’s notice should he need to leave pronto.

“Wonder if he’ll bother to unpack?” asks the Sun.

Over in the Star, Jeremy Cross says with Jose Mourinho “available for free” United must move for him. Free?  A few days ago, the Press were full of news that Jose had agreed to join United for a mere £15m a year for three years.


daily mirror jose gets united


Such are the facts…



Posted: 15th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Biased football: Vardy dives, Arsenal cheated, Leicester robbed

Arsenal beat Leicester city 2-1 in today’s top-of-the-table Premier League clash. Leicester went ahead thanks to a Jamie Vardy penalty. Should the penalty have been given? Let’s see what the experts say:

The Leicester Mercury’s live blog says:


AND IT’S IN! Vardy hammers the ball into the net to give Leicester the lead. The striker wheels away to celebrate as boos ring out around the ground from the Arsenal fans.

God knows why. It was as stone-wall as they come.

Also, credit to the referee who played a great advantage in the build-up.

The Guardian:

The Vardy penalty was definitely a case of the striker falling over Monreal’s leg… Vardy knocks the ball past Monreal in the box and, in my opinion runs into the Arsenal defender, and then goes down. Atkinson points to the spot! I can see why he did. It looked a penalty even if gamesmanship was involved.

London Evening Standard:

Jamie Vardy controversially won and then converted a penalty on the stroke of half-time

Arsenal FC:

As the first half drew to a close, Cech was beaten, and there was a large slice of controversy in the build up. Ozil appeared to be fouled by Morgan on the edge of the Leicester box, but referee Martin Atkinson waved play on, allowing Leicester City to break.

Should Leicester have had another penalty kick?

The Times:

Though Arsenal show terrific grit and determination to come from behind and win the game, Leicester may well consider themselves incredibly unlucky to not have been awarded a penalty just moments prior to the sending off of Danny Simpson.


Riyad Mahrez twists and turns inside the area. He turns Nacho Monreal before going down and claiming contact. If there was, it was very slight…  It was a great piece of skill but if anything he has tripped himself over.

And who says the Press is biased?


Posted: 14th, February 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Manchester United and Arsenal in Aubameyang clickbait drama

Transfer balls:  The Mail says Manchester United are to spend £70m summer on Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. After that United will move to recruit Robert Lewandowski, Neymar and Gareth Bale.

All this on the same day Louis Van Gaal says United’s best chance of competing in next season’ Champions’ League is through winning the Europa League.

Apparently United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward says club has “cash reserves of £121.6m and indicated there will be ‘star signings’ in the summer.” That’s the same Woodward who sanctioned the £250m United spent on the last set of new boys. you get the feeling that £3m-a=year Woodward is not part of the solution to United’s fall from the perch.

In other news, the Metro says: “Arsenal ready to seal transfer of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.” That dire paper’s source is the equally dire Daily Telegraph, which reports “Arsenal are already plotting how to strengthen their squad with Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang one of their principle targets.”

Number of quotes and sources to support that claim: nil.


Posted: 14th, February 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Manchester United lose a match that Sunderland didn’t win

Van Gaal sacked


All newspapers agree that Sunderland never beat Manchester United yesterday.

Sunderland never did fashion two goals to United’s one in a Premier League win that gives them hope of avoiding relegation. The papers all agree that Sunderland only won a home match because United were not good enough to avoid defeat.

United were “Roo-bish”. Sunderland were invisible.

Posted: 14th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Transfer balls: Ozil ‘demands’ to leave Arsenal

The Metro says Mesut Ozil is ‘demanding’ to leave Arsenal.


Ozil Arsenal leaves


Wow! In the build up to Arsenal’s big Champions League match against Barcelona, Ozil demands to leave. Really? Sean Kearns writes:

Arsenal were confident of tying the former Werder Bremen man down to a long-term contract but Marca claim that he has told the Gunners he is unwilling to extend his stay at the club and wants to leave in the summer.

Over at Marca, their report has not a single word from the player, Barcelona, agents or Arsenal. What we do learn is that former Real Madrid man Ozil’s contract at Arsenal ends in June 2018. The Gunners have tabled a two-year extension. Ozil is thinking about it. Barcelona have contacted his agent.

This could mean that Arsenal will feel a need to raise Ozil’s wages.

He hasn’t demanded to leave. He’s in negotiations over a new contract.
Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 12.21.47



The final nail in Metro’s balls balls comes to us via…Marca, which reported that Ozil’s Arsenal contract features an “anti-Barca clause”.

A clause inserted in this deal stipulates that Real have a right of first refusal for 48 hours in the event that Arsenal receive an offer for the silky playmaker from another Spanish club, effectively preventing Barça from looking to stealthily snap up the former Bernabéu favourite. What’s more, if the Gunners were to sell on the Germany international for more than what they bought him for (50 million euros), they would have to give the ‘Merengues’ 33% of the profit made on him.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 13th, February 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment

Adam Johnson’s a ‘pervert’ – just like Daily Star and Sun readers

adam johnson pervert


“Pervert” Premier League “ace” Adam Johnson has been sacked by Sunderland after he pleaded guilty to sex offences with a 15-year-old girl. Johnson who earns £60,000-a-week (Mirror) and £50,000-a-week (Mail) is no longer a Sunderland footballer.

Sunderland have acted quickly. But, then, Johnson’s deal was due to expire in the summer. No transfer fee has been sacrificed.

Johnson is a criminal. That much we know. But the Sun, as the Star yesterday, calls him a “pervert”. He is. But the tabloids don’t mean it to be praise. The Star, owned by Richard Desmond, and the Sun, owned by Sky TV’s Rupert Murdoch, do not exactly frown on perving.

Star readers were yesterday invited to call an incest phone line:


daily star sex



In today’s Sun, readers can call “Hot Girls” for 36p. They can also subscribe to Sky TV and watch late-night telly with naked ‘babes’ simulating sex.

Johnson’s a criminal. If every pervert was, tabloids would set up stalls in Her Majesty’s prisons.

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

Mourinho earns more at Manchester United than Pep does at Manchester City, or is it less?

daily mirror jose gets united


How much does Jose Mourinho earn as manager of Manchester United? The former Chelsea boss has not signed for United, but the Press is full of news that the deal is done.

The Mirror says it’s £15m a year for three years. The Express agrees. The Mirror’s Darren Lewis has details:

Jose Mourinho is set to land a three-year, £15million-a-year deal to replace Louis van Gaal at Manchester United. The package awaiting the former Chelsea boss will put him on a par with Pep Guardiola

Pep must be gutted. But the Sun has news to stop him from asking City for a raise:

JOSE MOURINHO will pocket £15million-a-season if he joins Manchester United in the summer — £6m LESS than rival’s City are giving Pep Guardiola

Such are the facts…

Posted: 12th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Manchester United balls: Van Gaal stays, Mourinho works for free, thank god for Leicester City

the sun man unitedNo sooner have we read the details of Jose Mourinho’s contract to manage Manchester Untied  – £15m a year for three years (Mirror); £300m on players (Star) – than the Sun, which has been hyping the story of Jose to United for days and days, announces: “Louis Van Gal believes he’ll keep job if United make Champions League.”

For reasons only it knows, the Sun dresses LVG as Star Wars character Obi-Wan Kenobi, and declares: “May The 4th Be With You.”

The Mail says Van Gaal enjoys the support of United’s £3m -a-year chief executive Ed Woodward – he’s the man who rubber-stamped the Dutchman’s £250m on new players. But the Sun says in a conference call with United’s major investors Woodward “failed  to mention LVG”. It’s not hard to imagine United’s major investors not having the foggiest idea who manages the club, nor caring. It’s all about money. The Star says United are expected to “smash though the £500m turnover barrier in 2016”.

Over in the Mirror, which only yesterday announced that Van Gaal is to leave United in the summer, we hear more from the investors. They asked: “Why Can’t United be more like Leicester?” The cynic would reply: ‘Because big football clubs are vanity projects for the super-rich, or, as in United’s case, a way of raising tens of millions for their owners’ other projects and real passions.” The other answer is that Leicester’s highest ever league finishing position was when they came runners-up in 1928–29 – who wants to be like them?

David McDonell tells Mirror readers: “Leicester have demolished the belief that the only way to become champions was by flexing financial muscles in the transfer market.” They haven’t. Leicester have won nothing yet. the Mirror’s the paper that yesterday reported: “What could Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United team look like.” No unheralded players from Fleetwood town, whence Jamie Vardy joined Leicester for £400,000, in this dream team. The Mirror’s says Mourinho’s United must buy: Cristiano Ronaldo, John Stones and Atletico Madrid sporting director Andrea Berta.

Star Wars, indeed.

Although, once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, United paid £1 million for 23-year-old Cambridge United striker Dion Dublin. He was United’s only major signing of the 1992 summer. (They bought Eric Cantona later.) Next season they won the title for the first time in 26 years. Dublin made only four appearances for United. But the players who featured most heavily in that league campaign – Peter Schmeichel (42), Brian McClair (41), and Ryan Giggs (40), cost United £505,000 from Brondby, nothing, and £850,000 from Celtic, respectively.

Leicester have demolished nothing – it’s the Premier League and lazy media that have turned it into a bubble.

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

Transfer Balls: Manchester United hire Mourinho to get Bale, Neymar, Muller, Pogba and sell Mata

daily mirror jose gets united


Jose Mourinho’s PR department is working overtime to convince everyone and anyone that he is the next Manchester United manager. Why Manchester United would want a divisive, man rejected twice by Chelsea is not something that bothers the Star which spots Jose’s £300m “WAR CHEST”.

Is that all the money Mourinho’s earned in redundancy fees from Roman Abramovich? No. It’s the cash United will give him to buy lots of players. That’s how good Jose is – just give him £300m to spend on new players and he will make Manchester United competitive. Sure, Claudio Raniei will do it for around £20m, but he’s not got chronic small-man syndrome and an urgent desire to be the star. So Jose gets the cash to buy – get this – Neymar, Cavani, Thomas Muller, Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane.

Yeah, really. And so long as they’re happy to work in Jose’s shadow, they’ll be on the fist plane to Manchester.

The Express says Jose will sign a three-year deal worth £15m a year and buy – deep breath – Neymar, Gareth Bale, Ross Barkely, Jamie Rodgriguez, and Aymeric Laporte.

The Mail says Jose’s first act will be to “purge” United of Juan Mata and Marouane Felliani.

No word on what he’ll do to the United medical staff.

But Jamie Jackson doe tell Guardian readers that, er,  Mourinho “may look outside the Premier League for his next job having not yet been contacted by United”.

Such are the facts.

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

Adam Johnson is guilty but Stacey Johnson is the one on trial

england pervert“PERVERT England Star: I groomed Girl, 15,” runs the Daily Star’s front-page headline. The England star is Adam Johnson, who plays for Sunderland in the Premier League.

The facts come thick and fast. He “groomed and groped” a 15-year-old girl. He earns “50,000-a-week”.  His girlfriend, Stacey Flounders, 26, “the mother of this young daughter”, was at Bradford Crown Court to hear her boyfriend admit “indulging in sexual activity with a schoolgirl on January 30 last year”.

Johnson has played 12 times for England “and scored twice”. He denies two further claims of sexual activity with  the same girl, both involving penetration. All papers bar the Express (10 years) say the maximum sentence if found guilty of all charges is 14 years prison.

Judge Jonathan Rose said the jury must “consider only the evidence” and not be distracted by Johnson’s job. He told the jurors, “You are not allowed to speak to anyone but your number about the case.” Not at home. Not while you read the papers. You must remain as if in a bubble.

The Star adds, “his team are tipped for relegation”. Johnson lives in a “£1.85m home”.

The Mail says Johnson will not play for Sunderland while his trial is underway. The Times gores further, leading its sports section with  question: “Will Adam Johnson ever play football again?”

Do we believe in rehabilitation? Does the Times need to show a picture of Johnson cradling his baby daughter? Do all sex criminals get pictured with their kids? Do we need to know that Flounders wore “a black military blazer, skin-tight black leggings, a pale orange blouse an high heels, and sporting a black Chanel  handbag, she chewed discretely on gum”?

You’d have to be wearing nose plugs not to smell the stench of money and spite. Why is Flounders’ expensive handbag featured on the sports pages? Is the inference that she’s there for the money and not love or family duty? She’s not on trial. Her pathetic boyfriend is.

The Mail’s pictures shows more of Stacey than it does of Johnson.


Stacey Flounders


Johnson’s job is why he’s news. The story of a 28-year-old man who “kissed” and “touched” a 15-year-old is not a big national news story.

If he is a “pervert”, what of the Star’s readers, who on Page 43 of today’s newspaper are invited to call a sex line to listen to “girls” and “mother and daughter” action? When did incest go mainstream?


sex chat adam johnson


PS: Adam Johnson is not a role model. The Australian reports on someone keen to tar all men:

Yvonne Traynor, head of Rape Crisis South London, a charity, said: “Adam Johnson premeditatedly groomed a child and admitted sexual activity with her, a young girl whose life has been devastated. Surely Sunderland have a moral obligation to say they do not condone his actions and instead recognise the seriousness of his crime rather than allowing him the opportunity to represent the club and act as a role model for many young men.”

No sane young man sees Johnson’s crimes and thinks him a role model, an inspirational figure to follow and emulate. To suggest men are sex criminals-in-waiting is a weak and ugly argument.

Posted: 11th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, Reviews, Sports, Tabloids | Comment (1)

Transfer balls: Manchester City and Manchester United in Neymar ‘war’

neymar dies


Transfer balls: Manchester United and Manchester City – the Sun’s “Manc Giants” – are in a 144 “transfer war” for Neymar. That’s Neymar who has stated over and over that he wants to remain at Barcelona.

But Pep Guardiola, the Manchester City manager-in-waiting, has made the Brazilian his ‘No.1 target”. And that £144m burning holes in Manchester pockets will trigger Neymar’s release clause. The only stumbling blocks are that the player might not want to live and work in Manchester and paying £144m for one player can destroy team structure.

The Sun’s scoop falls apart because it offers not single word from Man United or City about their desire to invest £144m in buying Neymar. All the paper “reveals” is that the huge figure features in Neymar’s Barcelona contract. On the same page you can read that Real Madrid were ready to insert a – get this – £400m in David De Gea’s contract should be have joined them last summer.

Is De Gea that much better than Neymar?

Is football a huge bubble inflated by the super-rich and mega-vain waiting to go ‘pop’?

Antony Kastrinakis says the City v United “war” for Neymar is “more important than any game United and City will play on the pitch”. Wow! Just wow! When did football stop being a sport for athletes and become a boardroom contest? When did football fans lose the thing we enjoy?


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

Transfer balls: Manchester United go for Spurs boss Pochettino as Mourinho stirs

According to the Sun, Mario Pochettino “could wreck Jose Mourinho’s dream of of becoming Manchester United’s next manager”. The story that the current Spurs manager could be on his way to Old Trafford is the Sun’s lead sports story. The Sun says it “understands” Manchester United have spoken to Pochettino’s people.

Could. Understands. No facts, then.

Presumably, Pochettino’s people showed United’s people the Premier League table, pointing out that Spurs are higher than United. Why would Pottechino leave Spurs just as they look a Champions League outfit to manage a desperate United? It would be a move hard to understand.

The Sun adds that United’s people are also talking with Jose Mourinho’s people. The former Chelsea boss is “desperate” to manage United. How we know the camps are talking is most likely down to Jose’s people leaking the news in the hope their man gets the top job he craves.

Also today, the Sun declares:

Man Utd news: Renato Sanches deal planned — if club appoint Jose Mourinho as boss

Mourinho’s agent is Jorge Mendes. Sanches is managed by… Jorge Mendes. “United have been tracking the 18-year-old Benfica midfielder all season and are weighing up at £46million bid in the summer,” says the Sun.

Mr 10% is rubbing his hands.

Inside the Sun we read that United’s board like what Pochettino had done with the Spurs youth system, bringing on players like Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Eric Dier. We’re also told that getting Pochettino would cost United £20m because the Spurs board are tough negotiators and the manager is under contract until 2019.

And so it is that Pochettino and Mourinho are in a “two-horse race to me the United job”.

That’s odd because the Sun reported in December that Mourinho to Manchester was “all but agreed”:

Jose Mourinho to Manchester United all but agreed – the final decision on sacking Louis van Gaal is now down to the Glazers – EXCLUSIVE:American owners deciding whether to swing axe now or wait for Stoke result on Boxing Day

Such are the facts.

Posted: 9th, February 2016 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment

Manchester United balls: Van Gaal laughs off jourbnalists working for Jose Mourinho’s PR machine

Manchester United were denied an away win at Chelsea by an injury-time Diego Costa strike. At the post-match Press conference, a journalist asked Louis Van Gaal, Man United’s manager, about getting the sack and being replaced by Jose Mourinho. The Mail leads with LVG’s reply, which Sami Mokbel calls a “bizarre rant”.

Mourinho is looking for work. He wants to manage Manchester United. Why United would want the divisive Portuguese coach at the ‘Theatre of Dreams” is a moot point.  But he’s looking for work, and the Mourinho to Man United PR campaign is in full swing.

Rob Harris of the Associated Press has the full text of what the tabloids call Van Gaal’s “fury at Mourinho job talk” (Mirror):

Harris to Van Gaal: “Although you dropped points, the performances are improving. Do you think that is important while the club are trying to replace you that you are put in the performances that show you might be value to the club?”

Van Gaal: “You have spoken with Ed Woodward?”

Harris: “Well the club aren’t denying it.”

Van Gaal: “Why do they have to deny? I don’t interfere neither. Why do the club have to deny it when you are creating stories?”

Harris: “I don’t know if you know what I write.”

Van Gaal: “OK, OK, so you haven’t spoken to Ed Woodward or the Glazers, so you are inventing this story. I don’t have to answer this question and I shall repeat myself every week. Now I have to say that you are getting the sack tomorrow. What is your name? Then I can announce the name also.”

Fury? Van Gal seem to have made a reasoned argument. Harris has not heard from anyone at Man chester United about moves to replace Van Gaal. Like us, he just read it in the papers.

Journalism is about getting the scoop – it’s about filling the space not already occupied by adverts.

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

Chelsea fans forgets entire season

The Star has news of Vladimir Howard who “lost his entire memory” of last year’s season at Chelsea, when the Blues won the Premier League. “I can’t remember the title-winning season at all,” says Vladimir, who lost his memory after being attacked.

Chelsea fans watching their team this season are experiencing much the same sensation.



Posted: 8th, February 2016 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment

The greatest fishing gif of all time

The greatest fishing gif of all time

Posted: 7th, February 2016 | In: Gifs, Sports | Comment

Liverpool fans leave early to miss the goals

At around 4:35 Liverpool fans began their 77th minute protest, a walk-out triggered by the £77 the club plans to charge for the best view at Anfield. (To Arsenal fans, of course, £77 is the price of a half-time Balti Burger and an hour’s parking.)

Two goals up against a lowly Sunderland, thousands of Liverpool fans made their way to the exists, able to feel right about making a stand and pleased to have seen the crux of a home win. Seemingly, the only losers were the fans who routinely leave early to beat the traffic – for them a 46th minute exit was the preferred route.

Then Sunderland scored twice. At the final whistle, the match was 2-2. The Liverpool fans who stayed got to see all the goals, and the Sunderland fans got to serenade all seats, both expensive and less expensive, with a rendition of “Walk Out, walk out with your head in your hands and you’ll always walk alone…”


Young Liverpool supporters play at a football table prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on February 6, 2016 in Liverpool, England.

Young Liverpool supporters play at a football table prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on February 6, 2016 in Liverpool, England.


PS: Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp missed this game after suffering a suspected bout of appendicitis.

Posted: 6th, February 2016 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment