Anorak

Sports | Anorak - Part 7

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.

Liverpool teach Manchester City’s Sterling the correct way to cheat

When Raheem Sterling was awarded a penalty for falling over in the box during Manchester City’s 6-0 hammering of Shakhtar it was clear to everyone but the referee the wrong decision had been made. Sterling never thought to tell the referee he’d got it wrong. He never offered to take the penalty and deliberately miss. Sportsmanship was not the winner. But if Sterling’s looking for ways to improve his conduct, the former Liverpool player can read the Liverpool Echo’s story headline: “Raheem Sterling Man City penalty row – and the Liverpool example he SHOULD have followed.”

Which Liverpool example is that, then? This one?

 

 

This one?

 

This one?

 

 

This one?

 

 

No. It’s this one – when Robbie Fowler went to ground easily at Arsenal:

 

Fowler and Liverpool celebrated the egregious refereeing error by scoring the penalty and celebrating wildly. If only Sterling had stayed at Liverpool he could have learned what you “should” do when a penalty is awarded wrongly. But he plays in Manchester, having left Liverpool to earn more money and win trophies, so he’s a cheating sod.

And sometimes you get away with it:

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


Waving not drowning at the Boca Juniors match

Boca Juniors

 

What’s it like to stand with the Boca Juniors fans at La Bombonera? Freelance sports journalist Chris Marshall-Bell (@cmbell310) tells us exactly what it’s like to worship among Los Xeneizes’ congregation.

The Brazilian opposition come out to train, booed and jeered like the encroaching villains they are – each player the target of fans extending their elbows back and forth repeatedly, whilst simultaneously shouting abuse and inflammatory insults, doing their best to intimidate.

Except, of course, to the trained eye, to the Boca Juniors fan, this is all completely normal. The madness, the fervent passion, the acrobatics, the banners proclaiming that “Boca is Life” – hung precariously and somewhat ironically while defying death…

It’s like a children’s ball pit with half the kids are sucked under the surface, with only stray heads and arms bobbing above. Fans who are above the plimsoll line kiss one another.

SUPERCLASICO SPECIAL: WHAT’S IT ACTUALLY LIKE TO WATCH A BOCA JUNIORS MATCH?

Posted: 9th, November 2018 | In: Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Danny Welbeck’s ‘horror’ injury revealed

Arsenal v Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League, and Danny Welbeck suffers a “horror ankle injury” that “leaves Arsenal team-mates shocked”. So says the Daily Mail. It looks pretty nasty. But the paper has no idea what the damage is. “Danny Welbeck out for the season?” asks the BBC. Dunno. Is he?

The Sun agrees that it is a “horror injury”. Welbeck contested a header and landed “awkwardly”. There was no blood. He was not unconscious, says the Beeb.

 

 

The Sun then tells us it looks like a “broken or dislocated right ankle”. Which is it? He will “almost certainly be taken to hospital for treatment”. I might not be medial man but a broken ankle usually necessitates a trip to the hospital. The paper then adds: “The ex-Manchester United ace is also expected to now pull out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad for next weeks two matches.” Maybe. But if Wayne Rooney can get a recall, maybe a one-legged Welbeck still stands a chance of being selected to play. “It could well be his last appearance for the Gunners,” says the Sun.

Over in the Indy, their experts can confirm – or guess – that Danny Welbeck is “to have an x-ray”. When does an injured footballer not have a scan? But it must be bad, right? “The injury will almost certainly see him withdrawn from Gareth Southgate’s England squad for matches against the United States and Croatia,” says the website.

It might be bad. It might be a “horror” injury. Or it could be pulled ligaments. Or a bad sprain. Or a fracture – which, according to the NHS, involves placing the injured ankle in a protective boot for around 6 weeks. Welbeck might be ok to play in two weeks time for England, say the papers. Or maybe he’ll never play for Arsenal again, say the same papers.

They shoot horses.

Such are the facts.

UPDATE: Sky Sports: “Danny Welbeck “broke something in his ankle” during Arsenal’s Europa League draw with Sporting Lisbon on Thursday, according to head coach Unai Emery.

“We think it’s a serious injury. Every injury is different. He broke something in his ankle and it’s a different injury than another. Now he’s at the hospital and the news is at the moment we are going to wait, but we think this is a serious injury.”

Get well soon, Danny.

Posted: 8th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Martial offers 45m reasons to stay at Manchester United

Transfer Balls: how much is Anthony Martial worth to Manchester United? Whoah, there. That’s a rhetorical question. The answer is £45m. That’s a lot of money for a player who was on his way out when his current contract expires at the season’s end. United do have an option to extend that by one year. But Martial holds the cards. So United will sign him up on a new deal and then flog him when Jose Mourinho starts calling him names. The Sun says the new deal will last for five-year deal and earn the Frenchman £190,000-a-week. The paper doesn’t say if that figure includes extra cash for doing his job – scoring goals; being on the winning team; getting selected – or the absurd ‘loyalty bonus’. But it’s decent money, albeit not in the Alexis Sanchez bracket of more than double that figure. You get real value at United.

Manchester United also fancy Sampdoria’s 22-year-old Danish defender Joachim Andersen. No idea what his fee would be, but Inter Milan’s 23-year-old defender Milan Skriniar, a player wanted by United, is reportedly worth £100m, according to the club’s manager Luciano Spalletti.

Away from Old Trafford, Chelsea and Bayern Munich are chasing Lyon’s Nabil Fekir. The Star says the man who looked to be on his way to Liverpool last summer could arrive in London. Joining him in the Smoke is Lille winger Nicolas Pepe, 23, who has “welcomed speculation linking him with Arsenal”, says the BBC. How that plays out with his team-mates is moot.

 

Posted: 8th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports | Comment


BBC trolls Everton fans over donation to Liverpool fan Sean Cox

seamus coleman

 

Clickbait Balls courtesy of the BBC, which spots Everton player Seamus Coleman contributing to the fund set up to help Sean Cox, the Liverpool fan set upon by Roma fans before a Champions League match. The BBC says Coleman is “worried Everton fans would question him for donating money to Liverpool fan Sean Cox.” Sheesh! Coleman must think Everton fans are real numbskulls. Are they so loyal to Everton that they’ll condemn a player for helping a fellow countryman – both Coleman and cox are Irish.

Clicking on the link we’re told:

Everton defender Seamus Coleman worried fans would question him for making a donation to help an injured fan of city rivals Liverpool.

Maybe rabid Liverpool fans don’t want his money? Or maybe the BBC’s heading is total clickbait balls:

“You think ‘Do you put your name towards it or not?'” Coleman said. “You might get people saying ‘he might have put more money in’ or whatever,” he added… “I wanted to put my name to it because sometimes that raises more publicity. That’s what the Liverpool manager did.”

Mentions of Everton fans? Nil.

 

More BBC clickbait soon…

Posted: 7th, November 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment


Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says AC Milan job is ‘fake news’

It’s “fake news,” says former Arsenal manger Arsene over reports linking him to the AC Milan manager’s job.

 

 

So, there’s no chance of him becoming AC Milan next manager – the report in France Football is wrong:

 

AC Milan wenger

 

Fake News!

 

wenger arsenal transfer budget

wenger staying arsenal

daily express arsenal fake news wenger

wenger

daily mirror wenger quits sack resigns arsenal

2017?

 

Such are the facts…

Posted: 7th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Everton and Liverpool United for Sean Cox

cox liverpool roma

Sean Cox

 

Nice one, Everton defender Seamus Coleman. He’s donated €5,000 (£4,300) donation to Sean Cox, his fellow Irishman. Mr Cox was attacked by Roma supporters before their Champions League semi-final against Liverpool at Anfield in April. Says Coleman:

“We have to be together. I think football is great for sticking together. Rivalries go out the window with stuff like that; you don’t see a crest or a jersey, you see a man who came to support his team and unfortunately it didn’t end too well for him that night.

“Thankfully there is a fundraising page and I don’t know the ins and outs of how he is but hopefully they can raise some money for him.

“I saw on social media the Liverpool manager had donated some money and saw there was a link to a GoFundMe page. I wanted to put my name to it because sometimes that raises more publicity. That’s what the Liverpool manager did.

“You think ‘Do you put your name towards it or not?’ because you might get people saying ‘He might have put more money in’ or whatever.

“It’s not about Liverpool and Everton, this is about a man who unfortunately was part of something he did not intend to be. I’ve had people in the street, Liverpool fans, stop me and say ‘Thanks very much’.”

You can go here to donate to Sean Cox.

Posted: 6th, November 2018 | In: Liverpool, Money, News, Sports | Comment


England book a one-night stand with former Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney

In its desperation for bums on seats and to milk the England brand, the FA have commissioned Wayne Rooney for a one-might stand. The former Manchester United striker and England captain has been picked to play in a friendly against the USA at Wembley. The match has been called “The Wayne Rooney Foundation International”, but the Times says the player’s eponymous organisation won’t get a penny. The charity will only benefit if fans who’ve forked out for the privilege of seeing Rooney play in an England testimonial make their own donations on match day. Putting the tin lid on they box of balls is Rooney’s desire to were his old No.10 jersey.

The FA is expected to earn up to £3 million in ticket sales for the match.

Disappointingly, Gareth Southgate, the England manager, backs the plan and has spouted the usual X-Factor-style balls: “Acknowledging the Three Lions legacy has been a major part of our journey with this group of young players and Wayne Rooney is a hugely significant part of that history.” It’s marketing 101. Call England the ‘Three Lions’? Tick. Guff on about a “journey”. Tick. Talk of legacies. Tick.

In other Wayne Rooney news, an alleged one-night stand with these people was a lot cheaper:

 

Gina McCarrick

Picture 1 of 4

In a Sunday Mirror exclusive, 37-year-old brunette Gina McCarrick, dressed in her favoured cowgirl outfit, said: 'Wayne didn't turn me on at all. He was ugly. He had a face like a smacked arse.' Rooney later confessed to having visted the den around 10 times.

 

 

Posted: 6th, November 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Sports | Comment


Arsene Wenger heads to AC Milan to work for Arsenal fans and Ivan the Terrible

Unable too secure the job for life at Arsenal some thought was rightfully his, Arsene Wenger is to manage AC Milan. That’s the once mighty Italian club now owned by an American hedge fund which last month appointed former Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis to run things. Gazidis is the towering force who took Arsenal from 1st to 6th. He was part of the problem that let Arsenal drift into mediocrity as the club’s fans split between ‘Wenger In’ and ‘Wenger Out’ factions. The BBC relays the news. But France Football have the scoop. As ever, putting the story though Google Translate comes up trumps:

But the man with the three titles of Premier League and seven Cups of England has been negotiating for a few weeks with AC Milan. These negotiations are close to succeeding for a quick start. The situation of the Lombard club is not dramatic but far from the expectations of its new shareholder, the US investment fund Elliot Management Corporation, which took over the debts of Chinese Li Yonghong. Arsene Wenger would replace Gennaro Gattuso (40) at the head of the Rossoneri. He would also have a larger role in his duties with the sports director, the Brazilian Leonardo. This arrival of one of the greatest French coaches would also be orchestrated by Paul and Gordon Singer. Billionaires, the father and son run the fund now owns AC Milan and also has interests in Lille. The two businessmen, who spend time in London with a lot of business in England, are fans … of Arsenal. According to some sources, the arrival of Wenger in the club to the seven Leagues Champions would be even already “deal”.

Italy here he comes, then.

Posted: 6th, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: all hail Lucas Torreira the greatest love

Barney Ronay was at the Emirates to match Arsenal draw 1-1 with Liverpool. The pre-match chatter was of the Reds being years ahead of Arsenal. Nothing of it. Under Unai Emery’s management Arsenal are on the up. Wengeresque torpor is being dusted away. And at the heart of it all, Lucas Torreira is a force to be reckoned with:

Just past the half-hour the Emirates erupted into a rare barrelling wave of noise as Torreira dumped Sadio Mané on the turf with a perfectly timed roundhouse slide-tackle. It was oddly rousing, like a roomful of convalescents granted a rare glimpse of the sun through the French windows. In front of the press box two home fans stood up and spontaneously hugged. Vigour, energy, persistence, grit. What a change to see all of these things.

‘Lucas Torreira, the Mighty Insect, embodies Arsenal’s new grit’ – Guardian.

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


Liverpool: Gonk denies Mo Salah statue looks like her

salah statue

Mo Salah: football’s ‘Leo Sayer’

 

Egyptian sculptor Mia Abdel Allah’s work is the subject of much appraisal after her statue of Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah was unveiled in the Liverpool player’s home country. On view in Sharm el-Sheikh, the statue is part gonk part Leo Sayer – and yes, they are not one and the same.

 

 

Abdel Allah says she found the pose “distinguished and executable”, according to the Egyptian Independent.

 

Mo Salah statue

Mo Salah

 

 

Distinguished? Maybe. Executable? Off with his head!

Posted: 5th, November 2018 | In: Key Posts, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Stoke City’s James McClean defies the poppy fascists

The FA are blinking hard at Stoke City’s James McClean. The player used his private Instagram account to call Middlesbrough supporters who abused him for not wearing a remembrance poppy “uneducated cavemen and c***s”.  At the weekend’s match between the clubs, a few Middlesbrough supporters rushed towards the pitch to tell McClean what they thought of him. The BBC says “objects were thrown at the Ireland international”. McClean hurled some invective before being ushered away.

“They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the spirit of one Irishman who doesn’t want to be broken,” McClean wrote on Instagram. That’s a quote by provisional IRA member Bobby Sands (9 March 1954 – 5 May 1981), who died on hunger strike while imprisoned at HM Prison Maze .

Irish nationalists view the red poppy as a symbol of British rule. McClean, raised on the nationalist Creggan estate in Derry, has talked about his decision before, notably when he was playing at Wigan Athletic: “For people from the north of Ireland such as myself, and specifically those in Derry, scene of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre, the poppy has come to mean something very different. For me to wear a poppy would be as much a gesture of disrespect for the innocent people who lost their lives in the Troubles – and Bloody Sunday especially.”

Now he continues:

“Your abuse, your throwing things, your booing, do your worst… to the home fans that are actually educated and support me, thank yous… to the section of uneducated cavemen in left-hand corner of the boothen end stand that want to sing their anti irish song each game and call me a fenian this and that… i am a PROUD FENIAN no c@#t will ever change that, so sing away.”

Fair enough, no? McClean doesn’t have to wear a poppy on his shirt. Just as Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic doesn’t have to wear one on his. The Serb poppy removed the poppy from his shirt before Manchester United’s 2-1 win away to Bournemouth. United called it a “personal decision”, which it is.

TV newsreader Jon Snow called the drive for conformity ‘poppy fascism‘ – “…there is a rather unpleasant breed of poppy fascism out there – ‘he damned well must wear a poppy!’. Well I do, in my private life, but I am not going to wear it or any other symbol on air.”

In 2016, But, FIFA, football’s world governing body, said England and Scotland players must not wear poppies at their World Cup qualifier. The poppy is a political symbol, said FIFA, so it was banned.

It’s all a public fuss over what should be a private matter. But like so much about what is a fun leisure activity, football is politicised. Whether it’s standing for a minute’s silence or the national anthem, professing a dislike of racism, and players being dragged before the proles as ‘role models’, football has become a tool for public health issues, moralising and compliance.

Posted: 5th, November 2018 | In: Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United must sell Sanchez to keep De Gea and Martial

Manchester United are desperate to keep David de Gea, 27, and Anthony Martial, 22. But plans to offer the pair improved contracts are being hampered by the massive sums paid to Alexis Sanchez, who commands around £500,000-a-week in wages. So Sanchez has to go. But only PSG would ever pay such an absurd amount for the Barcelona reject turned Arsenal star. And why would they want a man who it turned out only pretended to play the piano.

There’s more Aaron Ramsey news, of course. Linked in print to – deep beneath – to Real Madrid, Juventus, PSG, AC Milan, Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton and Chelsea – the Arsenal player who stalled on signing a new deal for so long that even Arsene Wenger got tired of waiting and left the club is now on his way to…  Bayern Munich. Well, so say the Express, so it might not be entirely true.

 

zaha

Wan-Bissaka has upped his game

 

Chelsea and Manchester City are chasing Sunderland’s 17-year-old Bali Mumba. Spurs fancy Colombia midfielder Wilmar Barrios from Boca Juniors. And Everton like Crystal Palace right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The Toffees could include the terrific Ademola Lookman in any deal. If that transfer takes place, Everton should check the name gag in Wan-Bissaka’s shirt. Buyer beware, mistakes after purchase cannot be rectified.

Posted: 4th, November 2018 | In: Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal: Nicklas Bendtner jailed for being the prat he always was

As we salute former Arsenal player Santi Cazorla for his reliance, another ex-Arsenal player catches the eye: Nicklas Bendtner has been sentenced to 50 days in jail in Denmark for assaulting a taxi driver.

Now playing for Rosenborg, Bendtner admitted hitting the taxi driver but said it was because “he felt threatened”.

The BBC:

Bendtner said the driver threw a bottle or a can towards him and his girlfriend when they left without paying.

“We think that it’s not good for the club and not good for Nicklas, but he remains a player in the club. We are keeping him,” said Tove Moe Dyrhaug, the chief executive of Bendtner’s Norwegian club Rosenborg.

The Sun puts it well:

Bendtner started his pro career at Arsenal, scoring his first goal for the club when still a teenager. But despite much promise, Bendtner failed to ever live up to the hype (which was often generated by himself).

Such are the facts.

Posted: 2nd, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Arsenal: brilliant Santi Cazorla scores a pearler

As Arsenal fans look forward to a bright future under Unai Emrey, they can think about the man who got away: the brilliant Santi Cazorla. Last night, smiling Santi scored for Villarreal in a Copa del Rey mach against Almeria. It was his first goal for years. Cazorla was the victim of ten surgeries in 18 months (including a dose of gangrene) after an achilles injury that cost him so much. He didn’t play for 636 days. His Arsenal contract ran out and he was let go.

In September, Santi told the Guardian: “Mikel Sánchez, the surgeon, puts me in his talks, a case study. He and the physios say they’ve never seen such an extreme case.”

And then he rejoined Villarreal:

“I have to pinch myself when I think: ‘I’m playing Saturday.’ I appreciate it all, every moment. I understand players thinking it’s a pain to be stuck in a hotel the night before but I’ve been in hotels alone, hospitals too. I’ve fought for this.”

Villarreal used an actual magician (and a glass tube full of dry ice) to unveil Cazorla when he re-signed for the club.

Posted: 2nd, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Aaron Ramsey to Manchester United as Liverpool rule out move and Arsenal progress

Aaron Ramsey says he’s no idea why Arsenal withdrew their contract offer. For months and months the club’s offer of £170,000-a-week for four years reportedly sat on the table. Ramsey never signed. Why not? We can only suppose he wanted more money, as much as £250,000-a-week to deliver one Premier League goal a season, as he did last season, and spend a large chunk of time sat in the treatment room. As Ramsey dithered and his Mr 15% thought they held all the cards, Arsenal moved on. First Arsene Wenger was sacked, then Ivan Gazidis, the ineffectual chief executive, went to work for AC Milan, a once great club now operated by a US hedge fund. The new Arsenal hierarchy looked at Ramsey, considered his value and thought him not worth the money.

Gazidis’ successor Raul Sanllehi can only be an improvement. “I don’t think I am inventing the wheel,” he told the Sunday Telegraph of the club’s new decision not to let key players enter the final year of a contract. “Anybody could agree on that.”

There’s a lot of chatter about where Ramsey might go next. The Star says Chelsea don’t want him because Ross Barkley, 24, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 22, are playing well. Sky says Liverpool have ruled out making a move for Ramsey. The Welshman could join Manchester United in January with Juan Mata moving the other way, says the Sun. Why United would want a slowing midfielder is moot.

The Telegraph says Arsenal “have embarrassed themselves again” by letting a £50m player leave for free. To which the question must be: which club was ever going to pay £50m for Ramsey, plus around £200,000-a-week in wages? And why is it embarrassing to get rid of players who rate themselves too highly and bring on hungry, fresh talent, as Arsenal have, notably in the shape of Emile Smith Rowe, Matteo Guendouzi and a vastly improved Alex Iwobi?

Arsenal called Ramsey’s bluff. Everton beckons him. He’ll leave behind an Arsenal side possessed of a new sense of direction.

 

Posted: 2nd, November 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United flop becomes the new Neymar PSG

As newspapers tank, red-top tabloids try to translate splashy sensation from paper to the web. The Sun thunders:
“Manchester United flop Alexis Sanchez wanted by PSG in shock transfer, amid continuing Old Trafford struggles.” Sanchez wants out of his absurd £600,000-a-week contract? And PSG in their wisdom think Sanchez is worth the effort?! The story is full of zero facts:

PSG would be willing to take Sanchez off their hands as long as they can land him on the cheap or even on a possible free transfer. It is understood the idea of getting him off their books has been talked about by the United hierarchy.

A “source” from somewhere inside or at least stood pretty close by Manchester United say it all “could” happen. The source is unnamed. But they are chatty:

“It’s no secret he has struggled and not lived up to the expectations. He isn’t getting any younger and it might never work for him. There was interest before the club signed him but he preferred staying in England at the time. That may have changed now. One of their [PSG’s] top stars could go and it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that a deal could be struck between the two clubs.”

Nonsense, then. But this is the desperate web and from that “exclusive”, we get the Daily Mirror thundering: “Alexis Sanchez transfer: Why PSG think they can sign Manchester United star on FREE.” Why? Dunno. But the guess is that he costs a lot of money in wages and is not all that good. And on it goes:

 

transfer balls sanchez manchester united

Sanchez- from ageing flop to the new Neymar!

 

 

Daily Express: “PSG want to sign Alexis Sanchez from Manchester United on one condition.”

Daily Star: “Man Utd news: PSG eye Alexis Sanchez on free transfer.”

talkSport: “Manchester United transfer news: Paris Saint-Germain plot shock move.”

Manchester Evening News: “Manchester United winger Alexis Sanchez ‘eyed’ for Paris Saint Transfer.”

All utter tosh.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 31st, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Key Posts, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer balls: Spurs fear, Dembele to Liverpool, Newcastle wait and Sanchez plots Manchester United escape

Tottenham players “fear” Mauricio Pochettino is to leave the club for Real Madrid or Manchester United. Which Spurs players are in dread of the Argentine leaving, and maybe taking them along for the ride and the huge hike on wages that would come with it, is unsaid by the BBC. Over in the Telegraph that “fear” is reduced to a mere “feeling”. The Sun tell us that Real Madrid will double Pochettino’s wages to £17m a year. How it knows that is moot. It just does. It feels it.

But why would Pochettinho want a job with a shorter shelf life than a Halloween pumpkin? AS tells us that former Real Madrid star Michael Laudrup has rejected down the chance to become the club’s new manager. Fair enough. After all, Marca told us former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte would be appointed as soon as Real sacked Julen Lopetegui as manager. He wasn’t. Meanwhile, the Mail says Belgium manager and former Everton and Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is the white-hot favourite to become the next Real Madrid chief. Or as the Guardian puts it: “Mauricio Pochettino has emerged as Real Madrid’s No 1 choice.”

To recap: they don’t know.

In other news, Alexis Sanchez is off to play at PSG, says the BBC. Manchester Untied will replace their striker by digging huge hole in the ground and pouring £600,000-a-week into it.

And then some bigger news in Spain’s Sport. Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé is to be shunted out of the club this January. He turned up late for a game, we read, and Barcelona “have decided to act strongly on the issue”. Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea all want the Frenchman. Will it happen? Dunno. Back in August the Express told its readers: “Arsenal transfer news: Gunners make £90MILLION bid for Barcelona star Ousmane Dembele.” They didn’t.

And finally, get this from the BBC: “Newcastle are understood to be ready to offer Rafa Benitez the contract extension he wants – providing he is prepared to wait for certain requests.” Such as his discount voucher for Sports Direct and a chance to win the Championship.

 

Posted: 31st, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Liverpool, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Spurs Balls: Dele Alli commits himself to the club

Some good news for sours fans. Dele Alli, 22, has signed a new contract that ties him to the club until 2024. Having joined by a bargain £5m for MK Dons in 2015 Ali has become an England mainstay. He’s scored 48 goals in 153 competitive matches.

“I’ve loved my time at Spurs so far,” said Alli on Instagram. “I’m very excited to see what the future holds.” Trophies and titles? Winless after three much in the Champions League and fifth in the Premier League, Spurs are heading for another season without a cup.

Before last night’s defeat to Manchester City on a dog of a Wembley pitch, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said: “My feeling is the worst feeling I have had in my five years I have been here.”

Spurs should have played the match in their new stadium – but it’s still not finished. Oh, for that lush green field when Alli passed to Lamela and faced with an open goal the Argentine failed to allow for the bumpy surface, cut up by an American football match, and spooned the ball over the bar.

As it stands, Spurs are nothing like title challengers.

Posted: 30th, October 2018 | In: Sports, Spurs | Comment


‘Disgusting’ and ‘greedy’: what they said about Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha

Praise for Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the Leicester City chairman killed in a helicopter crash. Jamie Vardy, the club’s striker, calls Srivaddhanaprabha the club’s “soul”. “He was a billionaire – a very wealthy and successful man,” said BBC Leicester’s Ian Stringer. “But also so humble and lovely.”

But when he oversaw the “ruthless” (talkSport) dismissal of Claudio Ranieri, the manager who led Leicester to the Premier League title, bouquets lobbed at the great man had thorns to the fore. Picking up on the “wave of shock, outrage and disgust” (BBC) was Gary Lineker, a former Leicester City and England striker now hosting BBC TV’s Match of The Day. He tweeted:

“After all that Claudio Ranieri has done for Leicester City, to sack him now is inexplicable, unforgivable and gut-wrenchingly sad.”

Daily Mirror columnist and former Leicester player Stan Collymore called it “disgusting”. Beneath the headline “Claudio Ranieri’s sacking was absolutely disgusting – it was modern football in a nutshell”, he opined:

…when Foxes owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha did wield the axe on Thursday it was such a joke.

Although, sadly, the act was ­symptomatic of the greedy and ill-thought-out nature of the game. It was modern football in a nutshell…

The fact that Ranieri has been sacked is disgusting, absolutely ­disgusting.

And Ranieri wrote:

“Yesterday my dream died. After the euphoria of last season and being crowned Premier League champions all I dreamed of was staying with Leicester City, the club I love, for always. Sadly this was not to be. I wish to thank my wife Rosanna and all my family for their never ending support during my time at Leicester.”

Jurgen Klopp provided context:

“It is not only football. For me there have been a few strange decisions in 16/17: Brexit, Trump, Ranieri.”

The Guardian:

This is the part of the story that shines a light on football’s deceit and two-facedness almost as much as the fact that barely a fortnight earlier, only two days before deciding they had to cut him free, the people in charge at Leicester promised Ranieri their “unwavering support”. Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the club’s chairman, and his son, Aiyawatt, clearly find it easier to employ others to carry out their dirty work. Yet, after everything that has gone before, was it really too much to think they might have afforded Ranieri the common decency of a first-hand explanation?

Jose Mourinho added:

“I thought last season, when I was sacked as a champion, it was a giant, negative thing. Now I recognise it’s peanuts compared to Claudio.”

Forbes looks at the money:

In his book The Billionaires Club, James Montague says Leicester’s shock title win in 2016 also helped shield owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha from some of the turbulence of Thai domestic politics. Owning a team in the Championship doesn’t have quite the same effect.

As for now, well, Lineker noted:

“A quiet, unassuming man who will always be remembered with great fondness and respect. He also helped to bring the most magical, miraculous title win in the history of football. Thank you, Chairman for all you did for our football club. #RIP”

It was incredible.

 

 

 

Posted: 29th, October 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal vow never to let player contracts run down to final year

Arsenal’s ‘head of football’ – what a great title that is; as if Arsenal’s purpose his anything but football – Raul Sanllehi promises everyone that the club will no longer allow the contracts of key players to enter the final year. Right now Aaron Ramsey is nearing the end of their current deals, so too Danny Welbeck.

In recent seasons, Arsenal have allowed the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to enter the final six months of their contracts. This foolish negotiating tactic overseen by the not-in-the-least-bit-lamanted chief executive Ivan Gazidis, now at AC Milan, resulted in Ozil getting a whopping £350,000-a-week on a new deal and Sanchez heading to Manchester United last January. Jack Wilshere’s contract expired. He ended up getting a free transfer to West Ham.

“In general, I do believe that a player’s contract should never go to the last year, as a policy,” Sanllehi told the Sunday Telegraph. “But I don’t think I am inventing the wheel. Anybody could agree on that.” It appears that Gazidis did not agree. “Normally, the contracts of the players are for five years. You need to have a clear idea of what you want to do with that player when he is in the third year, at the latest.”

“We don’t take decisions overnight, on a quick reflection. We really go through not only a long period of thinking but also a lot of people are involved. People in which we have a high trust. In general I would like to make that point clear. There are no decisions that are left to the last minute. When we reach a decision, it is for a reason.”

To further illustrate how slack things got at Arsenal under Gazidis and Arsene Wenger, Per Mertesacker and Huss Fahmy, have been promoted to the club’s “executive team” as the club look to increase the “football representation” at decision-making levels. It’s the school of the bleeding’ obvious. Ignore the actual football, focus too much on marking and branding, and watch the club turn into, well the current Manchester United mess.

But it’s not all about the footy. Mertesacker, Fahey,  Sanllehi and Sven Mislintat are the only “footballing representatives” on the 15-man executive team, which “encompasses everything that we do as an organisation”. Eleven people do what exactly? As Sonny put it so succinctly on the night of the big dance-off in the hit movie Grease, ‘Let’s hear it for the toilet paper.”

Posted: 28th, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Manchester United: De Gea talks contracts amid Juventus rumours

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea, that “flower amongst the rubble”,is all about  “winning games, rather than contracts”. Well, so he says. But de Gea has been widely linked with a tender to Juventus when his contact runs out next summer – and if they can afford to lash out £90m plus on an ageing Cristiano Ronaldo, the Italians can spend big wages on arguable the world’s best goalkeeper.

De Gea, 27, would replace curent Juventus ‘keeper and childhood Arsenal fan Wojciech Szczęsny. The former Arsenal player, who when wearing the Gunners red and white often looked a tad vacant, a man who could distracted by a passing plane, bird or ball, has done well in Italy. As he told the Indy this year:

“…I started playing at a very young age with Arsenal and as you play you gain experience and that’s how you grow. But, honestly, I couldn’t say from a technical standpoint that I improved in any way from when I became first-choice at Arsenal until the day I left for Roma.

“However, in the two-and-a-half years since I came to Italy, I’ve improved massively which is thanks to the coaches and the way they work. It’s not about improving when you play, it’s every day in training you have to work on every aspect of your game and that’s something I’ve really enjoyed.”

Arsene Wenger never made the Poland goalkeeper a better player. But through no fault of his own and no lack of effort, he’s not de Gea’s equal. Juventus, looking to replace the great Gianluigi Buffon, who at age 40 finally left the club for PSG in the summer, would do well to get the Spaniard. United manager Jose Mourinho says he is “not confident” De Gea will remain at Old Trafford.

“You have to be focused on what’s important,” De Gea told Sky Sports. “What matters is the team and all of us being focused on what we need to focus on, which is winning games, rather than contracts or any topics that can be a distraction. What matters is focusing on football.” So why mention them? “You don’t have time to think about things that aren’t as important as football and the points that are at stake in the games that we have to win and do well in.” And after and before the match, is that when you owner about life with Italy’s perennial champions?

Is it time for a change? “I’ve been at the club for eight seasons now. I’m very happy here,” says De Gea. “I always feel that warmth from the fans and everyone who works at the club.”

But Untied are not the force they were under Alex Ferguson, under whose knowing eye De Gea was recruited. The clock;s ticking. Juventus are happy to wait or get their man for cheap this summer…

Posted: 27th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United to lose de Gea and Real want Pochettino from Spurs

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino is on his way to Real Madrid after all, then. The Sun says Pochettino will replace Julen Lopetegui, should Real sack him, which they will in 10…9…  The Mail says Real headhunter Florentino Perez wanted to sack the one-time Spain coach last week. You might have watched Perez during Real’s Champions League match against Viktoria Plzen “storming away from his balcony”. It was only other club officials who prevented an on-the-spot sacking, says the paper.

If Lopetgui goes, so do all the players thundered the overrated Isco to media. To which Real fans say in one voice “adios”.

Real finished 17 points behind Barcelona in La Liga last season. Ronaldo left, taking his 50 goals a season with him to Juventus. Real look leaderless on the pitch. So Pochettino it is. The Sun says Real prefer him to Antonio Conte. Well, who wouldn’t. The big shock is that Manchester United haven’t already offered Spurs £40m for Poch. Why don’t clubs trade managers as they do players?

But Real also admire current Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese would do well to take the hint and leave Old Trafford. If David de Gea leaves on a free transfer to Juventus when his contract expires next summer, as the Times says he might, United will look even more hapless. Ubiquitous Spanish journalist Guillem Balague told BBC Radio 5 live listeners that the Real kingmakers love Jose. Why? Haven’t they been watching…

Posted: 26th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Martial wants to stay at Manchester United

Do Manchester United buy players to fit the team or advance the global brand? Rumours abound that Manchester United want to sell Paul Pogba but any exit would blow a big hole in the club’s marketing scheme. The trick for United is less who wants Pogba, but which mega-star replaces him and why they’d want to? The Mail says the marketeers who run United are stuck on who could match Pogba’s commercial value. Think less of the overrated player and more of how much merchandise he shifts.

The media is full of stories about how Pogba would leap at the chance to join Barcelona – he’d leap higher than he did when he lost Antonio Rüdiger at a corner for Chelsea’s opening goal last weekend. The bigger question is: why would Barcelona want the hype-powered France footballer whose shown few signs of being worth a fraction of his £90m fee that took him from Juventus to United? The still bigger question is: why would Barcelona spend £200m for the privilege?

Another Frenchman less than chuffed with life at Manchester United is French forward Anthony Martial, 22. Last week he was all set to see out his contract and leave on a free. Today the BBC says he’s ready to to stay at the club. First Jose Mourinho heaps prise on Luke Shaw, a man he once branded a brainless plodder, seeing to it that the asset nearing the end of his contract was awarded a new contract; now Jose starts praising and picking Martial just as he looked all set to leave for nought. Who picks the side at United: Mourinho or the moneymen who run the club?

The Sun says LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks set to rejoin Manchester United on loan during the MLS off-season. He’s one for the future.

Across town, Manchester City fancy Juventus’ Brazilian full-back Alex Sandro, 27, and Japan midfielder Ritsu Doan. Down south, a resurgent Arsenal are monitoring Ajax’s Argentina left-back Nicolas Tagliafico, 26. Chelsea are closing in on 18-year-old Italian midfielder Sandro Tonali. And Crystal Palace like Inter striker Gabriel Barbosa, whose on loan at Santos having failed to command a place with the Italians. Barbosa tells Marca his “intention is to go to a place where I can be as happy as I am here [at Santos]”. Palace it is, then.

And Wolves – they’re after Inter Milan’s 25-year-old Portuguese midfielder Joao Mario and a striker. Maria is also liked by Leicester and Southampton.

Posted: 25th, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Manchester United balls: De Gea flowers amongst the rubble of Mourinho’s collapsing house

Manchester United were comprehensively outplayed in their home Champions league tie with Juventus. Stodgy, defensive and possessed by nary a muon of the swashbuckling style that made the club great. After the dull match and the performative nature of Jose Mourinho’s snipes, snarks and adherence to the belief that the boredom is not of his making, Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport reviewed United’s pampered posers:

Romelu Lukaku scored a 4/10 – the lowest of anybody on the pitch

(He is) a symbol of the torments of the United season: when the striker does not score, it becomes hard for everyone.

At this moment the Belgian is almost a deadweight, lost and confused in opposing defences, but Mourinho has no alternative.

Anthony Martial (5.5/10)

Another step backwards.

Marcus Rashford (4.5)

Never really dangerous. Half a disaster.

Luke Shaw (5)

Targeted as the weak link. Dazed. Stunned.

Chris Smalling (5)

His performance was as mediocre as his haircut.

David De Gea (lauded as United’s best player by a distance)

Like a flower amongst the rubble.

A delicate flower or a weed?

MARCA was tops, though, awarding Lukaku, Rashford, Smalling and Nemanja Matic a combined score of zero.

On the look out for bias, let’s see what the Manchester Evening News said about United:

David de Gea – United’s best player by a country mile:

Kept United in it with a few saves as United struggled to contain Cristiano Ronaldo, Juan Cuadrado and Paulo Dybala. 7

Victor Lindelof – who was every bit as good as De Gea. Yeah, really:

One of his more impressive displays for United, despite Juventus’ firepower. Read the game well and timed his challenges impressively. 7

Nemanja ‘nil points’ Matic:

Was disciplined and tried to get things going but the fleet-footed Blaise Matuidi and Miralem Pjanic outfoxed him. 5

And Romelu Lukaku, the big bloke up front who was good at Everton:

When United supporters screamed ‘move’ Lukaku rarely did. Bossed by Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci and too static. 2

Such are the facts.

Posted: 24th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment