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.

Transfer Balls: Zaha to Everton, Everton to Arsenal, Dyabla to Spurs

Everton fans must be thrilled. With £80m to spend on new talent, the Toffees are after Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha – the player who supports the Arsenal, loves the Arsenal and wants to play for the Arsenal. Compared to the £80m Manchester United want to spunk on Harry Maguire, Zaha for the same fee looks like good value.

One other issue for Everton is that their midfield tyro Idrissa Gueye is off to Paris Saint-Germain for around £30m.

As Arsenal faff about and hope Palace get desperate as the August 8 transfer deadline approaches and sell Zaha to them for some buttons, promises and a Carl Jenkinson – or buy Brazil’s Everton for £30m – Spurs make plans. Like Manchester United and Bayern Munich, they’re after Paulo Dybala, the Juventus striker. And like Maguire and Zaha, he too is in the draw marked ‘£80m’.

Meanwhile, back on planet earth away from hot football flesh, it’s boiling.

Posted: 25th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Bale sale kickstarts Pogba leaving Manchester United and Spurs getting Lo Celso

Gareth Bale’s people say Real Madrid have disrespected their cash cow. Chinese clubs Beijing Guoan, Jiangsu Suning and Shanghai Shenhua say Bale would get private jets full of respect should he choose to pull on any one of their club’s colours. And if playing for the badge isn’t enough, Bale can also get a £20m golden hello and £1m a week after tax. Not too shabby, then, for the high-achieving Real benchwarmer .

Bale’s leaving Real would allow Real to recruit the marketing machine that is Paul Pogba. Manchester United will then spend the £150m they’ll get for Pogba on Juventus striker Paulo Dybala, Spurs’ midfielder Christian Eriksen and Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic.

Spurs will use the Eriksen cash to buy Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon and Real Betis midfielder Giovani lo Celso. Or maybe Bale will take cut in wages and play for PSG?

Posted: 23rd, July 2019 | In: manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Arsenal Transfer News: Zaha for £65m plus one Jenkinson and a sexy car

zaha man united

Crystal Palace think Wilfried Zaha is worth £80m? Is he? Arsenal think he’s worth £55m plus £10m in add ons should they win the league (10-1) or Mustafi mishit a pass that lands on the moon (7-1). For a player who flopped the last time he left Palace, £80m could look like a huge risk – Zaha transferred to Manchester United in 2013 only to return to Palace in 2015. A player happy to be the star at one lower mid-table club might not shine at a club with loftier ambitions and a more demanding fanbase.

But Zaha has improved. And of that time at Manchester, where he played under the limited David Moyes, Zaha offered:

…Moyes took issue with the way he dressed and even the car he drove. Zaha felt further let down by the club’s failure to shut down false rumours he was sleeping with Moyes’ daughter and that his absence was due to an attitude problem. He remembers being ‘belittled’ in training by one United coach after scoring. On another occasion he was shown a video of himself in tricky winger mode for Palace and was asked how he could recapture that form, having already been told by Moyes to cut out the fancy footwork. ‘You see the mind games they were playing?’ a bewildered Zaha asks. ‘But when he took me out of the Champions League squad and put in Adnan Januzaj, who had never played for the first team, I knew then that this is way bigger than I ever thought and had gone way beyond footballing reasons,’ he says. ‘When it was not about football or ability, what could I do?’

Adding:

“There were rumours that the reason I wasn’t playing [many games] for United was because I slept with [then manager] David Moyes’s daughter, and no one [at the club] attempted to clear that up.
“So I was fighting my demons by myself, these rumours that I knew weren’t true. I was dealing with this at 19; living in Manchester by myself, nowhere near anyone else, because the club had a hold over where I lived. They hadn’t given me a car, like every other player [had]. Nothing. I’m living in this hell by myself, away from my family, and I thought, ‘If this doesn’t make me stronger, what will’?”

He’s stronger now with oodles of charisma. How Arsenal need him…

Posted: 22nd, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: terrible captain Laurent Koscielny agrees to play for Rennes

So farewell, Laurent Koscielny, the most mute Arsenal captain in recent decades. A fine player – one who in his pomp who could claim to be world class. But he was a poor captain.

Having gone on strike because at 33 years old he wanted longer than the year-long contract Arsenal were offering, the ageing, non-expressive, charisma-free Frenchman has agreed personal terms with Rennes, reportedly. Arsenal now need to get shot of him. Shut the door on the way out. The post-Wenger revolution has finally begun.

Posted: 21st, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: £60m is more than £65m as Spurs beat Manchester United to Giovani Lo Celso

Transfer Balls hears the rumours that Spurs want to sign Real Betis midfielder Giovani Lo Celso. The tabloids are confused as to his value and what Spurs are willing to pay:

“Tottenham are refusing to pay £60million for Real Betis’ Giovani Lo Celso” – The Sun

“Spurs are set to smash their transfer record for a second time this summer as they finally step up their interest in £70million-rated midfielder Giovani Lo Celso” – Daily Mirror

The Mirror says Spurs are “desperate to land Lo Celso after shattering Tottenham’s transfer record to sign Tanguy Ndombele for £65million”. But the Sun says they’re not all that desperate for the player who flopped at PSG and won’t pay over £60m.

Giovani Lo Celso transfer

The tabloids don’t have the foggiest. The Mirror (prop. Reach plc) says Spurs will get their man – it’s a sure thing. But Football.London (prop Reach plc) says Lo Celso could be off to Manchester United.

Such are the fatcs.

Posted: 19th, July 2019 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Zaha to Everton clickbait or slowly to Arsenal

The Liverpool Echo says there is an increased chance of Wilf Zaha joining Everton. There is also an increased chance of Zaha joining Wrexham or your local pub side. The Echo’s story is based on news that the player has told Crystal Palace he wants to leave the club. And if your side has anything from £80m (BBC) to £120m (Sun) lying about the place, they can buy him. So the Liverpool Echo seduces Everton fans with a headline based on a muon of truth.

Sky Sports says Arsenal, who’ve already seen a £40m bid for Zaha fail, are “expected to raise their offer in the coming days”. To what sum is unknown, but rumours are that they’re holding a car boot sale next Sunday and Carl Jenkinson, Calum Chambers, Mo Elneny and that bloke who used to walk about the North bank shouting ”Eanuts” are being pushed into the hatchback.

Posted: 19th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: The Arsenal ‘ace’ to replace Aaron Wan-Bissaka might be a joker

CArl Jenkinson Crystal Palace
‘ACE’

Transfer Balls likes to spot clickbait – and the Daily Star’s news that an Arsenal “ace” is to replace Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Crystal Palace is a cracker. Wan-Bissaka is now at Manchester United, which means Palace are in search of a replacement right-back. Step forward the “Arsenal ace”. No, not Hector Bellerin. It’s Carl Jenkinson – the same Carl Jenskinson who was hooked off at half-time when Arsenal last played Palace, having made “the sort of errors you would not expect to see in the third or fourth tier”.

Maybe the “ace” can be worth the £40 million Arenal need to take Wilfried Zaha from Palace to Arsenal? Maybe. The Sun says, “Eagles boss Roy Hodgson has always been a fan of the defender and even gave him his England debut against Sweden in 2012.” It might happen…

Posted: 18th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Spurs balls: Kieran Tripper thanks San Antonio Spurs for making it all possible

Spurs defender Kieran Tripper hailed his transfer to the Atletico Madrid bench by thanking Spurs for making it all possible – that’s NBA team San Antonio Spurs. On Instagram, San Antonio Spurs are the real @Spurs; Tottenham Hotspur are the less concise @spursofficial. Trippier made the obvious error.

Poor old Tottenham. All that money spent on a new stadium and an NFL deal in pursuit of becoming a global brand and everyone in the USA – and even their own players – think they’re basketball team.

Go Spurs. Yay!

Posted: 18th, July 2019 | In: Sports, Spurs | Comment


Transfer balls: Matthijs De Ligt joins Juventus but ‘agreed’ terms with PSG and Manchester United

Dutch defender Matthijs De Ligt has joined Juventus from Ajax for £67.5m. That must come as something of a shock to Manchester United and PSG fans because on July 6, the Sun bellowed: “Man Utd and PSG ‘agree transfer fees with Ajax for Matthijs De Ligt.” That news followed the Express’s July 5 scoop: “Barcelona transfer news LIVE: Matthijs de Ligt AGREEMENT in place.” Also on July 5, the Daily Star told its readers: “Man Utd and Ajax come to agreement over Matthijs de Ligt transfer.” The Daily Mirror agreed.

The Google News bots picked up the balls:

Matthijs De Ligt
Matthijs De Ligt
Matthijs De Ligt
Matthijs De Ligt

More clickbait every day…

Posted: 18th, July 2019 | In: Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Transfer Balls: Arsenal sign William Saliba, Everton medical, Cabellos close and Zaha is for sale

The Sun says the deal is done: William Saliba has joined Arsenal. But he won’t kiss the badge until 2020. The Gunners have paid £27m for the 18-year-old and allowed him to spend the season at Saint-Etienne. This suits Arsenal because the fee is being paid in instalments.

“Hi @arsenal loving the away new kit,” quips one Gooner on Twitter. “I’d like a Medium Men’s. I’ll pay £5 now. £5 on delivery and £40 based on bonuses and appearances.”

In other Gunners, news, the BBC says they are “very close” to securing Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos 22, on loan. The Spanish central midfielder was voted player of the tournament at the Under-21 European Championships.

It’s also widely reported that Arsenal have signed Gremio winger Everton for £36m. Apparently he’s having his medical in Brazil. Which leaves the club’s interest in Wilf Zaha where? “I don’t think Arsenal have actually made a bid that has come anywhere near our valuation,” Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson told Sky Sports. “I’m sure the player realises that if someone’s going to take him away from us, he’ll expect clubs to pay the market value. Until someone does that, there’s not much to discuss regarding Wilf.”

In other words, Zaha is for sale. If Arsenal can get him on the the drip, he could yet arrive at The Emirates.

Posted: 18th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Josh Kroenke knows talk is cheap

Can it be true? Arsenal manger Unai Emery says Arsenal are trying to sign some “very big, very expensive players” this summer. “Our target is to achieve three or four players who really improve our team and our squad now,” says Emery. “We have very good players and very good young players who can progress to take and get big performances with us. Other players can come here to help us. We are being very, very demanding and we are first speaking about the possibility to sign very big, very expensive players.”

Arsenal have invested in one new player this summer: 18-year-old Brazilian Gabriel Martinelli. They are being linked with Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba (18), and have bids of £25m for 22-year-old Celtic’s Kieran Tierney, plus £40m for 26-year-old Ivorian Zaha rejected.

The fans are upset about the club’s stagnation under owner Stan Kroenke. But Arsenal chief executive Josh Kroenke (qualifications for the job: absentee owner Stan’s his dad; knows the Gunners player soccerball in London), tells one and all via an open letter, in which he guffs:

“For us, the most important thing to achieve was not simply change for the sake of change, but to ensure we put the right people in the right roles to work together in a positive environment to achieve our stated goal of winning silverware both domestically and in Europe.

We know this can bring uncertainty, and perhaps everything we’ve done in the past 12-14 months has brought about additional uncertainty during a period of unease when supporters, coaches, players and management are rightfully frustrated by lack of success on the pitch.

“With all the work we’ve done on the structure of football, commercial and operational departments, we would say that the club now needs a period of stability rather than additional change.”

To translate: we drifted along collecting fat dividends whilst Arsene Wenger’s regime was winning the occasional tin pot and finishing fourth but now that’s all gone because the patriarch got too old, we’re clueless about what to do. You’re all hungry for success but I’m stinking rich and don’t really need it.

Key part:

“While we’re not going to be in the market for some of the top players in the world at the moment whilst they are the top players, we’re actively scouting the globe to find the next big thing to become great at Arsenal Football Club. And not only will we bring them to the club, we’ll be able to retain them in the fold going forward.”

Translation: We’re desperate and buying cheap. And dad won’t be putting a penny of his absurdly large fortune into the pot. (That ok, dad? Can I come home yet?)

Posted: 17th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Transfer Balls: Bale ‘agrees’ Manchester United terms and ‘agrees’ Spurs return; plays for Real Madrid

The latest transfer balls has Spurs buying Gareth Bale from Real Madrid for £55m and somehow managing to finance his £600,000-a-week wages. The 30-year-old player’s agent declined to go on talkSPORT to discuss his client but said of the Spurs rumours: “I don’t comment on rubbish.” Having thus offered a loud comment, Manchester United fans can wonder what happened to their target?

Bale spotted in Manchester; Lord Lucan sighted in Norwich

And as for Bale returning to Spurs, well, Daily Express readers know that he rejoined the club last summer:

Such are the facts.

Posted: 16th, July 2019 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Greed over glory: Arsenal fans send desperate letter to their disinterested owner

How can Arsenal get themselves out of the mess created by greed, laziness and a culture of failure? Chief contract negotiator Huss Fahmy is fighting firs, doing his best to correct the disaster of Ivan Gazidis and Dick Law’s work that saw Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck leave for nothing and Mesut Ozil offered the absurd sum of £350,000 a week to stay.

Unai Emery’s squad is a strange collection of journeymen, overpaid plodders, two top strikers and talented youngsters. Can Edu, the new technical director, and Freddie Ljungberg, now promoted to assistant to coach Emery, restore some swagger and purpose to a moribund team? Can they help Emery, who desperately needs it? When Arsenal needed reinforcements at the back, Emery pushed the board to recruit the dire Denis Suarez in January. Is he up to the task?

The fans are restless. Leading Arsenal fans’ groups have written a letter asking owner Stan Kroenke, to “reinvigorate” the club.

As Arsenal fans we have watched with frustration as the team’s football performances have declined over the past decade,’’ they argue. “When Stan Kroenke began buying Arsenal shares the club had just competed in a first Champions League final [in 2006]. Twelve years on, Arsenal are about to play in the Europa League for the third year running. Off the pitch, fans have never felt more marginalised, less listened to or valued. This was sadly illustrated when Stan Kroenke forcibly bought out the last remaining supporter-shareholders without even a word of appreciation for their custodianship role in the club. It feels as though Arsenal is at a crossroads. Things need to change…

“…our club feels like an investment vehicle. It is sad that an institution like Arsenal has such passive ownership. All of us want to see a clear sense of purpose and direction. KSE should start by being more open and accountable and explain how they intend to achieve the goal of winning the game’s major trophies…

“On a matchday the Emirates Stadium can be a soulless place. The atmosphere is poor and there are thousands of empty seats blighting almost every game. If Arsenal really cared they would make sure seats weren’t left empty by investing in an improved ticketing system and actively supporting initiatives like safe standing. The club uses the strapline: ‘Always ahead of the game’. It would be good to see action to demonstrate this.”

An absentee owner bodes badly for Arsenal. It is an investment for him and nothing more. Kroenke won’t take a gamble and invest in players in the hope of success. He’ll tick along and collect his dividends. Greed not glory is the Arsenal way. But at east one thing won’t change: at season ticket renewal time Arsenal will be linked with a big money buy.

Posted: 15th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: Laurent Koscielny knows how bad Mustafi is

People in the know chose Bordeaux. And like a fine whine – yes, yes, a weak joke but that’s Arsenal for you – Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny has refused to travel on the club’s pre-season tour of the US because he thinks the team are rubbish and wants to live and work in La Belle Endormie.

Koscielny’s current deal expires at the end of the season. At 33, he wants more than the one year extension Arsenal are offering and thinks a three-year deal at Bordeaux the better option. “We are very disappointed by Laurent’s actions, which are against our clear instructions,” say Arsenal. “We hope to resolve this matter and will not be providing any further comment at this time.”

Koscielny will win. He’s one of Arsenal’s very few top-class players. And he knows how sub-standard the alternatives are. If he leaves, Arsenal will boast – and that’s a boast akin to the scarred squaddie returning from active duty without herpes – Sokratis and Mustafi as their first-choice central defenders. Sokratis is likeable at least because he sticks the boot in and has the soulful mien of a man troubled by something bigger than cutting down Harry Kane.

Mustafi is just as poor as the Greek at passing out from defence but is affected by an unappetising combination of arrogance and limited ability. Arsenal are desperate to get shot of the German. And in a market where Aston Villa invest £20m in recruiting the doltish Tyrone Mings from what must be a delighted Bournemouth, Mustafi should be worth around that. But he won’t go to a bigger club unless one of them has read his CV without ever having seen him play. And Mustafi cuts the figure of man who think he’s destined for better things. So he’s stuck at Arsenal and Arsenal are stuck with him until his contract dies on the vine in 2021.

Posted: 12th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Malcom to Arsenal (again), Pepe to Everton and Newcastle to Championship

A year or so ago, Arsenal, Manchester United, Spurs and Fulham were competing hard to invest £45m in Malcom, a raw Brazilian winger playing for Bordeaux. Roma were “on the verge of signing” him (BBC). And then he joined Barcelona for £36.5m. One year on and the talent is not wanted by the Spaniards and worth £31m, the sum Everton have bid.

Barcelona want to resign Neymar. They need to offload Malcom because regulations in Spain mean that each team is only allowed to register three non-EU players. Barcelona have Arturo Vidal, Arthur and Malcom. Neymar makes four.

Apparently Arsenal now want Malcom to wait and see if Louis Zaha hands in a transfer request at Crystal Palace. Or if Palace accept Arsenal’s new offer of £40m plus Calum Chambers, Mohamed Elneny and Carl Jenkinson. How flattered Malcolm must be to know that his future rests on Jenkinson’s slim shoulders.

Everton fans can just to see if an Arsenal reject will join them for a big transfer fee – and if he’s joined by former Chelsea irritant Diego Costa, now stinking the place up at Atletico Madrid. Or Everton will spend £58.5m on Lille’s Nicolas Pepe, the 24-year-old Ivory Coast forward – unless Liverpool, who also want him, get there first.

As Everton fans wonder if their revolution is based more on cash than substance and Gooners try to work out where all the money has gone, all clubs can look down on Newcastle United. The Magpies have asked Sam Allardyce to mange them. And he’s turned them down. Your club might be struggling but at least it’s not Newcastle.

Posted: 11th, July 2019 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Manchester United transfer balls: Paul Pogba yo-yos between homes

Whoever takes the penalties for Juventus had best watch out: the Turin club is preparing a £120m bid for Manchester United’s 26-year-old France midfielder Paul Pogba. United should bit their hand off at the shoulder.

Juventus know what to expect from their former player – which makes you wonder how they think he’s worth such a vast sum of money. Having retuned “home” to United – his word for rejoining the club he left for Juventus in 2012 – Pogba told us in 2016, when his then world-record £89m transfer to United was completed, that “the time is right to go back to Old Trafford… This is the right club for me to achieve everything I hope to.”

The collaboration with Kanye West on a range of leather shorts and a starring role in Game of Thrones were surely near the top of the list of Pogba’s hopes. The football was okay in parts (those penalties taken in the style of a dressage pony) and less ok in others.

The tosh that heralded Pogba’s return to Old Trafford was not confined to Pogba Inc. BBC pundit Danny Murphy told us that “with their summer signings and with Jose Mourinho in charge, United will soon have their old fear factor back.While Pogba has arrived, I do not see Juan Mata being at Old Trafford for too much longer.”

Mata has just extended his United contract by a further three years. Pogba has been telling his United teammates he’s ready to leave. Presumably it’s the ‘right time’ to embark on another marketing project.

The Times says United want Pogba to be the pivot for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s new team. Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola says he is “in the process” of arranging a transfer for Pogba. “Everyone within the club from the manager to the owner knows Paul’s wishes. Everyone knows the willingness of Paul to move on. We are in the process of that. Everyone knows what the feelings of Paul are,” said Raiola.

And for the right fee, you can feel the love.

Posted: 8th, July 2019 | In: Back pages, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal balls: the £76m transfer kitty

How skint is skint? The Sun tells readers Arsenal are “skint” because they have “just” £40m to spend on new players this summer. The Bleacher Report and others agree: Arsenal are “skint”.

A few days on and the BBC tells its readers: “The Gunners have up to £70m available as they prepare to make a second bid for Zaha.”

Arsenal transfers
Arsenal skint

A click over the the Sky Sports scoop reveals: “Arsenal have up to £70m available to make an improved bid for Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha, Kaveh Solhekol told The Transfer Show.”

Kaveh…who? He’s a reporter on Sky Sports. And he “believes” Arsenal can afford to spend £70m on Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha. Add the £6m the Gunners recently forked out for Gabriel Martinelli and the Gunners transfer kitty swells to £76m.

As we try to fathom the numbers – and work out on what planet or gated community £40m quid to spend means you’re “skint” – The Bleacher Report tells us that Arsenal have “nothing”:

Arsenal have “no money” None. Not a bean. Or maybe they have £76m. It all depends which sofa you’re looking under for change.

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


Arsenal Transfer Balls: Monreal lies and corrections

Arsenal transfer news

On the Sun’s transfer news page for Arsenal, readers see the headline: “Monreal CONTRACT TERMINATED.”

Nacho Monteal has been sacked? What did he do. The hard-working Spaniard has never been a problem at Arsenal. To be sacked he must have done something incredible. Monreal contract runs until the end of the 2019/20 season. Arsenal would surely prefer to sell him. So you click on the headline and get told:

Arsenal transfer news

The Sun says there is “nothing in reports that Nacho Monreal has left Arsenal”. Reports like – yep – the Sun’s reports “Monreal Contract TERMINATED”. Which for those of hard of understanding appears in capital letters at the top of a story saying it’s nonsense.

Not that the Sun is alone in this tosh. Football.London and The Daily Record have the same owners.

As the Sun says: “confusion reigns.” And bullshit.com thrives.

Posted: 3rd, July 2019 | In: Back pages, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal bid £40m for lifelong Gooner Wilfried Zaha

Arsenal have opened the bidding at £40m for Crystal Palace’s brilliant Wilfried Zaha. Palace want “up to £80m” (BBC) for the 26-year-old. The Guardian says Palace want “around £100m”. The Sun says it’s £120m and not a penny less. Palace, says the Sun, are “guided by current market valuations”. Whether they’re operating in the market where Real Madrid paid £130m for Eden Hazard or the other market where Liverpool picked up Mo Salah is unclear. It looks a lot like guesswork.

To say that Arsenal fans would love to see Zaha in their colours is an understatement. Arsenal are a side in need of personality and verve. Zaha has both. He’s a hero-in-waiting.

Zaha’s brother, Judicael, told Sky Sports News: “Given all that Wilfried has given to Crystal Palace to help them remain a Premier League club, I hope Palace will be able to see their way to agreeing a deal with Arsenal that allows Wilfried to realise his dream of playing European football for the club he’s supported since childhood.”

Can it happen? The Sun says the offer is “embarrassing”. Such is the the state of football that £40m is presented as a shameful sum of money. It is “derisory”. It’s a fortune. The Sun also notes that Manchester United, who bought Zaha for £10m and sent him back to Palace for £6m, “have a 25 per cent sell-on clause”. The Sun fails to note that the clause is capped at £15m. A sum the paper might well deem to be pathetic and not worth getting out of bed for.

So much for the numbers.

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


Raheem Sterling’s ‘stolen’ ghost hat-trick: Manchester City beat Watford

raheem sterling fa cup final

The BBC’s report on the FA Cup final hype between Manchester City and Watford at Wembley makes for odd reading. The BBC’s voracious website tells us that City’s England striker Raheem Sterling scored a hat trick and didn’t score a hat-trick. Phil McNulty was there:

He writes:

Raheem Sterling scored the first FA Cup final hat-trick since 1953 as Manchester City rounded off an outstanding season by crushing Watford at Wembley to clinch a historic domestic treble.

Two goals is not a hat-trick. Three is.

McNulty continues:

City’s second goal in the 38th minute was scored by Gabriel Jesus. The Football Association says Sterling is NOT the first scorer of an FA Cup final hat-trick since 1953. He did, however, make sure Gabriel Jesus’s strike hit the net.

And before Sterling is hammered in the Press:

Raheem never did claim the second goal. He was just joyously ramming it home. He responded to media chat about his hat-trick: ‘You’re bantering me. That’s sh*t from me then… poor from me! I didn’t mean to do it. I’m sorry.” He did not “steal” a goal.

Posted: 18th, May 2019 | In: Back pages, Manchester City, Sports | Comment


Let’s all cherish Ajax

Good news for Spurs: the Ajax team that out-classed and out-played them for the majority of last’s night Champions League semi-final, earning a 0-1 victory that makes the Dutch favourites to reach the final, will be much changed soon.

The composed Ajax captain, Matthijs de Ligt, at just 19 is coveted by all the richer clubs. His shimmies and side-steps at centre-half made Spurs’ tactic of lobbing it up to the big lad in attack, the 6ft 4in cumbersome Fernando Llorente, all the more inept. De Ligt (to be pronounced: ‘delight’) is surely on his way out of Ajax when the season ends. A huge feee will prove irresistible.

The Dutch side’s wage bill is £47m. That’s lower than anything in the Premier League. It’s less than Stoke’s in the Championship. Ajax’s record signing is the £14m they paid Manchester United for Danny Blind.

Ajax’s money comes from player sales, earning the club around £250m in the last three seasons, including the £75m Barcelona have agreed to pay for Frenkie de Jong. Selling Davinson Sanchez to Spurs earned the Amsterdam club £42m. On last night’s showing, only the most monocular Spurs fan would argue the Londoners got the better end of that deal.

Ajax have a plan. Two years ago when they lost in the Europa League final to Manchester United the club’s entire annual spend on players and staff was less than Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Man United salary. Since then the clubs have gone in two different directions. United bought the marketing bilge and took a desperate gamble on Paul Pogba for around £100m. Ajax invested in Southampton’s Dusan Tadic for £10m and Nicolás Tagliafico for £4m. In that 2017 match, the then 17-year-old De Ligt became the youngest player ever in a major European final. He’s improved. Can the same be said of any United player on the pitch that night?

Ajax get it. They understand the economics of football. De Ligt, De Jong and others will leave the club at the end of this season. Their swan song could a Champions League final with Barcelona. How many will be wearing Barca’s colours next season? Counting De Jong, Barcelona have recruited 20 Dutch players. The list of players the Spaniards have signed from Ajax is one to excite football fans: Edgar Davids, Ronald Koeman, Frank de Boer, Marc Overmars, Johan Neeskens, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Johan Cryuff, Patrick Kluivert and Michael Reiziger.

The semi-final tie’s not over, of course. Spurs can welcome back the excellent Son Heung-Min and only need a goal in the Netherlands to put the match on the knife-edge. But if you are going to lose, defeat to his wonderful Ajax side is no shame.

Posted: 1st, May 2019 | In: Sports | Comment


Chelseaballs: Danny Drinkwater is alive and fighting nominative determinism

Occasional Chelsea footballer Danny Drinkwater, 29, has been charged with drink-driving after a car crash in Mere, Cheshire, in the early hours of Monday. Mr Drinkwater, 29, who lives in that county, will appear at Stockport Magistrates’ Court on 13 May.

Mr Drinkwater is not a product of nominative determinism, the notion that a person’s name can shape their density. He might be the product of nomininative rejectionism or nominative denialism. What’s in a surname? And should Drinkwater change his to something more fitting, like Berk?

Posted: 9th, April 2019 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Media bias: Lloris ‘saves’ Spurs as Liverpool strike

Liverpool beat Spurs 2-1 in today’s Premier League match, the winning goal coming in the 90th minute courtesy of a Tottenham player. Lucky? Let’s see what the club’s respective websites say:

Spurs see a “save” from their ‘keeper and a Mo Salah “strike”:

…in the last minute of normal time, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris saved but couldn’t hold Mo Salah’s back-post strike from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross and the ball trickled in off the legs of defender Toby Alderweireld, consigning us to a 2-1 defeat.

Liverpool, on the other hand, see Mo Salah head tamely in the general direction of the Spurs goal and a rubbish bit of goalkeeping:

The contest looked to be heading for stalemate until Hugo Lloris pushed Mohamed Salah’s header against the shins of Toby Alderweireld and over the line to give Liverpool what could prove a crucial victory in the race to be crowned champions.

Adding:

Robertson hoisted a half-cleared corner back into the area, picking out Salah. His header across goal was fumbled by Loris, with the ball edging over the line off the shins of Alderweireld

For reasons of balance, this is how the Guardian saw it: “The more you see the winning goal, the more it looks like a bad mistake by Hugo Lloris, who should have caught Salah’s header. Instead he dropped it onto Alderweireld’s shin and it rebounded into the net.”

And the BBC: “Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris failed to hold Mohamed Salah’s routine far-post header and the ball ricocheted into the net off Alderweireld.” But to Spurs fans it was a Lloris “save”.

Posted: 31st, March 2019 | In: Liverpool, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Media bias: what the websites said about Chelsea beating Cardiff

In today’s Premier League match between Cardiff City and Chelsea, the visitors equalised with a goal that was two yards offside. It should not have stood. But if you read the official Chelsea website, you get only the merest hint of controversy:

With time running out Hazard and Alonso exchanged passes and the former’s cross was cleared by the omnipresent Morrison. From the resulting corner, Willian’s delivery was flicked on by Alonso and Azpilicueta nodded in. The offside flag was not raised and we were level. There were six minutes to go.

The passivity of being offside if you’re a Chelsea fans can be contrasted with the report on the Cardiff City website:

César Azpilicueta, clearly in an offside position, diverted the ball beyond Neil Etheridge. Despite the appeals of the home support, the goal was given.

The BBC provides the impartial word: “With five minutes left, Cezar Azpilicueta nodded in an equaliser from a clearly offside position.”

What of the red card that wasn’t given?

Chelsea FC:

A long pass split our defence, and Rudiger and Cardiff sub Kenneth Zohore came together. After a lengthy delay the referee deemed it a foul and a yellow card offence. Again the home side were aghast.

Cardiff:

A further moment of controversy came three minutes later as substitute Ken Zohore ran clear on goal. Antonio Rüdiger pulled the Danish striker to the floor as he looked to beat Kepa to the ball and net for the Bluebirds – with the referee awarding a free kick and yellow card, despite Rüdiger being the last man in defence.

And Sky: “Antonio Rudiger was fortunate to escape a red card for hauling down Kenneth Zohore.”

Such are the facts.

Posted: 31st, March 2019 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment


Manchester United appoint Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – a manager who has won nothing

From the hunt for proven winners – Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho – to the decision to settle for a man who has won nothing as manager. Manchester United have appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as permanent manager on a three-year contract. Solskjær has won the Tippeligaen as manager of Molde. And that’s it.

“This is the job that I always dreamed of doing and I’m beyond excited to have the chance to lead the club long term,” says Solskjaer. “From the first day I arrived, I felt at home at this special club. It was an honour to be a Manchester United player, and then to start my coaching career here. The last few months have been a fantastic experience.”

The expectation levels are far higher now than when he joined. Much to do…

Posted: 28th, March 2019 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment