Anorak

Sports | Anorak - Part 8

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.

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


Bob Marley features on League of Ireland side Bohemians’ new kit

bohemians-bob-marley-kit

 

The new away kit of the League of Ireland side Bohemians features a big photo of Bob Marley along with Rasta-styled trim. It looks a bit naff, a T-shirt version of those coffee bars in Amsterdam that play Bob Marley songs on loop in the hope that priapic Stag dos and goofed teens ignore the freezing winds and think they’re fighting for freedom in Jamaica. But the Bohs want to explain why they chose Marley and not Che Guevara or some other cultural totem turned by marketing ninnies into a hackneyed teen icon. Bob Marley played a gig at their Dalymount ground on 6 July 1980. The stadium has “special place in the hearts of football and music fans”. So Marley is on the shirt.

Denis Buckley was at that show. “Inside the dilapidated ground the facilities were woeful,” he recalled in an article for The Journal:

The national press pondered pompously on whether he should be allowed to bring his weed into the country. It was tempered by the prevailing belief that despite the epidemic of alcohol abuse throughout the county allowing this “Rastafarian” to bring marijuana into Ireland would be the gates opening on something far more damaging than the public brawling and domestic violence visible on every street.

The music itself was perfect for political messaging. The rhythm section was serious and adult. Dancing Queen it was not. Marley put a speech by Haile Selassie over a dub: “Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and totally abandoned, everywhere is war.” Right time, right place.

The Boomtown Rats also played at Dalymount in the 1970s, but for some reason the club didn’t feel a large graphic of Bob Geldof would have the same impact.

Posted: 23rd, October 2018 | In: Key Posts, Music, Sports | Comment


Reasons to love Emery: Arsenal got rid of Wilshere

Reasons for Arsenal fans to love Unai Emery mass by the day. After last night’s Wenger-esque victory over Leicester City, a performance illuminated by three synchronised team goals of rare beauty, what one writer compared to “watching a tribute band play better than the act they are paying homage to”, comes news that were it not for Emery Jack Wilshere would still be at the club.

Well, so says Wilshere, who tells the Islington Gazette:

“If Arsene had stayed I would have stayed, because of the influence he had in my career and the trust he had in me. He gave me the armband and respected me a lot. So, I had pretty much agreed to stay. And then he left and that changed things. Arsene had said to me previously ‘stay and fight your way back into the team’. Because I knew Arsene and knew he had trust in me, I knew I could do that and fight my way into the team.”

Wilshere was a hugely promising talent who rarely delivered. Arenal fans will wish him well at West Ham, but would he really get into the current side, who play such a high-tempo game? No. And if he did, when the ball reached Wilshere, the move would slow.

Emery is now working his magic on Aaron Ramsey, who having seen his demands for £250,000 a week in wages and a four-year deal rebuffed is seeking pastures new when his contract expires in the summer. As Ramsey’s agent whines on twitter about there being “no other option” for their low-scoringinjury prone midfielder of a client to leave because he can’t get £1m a month wages (plus loyalty bonuses?), Emery’s stock rises.

 

Posted: 23rd, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Chelsea’s Ross Barkley gets rid of his tattoos

Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley says he got his tattoos removed because he “got them at a young age and sometimes when you are young you do stupid things and not think about it. But I went into it too quick and over the years I felt I wanted to get them removed, so I went through the process in the last couple of years.”

 

Barkley got his first cry for help and sign of low-self esteem, sorry, tattoo, when he was 14. He just kept filling in the gaps with crosses, words, faces, stars and swirls until his armed looked as confusing and unnecessary as a Where’s Wally cartoon, only without the purpose.

But not of that lasering and scabbing off means Ross is off tatts forever. “I would never rule out getting another,” he says, “maybe when I have kids I might have something done to go with that. I don’t know.”

Whereas once we had the high-street portrait photographer to serve up awkward family photos, we now have the inkologists who can draw the face of your beloved nipper on your arms, back, chest or, well, face, leading to the full meta line, “He looks just like his dad.”

Posted: 22nd, October 2018 | In: Chelsea, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United chase Koulibaly, Arsenal take Malcolm on loan from Arsenal and Chelsea underpay Hazard

Cancel the trip to Jose Mourinho’s hotel room in Manchester and the one-way ticket to Real Madrid, Eden Hazard will stay at Chelsea. The BBC says Chelsea will offer their best player £350,000-a-week to stay at the club. This, says the Express, will make Hazard “the highest-paid player in the Premier League”. Which is odd because the Express says Alexis Sanchez is the league’s number one earner on £500,000-a-week.

 

daily express sanchez

Daily Express facts by Dany Wilson October 2 2018

 

As the Express delivers the facts and then fact that counter those facts in a SEO blizzard of utter balls, the Express also says struggling Real Madrid want to hire Raheem Sterling to bolster a forward line missing Cristiano Ronaldo’s 50-odd goals a season. There are no facts to support the claim. The Mirror says Sterling wants more money to stay at Manchester City, who will of course find it down the back of the sofa.

Finally, the Star says Arsenal fancy taking Barcelona’s Brazilian winger Malcom, 21, on loan in January. That’s be the same Malcolm the press told us had agreed to join Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester United before he went to Spain.

More facts from the twilight zone of football reporting every day…

Posted: 21st, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs, Tabloids | Comment


Talking balls: Manchester United sale to Saudi Arabia is on-ish

The sale of Manchester United is on! Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a man riding high on the news cycle for exercising an attitude to journalists that even Sir Alex Ferguson would consider a bit much, is “hoping” to meet Manchester United owners the Glazer family and buy the club for £4bn (Mirror) or £3bn (Sun). The Mirror confirms the story punched out by the trusty Daily Star last week. That scoop was based on“web football forums and Twitter”. So it’s a dead cert to be true.

 

Crown_Prince_Mohammad_bin_Salman_Al_Saud manchester united

‘Only Man United – no Women United’

 

Now the no less trusty Mirror takes up the news cudgel. If it’s facts you want, the paper says Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is worth £850bn. Sorry, fact. That’s the only one, and even it’s a guess. The Mirror says the Prince is “hoping” to meet United owners Joel and Avram Glazer in the ­Middle East in the next couple of weeks. Progress, eh. A few years ago, Saudi Arabia banned Jews from entering the country. Now they let them in. If they they let then out again in one piece, we’ll see.

Indeed, as the Mirror notes: “United’s co-owners know that they will have to tread carefully as the Crown Prince is embroiled in a tense diplomatic row over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.” The Saudis say Mr Khashoggi – a critic of the Saudi government – was killed in a fight at the Saudi consulate in Turkey. It’s unlikely the row was about United’s decision to offer Luke Shaw a new contract, but nothing is being ruled out.

But will the Saudis really buy United? On the back of this rumour, which the Mirror can’t substantiate with a single quote or fact, shares in the club traded on the New York Stock Exchange rose by over 5% to $27.65. Such is the power of the red-tops that when they spread a baseless rumour, City traders go ballistic.

Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, local journalists deliver the scores from last weekend’s matches: Chelsea 0, Manchester United 27.

Posted: 21st, October 2018 | In: Key Posts, manchester united, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Manchester United feared losing Luke Shaw on a free

Now Luke Shaw is a committed Manchester United player for the next five seasons, what the experts said and now make of it is news. Shaw signed a deal that gives him £160,000 a week until 2023.

It all looked unlikely when his manager Jose Mourinho was belittling him in public. The Times says Mourinho “pulverised Shaw’s confidence with a series of put-downs”. Even when Shaw played well, he was little more than a video game avatar or brainless robot. “He [Shaw] had a good performance, but it was his body with my brain,” Mourinho said. “He was in front of me and I was making every decision for him.”

But as Shaw’s current deal ran down – it was due to finish at this season’s end –  Mourinho softened. He sent Shaw a text in the summer saying: “I know what you can do. You can be the best but you’ve just got to work on a couple of things.” Was Mourinho just protecting a company asset?

Last week, the Mail “understood the England defender has no intention of signing a new one if Mourinho is still in charge”. Shaw added: “If you look at my situation in the last year and a bit, you’d have thought this could have been impossible. ”

And having mocked the player in public, Mourinho now tells us:

“Luke fully deserves this contract. He understood his development process, he has worked really hard at every level and he always believes in himself which is a great attribute to have.

“Luke is still young and is improving all the time and he must feel very proud of himself. I am delighted that we are keeping such a talented young English player with a bright future ahead of him.”

To say nothing of resale value for a player who was once the most expensive teenager in world football – a title taken by Anthony Martial when he joined Manchester United. Martial’s contract expires at the season’s end. He wants to leave the club on a free. He should expect a supportive text message from Mourinho very soon…

Posted: 20th, October 2018 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Hazard to Manchester United because he loves Chelsea

Is Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea for Manchester United? Surely not. But the Manchester Evening News implies that United is on the brilliant Belgian’s radar. The Twitter feed for the Manchester Evening News dedicated to Manchester United news – “Manchester United Football Club news from the Manchester Evening News” – tweets a photo of Hazard and a link to a story on the paper’s site. In anyone still can’t understand the story that Hazard is looking at his “future plans” which seem to included a move to Manchester United, the paper includes the tag ‘#mufc”.

 

eden hazard manchester united

hazard mufc

 

Taking the bait, we click the link and are told:

 

hazard cheslea

 

Words form Hazard on playing for Manchester United: nil. In fact, the MEN merely ping readers a post by Sky Sports, in which Hazard says he loves Chelsea and could end his playing days there:

 

hazard chelsea

 

So what is the story on Hazard that will be of interest to Manchester United fans? Oh:

Eden Hazard reveals his future plans
The Chelsea superstar previously revealed he would love to work with Jose Mourinho again, but that’s not going to happen unless the United boss ends up back at Stamford Bridge for a THIRD spell it seems:

Total tosh from the trusty MEN.

Posted: 19th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports | Comment


Arsenal fans lament the loss of their shares to a heartless Kroenke

When Arsenal fans watching their side thrash Fulham 5-1 began to sing “We’ve got our Arsenal back”, billionaire Stan Kroenke must have smirked. It’s not the fans who have Arsenal, it’s him. And he’s got the lot.

Not too long ago, the list of Arsenal owners with clout read like a Damon Runyon play: Peter Hill-Wood, Sir Chips Keswick, Lord Harris of Peckham, Danny Fiszman and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith. But they cashed in. The old school stability that had defined Arsenal for decades vanished when David Dein, the hymned vice-chairman, sold his shares to Alisher Usmanov, an Usbek billionaire, in 2011 for £75m – each share valued at £11,750. Fiszman wasn’t keen on Usmanov, so sold his stake to Kroenke for £159.5m. The Bracewell-Smiths got £116m for theirs. The so-called Establishment Club was no longer a rich man’s chattel; it was a brand to exploit.

It’s Stan’s Arsenal now. He’ll let you know his plans for Arsenal when he thinks you need to know.

To take full ownership of the club, Kroenke was required to buy all the shares, including those owned by fans. He ordered those fans to relinquish their little bit of the club they loved and felt part of. Not everyone has signed the forms and taken the £29,000 per share. But they will.

Rory Smith spoke to a few of them:

“Owning a share made me feel as though Arsenal was actually my club: It was a closer, more emotional bond,” says Martha Silcott.” That sense of custodianship is very important to me; it is right that fans, the lifeblood of a team, own a part of that team… I don’t like the idea of it being owned by someone whose only interest in it is money, buying up the shares of people who bought them for reasons that had nothing to do with money.”

“I have been a member of the family called the Arsenal for 75 years,” says Jeffrey Freeman. “..It upsets me that one man can decide the destiny of the Arsenal, can accrue all the benefits of ownership himself, especially given that he does not regularly attend games. Does he have the interests of the Arsenal at heart?..  By taking them, Kroenke has bought the body of the club. The heart, though, will always evade him. The heart will always belong to the fans.”

Arsenal fans will get their Arsenal back one day – but for now it’s the property of Mr Walmart.

Posted: 19th, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Key Posts, Sports | Comment


New Spurs stadium Daniel Levy suite and NFL shop almost ready to open

Don’t worry, Spurs fans,  the new multi-sports stadium is on track to open sometime soon. The first part opening for business is the club shop. this Saturday, Spurs will open their new megastore this weekend. Spurs say the club shop is the largest retail space of any European football club in Europe. Lots of shoulder room for American Football fans to get official merchandise, watch “appearances from NFL legends”, play “interactive NFL activities” and dine on a “selection of the best American-style food” at their official away ground.

Better yet, some of the executive suites, including The Daniel Levy suite, named after the club’s chairman, are, reportedly, close to being fully operational. The actual sport can wait a while.

Use the hashtag #Priorities to keep abreast of all Spurs stadium news.

Posted: 18th, October 2018 | In: Sports, Spurs | Comment


Aaron Ramsey transfer balls: Everton ready to trump Liverpool and Man United for Arsenal player

Does the BBC need to clickbait Arsenal fans with news of Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey? The BBC says Ramsey is “set to leave Arsenal for Everton on a free transfer in the summer”. Wasn’t he heading to Manchester United, Spurs, Liverpool, Manchester City or Chelsea? Earlier this week, the BBC told its reader that Ramsey was “open to joining one of Arsenal’s top six rivals if he leaves Emirates Stadium on a free transfer in the summer”. Everton are not a top six side. And that was “if” not “when”.

The BBC also told us that Real Madrid want Ramsey; and Liverpool and Man United were looking to get Ramsey in a “cut-price” deal this January.

Now we’re told, Everton are “ready to offer the 27-year-old a £15m signing-on fee”. Says who? Says the Sun, which actually says nothing of the sort. The BBC cites the tabloid as the source of its news, but when you head to the Sun, it tells us Ramsey “can command a stunning £15million signing-on fee.” He can. But will he? Everton could also pay the injury-prone player £150,000 a week to be “the main man in Silva’s midfield”.

 

ITV News also broadcast a rumour based on nothing but guesswork

 

Ramsey wants £250,000-a-week to stay at Arsenal on a four-year contract, working out at £52m. The Gunners rejected that option to nearly double Ramsey’s current salary. And now Everton will offer him £15m plus £31m in wages – that’s £46m over four-years. Although the Sun doesn’t say how long any contract offer will be for – just as it doesn’t says Everton are going to offer the player a £15m signing-on fee.

What next for Ramsey? The BBC hasn’t got the foggiest idea. He might yet stay at the Gunners. Look out for that theory on the BBC…

 

Posted: 17th, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Clickbait balls: Everton and Liverpool both boast the Premier League’s best goalkeeper

How football journalism works: No.9: be all things to all fans. The Liverpool Echo published two stories on goalkeepers: one on how much better than the rest the Liverpool ‘keeper is; one on how much better than the rest the Everton ‘keeper is.

“Alisson Becker is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League and we have the stats to prove it.”

 

liverpool echo liverpool everton

 

“Jordan Pickford’s distribution is better than that of Premier League rivals Alisson and Ederson…”

 

liverpool echo liverpool everton

 

The Pickford story is clickbait all the way. The entire thing is baed on the opinion of former England and Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman. He opines: “In the Premier League, you’ve got three guys who are really good when it comes to their distribution. You’ve got the two Brazilian keepers – Ederson at Manchester City and Alisson at Liverpool – but they’re not as good as Jordan is with his long passes out of his hands.” Pickford is better at “long passes out of his hands” than all the others, says former goalie.

Next week, why Tranmere Rovers’ ‘keeper is the best in the land…

 

Posted: 17th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Terry Butcher on England: ‘surgical .. incisive and deadly’

Former England stalwart Terry Butcher’s love for football is medicine’s loss. After England beat Spain 3-2, Butcher took to twitter:

 

 

When surgery is “incisive and deadly”, it’s more akin to murder.

As Butcher falls victim to nominative determinism, here he is in happier times:

 

Posted: 16th, October 2018 | In: Sports | Comment


Saudi Arabia to buy Manchester United – good press guaranteed

Interesting news that Manchester United is to be bought by Saudi Arabia boss crown prince Mohammad bin Salman. Not only will the purchase turn Manchester into a proxy Middle East war zone, what with Saudi Arabia’s enemies owning Manchester City, but it should pave the way for an end to that irritating habit footballers have to talking into their hands. Disappoint the prince and – et voila! – no hands!

 

Crown_Prince_Mohammad_bin_Salman_Al_Saud manchester united

‘Only Man United – no Women United’

 

Journalists should also take care, perhaps take to travelling to press conferences in twos and politely declining the offer of tea and electrodes at the embassy. Look out for lots of favourable match reports, with heavy focus on the prince’s dashing looks and support for his brave decision to permit women to speak in public, albeit after first raising a hand and submitting their words for official review a week in advance.

No deal to buy the club is agreed, of course. Manchester United have rejected suggestions the Glazer family are ready to put the club up for sale even if Saudi Arabia offer, say, $4bn… $5bn…$5 and a bit billion and a province in Yemen?

 

Posted: 16th, October 2018 | In: manchester united, Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester United, Spurs and Chelsea in a ‘bidding war’ for Ake

Manchester United, Spurs and Chelsea are all in for Netherlands international Nathan Ake, 23. Well, so says the BBC. And United and Spurs “will have to wait” to see if Chelsea want to re-sign the player they sold to Bournemouth. So that’s three top clubs who all want Ake in a story that has taken on a life of its own.

Over in the Telegraph we learn that as part of Ake’s £20 million transfer to Bournemouth, Chelsea negotiated “a gentleman’s agreement that would allow them to re-sign him for a fee of around £40m”. What utter tosh. Football club’s do not employ lawyers on multi-million pound deals to work with a handshake. And then this:

There has not yet been any sign that Chelsea are ready to try to take Ake back to Stamford Bridge and any move to re-sign him would have to be agreed by the player. But a summer bid from either Spurs or United would force Bournemouth to offer Chelsea the opportunity to make a move and leave the other two clubs sweating.

This transfer news is tosh. But that doesn’t top the Express from milking the balls to produce the gem: “Man Utd news: Nathan Ake transfer battle takes fresh twist, Chelsea hold the key.”

When asked if he’d read the story of his transfer to Spurs, Ake told Football Oranje: “I’ve also seen it pass by, but of course it’s rumours. At the moment I play everything at Bournemouth and that goes well, so I focus on that. If I’ve already signed in London? No, certainly not. This does not say much about my status yet, they are rumours that come on the internet and as long as I do not hear anything myself, I will not go into that.” The story on the Dutch website was titled: “Ake to Tottenham: its only rumours.”

Mentions of Manchester United: nil. The story is about interest from Spurs. But the Daily Star hears the same words and manages to report:”NATHAN AKE has addressed the rumours surrounding his future amid reported interest from Manchester United.” In The Metro it’s: “Nathan Ake speaks out on Manchester United transfer speculation.” “Nathan Ake breaks silence on Manchester United speculation as Bournemouth defender addresses future,” chimes the Mirror.

All newspapers connive to omit the part where Ake says he’s not signed “in London“. Worse still, the Metro thunders: “Man Utd transfer news: Nathan Ake responds to Jose Mourinho interest.” Words from Mourinho: zero. But as the Mail says in a story about a “bidding war” for Ake, “Jose Mourinho, who worked with Ake at Chelsea, wants to revamp his defence with Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof failing to impress the Portuguese tactician.”

Ake did play for Chelsea nine times. But he was loaned out to Reading, Watford and Bournemouth. Aké made his Premier League debut on 26 December 2012 – when Rafa Benitez was Chelsea manager. Under Mourinho, Ake only made one league appearance, as a substitute in a 3–0 loss at West Bromwich Albion on 18 May.

Such are the facts.

 

 

Posted: 16th, October 2018 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Woman born a man sets world record in first race at world cycling championships

Congratulation to Canadian Rachel McKinnon for winning the women’s sprint 35-39 age bracket at yesterday’s world cycling championship in Los Angeles. Rachel is a natural, tweeting: “I broke the 200m WORLD RECORD this morning. It was my first indoor 200m…” Imagine how much faster Rachel, who was born a man and also holds a PhD in philosophy and focuses on gender studies, would go than the other women if she practiced?

And think how much better the England women’s rugby team could be with few trans players in it – we’d annihilate the opposition, literally. England’s current second row features Rowena Burnfield (5ft 10ins; 77kg); the men’s game boasts Joe Launchberry (6ft 4 inches; 118kg).

Rachel tweeted again, this time with the medal around her neck, hailing herself as the “First transgender woman world champion…ever.”

Plaudits came thick and fast on twitter. “Those poor women who trained so hard only to have this done to them,” said @stringfella_.

@Hitkicker noted: “Amazing! I was so enthused at reading this, I went out and challenged two 8 year olds to a 100m race. Guess what, I ONLY WENT AND FUCKING WON. First time running in a 8 year old’s race too!”

McKinnon was touched:

Which women is moot point?

 

 

Posted: 15th, October 2018 | In: Sports | Comment


Transfer balls: Manchester City’s Foden to Dortmund, Hazard’s Chelsea dream and Manchester United want Ake

Borussia Dortmund are keen to hire Manchester City’s cake-loving reserve Phil Foden to keep Jadon Sancho company. All the noises from those with vested interests in young Foden earning loads money at City say he’s very happy at the club. But he hardly plays for the first team, and if a big name in his position became available, City would surely swoop and push Foden further down the hierarchy. RB Leipzig and PSG also want Foden, but Dortmund with their reputation for developing young talent must be the pick.

Bournemouth’s Nathan Aké is talking about a rumoured move to Manchester United. “I’ve seen it pass by but of course it’s rumours,” says the former Chelsea loanee. “At the moment I play at Bournemouth and that is going well, so I focus on that. This does not say much about my status yet. They are rumours on the internet and as long as I do not hear anything myself, I will not go into that.” No comment is still a comment, Nathan. But he’s not heard anything himself about the things he’s chatting about to Dutch journalists so let’s just leave him alone.

Still at Chelsea is Eden Hazard, who having stated it his childhood “dream” to play for Real Madrid, no says he won’t head to Spain in January. He also says he won’t ever force a move to Madrid. Instead, he’ll just keep on talking about his ambitions in Spain, batting his eyelashes and seemingly talking abut Madrid every single day.

Heading back to Chelsea is midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, 24. Reports are that AC Milan have “threatened” to cancel his loan deal because of “defects in his game”.

Arsenal are looking at cheaper options than Hazard, like Rennes’s Ismaila Sarr and Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz. They’re said to be promising, young, athletic, skilful and cheap. You know the story. Some things at Arsenal never change.

At the other end of the pay scale, Manchester United are all ready to offer Spain goalkeeper David de Gea a new deal that would make the 27-year-old the club’s highest earner – m re than the £600,000-a-week they pay Alexis Sanchez to kiss the badge.

As for Spurs, well, Madrid captain Ramos says Harry Kane would be great in La Liga, and Mousa Dembélé will quit the cub at the season’s end to live out his own fantasy at Beijing Sinobo Guoan in the Chinese (Not So) Super League.

Posted: 15th, October 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Chelsea, Manchester City, manchester united, Sports, Spurs | Comment


Liverpool fans Sean Cox remain in a ‘dire’ state as man accused of attack stands trial

Let’s spare a thought for Sean Cox, the Liverpool fan attacked before his club faced Roma in the Champions League. The 53-year-old was badly beaten in an unprovoked attack. After a major operation to stem bleeding on the brain, medics placed Mr Cox into an induced coma. Now conscious, he cannot sit on his own. His situation is “dire”. His brother Martin Cox, who was with him at the game, told Preston Cron Court. “He can’t talk, he just whispers.”

Also in the court is one Filippo Lombardi, 21. The Italian Roma fan has admitted the offence of violent disorder but denies wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Martin Cox told the jury: “We heard some noises, not good noises – we just sensed there was something not right. At that time people come across us in dark clothes, chanting. I turned to Sean as if to say ‘Let’s get out of here’. But as I turned, Sean was lying on the ground… I just froze for a second, just in complete shock. My next instinct was to go straight down to Sean to see if he was OK… I bent down to Sean and, as I was bent over, I could feel a kick on the back and I lost balance, stumbled a bit, but I didn’t look up, I just gathered myself around Sean.”

The trial continues, as does Mr Cox’s ordeal.

Posted: 13th, October 2018 | In: Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Chelsea offer fans free trips to Auschwitz

Chelsea are to send their racist fans on a free holiday to Auschwitz instead of banning them. In the 1980s, that would have meant a large group booking. But the days when Chelsea was a recruiting round for the NF are long past. The few remaining goons and would-be gassers able to afford tickets to a club owned by a Russian Jew are being addressed by Chelsea’s chairman, Bruce Buck, who says educating racists by way of visits to a Nazi death camp can “make them want to behave better”.

 

chelsea thugs

We’ve come a long way, baby

 

“If you just ban people, you will never change their behaviour,” says Buck in the Sun. “This policy gives them the chance to realise what they have done, to make them want to behave better. In the past we would take them from the crowd and ban them, for up to three years. Now we say: ‘You did something wrong. You have the option. We can ban you or you can spend some time with our diversity officers, understanding what you did wrong.’

Ban me. Ban me now! Are the fans singing nasty songs all bigots, or are they just letting off steam and trying to wind up the opposition, most notably the self-styled ‘Yid Army’ who follow Spurs? Context matters. Don’t real racists boycott clubs owned by Jews and staffed by players from all over the world, many of whom are black?

No-one sane goes to the football to be re-educated. But Chelsea have a cause. Last week, the Blues showed a new film at the Houses of Parliament, which featured offensive chants, social media posts and images from the Holocaust. Said Buck: “We are just trying to make a dent in the antisemitism in this world. Over time we hope to make a real contribution for good to society.”

And you thought football was just a fun leisure activity.

Posted: 12th, October 2018 | In: Chelsea, Sports | Comment