Sunday, 19 January 2020

Isaac Gives Chelski The Blues

This blogger's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies won for the first time in the league this year with an outrageous late winner from Isaac Hayden against Scowling Frank Lampard's Moscow Chelski FC at St James' Park on Saturday evening. A corner deep into added time looked to have provided United with a final chance to steal the points but Matt Ritchie's kick was cleared as the fourth added minute approached its conclusion. However, Allan Saint-Maximin gathered the clearance, took a touch and put over a cross for Hayden to head into the Gallowgate goal to spark scenes of wild celebration with kids gettin' sparked an' aal sorts. Referee Chris Kavanagh allowed the visitors one further attack but once that was cleared the official blew for full-time and three vital Premier League points were secured by the Black n' Whites. The second period had seen the visitors largely camped in United's half, although they had created few clear openings to worry Steve Brucie's side who had defended resolutely. Jamaal Lascelles was back at the heart of the defence and also returning were Jonjo Shelvey and Saint-Maximin, as the injury crisis which has plagued The Magpies for the past few weeks started to subside. But Jetro Willems was stretchered from the field in just the twelfth minute as what seemed to be an innocuous collision with Callum Hudson-Odoi had him immediately signalling to the bench. Brucie (nasty to see him, to see him nasty) subsequently confirmed that Willems had suffered an apparently serious knee injury. That early setback didn't curb the home side's initial enthusiasm and in the twenty second minute Federico Fernandez supplied a cross for Joelinton who guided a header against the bar. Twelve minutes later Tammy Abraham struck Martin Dubravka's crossbar, although he had been flagged offside but N'Golo Kanté should have scored when clear on the right of the box, only to be denied by the 'keeper's left leg. At the other end Fernandez got the end of a Shelvey free-kick and seemed certain to head home but his effort went high. After the break there was almost no threat from the black and whites but for all the Moscow Chelski FC possession, there were only half chances for Willian and Abraham and Dubravka had remarkably few saves to make. Then with two minutes to go, Miguel Almirón played a fine ball to the far post which was headed back to Joelinton by Saint-Maximin. But the Brazilian swung wildly and sliced his effort wide. Nevertheless, Joelinton managed to win a corner in the final minute of added time and Matt Ritchie was roared into the Strawberry Corner as he prepared to delivered it. The corner was headed clear but then came Saint-Maximin's glorious curling ball into the box and Hayden got his connection spot-on to beat Kepa Arribazalaga who could only get an ineffective hand to his header leaving Moscow Chelski FC's manager, Frank Lampard, looking his someone sucking a lemon at the final whistle. Lampard subsequently whinged that his team has 'dominated every aspect' of the game. Except for scoring the most goals, obviously. Hayden had filled in at right back, with Emile Krafth being replaced by Sean Longstaff.
Elsewhere, Sheikh Yer Man City threw away the chance of a win in a dramatic climax at Etihad Stadium, while bottom-of-the-table Norwich City battled for a much-needed victory over strugglers Bournemouth. Two goals from Sergio Aguero inside the last ten minutes looked to have helped champions City to victory over Crystal Palace, but Fernandinho's own goal just before stoppage time ensured the sides drew two-two. At the bottom of the table, Teemu Pukki's first-half penalty was enough for Norwich to claim victory over Bournemouth, who are now only one place and three points above The Canaries, as both sides finished with ten men. Wolverhampton Wanderings fought back from two goals down at half-time for a superb three-two win at Southampton, with one goal from Pedro Neto and two from Raul Jimenez moving them up into sixth place. The Arse were closing in on victory at home to Sheffield United, but The Blades fought back with a late John Fleck goal ensuring a draw. Watford missed out on the chance of a fourth straight win when Troy Deeney had a penalty saved by Stottingtot Hotshots keeper Paulo Gazzaniga, but the goalless draw means Nigel Pearson's Hornets are unbeaten in seven games. Hundreds of West Hamsters United fans protested about the running of the club in the week of the ten-year anniversary since David Sullivan and David Gold took over, while on the pitch The Hamsters were held to a draw by Everton. Brighton & Hove Albinos are still searching for their first league win of 2020 after they were held one-one by Aston Villains at The Amex Stadium. On Sunday, Ashley Westwood's stunning strike saw Burnley come from behind to beat Leicester and earn their first points in five games. And, in Sunday's late game Champions-elect Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws defeat The Scum two-nil. Which was funny.
Having failed to make their dominance count in the first meeting with Rochdale, this blogger's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies made no mistake in their FA Cup replay, coasting into the Fourth Round at St James' Park on Tuesday evening. The outcome was hardly unexpected given the strong starting line-up and bench named by Steve Brucie (nasty to see him, to see him, nasty), but there were certainly some unexpected, 'I can't believe my eyes'-type events for almost thirty thousand fans present to witness. Mister Cashley made a rare visit to Gallowgate as United avoided any additions to their lengthy sick-list - and saw record signing Joelinton finally break his scoring duck with a first competitive home goal and only his second since joining The Magpies in the summer. On a night of broadly positives, there was a successful return from injury for Jamaal Lascelles, more valuable pitch-time for Matt Ritchie, a run-out for Jonjo Shelvey and an assist on his senior debut for teenager Tom Allan. Some generous defending by the League One visitors had allowed The Magpies to rack up an unassailable early lead by the half-hour mark. An own goal and a suicidal clearance by 'Dale goalkeeper Robert Sanchez that gifted Miguel Almirón a goal sandwiched by a quality Matty Longstaff's strike. A low-key second period was illuminated when Joelinton shook off his torpor to stick the ball past replacement custodian Jay Lynch, rounding off his side's first victory since the week before Christmas. Making his first start since returning from a lengthy injury, Ritchie's cross from the left was prodded into his own net at the Leazes End by Eoghan O'Connell in the seventeenth minute. Another Ritchie cross from left three minutes later found Matty Longstaff in front of goal and he had to time to take it down, turn and dispatch it past Sanchez. Six minutes later it was game over when Sanchez passed straight to Almirón - who had shot against a post when the tie was still scoreless - and he picked his spot to open up a three goal lead - the Paraguayan's fourth goal in his last five games in all competitions. Joelinton's goal arrived eight minutes from time when a neat pass from Andy Carroll released Allan down the right and his measured low cross was touched in by the Brazilian from six yards. An evidently relieved number nine then ran to embrace Brucie and his coaching staff on the touchline before being mobbed by his team-mates. Dale's consolation arrived in the eighty sixth minute when a short corner was played back by Aaron Wilbraham for Jordan Williams to hit a low shot from the edge of the box that beat Karl Darlow via a post. A fifth home goal almost followed in the closing seconds after Joelinton gained possession in the 'Dale box and set up Carroll, whose rising effort was tipped onto the angle of post and bar. Newcastle now face another League One side, Oxford United, in the Fourth Round. Victory over The U's would see The Magpies appear in the Fifth Round of the competition for the first time since Cashley bought the club in May 2007.
A deal to show FA Cup matches via seven online betting websites is being investigated by the Gambling Commission, the industry regulator. The Football Association has been criticised after it sold the rights to the competition via a third party. The Football Association being, of course, an organisation that is keen to fine and suspend any footballer or club official found to have bet on any football-related activity. How ironic it is, therefore, that they seem to have no problem getting their collective kit off and hopping into bed with such people as these. Sanctions for bookmakers involved could include a warning, financial penalties or the revoking of licences. 'Our investigations into that matter are ongoing,' Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur told BBC 5Live. 'I understand why there are concerns and, to be clear, we already require gambling operators to market, advertise or engage in sponsorship in a socially responsible way. We are in touch with all operators in the deal to find out what they did to satisfy themselves.' A Gambling Commission spokesperson added: 'We expect gambling operators to ensure, when agreeing commercial deals relevant to sport, that such arrangements are consistent with keeping gambling safe.' Since the start of last season, bookmakers have been able to show FA Cup ties on their websites and apps. The seven gambling websites - Bet365, Betfair, William Hill, Coral, Ladbrokes, Unibet and Paddy Power - acquired the rights via the agency IMG, who agreed a deal with the FA. Who, in turn, didn't ask too many questions when they saw the size of IMG's cheque. Probably. In the FA Cup third round, twenty three matches were available to watch on Bet365 - all those that did not kick off at 3:01pm on Saturday, including this blogger's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies draw at lower league Rochdale. The matches were available to anyone who had placed a bet or put a deposit in their account in the twenty four hours before kick-off. Betting companies with streaming rights for FA Cup ties say they would allow the games to be streamed on a free platform elsewhere. In July 2017, the FA announced it was cutting its ties with gambling firms, but the deal with IMG was done in January 2017.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

The Sweet FA Cup

Once upon a time, dear blog reader - and not all that long ago either - the first Saturday in January was one of the three or four most important and most looked-forward-to days in the English football calendar; it was FA Cup Third Round day and - a few postponements notwithstanding - it was thirty two matches which saw the surviving lower league (and non-league) clubs joined by the Big Boys, the forty four Premiership and Championship clubs. It was the point in the season where even clubs whose league season seemed to be, effectively, a massive write-off could dream about a good cup run and, possibly, a date at Wembley in May. But that, dear blog reader, was in another time and now, the FA Cup appears to be little more than an inconvenient distraction to many clubs and their owners - something that takes time, attention and resources away from the really important stuff, making more money from league positions and the opportunity of selling more replica shirts in Malaysia. Worryingly, this lethargy and lack of too much interest appears to have also been picked up by some fans with low crowds often being recorded for even potentially exciting, winnable ties. The fact that the games are now played over three - sometimes four - days doesn't exactly help matters.
Still, dear blog reader, some things remain reliably consistent. The inevitability of this blogger's beloved - though still, tragically, unsellable - Magpies once again managing to screw up in the Cup (this being a club, remember, which hasn't got past the Fourth Round since 2006). Yes, the squad is, currently, decimated by numerous injuries and, yes, Steve Bruice (nasty to see him, to see him nasty) did something that many of his recent predecessors were reluctant to and played his strongest available side. But still, whilst some may regard a one-all draw away at Rochdale and a completely unwanted replay at St James' Park in a fortnight as a decent result compared to previous loses to the likes of Oxford United (2017), Stevenage Borough (2011), AFC Bournemouth (1992), Grimsby Town (1982), Exeter City (1981), Chester City (1980), Wrexham (1978), Walsall (1975), Hereford United (1972), Carlisle United (1968), Swansea (1965), Bedford Town (1964), Peterborough United (1962), Scunthorpe United (1958), Rotherham United (1953) and Bradford Park Avenue (1949), this blogger does not.
League One Rochdale earned a replay after they came from behind to draw one-one with Newcastle at Spotland. The Magpies took the lead through Miguel Almiron but forty-year-old substitute Aaron Wilbraham levelled with a close-range finish with eleven minutes left. Elsewhere, holders Sheikh Yer Man City claimed a comfortable win over Port Vale while Tranmere Rovers produced a brilliant fightback to draw three-three against last year's beaten finalists Watford. Goals from Oleksandr Zinchenko, Sergio Aguero, Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Phil Foden gave City a four-one victory over the League Two side, who found the net through Tom Pope. League One strugglers Tranmere delivered arguably the performance of the day as they came from three-nil down at half-time to earn a replay against their Premier League opponents. Tom Dele-Bashiru, Nathaniel Chalobah and Roberto Pereyra had given The Hornets the upper hand, but the Wirral outfit battled back in the second half. Connor Jennings scored just after the hour and Manny Monthe made it three-two with twelve minutes left at Vicarage Road. Rovers then equalised with an eighty seventh-minute penalty, converted by Paul Mullin, after Mason Barrett had fouled Corey Blackett-Taylor. Premier League sides Brighton & Hove Albinos and Aston Villains were both knocked out of the competition after succumbing to Championship opposition. Adam Reach gave Sheffield Wednesday a victory over Brighton at Amex Stadium while Anthony Knockaert and Harry Arter helped Poor Bloody Fulham Haven't Got A Chance to a two-one victory over the Villains whose attitude to the inconvenience of the tie can be summed up by manager Dean Smith picking, effectively, a Villains reserve side. League Two Carlisle United secured a replay against Championship Cardiff City but may feel they should have done better after squandering a two-goal lead. Jack Bridge and Harry McKirdy put The Cumbrians ahead but second-half goals from Callum Paterson and Gavin Whyte got The Bluebirds back on level terms. Non-league Hartlepool had taken a surprise lead into the half-time interval against Oxford United thanks to Mark Kitching. However, The Yellows rallied and ran out four-one winners after Rob Hall, Shandon Baptiste, Tariqe Fosu-Henry and Matty Taylor found the net. Twelve-time winners The Scum and Wolverhampton Wanderings will need a replay after their tie ended in a goalless draw at Molineux. The Scum failed to have a single shot on target in a domestic game for the first time since January 2015. Adam Idah netted a hat-trick on his FA Cup debut for Norwich City as they were emphatic four-two winners over Preston Both Ends - managed by former City boss Alex Neil - at Deepdale. Jay Rodriguez struck twice to give Burnley a four-two win over Peterborough with Erik Pieters and Jeff Hendrick also on target for The Clarets. Southampton eased to a two-nil victory over Huddersfield thanks to goals from teenagers Will Smallbone and Jake Vokins. A brace for Philip Billing plus goals from Callum Wilson and Dominic Solanke ensured safe passage for AFC Bournemouth as they cruised to a four-nil win over Luton Town. Leicester City reached the fourth round with a two-nil win over Wigan Not Very Athletic following a Tom Pearce own goal and a strike from Harvey Barnes. Welsh side Newport County had knocked out Leeds United, Leicester City and Middlesbrough and given scares to Stottingtot Hotshots and Sheikh Yer Man City in the past couple of seasons. However, the League Two club will not get the opportunity to repeat their FA Cup giant-killing exploits this year after a three goal defeat by Millwall. A hat-trick from Tom Eaves helped Hull City come from behind to clinch a dramatic three-two win over Rotherham at New York Stadium. Jeremie Bela scored late on as ten-man Birmingham City edged a two-one win over Blackburn Vindaloos in front of the lowest ever attendance for an FA Cup tie at St Andrews, a mere seven thousand three hundred and thirty - a figure which seemed to sum up the general apathy of many supporters towards what was, once, one of the highlights of the season. Those who stayed away missed a truly calamitous cameo from substitute Ivan Šunjić who was sent off on the hour after conceding a penalty by hauling down the Vindaloos' Sam Gallagher a mere ninety seconds after coming on for Gary Gardner. Emilano Marcondes handed Brentford victory over Stoke City whilst Portsmouth survived some late jitters in a two-one success at Joey Barton's Fleetwood Town. Bristol City and Shrewsbury will require a replay after their tie finished one-all, as do Reading and Blackpool after theirs finished two-two. Blackpool striker Armand Gnanduillet missed with a 'Panenka' style penalty attempt but the League One side still secured a replay. The Frenchman created the opener for Nathan Delfouneso, and drilled The Seasiders back in front after Sam Baldock struck in the second half. Then, moments after Danny Loader had equalised for Reading, Gnanduillet was tripped in the box and handed a chance to win it. But he elaborately chipped the resulting spot-kick against the bar and Reading scrambled the ball clear.
Curtis Jones scored his first senior goal for the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws with an astonishing long-range effort as The Reds knocked Merseyside rivals Everton out on Sunday afternoon. The eighteen-year-old academy product curled in the only goal of the game as Herr Klopp's side edged a over The Soft-Centred Toffees at Anfield. Championship side Derby County knocked Crystal Palace of the Prermiership out with a one-nil win whilst The Middlesbrough Smog Monsters forced a replay against a stuttering Spurs. Chris Martin scored The Rams' only goal with Wayne Rooney going close to doubling their lead late on against The PaLACE. Lucas Moura saved Spurs from a cup upset against The Smoggies, equalising midway through the first half to salvage a draw. Ashley Fletcher had given the hosts - who are currently sixteenth in the Championship - the lead at The Riverside Stadium. Eight-time winners Moscow Chelski FC eased into the fourth-round with a two-nil victory over Nottingham Forest. Callum Hudson-Odoi put Frank Lampard's side ahead after only six minutes before Forest - fourth in the Championship - had a penalty decision reversed by the video assistant referee. Ross Barkley added a second for The Blues just after the half-hour mark. AFC Fylde, the lowest-ranked team in the third round, fell to a two-one defeat against Premier League Sheffield United but it was a performance that defied Fylde's non-league status. The Blades took the lead inside eight minutes through Callum Robinson but it took until the hour mark for them to get a second through Leon Clarke. Jordan Williams pulled a goal back for The Coasters with a clever lob over Dean Henderson, who had replaced the injured Michael Verrips in the Sheffield goal. Queens Park Strangers thrashed Swansea five-one with Jordan Hugill scoring two first-half goals for the hosts. Bright Osayi-Samuel, Lee Wallace and Josh Scowen also scored for Mark Warburton's side with substitute George Byers bagging a consolation for The Sorry Swans. Elsewhere, Kenneth Zohore scored the only goal as West Bromwich Albinos knocked Championship rivals Charlton Not Very Athletic out while Barnsley defeated Crewe Alexandra three-one. Northampton Town beat Burton Alkbinos four-two but Bristol Rovers and Coventry City will meet again after seeing out a two-two draw, with Rovers captain Tony Craig scoring an own goal after having previously giving his side the lead. Monday's fourth-round draw will be held at 7.30pm, shortly before The Arsenal take on Dirty Leeds in the round's final tie.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

T'Was The Weekend Before Christmas ...

Steve Brucie (nasty to see him, to see him, nasty) said that he 'hadn't heard a roar like it' as Newcastle fans celebrated Miguel Almirón's first goal for yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies. The popular Paraguayan midfielder scored a late winner against Crystal Palace to send The Magpies above The Eagles into ninth place in the Premier League. It also saw the twenty five-year-old break his Newcastle goal duck on his twenty seventh Premier League appearance since joining from Atlanta United for a then-club record twenty million in January. Whilst some media commentators and sneering gobshite journalists - most with a sick agenda smeared all over their disgusting collective mush - have chosen to focus upon Miggy's lack of goals with some glee, Newcastle supporters - you know, the people that factually matter - have been, broadly, highly supportive of the wee man, appreciating his tireless energy, pace and work-rate and knowing that, eventually, the goals would come. 'I think the crowd showed their appreciation for him,' said Brucie and, for once, he was absolutely correct. 'I think relief is the wrong word - we're all just delighted for him. Since he came to the club in January he lit the place up with his pace, trickery and skills. Day-in, day-out, he works and works, but unfortunately he's not been able to manage a goal. Today he's got the winner and we're all delighted for him. It took a long time, he's been unfortunate on so many occasions. Today when it fell to him, it was a difficult chance, coming from behind him and he's managed to smash it in. He's a great pro, a great lad, and he works really hard. When you've got a gem like that they deserve all the success I'm sure will find him.' The game looked set to end in a stalemate before Andy Carroll headed a cross down for an unmarked Almirón to volley home and Newcastle comfortably then held on through final ten minutes for their third victory in four games. Since Newcastle lost embarrassingly five-nil at Leicester at the end of September, they have beaten The Scum, West Hamsters United, Bournemouth, Sheffield United, Southampton and the Palace as well as drawing with Sheikh Yer Man City and Wolverhampton Wanderings. Palace had more of the possession and it appeared that their injury-hit defence had dealt with the aerial threat of former England striker Carroll before he played a crucial role in the winner. The Eagles also had the better chances for the majority of the game, with Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke denied by home goalkeeper Martin Dubravka in each half. But the visitors slipped one place to twelfth after their four-match unbeaten run came to an end. Newcastle welcomed back Almirón and Jonjo Shelvey after they both missed last Saturday's defeat at Burnley with injuries and they provided a welcome boost as The Magpies remained unbeaten at home since an opening day of the season loss to The Arse. The midfield pair had been instrumental to their team's run of seven points from nine before the Turf Moor setback and added some guile to go with Newcastle's undoubted grit. Both showed some neat touches while Almirón curled an effort straight at Palace goalkeeper early on whilst Shelvey - the club's top goalscorer so far this season - sent a speculative effort just over from near the halfway line which narrowly cleared the Palace bar. Then with time running out, Almirón found himself in space in the box to pounce on Carroll's knock-down and his relief was clear, the twenty five-year-old peeling off his shirt in celebration, which saw him receive a booking from some over-officious prick with a whistle. Brucie sprang a selection surprise by asking Joelinton to play up front with Carroll, rather than out on the left but, for the most part the strike pair struggled to connect and The Magpies did not give him enough service. But, just as Palace were beginning to increase the pressure, all that changed as Fabian Schär's right-wing cross found Carroll at the far post to lay on Almirón's match-winner. Schär was impressive in a back-three alongside Federico Fernández and Florian Lejeune - the latter making his first appearance of the season due to an injury picked up, also against Palace, in April. Also worthy of praise were United's two wing-backs, the often under-appreciated Paul Dummett and Javier Manquillo - the later, in particular, keeping the dangerous Zaha quiet for most of the afternoon. Brucie (nasty to see him, to see him, nasty) said: 'I always thought maybe one goal would decide it because Palace don't give much away. We try to prime ourselves the same way. My goalkeeper made a few good saves but I don't think anybody would deny that Almirón deserved the winner.' On United being in the top half of the table at Christmas, he added: 'I'd have taken it because it was difficult at the start [of the season] but in the Premier League you can't get carried away. I look at our fixture list coming up and think "wow" - we've got some tough games in a close period of time. We'll accept where we are because the lads and the staff have worked so hard. There's a good spirit amongst them, that can go a long way, and they showed that again today.' Three points raised Newcastle two places into ninth - their highest league position for over two years - and extended their current unbeaten home Premier League run to eight games, something not achieved since 2012.
Elsewhere, Sheikh Yer Man City came from behind to beat Leicester City at The Etihad Stadium and move to within a point of the second-placed Foxes. Jamie Vardy finished off a flowing counter-attack to fire the visitors in front, but a deflected Riyad Mahrez effort and an İlkay Gündoğan penalty turned the game on its head before the interval. Gabriel Jesus slotted home Kevin De Bruyne's low cross in the second half to complete the scoring and lift Pep Guardiola's side to within eleven points of leaders Liverpool (although, obviously, The Reds have a game in hand, being otherwise occupied - see below). In Saturday's early game, Soft Toffees Everton and The Arse played out an uneventful goalles draw at Goodison Park in front of their respective new managers, Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta. The two men - and the crowd - had little to get excited about, with The Soft Toffees failing to register some much a a single shot on target during the game and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang squandering The Gunners' best chance of the match early in the second-half. High-flying Sheffield United edged to victory at Brighton & Hove Albinos despite having two goals (rightly) disallowed by the video assistant referee. Which, obviously, made their sour-faced manager Chris Wilder gurn like he'd just stood in some dog-shat. Well, no, hang on, he always looks like that. John Egan's early goal was ruled out by VAR, but Ollie McBurnie's powerful effort gave The Blades the lead midway through the first half. Jack O'Connell's second-half header was also chalked off by VAR, but Wilder's side held on to move up to fifth in the table. Struggling Southampton moved out of the bottom three with a comprehensive win at a very poor Aston Villains, who drop into the relegation zone. Two goals from in-form striker Danny Ings either side of Jack Stephens' header put The Saints firmly in the driving seat, before Jack Grealish netted a consolation for Dean Smith's side with twenty minutes remaining. Second-half goals from Romain Saïss and Raúl Jiménez helped Wolverhampton Wanderings come from behind to beat struggling, relegation-haunted Norwich City at Carrow Road. Todd Cantwell capitalised on a poor clearance to put The Canaries ahead, but Saïss powered home a header to restore parity before Jimenez beat Tim Krul with nine minutes remaining to seal the points for Nuno Espírito Santo's team. Meanwhile, Jay Rodriguez's late goal secured all three points for Burnley at Bournemouth. The match at The Vitality Stadium appeared to be petering out into a stalemate, but Rodriguez got on the end of Ashley Westwood's delivery to seal back-to-back league wins for Sean Dyche's side. Rodriguez's was the first effort on target from either side in the ninety minutes.
As their points lead in the Premier League remained in double figures, Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws boss Herr Klopp praised his players for 'passing test after test' after they became Club World Cup Champions for the first time by beating Clube De Regatas Do Flamengo of Brazil in Qatar. Roberto Firmino scored the decisive goal in extra time to secure victory for The Reds at The Khalifa International Stadium. It is the second trophy Liverpool have won this season after they beat Moscow Chelski FC to win the UEFA Super Cup in August. 'The boys dug in again and massively put in a performance,' said Herr Klopp. 'They keep getting tested constantly - our life is like this. At the moment we pass test after test after test. We have to make sure we pass further tests as well.' Victory was all the more impressive for Liverpool considering it has come in the middle of a busy December for the 2019 Champions League winners. The Club World Cup clashed with Liverpool's Carabao Cup quarter-final at Aston Villains, meaning that they had to send separate teams to compete in the competitions. A youthful Reds side lost that game five-nil at Villains Park but the first team were able to add another trophy to the cabinet and they return to England with that ten-point lead at the top of the Premier League, as well as a game in hand over their rivals. Herr Klopp said that he was proud of his players for putting in such a strong performance in another final. He added: 'I struggle to find the words to express my respect for the boys. It was incredible. We did so many good things. I saw so many sensationally good performances and I am really happy. It was a very intense game for different reasons; it was not our best game we have ever played but it was enough to win. This was a wonderful night for the club. I said before I didn't not know how it would feel. Now I know it feels outstanding, absolutely sensational. I am so proud of the boys.' One concern for Liverpool was a potential injury to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The England midfielder was seen using crutches and wearing a protective boot during Liverpool's celebrations having earlier been substituted following an awkward fall. 'Hopefully it is not too serious,' Herr Klopp said. 'Even he was smiling at the end, which helped us all.'
Martin Peters, who has died aged seventy six, will forever be remembered as the England World Cup winner described as 'ten years ahead of his time' by his manager, Sir Alf Ramsey. As immaculate off the pitch as he was on it, Peters was the thinking man's midfielder and a trailblazer for the modern goalscoring midfield players who populate the Premier League today. Perhaps 'fifty years ahead of his time might have been closer to the truth.' He scored England's second goal in the four-two win over West Germany in the World Cup final - but this was just one part of a career that brought club successes in domestic and European football to set alongside that day in the glorious sunshine at Wembley in July 1966. Plaistow-born Peters, whose father was a lighterman on the River Thames, was a product of the West Hamsters United academy, a hothouse of forward thinking led by players such as Malcolm Allison and Noel Cantwell and put into practice by managers Ted Fenton and, most notably, Ron Greenwood. Tall, lean and elegant, Peters was the perfect pupil for Greenwood's desire to bring intelligence and tactical awareness to the game, developing alongside those other England World Cup heroes captain Bobby Moore and hat-trick hero Sir Geoff Hurst - Hamsters fans still boast about how West Ham won the World Cup. He had the natural gifts and awareness that allowed him to act like a sponge for Greenwood's progressive techniques, easily absorbing his manager's instructions and carrying them out with authority. Peters, like another West Ham legend of later years, Sir Trevor Brooking, exerted his influence through speed of thought and natural ability as opposed to physical presence. He became known as 'The Ghost' for his ability to arrive undetected among heavy traffic in the penalty area to score. He made his debut on Good Friday 1962 in a four-one win against Cardiff City and his first goal came in a six-one victory at Manchester City the following September. It was the start of a career that would bring him one hundred goals in three hundred and sixty games for West Ham as he settled into a pattern of performance and goalscoring that would define his style. Greenwood's team was regarded as talented but defensively fragile alongside the fierce competition offered by the likes of The Scum, Everton, Liverpool, Dirty Leeds, The Arse and Stottingtot Hotshots, but they still enjoyed moments of glory. Amid that success there was disappointment for Peters, who was not included in the West Ham side that won the FA Cup final against Preston Both Ends in 1964, victory being secured by Ronnie Boyce's last-minute winner. There was to be consolation, of sorts, for Peters a year later when he was a key component of the team which won the European Cup Winners' Cup against Turn-Und Sportverein München 1860 at Wembley, courtesy of two goals from Alan Sealey. Peters continued to be one of the most significant members of a West Hamsters team that was pleasing on the eye, operating with characteristic stealth and intelligence, but was short on success and his future glories were to come elsewhere.
In the modern parlance, Peters was a 'bolter' in Sir Alf Ramsey's plans for the 1966 World Cup - the player who came up on the rails to make his case for inclusion close to the tournament. It proved to be an inspired choice by Ramsey as Peters helped him fulfil his much-derided prophecy that England would indeed lift The Jules Rimet Trophy on home soil. Peters only made his England debut on 4 May 1966 in a two-nil win over Yugoslavia at Wembley, scoring the first of his twenty goals for his country on his second appearance against Finland in Helsinki on 26 June. He did not actually figure in England's line-up at the start of the World Cup campaign, missing the opening group game against Uruguay at Wembley. Peters started the second match against Mexico and was then a permanent fixture under Ramsey. Peters helped Ramsey implement a system known as the wingless wonders after Liverpool's Ian Callaghan, Southampton's Terry Paine and The Scum's John Connelly had all appeared during the group phase but were left out of the knockout games as England's system reaped the ultimate reward. He once said: 'I wasn't a winger. Alan Ball and I were midfield players that broke wide. We had to get back and defend. We worked hard to defend when we played against a midfield player opposite us and then would break to support attacks. I wasn't quick but I could run and run and run, so I would run into the box, see a space, run into there. If the ball didn't come in you'd get out again, run in and then would come in and bang - goal.' Peters and Ball - both in their early twenties - were the engine-room of the midfield, allowing Bobby Charlton more time on the ball - a key part of Ramsey's plan. It was Peters' cross from the left flank that enabled Hurst to head home England's winner in the tempestuous quarter-final against Argentina at Wembley, a game remembered for the sending-off of the visitors' captain Antonio Rattin and Ramsey tearing George Cohen's shirt away from an opponent as they tried to exchange them at the final whistle. At the age of twenty two, Peters was to take his place in England's sporting hall of fame as he scored the sort of goal that became his trademark in the final against West Germany, pouncing in the penalty box to put England two-one ahead.
Hurst recalled: 'When you look at the film of Martin after his goal in the final you can see him flicking his fingers out. He said the exhilaration was like an electric current running through his hands. He was a fantastic player, a natural footballer who was totally and utterly devoted to the game.' It was the high watermark of his England career and future World Cups would provide bitter disappointment for both Peters and Ramsey, the manager whose aloof public profile was at odds with the complete devotion he inspired in his players. Peters, now at Spurs, was still central to Ramsey's plans when an England team many still argue was actually better than the 1966 World Cup winners in terms of pure talent, headed to Mexico four years later. Most of the great names remained though Nobby Stiles had been replaced as the midfield enforcer by Spurs captain Alan Mullery, Everton pair Brian Labone and Keith Newton replaced Jack Charlton and Cohen, while Manchester City's Francis Lee came in for Roger Hunt. And, when Peters put England two-nil up in the now infamous quarter-final against West Germany in León with one of those familiar far-post arrivals on the end of Newton's right-wing cross, Ramsey looked on course for more success. Instead, with the outstanding Chelsea goalkeeper Peter Bonetti having a rare off day as a late replacement after Gordon Banks was taken ill and Ramsey's substitution of Bobby Charlton with Colin Bell backfiring, West Germany fought back to win three-two in extra time. It was the end of that golden England era. Peters was Ramsey's captain, with Moore replaced by Norman Hunter, on one of the darkest nights in England's football history - 17 October 1973 and the World Cup qualifier against Poland at Wembley that they needed to win to qualify for the 1974 finals in West Germany. It was a night that belonged to Poland goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski, labelled 'a clown' by Brian Clough, as he performed heroics and his goal led a charmed life. England could only draw the game one-one. It was the end of Ramsey and Peters followed not long after. He won his final cap in May 1974 in the two-nil defeat by Scotland at Hampden Park, Joe Mercer having taken over as caretaker manager from Ramsey. Peters may have had an inauspicious end to a magnificent England career but his record of sixty seven caps, twenty goal goals and a World Cup win secures his place in history.
Peters cut his ties with West Hamsters in March 1970, becoming Britain's first two hundred thousand knicker player when he signed for Spurs, although a portion of the fee was taken up with Jimmy Greaves making the reverse journey to Upton Park. Martin was at his peak at twenty six, figuring in a side with a more ruthless edge under manager Bill Nicholson and alongside players of the calibre of Mullery, Pat Jennings, Mike England, Martin Chivers, Steve Perryman and Alan Gilzean. Peters was able to add his elegant flourishes and natural eye for a goal to these talents and he went on to further success at White Hart Lane. He scored on his debut in a two-one win against Coventry City and finally won domestic honours when Spurs beat Aston Villains in the 1971 League Cup final at Wembley. Peters was captain when Spurs repeated the feat two years later against Norwich City. Spurs also won the UEFA Cup in 1972 when Wolverhampton Wanderings were beaten in an all-English final, but they tasted defeat in the same competition's final two years later when they lost to a crack Feyenoord side in a two-legged tie which was overshadowed by crowd violence. He left for Norwich City in a fifty thousand quid deal in March 1975, having scored seventy six goals in two hundred and sixty appearances for Spurs.
Even in his latter years, Peters was still able to show the old mastery and enjoyed something of an Indian summer at Carrow Road, winning the club's player of the year award in 1976 and 1977. In 2002 he was made an inaugural member of Norwich City's Hall Of Fame. In 1978, while still at Norwich, Peters was made an MBE for services to football. He is still regarded as one of the finest players to represent The Canaries, scoring forty four goals in two hundred and six league appearances before joining Sheffield United as player-coach in July 1980. Peters was Harry Haslam's designated successor as Sheffield United manager but only had a brief and unhappy spell in charge for sixteen games between January and May 1981 when The Blades were relegated to the old Fourth Division. In 1982-83 he played in defence for non-league Gorleston in the Eastern Counties League, after which he retired from playing and joined Hurst in forming an insurance-selling business. For a period Peters was also on the board of directors at Tottenham and he later took on hospitality roles both at Spurs and West Ham.
Peters made a career total of eight hundred and eighty career appearances in all competitions, scoring two hundred and twenty goals and was inducted into English football's Hall Of Fame in 2006, confirming his status as one of the towering figures of the post-war football generation. He is survived by his wife, Kathleen - whom he married in 1964 after they met at a bowling alley in Dagenham - and by their children, Leeann and Grant.

Monday, 26 August 2019

The Miracle Of Tottenham High Road

Club record signing Joelinton's first goal in English football gave this blogger's beloved (though, tragically, unsellable) Newcastle United a surprise win at Stottingtot Hotshots on Sunday. And Steve Brucie (nasty to see him, to see him, nasty) his first points as The Magpies' - alleged - 'manager.' After a week of intense media - and, far more importantly, fan - criticism which followed a truly gutless, directionless display at Norwich by Th' Toon, the Brazilian striker took advantage of sloppy Spurs defending to control substitute Christian Atsu's through pass before drilling low past Hugo Lloris. Atsu, on after Allan Saint-Maximin had to go off with an early hamstring injury, provided the assist with his first significant contribution. Spurs lacked the creativity to break down a resolute Newcastle side, whose four-man midfield of Ritchie, Almiron, Longstaff and Hayden spent a large chunk of the contest sitting deep in front of the back four (with Paul Dummett particularly outstanding). Son Heung-min, making his first Spurs appearance of the season after completing a three-match suspension, saw a bouncing first-half volley beaten away by Martin Dubravka, then rolled a shot wide shortly before the interval. Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino sent on Christian Eriksen and Giovani Lo Celso for the final half-hour in an attempt to salvage something from the five hundredth match of his managerial career. It almost worked: Lo Celso's pass for Harry Kane ended with the England captain falling under Jamaal Lascelles' challenge - but Mike Dean ruled, rightly, that it was not a penalty and was backed up by the check from video assistant referee Anthony Taylor. Then Eriksen's diagonal pass gave Moussa Sissoko room to cross low, but Lucas Moura skied his shot over the bar from eight yards. However these were rare moments of panic for the visitors, with Stottingtot's fitfulness on the pitch mirrored by an equally lack-lustre display by home followers - prompting chants of 'Is this The Emirates?' from the away section. Thoughts that the game was turning into a re-run of United's one-nil win at White Tart Lane in 2013 were conjured up, but while that epic victory was achieved largely due to the heroics of Tim Krul in Th' Toon's goal, Spurs proved ultimately incapable of testing Martin Dubravka to any comparable extent in 2019. The most relieved man in the ground was probably Brucie, but the away supporters were entitled to enjoy what was - quite literally - a day out in the sun. Undeterred by transport headaches for the second weekend in a row, not to mention an all-pervading sense of doom surrounding the club, this was a timely reminder of just why some fans put themselves through those early starts and late finishes. It still matters. Following some cricket-related shenanigans at Headingley a few hours earlier, that two miracles in one day, dear blog reader. This blogger had a quick look out of the window because, the last time this happened, some wise men came from the East ...
Boreham Wood chairman Danny Hunter says he may reduce his investment in the club after a 'laughable' crowd of four hundred and seven saw their defeat by Sutton on Saturday. The National League side have averaged six hundred and fifty five fans over three home games so far this season. Taking away season-ticket holders and travelling fans, Hunter claimed that there were only forty six paying Boreham Wood supporters at Saturday's match. 'I've got to reassess what more I can do, as the town clearly doesn't want to consciously support its club,' he said. 'Saturday's abysmal crowd just makes me feel sad, as so much hard work goes into making this club over achieve every year and we just want a bit more support for those efforts.' Boreham Wood reached the 2017-18 National League play-off final, but fall well below the average divisional attendance of around two thousand three hundred so far this season. The Hertfordshire club - promoted four times since 2005-06 - introduced a ninety nine quid adult season ticket this summer in a bid to increase crowds, but Hunter said it had not improved matters. 'I suppose if you want an excuse, the lower than normal crowd could be put down to three hundred adult and OAP ninety nine pound season ticket holders, who took up our offer but never bothered to turn up and support us,' Hunter told the club website. 'I'm probably just feeling a bit sorry for myself, but four hundred and seven as a gate attendance at our level is laughable.' Hunter claims that he has put half-a-million smackers into the club since February, with a total spend of 1.2 million knicker over the summer to build a new stand and upgrade facilities. 'It might simply be the right time to re-evaluate my own ambitions and consider downsizing my year-on-year investment here and get rid of a few of the white elephants in the room,' he added.
Mansfield have suspended Dion Donohue and Jacob Mellis for 'an alleged serious breach of club discipline.' Police said that two men, aged twenty five and twenty eight, have been released on bail following 'an incident' which left two other men hurt - one needing hospital treatment - on Friday. Donohue, who is twenty five and Mellis, twenty eight, are currently banned from training and playing for the League Two club while suspended. Mellis, a former Moscow Chelski FC and Southampton player and Donohue, who joined Mansfield from Portsmouth in July, did not play in Saturday's two-nil League Two win at Carlisle. Mellis was completing a three-game ban following his opening-day sending-off against Newport anyway, while Donohue was said to be 'recovering from injury.' Last week, police issued an appeal for witnesses after officers were called to an incident in Mansfield town centre, arresting two men on suspicion of assault.
Sierra Leone forward Musa Noah Kamara has had his contract with Swedish club Trelleborgs cancelled after just one week. The club simply stated that the nineteen-year-old's three-and-a-half year deal was ended. 'He wishes to return to his home country for personal reasons,' Trelleborgs said in a statement on their website. Kamara went on to explain that he wanted to return to Freetown as he could not cope with the cold weather in Sweden. He finished as the top goal scorer of 2019 Sierra Leone Premier league with fifteen goals to help East End Lions emerge as champions.
Clyde manager Danny Lennon helped his side beat Glasgow Celtic's colts team - despite being thirty three years older than one of the opposition. The fifty-year-old, who hung up his boots eleven years ago, brought himself on at Broadwood for a second-half cameo appearance. Lennon was up against the likes of Parkhead teenage talent Armstrong Okoflex, aged seventeen. The Lanarkshire side claimed a three-one Glasgow Cup victory. It is unclear why the Clyde boss felt the urge to make his return to action.
Dirty Stoke manager Nathan Jones claims 'there must be something on the mind' of Dirty Stoke's goalkeeper Jack Butland after his calamitous error-strewn display in The Potters' defeat at Preston Both Ends. The hosts were two goals up inside twenty five minutes at Deepdale, with both goals stemming from mistakes by the twenty six-year-old England keeper. Daniel Johnson put Preston in front with a low, scuffed strike from the edge of the box which Butland failed to turn around the post. He was, again, at fault for Both Ends' second, allowing Billy Bodin's shot from outside the area to slide under his body and in to the net. 'No one talks about him as being a Stoke goalkeeper,' Jones told Radio 5Live. 'Everyone talks about him losing his place in the England side or that he's got to go abroad or leave Stoke to gain this or that. But he's got to do his job for Stoke first. I don't know where he must be mentally because there's so much talk about him, but realistically we all have to do our job for Stoke. You don't go from being a top goalkeeper to making errors like he is at the minute. There must be something playing on his mind.'
Bury have been given until 5pm on Tuesday to complete a sale that would prevent them from being expelled from the English Football League. Owner Steve Dale said late on Friday - the day on which the Football Legaue had threatened to bury Bury - that he had agreed a deal to sell the club to analytics company C&N Sporting Risk. The League One club had originally been given until midnight on Friday to prove they could pay off creditors and had funding to complete the season. The Shakers have not played any of their first six games of the season. Their first five league matches were suspended by the EFL and they have also been withdrawn from the Carabao Cup. 'The board has considered the evidence presented and has determined, in a final effort to allow the club the opportunity to survive, to grant an extension and work exclusively with the club and C&N Sporting Risk to see if a takeover is possible,' the EFL executive chair Debbie Jevans said. 'No one wants to see a club lose its place in the league and we will now work with the potential purchasers over the weekend and ahead of the Tuesday deadline in an attempt to find the solutions required for a sale to take place.'
Former Ghana, Nottingham Forest and Bristol Rovers striker Junior Agogo has died at the age of forty. Agogo, who began his career at Sheffield Wednesday, played twenty seven times for his country and scored twelve goals. He finished his career at Hibernian in 2012 having also had spells in the United States, Cyprus and Egypt. Agogo suffered a stroke in 2015 and struggled with his speech afterwards, telling a BBC4 documentary in 2017 that he felt anxious about his language. Agogo sealed his place in the hearts of Ghana fans with his performances at the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations where he scored three goals including a late winner against Nigeria in Accra. 'I think that was the goal that sealed his popularity in Ghana,' Laryea Kingston, the former Heart of Midlothian midfielder said. 'During the tournament we could feel his influence in the team grow and his popularity go up but that goal sealed everything.' Despite playing alongside big names like Michael Essien and Asamoah Gyan, Agogo was the team's star man during the tournament. 'A lot of fans didn't know but those of us in the team knew he was going to be good for us,' Kingston added. 'He spent a lot of time in the gym and his strength reflected in the way he played. He simply wanted to score goals and make a mark for the team and I am glad he did. He had a word for everyone, enjoyed a good dance, could tease a lot and take it too. This has really hit a lot of us.'

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Whom To Believe?

Writing his first column for The Athletic website, Rafa The (Former) Gaffer Benitez took the opportunity of responding to various comments made by Lee Charnley which appeared in Sunday's Newcastle United match programme regarding his recent departure from this blogger's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies and subsequent move to China: '"Wherever you go, go with all your heart,"' Rafa wrote. 'I would like to start my first column for The Athletic with this quote from Confucius, the Chinese philosopher and politician. People in Newcastle have been talking about my decision to move to China without knowing what happened behind the scenes during my three years at St James’ Park. I haven't wanted to say too much about that - I've encouraged supporters to get behind Steve Bruce and his new team - but I've been made aware of what Lee Charnley, Newcastle's managing director, claimed in the club's match programme last weekend and I think it's important I address that. Hopefully, it will be the last time I have to do so. In the future I want to write about football and nothing but football. When I joined Newcastle in 2016, I did it with all my heart. I could feel the history and see the potential of the club and I wanted to be part of a project and to stay close to my family on Merseyside. I tried to do my best every day, even staying when we went down to the Championship and saying no to other offers - bigger offers than the one I recently accepted with Dalian Yifang, by the way. If I was only interested in moving "for money," as Charnley stated, I could have done it much earlier. Over my long career and especially in my time at Newcastle, I've always shown commitment to my club, its city and its community and I've done it with professionalism and honesty. I want to remember the good moments I spent in the North-East - and there were many of them - and not have to keep denying things about my time there or about my departure. Newcastle's board had a year to sort out my contract but, when we met after the end of last season, they didn't make me a proper offer. They told me they didn't want to invest in the academy or the training ground - if they like, I can explain the reason why Mike Ashley refused to do that. Their idea of a project was a policy of signing players under twenty four and, in my opinion, the budget available was not enough to compete for the top ten. After that meeting, I knew they would not come back with a serious offer and, when it arrived, nineteen days later, it was for the same salary as three years earlier and with less control over signings. Charnley's comments in the programme about having a deal agreed for Joelinton in February explains a lot that I couldn't understand at that time. After three years of unfulfilled promises, I didn't trust them. When we finished tenth in the Premier League in our first season back, all players and staff were paid a bonus - aside from my coaching team. That felt like a punishment for me not signing an extension. So, by the end, I knew there would not be a proper offer and they knew I was not signing. I couldn't explain that in public because I was not allowed to talk to the press without their permission, so I was waiting until late June, like every fan, hoping there would be good news about Newcastle's prospective takeover. The time was passing and we were losing job opportunities in Europe. I couldn't wait forever. I'm a family man and I have a responsibility to them, my staff, Paco, Antonio and Mikel and their families, too. I don't like to gamble with the future of my people. In front of us we had three options: nothing serious from Newcastle, the hope of a possible takeover or a different project. Yes, it was a big offer in China - I have never denied that - but it was also another continent and another league, from a club giving us a lot of recognition and respect. That decision wasn't easy, but it was clear. So, here we are in the Chinese Super League with an ambitious club that has a big company in Wanda behind it. At Dalian, we are trying to build something important in this massive, fascinating country. It is another level, another way of doing things, another culture, but they believe in us, they listen to us and their priority is not just to make a profit. They are investing big money in developing a new scouting department, they are building a new training ground for the academy, the under-twenty threes and, obviously, the first team. And, yes, they are using our experience to guide them. The CSL has sixteen clubs so that means thirty league games plus the cup (we are in the semi-finals) and the Asian Champions League, if you qualify. The Chinese Federation tries to promote young players, which means the top teams like Guangzhou Evergrande, who have had the best young Chinese players for years, can manage better than us. We can't compete with them at the moment, but our target this year is to finish in the top ten (we are sixth) and we are improving and growing. They expect us to leave a legacy, the basement on which to build something. The whole experience is a challenge, none bigger than the language. I have worked in Spain, Italy and England, but this is very different. Here, you need a translator for everything: to transmit your thoughts in training sessions, team talks and to the media, down to working on computers. But there is a rich culture here; the city, the food, the life are all nice. And, as I say, we have been treated with nothing but respect. Over the coming weeks, I will talk more about that and more about what's happening in the Premier League but, as I have started with Newcastle, I will finish with them, too. What can I say about them? Before their first game, I wished the players, fans and Steve Bruce all the best and I meant it sincerely, because they deserve it. Arsenal was their first match of the season and their first with a new manager, so we have to give them time. The signings we made to take us from the Championship have more experience in the Premier League now. I think the combination of 'our' young players, like Jamaal Lascelles, Isaac Hayden, DeAndre Yedlin and Javier Manquillo, the new squad members like Miguel Almiron and Sean Longstaff, together with the experience of Paul Dummett, Matt Ritchie, Martin Dubravka, Fabian Schär, Florian Lejeune, Federico Fernandez, Jonjo Shelvey, Ki Sung-Yeung, Ciaran Clark, Karl Darlow and Christian Atsu will be enough to stay up. The new players will have to make the difference if they want to finish better than tenth, but they will need - and they will have - support from the fans, even if they are not happy with how things have been done, because they know the club is bigger than anyone. They have to be United; Newcastle United. On Sunday morning, I switched on my television in Dalian and there was a documentary about Alan Shearer being shown. Can you believe that? It's true. I saw joy in the faces of Newcastle fans after every goal. I didn't need the reminder, because I was there so recently, there with all my heart, but it made me think again about that history and potential. And it made me consider something else: what would an eighteen-year-old Newcastle supporter think about his club now?' Rafa's comments were, subsequently, widely reported in the Torygraph, the Gruniad Morning Star, the Daily Mirra, the Sun, the Independent, the Evening Chronicle, Ninety Minutes, talkSport and ITV. Among many, many other media outlets. So, there you have it, dear blog reader - ultimately, it's a question of whom Newcastle United supporters feel is more trustworthy in their claims; Rafa - adored and missed by pretty much everyone - or weaselling and shifty-looking crass Ashley apologist Charnley. It's a toughie, isn't it?
Super Cup champions Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws maintained their winning start to the season with victory over Southampton at St Mary's. Sadio Mane scored the opener for Herr Klopp's side in a two-one win, having scored twice as The Reds beat Moscow Chelski FC on penalties in Istanbul on Wednesday night. Roberto Firmino added a second, before Adrian's error gifted Saints striker Danny Ings a goal late on. Teemu Pukki scored a hat-trick as last season's Championship winners Norwich City bounced back from their opening-day defeat by Liverpool to record a three-one win over this blogger's beloved (though tragically unsellable and probably relegation-bound) Newcastle United. The Finnish striker, now with four goals in two Premier League matches, produced a stunning first-half volley before securing The Canaries' first points with two more goals after the interval. Newcastle did get a consolation goal in stoppage time through Jonjo Shelvey but this disjointed and toothless display from The Magpies will only ramp up the pressure on Steve Brucie (nasty to see him, to see him, nasty) and do little to quell the mutinously sour mood around St James' Park at the moment. Championship play-off winners Aston Villains' wait for a first win of the season goes on, as they lost two-one at home to Bournemouth. Joshua King's second-minute penalty and a debut goal for Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson put Eddie Howe's visitors in control, though Douglas Luiz's strike from range handed The Villains a second-half lifeline. Brighton & Hove Albino's summer signing Leandro Trossard cancelled out Javier Hernandez' opener as The Seagulls earned a draw with West Hamsters United at The Amex Stadium. Trossard had earlier seen a first-half goal ruled out by the video assistant referee for offside, but levelled just four minutes after The Hamsters' sixty first-minute opener. Meanwhile, Bernard's tenth-minute goal was enough to earn Everton a narrow victory at home to manager Marco Silva's former side Watford. Earlier on Saturday, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the winning goal as The Arse beat Burnley two-one at The Emirates Stadium. The Gunners initially led through Alexandre Lacazette's opener on his return from injury, but Ashley Barnes levelled for the visitors before half-time. In Saturday's late game, Gabriel Jesus had an injury-time goal ruled out by VAR as Sheikh Yer Man City dropped points at home for the first time since December 2018 with a two-two draw against Stottingtot Hotshots. Raheem Sterling headed City ahead in the first half, but Erik Lamela swiftly equalised. Sergio Aguero flicked home before Lucas Moura headed a second equaliser in soon after coming on of substitute. Jesus then appeared to score in injury time, but it was - rightly - ruled out for a handball by Aymeric Laporte. It was a frustrating result for Sheikh Yer Man City in their first home game of the season, particularly after beginning their title defence with a five-nil win at West Hamsters United last weekend.
AZ Alkmaar will launch an investigation after part of the roof at the AFAS Stadium collapsed on Saturday. The Dutch Eredivisie club's general manager, Robert Eenhoorn, confirmed that there were no injuries sustained when a large section of the roof fell onto seating below amid high winds. AZ were not playing at the time and visit RKC Waalwijk on Sunday. 'This surprised us all. We are very shocked but especially happy that there was no human suffering,' said Eenhoorn. 'In the coming days we will conduct a study with experts in this field. Only when that investigation has been done can we elaborate on the matter. It is much too early for that now.' AZ's next home game is a Europa League third-round qualifier against Ukraine's FC Mariupol on 15 August. However, Eenhoorn said it is too early to confirm whether that match will be able to go ahead at the ground.
ITV have announced they will broadcast three La Liga matches live on ITV4 at the start of the new season. The broadcaster showed live top-flight Spanish matches at the end of last season after previous rights holders Eleven Sports cut short their agreement. ITV will also show weekly La Liga highlights throughout the season on both ITV and ITV4. Live coverage begins with Barcelona's trip to Athletic Bilbao on Friday. Barcelona's first home game against Real Betis on 25 August will also be shown live, before Real Madrid's trip to Villarreal is broadcast on the following weekend.
Porto were knocked out of the Champions League after losing to Russia's FC Krasnodar on away goals, while last season's semi-finalists Ajax survived a scare to make the final play-off round. It is the first time that 2004 winners Porto have missed out on the Champions League group stages since the 2010-11 season. The Portuguese side led one-nil from the first-leg, but were three-nil down after thirty four minutes at the Estadio do Dragao. Despite second-half goals from Ze Luis and Luis Diaz they lost three-two. Ajax came from a goal down to beat Greek Champions PAOK three-two at home, to win five-four on aggregate. Dusan Tadic missed a penalty in the thirty second minute after Diego Biseswar's opener, but the Serbian made amends as he scored from the spot just before half-time. Nicolas Tagliafico doubled Ajax's lead with eleven minutes left, before Tadic scored a second penalty in the five minutes from time minute to make it three-one, with Biseswar getting his second for the visitors in injury time. The Dutch champions will next play Cypriot side Apoel Nicosia for a place in the Champions League group stages. Elsewhere, former champions Red Star Belgrade beat FC Copenhagen seven-six on penalties in a shootout which saw nine out of the twenty two penalties taken missed. The game had earlier ended one-all (two-two on aggregate) in Denmark. Club Bruges are also through after a dramatic three-all draw with Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine, to win four-three on aggregate. The game saw both teams have a player sent off and both also score injury-time goals.
French second division side AS Nancy could face disciplinary action after their match against Le Mans was stopped by the referee due to homophobic chanting by a section of fans. Referee Medi Mokhtari briefly halted the game in the twenty seventh minute at Nancy's Stade Marcel Picot. Players went over to their fans to ask them to stop, while the stadium announcer warned the game would be suspended. The match resumed after a minute. 'These songs have no place in a football stadium,' said Nancy president Jean-Michel Roussier after the match. Mokhtari's actions were praised by sports minister Roxana Maracineanu, who also commended the LFP, the league's governing body. 'I extend my congratulations to referee Mehdi Mokhtari and the delegate of the LFP Alain Marseille who took their responsibilities and decided to interrupt the football match between Nancy and Le Mans for homophobic insults,' she tweeted. 'It's a first. And a last, I hope.' Marlene Schiappa, France's gender equality minister, tweeted: 'Congratulations to referee Mehdi Mokhtari for having bravely interrupted the match against homophobic songs sung at Nancy-Le Mans. Football is an exciting sport. It must remain so for all.'
Scotland manager Shelley Kerr admits she would 'do things differently in hindsight' after some players were reportedly 'reduced to tears' at a meeting the day after The Scotch were knocked out of the World Cup. Kerr admits that she, along with some of her backroom team, 'had a few drinks' with dinner before the debrief. Some players are said to have considered their Scotland futures after the meeting but Kerr insists that the squad is fully behind her. 'There were a few hard and fast conversations,' she told BBC Scotland. 'That will happen in a performance environment. On reflection would I do things differently? Yeah of course. Maybe the timing because the emotions - certainly the circumstance - were so unique.' Scotland lost the opening two games of their first World Cup against England and Japan before conceding three goals in the final sixteen minutes to draw three-three with Argentina when victory would have earned a last-sixteen place in the competition. Kerr is understood to have blamed the players in 'a heated and emotional meeting' in Paris the following day, but she denies suggestions that 'too much alcohol' had been taken. 'The staff were working around the clock and the day after, when the tournament finished, myself and some of the staff went out for a meal and we had a few drinks,' she said. 'You're on time off but of course I can see the perception.' The Scottish FA are 'aware of the matter' and have 'had conversations' with Kerr and certain players. The governing body is believed to want all parties to get together before the next squad gathering with a view to clearing any lingering issues and sorting this shit out. Kerr named her squad on Thursday for the first Euro 2021 qualifier against Cyprus on 30 August, with injured duo Lana Clelland and Christie Murray the only two members of the World Cup squad not involved. When asked about suggestions that some teams had considered whether they wanted to be part of her plans, Kerr said she would 'continue with the squad' that went to France. 'We'll address, we'll debrief,' she said. 'I've spoken to a lot of the players directly and indirectly and I've got a positive feeling about the Euros. That's what we need to focus on now.'

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Used Goods

Andy Carroll says that his return to this blogger's beloved (though, tragically unsellable) Newcastle United eight years after he left was 'what dreams were made of.' The thirty-year-old, released by West Hamsters United this summer following a six-year spell blighted by numerous injuries, signed a one-year contract with The Magpies on transfer deadline day. 'I enjoyed the time I spent here, and hopefully I can carry on where I left off,' said Carroll, who made his Newcastle debut in 2006 as sixteen year old. Where he left off, incidentally, was being injured for the last few weeks of his time at The Magpies during January 2011, his last appearance actually having come in a three-one defeat at Sheikh Yer Man City on Boxing Day 2010. 'For me to get back to where I was, I think this is the only place for me.' And, just to repeat, where he was, was injured. Carroll scored thirty three goals during his five years on Tyneside and helped the club win promotion to the top flight in 2009-10. And, when he was fit he was bloody good let it be noted, even at that early stage of a career which promised so much. He told Sky Sports News: 'When I put the shirt back on it will probably be a better feeling that it was the first time. It's something I wanted for a long time and now it's here. Playing for your boyhood team and going away, you realise what you had and missed. Coming back it's something only dreams are made of."' The former England striker moved to Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws for a club-record thirty five million knicker in 2011, but scored only six goals in forty four league games at Anfield before he was loaned to The Hamsters for the 2012-13 season. Although he experienced knee and hamstring problems during that campaign, The Hamsters still took a punt and signed Carroll on a permanent deal for fifteen million quid in the summer of 2013. However his injury record at The Hamsters makes for sobering reading; ankle, foot, groin, pelvis, neck, knee, hamstring and thigh issues all severely restricting his pitch time. Of the two hundred and sixty four Premier League games The Hamsters played during the time Andy was at the club, he started just eighty four of them and managed another forty two appearances from the bench. Scoring thirty three times, his most recent competitive appearance came against Sheikh Yer Man City in February 2019. Having completed ninety minutes in just four Premier League matches over the past two seasons, the fear is the Carroll will not be fit enough regularly to make a significant impact at his boyhood club. Should he manage to make it off the treatment table and onto the pitch, Carroll will join Tommy Wright, Robbie Elliott, Lee Clark, Nolberto Solano and the late Pavel Srnicek in playing for United in the Premier League era during two separate spells. Newcastle manager Steve Brucie (nasty to see him to see him, nasty) said: 'To bring a local hero like Andy back to Newcastle United is fantastic. He is very excited to be home. He is a big, physical threat in the opposition box and another great option for us at the top end of the pitch. He gives us something different to what we already have and we'll do our best to get him flying again.' Reports that the biggest betting currently going on in the Newcastle area is on exactly how many minutes of Premier League action Carroll will see this season cannot at this time be confirmed or denied.
Carroll became Newcastle's fifth signing of the summer following the arrival of forward Joelinton, winger Allan Saint-Maximin, left-back Jetro Willems and right-back Emil Krafth. The latter signed earlier on Transfer Deadline Day from Ligue 1 side Amiens for a reported five million smackers on a four-year contract. The Sweden right-back only joined Amiens on a permanent deal earlier this summer after a season on loan. 'When a Premier League team wants to sign you, of course you are happy,' said the twenty five-year-old whose arrival potentially signals the end of their time at St James' Park for at least one and possibly two of the three right-backs already at the club, DeAndre Yedlin, Javier Manquillo and Jamie Sterry. 'I know Newcastle is a big club, so I'm very happy to sign here and to be here right now,' said Krafth. 'It's a good moment in my career to take a step forward. The plans Newcastle had for me, I felt like they were fitting me perfectly, so that was why I chose Newcastle.' Krafth made thirty five appearances in the French top flight while on loan at Amiens last season from Bologna. He has won twenty caps for Sweden thus far in his career and played at last year's World Cup in Russia.
A late flurry of deadline-day signings took Premier League spending for the summer up to 1.41 billion knicker, just short of the 1.43 billion notes record set in 2017, according to Deloitte. Deadline Day spending alone by English top-flight clubs was one hundred and seventy million smackers - but on just eighteen deals, the joint fewest number of transfers on the last day of the summer window since 2009. Everton's thirty four million quid signing of forward Alex Iwobi from The Arse was the biggest incoming Premier League deal, while the largest transfer saw Romelu Lukaku leave The Scum for Inter Milan for seventy four million knicker - a loss of a million quid on the fee they paid Everton. The Arse were the biggest spenders in England during the window, splashing out one hundred and fifty five million smackers. On Deadline Day, they spent twenty five million quid on Glasgow Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney and eight million wonga on Moscow Chelski FC centre-back David Luiz. Stottingtot Hotshots recruited Real Betis midfielder Giovani lo Celso on loan and signed Poor Bloody Fulham Haven't Got A Chance winger Ryan Sessegnon for twenty five million wonga. Their pursuit of Juventus forward Paulo Dybala was one of the big stories earlier in the day but any potential deal fell through. Watford spent a club record, reported to be twenty five million smackers, on Rennes winger Ismaila Sarr and Leicester City bought Sampdoria's attacking midfielder Dennis Praet for a reported eighteen million knicker. Three former England internationals made moves - Burnley signing Moscow Chelski FC midfielder Danny Drinkwater and Sheikh Yer Man City bringing in Derby goalkeeper Scott Carson, both on loan, in addition to this blogger's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle re-signed free agent striker Andy Carroll. A busy day in the Championship was headlined by West Bromwich Albinos spending four million notes on Southampton striker Charlie Austin. This was the second year in a row when Premier League clubs could only sign players until the day before the season started, instead of the end of August. The deadline has also now passed for Championship clubs, but teams from Scotland, Leagues One and Two and all of Europe's major leagues can bring in players until 2 September. The total number of Premier League signings in the summer fell for the sixth year in a row. Eleven of the twenty Premier League clubs broke their existing transfer record this summer, with Sheffield United smashing theirs four times. The Arse, Aston Villains, Leicester (twice), Sheikh Yer Man City, Newcastle, Southampton, Stottingtot Hotshots, Watford - on deadline day - West Hamsters United and Wolverhampton Wanderings are the other ten. Harry Maguire's eighty million knicker switch from Leicester to The Scum was the biggest Premier League signing of the summer, followed by The Arse's seventy two million quid purchase of Lille winger Nicolas Pepe. Champions Sheikh Yer Man City bought Atletico Madrid midfielder Rodri for sixty two million knicker and Juventus right-back Joao Cancelo for sixty million. Spurs spent over fifty three million quid on Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele - their first first-team signing since January 2018. The Villains spent one hundred and twenty five million, the second promoted club to hit nine figures after Poor Bloody Fulham Haven't Got A Chance, who did so last summer, only to subsequently be relegated in April. The other biggest transfers were The Scum's right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka (fifty million from Crystal Palace), West Hamsters United striker Sebastien Haller (forty five million from Eintracht Frankfurt), Newcastle striker Joelinton (forty million from Hoffenheim) and Leicester midfielder Youri Tielemans (forty million from Monaco). Moscow Chelski FC also spent forty million notes on Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic despite having a transfer embargo imposed upon them for various naughty shenanigans in relation to Financial Fair Play. The Croat was already at Torpedo Stamford Bridge on loan, so Frank Lampard's side were allowed to sign him permanently as he was already registered with them. Their sale of Eden Hazard to Real for a fee of eighty nine million smackers, which could rise to one hundred and fifty million with add-ons and other under-the-counter malarkey, was one of the biggest deals in the world. This was the second highest total spend since the introduction of the transfer window system in 2003, according to analysis from Deloitte's Sports Business Group. It is the fourth consecutive summer that Premier League clubs have spent over one billion notes. But Premier League clubs' net expenditure (purchases minus sales) was six hundred and twenty five million knicker - the lowest in a summer since 2015, helped by Hazard and Lukaku's big-money moves. Dan Jones, a partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said: 'With this level of net spend, combined with a more modest increase in Premier League broadcast rights values for the coming season than we have seen previously, we would expect wages to increase at a greater rate than revenue, returning to a wages to revenue ratio of over sixty per cent. However, this does not signal major financial concerns as Premier League clubs collectively generated pre-tax profits of four hundred and twenty six million pounds in 2017-18, while net spend as a proportion of revenue of twelve per cent is at its lowest since 2012.' La Liga clubs could still overtake the Premier League's total. Spain's top-flight clubs have spent 1.1 billion quid, with Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona accounting for two thirds of that alone. That number will increase with their deadline not until 2 September. Championship clubs spent one hundred and sixty million snots on transfers, an increase from the one hundred and fifty five spent last summer. Moscow Chelski FC (who, of course, have a transfer embargo), Crystal Palace and Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws were the only three clubs to make a profit on transfers this summer. Benfica (one hundred and seventy million quid) and Ajax (one hundred and sixty five million) were among the sides in Europe to make the most in player sales this summer. The deadline for La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and other European leagues is on 2 September so their clubs can sign Premier League players until then. Real Madrid have been linked with The Scum's midfielder Paul Pogba all summer, but it seems unlikely The Scum would let the French international go now without being able to bring in a replacement. Stotingtot Hotshots playmaker Christian Eriksen is another who could leave the Premier League. The Danish international, who has one year left on his Spurs contract, is reported to be interested in a move abroad. But Spurs's failure to sign Dybala this summer may make a move for Eriksen less likely. Sheikh Yer Man City winger Leroy Sane is a long-term Fußball-Club Bayern München target but the cruciate ligament damage suffered in Sunday's Community Shield could see Sane stay at Etihad Stadium. Real Madrid's sulky Gareth Bale was never credibly linked to a move to any English clubs before the deadline. He has got three-and-a-half weeks to find a European club to take him off Real's hands or else face a season playing for their reserves, with the Welshman seemingly not in coach Zinedine Zidane's plans. Paris St-Germain forward Neymar continues to be linked with a move to Real Madrid or former to his club Barcelona, while Real attacking midfielder James Rodriguez - like Bale - may have to move away for first-team football. The Premier League deadline closing could spark a flurry of signings elsewhere. Some managers in Leagues One and Two have been waiting for this stage, with Premier League and Championship clubs now more likely to know who they will be willing to sell or to offer on loan.
Liverpool Alabam Yee-Haws scored four first-half goals as they started the new Premier League season with a blistering performance to demolish newly-promoted Norwich City at Anfield on Friday evening. Norwich captain Grant Hanley scored the opening goal of the top-flight season when he sliced Divock Origi's cross into his own net before Mohamed Salah opened his account after a pass by Roberto Firmino. German midfielder Marco Stipermann forced a fine save by Reds keeper Alisson before an unmarked Virgil van Dijk headed the third from Salah's corner, Origi added the fourth after a stunning pass by Trent Alexander-Arnold. Teemu Pukki's composed finish reduced the deficit after Liverpool lost Alisson to injury, the Brazilian keeper replaced by new signing Adrian after slipping while taking a first-half goal-kick.
Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick as Sheikh Yer Man City got their title defence off to a winning start with five-nil victory at West Hamsters United in a game which saw the video assistant referee play a significant role for the first time in the Premier League. Harry Kane twice struck late as Stottingtot Hotshots overcame Aston Villa three-one. Spurs, who finished fourth last season, fell behind to a ninth-minute John McGinn goal before they equalised courtesy of a brilliant strike from their club-record signing Tanguy Ndombele. Kane fired two goals in the final four minutes. The highlight of the game, however, came when thirty five million quid midfield flop Moussa Sisoko had a shot for Spurs. And, it went out for a throw-in! Sheffield United, who were playing in League One as recently as 2017, marked their return to the Premier League after a twelve-year absence with a spirited draw at Bournemouth, Billy Sharp scoring an eighty eighth-minute equaliser for The Blades to cancel out Chris Mepham's first goal for The Cherries. Everton Toffeemen were held to a goalless draw at Crystal Palace. Everton's Morgan Schneiderlin was sent off, while Wilfried Zaha started on Palace's bench after missing out on a move before the summer transfer deadline and sulking about it like a big girl. Brighton & Hove Albinos got off to a flying start under new boss Graham Potter. They won three-nil at last season's FA Cup runners-up Watford - an own goal by Abdoulaye Doucoure, plus strikes by Florin Andone and new signing Neal Maupay sealing the points for The Seagulls. Burnley also won three-nil at home to Southampton, Ashley Barnes with two goals and Johann Berg Gudmundsson the other. Leicester and Wolverhampton Wanderings shared a goalless draw in one of Sunday's early kick-offs. And, The Scum gave Moscow Chelski FC a damned good four-nil hiding in Frank Lampard's first game in charge of The Blues.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang punished somewhat expected slack defending by this blogger's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies to give The Arse victory at a rain-drenched, gloomy and rather deflated St James' Park on Sunday. Starting with many of their one hundred and twenty five million knicker's worth of signings on the bench and without midfielders Mesut Özil and Sead Kolašinac (see below), The Arse's boss Unai Emery watched his side struggle to cut through their opponents in the first half. That all changed just before the hour mark when Gabon international Aubameyang collected Ainsley Maitland-Niles' cross from the right and fired past Martin Dubravka after Newcastle had, needlessly, surrendered possession in midfield. As for Steve Brucie (nasty to see him, to see him, nasty), his Newcastle managerial debut pretty much went to the expectations of many in Newcastle's thoroughly cheesed-off fanbase. Workmanlike, one-paced, pedestrian and lacking in much flair or imagination. Not bad, just dull. The managerial career of Brucie (nasty to see him, to see him, nasty) in a nutshell. Still, bright-side, at this stage in the season, The Magpies are currently only one win off a Champions League place. Laugh, dear blog reader? Laugh? This blogger nearly did. The Magpies' record signing Joelinton Apolinário de Lira went close with a shot blocked by Bernd Leno, before Jonjo Shelvey saw his drive crash off the woodwork. The home side were flat for much of the second half, although another new recruit, Allan Saint-Maximin, tested German Leno with a near-post drive. But, he also tripped over his own feet a couple of times. Miguel Almirón was mostly anonymous after a bright opening twenty minutes. And whilst The Magpies never looked in too much trouble before they committed defensive suicide, following The Arse's goal, they never remotely looked like threatening an equaliser and ended the game with most of the team looking worryingly weary and heavy-legged. Looks like another season-long relegation battle, dear blog reader. Newcastle United claimed that forty seven thousand six hundred and thirty five tickets were sold for the opening game, but inside St James' Park, the number of empty seats was clearly visible and it looked more than around four thousand. The attendances for United's opening fixture of last season, against Stottingtot Hotshots, was fifty one thousand seven hundred and forty nine. The year before that - also against Spurs - opening day saw a capacity crowd of fifty two thousand and seventy seven.
Two men have been charged with a public order offence connected to a Premier League footballer, police have said. Ferhat Ercan and Salaman Ekinci were very arrested on Thursday outside the North London home of The Arse star Mesut Özil. Özil and Sead Kolašinac were not in The Arse's squad for Sunday's Premier League opener at this blogger's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle due to 'further security incidents.' Both players were targeted by carjackers in North London last month, an incident which attracted widespread publicity at the time. According to reports, the men were arrested after 'becoming involved in an altercation' with security staff outside Özil's home. 'Two men have been charged under Section 4A of the Public Order Act following an incident in Camden on Thursday 8 August,' the Met said. Ercan and Ekinci are due to appear up a'fore The Beat at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court on 6 September. Police said they were treating the public order offence and the attempted car-jacking as separate incidents. Midfielder Özil and defender Kolašinac were left out of a friendly against Lyon following the attempted car-jacking in Golders Green in July. After the attack, Kolašinac posted a picture of himself and Ozil on social media and added: 'Think we're fine.' The Arse said on Friday the players had been left out of Sunday's squad following 'further security incidents which are being investigated by the police. The welfare of our players and their families is always a top priority and we have taken this decision following discussion with the players and their representatives,' the club said.
Dirty Stoke have released twelve million knicker alleged striker Saido Berahino. The Burundi international Berahino joined the Championship side from West Bromwich Albions in January 2017. The twenty six-year-old scored just five goals in fifty six appearances and last played for Dirty Stoke in February. He was extremely convicted of drinking and driving in May and was fined seventy five thousand smackers and banned from driving for thirty months at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court. In a one-line statement The Potters said: 'Stoke City can confirm that Saido Berahino has today left the club by mutual agreement.' The former England Under-Twenty One international had three years left on his five-and-a-half-year deal. He was almost three times over the alcohol limit when his Range Rover was stopped in London's West End in February. Berahino was arrested minutes after being robbed and while the court heard there was 'no dispute' that the robbery had taken place, magistrates found he 'was not in fear of death or fear of serious injury.' It was also heard that Berahino had previous convictions of drinking and driving in 2015 and being drunk in charge of a vehicle in 2012.
Huddersfield Town have been charged by the Football Association with breaking kit and advertising rules. It comes after a controversial shirt was worn in pre-season as part of a sponsorship deal with Paddy Power. The bookmaker's name was displayed in a sash across the club's shirt in a pre-season friendly at Rochdale, which the FA say was in breach of regulations. The club is accused of breaking the rules surrounding the size of slogan allowed on a player's shirt. The shirt was a spoof, with the deal actually seeing the club remove their sponsor's name from the front of their kit as part of a campaign by the Irish bookmaker. 'When we announced the kit, we knew the design would cause quite a negative stir and that was part of the campaign,' Huddersfield's commercial director Sean Jarvis told BBC Radio Leeds after the club's real kit was unveiled last month. The FA asked The Terriers for the their 'observations' about the shirts, which have since been auctioned and raised more than thirty grand for charity. Paddy Power have agreed similar deals to 'unsponsor' the shirts of Newport County, Motherwell, Macclesfield Town and Southend United.
Bury are reported to be 'confident' of remaining in the Football League despite being threatened with expulsion over their ongoing financial problems. The League One club have been given until 23 August to show the EFL their plan to pay off outstanding creditors. Bury's first three games have all been suspended because they have so far not provided 'the clarity required.' 'If we stand united we can get through this difficult spell for our historic club,' Bury said in a statement. 'In the last six months, we have come a long way together. Once we have supplied the EFL with the recently requested additional information, we are confident that our embargo will be lifted. In anticipation of this, we would expect that the EFL will not remove us from the Football League. A lot of people are working very hard to get this over the line. As a club, we would like to thank the players who are currently training at Carrington with a view to signing for our brilliant football club. Thank you for standing by us, even though the situation we find ourselves in is very difficult. There is a lot of uncertainty in the Football League with other clubs outside Bury. Everyone at the club wishes them all the best with their own circumstances.' The EFL have said they would 'continue to work constructively with the club' to obtain the details required to avoid calling off further fixtures. The Shakers have already been given a twelve-point deduction for the season after entering into a company voluntary arrangement, which is classed as an insolvency event by the EFL - to try to clear some of their debts. Bury, who won promotion from League Two last season, had a winding-up petition against them dismissed by the High Court on 31 July.
The Football League has grovellingly apologised to a Hull City fan who claimed he was asked to stop texting or face ejection from a game. Daniel Mawer tweeted a lengthy thread after Hull's win against Reading on Saturday after an alleged 'undercover security guard' approached him at half-time. He was, he claimed, 'spoken to' as part of 'spot checks into unauthorised data gathering at EFL matches.' Mawer told BBC Sport that he was 'shocked' (and stunned) by the initial approach. Hull City are now liaising with both Mawer, the club's own security company Superstadium Management and Comsec, a company hired by Football Data Co to monitor the collection and distribution of official match data. 'The Comsec scout spotting programme is managed by Football Data Co in collaboration with the league and its clubs,' said an EFL spokesman. 'Access is provided at matches for Comsec representatives to operate and identify potential infringements. On initial review of this particular incident all procedures and protocols were followed, but clearly there is still some work to be done to ensure these checks are conducted appropriately and sensitively. It's never the intention to offend and for that Football Data Co and the League offer its apologies to the supporter affected by this random spot check.' In a statement, Hull City also said that they would investigate 'how the check was handled' and how the scout spotting programme 'could be improved' at the KCOM Stadium. Unauthorised data gathering - or 'courtsiding' as it is known in other sports - is the practice of transmitting information from sporting events for the purpose of gambling or of placing bets directly from a sporting event. Daniel's experience was widely shared on social media, including by Match Of The Day Presenter Gary Lineker on Saturday, who tweeted: 'This is nuts.' Oh, do Walker's do nuts? Yes, apparently, they do. 'I've had quite a lot of messages of support since it happened,' said the Hull season ticket holder. 'I feel it's something that needed highlighting as I wasn't sure how widespread these checks are. I was just texting a few friends and relatives who can't make it to games these days, just the odd update on how the game was going. I was mainly telling my girlfriend what I thought of Hull forward Tom Eaves' haircut.' The Football Supporters' Association were among those to tweet support to Daniel. 'It's not that people are being asked at grounds about potential suspicious activity; it's how they're being approached that concerns us,' director of case work Amanda Jacks told BBC Sport. 'It's also a bit disappointing Hull's response doesn't included the word "alleged" when speaking about Daniel's experience. We understand people have a job to do and some people unfortunately do go to games with the intention of manipulating betting markets. But we believe this is a very small minority of the hundreds of thousands who attend matches across the country every weekend.'
Brazil's Gabriel Jesus has received a two-month international ban for his naughty behaviour after he was sent off during the Copa America final last month. The Sheikh Yer Man City forward, who scored in the three-one win over Peru, remonstrated with referee Roberto Tobar, kicked a water bottle and then pushed the VAR monitor as he left the pitch in a geet stroppy childish huff. Jesus, also fined thirty thousand dollars, has seven days to appeal. The striker is set to miss September's friendlies against Colombia and Peru. A statement from governing body CONMEBOL said: 'Gabriel Jesus is suspended for two months from the day following the notification of this decision. Consequently, the player is suspended to play official and friendly matches with his national team in that period of time.'
Fußball-Club Bayern München warmed-up for the start of the Bundesliga season with a twenty three-nil win over amateur side FC Rottach-Egern. The German champions averaged a goal just under every four minutes as Corentin Tolisso scored four and Robert Lewandowski hit a hat-trick. Lucas Hernandez made his first appearance since his club record eighty million Euros move from Atletico Madrid. Bayern get their league campaign under way against Hertha Berlin on Friday 16 August. Before that, Bayern begin their defence of the German Cup on Monday when they travel to FC Energie Cottbus. While Borussia Dortmund beat the five-time European champions to win the German Supercup in the annual Bundesliga curtain-raiser, this was a much more comfortable outing for Bayern. Otschi Wriedt also grabbed a hat-trick while Thomas Müller and New Zealand international Sarpreet Singh both scored twice. Coach Niko Kovac made ten changes at half-time against opponents they defeated twenty-two in 2018.
An investigation into the identity of a Gambian player at Hamburg has been started by German football's governing body. It follows a complaint from Nuremburg about the true name and age of midfielder Bakery Jatta, who played against them in a four-nil defeat on Monday. His club's records say Jatta is twenty one, but there are claims in the German media he is older and called Bakery Daffeh. Hamburg, who play in Germany's second tier, 'stand completely behind' Jatta. The DFB, Germany's football association, said it has 'already written to' Hamburg and 'asked for an opinion on the allegations. The panel will then have the appeal in due course,' it added. Hamburg head of sport Jonas Boldt has said he is 'amazed' by the complaint and expects 'an unambiguous response' about Jatta's eligibility. Records say that Jatta has been at Hamburg since 2016 and was born in June 1998, with no evidence of a club prior to that. On the other hand, there is evidence that a Bakery Daffeh played for Brikama United in The Gambia, as well as Casa Sport in Senegal. Daffeh also scored for The Gambia under-twenty team in a one-nil win over Liberia in 2014. A report in German newspaper Bild states: 'Nach einem Hinweis recherchierte SPORT BILD in den vergangenen Wochen über die Vergangenheit Jattas. Und die Indizien häuften sich massiv, dass Bakery Jatta in Wahrheit Bakary Daffeh heißt und nicht am 6 Juni 1998, sondern am 6 November 1995 geboren ist. Er wäre also rund zweieinhalb Jahre älter - und damit bei der Einreise nach Deutschland schon volljährig gewesen, was das Verfahren einer Aufenthaltsgenehmigung erschwert hätte. Alleinreisende minderjährige Flüchtlinge erhalten in der Regel eine Duldung und dürfen im.' Unfortunately, they didn't say it in English. Bild claims that any trace of Daffeh ends in August 2015, at precisely the same time as 'Jatta' turned up in Germany. Boldt said: 'We expect in return an unambiguous response from the DFB and DFL about Bakery Jatta's eligibility as soon as possible, so that appearances in cup and league matches are still possible. Ultimately, our player has had a valid passport and has been eligible to play for us for the past three years. For us, it isn't acceptable that this eligibility to play is brought into question by assumptions and conjecture. We stand completely behind Bakery and will carry on to completely include him in training and our matchday squads, as he is a valuable player for us and an integrated, valued member of our team. I personally find it unbelievable and distressing that our player is attacked from all sides in public, purely because of presumptions and suspicion. Baka has once again proved the correctness of his passport and right to work in this country to us.'
Football fans caught feeding seagulls have been warned they will be removed from a Scottish Championship stadium. Dumfries side Queen of the South issued the message before their first home league game at Palmerston Park. It comes after complaints about the 'mess and nuisance' caused by birds at the ground at a cup clash with Motherwell last month. Now the club has appealed to fans to help tackle the issue by putting any waste food in bins provided. The Doonhamers have said they face a 'pretty much impossible task' in dealing with the problem having tried 'various things' to tackle it. Their efforts have included playing 'bird of prey noises' over the sound system and flying red kites, a widespread bird of prey in Dumfries and Galloway, above their ground. However, the gulls have continued to cause problems, with staff forced to stay out on the pitch late at night to try to stop them roosting on the playing surface. Supporters have been asked to play their part in dealing with the issue. 'If you are seen to be deliberately feeding the seagulls you will be removed from the ground,' the club warned on its Facebook page. 'In order to minimise the impact of the seagulls on everyone's enjoyment of the game, please do not feed them and please use the bins provided for all waste food. Please consider your fellow supporters.'
A 'loophole' in the regulations protecting children from being targeted by betting firms has alleged been exploited by Wayne Rooney wearing the number thirty two when he joins Derby County, according to a gambling industry expert. If not anyone you've actually heard of. The Rams have secured 'a record-breaking sponsorship' deal with their shirt sponsor, online casino 32Red, 'off the back of' the former England captain joining the Championship side. Rooney's squad number at Pride Park will be thirty two when he joins Derby in January, but the company denies it has anything to do with their sponsorship arrangement. One or two people even believed them. Although 32Red will not appear on any replica children's shirts, as prohibited by regulations, they can have Rooney's name and number thirty two printed on the back of their kit. The betting company said their agreement 'complies with FA regulations.' However, Professor Jim Orford - a psychologist from Birmingham University who 'studies gambling', nice work if you can get it - said: 'It's obvious what it is there for, isn't it? It won't say 32Red, it will just be thirty two, but it clearly is meant to be a link to 32Red and people will start to associate the number thirty two with gambling and gambling on 32Red. It is a loophole in the law. A lot of children won't understand it to start with but advertising is like that. A lot of people will understand it, while for others it will just be in the back of their minds and be subliminal. They are trying to just slip it in and get around that very sensible aspect of the regulations.' A spokesperson for 32Red said that it 'wouldn't matter what number' Rooney plays in at Derby. 'As Wayne Rooney said himself during his press conference, the squad number means nothing. The number is a separate issue to the logo,' the 32Red spokesperson added. Again, one or two people even believed them. 'The number is not important. Other players also wear the number in the Championship - 32Red don't have a trademark on the number thirty two.' The betting firm also rejected the notion that they have taken advantage of an alleged loophole. 'Responsible gambling is at the heart of our business,' the spokesperson said. 'We will next week talk further details about the deal that will have a wider impact on the Derby community, with Wayne Rooney involved in community initiatives. Our additional investment will also include responsible gambling initiatives.' The Football Association declined to comment as Rooney is yet to come under their jurisdiction because England and The Scum's all-time leading scorer does not move back to the English game from Major League Soccer side DC United until January. Orford, who runs Gamble Watch UK - an 'independent organisation' that 'questions gambling policy in Britain' - said that the FA and Gambling Commission should both look at the arrangement and whether the number on the shirt is a breach of regulations. 'One of the basic principles of the Gambling Commission is that they protect children and young people,' he said. 'It should be making a fuss about this, to the FA in particular.' Yes, but they're not going to because, as previously noted on this blog, the Football Association seem to have no problem whatsoever with paying lip-service to gambling awareness whilst, simultaneously, having their second, third and fourth tier league competitions sponsored by SkyBet. Conflict of interest, you say? This blogger couldn't possibly comment. In a statement, the Gambling Commission said 'sponsorship arrangements must be undertaken in a socially responsible manner,' with its rules adding that deals should not 'be likely to be of particular appeal to under-eighteens' or 'associated with youth culture.' Doctor Alan Smith, the bishop of St Albans and the church's gambling spokesman, told BBC 5Live that he 'hopes' Rooney adds gambling awareness work to his charitable causes. Though, what the Hell any of this had to do with the church is another matter entirely.