Sunday, 20 August 2017

Arsene Whingers Again

Keith Telly Topping absolutely loves this time of the football season; on Saturday 19 August this blogger's beloved (though tragically unsellable) Magpies without a game that day, actually went up two places in the Premier League table due to other results. Maybe that's the trick for Rafa The Gaffer's team this season, avoid playing if you possibly can. At this rate, they might even end up in the top six instead of the bottom three as seems far more likely at the moment. (Normality, for the Magpies, was thoroughly restored on Sunday with an atypically gutless, cowardly and shamefully inept performance - and defeat - at Huddersfield. Another season-long relegation battle looks likely. Whether that will be with Rafa as the Gaffer is another matter entirely.) Elsewhere, The Scum's manger, Jose Mourinho, said that he 'let the horses run freely' after a blistering three-goal burst in four second-half minutes saw his team sweep aside Swansea City to continue their impressive winning start to the Premier League season. Having initially struggled to unlock their opponents' well-drilled defence despite taking the lead, The Scum then opened the floodgates after eighty minutes as Romelu Lukaku confidently struck his third goal in two games for the club. Paul Pogba added a third two minutes later with a delicately lifted finish and, shortly afterwards, substitute Anthony Martial fired in low to give United a second four-nil win from their first two matches of the campaign. The Arse's manager, Arsene Whinger, whinged that his side were 'denied a goal and a penalty' as Jese Rodriguez enjoyed a dream start to his Dirty Stoke City career by scoring the winner against The Gurners. Former Real Madrid winger Jese, who was thrust straight into Mark Hughes' side after arriving from Paris St-Germain on Wednesday, slid in from a tight angle after being left unmarked to pick up Saido Berahino's pass. Sadio Mane earned Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws their first Premier League win of the season as Crystal Palace suffered a second straight defeat despite an improved display at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp's side were heading for a frustrating draw after wasting a string of chances when Mane prodded past Wayne Hennessey for his second league goal of the campaign. Palace, beaten three-nil at home to Huddersfield in their opening match, should have scored when the game was goalless. Christian Benteke was unmarked and eight yards out but blazed over the bar from Ruben Loftus-Cheek's pass. Harry Maguire scored his first Leicester goal as The Foxes eased to a first win of the season against a timid Brighton & Hove Albinos side in a scrappy affair at The King Power Stadium. The hosts led inside a minute when Shinji Okazaki tapped in after new Seagulls goalkeeper Mathew Ryan spilled a low effort from the impressive Riyad Mahrez. Brighton's Glenn Murray had a goal disallowed for offside before the break but, in truth, the newly promoted side offered little threat as they fell to a second successive defeat in the top tier. Craig Shakespeare's side produced an efficient display without ever seeming to build relentless pressure, but their day was soured a little in injury time when Jamie Vardy was forced to hobble off after contesting a fifty-fifty ball with Ryan. Ten-man West Hamsters United twice came from behind but Charlie Austin's injury time penalty gave Southampton their first victory under Mauricio Pellegrino. Having failed to score in their last six home matches, The Saints took the lead after only ten minutes when Manolo Gabbiadini side-footed past Grossly Over-Rated Wankhands Joe Hart. The Hamsters' problems then spiralled, as Marko Arnautovic was sent off for elbowing Jack Stephens in the mush, before Dusan Tadic made it two-nil from the penalty spot after Jose Fonte brought down Steven Davis. Summer signing Javier Hernandez thought he had snatched an unlikely comeback for the visitors with two goals from close range either side of half-time. But The Hamsters conceded a second penalty when Pablo Zabaleta bundled into Maya Yoshida and substitute Austin coolly slotted past Hart to leave Slavan Bilic's side bottom of the league after two games with a goal difference of minus five, one worse than Palace and Brighton. Substitute Hal Robson-Kanu scored the winner and was later sent off as West Bromwich Albinos made it two wins from two with victory at Burnley. The match was short on entertainment until Robson-Kanu gave it a shot of adrenaline with a brilliant strike. The Welsh international, who came on seven minutes earlier, pounced on a Matt Phillips flick, held off two challenges and fired in low past keeper Tom Heaton. However, the striker did not see out the rest of the match as he was shown a red card in the eighty third minute for catching Matt Lowton with his elbow. Burnley wasted chances at the other end, and will be hoping Leeds striker Chris Wood, who they look likely to sign, will be less profligate. Brazilian winger Richarlison was described as 'a great talent' by manager Marco Silva after his first Premier League goal helped Watford to victory over Bournemouth at The Vitality Stadium. Richarlison, an eleven million knicker summer signing from Fluminense, opened the scoring when he prodded the ball into the net from close range following a cross from The Hornets record signing Andre Gray. Substitute Etienne Capoue doubled The Hornets lead with a fine twenty five-yard strike late on. Bournemouth had chances as Benik Afobe had a shot saved by Heurelho Gomes and Joshua King headed over. The Cherries have now lost both Premier League games this season, while Watford have picked up four points.
Conor Hourihane grabbed a hat-trick as Aston Villains answered their - many - critics in some style with a scintillating four-two home triumph over Norwich City in The Championship. Keinan Davis made a sparkling first-team debut up front and was involved in The Villains' two first-half goals - scored by Hourihane and Andre Green. The Canaries hit back with a sixtieth-minute strike from Josh Murphy, but Hourihane bagged his second eight minutes later and, although Norwich stormed back through Nelson Oliveira's strike on seventy nine minutes, Hourihane made sure of Steve Bruce's Villains' first Championship win of the season after just one point from their first three games by completing his hat-trick five minutes from time. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing's second-half goal helped table toppers Cardiff maintain their perfect start to the season with a two-one victory over fellow high-flyers Wolverhampton Wanderings. After a goalless first-half at Molineux, Joe Ralls converted Junior Hoilett's cross from the left to give The Bluebirds the lead. Leo Bonatini levelled from close range, the first goal conceded by Cardiff in the Championship this season. Mendez-Laing's fourth league goal of the season restored the lead for Neil Warnock's side, though, as Wolves' own one hundred per cent start was brought to an end. Ipswich are hot on the heels of Cardiff after they completed their own fourth win in succession with a comfortable two goal triumph at home to winless Brentford. Martyn Waghorn scored his fourth goal of the season to put The Tractor Boys in front and Joe Garner added a second just after the break. Nottingham Forest continued their fine start to the season by beating The Middlesbrough Smog Monsters two-one at The City Ground. Barrie McKay handed the hosts the lead, while former Forest striker Britt Assombalonga, a fourteen million knicker summer signing for 'Boro, wasted a couple of good chances either side of the break. Daryl Murphy, brought in from Newcastle to replace Assombalonga, made the visitors pay with a penalty after Ben Gibson, who went on to score a consolation, fouled Ben Brereton in the box. ten minutes from time​ David Nugent scored twice to leave Notlob Wanderers still searching for their first win after a two-one defeat at The Macron Stadium. Nugent put Derby in front after eight minutes and the former England striker added his second midway through the first-half, with Gary Madine scoring a consolation for Notlob in added time. Idrissa Sylla scored a last-gasp winner as Queens Park Strangers came from behind to beat Hull two-one at Loftus Road. Jarrod Bowen handed The Tigers the lead before Matt Smith levelled and Sylla got the second. Sheffield United secured bragging rights in the South Yorkshire derby against Barnsley with a win at Bramall Lane in the day's early kick-off. Billy Sharp got the only goal of the game, but both sides were reduced to ten men as Leon Clarke and Angus MacDonald walked after a geet rive-on punch-up with kids gettin' sparked and aal sorts just before half-time. Steven Fletcher's second-half strike secured Sheffield Wednesday a one goal win at Poor Bloody Fulham, Jordan Hugill scored the only goal in Preston Both End's victory against Reading, while Bristol City and Millwall played out a goalless draw. In the final game of the day, Dirty Leeds overcame want-away striker Chris Wood's absence to maintain their unbeaten start to the Championship with a two-nil win at Blunderland. Wood, who is reportedly close to a move to Burnley, was not even in Thomas Christiansen's squad for the fixture at The Stadium Of Plight. However, being without the New Zealand international had little impact on his team-mates as Dirty Leeds produced a controlled display to claim the points against The Mackems who continued their uneven start to the season, currently sitting mid-table with five points from their four games.
One Walsall fan has found himself with an invitation to meet the team and have his travel to Portsmouth reimbursed after taking to social media to say he got his accommodation plans a little wrong. In an effort to find a cheap hotel room for a weekend away to watch The Saddlers take on Pompey in League One, fan Davey Drew apparently booked into digs eleven miles away. That eleven miles, however, unwittingly turned out to be across The Solent on the Isle of Wight, an entire ferry trip away from his intended destination. Inconvenient, for sure. But Walsall boss Jon Whitney and his players saw the funnier side and were quick to offer to help cover costs and arrange to meet the fan who needlessly took to the high seas to follow them. While all the extra travel did not ultimately end with victory celebrations, as Portsmouth and Walsall played out a one-all draw, there are worse stops to make on away days.
One thing has become abundantly clear in the early weeks of the EFL this season - you get your money's worth by watching Yeovil Town. There have been twenty tow goals in their first three League Two games so far. However, of those twenty two, fourteen have been goals they have conceded. After being on the receiving end of an eight-two pants down hiding at Luton on the opening day, they bounced back by beating Accrington Stanley (Who Are They?) At that stage, you could say The Glovers season was pretty much back on track, albeit after just two games. But Yeovil managed to lose four-three against Forest Green on Saturday, despite twice leading by two goals. In contrast, Northampton Town left it until their third game of the season to register their first league goal. Unfortunately for The Cobblers it was a consolation as they were defeated four-one away at Charlton Not Very Athletic. Carlisle United cruised to a comfortable win over Cheltenham to register their first home win of the League Two campaign. Harry Pell's own goal and a Reggie Lambe header in the first half virtually settled the issue and defender Tom Miller put the outcome beyond doubt with a second-half strike. Carlisle's first attack produced a fifth-minute goal as Shaun Miller forced a corner and Danny Grainger's inswinger from the right had the Cheltenham defence panicked. In the ensuing scramble, Pell's attempted clearance flew past his own goalkeeper Jon Flatt and into the net to the vast amusement of the home supporters. Accrington Stanley (Who Are They?) striker Billy Kee bundled home a stoppage-time winner to end pre-season promotion favourites Mansfield's unbeaten start to the League Two season. Sean McConville's corner was not cleared and, in a goalmouth melee, Kee scrambled home his third goal of the campaign two minutes into added time to seal a two-one victory for the hosts. Exeter maintained their unbeaten start to the League Two season with a hard-fought win over Lincoln at the other St James' Park. Reuben Reid grabbed the only goal of the game before the break with a fine strike following neat build-up play from Liam McAlinden. Donal McDermott scored the only goal of the game as top of the table Swindon Town prevailed at Morecambe. Substitute Jabo Ibehre scored the only goal of the game as Cambridge earned their first win of the season by inflicting a fourth straight defeat on bottom club Crawley. In The National League, Kieron Cadogan grabbed a last-minute winner for early pace-setters Sutton in a pulsating win three-two at Chester. Bromley built on their exciting unbeaten start to the season with a win at home to struggling Hartlepool whilst Gatesheed bolstered their unbeaten start to the campaign with a resounding three-nil victory over Macclesfield. The Tynesiders led after just five minutes when Fraser Kerr prodded in Richard Peniket's centre at the far post. Jordan Preston and Jordan Burrows added subsequent strikes. Guiseley turned impending defeat into victory against Torquay at Nethermoor Park with two late goals.
The former-Premier League footballer Peter Beagrie has been extremely sacked as a Sky Sports pundit after being convicted of an assault on his partner. The fifty one-year-old ex-Everton, Manchester City and Bradford City winger reportedly punched Zarah Blake while he was 'angry and drunk,' his trial heard. Beagrie, of Killinghall in North Yorkshire, was sentenced to a twelve-month community order on Tuesday. He said that he intended to appeal against his conviction. In a statement following the hearing at Skipton Magistrates Court, Beagrie said: 'I am innocent, something I have maintained from the outset; that is why the verdict was so devastating. I will be appealing.' He said that he was still with Blake, adding: 'This has been an upsetting and traumatic time for us and we both feel there is no other alternative but to appeal.' The court heard that he punched his partner during an argument in Harrogate in April. A Sky Sports spokesman said: 'When we first became aware of the charge, we removed Peter from our coverage pending his case. Following the outcome we have terminated his contract with immediate effect.'
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo said that the decision to suspend him for five games is 'persecution.' The thirty two-year-old failed in his appeal against the ban for the red card he received in Real Madrid's three-one win against Barcelona in the Super Cup a fortnight ago. He was given a one-match ban for receiving two yellow cards and a further four game ban for pushing the referee after he had been sent off. The bookings at the Nou Camp were for taking off his shirt to celebrate his goal and for a dive. Ronaldo will miss Wednesday's second leg and will not return to domestic action until 20 September against Real Betis. However, he will be able to play in the Champions League. In an Instagram post, after his failed appeal, he whinged: 'It seems to me exaggerated and ridiculous, this is called persecution.' It's also called funny. Madrid had signalled their intent to appeal against Ronaldo's second yellow card shown for diving eight minutes from time when he went down inside the area under pressure from defender Samuel Umtiti. The forward was only on the field for twenty four minutes as he was introduced as a second-half substitute and fired into the top corner ten minutes from time to give Madrid a two-one lead. It was Ronaldo's tenth red card of his career.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Same Old Story

Substitute Olivier Giroud headed in a dramatic late winner as The Arse fought back to beat Leicester City in a thrilling start to the 2017-18 Premier League season on Friday evening. The Gunners trailed three-two with seven minutes to go before Aaron Ramsey and Giroud swung the game back in the home side's favour at a euphoric Emirates Stadium. Alexandre Lacazette headed The Gunners ahead ninety four seconds into his top-flight debut, only for Shinji Okazaki to head an equaliser just two minutes later. Jamie Vardy then shot the visitors ahead from Marc Albrighton's cross, before Danny Welbeck drew The Arse level at the end of a pulsating opening half. Leicester took the lead again when Vardy headed in Riyad Mahrez's corner before Arsene Wenger made an inspired double substitution which sparked The Arse's comeback. Substitute Ramsey smashed in an angled drive - from a corner which was won after Mesut Özil appeared to handle in the build-up - before Giroud showed athleticism and strength to meet Granit Xhaka's corner.
On Saturday, nine-man Moscow Chelski FC made a disastrous start to their Premier League title defence as they were beaten at home by Burnley. The champions had Gary Cahill sent off early on for a dangerous tackle and The Clarets made their numerical advantage count as they stormed into a three goal lead before half-time, with Sam Vokes netting twice and Stephen Ward also getting on the scoresheet. Substitute Alvaro Morata fired home on his league debut midway through the second half to reduce the deficit. Moscow Chelski's hopes of mounting a comeback looked to have been ended when Cesc Fabregas was given his marching orders with ten minutes left to play but David Luiz netted two minutes from time to set up a frantic finale. Frank De Boer's Crystal Palace reign got off to a nightmare start as Huddersfield Town stormed to victory at Selhurst Park in their first ever Premier League match. Palace defender Joel Ward turned the ball into his own net to hand The Terriers the lead midway through the first half and minutes later record signing Steve Mounie doubled the visitors' advantage. Mounie capped a dream debut with another goal after the break to earn David Wagner's newly-promoted team an impressive win. Palace fans started the season with renewed optimism amid De Boer's appointment as manager but they will be worried by their woeful performance. Wayne Rooney scored on his second Premier League debut for Everton to earn The Toffees victory against Dirty Stoke City. Jordan Pickford made a brilliant stop late on from Xherdan Shaqiri to prevent a Dirty Stoke equaliser. Mauricio Pellegrino had to settle for a point in his first match as Southampton manager as his side wasted a series of chances against Swansea who failed to muster a single shot on target and will be relieved to have escaped with a point against a Saints side which has now failed to score at St Mary's in five hundred and forty five minutes. Tony Pulis celebrated signing an extended contract in the best possible fashion as West Bromwich Albinos began the new campaign with a one-nil win over Bournemouth at The Hawthorns. New signing Ahmed Hegazi enjoyed a dream debut, heading headed home Chris Brunt's free-kick. Earlier, Watford and the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws shared six goals in the lunchtime kick-off. The Redds had looked set to take all three points as they twice fought back to lead three-two at Vicarage Road but Miguel Britos' injury-time strike earned the hosts a share of the spoils. In Saturday's evening game, newly promoted Brighton & Hove Albinos were beaten two-nil at home by Sheikh Yer Man City. On Sunday, at a flat and dispirited St James Park where just about all of the goodwill from last season's promotion appears to have evaporated in a cloud of lack-of-ambition, this blogger's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies were given a ruddy good hiding by Stottingtot Hotshots. Their cause was not helped, however, by Jonjo Shelvy stupidly getting himself sent off for stamping on Dele Alli.
Wandering idly through Th' Toon on Tuesday toward the bank so that this blogger could get some money out to buy something for Us Dinner at Stately Telly Topping Manor, Keith Telly Topping only went and bumped into the broadcasting legend that is his former BBC Newcastle colleague Simon Pryde. So, the pair of us had a very productive five minute whinge about how ruddy dreadfully this blogger's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies are probably going to get on this season without more investment in the squad. As we men do. This blogger was then quoted - twice - on that evening's episode of Total Sport. And, Keith Telly Topping was even quoted more-or-less accurately as well. (What he actually said was 'if somebody gave me a thirteenth place finish now, I'd snatch their hand off!')
Children as young as ten were injured after a brawl broke out between more than two hundred football fans in a coach park. Five people were arrested in the wake of the fight after the Middlesbrough Smog Monsters versus Sheffield United game on Saturday. Cleveland Pollis said that youngsters were 'terrified' by the geet rive-on violence with kids getting sparked and aal sorts, which left one police officer in hospital. Disorder began just before the final whistle when Blades fans - whom this blogger has never particularly liked since one of them pulled a knife on him at at FA Cup Semi Final a couple of decades ago - thought their team had scored a last minute equaliser, only for it to be disallowed. Those held remain in custody while inquiries continue. Cleveland Police Assistant Chief Constable Jason Harwin said that the force would 'absolutely not tolerate violence of this nature.' He added: 'The vast majority of fans accept that football is a family game, watched by children, parents and grandparents. It is terrifying for children to witness such violence, or be innocently embroiled in it as their parents frantically try to keep them safe. Unfortunately a small minority of people behave in a manner which puts innocent fans at risk.' The Smoggies won the Championship game by a single goal.
Sky could be forced to pay an extra six hundred million knicker annually to retain the lion's share of Premier League matches when the next rights auction launches this year, with Amazon emerging as a potential competitor for the biggest prize in UK sport broadcasting. Google, Apple, Facebook and Netflix are other possible rivals for Britain's most valuable sports rights, which are split between Sky and BT under the current three-year deal. The prospect of a heated auction involving deep-pocketed tech firms has led analysts to estimate that Sky might have to pay a premium of up to forty five per cent on the four billion smackers plus it paid last time. That means a further £1.8bn, or six hundred million quid annually, to keep Silicon Valley off the ball. 'We expect Sky to pay forty to forty five per cent more in the next Premier League rights auction,' Thomas Singlehurst, an analyst at investment bank Citi, who has rounded up his peers' forecasts told the Gruniad. 'The base case consensus [of Sky analysts] is that payments go up by six hundred million pounds a year from the 2019-20 season.' This year there has been significant inflation in the sports rights market: the UK rights to the Champions League rose by thirty two per cent, the England and Wales Cricket board nearly trebled its deal for the England cricket team and the Football League is set to increase its next deal by more than thirty per cent. This month it emerged that Amazon has entered British sports broadcasting by outbidding Sky for the UK rights to ATP World Tour tennis, to go alongside its small deal with the NFL in the US. Amazon's surprise move comes at a perfect time for the Premier League, which has been happily flagging the potential interest of tech groups and streaming powerhouses in a bid to ensure it tops the last auction, when Sky and BT bid £5.14bn for one hundred and sixty eight matches per season over three years. 'It would be daft if we didn't think about how different auctions play out,' said Andy Haworth, the managing director of content and strategy at BT. 'The content market is always evolving with new players entering all the time.' The value of Premier League rights has rocketed five-fold from what seemed a heady one billion notes in 2004. It means that generating a profit from broadcasting top-flight football is no easy business even for global digital giants. The ten million knicker cost of a year of Amazon's ATP tennis deal would buy it about eighty one minutes of one match of the eleven million quid per game Sky pays under its current deal. The next auction will kick-off before the year end with a tender that will outline how many matches are available, over what time period and in how many packages. Last time, Sky won five of the seven packages. The auction is expected to conclude early next year.
Soccer AM presenter Helen Chamberlain is leaving her role on Sky's once very popular football chat show after twenty two years. The Torquay United fan will be replaced by comedian Lloyd Griffith and former footballer Jimmy Bullard. The news was shared by Soccer AM in a tweet which read: 'Farewell and thank you to Mrs Soccer AM. This place won't be the same without you.' Hells Bells joined the Sky Sports show in 1995 and presented it - brilliantly - alongside Tim Lovejoy until he left in 2007. Along with three quarters of the audience at the time, including this blogger. She most recently co-hosted with John Fendley (no, me neither) who will continue to present the show alongside its new hosts.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Here We Go Again!

After three and a half months of Saturdays without football, the English Football League finally exploded back into life this weekend with a shitload of drama, excitement and incident across the three divisions. Leo Bonatini scored on his Championship debut as big-spending Wolverhampton Wanderings beat recently-relegated Middlesbrough Smog Monsters at Molineux. The Brazilian striker, signed on a season-long loan from Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal, capitalised on a defensive mistake from The Smoggies' Daniel Ayala to score the only goal after thirty three minutes. Bobby Reid netted a brace and Famara Diedhiou scored on his first appearance as Bristol City beat Barnsley three-one at Ashton Gate. Reid put the hosts ahead after sixteen minutes before setting up Senegalese striker Diedhiou, a club-record five million knicker signing from Angers, who headed home at the back post. Midfielder Reid then added his second of the day from close range on the half-hour as The Robins ran riot in the first period. Ryan Hedges pulled a goal back for The Tykes in added time but it was not enough to deny City boss Lee Johnson victory against his former club. Billy Sharp picked up where he left off last season by scoring the only goal in Sheffield United's win over Brentford at Bramall Lane. The striker scored thirty goals in League One last term and took just thirty nine minutes to open his account for the new campaign, The Blades' first in the second tier for six years. Joe Garner also got off to the perfect start to the season by scoring on his Ipswich debut in the victory at home against Hapless Harry Redknapp's Birmingham. The former Glasgow Rangers striker completed a counter-attack five minutes after half-time to seal three points for The Tractor Boys at Portman Road. Conor Washington fared even better as he scored twice in Queens Park Stranger's two-nil win over ten-man Reading at Loftus Road. The ex-Peterborough forward headed the hosts into the lead on twenty two minutes and converted a penalty on the hour mark after Royals defender Tiago Ilori was sent off. Daniel Johnson's second-half penalty helped Preston Both Ends to victory at home to Sheffield Wednesday while Kenneth Zohore netted a late winner in Cardiff's one-nil triumph at Burton Albinos. Elsewhere, Poor Bloody Fulham Haven't Got A Chance were the beneficiaries of a twenty fifth-minute Russell Martin own goal but Nelson Oliveira stepped off the bench to earn a one-all draw for Norwich at Craven Cottage. Big spending Aston Villains - and their horrible sour-faced support - drew one-one with relegated Hull in the late game on Saturday, while on Friday night Nottingham Forest beat Millwall one-nil and The Mackem Filth began life in The Championship with a one-all draw with Derby County. Jarrod Bowen scored his first Hull goal as The Tigers came from behind to draw at Villa Park, where The Villains gave a debut to former England and Moscow Chelski FC captain John Terry. The Black Cats finished extremely bottom of The Premier League last season to end a ten-year stay in the top flight and fell behind at The Stadium of Plight when Bradley Johnson fired home for Derby. Summer signing Lewis Grabban equalised from the penalty spot for Blunderland just before half-time after Jacob Butterfield handled. Both sides could have won it, with Grabban hitting the post from eighteen yards while Derby's Chris Martin fired over from close range. Substitute David Nugent also had a late chance to earn The Rams all three points but could not connect cleanly with a volley.
Title-favourites Blackburn Vindaloos were beaten on the opening day of the League One season, as Tony Mowbray's side suffered a two-one defeat at Southend. Having been relegated from The Championship last term, The Vindaloos brought in Bradley Dack, Peter Whittingham and Richard Smallwood to Ewood Park over the summer. All three were handed debuts at Roots Hall, but first-half efforts from Ryan Leonard and Michael Kightly put The Shrimpers in control. Charlie Mulgrew pulled one back with a free-kick eight minutes after half-time but the hosts held on. Of the other sides relegated to the third tier last term, Rotherham lost two-nil at Fleetwood and Wigan Not Very Athletic won one-nil at the MK Dons. Conor McAleny netted either side of the interval as Fleetwood made a winning start, while Nick Powell earned Wigan all three points in their first game under Paul Cook in a contest which saw both sides reduced to ten men. Last season's League Two champions, Portsmouth, secured a two-nil victory over Rochdale in their first match under new owner Michael Eisner. The former Disney executive was welcomed onto the pitch before kick-off after his Tornante Group bought out the Pompey Supporters' Trust earlier in the week. Plymouth endured a tough start to life in the third tier with a two-one defeat at Peterborough, with Gary Sawyer putting the ball into his own net after only four minutes and Junior Morias adding a second shortly after half-time. Gregg Wylde scored Plymouth's consolation. Doncaster, the third of the sides automatically promoted, drew nil-nil with Gillingham at the Keepmoat Stadium. Last season's beaten play-off finalists Bradford City beat newly-promoted Blackpool two-one, Charlton overcame Bristol Rovers by a single goal and Scunthorpe drew against AFC Wimbledon. The dubious honour for the 2017-18 season's first sending off went to Lee Novak. The Charlton forward walked after just six minutes for a bad tackle on Stuart Sinclair. Jermaine Beckford missed a third-minute penalty but then headed home in first-half stoppage time to hand Bury a one-nil win over Walsall, while Oxford were two goal winners at Oldham and Shrewsbury beat Northampton thanks to Lenell John-Lewis' stoppage-time effort.
     James Collins fired a hat-trick on his debut as Luton Town thrashed League Two rivals Yeovil eight-two at Kenilworth Road. Otis Khan's free-kick gave Yeovil an early lead, but Luton hit back through Olly Lee, Collins and Alan McCormack before Isaac Vassell struck twice in as many minutes to put his side five-one ahead at half-time. Marek Stech then saved Khan's penalty and Collins helped himself to two more after the break before Francois Zoko headed Yeovil's second. Elliott Lee added Luton's eighth in injury time. It was the first time since 1955 that The Hatters had scored eight in a Football League game and the first time since 1988 they had been involved in a game that produced ten or more goals. As for the hapless Glovers, this equals the margin of their heaviest league defeat, a painful six-nil loss to Stevenage in 2012. Of all the towns and cities to have hosted a Football League team, Nailsworth in Gloucestershire is one of the smallest with a population of just under six thousand. The town is the home of Forest Green Rovers, promoted to the EFL for the first time in their history last season. Not bad, given that they only joined The Conference in 1998. Forest Green were denied victory in their first ever Football League fixture after letting slip a two-goal lead to draw two-two at home against Barnet. The National League play-off winners led at half-time thanks to Christian Doidge's double, but Barnet hit back in the second half through Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and Jamal Campbell-Ryce before having Jack Taylor sent off in the closing stages. Lincoln marked their first Football League game in six years with a two-two draw at Wycombe. Wanderers scored twice in three minutes shortly before half-time through Luke O'Nien and Joe Jacobson after Matt Green had given Lincoln the lead, but Josh Ginnelly fired The Imps level soon after the restart. Accrington Stanley (who are they?) made a winning start by beating Colchester three one at home. Kayden Jackson and Billy Kee gave Accrington a two goal half-time lead and Omar Beckles added a third before Sammie Szmodics scored a late consolation. Swindon won their first game following relegation from league One with a two-one victory at Carlisle. Luke Norris and Paul Mullin headers either side of the break gave Swindon a two-nil lead before Luke Joyce pulled one back for the Cumbrians. Grimsby won three-one at Chesterfield, where both sides ended the game with ten men. Nathan Clarke and Sam Jones gave Grimsby a two-goal lead at half-time and after Kristian Dennis had pulled one back for Chesterfield, Ben Davies struck again for The Mariners from the penalty spot after Ian Evatt was sent off. Grimsby's Zak Mills received a second yellow card three minutes later. Relegation to the bottom tier of English football's professional league structure last season for the first time since 1959 was a nadir for Coventry City. Sometimes, however, you need to take a step back to take two steps forward and that seems to be the mantra for Mark Robins' side. Jodi Jones' hat-trick secured The Sky Blues a three-nil home win against Notts County. Jones opened the scoring after kick-off had been delayed ten minutes due to thunder and lightning and very, very frightening torrential rain at The Ricoh Arena and scored twice more in the closing stages in front of a - presumably, quite wet - ten thousand plus crowd. Port Vale ran out comfortable three-one winners at Harry Kewell's Crawley. Michael Tonge's early free-kick and Antony Kay's header put Vale in control and although Enzio Boldewijn reduced the arrears, Dan Turner headed the visitors' third. Promotion favourites Mansfield twice came from behind to earn a two-two draw at Crewe. Chris Porter gave Crewe the lead on both occasions, but his strikes were cancelled out by Danny Rose and then David Mirfin. Reuben Reid's early goal secured Exeter a home win against Cambridge. Reid's third-minute penalty, after Jake Carroll had handled, was saved by Cambridge goalkeeper David Forde, but the Exeter striker still scored League Two's opening goal of the season two minutes later. Garry Thompson's stoppage-time effort clinched Morecambe a two-one home win against Cheltenham. Mohamed Eisa fired Cheltenham in front, but Thompson equalised early in the second period and fired the winner in the first minute of time added on. Shawn McCloskey struck in stoppage time to earn Newport a three-three draw at Stevenage. Stevenage led through Tom Pett and although Frank Nouble levelled, Dale Gorman converted a penalty for the home side, after Scot Bennett's foul on Luke Wilkinson, and Danny Newton added a third. But Mickey Demetriou smashed home Newport's second and McCloskey levelled in the fourth minute of time added on.
Yeovil Town's players and staff have agreed to refund the two hundred and fifty eight fans who travelled to their eight-two opening day defeat at Luton. Skipper James Bailey told the club website: 'We know we let ourselves and the fans down. As a group, we want to apologise and give fans their money back.' Manager Darren Way added: 'Saturday was never going to be easy but the manner of the defeat was totally unacceptable and I apologise to the supporters and take full responsibility for that. Paying supporters their money back is a collective decision - we're not happy with just apologising, but at the same time know our best apology will come on the pitch in the coming weeks.' The League Two side will release details of how fans can claim their refund next week. Yeovil's players are not the first to reimburse travelling fans after an away day nightmare. Blunderland's players refunded the two thousand five hundred Mackem supporters who saw their side fall to a humiliating eight-nil defeat at Southampton in October 2015. Then Blunderland manager, Gus Poyet, labelled the woeful display as his 'most embarrassing' moment in football. In January 2016 Charlton Not Very Athletic's players did the same for the one hundred and sixty six fans who made the trip to see their side go down five-nil at Huddersfield, in a performance that club captain Johnnie Jackson called 'disgraceful.' Earlier this year, Bristol City's players refunded the three hundred and twelve fans who made the three hundred and eighty six-mile round trip to Preston Both Ends to see the Robins lose five-nil.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle concluded their pre-season programme with a comfortable two-nil victory over the Italian side Hellas Verona at St James' Park on a damp Sunday afternoon. Early goals from Ayoze Perez and Christian Atsu won the game and - as with last week's victory over VfL Wolfsburg - there were some encouraging performances as Rafa Benitez's side prepare for the visit of Stottingtot Hotshots in less than a week. Matt Ritchie hit the post with a free-kick in the second half and Rolando Aarons should have got a third with a header six yards from goal while Rob Elliot (and substitute Karl Darlow) had very quiet afternoons in the Newcastle goal. United wore their all black third kit and a healthy crowd of almost twenty four thousand - over five thousand more than the home friendly against Vitesse Arnhem last season - saw the home side dominate the game. Perez was on target in the first attack of the game when Jonjo Shelvey played in new signing Javier Manquillo down the right and Perez tucked away his neat cross on the volley at the near post. Atsu got his goal eight minutes later when Shelvey's long ball forward to Aleksandar Mitrovic deflected into the path of Atsu and he smashed the ball between goalkeeper and post at the Leazes End. Dwight Gayle was missing from the United squad but Rafa the Gaffer expects last season's top scorer to be fit for the Premier League opener next Sunday.
Burnley's pre-season friendly at home to German club Hannover was abandoned on police advice after crowd trouble and 'a geet rive-on, with kids gettin' sparked and aal sorts.' Apparently. Trouble broke out in the first half in the Hannover fans' section at Turf Moor on Saturday. Burnley, who had been leading one-nil after a header from Ben Mee, announced at half-time that the game had been abandoned. 'We went on police advice. We are still piecing together the details,' said Burnley manager Sean Dyche. Seats were ripped up and thrown after visiting supporters surged towards the home fans in the Cricket Field Stand around five minutes before the end of the first half. Home supporters were moved from the stand as police moved in with truncheons drawn. And, there was a great wailing and kicking of teeth. The players did not appear for the start of the second half with the decision taken to abandon the match. Chief Superintendent Chris Bithell, of Lancashire Police, said that the decision was taken 'following consultation between the police match commander, the referee and Burnley FC's grounds safety officer.' He added: 'This follows violent behaviour by a group of travelling Hannover fans, who attempted to attack fans in the home stands, as well as police officers and stewards.' Dyche added: 'The referee came to see me and said he wanted us in the room just to get a feel for our general thoughts. I made it clear. It comes down to safety. The police decided to call it off and we support that. We understand that. It's important what the team do, but it's not as important as people coming to a football match. You want safety. You don't want people to get hurt. It's a shame what has happened but it's done, as simple as that. In the bigger picture I think the lads are fit and well. I think they've shown some good signs in pre-season and I think there's still more to come.' On Saturday night, Hannover released a statement condemning the behaviour of their fans. 'Our attitude is clear: Hannover Ninety Six condemns the incidents in the stadium and dissociates itself vehemently from any kind of violence,' the club said.
An influential supporters' group says there is a 'worrying disconnect between clubs and fans' and most feel ignored on issues such as ticket prices. The Football Supporters' Federation has made the claim based on its National Fans' Survey, an online questionnaire which attracted almost eight and a half thousand responses. 'Supporters want their clubs to listen,' said FSF chair Malcolm Clarke. But, they don't. Not that they ever have, of course, but these days whinging about it is 'news', apparently. Over thirty million fans attended Premier League and EFL games last season. The EFL recorded its highest cumulative attendances for almost sixty years, with more than eighteen million fans watching matches. The Premier League has questioned how representative the survey is, saying that the findings are 'at odds' with its own fan surveys. Well, they would, wouldn't they? The EFL pointed out its own regulations call for clubs to meet fan representatives 'at least' twice a season, while adding its own fan survey this summer had attracted more than twenty two thousand responses so far. Of those responding to the FSF survey, sixty eight per cent said they felt their club does not care about their views and the same number believed that Premier League clubs are 'too focused' on 'growing a global brand.' Which, they are but we're never going to put that genie back in the bottle so, why bother to complain about it? This blogger has already given his own opinion - at length - about the way in which sick and wicked greed has destroyed The People's Game.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

The Kids Are All Right (But, Joe Hart Isn't)

Harry Kane volleyed an injury-time equaliser as England snatched a dramatic point against Scotland after a flurry of late goals in their 2018 World Cup qualifier. Kane met Raheem Sterling's deep cross at the back post unmarked and slotted past Craig Gordon on ninety three minutes. England had looked to be heading for defeat when Leigh Griffiths curled in two brilliant free-kicks late on - both over the wall into each side of the net on eighty seven and ninety minutes. Joe Hart would have been very disappointed with both goals but then, he's probably been too busy filming more of those crap shampoo adverts to devote much time to his goalkeeping. As usual. Substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had given England the lead with twenty minutes remaining of a game which had barely fluttered to life before then with a strike that Gordon should have saved, just five minutes after Oxlade-Chamberlain coming on to the pitch. With Scotland's fans pleading for the final whistle and Hampden Park in a frenzy of nationalistic euphoria as they closed in on their first win against the Auld Enemy since 1999, there was only a minute left when Kane, given the captaincy by manager Gareth Southgate, rescued England. It kept a rather unimpressive England on course for next summer's World Cup in Russia and dealt a savage blow to The Scots' already dwindling chances. England remain top of Group F with fourteen points from six games, three points ahead of Slovakia in second place and and Slovenia in third. Scotland are fourth with but eight points.
Elsewhere, Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill praised the spirit of his team after a vital one-nil win away to Azerbaijan in Group C. O'Neill's men looked to be hanging on for a draw until Stuart Dallas snatched the victory in stoppage-time. Dallas' first competitive international goal earned the Northern Irish all three World Cup qualifying points when it looked like they would be fortunate to escape the stifling Baku heat with a draw. They are second in Group C with thirteen out of eighteen points. World champions Germany - who gave San Marino a seven-nil hiding in Nuremberg - are the only team to have scored against them. A horrendous blunder from Stottingtot Hotshots goalkeeper Hugo Lloris saw Sweden snatch a stoppage-time winner against France to open up the battle at the top of Group A. The Arse forward Olivier Giroud fired Les Bleus into the lead with a superb volley into the top corner after taking the ball down at the far post. Sweden hit back just before the break when midfielder Jimmy Durmaz lashed in an angled drive. Jakob Johansson and then France forward Antoine Griezmann both had chances before, with just seconds of three minutes of added time remaining, Lloris dribbled the ball out of his penalty area only to trio over his own feet and scuff an attempted clearance. Toulouse forward Ola Toivonen clipped a first-time effort over the keeper from just inside his own half, which bounced into an empty net to spark wild celebrations from the home fans at the Friends Arena as Sweden moved above France to the top of the table on goal difference. The Netherlands are now just three points behind after sweeping past bottom team Luxembourg five-nil at the De Kuip in Rotterdam, which marked the first match of Dick Advocaat's third stint in charge of the Dutch national side. Bayern Munchen winger Arjen Robben put the Netherlands ahead after twenty one minutes. Wesley Sneijder - making a record one hundred and thirty first international appearance on his thirty third birthday - scored a second after thirty five minutes. Advocaat, who was named as Danny Blind's successor in May, saw his side go further ahead on the hour through Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum. Quincy Promes headed in a fourth with twenty minutes left, with a late penalty from Vincent Janssen completing the rout. Bulgaria, who had been third in the group, slipped to a two-one defeat in Belarus. Switzerland kept themselves ahead of Portugal at the top of Group B with a two-nil away win over the Faroe Islands. The Arse midfielder Granit Xhaka put the Swiss ahead with a low shot and Dirty Stoke's playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri's neat angled finish wrapped things up in the second half. The diving cheat Cristiano Ronaldo scored two close-range headers as Portugal won three-nil in Latvia. Ronaldo - whose double helped Real Madrid win the Champions League final in Cardiff last Saturday - put Portugal in front five minutes before half-time after Jose Fonte's header came back off the crossbar. Ronaldo added a second from almost on the goalline after sixty one minutes, with Porto striker Andre Silva adding a third six minutes later. Andorra moved off the bottom of the group table with a shock one-nil win over Hungary at Estadi Nacional where a header from Marc Rebes brought to an end a run of sixty six competitive matches without a victory for the Andorans. Belgium strengthened their position at the top of Group H with a two-nil win against Estonia, who finished with ten men. Dries Mertens put The Red Devils ahead from close range. Just before half-time, Estonia midfielder Artjom Dmitrijev saw the red card for a nasty foul on Marouane Fellaini. West Bromwhich Albinos forward Nacer Chadli made it two-nil with four minutes left. Second-placed Greece battled to a goalless draw away to Bosnia-Herzegovina, who remain one point behind. A late goal from striker Pieros Sotiriou gave Cyprus a two-one win over Gibraltar at Estadio Algarve. Cyprus took the lead in the tenth minute after an own goal by Gibraltar skipper Roy Chipolina. But the hosts levelled on the half-hour through Anthony Hernandez, only for Sotiriou to head in a winner with just three minutes left. Robert Lewandowski netted a hat-trick as Poland maintained their six-point lead at the top of Group E with a three-one win over Romania in Warsaw. The veteran striker opened the scoring with a twenty ninth-minute penalty and doubled their advantage when he added a second before the hour. A second penalty from Lewandowski sealed another win for the hosts five minutes later before Bogdan Stancu scored a late consolation. Stevan Jovetic was another hat-trick hero as Montenegro held onto second place in the same group with a four-one win over Armenia in Podgorica. Denmark also kept up the pressure on Poland with a three-one win over ten-man Kazakhstan in Almaty.
England won their biggest international title since 1966 by beating Venezuela one-nil in the Under-Twenty World Cup final on Sunday. It was England's first appearance in the final of a global tournament since their World Cup victory fifty one years ago. Everton forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin's first-half goal was enough for victory thanks to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle goalkeeper Freddie Woodman's second-half penalty save. Woodman denied Adalberto Penaranda from the spot after the Malaga forward was fouled by Kyle Walker-Peters. The referee pointed to the spot to signal a penalty before referring to the video assistant referee. The decision stood - there was the slightest of contacts - but Woodman's strong palm kept out Penaranda's effort. In the first half Ronaldo Lucena hit the post with an audacious long-range free-kick that had Woodman well beaten, while Stottingtot Hostshots midfielder Josh Onomah saw a powerful effort strike the underside of the Venezuela bar after the break. After the match, England forward Dominic Solanke, due to join Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws from Moscow Chelski FC on 1 July, was awarded the Golden Ball given to the player of the tournament. Woodman - who also saved a penalty in England's earlier match against Costa Rica - was awarded the Golden Glove, given to best goalkeeper of the tournament. England's youth teams have won the Under-Seventeen European Championship twice - in 2010 and 2014 - and the Under-Twenty One European Championship twice - in 1982 and 1984. Their previous best at the Under-Twenty World Cup was third place in 1993. Of that squad, only four players went on to represent England at senior level - Nicky Butt, Nick Barmby, Alan Thompson and David Unsworth. Six of the current squad which triumphed in South Korea on Sunday were part of that Under-Seventeen European success in 2014. Woodman, Jonjoe Kenny, Dominic Solanke and captain Lewis Cook all started in Sunday's final, while Dael Fry and Woodman's Newcastle team-mate Adam Armstrong were on the bench.
Former Blunderland manager David Moyes has been extremely fined thirty grand by the FA after telling the BBC reporter Vicki Sparks that she might 'get a slap' in March. Moyes' vile and odious comments came following The Mackem's home draw against Burnley in the Premier League (from which they were,subsequently, extremely relegated). The Scot was asked by Vicki - a former colleague of this blogger - if the presence of Blunderland's usually absentee-owner, Ellis Short, had put extra pressure on him. Moyes, who resigned as Blunderland boss in May, subsequently expressed his 'deep regret' for his comments. But, that cut no ice with the Football Association who told him not to be such a daft planks and never say such crassly ignorant things again - or anything remotely like them - should he ever get another job in football. Which, given his recent disastrous record at The Mackems, The Scum and Real Sociedad is somewhat open to question.
We end with some awfully sad news. The former Newcastle United midfielder Cheick Tioté has died aged thirty after collapsing during a training session in China, a spokesman for the player has announced. In his seven years at yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) United, the Côte d'Ivoire player made over one hundred and fifty appearances. He joined the Chinese second-tier side Beijing Enterprises in February. 'It is with deep sadness I confirm that Cheick Tioté sadly passed away earlier today after collapsing in training,' said spokesman Emanuele Palladino. 'We cannot say any more at the moment and we request that his family's privacy be respected at this difficult time. We ask for all your prayers.' Born in Yamoussoukro in 1986, Cheick was part of the Ivorian national squad that won the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. He began his professional career with minor league side FC Bibo in his native Yamoussoukro. Cheick then joined the Belgian side Anderlecht in 2005. A loan deal took him to Roda JC for the 2007-08 season, after which he remained in The Netherlands with a permanent move to FC Twente in July 2008 where he made eighty six appearances and won the Eredivisie league title in the 2009-10 season under manager Steve McClaren. Cheick, a combative, hard-tackling defensive midfielder, then signed for Newcastle in 2010 for three and a half million quid. He appeared one hundred and fifty six times in all competitions for The Magpies and scored once. But, the goal in question will never be forgotten. In February 2011, he hit a memorable volley as The Magpies came back from four-nil down at half-time to draw with The Arse in a remarkable Premier League game. He had joined United earlier that season and was named as an unused sub for Newcastle's home loss to Blackpool soon after arriving in the UK; Cheick's first outing for the club came a week later at Everton when he completed a flawless ninety minutes 'looking instantly at ease in a central midfield anchor role and never wasting a ball.' That was the first of twenty six league appearances in what was a memorable first season (and, almost as many yellow cards!), capped by that long-distance goal and followed by a new six year deal. Capped by the Côte d'Ivoire at U23 level, Cheick won his first senior cap in June 2009 in a friendly against Cameroon. Cheick had impressed in three appearances for the Côte d'Ivoire during the World Cup Finals in South Africa just weeks before he joined Newcastle. Both then manager Chris Hughton and chief scout Graham Carr would later claim credit for having spotting him. By the 2014-15 season Tioté had lost his regular starting place at St James' Park and was sidelined with a foot injury, aggravated while on Nations Cup duty. The installation of Rafa Benitez saw Cheick start Newcastle's final six Premier League games and he remained a Magpie despite drawing interest during the summer of 2016 from various overseas clubs. A Championship debut came from the bench during a one-one draw at Aston Villains in September and starts came against Birmingham City in the FA Cup in January - a one-one away draw and three-one home success. Seemingly set to join Sporting Gijon in Spain, continued rumours of interest from clubs in China eventually brought an offer from Beijing Enterprises Group and he was confirmed as their player in early February. A statement from Newcastle said: 'We are devastated to have learned of the tragic passing of Cheick Tioté at the age of just thirty. The thoughts of everyone at Newcastle United are with Cheick's family, friends, team-mates and everyone connected with the clubs he represented.' 'Cheick was one of the best we had in terms of his attitude,' Toon legend and coach Peter Beardsley told BBC Radio 5Live. 'He had a wicked sense of humour, he was top class and he will certainly be missed in this city.' Beardsley added: 'He was flat out every day in training and was a brilliant example to the kids at our club. He loved a tackle - he wasn't horrible, but very aggressive. Every time he saw the ball he went for it. He was also really funny in the dressing room. He had a brilliant smile and he lit up a room. He was fantastic.' On Tioté's goal against The Arse, Beardsley added: 'It was an unbelievable volley and it couldn't have happened to a nicer person. I can still see him running up the end of the pitch. He must have run seventy metres to celebrate with the fans. In all the time that I have known him, he was a true professional, dedicated and above all, a great man. Our hearts go out to his family and friends at such a sad time.' A devout Muslim, Cheick observed fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan. He had two children with his first wife, Madah. During his time at Newcastle, the couple lived in Ponteland close to Newcastle airport. In September 2014, it was reported by the Evening Chronicle that Tioté had married a second wife, Laeticia Doukrou, in the capital of the Côte d'Ivoire, Abidjan.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Interestingly, Goal Is An Anagram Of Gaol

Arsene Wenger secured his record seventh FA Cup final win as The Arse produced a fine display to win a Wembley thriller against ten-man Moscow Chelski FC. Alexis Sanchez gave The Arse the lead in contentious fashion after only four minutes, when referee Anthony Taylor overruled his assistant after he had flagged for offside against Aaron Ramsey. The Premier League champions also claimed - correctly - that Sanchez had handled the ball in the build-up to the goal. Their task became even harder when Victor Moses was - again, correctly - sent off by Taylor in the second half after receiving a second yellow card for diving. Diego Costa revived Moscow Chelski's hopes of a repeat of their league and cup double in 2010 when The Arse;s keeper, David Ospina, failed to keep out his deflected shot with fourteen minutes left. The Arse refused to be denied, however, and were back in front inside two minutes when Ramsey, who scored the FA Cup final winner against Hull City in 2014, did it again with a header from substitute Olivier Giroud's cross. Which was good because it kept the TV schedules broadly uninterrupted for the rest of the evening.
A twenty one-month jail term handed down last year to Barcelona and Argentina footballer Lionel Messi has been confirmed by Spain's Supreme Court, but he is unlikely to go to prison. Because he is very rich. Messi and his father Jorge, who manages his finances, were both convicted in 2016 of defrauding Spain of over four million Euros in taxes. Jorge Messi's jail term was reduced because he has now paid some of the taxes owed. In Spain, prison terms of under two years can be served under probation. The case will now return to the court in Barcelona that handed down the original judgement. Messi, a five-time world footballer of the year, has denied any involvement and told his trial in June 2016: 'I only worried about playing football.' But in its decision on Wednesday, the court said: 'It defies logic to concede that someone who earns a large income does not know that he must pay taxes on it.' Well, you'd think, wouldn't you? Both men were originally convicted of three counts of fraud, for using tax havens in Belize and Uruguay between 2007 and 2009 and were also given heavy fines. They were found very guilty of resorting to fictitious companies to evade Spanish taxes on income from companies using Lionel Messi's image rights. Jorge Messi's jail term was reduced from twenty one months to fifteen by the Supreme Court to take into account the money he had since handed to the tax authorities. Messi's high-profile trial is not the only one involving Barcelona stars and the Spanish government. Defender Javier Mascherano - also an Argentine - admitted to tax fraud, escaping a jail term with a one-year suspended sentence. Brazilian star Neymar is also facing allegations of corruption and fraud over his transfer to Barcelona in 2013 - a case which also involves his parents. Prosecutors allege the transfer cost much more than publicly declared and that millions were concealed from authorities. And, in the same week as Messi's sentence was upheld, former president of the club, Sandro Rosell, was extremely arrested as part of a money-laundering investigation.
Shekih Yer Man City defender Jason Denayer 'regrets' becoming involved in a brawl outside a Brussels nightclub in which he 'reacted instinctively' by kicking out at a man who was punching his friend. An eight-second video of the incident - which took place on Sunday - shows the twenty one-year-old striking a man who is punching another man on the floor. A longer version shows how Denayer, at first reluctant to intervene, strikes out when his friend was pinned down. 'I reacted instinctively,' he said after the video appeared online. 'Of course I regret to have been caught up in a conflict that was not mine to begin with, but I saw my friend was in real danger and I had to interfere and protect him.' Belgium international Denayer, who has been on loan with relegated Blunderland this season, then left the scene in his car, which had been damaged by friends of the man he kicked, according to the player's agent. 'Jason tried to be peaceful and to avoid further escalation,' Jesse De Preter told BBC Sport. 'He then gets pushed away from the scene and about forty people start to fight. Jason went to his car, which was destroyed fifty per cent by friends of the guy, but he went home and told the police. The police have made a report but there are no charges against Jason. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.'
Southend United will reportedly 'take time to consider' Nile Ranger's future, after the striker was very jailed for eight months for online banking fraud. The twenty six-year-old was extremely sentenced for conspiracy to defraud by obtaining bank details and transferring money. he Shrimpers chairman, Ron Martin, said that the club need to assess 'the impact of this startling, unexpected, outcome.' Ex-Newcastle and Swindon forward Ranger joined Southend last summer and signed a contract until 2020 in December. Ranger - who committed the offence in February 2015 - scored eight goals in twenty eight appearances for Southend last season. Before joining Southend in August 2016, Ranger had not played a competitive game for almost two years, during which he spent several months absent from Blackpool which he put down to 'being distracted' following death of two close friends. Southend manager Phil Brown said before signing him that Ranger was in the 'last-chance saloon' during a one-month 'test period' at Roots Hall. Ranger was also subject to a Football Association investigation this season, unrelated to the criminal sentence and had previously had several run-ins with the law during his time at Newcastle. Following the result of the hearing at Wood Green, Martin's statement continued: 'As I have said previously, this offence occurred long before Nile joined the club and everyone deserves a second chance, which the club has afforded Nile. [He] is unlikely to ever be a model professional, however during his time at Southend his behaviour has been acceptable and improved. We have worked hard at rehabilitation and Nile has responded well to his team mates both on and off the pitch. At the time of writing, the club is awaiting details of the court hearing and will review the details before coming to any decision surrounding Nile's future.'
Blunderland manager David Moyes has extremely resigned following The Mackems relegation from the Premier League. The end of the Black Cats' ten-year stay in the top flight was confirmed when they lost to Bournemouth last month. Moyes informed chairman Ellis Short of his decision to step down at a meeting in London on Monday. 'I wish the players and my successor well in their efforts towards promotion back to the Premier League,' said Moyes. The former Everton and The Scum manager took charge at The Stadium of Plight in July last year, after odious lardbucket (and drag) Sam Allardyce left to become, briefly, England manager. Blunderland finished extremely bottom of the Premiership table this season with but twenty four points, having won only six games. 'I pursued the services of David Moyes for a considerable period prior to his appointment last summer, which makes the announcement of his departure difficult for everyone concerned,' said Short. He added that Moyes was not taking compensation for his departure, calling it 'a testament to his character. In the days ahead we will take some time for reflection and then focus on recruitment and pre-season as we prepare for our Championship campaign. We wish David well in the future,' added Short. The Scot had faced calls from Blunderland fans to quit and initially said it was 'too soon' to commit to the club following relegation. However, earlier this month he suggested that he would stay with The Mackems in the Championship next season, saying: 'I know what needs to be done to get back in the Premier League.' In a club statement on Monday, Moyes said: 'I would like to thank Ellis Short and the Board for giving me the opportunity to manage Sunderland and the fans for always being so passionately supportive of their club.' This is the first time that Moyes has been relegated as a manager, having warned Blunderland supporters just two games into the season that his squad would struggle. And, let's face it, you know you're club are in trouble when your manager is talking about a season-long relegation struggle before the end of August. Moyes' departure from Blunderland after a truly desperate - if, from a distance, very amusing - season of one calamity after another ended in relegation carried an air of inevitability. And, it is only a minor blessing for The Black Cats that the decision has been taken so quickly after its conclusion. It is a sign of how Moyes' stock has fallen that since he was awarded a six-year contract to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at The Scum in 2013 he has been sacked at Old Trafford, again by the Spanish side Real Sociedad and now has a relegation and resignation on his CV at Blunderland. And, there are still two years left on that original contract with The Scum. Moyes looked a solid appointment in succession to odious lardbucket (and drag) Allardyce but set the negative tone he adopted for the entire campaign when he flagged up a relegation fight after only two games of the season. Blunderland's football was drab and draped in defeat. They have, in short, been a sodding disgrace. The only shining lights were leading scorer Jermain Defoe and promising goalkeeper Jordan Pickford - both of whom now look certain to follow Moyes out of the door. Moyes made some defiant noises about taking charge of Blunderland in the Championship but, in the end, his unpopularity with Mackem fans who had suffered all season, plus the embarrassment of relegation, left him with nowhere to go but away from Wearside.
On, still the hilarity continues. Odious lardbucket (and drag) Sam Allardyce has extremely resigned as Crystal Palace manager five months after he joined the Premier League club. Allardyce replaced Alan Pardew in December on a two-and-half-year deal with The Eagles then one point above the relegation zone. The sixty two-year-old, who had an ill-fated one-game spell as England boss, led the club to eight wins in twenty one games to guide them to a fourteenth-place finish. 'I have no ambitions to take another job,' Allardyce said in a statement. 'I want to be able to savour life while I am still relatively young and when I am still relatively healthy enough to do all the things I want to do, like travel, spend more time with my family and grandchildren without the huge pressure that comes with being a football manager. This is the right time for me. I simply want to be able to enjoy all the things you cannot really enjoy with the 24/7 demands of managing any football club, let alone one in the Premier League.' Odious lardbucket (and drag) Allardyce revealed his decision to chairman Steve Parish at a meeting in London on Tuesday. The Eagles are now looking for their eighth manager in seven years. Although it took Allardyce six games to get his first victory the former Notlob, Blackburn Vindaloos, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle, West Hamsters United and Blunderland boss maintained his record of never being relegated from the Premier League. Albeit, he remains about as popular as a nasty rash on the bell-end at - at least - three of those clubs. Only Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Harry Redknapp and David Moyes have managed more games in the Premier League. Allardyce's final game in charge of Palace came on Sunday, a two-nil loss at The Scum, having guaranteed safety the previous week by thrashing relegation-haunted Hull four-nil. Following defeat at Old Trafford, Allardyce indicated his plans to improve the Palace squad in the summer. He had told BBC Sport: 'We now need to grow, develop and invest. You need to choose the right players and not the wrong ones. Recruitment is the difficult task in the summer.'
They're the team from the smallest nation ever to qualify for a World Cup Under Twenty finals and they very nearly pulled off a huge shock holding Mexico two-two until the final seconds of their match in South Korea, but Vanuatu's hearts were broken when the Mexicans scored a winner with pretty much the last kick of the game. So, high drama and a momentous occasion for football in the tiny Pacific island country, but sadly no-one in Vanuatu got to actually watch the game live and see their team make history. The national broadcaster VBTC had said late on Friday that 'matters were in hand' and the match would be shown, but they failed to deliver and now, there are reportedly to be a lot of very angry people in Vanuatu. Harry Attison from Capital 107FM in Port Vila said that he fielded 'a series of calls' from people demanding to know where the TV pictures were, while trying to keep his radio audience up to speed with the game. The President of the Vanuatu Olympic Committee, Antoine Boudier, said that the state broadcaster had 'let the nation down.'

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Should He Stay Or Should He Go?

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies' manager, Rafa The Gaffer Benitez, can expect up to one hundred million knicker to spend during the summer on new players following 'positive' discussions with owner Mike Ashley reports have suggested. Benitez guided The Magpies back to the Premier League at the first attempt. And, truly, it was glorious in Th' Toon Army's sight. However, he was said to be seeking 'assurances' that he would be able to strengthen his squad again after the club's promotion. In a club statement, Ashley said that Rafa and managing director Lee Charnley can have 'every last penny the club generates' to build for next term. Benitez added: 'I'm pleased with how the meeting went and the positive approach we are all taking together to build on what we have started this season. There will be challenges ahead of course, the summer will not be easy, but the hard work has been going on for some time and we can now continue positively with the development of the squad ahead of the start of the new season.' The former Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws, Moscow Chelski FC and Real Madrid manager signed a three-year contract to remain at Newcastle in May 2016, despite the club dropping into the second tier, and the Spaniard led them to the Championship title on Sunday.
The English Football League recorded its highest cumulative attendances for almost sixty years in 2016-17, with more than eighteen million fans watching matches. Crowds attending Championship, League One and League Two games were up by eleven per cent on the 2015-16 campaign and the most since 1958-59 when 18.8 million punters turned out. The figure was boosted by almost two million fans of Newcastle United and Aston Villains attending home fixtures. However, there was a three per cent rise for the sixty seven clubs in the EFL this season and last. In the Championship, more than eleven thousand supporters went through the turnstiles, with Newcastle boasting the biggest average attendance of more than fifty one thousand (the highest for a non-Premiership or Division One side since 1975) and The Villains second with more than thirty two thousand. League One and League Two champions Sheffield United and Portsmouth had the highest average crowds in their respective divisions - The Blades with just under twenty two thousand and Pompey recording close to seventeen thousand. The three highest cumulative attendances came in the post-war period from 1948 to 1950, when more than twenty three million people watched games in tiers two to four each campaign. 'It is clear to see that the EFL continues to be one of the most watched football competitions and our clubs deserve huge credit for continuing to find new and innovative ways of encouraging supporters through their turnstiles,' EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey said. 'We know that supporters continue to be the lifeblood of our game and the long-term future of the football in this country is looking very healthy, with more and more people choosing to follow their local clubs week in, week out.'
Italian football authorities may face disciplinary action over the treatment of Pescara midfielder Sulley Muntari. Muntari was sent-off after leaving the field claiming that he was racially abused during a Serie A game. He was initially banned for one game but had this overturned by the Italian Football Federation after the outcry over the decision. 'We have a committee in charge of monitoring this and the committee will take action,' FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura told BBC Sport. 'What matters is that the committee has to act and the sooner the better. I have my personal feelings on anybody that is treated like he has been treated, on the pitch and off the pitch but I'm not here for my personal matters. I'm here to make sure that FIFA takes, through the committee, the appropriate action for any single discriminatory action.' On Tuesday, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said that he would speak to ex-Portsmouth player Muntari, who believes world football's governing body, and European equivalent UEFA are 'not taking racism seriously.' 'We will work together,' said Infantino, who also said that he intends to talk to the head of FIGC, Carlo Tavecchio. 'Unfortunately idiots, there are always idiots everywhere but we have to fight them. We have to work on the people.' FIFA was criticised for disbanding its anti-racism task force last September. The organisation defended this decision at the time, with Samoura then saying that it had 'fulfilled the mandate' for which it was set up in 2013 - which was to provide recommendations for 'a strong programme' to tackle racism. A number of these have been put into action, including the introduction of an Anti-Discrimination Monitoring System to assess eight hundred and fifty high-risk matches for potential discriminatory incidents during the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and friendlies. Speaking ahead of this week's FIFA congress meeting in Bahrain, Samoura adopted a different stance to Infantino, saying: 'I don't have to call people anytime that they have been victim of an abuse.' She continued: 'We've been regularly publicising the action of the committee on every action that relates to racism, homophobic chants and any kind of discrimination. We have monitoring too on anti-discrimination. We have heavy sanctions every time we have been receiving reports.'
Former Sun editor the odious scumbag Kelvin Mackenzie is to leave the paper after making controversial comments in a column about Everton footballer Ross Barkley. The worthless, sneering louse Mackenzie was very suspended after comparing the player - who has a Nigerian grandfather - to a gorilla. A spokesman for the Sun said that Mackenzie 'remained suspended' but would not comment on reports of his departure. According to the Financial Times, however, the terms of Mackenzie's exit are currently being negotiated and he will not be asked to contribute to the newspaper again. In his column, the horrible Mackenzie said that looking at Barkley's eyes had given him 'a similar feeling when seeing a gorilla at the zoo.' His eyes made him 'certain not only are the lights not on, there is definitely nobody at home,' he wrote. Alongside the article was an image of a gorilla next to a picture of the midfielder. The paper subsequently grovellingly apologised for the article, published on 14 April, saying it was 'unaware' of Barkley's heritage. The implication being,it would seem, that if Ross Barkley didn't have any African ancestry then the Sun would have stood by Mackenzie's spiteful, sneering, bully-boy scummish article and would have defended its own use the gorilla photograph. The Sun's snivelling apology claimed that as soon as Barkley's 'background' was drawn to its attention, the article was removed from its website. Perhaps significantly, however, the apology did not extend to other elements of the article, in which the odious rotter Mackenzie suggested that the only people in Liverpool who could earn as much as footballers were drug dealers. Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson had called for Mackenzie to be sacked over the column, describing it as 'a racial slur' and 'a disgrace.' Barkley's lawyers also made a formal complaint about the piece. At the time, Mackenzie claimed that he was 'unaware' Barkley had a Nigerian-born grandfather and denied the column was 'racist.' The Sun's publisher, News UK is, of course, part of News Corp, run by billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch. Ofcom is currently examining an eleven billion smackers bid from Twenty First Century FOX, also run by billionaire tyrant Murdoch, of broadcaster Sky, of which it already owns thirty nine per cent. The BBC's media editor said billionaire tyrant Murdoch and the company 'hoped' that by showing they were willing to sack a long-standing louse such as Mackenzie they will 'send a signal' to Ofcom that they are fit and proper to own Sky outright. When, of course, they are not a fit and proper organisation to run a piss-up in a brewery. Mackenzie was editor of the Sun when it published its infamous front-page article blaming Liverpool fans for the 1989 Hillsborough disaster in which ninety six people died. Mackenzie - after years of arrogant and sneering dismissal of all criticism of the piece - subsequently claimed that he was 'completely duped' and that he had been the victim of a 'black' operation to smear the fans and protect police incompetence which caused the tragedy. One or two people even believed him.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Just Champion

An eighty-ninth minute 'twenty five yard screamer' from The Aston Villains' Jack Grealish gave The Villains a draw against already promoted Brighton & Hove Albinos and meant that yer actual Keith Telly Toping's beloved (though unsellable) Mapgies are the 2017 Championship Champions by but one point. Th' Toon needed to achieve a better result than The Albinos and did so thanks to a three-nil home victory against yer actual Barnsley. Ayoze Perez, Chancel Mbemba and Dwight Gayle scored for United, but it was Grealish's late strike which, ultimately, sealed The Magpies' title. It was a comfortable win for Rafael Benitez's side - yet it looked like it would not be enough to seal the top spot, after Glenn Murray's penalty had put league leaders Brighton in front at Villa Park. However, despite being down to ten-men following Nathan Baker's red card, Grealish beat Brighton's keeper David Stockdale to send The Magpies above The Seagulls in the table. Stockdale who was at fault for the goal, ironically, had used several interviews in recent weeks (like this one, for instance) to criticise those who dared to suggest that Brighton would 'bottle it' in the race for the Championship.
This blogger has to say that, normally, he loathes The Aston Villains and their notoriously fickle and angry fans and everything that they stand for. Keith Telly Topping had a couple of very bad experiences as an away fan at Villa Park in the Eighties and Nineties. They're one of a handful of clubs that he always watches for their results and wants to see lose - badly - directly because of such past indignities (others include Sheffield United, Wolverhampton Wanderings, Wigan Not-Very-Athletic and Dirty Stoke along with, needless to say, The Mackems and The Smoggies). Except for today, obviously. One also rather felt from The Albinos, it has to be said and, especially, for their manager, Chris Hughton, who still has a lot of friends in the North East after his managing Newcastle to the last time they won the Championship, in 2010 and who proved what a class act he is by congratulating Newcastle on winning the league despite his own, obvious, disappointment. Still, by a huge distance, the best two footballing sides in the Championship have gone up to the Premier League and that's the way it should be. Under Rafa The Gaffer, Newcastle brought twelve players to the club after relegation to the Championship last summer, with Matt Ritchie and Gayle moving down a division to sign five-year deals. More than fifty million smackers was spent in transfer fees durig the summer - although that was more than offset by the sales of various lazy glakes like Andros Townsend, Moussa Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum among others. Nevertheless, The Magpies were still under huge pressure to achieve immediate promotion - a feat which they managed with two games to spare despite losing the first two games of the season. Benitez's side have battled with Brighton throughout the season for top spot, but since The Seagulls achieved promotion on 17 April they have dropped off the pace dramatically. Ultimately it was three straight wins for Newcastle and three matches without a win for Hughton's side that told, giving Th' Toon the perfect end to the campaign.
      At the bottom, the three-way fight to avoid the final relegation place was very lost by Blackburn Vindaloos, despite a three-one win at Brentford. Nottingham Forest's home victory over Ipswich and Birmingham's narrow win at Bristol City condemned the Vindaloos to life in League One next season. It was, truth be told, a bit of a bugger as to which of the three teams fighting for the last relegation place this blogger wanted to go down. He really dislikes Forest, another place where this blogger once var nigh got his head kicked in for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and, especially, after that utterly criminal alleged 'win' over our lot last December when Henri Lansbury - ironically, now playing for The Aston Villains - cheated a disgracefully incompetent referee into sending two of our lot off (both, subsequently overturned on appeal, not that this changed the result, of course). But, that said, Keith Telly Topping has a good mate who is a big Forest fan and there's still a bit of residual respect hung-over from The Cloughie Years. This blogger is, usually, okay with Birmingham ... except that they've now got Hapless Harry Redknapp as their manager. Plus, Jasper Carrott's a big fan so, you know, demotion to the National League would be too good for 'em under any normal circumstances. Blackburn Vindaloos, frankly, deserve everything they get for the outrageously poor way the club has been run by its absentee owners during the last few years. But, Matt Smith's a big fan and one would never want poor old Smudger to suffer. In the end, though, it was a bad day for Smudger.
Finally, one has to wonder if that was the real Championship trophy or whether they had two - both, presumably, replicas - one at St James and one at Villa Park in case of either eventuality?
The Football League has written to Huddersfield to 'request their observations regarding team selection' for last Saturday's two-nil defeat by Birmingham City. The Terriers made ten changes for the trip to St Andrew's having sealed a Championship play-off place, but the EFL said that the result would stand. Blackburn Vindaloos manager Tony Mowbray later questioned Huddersfield's line-up. Blackburn, who currently occupy the final relegation place, are two points behind Harry Redknapp's Blues - that's Birmingham, incidentally, not a Muddy Waters b-side - with one game to play. The EFL said in a statement: 'We have today written to Huddersfield Town to request their observations in relation to team selection during their recent Championship match with Birmingham City and, as per our regulations, the EFL executive will refer the matter to the board if it is deemed appropriate to do so. It should be noted, however, that the result of Saturday's game will stand in all circumstances and any potential action would be taken against Huddersfield Town directly.' Blackpool and Wolverhampton Wanderings were both fined for fielding much-changed teams in League matches in 2010 and 2009 respectively.
The Football Association will trial 'sin bins' in the lower leagues of English football from next season. The FA plans to introduce what it calls 'temporary dismissals' in England's step seven - six tiers below the National League - and the leagues below it. They will only apply to yellow cards shown for dissent and will see players leave the field for ten minutes to sit on The Naughty Step. It will also be tested in Sunday League and male and female youth football. More than one thousand clubs received e-mails over the weekend asking if they were willing to be part of the pilot process. What will happen to those who say no is not, at this stage, known. However, as an incentive, clubs are normally charged a ten quid fine for each yellow card they receive but the FA will not be charging this administration fee for those that participate. Step seven is the bottom level of English football's National League System, which feeds into the country's professional leagues.
Blunderland manager - for the moment, anyway - David Moyes has been given more time to respond to a Football Association charge for telling BBC reporter Vicki Sparks she might 'get a slap.' Moyes was extremely charged with bringing the game into disrepute with his comments after the game against Burnley in March. He was initially given until 6pm on 3 May to respond but the fifty four-year-old requested more time. To get his story straight, presumably. The Scot now has until 10 May to respond or to cough up to his guilt and take the punishment due like a man. Moyes' comments came after an interview in which he was asked by Vicki whether the presence of Blunderland's absentee owner, Ellis Short, in the ground had put extra pressure on Moyes. He said 'no' but, after the interview, added that Vicki 'might get a slap even though you're a woman' and that she should be 'careful' next time she visited The Stadium Of Plight. What a total hero he is, threatening a woman just for doing her job. Class act, Mister Moyes. The Mackems were battling against relegation at the time but their drop into the Championship was confirmed after a home defeat by Bournemouth on Saturday.
Meanwhile, both Blunderland and Bournemouth have both been extremely charged with failing to control their players in last Saturday's Premier League match at The Stadium Of Plight. The Football Association charge relates to an incident in the seventy sixth minute of Bournemouth's one-nil win, which saw Blunderland very relegated. The clubs 'failed to ensure that their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion,' the FA said. They have until 6pm on 5 May to respond to the charge. Players from both sides were involved in 'an altercation' when Blunderland's Fabio Borini challenged Bournemouth defender Lewis Cook from behind. There followed a geet rive on with kids gettin' sparked and aal sorts. Borini and Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter were shown yellow cards, the latter for his reaction to the foul.
Matias Dituro is the goalkeeper of Bolivian club Bolivar. His duty is to protect the goal, try and get clean sheets and lead his team at the back. But he can also score goals. The Argentine goalkeeper scored for his club in a win over San Jose last week by punting the ball from his own box into the open goal at the other end of the field. Take a look here.
Mind you, if you think that's good, check out Oscarine Masuluke, the goalkeeper for Baroka FC in South Africa's top-flight, scoring a quite stunning overhead kick in the ninety sixth minute of their game against Orlando Pirates. Tasty! The goalkeeper was sent forward for a late corner to try and savage something from the match, which Baroka were losing one-nil at the time. With the set piece only half cleared, Masuluke was first to the loose ball and, with his back to goal, launched himself into the air to score spectacularly.
Sky Sports really should have had a bit of a rethink concerning the abbreviations that they used for Saturday's game between Hartlepool United and Doncaster Rovers which, despite a battling two-one win, still saw the Monkey Hangers relegated from the Football League after ninety six years in residence. (This blogger is indebted to Chris Orton for both the observation and the screengrab.)
Everton winger Aaron Lennon was detained under the Mental Health Act by police over concerns for his welfare earlier in the week. The thirty-year-old was taken to hospital 'for assessment' after police were called to Salford on Sunday. Lennon is now 'receiving care and treatment for a stress-related illness,' his club has said. The England international, who joined Everton from Stottingtot Hotshots in 2015, has not played for the first team since February. Greater Manchester Police said: 'Police were called at around 4.35pm to reports of a concern for the welfare of a man on Eccles Old Road. Officers attended and a thirty-year-old man was detained under section one hundred and thirty six of the Mental Health Act and was taken to hospital for assessment.'