Newcastle United, sportswashing, biased journalists and…

Thank you for your mails. Keep them coming to


Can football journalists really be biased?
I’m sure the modern state of journalism and the relationship with the reader/general public is something that’s been discussed over the last couple of years but recent news stories have brought back a couple of themes to me.

Yesterday, cheeky journalist Barney Ronay (personally find him an excellent writer) tweeted a poll:

Now this was a little contentious and quite likely a wind-up attempt, but what it generated was the usual instant reactions:

“What about [team x]? Why didn’t you bring this up then?” – classic whataboutery
“Typical Londoner” – implies bias, much more likely to be used about London than anywhere else as this gives a nice ‘liberal elite’ element to it.
“Yet another chance to pick on [club in question]” – implication of bias

This is early reaction to many stories perceived to criticise a club – the idea that your club has been singled out as a target because this journalist doesn’t like you (or is “obsessed” to give it a personal angle). Now, you may consider my view on this naive, but do people honestly believe a journalist has gone through years of hard work and dedication through school, university, local press and working their way up to being printed all because they want to take down a club (arguable whether you can really do this) via the medium of biased articles in the national press? The one question i always want to ask when someone is accusing a journo of targeting a certain team is WHY?!?!?

This progresses in time to journalists being called out consistently/challenged by keyboard warriors – Miguel Delaney being one frequently on the end of this.

These are usually seemingly self important people who genuinely think that their skewed points have highly trained journalists running scared (frequently proves the old adage that it’s very difficult to have an argument with an idiot). When did this begin?! The irony being of course that these people are usually desperately defending their club’s owners (would seem pretty bizarre to someone in the 1970s to predict a time that fans would be defending their club’s owners’ record on human rights in Yemen).

Is this just another example of sportwashing? After all, take over a club and you instantly recruit an army of one-eyed loyalists who will do a more passionate job than any Russian bot ever would, the saddest part being that they don’t even realise.

I’d love to hear from any fan who genuinely believes their club is being targeted unfairly or that there are journalists with deep underlying bias. For the avoidance of doubt – criticism of your club does not immediate imply bias.

Oh, and one final point: the EFL is institutionally biased against Leeds.
Ben (Wales for the foreseeable future)


Seriously, leave Newcastle fans alone…
Let me ask a simple question – does anyone think that “sportswashing” works? Or, to put it another way, does anyone think any better of Vladimir Putin and Russia, or Xi Jinping and China, or Dilma Rousseff and Brazil because those countries have recently hosted World Cups and Olympic Games? No, of course not.

Will anyone’s opinion of the regime in Qatar change if they successfully pull off hosting the 2022 World Cup (assuming at this point that the tournament will go ahead)? No, of course not. Do we look kindly on Qatar now because of their national airline is the Barcelona shirt sponsor and Lionel Messi wears that logo? No, of course not. I could go on, but you get the point.

So why then are Newcastle United going to be subject to some finger-pointing and villification because the consortium buying out that charlatan Mike Ashley has a significant Saudi Arabian interest? No-one is going to look more kindly on the Saudi record of human rights abuses because of a part-ownership of a Premier League football club.

And again, why are football clubs expected to be paragons of moral virtue by not having any business connections with these regimes? I don’t see hordes of protesters outside the British Airways head office because they fly to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Abu Dhabi. Arms deals by the UK to Saudi are still taking place in spite of a supposed embargo, so I think Harry, Geordie in London can sleep easy if he decides to buy a replica jersey in support of his team, at least his money isn’t going to bombing mosques in Yemen.

Premier League clubs and players are an easy target for the “morally affronted” as recent weeks have shown, so let’s just take a step back. I know that fans of other clubs will always point the “dirty money” finger while they bask in self-rightousness, but don’t try to tell me that gambling websites and international banking firms are squeaky-clean in their business operations. Standard Chartered were fined $1.1bn last year for money-laundering activities violating of sanctions related to anti-terrorist measures in the Middle East, including Iran, so let’s all climb down off our moral high horses, shall we?

I’d rather see the back of the odious Mike Ashley and let Newcastle have its club back.
Steve, Los Angeles


Why Man United became massive
In response to Ben’s question as why Man Utd were so big/famous in the late 80’s I’m sure you’ll get many more erudite responses that this one, but in short as follows: The 50’s Busby Babes laid the foundation with young,exciting football and several league titles, the 60’s continued to see trophies in the form of league titles, FA Cups (when it still meant something) and of course the first English winners of the European Cup in 68. Significantly they also had George Best, arguably the first football superstar off the pitch as well as on it, and Bobby Charlton, England captain of the 66 WC winning team.

The 70’s were relatively bare, just 3 FA Cup final appearances (1 win) and ventures in Europe. The 80’s brought the arrival of England captain Bryan Robson as well as several other high profile English and British stars and of course repeated FA Cup wins (when it still meant something as I mentioned), as well as league finishes that today would see you qualify for the Champions League. Many people harp on about 26 years without a league title, but that doesn’t mean there were not finals and cups on the way. In the same way Liverpool haven’t won it for 30 years and barely registered a cup win for a decade, they still went to plenty of finals, and still had Gerrard amongst others and rightly they are Britain’s second most famous club.
Ex-Pat Dave


Kane overhyped? Really?
I’ve been quiet since the unpleasantness going on outside has forced me into working from home all day, but after reading Paul from Manchester’s description of Harry Kane as “incredibly lucky in front of goal”, I can’t stands no more!

Your willing to get United to spend 100 million on a player you’ve seen a handful of times in an international shirt but dismissive of a 20 plus goals a season striker who consistently does it the supposed hardest league in the world year after year? He’s got 17 this year and been injured for most of it! Don’t see what the fuss is about? If I could link the gif of the guy pulling a face with question marks leaving is person I would. Pffffffffft!!! Good day sir!!!!
Jon, Lincoln (hoping I’ve been baited here but sadly expecting that to be in vain).


For the love of Gerrard
I think people typically say Gerrard was one of the top five central midfielders to have played in the Premier League. I think those people underestimate him.

He was our Maradona. He dragged Igor Biscan and Djimi Traore to champions league glory. Have you looked at that Milan team he beat? It’s utterly ludicrous. The turd in that Liverpool team should never ever have won that trophy, especially against that iconic Milan team.

Can you imagine how ridiculous he would be in his prime playing behind our front three for Klopp? The only time he got a decent X around him was the season we came 2nd with Rafa and even then the pickings from the bench were bloody slim to none. I appreciate under Brendan we also came second but that team clearly had flaws in the first XI, it just went on a magical 14(?) game winning streak after Christmas.

Roy Keane was a great central midfielder but had a great team around him to help magnify his talents. Vieira was incredible but surrounded by the invincibles. Gerrard played a large number of games next to Lucas before Lucas was a cult hero. He played behind the talents of David N’Gog and Andriy Voronin.

He scored goals of all types, could pass it as well as anyone, was fast and strong and he absolutely loved playing the game. When I dream about being a footballer I think I dream of being him.
Minty, LFC


Those World XIs by these rules
Here is my World XI:

GK: Oblak
RB: Lahm
CB: Kompany
CB: Adams
LB: Maldini
CM: Keane
CM: Senna
RW: Messi
CAM: Zidane
LW: Okocha
CF: Recoba

Honestly, no one is getting past that defence, especially when it is covered by Keane and Senna. And with Zidane, Okocha, Messi and Recoba up front, I’ve got flair for days. Recoba was more of an attacking midfielder, but he would leave space for Messi down the middle. Also, this is a team that can pass, score goals from anywhere on the pitch but also defend incredibly well.
Guillaume, Ottawa


…Thanks to Dave, Spurs, East London for what was mostly an enjoyable nostalgia trip – although it was a toss-up between the current Liverpool and Atletico Madrid goalies. No doubt I’ve forgotten loads of players, but this took quite long enough as it is. I was a bit annoyed to have to ‘spend’ both Spain and Real Madrid at right back – no David Silva or Gareth Bale, then, but at least that meant I had space for another Southampton player further up the pitch…

Jan Oblak (Slovenia – Olimpija Ljubljana, Benfica, Beira-Mar, Olhanense, Uniado de Leiria, Rio Ave, Atletico Madrid)

Bixente Lizarazu (France – Bordeaux, Athletic Biilbabo, Bayern Munich, Marseille)
Paolo Maldini (Italy – AC Milan)
Jan Vertonghen (Belgium – Ajax, Tottenham Hotspur)
Michel Salgado (Spain – Celta, Salamanca, Real Madrid, Blackburn Rovers)

Pavel Nedved (Czech Republic – Skoda Plzen, Dukla Prague, Sparta Prague, Lazio, Juventus)
Roy Keane (Ireland – Cobh Ramblers, Nottingham Forest, Man Utd, Celtic)
Matthias Sammer (Germany – Dynamo Dresden, VfB Stuttgart, Inter Milan, Borussia Dortmund)
Matt Le Tissier (England – Southampton, Eastleigh, Guernsey)

Lionel Messi (Argentina – Barcelona)
Tony Yeboah (Ghana – Asante Kotoko, Cornerstone Kumasi, Okwawu United, 1. FC Saarbrucken, Eintracht Frankfurt, Leeds United, Hamburger SV, Al-Ittihad)

This was a really tricky one – I had no idea that Lilian Thuram played for Barcelona, for example, or that Freddie Ljungberg was at Celtic. I also didn’t know that Jay-Jay Okocha is apparently Alex Iwobi’s uncle – which isn’t particularly relevant but interesting nonetheless. And who knew that Matt Le Tissier kept playing after leaving Southampton?

I couldn’t find room for Cafu, either Ronaldo or Javier Zanetti – but picking them would mean leaving out Maldini and/or Messi, and I couldn’t do that. I nearly picked Salah over Yeboah, but for those of us of a certain age *that* goal will always have a place in our hearts. And I had no room for any Dutch players – but all the best ones seem to have played for Bayern, Barcelona or Real Madrid. As it is, this 11 represented 44 clubs between them, and have only ever crossed paths when playing against each other.
Michael C


Integrity? The integrity has gone…
In all the talk about what options there are to finish the season, the ‘integrity of the competition’ is often cited as the reason why it must be completed.

Is it just me or does anyone else not wonder if the potential of a 10-week delay mid-season, having to play your remaining home games without supporters, players returning from injury who were otherwise likely to be out for the rest of the season and the players and officials’ physical and emotional health post or likely mid an unprecedented, global crisis etc. etc. ….has already removed all integrity from the various unfinished competitions?

Isn’t it time to acknowledge therefore that the 2019/20 season is over and spend the time between now and June 30th dealing with the consequences of that so we’re ready to start again and lay down a framework for how we deal with future pandemics? Because we all know this is sadly not a one-off.
Dave Mack


A solution of sorts
As a teacher I am currently working 1=one week every 3 with just a few key workers’ children, I have a bit of time on my hands at the moment. As a result, I’ve come up with a potential formula to resolve the rest of this season and how things might look going a little further forward.

If you can be bothered to read it, I think you might like it.

1. The league seasons and domestic cups are completed when its actually reasonably safe to do so, perhaps from August until October.

2. November is for the champions league to be completed in 2 and a half weeks
– last 8 ties 1 week – tues/sat and weds sun
– semis next week the same format
-then the final the following Wednesday.

3. Rest of Nov off + most players resting apart from cl players for whole of Nov anyway.

4. December is for Euro2020 – final on new years eve – come on that’s fire.

5. January is off season.

6. 20 – 21 season is then played as normal with cup competitions etc but within 2021 from Feb to Nov.

7. Then Dec 21 is off season again.

8. Then in Jan 2022 what would’ve been the 21-22 season is played within 2022 finishing by October.

9. This is in time for Qatar 2022 world cup which was already scheduled for November and this allows it to not be mid season.

What you saying?


The ramblings of a shaved monkey
Football was better in the old days John. I think that as well. I think food was better too. I also think tv was better. I think words were better, I think the air was fresher and the wind only blew when my washing needed drying. I think the intensity of light was better, it oscillated at a better frequency on the electromagnetic spectrum. Scientists will poo-poo that no doubt, claiming light frequency is fixed, but you only need to see the footage of light from back in the day, to see it was better, right John?

I hate flat pitches too. I never played on a flat pitch when I was a boy, never did me any harm. I mean occasionally it took one of those exciting odd bounces and hit me in the face or suddenly darted off as I pulled the trigger and left me swinging an air shot. I always loved those times, thanking my lucky stars I was playing on a dogshit covered dirt patch instead of one of those nice soft flat green pitches. I loved my heavy leather black boots too, they were better. Not faster, which is the opposite of better, but slower and more tiring. They say we were less fit back then, using perfectly reasonable metrics and highlighting the ever evolving science of sports conditioning to eek out performance, but we know that’s bullcrap, don’t we John. Those measurements were done with science and science was much better in the old days when you had knobs and switches and dials and those film camera reels on the side of huge computers with flashing bits. That was when you knew you could trust science, when it looked scientific instead of being all cold and clean and minimalistic.

I liked it better when Roy and Patrick were threatening each other before football games too, now they have to rely on the crowds to run on the pitch and punch football players, back then we could hope the payers would do it instead, then we as kids could imitate it down the park, while our dads had it out on the touchline. It’s so passionless now. Look at ‘The Big Game’ between today’s top two. City and Liverpool play boring football where they score far too many goals and focus far too much on technique and team play than physical intimidation. Certainly, none of the players give a shit, just ask Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez.

And don’t get me started on the golden era of football in the 70’s and 80’s when the best players were routinely fouled out of the game and it could descend into a pitched battle between the clogging hard men. That was football. When it was played without the ball and largely consisted of studs.

Fuck the Champions League, that was the death of European football, when was the last time it gave us an exciting and unexpected game of football to rival the glory days of the Cup Winner Cup, when all of the teams that used to exist played in it. Liverpool vs Barcelona, Spurs vs Ajax? Boring. Didn’t even bother watching the 2nd legs, they were going to be a walk in the park. Didn’t bother watching the final last year either, couldn’t even tell you who won out of Barcelona and Ajax.

John, I think me and you should meet up for a drink and-

Sorry. A shaved monkey ran in from outside and started typing on my computer. I was going to point out how remarkable it was to be coherent, but then I read it and realised it was hindshite.
Ed Ern


A rookie writes
I am writing to offer a fresh perspective on what has been happening for the past month. I am a relative newcomer to the beautiful game (and a Yankee to boot): my first real love blossomed during the 2014 World Cup as I watched Klopp’s German team absolutely embarrass host Brazil. I then started following Dortmund and the Bundesliga for the next year. Then Klopp moved to Liverpool and overnight I became a Reds fan and a PL fan. I bought a scarf and a purple road kit with Salah’s name, and learned the words to You’ll Never Walk Alone. I have spent the past three years glued to my TV on Saturday mornings. So I am unabashedly a johnny-come-lately. Which brings me to my fresh perspective. The void created by the sudden cessation of live football matches has been filled with a wealth of replays, and the past four weeks have been a crash course for me in the history of football that I probably would have never gotten if not for the coronavirus.

I watched Aguero score in stoppage time to give City the PL title. I saw Gerrard slip. I re-enjoyed Belgium’s quarterfinal victory over Brazil in 2018 (I never knew that both Kompany and Hazard were Belgian). I watched a heart breaking documentary on Hillsborough. I saw Solskjaer scoring goals for Man U. I read Simon Critchley’s alternatingly inspirational and enigmatic What We Think About When We Think About Football. And I enjoyed reliving TAA’s corner feint against Barca.

So, while I await with everyone else to find out what will become of this year’s season, my suspense about Liverpool’s title hopes is more than tempered by my increased appreciation of football’s past, and only strengthens my anticipation of, and appreciation for, football’s future.

Also, to maximize the chances of my rookie email getting published, I would just say that Football365 is far and away my favorite football site. There is really nothing in American sports media that approaches its freewheeling and snarky abandon. Allez allez allez!
Steve C (LFC fan, obviously, writing from Toledo, Ohio)