Tag Archives: Manchester United

Coventry pull off FA Cup shock against Stoke

FA Cup: Coventry 2-1 Stoke highlights

League Two Coventry City pulled off an FA Cup third-round shock by beating Premier League strugglers Stoke City.

Jordan Willis’s towering header put the hosts ahead, before the defender felled Ramadan Sobhi after the break and Charlie Adam levelled from the spot.

But right-back Jack Grimmer fired his side back ahead from outside the area with 20 minutes to play and the Sky Blues held on for an historic victory.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes has now lost six of the last eight matches.

The Premier League side showed their quality in the first period as two of Hughes’ four changes justified their starts from the off.

Stephen Ireland and Mame Biram Diouf twice combined well in the box but Stoke failed to take their chances and the home side took the lead through Willis, from debutant Jordan Maguire-Drew’s corner.

The visitors turned the screw after the break as first-half hero Willis conceded a penalty, but when the Stoke players failed to close down Grimmer on the edge of the area, the defender took his chance and beat Jack Butland at his near post.

There was a delay in play in the final minutes of the game as frustrations boiled over and a flare was thrown on to the pitch, but it was the Coventry fans who were left celebrating an unlikely win.

City on the up

Grimmer’s screamer knocks out Stoke

In 1987 Coventry City beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 at Wembley to lift the FA Cup, but in the 30 years since, the Midlands club have endured a spectacular fall from grace.

Twenty years ago Coventry were a Premier League side, 10 years ago they were competing against Saturday’s opponents Stoke in the Championship, but this season they began life as a League Two side having been relegated to English football’s fourth tier for the first time since 1959.

Off the field, the Sky Blues’ unrest was compounded when they were put into administration in 2013 and they were forced to spend a year in exile in Northampton in 2013-14 because of a dispute over stadium rent.

But despite their fans’ continuing frustration with owners Sisu, the side have made a bright start in League Two, winning four of their five games over the festive period to climb into the automatic promotion places.

And thanks to two well-taken goals from defenders Willis and Grimmer, the festivities at Coventry will continue after Mark Robins, a former team-mate of Mark Hughes at Manchester United, engineered a deserved win in front of 14,199 fans at the Ricoh Arena.

Hughes resigned to his fate?

Mark Hughes’ Stoke City have lost eight of their last 11 games

A desperate run has plunged Stoke into the relegation zone and manager Mark Hughes was in dire need of a win on Saturday – even against a League Two side in the FA Cup.

But Stoke were eliminated from the competition as a top-flight side, against a side from the fourth tier or below, for the first time since January 1938.

In their 1-0 Premier League defeat by Newcastle on New Year’s Day, a handful of Stoke supporters displayed banners demanding Hughes be sacked, but the club have so far resisted the pressure to make a snap decision on the manager’s future.

They should have had the quality to overcome a resurgent Sky Blues side but once again they lacked a clinical goal-scorer and the banners came back out after Coventry’s first goal.

Diouf made a bright start without hitting the target, while his strike partner Saido Berahino was barely noticeable for much of the game.

And despite boasting a far stronger bench – with Peter Crouch and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting introduced in the latter stages – neither could make a meaningful contribution as Coventry City’s defence held strong under full fire at the end.

Hughes was presented with yet another defensive headache with Erik Pieters (hamstring) sidelined once again alongside Ryan Shawcross (calf) and Bruno Martins Indi (groin) but that will provide little excuse for his side’s latest below-par performance.

On Thursday Hughes said he did not need reassurance about his position after the BBC reported the club were ‘considering his future’ but this latest setback heaps even more pressure on the Welshman.

‘Manchester United away would be perfect’ – what the managers said

Coventry City manager Mark Robins: “For us it’s brilliant, we’re in the fourth-round draw. Hopefully we’ll get a big club away from homeManchester United away would be perfect.

“I’m proud. Regardless of the current troubles at Stoke, and the pressure on them, we equipped ourselves really well. We went toe-to-toe with them. We could have been 3-0 up in the first half.

“The atmosphere was outstanding and the supporters desperately want to grab on to something. They’re the lifeblood of the club. Some are staying away at the moment but we want them back. We’re trying to build something.

“It’s an outstanding achievement, against a team full of stars, some of whom will be playing in internationals and at the World Cup this summer. To come out and not scrap or hold on, we were deserved winners.”

Stoke manager Mark Hughes: “It’s clearly a difficult time for us. When we make mistakes, they’re getting penalised. We’re not giving ourselves the right defensive platform at the moment and when that happens you’re always vulnerable.

“Clearly, the only way to quieten down the noise around the club is to win games. We need to turn it around and quickly. We’re good enough in this league – we’ve proved it during my tenure – but we’ve got to be better in key moments.

“We’re all under pressure. I can take the pressure and the focus. I’m not naive and I realise people will talk about my position. But we’ve got good owners who will make the right decisions for the club. They have done before and they’ll do it again.”


Manchester City tops football financial firepower list

Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane of Manchester CityImage copyright Getty Images

Premier League leaders Manchester City have more financial firepower than any other club in world football, according to a new ranking.

Event organiser Soccerex, which compiled the list, says the club has the biggest economic growth potential.

UK clubs dominate the top ten spots with Arsenal ranked second, Tottenham Hotspur fifth, Manchester United seventh and Chelsea in ninth position.

The list is based on five factors including potential owner investment.

Manchester City is owned by multi-billionaire Sheikh Mansour, a member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling Al-Nahyan family, who has invested heavily in the team since he took it over almost a decade ago.

The club spent £215m on player transfers over the summer, which was the biggest by any English club in any transfer window.

The Soccerex Football Finance 100 also takes into account the value of clubs’ players, their fixed assets such as stadiums and training grounds, the amount of money they have in the bank as well as net debt.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Paris Saint-Germain paid a record €222m to sign Brazilian superstar Neymar

Soccerex said this methodology explained why Arsenal was ranked above Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), which paid a record €222m (£200m) to sign Brazilian superstar Neymar last summer.

It said Arsenal’s “sound business model” had enabled it to pip PSG, despite a perceived lack of spending in the transfer market.

The study said this meant that Arsenal had the potential to “invest significantly” should it change its strategy.

Similarly, Chelsea was ranked ninth despite owner Roman Abramovich’s heavy investment. Soccerex said this was because Mr Abramovich’s investment was listed as a loan, giving the club a large net debt.

The Soccerex top ten rankings

1. Manchester City

2. Arsenal

3. PSG

4. Guangzhou Evergrande

5. Tottenham

6. Real Madrid

7. Manchester United

8. Juventus

9. Chelsea

10. Bayern Munich

The ranking also reflects China’s growing significance in the global football market, with the country’s Guangzhou Evergrande coming above stalwarts such as Spain‘s Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The study said that Real Madrid and Barcelona’s rankings were hit by their membership owner structures and the lack of potential owner investment.

Nine of the Chinese Super League clubs are ranked in the top 100 clubs, more than France, Germany and Italy.

Soccerex marketing director David Wright said the aim of the study was to highlight how the “global football landscape has shifted over the past two decades”.

“We wanted to create a broader evaluation of football finances, one that reflected the modern reality of football,” he added.

Virgil van Dijk: Liverpool to sign Southampton defender for world record £75m

Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk will join Liverpool when the transfer window re-opens on 1 January in a world record £75m deal.

The Netherlands international had been expected to join the Reds last summer after he handed in a transfer request.

But a move fell through when Liverpool apologised for making an alleged illegal approach for the 26-year-old.

The fee is the most ever paid for a defender – Manchester City paid £52m to Monaco for Benjamin Mendy in July.

Van Dijk said in a statement he was “delighted and honoured” to sign for the Merseyside club and accepted he had had a “difficult last few months” at St Mary’s.

He was left out of Southampton’s squad for their 5-2 Premier League defeat by Tottenham on Tuesday, prompting speculation he was set to leave the club.

“Southampton have agreed a fee that will set a new world record for a defender,” the south coast club confirmed on Wednesday.

The player only signed a new six-year contract last year, having joined the Saints from Celtic for £13m in September 2015.

However, Liverpool’s interest in the summer prompted a transfer request from the player which saw him forced to train alone by manager Mauricio Pellegrino.

He returned to first team action in September, featuring in a win at Crystal Palace.

Van Dijk’s former club Celtic will benefit from the record transfer fee – the Scottish champions are understood to have had a 10% sell-on agreement on any future transfer.

Though he will join the club on 1 January, Van Dijk will not be able to register as a player until 2 January so will not be available for Liverpool’s trip to Burnley on Monday.

The Van Dijk fee tops the £48m release clause the Reds have agreed for RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita, who will move to Anfield next summer.

‘Proud to join one of biggest clubs in world’ – Van Dijk statement

“Delighted and honoured to have agreed to become a Liverpool FC player. Today is a proud day for me and my family as I join one of the biggest clubs in world football.

“I can’t wait to pull on the famous red shirt for the first time in front of the Kop and will give everything I have to try and help this great club achieve something special in the years to come.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Les Reed, the board, manager, players, fans and everyone at Southampton.

“I will always be indebted to the club for giving me the opportunity to play in the Premier League and despite a difficult last few months, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Saints and have made friends for life at the club.”


BBC Sport’s Simon Stone

It has cost Liverpool an additional £15m and half a season, but manager Jurgen Klopp has finally got his man.

Southampton pulled the plug on a proposed £60m deal during the summer, such was their unhappiness at the way they were being railroaded into a transfer.

However, the tell-tale sign Klopp knew who he wanted to address defensive deficiencies and wouldn’t be changing his mind came through the fact Liverpool did not try for an alternative.

After conceding 23 goals in 20 Premier League games so far, Klopp has been reminded often enough he needed to strengthen his defence.

Now he has done it, he will hope his side can retain their attacking brilliance and close the gap to Manchester United and Chelsea and, in time, start to challenge at the very top of the Premier League table.

Liverpool’s desire to sign Van Dijk comes through the size of the fee, which Manchester City – who were also interested – were not prepared to match.

As for Southampton, they have got rid of a player who clearly had no wish to remain on the south coast and generated the funds that will allow them to reinforce a squad that has struggled for the past 12 months and led to speculation manager Mauricio Pellegrino is on dodgy ground.

Margaret Dodds: The centenarian Bristol City fan

Bristol City welcome Manchester United to Ashton Gate on Wednesday, with 100-year-old Margaret Dodds expected to be in her usual seat.

The centenarian, from Weston-super-Mare, has been a Robins fan for 40 years.

She started following the club in the 1970s after watching her first game, a Bristol derby, and has seen City play in all four divisions.

Record-breaking City win Manchester derby

Nicolas Otamendi volleyed in the winner for Manchester City to take them 11 points clear of rivals Manchester United

Manchester City stretched their lead at the top of the table to 11 points and created Premier League history with a 14th successive victory this season as they overcame Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Pep Guardiola’s side also ended United’s 40-match unbeaten run at home – which stretched back to their win here in September 2016 – to strike a potentially decisive blow against their closest rivals in the title race.

City took the lead their vast superiority deserved when man-of-the-match David Silva hooked home from close range after confusion at a corner on 42 minutes, only for United to be handed a lifeline in first-half stoppage time when poor defending from Nicolas Otamendi and Fabian Delph allowed Marcus Rashford to steal in for a composed finish.

Otamendi made amends nine minutes after the break when Romelu Lukaku – who had a nightmare game – lashed at a clearance in the area and the City defender pounced on the rebound to score.

City, who have dropped only two points in their first 16 games, had opportunities to extend their lead but it was keeper Ederson who made the decisive late intervention with a miraculous double late save from the luckless Lukaku and substitute Juan Mata.

Guardiola’s side become the first team to win 14 successive Premier League games in a single season, also levelling Arsenal’s outright top-flight record, set between between February and August 2002.

Is the title race over?

It is a brave call to declare the Premier League title race over in early December – but the statistics and evidence is piling up to suggest the chase is on for second place behind Manchester City.

City will effectively have to lose four games while all of their rivals need to keep winning, tough to see with Guardiola’s team having won every league match since since Everton took a point at Etihad Stadium in the second game of the season.

The trip to Old Trafford, and the renewal of old rivalries between Guardiola and Mourinho, was the most eagerly awaited game of the season between the two teams at the top of the table and was seen as the acid test of City’s apparent infallibility.

And those looking for cracks in the Guardiola armour pointed to City having to secure three wins against Huddersfield Town, Southampton and West Ham United with late, late goals in their most recent league games.

If City’s confidence had been shaken at all by having to fight for victories, there was no sign here as they played with a composure and positivity that was a level above Mourinho’s Manchester United.

They needed Ederson’s late heroics but there can be no doubt they were deserved winners and even showed the street-wisdom of champions to run down the clock in the closing seconds, to the fury and frustration of Old Trafford.

The Premier League title race may not be over – but there was no escaping the feeling that a crucial blow has been inflicted on United and the rest of Manchester City’s pursuers.

Man of the match – David Silva (Manchester City)

Manchester City midfielder David Silva scored the opener and was the game’s outstanding performer

What’s next?

Manchester United welcome Bournemouth to Old Trafford on Wednesday at 20:00 GMT and are away at West Brom on Sunday, 17 December at 14:15.

Manchester City travel to Swansea on Wednesday (19:45), before hosting Tottenham on Saturday (17:30).

More to follow.

Man City win 13th league game in a row

David Silva netted just his second goal of the season – his first coming in the 7-2 victory over Stoke in October

Manchester City came from behind to win a record-equalling 13th Premier League match in a row with victory over stubborn West Ham at Etihad Stadium.

Angelo Ogbonna’s header on the stroke of half-time put the lowly Hammers ahead, but Nicolas Otamendi responded with a predatory finish shortly after the break.

David Silva won it for City, acrobatically converting a Kevin de Bruyne pass with seven minutes left.

Victory meant Pep Guardiola’s side re-established their eight-point lead over Manchester United, who they play at Old Trafford next Sunday (16:30 GMT).

They also equalled the longest winning run within a top-flight season, matching Sunderland and Preston (1891-92), Arsenal (2001-02) and Chelsea (2016-17).

West Ham, though, have set a club record for the fewest points after 15 Premier League matches – they have just 10.

The Londoners had their chances – as well as Ogbonna’s goal, Michail Antonio almost pounced when Ederson spilled the ball, and Manuel Lanzini forced the goalkeeper to save at his near post.

But it always looked as though City’s pressure would tell and, shortly after De Bruyne’s free-kick was palmed away, Gabriel Jesus skipped through and slid the ball to Otamendi, who scored.

Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, De Bruyne and Jesus had further chances before Silva won it for the home side, but there was still time for the Hammers to go close, with Diafra Sakho shooting just wide after Marko Arnautovic pulled the ball back.

City leave it late to win – again

Silva’s strike made this the fourth game in a row City have won thanks to a goal scored in or after the 83rd minute. Sterling had scored the past three, having also hit an injury-time winner at Bournemouth in August.

A home victory always looked the likeliest result, with City extending their unbeaten run in all competitions to 28 matches.

They were made to fight for the points, though, and Silva’s late winner was one of 18 shots they had in the second half.

While City have been in full flow for much of the season, they have also shown their resilience – taking a league-high 10 points from losing positions.

Prior to their late winners against Huddersfield last month and now West Ham, City had won only one of their past 30 games in which they had been behind at half-time.

That combination of silk and steel has taken them eight points clear at the top, and it will take something special to stop them.

Positives in defeat for Moyes

Despite the defeat, there was plenty for Hammers boss David Moyes to take heart from as his side kept the league leaders at bay for almost an hour.

The first half was particularly encouraging and, though a deflected strike from Silva extended Adrian, West Ham had better chances through Antonio and Lanzini.

They looked defensively solid and confident in their gameplan, and Moyes’ only disappointment will be they could not keep it up.

Jesus’ half-time introduction made a difference, but Sane, De Bruyne and Silva – who had not been at their best in the first half – also began to influence things.

City had had six shots to the Hammers’ four prior to that, but Adrian was forced into a string of saves as the hosts bombarded his goal in search of a winner.

Adrian, who came in as Joe Hart was unable to face his parent club, was a standout performer but the Hammers had opportunities of their own despite the absence of strikers Andy Carroll and Javier Hernandez.

And the agonising nature of this defeat was summed up by the reaction of former City defender Pablo Zabaleta when Silva’s shot hit the back of the net.

Zabaleta was playing his 118th game at Etihad Stadium – with his previous 117 coming in a Manchester City shirt

‘We deserved to equalise’

David Moyes speaking to BBC Radio 5 live: “I have to say it was a really good effort. We defended much better today. We’ve worked a bit on it, we had one day where we could prepare.

“We needed our goalkeeper to play well. He got both hands to most things. I thought most of it was outside the box. I have to say we did a really good job.

“What a chance we have to make it 2-2 late on. My feeling was I thought we deserved it (to equalise). You get results in different ways and it looked as though we might have got one today. For long parts of the game we were in with a chance.”

Moyes praises Hammers’ effort and attitude

Pep Guardiola speaking to Match of the Day: “We started really well but we lost our patience. We didn’t have any rhythm because Adrian was taking 30 seconds every time.

“It was similar to the last few games, in the second half I thought we would score. They played 10 players inside the box, it was almost impossible.

“It’s a big victory. It showed what we are. We had two strikers in the second half and that helped, it was a big lesson for me. We created more with two.

“We spoke a lot about defending set-pieces but they are taller. It will happen again next week against United so we have to try and concede fewer set-pieces.”

Today was a big lesson for me – Guardiola

Record-equalling success and record-breaking disappointment – the best of the stats

  • City have equalled the longest winning run within a top-flight season.
  • City’s haul of 43 points from 15 games is a joint top-flight record, level with Tottenham in 1960-61 (converted to three points for a win).
  • West Ham’s total of 10 points from 15 games is their lowest in the Premier League and lowest in the top-flight since 1976-77 (nine, converted to three for a win).
  • Since his debut for City in September 2015, De Bruyne has provided 35 assists in the league – more than any other in the big five European leagues.
  • Jesus has been directly involved in 21 goals in his 24 Premier League appearances so far (15 goals, 6 assists).
  • Ogbonna scored his first goal in the big five European leagues, in his 144th appearance.

Man of the match – Adrian

West Ham goalkeeper Adrian made six saves in total, including five in the second half

What’s next?

West Ham return to London Stadium to face Chelsea on Saturday (12:30 GMT) in the first of two successive home games – with Arsenal to come afterwards.

Manchester City travel to Ukraine to take on Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday (19:45 GMT) and return to league action against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday (16:30).

Denis Law to receive Freedom of Aberdeen

Denis Law in action for Manchester United in the 1963 FA Cup finalImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Denis Law played for Manchester United and scored 30 goals for Scotland

Former Scotland international footballer Denis Law CBE is to receive the Freedom on Aberdeen on Saturday.

The 77-year-old, who was born and raised in the Granite City, has described the honour as “one of the highlights of my life“.

He will be made a freeman during a special ceremony on Saturday evening. Then, on Sunday evening, he will take part in a parade along Union Street.

Known affectionately as The Lawman, he scored 30 goals for Scotland.

The former European footballer of the year was born in Powis and went to Powis Academy, before moving away to play for Huddersfield when he was 16.

He went on to play for clubs including Manchester United, Torino and Manchester City.

England goal

Law was one third of what became known as Manchester United’s Holy Trinity, when he played alongside George Best and Sir Bobby Charlton during his 11-year stint with the Red Devils.

He scored for Scotland in a famous 3-2 victory against then world champion England in 1967 at Wembley.

Law rounded off his career by representing Scotland at the 1974 World Cup in West Germany.

The Sunday parade will begin at 17:30, arriving at the Town House at 18:15. It will form part of the event marking the switch-on of the city‘s Christmas lights.

Others to have received the honour include former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev, Sir Alex Ferguson, and the cast of Scotland the What?

Fanzine art

Fan reads a copy of The GoonerImage copyright Paul Gilham

The purchase of a fanzine remains part of the match-day routine for many football fans, who value an independent, sideways and often light-hearted take on the state of their beloved clubs. The BBC has asked the editors of five publications that are still in print – despite the competition from online offerings – to choose their favourite covers.

“In some ways I’m surprised that fanzines have survived,” says Malcolm Clarke, chair of the Football Supporters Federation.

“You might have thought with the rise of social media and the internet they would have vanished years ago, but they haven’t.

“I think it is partly due to in some cases a sense of great loyalty… but also because some have very high-quality writing.”

The Gooner – Arsenal

Image copyright The Gooner

Mike Francis admits that he was pretty much goaded into forming The Gooner, one of the country’s oldest fanzines.

During a trip to a bookshop on Charing Cross Road, he picked up a Chelsea fanzine for his then boss, a Blues supporter, and was given the reply: “That just proves we are a bigger club.”

London rivalry also features in one of Mr Francis’ favourite covers.

“Around the time that that cover came out [November 1988] we were on a run where we were beating Spurs every time we played them,” he remembers.

“Clearly, as Arsenal fans that was a high point of the season.

“We’d probably beaten them five or six times [in a row] and that was how that cover came about because we were asking: ‘How are Spurs ever going to win a derby?’

“We then thought of the most famous Derby winner, Shergar, and that was how the two came together.”

Despite its popularity, Mr Francis admits he still “cringes” at his “amateurish” drawing of a horse in a Tottenham shirt.

Image copyright The Gooner

The fanzine has become more polished in its appearance over the years.

The idea for the cover of Issue 235, which featured manager Arsene Wenger in style of a Roy Lichtenstein portrait, came about during a trip on the London Underground.

“I think I just saw an advert on the Tube for a Roy Lichtenstein exhibition and I just thought that it would make a great style for a cover.

“Darren [the fanzine’s designer] was always keen to try new things so I suggested it to him and that is what he came up with.”

At the height of its popularity, Mr Francis estimates they were selling 7,500 copies of each issue, but that figure has dwindled to about 2,000.

The Gooner will cease publication at the end of this season.

The Square Ball – Leeds United

Image copyright The Square Ball

“Some of the best fanzines have some of the worst [football club] owners,” says one of The Square Ball’s co-editors, Paul O’Dowd.

First published in 1989, the fanzine has covered league titles and Champions League football, but also the lows of administration and relegation to English football’s third tier.

Mr O’Dowd, who runs the fanzine with three others, says one of his favourite issues they have produced is the “Kenopoly” edition.

Produced during the 2009-10 season, it was what Mr O’Dowd describes as a “sarcastic and satirical” look at the way then Leeds owner Ken Bates ran the club.

“We were working on it for a couple of months… it just seemed to sum up Ken Bates,” he says.

“He would use everybody else’s money for whatever business he was doing.

“It was just our way of being sarcastic and having a go at Ken Bates in a very artistic way.”

Image copyright The Square Ball

Mr O’Dowd says another of his favourite covers was the “Hoof” edition from 2012-13, mocking the “horrible” style of football played during Neil Warnock’s tenure.

He says that when the editorial team saw the photo of Michael Brown, it perfectly encapsulated the topic that they wanted to cover.

The headline, written in the style of an Oxford English Dictionary entry, helped to get their simple message across, Mr O’Dowd says.

He explains: “It was to the point, very matter of fact.

“It just summed up the football at the time that was just horrible, and we were paying top dollar to watch it which was the annoying thing.”

United We Stand – Manchester United

Image copyright United We Stand

United We Stand has been following the fortunes of Manchester United since the fanzine was a created by a 15-year-old Andy Mitten in 1989.

He says its focus on original content has kept it popular through 275 editions.

One of the publication’s early editions gained notoriety, when it wrongly called the outcome of the 1991-92 First Division title race, the last campaign before the introduction the following season of the Premier League.

United We Stand’s headline read: “Champions at Last,” a nod to the fact that they had not been champions for 25 years.

But the Red Devils then lost three games in a row to hand the title to arch-rivals Leeds.

Image copyright Getty Images

“I’d had 4,000 copies printed and I was stood outside Old Trafford making an absolute fool out of myself,” Mr Mitten remembers.

“I was getting loads of abuse because of it, and quite rightly so.”

Perhaps luckily for Mr Mitten, a recent house move means he can no longer locate that particular cover, but its notoriety endures.

He is more fond of the June 2017 edition, a tribute to Wayne Rooney before the club’s record goal-scorer left to rejoin Everton.

“At the time, most United fans online saw him as persona non grata,” he says.

“[The cover] was our way of saying… he has clearly dipped as a player but he has been a fantastic player here.

“We’ve put him all of these different shirts because Manchester United change their shirt every five minutes, because they are a commercial beast like every football club.

“But there was nothing commercial about that goal [the one depicted on the cover] – it was just pure beauty.”

Blowing Bubbles Monthly – West Ham United

Image copyright David Blakemore

Blowing Bubbles Monthly is the brainchild of David Blakemore and has been entertaining West Ham fans since 2012.

The fanzine was initially going to be online only, but a test print run proved so popular it is now produced monthly.

Its editor, David Blakemore, says their September 2016 edition (pictured above) is one of his favourites.

“In a season full of highs and lows… it just captured one of the brighter moments, that first goal at the London Stadium,” he says.

“We also had an interview with [co-owner] David Gold in there which set the tone for the rest of the season.

“We just felt page after page it was one of our stronger issues.”

Image copyright David Blakemore

The September 2017 issue is one Mr Blakemore says feels significant because they “stuck their neck out” and questioned then manager Slaven Bilic’s position.

He says the decision was not taken lightly.

“I think most knew that Bilic was on the brink at that time,” Mr Blakemore adds.

“That vocal minority who were calling for his head had gathered momentum and by September it was starting to go full power.”

Given that the Croatian would be sacked just a few weeks later, it appears Blowing Bubbles, picked their moment perfectly.

Bandy & Shinty – Nottingham Forest

Image copyright Bandy & Shinty

The team in charge of the unusually named Bandy & Shinty, a relatively new Nottingham Forest fanzine, freely admit they are not “traditional fanzine sellers”.

Born out of a meeting at a pub to celebrate the club’s 150th anniversary, the four-man team behind the publication tend to send out their fanzine via post.

The appeal? The chance to still enjoy match-days with family.

The fanzine’s name is a nod to the two hockey clubs that met to form Nottingham Forest in 1865.

History also is an important part of each issue’s cover.

“The Brian Clough one (pictured) was extremely popular,” says Sean Hockett, one of the team behind Bandy & Shinty.

“I like the fact that a fair number of Forest fans will just be able to identify that image.

“It is based on a photograph when he is sort of laissez-faire.

“He has got his thumb to his nose and he is almost irreverent about the fact he is having his photograph taken.

“It just encapsulates Brian Clough as a character.”

Image copyright Bandy & Shinty

Mr Hockett says issue six is also a personal favourite, because it features their most detailed piece of cover art.

“It has taken us out of that zone of just using a silhouetted image,” he adds.

“I like the fact you have got the image of John Robertson in the middle of the passport instead of the Queen.

“As a piece of art I just think it’s lovely.”

Selfridges mistakes Manchester bee for wasp in motif mix-up

'Wasp' mug SelfridgesImage copyright Selfridges

Selfridges has apologised for describing Manchester’s famous worker bee emblem as a wasp on its merchandise.

The corporate gaffe was discovered on a ceramic mug being sold on the store’s website.

The company said there was a copy error online which had now been corrected.

The bee motif symbolised the city‘s solidarity after the Manchester Arena bomb attack in May when hundreds of people got bee tattoos.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionThe worker bees uniting Manchester

Manchester City and Manchester United players wore a bee badge on their shirts when they played a fund-raising derby for the bomb victims in the US in July.

A company spokeswoman said: “There was a copy edit error when uploading the product to our website, which has now been rectified, and will be visible when the website reloads overnight.

“We’d like to thank BBC Manchester for bringing this to our attention and would like to apologise for any offence caused.”

But the blunder has already drawn a scathing reaction from Mancunians on social media.

“Oh dear obviously some bod in London didn’t check their facts,” said Paula Collins.

“The only mugs are the ones who will buy this don’t get stung by them cashing in on MCR,” added Bill Shepherd.

The bee has been incorporated into a host of logos in the city from renowned brewers Boddingtons to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford.

Manchester’s bee

  • The bee has been an emblem of Manchester since the Victorian era
  • Several theories exist about how it became the city’s symbol, but a popular one suggests a German architect described Manchester, then rich with mills and factories, as a “hive of activity”
  • It is a worker bee, symbolising the industry of the city and its people, and was adopted into Manchester’s coat of arms in 1842
  • The bee can be found around the city, including on bollards and in the mosaic tiles of the Town Hall

England hold Germany to draw

England are now unbeaten in seven matches at Wembley

England‘s most inexperienced side since 1980 held world champions Germany to a draw in an entertaining contest at Wembley.

Seven injury withdrawals meant manager Gareth Southgate fielded an experimental starting XI with a combined total of 101 caps and five players making their international debuts.

Two of those, midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, were particularly impressive, with the latter playing a key role in denying the Germans.

Pickford saved twice from striker Timo Werner, while defender Phil Jones – who later hobbled off injured – blocked on the line from Manchester City forward Leroy Sane.

England had chances of their own to score. Jamie Vardy miscued a first-half lob when played through by Loftus-Cheek and then had a downward header from six yards superbly clawed away by keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the second half.

Jesse Lingard had an opportunity to win it with the last kick of the game, only to shoot over when under pressure following a Marcus Rashford free-kick.

Hart under pressure as Pickford shines

Jordan Pickford joined Everton from Sunderland for £30m in the summer

Southgate raised eyebrows when he announced Joe Hart remained his first-choice goalkeeper despite a poor spell for his country and an exile from Manchester City that has led to loan spells at Torino and now West Ham United.

The 30-year-old has had a tough time with the Hammers this season – and there is now every chance he will face a serious fight to maintain his England status, despite Southgate’s backing.

Southgate had planned to use Stoke’s Jack Butland in these friendlies before a broken finger sidelined him – opening the door for Everton’s Jordan Pickford.

And how the 23-year-old took his chance, producing an outstanding display of such confidence and assuredness that he has now surely given Southgate food for thought.

Pickford was alert from the first minute, reacting quickly to clear a poor back-pass from Harry Maguire, then further distinguished himself with fine saves low to his left and right from Timo Werner.

He commanded his area and also gave England an extra dimension with his superb distribution – a very good night for Pickford, who looked right at home on the international stage against the World Cup holders.

Loftus-Cheek stakes his claim

Ruben Loftus-Cheek was a key figure in the England Under-21 side during Gareth Southgate’s time in charge

England’s central midfield has been open to justifiable accusations of a lack of creativity when Eric Dier, captain against Germany, and Jordan Henderson have been paired together.

So, with Liverpool captain Henderson injured, this was a real opportunity for Loftus-Cheek, on loan at Crystal Palace from Chelsea, to make his mark and stake a serious claim for consideration for next summer’s World Cup in Russia.

And the 21-year-old did his chances no harm with a purposeful and powerful display, mixing subtle touches with surging runs from midfield.

This was only a friendly, of course, so will not be a truly accurate measure of Loftus-Cheek’s suitability to play on that elite stage, but the signs were good and Southgate will have been impressed.

The midfielder grew in confidence as the game progressed and drew Wembley’s approval on several occasions with his strong running and range of passing.

He, like Pickford, can be very pleased with his night’s work.

Informative night for Southgate – but disappointment for Jones

Phil Jones was the most experienced member of England’s starting XI

The currency of this game may have been devalued by so many England withdrawals and absentees – but there was still plenty for Southgate to draw from the meeting with the world champions.

His experimental side acquitted themselves well, although they were thankful to Pickford and a goal-line clearance from Jones to still be on level terms at the interval.

England’s new boys did not look overawed in the shirt and after the deadly dull conclusion to the successful World Cup qualifying campaign, this was a lively game to keep an excellent Wembley crowd of 81,381 entertained. It was certainly not a wasted exercise.

The only blot on England’s night was the latest injury to luckless Manchester United defender Jones, who picked up a problem early on and was replaced by Liverpool‘s Joe Gomez immediately after making a crucial block on the line from Leroy Sane.

Jones had played himself back into England contention after a spell off the scene and Southgate was keen to look at him in the three-man central defensive system he has started to employ.

This is another setback for the 25-year-old – now he and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho will hope it is not a serious one.