Ian Holloway on gambling: It's an epidemic and I fear for the game's future if it isn't addressed – Ian Holloway

Gambling is an epidemic that has infected football.

I make no apology if that sounds melodramatic, ­because I really fear for the future of our game if we fail to address a disease that has spread to all levels of our profession.

To read, during the week, of pounds would have shocked many.

But it wouldn’t have come as a surprise to those inside the game, who have ­recognised for a while now that gambling is a disease that has become ­increasingly virulent.

Gambling has always gone hand in glove with sport.

And, while I don’t have a bet even when I have a day out at the races, I don’t have a problem with people who like to try to beat the odds.

But footballers possess the two things that make them easy prey for bookies, who have made placing a bet as easy as ­pressing a button on a smartphone: plenty of money and lots of spare time.

It is a match made in hell.

Footballers have always looked for ways to help them cope with the pressures that fame and fortune brings.

And, while I understand why most people find it hard to be sympathetic to young men who earn £100,000 a week when there are ­families out there struggling to put food on the table, these fellas need help.

Their lives are about ­competing. Every day, in training, they are up against their team-mates for a place in the manager’s team.

And, every weekend, they put themselves on the line in front of 50,000 fans in the stadium and millions more watching on television around the world.

Believe me, it is a stressful existence.

Some players used to use alcohol as a crutch to help them cope.

But the levels of fitness that footballers need to achieve these days makes it ­impossible for them to spend their mornings on the training pitch and the afternoon down the pub.

So, we shouldn’t be surprised if some now find their escapism by taking on the bookies.

The temptations have ­become even greater in recent years, as gambling has become such an interactive ­experience.

If you are watching a ­Premier League game live on TV these days, the first advert that is screened at half-time urges you to place a bet on the next goal or the final score.

The game is awash with money at the moment.

And, while clubs do have programmes that are designed to educate young players about the dangers of evils like drink and drugs, I am not sure we are doing enough to address the problem of gambling.

PFA chairman Clarke Carlisle has had his own battles with ­alcoholism and gambling and anyone who saw his brilliant BBC documentary Football’s Suicide Secret, could not have failed to be moved.

Clarke does a sterling job in his role with the players’ union, but his experience and expertise makes him the ideal man to put into place ­safeguards for future ­generations of players.

Clarke has walked the walk.

Now let’s help him talk the talk by putting into place the kind of finance required to develop proper education ­initiatives.

What’s the alternative?

All I will say is that we are being naive if we believe ­English football can be ­immune from the match-fixing problems that have plagued the game in other countries.


Andy Dunn on Bill Shankly: For one minute today, Liverpool and Manchester United fans will let happiness back in – Andy Dunn

Laurence Griffiths

At Anfield this afternoon, 90-odd relatively insignificant minutes will be preceded by just one.

One during which poison will be set to one side.

Manchester United ­followers will shelve their slander of Steven Gerrard and their loathing of the absent Luis Suarez.

Liverpool followers will put their rabid disdain for Patrice Evra and Wayne Rooney on hold.

David Moyes will stand ­unabused.

Tragedies will go unmocked.

And 45,000 people will split the Merseyside sky with the sound of tumultuous applause for Bill Shankly.

Many would not even have been born when a second thumping heart attack snatched Shankly from the world in 1981.

But, somehow, in their ­subconscious, they know what he stood for.

Just as they know what his dear friend Sir Matt Busby stood for.

Football as happiness, not as hatred.

Sweet not bitter, a force for friendship even in intense rivalry.

Communal not commercial, a ­compassionate religion of the working class.

A game to be loved.

No one has ever produced a plausible explanation for the vicious enmity between these two great sets of supporters.

The notion that it has always been there is pure bull.

It has not.

Maybe antipathy was ­accelerated into naked ­animosity by Sir Alex Ferguson’s vaulting ambition to knock Liverpool off their perch?

A lame explanation, but an explanation.

Ferguson has retired.

His successor now has two targets on his back: The crests of Everton and of Manchester United.

But remember. When a ­retired Shankly felt he could no longer wander down to Melwood, Liverpool’s training ground, without impinging on the credibility of his ­successor, Bob Paisley, he would visit Bellefield, Everton’s base.

Shankly once said there were only two teams on ­Merseyside… Liverpool and Liverpool Reserves.

But you can bet it was said with a ­mischievous glint in the eye, with tongue bursting through cheek.

These clubs – Liverpool, Everton, United – were ­People’s Clubs long before Moyes came out with that soundbite.

It is pointless guessing how Shankly would have ­responded to modern-day matters, such as the desire of ­extravagantly paid superstars to desert such grand institutions.

He was a formidable ­football manager, a formidable people manager. He would have dealt with it.

But you can guess what he would have made of the ­foaming bile that has come to characterise today’s fixture.

You can guess what he would have made of the mock anger, the twisted faces and the mindless tribal spewing.

You can guess what he would have made of a league measured by cash not by ­camaraderie.

He would have hated it.

He wanted the game of ­football to “make the people happy”.

So, all those people inside Anfield today and all those people brainwashed into bitterness, remember that when the minute’s applause to commemorate tomorrow’s 100th ­anniversary of his birth ends, what Shankly stood for should live on.

Remember that football is the sport that should make the people happy.

Liverpool eyeing Dynamo Kiev forward Yarmolenko? Transfer rumours, news and gossip from today's papers

Laurence Griffiths

With just two days of the transfer window remaining, today’s transfer gossip round-up is a bumper edition, with Manchester United and Arsenal being linked with numerous players.

Everton also look set to be making contingency plans for the potential loss of Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini.

All this and more in our transfer gossip round-up.

Latest transfer gossip and news from today’s Sunday Mirror

Steven Gerrard tells Luis Suarez: – but Arsenal’s a sideways move.           

(For more Liverpool transfer news, )

and a question for England’s World Cup double-header after a clash of heads in training required 10 stitches.

and are set to bid £8m.

, who plays for Mexican side Morelia, if they fail to land a big name.

, Feyenoord centre-back or left-back Bruno ­Martins Indi and Chelsea ­left-back Ryan Bertrand.




Transfer gossip and news from today’s Sunday People

as the Toffees ask for Old Trafford starlet Jesse Lingard on loan as part of the deal.

: Borussia Dortmund play-maker Ilkay Gundogan, Real Madrid’s Luka Modric, Athletic Bilbao’s Ander Herrera and Roma’s Daniele De Rossi.

if he wants a move to Arsenal.

if he’s put up for sale. If he isn’t, Sunderland’s Stephane Sessegnon is their Plan B.

on loan.

after Southampton refused to sell them Jack Cork.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes is weighing up a .


Transfer news and gossip from other newspapers and websites

Summer spending in the Barclays Premier League will smash the previous record and reach over £500m (The Independent on Sunday).

Gareth Bale will not be a regular first team player at Real Madrid, and they will buy him for £78m (The Daily Mail).

Liverpool are interested in Dynamo Kiev forward Andriy Yarmolenko, but have reportedly had a £20m bid knocked back (Liverpool Echo)

Ian Callaghan pays tribute to Bill Shankly ahead of his 100th birthday

Laurence Griffiths

Bill Shankly may not have been one of the four lads from Liverpool who shook the world, but his legacy has been just as lasting.

While The Beatles were winning the hearts and minds of a generation with their music, the man simply known as ‘’ was inspiring the sporting world.

And he won trophies. Lots of them.

He was also building a club that was, in his own words, to become a “bastion of invincibility.”

Three league championships, two FA Cups and the UEFA Cup don’t tell the story of a man who is as revered on as John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Tomorrow will be the 100th anniversary of Shankly’s birth.

Related gallery: Bill Shankly remembered

Liverpool v Manchester United: The history of this classic clash

Liverpool fans will be quietly aware today that they haven’t done the league double over Manchester United since 2008/09.

With a win at Anfield, they could go halfway toward changing that statistic this season.

Mirror Football and @OnGoalsScored have put together a graphic showing the ebb and flow of the rivalry of since Alex Ferguson took over in 1986. We’ve also got the earlier history of the rivalry.

Related story:

It shows a turning in the tide when the Premier League was formed in the 1992, with Ferguson’s United eventually going on to become the most successful of all .

But a quick glance at the data shows a pattern of Liverpool resurgence, and the pattern suggests they are about due a close finish with United this year.

See the graph showing the history of the classic clash below:


Below, you can see how the rivalry panned out in the years before Alex Ferguson took charge, in eras with legends like Bill Shankly in charge of Liverpool during the 60s and early 70s, Bob Paisley in the 40s and early 50s, and Matt Busby at the helm of Man United for his mammoth spell between 1945-1971:


Why Arsenal fans must be wishing they had Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy at their club after this transfer window – Darren Lewis


If Daniel Levy is stuck for a lift to the game today he could always venture out onto the Seven Sisters Road.

There he’d find a fair few fans ready to carry him shoulder-high to White Hart Lane.

Especially when they look at pictures from inside the Bernebeu this morning.

No stage. The area behind the dug out conspicuous by the absence of THAT structure prematurely erected before the deal was complete.

Levy wanted it down – and he held off long enough for it to come down ahead of the game against Athletic Bilbao in progress right now.

A small victory maybe. But has gained the respect of supporters inside and outside the club with his masterclass on how to cope with the loss of a big player.

Arsenal fans won’t admit it but even they must secretly wish they had a custodian with his ruthless streak and his skill at protecting the interests of his club.

Even they must secretly wish they had someone to impress upon Arsene Wenger that, with the game having changed during his time at the club, you really do get what you pay for.

While morale has steadily been eroded down at Arsenal following the loss of Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie, the slide has been arrested at Spurs.

After losing the likes of Luka Modric to Real Madrid last summer and with Dimitar Berbatov following Michael Carrick to Manchester United, Levy has learned his lessons.

It is not so much the calibre of the players on whom the money has been so sensationally spent by the Spurs supremo this time around.

It is the fact that he has taken the fans’ feelings into account.  He and owner Joe Lewis have listened – and shown that they share the supporters’ ambition.

One wag on Friday night remarked that he had popped down to Asda to do some shopping and found on his return that the club had signed Christian Eriksen.

Another woke up on Saturday morning and jokingly berated Levy for not bringing in a player in the 14 hours since Eriksen had been confirmed.

Another proudly declared yesterday as the first day that he did not have a single gripe about the issue of

Tottenham fans have found their smile again.

Levy is aware of the sense of lost hope that there would have been going into the north London derby today had Tottenham not responded in the way they have done to Bale’s departure.

Compare all that with the intransigence of Wenger’s view at Arsenal. With the Gunners boss’s refusal to accept the widely-held frustration of the club’s faithful with major investment needed.

With a couple of stellar signings Arsenal could still pull away from Tottenham this season. As things stand now the two clubs are on a par with each other.

There is strength in depth all over the Tottenham team with the club still set to bring in another left-back and another striker.

Levy is tired of living in Arsenal’s shadow and is doing something about it. Wenger talks a good game but has spurned the likes of Lars Bender, Gonzalo Higuain and many, many others in favour of bringing back Mathieu Flamini and Nicolas Bendtner.

Levy has spent around £110million in response to losing his best player and totally torn up the Tottenham squad. Wenger has spent zero this summer and is stuck with the same old faces.

Let’s not kid ourselves, Arsenal have a fantastic first eleven and, in some areas, are spoilt for choice.

Their fans are well aware, however, that their squad has big deficiencies – and that Wenger either can’t or won’t see them.

The result is a north London derby finely balanced this afternoon. The score almost doesn’t matter.

Because even if Arsenal win it will only paper over the cracks. Just as beating Fenerbahce to reach the Champions League did the other day.

The Gunners fans will claim bragging rights but the Spurs faithful will see the bigger picture.

So far Arsenal have basically done this summer what Spurs used to: tantalised the fans with the promise of big stars only to start the season with the same old faces.

It is Levy now recognising that the supporters are the lifeblood of the club. It is Levy now recognising that unless the fans’ desire and ambition is met then the club is treading water.

It is Levy – in tandem with Andre Villas-Boas – who has been ruthless and decided that some players have had their chance in a Spurs shirt. That it is now time for an upgrade.

It is Levy – in tandem with owner Joe Lewis – who has decided that recouping big fees for players means nothing if that cash is sitting in the bank catching dust.

Tottenham could so easily have given it the big ‘un back in June just as Arsenal chief executive did with his "escalation of financial firepower" comments.

Instead they kept their powder dry, went quietly about their business and ended up sending shockwaves throughout the Premier League and beyond.

While Tottenham are normally the butt of everyone’s jokes on Deadline Day with their customary trolley dash after everyone is already fixed up, now it is the other way around with Spurs fans settled while Manchester United and Arsenal panic.

The football world may raise a chuckle at Levy’s refusal to meet the deadline of Real Madrid and sign off on the Bale deal this weekend.

But so what? Why should he spark the chain reaction that would allow Arsenal to solve their transfer problems when the Gunners have had all summer to do so?

Why should he meet Madrid’s carefully laid-out presentation plans for Bale when the Spaniards did not have the respect to hold off on building THAT stage until the deal was done?

Why should Tottenham, or any other outfit, do that for a club as arrogant as Madrid?

That stage coming down on Saturday night was a victory for ALL the clubs that have had their transfer plans wrecked by Real Madrid – Arsenal included.

Tha Spaniards, with their raging arrogance, just could not show Spurs the respect of holding off until the deal was done.

Now, if anyone has a spanner or a wrench, could they send it over to a Mr F Perez, courtesy of the Bernebeu Stadium, here in Spain.

Liverpool vs Manchester United stats: Sturridge vs Welbeck, team comparison and more


After a Saturday of relatively little excitement in the Premier League, attention turns to Anfield, where Liverpool host Manchester United.

come into this match after 1-0 wins over Stoke City and Aston Villa, but could be feeling slightly drained after their exertions in the extra-time in midweek.

United, meanwhile, followed their opening-day thrashing of Swansea with a soporific on Monday night.

As the first graphic below shows, both sides tend to favour attacks down the right flank. Neither has played with a natural left-sided player so far, with both Philippe Coutinho and Danny Welbeck tending to drift inside.

Liverpool have enjoyed more possession than , although United have a markedly better chance conversion rate after two games apiece.

The next image shows the five most recent meetings between these sides.

United got the better of their rivals last season, picking up a hard-fought win at Anfield before repeating the trick in Manchester.

The sides were more evenly-balanced in 2011/12, with one win apiece (Liverpool’s in the ) and a draw. Two of the scorers in the Anfield cup clash – Park Ji-Sung and Dirk Kuyt – display the extent to which both squads have evolved in the last couple of years.

Liverpool will be looking for their fifth successive Premier League win this afternoon – a feat they haven’t managed since 2009.

But they’ll have to snuff out the threat of Robin van Persie, who has scored six goals in seven games against today’s opponents.

Finally, we have a neat little comparison of Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck.

Both young English strikers have started the season in fine fashion, impressing with their finishing and energetic approach play.

But as the graphic shows, Sturridge’s form last season gives him a significant edge on Welbeck in the goalscoring stakes.

In fact, leads the way on a number of key stats: from shots per game to key passes ans successful dribbles.

Can Welbeck make a mockery of the numbers on Sunday?