CommentPlus: pick of the papers

The ten must-read pieces from this morning’s papers.

1. The best way to finance universities is to make the participants pay (Guardian)

Simon Jenkins says that Vince Cable was right to take aim at universities, but wrong about a graduate tax that will make them more chained to the state.

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2. A proposal worthy of exploration (Independent)

The Indie's leading article notes the shortcomings of the graduate tax, but says that these objections are not overwhelming -- there could be substantial benefits to social equity.

3. Big players take all in the philanthropy game (Times)

Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre, discusses arts spending cuts. Big houses such as the National will be OK, but smaller theatres will struggle if American-style patronage is rushed through.

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4. Come clean about torture (Guardian)

Richard Norton-Taylor urges former ministers to speak up at the judicial inquiry over rendition of British citizens. They should be shamed into doing so.

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5. Now Cameron jilts the environment (Independent)

The Prime Minister is opening the oceans off the Shetland Islands to deep-sea drilling, says Johann Hari, and promising Big Oil tax breaks to drill, baby, drill.

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6. Allies may fret but Obama understands America's role (Financial Times)

Philip Stephens outlines the tribulations of the president's foreign policy. He was elected partly for his demonstrable personal global appeal, but has yet to persuade Americans of his description of the world.

7. Now end this Darfur denial (Guardian)

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, says that it has laid charges for genocide. The UN must seize the moment to act for the victims of Sudan.

8. Why this murderer matters (Independent)

The tributes to Raoul Moat reflect a world very different from that of the Prime Minister, says Mary Dejevsky, but they spill far beyond Moat's stamping ground on the wrong side of the tracks.

9. Create jobs -- make it easier to sack people (Times)

Redundancy is the most painful process, says Camilla Cavendish. But firms have no incentive to hire if it's almost impossible to fire people.

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10. Europe's stress test is no short cut to stability (Financial Times)

Mohamed el-Erian considers next week's announcement of stress test results for European banks -- they might not have the same positive effect that similar tests in America did last year.

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Steve Garry
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The footie is back. Three weeks in and what have we learned so far?

Barcleys, boots and big names... the Prem is back.

Another season, another reason for making whoopee cushions and giving them to Spurs fans to cheer them up during the long winter afternoons ahead. What have we learned so far?

Big names are vital. Just ask the manager of the Man United shop. The arrival of Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger has done wonders for the sale of repro tops and they’ve run out of letters. Benedict Cumberbatch, please join Carlisle United. They’re desperate for some extra income.

Beards are still in. The whole Prem is bristling with them, the skinniest, weediest player convinced he’s Andrea Pirlo. Even my young friend and neighbour Ed Miliband has grown a beard, according to his holiday snaps. Sign him.

Boots Not always had my best specs on, but here and abroad I detect a new form of bootee creeping in – slightly higher on the ankle, not heavy-plated as in the old days but very light, probably made from the bums of newborn babies.

Barclays Still driving me mad. Now it’s screaming from the perimeter boards that it’s “Championing the true Spirit of the Game”. What the hell does that mean? Thank God this is its last season as proud sponsor of the Prem.

Pitches Some groundsmen have clearly been on the weeds. How else can you explain the Stoke pitch suddenly having concentric circles, while Southampton and Portsmouth have acquired tartan stripes? Go easy on the mowers, chaps. Footballers find it hard enough to pass in straight lines.

Strips Have you seen the Everton third kit top? Like a cheap market-stall T-shirt, but the colour, my dears, the colour is gorgeous – it’s Thames green. Yes, the very same we painted our front door back in the Seventies. The whole street copied, then le toot middle classes everywhere.

Scott Spedding Which international team do you think he plays for? I switched on the telly to find it was rugby, heard his name and thought, goodo, must be Scotland, come on, Scotland. Turned out to be the England-France game. Hmm, must be a member of that famous Cumbrian family, the Speddings from Mirehouse, where Tennyson imagined King Arthur’s Excalibur coming out the lake. Blow me, Scott Spedding turns out to be a Frenchman. Though he only acquired French citizenship last year, having been born and bred in South Africa. What’s in a name, eh?

Footballers are just so last season. Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane can’t score. The really good ones won’t come here – all we get is the crocks, the elderly, the bench-warmers, yet still we look to them to be our saviour. Oh my God, let’s hope we sign Falcao, he’s a genius, will make all the difference, so prayed all the Man United fans. Hold on: Chelsea fans. I’ve forgotten now where he went. They seek him here, they seek him there, is he alive or on the stairs, who feckin’ cares?

John Stones of Everton – brilliant season so far, now he is a genius, the solution to all of Chelsea’s problems, the heir to John Terry, captain of England for decades. Once he gets out of short trousers and learns to tie his own laces . . .

Managers are the real interest. So refreshing to have three young British managers in the Prem – Alex Neil at Norwich (34), Eddie Howe at Bournemouth (37) and that old hand at Swansea, Garry Monk, (36). Young Master Howe looks like a ball boy. Or a tea boy.

Mourinho is, of course, the main attraction. He has given us the best start to any of his seasons on this planet. Can you ever take your eyes off him? That handsome hooded look, that sarcastic sneer, the imperious hand in the air – and in his hair – all those languages, he’s so clearly brilliant, and yet, like many clever people, often lacking in common sense. How could he come down so heavily on Eva Carneiro, his Chelsea doctor? Just because you’re losing? Yes, José has been the best fun so far – plus Chelsea’s poor start. God, please don’t let him fall out with Abramovich. José, we need you.

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 27 August 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Isis and the new barbarism