CommentPlus: pick of the papers

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

1. The coalition doesn't want to heal Britain's broken leg, but amputate it (Guardian)

Gary Younge says the left must show this for the elective surgery it is: cuts born of ideology, in which the many pay for a crisis created by the rich.

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2. Women on top? You've got to be joking (Independent)

For at least 20 years, says Mary Ann Sieghart, we have been fed the line that the "future is female". But the future has always failed to materialise.

3. Let's face it, not all of us have an inner tycoon (Times)

Unemployed graduates should start their own businesses, according to David Willetts. But, as Libby Purves points out, not every bright, skilled and hardworking person is business-savvy.

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4. Obama has angered the centre and the left (Financial Times)

The economy is struggling and the US president's political judgement is at fault, argues Clive Crook -- he disappointed the left by not going far enough, but alienated the centre by apologising to the left, rather than repudiating it.

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5. Obama's untold story (Guardian)

Barack Obama's problems stem from the 9.5 per cent US unemployment rate, says Michael Tomasky. But Democrats are failing to convey effectively to voters that their efforts have actually made the economy stronger.

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6. Illiteracy is bad for us -- so why don't we do something about it? (Daily Telegraph)

The best way to teach reading and writing must be settled once and for all, says Boris Johnson, who discusses the merits of the phonics system.

7. Let the ocean's "oil-eaters" do their work (Times)

Matt Ridley looks at the BP disaster, and previous oil disasters, concluding that the environmental threats that matter are the slow, continuous ones, not the telegenic sensations.

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8. A bunch of mediocre wastrels (Independent)

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown argues for the abolition of the monarchy, wrong in practice and principle. It binds the British people and their institutions into dependency and voluntary subservience.

9. Back to square one in Afghanistan (Guardian)

A recent poll of 500 men in Afghanistan showed that 65 per cent believe Mullah Omar should join the government. Afghans know full well what their future holds, says Peter Preston -- and it doesn't involve us.

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10. Why the battle is joined over tightening (Financial Times)

To tighten or not to tighten? Martin Wolf runs through the main arguments, both from those who vehemently oppose government deficits, and from those who believe fiscal tightening should be postponed.

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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