When Bale is good, it's down to the manager. Apart from when it's Villas-Boas...
An easy mistake to make, it's not all about Paolo and tears...
The Friday of a low-key England game is a difficult time for tabloid journalists. Do you take a transfer flyer or do you turn some quite innocuous quotes from one of England's main protagonists into a sensational back-page story? It's a quandary.
The Sun and the Daily Mail have opted to see darkness in Roy Hodgson's admission that he may have been 'naive' in thinking players wanted to play for their country while the Daily Mirror have seized on Steven Gerrard's rather bland claim that he would never turn down England.
Never turn down England like who, Stevie?
'STEVIE G PUTS BOOT IN ON RIO.'
Oh. Does he? That's big news. Writes John Cross on the Daily Mirror back page: 'ENGLAND captain Steven Gerrard says he would never snub England like Rio Ferdinand.'
It certainly seems like he's been having a pop. Let's read on...
Quote from Steven Gerrard on p70 (not the back page) of the Daily Mirror: "First of all I don't know if Rio has turned his back on it. I don't know the details from his side."
Shaun Custis has been on a one-man mission for The Sun this week - to a) paint the England centre-half situation as a 'shambles and b) use the word 'shambles' at every and any opportunity.
He wrote on Wednesday: 'ENGLAND'S defensive crisis has reached the point where Michael Carrick could play as an emergency centre-half. Gary Cahill is the latest to pull out of the squad to face San Marino following the shambles of Rio Ferdinand's withdrawal.'
Roy Hodgson on Thursday: "I'm loath to think of playing Michael Carrick at centre-half because this suggests we have problems with the others."
We suspect that's exactly what Shaun is suggesting, Roy.
Oliver Holt: An Admission
He writes in the Daily Mirror: 'Hodgson's press conferences at a hotel half way up the hill in a little republic were dominated by Ferdinand's absence. And perhaps the problem is partly ours. Perhaps the focus on Ferdinand is a symptom of our inability to to move on from the characters who have dominated the national team for so long.'
Perhaps, Oliver? Perhaps the journalists asking the questions are partly to blame for the questions being asked? You think?
Jeff Powell takes 12 paragraphs to mention 'Bobby Moore' in his latest column for the Daily Mail website. And he does not mention David Beckham once. Are you unwell, Rowley?
The Daily Express' Paul Joyce has written something of an ode to Tom Cleverley based on the fact that the Manchester United midfielder has started every England game since Euro 2012. Roy Hodgson clearly does rate the boy.
But Mediawatch did slightly baulk at this paragraph: 'The Bradford-born player has invariably started in all of United's pivotal games.'
We'll remind you that 'invariably' means 'In every case or on every occasion; always' before we suggest that 'United's pivotal games' would probably have included those against Liverpool, Spurs and away at Real Madrid, when the undroppable Cleverley was sat on the bench.
You may remember that AC Milan's Kevin-Prince Boateng recently walked off the pitch when racially abused by fans of Italian team Pro Patria. You may also remember the reaction of Sepp Blatter.
According to the BBC: 'The former Portsmouth player admitted walking off the pitch in January during a mid-season friendly against the lower-league club was "not the right thing to do".
'But, ahead of a meeting with Fifa president Sepp Blatter, who praised Boateng's actions, the player believes it sent a "big message" to racists in football.'
Is this the same Sepp Blatter who said this of Boateng's protest? "Walk off? No. I don't think that is the solution. I don't think you can run away, because eventually you can run away if you lose a match."
We hope Boateng has a better memory than the BBC.
Maths Of The Day
Liverpool's head of performance Glen Driscoll on Martin Kelly: "We'll probably look to prioritise getting him back for pre-season 110 per cent fit - 10 per cent fitter, stronger and quicker, more powerful and agile than he was previously."
Can't Believe It's Not Batter
Headline in The Sun: 'MACKEMS FEAR A FERGIE BATTERING'.
Opening paragraph in The Sun: 'Adam Johnson fears Sunderland could be battered by Manchester United if the Mackems do not shake off their recent woes.'
Quote from Adam Johnson: "If you let bad results affect you going into your next game, you're lost."
Astonishing Story Of The Day
'Being: Liverpool, Fox Sports' behind-the-scenes documentary about Liverpool FC, is in the running to win a Sports Emmy Award at a ceremony in New York. The programme, which aired on Channel 5, has been shortlisted in the category for outstanding editing. It is also a finalist in the Sports Media Awards category for Documentary Series, New Sports Show and Sports Series.
'The six-part series followed the start to Liverpool's Premier League campaign up until the transfer window closing. It coincided with the appointment of manager Brendan Rodgers and was narrated by Golden Globe-winning actor and Reds fan Clive Owen' - Insider Media Limited.
Worst Headline Of The Day
'De Stea' - The Sun. It's awful.
Non-Football Story Of The Day
'Next time you have an unexplained itch on your back check to see if there's a knife embedded there... One Canadian man didn't notice he had the sharp instrument lodged in him for more than three years. Billy McNeely reportedly suffered the injury following a fight at an arm wrestling match in April 2010 where he was stabbed five times with a 7.5cm knife.
'He has subsequently had the instrument removed but when he initially went to the hospital three years ago he was not given an x-ray. He returned with constant discomfort but was merely told he had nerve damage. It wasn't until recently when he got his nail caught on the top of the blade did his girlfriend notice it.
''I told Billy: "There's a knife sticking out of your back",' his other half Stephanie Sayine said. 'I was scared. I was ready to pull it out with tweezers.'' - Metro.
Thanks to today's Mediawatch spotters Will Knox and Mark Buckingham. If you see anything that belongs on this page, mail us at email@example.com, putting 'Mediawatch' in the subject field.