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Getting sick of Saints coverage, Martin Keown Centre for Excellence in Sport to revive English football and a precedent from Austria...

Last Updated: 14/11/13 at 16:13

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Howard's End
There's so much wrong with Steven Howard's proposed England XI for the Chile game in The Sun that Mediawatch is struggling to know where to start.

So you can make up your own mind, here it is: Forster; Johnson, Jones, Smalling, Gibbs; Townsend, Barkley, Lallana, Rodriguez; Rooney, Sturridge.

The eagle-eyed among you might spot that he's neglected to include any holding/sitting midfielders. He's selected a midfield of one out-and-out winger, two players who can operate out wide or behind a striker, and a striker who can play on the wing. Genius.

Townsend (45 shots in the Premier League, one goal (from a cross)) is of course entirely responsible for the injection of impetus in the England set-up ('Suddenly there's an extra dimension to the side. Suddenly there's some real competition for places') and Howard wants more of the same, pooh-poohing any suggestion that wholesale changes just a few months before the World Cup would be folly.

He writes: 'Hodgson though, should follow the example of Fabio Capello. In November 2008, the Italian took an England team to Berlin without Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, Ashley Cole, Emile Heskey or Rio Ferdinand. Eyebrows were raised but England came back with a 2-1 victory.'

Four things, Steven.

1) That game was 19 months before a major tournament rather than seven months. There was a tad more room for expriementation.

2) Two minutes of research would have told you that Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, Ashley Cole, Emile Heskey and Rio Ferdinand did not travel to that Germany game because they were injured.

3) Capello actually named a side that night featuring maverick picks John Terry, Wayne Bridge, Matthew Upson, Michael Carrick, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Jermain Defoe and Stewart Downing. The only starting player with less than ten caps was Gabriel Agbonlahor.

4) England were awful at the 2010 World Cup. But maybe that was because Capello wasn't brave enough to stick with Agbonlahor.

Faint Praise
"Adam (Lallana) is a one-off. I've never played with anyone like him. He's the best player I've played with," said Rickie Lambert this week.

What? Even better than David Ridler at Macclesfield, John Hardiker at Stockport, Tony Gallimore at Rochdale or Craig Disley at Bristol Rovers? You little bloody charmer, Rickie.

All Saints
Mediawatch is getting more than a tad fractious at the torrents of praise heaped on Southampton for being brave defenders of English football, flying the flag for English players when the rest of the Premier League is buying foreign.

'In an era when Barclays Premier League clubs seem obsessed with foreign imports, Southampton are supplying ready-made talent for the England team,' writes Neil Ashton in the Daily Mail, quoting Rickie Lambert saying that "a lot of chairmen bring in foreign players and that is a shame".

Southampton spent £26m this summer on a Croat, a Kenyan and an Italian. They sent Englishmen Billy Sharp and Jason Puncheon out on loan and released Englishmen Tommy Forecast, Sam Hoskins, Ben Reeves, Richard Chaplow, Danny Seaborne, Ryan Dickson, Frazer Richardson, Danny Butterfield and Dean Hammond.

They do not have an unswerving commitment to English football; they have a commitment to good English footballers who they can augment with expensive foreign imports. LIKE EVERY OTHER CLUB.

The Plan
Martin Keown has a blueprint to 'rescue English football'. Thank God.

Amongst groundbreaking ideas like 'change the homegrown rule to cut the number of foreign players' and the depressingly familiar 'appoint Glenn Hoddle England tournament director' in the Daily Mail is a nugget that is making Mediawatch giggle more than is healthy.

'Open sports centres across the country named after England legends.'

Yes, because Basildon's Martin Keown Centre for Excellence in Sport is definitely going to win us the World Cup in 2022.

Setting The Tone
As England's players prepare to be reminded constantly of their failures in the coming seven months from an English media frothing at the mouths (see above), they should perhaps take inspiration from Austria. On Wednesday morning, the Austrian players took the unprecedented step of writing an open letter - published on the Austrian FA's website - complaining about the coverage of the national team by Austrian downmarket tabloid Österreich.

It begins: 'We know that with this letter we are breaking a taboo - namely that of firmly criticising the media. Nobody would do this without thinking it over, because naturally we have to be prepared for an exacerbated level of unfair 'reporting'.

'We, the players of the Austrian national team, are taking this risk for good reason. As we see it - and after various attempts by our press officer to find an amicable solution - enough is enough. We no longer want to let pass without comment the abundance of badly researched or wholly unresearched articles in the newspaper Österreich; the articles billed as 'exclusive interviews' for which not one of us has been interviewed; the lurid texts that quite frequently amount to insults (our manager Marcel Koller was recently described as a 'traitor' who should be 'sent to the Swiss in a parcel', for instance).

'Luckily we live in a country where we have the benefit of freedom of expression. We respect the public's right to information. We are also aware that we are human beings with faults and weaknesses, and by no means perfect individuals. Nevertheless, we wonder, given the 'reports' about us in Österreich, whether journalists really can do whatever they like and whether we should just let it go. We say: NO!'

Please, please, please let England's players do this to the Daily Mail or The Sun. Somebody needs to buy them crayons for Christmas.

Turkish Delight
Talking of 'wholly unresearched articles', Chris Waddle is in the Metro spouting unadulterated nonsense about naturalised players, saying: "This [switching allegiance] will only happen more and more. Look at the Brazilians playing for Portugal or Croatia or whoever, and how many Turks play for Germany."

Yes Chris, let's look at how many Turks play for Germany. In their latest squad to play Italy and England they have no Turks. Yes, that's no Turks. Where will it all end/begin?

Roman Ruin
Every time Mediawatch thinks 'no more Durham' he gives us no choice but to return with heavy heart to his outpourings of nonsense. We're happy to accept that Tuesday's bizarre piece about Liverpool somehow deserving to win the title because of Hillsborough was in no way related to Wednesday's tweet - 'Delighted to be invited to @SportsBookFest in Liverpool this weekend, an event which supports the Hillsborough Campaign. See you there!' - but we note on Twitter that not everybody agrees.

But Thursday brings another piece - he has a book to sell, you see - on the Daily Mail website entitled 'So, Jones thinks everyone hates Manchester United...He's right, but dirty Leeds, boring Arsenal and England are among the other clubs you LOVE to loathe'.

He includes George Graham's Arsenal side with his usual dig ('Graham did something Wenger hasn't managed - he won a trophy in Europe'), the Liverpool side of the late Eighties (though 'If you love football, you can't hate that side'), England ('Only one thing can end the hate for England - Roy Hodgson needs to win the World Cup. Easy.') and Abramovich's Chelsea.

On the latter: 'To make it worse, Winston Bogarde was paid a small fortune and chose to stay despite not playing in the first team. The Dutch international had so much money shoveled into his bank account he was happy to basically retire form the professional game and just train.'

Bogarde signed for Chelsea in 2000.
Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003.
Bogarde left Chelsea in 2004.
Adrian Durham is writing nonsense in 2013.

Shock Horror
September 22: The Daily Star Sunday claim that Manchesters United and City are 'on alert' over talk that Andres Iniesta has rejected a new contract at Barcelona.

October 15: The Daily Express reckon that Manchesters City and United are set to 'wedge a spanner in the works' of Andres Iniesta's new contract at Barcelona.

November 14: The Daily Mail claims that David Moyes will make a 'shock move' for Andres Iniesta 'after being alerted to a rift' at Barcelona.

Quote Of The Day
"I can be their uncle if we're winning, although everyone has an uncle they don't really like, don't they?" - Roy Keane.

Headline Of The Day
'Lambert is Ruddy proud of keepers' - The Sun.

Worst Headline Of The Day
'Chile are going to get Roo' - The Daily Star.

Animal Of The Day
'Slowly, almost tenderly, the two lovers intertwine their bodies. After a long embrace they gently begin copulating. Then, a few seconds later, they stab each other in the head. If this doesn't sound like a particularly nice way to spend a Saturday night, relax: the mating couple in question are sea slugs. They are one of many animals that inject chemicals into their partners while mating, but the only known species that consistently aims for the head. It's not clear why these sea slugs stab each other, but it may be a form of mind control. By injecting chemicals directly into its partner's brain, each sea slug may be able to change the other's behaviour to its own advantage' - New Scientist.

Thanks to today's Mediawatch spotters Simon Lee and Amer Lehall. If you spot anything that belongs on this page, mail us at putting 'Mediawatch' in the subject field.

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may well get slated by other United fans for this, but out of the three contenders, I'd far prefer Liverpool to win the title. Yes some elements of their fanbase can be a bit OTT, yes they're our biggest rivals and yes it will make our poor season feel even more like the end of an era (Fergie's gone, Liverpool are back on top). However I just have to applaud Brendan Rodgers and the way he's turned Liverpool around in just a couple of seasons. It...

Please Stop Telling Us What To Think


ooray! We are all excited now, we beat a very mediocre team! With all due respect to WHU supporters, not winning that game shouldn't even be a consideration. This is the problem, there is no winning mentality at the Emirates - we're all congratulating ourselves beating a team that we have a winning record against.

Wenger hails important win


s this meant to be an aspiration for United supporters? Moyes mediocrity strikes again. I see the Bayern boys don't want to sign for him, and his reputation amongst the senior European coaches make other key signings unlikely.

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