The Page That's Apparently In A Team Of One

Why Juan Mata is exactly the same as Juan Veron, Terry Venables lists some players he's heard of and Oliver Holt finds the tipping point too early...

Last Updated: 22/01/14 at 12:26

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Juan And The Same
Bizarre logic from Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail (we have a feeling we've written that line before) as he claims that Manchester United's sale of Juan Veron to Chelsea almost 11 years ago should serve as a warning from history against selling Juan Mata to United.

Now you may be thinking 'wasn't Veron rubbish at Chelsea?' but you would apparently be missing the point. According to Samuel: 'Veron was not really a failure at Chelsea. As a failure he bombed, but as a sales tool he was quite brilliant.'

Samuel's theory is that Chelsea's purchase of Veron sent a message to Jose Mourinho that they meant business. And he duly arrived a year later.

Hmmm, we would argue that a summer spending of around £120m in total sent a message to Mourinho that Chelsea meant business - Veron was only the fifth-biggest signing that summer behind Damien Duff, Hernan Crespo, Claude Makelele and Adrian Mutu.

We would also argue that a season in which Chelsea went from a fourth-place finish (16 points behind Man United) to a second-place finish (four points ahead of Man United) under Claudio Ranieri made a rather more compelling argument to the ambitious Mourinho than the £15m signing of a massive flop.

We would also argue (because we're clearly feeling argumentative) that signing Mata does not provide 'evidence that Moyes, and the owners, will do whatever it takes' but rather evidence that they have reached the point where they need to do something drastic to finish in the top four.

Does a £15m signing in a £120m summer of spending after finishing fourth exactly equate to one £40m signing in the January of a season when the club in question are in seventh? It does if you're Martin Samuel, it seems.

Hell Tel
If you're a Manchester United fan excited by the prospect of Juan Mata arriving at your club, you should send a garishly coloured cocktail in the direction of Terry Venables. For he made it happen.

'ON Saturday, I urged David Moyes to make a move for Juan Mata,' he 'writes' in The Sun. 'Now it looks like he has listened to my advice and is ready to clinch a £40million deal for the Spaniard.'

Which is brilliant for United. And brilliant for Venables. And there were we thinking he had absolutely no relevance in 2014. Silly us.

He has other ideas too - take note, Mr Moyes - which boil down to the following:

Buy Tim Krul, Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye from Newcastle. Because of course Man United desperately need a goalkeeper who's not nearly as good as the one they currently own.

Buy Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez and Luke Shaw from Southampton. Because of course a team in seventh should always build their team around players from a team in ninth.

Buy Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines from Everton. Because of course Man United desperately need another 30-plus centre-half.

Buy Paulinho or Mousa Dembele. Because of course Tottenham will be desperate to help out Man United in their quest for fourth and are notoriously easy sellers.

Buy Stevan Jovetic from Man City. Because of course...oh come on, Terry, you're just taking the sodding mick now.

Venables then sits back, arms crossed, and declares an easy job done.

'So there's plenty than could be done - and that's without even looking outside the Premier League to Europe,' he 'writes', having basically made a list of players he has heard of.

Venables last managed in the Premier League almost 11 years ago. And even then he was an anachronism.

Underwhelming Back-Page Exclusive Of The Day
'WAYNE ROONEY will not sign a new deal at Manchester United - even if Juan Mata joins the champs,' screams Neil Custis in The Sun.

Really? And there was Mediawatch thinking Rooney would definitely sign a new deal with the club sitting in seventh place of the Premier League and 14 points behind leaders Arsenal, simply because they've signed one new player. Thanks for clearing that up, Neil.

Difference Of Opinion
'WAYNE ROONEY will make his long-awaited return tonight and try to rescue Manchester United's crisis-hit season' - The Daily Mirror.

'Rooney has an outside chance of playing in tonight's Capital One Cup semi-final second leg at home to Sudnerland' - The Sun.

'DAVID MOYES will not risk recalling Wayne Rooney for tonight's Capital One Cup semi-final showdown with Sunderland' - The Daily Star.

'So what's the tipping point?' asked Oliver Holt in the Daily Mirror on Monday. And if you're a frequent reader of Holt's work, you will know that this one-sentence opener was followed by three more punchy paragraphs beginning with the same word. For Holt is the only man who loves The Rule Of Three even more than people who write film trailers.

'When do you look at what is happening at Manchester United and say enough is enough?

'When do you say not only that this is not working but also that it is not going to work?

'When does an owner start thinking about the money, look at the league table and decide maybe he ought to cut his losses and change his manager?'

He then concludes that 'the first possibility of a tipping point comes if United do not finish in the top four at the end of this season'. Grand. As you were, then.

Until Wednesday. Two days later. When it appears that the tipping point has arrived a tad early as Holt writes with no little hyperbole but with little imagination when it comes to his standard column template...

'THIS is a human drama now.

'It's about a man as much as a great club.

'It's about a struggle for dignity and for reputation.

'It's about fighting to have your career defined by one crushing failure.'

When Holt wrote on Monday that 'sometimes sense and rationale are washed away by a tide of panic and doubt', was he giving a sneak preview to his Wednesday column?

We Kidd You Not
The Sun are 'your favourite FA Cup-crazy paper' and Mediawatch's least favourite FA Cup-crazy newspaper. They have adopted Kidderminster for this weekend's clash with Sunderland and bring us '10 things you never knew about Kidderminster'. They're right in thinking we never knew them but wrong if they thought we were remotely interested.

Even if you thought '4) The club's all-time scoring record is held by Kim Casey, who was signed from Gloucester City for £2,500 in July 1985. He hit 73 goals in his 69 games in his debut season' was fascinating, there's a high chance that by the time '5) Casey could not keep up the pace in his second seaspon - he only scored 47!' comes around, you're thinking that you probably know enough about Kidderminster, thanks.

Headline Of The Day

Worst Headline Of The Day
'I Glove My No. 1' - The Daily Star.

Non-Football Headline Of The Day
'POO-NAMI' - Dublin's Metro Herald on an 'avalanche of slurry' hitting a car.

Non-Football Story Of The Day
'An Alabama family has lost the home they have lived in for more than a decade after a fast-moving fire gutted the structure Tuesday.

'The homeowners said the fire started as they were trying to remove toilet paper from a tree following a weekend prank.

'However, they made the mistake of trying to remove the toilet paper by burning it out of the tree. Within seconds of igniting the toilet paper, wind whipped the flames to some grass before igniting a nearby propane tank. The family then saw the fire spread to their home of 12 years' - WBRC.

Thanks to today's Mediawatch spotters Kev and Brian Sexton. If you spot anything that belongs on this page, mail us at, putting 'Mediawatch' in the subject field.

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e was right to leave, but not just because of the money City were coming into. If I remember rightly he had a reasonable amount of chances to shine at City, but he never passed the bloody ball. Loads of aimless dribbles and 40 yard shots and not much else. I would say that if he had learnt to be a bit more of a team player he may have done better at City.

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h! And.... has it gone in!?' Well John, it is quite literally your job to tell me, so stop phrasing it as a question.

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