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Tom Cleverley explains exactly what he doesn't do, some people still don't understand Mourinho's media schtick and Rio's out in the cold. And then back in the warm again...

Last Updated: 11/02/14 at 12:25

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TC23
Tom Cleverley today takes time out to give the Daily Mirror and Oliver Holt an 'Exclusive' interview in which he claims to have been made a scapegoat for many of United's travails this season. Call us old cynics, but the general rule is that if you need to attempt a PR leg-up in a national newspaper, things probably aren't going that well.

"My job goes under the radar at times," is Cleverley's initial take on his current struggles. "I am not a player who's going to beat three or four people and stick it in the top corner or go round tackling people like Roy Keane."

The overwhelming feeling from the interview is that Cleverley spends a long time talking about what he doesn't (or isn't expected to) do, but very little about what he actually does do. His admission of a lack of goals is certainly accurate, with a return of one in his last 45 matches for club and country.

So if no goals, tackles or 'beating' players, what does that leave us with? Certainly not assists, because Cleverley has not set up a single goal in the Premier League this season.

Certainly not creating chances either, because Cleverley has done so on just eight occasions in his 18 league games. That's the same as Ryan Giggs and Javier Hernandez, despite spending three times as long as each of them on the field, fewer than both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling and just over half as many as Ashley Young, who has played the equivalent of six-and-a-half fewer matches than TC23.

Passing, that's what Cleverley provides. Easy passing. Short passing. Sideways passing. And Cleverley admits as much.

"I watch Spanish football a lot," Cleverley states. "If they pass the ball sideways but keep possession, the fans clap them."

That couldn't be further from the truth. In the Championship or League One you may receive applause from fans for keeping your passes short and simple whilst under little pressure, but in Spain it is the minimal expectation. Cleverley's insinuation that because he watches Spanish football (and he assumes that we don't?) people are not 'getting him' is astonishingly self-unaware.

"I have got to not listen and play my game because I feel I'm doing the best thing for the team."

And that's the issue. The concern is not that you are not trying your best; the worry and suspicion is that you are trying your best and it is so palpably not good enough.

Finally, despite Holt entering the spirit of this PR cuddle with laughable lines such as 'English fans clamoured for a young player who keeps possession and moves the ball quickly and efficiently in transition and then, when they got one, they have tried to run him out of town', the biggest zing of the lot actually goes to the interviewer himself.

'Put it this way, if Cleverley had been on the pitch, Steve Sidwell would not have been allowed to drift unmarked into the box and score Fulham's first goal on Sunday evening.'

Stopping Steve Sidwell as the strongest evidence of an international midfielder's absence. I think the kids call that zinging with faint praise.


Mind Games

Dave Kidd in the Daily Mirror has been spending so long 'making you think' that he's forgot to think himself, having seemingly completely missed the point of the term 'mind games' and Jose Mourinho's media schtick.

'Jose Mourinho has not been winning mind games with Manuel Pellegrini nor any other manager.'

'He has merely been prattling on about big horses, little horses...dodgy refs, dodgy FFP, 19th century tactics and Black and Decker workmates.'

'People only listen because he's a brilliant coach.. the rest is hot air.'

So Mourinho hasn't been winning mind games, and yet he has been spouting nonsense that you are still discussing even after he has taken his team to the top of the league. And you don't think his 'mind games' are working?

Mick Dennis makes exactly the same mistake in the Daily Express.

'He [Mourinho] was at it again yesterday. "My Chelsea cannot be champions this season." Why is he saying that? He does not do humility, so we can rule that out. And it is not achieving any Machiavellian mischief, because nobody is fooled.'

We can't actually believe that people don't get this yet, so here's a cut-out-and-keep paragraph for those still struggling:

Mourinho does all of this as a distraction tactic. Every word is deliberate, none are wasted. He makes all of the discussion (including columns in national newspapers, wink wink) all about him rather than his team, shielding his players from scrutiny. He denies any accusations of likely success or crisis, and instead creates a siege mentality where his squad and staff listen to him and him alone. Finally, it doesn't matter if you believe him or not. That you (Mick Dennis and Dave Kidd) have spent the best part of 800 words contemplating his quotes from press conferences that go back several weeks is enough for Jose. His work here is done.

It's either that such columnists have still not grasped Mourinho's obvious strategy or that it's easy to phone in a column by opining on something that everyone already knows. Neither option is particularly inspiring.


The Facts? Who cares?

'RIO IN COLD' screams the back page of The Sun today, claiming that Rio Ferdinand is being left out of Manchester United's warm weather training camp. This one is a 'Sunsport Exclusive', so strap in, folks.

'Future on brink as he is left out of Dubai trip.'

Well, in fairness, that would be quite big news given that Ferdinand was on the bench on Sunday, Nemanja Vidic has announced his departure and that the paper are claiming the omission may make Rio retire.

Except that Ferdinand hasn't been left out of the trip, as reported by the Daily Mirror website in a story that came out at 5am - 'Rio Ferdinand WILL head to Dubai with Man United squad for training camp after Arsenal clash'.

A headline, back page and exclusive proved incorrect before it has even landed on the doormats of those that make the questionable decision to purchase. Welcome to the new age of news.


Wright The Wrong

Liverpool supporters will be no doubt fearful to hear the news that Ian Wright is backing them to win the title this season. That's that done then.

His column in The Sun is a wonderful exercise of using a lot of words to actually say very little of note (as if there was any doubt given the author), with comments such a 'I'm not saying they will win it - I'm saying they can' effectively offering neither insight nor opinion, a spectacular combination for football journalism.

However, it was the last line in the piece that made Mediawatch exclaim 'What in actual f*ck' before apologising to those in the near vicinity.

'[Liverpool ] will realise that six points is nothing, and nobody outside of Chelsea would begrudge Stevie G achieving his dream.'

Well, Manchester City fans might, as they quite want to win the title. Arsenal too, a club Wright has done pretty well to forget given his obsession with their each and every move. And what of Manchester United and Everton supporters?

No Wrighty, you're right. We're all on board with Gerrard winning the title this season.


Poll Dancing

'Toure should not be cited for petulant kick' was the headline on Graham Poll's Mail Online piece on Sunday.

'Why Yaya was let off the hook for his kick.. and the secret gang of three who decide the fate of the Premier League stars' was the headline on Graham Poll's Daily Mail column on Tuesday.

Same man, same incident, same paper but different opinion. And referees are trying to rid themselves of claims of inconsistency.


Sssh, It's Our Little Secret

Note to the Daily Mail and Graham Poll. It's a little bit misleading to describe the FA panel that decide on incidents as a 'secret gang'.

1) 'Gang' - The three individuals don't sit together, meet of confer. That's a pretty sh*tty gang.

2) 'Secret' - Their names are Steve Dunn, Alan Wiley and Eddie Wolstenholme. That's a pretty sh*tty secret.


Brucey Bonus

'Steve Bruce tips Hull trio for England World Cup squad' shouted the headline on the BBC Sport website this morning.

'Hull boss Steve Bruce said his players Tom Huddlestone, Curtis Davis (sic) and Jake Livermore should be in contention for England's World Cup squad for Brazil,' continues the rather ballsy story.

Actual quotes from Bruce: "Who am I to do Roy's job? But there's always a shock. I wouldn't be surprised if one of them sneaks in. There's always one or two shocks, there's a long way to go before the World Cup and injuries can set in."

Mediawatch supposes that 'Bruce says that if "injuries set in" one of his three players that have previously been named in England squads may be called up again' doesn't quite have the same ring to it.


Assisted Suicide

Visiting Derek McGovern's 'Result!' column in the Daily Mirror in search of insight is as pointless as wandering into Chicken Cottage and inquiring as to the quality of the Bouillabaisse, and today we have further evidence why.

In criticising Mesut Ozil's recent form, The Offensive One mocks his record at Real Madrid.

'At the Bernabeu an assist is classed as slipping a five-yard pass to Ronaldo before watching him beat eight men before scoring.'

112 assists and 52 goals in 222 starts for club and country in the four seasons before joining Arsenal. Less than 43% of his La Liga assists were to Ronaldo and just how many of Germany's goals has the Portuguese scored since 2009?

Still, we should be thankful that at least McGovern didn't make a crude and crass commen...oh, he did. He says on the next line that Ozil looks like he has caught his eye on a coat-hanger. What a pleasant chap, and by that we mean awful, awful man.


Headline of the Day

Homes Under Hammers - The Sun report on West Ham's deal to sell Upton Park. If nothing else, Mediawatch is a git for a daytime TV reference.


Worst Headline of the Day

'Yaya Fury' - After several minutes of headaches and furrowed brows, Mediawatch realised that 'fury' is meant to sound like 'Toure'. It doesn't, and we suspect that the Daily Express know as much.


Non-Football Headline Of The Day

'Maggie's pallbearer necks two goldfish in pink swimsuit' - The Sun's front page makes Mediawatch question what exactly was in that Vitamin C tablet we took an hour ago.


Non-Football Story Of The Day

'The Erongo Police Complaints and Discipline Department is investigating a matter that implicates one of its female members based in Arandis, of allegedly beating a man and biting his penis.

'The victim's brother alleged that the incident happened on Thursday, and that there was a struggle when his brother was arrested, and the policewoman allegedly bit him.

'"They started beating him and then the woman tripped him. While he was lying on his back, the man sat on him, and started beating him in the face. Then the woman pulled down his trousers and bit him on his penis, before they ran away," the brother claimed.

'A resident, who allegedly heard the fighting, called the police who, upon arrival, found the victim bleeding profusely before they took him to a hospital in Swakopmund' - The Namibian.

Thanks to Rob White, James Ogilvy and Ryan Keaney esq. if you spot something that belongs on this page, mail us at theeditor@football365.com, putting 'Mediawatch' in the subject field.

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